Mail 739 Friday, August 31, 2012
We have a great deal of mail on many topics. I have directly linked to some. Others float.
· Venezuela Oil
· Neil Armstrong remembered
· How real is science?
· Akin and the depth of the horror
· Hollow Point Ammunition discussed
· Etch a Sketch with Gravity
· Three Dee Printing and the future of terror
Funny, but my takeaway from Reaganomics…
was that if you cut tax rates and revenue increased, you haven’t cut enough (shrinking .gov by starving the beast being the raison d’être). Color me surprised that that last hasn’t seemed to make it off the cutting room floor.
John S Allison
There is a far larger discussion here than we have time and room for today. Given the current state of government activity and entitlements the correct vector is toward less. Starve the beast. Sweden is a great example: one of the earliest European welfare states, Sweden got up to the brink. The government was spending about half the GDP. And Sweden pulled back, lowering taxes and chopping away at entitlements. Many would say they have not cut back far enough, and there is real debate on the subject, but what the Swedes discovered is that there can be a point of no return, and they were very nearly there. And they can now consider just what government can supply and what ought to be left to individuals and institutions like churches.
America needs that debate.
There are some things government does, and some of them it does well. We need a real national debate on the role of government in preparing for progress and the future. The building of infrastructure provides an example. Someone has to do it – and it’s not obvious who. Los Angeles has terribly high local as well as state taxes, and probably the worst streets of any major city in the US. The water system is ancient and water mains explode. Leaving matters to local government didn’t work. They collect the money, they spend the money, and the infrastructure doesn’t get built.
Handing it to the Federal government doesn’t solve the problem. Having local neighborhoods pave their own streets isn’t really working.
That’s merely an example. There are many more.
Space and investment in the future is an example. I’ve written much about that. There is a role for government, and it’s a necessary one. See my Getting to Space paper.
I agree with your sentiment, but I reserve the right to change things when we’ve gone far enough down that vector. Of course I don’t expect to live long enough to see that.
Tax Reductions = Revenue Increases
You know that. Laffer knew that. I know that. So do many others.
However, when half the nation pays no federal income tax and many in that subset get some or all of their FICA payments refunded, the politics of envy and entitlement can reign supreme.
It is in the enlightened self interest of those who – if they earn income at all – are in the untaxed cash economy and who get food, clothing and shelter from involuntary contributions by taxpayers to favor tax increases on the "rich" and increased handouts for themselves and to vote for candidates who promise such.
How to overcome this bias is the real issue before the country.
I phoned my county commissioner in opposition to a proposed wheel tax because it would be one more hand in my pocket, and suggested an increase in the property tax instead. His response, that a wheel tax would obtain revenue from those adults who park a dozen or so vehicles outside a single dwelling and would be untouched by a property tax increase – especially if said dwelling is owned by the local housing authority. Made sense and kinda converted me. Actually a similar rationale to my preference for a high sales tax rate with zero tax in earned income.
California is so desperate that they are raising fines and fees on everything: but then a huge percentage of California’s spending is for pensions, and any attempt to curb pension spending is met with union opposition.
My own view is that everyone must pay some kind of tax, even if it is only a few dollars a year in a head tax, and even if the money they pay comes from some government subsidy. Even those on disability ought to pay SOME tax. Spread the pain.
The 2 new catch phrases for me are ‘oil minister’ and ‘meritocracy.’
Note: I was originally sent the article without attribution. This appears to be the original link:
Venezuela’s Amuay Refinery Explosion Shows Why Hugo Chavez’s Socialism Is A Powder Keg
Tue, Aug 28 2012 00:00:00 E A12_ISSUES
Energy: Oil is rising sharply from two disasters in the Caribbean region – one, a fierce storm, and the other a massive blast at the world’s second-largest refinery in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. Only one was perfectly preventable.
When the strongman cracked the whip on Venezuela’s oil industry in 2003, firing 20,000 experienced oil managers from state-owned Petroleo de Venezuela (PDVSA) to break a strike he admitted he had provoked, he insisted that merit didn’t matter anymore, only political loyalty. "There will be no more meritocracy," he told his cheering red-shirts.
That philosophy has been laid out in all its glory with Saturday’s massive explosion, at the Amuay refinery, part of a 955,000-barrel-a-day complex, that has become the second deadliest in the history of the oil industry and the worst ever in the Western Hemisphere.
As of Monday, the complex is shut down. The death toll is as high as 48, with more than 150 injured, and the numbers are expected to rise. Twenty square kilometers have been left blackened with a devastation that can be topped only by a nuclear bomb, and fires are still not out. As Venezuelan officials assured everyone that all was under control Monday, a third storage tank caught fire. There is still no foam to fight the fire and no ambulances to transport the wounded, let alone hearses for the dead. Pickup trucks full of charred bodies and looters descending upon the infernal scene complete the tropical vision of Hell.
But "the show must go on," said Chavez in his only appearance after the explosion. At the same time, his oil minister Rafael Rodriguez assured that an accident of this magnitude wouldn’t affect shipments, even as the recovery date has been pushed back from two days to four.
Don’t think for one minute that it wasn’t caused by mismanagement based on Chavez’s socialist politicization of the oil industry. All signs point to
* Refinery accidents at Amuay have increased horrifically since 2003. A group of former oil industry employees called Gente de Petroleo say that ever since Chavez replaced the workers with political hacks, 79 serious accidents have happened and 19 have died.
* The Amuay unit, according to Miguel Octavio on his excellent Venezuelan oil blog called the Devil’s Excrement http://devilsexcrement.com/2012/08/26/another-terrible-tragedy-due-to-chavista-mismanagement/ , had been scheduled for maintenance shutdowns nine times last year with only two going through because spare parts weren’t around. That’s a signature shortage of socialism where supply is tightly controlled by the government.
* Workers complained of abnormal gas leaks and saw a strange gas cloud for three days before Saturday’s 1:30 a.m. explosion and a union chief warned of trouble, but Chavista officials did nothing and are now denying there were warnings. But the evidence is there because workers tweeted about the problems before the blast. Yet even as the gas smell warned of a leak, no alarms went off and no evacuations occurred.
That is the opposite of what would have happened in the pre-Chavez era.
Former PDVSA managing director Pedro Burelli pointed out in an editorial in El Universal
http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/120827/aprenderemos-la-dura-leccion-de-amuay that in the past, PDVSA managers were awarded bonuses for safe,
incident-free days. Today, they are only rewarded for wearing Chavez’s signature color, red, and going to political rallies.
Incompetence has piled on top of incompetence in this fiasco. Nobody had foam to douse the fires, and nobody was responsible enough to know why.
Arrangements were made with Citgo in Houston to fly in foam from the U.S.
after the blast. But according to Venezuelan columnist Nelson Bocaranda, as of Monday, that foam is now sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta as PDVSA officials frantically seek an airplane to fly it through Isaac to still-burning Amuay.
Meanwhile, ambulances are absent because Chavez has made even those a political object, shipping them to Bolivia to show socialist solidarity. It never occurred to him that they might be needed near one of the world’s largest and most dangerous industrial complexes.
If this isn’t the whole damning summary of the ruin Chavez has made of Venezuela, what is? The one thing that can be concluded here is that Venezuela is declining as a global player in the oil industry for this reason and now sells just 10% of the U.S. energy supplies. As Chavez destroys the industry, the sad thing is that those who were in the vicinity of this powder keg are no longer around to tell the story.
Back during the Cold War we had this sort of example before us as a reminder of what happens when you go too far down the entitlement road. Even after The Wall came down we had the horror examples from East Germany. Socialism doesn’t work.
And it can certainly happen here. Look at American education, once the envy of the world, now a disintegrating ruin of political correctness and entitlement.
His Hands are a Weapon.
If you need one more piece of evidence of the sad state of US "education" consider the following proof that American Educators believe in magic. Equating the symbol for the thing is a prime element of magic is it not? Students have long been barred from drawing pictures of weapons, now a child is told to change his name because his sign language gesture resembles the old pointed finger for a gun. Amazing.
Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it.
"He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy," explained Hunter’s father, Brian Spanjer.
Grand Island’s "Weapons in Schools" Board Policy 8470 forbids "any instrument…that looks like a weapon," But a three year-old’s hands?
"Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous. This is not threatening in any way," said Hunter’s grandmother Janet Logue.
"It’s a symbol. It’s an actual sign, a registered sign, through S.E.E.," Brian Spanjer said.
S.E.E. stands for Signing Exact English, Hunter’s sign language. Hunter’s name gesture is modified with crossed-fingers to show it is uniquely his own.
As for example. And of course the intentions are good. They always are.
Neil Armstrong remembered
Terrific memories of Neil Armstrong by Dr. Leon Cooper my former science teacher in Tucumcari, NM and later retired cyclotron specialist at LASL:
I had the incredible opportunity to meet and visit with Neil Armstrong in 1963 at a two-day science symposium in El Paso. Los Alamos High School was invited to send a teacher and two students to the symposium, with Gordon Cooper (a "real" astronaut) as the guest speaker. When Cooper had to cancel at the last moment, NASA sent a substitute, Neil Armstrong. It was a real disappointment, for we figured that we’d lost a great opportunity. At one of the luncheons, Armstrong wandered over to our table (there was an empty chair) and asked whether he might join us. There were 15 or so round tables that seated four people each. One of my students asked how NASA was going to be able to substitute the moon’s gravity on earth, in order that an astronaut could practice walking at the reduced gravitational force. Armstrong used a napkin to sketch an experiment that he’d been thinking about. It involved attaching a sturdy "peg" about 20 feet up on the wall of a gym, suspending a rope from the peg, with the other end attached to an individual’s waste, using some kind of harness. The individual would push back from the wall, then lay over in horizontal position with his feet on the wall and would then "walk" on the wall (horizontal to the floor). He suggested that the force of the individual’s feet on the wall would be somewhat similar to that of the force of attraction by moon gravity on anyone walking on the moon. One of those students used that napkin as a book mark in his Advanced Physics book for the rest of the year.
The major disappointment from that symposium turned out to be one of the major highlights of out lives.
(I recall Neil Armstrong having quite a number of small freckles across his nose, as though he’d grown up in NM (rather than Ohio). I’ve often wondered whatever happened to that napkin??
‘By then, Gemini 8 was making one full revolution _per second_.’
While I got to meet all seven of the original astronauts while working on project Mercury, I never got to meet Neil Armstrong. Even so, I felt that I almost new him. In January 1969, I was attending a pretest conference at the Langley 30by60 ft wind tunnel and got to see the Lunar Landing trainer. It was in the tunnel being tested for cross wind effects after Neil had ejected from another trainer. I was told that the control system did not have enough power to overcome aerodynamic loads from wind. On March 16 1967, I was flying a C97 from Wake Island to Japan as Neil aborted Gemini 8 into the Pacific. As best as I can tell, I passed very clost to the Gemini landing site. We didn’t find out about the Gemini 8 emergence landing until we landed in Japan. I also conducted transonic wind tunnel tests of the Satern V/Apollo launch configuration and watched TV broadcast of the Moon landing.
In his own words
Neil Armstrong (Address to both houses of Congress, Tuesday, September 16, 1969): “We landed on the Sea of Tranquility, in the cool of the early lunar morning, when the long shadows would aid our perception. The sun was only 10° above the horizon. While the earth turned through nearly a full day during our stay, the sun at Tranquility Base rose barely 11°—a small fraction of the month long lunar day. There was a peculiar sensation of the duality of time—the swift rush of events that characterizes all our lives—and the ponderous parade which marks the aging of the universe. Both kinds of time were evident—the first, by the routine events of the flight, whose planning and execution were detailed to fractions of a second—the latter by rocks around us, unchanged throughout the history of man—whose 3-billion-year-old secrets made them the treasure we sought.”
Neil Armstrong (30th anniversary press conference, Kennedy Space Center): “But the (school children), I find, are pretty enthusiastic about what we did. The regret on our side is that … some years ago they used to say, "We were reading about you in science class." And … then it was, "We’re reading about you in history class." And now I think it’s early American history.” (http://history.nasa.gov/ap11ann/pressconf.htm, accessed June 27, 2011)
Gene Cernan (the last man on the moon), 30th anniversary press conference: “I don’t think any one of us — any one of us — who would have had that opportunity could have handled it with as great and as — and honorable dignity as Neil Armstrong has handled the responsibility of being the first human being to step foot on the surface of the moon. (applause)” (http://history.nasa.gov/ap11ann/pressconf.htm, accessed June 27, 2011)
A question of some importance: how real is science?
Perhaps you and your readers would be willing to comment on the following question:
What fraction of the scientific literature is fabricated in the service of agendas?
I ask because of many reasons. Here are just a few.
1.) When I earned my Ph. D. in physics in the 1960′s, I was taught to examine all the evidence on all sides of an issue to come to an understanding of reality. Today, climatologists and Darwinists use the politics of personal destruction to silence anyone who presents data that disagree with their respective orthodoxies. Scientists now seem to be trained in the manner of journalists, using their knowledge of science to mislead and deceive in the service of their political, economic, social, and religious agendas.
2.) Professor David Stove in his delightful book "Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution" comments on the methods of Darwinists:
"Wherever Darwinism is in error, Darwinians simply call the organisms in question or their characteristics, an error! Wherever there is manifestly something wrong with their theory, they say that there is something wrong with the organisms.
3.) Dr. William Lane Craig said in a recent podcast:
I’ve said as a result of my experience with people like Lawrence Krause, Stephen Hawking, and certain others that we can no longer trust these men to tell us about the implications of modern scientific theories.
There is an agenda, perhaps a naturalistic or anti-religious agenda that drives these statements suggesting that somehow the discovery of the final particle … somehow disproves religion or worse.
At 16:25 minutes into "The God Particle"
4.) Dr. John Patrick, President of Augustine College in Ottawa, delivering the David Jack Memorial Lecture for 2011 entitled ‘Molecular Romance: is there more to life than science?’, says:
We have no idea now, do we, how much of the scientific literature is fabricated. And, of course, it’s very hard to imagine why it wouldn’t be fabricated. We’re merely reaping the rewards of what we have taught."
43:37 minutes into the talk at
Your comments and those of your readers will be appreciated.
This requires a longer answer than I have time for; and perhaps others have something to say.
Akin, And The Depths of the Horror
Everyone, especially Mr. Akin, should read this piece on the costs of rape: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/22/opinion/prewitt-rapist-visitation-rights/index.html?hpt=us_mid. This is written by a woman who was herself raped, conceived a child, carried and raised the child. And became a lawyer to try to fix the laws that surround rape. Did you know that in 31 states, a rapist can assert his rights as a parent, obtaining access to the child he forcibly fathered and access to the woman he violated? Did you know that this fact is often used by the rapist as blackmail to avoid being prosecuted for the crime of rape — "prosecute and I will assert my parental rights, don’t and I will sign them away…"
This is a horror. An abysmal, medieval horror. How can an enlightened society allow this?
Kevin L. Keegan
This happens because there is no serious debate or rational discussion; everything happens in a political context. Roe vs. Wade has been a disaster by federalizing what must be left to the states and in a wise society would be left to counties. Responsibility ought to be local.
Here is a great deal about ammunition, possib ly enough that we don’t need more, although I’ll consider anything cogent. I’ve been collecting all this since the topic first came up. The subject is interesting. There is a great deal here, some repetitive; and perhaps this closes it?
Concerning Roland Dobbins letter frothing about hollowpoint ammunition, while there has been in the gun community an oft repeated warning against any kind of reloaded ammo because of how it might appear in court, and that in some backwards places on the east coast like New York may still only issue FMJ, even the heel dragging LAPD switched to hollow points over twenty years ago:
Re: Ammunition, Etc. (Roland Dobbins’ Remarks)
I must take exception to Roland Dobbins’ remarks on ammunition and self defense with guns. His statements might have been true at one time, at least in some places… nowadays only in GFW (gun fearing wussy) states and cities, and those places are growing fewer by the day. Most states have either Stand Your Ground or Castle Doctrine in effect; only a few states still have a duty to retreat. See the chart here:
Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws generally shield the self-defender from criminal or civil suits. As for hollow point ammunition, sound advice is to find out what your local police department uses, and go with the same ammo. The legal system will look kindly on that most anywhere. And yes, all law enforcement agencies use hollow point ammo due to its effectiveness. Of the millions who legally carry in the US, open or concealed, the vast majority use hollow point ammunition. Ammunition manufacturers have done a lot of research to produce effective self-defense ammo, and it’s widely available.
I found it funny that Pachmayr grips were mentioned. They’re not "tactical", "mall ninja" or any of that; I use Pachmayrs because they work better than the OEM grips. I would expect no repercussions of it if I had to use my weapon in a home/self defense situation. In any gun-friendly state nowadays, if the gun itself is legal, cosmetic/"tactical" accessories would have no bearing. Of course, if you were in some liberal hell like Chicago your mileage may vary.
Keep up the good work,
I have been reading Roland Dobbins’ contributions to the gun boards for some time now.
He is right in that there seems a cottage industry in advising one not to modify or customize his sidearm for fear of being accused of being a "gunslinger." Perhaps he knows of successful prosecutions and lawsuits that I do not.
However, his is the first account I have heard that "sensible law enforcement agencies forbid their armed operatives…from using anything other than full-metal jacket ammunition." Around here, all "sensible" persons in and out of law enforcement use hollowpoint bullets for the reasons already given, greater effectiveness against the opponent and less risk of overpenetration or riccochet endangering bystanders.
The last civil agency I heard of to use full jacketed bullets was the NYPD when management reluctantly permitted a change from revolvers to selfloading pistols. That was coupled with a limitation on magazine content to ten rounds, not the full 15-17 shot capacity of their Sigs, Berettas, and Glocks. But that was over 20 years ago and the bureaucrat who set such policy did not last long. His successor was sensible and had his men fully load their pistols with expanding bullet ammunition.
Dr. Pournelle -
Roland Dobbins wrote:
"Why all your correspondents urging the use of hollowpoint ammunition are dead wrong."
I beg to differ.
"But that’s nothing compared to what a prosecutor a la Trayvon or a civil attorney representing the family of the deceased will do to you in a courtroom."
While it is true that the lawyers will try to make a justifiable shooting into something different, the key is knowing how to defend yourself in court, and getting the right lawyer on your side. Take Massad Ayoob’s training:
Massad has for many years taught his students how to survive the legal aftermath of a justifiable shooting. I have taken 3 of his 40 hour course down through the years, and can’t stress how important what he teaches is.
"As a result, sensible law enforcement agencies forbid their armed operatives … from using anything other than full-metal jacket ammunition."
Once upon a time many police departments did indeed require officers to use full-metal jacket ammo, but the evidence against the effectiveness of FMJ ammo is so strong that even the hyper politically correct New York City Police now use Jacketed Hollow Point ammo:
Ray A. Rayburn
NRA Certified Firearms Instructor
(and Patron Subscriber)
Mr. Dobbins’ comments regarding ammunition do not reflect current best practices. Virtually all law enforcement agencies have policies requiring the use of hollow-point ammunition for the reasons you previously posted (more likely to stop target, less likely to over-penetrate and injure unintended targets). For example, if you Google “FBI duty ammunition” you will find press releases by ammunition manufacturers crowing that they are supplying the FBI with hollow-point ammunition. Next time you run across your local law enforcement officer, ask him or her what type of ammunition is in his or her service weapon.
Moreover, Mr. Dobbins’ stated concerns regarding plaintiffs’ attorneys are overstated. I have access to a database of verdicts and settlements from across the United States going back to at least 1991. My search for all verdicts or settlements that involved hollow-point ammunition found 7 cases. Several of them had nothing to do with the hollow-point ammunition (e.g., one case involved the defendant brandishing, but not firing, a revolver loaded with hollow-point ammunition). In other words, there is no epidemic of plaintiffs’ attorneys demonizing people who shoot someone in self-defense with hollow-point ammunition. The standard defense approach to counter such arguments when they are made is to present evidence that the local law enforcement agency uses hollow-point ammunition and then to present evidence why the local law enforcement agency uses hollow-point ammunition. Furthermore, contrary to Mr. Dobbins’ comments, juries do find it highly relevant that plaintiff (or his estate) was a bad person doing bad things (however, try to get a conservative jury). Finally, if you really, truly believe that your life is in danger or that you face serious bodily injury (i.e., the only time you should be shooting someone), I submit that you want to be using the ammunition that is most likely to stop the target as quickly as possible. You can worry about defending your wealth once you have ensured your continued existence.
Introductory stuff first – I’ve enjoyed your work for years. It has given me many hours of pleasure. I’d go on, but your time is valuable. Thank you.
As to what prompts my e-mail:
A recent correspondent claims that use of hollow point ammunition is a sure way to be painted in a courtroom as a killer – to be either imprisoned by a criminal court or bankrupted by a civil court in the aftermath of a violent encounter.
First, yes, there are instances of abuse in the courts with prosecutors attempting exactly what the writer describes. It has even worked. But there are also ways of dealing with that tactic. Expert witnesses can demonstrate to (firearms ignorant) juries that hollow point ammunition is perfectly reasonable to use in any defensive handgun.
Second, and related to the first point: The writer claims that "sensible" agencies require the use of full metal jacket ammunition. This is incorrect and in testimony the expert witness would surely point out the long list of law enforcement agencies that use hollow point rounds. The list would start with the FBI and could go on for pages. The testimony might include "The defendant uses the exact same ammunition used by *insert name of the local police force* and for the same reasons. Not because he has any interest in being a killer, vigilante, or wannabe police officer, but because that round has been demonstrated to be the most effective in stopping an assailant while simultaneously being the least likely to over-penetrate and injure an innocent bystander. It was the most responsible choice he could have made."
Third, and most importantly, we need to remember that this is in the context of an encounter where lethal force is used. Your life is at stake here. The author wishes to "immunize oneself as much as possible against post-self-defense legal assault…" I’d suggest that it is the literal, lethal assault that one should be concerned with surviving.
p.s. I’m tempted to think that the letter itself was satire that I’m just not getting. The above information is available with just a cursory examination of the literature related to self defense and firearms (it is so prevalent I haven’t bothered with source notes). Further, the author references field artillery and air-strikes by law enforcement – am I just missing his larger joke?
Hollow point bullets
Roland Dobbins’ comments are a decade or two out of date. Your earlier correspondents on the topic are bang on. Hollow points (and other things he mentioned like lasers) are the tools used to stop the assailant with minimum rounds fired to minimize the chances of bystanders being hurt by stray bullets. You own every round fired and the consequences there of.
Practically speaking the faster you stop the assailant the greater the chance that his injuries will be minimized and be survivable. So ultimately hollow points are the more humane option as well.
I won’t write a book here, but if you are interested, the go to guys on the topic are John Farnham and Massad Ayoob.
All the best,
Mr Dobbins writes:
Why all your correspondents urging the use of hollowpoint ammunition are dead wrong. (etc.)
I beg to differ; although I do understand his point, I’ve seen no evidence of it. There are other reasons for not using (or relying exclusively on) JHPs, including their tendency to spend all of their energy in heavy clothing (I’ve seen the photos), but most of the country does not have the approach to self defense ammo selection that he outlines. That could be true in the Big Blue Coastal Cities, but not in flyover country.
And I agree wholeheartedly with the View post from the "Serving Military Member."
Roland Dobbins’ Letter About Ammunition
It’s been a long time since I wrote so I hope this finds you well. After seeing Roland Dobbins’ letter in the 8/22 Mailbag I had to reply.
Mr. Dobbins paints with an overly broad brush. If I remember correctly, he lives in California and that may have colored his experiences and beliefs regarding the use of jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) ammunition. In any event, he makes several statements that are just wrong.
First, while the use of a customized weapon or JHP ammo may allow a prosecutor or plaintiff’s attorney to vilify a person who shot a criminal in some jurisdictions, that isn’t the case in all jurisdictions. Granted, the media may make hay from it. As for an attorney representing a shootee or his family, an increasing number of states bar lawsuits against someone who justifiably shot someone in self defense.
Second, his claim that virtually no law enforcement officers — except for SWAT — are permitted to use other than full metal jacket ammo is hogwash. Even the New York City Police Department issues JHPs for use in their Glocks. When the changed over from revolvers to Glock semiautos the first load they used was indeed FMJ. However, they changed to JHPs after a couple innocent bystanders were injured by FMJ bullets that had passed completely through perps shot by cops. Here in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, JHPs are standard. Among others, the Delaware State Police and Texas DPS issue SIG autoloaders chambered for the .357 SIG round, loaded with JHP bullets. (The .357 SIG was developed to provide the same ballistics of the .357 Magnum revolver cartridge in a case design suitable for semiautomatic pistols. Restricting it to FMJ bullets would result in grossly excessive penetration when used against criminals in a civilian setting.)
Fish and wildlife bullets –
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
Jomath wrote, "I have little experience with firearms, but the webpage referred to jacketed hollow point bullets. Isn’t that more bullet than necessary even for self defense?"
A common misconception, but hollow point bullets can actually be safer for all involved – including the person being shot that – than the most common alternative (full metal jacketed bullets).
Hollow points generally penetrate less in tissue, reducing the risk to bystanders due to over penetration (bullets exiting the target with enough energy to still cause fatal wounds). Hollow points can also generate greater damage – both actual tissue damage and ‘psychological shock’ – which can reduce the number of shots required to stop someone, and actually increase the likelihood of survival for the person being shot. Hollow points also increase the chances of stopping an attacker before you run out of ammunition.
Wadcutters – usable in revolvers, but not in semiautos – share the hollow point’s limited penetration, but not their increased ‘stopping power’.
This is a story told to me by one of my friends long ago. He used to work for the Fish and Game in Alaska.
You may recall that salmon ‘spawn’. They have to return to the exact place where they were born to do this.
During spawning season, salmon are easy to harvest, but once done, the place where they spawn will be thoroughly depleted, and will not produce significant salmon for years after.
The Fish and Game used to send wardens out to various inlets and rivers clandestinely to try to catch fishing vessels ‘cheating’. If caught there are big fines, the ship can be confiscated, etc.
What was happening is some of the wardens were not coming back.
Since Alaska is a big place and still very much of a wilderness even today one can only speculate as to what happened to them. It is possible something nefarious…
So they started sending wardens out in pairs. One would perform
the ‘arrest’, the other would secretly observe. That was the end
of the mysterious disappearance of the wardens.
A friend worked for a time as a fisheries cop as described by Mr Kawaratani.
He had a uniform and a badge and a pistol.
It was his duty to check whether commercial fishing vessels of they type they now make reality tv shows about were complying with regulations as to take.
He is an example of the failure of credentialism and the triumph of intelligence and application.
He has a degree in marine biology and this was the closest he ever got to working in the field.
He has been otherwise gainfully employed in a bank and a couple of machine shops, including one where he worked on mirrors for the James Webb Space Telescope.
Roland Dobbins, in his note, is partially right, and partially wrong.
He’s right that it’s far better to defend yourself with an unmodified, factory stock, firearm.
He’s completely wrong about hollowpoint ammunition. I work at a facility which trains the elite of U.S. military, and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. There may be some police agencies which mandate the use of full-metal-jacket bullets by street officers – but I am not aware of them. All I know of require the use of expanding bullets – and the main concern is liability, because FMJ bullets often go right through a person shot with them.
Anyone concerned about that issue should ask their local police department what they carry, and then use that.
Military personnel are restricted from using expanding bullets by international treaty – which is not an argument in favor of FMJ bullets. If they could carry hollowpoints, they would.
This isn’t speculation; I’ve seen this sort of thing play itself out multiple times. As a result, sensible law enforcement agencies forbid their armed operatives – with exceptions for SWAT-type paramilitaries, who apparently can employ field artillery and air-strikes with impunity – from customizing their weapons in any way, from using anything other than full-metal jacket ammunition, and even from utilizing accessories such as cutaway holsters or under-arm clip carriers.
Florida Statutes prohibit the use of full-metal jacket ammunition for private security officers, they understand the danger. All law-enforcement agencies in the State of Florida prohibit the use of full-metal jacket ammunition for duty or off-duty use. There are no prohibitions on how you carry a magazine beyond those on your duty belt(clips are what you use to load a magazine). The claims of lawyers swarming all over such things seem to come up often but case citations never seem to appear.. As far as I know only the State of New Jersey prohibits Hollow Point Ammunition to citizens, but issue it to all of their troopers.
As to modifications to weapons, you can’t modify your car either. It is all State property and they don’t care for self-taught gunsmiths making a mess of things.
MCSE AA4YU CISSP
NRA Certified Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun Instructor. Range Safety Officer.
Suarez International Instructor.
Now we know…
…the real reason the Feds took over so many existing student loans.
"Deanne Loonin, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center in Boston, says she’s been working with an 83-year-old veteran whose Social Security benefits have been reduced for the past five years. The client fell behind on a federal loan that he signed up for in the ’90s to help with his son’s tuition costs; Loonin says the government’s cuts have left the client without enough cash to pay for medications for heart problems and other ailments."
‘A New Zealand man who assaulted his wife with an ostrich egg after her pet pig ran amok has been jailed for six months, local media reported on Thursday.’
The world goes on…
Lest Darkness Fall
I just finished L Sprague de Camp, Lest Darkness Fall; a rocking good read. Over and over again, I drew connections between LDF and your book, A Spaceship for the King; de Camp wrote of Padway’s invention of horse collars but attributes no great changes to the invention while in ASftK their introduction plays a pivotal role in the outcome.
Did you have LDF in mind when you wrote ASftK?
Live long and prosper
h lynn keith
Probably. Sprague and I read many of the same books, and Lest Darkness Fall was one of my favorites. I also love his Ancient Engineers, and probably my favorite was An Elephant for Aristotle, a historical novel. Of course I grew up reading The incompleat Enchanter…
I am not sure where I got the notion of the importance of the horsecollar; probably in a book on the history of slavery. After the invention of the horsecollar horses became more valuable for much brute labor than people. Without the collar you need oxen to pull heavy loads on roads. A horse without horse collar doesn’t have a horsepower of work, and he eats a lot more than a human slave. With the horse collar the economic change. I don’t remember where I first learned that. I wouldn’t be astonished to find I learned it from Fletcher Pratt.
Just Plain Rings!
Nice shots of Saturn’s rings over the years. They remind me we can do something right and beautiful once in a while.
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
Nightside rings 8/27/12
Light & Dark Tricks 10/4/10
Activity Past Darkside 8/24/10
High Phase Drama 4/2/10
In Saturn’s Shadow 10/11/06
Your brain is no longer private
It was only a matter of time:
It sounds like something out of the movie “Johnny Mnemonic,” but scientists have successfully been able to “hack” a brain with a device that’s easily available on the open market.
Researchers from the University of California and University of Oxford in Geneva figured out a way to pluck sensitive information from a person’s head, such as PIN numbers and bank information.
The scientists took an off-the-shelf Emotiv brain-computer interface, a device that costs around $299, which allows users to interact with their computers by thought.
The scientists then sat their subjects in front of a computer screen and showed them images of banks, people, and PIN numbers. They then tracked the readings coming off of the brain, specifically the P300 signal.
The P300 signal is typically given off when a person recognizes something meaningful, such as someone or something they interact with on a regular basis.
Scientists that conducted the experiment found they could reduce the randomness of the images by 15 to 40 percent, giving them a better chance of guessing the correct answer.
Another interesting facet about the experiments is how the P300 signal could be read for lie detection.
In the paper that the scientists released, they state that “the P300 can be used as a discriminative feature in detecting whether or not the relevant information is stored in the subject’s memory.
“For this reason, a GKT based on the P300 has a promising use within interrogation protocols that enable detection of potential criminal details held by the suspect,” the researchers said.
Still, I doubt this would be usable without consent. After all, if you cannot argue that brain contents are safe from unreasonable search and seizure then what is safe? And, what about a person’s right to remain silent and not incriminate himself or herself? Still, joining CIA could become much more interesting…
Joshua Jordan, KSC
The problem is that we need to have people with the technical understanding who also have some knowledge of history and politics, and an education in Western Civilization. Alas I do now know who is today’s Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson.
Interesting Web Site
I learned about this web site yesterday: http://thisissand.com/. I’m not sure how to describe the site. Maybe "an Etch-a-Sketch with gravity". I keep going back and making changes to what I’ve done before, so the site qualifies as a time-waster, too. There’s something soothing about the site, at least to me.
Hope you find it fun.
Mobile lab 3D-prints gear as needed in Afghanistan
For some reason, this brought to mind the factory scene in Prince of Sparta:
The Army has joined the growing 3D printing movement, deploying mobile laboratories to Afghanistan equipped with prototyping and printing equipment that can create tools and other gear for soldiers on the spot.
The service’s Rapid Equipping Force delivered the first Expeditionary Lab – Mobile in July, as part of its effort to cut down the time it takes for innovations to reach the field, Military.com reported <http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/08/17/mobile-labs-build-on-the-spot-combat-solutions.html?comp=1198882887570&rank=1> . A second lab is expected to arrive in the fall.
The REF has been accelerating the delivery of equipment to the field for 10 years, but until now the process often depended on needs statements for new gear, a process that could take months. The new labs, made of 20-foot shipping containers equipped with lab gear, prototyping machines, 3D printers and other manufacturing tools, would be operated in the field and can greatly shorten the process, officials told Military.com.
Two engineers work in the lab and are connected via satellite to as many as 6,000 other engineers who can help in designing prototypes.
REF Director Col. Peter Newell told Military.com that some of the best ideas for new gear come from soldiers in the field, but they’ve often had to wait until returning to the United States to present their ideas to engineers. Now, they can start and finish some projects on location…
Generally, the process begins with a computer-aided design file which is separated into layers of thin, horizontal cross-sections. The printers — which can range from small, ink-jet-like models to large, industrial printers — apply the manufacturing material in layers that correspond to the design, often through a nozzle or die. The printers in the Army’s expeditionary lab, for instance, can print plastic as well as steel and aluminum…
I can think of half a dozen stories to go with this. Technology outmarches preparations…
View 739 Friday, August 31, 2012
Blue Moon tonight. For a good explanation of what that used to mean, and what it means now, see
Look up tonight and remember Neil Armstrong.
Romney was presidential. His speech went well, and there were no mistakes. The Republicans now have the advantage. And I thought Eastwood was hilarious. It’s time for our walk. More later.
Does grammar matter? When I first got into this racket, Mr. Heinlein was kind enough to critique some of my work. He was not only specific, but included some generalities. One of them involved grammar. His position was that meticulous use of proper grammar was important, not because he was a grammarian, but because those who cared about proper grammar cared a lot, and those who didn’t would not be offended by good grammar. I suspected that he was more ardent about the subject than that, but I ever had that conversation. He did require me to pledge that I would get Skillin and Gay Words Into Type, and read it once a year until I was familiar with it. It was good advice and I have never regretted keeping that pledge. When text editors acquired the art of spelling and grammar checking I immediately turned them on. It’s not that I am a slave to them. I generally decline the advice that Microsoft offers. I use Word,. Its grammar check isn’t awful, but the old Word Perfect had a better grammar checker. I don’t ignore the little green lines, but I don’t ignore them.
Byte had a full crew of both technical and style/grammar editors, and indeed that was a good part of BYTE’s strength. The magazine began by taking scholarly articles by engineers and academics and hammering them into readability, and one reason I was popular with the editorial staff was that it didn’t take much work to make my columns publishable. It took some, and I benefitted from them; I tend to use run-on sentences, and to make sentences far too long. I suppose I got into that habit from reading Macaulay. And even after we worked very hard on Mote in God’s Eye we were astonished at the number of changes the Simon and Schuster copy editors wanted in the manuscript. Some of them were simply due to misunderstanding: S&S wasn’t a science fiction house, and some of our constructions were both ungrammatical and confusing. We rewrite those and when we had to we insisted on saying it our way rather than the way some style manual wanted us to say it; but I will have to say that the result was a much better story. I know that most authors believe that copy editors are the class enemy, and all of us complain about stodgy old grammarians turning our dynamic prose into stodgy gump, but I for one am grateful to my copy editors at BYTE and at my publishing houses. Indeed one of my major concerns about the eBook era is that many books will now be published without any copy editing, and the result may not be all that good.
Of course some authors disagree. Today I saw a short screed from an author celebrating the eBook publication of his first novel, this time with the author’s original words rather than the copy editor’s. He calls it an author’s cut. Moreover, he’s a professor. And in his exposition he says he rejoices in his new edition because *I accepted too many copy-editor ticks (though much less than in my earlier works).”
I suppose the world has changed, and it no longer matters.
For those who don’t know what I am talking about, a copy editor would have insisted on changing that to read (though many fewer than in my earlier works). Which probably illustrates Mr. Heinlein’s point: fewer and fewer readers will care about grammar, but some, including old fogies like me, will notice.
I expect there’s a serious essay lurking in this, but day is getting hotter, and I do have other work to do.
CBS predicted last night that the talk shows would concentrate on Clint Eastwood’s odd ad lib performance, and ignore everything else that happened in Tampa last night. That seems to be happening in some cases, but I don’t see how that will affect the election. Romney was presidential, everyone else was supportive, and it was a great night.
The President has the prerogative to leak anything he likes. A Chief Petty Officer does not. The White House formally released part of the bin Laden story and leaked a lot more of it. I haven’t read the Mark Owens book, but apparently it doesn’t give away any classified information that the President hasn’t already revealed. But now the DOD wants all the royalties from the Mark Owns book. I knew the country was desperate broke, but are we that bad off?
I confess mixed emotions on all of this. When there was a serious effort to have me write the Delta Force story with Charlie Beckwith we had many discussions about this. There are conflicting principles involved. I wish the Chief well, but he did sign a contract to allow the Agency to review the book. Of course if he had submitted it for review there might have been fewer than a thousand words (none consecutive) left when they got through with the manuscript. But you knew the job was dangerous when you took it….
View 739 Wednesday, August 29, 2012
It has been oppressively hot in Los Angeles the past few days, and even trivial errands eat up a lot of time. We went to the Hollywood Bowl last night for Carina Burana, which was energetically done by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Chorale, and the Children’s Chorale. Well done, and they had some English subtitles to go with much of it. Of course if you’ve read the libretto you pretty well know what words go with what music, but this was the first time I’ve seen it all in context. The baritone Hugh Russell had a great time with the lament of the roasting swan in the tavern section, and soprano Laura Claycomb was charmingly flirtatious in her sections. Nicholas Phan did the tenor parts with considerable gusto.
I can also understand why a few decades ago a prosecuting attorney might think that having a children’s chorus even hear this, much less perform in it, might be an indictable offense. Probably not in Hollywood, though.
Last night’s Republican Convention was snuffed out by Hurricane Isaac, and we have this amusing headline. Apparently there are limits to mainstream media bias. Not many, but apparently there are some.
Yahoo fires bureau chief for Romney/blacks remark
Yahoo News fired its Washington bureau chief on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he was caught on an open microphone saying that Mitt Romney and his wife, at the Republican convention in Florida while a hurricane was approaching Louisiana, were "happy to have a party with black people drowning." http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2019017552_apuscvnyahooromney.html
Tonight, Condoleezza Rice ‘brought down the house’ according to the Washington Post, with a policy lecture delivered from notes – no teleprompter – that demonstrated that she understands what she is saying. She’s a bit more hawkish and somewhat more inclined to interventionism than I am, but she’s also fairly cautious, as befits a realist. And of course it is important that the United States remain militarily powerful in a dangerous world. As Walter Lippmann used to say, diplomacy for Great Powers is a bit like writing checks – there has to be power in the bank to back up policy.
Foreign policy," wrote Walter Lippmann in 1943 in an oft-quoted phrase, "consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power." If this balance exists, the foreign policy will command domestic support. If commitments exceed power, insolvency results which generates deep political dissension. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/42795/samuel-p-huntington/coping-with-the-lippmann-gap
Santorum and Huckabee made good presentation endorsements, and provided a Catholic and an Evangelical ‘nihil obstat’ to the Romney Ryan ticket. Quite well and subtly done.
The star of the show was of course Paul Ryan. His main task was to make this election turn on economic policy while retaining the image of being nice guy presidential, that the ticket is likable, but they also know how to solve the economic problems. He invoked Jack Kemp and supply side economics as the basis for the Republican program. Ryan was a speech writer for Kemp. I noted that Newt Gingrich was in the audience as Ryan spoke, and seemed quite pleased with what he was hearing, which isn’t surprising since Gingrich began as a Kemp colleague and has always referred to Kemp as a mentor.
We have had this debate before, back in the 1980 election, with Reagan espousing the need for “supply side” economics – lower taxes, more incentives to create wealth – vs. Keynsian ‘stimulus’ economic policies. We will have it again. I need to dig out some of the essays I wrote for that election – many of them are relevant to this day. The notion that you can increase government revenue through lower taxes has been demonstrated several times, but it is usually at first rejected as defying common sense. In fact, though, raising taxes seldom produces the revenue increases expected, while the right tax cuts can often produce an actual revenue increase. They did for Reagan. More on that another time.
So far the Republican convention has done what it was intended to do: show that Romney and Ryan are presidential as well as nice guys, and refocus the election issue on economic progress. Romney has to nail it with his acceptance speech.
I am working on an essay on mercenaries and politics in a republic. Machiavelli pointed out that republics which hire their defense so that the citizens need not serve in the military take great chances, for hired soldiers can ruin you, either by losing a battle, or, perhaps more likely, holding out for higher and higher pay. The Framers understood that in a republic citizens must take their turns in government office; hiring professionals can be dangerous. And it has become true of electoral politics. If the citizens don’t take part in electoral politics, and leave it to professional consultants, they will find that their political choices are often subject to the Iron Law. This explains some of the rule change fights in the Republican Convention. The Democrats have long handed over control of much of the political process to professionals (I consider union leaders professionals as are political consultants). The Republicans have also done so but to a somewhat lesser extent, but as fewer and fewer citizens insist on taking part, and the work needs to be done – well, that’s the starting point of what I am working on. Taking back your government requires taking back some control of party activities as well. That’s one of the Tea Party functions, and one reason the professional consultants dislike the Tea Party.
Freedom is not free. Freemen are not equal. Equal men are not free.
And you did build that…
View 739 Monday, August 27, 2012
Went hiking with Niven today. I’ve been a bit depressed about having outlived the first man on the moon, but as Niven points out, our book in progress may have some influence over such events. We like to think that we’ve had some impact on keeping the dream alive. Managed some work today. And John Dvorak was in town and stopped by for a quick hello on his way back to the airport. More shortly. We have a lot of mail on interesting subjects.
The President’s web site shows his tribute to Neil Armstrong. http://barackobama.tumblr.com/post/30199041207/neils-spirit-of-discovery-lives-on-in-all-the-men It consists of a picture of President Obama looking at the Moon. Given that Obama cancelled the return to the Moon it is probably fitting.
View 738 Saturday, August 25, 2012
Neil Armstrong, RIP
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr
People said things like that when I was growing up, and all the astronauts knew it in the old days at Edwards. I suppose they still know that poem at the USAF Academy, but perhaps not; but I have heard it recited by X-15 pilots at Pancho’s after a day of miracles, and no one laughed. And I am sure that Neil Armstrong knew it. Test pilots were tough guys with the right stuff, but all of them I knew had a romantic streak.
And of course they all had the right stuff, and they knew it, and they knew that Armstrong had more of it than most. During the Apollo Lander Simulation flight – the trainer was dubbed the flying bedstead with good reason – in Arizona the computers glitched or the gyros tumbled so that the platform tumbled ninety degrees. If Armstrong had ejected with it in that attitude he would not have achieved enough altitude to allow the parachute to open. He kept his nerve and slowly rotated the platform as it fell, and when the angle was right – about 45 degrees I am told, I wasn’t there – ejected. Everything worked and he landed without injury. They’ve calculated that he had about three seconds to spare.
The computers overloaded during the Apollo 11 landings, and Armstrong came through again. This time he had twenty seconds of fuel to spare. The right stuff came through. The Eagle landed as the world watched, and the world would never be the same. Those of us who had a part in that can be sure of that. When I was growing up I knew from the first day I read Willy Ley’s book that I would live to see the first man on the Moon. I had not expected to outlive him, but Mankind’s conquest of space is not over. We’ll be back.
In September, 1962, President John F. Kennedy said that within the decade we would put a man on the moon and bring him home. We would do it because we choose to do it. I was part of the space program and I had my doubts. I kept my reservations secret, but the astronauts never had any. They were sure that America could do it.
We chose to go to the Moon in 1962, and seven years after making the choice we heard “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” With 1962 technology. With primitive computers, unreliable rocket motors, with little understanding of the Lunar surface and less understanding of space weather. What is it that we cannot do now? But we must choose to do it.
From a statement by the Armstrong family:
“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his
remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people
around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be
willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a
cause greater than themselves.
“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple
request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty,
and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon
smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
There’s a waxing half Moon out there tonight.
Tom Brosz reminds me that I may outlive the last man on the Moon as well as the first. Eugene Cernan, the last man to stand on the Moon, is 78. Younger than me, but not by much.
Mail 738 Wednesday, August 22, 2012
They Have "Wasteful" Government in Australia, Too -
The Australian government has made a $45,000 grant for investigating turning dog poo into a renewable energy source. The article is
from the Watt’s Up With That? web site.
The silly season knows no boundaries.
Seems like a trivial amount of money. What does it cost to deal with dog poop now? S C Edison at one time wanted to experiment with the waste output of Oceanside to see if you could get enough energy from it to offset some of the cost of sewage processing, but the state regulators wouldn’t let them use ratepayer money for that experiment.
Fair enough. I wasn’t aware of the other forays into extracting energy from waste. I’m dubious there is any real benefit to be found from these processes. I suppose spending $45,000 to find out one way or another isn’t a horrible use of taxpayer money.
Thanks for the response.
A retraction on the loss of metaphors
I wrote you sometime back bemoaning the loss, somewhat tounge-in-cheek, of some of our cultural metaphors to political correctness. You’d used the term "tar baby," and I’d run into a host of younger co-workers that particular week who didn’t understand the term, had never heard of Brer Rabbit, and who didn’t even know that Disney had ever considered producing anything as blatently racist (in modern terms) as "Song of the South."
I’ve got to take that all back. Somewhat belatedly, I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s _Anansi Boys_, where he correctly re-tells the tar baby story in something close to the original African fairy tale style. Of course, in the story it is Anansi’s children who set up the Tar Man, not Brer Rabbit’s tar baby. In the story, it is Anansi himself who gets stuck due to perniciousness and greed.
Of course, most of my co-workers have never heard of Anansi, either, and only no a little mythology, either because of exposure in an elective freshman college course (Gods forbid we teach mythology in high school any more) or via secondary exposure in more shallow fiction.
Gaiman is keeping a lot of the old mythology alive and in context. I guess that we’re really not losing the metaphors so much as having them corrected.
We read the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby in about Fourth Grade in Capleville school in Tennessee, but I guess they don’t do that now.
Subject: Denise Barton of California Files $1.7 Billion Claim Alleging ‘Smart’ Meters Making Her Sick
Yep….the crazy years are upon us. I really think the lawyer who took this lawsuit on should do jail time.
I guess it’s the silly season for lawyers too…
Dear Mr. Pournelle:
Your correspondent "G" raises some interesting points in his note on "Allies," regarding protection of the people. His main argument, that "big government and big business are natural allies", especially deserves consideration.
I’ve long found that to be one of the few persuasive arguments in the rhetoric of the old Anarchist movement; that political and economic powers will naturally enter into collusion, so there’s no point trying to reform either — tear them down. But anarchism is untenable. So where do we go? I’m unwilling to submit to the notion that we’re inevitably to be dominated by Behemoths; and the American experiment of checks and balances seems to me to be the most plausible alternative yet devised.
I agree there will be a strong *tendency* for government to collude with economic power. But it isn’t inevitable; your correspondent cites, appropriately, Theodore Roosevelt. I would like a counterbalance other than government: I don’t see one. In that highly imperfect situation, it seems to me that one reasonable strategy is to support those candidates and political parties which seem *least* in collusion with corporations. Currently, that appears to be liberals. That wasn’t always so. Theodore Roosevelt is clearly a counterexample; Dwight D. Eisenhower is a more recent one.
I return to the question of *power imbalance.* There’s no point talking about preserving freedom unless we can find some way to restrain economic power. I’d like to find some option better than a Hobbesian Leviathan; but I have little patience with any political position which doesn’t see a problem in the growing power of corporations.
As a lesser point, your correspondent argues "Even today little tinhorn states around the world routinely nationalize or blackmail multinational corporations without fear." Routinely? That may be excessive. Nevertheless, it would be odd for him to suggest that the only practical alternative to corporate dominance is Marxist dictatorship… I really, really don’t want to go down that road. We could easily have drifted that direction in the 1930′s, and that should be warning enough.
So here’s where I sit. Marxism, Anarchism, and corporate oligarchy are all intolerable. I’m firmly enough convinced of the doctrine of original sin that I really don’t expect any political approach to these problems to be either flawless or stable. Yes, government intervention is clumsy and will sometimes bite us. Given that we’re working with fallen humans, I would expect no less. There may be alternatives, but I’d expect them to be equally flawed. I’d be interested if your correspondent could list some.
Allan E. Johnson
I have always held the theory that Marx had a great deal of truth in his theory of concentration of power, and that the anti-trust movement in the United States saved this nation from many of the horrid consequences of such concentrations. David McCord Wright, one of my favorite economists, always held that view. I would be very much in favor of reintroducing the trust busters. I was opposed to the persecution of Microsoft because it was ill conceived, but not on principle. I do not like corporate ‘growth’ by buying up the competition, and I certainly believe that any bank that is too big to fail is too big to exist.
I have the same view of government.
But then I have always been for transparency and subsidiarity as general principles. I’ve said all this many times, of course.
Pretty Good: http://de.webfail.at/image/i-am-your-father-win-bild.html
Men to Mars
I remember reading a 1996 book called "The Case For Mars" by a NASA engineer called Zubrin. According to my fallible memory Zubrin’s scheme was to use off the shelf Proton rockets to fly a nuclear powered, Victorian technology, chemical plant which would combine the Martian atmosphere with a cargo of hydrogen to make methane, water, and oxygen. Another rocket would carry living quarters and only when this had been accomplished would a crew be sent. It certainly seemed plausible to me as the scheme relied on known technology. Certainly there would be a lot of R&D to make this possible, but essentially it would need no need no new discovery, only improved plumbing. One big plus would be that everything except the crew’s ship could be duplicated at a reasonable cost. On arrival the astronauts would have fuel for exploring and for the return trip, and water and oxygen for life support. At the time it struck me as being no more dangerous than flying a Starfighter.
I have known Zubrin for a long time, and while his scheme looks very plausible, I for one do not know how to get people to Mars alive if there is anything like a solar flare. And I don’t really think we know enough about keeping them alive once there.
I do think we could build a viable Lunar Colony with today’s technology, and we could learn from it about staying alive in the space environment. Moon next. Then Mars.
Space weather is worse than most of us think it is.
Rothschild Bets Against Euro
This is an interesting move by the most powerful family in Europe; perhaps, the most powerful family in the world:
If the actions of Lord Jacob Rothschild are anything to go by, the long predicted collapse of the Euro may not be far away, with the banking titan placing a $200 million dollar bet against the troubled single currency.
“Lord Rothschild, an elder member of the dynastic Rothschild banking family, has taken the position against the euro through RIT Capital Partners, the 1.9 billion pound investment trust of which he is executive chairman,” reports CNBC.
RIT has upped its short against the Euro from 3 per cent in January to 7 per cent in July.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Well, perhaps he knows something…
Why all your correspondents urging the use of hollowpoint ammunition are dead wrong.
Yes, in most cases, hollowpoint rounds do a better job of stopping the target via expansion and the resultant wounding. Yes, hollowpoint rounds are generally safer in terms of through-and-through penetration and resultant collateral damage.
But that’s nothing compared to what a prosecutor a la Trayvon or a civil attorney representing the family of the deceased will do to you in a courtroom.
If you use anything other than full-metal jacket ammo; if you customize your weapon in any way for safer, more accurate handling (Pachmyr grips, integral laser sights, etc.); you will stand accused of being a dangerous, homicidal fanatic just looking for any excuse at all to make your own day by shooting someone, a mad-dog danger to the community who, far from acting in self-defense, went out on the date in question looking for someone to kill in what was at the very least second-degree murder, if not outright pre-planned first-degree homicide.
The facts of the case will be irrelevant. The point that you were acting in self-defense in fear of your life and with no avenue of retreat will be irrelevant. You will be made out to be a kindred spirit to Charles Whitman and Anton Brevik, acting out of various officially-proscribed thoughtcrimes such as racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bias, Republicanism, Christianity, and so forth. They will their best to convict and imprison you, as well as to sue and bankrupt you (the first greatly contributing to the probability of success of the second).
So, it’s far better to be selfish and to forego more secure grips, more accurate sights, and safer ammunition in order to immunize oneself as much as possible against post-self-defense legal assault by distinguished officers of the court, members of the bar, and the larger racial grievance community.
This isn’t speculation; I’ve seen this sort of thing play itself out multiple times. As a result, sensible law enforcement agencies forbid their armed operatives – with exceptions for SWAT-type paramilitaries, who apparently can employ field artillery and air-strikes with impunity – from customizing their weapons in any way, from using anything other than full-metal jacket ammunition, and even from utilizing accessories such as cutaway holsters or under-arm clip carriers.
Philadelphia woman faces $600-a-day fine for feeding needy neighborhood kids
Evidently her crime was not getting permission from the government to help
other people out.after all, that IS the purview of the
government, not the citizens, when you live in a Socialist State.
Subject: Philadelphia woman faces $600-a-day fine for feeding needy
Published August 14, 2012
A Pennsylvania woman who offers free lunch every day to low-income children
in her neighborhood faces a $600-a-day fine next summer
if she continues because she did not clear the food giveaway with township
Angela Prattis donates her time to distribute the meals — supplied by the
Archdiocese of Philadelphia — and adheres to strict
paperwork, like filling out weekly reports and being visited bi-weekly from
a state worker, MyFoxPhilly.com reports. Philadelphia
News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29 <http://www.myfoxphilly.com/>
"Angela saw it as a way to contribute to the community in a positive way,"
Anne Ayella, a member of the archdiocese, said. "There
was nothing in it for her."
Prattis laughed and said, "I don’t make a dime."
Prattis lived in the township for three years. She reportedly distributes
the meals to the 60 or so children at a gazebo on her
property during the summer months, when children are home from school.
The Delaware County Times reports that another resident alerted the council
about the distribution a few weeks ago. The council
investigated and ruled that the practice is not permitted without a
variance, the paper reported.
"You have houses here, the roofs are falling in, and they could be focused
on a lot of more serious issues than me feeding
children," she said.
Chester Township, which has a per capita income of $19,000 a year, says
Prattis lives in a residential zone, hence handing out food
to children is not allowed. The township says she needs to go before a
zoning board to ask for a variance, which would cost her up
to $1,000 in administrative fees.
"I don’t think it’s my responsibility to go to her to say, ‘why don’t you
come to talk to me to see if there’s something that we can
do to help your program,’" William Pisarek, the Chester Township business
Prattis told The Delaware County Times that she is not going to stop feeding
the children in the area.
Well at least it’s local. Wait until Obama tries to ‘solve this problem’ with a national policy.
Yep…that is a good point….and after I sent the email, I realized that when the township business manager said:
"I don’t think it’s my responsibility to go to her to say, ‘why don’t you come to talk to me to see if there’s something that we can do to help your program,’" William Pisarek, the Chester Township business manager, said."
…that he didn’t think it was his responsibility to help out someone doing a good thing, even with a phone call to suggest she come to his office and pay homage to him before continuing her work. He did however, have time to ensure that she felt the sting of a bureaucrat’s ire for not properly kowtowing to him without prompting through the threat of fines.
I am far less concerned about thickheaded town clerks than I am about building a federal bureaucracy to “fix the problem”.
View 738 Wednesday, August 22, 2012
1048: the saga continues. Yesterday I spent the day driving my newly repaired car 60 miles while doing other errands, then got the smog certification. Unfortunately, since I had already paid the registration fee to DMV back last fall, the smog certifier couldn’t give me license tag stickers – he could if I had to pay the fee, but since I didn’t have to pay the fee —
Anyway, in a few minutes I will be off to AAA, which may have a remedy for me. My fear is that the rapacious city parking enforcement people, having already issued me one ticket (which I’ll pay) for not having that sticker will be watching with telescopes to find my car in a vulnerable place.
We’ll see what happens next. When the state is out of money – it estimated that it would get a billion dollars from taxing the Facebook IPO, and the Pension Fund still estimates it will get 7% on investments it is losing money on – then any revenue source is needed…
And I’m off.
1600: Done, and done. I have a big red sticker thing pasted on the inside of my back window that gives me King’s X until the DMV mails my permanent license plate sticker on the 29th of this month; this according to the AAA. I have to say the AAA has been greatly helpful in all this, and the only inconvenience was about 5 minutes wait for a human being on the phone on my first call when this all started, and perhaps that long waiting in a pleasant waiting room area for the agent who dealt with the whole matter for me. Which is to say no problems at all. It would be hard for them to have been more efficient.
There was one good outcome. The AAA office is out in Encino, most of the way to the Pizza Cookery, where they make excellent gluten free pizza, meaning that I could get a pizza that Roberta could eat. So I got her one, and I got one for me, and for once we had all the pizza we wanted. And now that the car registration drama is over I can get back to work.
Fred Reed has an insightful observation in his current Fred on Everything. The title Sauron’s Eye should be a clue. I should have something more substantive shortly. Technology marches on, and things change.
The Media Rule is that if a Democrat says something silly, he my be forgiven or may not, but if a Republican says anything eccentric it is a sign of his total unfitness for public office. In the case of Akin he seems to have been told some nonsense about female physiology that comes from wishful thinking. There is no evidence that women do not conceive after violent rape, and a rather large amount of history says otherwise. We might very well wish there were such a mechanism, as one might wish that the Lord tempers the wind for the shorn lamb, because a woman made pregnant by rape presents a moral dilemma of great magnitude. One cannot blame Mr. Akin for wishing such moral dillemae did not occur. I wish it myself. But for all the wishing we are faced with the moral dilemma: the rapist ought to be punished, but what has the unborn child done to deserve execution? Or if that’s too blunt, then to deserve our withdrawing the protection of the law on its very life? The unborn are innocent. The law should protect the innocent.
We can retreat from the dilemma by denying that the unborn is not yet a child, is not yet human, and for some number of hours or days or even weeks after conception there are good arguments for that, and indeed the doctrine of quickening was part of the common law for centuries. (Quickening held that until the woman felt the child move within her womb it was not legally an unborn child.) Quickening – religiously, ‘ensoulment’ – was held to take place 40 days after conception. This was believed by the ancient Greeks and came down through the ages. Legally, I guess, ensoulment takes place at the first breath, but that isn’t consistent since we have had convictions of manslaughter for causing involuntary abortion. And we are not going to get any agreement on these matters, which is why I don’t discuss them here. It has all been said many times.
But if the worst thing Mr. Akin has ever done is to wish for some relief from a moral dilemma by believing something untrue, and he has been willing to be convinced that his belief was incorrect and should not only be abandoned but apologized for, he is nothing like the worst candidate for Senate I have ever heard. Or even met. There are many Senators who endorse and pretend to believe things they know damned well aren’t true about economics and the effects of stimulus spending, and there are many who have to be pretty sure that the budgets they vote for are built around ludicrous assumptions.
Mr. Akins believes that in the case of rape the rapist ought to be punished, but the child should not be. This isn’t really a federal matter to begin with, and much as I wish it were, it is not the major danger facing these United States in this year of grace. We may all wish Mr. Akin hadn’t said what he did. But if the fate of the Republic rests on that, God has a very strange sense of humor indeed. And my guess is that Mr. Akin may not have as much trouble raising money as his opponents think he will. His position is that of most of the bishops in the United States.
I have variants on this letter from many subscribers and readers:
There have been a few military members recently getting into trouble for expressing their political views. No matter how truthful certain observations are, they simply can’t be made (and reasonable conclusions drawn) by military members.
But this we can say: FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING YOU HOLD PRECIOUS PLEASE VOTE THIS YEAR
That is all.
Serving military member
Mail 738 Monday, August 20, 2012
Regarding the D’Souza piece
Here’s where he lost me:
"A couple of years ago, George teamed up with a British journalist Damien Lewis and the two of them published George’s story in a book called "Homeland." Yet according to Lewis, shortly before the book’s publication in America, the publisher Simon & Schuster decided to shred the **entire** print run, more than 20,000 copies." (emphasis added)
OK, that implies there should be no US-published copies available, which should be fairly easy to check. I went to barnesandnoble.com. I went to amazon.com.
Hardcover copies by Simon & Schuster are available in both venues, and there are both Nook and Kindle editions — which would presumably have come out after the hardcover.
Perhaps the rest of the article has some grains of truth in it. But if D’Souza can’t be bothered with the easy-to-check stuff, it prompts me to be even more skeptical on the hard-to-check, no secondary source, "I alone escaped to tell thee" stuff.
Hoping this finds you well,
I have no idea. Perhaps someone more familiar with this can comment? I have not met Mr. D’Souza but I know many people who have, and I have worked with some of them. But you ask a question that deserves an answer.
Maybe Apple doesn’t have special screws to keep you out of their hardware, but I know from repair experience on a MacBook Pro (the ones where the battery is completely internal) that their battery is held in by screws that need a special tool. At the time I was doing this repair, this tool was only sold online to authorized dealers. Fortunately, some non-optimal tools can be adapted to remove the battery.
The place to go when you want to get inside Apple hardware is iFixit.com.
Not just bunny inspectors ….
Despite having no horses, the water and sewerage department for the city of Detroit employs a horseshoer
In the army we called them farriers and there was a theoretical slot for them in cavalry regiments in Headquarters Troop. I expect they have revised that in the past decades.
Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Dependence
I run a little website and one of my guest writers has come up with a really interesting take on society’s current entitlement mindset. He’s taken Maslows Heirarchy of Needs and is examining entitlements and government actions under a hierarchy of dependence (using Maslow’s needs hierarchy)…I think it’s a cool concept and haven’t seen it covered anyplace else. Be interested in your thoughts if you had time to take a look at it… http://prepography.com/category/guestblogger/roger-reality/
Wish I’d come up with it,
Andrew J. Jackson
Dr Pournelle, here is a thought about protection of the people. I’ve had a few liberals tell me that they see the need for a powerful Federal Government in order to protect the people from Big Business.
It is my contention that this is insane.
First, as a matter of history, the government, weak when Teddy was in charge as compared to today, had little trouble beating up on business when it was relatively very powerful. Even today little tinhorn states around the world routinely nationalize or blackmail multinational corporations without fear.
Second, and more importantly, big government and big business are natural allies. Government has power, but wants money. Business has money, but wants power. Government sees business as a source of revenue to buy votes and ensure friends and allies are taken care of, and even themeselves once they leave government service. Business sees government as a source of protection from competition. Neither has any great need for specific people, just sufficient to pay taxes, vote and purchase goods and services.
So, why would anyone think big government will provide any protection from big business? Aside from political rhetoric and the drek we get for entertainment, I see no such reason. Far more often we see powerful businessmen like Corzine getting preferential treatment by the government, or government officials like Stephanopoulos getting hired on by one business or another after leaving the government.
Conservatives do not believe in weak government; it should be strong, but its size and jurisdiction should be limited. And certainly there is more than enough power over Wall Street except that the system is so large now that it can’t act quickly or effectively.
Armed Pizza Delivery
I guess, now, we have to admit that things have gone pear shaped:
Has it come to this? Yes it has, according to Joan McKenna, whose son Tim McKenna, 19, was shot while delivering pizza in Detroit.
In the wake of the shooting, a Jets Pizza franchise in Dearborn ruled it will no longer deliver to Detroit after dark. Before the shooting, they sent two drivers to every nighttime Detroit delivery, one of whom was armed, Joan McKenna said.
“They usually send somebody with a guy … who carries a gun,” she said. “Usually they have two go into Detroit after dark, if they have a delivery … One guy has a legal, he can carry a gun. That night, Timmy was the only one left, they had this one run to do, he said ‘yeah, I’ll do it.’ He’s a kid, he doesn’t think anything’s going to happen to him.”
Joshua Jordan, KSC
We have sown the wind. Now we reap.
Lucifer’s Hammer review…
I will say now that we left out a good bit on purpose. In particular we used mustard rather than another war gas for reasons of social responsibility. An interesting review.
Dutch to Mars?
I didn’t know if you’d heard about this. The article is from June, 2012, and this is the first I’ve heard anything about it. A Dutch "researcher" has announced plans to have a permanent settlement on Mars by 2023.
Have you heard of this fellow, and is he believable? The article is written in a way that kind of hints that they think he is a crackpot.
This is the first I have heard of it, but I am not as well connected as I used to be.
View 738 Monday, August 20, 2012
Today will be eaten by errands. Friday a neighbor came to the door to tell us that I’d got a ticket put on my parked car. I went out and discovered that Lo! he was correct, I had a ticket for expired license tabs. Since I remembered paying the registration fee I wondered how that happened but a call to AAA revealed that while I had paid the registration, I had forgotten to get the smog certification, and I was now months past the due date. OK, so I’ll pay the ticket and get the smog certification and go to AAA to get the license tab.
Only it was just too late to do that Friday. I drove to my smog certification place to discover that his machine had just broken down. I went to the place I used to go to and discovered they no longer do that. He directed me to a place much closer to my house, and indeed to go to it I had to go past the place that does my annual auto maintenance. They don’t do smog certification, and they couldn’t service my car anyway because their experts were all busy come back Monday. So I went to the local smog place, and they said it’s too late come back Monday.
So it is Monday, If all goes well I’ll get my smog certification, notify DMV that I will pick up my tab at AAA, go to AAA, get the tab, go to the grocery store and pick up some stuff, drop that off at the house, and take the car to the garage for annual servicing. Which leaves me a lot of time for thinking but Heaven knows what can go wrong. I don’t figure I’ll be done before late afternoon.
The silly season drones on. President Obama faces two problem: his enthusiasts are no longer enthusiastic and may not turn out to vote. Those who don’t like him are saying they will definitely vote. The remedy according to some strategists is to poison the election. Pox on both houses! It don’t matter, they’re all bums. Make everyone disgusted with the process, and use organizations to turn out just enough votes to win.
It could work. At least they hope so.
But the executive decision to choose Ryan has changed some of that. At least there is now an issue. We’ll see.
Meanwhile I have a day to think while I run errands. And I’d better be off doing them.
Now I wait. Friday after I found the place I usually take my car for smog certification was not operating and I was driving to what I thought was a smog certification place, for the first time in the decade I have had the my Ford Explorer the “Check engine” light went on. Actually, it has been on before, but that was because I had left the gas cap off after filling the car, and it turned itself off after I closed the cap. Never otherwise though. But this time it came on. So I went to the usual smog certification place and they had four people in line before me, so I went to another which is actually closer to he house. Went to the local Pinkberry yogurt place for a yogurt with fruit lunch, back to the smog place, and things went weird again. I’ve never flunked a smog certification before. They showed me the forms. The car has to pass ‘visual’ meaning that the technician doesn’t see anything wrong, such as having the smog stuff removed from the car. It has to pass the emissions test, weaning that it’s not making smog. And it has to pass some kind of computer certification, meaning that the car’s internal memory system hasn’t detected a smog problem, but what it really means is that the ‘check engine’ light isn’t on. In my case the computer was telling me that the car was randomly stalling, which it wasn’t and never has been so far as I know.
The smog certification people can’t fix your smog system. That’s part of the California law. It happens that this particular place is very close to a Shell station I have dealt with for years, and which has been recommended to me by neighbors, and it’s a hot day, so I left it with them and walked home. It’s about 100 out there. And of course they called, and there were problems – my car was overdue for its annual checkup, so I fold them to go ahead to do that as well as take care of the smog computer thing – and now I ‘m waiting. I suspect the whole mess will run more than a grand, but since that will include what I usually pay for the annual checkup and fixup, I don’t suppose I can complain. My Explorer is old but it hasn’t got all that many miles on it. I don’t drive a lot any more. When I got it I still thought in terms of driving out to Fort Apache or taking the Scouts to rifle practice in the Mojave, but I don’t turn out to have done much of that. I don’t really need a full size SUV any longer, but I like this one even though it doesn’t get great gas mileage. It’s built like a tank, it still looks all right, everything works, and this is the first serous problem I’ve had with it. My car philosophy has always been to get something I like and drive it until it stops working, and this fixup should keep mine going a few more years.
I suppose this would be no bad time to remind people that this is the rational discussion site, and it operates on the Public Radio principle, which is to say it’s free but it won’t stay open if I don’t get subscriptions and renewals. I also have to say that we do all right on subscriptions, so I’m not claiming poverty, but if you’ve been thinking about subscribing this would be a great time to do it.
I can’t quite understand what is going on, but it looks as if the leading Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri may have just done himself in. He was considered an odds on favorite for taking the seat which is now held by a Democrat. Republican Congressman Akin was apparently trying to avoid answering a question about abortion rights of rape victims without quite saying that he’s against abortion under essentially all circumstances with the possible exception of a choice affecting the survival of the mother. Instead of saying that, which he has in fact said many times in his Congressional campaigns, he rambled on with some odd theory of female physiology and used some of the most unfortunate language one could devise. He said something to the effect that if it’s really real rape the woman probably won’t conceive. I don’t know much about reproduction physiology, but historically that certainly hasn’t been the case.
Akin later stated his real position, which is that rapists ought to be punished, but it’s not the child’s fault.
Akin is running for a federal office, and this ought not be a federal matter. The US Supreme Court made a wrong decision in Roe vs. Wade, assuming some kind of constitutional basis for federal interference in state law on abortion, and the country has been suffered from this ever since. I don’t intend to get into the substance of the debate, which has to do not only with both science and religion, but with the very basis for believing in the law. If the purpose of law is to protect the innocent, there are few creatures more innocent than the unborn. Innocent humans should be protected, not killed. If that seems clear enough, nothing else really is. Precisely when human life begins is not agreed upon by science or religion. Is a fertilized egg human? Is an 8 month old unborn child human? Is a newborn child human? Those questions will produce different answers from different people, and we will never get universal agreement. I see no point in the discussion since everything about the subject regarding faith and morals has been said many times and for a very long time, and there is no disagreement about scientific fact.
We can discuss the constitutional issues, but there isn’t much to be said about that either. Abortion was not debated at the Convention of 1787 because none of the delegates would have for a moment considered it a matter for the federal government, and the states were pretty well agreed in forbidding abortion under any circumstances whatever. Most educated people in the United States were agreed in forbidding abortion as late as 1950: that was the year when the Broadway play Detective Story closed after a highly successful run; the play very well expresses the national view on abortion at the time.
I’ve written more on this than I intended to. For single issue voters Akin’s consistent belief coupled with his addled expressions will probably be decisive. I have no idea what the people of Missouri statewide will think. His constituents in his Congressional District have probably not been surprised about either his beliefs or his expressions and they continued to elect him.
My car is fixed, the “Check Engine” light is off, and tomorrow I have to drive it fifty miles, then get the smog check again. After which I can pay the ticket and this mess will be over. The car runs fine. While they were fixing whatever caused the check engine light I had them do the annual maintenance which turned out to require new brake linings all around. They did a good tune up, too. The whole mess cost more than I expected. A good reminder not to forget the smog check after I pay the registration. At least it’s almost over.
And last night I recorded the opening episode of the new TV series “Copper” about 1864 New York City. We watched a bit less than the first half of it tonight. It was unrelievedly depressing, and I don’t expect to see the rest of the first episode much less spend any time watching any more of them. On the subject of time wasting, I still watch the series Bunheads although I can’t possibly say why I like it. I suppose I like perky actresses, and the dialogue is often – not always, but often – sparkling. My first impression of the show was that they didn’t know whether they were doing high comedy, broad farce, or melodrama. I’ve since decided that they know very well what they are doing, and it’s an odd mixture of all three, presented by people more experienced in stage plays than television — and all having a great time.
Mail 737 Thursday, August 16, 2012
Only in real life:
Subj: "Am I my brother’s keeper?"
The article is by Dinesh D’Souza, and it is startling. Assuming that D’Souza is not simply an outright liar, the story is damning. It is a story of a personal relationship between D’Souza and George Obama, youngest brother of the President of the United States. Excerpts:
Barack Obama Jr. first met [his brother] George in 1987, when George was five years old. He met George again in 2006 when he visited Kenya as a U.S. Senator from Illinois; George was then in his early twenties. Had Obama helped George along the way, perhaps this young man would not have ended up dirt-poor and living such a degraded life.
So what’s the real story here? Where’s George Obama’s “fair share”? George’s tragic situation exposes President Obama as a hypocrite. Here is a man who demands that others pay higher taxes to help the poor—even poor people who are not related to them—while Obama himself refuses to help a close relative like George.
I will confess to being shocked by this story. I knew that President Obama had siblings in Africa, and that they did not live large. I did not know the whole story.
Now who would have thought?
Oh yeah, you and Niven.
We certainly live in interesting times.
And of course in China you can order spare parts to be collected from executed felons.
Subj: New free online courses from edX (MIT and Harvard)
Forwarded from edX, which is a joint effort of MIT and Harvard in online education.
We are pleased to announce that we have recently added six new free courses to the edX curriculum:
* Introduction to Computer Science I
* Introduction to Computer Science and Programming
* Introduction to Solid State Chemistry
* Circuits and Electronics
* Artificial Intelligence
* Software as a Service
* Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research
To read full descriptions of these exciting new courses, and to register for any of these courses, please visit the new edX website at https://www.edx.org/
You can also find answers for many questions in our FAQ section, https://www.edx.org/faq
Thank you for your interest and support we look forward to building the future of online learning with your help!
Please forward this to your friends and colleagues who you think may be interested in edX.
The edX Team
A Swedish company, Day4, successfully played on people’s paranoia about/fascination with Apple’s development culture.
This story originated in the LA Times, but here’s a free source for it –
Day4 created a rendering of a screw with a weird, asymmetrical head. The screw was supposedly designed to keep Apple users from opening their products. With Apple’s track record of keeping controlled environments, this wasn’t too hard to believe.
Day4 had a plausible story, and now it just needed a way to get it out.
The company attached the photo of the screw rendering to a fake email that read as though it was from a source within Apple. Day4 then uploaded the picture to Imgur, and shared it as a link on Reddit in a post titled "A friend took a photo a while ago at that fruit company, they are obviously even creating their own screws."
I have more information on jacketed hollow point rounds than you probably want to know, but it does no harm to collect it here.
Jacketed Hollow Points
Dear Doctor Pournelle:
Regarding expanding bullets, jacketed hollow points in particular, here in Ohio in a justified self-defense shooting, neither my assailant nor his mutant relatives can collect a penny in damages from me. But let me shoot that same assailant with a full metal jacketed bullet, get a through and through and kill somebody’s toddler on the other side of him, and I might as well use the next round on myself. I almost certainly won’t go to jail, but financially, I can stick a fork in myself. I’m done. Since I got my Ohio Concealed Handgun License, I have carried nothing but jacketed hollowpoints in my semi-automatic handguns, and lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoints in my revolvers. I would never carry anything else.
And regarding shotgun loads, are you sure that you didn’t mean "#4 BUCKSHOT" instead of "#4 birdshot"? The former is quite popular for self-defense. The latter is of dubious effectiveness at best, even at very close ranges… unless you’re trying to protect Tippi Hedrin…
= = = =
Just a quick line regarding your commentary Wednesday in response to your correspondent, jomath, concerning the Fish & Wildlife purchasing of several thousand rounds of pistol ammunition story. Most pistol ammunition currently carried by Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) contains jacketed hollowpoint/hollow cavity type (JHP) bullets. The reasons they use this ammunition in preference to Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullets or all-lead bullets such as the wadcutters you mentioned in your response, is that JHP ammunition can be relied upon more to consistently expand within the target, than FMJ or any of the all-lead or slightly-exposed-lead types of bullets. Further, many types of modern, polygonally-rifled pistols are intolerant of all-lead bullets, like those wadcutters.
Expanded bullets, all else remaining equal, will penetrate less than an unexpanded FMJ bullet, while still penetrating sufficiently to stop an assailant. (12 inches, per FBI doctrine in the 1980s. See, for example, this 1989 short paper from Special Agent Urey Patrick on Handgun Wounding: http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi-hwfe.pdf) A brief survey of terminal ballistics data at websites such as brassfetcher.com or theboxotruth.com will buttress this point. Reducing overpenetration should reduce the frequency of bullets exiting the intended target, which in turn would reduce the frequency of bystanders being hit by exiting bullets, as well as lowering the velocity of those exited bullets. The net effect is that JHP bullets are safer for bystanders than FMJ. .
Moreover, as many of the pages at theboxotruth demonstrate, any defensive loading sufficient to penetrate enough to increase one’s chances of stopping an assailant, will also go through multiple house walls. If it won’t go through multiple walls, as birdshot won’t in most cases, it can’t be relied upon to stop the bad guy. (With the possible exception of certain frangible bullets, such as the various Glaser Safety Slugs. Your readers can google through the swamps of debate surrounding those bullets.) Stopping the bad guy from using lethal force against us is why the grave step of using deadly force is taken in the first place. It doesn’t do much good to mortally wound the assailant, yet not stop him in his assault. See, for example, analysis of the 1986 FBI Florida shootout with bank robbers Matix and Platt, which resulted in the deaths of two FBI agents and five wounded, after both robbers were initially wounded. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_FBI_Miami_shootout
I agree with your points that NOAA’s LEO tasks seem to be something the U.S. Marshalls could do. That said, once they have the task, I personally think NOAA’s buying 24,000 .40 S&W rounds for 63 officers is a non-issue. That only comes out to 400 rounds, or 8 50-round boxes, for each officer. I do not know Federal LEO firearm training standards, but 400 rounds per officer for training and carrying in their duty weapon, does not seem excessive to me, especially if this is meant to supply the officer for several years. Even if doubled, this would still be less than 1,000 rounds per officer.
Any plans on another book in the Burning City universe?
Thank you. I suspect that settles the matter, except that I do not believe in needless multiplication of armed federal officers. Game officers may be a sufficiently specialized force to be an exception, but I keep remembering that if BATF had been required to cooperate with the county sheriff there would have been no Waco massacre.
As to The Burning City series – Niven and I tend to think of it as The Golden Road stories – we have one in mind but it is not our next work. It takes Sandry and Burning Tower into Jaguar’s land to the south, where, incidentally, they may find European wood elves trapped in a rain forest…
re: Fish and wildlife bullets
Hello. I know you’re very busy, so I’ll try to keep this brief.
Pistol ammunition using hollowpoint bullets of some type or other have become the norm for law enforcement issue at all levels in the US, this transition having taken place mainly between 1980 and 1990, approximately.
The reasons for this are various, and include, but are not limited to:
the fact that they are designed to flatten out in a manner not unlike a rivet upon impact with soft tissue makes them tear a larger hole, which is more lethal and destructive, which in turn increases the likelihood of rapidly incapacitating the shoot-ee, all else being equal
the fact that they are designed to deform on impact also makes them somewhat less likely to ricochet should they strike a hard surface, such as a pavement or brick wall, reducing danger to innocent bystanders
the increased surface area resulting from the projectile’s deformation reduces total penetration in soft tissue, in turn making the bullet more likely to stay within the recipient’s body rather than perforate it completely, again reducing danger to innocent bystanders
There was a time when semiauto handguns did not as a rule function well with hollowpoint ammunition, which tended to cause feedway stoppages due to the shape of the bullet, at least without some labor-intensive hand-fitting work by an armorer–adjusting the feed ramp angle, polishing feed ramp and breech face, adjusting extractor tension, perhaps adjusting the feed lips of the magazine to hold the top round higher, and much more, some of it fairly arcane, but nowadays the popular polymer-framed police pistols were designed from the ground up with the assumption that they would be used with hollowpoints and are not finicky about ammunition at all, right out of the box. And of course this is a non-issue with revolvers, but police departments mostly haven’t used revolvers for about 25 years now.
Anonymous in Michigan
MSNBC ran a front-page caption "For Orphaned Elephants, Humans Are the Herd" for the coverage at this link –
I thought the co-author of Footfall should be notified!
It’s more than just the rapacious tax system killing Hollywood. In my previous life I was involved in operating television stations. We made a decision in about 1993 that we would not expand our operations in California as much because of the regulatory environment as the taxes.
We had a tenured faculty member at Berkeley object to rebuilding a transmission facility on grounds that it was near stone walls built in the hills "by the Indians, in prehistoric times, under the guidance of beings from outer space." And the way California environmental law works, I had to commission an archeologist (approved by the state) to produce a report rebutting the assertion. As I recall, that was about $10K. And don’t get me started on an employee demanding that we re-work her workstation to relieve her wrist pain. The problem: she was seeing two different Chiropractors whose instructions for the changes were opposite and contradictory. Or ……..but you get the idea.
Silicon Valley remains strong, but no longer stands alone in electronics. Lots of the smaller specialists that support Silicon Valley have bailed out to Nevada, Texas, or Arizona. California would be bankrupt if it had to account the way that private companies do; and our one-party legislature spends like they had a multi-billion dollar surplus, when they are way over their heads in debt. The chickens will come home to roost, surely. Its only a question of "how soon."
California cannot continue this, but it does serve as a horrible example for the rest of the country…
Subject: Group launches campaign accusing Obama of taking credit for bin Laden raid
I wondered how long it would be before the Intel and Spec Ops community had enough:
A group of former military and intelligence operatives launched an aggressive campaign against President Obama Wednesday, accusing the president of claiming undue credit for the Usama bin Laden raid and suggesting his administration is behind politically motivated security leaks
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/15/military-group-reportedly-accusing-obama-taking-credit-for-bin-laden-raid/?intcmp=trending#ixzz23fUUla7D <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/15/military-group-reportedly-accusing-obama-taking-credit-for-bin-laden-raid/?intcmp=trending#ixzz23fUUla7D>
I suppose it had to happen.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my note. I’ve been thinking about your comment "My preference is for government at local levels to be responsible for the safety net. … "
I’ve spent most of my life in rural agricultural settings; and what comes to mind for me is power imbalance. One way I’ve heard it put is: if a hundred farmers each brought a bushel of grain into a room, and a hundred buyers bid for it, they’d soon reach a fair price. When a hundred farmers each bring their bushel, and there’s one buyer in the room, it’s a different story.
I distrust any concentration of power; consequently, concern about the power of the federal government makes a great deal of sense for me. But while a government big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take away all you have, so are three men with guns and a truck. It seems to me that our economy is rapidly degenerating into oligarchic crony capitalism, and they’ve got a really big truck. Government is a pretty feeble counterbalance, but it’s the only one I see around; and local governments haven’t a prayer.
Given that within my lifetime I haven’t seen any administration of either party actually decrease the size of the federal government, I am inclined to suspect that our real choice is: what sort of big central government do we want? "Liberalism" seems to offer an incompetent "Brave New World" of decadence and cradle-to-grave care. "Conservatism," as currently presented, seems to offer something between "1984" and Pohl and Kornbluth’s "Gladiator At Law": a garrison state, whose only funded business is war, and an economy controlled by and run for the benefit of a self-perpetuating oligarchy. I find both appalling, but find a little more room for humanity in the liberal nightmare. Especially if it’s incompetent.
Then there’s the real possibility that this century will be China with footnotes. In which case we’ll need a strong central government indeed.
Thank you again for a venue in which people with greatly differing views can try to think together.
Allan E. Johnson
Herman Kahn famously said that the most significant fact of the 20th Century was that the United States and England spoke the same language, and the most significant of the 21st Century would be that the US and Russia were Caucasian nations. He was probably wrong. And China with footnotes…
Click here: If we want to improve education in the UK, why not do what we know actually works? – Telegraph Blogs <http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/timworstall/100019454/if-we-want-to-improve-education-in-the-uk-why-not-do-what-we-know-actually-works/>
Nothing you haven’t long spotted but Worstall puts it well. I find his columns normally worth it.
"Or as PJ O’Rourke once pointed out (and my own early experience confirmed) anyone who has ever dated an Education major knows what the problem in teaching is: it’s not an occupation attracting the clever.
What’s really remarkable about this empirical evidence is that the three things that seem to be important are the three things that would and do produce fits of the vapours in our educational experts and the teaching unions. But maybe it’s just a result of that third problem: they’re really not all that bright."
"a lone wolf howling in despair in the intellectual wilderness of Scots politics"
You may be interested in my political blog http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/
There are some good and intelligent teachers. I have been married to one for over fifty years, and my son is married to another. But Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy applies to education in spades with big casino. But the purpose of public education appears to be to pay educational workers with no regard to their competence or accomplishments.