Mail 762 Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The pledge drive is still on. This place is free to all but it is supported by subscribers.
In the linked article about recreating Neanderthals, Church, the idea’s exponent, is quoted saying, "You would certainly have to create a cohort, so they would have some sense of identity. They could maybe even create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force."
What a confused thought. Culture is not hardwired into anybody’s DNA. First-generation Neanderthals will only have the same material for creating culture as the homo sapiens who raise them.
And while it’s fine to speculate about bringing back Neanderthals, the reality of creating breeding stock and controlling them in any way to further the experiment is problematic. Does anyone doubt Neanderthals are people? The experiment would have to be throttled in the name of humanity.
That’s an exceedingly old fashioned conservative view, isn’t it? Surely if it is created in the laboratory it belongs to its creator. Of course there are alternate views of who is the Creator. C.S. Lewis foresaw this kind of thing in “The Abolition of Man,” a book that few read now, alas.
As to how much culture is hardwired, surely that would be the point of the experiment?
And we have one reader’s question:
Every now and then someone comes up with a piece about using DNA and clone technology to re-create the Neanderthal species of humanity.
Why would we want to when we have Congress?
Teachers unions are worse that you thought
details how the teachers union in Portland Oregon is refusing to complete paperwork that would provide 1.5 Million in Federal Medicare reimbursements unless the teachers get extra pay for filling out the paperwork.
And yet would not most teachers be horrified? Pournelle’s Iron Law at work, to the detriment of the profession.
Your dog really does understand you… They’re more likely to
steal food if they think you can’t see, research reveals | Mail Online
I am amazed that anyone would suggest that dogs don’t consider the
risk of being caught. This is why only the bravest or most foolish will allow their dog to roam the kitchen unattended.
You left out most indulgent
Guilty as charged.
I allow the Lap Labs to sit in my lap.
“Tether a beast at midnight, and by dawn it will know the length of its tether,” said Cotton Mather. It’s true enough of dogs. Now that Sable has cancer and we know she will not be with us too much longer, we let her get away with more; and she certainly has noticed that her tether is longer. Our solution is to be extra careful about leaving things out. But just as dogs believe that things that hit the floor are legally theirs, they will consider themselves entitled to anything they get away with a few times and begin acting indignant if berated for doing what they had always before known better. Not much different from adolescent children. One can learn a lot from keeping dogs…
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
In your recent correspondence, you stated:
"It is an interesting study on just how much disruption one man can cause. I once had a student who did a term paper on that subject, and it frightened me: I persuaded him not to publish it and arranged for him to go to graduate school at the Center for Strategic Studies. He now works sometimes with my son in the Pentagon."
I do not wish to pry into this research, but I do want to ask two questions:
1) If one man can screw up the lives of so many people, is it also possible for one man to make the lives of other people better? In modern society, do humans have the same potential for good as they do for evil?
2) Without getting to the cases that would get back to the original research, do you have any suggestions for how #1 would be achieved?
I sometimes wonder how much we miss out on, for ourselves and for our fellow man, simply because we don’t know what’s possible.
But for most of mankind’s cultural history, literature was about how one man made the lives of other people – sometimes those just around him, sometimes many more, once, perhaps, all of mankind. In modern times many have that capability. Next month I will be publishing the California 1914 Sixth Grade Reader, with a few additional stories, one being Doc Mellhorn and the Pearly Gates by Stephen Vincent Benet (who died in March, 1942); much of that book consists of poems and stories about one man who made a difference. Or one woman for that matter. The story of Florence Nightingale comes to mind.
Of course most of our schools no longer have such stories in their Sixth Grade Readers.
One need not be spectacular about making the world a little bit better. Some have many more resources than others, but anyone can do it. If you have a mind to, look up an Anglican hymn “I sing a song of the saints of God.”
21 Century contribution
Ian Macmillan wrote on 2.9.13:
"The problem is that roughly fifty percent of the population has an IQ < 100, and few of these people can make significant contributions to the creative opportunities of the 21st century."
I doubt those with IQs of <100 will invent a new calculus, but having worked with several tradesmen — a plumber, electrician, and carpenter — none of whom were intellectual giants, I can say they all make much more significant contributions to 21 Century society than Urban Studies majors. They were all pleasant, personable, and professional and I found them interesting and engaging.
Had my life taken a different path, I may have become a machinist instead of the editor of a magazine about machining. Those people, and the master tradesmen, are the people who keep the US running.
It has become a folly to suggest we should all be college bound.
I went to a technical high school back in the mid-’60s and about two percent of us were in college prep. The other boys were taking foundry, cabinet making, automotive, electrical, and other "hands-on" careers and could look forward to pretty good jobs upon graduation. The same for the girls who took secretarial, food service, bookkeeping, and "business."
The grads got jobs, got married, had kids, and contributed to society instead of burdening themselves with six-figure student loans to get graduate degrees in Art History and them moving back into their parents’ basements.
When I first went to work for Boeing we determined that we would be in our thirties before the average engineer would have cumulatively earned as much as a hard working mechanic, riveter, or other aircraft assembly worker joining up as an apprentice just out of high school would make if we factored in costs of education and the years spent earning nothing and not accumulating pension years as well as earning hourly pay. Now of course the average Boeing worker was probably IQ 95-105 while the college grad engineers would have been at a higher level of intelligence, but you get the idea. Intelligence – the ability to manipulate abstract symbols – is only important for some skills, and one has to be really smart to overcome bad and arrogant attitudes.
Half the population is below average, which hardly means they are useless; it does mean that it makes no sense to try to make them school teachers or civil engineers or lawyers. The arrogance of the intellectuals who assume that all those who aren’t intellectuals are benighted is often astounding.
Breadbasket of the Empire
I found Ed’s question interesting, so I had a look. Reliable statistics seem hard to come by, but:
"Annual grain production in Roman Africa [ie Tunisia+Algeria] has been estimated at more than a million tons"
"Caesar’s expanded province of Africa… was already shipping to the capital 50,000 tons of grain a year. One hundred years later, after the expansion of direct rule, the figure was 500,000 tons…"
"According to the biography of Septimius Severus, 30 million modii
(200,000 tonnes) were required to feed the population of the city of Rome each year, a substantial proportion of which came from Africa."
According to FAO data, wheat production for Tunisia+Algeria has in recent years varied from 1.6 million tons (2000) to 2 million tons (1995); for 2012, the USDA gives 4.85 million tons. For Tunisia alone, the figures are respectively 530,000 and 840,000.
So current production is of about the same order as Roman production, and probably a bit higher. That may not be a fair comparison, in that the Romans didn’t have modern chemical fertilisers or pesticides; but the yield the FAO gives for Algeria, 500-900 kg/ha, equates to about
7-14 bushels per acre, which fits well with the 11 bushels per acre cited as typical for North Africa since 1900 in ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/142655/2/wheat-1938-03-14-06.pdf .
Agriculturally, it appears that North Africa now is comparable to North Africa then.
The population of modern Tunisia+Algeria, however, is about the same as that of the entire Roman Empire under Augustus, so this production does not translate to any sort of surplus – to the contrary, both countries are large importers of wheat, although the FAO notes that "the prospects for expanding the rainfed wheat area are substantial."
Thank you. You have found numbers which are far better data than my impressions.
Herman Kahn used to say that famine would end when the average Indian agricultural worker was as productive as the average Italian peasant in the 12th Century. He was in essence correct. But of course rain has a lot to do with it as well as productivity of workers. As I understand it, the colonial powers had the “goat theory” – that goats ate their way to dirt, dirt made the ground hotter, hot ground makes for hot air, rising hot air prevents rain – and set out to correct it. And then came the Green Revolution. And I can recall a lot of concern about halting desertification when I went to AAAS annual meetings.
Net thrust measurement of propellantless microwave thrusteruut
I haven’t read the paper but I suspect that this "propellant less thrusters" is nothing more mysterious than a photon drive. While it uses no propellant, it does require an energy source. Unless you are using beamed energy such as a laser cannon to boost a light sail, the energy density of the power source is a crucial factor. Because of the extremely high energy density, the potential Specific Impulse of a photon drive powered by direct matter to energy conversion is Cee. However; the ISP of a fusion powered photon drive as you and Niven used in The Mote In Gods Eye is only 1/100 Cee because the energy density of the fuel is lower. In contrast, a fusion powered rocket would have a potential ISP of 1/10 Cee.
I haven’t calculated the energy density and ISP of a battery powered flashlight, but I suspect that you would get more Delta Vee by throwing it.
I am quite certain that you’d get more propulsion from throwing the flashlight. It’s a neat image. I fear you have found a small flaw in Mote…
Helicopter gunship vs. Corvette.
Bill Gates is enamored of Scandinavian Eurosocialism & totally buys into the ‘climate change’ hoax.
See his answers to questions in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ forum on reddit.com:
I’ve used GRC since about 2000; it’s great. However, these instructions are slightly vague:
go to the Shields Up page, and do the test he indicates.
Normally, one would do the "all service ports test" — and readers should do this anyway. But, the vulnerability you’re concerned about is Universal Plug & Play — something Steve Gibson has been warning us about for a long time and he wrote some freeware to address the issue more than a decade ago. I’m glad he’s on top of this router issue, but I thought it would be important for you to indicate that they hit the large button with UNPNP test. This was not clear from the post and I thought you might appreciate the feedback. Thanx for the warning, my router is good. =)
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Horsemeat found in British supermarkets ‘may be donkey’ –
More on The Law of Unintended Consequences:
“A law banning horses from Romanian roads may be responsible for the surge in the fraudulent sale of horsemeat on the European beef market . . .” And some of it may be donkey meat.
Well, we knew that horse meat is better for you than beef, but donkey? Nay!
I confess I ate what we called critter when I was in graduate school. It was one way to afford meat. But I like horses, and I gave it up as soon as I could afford to. I never tried donkey – at least not knowingly. Obviously were I hungry enough it would be different. America has always been rich enough to afford scruples denied to less fortunate peoples.
‘But at some point the competent and conscientious teachers need to take a hand in the governing of their profession.’
The problem is that since most public school teachers are themselves products of this broken system, there are very few competent and conscientious teachers to be found.
There may be more than you think, although not all the best teachers have teaching credentials.
"A multinational security firm has secretly developed software capable of tracking people’s movements and predicting future behaviour by mining data from social networking websites."
“How does it feel to be the most hated man in America?”
‘What if today’s high rate of lung cancer among smokers is due in part to the suggestion (planted in every smoker’s mind) that smoking will lead inevitably to lung cancer?’
I have often suspected that there is a strong “mind over matter” component to this , but there is no way to design an experiment to test the hypothesis. No ethical way, anyway. We know that the combination of smoking and exposure to asbestos is deadly and we know the mechanism. In the case of smoking without other irritants (and in the case of some asbestos exposure without smoking) the numbers get a little more ambiguous. Of course there are plenty of other reasons not to habitually breathe in the smoke of burning leaves. I doubt we evolved to do it.l