Mail 733 Monday, July 16, 2012
I have mail on the San Bernardino eminent domain proposal; more than I have time to deal with tonight. I am attempting to catch up.
Am I the only person to think that sending a woman to deal with Muslim nations is not only futile but maybe even insulting to their cultural beliefs?
Sure, I don’t like some aspects of certain other cultures but I don’t think we should be forcing our ways on people that have other lifestyles.
Hope Sable is faring better.
There is considerable controversy about this. Many realists have said that it is better to conform as far as possible to the customs of foreign relations, as for example, not sending Jewish ambassadors to Muslim states. Others have said that if some foreign power doesn’t want an American citizen as ambassador they can make do with someone of lesser rank as well as the indifference of the United States. The Cold War changed much of that, of course.
What exactly is the ATF and how did they get here?
An interesting short article on the history of the ATF. How they went from 3 Detectives in the Civil War to where they are today. A classic case of bureaucratic empire building.
John from Waterford
An interesting article. I had thought the ‘revenoors’ had been around in the earliest days of the whiskey taxes, which were well before the Civil War. Recall the folk song, with the line “we ain’t paid no whiskey tax since seventeen ninety two”.
"Damn It Jim, it is a Planet!"
Five moons for Pluto!
If that ain’t a planet, I don’t know what is. I am an unrepentantly a 9+ planet Solar System guy, although I can accept a Pluto demotion if you go to a 6 planet solar system where the planets are those objects easily visible with the unaided eye. (Ignoring Uranus and Vesta, but I could accept those too to make the Solar System 8 planets without Neptune or Pluto)
A nice picture of Pluto and its moons including P5 is at the website. I look forward to the New Horizons encounter with Pluto.
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
"Hubble Discovers a Fifth Moon Orbiting Pluto
ScienceDaily (July 11, 2012) – A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.
The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system…."
There are at least nine planets in the solar system, and Pluto is one of them. Sister Elizabeth Ann told me that in second grade, and I have had no reason to doubt it.
Alton Brown of Good Eats on the Food Network says that tomatoes should not be refrigerated. The low temperature shuts down some enzyme, IIRC, that turns off the tomato’s flavor. Warming up the tomato does not bring back the flavor.
No need to publish my name, just thought you’d like to know.
I agree, and indeed the reason the tomatoes were on a counter is that we recently became converted to that view. But if you share your house with a wolf, you may find that it may be better to have bad tasting tomatoes than to pay the vet bills. Husky dogs are not precisely obedient. They are cooperative, and pretty well accept direct orders even if they think they don’t make sense, but their obedience tends to fade when there is no one around – and Sable is capable of reashing almost any place in the kitchen that we can reach.
Jobs, incentives, and used production equipment…
First, Dr Pournelle, let me share your hope that Sable is back to normal when you go to the vet for her. Absence or unusual behavior of my cat(s) also makes me dysfunctional.
I suggest that American businesses need certainty concerning government rules and regulations at least as much as they need relaxation of those rules and regulations. One is unwilling to make long term investments absent reasonable expectation that the investments can be well utilized long enough to repay their costs and provide profits sufficient to justify the risks taken. Before he took up fountain dancing, Wilber Mills of the Ways and Means Committee was greatly appreciated for insisting that revisions in tax law, once made, must stay in place at least five years.
As a current example of investments made excessively risky by ever changing government rules and regulations I offer the "roll your own cigarettes" machines.
‘… a stroke of the pen on Friday, President Barack Obama put thousands of small "roll-your-own" tobacco shops out of business, throwing tens of thousands more full- and part-time workers on the streets.’
‘They thought they could rely on the law staying the same. It gives some definition to all that loose talk about "uncertainty."’
As noted elsewhere Sable is back to normal. Thanks to you and all who inquired.
As to certainty and consistency in rules, of course. But we all know this, just as we all know that the Iron Law always prevails. Our masters no longer seem to care.
I’m thinking that it should be very possible to test whether your 2X suggestion on regulations would help. A simple question to someone who knows the stats, or is competent to find them: What is the distribution of American businesses, by number of employees? Is there a strikingly obvious spike and cliff, just short of 50 employees? Of 10?
Any regulation that is holding back growth should be causing such a pile-up on the graph.
I am assuming that the clowns in Washington don’t have regulations for every single number of employees between 1 and a thousand. Hopefully they like tens as much as the rest of us.
Best wishes, mkr
I don’t know the US statistics, but I am told that in Spain 99% of all business have 49 or fewer employees. It’s apparently cheaper to start a new company than to hire a 50th worker…
An Increasingly Bad Deal
I’m sure this will make our children want to run out and join the workforce:
This year, Americans have to work until July 15 to pay for the burden of government, more than six months.
In a new report, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) has calculated that Americans will spend a total of 197 days toiling to pay for the cost of government.
"Cost of Government Day is the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burden imposed by government at the federal, state and local levels," reads the report.
The report, Cost of Government Day, shows that Americans will work 88 days to pay for federal spending; 40 days for state and local spending; and 69 days for total regulatory costs.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
It will get worse.
Subject: UN arms treaty could put U.S. gun owners in foreign sights, say critic
UNITED NATIONS – A treaty being hammered out this month at the United Nations — with Iran playing a key role — could expose the records of America’s gun owners to foreign governments — and, critics warn, eventually put the Second Amendment on global trial
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/07/11/un-arms-treaty-could-put-us-gun-owners-in-foreign-sights-say-critics/?test=latestnews#ixzz20QRaHcqw <http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/07/11/un-arms-treaty-could-put-us-gun-owners-in-foreign-sights-say-critics/?test=latestnews#ixzz20QRaHcqw>
Troubling Educational Trends At The Top
I came across this article (http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2012/05/21/congressional-speech/) the other day and I thought I would share it with you. I know you have many issues with how the public school system is funded and operated (or more like mis-funded and not operated), but I believe we all agree that education is important to the successful operation of a representative democracy. I have often said that the downward trend in budgets for public schools is a reflection of a downward trend in the educational quality exhibited by our elected representatives. Perhaps I am not far from the truth.
Kevin L. Keegan
The purpose of the US Education system is to pay union teachers and to assure full employment to professors of education without regard to the accomplishments or capabilities of either. All other goals are subordinate to this. When there was local control of schools there were some that were unfair to teachers, but many which actually put the students first. None do now. We all pretty well know this, or should, but it is more important to protect incompetent teachers than to assure students of a competent teacher. Far more effort goes into protecting the income of the incompetent, and almost none goes to removing properly credentialed incompetents. What else can we conclude?
UAVs Tracking Civilian Cars
Since jihadis rarely have APCs, the Air Force would have to be stupid to not practice tracking SUVs.
And the New York Times continues its death spiral.
Samsung and Universal Search Question
I just read where Samsung must deprecate their product because if their use of universal search. I am curious as to why this is even patentable. Aside from its obviousness, I was on the team that implemented this idea back in the old MS-DOS days at Microsoft.
I was one of a team that implemented the on-line strategies for QuickC, QuickBASIC, QuickPASCAL, etc. for Microsoft. For my efforts I was awarded a Microsoft Innovation Award.
Back in those old days, we implemented a QuickHelp for the C language and libraries and for the product itself so that every context, every dialog box, every keyword, etc. was acccessible via on-line help instantly.
Our success led to the eventual common-place phenomenon today of only providing help files and on-line docs in lieu of printed manuals.
We further implemented the search in such a way that is proceeded from file to file to readme.doc in a universal fashion that was even extensible to user-supplied files.
In those innocent days of yore , no patents were applied for (if I receall correctly); or perhaps it was just too obvious to even consider patents.
Thought you’d like to know this brief bit of somewhat obscure "Universal Search" history and precedent.
(Mr.) Terry A. Ward
It’s just a Simple Matter of Engineering but the pictures are pretty!
regarding the universe – epicycles and dark matter
You may be right that modern physics may be based on an incorrect theory. Last year I spent a few weeks listening to the Open Yale Course online for Astronomy 160: Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics. You can listen to the entire 26 one hour lectures plus download the course materials. Sadly, the class is a bit out of date (it was recorded in 2007), Professor Charles Bailyn makes some very complex material quite approachable. There is a lot of math in the class, but it is all algebra and trigonometry; I don’t think there was any calculus involved.
In the first lecture, Professor Bailyn discusses the time when people believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and how astronomers had to come up with explanations for the eccentricities in the movements of the planets across the sky. They used motions called "epicycles" to explain these eccentricities. Then came the theory that the Earth orbited the sun and the need for epicycles disappeared.
As Professor Bailyn was discussing dark matter and dark energy, it occurred to me that perhaps these concepts were modern versions of epicycles…that there was a problem with our basic theory for understanding the universe (in this case, general relativity theory) and that we were making more and more adjustments to keep the theory working. In the very last lecture, Professor Bailyn makes that very same point….that dark matter and dark energy may be modern versions of epicycles.
I hope that you will encourage your readers to check out Professor Bailyn’s course. I also hope that someday Yale will put an updated version of the class online.
I have always thought that the Special Theory of Relativity has needed epicycles upon epicycles to keep it viable. If you assume that there is an arther and that it is associated with gravity, and that the speed of light varies with the density of the aether, you get an entirely different expectation for the expansion of the universe, and a first cut suggests there may be no need for all that dark matter and dark energy. But do understand this is a cocktail party theory on my part. I no longer have the math skills to develop it – indeed, I have worked on one tensor in my life, and I would never want to do that again. Ever. Of course it may be my distrust in tensors that drives me toward trying to retain something of Newtonian physics…
It’s not just the Daily Mail
I admit The Daily Mail can make it difficult to separate good science from reports of Tom Cruise’s ability to teleport.
But the Daily Mail’s report of the tree ring study you mentioned on July 11 is reported more reliably at http://www.uni-mainz.de/eng/15491.php
A good source for following climate reports is
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.