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Mail 567 April 20 - 26, 2009
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April 20, 2009
Naples at Easter--see my blog <http://tinyurl.com/2xzz8k> for pictures.
I'm hearing rumours that elements of the UK Police and Home Office are becoming concerned with the indiscipline of the UK population. Hence the recent actions against citizens opposing Government policies <http://tinyurl.com/dxy4tm > <http://tinyurl.com/d4xcpn> <http://tinyurl.com/ccol62> Guardian comment <http://tinyurl.com/d7s37j> Times comment <http://tinyurl.com/ck9vs9> <http://tinyurl.com/ch3dp7> . Further stories--they conducted a second post-mortem on the man who died at the G20 demonstration. It turns out he didn't have a heart attack, but died of internal bleeding. Oh-oh... <http://tinyurl.com/dkus3f > <http://tinyurl.com/dguy7a> <http://tinyurl.com/c27kx4> <http://tinyurl.com/ccx2or > <http://tinyurl.com/cfvemf> <http://tinyurl.com/dn32me> <http://tinyurl.com/cop88w > <http://tinyurl.com/d7w4qr> Be aware that the UK Police has historically recruited mostly from the part of the male population that quits school at age 16 and promote from within, so they are not particularly representative of the population as a whole. The problems they have been having taking rape crime seriously reflect this background.
A not-unrelated note: I teach DNA forensics and the statistical treatment of DNA evidence to university seniors planning on joining the police. According to Butler, “Statistical genetic information is often more difficult for DNA analysts to grasp than the technology and biology issues…because of its heavy use of mathematics particularly algebra. The concepts of probabilities can be challenging to forensic scientists schooled in biology rather than mathematics.” (Remember, most UK university students quit math after algebra.) The implication I draw for my seniors is that they may need to provide the necessary expertise, and what goes for biologists will be even more true for police officers. 8(
The McBride affair--Gordon Brown's attack dog is finally curbed. Apparently McBride has been doing this for years, initially against Labour politicians seen as challengers to Brown. Gordon Brown is not a humble man, and it took several days before the apologies came. <http://tinyurl.com/dmeq64 > <http://tinyurl.com/c9uj25> <http://tinyurl.com/dx2sp9>
Outcome of the arrest of the Tory Damian Green is egg on the faces of the police and the Labour Home minister. The Tory politician had been told by the police that he faced life imprisonment. The Cross Prosecution Service decided there was no case. <http://tinyurl.com/ctzft6 > <http://tinyurl.com/cjsml7> <http://tinyurl.com/dmc3ut> <http://tinyurl.com/d3yhgr > <http://tinyurl.com/dxftpr> <http://tinyurl.com/cbbfry> <http://tinyurl.com/d9mj95 > There is now evidence the arrest was a 'fishing expedition' for Green's possible contacts with a leading civil liberties campaigner <http://tinyurl.com/cxjfkb > <http://tinyurl.com/ccwa74> . The police accused the source of the leaks of being part of a network of moles. <http://tinyurl.com/cnznzf>
Police deleting London tourists' photos 'to prevent terrorism.' <http://tinyurl.com/cc7oge >
Independent comment on all this <http://tinyurl.com/ch2v87>
University stories: UK education and research productivity to be tracked in 'Big-Brother'- style plan <http://tinyurl.com/d744be> UK Government has politicised the direction of research <http://tinyurl.com/cje2br > Continued research funding in the art and humanities questionable <http://tinyurl.com/d7mcal > Centralisation of masters and doctoral programmes in a minority of the universities <http://tinyurl.com/co7co6> Are UK universities complicit in visa fraud? <http://tinyurl.com/ dbbl9k> <http://tinyurl.com/dfeyu4> You want it bad; you get it bad--number of scientific technicians plummeting. <http://tinyurl.com/cy2oc2> Cambridge comes under Government criticism for not following 'best practices' despite being the best university in the UK. <http://tinyurl.com/c9abdu >
On the weakness of secular ideologies <http://tinyurl.com/c5qhwp>
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland.
I love it. Cambridge doesn't follow best practices. De we know what best practices are? And how? One does wonder: is any society headed for more freedom? Or is freedom a lost cause?
Sunday's Stories on the UK Police
There's a good deal of commentary by both liberal and conservative newspapers about growing police and Home Office authoritarianism. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has begun expressing its concern.
Telegraph story <http://tinyurl.com/cwovax>
-- 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/
After reading your comments from Saturday, I think you would be interested in Dr. John Christy's testimony to Congress this year:
If you look at the graphs on page 7 and 8 he makes a similar point about the climate models that IPCC uses do a very poor job of predicting the present.
He also makes the point on page 6, that the legislative proposals, even if implemented globally, would have too little impact on global temperature to even measure.
Dr. Christy was a lead author on IPCC 2001.
Another link I suggest is here:
The point here is that Greenhouse gasses (Water Vapor, CO2 et. al.) have already raised the global temperature by 33 degrees centigrade. Any increase in CO2 will only effect infrared that isn't already being absorbed. The result of his calculations were that a doubling of CO2 would increase temperatures by about 0.6 degrees Centigrade. At the current rate of increase in CO2, that would be in the year 2255.
I had not seen the 33 degree postulate before; but I am hardly a climate expert. I do know that the Earth has been both warmer and colder than it is now, and that in historical times.
Last Wednesday, you wrote:
But as Reynolds notes, rallies aren't going to change the nation. They won't take back your government. I'm not sure what will. First we need a leader and a party; and at the moment it's not clear that we have either. Meanwhile, Obama continues to campaign.
The Republican and Democratic parties have both become captive to special interests and the greed of the political class. When Republicans can fill a bill with earmarks and then vote against it, knowing they can count on their Democratic colleagues will pass it; when the Republicans then come home and claim that they were frugal with your money at the same time they "brought home the bacon," then hypocrisy has reached critical mass.
The Tea Party movement and 9/12 "We Surround Them" are actually separate organizations; both are sponsoring tea parties, but they appear to be of different minds on this issue. Neither has a party or a national leader -- local 9/12ers don't even want one, and refuse to endorse anyone. While non-partisan / non-candidate events like the tea parties and mailing tea bags is a major part of movement to take back our country, in the end, we do not elect principles, we elect people to office. There must be a time and place in our "citizen uprising" for determining what our exact goals are, deciding who will best represent us in office, gathering the forces to support those candidates, and then actually getting them elected.
"A leader and a party." It's not going to be one of the two main parties, that's clear. There are plenty of third parties, and some "insurgent" candidates (such as Ron Paul) but each have their problems -- Paul lards up bills with earmarks, and is weak on defense, while the Constitution Party alienates some voters with its social conservatism. The Libertarian party's open borders and weak defense policies will not attract mainstream voters. As the link above indicates, many (though not all) of our elected representatives do not "get it" and will continue to sell our future as long as they are in office; 22 Republican Senators (a majority) voted for the $5.7 billion "Give/Serve Act," which has been histrionically, if not entirely inaccurately, compared to the Hitler Youth Program.
It is in that gap, that unfilled need for a fiscally conservative and socially neutral party, where the American Conservative Party is organizing. We seek to be the political arm for the tea party movement, the focused expression of voter rage. Started by blogger Bill Quick last year, the ACP is organizing chapters in 14 states already, with four more targeted for expansion this year.
A new political party run solely by amateurs cannot hope to raise millions, and elect replacement senators overnight. This is a significant challenge for a group of previously non-political citizens. We've had to educate ourselves in election law, public relations, fundraising, and the minutiae of federal campaign and tax regulations. Where we don't have the time to acquire the skills, we have to hire them, placing fundraising as one of our crucial needs. It may not be an accident that part of our problem is that we have to raise money to hire lawyers and accountants to report the money that we raised to hire the lawyers and accountants. "Campaign reform"... isn't all it's cracked up to be -- but it guarantees employment for lawyers and accountants!
We have to dot all the i's and cross the t's to make sure the current administration cannot use technicalities to hound volunteers -- and small donors -- into peonage. Yes, this is a "bleg"; one I hope you will pass on to your readers, if not choose to support yourself. Our goal is to raise $10,000 for legal fees in the next thirty days -- a small enough amount, given the millions washing through our political system every day. We have selected our legal representation in Washington, D.C.; we only need the ability to sit down and say, "make it happen."
In closing, I hope that you or your readers can agree and support our cause. Our website is at http://www.theamericanconservatives.org. For myself, I want to thank you for being such an interesting and intelligent writer of science fiction for all these years. Your novels are not just entertainment, but thought-provoking looks at the human condition.
Thank you for your kind words.
A quick look at "The Missing Hotspot."
The system feedback model approximation looks reasonable. However, linearizing the parameters does not adequately account for the effects of CO2, since absorption is non-linear. In particular, the saturation of CO2 absorption is not discussed, with the effect that the "traditional" model effects of CO2 are still overstated.
In other words, the article successfully refutes conventional anthropomorphic global warming theory, but still overstates the possible effects of human contribution to global temperatures.
Antarctic ice is growing, not melting away
ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.
The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.
Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water, The Australian reports. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.
However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.
East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades".
By including and excluding certain temperature reports from the weighted average that is reported as "global temperature" you can get almost any result you want.
This is in response to Jim Coffey's letter which started out: "As others have mentioned before. VOIP requires electricity at BOTH your house and at all the routers between your house and the internet backbone."
Absolutely true. However, pretty much also true for POTS service. Your phone of COURSE uses electricity, but it comes in over the same wires as the phone signal itself. It is also true that your phone needs power not only to itself, but to every SS7 switch (think phone router) or TDM channel bank (think "hub" for phones) between itself and the other end of the call. And these switches are not just located in big telco central office buildings - in rural areas or urban and sub-urban areas where fast unexpected growth in phone deployment has occurred, the switches and channel banks are often located out in the local area they service. Maybe in a box at the end of your street.
The telcos all have batteries for these. Ever been in a situation where you had a long power outage and one to three or so days into it the phone went dead? That's because one of the switches (either at the CO or between you and the CO) used up it's battery.
What gets me is that the same sorts of technologies are available for ethernet, but simply have not been deployed for consumer VOIP - the ISPs could supply ethernet to the home using power over ethernet, the 802.3af standard, to power a small router with built in VOIP SIP adapter. (there may be issues with it being able to supply enough power to ring several "REN 1" old style electro-mechanical bell type phones (as opposed to phones with electronic ringers) - but not to many folks still have these. Most carrier class ethernet (ie: nortel passport 8600 series) switches are available in a 48V DC version which would allow them to be hooked right into the existing telco DC battery backed power systems.
The reason this has not been done has been explained to me thus: Most of the existing telco wire plants and infrastructure are all pre-ATT break up. When ATT was a monopoly, and they charged (what seem today to be) exorbitant long distance rates, they had capital left over to reinvest in infrastructure. And supposedly they did so in spades. Nowadays there is massive competition, and not just from competing telco's. They have cut consumer pricing to rock bottom (good for all of us consumers) but at the cost of investing in new infrastructure.
The reliable way to do things would be to roll out fiber down the line to the curb in each neighborhood, where it terminates at a battery backed POE switch. From there cat 5 cable takes the 48v DC POE and Ethernet signals into each home.
Problem is this is an expensive and complete rebuild of the entire infrastructure. Almost nothing existing would be re-used. The stock holders panic over the capital expenditure needed for simply running fiber to the curb - what I describe above would be much more ambitious.
Our national communications network needs a complete overhaul. Really, the whole thing should be redone as IP/Ethernet. Ditch the ATM, TDM T1's and T3's, etc. All of it can be done over IP/Ethernet, and done quite well. I am sure some of your other readers will quibble with that, for various reasons, all of which I am well aware, but I shall stand by that remark - it should all be done over IP/Ethernet. Each and every objection I have heard from telco engineers (aside from the sheer scope and resulting logistics nightmare in the project planning of such an overhaul) has either been a non-issue or has an existing solution.
Nortel seemed to be taking this stand several years ago when they discontinued many of their ATM switch lines, announcing that ethernet was obsoleting the technology. Unfortunately the customer side of the carrier market did not follow their lead.
If done right, an all IP/Ethernet communications infrastructure would be just as, if not more, reliable than existing POTS/TDM/ATM system we have, and would be much more flexible. At the end of the day, packing switching is, even for real time applications such as voice, a superior technology to circuit switching.
You may also find this amusing
"I think I hear the models trends shouting 'I took
Cialis; it really helps me keep things up!'. The observations seem to
whisper, 'Maybe my discount Viagra was counterfeit?' Anyone have any other
Lucia is one of the trouble makers.
Why debate? IPCC theories fill rice bowls.
In 1680 Samuel Butler wrote in 'Hudibras' as follows:
Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville:
Contrast this statement with the claim in the Foxnews report earlier that the last decade has been the warmest on record: the data DO NOT support that claim.
ALL of the computer models used to predict global warming consistently yield higher temperatures than are actually observed.
"Those in power view anybody asking questions as challenging the legitimacy of the government."
-- Roland Dobbins
April 21, 2009
Airport security in the "animal kingdom" of "Domain."
http://www.kevinandkell.com/ (strip dated 4/19/2009)
Shortly after 9/11 the story came out that Air Force 1 hopped around the country for hours because someone came on a classified radio frequency and made a threat. That story later disappeared. Have you heard anything else about it? This is one of those things that has nagged me for years. Were the AF secret radio frequencies compromised? If so, did they find the source and “fix” it? Was it a cover story for the president ducking and covering for several hours?
Buying office supplies in bulk to save $52M over 5 years? It won’t save a penny. You will need warehouses, people to watch, count, issue, ship, etc. The Iron Law will prevail.
Retired Army LTC currently getting fat at the public trough by double dipping as a GS-14
I don't know any more than you do about the Air Force 1 story, and I doubt that we will ever find much out; and of course there have been many changes since 2001, in both multi-frequency hopping and other defensive techniques, and in scanning.
As to saving $10 million a year in office supplies, that's the usual "reduction in fraud and waste" political hooey, only writ small...
Obama open to prosecution, probe of interrogations
Criminalizing policy differences, eh? Remind us again, why DID Caesar cross the Rubicon, anyway?
If you watch what this man is doing, and ignore what he says, you will see a certain agenda being promoted, and it is not one most American's voted for, IMHO.
So, when should we start trying to identify who will be Caesar?
We are nowhere near that point. And recall, Caesars are friends of the people, Populares, not Optimates. Not that Democrats and Republicans have much analogy to Populares and Optimates.
largest amateur rocket
You may have already seen or heard of this, but here is the story about the largest amateur rocket built ( http://www.rocketryplanet.com/content/view/2829/30/1/0/ ) and it is set to launch Saturday 4-25-2009. The rocket is a 1/10th scale model of the Saturn V - yes, it is 36 feet tall!! Of course, nowadays, he is lucky to avoid the DHS since he has over 1,000 pounds of ammonium perchlorate for the rocket motors.
Sincerely, Jim L.
British Publishers Try to Find the Money in E-books - 4/21/2009 6:42:00 AM - Publishers Weekly
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
April 22, 2009
Virtual writing virtual books for virtual money
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
Apropos of absolutely nothing, the Everquest II developers announced an upcoming addition; the ability to create and write your own books in the game:
Since I lack writing talent myself, I can only imagine my game characters also lack such talent. I guess I'll have to see!
Interesting. I don't do Everquest any more, so I guess I won't see this.
Stimulation and Recovery
I have been stimulated.
I today received notice that my Economic Recovery will be based on $250 extra from Social Security this month.
I think the fair thing to do would be to deposit it in a grandchild's savings, being that he will be the one to pay it back.
But I don't have any grandchildren, so I think I will buy $250 worth of ammunition and send copies of the receipt to various government officials so they will know their largesse from the public coffers has been well spent.
Re: Restricting Access to government libraries.
I doubt very much that it's a case of sheer bloody-minded bureaucratism. It's more likely a desperate claw for the money needed to keep operating.
People talk about how drug companies always make "massive bribes" to the FDA. This is true--sort of. Every NDA (New Drug Application) requires a submission fee of several million dollars, otherwise the FDA won't even look at it. They simply don't have the time or the staff to do things "for free". The drug review must pay for itself, or it isn't going to happen. (And note that this is to have the drug REVIEWED, not APPROVED. If your drug doesn't get approved, you DON'T get the money back!)
That said...you could look at this a couple of ways. You could, for example, ask why it costs so damn much to run these places, and why they aren't able to operate on the budget they're given; what is so onerous and time-consuming about these institutions' operations that they need so much money to get the job done?
-- Mike T. Powers
Re: Climate Models
I checked the reference for the 33K temperature number. It turns out the book in footnote 1 is available on Google book:
The number is near the bottom on page 118.
I decided to check if the 255K number was plausible for the temperature of the earth under black body conditions and when I averaged the day and night temperatures for the moon, I got an even lower number of 242K. The 33K number is based on a global temperature of 288K - 255K black body temperature.
When I checked around the web, the 33K number doesn't appear to be controversial. The arguments are about how much is caused by water vapor and how much is caused by CO2. I've seen numbers as low as 4% and as high as 26% for CO2.
It looks like the Earth wouldn't have any life at all on it without the greenhouse effect, since ice doesn't melt until it gets to 273K and I find it hard to imagine how life would evolve without liquid water.
Waking up Canadian
Thanks to a new law, Canada will bestow citizenship Friday on what its government believes could be hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting foreigners, most of them Americans.
The April 17 amendment to Canada's Citizenship Act
automatically restores Canadian nationality to many people forced to
renounce it when they became citizens of another country. It also grants
citizenship to their children.
Live long and prosper, eh?
Anon strikes again
In response to Dr. Cochran, I have to say that in this case I agree with him.
I was appalled by Candidate Obama's suggestion of strikes into Pakistan, and further appalled when the Bush Administration seemed to take his support of such strikes as permission to proceed.
I MIGHT support such a strike as a one-time effort if we had very specific intelligence that a "bad actor" recognized as such both by us and the friendly country being targeted could be eliminated with high likelihood and low risk. However, regular incursions into a friendly country in this fashion will result in the country very quickly no longer being friendly, particularly as collateral damage mounts. That certainly seems to be happening today, and the loss of Pakistan as an even ineffective ally makes the world that much more dangerous (among other things, it creates a nuclear flashpoint between two states both of whom currently have nuclear weapons, unlike Israel and Iran).
We said it was a dangerously bad idea when Candidate Obama made the original suggestion; we kept it to ourselves and fumed inwardly when the Bush Administration thought it was a good idea. The idea is certainly no better today.
(Note though: I still haven't changed my opinion that the invasion of Iraq was arguably the best course of action if the war had been pursued properly to a quick conclusion -- or that a point was reached where the term "loyal" no longer applied to members of the opposition party, in part because the war had not been pursued properly, thereby making the situation both in Iraq and at home more dangerous. And of course leading both directly and indirectly to the current political situation.)
And I still contend that if what we spent on the War in Iraq had been spent on energy development including 100 1000 megawatt nuclear plants, we wouldn't be in the trouble we are in. As to what to do about Iraq, we'd manage. But one cannot go back.
Or, had we gone into Iraq for oil and had done with it, we would be better off.
My son and I were talking about how easy it is to create an immediate fix for an immediate crisis. My son's example was that of the Pentagon. The taxpayers were convinced to build the building, with five wings for education in five trades. The war came along and the taxpayers were convinced that using the building during war time would save money. They were promised the trade education center would be returned after the war. The memory of the reasons and promises were short lived. Education is much the same. People needed to get kids off the streets when the labor acts came about. I doubt that the public at the time, and before Dewey and his sort of romantic ideas, ever thought that public education would be what it is today. I enjoy your words.
Jerry, I've spent a bit of time searching the web on plastic injection molding in response to the comment. The key understanding I've reached in trying to triage the data (even highly restricted searches like "plastic injection molding environmental regulation" get tens of thousands of hits) is that injection molding is a global business, outsourcing from the US is and remains a major issue, and environmental regulation is a bit of a moving target as plastic formulations change and mature. Your initial correspondent could well have generalized from anecdotal evidence or personal experience.
Your later correspondent could also have been helpful rather than critical.
We all of us depend on the information we have, filtered by our understanding of the world, and I certainly would never have questioned your statement about outsourcing. It is clear that environmental regulation is a major factor in the industry and in the selection of plastics acceptable for molding, and the market is dynamic from year to year.
April 23, 2009
I believe that your correspondent is mistaken on the original purpose of the Pentagon. It was a department of the Army project directed by General Leslie Groves. Ground was broken on September 11, 1941.
I would love to see what evidence that could be
produced for this. The best I can find is a suggestion that after the war
parts of the building could be used as a warehouse for the storage of
records. There was an urban myth that after the war parts of the building
could be designated a veterans' hospital, but the rumor can't be traced
before 1942. See
And of course I neglected to sign my name.
I had never heard that the Pentagon was to have a different purpose, and the notion of Federal Aid to Education was not decided until well after World War II. The debate was quite lively dur9ng the 50s, and the national sentiment was that the Federal Government had no business funding education or doing much else about it -- until Sputnik. That was as I recall the turning point; we were going to build an education system for the space age. Whether the massive infusions of money have improved the schools is debatable.
In any event, I doubt the Pentagon was intended for anything except as a replacement for the State/War/Navy building (which later became the Executive Office of the President). It's interesting to note that for much of the history of the Republic, much of the Executive Department of the Federal Government was contained in the twin Treasury and State/War/Navy buildings.
Parkinson's Laws apply of course.
The full report is available via a link from the news release.
The report cites a 2007 study by e-cigre.org, "Modeling and Dynamic Behavior of Wind Generation as it Relates to Power System Control and Dynamic Performance" as "available online". And so it is -- for the price of 200 Euros!
For a more reasonable price (i.e. no charge) there is this, from May 2008:
Western Electricity Coordinating Council Wind Power Plant Power Flow Modeling Guide
There's also this, from June 2005:
"Dynamic Modeling of Wind Generation in Ireland"
and this, from December 2005:
“Making Connections: Wind Generation Challenges and Progress”
An interesting item from the latter article: apparently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) wanted to throw the burden of ensuring Low-Voltage Ride-Through (LVRT) and reactive power requirements onto the transmission-grid providers, whereas for conventional power plants the generator provider is responsible for meeting industry standards with respect to those requirements. The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) had to file a request for reconsideration.
At $140/bbl oil almost anything green makes sense. But of course as soon as anyone invests in such measures, the price of oil falls and falls and wipes out the investors.
Strikes in Pakistan
Note that how popular the strikes in Pakistan are, depends on where you are in Pakistan. There are significant parts of the population there which like us taking out HVTs with Hellfires in regions that Pakistan really doesn't control. The strikes became much more problematic when a numbskull let slip that we were doing them from a base in Pakistan, instead of flying there from Afghanistan. That converted something which was helping Pakistan into an affront to national dignity. Keep in mind that Pakistan isn't like the US, or France, or Britain, there are large chunks of the state where the government just isn't present. Saying that Pakistan should handle it is well and good, but that doesn't mean it is going to happen. Think of it as akin to the late 19th Century US, perhaps during the Sioux Wars, when there were large chunks of the territory where the governments writ only went as far as the rounds fired from soldiers guns.
If we find a way for Pakistan to save face, the reporting can go back to real issues, like the failure of appeasement and the spread of Taliban control in those areas the government isn't ruling.
More Terminator on the way
I think the Terminator is the most prescient SF we've ever had, because it is based on that enduring truth, There Will Be War (hmm, sounds like a good name for a book series, eh?). Now comes robo-heli-sniper:
The rise of the machines, indeed.
Today's UK Budget
They went with 'soak the rich'. The big question is how will the markets react--New Labour paid for its programmes by being friendly to international finance. Apparently the initial reaction is not good. Here are the stories: <http://tinyurl.com/cn4gby> , <http://tinyurl.com/cjcl8r > , <http://tinyurl.com/dela63> , <http://tinyurl.com/d44248>
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information
Systems Security, University of Sunderland.
Anon strikes again, reprise:
In response to your reply to my "Anon" message: I don't see energy independence using nuclear, or any other means, as having been mutually exclusive of invading Iraq, particularly at the levels of money then being spent. (Energy independence using solar or, as President Obama promoted today, wind...well, no matter how many well-meaning people profess to ignore the laws of physics, it simply </u> cannot </u> be done cost-effectively with those technologies, even if compared to the doubled and trebeled costs of fuel-oil driven and coal - driven electricity under cap and trade, not even counting our inability to store peak energy from those notoriously unreliable technologies.)
However, starting in 2003 (or, more accurately, 2001), even without the continuing anti-nuclear agenda of those American Luddites who consider themselves the intellectual elite of the country, we would not have had time to implement energy independence and would have had to maintain some sort of solution involving the Middle East.
Of course, between Bush administration missteps and the perverted foreign, energy, and economic policies forced on us by the disloyal opposition, we now lack energy independence or the political will to take the actions necessary to achieve it, as well as lacking a stable Middle East to support our continuing dependence on oil, and have the added joy that the current administration is about to wage war on the people to punish us for said dependence, in the name of a global mandate which serves no purpose but to enrich and empower its proponents. Truly we have achieved the worst of all possible worlds.
What do you think of the whole question?
Captain Mitchell has been the spokesperson for a number of "far out" causes including distance viewing and other ESP manifestations. I've known him for 30 years and more. I have seen no evidence for the existence of ETI presence on Earth, and I am quite convinced that had we any such technology available for study in 1964 I would have known about it; in any event, no ETI-derived technologies have been incorporated into any of our defense systems, and it's hard to understand why the US would deliberately refrain from doing so.
The late Ted Sturgeon was part of a panel with me, Niven, and Harlan Ellison convened by network TV to comment on ETI and Flying Saucers after the World Premiere of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Ted said that he'd been seduced by the stories, but had decided that he wasn't going to be a believer until he saw wreckage and bodies. I might accept a bit less evidence, but I tend to agree with Ted: we just don't have any hard evidence, and given the ubiquity of cameras and camcorders one would think there should be. (Of course now that heavy duty computers are available, faking evidence is easier, and proving evidence is real will be harder.)
I once write that we have convicted people of murder on less evidence than we have of the existence of flying saucers. That remains true, but it may be a better commentary on our court and jury system than on the existence of ETI's on Earth. If the government has been hiding the existence of guest ETI's for decades, surely we would see some results by now?
April 24, 2009
Ceasars must also command the loyalty of a decisive fraction of the legions. The Senatorial Party now occupying the White House, EOB and State are so lacking in legionary allegiance they've had to appoint non-partisan professional senior commanders as National Security Advisor and Director of National Intelligence.
In the past the people appointed to these jobs were intelligent non-entities. (Some of them used these jobs as springboards into becoming entities afterwards, such as Kissinger, Powell and Rice). Now these jobs are occupied by recently retired four star CinCs.
Whatever our distance from Caesar, we've surely moved much closer to him in the last nine months.
Noticing the Obvious
It continues to amaze me, the inability of so many people to see what's right in front of them.
In the story on British publishers trying to find the profit on eBooks <http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6652879.html?desc=topstory> , mentioned in Francis Hamit's Tuesday letter <http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2009/Q2/mail567.html#Tuesday> , a story that concentrates almost exclusively on "piracy," the real question is: "Is there really any "piracy" problem in the first place?" I can go out and shoplift dead tree books, or hijack shipments from publishers, or Xerox a copy of an expensive book, or guillotine a volume, set type, and start printing and selling copies. All these problems have been around since long before the Web, yet the publishing industry survived. Movies have always been somewhat stealable, yet Hollyweird continues to make big bucks whenever production is controlled by someone more concerned with entertainment than ego. Nor did the tape cassette destroy the music industry, despite their alarm. And Microsoft became one of the largest, richest companies in the world while constantly complaining about how their software was being "pirated." Why do so few see the pattern here? (For those who don't see the pattern: in order to steal significant amounts of money from the publishers, you have to sell the product on a large scale. Ordinary law enforcement can deal with that).
The real difficulty is the publishers' conviction that every person in the world is a thief, out to steal from them at every opportunity. The only solution to such fears is to go hide in the woods. If they'd just do that, reasonable people would take over the industry, and they'd see that telling everyone they deal with 'We know you're going to steal from us the moment you get a chance, which is why we're making this encounter so unpleasant' only provokes the response 'I might as well steal from them whenever I get the chance, they treat me like a thief anyway.'
The money in e-books can be found at places like Baen, who don't treat their customers as crooks, and who make much, much more per title on electronic volumes than all those obsessing about piracy. Price your e-books a little less than a paperback. Do away with DRM. Put a little notice at the beginning, 'Copyright [whenever], all rights reserved. Please don't steal from us. Thank you.'
Stephen M. St. Onge Minneapolis, MN
You’ve probably gotten mail about this already, but in the latest (April 7 2009) column, I believe you conflated copyright law with rights of publicity. As stated in the “Discover” article you cited, you need only abide by copyright laws if your use of an Einstein photo is editorial; while if it’s commercial, like Apple’s “Think Different” promotions were, you have to abide by rights of publicity: the doctrine that individuals get to control the use of their own image for commercial purposes. Not an indication that copyright law is working, but that individuals are using existing law to make sure they are compensated for the use of their image in this way.
As the Wikipedia article ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_of_publicity) states, in the US this is all through state law, and in some places it’s statutory and in other places it’s just common law; in California a 1985 law says publicity rights last until “death + 70 years”, whereas in New York in 2007 a judge ruled that Marilyn Monroe’s rights of publicity ended upon her death, so that guy is out of business who’s made a living for decades by suing everybody who has used any photo of her.
Tom Waits regularly sues companies who hire soundalikes to do ad jingles, including Frito Lay, who had to pay over $2 million. Rights of publicity extend to the sound of your voice.
The most notorious right of publicity lawsuit had to be the 1993 case where Vanna White sued Samsung and won, when Samsung ran an ad showing letters being turned by a blonde-haired robot.
Distinguishing between "editorial" and "commercial" use is often difficult, and defending against law suits is always expensive. The usual strategy is to pound on some small offender who can't afford a real defense, to encourage the others...
Mind-Reading Device Sends Twitter Messages
Oath of Fealty comes to life:
" Earlier this month, Wilson thought of a tweet (the name for a post to the social networking site) and poof, his computer read his mind
Army 'Multimode' Raygun Tech Zaps, Crackles, Pops,
Apparently the Army had been channeling E. E. "Doc" Smith: they have invented the Blaster. It "uses an ultra-short pulse laser to create an ionized channel through the air; down this channel, you can then send bursts of energy:"
"It'll conduct electricity. And it can also act as a waveguide for an intense pulse of microwaves. These could be used to destroy the fuze of a roadside bomb, fry the electronics of a missile, or burn out the ignition on any unshielded vehicle."
Yup. The Blaster. Thanks, Doc.
April 25, 2009
I took the day off from the web
|This week:||Sunday, April
Lunch with my agent today
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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).
Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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