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Mail 656 January 3 - 9, 2011
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January 3, 2011
Excessive number of people with clearances
Last Monday a correspondent posted an article regarding the number of people who hold clearances. Having been in the intelligence community for over twenty years, I agree it is excessive, too many people are cleared at too high a level on too many projects means there are potential leaks and that too much information is classified. There are many reasons to keep classified information at a minimum, especially in our current world environment.
However, the New York Times article had a comment that just burns me:
“What’s more, if you’re carrying an armload of hammers, every problem looks like a nail. The truth is that military power often isn’t very effective at solving modern problems, like a nuclear North Korea or an Iran that is on the nuclear path. Indeed, in an age of nationalism, our military force is often counterproductive. “
I believe the military really ‘gets’ the world situation better than the politicians ….and is capable of making much smarter decisions about what needs military force and what doesn’t than they do.
The author of the article seems to have a motive to undermine our ability to defend ourselves … ‘beat swords into plowshares’ if you will.
I don’t think I can much stock in what he says here….his motives are suspect, at least in my eyes.
Tracy Walters, CISSP
He who defends everything defends nothing. He who tries to make everything secret makes nothing secret. There are too many secrets, ost of which do not need to be secret.
There must be secrets; but keeping things secret denies your own free flow of information.
1/3/20 update from drroyspencer.com on 2010 temperatures:
(a) Temperatures renormalized to the 1981-2010 30-year average. (b) With renormalization, global anomaly for December 2010 is +0.18C of the 30 year average; however, this shows a notable decrease in temperature as the El Nino transitions to to La Nina (which is clearly established already in the accompanying sea surface temperatures plot). (c) Tropics are about 0.8 C cooler than in January; northern hemisphere is about 0.45 C cooler than January. (d) Data illustrates that 2010 is a statistically insignificant average 0.01 C cooler than 1998, leaving the record with that El Nino year. (The 1998 El Nino had a higher peak anomaly, but was shorter in duration than the one currently ending).
Current temperature is (by eye) at about the median of 2001-2006 values prior to the cooling which preceeded he current El Nino.
Ships trapped in the ice,
Seems we have more signs of “climate change” busting out all over.
Ten ships, 600 crew trapped in frozen Sea of Okhotsk:
“The ice is up to 30cm (12 inches) thick in some places, according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass.”
And this: Dozens of ships freed from Baltic Sea ice:
“Dozens of ships that had been trapped in ice in the Baltic Sea off Stockholm, some for several days, have been freed, Swedish maritime authorities have said.”
“Both Sweden and Finland deployed icebreakers to help the stranded vessels.”
“At least 26 ships are awaiting help further north in the Bay of Bothnia.”
I think I’ll dust off my copy of Fallen Angels. Seems like the appropriate thing to do.
Only 9,099 Of Last 10,500 Years Warmer Than 2010
Here's a series of interesting charts:
Scroll down to Figures 4 and 5.
AGW? Or natural processes? As you have said, Jerry, we need more study before we commit to spending trillions of dollars on "Cap and Tax" schemes.
Regards, Brian Claypool
Happy New Year
Post for 31 December of an e-mail exchange between the author and Andy Dressler on the subject of whether clouds yield positive or negative feedback.
Alta Morbius, RIP.
---- Roland Dobbins
Goodbye, Miranda. RIP
The MOS 6502 and the Best Layout Guy in the World.
--- Roland Dobbins
Flexible Spending Accounts
You had noted "And here's your present from Obama Care: You can't use your medical savings account as intended. Happy New Year to the Tree of Liberty.
Another Thing No One in Congress will admit to Doing"
While "Medical Savings Accounts" or MSAs are most often used by young high-earners who want to gamble that they will have good health (but hedge their bet with an MSA!), many small and medium sized businesses offer "Flexible Spending Accounts" that can also be used to pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays and prescription drugs. Both plans allow you to put in "pre-tax" money. MSA funds could be accrued tax-free until spent for medical care, and were commonly used in conjunction with a low-cost high-deductible "catastrophic" insurance plan. Don't get sick? Keep your money! In contrast, FSAs are a "use it or lose it" benefit, usually offered by small businesses to their employees.
Until ObamaCare, we could use our FSA money to pay for Over-The-Counter drugs and medical devices such as band-aids, topical ointments, pain killers such as aspirin or Tylenol, cold remedies, canes, walkers, knee braces and the like. Our mandatory health benefits meeting this fall was very explicit that after 1/1/11, such items would NO LONGER be covered. So I now have a 3-year supply of benadryl, Tylenol, and bandages, and a magnificent first aid kit. Next year I'll be cutting back on the amount of money I contribute to my FSA, and of course, exposing more money to the tax collector.
"...get a prescription just so you can use your tax-free medical savings account to buy aspirin..."
Nothing new here. That is exactly how I remember the restrictions being when medical savings accounts were first introduced - we participated the second year they were available and personally found them to be more trouble than they were worth in our circumstances (teacher and self-employed, relatively healthy).
SUBJ: The blockwart
Petty power and third-hand authority attract the same creatures as always.
Giant caves recently found in Viet Nam
Something absolutely amazing for your new year.
Hogan's Velikovsky Essay
I did some checking, and it appears that Hogan published it in his book Kicking the Sacred Cow, which I own but haven't read (*sigh* So many books!). Velikosky is also discussed, more briefly, in Hogan's Catastrophes, Chaos, and Convolutions. Both appear to be out of print in dead-tree format, but some new and used copies are available from Amazon, and of course Baen keeps them available as e-books. So, anyone who wants to see what Hogan said about Velikovsky should be able to find out there.
Stephen M. St. Onge
Jimmy had a rather unique way of thought, and it's worth being exposed to. In my judgment Velikovsky was off his head, but he did make some serious arguments; and he was right on that there were catastrophes, although I do not believe Venus sprang form the brow of Jupiter...
Some New Year's Stories
What the people of Britain desire: a bonfire of rules, laws, and regulations: <http://tinyurl.com/38dc7nd>
Dumbing down of university grades in the UK: <http://tinyurl.com/39252m4>
Chinese students studying in the UK resent this immensely: <http://tinyurl.com/2v4zn8p>
Northern Ireland experiences continued water shutoffs: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-12103027>
-- Harry Erwin, PhD "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." (Benjamin Franklin, 1755)
Natural gas off Gaza coast
Hi Dr. Pournelle,
you wrote: "Technically there ought to be some (natural gas) off the coast of Gaza, which would finance a lot of recovery for Gaza;"
Well, not "ought to be" but "is". Concession belongs to BP, gas was found in 1999, as far as I remember. Sits next to Israeli Yam Tetis (Mari-B) gas field. Of course, one and only possible customer is Israel, and since start of second intifada in 2000 BP shelved all plans to develop the site. Current discoveries in Israeli waters (Tamar and Leviathan gas fields) are in the North, off Haifa - so, it seems, there ought to be gas in Lebanese waters as well.
Best regards and happy New Year! Alexander Krol
One would think that Gaza was the best and most needful customer.
Too many billionaires
"...family fortunes that have become so large that they endanger the republic"
I don't know. If you look at who is really steering the money into politics, there are darn few individual multi-billionaires on the list.
(It's also worth noting that you have to get down to number 78 before you see three elephants lined up.)
I don't lose one minute of sleep thinking about how Richard Branson, Bill Gates, the Walton family, or any other billionaire is going to come in and start telling me what to do, how to live, or force me to spend my money on anything I'd rather not. The lowliest local zoning official in my town has more power over my life than Bill Gates does. If wealth alone could create unlimited political power, no anti-trust law would ever have gotten off first base.
We had immensely rich people in this country many years ago. They founded universities, foundations, libraries, and countless beneficial institutions, long before income taxes and forced wealth redistribution. I used to work at Stanford myself. It's ironic that many professors rail against capitalism from institutions built on the bones of robber barons.
Bill Gates, even if he never gave a nickel to charity, would still done far more good for the economy of this nation and the world than whatever bit of personal wealth he's managed to accumulate.
In my opinion, the wealth gap is an artificial boogeyman designed to justify even more forced wealth redistribution than there already is. I've seen countless historical examples of governments destroying nations and enslaving people. The only place I've ever seen nations run by corporate tyrannies is in science fiction.
In the last days of the Roman Republic the only candidates who had a chance of winning high office were those who could borrow enormous amounts from the equivalents of billionaires, or form triumvirates with the enormously wealthy and powerful; and the wealthy could and did hire their own Legions and firefighters. This did not make for stability. Now Soros has the equivalent of a Legion in Media; and so does Rupert Murdoch. I point these things out. I have no strong conclusions nor yet remedies I recommend. I invite contemplation.
There are similarities and differences between the end of the Roman Republic and the evger more likely end of ours.
Nasty, brutish and not that short.
--- Roland Dobbins
Welcome to the new 'Homeland'.
-- Roland Dobbins
Round-up ready sugar beets.
Jerry, one thing that you neglected to consider in your sugar beet post is that the choice isn't between Roundup (glyphosate) and no chemicals. The choice is between Roundup and several other herbicides applied at several different times during the growing season.
It seems to me that glyphosate can be purchased in the grocery store for personal use while the other chemicals are far less available. The point I'm getting at is that these other chemicals are likely more of a problem than the ubiquitous Roundup product.
Wade from sugar beet country.
January 4, 2010
I am in Las Vegas
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
January 5, 2010
Two moons on 27th August 2010
This is a fragment of the truth. Mars did get as close as 35 million miles on August 27, _2003_, and if you looked at Mars through a telescope, it could have looked as large as the full Moon does with the naked eye. On August 27, 2010, Mars is 200 million miles from Earth. If the evening is clear you can see Mars near Venus shortly after sunset. Venus is bright and easy to find. Mars is easier with binoculars.
Thanks. Hadn't realized there was any confusion on that.
10-year-old girl becomes youngest ever supernova discoverer
Evidently we don’t have to give up on all our kids:
Tracy Walters, CISSP
You can do handwriting recognition on the iPad with the BoxWave capacitive stylus & the WritePad application.
----- Roland Dobbins
That I need to try when I get back from CES
Subject: Washington Post -- "Prizes Work"
In case you haven't seen this:
Happy New Year!
Stephen -- Stephen Fleming
Maybe the word is finally getting out...
The Golden Age of Pulp Fiction
Now THIS is the way to market fiction-
Imagine one of these for, oh, say "KNOWN SPACE" or the "MOTE" stories in an omnibus eBook edition. Maybe "Janisssaries", even?.
Great but alas I do not believe I can produce anyuthing like that.
This makes very good sense to me.
January 6, 2010
At least they are open about it. I think of some others that are not.
Much of anthropology has become a dead zone for research. This is the result of a strange alliance between the political left and the political right. The left stresses the need for "relevance" and generally scorns basic research that has no immediate implications. The right likewise dislikes basic research and prefers to target funding with a view to short-term payoffs.
Ironically, the short-term payoffs are largely illusory. A lot seems to be going on, and yet nothing is really going on.
I think it evident that some ADHD is overdiagnosis and some is iatrogenic; as to the rest, why did we not see it for a hundred years? That is, it did not exist when I was a graduate student. It is now real. Has it been with us all along and not noticed? Or is there a cultural genesis?
January 7, 2010
Short Shrift this morning...
RE: Supernova discovered by the 10 year old.
One of the co-discoverers of the supernova discovered by the 10-year old (SN 2010lt) is a friend of mine, and the owner of the observatory that took the images. It's a private mostly-automated observatory that he built himself. The telescope resides in his backyard, and has been used in professional work. Quite impressive:
Having recently reread Lucifer's Hammer, it reminds me of the observatory that Tim Hamner built (but with a lot less money!)
On the Republic vs Empire theme, you might enjoy the
George Friedman essay (the introduction to his new book): The Next Decade:
Where We've Been... And Where We're Going
Subj: Collected Works of John Adams online - including Defence of the Constitutions
Ever since reading Russell Kirk's chapter on John Adams in _The Conservative Mind_, I've been meaning to read Adams' _Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America_.
The _Defence_ is Adams' analysis of Western History, composed and published initially in an attempt to influence the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, which he could not attend in person because he was serving as Ambassador to the Court of Saint James.
Adams' _Collected Works_ are now online:
Subj: Ivy League Schools: It's the Connections
I attended two ILSs: Harvard for college and Princeton for grad school.
Neither one of them gave me what I needed, which was a swift kick in the extreme lower back. They should have flunked me out of Harvard, but didn't; why, I don't know, though I suspect simple indifference on the part of the professors who should have awarded me Fs but gave me "gentlemen's Cs" instead. I did eventually flunk out of Princeton, which I richly deserved.
Maybe they do better for their students now. Or maybe not.
But Esther Dyson (in her book, _Release 2.0_, I think: I'm too lazy to look it up) nailed the value of a Harvard education perfectly: an Ivy League school is a place where you can form connections -- contacts, maybe even friendships -- with people who will be powerful, one way or another, in the future, and thereby potentially useful to you in advancing your career. Dyson had to explain this to her father, Freeman Dyson, when he complained that she was spending so much time socializing rather than studying.
I was so socially inept that I had no clue about this until long after I left, so I completely missed the opportunity.
Subj: Payoff for going to Elite Colleges: Power, not necessarily Wealth
Lessig's piece has a figure-of-merit fallacy: he's using Wealth as a measure of success, but there are many other desirable payoffs, particularly Power. Middle-level bureaucrats, especially lawyers and Congressional staffers, political operatives and think-tankers often have far more raw Power than Wealth. Sometimes they eventually "cash in" on their contacts, but not always.
And at some point raw wealth is less important than access to power. It's the Bell Curve in action now...
I succeeded in downloading OUTIES from Barnes & Noble onto my IPad without having to buy a Nook. Works well. They'll be taking market share from Amazon.
Your daughter's writing style is definitely different from Niven's & yours. So far it is interesting.
I must say that I'm amazed by her reference to BuReloc refugees who were fleeing rising oceans. Didn't you teach your daughter to check the math? There simply isn't enough ice to raise sea levels high enough to make the AGW scenario of rising sea levels a reality even if it does melt.
Sent from my iPad
She and I do not agree on many things. It is her novel, and it is science fiction...
E-books from the library
You may remember that a few months ago I mentioned the desirability of being able to borrow e-books from libraries or fee-based lending libraries (such as those my aunts patronized decades ago).
Well, to my surprise and pleasure, the local Toledo-Lucas County Public Library now provides exactly that. Each of their e-books, like a printed copy, can only be loaned out to one patron at a time (it's automatically removed from your device after 21 days) and unavailable titles can be "held" for future notification as they become available.
I just acquired a Galaxy Tab (I'll use it in Palm Springs in a couple of week to promote my tennis website) and I've already borrowed a couple of titles -- one of which I read this afternoon in the outpatient surgery waiting room. I haven't used or seen other readers but mine seems to display as I imagine e-ink would. The font size in the OverDrive Media Console is too large for my taste but otherwise it's fine.
An another subject, I just replaced my trusty D-Link router with an Airport Express as I'd read in David Pogue's NY Times column that I could play music from my computer through my home stereo system -- and, with the help of Airfoil software -- it turns out to be possible and not terribly complicated.
-- Cheers, Alan Messer
I am not entirely sure that is welcome news for authors...
Is it really new at all? Remember the old movies and how they portrayed the press. A bunch of guys (yes all guys) with hats who ran to the scene, talked to people, took pictures and ran to get the story in. Then in the 80’s if flipped, the reporter sat around and some insider took the story to them. Maybe the hot reporter or reporterette went out so he/she could have a car chase, get shot at or have their apartment broken into, but the reporter became the story, not the story itself.
Maybe we are back to the old Hustle days of the press where everyone ran to get the story so they could get it out first. Now it’s the story once again and a reporters value is speed, accuracy and skill, not personal style. Maybe it’s not new at all.
But that’s ok. Even if the kids get the story first, I’ll trust you, Leo and John to give me a context that can only come from experience.
----- Roland Dobbins
'DHS serves only one clear purpose: to provide unimaginable bonanzas for favored congressional districts around the United States, most of which face no statistically significant security threat at all.'
-- Roland Dobbins
A profound thought...
“The problem with Internet quotations is that many are not genuine.” - Abraham Lincoln
"It does seem the golden age of serial murderers is probably past."
--- Roland Dobbins
January 8, 2010
Returning from Las Vegas today. Will post a pile tomorrow.
|This week:||Sunday, January
Amazon preps Kindleware for Android, Windows tablets
By Cade Metz in San Francisco <http://forms.theregister.co.uk/mail_author/?
Amazon is prepping Kindleware for Android and Windows tablets.
On Tuesday, the etailer announced that its tailoring free Kindle apps for new Android- and Windows-based tablets "coming in 2011." The apps will allow tablet users to download and read ebooks from Amazon's Kindle bookstore – even if they don't own a physical Kindle ereader.
You can do handwriting recognition on the iPad with the BoxWave capacitive stylus & the WritePad application.
---- Roland Dobbins
A fourth of potential American military recruits who tried to join failed the written exam:
“The main reason for this is that fact that most of the uneducated high school grads are . . . from urban schools. Those schools are failure factories . . . While the army can do something about the overweight applicants (by giving out diet plans and holding physical training exercises for the willing), there is not much they can do cheaply, and quickly, for those who learned little in high school. Moreover, the fact that a quarter of your "educated labor force" really isn't ready to handle technology (and more learning) means two things. One, employers are either going to be short of the people they need, and, two, some employers will be forced to spend more on educating new hires. This isn't easy, because many of those uneducated high school grads are not keen on more "education," having experienced so much failure with it already.” <snip>
The article lays the blame on poor education, but “la Griffe du Lion” has earlier used proxy test results to suggest that the average IQ of young people in urban settings is more than a standard deviation below the norm ( http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/city.htm ). Maybe we are seeing the results of a society that is so wealthy that people of low abilities are able to indulge in unfettered procreation. Cyril Kornbluth saw it coming, of course – in 1951 (!).
For now, though: “As a result of all this, the recruits who do get in are a very select and motivated group. Thus the average soldier today is smarter, and in much better physical shape, than civilians of the same age and gender. But by being this selective, it requires more money and effort to find the people needed. During World War II, the percentage of acceptable recruits was more than double what it is today. Young men and women were in better physical shape, fewer got into trouble with drugs or crime, and military educational standards were not as high because there were more non-technical jobs available.”
The purpose of the US education system is to insure employment of bad teachers. It is well known that the efficiency of the system as measured by student performance will be about doubled by firing the 10% worst teachers and apportioning their students out among the rest; that is overwhelmingly to be preferred to "smaller classroom size", teacher pay raises, or anything else that might be tried. Of course this won't be tried because the purpose of the whole system is to see to it that the bad teachers are not fired and are allowed to go through ruining lives until they get large pensions.
The second purpose of the system is to insure full employment for professors of education, many of whom have never done any actual teaching, but whose imprimatur is needed to get the "merit pay" advances you can get from "workshops" and various courses in education. Some education colleges actually prepare teachers to teach, but many somple punch tickets; a lot of bad teachers who ought to be fired get "merit" pay for having accumulated credits from education professors. My suspicion is that firing about half the professors of education would greatly improve the efficiency of the system but I don't have any studies or numbers to prove that; but I would bet money that firing the worst 10% would instantly improve the colleges of education just as firing the worst 10% of classroom teachers would instantly improve the schools.
The purpose of the schools is to extract money from taxpayers and pay it in ways that insure that professors of education and bad teachers get paid. It is not to create citizens, or to teach anything; it is not to train future Legionnaires. If we are to have Legions, the first thing we need to do is cut all ties between the Armed Forces school systems for service dependents from the rest of the education system and run it in a rational manner as it has been done in the past. Alas the trend is in the other direction, with more and more of the poison that ruined the US public school system spreading everywhere else.
Schools no longer prepare students to be citizens or to learn the skills to be employed, even in the Legions. They have new purposes now, and they serve them well.
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I thought you would be interested in this column by Richard Cohen. I find it interesting that someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum from you -- but of the Vietnam generation -- mirrors your concerns.
" I sometimes think I am the only person around who has been in the military. This is because most people I know are college-educated professionals, many of them writers. But if I throw in politicians and even the White House staff, nothing much changes. Lots of people know the expression "lock 'n load" but very few know how to do it.
This distant Army enables us to fight wars about which the general public is largely indifferent. Had there been a draft, the war in Iraq might never have been fought - or would have produced the civil protests of the Vietnam War era. The Iraq debacle was made possible by a professional military and by going into debt. George W. Bush didn't need your body or, in the short run, your money. Southerners would fight, and foreigners would buy the bonds. For understandable reasons, no great songs have come out of the war in Iraq.
... The Great Afghanistan Reassessment has come and
gone and, outside of certain circles, no one much paid attention. In this
respect, the United States <http://realclearworld.com/topic/around_the_world/
------ Welcome to Marius' Rome. Of course, it doesn't have to end the same way. History doesn't seem to ever repeat itself exactly. But it is a matter of concern. The solutions I see are either to A) reinstate the draft and not fight unpopular wars or B) dramatically downsize the armed forces, check out of the global alliances we have built, and again become, in the words of a wise man, 'friends of liberty everywhere but guardians only of our own'.
A problem with that second solution is that the entire existing international order is based upon American military primacy. Our withdrawal would cause the collapse of that system. The last time the system collapsed, it resulted in two world wars. Possibly a more gradual solution is called for.
Fire and Ice, and Math, oh my!
Dear Doctor P,
In MAIL for January 7, 2011, Alan Messer commented on CUTIES -
"Didn't you teach your daughter to check the math? There simply isn't enough ice to raise sea levels high enough to make the AGW scenario of rising sea levels a reality even if it does melt. "
Yes, it's important to get the math right, whether the ice melts or not.
Sixty-one per cent of the fresh water on earth is in the Antarctic icecap, which is the largest ice mass on this planet.
Antarctica is about fourteen million square kilometers of land area, and is ninety-eight per cent covered with ice. To compare, the contiguous lower forty-eight states of these United States cover about nine and a half million square kilometers. .
The volume of the Antarctic ice cap is about thirty million cubic kilometers, estimated to be equivalent to seventy meters of water in the world's oceans.
While it might well take the Inferno's own blast furnaces to melt even a minor fraction of it, there is enough ice, in Antarctica to raise sea levels enough to cause problems for the currently dominant species of the planet.
If it were to all melt.
After all, CUTIES is Science Fiction, and SF is supposed to explore unlikely and uncomfortable ideas, right?
On the gripping hand, I think it speaks volumes as to the type of thinking you encouraged in those closest to you that they can disagree with you. That can't be easy!
In fact, the Antarctic ice seems to be growing, See this interesting site - ICE AGE - NOW
It has been a long time since the Antarctic ice cap melted, and it is not likely to happen again for another long time. Of course floating ice does not affect sea level.
Birds and fish are dying all over the world:
Lots of local explanations, but why so many, so suddenly, and in such disparate places – all at once?
OK. We’re leading up to 2012. The Mayans knew it all along, right? The next Ice Age starts next year, right? I guess we should be mining more coal and spreading it on the glaciers . . .
Or maybe the aliens gave up on the Screwfly Solution and are trying something else to clear out the ecosystem?
Sensors left on lunar surface by astronauts 40 years ago now reveal that the Moon has liquid core just like Earth:
Fundamental science. Fundamental discovery. Amazing.
'Signals from seismic sensors left on the lunar surface by Apollo astronauts in 1971 have revealed that the Moon has a liquid core similar to Earth's.'
-- Roland Dobbins
Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid, with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.
-- Alan Kay
The title is a little misleading -- this is not new data, but a new analysis of the old data using modern seismographic analysis techniques.
Amazing if true. I remain -- not precisely skeptical, but looking for confirmations.
ADHD, as expressed in that New York TImes article, is an artifact of our need to label and categorize. There is a broad spectrum of ways that people create and then attempt to perceive and support their realities. Couple that with the broad spectrum of the ways that people attempt to relate to each other, and you begin to sense the scope of the chaos that is humanity.
I tend towards fairly linear IF- THEN - ELSE thought, coupled with fleeting intuitions. My wife, OTOH, is able to sense things in people that I cannot, no matter how hard I try. She has clued me in to the different learning styles of people, and how kinesthetic learners NEED to fidget and move to learn. Life has a tendency to explore different strategies, and while the IF- THEN - ELSE strategy may be successful in our society and times, I wonder if in other situations folks with different styles might come to the forefront.
Taking it a step further, we posit that dolphins and whales are significantly intelligent, but have limited access to tool making or use. If we were transported into such bodies, would our mental process be superior to that of an animal that evolved to cope with such an environment? Perhaps those with ADHD might actually have an advantage in such situations. We do well to minimize our hubris and recognize our good fortune.
different subject- Lucifer's Hammer. I'm enjoying the re-read of this after having it sitting on the shelf for a number of years. One thing I have noticed this time around is a "feel" of similar plot development to "Atlas Shrugged," something I did not recognize on the first reading. Specifically the Senator's ranch seems similar (as of about page 150) to the retreat in Atlas, the climb to the peak or ridge felt like something that Galt (or Roark) would be doing, and the upcoming tribulations have a similar almost Russian heaviness. Was the writing somehow influenced by Rand's style?
I do not see the similarity between the books, myself. One is a disaster science fiction novel, the other is build on social premises.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch in her weekly on-line column comments upon the huge spike in ebooks bought during the holidays, plus problems at Borders:
As she says, many of us have seen this coming, but the rate is astonishing.
Prizes in the US Code
Considering the discussion of prizes offered by the US, here is one of the sections on prizes
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
42 USC 259f-1:
§ 2459f-1. Prize authority
(a) In general The Administration may carry out a program to competitively award cash prizes to stimulate innovation in basic and applied research, technology development, and prototype demonstration that have the potential for application to the performance of the space and aeronautical activities of the Administration. The Administration may carry out a program to award prizes only in conformity with this section.
(b) Topics In selecting topics for prize competitions, the Administrator shall consult widely both within and outside the Federal Government, and may empanel advisory committees. The Administrator shall give consideration to prize goals such as the demonstration of the ability to provide energy to the lunar surface from space-based solar power systems, demonstration of innovative near-Earth object survey and deflection strategies, and innovative approaches to improving the safety and efficiency of aviation systems.....
(1) Prizes under this section may consist of Federal appropriated funds and funds provided by the private sector for such cash prizes. The Administrator may accept funds from other Federal agencies for such cash prizes. The Administrator may not give any special consideration to any private sector entity in return for a donation.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated for prize awards under this section shall remain available until expended, and may be transferred, reprogrammed, or expended for other purposes only after the expiration of 10 fiscal years after the fiscal year for which the funds were originally appropriated. No provision in this section permits obligation or payment of funds in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341).
(3) No prize may be announced under subsection (d) of this section until all the funds needed to pay out the announced amount of the prize have been appropriated or committed in writing by a private source. The Administrator may increase the amount of a prize after an initial announcement is made under subsection (d) of this section if-
(A) notice of the increase is provided in the same manner as the initial notice of the prize; and
(B) the funds needed to pay out the announced amount of the increase have been appropriated or committed in writing by a private source.
(4) No prize competition under this section may offer a prize in an amount greater than $50,000,000 unless 30 days have elapsed after written notice has been transmitted to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate.
(5) No prize competition under this section may result in the award of more than $1,000,000 in cash prizes without the approval of the Administrator.
In other words, the forecast wasn't made public because it directly contradicted all the hysteria about so-called 'global warming':
--- Roland Dobbins
"Money" graphic. Taken at face value, if the trends
continue, it going to get about a degree (Celsius) cooler FAST -- like about
one year fast. <http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com
I would bet money we do not get a degree of warming in the next year or even five years, unless there is a radical revision in how averages are computed or how the data are massaged. Alas, I would not bet against that happening.
Autism and MMR Vaccine Study an 'Elaborate Fraud,' Charges BMJ
The British Medical Journal says the Autism and MMR Vaccine Study was an 'Elaborate Fraud:'
Sometimes it seems like people just want to believe something.
"Retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds":
"It's always hard to explain fraud and where it affects people to lie in science," Godlee said. "But it does seem a financial motive was underlying this, both in terms of payments by lawyers and through legal aid grants that he received but also through financial schemes that he hoped would benefit him through diagnostic and other tests for autism and MMR-related issues."
I hope you are enjoying Vegas now. To get to the
point, my wife and I kept our eyes on food prices for a while. We am not
alone. Something interesting is going on with food prices:
Of particular concern to me are the increasing prices, which are at record level. These record breaking prices are happening in a completely different context than the last crisis that occurred in June 2008. It is a crisis because, in some parts of the world, these increases cause people to not get food. Now the article offers this information concerning the present context:
>New York-traded crude was last at $88.44 a barrel, compared with $140 at the end of June 2008. Bulk urea pellets, used in fertilizer as a source of nitrogen, were at $320 a ton in the last week of December, >against $460 in June 2008.
So we still have room to increase the prices beyond the current record levels. The prices of pellets and oil correlate positively with the price of food. As there is more room for a spike on these commodities, there is more room for a spike in the prices of food. Oil will continue to increase in my estimation. I would not be surprised if we saw 150-200 USD per barrel oil in the not-too-distant future--however that remains speculation at this point. Did you notice most OPEC countries want it around 100 USD per barrel?
-------- BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo
Have you thought of an essay on what every America should do for his/her personal/family preparedness?
My lead item is a military caliber rifle and two units of fire. That and water.
Have you ever looked at the http://beprepared.com/article.asp?ai=903& online food storage calculator? It analyzes how many days of food storage you have and it’s nutritional content. It also makes to easy to order more from them. J
I don't really have time to revive Survive Magazine (Col Brown's companion to Soldier of Fortune of which I was a columnist and contributing editor). I gather there is an on line community doing much of this.
Further to Tom Brosz's recent letter
Tom Brosz wrote "The only place I've ever seen nations run by corporate tyrannies is in science fiction".
Well, the British East India Company ran India and the Dutch East India Company ran the East Indies for a long time. Also, companies were heavily involved in colonialism in Africa, North Borneo and the Pacific (Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned the German "long handled firm", I think he called it, that tried to penetrate Samoa in his day). And, technically, the Teutonic Order of Knights that operated and ruled lands in Eastern Europe was a corporation too, just as the City of London was when it transformed a city in Ulster from Derry to Londonderry. At least some of those were tyrannies - I think the Congo Free State was structured as a corporation, and that was definitely tyrannous.
: Photos of TSA t work
The photos and videos on this anonymous blog of TSA patdowns are incredible, and probably illegal to take. What possible justification can the TSA have for gloved pat-downs of two year old children and 90-year old grannies in wheelchairs?
One page of this anonymous blog is sufficient:
Your daily dose of security theater.
Henry Barth Ireland
Take a peek at China's new J20 strike fighter, now entering ground checkouts prior to first flight.
Sexy bird, almost a hybrid of an F-22 and the plane in the old movie firefox. Inlets look almost identical to the F-35 inlets, nose like the F-22 and F-35, as big as the old F-111, probable internal weapons carriage, and non-stealthy exhausts like the F-35, sounds like a stealthy deep penetration fighter.
Good thing we have a fleet of predators ready to hunt these things down especially since the F-22 production line can't be restarted and the F-35 isn't a very good air superiority platform. Maybe we can lease back some new-build F-15s from Korea or Singapore if things get tough.
Aircraft carrier and this, just before the US SECDEF goes to China. Shocking! A leak? Really? Taxied around in broad daylight...
'Some estimates put the number of empty homes at as many as 64 million, with up to 20 new cities being built every year in the country's vast swathes of free land.'
-- Roland Dobbins
FBI Releases Hate Crime Report
IMPORTANT POINT BEFORE YOU READ THIS:
The FBI consideres Hispanics to be "white" when they commit hate crimes. That is their offenses are thrown in with ours and ethnic whites look like they commit a lot of hate crimes when they don't. But when hate crimes get committed against them, they are regarded as Hispanic. So, they are only counted when they are victims and not when they victimize others. Keep this in mind when forming important opinions about this issue. There is some serious distortion of the records going on here. Also bear in mind that these figures are for a country of over 320,000,000 population. 7,789 "offenses" represent roughly one per every 411,000 citizens--hardly a national crisis. As crimes go (robbery, drug killings, rape, bankster fraud, gang shootings) this is barely at a nuisance level
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