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Monday  May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Subject: Dalton Minimum

The sun still seems to be "out":


Michael Flynn


Joanne Dow on Global Warming

The evidence on man-caused Global Warming is overwhelmingly against the hypothesis

There is a little noticed factor in this spaceref.com report on the now three red spots on Jupiter. It reports increased energy involved in maintaining and growing the red spots. That energy has to come from somewhere. And we didn't do it.

Storm Winds Blow In Jupiter's Little Red Spot

Also on ScienceDaily:

Jupiter: Turbulent Storms May Be Sign Of Global Climate Change http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/

(Equal time segment) We certainly did do it. Everybody knows about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. And they also know that a butterfly in the Midwest flapping its wings can set off a cyclone in Asia. That's exactly what we see here. We sent satellites to the planet. We observed it. That changed it. And the butterfly effect set in.

{O,o} Feeling crazed tonight - but not crazed enough to fail to wish you a solid recovery. My strategy with my ear and other problems has been, "Listen to your body. Do a little more today than you did yesterday as long as it does not hurt. As soon as it hurts stop and rest." And by hurt I mean the early hurt, not the hurt that comes from extreme exercise. By a little more I mean a very little more. And accept that there will be days when a little more is too much. Be willing to accept that and plan to work back up. Set small goals that are not hard to reach and work towards them. Reset the goals a little further. Lather, rinse, repeat. (You'll know when to stop the iteration.


Well I may have overdone the exercise today but I'm sure I'll be all right...


An Exchange on the Texas Child Kidnapping (in Another Conference).

It began when I said:

This is clearly a case of tyranny, but it is Texas business, I think.

I have a novel in process in which an 11 year old girl is abused by Child Protective Services. It turns out she has adequate resources to destroy the city, and a lot of reasons to use them...

A conference member said:

Jerry, do you remember L. Sprague De Camp's story "Judgement Day?" A man who has been picked on all his life discovers a process, that if misused, will blow up the world, and kill everybody. He decides to release it.

Sprague De Camp said it was autobiographical. I suspect many list members would understand how he felt.

I replied:

Indeed. Haven't thought about that one for a while. Sprague always did feel put upon by the world, but objectively it doesn't look as if he and Catharine had that bad a life.

One of his stories about the world crashing in on him involved the Scientologists and "A Sending of Cats". The problem was that the story was hilarious if it wasn't happening to you...

Sprague had nasty things to say about Scientology. A local Pennsylvania chapter decided to take action against him. They advertised in the local papers that a professor needed cats for psychology experiments, and one need only bring the cat to an address (Sprague and Catherine's); if no one was home, put the cat into the fenced yard and all would be well.

Catherine called it "A sending of cats". Apparently about 20 showed up. The problem was keeping a straight face while listening to her tell the story....

Jerry Pournelle Chaos Manor


John Phillip Sousa on copyright


I did a quick search of your site and didn't see a mention of it, so I thought I would call your attention to an interesting article by John Phillip Sousa from 1906. You can read it at http://www.phonozoic.net/n0155.htm

"The Menace of Mechanical Music" is a two part discussion of the effects of mechanical reproduction on amateur music appreciation and on the rights of composers. As a member of a community band, I can appreciate the persuasiveness of the first part, but I think you will be cheering the second half.

The last paragraph is right up your alley - I heard echos of the SFWA vs. EFF discussion:

"Do they not realize that if the accredited composers, who have come into vogue by reason of merit and labor, are refused a just reward for their efforts, a condition is almost sure to arise where all incentive to further creative work is lacking, and compositions will no longer flow from their pens; or where they will be compelled to refrain from publishing their compositions at all, and control them in manuscript? What, then, of the playing and talking machines?"

Regards, Richard Clark


Behold, the feverish expostulations of the modern intelligence bureaucrat.

It's just sad, really:

AR2008052202961_pf.html >

-- Roland Dobbins

Indeed. The Intelligence business has changed a lot since the Sorcerer and his like.


Sharia law at UC Irvine? Note the "still" in the title.

UC Irvine Still Enforcing Sharia Law

Sharia law in any form is utterly unacceptable as a replacement for US law. It should in no way ever supplant US law. UC Irvine should lose funding and accreditation over this. This is intolerable.


But see below


Subject: Work excuse

I would like to remind you that when you do Marmalukes that will be a completely good excuse for not getting other things done. Is Marmalukes a story about a team of very large dogs?

R Hunt


Actually Mamelukes is a story about Janissaries, which was a story about US soldiers kidnapped by a flying saucer, and put down on -- oh, to heck with it.

The Mamelukes were slave soldiers who took over the government, and then imported more of their Circassian brethren as slave soldiers to consolidate their regime. It lasted until overthrown by Selim I, father of Suleiman the Magnificent (and grandfather of Selim II better known as Selim the Sot), was more or less resurrected after Selim the Sot, and was not finally overthrown until Napoleon.

My story has Janissaries and Mamelukes, but it isn't about dogs...


Letter from England


We spent the holiday weekend walking in the Lake District. I'll have some pictures up on my blog later in the week.

The British have fallen out of love with Gordon Brown. All UK businesses and citizens with money rely on the UK Government not changing the tax rules and regulatory environment too drastically in their long-term planning. Gordon Brown has a well-deserved reputation for moving the goal posts, sometimes even introducing tax changes retrospectively to apply to prior years. The latest pair of gaffes were the elimination of the 10 pence on the pound tax band, so everyone now starts at the 20 pence level, and a doubling of the tax on older cars--guess who drives older cars. The British now have the measure of Mr. Gordon Brown, and there is very little he can now do to change their opinion. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3997315.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/53ezmq >  <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7416223.stm>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3994832.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/5y8xxa >  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/may/26/ gordonbrown.jackstraw> <http://tinyurl.com/3ravhw> <http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/may/25/economics.labour>  <http://tinyurl.com/6aotwj > <http://www.guardian.co.uk/
commentisfree/2008/may/25/gordonbrown.labour >  <http://tinyurl.com/6r3n8l>

The politically correct police strike again:
storycode=402125&c=2 >  <http://tinyurl.com/5cwzf6>

The nanny state: tobacco products to be sold only "under the counter". <http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/
shelves-89520-20429814/ >  <http://tinyurl.com/3fgboj> <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/
secretary-signals-new-smoking-curbs-834296.html >  <http://tinyurl.com/4eclne>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/
tol/news/politics/article4004447.ece>  <http://tinyurl.com/3ggh8s

The Bologna Agreement to standardise on comparable university degrees in the EU defines two educational cycles: the undergraduate cycle and the graduate cycle. The undergraduate cycle gives access to the graduate cycle, and the graduate cycle gives access to doctoral studies and provides a professional qualification in many fields (for example, medicine or engineering). Theoretically, the two cycles total at least five years. Why does this matter? Because in England the standard undergraduate degree is a three-year degree, and the standard graduate degree is a one-year masters. With those points in mind, you might read the following article: <http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?
sectioncode=26&storycode=401984&c=2 >  <http://tinyurl.com/4jaufa

The target culture reaches education in England for the under-5s <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/
life_and_style/education/article4004420.ece >  <http://tinyurl.com/6fnpxj

Related story on targets <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7417579.stm

Oil running out? <http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/may/25/oil

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her



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Tuesday, May 27, 2008 

Badass Americans Dress Down


"Thanks to the Internet, the word has gotten around that, no matter how U.S. troops are dressed, they are very badass. Even pro-terrorist propagandists no longer try to peddle the "cowardly American soldier" line. It just doesn't play, because too many Iraqis and Afghans have gotten online and described personal experiences fighting alongside, or even against, U.S. troops, or just witnessing it. The general message is, you do not want to mess with the Americans in full battle-rattle."

When I joined the Army, lo these many years ago, I was told that our job was to be scary enough that any potential foes of the United States would decide the price was too high, and not to try anything. As we shifted foes from the stereotypical chess playing Russians to Islamic Terrorists, this worried me. How do you intimidate those who say they are willing to die, and who regularly demonstrate that trait? Well, turns out that the old methods do work, it just takes a little longer to train them.


Whiling away the time in sunny Yorkshire.


-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Sunspots

In case you don't know of this site, it's pretty good and not highly technical. It also has some good pictures.


Take care of yourself. It sounds like you over did it a little Monday.


I think I did. Thanks


Mark Lowenthal and 9/11


While Mark Lowenthal makes many good points regarding the limits of intelligence gathering and analysis as well as the fact that it has become politicized, I believe that he has completely missed the mark regarding the connecting of the dots prior to 9/11.

The FBI chose not to seek a search warrant for Moussaoui's computer in August. Earlier the FBI had received at least one report from one of its agents regarding an Arab taking flight school lessons for piloting jet liners. It was also known that Moussaoui was taking flight lessons. Later questioning of the fight school instructors revealed that their Arab students were not interested in learning to take off or land jet liners, merely how to pilot them when aloft.

Any reasonably intelligent person would have regarded these activities highly suspicious and would realize that some plot might be afoot using jet liners. At the very least, airport security should have been tightened. How many of us poor unwashed proles realized that it was possible to take sharp weapons such as box cutters through airport security without question.

It is true that most rational people would not engage in a plan, terrorist or otherwise, that offered no hope of survival. After watching years of suicide bombings in Israel and India it is obvious that there are many irrational people willing to die for what we in the West would consider dubious causes.

The dots were there. Our intelligence agencies not only failed to connect them, they essentially made no effort.

Robert Holmes


Re Intelligence - and WaPo

I note they are carefully not noting that our intelligence community connected the dots regarding Iran and nobody listened. That led to politicizing of a tiny piece of the conclusions about the Iranian nuclear program, a sound bite as it were, without noting the body which indicated nuclear development continued on the dual use civilian portion.

When the intelligence community DOES connect the dots and nobody listens is that any better than when they fail to connect the dots?



Titanic search cover for investigation of USS Scorpion & USS Thresher losses.


Forty years later, new allegations of Soviet attack on USS Scorpion:


--- Roland Dobbins


Exploring the solar system with propellers???? 

Dr Pournelle

William said the link http://wjetech.250m.com/#propellers  yields a very short page, but that was not the case when I clicked the link.

Wonder of wonders, the site now includes "The Elliott Oscillating Reactionless Drive (EORD) (Or how to make a Dean Drive work)". Lots of pretty diagrams. When it comes to solid math . . . well: "Naturally I do not expect that you accept my pretty diagrams without a fight, a lot can be argued concerning the forces and velocities, I will not publish a detailed vector analysis in this post because I promised a FUN demonstration (nobody would read it anyway). [I would. I bet Dr Cochran would too.]

"Therefore I will give you detailed instructions on how to construct and test a working oscillating reactionless drive (of the Elliott type)."

The detailed instruction amount to "Get a Lego set and build it yourself."

The last heading in the article was "Building a working model". The only entry was "Coming soon."

The world waits with bated breath.

Live long and prosper h lynn keith


Exploring the solar system with propellers???? 

Dr Pournelle

But wait! There's more!

Above the page for http://wjetech.250m.com/#propellers  the guy explains that jet engines need air "to push against".

Wow! All the aerodynamics I learned from the Air Force must have been mistaken. How lucky we were to fly millions of hours despite our faulty theories!

From ghosties and ghoulies and long-leggedy beasties and wizards who file impossible patent claims, good Lord deliver us.

Live long and prosper h lynn keith



Dear Jerry,

There is a reason that drivel like that referred to in Jdow's comment is published in blogs and not in the news. It is not news, is not remotely accurate and is borderline libelous.


Sharia law at UC Irvine? Note the "still" in the title.

UC Irvine Still Enforcing Sharia Law http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/ <http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2008/Q2/http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/uc-irvine-still-enforcing-sharia-law/> uc-irvine-still-enforcing-sharia-law/ <http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2008/Q2/http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/uc-irvine-still-enforcing-sharia-law/>

Sharia law in any form is utterly unacceptable as a replacement for US law. It should in no way ever supplant US law. UC Irvine should lose funding and accreditation over this. This is intolerable.



I currently Chair the Academic Senate Council on Student Experience at UCI. Our Council is very attuned to such issues. We have heard quite a bit about allegations from both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine factions about which is being mistreated by the other. Such allegations were investigated by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and found to be baseless.

Chancellor Drake has stated categorically that UCI will be a bastion of free speech, but that inappropriate actions by any party will not be tolerated. The blog article alleges actions, together with lack of action, by UCIPD (but no one else in the media or on campus seems aware of such actions). Worse, Jdow jumps to the irrational conclusion that UCI was and is subject to Sharia law (how nonsensical is that?). I can assure you that if such were the case, no one would be yelling longer or louder than I would.

sincerely yours,

Bruce Blumberg, Ph.D.

I am pleased to hear it. As you note, you can find anything on the Internet; and I am well aware that Joanne Dow is, shall we say, more sensitive than most on this subject.

Alas, we have got to a point in these United States where one cannot simply laugh off such accusations. Things now happen on campuses in and out of California that even a decade ago would have been simply impossible, not to say unthinkable.

And while UC Irvine may be free of such nonsense, I discern from our letters from England that worse can happen in older institutions than ours.

But again, I am pleased to hear things are not so bad here. (And see below)




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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Remarks on Dyson's article

Dear Dr Pournelle:

Reading Dr Dyson's thoughts on matters has always been worthwhile but I fear he has gone daft with his remarks on what he rightly calls "a worldwide secular religion." Contrary to what he says, the ethics of environmentalism are not fundamentally sound. What nonsense it is to say that "ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good." It is nonsense because, as a guideline for behaviour it is amorphous, vague and indeterminate. What is "ruthless destruction"? The phrase evokes images of wicked capitalists cackling evilly, rubbing their hands together, as they plan to pave over a pristine forest just for the pleasure of committing so nefarious an act. Is destruction of habitat to clear an area for the construction of a power plant "evil?" Is a farmer being "ruthless" when he clears land for a field? I could continue in this vein, but this "religion" falls apart under even rudimentary consideration.

Environmentalism is the religion for the intellectual classes. It holds great appeal for guilt-ridden Obama supporters whose penance for committing the environmental sin of buying an SUV is to burden themselves with the task of forcing others, far less affluent than they are, to go "green."

Oleg Panczenko 

Well now, I wouldn't quite say that... What Freeman Dyson is doing is paying tribute to the generalized "don't be beastly" philosophy of the Enlightenment. I agree there's not a lot of philosophical stuffing underneath that. Yet it seems intuitive that we ought not be beastly to the animals, and that a pristine wilderness is more attractive to more people than a polluted waste heap. (Of course archeologists love to find a kitchen midden.)

In any event, one need one subscribe to Dyson's generalized enlightenment secular religion to appreciate his logic on other matters.


Am I the only one that finds this a bit unsettling?

Dr. P,

I read Freeman Dyson’s “review”, and I’ll keep most of what I thought about that out of this. There was one thing in particular though that grabbed my attention:

“Carbon-eating trees could convert most of the carbon that they absorb from the atmosphere into some chemically stable form and bury it underground. Or they could convert the carbon into liquid fuels and other useful chemicals. Biotechnology is enormously powerful, capable of burying or transforming any molecule of carbon dioxide that comes into its grasp. Keeling's wiggles prove that a big fraction of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes within the grasp of biotechnology every decade. If one quarter of the world's forests were replanted with carbon-eating varieties of the same species, the forests would be preserved as ecological resources and as habitats for wildlife, and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be reduced by half in about fifty years.”

I’m not one of those scared by “Frankenfoods” or most products of genetic engineering; something I should get out in the open so you understand that I am not easily frightened by this sort of thing. That said, the concept of replanting large swathes of the Earth with trees that don’t behave like trees evolved to do bothers me some.

I don’t know if they’d take over, but enough of them could push the CO2 concentration low enough to cause some sort of trouble if they were successful and really effective. Plants need CO2, so removing too much of it can’t be a good thing. Biologists can feel free to correct me on that, but it was my gut reaction to this whole idea.

That sort of biotech would be well-intentioned, and we know what road is paved in that fashion. Freeman Dyson is undoubtedly much cleverer than I, but the tree idea on that scale seems a bit too clever to me.


I think you have gone beyond his point, but I understand your concerns. Me, I wouldn't plant a lot of such trees until I had some handle on control; but then I have always said we first need to understand the situation before we start looking for remedies.

I think Dyson's main point was that we ought to be looking for technologies to use in case things go badly, not that we ought to rush out to Do Something Now.


Flex fuel?

Concerning Flex Fuel vehicles, perhaps my own experience would be helpful in explaining the problem. My experience began in the mid 1960's with propane fuel systems used by a farm company for which I worked. My experience with propane systems reveled that propane has less energy content than gasoline. This could be compensated for by increasing the compression ratio of the engine to take advantage of the much higher octane rating of Propane (105 octane or better). The engines running Methanol/Ethanol can also run much higher compression which helps to compensate for the lack of energy content in the alcohol. Alcohol still can't begin to compete with clean, electronic, diesel engines running diesel fuel when it comes to efficiency. Unfortunately, there appears to be an inequity when it comes to trucks owned by corporations and the trucks owned by people with Mexican surnames. The latter regularly spill out vast quantities of smoke. I suppose this will bring howls of protest. This has been, however my observation. Gasification of coal might be viable at some time in the future, though it is quite expensive, and is also of a lower energy content, as is natural gas.

Jim Cook


Dear Jerry,

The problem with currently available FFVs is that they are used by manufacturers as a way to lower their fleet averages for larger vehicles. In other words, they are mostly trucks, SUVs and larger cars which, of course, get lower gas mileage. Any particular FFV operating on gas should get mileage no worse than the gas only variant of that model. If the USPS bought vehicles that were larger than what they had previously used, of course they got worse fuel mileage.

If we are going to go the FFV route, then we need FFV Focuses and not just FFV Excursions.



The simple fact is that 10% ethanol put in place of ether dropped the mass of the gasoline enought to lose about 5% to 8% MPG. This raises ton mile pollution levels.

The Flex fuel thing is the result of Brazil mandating GM and the other domestic manufacturers that E 85 and FLEX were "required" to build cars in Brazil. Cheap labor and an integrated design to use all of the cane sugar plant (begasse is the fuel for the alcohol plants located close to the cane).

-- Allan Smalley P E


Subject: The Endless Frontier


I have recently picked up an old paperback called The Endless Frontier that was edited by you. Your point of view has clearly been stated several times in the book and it actually had me really excited about the prospects that we Earthlings have and how close we are to seeing those prospects. However, the book was first published in November of 1979. That made me all of one and 5/6 years old at the time of print.

So my question to you is this: After some 30 years, what are your point of views concerning the possibilities of space colonies? As of this writing, "we" have just gotten new images from a newly landed probe at the Mars polar cap. There has been GREAT discussion of which direction NASA will be heading in the coming years. There is talk of China's space program getting off the ground and possibly becoming a space giant (Just rumors? Well, it's China, right? When have they ever failed to surprise us?) We have a possible Commercial Space Port in New Mexico being built. The list goes on and on and on.

Yet in reality, when it comes down to whether or not we are living in space, it seems that we are WAY behind schedule. Political hazards, as well as economical hazards, continue to hold us back. In the book, the general view of most of the authors, as well as the editor, was that we should have made substantial progress toward space colonies and be well on our way to the next step by the end of the 1990s. We are at the end of the next decade and the only talk I hear that actually sounds likely to happen is the United States dropping the ISS and heading in another direction. Several statements state several different directions and everyone's opinion differs. With the state of the economy we are in, will the United States even have a space program in 20 years?

And what about our resources? Fuel prices continue to rise and the world continues to pay them with the exception of very few smaller countries turning completely to alternative sources. Every other year there is talk about using hydrogen powered vehicles, soy powered vehicles, electric powered vehicles, or even hybrids. Well, the hybrids are getting more popular in the United States, but really, why are we being held back so much? Well, the answer to that is more complicated and political than either of us would even want to bother to get into, but the point remains that we are stuck in a rut and it will be some time before we get out of this one. With as many resources available as space could provide, why is no one looking up? It seems that instead, we will just complain about the prices and point figures at those we dislike.

Substantial progress has been made as far as our space exploration goes, but my questions are these: Are we really where we should be? If not, what's been holding us back? And most importantly, are these barriers going to keep us trapped on this planet until mankind obliterates itself, either through poisoning the planet in almost every way that we can imagine (and even some that we can't), or consuming our resources until we end up with a real resource problem, or even through our political/religious wars that continue to kill thousands of humans every year?

On a closing note, I've been reading Pournelle and Niven for years. There just doesn't seem any way possible to say what a difference you both have made, not just to me, but to the entire SF community.

Thanks for all the writings.

Jared Glasshoff

We're working on getting Endless Frontier back in print. Alas, since it came out, not much did happen; the book is still pretty current in terms of what needs to be done. As to what's holding us back, I have been writing about that for a long time. Mostly what is holding us back is political greed and Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

I have said often what it would take to get us into space. One such was here. Of course that is only good for the country, not for the election of public officials.


The real reason why Bill Clinton should have been Impeached

A large part of America's energy dependence on foreign sources can be traced to Sept. 18, 1996, when President Bill Clinton stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon on the Arizona side and signed an executive proclamation making 1.7 million acres of Utah a new national monument.

Why would he dedicate a Utah monument while standing in Arizona? Well, this federal land grab was done without any consultation with the governor of Utah or any member of the Utah congressional delegation or any elected official in the state. The unfriendly Utah natives might have spoiled his photo-op.

The state already had six national monuments, two national recreation areas and all or part of five national forests. Three-quarters of Utah already was in federal hands. Still, the land grab was sold as a move to protect the environment. . . .

In fact, the declaration of 1.7 million Utah acres as a national monument, thereby depriving an energy-starved U.S. up to 62 billion tons of environmentally safe low-sulfur coal worth $1.2 trillion and able to be mined with minimal surface impact, was a political payoff to the family of James Riady.

He's the son of Lippo Group owner Mochtar Riady. James was found guilty of — and paid a multimillion dollar fine for — funneling more than $1 million in illegal political contributions through Lippo Bank into various American political campaigns, including Bill Clinton's presidential run in 1992.

Clinton took off the world market the largest known deposit of clean-burning coal. And who owned and controlled the second-largest deposit in the world of this clean coal? The Indonesian Lippo Group of James Riady. It is found and strip-mined on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan.

The Utah reserve contains a kind of low-sulfur, low-ash and therefore low-polluting coal that can be found in only a couple of places in the world. It burns so cleanly that it meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act without additional technology.

"The mother of all land grabs," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said at the time. He has called what was designated as the Grande Staircase of the Escalante National Monument the "Saudi Arabia of coal." . . .

Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, pointed out that a large portion of the coal-rich Kaiparowits Plateau within the monument belonged to the children of Utah. When Utah became a state in 1896, about 220,000 acres were set aside for development, and a trust fund was created to collect and hold all the revenues directly for the benefit of schools.

Margaret Bird, trust officer for the fund, said that because the land will not be developed, the schools stand to lose as much as $1 billion over the next 50 years.


Changing times

Dear Jerry, I sincerely hope this reaches you and finds you in good spirits with a fair amount of energy. This came the other day and after reading the article about UC Irvine, I thought you might enjoy it's lighter, though no less relevant vein. Darrell

Subject: Changing times

High School

1957 vs. 2007

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 - Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: A foreign student fails high school English.
1957 - He goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - His cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and his English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. He is given a diploma anyway.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2007 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.


No comment. None at all...



Dear Jerry:

We are all very glad to see from your reports that you are definitely healing. Like almost everyone else, we support you doing what you can, and don’t worry about what you can not do. Rest, heal, and grow healthy again.

Fortunately for us, your mind was never affected. :)

So on the subject of the Texas CPS removing 400+ children from the FDLS compound, I am quite conflicted. I clearly see why you might think the children were “kidnapped”, in so many words. But I also do see that those children were in real, serious, and non-trivial danger too.

Granted, the CPS here is Texas is often used by vindictive spouses, lovers, and neighbors to plague perfectly innocent people, they also do remove children from perfectly horrendous situations. In other words, while CPS is without a doubt a perfect example of Pournelle’s Iron Law, they also serve a necessary service.

In the case of the FLDS, there is no question at all that the young girls were being raised to be the slaves of a clique of older men; physically, mentally, socially, and sexually. The children’s mothers do indeed love them. But they are incapable of protecting them.

It is not a simple matter of the parents having the right to raise the children “as they see fit.” Children are not and should not be treated as property, but rather under our law, must be considered as independent beings, with inherent rights.

Granted, children are often treated like property, and their rights re often subsumed or ignored. But in this case, I think CPS did right, even if perhaps the right action in this case was also very beneficial to the entrenched PowersThatBe at CPS.

So the question to you is, what would have been a better or more appropriate action? All the other alternatives to removing the children I can theorize have pretty bad results as well, at least from the the point of view of giving those children a chance to grow up free from the very real abuse they were subjected to.


Of course you have mixed emotions. We all do.

But first, it is not at all clear to me that the foster homes they hastily stuffed these kids into are less dangerous than where they were. Sure: from your view -- and mine -- they are being subordinated to a wild religious view unsupportable by our modern intellectual enlightened lives. They are being taught that polygamy is acceptable and glorious in the sight of God. And to leave them for another two months in that environment -- to leave them long enough to actually bring any charges and have trials -- is simply unacceptable.

And yet:

Polygamy has probably been with us a lot longer than the state of Texas. As to what is a child, Roman boys were conscripted into the Legions in the Republic at age 14, and at 16 could become  pater familias household heads. Roman matrons married soon after puberty: typically at 14. Female maturity at puberty was the standard for humanity for a long time; and I would bet that most of my readers have, within a couple of generations, a 15 year old mother in their ancestry. If you want to think about dangers, think of 14 year old boys being told that it is sweet and fitting to die for your country, and being sent off to learn use of the gladius hispanicus. I would think that fairly dangerous. We don't do that now; but you know, we did allow drummer boy recruits into the Union Army, and we know of at least one 14 year old Minuteman in 1776.

As to the alternatives, what about showing there was some damage to each child being removed? What about treating them as individuals rather than treating them all at once? Many of them were arbitrarily taken away for no reason and with no charge. Not only were neither parents nor children confronted with their accusers, they were not given any specifications or charges against them.

Punishing people without charging them with any crime or allowing them any defense is a pretty serious thing. I would say that protection from that kind of arbitrary authority is more important than the alleged protection of no more than a dozen kids among the 400 from the allegations of sexual abuse -- allegations, by the way, that now turn out to have been made by an anonymous accuser who may not even exist. It may have been a malicious neighbor.

If we are going to establish that precedent -- that I can call the police and allege that you are abusing me and your children -- and never come forward to confront you, or give any real specifications, but they will come and take your children for their own protection, I have the power to ruin your life.

Look up Titus Oates to find out why the Framers were concerned about such matters.

Hard cases make bad law. This is a hard case. It has a basic conflict between religious freedom and our desire to protect children -- but then our justification for protecting children is based on our concept of norm, and that is a RELIGIOUS BASED preference. What is the non-religious justification for saying that girls should not marry at puberty? That men ought not marry many women? That marriages ought or ought not to be arranged by families? That children ought not be conscripted into the Army at age 14?

Well, we have laws, and this is a republic.

To the extent that specific laws of the state of Texas were broken, that should have been alleged and the individuals charged; to the extent that there were real victims of real crimes, they should have been "protected"; but to remove screaming children from their mothers when it was never alleged that this particular child was in any imminent danger of being abused is an arrogant abuse of authority on the part of people who really don't believe in absolute right and wrong, but are satisfied with what they are doing because they are that kind of people.

Hard cases make bad law, but in the case of a 4 year old child who is terrified because she has been taken from her mother and put in a house of strangers, I don't even see a hard case unless you can show that at least one 4 year old child was abused -- in the legal definition of abuse -- in that church. And so far that has not even been alleged. The allegations are mostly concerned with a few kids, particularly some 16 year old mothers who must have conceived when they were 15 or younger. Fine: if Texas had confined its attentions to girls between puberty and legal marriage age, they would have a better case. They did not. They took all the children, of all sexes, and sent them to --  foster homes. To live with strangers.

But the authorities have spoken, and must not be opposed. The children will remain with the foster homes. Incidentally, statistics show that children in foster homes are more than twice as likely to be abused as those in households with their natural parents. But it is for us to obey. The authorities have spoken.


(discussion below)


Postal FFV comparisons

Jerry, Regarding the discussion over whether we should mandate all new gasoline vehicles be built with FFV engines. As alcohol has a higher octane rating than gasoline, I've been confused as to why postal FFV vehicles would consume more oil (as E85) than the same vehicles with regular engines - more fluid perhaps, because the gasoline has been diluted with alcohol, but not more gasoline. An engine modified for FFV use might have many changes in the fuel injection system and the computers, but the compression ratio and the valve timing ought to be the same, resulting in the same power when burning 100% gasoline.

At a party over the weekend, I talked to a postman and got part of the answer. Their FFV vehicles with 200+ HP engines replaced vehicles that had about 62 HP. The vehicles are also larger than the old postal Jeeps, and being made largely of aluminum doesn't mitigate the fact that they're carrying much larger loads, partly because other efficiencies have resulted in each carrier delivering more mail daily. So we have a larger vehicle carrying heavier loads and using more power to do it - not exactly a fair comparison.

Hopefully someone out there will publish documentation comparing the same vehicles (in the same role) using FFV & regular engines. My thinking is that the FFV vehicles should reduce gasoline consumption by nearly as much as they increase alcohol consumption. While this isn't an ideal final solution, it should provide more "flexibility", and might ease the demand for imported oil, particularly if we eliminate tariffs on imported alcohol (for fuel).

I'm glad you're feeling better each day.

Take care of yourself & have fun,
Adrian in Phoenix

"The surest way to civil war is to begin prosecuting policy differences as criminal. There is no faster way to destroy a republic than to give the loser great fear of losing the election." - Jerry Pournelle


Subject: The monster and the sausages

From last Saturday:

>The pseudonymous Spengler has come up with the most understandable overall explanation of the sub-prime mortgage mess I have yet seen.

I've heard a marvelous and understandable explanation from an improbable source: NPR / Chicago Public Radio, an episode of "This American Life": (5/9/08) Episode 355 "The Giant Pool of Money"

You can listen to it free at:


Unfortunately, the one week period in which they offer a free download has expired, but you can listen free if you can take streaming audio, or buy a download for 95 cents or a CD for a few bucks. About an hour long.

-- Cecil Rose


"I'm happy they are being killed because their lives are full of crime."

AR2008052601727_pf.html >

- Roland Dobbins


'Calling someone a demon from the 13th realm would not be a compliment.'


-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: APOD: 2008 May 23 - Jupiter s Three Red Spots and climate change, 


Seems that Jupiter is getting warmer. Who would have thunk it?

Anyway, here's a pretty picture of Jupiter's three red spots, from NASA:


Yup, that's right - THREE red spots, thanks to global warming.


That Earth carbon sure is powerful!


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Thursday, May 29, 2009

Texas CPS - resend with subject! (continuing discussion from above)

Hi Jerry,

I'll try not to ramble, but this is a topic I feel very strongly about.

As a former Texas State Licensed Foster Parent, I thought I might add a little grist to the mill of what is probably happening with the 400 kids in Texas.

First and foremost the primary goal of Texas CPS is family reunification whenever possible. Of all of the kids my Wife and I fostered, only 3 didn't go back to their parents, and 2 of those went to Grandparents in another State. Most of the 400 will probably end up with their Biological Mothers, once the DNA is sorted out, and the Mothers have been through some parenting classes. Some of the 400 may not find landing zones in their immediate family, but will be farmed out to aunts, uncles, or grandparents. A few in all likelyhood will become wards of the state and offered for adoption with a small percentage finishing their teen years in the system.

CPS does not remove children from their homes on a whim, frankly, there is probably more to the story than has been made public. The sheer scope of trying to place 400+ kids into foster care is beyond my comprehension, and I doubt that CPS would have tackled the job if they didn't believe it was absolutely necessary for the kids' safety.

One of the difficult aspects of being a Foster Parent is the public's mis-understanding of the role FP's play in the system. Many people assume that Foster Parents are at best profiteers, at worst, pedophiles and molesters. It is easy for the public to reach this conclusion, for reasons of privacy, you will never hear or read about Foster Parents doing the job they signed up for. The children and their biological families privacy MUST be protected. The only time you will hear or read about Foster Parents is when something bad happens, and for the very few times things go wrong, thousands upon thousands of things go right. I don't know any Foster Parents who ever made money, most of us took in as many as we could afford to subsidize, and tried to balance between a job to make sure the kids had appropriate food clothing and shelter, and some kind of home life to spend time with the kids that also have a need for parental love and guidance. Additionally, most of the kids are hurt and angry about being taken away from their parents, so they will tend to paint a dismal picture of life in a Foster Home. You state that "Incidentally, statistics show that children in foster homes are more than twice as likely to be abused as those in households with their natural parents." I am curious to know your source, not disputing it, but curious nonetheless.

I am sure you don't mean to cast aspersions on Foster Parents, but your essay about the 400 does not seem to take in to account that the majority of these kids will spend a short time away from their biological parents in well adjusted licenced Foster Homes with regular Parental visits. Most will go back to their biological mothers. Some of them will find the experience intolerable simply because any change to them will be intolerable.

I'm glad to hear you are feeling better, I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say please take the time to rest while you can.

Name Withheld by request

In other words, the kids improperly removed will eventually be returned. We'll only partially disrupt their lives, so it's all right? And the problem of finding places for 400 kids is not real and there won't be compromises made, and all the places they are sent are safe, so it's all right. If kidnappers are nice about it, then they won't really traumatize 4 year old children?

I don't believe that and neither do you.

The fact remains that on their own reckoning the only children in any immediate danger were the females past puberty but not yet to legal age of consent. Precisely how many fit that description isn't clear from the data I have, but it is surely fewer than 100 and probably a lot fewer than that. So what is the justification for taking the other 300 other than to reduce the others to subjects and slaves? Against Child Protective Services you have no rights whatever. This is the message to be sent, and sent it was.

Now Texas may have better foster homes than most states; but the statistics are not all that good for foster homes.

You seem happy because the children will not be away from their parents for very long. What will they have learned during that time? Patriotism? Love and appreciation for the rule of law? As to "Regular Parental Visits" we have not seen much of that.

Additionally, most of the kids are hurt and angry about being taken away from their parents, so they will tend to paint a dismal picture of life in a Foster Home.

Gollies! Of course those kids are liars, and if they knew what was good for them they'd praise the authorities who ripped them from their mothers' arms?

Look: I know there are Foster Parents with good intentions. There are also other kinds of foster parents. You wish to paint a rosy picture of the foster parent situation, but there is evidence that not all temporary foster homes are good places to be.

The fact remains that hundreds of children were taken from their parents on the pretext that they were in immediate danger, but no immediate danger has been specified. The only alleged danger to boys is that they are turned out onto the streets at a tender age; and that, I think is not an immediate threat under these circumstances. If the authorities want to protect those children, offering them an opportunity to leave the community should be sufficient. I suspect they wouldn't get any takers, even among the boys of an age to be in danger of being turned out; certainly not from the youngest boys who were also taken by force from their mothers.

There is not even an allegation that girls under the age of puberty are in any danger of molestation or abuse. None. Not even the anonymous phone caller who made the initial charges made any such accusation.

We have here punishment without allegation of crimes; we have punishment without accusers; we have punishment without confrontation of accusers or being aware of the charges; we have punishment without trial. All this in the name of -- fair play?

Hard cases make bad law, but in many of these individual situations there isn't even a hard  case. it is guilt by association and worse.

I am sure that you and a majority, perhaps the vast majority, of foster parents are decent people who only want to help abused children, and that in many cases intervention by the bureaucrats is justified and helpful; but no matter the good intentions, we have here a case of what can only be described as the nanny state gone tyrannically mad.


More Texas DFPS Commentary

Jerry :

I've watched the case over in Texas with a terrible sense of foreboding. Not because I really think that the FLDS folks have much of a basis for marrying off girls under the age of consent - consent in this case being what their parent think. There's no basis in currently accepted law for the practice. Whether or not that law is correct is a separate and quite worthy debate, but let's not digress from the central issue.

The basis in law for removal of children from their parents requires a certain level of proof, and clearly verifiable proof at that. To date, and to the best of my knowledge, no such proof have been proffered to a court in Texas. A cellphone call that has no person acting to confirm the call or to witness the call does not meet the burden of proof in a court of law when applied to hundreds of people.

Back when I worked in arson / arson-homicide investigations, we used to comment to each other, "It's not enough to do the right thing, we must be seen to do the right thing at all times." In other words, our conduct had to be wholly above reproach. No matter how "right" or correct our actions were, we had to assume that every step, every comment, every movement would be challenged in court, assailed as improper or even malicious, and govern ourselves accordingly. Anything less than that simply wasn't good enough because our actions could place a person in jail, ruin their lives even if not convicted, or just scare the living bejeezus out of some poor innocent soul.

We were supposed to be the best, and I, for one, damn' well tried to meet that standard.

My foreboding on the case in Texas derived from the wholesale removal of the children, conducted in a mass sweep basis, and done without recourse to appeals in the short term. We're now, what, almost two months after the seizure ? If the parents could have been allowed reasonable appeal within, say, forty-eight hours of the seizure, it would have still seemed excessive, but there would have been an obvious check-and-balance on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. They're supposed to be the best, too, and they fell down in the traces pulling this wagon to court.

Law enforcement and the related agencies (and let's make no mistake here, DFPS falls into such category) have enormous discretion in their actions. There will be cases where a warrant cannot be obtained at the precise moment to capture a criminal, or where a decision must be made at the split second to breach the privacy of a home or even to use deadly force, and those cases are truly critical for the public safety. Many many times, law enforcement and related agency officials make the right judgment for the public safety and weal.

But the discretion to take a person's liberty for the protection of the public safety comes with a grave responsibility to act in a manner without reproach, above suspicion, and when shown that the wrong decision was made, to step back and make matters as right as can be done for the circumstances, without defensiveness or rancor, but a genuine sense of remorse for having failed in that grave responsibility. Arguing minutia as justifications, circling the wagons, or attacking those who are holding officials to that standard only debases and degrades the rule of law, and lends itself to further distrust of the law for the future.

It's obvious in this case that we're not going to see proof offered to the courts, or such proof would have been shown with a flourish from the earliest hearings, trumpeted from the rooftops, analysed with all of the zeal of the modern CSI types' greatest enthusiasms. It's obvious that the DFPS is trying desperately to unearth such proof, but unlike the highly fictionalised Law&Order television show, this isn't a script to play out over an hour including commercials. It's not a show "ripped from the headlines" capped with a rhythmic "doink-doink" noise to separate scenes. It's real life for these people.

And in real life, we expect law enforcement and agencies with great powers to behave with the highest decorum and the best-of-the-best standards because they are the bodies who draw from a millennia old tradition, "...to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak... to further the well-being of mankind."

But I doubt very much that the 12th law
  will ever be applied to such a body as the DFPS... More is the pity.

John P.

You say A cellphone call that has no person acting to confirm the call or to witness the call does not meet the burden of proof in a court of law when applied to hundreds of people. In fact, the caller did not even allege that boys or girls under the age of puberty were in any danger whatever. Which did not stop the bureaucrats from tearing those children from the arms of their mothers.

I would not say that much about this action strengthens faith in the rule of law.

If we are determined to go to arbitrary power, I would think we should be more careful about whom we give that power to.



Not just Texas

Every State has the equivalent of CPS, and most are ran very poorly. Many years ago while living in FL my son had the misfortune of falling at a daycare facility while climbing the ladder on a slide. His leg became tangled in the rungs and he suffered a spiral fracture of his femur. While in the hospital we were visited by the FL version of CPS. We were told that since the accident did not happen at our home we would have the privilege of keeping our son and that if the accident happen while he was in our care the state would have automatically taken him away from us for being unfit parents. Depending on case load at the court house it would have taken us anywhere from 6 months to year to regain custody. With this type of injury abuse is assumed and you are guilty until you prove yourself innocence. As it was the daycare was forced to close due to the fines and penalties imposed by the state. It was run by several nuns from our church and operated as a service to parishioners and not for profit. My insurance covered our sons medical expenses and there was no way that I would sue them for an accident. As you have often said the Iron Law applies.



Sharia Law and The University of California at Irvine

I include the following in the interest of fairness. What was originally sent to me was three times as long and I pointed out that no one would read that; this was substituted. I am not familiar with the situation at UC Irvine, and I do not spend much time with Little Green Footballs.

So I am jumping to an irrational conclusion, eh?

Dr. Blumberg, I read your comment about my reactions being an irrational conclusion.


Please see these links and comment on them. The problem at UC Irvine appears to be of long standing and has resisted correction. Note how Dr. Pipes was treated on your campus while Mohammedans faced no such opposition for rather more harsh actions and speech. (Note that I reserve "Muslim" for polite and nice people who are not advocating death to others merely for being of different faiths. I do the same thing for certain religious fundamentalists who call themselves Christians when they are not.)

This is a lot of links for others to go through. I am attempting to show a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Most of them are from Charles Johnson, who has been following this at least as much as I have. He is also a California taxpayer who is obviously displeased.

Enviously I feel your characterization of my reaction to the report in Chaos Manor Mail was incorrect. And I feel your reaction and that of Chancellor Drake are dreadful under-reactions.

Harrassment - what was done about this, Professor. Video: Muslim Student Association Harasses Women and Jews at UTSA

[The above is about a Texas university and I cannot see how it applies to this discussion.]

UC Irvine: "One Person's Hate Speech is Another Person's Education"

[The above named UCI as a "pit of hatred." It is largely about the Muslim Student Union.]

LGF: Video: UC Irvine MSU Antisemitism Revealed

[The above certainly shows the Muslim Student Union at UCI in action. It reminds me of the 60's.]

LGF: Rabbi Mocks Hatefest at UC Irvine


LGF: UC Irvine Muslim Students Attack FBI Agent with Cinderblock

FBI: agent was investigating vehicle when confronted by student http://www.bakersfield.com/119/story/146185.html 

(Note Charles Johnson's comments about similarity to speechs at UC Irvine.) LGF: Audio: Secretly Recorded UK Jihadi Voice Chat

(Progress after Mohammedans LGF: UC Irvine Will Allow Recording of MSU Hatred "http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?

LGF: Senate Judiciary Committee Demands DOE Investigate Antisemitism At UC Irvine "http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?

Dem. Representative Condemns UCI Antisemitism


UC Irvine: MSU Calls for Israel to Be Wiped Out

{^_^} Joanne Dow

It is fairly clear that there is a Muslim Student Union at UCI and that it says many things that most of us would not accept. I am not sure what the remedy is. The governance of student organizations at American state supported universities has always been a thorny problem.

An obvious example is "holocaust denial", which is a crime in many European countries (there are professors serving prison sentences for questioning holocaust details). Are some subjects so thoroughly "settled" that questioning them should be a crime? Is the Six Million one of them? If so, what about Global Warming, which is also subject to a consensus? But surely the two are not equal?

I would myself think that any hypothesis, scientific or historical, can stand up to questioning; and that suppressing people who raise such questions probably does not lead to better understanding. Now of course some "questions" turn out to be mere harassment, and aren't raised for purposes of finding truth; and some raise more indignation than others.

Questioning the holocaust is one of the near taboos. Asserting that 9/11 was actually a White House Conspiracy is another. Questioning Human Caused Global Warming is now a third. The very raising of such questions causes strong emotions and generates a desire to fight, to suppress, to silence those who have the sheer nerve to deny the obvious. Should we simply defer to such strong emotions in the interests of peace?

But surely the MSU has strong emotions too.

As for me, I am glad I am not part of the administration of UCI or any other state supported university; but if I have to be, then I will take the side of rational discussion.

I did not say unregulated discussion. Surely there can be some elementary rules for the presentation of views and evidence.

My mentor Stefan Possony used to say that one either believes in rational discussion, and believes that among rational people the truth or a good approximation to it will emerge in the free exchange of ideas; or one does not. Count me in the camp with Possony and John Stuart Mill on this question. There may be national emergencies in which restrictions on free speech and freedom of assembly must be suppressed; but I do not believe that we have reached such a state at the University of California at Irvine.

And see below


Rational discussion: Herman Kahn's Orders of Agreement

Disagreement might generate more light, if not perhaps less heat, were it organized according to Herman Kahn's typology:

1st-order agreement is agreement on substance.

2nd-order agreement is agreement about =what the argument is about=. “If A and B have achieved it, either should be able to explain it to C and each should be willing to accept the other’s explanation.”

3rd-order agreement is “an understanding on why second-order agreement cannot be achieved. … When third-order agreement is reached, each party can explain satisfactorily to a third why his opponent thinks the two cannot really come to grips on relevant issues and facts and eventually achieve a second-order agreement.”

4th-order agreement is “the simple assertion by one or both [parties] that the other is too stupid or biased for further discussion to be worthwhile”.

Ref: _Can We Win in Vietnam?_, Praeger, 1968, pp. 3-4

Should not those arguing various conflicting positions, on important matters such as Human-Caused Global Climate Change, strive for something better than 4th-order agreement?

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

I can think of many subjects on which that is true, but certainly in this instance.


Muslims vs. Nazis, 


I am still mulling over this essay.


Maybe the mainstream Muslims are as afraid of the extremists as the rest of the world. However, I can also see the parallels drawn between the behavior of the Nazis and extremist Muslims. I can understand the argument that Germans who may have opposed the Nazi regime still liked the benefits of Hilter's power. And, I can see that mainstream Muslims are also enjoying the rise of the extremists. Let's face it, would the Muslims around the world be receiving accommodations in England and the US, for example, without the actions of the extremists? I'm not sure.

The US makes accommodations for lots of religious communities. I guess it is the double-edge sword of democracy.

But, I am hardly a scholar on either subject.

I do know that the personal stories I read about WWII (I am currently reading The Zookeepers' Wife-- the wife and her husband ran the Warsaw zoo before the German invasion of Poland) speak much more to the human condition and the travesties that the Nazis perpetrated on people trying to live their lives. This is not to diminish the horror of the death camps. Rather, the back stories like these illustrate what people endured during the early rise of Hilter's power.

So, when Eboo Patel argues that the extremists, like Al Qaeda and the Taliban, don't have the power the Nazis had, I think he is ignoring how the rise to power begins.

But again, my husband will tell you, I am not the strongest student of this portion of history.


What people say they will do is perhaps not as important as what they actually do when they have the power to do it.

What are the laws and conditions where Moslems -- moderate or otherwise -- prevail? We know what the conditions were under the Taliban. We know what the religious police do in Saudi Arabia. And we know what some Muslim communities demand in the West, as in England, where they do not rule but seek eventually to do so.


Subject: Carbon Rationing in the UK 

Worth reading: <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/29/carbon_rationing_no/>  <http://tinyurl.com/6zww75

-- "The data (or the marks when teaching) are sacrosanct--they tell us what actually happened." Harry Erwin, PhD http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her




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Friday,  May 30, 2008

Patronizing science

Hi Jerry,

We are slowly reverting to the practice of requiring scientists to find rich patrons to ensure steady employment.


Bill Gates and other moguls go to Capitol Hill and deplore alleged shortages of engineers and scientists, then they demand the right to import an unlimited supply of foreign technology workers. It's a rare event when any of these moguls pony up their own dough to pay for pure science.

Our Congressmen give lip service to the importance of encouraging youngsters to study science when the TV cameras are on, but once they are turned off they cut funding and lay off scientists.

A young person who watches what they do instead of what they say will soon realize that science is a profession with higher risks and lower financial rewards than any other field that requires years of postgraduate study.

It's especially ironic that the Department of Energy is getting rid of its scientists when the nation is facing an energy crisis.

Our patricians are patronizing in only the most negative sense of the word, with only a few rare exceptions.

Eric Krug

My science fiction stories written in the 70's and 80's had "Westinghouse University" and various other corporate institutions of higher education as more important than the ones we revere now.


Re: discussion continues

Dear Jerry,

The irrational conclusion I referred to is the statement that UCI has been, and continues to be subject to Sharia law. This statement is more than irrational, it is ludicrous on its face. In addition, the position apparently being espoused by JDow, and those responsible for the various blogosphere articles, is that UCI is some sort of hotbed of anti-Semitism. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anyone doubts this, then simply visit the campus and spend some time here, instead of accepting blog entries as reflections of reality. Previous allegations of anti-Semitism have been thoroughly investigated by many parties and, to my knowledge, were found to be baseless.

This does not mean that there is not a small group of students who hold views that most would disagree with, or who make statements that are highly objectionable, if not hate speech. Such people exist. It does not mean that there is not a group of students who become virtually apoplectic at the sight of a woman wearing a Hijab. Such people exist. Chancellor Drake has reaffirmed that virtually all speech (even hate speech) is protected under the First Amendment, and that UCI will not intervene to prevent the exercise of such rights to free speech. Ironically, it appears that the bloggers are arguing AGAINST free speech and they are tireless in promoting their point of view.

More civil discourse, less obfuscation of the issues, and less hatred (and hate speech) by everyone with deeply held views about complex issues such as the Middle East would go a long way toward making difficult problems solvable. It pains me as much as it does JDow to hear the types of hate speech that are alleged to have been made. However, I would feel vastly worse to know that our essential freedoms are being censored, irrespective of the reason.



Bruce Blumberg Ph.D. UCI


Solar Power Satellites

Dr. Pournelle,


Someone is actually talking about space solar power, on CNN no less.

Matt Kirchner

I continue to wonder why we do not simply put up a prize: $10 billion to the first American owned company that beams down some specified non-trivial amount of power from orbit for 90% of the time over a year. It would cost nothing if the goal were not achieved, and if it were, the technology gained would be worth the price. Prizes are cheaper than X projects and if no one claims the prize there is no cost other than the rather trivial costs of printing the offer and keeping track of claimants. But in the case the claims would be obvious: you have to put a power plant in space even to try to claim the prize.


I wish G. Harry Stine was alive to see this.

Video: Super Suit Sprints Into Action http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/05/let-the-battle.html 

The other contenders are merely second string to this bionic exo-skeleton. Running, kneeling, easy on, easy off, side stepping, kicking - all in one remarkably light-weight package.

These guys er ah "kick ass" quite literally.

{^_^} Joanne


RE: temperature and CO2

One more definitive summary of temperature and CO2 over the ages:



Hello Jerry,

This paper was given in June 2007. It is now almost one year later. Is one year long enough to be of any value in checking his predictions?

Do you think that it would be worth asking for comments from your readers about this issue? That is, if you think that a year is long enough to make at least a preliminary check on the predictions in the article, perhaps you could ask for informed comments on whether the data that has come in during the last year on anything relevant (sun activity, temperature, whatever) is consistent with his predictions.


From my casual observations all his predictions have come to pass, but I could be mistaken. Perhaps those who look more carefully can comment.


FFVs and Ethanol 

Jerry, Here's a little more detail on the controversy around Flex-fuel vehicles. The major incentive for carmakers to push FFV technology into SUVs is the way fleet fuel economy is calculated under the CAFE regulations. A 15 mpg SUV that is sold with FFV kit is counted against the manufacturer's CAFE target not at 15 mpg, but at a much higher mpg based on assumptions about how much petroleum gasoline, rather than total fuel, it will burn. Thus an SUV effectively becomes a hybrid on paper, and the company is relieved of the fine it would face if its fleet average fell below the target. As fuel prices rise, however, this factor becomes less important, and the entire loophole is being phased out under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Ironically, the government's own mpg website, www.fueleconomy.gov,  shows that the typical FFV delivers only 75% of the fuel economy on E85 that it does on gasoline. So a trip that formerly required 100 gallons of gasoline uses a quantity of E85 consisting of 113 gallons of ethanol and 20 gallons of gasoline. Based on consensus figures for the energy return of US corn ethanol production, making that 113 gallons of ethanol takes the energy equivalent of 58 gallons of gasoline from various fossil fuels, mostly in the form of the natural gas used to provide process heat and fertilizer, plus some diesel for cultivation, harvesting and transportation. As a result, the net fossil fuel savings attributable to E85 are less than one quart per gallon of gasoline displaced.

Regards, Geoff Styles www.energyoutlook.blogspot.com



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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Regarding the posting about Dawkins and Intelligent Design

Dr. Pournelle-- I believe you have somewhat mischaracterized Richard Dawkins, and come to some incorrect conclusions about his position.

The passage you cite says this: "All the leading intelligent design spokesmen are devout, and, when talking to the faithful, they drop the science-fiction fig leaf and expose themselves as the fundamentalist creationists they truly are."

Please note the word "leading". Sir Fred Hoyle was a respected scientist, but his personal contribution to the current intelligent design movement is negligible. The "leading" intelligent design proponents are men such as Michael Behe and William Dembski. These men participated in the Dover trials where it was found that ID, as promoted to the schools, really was just rebadged creationism.

Dawkins is also correct in that there are no ID theories. Being a scientist, he does not use "theory" in the colloquial sense--a theory requires much more than a falsifiable hypothesis. In fact, "falsifiable hypothesis" is redundant in science; if it's not falsifiable, it's not a hypothesis. Instead, a theory is a broad explanation of a phenomenon, which is backed up by evidence and confirmed predictions. Successful prediction is perhaps the most important component of a theory--and historically, it is what has separated the wheat from the chaff most often. Evolution has tremendous predictive power while ID currently has none.

Further, you confuse abiogenesis with evolution. Evolution tells us, to quote Darwin, "the origin of the species". That is, how we got such a wide variety of life from a single primitive ancestor. Abiogenesis, however, is far less developed scientifically, and there is not yet a theory behind it. In fact, Dawkins freely grants that panspermia is compatible with the evidence. This is not the "intelligent design" he is talking about here, because it's not the intelligent design that Behe et al are advocating.

Last, you unfairly place the burden of proof on evolution proponents. They have a very good theory, supported by literally mountains of data, which has so far explained everything we've seen so far. That there are gaps in the theory is irrelevant, because theores are not selected for explaining 100% of all phenomena--they are selected when they are the best explanation we currently have. Because there is no alternate theory (in the scientific sense), scientists are under no obligation to respond to the never-ending requests to fill "gaps in the fossil record" or explain "irreducably complex features". When ID proponents can find even a speck of data supporting their theory, they will start to be taken seriously.

Thank you for reading,

Scott Cutler

I may have been unclear. On the other hand, you make a number of assertions.

First, I do not concede that Sir Fred Hoyle's Evolution from Space has no importance or influence compared to, say, Behe. It would depend on the audience. As to Behe, I have not read a lot of his work, because the issue as such isn't as interesting to me as the frantic efforts used by "science" to suppress even the discussion of the subject.

Second, Sir Fred Hoyle's book was entitled "Evolution from Space" and does not address the origin of life. Clearly you either have not read his book, or you have failed to understand its points. Most certainly Sir Fred has a "theory" under almost any definition you like. My friend Adrian Berry dismisses the book saying "I think Sir Fred is off his head, don't you agree?"  Adrian has written among other works "Ice with your Evolution" which looks at evolution and intelligence among other matters. He insists Sir Fred is wrong; but that is not the same as saying he's so stupid he doesn't know he doesn't have a theory.

Panspermia is a necessary part of Sir Fred's theory. It is not sufficient. He speaks of evolution --as anyone would define it -- from space borne proteins. He lists in his support certain conditions and facts which he says can be explained only by a combination of events of such low probability as to be impossible. I am not defending the truth of what Sir Fred says; I do say he has a coherent theory and God knows he has the qualifications to present. He may be wrong. Lots of people are. But should he be suppressed?

Indeed, given how easy it is -- according to Dawkins and his people -- to refute all critiques of Evolution, it seems to me an exercise in futility to use the political processes to suppress those critiques. I would have thought that rational discussion of such issues rather than discussion of how to suppress the opposition would benefit science more; but then I have a weakness for rational discussion. While we cannot present every unpopular non-scientific theory in the schools, I would think the principle of local control of schools more important than any of the theories involved. The alternative is to turn to experts with credentials, and I have not much confidence in that method for seeking truth.

And again, I don't worry about burden of proof: I do say that if the evolutionary theories are so easily defended and proved, then I don't understand why all alternatives are to be suppressed.



Noun 1. bauxite - a clay-like mineral; the chief ore of aluminum; composed of aluminum oxides and aluminum hydroxides; used as an abrasive and catalyst The aluminum oxide from the water-engine would just be another ore, and have to go through the same processing to re-enter the "stream". So, in effect, the "consumed" aluminum released the energy put into refining it. It is another energy storage/transport material. If it is cheap enough in adequate quantities to serve as a fuel, go for it. Otherwise, not.


Aluminum refinement is so energy intensive that it is a maxim: bauxite is taken to the power plant. They don't built power plants near bauxite sources, nor do they generally string power lines there.


Subject: Pharmacy server acting up again 


(1) This is an FYI; I am NOT complaining, because I do thank you for introducing me to the nasal irrigator.

(2) A thought, since this seems to happen frequently -- create a new page for the link on your site, so that interested parties have to click through twice; put a button of your own design on the base page leading to the order page. That way, when the ad malfunctions, it's on a page that people are only accessing because they want to click through. For those of us who occasionally use the ad, it's a win-win -- we access the product and you get your cash. And there are no inconveniences to anyone who isn't interested.


I will have to do that. Alas the banner is on every past page so if people go back through mail or view they will see it unless I change all the pages. Aargh.




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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday,  June 1, 2008     

Child Welfare Advocates vs FLDS 

Dear Jerry,


This AP article contains a new justification for the CPS action.

"And an ill-fated 1992 brush with another religious sect — which led to the fiery deaths of 21 children at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco — still lingers on the agency's collective conscience."

In practice this can only mean the State should pre-emptively seize children because of the danger of the families later being attacked and killed by State paramilitary forces.

Best Wishes,


I don't know what they teach in the "parenting classes" that will be required as a condition of getting the children back. One hopes they will be a bit more gentle than the political reeducation classes North Viet Nam imposed after the US handed over our South Viet Nam allies.


Subject:  obama

Campaign promises

Dr. Pournelle:

If Obama's statements on this site:

are recorded correctly, I think it's time to worry.


I have no data.


Subject: US records lowest monthly death toll as Iraq unrest dips 

Most Honorable Doctor Pournelle,

This -MAY- be what victory looks like. It is certainly not what "quagmire" or "defeat" looks like. If this continues (Deus volent), the Democrats may have trouble convincing many voters we are losing. They may find themselves caught between the moderates who want to push a domestic agenda of "Spend Spend Spend!" and the Howard Dean Fever Swamp Democrats whose motto seems to be "Just Lose, Baby!"

Now if only the economy would take a tick upwards...


"Nineteen US soldiers were killed in Iraq in May, the lowest monthly death toll since the US-led invasion of 2003, the US military said on Sunday."




Dear Jerry,

"Questioning the holocaust is one of the near taboos. Asserting that 9/11 was actually a White House Conspiracy is another. Questioning Human Caused Global Warming is now a third. The very raising of such questions causes strong emotions and generates a desire to fight, to suppress, to silence those who have the sheer nerve to deny the obvious. Should we simply defer to such strong emotions in the interests of peace?"

I've noticed this also. Some people are trying to mainstream the phrase "Global Warming Denier". The inspiration for this step is obvious. The future intent of such people is also clear, at least to me. "Doctor" Heidi Cullen of the Weather Channel is already calling for revoking the academic credentials of "Global Warming Deniers". This is already done in France in the case of "Holocaust Denial".

I don't think free speech has any future in a multi-cultural society that contains strongly organized sub-groups. Muslims are far from the only organized group inside the political borders of "America" that display 'strong emotions' on subjects they consider central. Jews and "Holocaust Denial", blacks and 'discrimination', Zionists and anything perceived to benefit Israel, illegal immigrants and immigration, feminists and feminism, homosexuals and homosexuality and 'ecologists' and ecology all come to mind.

All of these latter groups pioneered the tactics of using twisted law backed by threats of organized physical disorder to achieve particularist goals. Their problem is they trampled the flag of free speech in the mud. And now they complain their own tactics are being applied against them by a group they don't like? This reaction isn't profound or idealistic. It's just spoiled and immature.

Are campus administrators denying any restriction on freedom has occurred in response to Muslim pressure? This is no different than their previous public denials and private cave-ins to earlier pressure groups. That part at least hasn't changed.

Best Wishes,













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