Mail 735 Monday, July 30, 2012
I just discovered that the metformin I’m taking for insulin resistance depletes my supply of B12 and folic acid, and interferes with calcium! The calcium shouldn’t be an issue because I consume dairy products out the wazoo, but no WONDER the B complex has been helping!
The problem with folic acid is that the body does not use folic acid, it uses the l-methylfolate found in fresh food. Folic acid has to be converted to l-methylfolate before the body can use it, and the process of conversion can be reduced by several factors. Aging, the MTHFR gene defect, and low levels of the required B vitamins can all reduce the amount of folic acid that is converted.
This is bad because if you are not converting enough folic acid, not only do you suffer from low levels of l-methylfolate, you also suffer from the build up of folic acid.
Anyway, all of this is new science. I only know about it because it turned up in the raw data on my 23andMe genetic report. It is a very common defect. I have it, my husband has it, and 40% of the population has it. I have had very good results with switching to l-methlfolate. I strongly believe that it is the way to go.
As I have said, I know of one case in which folate deficiency in a young woman taking more than the government recommended amounts at the time she conceived had really severe effects on the child at birth. I have been unwilling to trust the government’s recommendations since that time (they have since been revised up, but the damage was very real and no apology was ever issued). Oops. But they’re from the government and their intentions were good.
Global Warming implies two things…
Interesting piece suggesting skepticism might be more appropriate than credulousness in re Global Warming. I’ve always thought that "Global Warming" should at least require two things: 1) Warming, and 2) Global effect.
Alas, here in Central Florida we are noticing a sustained cooling trend over the last 30 years (I lived here first in 1979). Where we used to be able to grow virtually anything without regard to "cold hardiness", we now find that winters routinely bring us occasional temperatures below freezing — even in the 20s! Fortunately, such temperatures don’t last long, but they do occur every year — and more than once — whereas decades ago a "hard freeze" (i.e., temps below 28) meant a "historic" cold winter.
In fact, the climate trend here can be encapsulated in a simple question: "How many commercial orange growers are there in "Orange" County, FL?" Answer: "NONE any more." That’s right — the county named after the fact that it was once virtually wall-to-wall orange groves now has none still in commercial production. The reason? Growers — who 30 years ago only had to resort to burning "pitch-pots" perhaps one night during a freak cold wave once every few years when the jet stream dipped unusually low and drove cold Canadian air into the area — slowly moved southward as the winters became more cold more often and it became impossible to keep fruit from freezing by any man-made means.
So how is it Global Warming if it is not warming globally?
I still do not know how to take the temperature of Florida, much less compare it to a temperature of some years ago; but the need for smudge pots/acre for a year ought to be documented back quite a few years. I wonder if the climate people have looked at that.
I agree completely with your words about the execrable Olympic announcers. A rational television network covering the Olympics would leave the announcers at home–they add nothing and simply boost the taurocoprolite level. (The words based upon your new construction need to be in the Oxford English Dictionary–soonest! So should "congresscritter," which I find myself using with increasing frequency.)
At the opening, there was a boy soprano of remarkable skill singing "Jerusalem"–when he finished the solo and the choir began singing, the announcer (Meredith Viera, I believe) broke in with a discussion about the use of ‘culturally significant’ choirs. Might have been an interesting piece of trivia, but the timing was terrible.
This was infuriating for two reasons: I was listening to the choir, and her comments literally drowned them out; the other reason being the fact that "Jerusalem" is held in about the same esteem in Britain as "My Country, ‘Tis of thee" or "God Bless America" and no British announcer would have been so crass as to comment during a worldwide performance of those songs. There should be two audio channels–one for the actual event and the idiot announcers, one that’s full audio but has no verbal comments.
Give me an announcer-free Olympics. I can make my own ignorant comments and think my own trivial thoughts. And I know better than to yammer during "Jerusalem."
I just wanted to correct a couple of small errors that crept into your comments on the Olympics.
Firstly, no troops were brought back from overseas to man the Olympics – some did have leave cancelled though.
The parade of athletes was sped up because they have previously taken an age – not for ads – we don’t have them on the BBC. If you meant just on NBC then I beg your pardon.
On another point, Romney was rude when a guest – I don’t put up with that from guests and I guess you and Roberta don’t either.
Finally, I would like to log my admiration at the invention
(re-discovery?) of taurocoprophogeny – meretricious, if unworthy, of you.
My paper reported it as troops called back from the Afghan war; thanks for the correction. My paper also had a column by someone who watched the parade on BBC without commercials and was then horrified to see what NBC showed in the US.
We have to disagree about rudeness. Given what actually has happened so far, Mr. Romney was no more than truthful: stuff happens, and those in charge are often surprised. He carefully included himself among those not prepared for everything. I do not think it rude not to engage in fulsome praise. Perhaps it would have been better manners if Mr. Romney had simply dodged the question, but you may be sure he would then have been castigated for his cowardly behavior.
olympics coverage rant
For the second or third Olympics in a row, the tv coverage of the Olympics has been horrible. I’m not talking about event selection or schedule, I’m talking about technical details of recording video in one place and playing it back in another.
I was watching the coverage on NBC last night and it was absolutely terrible from a technical perspective. Every 3-5 minutes the video would cut out, back up or speed forward a few seconds, and re-start. Audio would un-sync from video. In three cases, they cut to commercial after a gymnastics performance but before the scores were given, and not cover the score, even briefly, after the commercials were over.
NBC paid millions for the right to be the exclusive channel outlet for Olympics coverage, and they can’t even get the basics correct. My elementary school news channel was run better by a couple of chatty 5th graders.
And of course my other rant is about the seating scandal…
Hundreds (thousands?) of seats and tickets were given to media outlets and corporate sponsors, who failed to use them. So thousands of seats are going empty in some of the most popular and sold out events. I think the event organizers should immediately pass a new rule stating that if a corporate or media venue ticket goes unused, that organization loses their seat for the remainder of the Olympics and the seat tickets can be re-sold at the venue box-office. There are a few million people who would give a body part to be able to attend, so if the seats are empty the tickets should be forfeit, period.
Empty seats at the Olympics are a crime… This is a big deal to a lot of people and anyone who cares about it so little as to not use huge blocks of tickets while thousands wait outside should simply not be pandered to.
Quoth Richard Muller, noted skeptic of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change (nee ‘global warming’).
In view of of your commentary today ("That seems an appropriate setting for thinking about global warming and the surprise defection of Muller from the ranks of the Deniers, accompanied by the cheers of his compadres at Berkeley."), I thought you may be interested in this. It is not from me, but from one of Dr. Judith Curry’s readers, ‘pokerguy’:
“pokerguy | July 29, 2012 at 7:18 am | Reply
Yay. Countdown to Anthony. First thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. I need therapy.
As to Muller’s NYT’s “Amazing Grace” piece (I once was blind but now I see), here’s a comment by poptech on Bishop Hill:
The Truth about Richard Muller
“I was never a skeptic” – Richard Muller, 2011
“If Al Gore reaches more people and convinces the world that global warming is real, even if he does it through exaggeration and distortion – which he does, but he’s very effective at it – then let him fly any plane he wants.” – Richard Muller, 2008
“There is a consensus that global warming is real. …it’s going to get much, much worse.” – Richard Muller, 2006
“Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate.” – Richard Muller, 2003″
As for the ‘Opening Ceremonies’, "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din." I would have watched them under the direct supervision of a SWAT team, IF they had a notarized court order authorizing them to use deadly force to ENSURE that I did. Maybe.
Clearly many are better informed about Mr. Muller than I am. I don’t remember ever hearing of him before although I may actually have met him.
The Chick-Fil-A distraction
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I think this guy hits the nail on the head.
It’s a distraction. The administration know it can’t run on it’s record so they’re playing the bigot card. Which they couldn’t do so long as President Obama still opposed gay marriage. Once he flipped, they were free to unleash vicious assaults —
– vicious assaults which have no teeth. They can’t withhold business licenses without violating the first amendment, and there’s no pending legislation on gay marriage either to sign or to veto. There’s almost been a truce in the culture war for four years as everyone’s been trying to get the economy back on track.
It appears the the administration has given up on that tack and figures they can win by throwing red meat to their base — red meat which has no effect save to rile up the rubes in the cheap seats, get them marching down to the polls and donating and volunteering. Certainly Obama’s donations recently haven’t been all they would hope for.
Since President Obama has lost his ability to charm, he now depends on demonizing Romney as much as he possibly can. Ironic that the President who ran on "Hope and Change" and on uniting different sections of the country is in fact running one of the most divisive campaigns I can remember. Maybe Johnson vs. Goldwater was this rough, but I’m hard pressed to think of any other democrat in living memory who waged social war with this level of vigor.
I always thought it a distraction and I have paid little attention to it. I expect there are many CEO’s of companies I buy from who hold views I detest. There are others who say things I agree with. I am told that Henry Ford was an unpleasant man with some very regrettable views, but his cars were pretty good stuff.
‘RAND looked at 588 air-to-air shoot-downs since the 1950s and counted just 24 that occurred with the attacker firing from beyond visual range. Historically, American long-range air-to-air missiles have been 90-percent less effective than predicted, RAND asserted.’
We did operations studies like that when I was in the business, and I am not entirely surprised. Of course when we were doing those studies in the 1960’s there were fewer cases of shoot downs after WW II, and most of our data came from WW II and Korea.
Subject: City shuts down teen’s hot dog stand
Here’s a story when a thirteen year old young man took initiative to help his disabled parents, and the government couldn’t hardly wait to shut him down.
But…a business stepped and not only made it right, but better.
There’s a lesson for the big government advocates here somewhere….
Education Without Schools
I have had personal experience with early "distance learning" technology. When I was in high school in the 70′s, I took a calculus class offered to seniors who had taken all other math classes offered in the school. The school did not have a teacher qualified to teach calculus, however, and the course was provided on open real video tape. The teacher assigned as our "advisor" was not interested in answering questions or clarifying points in the presentation and neither were the tapes — no matter how many times we rewound and re-played the tapes, they said the same thing in the same way! (Amazing, isn’t it?). To make a long story short, I was determined to learn calculus, so I started collecting calculus text books, looking for different explanations of the then obscure points in the video lectures. Eventually I had twelve books. The trick worked; I learned calculus and I explained to the rest of the class what I learned as I learned it.
Distance learning is not the same today as it once was. I have enrolled my son (whom you met at Liberty Con) in a home school curriculum for high school as I have lost all faith in the public school system. He will receive live lectures on his computer with question/answer sessions as well as the ability to review the lectures at will as recordings with supplemental material linked in. He will also have the benefit of live instruction from my wife and myself, both of college level education — she in the arts and myself in engineering and the sciences. I know he will receive four times the education that the public high school could provide and likely in half the time.
Kevin L. Keegan
Well of course it is not the same, just as I am not operating with a Z-80 and a screen that gives 24 lines of text and text only.
Kahn Academy has shown that introductory calculus can be taught by a computer lecture. I doubt yours was better than his.
And yes not everyone will get it from Kahn’s lecture just as not everyone got it from Calculus Made Easy; but should the entire middle class be saddled with lifelong debt because some don’t learn from on screen lectures?
The system has become monstrous, and I do not think it can be fixed. More, there will be more movements to force people to send their children to credentialed schools. The unions will never give up this income stream. The harm to the next generation is monstrous, but My God How The Money Rolls in.
Coursera seems to be trying to address increasing interaction during online learning. I learned about them reading an article in the paper about your alma mater joining there program.
I am sure they or someone like them are working on the accreditation anlge.
PETA takes ‘bets’ on when senator will die after objection to USDA vegetarian push
Both this and the Chick-Fil-A issue show just how much the liberals venom and hate they can generate against anyone they disagree with, even over a small matter. The odd thing is that they don’t even notice the hypocrisy of it, despite all their claims of being intellectuals.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has started taking "bets" on its website over when Sen. Charles Grassley will die, after the Iowa Republican scolded the Department of Agriculture for advocating a vegetarian diet.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/27/peta-takes-bets-on-when-senator-will-die-after-objection-to-usda-vegetarian/?test=latestnews#ixzz21qOXTAu4 <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/27/peta-takes-bets-on-when-senator-will-die-after-objection-to-usda-vegetarian/?test=latestnews#ixzz21qOXTAu4>
>>We need a way to provide credentials to the qualified and otherwise get out of the way.<<
The primary reason a Credential is even wanted is to satisfy archaic state occupational licensing laws and regulations. This is where the Government-Education Complex enforces its monopoly. Part of the licensing requirement is invariably displaying a Credential from an "accredited" learning institution. The theory is that possession of this Credential is evidence of minimal competency in the referenced subject matter for engineers, lawyers and barbers. Sometimes this theory intersects reality.
This political field of licensing is where change needs to be focused. If Mike Johns and others feel the need for a high cost traditional college education they should certainly be able to get (and pay) for it. But that does not justify inflicting the extremely high costs of the educational cartel on others who do not need their services, or for depriving yet others of opportunity simply because they don’t have a certain quantity of Federal Reserve currency to hand over to accredited rent-seekers.
The short solution is provide fee-based subject matter testing and open these tests to all comers. The current College Board CLEP test structure shows what reasonable test fees are.
Professional bodies are playing an obstructive role. ABET for instance http://www.abet.org/ is the cartel enforcer for "applied science, computing, engineering, and technology programs". Its principle power derives from the fact that state occupational licensing boards typically require an ABET accredited degree or evaluated equivalent to even apply for engineering and other technology occupation licensing.
The various engineering specialties are excellent candidates for standardized bar exam style processes. My own expectation is this would turn into a Warren Buffet type low tide swimming event whereby we discover who is skinny dipping. In other words, numerous expensive "accredited" schools would be discovered to be accrediting graduates with deficient knowledge in their nominal degree fields.
And speaking of bar exams, the bar exams and law licenses should also be RE-opened to anyone willing to pay the licensing fees and able to pass the tests. Is there any reason Law shouldn’t revive a master-apprentice style of training? That is, any reason other than the desire of the Harvard and Yale law school faculties to collect high salaries and wield unchecked ideological power? I have heard that even Yale Law School grads like Hillary Rodham Clinton have needed two or three swings to pass their bar exams.
"In March 1836 Lincoln took the first step to becoming a practicing attorney when he applied to the clerk of the Sangamon County Court to have himself registered as a man of good and moral character. After passing an oral examination by a panel of practicing attorneys Lincoln received his law license on September 9, 1836 and in April 1837 he was enrolled to practice before the Supreme Court of Illinois."
Missing from this account is any mention that Lincoln ever attended an "accredited law school", let alone received a J.D. or Ll.d.
One reason for credentials is to avoid lawsuits under affirmative action and Americans with Disabilities Act and other egalitarian regulations and laws. Insisting on credentials gets the personnel manager off the hook for a number of cases. Of course it also make their job much harder.
Repeal a lot of the ‘discrimination’ regulations and you will see in general more people hired on the basis of ability and fewer on credentials. Or that’s my opinion.
Vitamins and other stuff
For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents on the vitamin issue. Note that much of this depends on conversations (from the mid-1990s) with the late Mike Lalor, and on some conversations with my current physician.
Pursuant to bone spurs, I have taken 400 – 800 IU of ergocalciferol (Vitamin D-2, described as the water soluble vitamin of the D-complex) as protection against bone spurs. Anecdotally I can report that pain medically diagnosed as a bone spur (which would require surgical intervention in the form of "scraping the bone") goes away when I take at least 400 IU daily and returns if I miss doses for something less than a week. However, this dosage has NOT been adequate in maintaining my serum level of Vitamin D as measured by blood testing, and the doctor has placed me on additional supplements of Vitamin D-3.
On Lalor’s advice I started the following regimen for varicose veins, which I have been plagued with for most of my adult life:
Vitamin C, 1000 – 2000 mg daily, primarily as an anti-coagulant Vitamin E, 400 – 800 IU daily in the form of "natural mixed tocopherol" (NOT the alpha-tocopherol of most Vitamin E supplements) as an anti-oxidant and natural lubricant of the cardiovascular system.
Niacin , 100 – 200 mg daily, as a vasodilator. For this to work, one cannot use the no-flush variety, but one adapts.
The supplements biorutin (500 – 1000 mg daily) and butcher’s broom (1-2 standard tablets) today, which together supposedly provide fuel to stimulate rebuilding the cardiovascular system.
I can report that my veins got worse when I ignored this regimen for a year or so, and that after restarting it at the higher dose, not only do I have fewer instances of leg pain, but the doctor has observed some signs of minor improvement in vein surface visibility (in connection with use of prescription Joust support hose, which costs a lot more than the vitamins do). Vein pain seems to recur consistently if I miss two-three doses in a five-day period.
I also take occasional doses of L-carnitine, which enhances fat metabolism (including, supposedly, the disintegration of plaque deposits in the circulatory system — Lalor reported that megadoses can actually cause the breakup of such deposits in life-threatening form. Whether due to this and the varicose vein regimen or not, I can report that as of my last stress test and test for blockages about four years ago, I had no evidence of same despite my… er, overweight condition (which you noted at Libertycon). I am presently taking one 250-mg tablet per week.
Finally, I take a "balanced B-100" (or two balanced b-50) tablets per day for general energy.
(I’ll also note, however, that I’m on two blood pressure medications and two oral diabetic medications, among other prescriptions for other problems.)
That said, I approach other supplements very carefully after attempting glucosamine- chondroitin in the mid 1990′s. The recommended regimen was five tablets per day; I started at 1 tablet per day and after three days was in severe pain. I chose to drop it completely rather than restarting at the higher dose for obvious reasons.
As always, your mileage may vary. I can only report my anecdotal experience.
I do not currently take glucosamine-condroitin, but I have done so; I didn’t notice much effect one way or another. I do take a B-100 tablet, generally daily, along with my other witch’s brew.
From time to time you mention actions by the federal government that make it especially difficult for companies like Gibson Guitar to stay in business, and draconian punishments for pet rabbit breeders who sell 600 rabbits instead of the 500 that they are allowed. I understand that the penalty for this particular infraction is a fine of $100,000 rising to $2,000,000 if the fine is not paid promptly. All without the scrutiny of the courts. In the larger scheme of things this is not important. Perfectly good guitars can be imported from China, and no one will really suffer if they are unable to to obtain a pet rabbit. More serious, if true, is the jail sentence of eight years imposed for the crime of importing lobster tails from Honduras in plastic boxes as opposed to cardboard boxes as mandated by the Honduras Government. Again, this is horrific for the imprisoned importer, but not significant in the greater scheme of things.
What is nationally vital is the deterrent effect that these examples have on would be entrepreneurs. There are many reasons for someone who thinks he sees a gap in the market that he can fill to not do so. For the government to add further reasons is not rational, indeed it is clinically insane. The USA has an annual budget deficit of about $15 trillion and unfunded liabilities, eg. pension liabilities, currently estimated at $119 trillion. If these prodigious debts are ever to be repaid, innovators are needed as never before.
Your correspondent’s father rather unwisely toured France and Germany in 1939 in a Fiat 500* car, quite large enough for himself and his pregnant wife. He ended up driving flat out for Calais accompanied by three Brits that he met on the way. For his own part your correspondent would love to visit the USA and spend two or three months just driving about. Starting in New York and ending in Los Angeles before flying the Pacific to see Australasia. The current atmosphere of fascism in the USA has altered his plans. The USA has convinced him that it is a place avoided by the prudent. This is sad to the point of disgust. How did the World’s exemplar of freedom fall, so far, so quickly?
* The Fiat 500 was large enough for two adults. It also had reasonable space in the back for two legless dwarves who were inured to suffering. How papa fitted three extra adults in the car is a mystery. Possibly the prospect of being a guest of Herr Hitler helped.
We are from the government and we are here to help you.
“It’s practically possible for a medium-technical savvy person to mount an attack and impersonate a plane that’s not there.”
Neanderthal-type species once roamed Africa, DNA shows,
Neanderthal-type species once roamed Africa and interbred with Africans 20-50K ya, after a number of our ancestors had already left and begun to colonize Asia and Europe:
“How do you risch?”
This is a suprise; audits of the Federal Reserve are supposed to occur annually, but this has not happened since Eisenhower was president. Every year, Ron Paul introduces certain bills with the purposes of doing what the Consitution and U.S. laws already require and nobody ever votes for these bills. Auditing the Federal Reserve is one of those bills. This year, the audit passed!
In a move that serves as a capstone to Rep. Ron Paul’s colorful career, the House on Wednesday voted to have Congress‘ chief investigators conduct a full audit of the Federal Reserve’s shrouded decision-making process.
The overwhelming 327-98 vote sends the measure to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, at one time expressed support for an audit — though he reportedly has changed his mind.
What is not surprising is the lack of Senate support for this audit. After all, it’s easier to buy a majority among 100 politicians than it is to buy a majority among 435 politicians.
More interesting; not suprisng if you keep up on these matters:
Fed officials have long fought the audit bill, arguing it would compromise their independence. Chairman Ben Bernanke told House lawmakers last week it would open the door to a "nightmare scenario" of political meddling in monetary policy decisions.
Why is that Mister Chairman? What are you doing at the Federal Reserve that you don’t want the people to see? And, a nightmare for whom, exactly? Would it be a nightmare for you, past chairmen, past treasurers — to name a few?
Joshua Jordan, KSC
View 735 Monday, July 30, 2012
I watched the London Olympics Opening Ceremony Friday night, and Saturday I got involved in other stuff. Saturday evening we went to see Brave, and we watched a lot of Olympics stuff Sunday, so in effect I took the weekend off.
I didn’t really want to comment on the Opening Ceremonies because what I would have had to say would be impolite. I’ve thought about it since, and I guess I don’t care. If the Brits can insult Mr. Romney for being both polite and honest when asked if Britain was “ready” for the Olympics – this just after they had to withdraw troops from Afghanistan because they suddenly noted a deficiency in their security arrangements – then I guess being polite isn’t in the cards.
The Opening Ceremony was four hours of the most pretentious taurocoprophogeny I have seen this year. It began with the picture of an idyllic countryside that depicted a nostalgia for a Malthusian existence for 90% of the human race, and went on from there. It included a great Shakespearian actor given about four lines of Shakespeare and dozens of skits in a goofy costume with cigar, interspersed with clever scenes involving the Queen, a paean to National Health Care and socialized medicine, and NBC commenters who made sure that no part of the ceremony was unaccompanied by mindless chatter. Parts of it were amusing, but none of them had much to do with athletic excellence. Mary Poppins vs. Valdemort was funny for a few minutes, and would have been more so if the NBC commenters hadn’t felt the need to explain the matters.
Finally came the parade of the nations, interspersed with the usual horror of stacked commercials which required that the actual events be truncated and hurried along so that there would be more time for advertisements.
After the Berlin Olympics the Games became national contests rather than exhibitions of individual prowess, a tendency exaggerated by the Cold War following WW II. The Los Angeles Olympics tried to reverse some of that trend but it was too late. We now have the idiocy of the gymnastics world champion not being allowed to compete in the individual events because – well because no ‘nation’ can send more than two competitors to an individual contest? I am sure I must be misunderstanding that rule, which seems to take the notion of affirmative action to an absurdity. Such is our modern world.
Roberta tells me it will be 100 degrees out there shortly and we have to take our morning walk. That seems an appropriate setting for thinking about global warming and the surprise defection of Muller from the ranks of the Deniers, accompanied by the cheers of his compadres at Berkeley.
I haven’t read his (unpublished but peer reviewed, but now said to be on line) papers yet, but the summaries I have seen says that he is now convinced that the world has been warming since 1800, and he can’t think of any reason for that other than human action; and he has a new computer model.
I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t know that the Hudson froze solid in 1776 and continued to do so into the 1800’s, the Thames had markets on the ice up into the 1830’s, the brackish canals of Holland froze solid enough for skating well into late Spring well into the 1800’s. And Arrhenius did back of the envelope calculations – ah well.
I will think on the matter and look at the papers, but I can’t see what Muller knows now than we didn’t all know many years ago. Perhaps he will convince me, but I keep remembering vines in Vinland and dairy farms in Greenland, which I learned about in 5th Grade. Perhaps before.
Back after our walk.
Latch on, New York City!!
NBC appears to be using the airlines and newspapers as role models. Airlines and newspapers seem to have learned their business philosophy from Chinese merchants: once you have made a sale, gradually reduce the quality of what you deliver until the customer threatens to leave, then go back to giving him the minimum quality that he can still stand.
Newspapers are still reducing their quality, and still losing customers. I already need brighter lights in my breakfast room. NBC is streaming the Americans playing basketball, but their live coverage is some people bicycling. I presume they are racing, but it’s hard to tell.
And the world champion gymnast won’t be allowed to compete in the individual gymnastics because she came in third among Americans, and we are spreading the wealth around: only two competitors per country. This in an event that is said to be related to the original Olympic Games, and supposedly promote individualism as opposed to nationalism – at least that is what they were supposed to be doing when I was growing up. Mr. Hitler tried to make the Games a nationalistic and racial contest, but Jesse Owens did not agree. The Olympic rules forbade ‘professional’ athletes, to the extent that Jim Thorpe’s medals were taken away from him when it was discovered he had played professional baseball before winning the gold) but the problem was that military athletes given the duty of training were permitted. Eventually those rules were abolished, and the Games became even more of a national contest. And now the silly rules say that someone who scores well below world champion Jordyn Wieber can compete, but she can’t. This is stupidity on broken stilts, but it’s good affirmative action I suppose.
Of course Mitt Romney was correct. The Brits were not entirely prepared for all this. It was pretty obvious to everyone, but the news media will use any stick to beat him with.
Romney has now in essence said that the US will not only recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and thus reject Mr. Obama’s suggestion that the Arab-Israeli negotiations begin with the 1967 boundaries (before Israel’s victories in the 6-day and other wars). Sheldon Adelson was in the audience, and is raising money for Romney. There are a number of implications to this. One is that Romney and Newt Gingrich have a powerful mutual friend. What that means for Newt in the event of a Romney election is not clear, but it may indicate a larger place in space policy for Newt Gingrich – who remains a space cadet. I first met Newt after he read my A Step Farther Out (Kindle edition) and telephoned me because he wanted to discuss it.
Sheldon Adelson is a very astute man, and his ability to put together coalitions of enemies in order to advance causes and institutions he favors should not be underestimated. His wife, Dr. Miriam Ochshorn Adelson, is a graduate of Tel Aviv University.
And Mike Flynn, who knows more statistics than anyone I have ever known well other than John Tukey, has this comment:
Muller and BEST
A comment on Dr. Briggs’ "Statistician to the Stars" blog provides the following comments from Dr. Muller of the BEST study:
“I was never a skeptic” – Richard Muller, 2011 “If Al Gore reaches more people and convinces the world that global warming is real, even if he does it through exaggeration and distortion – which he does, but he’s very effective at it – then let him fly any plane he wants.” – Richard Muller, 2008 “There is a consensus that global warming is real. …it’s going to get much, much worse.” – Richard Muller, 2006 “Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate.” – Richard Muller, 2003″
Given these sentiments running back to AD 2003, it seems a bit disingenuous to advertise as a "denier" who has been "converted" by close study of the data. If you go to http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=5946 and search the site for "Muller" a number of interesting statistical critiques will reveal themselves.
The problem, as always, is in the homogenization procedures. Such procedures are necessary if one is to convert actual temperature measurements into adjusted measurements that "might have been seen" if only there were not a city where once there were meadows as bucolic as the opening act at the Olympics (or conversely, if the city had always been there). This is a bit like measuring a triangular plot of land and finding that the angles do not add up to 180 deg. The data must be adjusted. The question is how. By some amazing coincidence, in 67% of the cases, the adjusted data show a greater temperature increase than the actual data. In some cases, a declining trend in actual temperatures is, mirabile dictu, transformed into an increasing trend in adjusted temperatures. But given the homogenization procedures used, a stationary series of serially correlated random data will be adjusted into an increasing trend. http://itia.ntua.gr/getfile/1212/1/documents/2012EGU_homogenization_1.pdf
Apparently Muller wasn’t quite the Denier that the headlines said he was. As to the homogenization, I have written on that many times: I don’t trust any of the measures enough that I would bet trillions of dollars on them. We know it was warmer in Roman times, we know it was warmer in Viking times, and we know damned well that it was a lot colder during the Little Ice Age. We know that it was colder when England and Scandinavia and much of northern North America were under hundreds to thousands of meters of ice. We have some reliable data from the times of the voyage of the Beagle and more since 1900, and after satellites we began to get really accurate primary data, but there are still anomalies, outages, gaps, missing data…
I know it has warmed in North America since Colonial times. I know we were concerned about Cooling when I was science editor of Galaxy.
My morning paper headlines that 17,000 people have applied for 300 positions as LA City fire fighters. Is it possible that fire fighters are paid more than would be needed to attract qualified people to the job? But then the California board that governs the investment of pension funds has found itself lucky to make 1% return on those funds, but consistently gives the official estimate for future return at more than 7%. This is known as quality management.
I cheerfully acknowledge that I paid no attention to Muller until this incident, and I did pay attention to what appeared to be reasonable statements by mainstream media. That, it turns out, was an error. Here is a good summary:
Surprise defection of Muller?
The surprise is that anyone believes this is a defection.
First and foremost, look here http://mullerandassociates.com/government/ . This is a company with Richard Muller , President and Chief Scientist, Elizabeth Muller, CEO. They make the following statements (on a page formerly named GreenGov in Oct 2011) "Energy policy involves economics, energy security, and climate change." and "Coal, as one example, is abundant in some countries, but it is also a strong emitter of carbon dioxide." They made those same statements before this paper was first submitted (2011), and thus supposedly before Muller was "convinced" by the data that humans changed climate. They therefore state that they believe in climate change caused by human produced CO2, and so stated at the same time they were claiming to be "skeptics". They get business and money if climate change is true, and lose money if it is false. They therefore have a serious conflict of interest. Conclusion, they were not at that time and never have been, "skeptics".
Muller enlisted some skeptics and middle of the roaders such as Anthony Watts and Dr. Judith Curry (listed co author), and then released a paper that was different that these people were told it would be, not using their data or input in ways he stated that he would. This was then followed by a media blitz in Oct 2011 which drew criticism from these contributors and co authors since it was released before peer review. This looks like simply getting the "skeptics" on board, or at least getting their names on the paper, to make it look as if Muller is a skeptic or at least is addressing their concerns. It was this first media blitz that claimed that Muller was now no longer a "skeptic" and was convinced by the data that humans changed climate. With the discovery of the above Muller and Associates statement that climate change is true prior to and during his claim of being a "skeptic", it is obvious that that claim was and is false. It looks like a classic "Black Flag" operation, claim to be one thing while actually being another. It is the old tactic "Ally, Neutralize, Destroy", Ally = "I am a fellow skeptic, like you", Neutralize = "Oh look, that data says humans are causing warming", Destroy = "If even I, a fellow skeptic, can see this, you skeptics should give up your skepticism and join the consensus".
This paper has still NOT passed peer review, in fact, at least one of the reviewers, Ross McKitrick, has recommended it not be published, stating "I submitted my review just before the end of September 2011, outlining what I saw were serious shortcomings in their methods and arguing that their analysis does not establish valid grounds for the conclusions they assert. I suggested the authors be asked to undertake a major revision." and then " On March 8 2012 I was asked by JGR to review a revised version of the Wickham et al. paper. I submitted my review at the end of March. The authors had made very few changes and had not addressed any of the methodological problems, so I recommended the paper not be published. I do not know what the journal’s decision was, but it is 4 months later and I can find no evidence on the BEST website that this or any other BEST project paper has been accepted for publication." http://www.rossmckitrick.com/
Listed co author Dr. Judith Curry states "Muller bases his ‘conversion’ on the results of their recent paper. So, how convincing is the analysis in Rohde et al.’s new paper?" followed by "I have made public statements that I am unconvinced by their analysis". http://judithcurry.com/2012/07/30/observation-based-attribution/#more-9238
Meanwhile, there is now evidence that "the data used by Muller to draw these conclusions was unreliable to the point of utter uselessness" http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100173174/global-warming-yeah-right/ . This is based on new findings that half of the US temperature change in the last 30 years is caused by bad station siting http://www.examiner.com/article/new-study-dismantles-muller-s-best-claims-half-the-warming-trend-artificial . You can see actual photographs of this bad station siting here http://www.surfacestations.org/ , no need to just take their word for it (suggest you look there during off peak hours, traffic has become heavy). Basically, fully 80% of the sites used to take the "official" temperature in the US are stated by the NOAA to be too poorly sited to be used officially, but are used anyway. Most of these sites have serious Urban Heat Island effects causing an artificially high temperature to be registered, these bad readings are then used to "adjust" the data even on well sited stations upwards. The temperatures you have been told about are therefor simply false. The problem will be even worse in other countries where there is even less quality control, and often few stations with temperatures of huge areas of the earth being measured at only a few (usually urban) stations (Siberia for instance). Half of all "official" "world average" temperatures are measured at airports, covered in miles of concrete and of course of necessity being near urban areas, usually surrounded by them Actual paper on this here http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/watts-et-al_2012_discussion_paper_webrelease.pdf (PDF), powerpoint overview here http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/watts-et-al-station-siting-7-29-12.ppt .
Richard Muller is not now, and never was, a skeptic, as proven by his companies website.
His "defection" is therefor staged.
"Accompanied by the cheers of his compadres at Berkeley", mission accomplished.
His paper is stated to be flawed by it’s co author and some of it’s contributors, as well as others.
It has NOT been recommended for publication by peer review, nor has it been published.
Recent studies now show it to be based on flawed data anyway, in addition to the flawed methodology.
Even with all that, Mullers paper shows that over the last 15+ years, CO2 has increased but the temperature has not.
Which confirms what we have actually long known about the True Believers in the Global Warming program. Sorry to have wasted so much time on this, but I had mail from a number of you asking about it – apparently the ploy worked well, and got the attention that Muller wanted. No surprises there. And the example confirms what we have known about the Believers for some time.
My thanks to all of you who have taken the trouble to chase this down.
I meant to comment on this earlier.
The latest hyperventilating on the TV news is about the threat of rising food prices because of the drought, particularly grains and meat.
Perhaps right now isn’t the best time to be burning food (ethanol) in our cars? If Obama can suspend the welfare work requirements (in violation of the black letter of the law), maybe he can suspend the ethanol mandates for a legitimate crisis?
Needless to say, I’m not holding my breath.
That was the first thing I thought of after watching a news report on the drought and the coming corn shortage. Burning food is sinful, and a President who orders us to burn food in cars rather than drill for more oil does not have the best interests of the people who have to buy their food as his major goal. When the United States was booming, we could afford this kind of nonsense although I can think of more fun things to waste money on; but in this economy driving up the price of fuel by burning corn while preventing drilling is much worse than a blunder. Yet we continue to do it. As we continue to fund all kinds of nonsense that costs money.
The best thing one can do for giant corporations is to thicken the business environment with regulations requiring compliance specialists; the result is to prevent newcomers from entering the business, thus ensuring that the business will be dominated by the existing giants. We have always known this, and the Republicans know it as well as the Democrats. This regulatory environment has grown ever more complex under each party, but since the unionized public employees tend to vote Democrat it is harder for Democrat leaders to cut back regulations than it is for Republicans. The only remedy to these trends is for the American Middle Class to understand that self government requires that some citizens be willing to be part of the self government, and for others to become part of the governing structure of one of the major parties. Ideally both would be dominated by middle class citizens, as they were at one time. One problem is that we now live in an era in which fami9lies require two incomes. At one time one member of a family would work and the other might have the leisure to participate in politics, at least at a local level. Now that women are liberated and thus have to work it is much harder for the middle class to take part in self government. More on this another time.
We will see rising food prices and we will continue to see the Federal Government requiring us to convert food into automobile fuel at costs higher than the stuff can be sold for without subsidies. The subsidies keep the whole industry going – it would collapse without them, and food would be sold as food in the open market.
And they never catch wise…
I am not a regular reader of Slate and I know no more about this than having read it: but it is disturbing.
Nonetheless, the goal of the “stakeholder engagement event,” as the TPP “Welcome Stakeholders!” packet explained, was to provide an “open and productive forum.” Yet the public knows more about the aggregate numbers of nuclear warheads the United States and Russia have deployed on intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty than it does about U.S. negotiating positions in TPP. Thus, on “openness,” the TPP negotiators and USTR have failed.
Mail 734 Thursday, July 26, 2012
Everyone should understand. I don’t recommend much. I can only describe what I have concluded is worth doing for myself. I take some massive overdoses of some vitamins and radical shields, and some other strange stuff. That may not work for anyone. It may not even be working for me, although I have introspective reasons to believe that it is. I am quite sure that some of what I take makes expensive urine, and some helps my physiology, and I can’t determine which does what.
Vitamin D and multivitamins
Like you, I used to think that I ought to take a multivitamin, since my diet certainly isn’t perfect. But it turns out there’s no evidence that they actually do any good, and some evidence of harm. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is virtually all upside, with very little risk of overdose until you get up into the multiple tens of thousands of IUs.
Here’s a good explanation from one expert whom I trust for health information:
I have different conclusions.
Re. Glendale Dentists, Aspirin, and Folic Acid:
I agree completely about folate, with the proviso that large doses should be accompanied by making sure that you’re not short of vitamin B12. Folate can cover up the haematological signs of B12 deficiency, but doesn’t help the other consequences (such as irreversible nerve damage) of severe lack of B12. Unfortunately, people over maybe 60 are much more likely to have B12 deficiency problems, because B12 absorption is dependent on adequate stomach acid – increasingly unlikely as one gets older.
Aspirin has been proved to lessen the risk of abnormal blood clotting but also to increase the risk of ulcers, which may ultimately bleed and may lead to complications such as peritonitis. AFAIK fish oils have the same anti-clotting effect but no effect on the stomach, so you can probably get the same anti-clotting results with less side effects by regularly eating mackerel or salmon. These oils also benefit the function of the nervous system, including the brain.
Plant pigments collectively known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (try saying that after a few beers!) also have anti-clotting and antioxidant effects – and are found in quite a few common foods such as red wine and beetroot, along with all the black or purple berries.
It all comes down to the same old story – eating the diet people are evolved for is better for us. No surprises there, although the agribusiness and junk food industries wouldn’t want you to know it – which is probably why the authorities come down HARD on anyone making health claims for supplements and the "paleo" diet.
Also, although once again business (this time a different one, the pharma cartel) wouldn’t want us to think about it: there is no such thing as a deficiency in aspirin, statin drugs or Zocor. If a drug has long-term benefits, there is almost certainly some diet or lifestyle change with the same benefits and without the downsides.
Sorry about the long reply – it’s one of my hobbyhorses and one out of which I used to make a living. Until the banks put paid to that, but that’s the subject of another post perhaps.
Until the Glendale dentists there were no formal studies. Now we have a better understanding. And I make no doubt that lifestyle changes can substitute for drugs, but that may not be the most cost effective use of ones time and energies and habit formations. And some people benefit from regimes that would kill others.
Of course the drug industry wants to sell drugs, as the corn industry wants to sell corn, and the science fiction publishing industry wants to sell science fiction.
I am not sure what you mean by aspirin deficiency. Evolution has pretty well designed us to have the good grace to die when our children reach child bearing age, so that we make room for them; the alternative is that every advance in food production is used up by making more people, and while the standard of living for a few can go up, most will live at subsistance level. Indeed for tens of thousands of years until about 1840 that is how humanity lived: 90% of humans lived at a subsistance level. A few lived much better of course, but most lived at the edge and if resources increased that did not appear as a higher standard of living, but as more people. The Black Death raised wages for everyone, and the effect was temporary. The Industrial Revolution changed living standards, although it is not entirely certain that this change is permanent, and it is certainly distributed unevenly.
There is no aspirin deficiency, but then people my age used to be rare, and people my age writing a lot were even more so.
But we are now living much longer than we used to. There are far more older people now than ever before. We have not evolved for long life.
Big Government, Income Inequality, & Economic Mobility
First, I would like to tell you one last time how much I enjoyed the opportunity to meet you and speak with you and Larry Niven at Liberty Con. I have received many years of intellectual pleasure from the two of you, separately and together, and I will prize the chance to tell you in person for the rest of my life.
On the subject at hand, I ran across a succinct article (http://money.msn.com/personal-finance/what-no-ones-telling-us-workers-usnews.aspx) about the issue of income inequality. It addresses some fundemental truths in coping with the income gap; it is up to the individual to fix it, not the government. However, it does not address a proper role for government in the issue: identify and eliminate all laws and regulations that impede economic upward mobility (e.g. the so-called "progressive" income tax rates).
Kevin L. Keegan
I have never supposed that much progress is possible without government. Sarah Hoyt shows the best developed kind of very libertarian society I know of, but it too is unstable. Possibly everything is, but the United States, these United States as we used to be known, did manage to combine liberty with order for a long time. Pity we decided to substitute national bureaucracy for ordered liberty, and national entitlements for what de Tocqueville called ‘the associations.’ But then nothing is forever.
This article does an excellent job of disecting the NSA surveillance octopus. This is worse than Nazi Germany; clearly we live in the Fourth Reich. You can equivocate, excuse, or attempt to justify as I’m sure all those good Nazi citizens did, but the fact remains that this country is not what it is supposed to be and this government no longer cares to follow the laws the created nor does it care to respect the freedoms granted to us. I suppose I can do little other than complain to people who either (1) won’t listen or (2) will echo my complaints. Back when we might have changed things, I was considered "crazy". Now my friends and family admit that I was right, but it’s no comfort. Yeah, so I knew what I was talking about; so what? I was never trying to be a prophet of doom; I was trying to turn things around and now I wonder if that will ever be possible. Then again, I suppose the Nazi regime changed. I hope our shift is less violent and less humiliating.
People who think that Nazi analogy is "over the top" or "overused" obviously have no idea about what has been going on in this country and they obviously have no idea how Nazi Germany worked. While we are not talking carbon copies here and we don’t have a firey speaker hailing from a beer hall in Munich, we have many striking similarities. The process has been refined and it has a more sophisticated approach, but it is shaping up to be the same tyranny. Wait and see; that seems to be all most people are good for denying, waiting, and finally admitting — but then, of course, it’s too late.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
As I suspected:
This is a shocking video confirming, by former NSA employees, what many of us probably suspected about the National Security Agency.
NSA whistle blowers Thomas Drake, former senior official; Kirk Wiebe, former senior analyst; and William Binney, former technical director, return to “Viewpoint” to talk about their allegations that the NSA has conducted illegal domestic surveillance. All three men are providing evidence in a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the NSA.
Drake says the spying affects “the entire country,” citing a “key decision made shortly after 9/11 which began to rapidly turn the United States of America into the equivalent of a foreign nation for dragnet blanket electronic surveillance.”
“It’s hard to believe that your government’s gonna actually do it,” Wiebe says. “That was the shocker.”
Binney mentions a new NSA facility under construction in Bluffdale, Utah: “That facility alone can probably hold somewhere close to a hundred years worth of the communications of the world.” Binney continues, “Once you accumulate that kind of data – they’re accumulating against everybody – [it's] resident in programs that can pull it together in timelines and things like that and let them see into your life.”
It is also noteworthy that this interview was conducted by the very aggressive former-New York state Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was brought down in a call girl scandal, where unknown government surveillance techniques were used against him. Welcome to the fight Eliot.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Why did no one fight back?
"…Aurora, Colorado already has strict gun control laws on the books that make it:
* Illegal to carry a concealed weapon, even if you’re a law-abiding citizen.
* Illegal to discharge a firearm in public unless you are a peace officer.
Thus, any person who would have shot James Holmes and stopped the massacre would, themselves, have been arrested as a criminal!"
I have mine. Do you?
Gasmasks in demand as Israel tracks Syria chemical arms
RE: I have mine. Do you?
Most commonly available gas masks will be of no use against most war gasses.
Terrorists are not likely to use mustard or phosgene or chlorine. But yes, it’s wise to be prepared for an idiot attack since it’s easy to make mustard.
I attended the two week NBC officers course. A mask is all you need if you stay in your home or apartment as these are low dose environments. Many items are available on the net, such as"
John from Waterford
It all depends on what you are preparing for. Having a gas mask can be useful, and we can hope that we never encounter modern nerve agents. Or that a home grown terrorist doesn’t do a lot of research.
. Fact check Obama and the VA
OBAMA: "We’ve hired thousands of claims processors. We’re investing in paperless systems. To their credit, the dedicated folks at the VA are now completing 1 million claims a year, but there’s been a tidal wave of new claims."
THE FACTS: Veterans can be eligible for help with conditions caused or aggravated by their military service. The government, however, has long struggled to keep up with the claims, and the backlog has grown worse during the president’s term in office as soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In May 2009, about 135,000 claims for disability benefits had been pending for more than 125 days, representing about one-third of all pending claims. Today, that number has more than quadrupled, to 558,000 claims — about two-thirds of all those pending.
As Obama emphasized, the Veterans Affairs Department has processed more claims than ever in the past two years. In 2010, the VA completed a million claims but received about 1.2 million new ones. In 2011, the department again processed more than 1 million claims, but about 1.3 million new claims came in.
The department’s independent inspector general has said the VA made the problem worse by not assigning enough staff to process appeals and not following its own guidelines in processing older claims.
For example, when investigators reviewed the claims processed at three offices in California, they found that division managers did not conduct monthly reviews of those claims pending for more than a year — a violation of policy that led to unnecessary delays.
In recent congressional hearings, lawmakers from both parties have voiced frustration with the VA’s inability to cut into the backlog despite the additional resources allotted to the task. Obama noted that the VA has redeployed 1,200 claims experts to target and tackle the most complex claims in the backlog. It’s also moving to a paperless system.
OBAMA: "We’ve also focused on the urgent needs of our veterans with PTSD. We’ve poured tremendous resources into this fight."
THE FACTS: Obama correctly noted that the administration has increased its investment in helping veterans deal with the mental wounds of war, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder. Staffing for counselors, psychologists and mental health workers is up 45 percent since 2005, with the department recently announcing that about 1,900 more mental health workers were being added to the fold.
But there too investigators found that the VA routinely did not follow its own guidelines in treating patients seeking mental health treatment. The department had claimed that 95 percent of new patients seeking mental health treatment got a full evaluation within the department’s goal of 14 days. But the independent investigators found performance was far worse; nearly half of the veterans seeking mental health care for the first time waited about 50 days before getting a full evaluation.
Investigators explained the conflicting numbers by stating that the VA did not have a reliable and accurate method of determining whether patients were getting timely access to mental health care. They said the VA’s measure "had no real value."
Obama called it an outrage when he hears about service members and veterans who died waiting for help. "We’ve got to do better," he said. "This has to be all hands on deck."
The shootings in Colorado
Sandra and I live in Parker, which butts up against Aurora’s southern end. Our youngest daughter, Emily, lives in Aurora, just a few miles from the complex in question and, like me, is an avid movie-goer.
Needless to say, I have pretty strong feelings about this incident, which I wrote about at Ace of Spades (where I guest-blog occasionally as ‘Fritzworth’, an old high-school nickname). Here are my two posts — the first written in an airport while still waiting to hear back from Emily to know whether or not she was ok (you’ll see I pretty much agree with you and Larry on the desired consequences, though I go perhaps a bit farther); the second, on the mental state of the killer himself:
Safe travels back home, and hugs to Roberta; Sandra sends her best.
Worth looking up for those interested.
Education Without Schools
Jerry you write: One of the things I pointed out in the education panel this morning is that it is no thoroughly possible to get a very good education without going to the schools, and without incurring a life long crippling debt by taking out huge student loansk which mostly serve to drive up the price of education
Sites like the Khan Academy and shows like PBS’ The Mechanical Universe suggest that the technology is available, but are all of the pieces really in place? One feature of my undergraduate education was recitation sessions in which the class was split into smaller groups which met separately with a teaching assistant who answered questions, graded the homework, and worked through examples, and went over common mistakes on the exam questions. I’m not convinced that one is really getting the same benefit out of the course without feedback from a live person.
I did once take a distance learning class during the summer, and the video lectures were actually a repeat of lectures given during the previous spring semester. I don’t even know if the professor was on campus that summer. I do know that one of his graduate students was available to answer questions and grade homework. Access to that live human can be important, not just in terms of grading papers and exams so that you can receive a credential but also in terms of the learning experience itself.
Perhaps it is possible to create an educational system where the lecturers invest a great deal of energy into creating really good lectures which are consumed by a large number of people and might even be reused for a few years before they are updated. That part could be fairly inexpensive amortized over a large number of students. I’m thinking here of the PBS show The Mechanical Universe with its animated derivations, which is now well over 20 years old. It is still important for the student to have access to a knowledgeable and capable mentor whose student load is small enough to enable him to provide assistance as needed. This role is even more important than in a traditional classroom setting, because if the lectures are recorded, or given live to thousands of people at once, the students are effectively unable to ask the lecturer questions.
Also there is no guarantee that schools partition what they think you should know into the same set of courses. If we want to make it possible for students in such programs to be credentialed by examination, one needs to ask who writes the questions, gives the exams, and decides what material is fair game for examination.
Students also learn from one another, and that may not be so easy to reproduce in a distance learning environment.
Good distance learning technology is an important first step, but there are others beyond.
Do you get from modern universities enough to justify being in heavy debt for most of your life?
For some perhaps it is so.
I don’t think we essentially disagree. As the cost of education increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify the cost for people who see higher education as career preparation, which is pretty much most people with a college education.
On the other hand, so long as employers consider a four year degree an absolute necessity to even be considered for some positions, it may be worth the price even if the student gains no benefit at all from the actual instruction. Presumably at some point the price will climb too high, or the employers will get fed up with the quality of graduates and the bubble will burst.
My email was meant to suggest that if we aim to replace universities with distance learning, that there is more to be replaced than a one way broadcast of course materials. Things like recitation, TAs, and feedback via graded homework can be important. That is hardly a reason to give up on distance learning. I think we can add these elements to distance learning. What would it actually cost to hire a grad-student to be an online TA for a 20 person recitation section if it wasn’t part of a university’s expensive package deal? Lab courses would be trickier.
As government injects more money into the ‘professional education’ establishments, the price of the credential will rise as the quality of education deteriorates. More and more unqualified people will be recruited because if there is more money to be made the administrators will find ways to make it.
We need a way to provide credentials to the qualified and otherwise get out of the way. Government can decree that every child is entitled to a world class university prep education, and to a world class university education, but it cannot provide those. I can spend us broke trying and make a lot of credential vendors very wealthy indeed.
China Reveals Hand in ASEAN
Most in the West would not see this as a big deal; having lived in Northeast and Southeast Asia for most of my adult life, I know better. I will get to the meaning of this — as I see it — after the snip.
For the first time in its 45-year history, ASEAN’s foreign ministers failed to issue a joint communiqué following their annual consultations last week in Phnom Penh. It is important to understand this high profile failure. What happened? And what does it mean for ASEAN and for the strategies of the United States and other countries with strong interests in the Asia Pacific?
China has revealed its hand as an outlier on the question of ASEAN unity. It seemingly used its growing economic power to press Cambodia into the awkward position of standing up to its ASEAN neighbors on one of the most important security concerns for the grouping and its members. China’s overt role, underlined by leaks about Cambodia’s complicity in sharing drafts, seems to suggest Beijing’s hand in promoting ASEAN disunity. Thus the most important message coming from Phnom Penh is not the intramural ASEAN spat over the joint statement but, rather, that China has decided that a weak and splintered ASEAN is in its best interests.
Of course a weak and splinter ASEAN is in China’s interests. I would have thought hat China would work through Myanmar on this, but Cambodia is also a logical choice and it should make Thailand and Vietnam feel a little more uncomfortable. Thailand has a Chinese population, which is wealthier than most other Thais, they have Myanmar and now Cambodia in China’s pocket. Vietnam is warming up to the United States; Thailand is a long-standing client state of the United States. Without consensus at ASEAN, it will be impossible for South East Asian nations to form a comprehensive defense policy and it will not be possible for ASEAN to speak with one voice against Chinese aggression in the region.
Events in Thailand will get more dubious as the ruling monarch ages and Thaksin Shinawart continues to press his agenda on Thailand. Thaksin is one of those Chinese Thais I spoke of earlier. If his power grows, Thailand could get much more interesting. Laos and Vietnam — back in 2001 — were very close. Some said that Vietnam basically ran Laos, but I am not sure how accurate this is. I know Vietnam had great influence there and probably still does. In any case, we have two nations in China’s pocket in ASEAN. Alone, I don’t see how any of the ASEAN nations could possibly stand up to China — even together they would have a difficult road ahead without U.S. support.
This divide an conquer strategy on China’s part seems brilliant. They’ve made sure the Chinese navy can continue to press advantages over maritime claims disputes within the region and they would not have to worry about ASEAN — and possibly APEC — taking a stand against the aggression. Meanwhile, China will plod on.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
View 734 Tuesday, July 24, 2012
They’re battling in Tajikistan. The government has killed dozens in the city of Khorog (pop 28,000 in 2000 according to Wikipedia). Khorog is on the border of Afghanistan, and was the scene of hard fighting in the Tajikistan civil war that supposedly ended in 1997. According to press reports the government, headed by a former Commissar when Tajikistan was part of the USSR, has been trying to consolidate its control of the country in the border areas against what the news media call “Islamist Rebels”. A quick look at the history of the region would indicate there are tribal factors dating back to the time of Alexander the Great, and that when the “Islamist Rebels” cross into Afghanistan many of them are then known as Taliban.
Reports of recent battles indicate that the Tajikistani government is using both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in its bombardments in Khorog, but unlike Assad of Syria President Rakhmon has not been condemned by the world press and has not been told by President Obama that he has to go. Given US dependence on Tajikistan as a supply base when Pakistan begins to squeeze US logistics, it would probably not be a very good idea for the US to denounce the former Communist officials now in control of most of Tajikistan from the capital of Dushande. How much control the central government has of the eastern provinces of Tajikistan is not clear; and as noted there are tribal factors. If all this sounds just a bit like Syria, but on a smaller scale, you may not be mistaken. The difference is that so far the US press hasn’t trumpeted for US intervention. Tajikistan is part of what used to be known as Russian Turkestan, and is next to areas formerly known as Chinese Turkestan; China and Russia have disputed borders since the days when much of Russia was under the Tatar Khanate of the Golden Horde, and other Hordes closer to China disputed just who could tax what along the silk road. About the time of Columbus Babar the Tiger established an Empire that ran from Samarkand to Delhi. His remedy to rebellion was to create huge pyramids of the skulls of rebels, at least one such pillar in what is now called Tajikistan. MSNBC would probably not approve of such tactics.
Simon Bolivar died of a broken heart. “He who would establish democracy among my people plows the sea,” he said shortly before he died, and his last words are said to be “There have been three great fools in history, Jesus Christ, Don Quixote, and me.” One suspects that even Bolivar would have hesitated to send western soldiers into Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, etc. with the fixed intent of establishing liberal democracy. It is doubtful that he would have thought Syria a fit place for nation building.
Nation building takes a fixed intention. Babur founded an empire, and was buried in his favorite place, a garden in Kabul. He was able to enforce obedience among many tribes and peoples. He also was willing – eager – to build pyramids of skulls.
The western tradition is different. See Kipling’s poems for more. The Widow’s Party will do nicely. The White Man’s Burden is no longer accepted by modern intellectuals. The United States declined that honor for some time – we are the friends of liberty everywhere but the guardians only of our own – until we tried our experiments in the Philippines. We have much to be proud of from our Philippine experience, but perhaps not of everything.
In Iraq the President has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Vice President, who has taken refuge in the Kurdish province of Iraq where Bagdad’s writ does not run. They’re bombing in Bagdad, and there are bombs in Kabul. President Assad is attempting to regain control of Aleppo. President Rakhmon has regained control of Khorog. Britain has added 1200 troops to the London garrison to protect the opening of the Olympic Games which promote world peace.
And they’re rioting in Anaheim. The happiest place on Earth.
View 734 Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I got bogged down in details and a sudden lack of energy. I’m getting back in gear again.
I was talking to a friend today who is a bit worried that her husband is showing some signs of what might be Parkinson’s, but the doctors aren’t sure. That got me to thinking. I have anecdotal evidence – anecdotal, nothing provable – from some physician friends that vitamin D deficiencies can bring on symptoms like Parkinson’s.
Of course you can overdose on D, but a vitamin D supplement costs not much, and indeed is generally packaged with calcium if you’re taking calcium supplements. A good multi-vitamin contains D, and everyone probably ought to have a daily multi-vitamin given the screwy eating habits that most Americans have.
That got me thinking about the huge pile of pills I take every day. I have a lot of them, and I seem to be able to keep going even though I’m getting damn near eighty – and I see a lot of people much younger than me who seem to act and feel older. Of course I am pretty sure that much of the stuff I take is probably making expensive urine – but something keeps me going, even after my 50,000 rad treatment.
Many years ago I had a dentist friend in Glendale who told me about another dentist in Glendale who had the theory that his patients who took aspirin regularly had fewer strokes and heart attacks. That of course is anecdotal evidence par excellence, which is what I said when I wrote about it in the 1970’s. The medical profession did not take these Glendale dentists seriously, but eventually big Med did pay attention and did some real studies. Now we know more about aspirin and heart attacks and strokes. I suppose my experience in that has made me a little less convinced that the medical establishment knows quite as much as it is convinced it knows.
I also know that the FDA was overly cautious about the amount of folic acid – folate – that women ought to be taking before and just after conception, and what they recommended was just enough to prevent pernicious anemia. The result was at least one case of a damaged baby which may or may not be traceable to folate deficiency at time of impregnation. The stuff is cheap, and it’s hard to overdose on it, and my advice to any woman contemplating pregnancy is to make sure they get enough folic acid, and by enough I mean multiples of the recommended dosage. But that’s just my suggestion, and you do what you want to do.
I am often asked what I take, and I’ve always been a bit reluctant to write about it. I’m not in the business of giving that kind of advice, and I don’t claim any expertise, just a lot of collected anecdotes. I can say that I’d rather have expensive urine than some of the problems I have seen. I do recommend that you look into not just conventional vitamin supplements with anti-oxidants – my sometime Tomorrow Show companion Durk Pearson has written a lot about that , and the Life Extension Foundation has a big literature about their “Life Extension Formula” – and Jim Baen did enough research into the stuff called SAMe to convince me that I should pay for it even though it ain’t all that cheap. And CoQ10 is worth looking. Phosphydital Serine is another. Greg Benford has me on some stuff that is supposed to stimulate stem cell generation. And I could go one with more which would convince you that I’m probably out of my mind. But the whole mess doesn’t cost me that much each month, and I do think that some of what’s in the witches’ brew is helping.
And that’s probably enough rambling on that.
They’re rioting in Anaheim. In theory the riots are supposed to be protests about the Anaheim police, but most of the rioters don’t live in Anaheim, and the stores that get looted have nothing to do with the police. Somehow we can spend billions to rebuild Afghanistan – a task that Alexander the Great wouldn’t undertake even though he certainly did rebuild the Persian and Egyptian civilizations – but we cannot protect the freedom of a Starbucks franchise owner to have a store near Disneyland.
I do not believe any country on earth could invade the United States. No one can take a drink from the Mississippi without out let and leave. Yet the United States has millions of illegal aliens and we seem unable to do anything about that. Our army is busy ensuring that the Mayor of Kabul’s writ runs through Afghanistan. We aren’t very good at that, and many Afghani’s prefer the Taliban to Kabul. Pakistan has always been more afraid of India than of Afghanistan, and someone in the State Department must know this, but I am not sure that those who control our foreign policy know it. Bush sent the most incompetent proconsul Iraq had seen in two thousand years. We’re leaving that ‘nation’ in a state of chaos. When we went into Iraq I asked what we would do to build a ‘nation’ out of three provinces of the Turkish Empire. They were three provinces for a good reason. The monarchy imposed by the West on “Iraq” came from Mecca and were given Iraq and Jordan because the Hashemites – hereditary Protectors of Mecca – had received promises during World War One. Faisal was proclaimed King of Syria, but that didn’t work, so he became King of Iraq. That lasted until the Baathists overthrew him and after a bit of turmoil Saddam Hussein emerged. He held the three provinces together. Now the President of Iraq has put out a warrant to arrest the Vice President who has taken refuge in the Kurdish province where Bagdad’s writ doesn’t run.
No one can invade us, but I am subjected to ridiculous procedures in order to board an airplane. It’s a strange world.
View 734 Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I am a bit behind and just catching up. There are many things to write about, many of them topical news. I generally try to stay away from breaking news, but I think we know enough about one recent incident; I doubt any new relevant facts will emerge. I mentioned the Colorado murders yesterday http://www.jerrypournelle.com/jerrypournelle.c/chaosmanor/ and I agree with Hansen on the matter. And we certainly aren’t going to learn more of interest about the Fort Hood murders.
A reader asks why The Fort Hood murderer has not yet faced trial.
Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice says:
“Any person subject to this chapter who, without justification or excuse, unlawfully kills a human being, when he—”
(1) has a premeditated design to kill;
(2) intends to kill or inflict great bodily harm;
(3) is engaged in an act that is inherently dangerous to another and evinces a wanton disregard of human life; or
(4) is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of burglary, sodomy, rape, robbery, or aggravated arson; is guilty of murder, and shall suffer such punishment as a court-martial may direct, except that if found guilty under clause (1) or (4), he shall suffer death or imprisonment for life as a court-martial may direct.
= = =
According to all the sources I pay attention to, there were plenty of witnesses to the murders, 13 people were killed, and Major Nidal Malik Hasan was apprehended in the act. This took place on a US military institution so the question of jurisdiction does not apply. Murder has been covered by military justice codes for most of the life of the republic; I am from the days when the Articles of War were read to the troops on Sunday mornings, and murder was certainly in the Articles, and as many of the Articles ended, “shall suffer death or such other penalty as a Court Martial shall decide.” (I probably ought to omit the quotes since this is from memory but it’s close enough.)
The Army has the full authority to end this matter. It took place on November 5, 2009, and it only takes an order from the Commander in Chief to end the matter. Apparently President Obama has not so directed the Commandant of Fort Hood to end the matter. I do not think I have ever heard the President’s explanation.
I am told that he promises swift justice for the Colorado Movie House murderer although in fact he has no jurisdiction in that matter, it not having happened on a military post. But perhaps that was not taught at Harvard? We have no way of knowing. But every time Mr. Obama discusses the Colorado murders it might be well to ask him why he doesn’t let the Army deal with Major Nidal Malik Hasan.
My guess is that if the current federal government gets involved in the Colorado massacre we will not see justice for a long, long time. And Major Nadal Malik Hasan will outlive me.
More after lunch
View 734 Monday, July 23, 2012
1430 EDT Atlanta Airport Delta Crown Room
We’re here and comfortable. This is a public wireless network access. I think I have a way to get a more secure access, but since I don’t intend to do much here I’ll chance using this one for now.
All’s well, we have a long way to go but we’re in competent hands.
The TSA people in Chattanooga are the best I have ever experienced. Nothing is going to make that a pleasant experience, but at least these people are helpful.
Cicero was put on the proscription list to be killed on sight by Marc Antony over the objections of Octavius Caesar and Lepidus. Antony insisted and although Octavius had inherited the Army, Antony commanded it, and Lepidus paid for much of it. Antony insisted, Lepidus supported him, and Octavious acceded. Cicero was tracked down by a squad of soldiers while in transit. Before he got out of his carriage, Cicero, once savior of Rome from the Cataline rebellion, Consul who held the power of the Ultimate Decree and who returned that power to the Senate and People when the crisis was over, told the soldier who would be his executioner: “Young man there is nothing proper about what you are about to do, but I do hope you will do a proper job of it.”
I can say that the Chattanooga TSA did a proper job of what they did, and I did not tell them that story.
Uncle Timmy drove us to the airport and shepherded us through. LibertyCon takes great care of teir guests, and there is everything proper about what they do. I’ll get home fairly late tonight.
I can’t write an essay on the Colorado Killer working on this laptop in the Crown Room. I refer you to Hansen http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/the-demons-of-the-modern-rampage-killer/?singlepage=true which is quite good, and his conclusion proper. The chap in Colorado deserves a fair trial and then hanging. I can’t think the trial needs to be more than an hour long, although I am convinced that he will long outlive me and for that matter most of those he wounded. He will get better medical care than just about any of my readers and most of those I know including me.
Niven comments that he could be taken to a proper operating facility and shot in the head in a way that does not damage the spine, then taken apart for his parts. My comment was that if sold on eBay that would make a fortune. His liver might bring a lot all by itself. Niven nodded sadly. “That is the problem.” But of course competition from China may bring down the prices that can be obtained for freshly killed criminal parts, and of course they don’t have to worry about the costs the trials.
Of course thinking like this – it used to be called Prudence – is long out of fashion. Now virtue begins and ends with intentions, and not understanding consequences is no vice, merely unfortunate. I didn’t realise that not teaching children to sound out words would leave many of them illiterate! I meant for them to read better! iT’S NOT MY FAULT!!
But now I am rambling. I’ll see if I can get back to an Internet connection.
2430 Tuesday AM I am home without incident, and about to go to bed. All the files have been transferred, my computer systems are working properly, and I learned some Road Warrior lessons. I’ll make a quick pass through the mail, but mostly I am off to sleep.
Mail 734 Sunday, July 22, 2012
Democracy Is A Terrible Form Of Government – After Action Report?
First, the obligatory (though heart-felt and most definitely sincere) chit-chat about reading you since the early 80′s, still interested in your work, can’t wait to read your next blog, etc, etc.
I followed the events at Libertycon as closely as a man on a family camping trip with no 3G signal can, which is to say not well at all. I was hoping to see some summaries or post-mortems on some of the panels I would have liked to have attended, had I not been on said camping trip. Concerning the "Democracy/Terrible" panel, will there be any sort of video/audio/text of how it went down? I’m extremely interested in what the panel had to say on the topic as it dovetails exactly with a good deal of my research on what it would take, philosophically/culturally/politically, to take our current society from what we have to a popular and effective monarchy.
Keep up the great work.
I fear I wasn’t able to make notes at the panel, and my memory isn’t up to reproducing it. The formal panel title had the question, doesn’t science fiction tell us something better. We all of us answered ‘No’, which might have left us with little to talk about, but of course we found plenty. I pointed out that the Convention of 1787 might accurately be labeled a conspiracy to suppress democracy; that was certainly the goal of many of its members. Making the world safe for life, liberty, and property, even against the vote of a majority, was a major goal. The Constitution was intended to make the federal government just strong enough to survive and protect the nation against foreign powers, but not to interfere in the lives of most of the citizens; and the final sovereignty was reserved to the states and to the people, and in case that wasn’t obvious from the limited grants of power in the document itself, it was made part of the Bill of Rights.
Really, though, it’s not possible to summarize an hour of question and answer exchanges, from that panel or from the one on education this morning. And of course no one is going to answer the fundamental questions in an hour anyway. The people who attended seemed to think it was worth their time, and that’s about the best I can do. Thanks for the kind words.
Regarding alternatives to relativity:
It is a well-known conclusion in logic that scientific theories are underdetermined. That is, through any finite set of facts one may draw multiple theories to explain them. Facts are like the stars in the sky; theories are like the constellations we imagine to navigate our way through them. Hence the multiple quantum theories to explain quantum mechanics: Copenhagen, multiple-worlds, Bohm’s standing wave, Cramer’s transactional theory, et al. It is why the "crucial experiment" is impossible. If theory A predicts consequence Z, verifying Z does not prove A, the fallacy of asserting the consequent; and while verifying not-Z may (or may not) falsify A, it certainly does not validate B. There may be other alternatives to A. There is no Pr(Z), there is only Pr(Z|A), Pr(Z|B), Pr(Z|C), etc. We can only say that an observation Z is improbable given a model A.
The classic example was the Copernican v. the Tychonic model of the world. Both made the same predictions about the empirical facts — stellar positions, eclipses, sunrise/set, phases of Venus, etc. They were computationally equivalent. The Tychonic/Ursine model was better in some regards, such as the orbit of Mars. The Keplerian model was better than both in being mathematically simpler and dispensing with Copernicus’ epicycles. But heliocentrism became regarded as true-to-life mainly because assuming the Newtonian model of universal gravitation the observations made better sense.
Thank you for the succinct summary.
Online Physics Lectures
Dr Pournelle, once again, I have come across some interesting material on the web, for your on-line lecture collection, Milton Friedland does 10 tv shows:
I was lucky enough to come across this collection of tv shows from 30 years ago with economist and libertarian Milton Friedman hosting. 10 parts – 10 hours. I believe they were originally aired (believe it or not) on PBS. What makes it truly interesting is the formatting, where one half of each show is devoted to practical and historical examples of theory while the the other half is a moderated discussion with reps from government, academia, and business. It is something to see Thomas Sowell, Frances Fox Piven, and Donald Rumsfeld commenting from way back then. Could be yesterday.
I didn’t realize how much I miss Milton Friedman until I went through this series. Apparently, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of his birth.
I hope these links are new and prove useful and entertaining for you and your readers.
Free To Choose 1980 Vol. 1 – The Power of the Market <http://vimeo.com/26727003> …"
One of the things I pointed out in the education panel this morning is that it is no thoroughly possible to get a very good education without going to the schools, and without incurring a life long crippling debt by taking out huge student loans which mostly serve to drive up the price of education – that is, as usual in economic systems, if you put more money into some institution it will absorb the money and the prices will rise. Make student loans easier to get, adding more money, and higher education prices will rise to absorb all that money. You can only escape by going on line and getting an education without paying the exorbitant fees now demanded. Not only home schooling for grammar and high school, but much of so-called higher education including much of what is considered university level. We still have no way to giving credentials to those who learned outside the hideously overpriced monsters we have created, but I think the American people may find a way. Or perhaps it is only a science fiction idea.
And in a lighter vein
So papa, how did you like the iPad we got you?
Subject: next birthday
I got this long ago and it got lost in the shuffle; it is still relevant.
I have lived here in the People’s Republic of Madison for 13 years and sometimes have to get out of town just to retain my sanity.
Regarding the email you received about 119% turnout. I suspect the author was either being sarcastic or was referring to the fact that turnout in this election, along with Walker’s victory margin, exceeded that from the 2010 Fall gubernatorial election.
A lesser known reform from last year was passage of a Voter ID requirement for elections. That is currently suspended by order of David Flanagan, a Dane County (Madison) circuit court judge who signed the petition to recall Governor Walker. The case is currently on appeal and one hopes it will be overturned before the general election in November.
There were also 4 Republican Wisconsin state senators under recall on Tuesday. 3 of them won by large margins and the fourth apparently lost by about 800 votes. There were reports of buses full of union members from Detroit and Chicago traveling to Wisconsin on Tuesday to same-day register and vote. The defeated senator’s district is just north of the Illinois state line from Chicago so it’s conceivable that this may have turned the tide.
Thanks for your keen insights!
A word to the wise and all that….
View 734 Sunday, July 22, 2012
Still in Chattanooga with the ThinkPad. The IBM keyboard is pretty good but I find I am addicted to full size keyboards. Work with this one is slow. I’m a sloppy typist anyway. I’d have done better to learn two finger typing. Ah well.
We had the traditional Libertycon Mad Scientists discussion last night. This was started some years ago when Jimmy Hogan was a guest here and as was his bent he had a late night discussion on things in science we are sure of that may not be so. A lot of that got into his book Kicking the Sacred Cow, and while he is likely wrong about most of his theories it’s healthy to look at basic scientific beliefs with a bit of a jaundiced eye, just to find out if you can back up your own beliefs. There’s also a long tradition in the Catholic Church of exposing core beliefs to the test of reason – Aquinas and Erasmus come to mind among dozens of others – but of course the hierarchy lapses into ‘believe or else’ mode at frequent intervals;. Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy at work, I suppose, but that’s too long a topic for now.
I wanted to kick the Special Relativity sacred cow, and for that matter General Relativity as well, especially since Einstein himself began to wonder about Special after the big confirming instances of General and the Hubble discoveries. I’ve said all this before and I have nothing whatever to add to Petr Beckmann’s book Einstein Plus Two which doesn’t attempt to refute relativity, it merely points out that the crucial experiments that seem to make necessary the complexities of relativity equations can in fact be explained by more conventional Newtonian views.
On the orbit of Mercury, on page 171, Beckmann writes: "… Einstein was not the first to derive the Mercury formula. It had been derived 17 years earlier by Paul Gerber  by classical physics using the same assumption that I am using now — the propagation of gravity with velocity c. For readers who find this hard to believe, Gerber’s final expression is reproduced here: …". After reprinting Gerber’s formula as it appeared in Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik, vol. 43, p. 103, Beckmann notes that this formula is now known as "the Einstein formula". http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/496.html)
Alas, I found the usual results: most physicists don’t study relativity at all, but they do hear people they respect say that it’s absolutely proven, and quite properly assume it doesn’t need further investigation. Perhaps so, but Beckmann, who thoroughly understood both General and Special Relativity, thought it a needless sacred cow and proceeded to offer alternatives. See Beckmann, Einstein Plus Two. He claims to cover all the known evidence, not in an attempt to refute either eneral or special relativity but to show they are not needed to explain what experiments have shown. Obviously relativity theory works, but it may be leading to some needless postulates about cosmology that make things more, not less, difficult to understand – a sort of Occam’s barber shop floor principle rather than Occam’s razor. But that’s kicking sacred cows, and it’s more a sport than a science even if it could be important.
And I am off to another panel.
The convention is formally over and we’re about to go to dinner somewhere. I’ll see what I can do about catching up when I get back. And we returned, and had the last meetings, and I am going to try to get a mailbag out before I go to bed. We return in the morning.
It has been a good weekend. There were panels on the future of education and what science fiction says about democracy, and can we save civilization? Bit hard to do in an hour, but we try to indicate ways of thinking about the problem, probably endind up with me sounding like a pretentious ass – old professors given an audience often do. Ah well.
View 733 Saturday, July 21, 2012
Niven and I are at LibertyCon in Chattanooga. We have a busy schedule, and the convention is in a unique hotel, where everything is spread out over a vast area: the hotel is the former railway station and railway yard, converted into a hotel, with some of the rooms (not mine) being in old railway cars. There is a dining room in a former railroad car diner, but it didn’t open early enough for us to eat there. The main dining room is the former lobby and waiting room of the station. I’ve seen this station before, twenty years ago, but at that time they hadn’t built the conventions center and some modern hotel structures and the old station was mostly a museum and a place to display a spectacular model railway layout. I would guess that the model railroad is still there since I saw a sign offering tickets to a model railway museum, but I haven’t had a chance to see it.
I don’t think I have ever seen a hotel constructed from a railway station and old railroad cars before. The downside is that it makes for a lot of walking, but that has its positive aspects as well.
We have a very busy schedule. Last night Niven and I were invited to discuss how to save civilization. Today we talk about education. Tonight we have dinner with our Baen Books publisher, and hang out with some other writers. All is well, but there isn’t a lot of slack time.
Another long book signing session, followed by speechifyng which I pretty well left to others. Bit of a problem with the wireless connections. The ThinkPad thinks it has one wireless control system and Windows thinks it has another, and they get confused. As usual it all sorts out eventually. All well if somewhat exhausting.