End of the universe and other such matters. Can your child read?

Mail 763 Wednesday, February 20, 2013


This is nothing more than brazen bureaucratic extortion.


Roland Dobbins

They are not going to lay off the bunny inspectors.


Is the Universe Metastable?


An interesting report from the AAAS. The universe might go poof in a few billion years or so.

I can’t image what the Puppeteer Fleet would do if they found out!

Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE


Wil the Universe end in a ‘big slurp’? Higg-like particle suggests it might by Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News

"….[Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab] said the parameters for our universe, including the Higgs mass value as well as the mass of another subatomic particle known as the top quark, suggest that we’re just at the edge of stability, in a "metastable" state. Physicists have been contemplating such a possibility for more than 30 years. Back in 1982, physicists Michael Turner and Frank Wilczek wrote in Nature that "without warning, a bubble of true vacuum could nucleate somewhere in the universe and move outwards at the speed of light, and before we realized what swept by us our protons would decay away…."

Articles cited:

S. Alekhin, A. Djouadib, S. Mochd, The top quark and Higgs boson masses and the stability of the electroweak vacuum, Physics Letters B 716 (2012) 214-219 <http://pubdb.desy.de/fulltext/getfulltext.php?uid=23383-59716>

Michael S. Turner & Frank Wilczek, Is our Vacuum Metastable?, Letters to Nature, Nature, Vol 298, 8/12/82, <http://ctp.lns.mit.edu/Wilczek_Nature/(72)vacuum_metastable.pdf>

We’re doomed. But then we’ve always known that there will be an end to this world. On the other hand, I wouldn’t leap to accept this conclusion just yet.


The California Sixth Grade Reader

Hi, Jerry. I thought these historical quotes from National Education Association (NEA) functionaries might be of interest, or use.



"In 1936, the National Education Association stated its position, from which they have never wavered; "We stand for socializing the individual."

The NEA in its "Policy For American Education" stated,

"The major problem of education in our times arises out of the fact that we live in a period of fundamental social change. In the new democracy [we were a Republic] education must share in the responsibility of giving purpose and direction to social change. The major function of the school is the social orientation of the individual. Education must operate according to a well-formulated social policy."

Paul Haubner, specialist for the NEA, tells us,

"The schools cannot allow parents to influence the kind of values-education their children receive in school; that is what is wrong with those who say there is a universal system of values. Our goals are incompatible with theirs. We must change their values."

"Education for international understanding involves the use of education as a force for conditioning the will of the people." – National Education Association, Education for International Understanding in American Schools, page 33 (1948)

"Schools will become clinics whose purpose is to provide individualized, psycho-social treatment for the student, and teachers must become psycho-social therapists."- National Education Association, "Education for the ’70s," Today’s Education, January 1969

"Far too many people in America, both in and out of education, look upon the elementary school as a place to learn reading, writing and arithmetic." – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Education Association Yearbook, 1947

"The NEA’s ultimate goal is to tap the legal, political and economic powers of the U.S. Congress. We want leaders and staff with sufficient clout that they may roam the halls of Congress and collect votes to re-order the priorities of the United States of America." – Terry Herndon, NEA Executive Director, 1973

"We are the biggest potential political striking force [union] in this country, and we are determined to control the direction of [public] education." – NEA President Catherine Barrett (1972)

"In the struggle to establish an adequate world government, the teacher can do much to prepare the hearts & minds of children for global understanding and cooperation…. At the very heart of all the agencies which will assure the coming of world government must stand the school, the teacher, and the organized profession." – The Teacher & World Government by former editor of the NEA Journal, Joy Elmer Morgan, 1946

"NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power, and we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year." – Bob Chanin, NEA General Counsel

"I don’t want a nation of thinkers. I want a nation of workers." – John D. Rockefeller, created the General Education Board (GEB) in 1903 to dispense Rockefeller funds to the National Education Association.

Peter Polson

I suspect that most NEA members have never heard of any of this…


Explains a lot?

Dr. Pournelle,

I found your description of your visit with Marvin Minsky interesting. From the State-of-the-Union, I’m trying to figure this one out:


"When completed, a detailed map of how the human brain works would be a staggering development in innovation — one that could lead to cures for brain-related illnesses as well as unimagined breakthroughs in artificial intelligence."

What laser-like examination is involved with at target described as "unimagined breakthroughs in artificial intelligence?"

Usually, I obtain or create a map to something that I couldn’t find otherwise. Maybe this is a true indicator of how many useful human brains can be found in the Fed?


I am afraid I can’t help here…


SUBJ: Soldiers Coming Home

In all the discussion of soldiers coming home from Vietnam, I’m surprised no one has mentioned Bob Greene’s book "Homecoming: When the Soldiers Returned from Vietnam". Greene was a Chicago newsman and a writer in the tradition of Mike Royko, but had some kind of personal ‘fall from grace’ and slipped from sight. Still a helluva writer through.

Cecil Rose


BBC Storyville – Google & the World Brain


I think you will like this fascinating program which is based around the Google book scanning project but exposes lots of other issues especially those of authors and copyright. Also of interest are the various international responses – I think you will particularly enjoy the response from the president of the French national Library :-)

Program can be viewed here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01qxmqc/Storyville_20122013_Google_and_the_World_Brain/

Best Regards

Andy gibbs


Words fail me. I thought this was The Onion, at first.



Roland Dobbins

And yet ‘tis true, ‘tis true.


population dumbing down

I discussed the dumbing down of population with Dr. Leon Cooper (LASL retired) and wanted to share his comments: "The dumbing down trend has been evident to me for at least 50 years. What I see is youth accumulating more toys and thus becoming more interested in entertainment and ‘spectator’ activities, rather than creativity and ‘participator activities. The moment we, as parents (that’s me!), started providing cars for our high school children (not me!), they became more mobile. In essence, we enabled our children to get into trouble and to substitute actions based on emotion for logical thought processes.. Individual creativity flies out the window as self-gratification fills the void. This, combined with the Dr. Crabtree’s observations, is the road leading to destruction.

[The personal satisfaction and enjoyment in being creative is a thousand times more rewarding than the flash of excitement in personal entertainment. Creative endeavors last a lifetime. The thrill from self-entertainment, though a good thing, is gone in the blink of an eye. Every individual should strive to Live their Dreams.]"

James Crocker

Well, perhaps; but in fact some of the kids are smarter than we were. Schools can be improved. But if a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States we would consider it an act of war. As it is we are proud of it. Think on that.


North’s three rules of bureaucracy…

"To answer this, I begin with North’s three laws of bureaucracy.

1. Some bureaucrat will inevitably enforce an official rule to the point of imbecility.

2. To fix the mess which this causes, the bureaucracy will write at least two new rules.

3. Law #1 applies to each of the new rules."


Charles Brumbelow

I know Gary North and I knew his father in law. Have not seen Gary in a decade, and hadn’t seen this before. Thanks.


Fluoride in water

I wonder if many people know that in some cases natural water supplies have to be treated to reduce the levels of Fluoride? The correlation of reduced tooth decay in populations where natural Fluoride was present in water sources was how this whole thing got started. So in many areas they don’t need to add Fluoride to the water, there is enough already there.

Al Lipscomb

Well yes, of course, and as Francis Hamit points out most of those places are not known to be fountains of dullards. I have never seen any accurate testing of IQ in such areas. I do know think that the Constitution prevents forcibly medicating people for their own good. As John Adams said, we in America believe that each man is the best judge of his own interest. It appears we have reconsidered that notion.


Reading, phonics, and so forth

I recently learned that the local school district (in Texas) teaches phonics in 1st grade, but evaluation of its success is by giving the students made-up nonsense words to pronounce using the rules they’ve been taught. My first impression on hearing this was that clearly this was designed by someone who wanted phonics instruction to fail so they could go back to the see-say method that used to be prevalent.

But perhaps I am too hasty. Since you have some connection with successful phonics education, what is your opinion of this? Is this an effective way to teach reading? My own opinion is that associating words already in use with the written word would be the obvious target.

Best regards, etc.

Michael Walters

I would say they have hit upon precisely the correct test to determine if the kids can read. If you can read you can read polymorphusi, trinitrotuckercrud, penetratology, and other words I am sure you have never heard before. A second grader ought to be able to read those words. If your kid can’t read those words he can’t read and needs Mrs. Pournelle’s Reading Program http://www.jerrypournelle.com/Reading.html.


Forgotten President

Hi Jerry

I recall you often referred to Amity Shlaes’ "The Forgotten Man".

George Will has written an article in The Washinton Post that refers to her new Biography of Calvin Coolidge. Here is the link to that article.


I know very little of this president, but what George has encapsulated has me intrigued. Given the current state of profligate spending and borrowing in the capital these days, one might find it time well spend dusting off the useful truths uttered by this forgotten man.

Take care,

Sam Mattina

I am a great fan of Miss Schlaes’s work. I have not seen this one yet but I will very likely read it. On my Kindle.


“No one else was recording people in Childress, Tex., in 1936, and here they are, a large group of them all talking in their natural voices.”


Roland Dobbins


“We doin’ it up and we doin’ it hard and we gonna take over. I’m here to step it up a notch.”


It seems to me that his grammar alone should’ve disqualified him for the post…

Roland Dobbins


Subject: FORTH


Joe Zeff





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