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January 19, 2009
The above is a link I signed up for last night for self-publishing e-books. The founder . Mark Coker, has created a venue which converts word files to every e-book format, including iPhone, Kindle, and the Sony Reader. Moreover, he lets you set the price and pays 85% of the gross back. (There are service charges as well, but they are minor. ) There is a sampling feature. I put up an old story, Buying Retail and this might be a place for you to recycle your old short fiction. The process is nowhere near as daunting as trying to put something up on the Kindle directly. I think this service is going to help change the market for e-books, along with the iPhone. I don't see the Kindle being more than a minor player from this point on. Certainly no one is going to pay Amazon.com enormous fees to convert their files for it, when Smashwords will do it for free.
Thanks. I don't have any significant unpublished short fiction, but I do have some essays that I might be able to compile and edit into something worth publishing. I'll look into it.
At the moment my main problem seems to be getting up the gumption to deal with Cafe Press and get the coffee mugs set up. Pure funk on my part. I suspect that may have some effect on this, too, but a good central place to do Kindle self publishing seems to good thing to do.
"The finance sector is well represented, despite its recent troubles."
-- Roland Dobbins
Here is a link to an article regarding the plague striking an Al Quada training camp.
In principle I favor just about anything that kills Islamic terrorists; however, I fear that any celebration would be premature. One possibility is that the terrorists got infected because Al Qaeda was experimenting with possible biological weapons. Even if there were no such experiments, having so many infected members presents them with the opportunity to launch a low tech, bioterror assault. As Bruce Clayton pointed out so eloquently in his book "LIFE AFTER DOOMSDAY," all they have to do is get a bunch of their members infected then load them up into airliners where the disease would spread to all of the passengers on the plane.
Biological weapons are of course far more of a threat to primitive, undeveloped, third world, etc., countries than to western nations with reasonable sanitation and publi health systems; which is not to say that an outbreak of plague could not be devastating in parts of the West.
When I was an editor of Survive Magazine we worried a lot about the outbreak of plague, Black Death, Red Death, and the other scourges of history in the aftermath of a world wide disaster.
Another thing to worry about: resurrection of the Spanish Influenza that killed millions in World War One times.
Auto emission deregulation
Getting the Feds out of the way of more local control seems like a good thing to me! For several years Mercedes and VW could not sell their diesels in California as they didn’t meet standards. They could have chosen to continue that; however, instead they improved their diesel technology and now can sell here.
As to the whining from the so called US automakers, I am reminded of the saying back when emission controls were first imposed: “The US companies hired lawyers, the Japanese hired engineers.” The result is obvious on all highways.
From what I can tell, the “big three” are using our money to run lots of ads singing the same old song about how their vehicles are larger and more powerful. BMW is running ads (with their own money) showing how much you can save with their clean diesel. Interesting contrast. Ford has a perfectly good 50 mpg Focus they sell in Europe but won’t import.
Now, of course, we need to lift for cars the extra federal taxes on diesel they use to tax trucks.
All the best,
If only this were a devolution of emission standards to the states! A repeal of all the federal regulations, leaving those matters to the states, would likely be a lot better -- at least after the dust settled. But this is in addition.
It may be that people really want to buy small fuel efficient cars and hate big V8 SUV's, but I suspect the American automobile industry has a different set of problems. One thing I am certain of: I would be awful at running an automobile industry, and I suspect that I'd be better at it than most of the bureaucrats who will be given the job.
American industry needs about a 10% across the board to compensate for American regulations (ADA, labor laws, safety regulations, etc.) and not much else. The alternative is much more care in what federal regulations we impose (leave that stuff to the states). Of course we are not likely to do adopt either of those policies.
Dear Mr. Pournelle,
Amazing, how this discussion goes on and on. Mr Velikovsky really must have touched (and still is touching) some raw nerves.
I too, long ago, read his main three books (Worlds, Ages and Earth). I was fascinated by the books and still am. Before I read these works, I also read and knew by heart a number of stories like The Ilias, The Odyssey and some more stuff on e.g. history, economics etc.
Nowadays I'm more interested in the latest findings in relativity, astronomy, quantum-mechanics. Especially in astronomics, new discoveries are made on an almost daily basis and the whole scientific society accepts these almost blindly.
This is what irritates me most in a number of (so-called) scientist's attitudes. The collective acceptance without any criticism of newfound data from within its own circle and the also collective rejection of theories and ideas that do not align with their own vision.
To me it seems that these people cling to their own beliefs because it's safe. New ideas are perceived as threatening.
Besides that, it's always very surprising that a whole lot of these scientists are starch believers in a person called Jesus Christ, of whose existence no hard evidence has ever been brought forward.
The Old Testament, I think, is a thorough history-book, the New Testament is, as is admitted by the Christian religions, a Paulinian document. Paul probably was one of the most briljant people to walk this earth and he had a very big thumb.
And as for Velikovsky's theories I would like to bring forward the age-old American saying: 'If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck'.
Greetings, D.J.Wubbolts, DBA-MBA The Netherlands.
I said all I ever want to say on the subject of Velikovsky back in about 2002; you can find that here. It makes for interesting reading if the subjects of the First Dark Age, or Problems of Big Science, or Uniformitarianism vs. Catastrophism or any of them interest you.
Ultra-condensed SF/F books
For those who don't have time to read a whole book, but want to have an opinion, this site might be helpful:
Best regards, Peter Heberer
"Difficult to understand."
--- Roland Dobbins
Our Revised News.
-- Roland Dobbins
"Higher education labours under 'Soviet regime'" (Times Higher Education) <http://tinyurl.com/9o6yxw> ("objectives could often be met only by mobilising 'off-plan' resources")
Much more bank bad debt here (Telegraph) <http://tinyurl.com/82scf7>
Personal health budgets proposed (Guardian story) <http://tinyurl.com/7mds6s >
Recession crimewave here (Independent) <http://tinyurl.com/8vcmcj> (Remember what I wrote about volume crime? The volume is up.)
Ancient chemical warfare story (Independent) <http://tinyurl.com/9qxvdp>
Wayback machine is no longer being blocked for porn (Register) <http://tinyurl.com/9hr4mp > (I had problems last week accessing archived pages from the campaign against the Communications Decency Act that I wanted to show my students in a computer security class.)
London Met University implosion (Times Higher Education) <http://tinyurl.com/735stx >
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>
Subj: From the "Not in Kansas Any More" Department: The General's Blog and Pope TV
>>Major General Michael Oates, who commands the Army’s Task Force Mountain in Iraq, started a blog and is holding online chats with his troops. ...<<
>>The Vatican is working out the details with Google on having their very own dedicated channel in YouTube. ...<<
January 20, 2009
America passes a milestone!
"We now have more poeple[sic] employed in government than manufacturing."
Not to worry, we're going to add a few hundred thousand more government jobs to take care of these little issues.
'From this perspective, it is clear many of the existing policies being pursued in the United States and the United Kingdom will not resolve the crisis because they do not lower the debt ratio.'
-- Roland Dobbins
-- Roland Dobbins
I have no data on this. I do have other sources who tell me that Bremer was ordered to disband the Iraqi Army, but I have others who say he was given a free hand.
Have you ever taken a moment to gain knowledge under what conditions cars are built in Europe and Japan? I am rather certain the environmental standards are higher and labor laws are a lot more stringent than in the US ( "shedding labor" on a large scale like in the US just doesn't happen ).
Unwilling and also unable to compete on a fair standing looks more like the reason for the US car industries downturn for the last decades.
I take many moments to gain knowledge. I've even visited auto plants in both places.
CIA Director Hayden, Mexico & Obama
Leon Panetta will prove an exceptionally poor choice of DCI in these circumstances. None of this news will be welcome to the Democratic Party as presently constituted. It wasn't welcome news to the departing Open Borders Administration, which has waited until its last hours to fess up. There will be profound Democratic political pressure to moderate all intelligence estimates concerning Mexico.
In this instance the disaster will stem from lack of political resolution to act rather than lack of early warning.
-- Roland Dobbins
After the fall of the Soviet Union, there were several suggestions from former Soviet military that the amount of pilots, engineers, trainers, AA gunners, tanks, artillery and other equipment that the Soviets sent to North Vietnam would have allowed them to field another army in Eastern Europe in the seventies, which could have tempted them to mount an attack during the Carter administration. Fighting in Vietnam did help the U.S. in the overall struggle against the Soviet Union.
From Darryl Miyahira
Official US estimates of the Soviet economy consistently overestimated the productivity and domestic investment and drastically underestimated the portion that went to the military including exports of military equipment. Viet Nam was certainly a drain for the Soviets who were in need of infrastructure investments throughout the period.
The point of containment was not to allow war to feed war.
I have long been a fan of Parkinson's books, particularly Parkinson's Law. He wrote nearly a dozen popular books and every one of them worth reading. I also used his Evolution of Political Thought as a textbook for Political Theory, and I recommend that book to anyone interested in understanding history. I will cheerfully admit that Parkinson's Law greatly influenced me in framing Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. I think both Laws are true, but they are not quite the same.
20/20 echoing your comments on colleges
20/20 had a show with the theme of "What Are You Worth?" on Friday. One segment dealt with college, and echoed your comments on its unsuitability for many people, as well as the horrendous debt it dumps on students.
You can probably catch it on abc.com (starting at the "free episodes" link) with a PC or Mac (YMMV - Firefox on my PowerPC laptop crashes when I try to play their videos).
The American education system from bottom to top is a very good example of both Parkinson's Law and Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. We may expect "education" to absorb more and more resources while providing fewer and fewer benefits to students and taxpayers. This will continue until the public catches wise, which may be never.
Subj: Obama and the Meanings of Campaign Utterances
Victor Davis Hanson would have seen this coming long ago, had he read (or listened to the audiobook of) the beginning of James Burnham's _The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom_:
As Burnham put it (paraphrasing from memory):
It doesn't really matter what a candidate, or a Party platform, says. The real meaning is simply, "You should give me power."
Any relationship between what was said before the election, and what is done after taking power, is purely coincidental.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
January 21, 2009
Martin Lee Rose,
I looked him up and apparently so, but I don't know Mr. Hawkins. He is of course absolutely correct. When we begin criminalizing political actions, we end the Republic. I am myself astonished that Bush didn't issue a blanket pardon to Cheney, then resign ten minutes before his term expired and have Cheney sign a similar document for Bush. Of course neither ever thought of that, and my astonishment is pretended; they both trusted that Mr. Obama understands the rules of a republic. Whether he can curb the enthusiasm of the ravening wolves who accompany hm into power is another story. We must all pray that he can and will.
Sniper rifle software launched for iPod touch,
Talk about a killer app!
DHS deploys undercar Kraken tentacle-bombs:
Now, would I make something like this up?
Obama's guru wants animals to sue you:
"Think Mister Ed the talking horse, crossed with Eliot Spitzer."
And that's one of the saner people he will have to deal with. Think the idea will get the support of the Trial Lawyers? And that they will lobby with the Speaker? Ravening wolves...
Egregious Frum Departing National Review
Hi Dr. Pournelle,
Excellent news for National Review fans. David Frum is leaving. His last post is at david frum's diary <http://frum.nationalreview.com/> and starts
And so it comes time to post this, my last contribution to NRO. I hope readers will follow this Diary to its new home at NewMajority.com
Very simply, my attitude toward Frum is DLTDHYAOTWO. I now feel much better about renewing my subscription to NR. With the departure of Frum and Christopher "Sorry, Dad" Buckley, perhaps the magazine will return to the levels of quality analysis and thought it maintained for decades under WFB.
Like you I have long been a fan of Parkinson's various laws.
He proposed another which is less often talked about, which was that an enterprise which builds itself a grandiose headquarters building, is already past its best, the argument being that in a thriving business nobody has time to think about self-regarding vanity projects, or cares about them much.
A former employer of mine, a major world Pharma company, built an enormous glitzy headquarters building in the West of London. A few weeks before the glass palace was due to be opened, they merged with another similarly enormous company; the share price then halved, and has scarcely moved since (though to be fair I must point out that it has not fallen at all during the recent stock-market chaos).
Similarly one can note that The Royal Bank of Scotland is just completing a headquarters building on the outskirts of Edinburgh, a complex so vast that it has its own shopping mall on site and even its own motorway exit.
Hubris followed by nemesis...
Aye and Catastrophe. The gods of the copybook headings, with terror and slaughter return...
January 22, 2009
The process followed after each assassination was proper. But calling it peaceful seems a stretch.
Thanks for all your wonderful writing here and in your books.
Good point. So where does that leave us? Down at about 40, and still a very impressive record. Rome never achieved that.
re:despair is a sin
Sir: I'm one of the many "lurkers" (i.e. Babylon 5) on you're site, and as such, I'm hangin' on by my fingernails, which BTW, seem to have stopped growing...metaphorically speaking. Given that, I would point out that while DESPAIR may well be a SIN, it sure as hell is not a choice, and I'm just sick of it. The old saw " You may not be interested in WAR, but WAR is interested in you" is analogous to DESPAIR. I did not choose DESPAIR, I was born with it, and after over half a century on God's Grey Earth , my cup overflows.... DESPAIR is the proper name for TERRAFIRMA.... A title for your next book... Be Well, and post this if you so deem...
Best regards, Mark Bender
The reference to urban prairie deserves more explanation. Detroit is a relatively sprawling city, and the depopulation has been severe enough that there is an usual amount of vacant land. One estimate places the vacant land at 40 square miles, out of a total city area of 139 square miles:
I've seen news stories about poor people using some of this vacant land for gardens and mini farms to help feed themselves. Now such strategies are being incorporated into anti poverty efforts and urban planning:
Perhaps a glimpse of America's future???
The Public and Education
I suggest that the existence of the home and charter school movements prove that some segments of the public are already catching wise. Gary North (yes, of all people the Y2K disaster maven!) has suggested (http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north643.html <http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north643.html> ) that they will soon catch wise on higher ed if they haven't already.
One can hope, but I note that California's budget crisis doesn't seem to have informed many people. The education budget grew 40% in the past five years but the notion of cutting it one whit does not seem discussable.
I have often thought that states such as Sweden who have comprehensive social programs, (with the concurrent high tax rates,) have something we don't: a fairly homogenous culture. The people who live there have very similar ethnic backgrounds with similar values. They also have far fewer people for each level of government than we in the US do. (I am not forgetting the work ethic as that is part of the similar background.)
When the melting pot worked, (mostly with various European input that agreed with the basics far more than it differed,) newcomers were, over several generations, integrated. We kept the most different groups out of the mix by slavery and jim crow, the trail of tears, ignoring the migrant workers, etc. Add new immigrants from radically different religious backgrounds, (such as Buddhism, Islam, Hindu,) whose right to participate in society without having to give up their religions, etc we (rightfully,) started accepting and things got more complicated. The problem is that there wasn't a concurrent insistence that certain obligations came with the rights.
As nations such as Sweden experience more immigration, more of different attitudes, I think their social planning will start falling apart. They will either have to deny the immigrant participation or find that they are overwhelmed with too many people without the proper respect for the unspoken
obligations there plan puts upon the individual.
I also think that costs add up with more people covered. Eventually the system becomes overburdened and there is less given for greater taxation. It sounds good that everyone, regardless of wealth, is covered medically. Wonderful that every child has access to good food and education, and so on…
but sooner or later there just isn't enough room for everyone. Now the idea changes to: let us just give this ot those who "need" it. Same taxes on all, but now the burden on those who make more increases with less benefit.
I also believe the artificial line dividing those who qualify for the service against those who do not encourages cheating, or not producing because of the lost benefit.
When I was a newly single mother I made $83.00 too much to qualify for subsidized anything. But that $83.00 wasn't enough to help with full costs. I made it thanks to family and friends who did things simple and occasionally great to help me through that time. However, it made me aware that my husband's mistress could afford to try and buy my kids' affection was possible because she was lying about her income to qualify for subsidy. Today my self respect is intact. However, I can understand why someone might hide income or refuse to work more because of that gap.
Also, the most important things, such as health care, housing, and utilities would have to be government controlled to prevent the subsidy driving up prices in much the way that led to our current housing collapse. Even though I work for the government, and do so diligently, intelligently, and proudly, I don't know that we could do such things intelligently and well. It won't be the average worker so much as the leaders who will create the problems.
Well, enough of the ramble. I just thought someone ought to point out that the small, homogenous populations could manage a very socialistic and happy society, and that their upcoming increases in population and immigration may stress their systems to breaking.
Egalitarian Democracy works only in small homogeneous states, and from classical times no one ever thought directr democracy would work outside a fairly homogeneous environment. Aristotle defines democracy as rule by the middle class (as opposed to mob rule). Where there is much inequality, the results aren't usually good.
In other words: yes, of course. Open borders, egalitarian democracy, and socialism are probably recipes for disaster.
Our schools used to promote the Melting Pot; now they promote diversity. It is an interesting experiment.
U.S. Secures New Supply Routes to Afghanistan
Important news development about the U.S. Department of Defense's foreign policy (announced January 20):
This is unsurprising. The Russian foreign minister has always been crystal clear about Russia's support for the anti-Taliban/anti-Al Qaeda war in Afghanistan.
From the Telegraph in the UK:
For a little perspective, the South Vietnamese government launched a similar campaign around 1957. They obtained approximately the same results by 1959-1960. The body count of assassinated South Vietnamese officials was 250 in 1959. In 1960 the dead officials increased to 1,400. This was exclusive of dead South Vietnamese civilians. The purpose of both campaigns was and is the same: destroy the local government apparatus.
Mexico's acknowledged body count for 2008 was over 5,000. This is already a late Stage Two insurgency transitioning to Stage Three, open civil war.
And when the government of Mexico collapses, what will the US do? For that matter, what should we do? Is anyone thinking about what will happen? It's easy to see what's coming, but I haven't seen much about what we will do. Will we finish the fence?
The Perfect Law and Moral Entropy
Rand's tale of the man who created the perfect law that would have saved humanity had he published it is fundamentally unsound, for the human psyche is subject to entropy, as is everything else of this universe; thus the human psyche cannot keep a perfect law. Corruption, crime, debauchery, and dissipation describe moral entropy; and new social codes, no matter how good, cannot conquer the entropy of the human psyche.
Thus, the only logical solution to this problem is a psyche not subject to entropy; however, such a psyche would be alien not only to our planet, but also to our universe. The remarkable thing, therefore, is not that we should find corruption in the course of human affairs, but that we should ever find anything else.
One Rand supporter has suggested that the Judge was a blowhard and Rand intended him to be seen that way, but he isn't treated as such in the novel; he is after all, in Galt's refuge.
"I do not believe it is proper to call the transfer of power after an assassination peaceful."
Right. I mean, we all remember the gory wars of succession in 1963, which only ended when Johnson impaled Barry Goldwater on the tip of the Washington Monument and then tore off Hubert Humphrey's head with his teeth.
-- Mike T. Powers
January 23, 2009
I see where Larson/Cenage have now rolled out Calculus, 9th Edition. (c) 2008. I know this occurred after the fall semester started because I was reinvestigating Larson Calculus 8e in August, 2008, when Gleb was starting USF's chemical engineering b.s. program.
So 9e will enter general service in the course of spring/summer/fall 2009. This is a three semester textbook covering Calc I-II-III. That's 1.5 years for the standard Bricks 'N Mortar cycle of Fall-Spring-Fall.
My now obsolescent Calculus 8e version is copyrighted 2006. This means it entered general service during 2007. Add 1.5 years brings us to the Fall of 2008 and 9e. It also means 9e was being drafted before 8e had even run one full cycle. How long does it take to do a revised edition for a 1,300 page text of heavy math, plus two (2) accompanying 8x11 format pulp study and solution guides comprising 800 pages of step by step problem solutions? They must be at work on 10e already.
Their timing is crystal clear. Release the next edition when used book resales from the last edition begin to threaten new book sales. The official reason given for this new edition on the Cenage website is 9e incorporates lots of feedback received via the internet.
i.e. apparently all Calculus instruction prior to this point has been inferior. If we extend this to USA mathematics in general this is a credible statement, starting circa the early 1960s. There cannot have been any significant technological improvement. Ti 83s are still de rigeur (since the early 1990s), PowerDVD is a standard on PCs, and the web hasn't morphed that rapidly. So where's the prior inferiority that's now corrected? Pictures of Obama have been included? If we accept the Cenage reason at face value we can only conclude Larson, Hostetler and Edwards were incompetent pedagogues up to this moment.
This is a good example of how college students learn to be mendacious.
I'd say, 'what will this do to science and engineering students?' Except we get daily Global Warming news stories informing us of the effect on morale in the sciences.
As predicted. Once an oligopoly is granted -- in this case to the colleges as the gatekeepers for credentials -- the market will work as expected. Where there is competition there is lobbying to restrict entry into the competitive field of endeavor; once the entry is restricted by government, then those who own that field of endeavor will seek to maximize what they can get out of it. The US education system is a perfect example.
By law, once must have a college degree to become a commissioned officer of the United States. Teaching credentials are under the control of colleges of education. You can't issue bonds without financial ratings from one of four named companies, every one of which demonstrated its utter incompetence when it gave AAA ratings to those goofy mortgage based security packages when there was not data whatever to go on.
It takes government to create such a structure. Letting people be gate keepers lets them collect rent. From everyone.
The end of humanity due to global warming... (Nods: Drudge)
One last chance to save mankind
* 22 January 2009 by Gaia Vince <http://www.newscientist.com/search?rbauthors=Gaia+Vince> (Note name: appears to be associated with a suite of environmentalist-issue articles)
Interview with James Lovelock, author and developer of the Gaia theory of a self-regulating planet (and one of Richard Branson's guests for an early SpaceShip Two flight).
We are doomed. Alas.
Rus-Ukraine Natural Gas Spat
The real resolution appears to have originated in a private bilateral Putin-Merkel agreement. At the same time DoD negotiates rail supply routes through Russia-Kazhakstan-Turkmenistan-Kyrgzstan. I looked into these briefly in December. There are two railheads running into northern Afghanistan. Both were built by the Soviets in the 1980s. How far Merkel's government was involved in facilitating this supply arrangement is a good question.
What isn't open to question is the near non-role played by the U.S. State Department. During Desert Shield/Storm the US Department of State conducted all diplomacy, even negotiating host nation support, status of forces and command agreements with the Saudis.
btw, this conforms to Putin's public statements on all the various neo-con originated frictions. He refused to blame Bush personally and instead ascribed the problems to a vague "Evil Advisor" theory. i.e. Cheney and the "Neocons" surrounding Bush, although he didn't use this term.
DoD is increasingly pursuing its own foreign policy, entirely separate from the DC-NYC political establishment. The outlines of this policy are radically different from what's been pursued by the USA since 1945. If this prevails the most influential ally capitals in the future will be Berlin and Moscow, as opposed to Jerusalem and London.
The strategic imperatives are clear:
1. Anti-Islamic, but in a far more territorial sense. This is different from the non-territorial ideological and political control struggle against "Radical Islam" the neocons and Israelis favor, except with respect to Israeli territory.
Adventures like Iraq and Iran are pointless since these are already Islamic states. The goal is controlling Central Asia and rolling back Islamic advance. Afghanistan, Chechnya and the Balkans are more critical spaces. Other sideshows like Georgia are equally counterproductive in this Big Scheme.
Central Asia is a dual purpose goal since the second strategic goal is:
2. Anti-Chinese. Perhaps better described as "Chinese Containment".
This can be captioned as the "Northern Alliance" strategy for the 21st Century. I think it's the only one that offers a serious chance of survival for Western Civilization in any recognizable form.
Clinton chose to alienate the USSR over Bosnia, for no US advantage I can imagine. Bush and the neocons seem determined to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, thus encircling Russia in a fence of alliances backed by US atomic weapons, again to no US advantage I know of.
Turkey is about to become democratic, meaning that it will become and Islamic nation, and the Kemalists with whom we have been allied for fifty years will lose power and possibly be exterminated as heretics.
Avoid entangling alliances. Do not become involved in the territorial disputes of Europe (or the Middle East, or India for that matter. Avoid land wars in Asia. This always seemed like proper policy but I am hard pressed to find anyone advocating it now.
The one good thing about the economic disaster is that it may curb our imperial ambitions and appetites. Who knows, maybe we can make friends with the Russians again. They aren't the world's nicest nice guys, but then neither are a lot of our overseas associates.
Japanese car manufacturing
Not really related to anything in particular, but prompted by the discussion of the US auto industry.
A talk at our company about a year ago was about putting the customer first; an example was given - a comparison between the manufacturing processes in GM and Toyota.
GM strives to keep the line going all the time, no stoppages. When stoppages occur everyone rushes to get the line going again. The result given by our speaker was the GM has either 50 stoppages a year, or 50 hours of stoppages a year, I forget which.
Toyota has an entirely different approach. If an assembly worker has an issue doing his job, he stops the line. Everyone gathers round, looks at the issue, figures out a solution that makes the assembly process better, then they carry on. Toyotas equivalent number of stoppages is 3000. 60 times more then GMs.
Toyota ought to not be able to make cars at a profit doing things this way, but clearly they do. They sell more cars, I don't think it's in doubt that they build better cars. I suspect also their workers feel more satisfied with their work at the end of the day.
I await comments from those who know more about this than I do.
Global Warming Report: Beijing, China is a coastal city
"Antarctica's ice contains enough frozen water to raise world sea levels by 57 meters (187 ft), so even a tiny amount of melting could threaten Pacific island states or coastal cities from Beijing to London."
(I'm charitably assuming the Greenie reporter wrote this, rather than quoting one of the so-called scientist authors of the study being reported on. These include one of High Priest Hansen's acolytes at GISS. ).
For general information, the Google Earth ruler reports the center of Beijing is 90 miles from the nearest coast. Beijing's Wikipedia article claims the elevation is 43.5 meters (143 ft) above sea level. Therefore the bulk of the world's Antarctic, polar and Greenland ice must melt, and not just a "tiny amount". Based on the number cited (187 foot rise for 100% melt) we can roughly estimate 75% of the world's total polar ice must melt (143/187 = .75 or 75%) to affect Beijing.
Is Antarctica melting?
"Fence" in all its forms is the preferred option. Plus deportation of illegals. This border is not triple canopy jungle, after all. It's almost all open desert. Thermal night sights work great. So does thirst.
Propping up the current regime in Mexico means propping up its underlying oligarchy. Awhile back Forbes calculated Warren Buffett would need $780 billion to command the same percentage of USA GDP that Carlos Slim commands in Mexico's economy. Slim isn't the only oligarch, just the biggest one.
In the absence of Fence plus Enforcement it's inevitable this war will spill over the border. I personally expect we'll see IEDs in the Southwest USA before this runs its course. And probably in other parts.
Doomed, DOOMED I tell you!
"We are doomed. Alas."
No we're not.
(Note to self - buy stock in Soylent Green.)
-- David Couvillon
Somehow I expected the Marines to say that...
Colombia: Free-trade rejection an "insult"
"Although Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe sent a courteous message to welcome President Obama, Colombian officials have grown frustrated in the last two years, warning Democrats their friendship, which has cost them much blood and treasure, had limits."
What an excellent way to reward an important US ally, which is engaged in a difficult and painful campaign, on behalf of the US, to root out its drug trafficers. I wish I could say this surprised me.
Freed Gitmo terrorist now network leader
"The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year. The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen's capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen. His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official."
Half of the remaining prisoners in Gitmo are from Yemen, and would theoretically be returned to that nation. As Yemen has already established a bad habit of releasing terrorism related prisoners on their own recognizance, and a suspicious level of escapes for those they keep, this is of some concern, and is why many of those haven't yet been released.
January 24, 2009
'Understand that corporate America desires mediocrity in filling its job ranks.'
--- Roland Dobbins
Two important essays on empire,culture, and demographics.
-- Roland Dobbins
Taki always has an interesting perspective. America must decide on repbulic or empire and decide rather quickly.
Peaceful Transfer of Power
Brian Silverio wrote: "I do not believe it is proper to call the transfer of power after an assassination peaceful."
I don't think I agree. I'm old enough to remember the Kennedy assassination and as far as I can recall the transfer of power was in exact accordance with the Constitution as well as being peaceful. No troops in the streets, rushing to seize the radio stations, no martial law, no riots, no round-ups of all the usual suspects.
I sometimes fell like Teddy Roosevelt's contemporary, but I wasn't and have no recollection of the McKinley assassination or that transfer of power, but I think it is significant that it is essentially a footnote to TR's presidency. Even though the assassin was a known anarchist, there appears to have been little public unrest. Possibly due to the length of time where McKinley appeared to improve.
The aftermath of the Garfield assassination seems to have been similarly without incident. Again, possibly because of the long convalenence.
Of the four transitions of power after the assassination of a president, the only one that look less than orderly is probably Lincoln's.
Timothy K. Morris
Chief of Appeals
And in Johnson's case the House impeached him but the Senate failed to convict. Southern schoolboys used to memorize the names of the senators who voted no.
It's not just you...
It's not just you. The guy whose girlfriend fell to her death from a hotel balcony in Florida last month has been charged with murder. Here's a link to one of the original articles:
All of the news articles, both the original and the ones today about the guy being charged, talk about her falling 16 stories, but in fact she was on the balcony of a sixteenth-floor room. So, she actually fell at most 15 stories. But, the article says she fell onto the roof of the pool, so presumably she actually fell only 14 stories. Unless, of course, that hotel doesn't have a 13th floor, in which case she only fell 13 stories.
I wish they'd get their numbers straight. What would be so hard about reporting it as "a woman fell 13 stories from the 16th floor of the hotel"?
-- Robert Bruce Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org
Well in my case I plead haste...
And when the government of Mexico collapses, what will the US do?
I do not know, but I predict we will do the same thing we did the last time the Mexican gov't collapsed: sit back and watch until some narco-warlord stumbles into New Mexico and shoots up a village whereupon we will retaliate by sending a punitive expedition to wander around the Sonoran Desert for some protracted period of time. But who knows? Maybe the Marines will land at Vera Cruz again and collect customs duties to pay for the misadventure.
What will happen after that? Again, I don't know, but historically, after the Mexican body politic committed suicide in the Revolution/Civil War of 1917-1921 (or pick your dates), the US saw the influx of millions of Mexican refugees who wanted to escape death for not supporting the righteous-cause-of-the-week . . . or for not supporting it with enough enthusiasm. That is when the American Southwest gained its large Mexican populations, not before. (An example: In 1850, Germans in San Antonio outnumbered the Spanish-speaking inhabitants.)
So what will happen? People who want to live will seek a home that provides order in lieu of one that yields violence. That means Mexicans will move to the US.
Will they assimilate? Not the first generation. The second will to some degree. The third will be decidely American. The fourth will have forgotten Spanish.
That ain't a prediction. That's history.
Live long and prosper
[83% of all statistics are fabrications.]
Fences & Tunnels
I've long believed a Southern Wall (aka "fence") is the solution to infiltration of our southern border. However, one thing concerns me: tunnels.
Even now, absent fortification, these are hardly unknown on our southern border:
Tunnels also appear to be a logical response to border fortification:
Of course, these tunnels are detectable. But if smugglers can build new tunnels faster & cheaper than we can detect them, they could zero out the interdiction capabilities of any fence/wall we build. So my question is:
1) How easy/cheap/time-consuming is it to build these sorts of tunnels?
2) Are there easy ways of detecting them (besides HUMINT), or alternately of deterring their construction?
In the event of a Mexican Civil War, I would prefer that we focus on insulating ourselves from the effects, in lieu of taking up the white man's burden (oops, I meant "intervening"). My concern is with the best methods for accomplishing that goal.
I would think modern technology would detect tunneling. In the siege of Vienna The Christians put drums scattered over with dried peas in the basements, and were able to find places where they needed countermines...
Study Pinpoints Main Source of Asia's Brown Cloud,
They finally figured out that South Asia's brown cloud is caused mostly by burning biomass, not fossil fuels:
"The findings suggest that controls on agricultural burning and improvements in cookstove technology to allow for more complete combustion could make as much of a difference, if not more, in lightening the skies over South Asia as efforts to restrict cars or build cleaner-burning power plants."
Japanese car manufacturing
bob said "Toyota ought to not be able to make cars at a profit doing things this way, but clearly they do. "
a google search of "toyota line stoppage" provides this: http://www.strategosinc.com/jidoka_1.htm
and this (the book "The Toyota Way")
The bottom line seems to be that it is cheaper to build quality in at the beginning than to try to fix it later. Line stoppages and root cause analysis prevent repeated errors.
Lessons from California
Jerry, I do certainly hope that some folks have learned a lesson from California. Snippets from Governor Brewer's inaugural speech:
* For decades, the abundance generated by free, hardworking Americans has allowed government to remain in the habit of growing, and in recent years to grow even more rapidly. But today, neither prudence nor our Constitution will allow this to continue in our state. We have all been seated to preside over that rarest of political happenings: our government is going to get smaller.
My fellow Arizonans, it is important to remember that we cannot budget our way to prosperity, and still less, we will not attain prosperity by taxing our way there either.
We must make sure that beleaguered businesses in California and other such overtaxed places hear the music of our commerce and our culture and see brighter prospects in the cities and towns across Arizona. *
Then again, it's one thing to give a speech, another to make it happen.
Best regards as always,
Mark E. Horning, Physicist,
Subject: Despair et cetera
Much talk of despair and decline and intractable problems... most of which are very "tractable" if we had the public and/or political will power and the intestinal fortitude to follow up. Hard to come by if folks despair of even the possibility of improvements. I'm hearing a lot of this from young & old (of which I am pretty much in the middle) about how the US is "waning"... I don't buy it. Things are bad, but they can be (and have been) much worse. Some things (such as education) have been (and can be) much better. How is this grounds for despair unless one is secretly hoping for the end of days?
I have, however, had some lines of Tennyson running through my head often lately...
"Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,-- One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
How "weak" our country is at this point is highly debatable, but those who despair (as well as some of our more doom-saying liberals) have chosen to "yield". I'd rather not see that take hold to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. We have far too long a history of striving, seeking, and finding... we've been doing it better than most for a very long time.
I very much agree with you that despair is a sin. With smart and vocal folks such as yourself and many others on this site still around to influence the minds of the younger generations, it should eventually also end up quite unfounded. That was one bit I did enjoy of Obama's speech - "dust ourselves off and try again" and all that. Whether or not he follows through in an intelligent and reasoned direction is another matter, of course. We get to tell him if he did four years out, either way.
I think everyone here knows enough of history to not only recognize the bits where civilizations crept towards the precipice, but also that such things ebb and flow over generations rather than moments. We're in a somewhat dark moment right now... that should not be cause for despair should it?
So I guess my rambling point is that it's not just a sin, but unnecessary and unwarranted yet unless we collectively fall prey to the media hyperbole of how "bad" things are.
Please don't join them... your site is far too much a source of important things to think about.
Having got through brain cancer and come out alive I have some proclivity to counting blessings...
Khe Sanh and the Lash
Dear Dr. Pournelle:
You noted with approval Obama referring the Khe Sanh in his inaugural address. I noticed it too, and thought; he's a centrist, all right. I count that as outreach to the Republicans.
I also noticed his reference to slavery; that our ancestors endured sweatshops and the lash for our sake. Well, technically, no: slavery is, by definition, for the sake of the master. The sweatshop workers did get some pay, though their wages were low. I count the lash reference as over-reach. He was a bit _too_ nice there, I think.
Otherwise I thought it a good speech. I liked his promises of green power and new infrastructure; it's national maintenance and upgrade, long overdue. He might even mean it. He also decried trading liberty for security; again I suspect that he's sincere.
Of course promises - and even sincerity - are one thing, and delivery another. Stay tuned.
- Nathaniel Hellerstein email@example.com
PS; recently you stated that there were _three_ Vietnam wars. I read your accounting as three phases of a single war. Your unorthodox count does give the USA a 2-1 win on points; but only the last point counted, unless you agree with Chomsky that the West won by impoverishing alternatives.
And as for war not feeding war; everybody everywhere agrees that the _other_ guy shouldn't start any more fights.
Which means we should not have defeated chiliastic communism? I fail to understand the point.
Cleaning up air pollution apparently increases global warming in Europe
Could AlGore the magnificent have been so wrong…? First CO2 is classified as a pollutant (if we eliminated it, what would the plants breathe?) and now we find out that cleaning up the air “may have amplified the warming of Europe”.
The article ends as well as we could expect, pointing out somewhat obscurely that maybe we ought to study the problem more so we understand what’s really going on.
- Roland Dobbins
It looks very much as if he did. With real infinity.
The Jack Bauer Exception: Obama's executive order wants it both ways on interrogation.
And so, as Pareto observed long ago, the Lions -- who are willing to use violence -- are once again displaced by the Foxes -- who rule by fraud and tricks and reject violence.
We will see how well *that* works. "This time for sure!"
But, as a Wise Man keeps saying, "Despair is a sin." Oremus!
I suppose the good news is that we can pretty confidently expect the Cycle to turn back again, in due course.
One ignores Pareto at one's peril. He was an astute observer of the ways of mankind.
He's also a bit hard to read. The best explication on Pareto is probably Burnham's The Machiavellians. Alas, the book is not only out of print, but I have been unable to find a copy at a reasonable price. I have mine, but I have not seen another for years.
Given the reports of how angry the IDF is over the latest Olmert-Livni-Barak government failure of will over Gaza, the following 22 Oct 2008 piece from Caroline B. Glick bears close watching.
It looks like Israeli and American societies are paralleling in more than one way. The military establishments in both are more rural and more religious than the secular elites that govern both nations. And in Israel, the combat units and emerging senior military leadership are becoming increasingly estranged from the secular elites that govern the Jewish State.
The Secular elites in Israel are now reacting to this development with regard to the IDF.
Religious Zionists today make up about seven percent of the total population of the country. But their sons comprise twenty percent of IDF combat soldiers, nearly a quarter of the IDF's junior officer corps, and fifty percent of its company commanders.
The growing prominence of religious Zionists in all combat arms of the IDF is a consequence of a now two-decade trend among religious Zionists in Israel to serve in combat units - the more elite, the better. A contrary trend among upper middle class secular youth not to serve in the IDF at all renders the contribution of the religious youth all the more noticeable to the general public and all the more crucial for the IDF.
These countervailing social currents of increased religious participation and decreased secular participation in fighting units was brought to the public's attention in a graphic manner during the Second Lebanon War. In the course of the war, only one soldier from Tel Aviv was killed in battle while over a dozen soldiers from religious communities were killed in combat.
The difference between America and Israel is that the secular elites in Israel sees what is coming as far as military promotions are concerned. They want to prevent the religious Jews who homestead in elite units -- where future generals come from -- from taking away the upper ranks of the IDF from the current Generals who have ties of blood, culture and money to the secular elites.
Under the title "Without a Lord of (Military) Hosts," the paper demanded that IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi "put the military rabbinate in its place" and force it to limit its activities to ensuring that IDF grub is kosher and that religious soldiers have what they need to observe religious laws. Haaretz further insisted that the position of chief rabbi be cancelled and that the position of "chief religious services officer" be created in its place. As the editorial put it, "The injection of a religious dimension into the Israel Defense Forces' goals constitutes a serious internal threat."
The push before the Lebanon war inside the IDF for "High Tech" and a "Air force centric" military force was less about the military security of Israel than it was a power play by the secular elites in Labour, Likud and Kadma to keep the elite ground combat unit oriented religious officers from evicting secular IDF senior brass from the secular elite, procurement corruption, gravy train over time.
The recent Gaza fighting is the second political failure of will by Israel's Secular Elites in two years to fully destroy the enemies of Israel, when they had the opportunity. It has sown and fertilized the seeds of discord between those who fight for the Jewish State and those who do not.
The comments of people like Yoni Tidi, a former IDF Colonel, at http://www.yonitheblogger.com/, make that very clear.
Israel has declared victory and a cease fire, never mind the 14 rockets and 3 mortars fired into Israel resulting in two wounded since the "victory" was proclaimed by our leaders. Our leaders are fools and are laying the foundation, for the next destruction of Israel and massive suffering and death of Jews. They seek protection from our enemies by countries, which are not our friends and will do little or nothing to protect Jewish lives. Our leaders feel no guilt or shame at the loss of life on both sides that achieved nothing. To kill our enemy is part of war, but to kill our enemy without gaining victory and security is immoral. To kill our boys in a campaign that gained nothing is so wrong, that I can't understand how our leaders can ever look our soldiers in the eyes again, much less those of us that have given our sons to the IDF. This "victory" is worse than our "victory" over Hezbollah in 2006. I don't know how many more "victories" like this Israel can stand. I call on all Israeli's to boycott the election next month since all our leaders are the same, Cowards, Scum and Traitors to the Jewish people and Israel. Am Israel Chai
Democracy verses the status of a Jewish State. I have no problem with Arabs being in the Knesset since our founding fathers allowed Arabs living inside the borders of Israel to be citizens, and we must stand with that decision. But with citizenship in Israel there must come restrictions since we are a nation that has been at war since before we were a nation. I don't care if you are a Jew or an Arab if you call for the destruction of the State of Israel, you should not be allowed in the Knesset. Remember I called this when the Knesset banned these two parties, both of which call for the destruction of Israel, that the High Court would over turn the will of the Knesset.
In the past it was unthinkable that we could see an IDF coup against Israel's elected government.
It is not "unthinkable" anymore.
The secular elites in Israel are forcing the people of Israel who bear it's arms to make a choice between being a Multicultural Democracy and dying by inches or being a Jewish state and surviving as a distinct people.
They will regret forcing that choice to be made.
= = = = =
Beware the fury of the Legions.
I have insufficient information or knowledge to have any opinion here; except that warriors are motivated to do their jobs and defend their nation.
All countries with standing armies exist at the sufferance of their junior officers. Usually the junior officers don't know that. Sometimes they learn.
Foxes always try to rule the lions. Sometimes the lions object.
The above link to to a site with a very good analysis about a web site linking case that has flown below the radar for the tech community. It's also a good example of the why the Federal Courts hate copyright cases and try to get rid of them. Full disclosure. I own stock in Gatehouse Media. My own take is that Gatehouse HAD to sue New York Times or be crushed. The obvious solution is mandatory licensing and micropayments. That would level the playing field.
"This is the first time we have seen a volcano beneath the ice sheet punch a hole through the ice sheet."
--- Roland Dobbins
|This week:||Sunday, January
Travelled all day. Tired a bit. Good night
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