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Mail 212 July 1 - 7, 2002
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July 1, 2002
Dear Dr Pournelle,
Okay, I did the exercise. Here the first three suras in http://www.secularislam.org/articles/wtc.htm , which are mentioned in more detail than the remaining 33, are compared to a respected modern translation and the Yusuf Ali translation mentioned by your correspondent. I'm working my way through the other 33, but I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice to say that the paraphrases given by Warraq seem pretty accurate to me. Judge for yourself.
Warraq vs Koran 1
The Ibn Warraq discussion of suras relating to the treatment of other faiths is compared to other translations of the Koran, prominent among which are: (the first two listed in http://www.quran.org.uk/index.html)
ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS: a. M.H. Shakir b. Abdullah Yusuf Ali
i) [Ibn Warraq] IV.76: “Those who believe fight in the cause of God”; [Shakir] Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of the Shaitan. Fight therefore against the friends of the Shaitan; surely the strategy of the Shaitan is weak. [Yusuf Ali] Those who believe fight in the cause of God, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.
ii) [Ibn Warraq] VIII.39-42: “Say to the Infidels:
if they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven;
but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the
ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the
religion be all of it God’s.”
iii) [Ibn Warraq] IV.74: “Let those who fight in
the cause of God who barter the life of this world for that which is to
come; for whoever fights on God’s path, whether he is killed or
triumphs, We will give him a handsome reward.”
-- Terry Cole BA/BSc/BE/BA(hons) (email@example.com) System Administrator, Dept. of Maths. & Stats., Otago Uni. PO Box 56, Dunedin, NZ.
Apologies for the length, but this is an important subject and I do want to be accurate. I may not get everything right -- surely I don't -- but I try, and I care; which is about all one can do. I may pretend to know everything for a living, but I also know better. Thank you.
I also have:
One of your readers, Mr. George Steele, disputes that the link you provided, http://www.secularislam.org/articles/wtc.htm, is "passionately-written demagoguery" because in his copy of the Koran none of the mentioned suras match. I have a Spanish translation of the Koran by a Spanish scholar, Juan Vernet, and all the mentioned suras match pretty accurately to the English translation in that link and in some the language is even mild compared to my Spanish translation.
Maybe Mr. Steele would be so kind as to mention exactly what fallacies he found in the mentioned suras so we can all be enlightened in what demagoguery is.
I've read most of the world sacred texts that I could get a hold of in either English, Spanish or both and I will grant that it is not the only holy text that contains bigotry, savagery and hatred (the Bible has its fair share), but trying to hide it or deny it in the name of political correctness or just to avoid confrontation is silly at best.
Francisco Garcia Maceda maceda at pobox dot com
As one of my correspondents observes, if a Martian had only the Old and New Testaments with no history of Earth, he would conclude that the Jews would eventually be running the Earth, and Christians would be a persecuted minority. I am not sure I agree, but it is an interesting speculation.
I know this might be quibbling at its worst.
1) I suspect that Sikhism can more be considered a sect of Hinduism synthesized with monotheistic (Abrahamic) concepts. Sikhs and Hindus do intermarry (neither intermarry with Muslims) and neither group practices circumcision. Also, Sikhs are vegetarian and I believe they accept the concept of reincarnation.
2) The question of the Ba'hai faith is more fascinating and obviously characterized as a "secession" from Islam. But from what I know of the Ba'hai faith-it started out as a reforming movement in Shia Islam, and in some ways was more intolerant and zealous than mainstream Shi'ism. Something happened between 1850 and 1900 to metamorphasize the Ba'hai faith into something far more theologically liberal-somewhat like Universalism (though the Ba'hai are theologically liberal [in my estimation] they are still socially conservative when it comes to sexual mores). So in sum: the Ba'hai faith was a swerve "Right" for the Shia sect, that somehow tacked back "Left" beyond Shi'ism or Islam in general. Can this be a model for Islam-or is it an idiosyncratic trajectory predicated on the particulars of 19th century Persian history and the reception of the liberal west to new religious ideas?
-the Ahmaddiya movement is a good candidate for a secessionist movement-many (most) mainstream Muslims say they are not Muslims, that they accept a prophet after Muhammed (though they would say he was a Mahdi I believe). Aside from that particular doctrinal difference, the Ahmaddiya are characterized by tight organization and progressive reformism. They are active as missionaries in many parts of Africa. Mainstream Muslims will often accuse them of being pawns of western imperialism via the most Byzantine chains of logic.
-the Druze are an ancient secessionist movement. They derive originally from partisans of the bizarre cult of the last Fatimid Caliph (correct me if I'm wrong on the particulars, Druze history is clouded in mystery). Their mode of existence has been withdrawal to the mountains of Lebanon. Not a particularly helpful model.
And on Caesaro-Papism in Western History (note both these are excerpts from a discussion group I enjoy)
Hm. Well-first, one must separate western Europe from eastern Europe. Caesaro-Papism became the norm in the eastern Christian tradition. In fact, it has its genesis in Constantine-who told the Christian bishops to figure out a common doctrine at Nicea (they accepted Athanasian Trinitarianism, but the always un- intellectual Constantine somehow got himself baptized by an Arian bishop). Of course, later in that century Theodosius paid homage to St. Ambrose when the latter refused communion to him for slaughtering the inhabitants of Thessalonika. Though the iron-clad association of Church and State do not exist in the Christian tradition-they have danced a fair amount.
[as opposed to the almost inevitable church/state associations in Islam; JEP]
As to your last statement [But Christianity is not as inherently political and does not place as many political demands upon its followers to force non-believers to conduct themselves according to Christian principle ], I must disagree. *Today* Christianity-as practiced by a post-Christian west that views its religion as primarily (at least the political elites) a private affair may view the situation in such a manner, but this was not always so. Cases in point....In the 4th century Christians first attained political dominance, and later began to discriminate against pagans. They closed temples (tore them down). Later they banned *private* practice of paganism. Pagans were expelled for government service in the 5th century (some exemptions were made for army officers early in the 5th due to strenuous protests). The Academy at Athens was closed in the 6th century. Justinian encouraged missionaries to convert the pagans of central Anatolia and his government fomented the destruction of the last pagan Egyptian center of learning at Philae in southern Egypt as well as the forced Christianization of the Bekkha valley in Lebanon.
The Roman noble Symmanchus at the end of the 4th century made as strenuous plea for religious tolerance framed in a rather liberal fashion-stating (paraphrase), "We all see the same stars, what matter is it that we come to the truth via different paths?" Of course, St. Ambrose was unmoved and the old ways to banished from public view and persecuted in private.
Religious wars of Olaf Trygvasson in Norway (a saga records Olaf throwing snakes in the eyes of a man who refused Christ) or the crusades in the Baltic that led to the creation of the Duchy of Lithuania (the last pagan nation in Europe) to protect the Baltic peoples against the predations of German Christian knights indicates that Christians were very concerned about imposing their faith upon unbelievers. The Germans exterminated (rather literally) the culture of the Prussians-who were pagan Balts. Their temples were burned and their people taken into bondage. When the Swedes were converted to Christianity in the 11th century (and their horrid tree at Uppsala was taken down) they promptly began to direct their energies toward Christianizing-and of course colonizing-the Finnmark. Charlamagne beheaded any Saxon lords who refused baptism after his conquest of their lands.
The fact is that Evangelicals do believe that the world must be witnessed too. Some Christians do believe (as Muslims believe of their own faith) that all will bow their knee to the Lord in the end. Eric Raymond makes clear that his animus is toward the Abrahamic faiths in general-though he no doubt (correctly) feels Islam is the most poisonous distillation of that suite of doctrines and folk-ways.
[ Within 100 years of the birth of Mohammed the Muslims were all the way into Spain. The Christians went centuries before they seriously started taking over mechanisms of state. Its not core to the base texts of Christianity that Christians should control the mechanisms of state. ]
This does make some sense. The early Christians did have an antagonistic view of the state and were anti-militaristic in inclination. On the other hand, the printing press and the translation of the Bible into vernaculars curiously corresponded with the greatest period of religious turmoil and church-state mixing in christian history (circa 1500 to 1650) [in fact-this was a time when there were explicit theocracies-though they were crushed by the temporal powers pretty quickly].
So we might be seeing the Islamic "Reformation" (places like Indonesia are having Islam penetrate their culture much more because it is no longer under the control of a few scholar-priest lineages). But I don't think it bodes as well for the world as everyone seems to hope-there might be light on the other side of the tunnel-but at least the Christian experience is not a good precedent.
On Norton Internet Security
I’m sure a hundred other people have told you
this, but as you’ve helped me so many times………
Thanks for all the great columns,
See the column that is up today... THANKS
A few links that give a bit of food for thought: One, speaking having a tough time getting high speed, I know you've thought of laser dsl, http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20020207.html , but old Bob Cringely seems to want it worse than you. And of course, the revenge of Ma Bell, http://slate.msn.com/?id=2067506 . One way to think about it was that the Feds forced the breakup via antitrust and the company ended up in better shape...... Now, lets talk about Microsoft.......
All the best, Rick
Well I know Cringely went to extraordinary lengths, and I sort of wish I had tried that now: at the time I decided not to, the phone company was telling me "Real Soon Now". They still are. Perhaps I will find someplace line of sight that has good DSL and see what kind of deal I can make with them. Or I can wait for Paul Allen to buy Adelphia: I expect they'll get cable modem into Studio City shortly after that. Sigh. Alas.
Dear Dr Pournelle
You're going to get a lot of rude email about '...the United States has NEVER been designated a "secular state."'. This isn't really my business, I'm not American, but I always understood a secular state to be precisely one which does not have an established clergy.
Ireland is constitutionally not a secular state. Neither is Britain, though you'd never know it - how many Anglicans can recite the thirty-nine articles? But the US? Heavens, everyone I asked thought it was. But only one was American, and he was a Jew.
Individual states might have had an established church but individual states don't wield sovereign power. (Or did they in fact do so before the war between the states?) Besides, other states balanced this by going to the other extreme - they banned clergy from holding elected office (Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, and New Hampshire).
They were able to get away with this because early (1800~1850) America had the smallest proportion of religious in any nominally Christian country. My, times change. I read recently that 30% of Americans accepted Jesus as their personal saviour. On the other hand that means 70% did not.
Anyway, I checked in my (very) old Brittannica and on the web. "Secular state" was a popular phrase of Holyoake's Secularism movement which is based on a (British) 1885 book. That's more than a century after the founding of the US. You'd have to look for the same idea worded differently for an official declaration that the US is a secular state. So I did. Here's the site:
This is the wording of 'Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary';
"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion--as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen..."
It was ratified in June 1797:
"Now be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said treaty do, by and within the consent of the Senate, accept, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof."
So that's two of the three branches of government. One could narrowly argue that the courts are just falling into line with their ruling on the pledge. But CNN reports that 90% of Americans prefer the status quo. A wise court would have done what Madison did, faced with the establishment of Congressional and military chaplains - he applied the doctrine of "De minimis non curat lex", the law does not concern itself with trifles.
-- Terry Cole BA/BSc/BE/BA(hons) (firstname.lastname@example.org) System Administrator, Dept. of Maths. & Stats., Otago Uni. PO Box 56, Dunedin, NZ.
Adams of course came from a state which had an established church. And the very session of the Senate that ratified that treaty was opened with solemn prayer by the Chaplain of the Senate, who, I assure you, was a good Protestant Christian clergyman.
But the "under God" phrase is just another instance of the informal Christian nature of America. It's not just that the law isn't concerned with trifles, although the "Under God" part of the Pledge is fairly trivial (forcing someone to say it as a condition of remaining in school would not be trivial): it's part and parcel of trying to establish secular humanism as the de jure established religi0n in the US. (De facto this is a Christian nation with a special amiability toward Judaism, as Irving Kristol has repeatedly observed). It is also a grab by the courts, which is more important.
The United States has always had these contradictions, and they have been good for us. Public Christmas pageants harmed no one, and in fact most were done with considerable care not to offend anyone. Jewish kids in the schools could and did take part in them if they wanted to, or opt out if they didn't.
Having no religion established by law -- few Americans would want any such thing -- has never mean hostility to religion. What the US explicitly rejected was persecution, religious tests for holding public office, and tax supported clergy at the Federal level (although even there the First Congress established the post of Chaplain in each of the two Houses: that may have been as much an emulation of Masonic ritual as anything else, but it still established paid posts, and there was in fact debate on whether this was 'establishing" a religion.
So yes: in a strictly legalistic way the US is formally a "Secular State"; but the practice of the nation has always been to insist that while we may legally be such, we will not carry that to any logical end; in practice we have been a highly tolerant Christian nation.
Leaving aside the discussion of whether or not anyone should utter the words "under God" while reciting the pledge of allegiance I have to wonder if it would even have been possible for Congress to insert the words into the pledge if the writer's text had been protected by the same kind of life plus seventy-five years of protection that the DMCA grants? Something about changing the writer's words after his death seems a little sleazy even if it's no longer protected by copyright laws.
Richard D. Martin
An interesting point, although I suspect the original author would not in fact have objected. I do not know, but I would guess that he offered the Pledge to the nation gratis anyway.
On another and more computer related topic:
The SOAP protocol has the UK security boffins very worried. One of its 'features' is that it allows the user to tunnel through firewalls.
-- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. <http://www.cet.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her/index.html>
You've saved time for me by dong silly things; may I return the favor?
Your hunt for a bad memory module was extremely similar to a recent problem with my sister-in-law's computer, i.e., fans started turning, no video, no POST. My approach was much like yours; ultimately, I removed all components, and installed a known good CPU, video card, and memory module. Same results.
I ordered a new motherboard (the only remaining item), installed it two days later, and had the same problem. Plugged in another power supply, and it all came to life!
So, I'll be ordering one of the devices you mentioned from PC Power & Cooling. I guess seeing the fans spin around does not eliminate the power supply from the problem list, and their failure is not always obvious.
Thanks for the on-going entertainment and education.
He refers to today's column of course. And Power Supply is about the second most common source of errors. Cheap ones that don't deliver the needed voltages closely regulated can wreak havoc in your system. Good power supplies run at some reasonable fraction of their peak capacity and are overbuilt; cheap ones just meet their specs (if they do). When you add more memory and drives it's easy to overload them.
I read your current view and you said:
"Started work on this page and the day was devoured by Microsoft. You probably won't get the level of technical support I do. I was able to fix a number of problems and that story goes in the column, but it was 3 1/2 hours on the telephone doing it. I do a lot of silly things so you don't have to."
So I read the column but there was nothing about what M$ problem or problems cost you 20% of work week. What was it?
Regarding the Media Player bug fix license change you say:
"This looks to be unconscionable. I will have to ask Microsoft what they think this accomplishes. I doubt I will learn. Add Palladium and we are seeing changes in our world."
Well, only if you run Microsoft Software. It seems like there could be two causes for license changes like this: #1 some low level idiot in the legal department wrote it without getting approval from the higher ups and it doesn't reflect M$ policy or #2 it was done with approval of the highest levels of M$ with malice aforethought as part of a larger plan.
While its just speculation, if the same sort of thing happens multiple times it gets harder to believe reason #1 and much more likely its reason #2. To me it seems like these sort of things are happening more frequently with M$. Think about the license for XP. I'm starting to think its reason #2. There can't be that many clueless unsupervised idiots in M$ legal department accidentally coming up with a coordinated strategy.
I think M$ is confused about who controls the computer their software is installed on. I think its the computers owner that should be in control of what their computer does. It appears M$ would disagree.
It seems even more wrong to put a license change like this in a bug fix. They are giving you the choice of agreeing to the new terms or letting your system be a sitting duck for hackers. Of course, you could just remove "Media Player". Wait... I can't seem to find that option.... It doesn't even appear under "Windows Components: Management and Monitoring Tools". I'm pretty sure that's where they would put it since it seems a major purpose of media player is for Microsoft to manage and monitor what you listen to and see on your own computer.
Do you think you should control what your own computer does? Does your Media Player send information to Microsoft when you listen to a song?
The column posted today (July 1) is still part of the JUNE column. The July column will begin in mid-July and will have a good bit on problems installing SP-2 for Outlook and Office 2000, and the excellence of Microsoft Developer Network tech support.
As to the rest of your letter, I continue to gather material, but I find the whole trend worst than upsetting, and I am in fact looking into both Linux and Apple alternatives to Microsoft. As my son Richard says, the market is the right place to fight corporate fuggheadedness.
On that score:
No need to reply personally. Tom Greene of The Reg is a fine wordsmith; this matter *reeks*. The ABM folks must be planning a big party! Pretty sure you are already aware of this, but his text is juicy reading.
Nicholas Bodley |*| Waltham, Mass. Opera browser fan -- Registered, too Sent by Opera e-mail, using DirecTV DSL
The referenced article is another diatribe on Microsoft's new strategy; one that may be well deserved. The market may have to be the place... I am looking hard at both Apple and Linux since I am becoming a bit afraid here. And Star Office looks better...
And there is a new press release from Belkin in the INTEREST page.
On the current conflict in Israel, the New York Times has a surprisingly good analysis. They do that sometimes. Sometimes.
The New York Times
June 30, 2002 The End of Something By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Recent events in the Middle East leave me wondering whether we're witnessing not just the end of the Oslo peace process, but the end of the whole idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
When the Palestinians' Intifada II began over a year ago, in the wake of a serious proposal for a Palestinian state by President Clinton, I argued that Palestinians were making a huge mistake. When the party to a conflict initiates an uprising, then suicide bombing, at a time when the outlines of a final peace are on the table - as the Palestinians did - it shatters everything, present and future. In this case it shattered the Israeli peace camp, it blew apart all the fragile confidence-building measures that took years to build, and it generally left the Israeli public feeling it had opened the gates to a Trojan horse.
This is particularly true in the case of the Palestinians because they never articulated why their uprising was necessary, given the diplomatic alternatives still available, or what its precise objectives were. They seem to have been heavily influenced by Hezbollah's success at driving Israel out of Lebanon and seem to have bought into the fantasy that they could give birth to their own state in similar blood and fire. And Yasir Arafat went along for the ride.
"This Intifada II was Yasir Arafat's 1967 war," says the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen. "Like Egypt's President Nasser, Arafat got completely swept up in the fantasies of the moment and failed to distinguish between what was real and what was not. And like Nasser, it will be the beginning of his end."
|This week:||Tuesday, July
This shouldn't surprise you, but...
I mean, it is not that surprising when you think about it really...
N.C. spends settlement on tobacco, not health
Paul D. Walker
Dog bites man... round up the usual suspects.
$200K prize for X-Box Linux .
I wonder who the anonymous donor will turn out to be?
FYI, ESR's has continued his essays on Islam:
Part 1 (which you linked to already):
I just found this article on the Nature site:
One quote which was particularly funny:
"Now the researchers have found that existing GCMs [Global Climate Models, CB] do not generate this observed scaling law [describing temperature flucutations, CB]. Some GCMs produce something that looks a little like it on short timescales, but they mostly generate temperature fluctuations that are essentially random over timescales of more than two years."
I wonder if the authors found a polite way to say that these models predict the long term climate about as good as a dice does. Your comments are appreciated.
Chera Bekker Borne, The Netherlands
That's certainly what it says... The world is about where it was some years ago. The theorists are sure there's going to be global warming, and it will be drastic, and the modelers make models that predict global warming. The data gatherers and physical model people don't see it happening, and the climate models can't start with the past and get to the present, making it doubtful that they can predict the future. And here we are.
The question is very serious, even deadly serious, but doing the wrong thing can be deadly too. We need to know what to prepare for. And we don't. Ice or fire?
A breach of the peace:
Breach of the peace?
I bet State Trooper Vincent Gogluicci is proud of himself, and his state is proud of him. Defending us against terror and all that. He should get a medal.
The purpose of all this stuff is to increase safety. The result is usually the satisfaction of the Gogluicci's of this world, who forget what the purpose is. But it has ever been thus. Of course she showed less than cleverness in using an actual obscenity instead of a Latin phrase. After all, she was guilty of contempt of cop.
Another day devoured by locusts
July 4, 2002
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
A Letter from Robert Rocansky
"Sometimes I claim that being an American is a state of mind and has nothing to do with where one comes from or how one speaks. As social evolution progresses, I believe that humanity as a whole will acquire and mix with its other attributes the confidence in itself and its abilities that I think of as characteristically as American."
-James P. Hogan http://www.jamesphogan.com "Getting Here from There" MINDS, MACHINES, AND EVOLUTION. (Bantam Books, 1988).
Eugene Volokh [ http://www.volokh.com ], a professor of law at UCLA, has a moving essay about his parents' decision to emigrate from the Soviet Union, and the courage required to do so, at
Robert Heinlein ties together the navy, baboons, dinosaurs, and the space program in his classic speach about the true meaning of patriotism. Hint: Patriotism is not about flying a flag on your car antenna when it becomes fashionable to do so.
This is a bit long, but well worth reading.
"The Pragmatics of Patriotism" Robert A. Heinlein EXPANDED UNIVERSE (Ace Science Fiction Books, 1980)
On 5 April 1973 I delivered the James Forrestal Memorial Lecture to the Brigade of Midshipmen at my alma mater the United States Naval Academy. As the first half of the lecture, at the request of the midshipmen, I discussed freelance writing. This is the second half:
In this complex world, science, the scientific method, and the consequences of the scientific method are central to everything the human race is doing and to wherever we are going. If we blow ourselves up we will do it by the misapplication of science; if we manage to keep from blowing ourselves up, it will be through intelligent application of science. Science fiction is the only form of fiction which takes into account this central force in our lives and futures. Other sorts of fiction, if they notice science at all, simply deplore it -- an attitude very chichi in the anti-intellectual atmosphere today. But we will never get out of the mess we are in by wringing our hands.
Let me make one flat-footed prediction of the science-fiction type. Like all scenarios this one has assumptions -- variables treated as constants. The primary assumption is that World War Three will hold off long enough -- ten, twenty, thirty years -- for this prediction to work out. . .plus a secondary assumption that the human race will not find some other way to blunder into ultimate disaster.
Prediction: In the immediate future -- by that I mean in the course of the naval careers of the class of '73 -- there will be nuclear-powered, constant-boost spaceships -- ships capable of going to Mars and back in a couple of weeks -- and these ships will be armed with Buck-Rogerish death rays. Despite all treaties now existing or still to be signed concerning the peaceful use of space, these spaceships will be used in warfare. Space navies will change beyond recognition our present methods of warfare and will control the political shape of the world for the foreseeable future. Furthermore -- and still more important -- these new spaceships will open the Solar System to colonization and will eventually open up the rest of the Galaxy.
I did NOT say that the United States will have these ships. The present sorry state of our country does not permit me to make such a prediction. In the words of one of our most distinguished graduates in his THE INFLUENCE OF SEA POWER UPON HISTORY: "Popular governments are not generally favorable to military expenditures, however necessary--"
Every military officer has had his nose rubbed in wry truth of Admiral Mahan's observation. I first found myself dismayed by it some forty years ago when I learned that I was expected to maintain the ship's battery of USS ROPER in a state of combat readiness on an allowance of less than a dollar a day -- with World War Two staring down our throats.
The United States is capable of developing such spaceships. But the mood today does not favor it. So I am unable to predict that WE will be the nation to spend the necessary R&D money to build such ships.
(Addressed to a plebe midshipman:)
Mister, how long is it to graduation?
Sixty-two days? Let's make it closer than that. I have. . .7.59, just short of eight bells. Assuming graduation for ten in the morning that gives. . .5,320,860 seconds to graduation. . .and I have less than 960 seconds in which to say what I want to say.
(To the Brigade at large:)
Why are you here?
(To a second plebe:)
Mister, why are YOU here?
Never mind, son; that's a rhetorical question. You are here to become a naval officer. That's why this Academy was founded. That is why all of you are here: to become naval officers. If that is NOT why YOU are here, you've made a bad mistake. But I speak to the overwhelming majority who understood the oath they took on becoming midshipmen and look forward to the day when they will renew that oath as commissioned officers.
But why would anyone want to become a naval officer?
In the present dismal state of our culture there is little prestige attached to serving your country; recent public opinion polls place military service far down the list.
It can't be the pay. No one gets rich on the pay. Even a 4-star admiral is paid much less than top executives in other lines. As for lower ranks the typical naval officer finds himself throughout his career just catching up from the unexpected expenses connected with the last change of duty when another change of duty causes a new financial crisis. Then, when he is about fifty, he is passed over and retires. . .but he can't really retire because he has two kids in college and one still to go. So he has to find a job. . .and discovers that jobs for men his age are scarce and usually don't pay well.
Working conditions? You'll spend half your life away from your family. Your working hours? "Six days shalt thou work and do all thou art able; the seventh day the same, and pound the cable." A forty-hour week is standard for civilians -- but not for naval officers. You'll work that forty-hour week but that's just a starter. You'll stand a night watch as well, and duty weekends. Then with every increase in grade your hours get longer -- until at last you get a ship of your own and no longer stand watches. Instead you are on duty twenty-four hours a day. . .and you'll sign your night order book with: "In case of doubt, do not hesitate to call me."
I don't know the average week's work for a naval officer but it's closer to sixty than to forty. I'm speaking of peacetime, of course. Under war conditions it is whatever hours are necessary -- and sleep you grab when you can.
Why would anyone elect a career which is unappreciated, overworked, and underpaid? It can't be just to wear a pretty uniform. There has to be a better reason.
As one drives through the bushveldt of East Africa it is easy to spot herds of baboons grazing on the ground. But not by looking at the ground. Instead you look up and spot the lookout, and adult male posted on a limb of a tree where he has a clear view all around him -- which is why you can spot him; he has to be where he can see a leopard in time to give the alarm. On the ground a leopard can catch a baboon. . .but if a baboon is warned in time to reach the trees, he can out-climb a leopard.
The lookout is a young male assigned to that duty and there he will stay, until the bull of the herd sends up another male to relieve him.
Keep your eye on that baboon; we'll be back to him.
Today, in the United States, it is popular among self-styled "intellectuals" to sneer at patriotism. They seem to think that it is axiomatic that any civilized man is a pacifist, and they treat the military profession with contempt. "Warmongers" -- "Imperialists" -- "Hired killers in uniform" -- you have all heard such sneers and you will hear them again. One of their favorite quotations is: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
What they never mention is that the man who made that sneering remark was a fat, gluttonous slob who was pursued all his life by a pathological fear of death.
I propose to prove that that baboon on watch is morally superior to that fat poltroon who made that wisecrack.
Patriotism is the most practical of all human characteristics.
But in the present decadent atmosphere patriots are often too shy to talk about it -- as if it were something shameful or an irrational weakness.
But patriotism is NOT sentimental nonsense. Nor something dreamed up by demagogues. Patriotism is as necessary a part of man's evolutionary equipment as are his eyes, as useful to the race as eyes are to the individual.
A man who is NOT patriotic is an evolutionary dead end. This is not sentiment but the hardest of logic.
To prove that patriotism is a necessity we must go back to fundamentals. Take any breed of animal -- for example, tyrannosaurus rex. What is the most basic thing about him? The answer is that tyrannosaurus rex is dead, gone, extinct.
Which brings us to the second fundamental question: Will homo sapiens stay alive? Will he survive?
We can answer part of that at once: Individually h. sapiens will NOT survive. It is unlikely that anyone here tonight will be alive eighty years from now; it approaches mathematical certainty that we will all be dead a hundred years from now as even the youngest plebe here would be 118 years old by then -- if still alive.
Some men do live that long but the percentage is so microscopic as not to matter. Recent advances in biology suggest that human life may be extended to a century and a quarter, even a century and a half -- but this will create more problems than it solves. When a man reaches my age or thereabouts, the last great service he can perform is to die and get out of the way of younger people.
Very well, as individuals we all die. This brings us to the second half of the question: Does homo sapiens AS A BREED have to die? The answer is: No, it is NOT unavoidable.
We have two situations, mutually exclusive: Mankind surviving, and mankind extinct. With respect to morality, the second situation is a null class. An extinct breed has NO behavior, moral or otherwise.
Since survival is the sine qua non, I now define "moral behavior" as "behavior that tends toward survival." I won't argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word "moral" to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being "moral" without stretching the word "moral" all out of shape.
We are now ready to observe the hierarchy of moral behavior from its lowest level to its highest.
The simplest form of moral behavior occurs when a man or other animal fights for his own survival. Do not belittle such behavior as being merely selfish. Of course it is selfish. . .but selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won't even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.
The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which six pounds of mother cat can be so fierce that she'll drive off a police dog. It is the level at which a father takes a moonlighting job to keep his kids in college -- and the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child. . .and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.
The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for a group larger that the unit family -- an extended family, a herd, a tribe -- and take another look at that baboon on watch; he's at that moral level. I don't think baboon language is complex enough to permit them to discuss such abstract notions as "morality" or "duty" or "loyalty" -- but it is evident that baboons DO operate morally and DO exhibit the traits of duty and loyalty; we see them in action. Call it "instinct" if you like -- but remember that assigning a name to a phenomenon does not explain it.
But that baboon behavior can be explained in evolutionary terms. Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards. Every baboon generation has to pass this examination in moral behavior; those who bilge it don't have progeny. Perhaps the old bull of the tribe gives lessons. . .but the leopard decides who graduates -- and there is no appeal from his decision. We don't have to understand the details to observe the outcome; Baboons behave morally -- for baboons.
The next level in moral behavior higher than that exhibited by the baboon is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called "patriotism."
Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind. The door they opened leads to hope that h. sapiens will survive indefinitely long, even longer than this solid planet on which we stand tonight. As a direct result of what they did, it is now possible that the human race will NEVER die.
Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But that astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing, as is shown by Neil Armstrong's first words in stepping down onto the soil of Luna: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
Let us note proudly that eleven of the Astronaut Corps are graduates of this our school.
And let me add that James Forrestal was the FIRST high-ranking Federal official to come out flatly for space travel.
I must pause to brush off those parlor pacifists I mentioned earlier. . .for they contend that THEIR actions are on this highest moral level. They want to put a stop to war; they say so. Their purpose is to save the human race from killing itself off; they say that too. Anyone who disagrees with them must be a bloodthirsty scoundrel -- and they'll tell you that to your face.
I won't waste time trying to judge their motives; my criticism is of their mental processes: Their heads aren't screwed on tight. They live in a world of fantasy.
Let me stipulate that, if the human race managed its affairs sensibly, we could do without war.
Yes -- and if pigs had wings, they could fly.
I don't know what planet those pious pacifists are talking about but it can't be the third one out from the Sun. Anyone who has seen the Far East -- or Africa -- or the Middle East -- knows are certainly should know that there is NO chance of abolishing war in the foreseeable future. In the past few years I have ben around the world three times, traveled in most of the communist countries, visited many of the so-called emerging countries, plus many trips to Europe and to South America; I saw nothing that cheered me as to the prospects for peace. The seeds of war are everywhere; the conflicts of interest are real and deep, and will not be abolished by pious platitudes.
The best we can hope for is a precarious balance of power among the nations capable of waging total war -- while endless lesser wars break out here and there.
I won't belabor this. Our campuses are loaded with custard-headed pacifists but the yard of the Naval Academy is not on place where I will encounter them. We are in agreement that the United States still needs a navy, that the Republic will always have need for heroes -- else you would not be here tonight and in uniform.
Patriotism -- Moral behavior at the national level. Non sibi sed Patria. Nathan Hale's last words: "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Torpedo Squadron Eight making its suicidal attack. Four chaplains standing fast while the water rises around them. Thomas Jefferson saying, "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed form time to time with the blood of patriots--" A submarine skipper giving the order "Take her DOWN!" while he himself is still topside. Jonas Ingram standing on the steps of Bancroft Hall and shouting, "The Navy has no place for good losers! The Navy needs tough sons of bitches who can go out there an WIN!"
Patriotism -- An abstract word used to describe a type of behavior as harshly practical as good brakes and good tires. It means that you place the welfare of your nation ahead of your own even if it costs you your life.
Men who go down to the sea in ships have long had another way of expressing the same moral behavior tagged by the abstract expression "patriotism." Spelled out in simple Anglo-Saxon words "Patriotism" reads "Women and children first!"
And that is the moral result of realizing a self-evident biological fact: Men are expendable; women and children are not. A tribe or a nation can lose a high percentage of its men and still pick up the pieces and go on. . .as long as the women and children are saved. But if you fail to save the women and children, you've had it, you're done, you're THROUGH! You join tyrannosaurus rex, one more breed that bilged its final test.
I must amplify that. I know that women can fight and often have. I have known many a tough old grandmother I would rather have on my side in a tight spot than any number of pseudo-males who disdain military service. My wife put in three years and a butt active duty in World War Two, plus ten years reserve, and I am proud -- very proud! -- of her naval service. I am proud of every one of our women in uniform; they are a shining example to us men.
Nevertheless, as a mathematical proposition in the facts of biology, children, and women of child-bearing age, are the ultimate treasure that we must save. Every human culture is based on "Women and children first" -- and any attempt to do it any other way leads quickly to extinction.
Possibly exctinction is the way we are headed. Great nations have died in the past; it can happen to us.
Nor am I certain how good our chances our. To me it seems self-evident that any nation that loses its patriotic fervor is on the skids. Without that indispensable survival factor the end is only a matter of time. I don't know how deeply the rot has penetrated -- but it seems to me that there has been a change for the worse in the last fifty years. Possibly I am misled by the offensive behavior of a noisy but unimportant minority. But it does seem to me that patriotism has lost its grip on a large percentage of our people.
I hope I am wrong. . .because if my fears are well grounded, I would not bet two cents on this nation's chance of lasting even to the end of this century.
But there is now way to force patriotism on anyone. Passing a law will not create it, nor can we buy it by appropriating so many billions of dollars.
You gentlemen of the Brigade are most fortunate. You are going to a school where this basic moral virtue is daily reinforced by precept and example. It is not enough to know what Charlie NOble does for a living, or what makes the wildcat wild, or which BatDiv failed to splice the main brace and why -- nor to learn matrix algebra and navigation and ballistics and aerodynamics and nuclear engineering. These things are merely the working tools of your profession and could be learned elsewhere; they do not require "four years together by the Bay where the Severn joins the tide."
What you do have here is a tradition of service. Your most important classroom is Memorial Hall. Your most important lesson is the way you feel inside when you walk up those steps and see that shot-torn flag framed in the arch of the door: "Don't Give Up the Ship."
If you feel nothing, you don't belong here. But if it give you goose flesh just to see that old battle flag, then you are going to find that feeling increasing every time you return here over the years. . .until it reaches a crescendo the day you return and read the list of your own honored dead -- classmates, shipmates, friends -- read them with grief and pride while you try to keep your tears silent.
The time has come for me to stop. I said that "Patriotism" is a way of saying "Women and children first." And that no one can force a man to feel this way. Instead he must embrace it freely. I want to tell about one such man. He wore no uniform and no one knows his name, or where he came from; all we know is what he did.
In my home town sixty years ago when I was a child, my mother and father used to take me and my brothers and sisters out to Swope Park on Sunday afternoons. It was a wonderful place for kids, with picnic grounds and lakes and a zoo. But a railroad line cut straight through it.
One Sunday afternoon a young married couple were crossing these tracks. She apparently did not watch her step, for she managed to catch her foot in the frog of a switch to a siding and could not pull it free. Her husband stopped to help her.
But try as they might they could not get her foot loose. While they were working at it, a tramp showed up, walking the ties. He joined the husband in trying to pull the young woman's foot loose. No luck --
Out of sight around the curve a train whistled. Perhaps there would have been time to run and flag it down, perhaps not. In any case both men went right ahead trying to pull her free. . .and the train hit them.
The wife was killed, the husband was mortally injured and did later, the tramp was killed -- and testimony showed that neither man made the slightest effort to save himself.
The husband's behavior was heroic. . .but what we expect of a husband toward his wife: his right, and his proud privilege, to die for his woman. But what of this nameless stranger? Up to the very last second he could have jumped clear. He did not. He was still trying to save this woman he had never seen before in his life, right up to the very instant the train killed him. And that's all we'll ever know about him.
THIS is how a man dies.
This is how a MAN. . .lives!
"They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old age shall not wither them nor the years condemn; As the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them..."
-Tomb of the Scottish Unknown Soldier, Edinburgh
Was at Westercon giving a speech.
In spite of all the real basis for worry ... some basis for sane good cheer about America.
July 6, 2002
Hashem Hadayat -- an observant, but not radical Muslim, according to his uncle -- raged against Jews, Israelis, and the US, and was loudly furious that his neighbors were flying both the American flag and the USMC flag; he took a Glock 20, a 9mm, and a knife to LAX, and made his way to the El Al counter, where he murdered two people and wounded others before being brought down . . .
And the headline at MSNBC.com is "Still no indication of the motive in L.A. airport shooting." And the FBI spokesman says, "FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin said. "... there's nothing to indicate terrorism at this point."
And, of course, the government is going to respond by having the security checks, such as they are, at the entrance to the airport. That way, when the next, err, possible Islamic terrorist decides to murder people, he'll have a better field of fire at more unarmed people.
It may be that all the coverup is designed to protect Muslims in the US. If so it seems odd, but then so does everything else here. Why did the government keep the press away from the witnesses? The longer it takes to get the story the more likely that the story is, uh, contaminated, or spun.
In any event, our "security" system is incompetent empire not republic at all. It is more designed to annoy and demonstrate the servility of the people than as a means of protecting anyone.
I stumbled across the following article while doing my morning 'newsing:'
In it, a supposed former employee is quoted as saying:
"Hesham Mohammed Hadayet, a 41-year-old Egyptian, "had hate for Israel, for sure," Syrian-born Abdul Zahab told The New York Times. "He told me that the Israelis tried to destroy the Egyptian nation and the Egyptian population by sending prostitutes with AIDS to Egypt. He said that the two biggest drug dealers in New York are Israeli."
The paper is based in Tel Aviv, but quotes a NY Times article. I'm registered at the NY Times web site, so I dug up the article and found a little bit more:
"It appears he went there with the intention of killing people," said Richard Garcia, the agent in charge of the bureau's criminal branch in Los Angeles. "Why he did that we are still trying to determine."
At present, Mr. Garcia said, officials are exploring three possible motives. The first is that it may have been a hate crime, although investigators said they had yet to find evidence that Mr. Hadayet held any animus toward Israelis.
But a former driver for Mr. Hadayet, Abdul Zahab, 36, said in an interview this afternoon that he often heard his boss express virulent anti-Israeli sentiments.
"He had hate for Israel, for sure," said Mr. Zahab, who was born in Syria and worked a month for Mr. Hadayet about two years ago. "He told me that the Israelis tried to destroy the Egyptian nation and the Egyptian population by sending prostitutes with AIDS to Egypt. He said that the two biggest drug dealers in New York are Israeli."
Mr. Zahab, who said that Mr. Hadayet had let him go but that he bore no resentment, said both he and his boss felt that the government and news media in the United States were pro-Israeli."
Family and friends are quoted as being 'shocked' that Hayadet would do such a thing. If you are registered at the site, the full article link is:
Assuming any of this is true, it is starting to look less like organized terrorism and more as if the guy just reached the end of his rope for some reason and took it out on the nearest facsimile of Israel he could think of.
Regards to you and Roberta on this Independence Day holiday weekend. Your writings on this incident have caused me to pause and consider whether the freedoms we celebrate today will be feted in the near future as an independent nation or as the de facto head of an empire.
All in all, something of an uncomfortable thought. My generation was raised to fight imperialists, not *be* them.
I remain confused; and I wish I had reason to be less distrustful of what I have been told.
I see that AMD continues to collect adult adherents:
Rhythm & Hues benefited from the reliability and stability of the 25 dual AMD Athlon MP processor-based Angstrom Racer500 graphic workstations that brought Scooby-Doo to life.
Read it and weep. You are a quack that is full of BS.
Ah well. And here I thought I had written in favor of the Dual Processor systems and their motherboards.
On AMD Systems:
Considering the trouble these delinquents caused you, you might be interested in this from Tom's hardware:
Here's a web page with a typing test that calculates words per minute and also characters per minute/sec plus error rate.
I tested at 80 WPM and 435 CPM (7 CPS) with zero errors using a generic qwerty keyboard, but I'm not sure I have the time to learn a dvorak layout and retest just for fun. One thing that helped me with the error rate is an ability to tell if I've messed up and usually remember how many characters back I need to go to clear up the error without having to look at the screen. I still need to glance at my fingers to get numbers correct but I've had that problem since I learned to type in high school.
Given the plethora of small systems with small keyboards, I sometimes wonder if being able to touch type is a gift or not. Hardly matters, I can't do two finger any more. Which means I can't use some of the small keyboards.
Sue Ferarra sends this link:
The Dutch government is opening the Ann Frank case again: who betrayed the family?
And I got this from a reader:
More More More: Nanotechnology and the Law of Accelerating Returns http://reason.com/hod/rb110900.shtml November 9, 2000
By Ronald Bailey
"We're accelerating the rate of progress. In fact, we're doubling the rate of progress every decade," declared Raymond Kurzweil in his keynote speech at the Foresight Institute's 8th Molecular Nanotechnology Conference held in the Washington D.C. suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, last weekend. "We are now entering the knee of the exponential growth curve of progress. Therefore we will see what would be at linear rates 100 years of progress in the next 20 to 25 years." Kurzweil is a computer guru who made a pile of money when he founded a leading company in speech recognition technology. He is also author of The Age of Intelligent Machines (1990) and, most recently, The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (1999).
His predictions of superfast progress received a sympathetic hearing at this gathering of around 400 nanotechnologists. That's hardly surprising of course: That's exactly what they are working to achieve. Nanotechnology seeks to make things -- food, buildings, you name it -- at the molecular level. As Ed Regis explained it to Reason readers back in 1995, "You'd make things by manipulating individual atoms and molecules, working with them one at a time, positioning them precisely, lining them up one by one, repeatedly, until enough of them accumulated to form a large-scale, usable entity such as a car or spaceship, for example.
All this would be done automatically, effortlessly, without human hands or labor, by a fleet of tiny, invisible robots. These robots, when they were developed, would do all the world's work: People could sit back and enjoy themselves, drinking their mint juleps in peace and quiet." "Progress in the 21st century will be 1,000 times greater than in the 20th in terms of technical change," said Kurzweil. Technology, he added, is getting more and more intimate and by the end of the 21st century there will not be a clear distinction between human and machine.
Kurzweil says computing will disappear by the end of this decade. . Images will be written directly on people's retinas from eyeglasses and contacts. We will have wireless access to high bandwidth all the time. Computing will be integreated into our clothing: no more palmtops and laptops, and going to a Web site will mean to going to a shared virtual reality environment. Around 2030, we should be able to flood our brains with nanobots that can be turned off and on and which would function as "experience beamers" allowing us to experience the full range of other people's sensory experiences and if we find ordinary experience too boring, we will have access to archives where more interesting experiences are stored.
The next supercomputers?
Art Laffer made a very good point at The Club For Growth's excellent luncheon on July 26 for Milton Friedman in San Francisco: Whatever there is demand for, The Market will produce.
In the 1990s there was a lot of demand for "Corporate Earnings", so voila!
Note that the backlash has *already* gone too far. At the last public-company Board of Directors meeting I attended, we did not take actions that were absolutely in the best interests of the company/employees/shareholders because of vague concerns about "The Appearance Of Impropriety".
Irrational Assumptions (And Other Earnings Problems) $50 billion in Phantom Earnings The Chickens Will Come Home to Roost A Few Quick Comments A Guy's Night Out and Much More
By John Mauldin
This morning I saw economist Larry Kudlow on CNBC once again telling us the markets would turn back up at some point because the economy is getting better. Kudlow is a smart man, and I pay attention to his thoughtful style.
But in this matter he is dead wrong. Over the past few weeks, I think I have made the point that the connection between a growing economy and the stock market is tenuous at best, and sometimes non- existent. A growing economy and a rising stock market co-exist in a secular bull market cycle. It is a virtuous circle. But in secular bear markets, growing economies are not reflected in the stock market.
Quick repeat history lesson: the economy grew twice as fast from 1966 to 1982 as it did from 1982 to 1999. Stock went nowhere in the first period and rose ten times in the latter. You simply cannot make the case that a growing economy will result in a growing stock market.
Over the long term, value drives the stock market, even as emotions such as fear and greed move it on the short run. Today, we are going to look at several reasons why the stock market will have problems over the next few years even as the economy recovers.
Each of these reasons are ways in which the main measure of stock market value, the price to earnings ratio (P/E), will be affected in a negative way. Each of them, in and of themselves, might not mean that much, but the sum of them will weigh heavily on the way we value our stocks.
I have written about the fact that many major corporations assume they will make 9-10% in their pension portfolios. This has created a serious distortion in corporate earnings.
If you are interested in finance and some common financial deceptions, read this.
From Ed Hume:
An old man lived alone in Ireland. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was very hard work.
His only son, who would have helped him, was in Long Kesh Prison.
The old man wrote a letter to his son and mentioned his predicament.
Shortly, he received this reply, "For HEAVEN'S SAKE Dad, don't dig up that garden, that's where I buried the GUNS!"
At 4 A. M. the next morning, a dozen British soldiers showed up and dug up the entire garden, without finding any guns.
Confused, the old man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened, and asking him what to do next.
His son's reply was: "Now plant your potatoes, Dad. It's the best I could do at this time."
July 7, 2002
In reference to the article on GCM models that you posted, questioning their validity, there was a very pertinent quote that was ignored in that article. Your correspondent certainly failed to understand that what was being discussed was the difference between fluctuations and long term trends. If you read on, you will find another quote.
"Their ability to predict long-term temperature changes, for example, is not called into question, he points out. Cox suspects that the differences between simulations and the real world probably stem from well-known limitations in resolution - how finely the simulations can divide up time and space. "
This clearly states that the models are working on the main point in question, is there global warming. They are failing in the aspect of the "power law", in which the global changes are being reflected at local levels.
Well I call into question their ability to predict long term or short term. There is no model that given the 1900 initial conditions gives the observed results of the century. None.
It may clearly state that the models are working, but they aren't so who cares what it clearly states? The fact remains that we can't be certain if we face global warming or an Ice Age. On purely historical grounds, Ice is more likely.
Let me say it again: we have a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere. That we know. That ought to have some kind of warming effect, but it may not be a lot: Arrhenius knew that much about 1900. Second, there has clearly been warming since 1776 when the Hudson froze solid enough to let Colonel Alexander Hamilton drag the guns captured at Ticonderoga across to General Washington in Haarlem Heights. Much of that happened some time ago. Recent trends aren't so clear. Third, it was a lot warmer when Eric the Red and Leif Ericson established colonies in Greenland; and it go a lot colder until those colonies were no longer viable. It is not yet warm enough to allow dairy farms in Greenland, and we know that at one time it was warm enough to support dairy farmers in Greenland. We can even see the farms. They are covered with ice.
Those trends may or may not have a strong solar component: there is considerable evidence that they correlate with solar activity. Whatever they did, those trends, which were long term, and large, had nothing whatever to do with human activity changing the climate.
We don't know the long term trends, and we don't have models that predict them. How would you know if you did have such a model? The only test I know is to feed in 1776 conditions and see what it shows for 2002. Or 1900 conditions and see what it shows for 2002. No model currently does this.
After the recent media player issue, I made sure that I read the licenses when I installed XP over the flakey ME on my laptop.
One clause of the license just sits up and screams at me.
XP, as shipped, is wide open to the net. Someone, almost anywhere, can assert to my machine that he is an available printer and my machine will dutifully install the program he says is a driver. XP desperately needs that security upgrade.
But, in order to obtain the security upgrade, I must promise to clear any mention of dot net benchmarks with Microsoft in writing before telling them to anyone. Is dot net bad enough to send a megacorporation into such a panic?
And what laws apply here? You're a journalist. You have discussed XP. I presume that you installed the updates. Does this mean that you are no longer allowed to tell me if that it sucks? (not "if". If dot net was adequate, they wouldn't be taking the risk of my fury.)
Do we need some kind of constitutional protection for journalists that cover corporate issues? This clause would be (I presume) void if Congress tried to impose it on every reporter on their way into their building. Can such a clause be imposed by a corporation?
For once I am furious at something that is not an antitrust issue. Clearly MS would not be panicking unless something is clearly better than dot net. But this is a free speech issue. Can a corporation gag a story by contract law in a clause buried deeply in a completely unrelated product?
My machine was crashing daily in ME. So I signed away my freedom of speech. I do not intend to run benchmarks on dot net. But even if I did, I would completely ignore this clause.
A decade ago, I was in explicit contempt of Canada's Supreme court. I became a publisher, laserprinting stories from US sources and distributing them to my friends and acquaintances BECAUSE a publication ban had been issued by my country's highest court. Do I need to pray that big publishers have the same courage regarding dot net?
Well, I find it hard to believe that anyone would try to enforce that silly provision, or if they tried, that they could. I am curious as to why anyone would put a thing like that in a license agreement.
I never had much love for license agreements to begin with. I always though software ought to be like copyright, no a license system as we seem to have evolved.
I have paid little attention to this mess because it is absurd. If I run bench marks and find the results interesting I will publish them.
Incidentally, I do not recommend ME for anything. Windows 2000 is pretty neat. And I find XP Professional works all right. I don't recommend XP Home, although I'd prefer it to ME. Or I think I would. I have one machine that runs ME. It does nothing important.
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I see two major scenarios: market penetration or government mandate.
I. Market penetration.
Market penetration can be achieved by getting the PC manufacturers on board -- HP/Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Toshiba, Sony. That's a huge chunk of the market that would get Palladium-equipped boxes by default.
After a bit, content (shiny things) is released which requires Palladium in order to work. It's a forgone conclusion that Passport will use it, too. The latest Media Player will use it and gradually non-Palladium-equipped systems will be unable to access content (or may only access a reduced-quality stream). Perhaps the next version of Windows will require Palladium as well (with a crippled service pack for XP for those who don't just buy a new computer). After all, computers are getting pretty cheap, buying a new one just isn't as big a deal anymore.. It will be easier and more convenient to just give in and get with the program. For precedent, see Passport itself.
In that scenario, the market for non-Palladium systems will become marginalized. Apple would have to go along, or their users would be cut off from the "wealth" of content available. The motherboard manufacturers would go along (particularly if the chipsets have it built in already), but may offer one or two types of "legacy" board w/o Palladium. Their margins are thin enough that they're going to go where the bulk of the market goes -- which is Windows and will go where Microsoft says it will go.
And it will be easier to mandate if most people have it already...
II. Government Mandate
If the Hollings bill goes through, Apple will have no choice, nor will AMD. It would become just as unlawful to import a Taiwanese motherboard w/o Palladium as it currently is to import a 20-round magazine, with the attendant Draconian penalties.
CALEA (Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Agencies) is now the Law of the Land. It mandates that all commuications equipment be readily monitorable by government. In the Age of the Internet, are not PCs "communications equipment"? This essentially mandates a back door to all encryption systems, and I'd be willing to bet the courts will so rule before long. That brings us back to key escrow.
We also have a move afoot to create a (de facto if not de jour) National ID Card. That would be the ideal way to insure that the correct keys (see above) are retrieved from escrow, and would be required for the issuance of a key in the first place.
Maybe Bush and Ashcroft have no intention of combining these technologies. It is, however, inconceivable to me that someone else will miss this trick. Without it, all the monitoring and surveillance is fairly useless -- there are too many holes.
Think of it: You need a key in order to operate your computer. The key is registered with the government, who gets an escrow key. You need the key and Palladium to access the Internet (can't have the Tangos and Druggers using it). You can't install or run unapproved software. Everything you say and do can be monitored and traced to you. Any system which doesn't conform is declared to be a "circumvention device" and mere possession of same treated as a criminal offense.
What self-respecting power-luster will pass that up?
History shows that they won't. Look at any government program. Has it remained static, or has it's mission expanded. How about driver's licenses? See the progression? First it's for revenue, then for safety, now for permission based on all kinds of non-driving-related criteria.
As to how Palladium will benefit the user, I see nothing. Zip. Nada.
Even in the best of worlds, it represents a serious paradigm shift. No longer is my computer my property, which I have full use and enjoyment of. Now I will hold title to it, but it is controlled by someone else; I may use it only by permission, and only in permitted ways.
That's not a future I want to live in.
I will wait for comments before I make mine, but one query: is Passport relevant to many of my readers? I ask seriously.
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