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Mail 365 June 6 - 12, 2005






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This week:


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Monday  June 6, 2005

Subject: Letter from England

I assume you're following this: <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
 content/article/2005/06/04/AR2005060401042.html> . If the FEC issues regulations, I expect they will be challenged massively. Reminds me of some of the nuttiness over here.

Such as Livingstone's policies in London:
 <http:// www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2005/06/04/ AR2005060401388.html> . The London numbers are fiddled--if you know road traffic flow theory, you can probably imagine how, but if you don't, congestion is highly non-linear in the traffic load, so a 30% reduction in congestion requires a much smaller reduction in traffic. Livingstone is using the money collected as a discretionary fund not under the control of the UK Government.

Labour is also considering an (up to) $2.50/mile road charge to replace the fuel tax (about $2.00 per gallon) <http://news.bbc.co.uk/ 1/hi/uk/4610755.stm>
 <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/ 0,6903,1499619,00.html>
 <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/ 0,,2087-1641476,00.html> .

The UK Treasury is always looking for money, so you can't trust their numbers, and the UK Government has serious problems managing anything involving computing, so the initial figures are always optimistic. What would be very useful here in the UK is an impartial economic think tank with the remit to give a fair, open, and competent analysis of the economic aspects of proposals. The politicization of *every* discussion involving economic policy produces a good deal more heat than light.

Harry Erwin, PhD

-- "If they do that with marks and grades, should they be trusted with experimental data?"

England and California have in common that they can't stop spending, so they have to start making roast goose out of the goose that lays the golden eggs.


Subject: Hydro Pulse Sinus System

Mr. Pournelle:

Thank you so much for referring the sinus irrigator from Health Solutions. My wife has suffered with sinus problems for over 30 years and after using it for a little over a week she feels better than she has in years. We cant thank you enough for suggesting this simple and inexpensive device it is worth its weight in gold.

Keep up the good work

Maj Wm Feddes

It continues to work for me.


From another conference with permission:

Cochran et al note, "Another theory suggests that there was selective breeding for Talmudic scholarship. This seems unlikely to have been an important selective factor, since there weren't very many professional rabbis, certainly less than one percent of the population. A selective force that only affects a tiny fraction of the population can never be strong enough to cause important evolutionary change in tens of generations. A plausible variant of the Talmudic scholarship model suggests that it was like a sexually selected marker and that rich families preferred to marry their daughters to males who excelled (Weyl and Possony, 1963; MacDonald, 1994) so that the payoff to intelligence was indirect rather than direct as we suggest. Without detailed historical demographic information it will be difficult to evaluate this hypothesis."

I just want to emphasize that my hypothesis involving the importance of scholarship did not imply that effects would be limited to only a small part of the population. I tried to show that what was critical was the entire system of scholarship as a summum bonum and as a very important component of one's ancestry in computing value on the marriage market, with rabbis at the pinnacle. For example, I noted, "The result of these practices was a large overlap among scholarship, control of economic resources, social status, and, ultimately, fertility. Hundert (1992) notes that rabbis were often wealthy, socially prominent merchants, manufacturers, or traders. Throughout most of the 18th century, there was a Jewish aristocracy in Poland-Lithuania consisting of a small number of prominent families who "held an astonishing number of rabbinical and communal offices" (p. 117). " Wealthy men married their daughters to rabbis, and people who became wealthy distinguished themselves in scholarship and developed networks of business connections as a result of their intellectual promise. One did not need to be a rabbi to be wealthy, and as we approach the modern era it probably became less and less important. But in traditional Jewish society being a rabbi meant you were part of a network of closely related business and intellectual families that formed the elite of Jewish society.

The other difference (and Cochran and I have corresponded at length about both these issues) is that whereas they view Ashkenazi selection for IQ as a more or less passive consequence of their status as a commercial group in one particular area and historical period, my view is that marriage practices specifying the desirability of marrying wealth with scholarship were specified in the Talmud and that there is excellent historical evidence that these practices were were religiously (!) followed by important Jewish groups, including the Sephardic Jews who became a dominant elite in Spanish society and occupied the same commerical niche as the Ashkenazim in Eastern Europe. Jewish eugenics was conscious in the sense that they believed that people should be very careful about the characteristics of one's mate because they would affect one's children. They were especially keen on the importance of marrying men who were scholars, as specified in several passages in the Talmud. There is also a great deal of evidence that the commercial niche so typical of Judaism long predates the Ashkenazim and can be seen in the Roman empire as the Jewish population gradually recovered from the events of 70 AD and came to be important commercial players in the Empire, dominant in at least some areas of commerce (See Chap. 3 of Separation and Its Discontents). The enormous elaboration of commercial law in the Talmud is another indication that Jews had entered this niche long before Ashkenazi times. In general it is a myth that Jews took up the commercial role because they were barred from other activities, such as farming.

But these are very minor points. The big point is that there was natural selection for Ashkenazi IQ. I completely agree with this.

Kevin MacDonald
 Department of Psychology
California State University-Long Beach

I expect much discussion of this. Taking evolution seriously can lead to some astonishing conclusions. And see below.


Subject: The Strategy For Technology

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Is it possible to purchase this document as a PDF?


Richard Kullberg

Not yet but soon. Sorry to be so long. I'm dancing as fast as I can, and this ought to have been done long ago.

Joel Rosenberg on the Adams incident

Subject: The Adams story

The Adams story, that Elaine Radford's boyfriend relates is, to put it bluntly, horseshit.

I was there; I can't remember which con it was, as it was a long time ago, and I was doing quite a lot of the con circuit. I was in Bob's suite when Elaine Radford's boyfriend snottily criticized Bob's hospitality -- and booze, btw -- and she chimed in. Adams told them, in no uncertain terms (which, knowing Bob, will not be a surprise to you) to leave. The boyfriend and La Radford had a short hissy fit -- they seemed to be under the impression that this was the con suite, and that it had been set up for their own entertainment -- then left. No violence, threatened or actual.



Thanks. Adams was a rough man but fair, and I miss him greatly.


Subject: Space-based weapons buffy willow

A short piece here in The Register, regarding Russia's response to the news that the U.S. may develop space-based weapons:


I read it, and then had this thought:

Russia's space program may be in a "relatively weak state" - but at this time, Russia is the only country on earth with a functioning manned space program.

Charles Milner http://www.harts.com

"Just because something's impossible doesn't mean it can't be done"


Subject: foolproof scams

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Received an urgent Security alert from my ISP. It was imperative that I download a (something).zip file and run it right away. Fortunately I read and heed your advice.

The message was from security@(my ISP).com. My ISP has many mailboxes, but none are named security.

"It's" was used as a possessive, instead of the proper "its". The people at the ISP office are all educated and literate. I have visited several times.

The (something).zip file is not expected from them. All messages to me have been readable in plain text since I signed on.

A quick message to the ISP about the suspect message received a fast answer. It was a scam. Their "address" was spoofed. Delete the message.

Scams are supposed to be foolproof, but nowadays fools are better educated than they used to be.


William L. Jones

ANY communication that asks you to open an attachment or unlock an encoded ZIP or run a program should be treated as a threat; even if you think you know the sender, make certain that it really came from the person you know. And crooks can learn good grammar...

I have got that one several times. SecurityAdministrator  @jerry pournelle.com sends me email quite often, as does administrator@ jerrypournelle.com


Subj: Iraq: development of Iraqi forces


See especially the interview, starting on Page 3, with the outgoing commander of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team.

Reminds me of a passage from _The Prince_, in which Major Owensford reflects on the importance of setting the right patterns at the beginning.

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


Fixes for airline security....


Charles Brumbelow, CFO

A classic case of suboptimization and solving the wrong problem. We'd be more secure if they issued a short sword to every passenger.

And don't we feel safer now:

Subject: KOMO 4 - 'This Is Not Right'

David K. M. Klaus  has sent you a news story from KOMONEWS.com.

'This Is Not Right' http://www.komotv.com/news/story.asp?id=37150

Wonderful. Just wonderful. Lord what fools these mortals be...

See also http://www.isil.org/towards-liberty/tsa-outrage.html

But we were born free.

Then we have:

Subject: Los Alamos whistleblower assaulted?


- Roland Dobbins

One supposes this is just plain old fashioned thuggery, not treason.




This week:


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Tuesday, June 7, 2005

On Education: we often have stories of how bad things are. Sometimes there may be successes in spite of the system:

Hello. I am Susan Shepherd, a high school sophomore from Fresno, CA, whose school year just ended -- meaning that anything I write to you will not come back to haunt me until the end of August. I''ve been following your education discussions for about a year and a half now, and (perhaps unsurprisingly) many of the conclusions reached on your site were the same conclusions I came to during my freshman year.

For example, reading, writing and math seem de-emphazised, while science is gradually dumbed down for the hordes of students who enter ninth and tenth grade not knowing d=r x t or how cells divide. Some of this may seem like trivia, but there are many students I have spoken to who do not know the basics of evolution, can not explain cancer more than two months after the cancer unit has passed, and who have no concept of what science (repeatable, demonstrable) is or is not.

And that, sir, is from a GATE-level classroom. At Edison, one of the top 100 high schools nationwide (at least two years ago), there are about twice as many non-GATE or Prep students as there are GATE students, and these know far less. I have spoken with P students who have not read a book in their lives, who are stumped by basic algebra, and who have no knowledge of politics, government or history. Their grammar and spelling fall anywhere from middling to atrocious. Some of the teachers seem to have given up, while others do the best they can to teach classes full of 'students' who bring neither paper nor pencil to school. Many of the parents do not seem to care. And discipline is also an enormous problem; profanity and general rudeness is the rule rather than the exception.

(An aside: There is a running joke about how an observer can pick out P-students from a distance. They wear sports jerseys, have tiny backpacks or small sports bags, and swear a lot.)

In the meantime, teachers bend over backwards to fulfill 'the standards' and to teach what should have been taught before. I have one English teacher in mind as a prime example of this. We read two books and two Shakespeare plays in his class, one book/play per quarter. The rest of the time, we read stories of various types aloud in class. (! Isn't that for elementary school kids? Never mind; certain kids read very slowly, so this may have been necessary. Unfortunately.) During the entire school year, we did only three forty-minute essay-type writing assignments. On Thursdays the teacher brought out one of his old orange grammar books and retaught the basics. "This is a noun/verb/apostrophe/semicolon." I lost interest in his class rather early in the school year; perhaps from my writing you can see why. But many other students liked his class. One of them said that he taught her 'a lot' that she hadn't really learned before. What he was doing ought to be taught in the third or fourth grade, not tenth. Am I missing something?

The smartest students are seeking out AP-classes to cover the loss. I switched to AP Biology midyear because we were repeating seventh grade science. (Many of my former classmates had forgotten the material, because the schools of today train students to have short-term memory. The math classes are going ballistic over this; students keep forgetting the basics over summer vacation.) Now three or four freshman want to take AP Bio as sophomores. Others are reaching out for AP English and AP European History. One or two take AP Psychology. Why? My guess is, they aren't being stimulated enough in their regular classes. This is No Child Left Behind, in all its macabre glory.

One last lament. The way certain schools are run has become ridiculous. My sister, a seventh grader, asked if she could paint out graffiti on her locker when the school was closed. The administrators kindly informed her that to do so would be a violation of the Janitors' Union or some such. And when debate started over soda machines, her middle school (Computech) replaced the soda machines with ice cream machines. Edison did the same, but replaced two machines instead of all of them. If this is an improvement, I must have missed it.

Thank you for listening. Part of this felt like a rant, but I thought you might be intrigued by a student's perspective.

Sincerely, Susan Shepherd greensudz @aol.com
Note: if you think any of this is worthy of posting, please do. As I said, I'm safe 'til late August, and none of my peers read your site. Which is a shame.

Thank you. Actually a review of basic grammar with diagramming complex sentences is probably no bad exercise for a few weeks in tenth grade; but it's easy to overdo.

Clearly you have managed to learn to write English sentences despite your education...

Dag Vandermeer

Northshore School District

English Hill

Redmond, Washington

6 June 2005

Dear Jerry:

Although your SF (bought in hardcover!)has always been my first love, my wife Lesley and I read with great interest your essays on Education, Intelligence, Republic/ Empire, Technology and Computing. Public education is dear to our hearts, as we and our two boys are all products thereof (the men in America, my wife in England as a Welsh British state-educated teacher of English and French).

Public education has some success still in this corner of the Republic. A remarkable teacher from our neighborhood’s Sunrise Elementary School has shaped the character of a generation through a time when many of our schools are littered with decades of failed educational schemes. I am proud that my son was one of her classroom students in 1996 as well as during a run of Saturdays when we paid extra to learn the basic principles of physics.

When did you last hear a young multitude, from 11 to 30 years old, unrehearsedly recite the entire Gettysburg Address? For me that moment was Saturday, when as a spontaneous ovation to show her how well her teaching endures, Mrs. Starr Klube’s family of students recalled and declaimed with gusto from “Four score and seven…” to “… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’. I shall cherish the memory all my days.

In The Book of Pirates, Howard Pyle relates that “of all ghastly and terrible things, old-time religious war was the most ghastly and terrible. One can hardly credit nowadays the cold, callous cruelty… (among) all that lawless malign element which gathers together in every newly opened country where the only law is lawlessness, where might is right…” He further expounds that “deep under the accumulated debris of culture (there is) a hidden groundwork of the old time savage…the natural disposition of everyone (is) to get all that he can. Little children, for instance, always try to take away from others that which they want, and to keep it for their own. It is only by constant teaching that they learn they must not do so . . . (it is) only by teaching and training that people learn…” (Emphasis added).

Our constant teacher and trainer is retiring this year. A generation of her former and current students, from her first class in 1986 to her present classroom family came together June 4th for a surprise celebration in her honor. Students, graduates, parents and fellow teachers gathered to surprise Starr, who though late coming to teaching emblazoned a noble path for her students to follow down the years: “I don’t give a hoot about ‘learning disability’” she said. Everyone can learn that which is good about themselves, their lives and their nation. She believes it and every year she proves it anew. All of Starr’s students learn Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by heart, as well as the Preamble to the Constitution, when they study them along with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the other primary documents of America’s enduring freedoms, the open-source codes of a democratic Republic.

Here is a teacher who made a difference, a teacher that both her students and their parents will long remember. Throughout the higher elementary, junior high and high school grades; at universities, at work in the trades, fighting in the armed forces or following her footsteps in teaching; wherever her family of students go, whatever they do, they carry her light with them.

R. F. Delderfield, in To Serve Them All My Days, the classic novel of English public school life between the wars, has his great retiring headmaster Algernon Herries say “All that the best of us can do is to teach…the qualities of patience, tolerance, good fellowship and the ability to see someone else’s point of view—qualities I see as the keystones of democracy…”. Though Starr retires in 2005, she has kindled alight these qualities in her students and as long as they and others pass them on, hope remains that their beacons shall never be put out. Long live Liberty; long live Reason; long live the Republic; long live Starr Klube.

{Conflict of Interest: None—there is no fiduciary, sanguinary, employment or any other mutually beneficial relationship or arrangement whatever between myself and my son’s former teacher}

Regards; and Long Live Chaos Manor and All Who Sail in Her! Write forever.

Dag Vandermeer dagv56@ yahoo.com

Thank you.


Subject: Stealth bomber shows up in Google satellite pics!


------ Roland Dobbins


Subj.: flying in the day of the TSA

Dear Dr. Pournelle, after reading several of the articles on recent fines and diminishing personal liberties, I noticed a specific phrase in the official documentation "Permitted and Prohibited Items" linked from the TSA site from a couple of the articles (to avoid possible legal problems?):


"The prohibited and permitted items chart is not intended to be all-inclusive and is updated as necessary. To ensure everyone's security, the screener may determine that an item not on the prohibited items chart is prohibited [*1]. In addition, the screener may also determine that an item on the permitted chart is dangerous and therefore may not be brought through the security checkpoint [*2]."

[*1] N.B. note that the wording does not require explicitly that the item be necessarily a threat to security, only that it becomes instantly prohibited... [*2] N.B. thus potentially generating new fine-based revenue...

So it doesn't really matter whether something is accidentally or intentionally brought to the security checkpoint, only whether the screener considers that the object could be a threat or not... Guidelines are provided, but screeners have no obligation to be held by them? When do we start seeing minimum quotas for fine-based revenue to justify the presence of the screeners?

Best regards, James Siddall jr

Zero Tolerance!

Subject: Another view on "This is not right" buffy willow


Jerry: This from a site focusing on the mindless application of zero tolerance policies in our school systems:

Regards, Bas

Principal decides she doesn't like zero tolerance after all (Category: Washington <http://www.zerointelligence.net/archives/cat_washington.php>  )

'This Is Not Right' <http://komotv.com/news/story_m.asp?ID=37150

Cecilia Beaman <mailto:beamancm@hsd401.org> , principal at Pacific Middle School <http://www.hsd401.org/pacific/> in the Highline Public School District <http://www.hsd401.org/> , found out just what zero tolerance is like when her bread knife was found by Transportation Security Agents during a pre-flight security screening.

This past weekend she and several other chaperones took 37 middle school students to a Heritage Festival band competition in California. The trip included two days at Disneyland.

During the stay she made sandwiches for the kids and was careful to pack the knives she used to prepare those sandwiches in her checked luggage. She says she even alerted security screeners that the knives were in her checked bags and they told her that was OK.

But Beaman says she couldn't find a third knife. It was a 5 1/2 inch bread knife with a rounded tip and a serrated edge. She thought she might have lost or misplaced it during the trip.

On the trip home, screeners with the Transportation Security Administration at Los Angeles International Airport found it deep in the outside pocket of a carry-on cooler. Beaman apologized and told them it was a mistake.

"You've committed a felony," Beaman says a security screener announced. "And you're considered a terrorist."

Beaman will be fined $500 for the felony infraction as well as being placed on a TSA security list. Her statements ring a bell with anybody who has read the reactions of students who have been hit with the zero tolerance bat.

"This is not right," she told us. It's not right!" ... "I'm a 57-year-old woman who is taking care of 37 kids," she told them. "I'm not gonna commit a terrorist act." ... And I said what about my constitutional rights? And they said 'not at this point ... you don't have any'." ... "This is not the way my country should be treating me," she said.

Let's see if I can word the proper ZT responses to her objections:

1) The rules are necessary to keep order. Of course you don't think it is right when it happens to you. The only people who object to zero tolerance are the ones affected by it.

2) It does not matter what your intent was. You knew about the rule and you broke it.

3) You do not get all of your rights here. In order to do our jobs and maintain a safe environment we have custodial powers over you.

4) You brought it on yourself. You had plenty of opportunity to avoid the situation and were advised about the rules several times. Don't forget that everything that happened is your fault for breaking the rules.

If she had been a student at her own school and been found to have that bread knife she would have faced serious consequences according to the school policy <http://www.hsd401.org/rights/rights.htm> :

1. The principal/designee shall place the student on emergency expulsion.

2. The principal/designee shall notify the parents/guardians and request an immediate conference.

3. The principal/designee may impose long-term suspension of ninety days unless expulsion or a lesser number of days is warranted.

4. The principal/designee shall notify appropriate law enforcement personnel through the district security office.

That's just for a first offense. If it happens a second time the student is automatically expelled.

But we were born free and presumably into a sane society.


Subject: Return to phonics for British Schools, Global warming thoughts, buffy willow

Dear Jerry,

Finally something that’s moving in the right direction in the UK.


On the topic of global warming – I hope I might be permitted a brief anecdote. When I was a high school student our Geography teacher was working on her PhD; her subject was the mechanism of wave erosion of coastal planes in the wetlands area of St Lucia in Northern Natal, South Africa. We got quite involved in helping her and were very interested in her research. (The fact that they were co-ed field trips to beautiful beaches may have had something to do with our enthusiasm :-) ).

Her research showed the effects of tides, wave angle of incidence, local on-shore currents, etc etc on erosion of these beaches. She made projections as to how such erosion might progress in these areas over periods of 20, 50, 100, 200 years etc. Very interesting and possibly very useful for coastal management, except that barely 3 months after her research was finished a cyclone (hurricane of origin Indian Ocean) smashed into the coast and completely re-formed it. These cyclones hit this area with that degree of force approximately once every 25 years. Were her projections invalid? – no, but their relevance was rather limited, because unless the cyclones stopped coming the gradual erosive forces she studied would never have a long enough period to make a major impact before the next cyclone arrived.

I have a very strong suspicion that we face a similar situation with global warming; the projections of current models may well be valid, all other things being equal, but the global climate is a chaotic system and events like major volcanic eruptions can throw so much gas and ash into the atmosphere that I strongly suspect that our overall impact over the long term is likely to be negligible. I remember seeing the coast after the cyclone struck – the (quite expensive) sea walls and artificial berms that were built to protect the wetlands simply vanished: these huge walls of interlocking concrete jacks weighing tons disappeared never to be seen again, though one block did turn up half a mile inland up the estuary.


Craig Arnold


Subject: Harvard's Diversity Grovel

AADAP-L, a free, moderated e-mail list with daily postings, is a project of Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences (www.aadap.org). You are invited to participate in the blog site, RIGHT ON RACE (www.rightonrace.org). Express yourself there on the issues covered in the AADAP-L list, and help build an online community dedicated to the abolition of discrimination and preferences along the lines laid down by California's Prop. 209.

Thomas E. Wood, President and Moderator ***************************************


Harvard's Diversity Grovel In earmarking $50 million for "diversity," President Summers is throwing away more than money. | 3 June 2005

Harvard University has just pledged $50 million for faculty "diversity" efforts, penance for President Lawrence Summers's public mention of sex differences in cognition. The university would have been better off hiring a top-notch conjuror, since only magic could produce a trove of previously undiscovered female and minority academic stars suitable for tenuring.

Even Harvard's bottomless resources cannot buy a miracle, however. So instead of a magician, the university has brought forth the next best thing: a report on "diversity" that, like all such products, possesses the power of shutting down every critical faculty in seemingly intelligent people. For connoisseurs of diversity claptrap, Harvard's just released "Report of the Task Force on Women Faculty" is a thing of beauty, a peerless example of the destruction of higher learning by identity politics. Because the report will undoubtedly serve as the template for future diversity scams in colleges across the country, it's worth studying.

The occasion for the report is by now well known. At a January 14 conference on women in science, Summers had speculated that one possible reason for women's lack of proportional representation on elite science faculties might be that more men than women possess the highest levels of quantitative reasoning skills. Though research amply bears out the unequal distribution of the most abstract mathematical abilities, Summers's allusion to this research set off an immediate spasm of revulsion and horror among Harvard's feminist faculty members. Their fury culminated in a March 15 faculty vote of "no-confidence" against Summers, despite his cringing public retractions and apologies that began as soon as the controversy erupted-all of which recalled Stalinist show trials, with their Darkness at Noon-like recantations.

Formation of the Task Force on Women Faculty represented an early and unsuccessful effort to appease Harvard's sciencephobes. Though the administration announced the outcome in advance-it wanted, at a minimum, a call for a new high-placed diversity bureaucrat and for more affirmative-action hiring efforts-the creation of task forces, complete with paid staff, is by now an ironclad ritual whereby colleges and universities demonstrate their deep concern for pressing issues. And so Harvard launched the Task Force on Women Faculty on February 3 to "affirm [the school's] commitment to the advancement and support of women in academic life."

Every such "diversity" initiative immediately faces two major obstacles. First, its purpose is to recommend the identical set of actions that the institution, whether academic or corporate, has already been doing. Every college in the country has been frantically pursing "diversity" in hiring and admissions for decades. The task force itself commends the diversity policies of 17 rival colleges-the mere tip of the iceberg-without drawing the obvious conclusion.

The second obstacle follows from the first: there is nothing more that can be done. If untapped pools of highly qualified female and minority candidates existed out there, schools would have snapped them up long ago-if not your college, then its dozens of competitors, just as desperate to placate the quota gods. (The one course of action that might, in the case of black and Hispanic faculty recruitment, bear long-term results is the one that elite college personnel are least likely to choose: intensive mentoring of young students and the jettisoning of all "progressive" pedagogy in the schools.)

Just how repetitive is Harvard's latest "diversity" push? I asked Harvard spokesman Sarah Friedell if the university had not already been paying considerable attention to "diversity." She happily trumpeted the school's efforts. "I will tell you," she said, "huge attention is paid to diversity in terms of recruiting students and faculty. It is enormously important." A former top administrator seconded her claims. "The annual numbers of tenure offers to women are etched into my soul," he said. "Everyone thought about it all the time." Indeed, the task force report itself alludes to Harvard's numerous existing efforts to recruit women faculty, from an affirmative action slush fund to a universal drive, at each of Harvard's faculties and schools, to "retain and promote larger numbers of women faculty."

By now, however, crafty diversocrats have developed a host of strategies to cover up the essential meaninglessness of their existence. The Harvard Report of the Task Force on Women Faculty employs all of them to perfection.

STRATEGY #1: PRACTICE COLLECTIVE AMNESIA. So your latest diversity effort mimics everything that your institution has been doing for years? No problem! Just play Let's Pretend: "Let's pretend that we've never had a diversity initiative at our college and that this current proposal to hire more women and minority faculty represents a radical new take on college governance." Thus, President Summers greeted the report's release with the sonorous tones that a proposal to end tenure, say, might elicit: "Because [these recommendations] address fundamental issues about the way we conduct our core academic business, they have the power to make Harvard not only more welcoming and diverse, but a stronger and more excellent university overall." You would think that an economist would know something about diminishing returns.

The head of the Harvard Corporation, its external oversight board, kept up his end of the charade with equal solemnity. Announced Corning, Inc. chairman James R. Houghton: "[T]hese recommendations will help the University take major steps toward that crucial goal [of diversity], in ways that strengthen both our academic enterprise and our sense of community." Of course, "these recommendations" contain not a single novel thought or policy, but it would take a degree of courage possessed by neither corporate nor university chieftains to point that out.

STRATEGY #2: CREATE NEW BUREAUCRACY. The only new hires that diversity initiatives generate are in college administrations, already overloaded with sinecures. The Harvard task force demands the creation of a most remarkable new position, a Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development. The provost's office, mind you, is very high up in the administrative chain-directly beneath the president, in fact-and it is responsible for all aspects of Harvard's academic life. Within that empyrean realm, the new Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development will occupy a "singular and permanent position," dictates the task force. The Senior VP for D will sit with the president, the provost, and the deans of faculties on Harvard's academic advisory group. And just in case the lesser functionaries in the provost's office still don't appreciate the exalted status of the new Senior VP for D, the task force provides that "she" (the report's choice of words) "be given priority in terms of office space." So much for non-hierarchical, anti-patriarchal collaborative sharing of collective resources. Naturally, the Senior VP for D will "also be supported by a group of dedicated staff."

Now the new Senior VP faces in microcosm the same problem confronting the task force: there is nothing for her to do. And that's after the task force has grabbed for her a portfolio beyond its original charter. Summers's charge to the task force was to "promote gender diversity." But without even acknowledging the change, the task force has expanded the Senior VP for D's diversity mandate to include "other underrepresented racial/ethnic groups" (as if women are an "underrepresented ethnic/ethnic group"). Of course, some of the alleged "solutions" to the professorial gender gap-changed family leave and stronger sexual harassment polices-are irrelevant to half of the members of "underrepresented racial/ethnic groups," but diversity boondoggles never let facts stand in their way.

Bulking up the Senior VP for D's job description still cannot conceal that the job is contentless, however. The SVP is nothing but a bean-counter and quota-enforcer; a computer could-and already does-tally the number of female and minority professors more easily and much less expensively. The idea that there is some intellectual or academic content to bean counting is ridiculous. That's where Strategy Three comes in.

STRATEGY #3: SUBDIVIDE ONE BIG ZERO INTO MANY LITTLE ZEROS. So what if a diversity bureaucrat's job is a cipher? You can make that cipher look impressive by breaking it up into equally vacuous component parts. The task force creates 24 "specific responsibilities" for the Senior VP for D, proving that there are at least 24 ways to say "count the beans." Those 24 "specific responsibilities" unfold in an outline of baroque complexity, with major headings spawning sub-categories and sub-sub-categories. The placement of any "specific responsibility" in this dizzying scheme is completely arbitrary. Why, for example, is "overseeing design and implementation of diversity programs for deans, department chairs and search committees" included under the sub-head "promoting diversity and gender and racial /ethnic equity in hiring," rather than under "improving the climate for women and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups"? Conversely, why is "monitoring, evaluating and building on existing polices and practices in cooperation with the deans to promote diversity and gender and racial/ethnic equity, both centrally and at the school level" organized under "improving the climate for women and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups" rather than under "promoting diversity and gender and racial/ethnic equity"? No answer exists.

The task force is just warming up to its obfuscating role, however. Though the above "specific responsibilities" are merely mind-numbing rephrasings of the core bean-counting activity, the task force manages to squeeze an additional three sub-sub-categories out of bean counting-which it calls "metrics." The Senior VP for D will "develop metrics for measuring the University's' progress in achieving diversity and gender and ethnic/ethnic equity," "track progress in increasing diversity and representation by compiling metrics," and "make metrics available to the Harvard community and to the public." Translation: count the number of women and minority professors.

STRATEGY #4: RENAME EVERYTHING THAT YOUR UNIVERSITY HAS BEEN DOING REGARDING "DIVERSITY." Diversocrats possess a primitive belief in the totemic power of words. If you can rename something, you have changed its essence. Harvard has already been obsessively compiling data on gender and race: the task force easily obtained faculty data from 1990 to 2005 by rank and gender-and within gender, by race. But the task force renames those data "metrics" and-poof!-it has proposed something new. Collect diversity data? That's what Harvard did before May 16, 2005, when the task force released its report. After May 16, 2005, it will embark into the uncharted territory of compiling "metrics," proving that now it's really doing something about "diversity."

In the era before the coming of the Senior VP for D, Harvard had an "Outreach Fund" for sweetening job offers and other perks for women and minorities. In the post-Senior VP for D era, Harvard will have a "Faculty Development and Diversity Fund" and a "Special Assistance Fund." (The task force here combined Strategy #4: Renaming, and Strategy #3: Subdivide.) The "Faculty Development and Diversity Fund" and the "Special Assistance Fund" are identical to the "Outreach Fund," simply renamed and split into two. No one will ever notice that continuity, the diversocrats assume, because the names are different.

The task force gives two reasons for renaming the "Outreach Fund." Both demonstrate the catastrophic decline in intellectual skills in the academy. The task force claims that the term "'outreach fund' connotes civic or cultural improvement, but these funds are intended to identify and recruit top-flight faculty." Huh? No one, hearing "outreach fund," would think "civic or cultural improvement." In fact, "outreach fund" suggests pretty much what the task force claims it doesn't signify: the intent "to identify and recruit" some group-in this case, women and minority faculty. Reading skills in the age of deconstruction and its many theoretical offshoots have apparently followed required Shakespeare courses into oblivion.

The second reason for renaming the Outreach Fund is an even stronger indication of Harvard's intellectual nosedive. In an unusual collision with the truth, the task force acknowledges that "there was a sense that candidates hired with support of the [existing] funds are somehow less qualified." Someone slipped up big-time here, because admitting the poisonous stigma that affirmative action efforts impose on their "beneficiaries" is something that diversocrats must never ever do. But the task force's encounter with reality is brief. It appears fully satisfied with the idea that renaming the Outreach Fund will eliminate the stigma of race and gender preferences.

The task force could have mentioned one more unintended consequence to affirmative action slush funds: peer resentment. A top Harvard science professor says that the preferences given to women and minority scientists in lab-space allocation and other perks do not always make for happy collegial relations. But any resentment that might emerge will just be more fuel for the diversity machine. Pursuant to the task force recommendations, Harvard is busily planning "climate surveys" of faculty to see whether women and minority professors feel "personally safe, listened to, valued." Ordinarily, one could attribute the suggestion that there might be even a single professor in the warm, fuzzy cocoon of Harvard who does not feel "personally safe" to "diversity's" solipsistic bathos. But just maybe, if your white male colleagues are grumbling behind your back about your unusual access to the Quadrupole Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer, your new computers, and your troop of lab assistants, you can begin to make out a case, however far-fetched, of not feeling "personally safe."

STRATEGY #5: DUCK THE INCONVENIENT QUESTIONS. For all its verbosity, the task force report never explains its central conceit: "equity in hiring." The Senior VP for D's central task is to promote "diversity and gender and racial/ethnic equity in hiring." Leaving aside the question of the difference between "diversity" and "gender and racial/ethnic equity," the report leaves wholly opaque just what "equity in hiring" means. Does "equity" refer to process or outcomes, to concerted outreach efforts during a hiring search or to numbers of women and minorities actually hired? (Of course, no affirmative action effort has ever limited itself to "outreach," though affirmative action proponents continue to mask their quota-ising efforts in those terms.) If equity refers to outcomes, what proportion of gender- and race-based hires counts as "equity"? Should the representation of women and minorities on the faculty match their proportion in the population at large, or will some lesser percentage satisfy the "equity" mandate? The report shies away from these questions. Spokesman Sarah Friedell didn't know the answers either, though she hazarded a guess that "equity" referred to the actual numbers hired, rather than to a widely cast search net. She is certainly correct.

And what does $50 million buy you? This astounding sum, offered by Lawrence Summers as a down payment on his absolution for mentioning the science of sex differences, comes without any explanation as to how he arrived at it or what it will purchase. One would hope that the Senior VP for D, whatever her exalted position and her bevy of dedicated helpers in the provost's office, doesn't come near to costing that amount. Given that Harvard and its competitors across the country have already beaten the bushes for years for "diversity" candidates, even $500 million would seem unlikely to produce any major change in Harvard's "diversity" profile.

But the $50 million will escalate the bidding wars for the finite number of plausibly qualified women and minority professors. In the near future, Harvard's millions will guarantee that it can rout all competitors for female nuclear physicists, but its competitors will undoubtedly up their own antes to stay in the game. There must be better ways to spend the millions of dollars that schools will dedicate to poaching "diversity" trophies from rival institutions-buying books for libraries, for example, or grooming scholars in neglected fields such as the American founding, or producing operas on campus, or capping tuition hikes.

The task force report assumes that the answer to the question: "And why exactly are we doing this?" is so obvious that the question doesn't need asking. But it is not obvious why it matters whether a woman or an Asian man teaches a graduate student in statistical mechanics. The "role model" argument insults women; it presumes that they can only be followers, not pioneers. The value to male grad students of a deliberately engineered "diverse" faculty is equally obscure. Two possible, but specious, reasons suggest themselves.

Perhaps diversocrats like Summers believe that there is a female or black way of doing statistical mechanics that would be ignored, to the detriment of us all, without a consciously created "diverse" faculty. Feminist theorists have ventured such arguments. If Summers subscribes to them, he should say so. Or perhaps the quota-mongers believe that male graduate students are so sexist that without seeing female scientists with their own eyes, they will doubt the possibility of their existence. No one has provided any evidence of such entrenched bias, however, and in any case, manipulating hiring policies in science departments is an extremely inefficient way to gender-train wayward males.

Hiring quotas (Harvard will call them "goals") might also plausibly have a justification if widespread discrimination prevented qualified women from getting hired, just as construction unions kept out blacks in the 1960s. By imposing such "goals" on itself (enforced by the Senior VP for D's "metrics"), Harvard is implicitly labeling itself a discriminator of this magnitude. And indeed, in a February 17, 2005, letter to the faculty, Summers took the sexist guilt of his university (and the world) onto his shoulders. "My January remarks," he wrote, "substantially understated . . . discrimination [against women], including . . . patterns of thought to which all of us are unconsciously subject." The paradox of an institution simultaneously dedicating $50 million to bringing in more women faculty while declaring itself resistant to women seems entirely lost on the task force. It would be interesting to know which science departments in particular Summers thinks suffer from unconscious bias-presumably, any department without parity of male to female professors.

And that leads to the final inconvenient question: Just how much are you willing to lower your standards to achieve "diversity?" If more women and minority faculty could be had who met Harvard's standards for Caucasian and Asian males, the university would have hired them years ago. The only way it will achieve increased female and race "diversity" in the foreseeable future is to set a lower standard for female and minority hires. And this President Summers seems prepared to do.

In one of his many groveling apologies for the "wounds" he had inflicted on delicate faculty sensibilities, he parrots the most left-wing, radical tenet of feminist constructivist ideology: that traditional standards of merit are merely white male ploys to silence female and minority "voices." The "underlying . . . fact" of universities, he told the faculty at a February 15 meeting, is that they were "originally designed by men and for men." In Summers's view, the male origin of universities undermines any claim they might make to using objective tests of merit. "That reality [of a male founding]," he said, "shapes everything from . . . assumptions about effectiveness in teaching and mentoring, to concepts of excellence." In other words, there is a male "concept of excellence" in genome research, say, that may not be the same as a female or black "concept of excellence" in genome research.

The deconstruction of objective standards into race and gender politics is common throughout the humanities. If Summers acts on his embrace of deconstructive relativism-he called on February 15 for "rethinking our assumptions in [such] areas [as 'excellence']"-standards in science will be the next to go. Any department that claims that it cannot find qualified candidates to meet the Senior VP for D's "metrics" could face the charge that it is using white male "concepts of excellence." Thank you very much, but I think I'll stick with those "concepts" in the interest of ensuring that my medicine works and the airplane I'm using stays in the air.

Henceforth, Harvard history will divide into the pre-task-force and post-task-force era. In the post-TFE, Summers's feeble efforts to enforce academic standards against the diversity machine will seem quaint. The Cornel West flap, for example, will appear both predictive and unrepeatable. In October 2001, Summers had a private chat with Afro-American studies professor West, a vain intellectual name-dropper who purports to unite Marxism and American pragmatism in a profound explication of race relations. The result is instead a turgid stew of nearly meaningless post-modern riffing. West's historical wisdom emerges nicely in his observation that "Marxist thought becomes even more relevant after the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe than it was before."

Such fashionable ignorance Lawrence Summers was ready to tolerate, but what reportedly caught his attention in 2001 (the exact content of his conversation with West remains confidential) were West's predilection for handing out grades of A, his lack of scholarly output and release of a rap album instead, and his absences from campus on such missions as advising Al Sharpton on a presidential run. Summers's reputed admonitions to West (who bears Harvard's most august title of University Professor) were entirely consistent with his then-campaign to promote "excellence in serious scholarship and in commitment to teaching" (Summers had not yet "problematized" the concept of excellence, as the deconstructionists would say). West predictably turned Summers's requests into a case of racial "disrespect."

In January 2002, amid a firestorm of criticism, Summers issued an apology and reaffirmed his commitment to "diversity." (No one realized at the time how prophetic Summers's collapse would be.) Summers's retraction of his alleged request that West produce something more serious than a rap album was entirely in keeping with the diversity critique of white male "concepts of excellence." Race advocates have long argued that the demand for published books and articles discriminates against minority tenure candidates. But Summers's apology came too late. West huffily decamped to Princeton, calling Summers "the Ariel Sharon of American higher education" and "a bully, in a very delicate and dangerous situation."

West has of course seized the opportunity to dig in the boot a little deeper, following Summers's current self-abasement. "I was praying for the brother, hoping he would change," West oozed. "It's clear he hasn't changed." Unfortunately, he probably has. Now, instead of making even a temporary stand for excellence and then retreating ignominiously, Summers will not bother to take a stand at all. Message to diversocrats across the country: Your power is indomitable; use it.

The aristocratic ease with which Harvard has just dumped $50 million down a bureaucratic sinkhole tells you all you need to know about why attending Harvard for eight months costs more than most families earn in a year. Eventually, students and parents may start asking why anyone would want to.




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Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I believe you will find the idea of "Rods from God" familiar to say the least. Were not you and Larry Niven part of the group the came up with the idea back during the Reagan administration? It seems to me that the author of the article could have given you folks credit for it. I personally think they are a wonderful idea. I'd also like to see a debate between you and this foolishly ignorant Teresa Hitchens person. She sounds like a hard left, hate America, peace-nik to me. Pikes's argument seems more cogent. How do you think the GBU-28 compare with kinetic-energy space weapons?

Best Regards,

James G Marino



The Rods from God

Are kinetic-energy weapons the future of space warfare?

by Michael Goldfarb

06/08/2005 12:00:00 AM

BY CHANCE, the same day that Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was released in theaters across the country, the world learned of the Bush administration's plans to weaponize space. So while critics speculated about the parallels between the Evil Empire and the Bush administration, pundits debated the merits of "space superiority"--the allies it would alienate, the treaties it would violate, the billions it would cost. The irony was not lost on Teresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, whose insistence that the world would not "accept the U.S. developing something they see as the death star," was carried in the pages of the New York Times.

Among the weapons the Air Force might deploy are space-based lasers, a space plane capable of delivering a half-ton payload anywhere in the world in 45 minutes, and the "rods from god." The rods are currently just a concept--and have been since the early 1980s--but, if the myriad technical and political hurdles to deployment could be overcome, the system could represent a tremendous leap forward in the military's ability to destroy underground, hardened facilities of the type that have allowed Iran and other rogue states to violate the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty with impunity.

HOW DO THE RODS WORK? The system would likely be comprised of tandem satellites, one serving as a communications platform, the other carrying an indeterminate number of tungsten rods, each up to 20 feet in length and 1 foot in diameter. These rods, which could be dropped on a target with as little as 15 minutes notice, would enter the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 36,000 feet per second--about as fast as a meteor. Upon impact, the rod would be capable of producing all the effects of an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon, without any of the radioactive fallout. This type of weapon relies on kinetic energy, rather than high-explosives, to generate destructive force (as do smart spears, another weapon system which would rely on tungsten rods, though not space-based).

Clearly the rods are a first-strike, offensive weapon. The nation's aging fleet of ICBMs, and its more modern Ohio-class submarines--each carrying 24 Trident missiles--will serve as an adequate nuclear deterrent well into the 21st century, but nuclear weapons cannot deter rogue states from developing their own nuclear arsenals.

Iran has used deeply buried facilities, such as the one in Natanz, to shelter its nuclear program from an assault similar to Israel's raid on Iraq's Osirak facilities. This has limited America's options for intervention. A conventional attack on such facilities might succeed in setting the Iranian program back a few years, but due to the presumed dispersal of equipment over a number of sites across the Islamic Republic, only good intelligence and a great deal of luck would eliminate the threat entirely. And while a nuclear attack could be tactically successful, it is politically unviable. A few well-placed tungsten rods, however, would guarantee the destruction of the targeted facilities (assuming timely and accurate intelligence).

OF COURSE THE RODS would not be a panacea for proliferation. It is hard to imagine how the "rods from god" would alter the equation in North Korea, which possesses thousands of rockets and artillery pieces capable of hitting Seoul in retaliation for any perceived act of aggression by the United States. But no other rogue state can hold a gun to the head of the international community the way North Korea can. Absent such a non-nuclear deterrent, rogue states such as modern-day Iran and Saddam-era Iraq have employed hardened, underground bunkers (note the recent discovery of a large, underground insurgent lair in Anbar) as their primary defense against American air superiority.

There are a number of interest groups working to stymie plans to build either a new generation of fission bombs or space-based weapons (see here, and here). These groups present reasonable arguments against both strategic avenues. For instance, if the administration starts production on a newly designed nuclear weapon, it would likely be in violation of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. Furthermore, such weapons run the risk of mitigating the military's well-founded fear of launching a nuclear first-strike.

The arguments against space weapons range from the practical--they will be extremely expensive to build and maintain, and they may not work--to the ideological. Teresa Hitchens simply maintains that, "The world will not tolerate this." John Pike, of globalsecurity.org, speculates that the likelihood of the rods, or any other system, being deployed in space over the next decade were "next to nil." The reason, he explains, is that the military appears to be putting very little money into the research and development of such systems--though the military's immense classified budget could in theory be hiding some of the evidence.

Pike offered another interesting explanation for why the rods may remain on the drawing board--the GBU-28. The GBU-28 was designed to destroy underground bunkers, but there have been doubts about whether it can actually penetrate Iran's buried facilities. Pike says they would--"like a hot knife through butter"--and that this misperception may have been intentionally fostered: "to lull the mullahs into a false sense of security."

THE RODS may indeed be more science fiction than science. They are at least 10 years away from being operational, and the cost of launching heavy tungsten rods into orbit would be, well, astronomical. Other financial challenges include the satellite's "absentee-ratio," which refers to number of satellites, or in this case bundles of rods, which would be necessary to assure proximity to the target.

Furthermore, it may be necessary to slow substantially the rods' rate of speed to prevent them from vaporizing on impact--though retrorockets might offer a solution to this problem. Simply attaching a tungsten rod to the tip of an ICBM would overcome many of these hurdles, but would create another serious problem: the need to involve the Russians and Chinese, who might detect such a launch and mistake it for an American nuclear attack on their own territories.

Whether the Air Force does ultimately pursue this particular platform to fulfill its vision of American space superiority is a decision that should not be taken lightly. There are a great many obstacles to getting a tungsten rod into space and bringing it back down on the nuclear facilities or command centers of our enemies. Such obstacles range from our continued reliance on unreliable intelligence to the probability that our enemies would adapt to the new technology. Nevertheless, it's likely that space will be weaponized. The only question is whether the U.S. Air Force or the People's Liberation Army will be at the vanguard of the revolution.

Michael Goldfarb is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

See also http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0518-02.htm

I am hardly astonished that the neo-cons at Weekly Standard have no clue as to where Project Thor, which I originated as a concept back in about 1964, came from. Bombardment by kinetic energy weapons has been debated ever since then, and was part of the Strategic Defense Initiative, having come from the Reagan Transition Team space position papers which were largely written by the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D., Chairman.

It is hardly astonishing that Terese Hitchens doesn't care for Thor.

"Senior military and space officials of the European Union, Canada, China and Russia have objected publicly to the notion of American space superiority.

"They think that "the United States doesn't own space - nobody owns space," said Teresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, a policy analysis group in Washington that tends to be critical of the Pentagon. "Space is a global commons under international treaty and international law."  http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0518-02.htm

The US Navy has been evaluating the effect of Thor on Naval Operations since at least 1980, and indeed my son Phillip had an analysis in his Master's thesis in Operations Research at the Naval Post Graduate School back in the 1990's.

The principal operations costs have always been access to space, and one of the reasons SDI funded the DC/X was to look into low cost access to space. There are government elements that fear low cost access to space precisely because of the threat of Thor; if everyone can get to space, Thor and similar weapons become practical for many countries.

This is not to minimize the operational difficulties of Thor.

Note that the United States spent very large sums in the Kossovo War, mostly on air operations from 15,000 feet to minimize risk to pilots and aircraft. There is little accomplished by the air bombardments (other than taking out by mistake a Chinese news organization in Belgrade) that could not have been done by Thor; costs would depend on the cost to orbit. If flight to orbit becomes routine and in the same order of magnitude as air transport, then clearly Thor is cheaper than doing the same job through aircraft; that ought to be obvious to anyone who pays attention.

James Pike has come a long way from his automatic anti-everything days, when he was spokesman for the Federation of American Scientists and making pronouncements about SDI.


A classic case of suboptimization and solving the wrong problem. We'd be more secure if they issued a short sword to every passenger.

My idea was to put a hatchet in every seat back pocket (not pointy, less casual injuries, and has the "less" lethal side, for the squeamish). I'd like to see a terrorist with a box cutter try to hijack an airline with 100+ passengers with hatchets. I'm not sure Sam Peckinpah could make that movie.

Chris C

-- audio, video, disco


<http://www.newsmax.com>  Breaking News from NewsMax.com

'Moron' Bush Beat Kerry at Yale

President Bush, who is routinely derided as a "moron" by embittered Democrats, earned slightly better grades at Yale University than Sen. John Kerry, the supposed Massachusetts intellectual.

Imagine my astonishment.


Subject: A letter from Baghdad

Elections in Iraq A friend of mine who works in the Pentagon sent me this. I thought you would find it interesting.

Brigadier General Mike Jones, Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver) of the 1st Cavalry Division in the Baghdad Central area.

Dear Friends,

It isn't over yet, but today there was a resounding victory for freedom and democracy here in Baghdad. Having been here for a while now, many of us have grown weary of the hand-wringers, worriers, pessimists, whiners, and host of others who have been telling us for so long that all is lost in Iraq. Today we witnessed just how courageous the Iraqi people can be and how much they love their new-found freedom.

After listening to the pundits tell us how terrible the Iraqi Security Forces are, today I watched the Iraqi Security Forces stand tall. They protected 1,188 polling sites in Baghdad. Although there were a number of suicide bombers who attacked today, not a single one penetrated the perimeter of a polling site. There were several Iraqi policemen, and several Iraqi soldiers who lost their lives today. But they did not lose their honor or their courage; none of the 30,000 plus Iraqi Security Forces on duty in Baghdad ran away from danger today.

At the site of our first suicide bombing of the day, voters did not lose their courage either. They quickly lined back up at the same site, spitting on the body of the suicide bomber as they passed by in line to vote. A woman came out of line and took the shoe of the bomber and put it on his face- a great insult to an Arab. The same was true at any polling site that had violence. Voters immediately lined up again to cast their vote. How many Americans value their privilege to vote enough to show that kind of courage?

We have listened to many experts talk about how the Sunnis would not participate in the election. Polling sites in Abu Guyreb were moved to Gasaliya because the Iraqi Election Commission was concerned about security in Abu Guyreb. We watched thousands walk down the highway- Sunni Moslems- on the 7 mile round trip to the polling sites so they could vote. All under the threat that terrorists had been making that they would kill anyone who voted. How many Americans would do that?

All over Baghdad the story was the same and I could tell a dozen stories of great courage and determination. Despite the enemy's campaign of terror, despite danger, threats, intimidation, and the sporadic incidents of violence and terror today, Iraqis turned out in determined, large numbers to vote. The excitement was moving. Even though the terrorists have said they will kill anyone with a "marked finger" (when you voted your finger was dipped in ink to keep people from voting a second time), voters paraded down the street holding their fingers up in joy and overwhelming pride.

When I told one Iraqi I was sorry that people had died or been wounded today, he just said "freedom has a price, and this is the price that we must pay". And every Iraqi I talked to said thank you to the United States for this opportunity, for this freedom, and how grateful they were for our help.

I am sure it will only be hours until you start hearing all the "experts", most of which have never been to Iraq, start trying to convince us that today was flawed, failed, or somehow less than a wonderful day and a blow for freedom. They are the same people who say we are failing here, that you couldn't do an election on the 30th of January, and on and on. It is true we haven't "won" here yet. It is not predetermined that we will win, and it will take continued sacrifice and determination on our part. Those who hate freedom and democracy will still fight, many to the death, to try to stop this march to freedom and prosperity by the Iraqis with our help. They are terrified of the thought of a free and democratic Iraq that leads this whole region to a democratic future.

But despite this, I encourage you from here in Baghdad, for at least one day, to ignore the pundits and experts, to enjoy a day where a blow for freedom was struck. Know that somewhere in the world, because of the sacrifice of your friends, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and countrymen, good won over evil, freedom over terror, and democracy over despotism.

Last June 30, Iraq was given their sovereignty. Today, they earned their freedom. And we should all be joyful for that.

All the Best,







CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Thursday, June 9, 2005

The other side of democracy: treating everyone equally.

Subject: A's for Everyone!



--- Roland Dobbins

A caucus race. All have won and all must have prizes.


As Paparazzi Push Harder, Stars Try to Push Back - New York Times

If this is the price of fame, I surely don't want to pay it.

David Klaus







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Friday,  June 10, 2005

From another conference:

When quotas replace merit, everybody suffers Forbes, 1993.2.15 [Note the date on this. Has there been any attempt to update it?]

   "Quota games . . . math games . . . bean counters!"

   President-elect Bill Clinton had every reason to lash out at feminist groups at his Dec. 21 news conference. In fact, he had been bean-counting busily himself: According to widespread reports, some of his original Cabinet picks were bumped because they were the wrong sex or race, key constituencies like urban Catholics and supporters of Israel have been crowded out, and his entire appointment process has been seriously slowed. But now mindless feminist pressure was forcing him to admit the ultimate contradiction of all such affirmative action policies: "Diversity" can conflict with merit.

   Above all, the President must know the issue is death for the Democrats: His own pollster, Stanley Greenberg, conducted the post-1984 focus group interviews that found opposition to quotas was key to the defection of white working-class voters. (The party promptly suppressed Greenberg's report and now uses only happy-talk such as "looking like America." But a quota by any other name is still a quota.)

   If quotas are clogging the Clinton transition, what are they doing to the economy? The subject went unmentioned, needless to say, at Clinton's two-day economic summit in Little Rock. In fact, it has gone virtually undiscussed throughout the quarter-century of bureaucratic and judicial decrees that have effectively transformed the color-blind 1964 Civil Rights Act into a pervasive quota system.

   Ironically, just as socialism has collapsed across the globe, the leading capitalist power has adopted a peculiarly American neosocialism, putting politics (and lawyers) in command of its workplace, albeit on the pretext of equity rather than efficiency. Says Edward Potter of the Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policy Foundation: "We have, without doubt, the most far-reaching equal employment laws found anywhere in the world." <snip>


And now for a completely different question:

Subject: Height correlations & Infidelity rates

The first correlation study (Galton 1886) turned up an anomaly: the height of mothers is a better predictor of the height of children than the height of the father. Galton sensibly weighted the paternal heights to accomodate this. Nobody seems to have explained this convincingly.

One intriguing explanation just recently advanced: infidelity rates lower the predictive value of the "fathers".

This opens up an interesting area. It seems that little hard data is available on infidelity rates. A popular number (10%) is a factoid, passed around in some textbooks and orally at medical schools but without hard data. I have done some searches of the literature and find estimates ranging from 1% to 30%, but none of these figures have much data behind them either.

A good argument against high infidelity rates is the strong association between Y chromosomes and surnames. Higher rates would weaken that link, unless a high rate is only a recent phenomenon - in which case it would probably not explain Victorian height data.

Anyone have any good data on this?

-- G


Another restatement of the Cochran paper:

University of Utah study links genetic diseases to high Ashkenazi intelligence http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/584626.html 

A team of scientists from the University of Utah suggests a link between genetic diseases found among Ashkenazi Jews and their higher-than-average intelligence. According to the study, to appear in Cambridge University's Journal of Bioscocial Science, the pattern of such diseases among Jews whose families came from central and northern Europe is a product of natural selection for enhanced intellectual ability.

The hypothesis has drawn mixed reactions, with some scientists dismissing it as extremely implausible while others have criticized it as politically incorrect.

The Utah team concluded that the selection resulted from the restriction of Jews in medieval Europe to occupations that required more than usual mental agility, The New York Times reported last Friday.

Between 800 and 1700, Jews in France, Germany, Poland and other European countries were restricted to managerial and commercial occupations, including money lending and tax collection. The study argues that these occupations were intellectually demanding and that those who were successful had more offspring, enhancing the intelligence of the Ashkenazi population.

The researchers note, for example, that while Jews make up 3 percent of the United States population, 27 percent of American Nobel prize winners have been Ashkenazi Jews. They also say that the rate of genius among Ashkenazi Jews is much higher than among the general population in the north European countries they lived in. According to the study, 23 of 1,000 Ashkenazim have an I.Q. of 140 and higher compared to four of 1,000 north European non-Jews.

The restrictions imposed on Jews in medieval Europe led to the spread of genetic mutations that enhanced intellectual ability. These mutations are also responsible for four genetic diseases characteristic of Ashkenazi Jews, including Tay-Sachs and the Niemann-Pick and Gaucher syndromes, the study says.

"It would be hard to overstate how politically incorrect this paper is," Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard University told the Times, noting that it argues for the existence of inherited differences in intelligence between groups. However, he said, "It's certainly a thorough and well-argued paper, not one that can easily be dismissed outright."

Commentary from another conference:

Have you noticed just how few newspapers covered this at all? Even the New York Times article was picked up by only one other newspaper I'm aware of. The Haaretz article seems based on the NY Times article. So I count only 2 original news articles about it (NY Times and The Economist). Have I missed any?

On the NY Times web site it stayed in the top 25 most mailed for about 5 days and it was on top for a while.

Overall the response has been to just plain ignore it.


You've got it right, about the study being ignored. http://news.google.com  also gives Steve Sailer's piece, of course. <ruhston jensen> returns nothing at all, though it was announced on Eureka! on April 25. (This great breakthrough should be called Rushton-Jensen Day.) And googlenewsing <sam francis> and <samuel francis>, the paleoconservative columnist and immigration reformer who died on February 15, also returned nothing.

I don't know how long Google News keeps items in its system. There are 640 Winston Churchill items, one back to May 12. Hitler (601 entries) goes back to May 10. Putin (653) goes back to May 9. Mao, 518, goes back to May 9 also. Since I don't think any of these gents were suddenly un-newsworthy exactly a month ago, it seems that Google News is kept for a month.

Jesus, this is fun! The man who promises us salvation (from Hell) gets 591 entries.

Will someone please verify all this?


Which leads to the interesting question: if Google ignores something, did it really happen? If Google ignores the publication of a new theory, is that theory now false by direct proof? Proof by Google...


Subject:  Ashenazi Intelligence in Jewish Telegraph Agency

BEHIND THE HEADLINES Study on Ashkenazi genes sparks intrigue, debate — and reflection  _By Chanan Tigay_

(http://www.jta.org/page_bio.asp#Chanan Tigay


(javascript:openWindow2('page_email_story.asp?intarticleid=15509','email') ) 


NEW YORK, June 7 (JTA)

— A reported link between Ashkenazi intelligence genes and susceptibility to genetic disorders is clearly mixed news for the descendants of Eastern European Jews.

It may come as little surprise, then, that reactions to a new study linking the two are a mixed bag as well.

After all, if what the University of Utah researchers say is true, some Jewish mothers may just have had their dreams for brilliant children turned to nightmares.

Beyond that, it may also mean that Ashkenazim have, albeit unwillingly, “ been part of an accidental experiment in eugenics,” as The Economist magazine put it in a recent article.

“It has brought them some advantages. But, like the deliberate eugenics experiments of the 20th century, it also has exacted a terrible price.” The mere mention of eugenics — which refers to a movement to improve humankind by controlling genetic factors through mating — is enough to ring bells that many Jews would rather not hear 60 years after the Allied defeat of the Nazis.

According to the study, slated to appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Biosocial Science, Ashkenazim do better than average on IQ tests, scoring some 12-15 points above the test’s mean value. But they also are more likely than any other ethnic groups to suffer from diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Gaucher’s disease and Niemann-Pick — related conditions that can be debilitating and deadly.

The new study hypothesizes that the genetic disorders could be the unfortunate side effects of genes that facilitate intelligence. But for some people, ascribing collective traits to entire ethnic groups — especially to European Jews — reminds them that the Nazis heaped a pile of supposed genetic characteristics on that continent’s Jews and used the characteristics as a basis to exterminate them.

Indeed, the researchers say they had difficulty finding a journal that would publish their findings.

For other people, criticizing such research on this basis reeks of political correctness. This is real science, they say, with real potential to help save Jewish — and other — lives.

“When you study genetics in order to cure diseases, that’s great,” said James Young, a Jewish studies professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the author of “Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation.”

“But when genetics are studied as a way to characterize or essentialize a whole ethnic group or nation of people, then I think it’s very problematic.” Still, he said, “I was kind of intrigued by this connection, and the dark irony of what it means to have your intelligence gene linked to a so-called genetic disease gene. It’s kind of striking.”

For Dr. Guinter Kahn, a Miami physician who lectures internationally on German doctors during the Holocaust, studies like this have real scientific merit. “This stuff is being done with genes, and they’re actually finding true results,” he said. “The stuff they did in World War II was pure baloney motivated by the greatest geneticists of that time in Germany — but they all fell into the Hitler trap.”

Although no one is questioning the researchers’ motivations, some observers worry that their findings may be misused. “Will bigots use this? Bigots will use anything,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation league. However, he said, their abuses should not block research that could benefit the Jewish community.

Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt agrees. When it became clear that fewer Jews were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau than had originally been thought, some Jews worried that this information would be manipulated by Holocaust deniers to back their claims, said Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University. “I had people say to me, ‘We shouldn’t talk about these things,’ ” Lipstadt recalls, “I said, ‘No, no, no. It’s always good to talk about the truth.’ We should never be afraid of the truth.”

As to concerns about what it means to say that one group of people is genetically smarter than others, Henry Harpending, a professor of anthropology at the University of Utah and one of the study’s three authors, told JTA that such complaints boil down to political correctness. “It’s no secret,” he said of the Ashkenazi IQ numbers. “Your grandmother told you this.” Indeed, the study notes that although Ashkenazi Jews made up just 3 percent of the U.S. population during the last century, they won 27 percent of the country’s Nobel Prizes in science and account for more than half of the world’ s chess champions.

However, Harpending added, this is “the kind of thing that you’re not supposed to say these days.” “We regard this as an interesting hypothesis and are a little surprised at the attention. On the other hand, geneticists kind of know that variation between populations is almost certainly in the DNA and they kind of don’t talk about that” for fear of losing federal funding for their research, Harpending said. “What we’ve done is started out with an idea and followed it, so what we have is a pretty interesting and pretty good-looking hypothesis — and it ought to be tested.”

But could this research actually end up helping anybody? Gregory Cochran, one of the study’s authors, hopes so. “I don’t have the cure to any disease in my pocket. I wish I did,” he said. But “if this all pans out, you learn something about how the brain works. Who knows? Maybe you can do something to help some people one day.” The study says that because European Jews in medieval times were restricted to jobs in finance, money lending and long-distance trade — occupations that required greater mental gymnastics than fields such as farming, dominated by non-Jews — their genetic codes over the course of some generations selected genes for enhanced intellectual ability. <snip>


On Another Subject:

Subject: tased woman

Dr. Pournelle,

That woman deserved to be tased, and it was a fair alternative to being whacked with a stick. A civilized society can't let people think they can ignore simple and direct, lawful orders from police. That woman was a spoiled brat and needed to be spanked. It's sad that her parents didn't teach her how to respect others and how to act.

And her crying at the end... Her defiant talk on the phone was the blabbering of a defiant child, and her crying sure sounded like a child who wasn't hurt but who instead wanted attention. Seriously, only a child or idiot would continue to talk on the phone with an officer holding a taser gun on them saying he'll use it if she doesn't simply put the phone down. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced the woman was lucky the officer had a taser otherwise he'd have had to beat the living crap out of her or use mace.

I do think that the second tase blast probably wasn't required and the officer should have just used his elite felony stop skills to cuff the woman, but since she was non-compliant before the tase blast, how was he to know that she simply wasn't continuing her defiance?

Defiance against cops being punished is not a new symptom of our rotting society. It's always been a dumb idea to defy a cop. The difference now is the cheerful and self-indulgent ignorance displayed during such defiance and the fact that we're getting it on videotape.

As a last note, the woman is driving an SUV. I know there are exceptions and I'm not an enviro activist who hates the actual SUV itself, but my personal experience is that presence of SUV in the city is often accompanied by presence of arrogant jerkwad driver. It's not a hard and fast rule, but expecting SUV drivers to do the absolutely most irritating, arrogant, and stupid things on the road has saved me from numerous accidents. I've never been forced off the road by a honda, but it's happened 3 times with SUVs.

Sean Long

And doesn't it make us look civilized! And attractive as a society with a culture to be exported!

Well, I drive an SUV, and at my age I am a bit slow getting my legs to curl and uncurl, so I suppose I am doomed if ever stopped by the police.

I am sure she is a spoiled brat, and a year or so in a penitentiary for resisting arrest and talking back to the police will do her, her community, and our entire society a world of good; while letting her finish her phone call and run out of things to say and realize just how ridiculous a situation she was getting herself into would have been the kind of concession by police they can't afford to make, since it would give the wrong image of police to the community.

Of course it is dumb to defy the police; and of course they have a right to defend themselves. And of course it is the wrong thing to do, to teach children that the police are enemies rather than friends. I was brought up to believe the police worked for me. Then one day in my sophomore year in high school, on a vacant lot in Memphis, Kenny Grant, son of a Professor at the local university, and I were experimenting with White Owl cigars on a hillside a couple of hundred yards away from any houses. The police drove up. We could simply have walked away, but we were curious: what were they doing there and could we help? We walked up to them.

We were roughly handled and called punks. It seems the householder had heard voices in the field above his house and called the police. Perhaps they had been having a hamburger somewhere and resented the call; in any event we were a bit evasive about what we were doing -- smoking was pretty well forbidden in our homes although our parents smoked -- but we knew we were not committing any crimes. Just smoking White Owl cigars and wondering what in the world people saw in that.

But being called punks and pushed around told me something I had not known before, that all police were not like the village constables and deputies out in Capleville, where the law enforcement officers were people you knew who were more likely to drive a drunk home than to bust him to get an arrest on their record. It was a lesson I did not forget. So yes: fear the police. But don't imagine they are on your side, unless you live in Beverly Hills where the police still know who they work for.

Kenny and I thought about telling our parents since our families were acquainted with the city boss structure that ran Memphis, but of course we couldn't because we couldn't explain what we were doing up on the hill in the first place.

Sorry to ramble on. If I sound a bit ambiguous, it is because I am. The woman acted like a jerk. On the other hand, being a jerk isn't really a crime in a free society. She was driving with a suspended license and that could turn out to be trivial or serious: it's not clear from the context. But she wasn't going anywhere, she was hardly endangering anyone, and if left to calm down on her own, at worst she was going to waste less of the officer's time than would be spent filling out reports once weapons were used.

I am sure that the world is a better place now that the woman has been given electric shocks, and the world can see what happens to you if you defy the police and attempt to finish your phone call. Particularly if you are driving an SUV.

And for another view:

Dear Dr. Pournelle:
 The incident with Taser-happy cops doesn't surprise me much. It's part of what I've concluded is a "Badged Bully-Boy Syndrome." The real question is how much longer the public will put up with it.

Consider the facts. We have Florida police zapping motorists with 50,000 volts for not toadying promptly. In Maryland, the State Police was using night vision equipment to check for drivers not wearing seat belts. At the airport, travelers are harassed by TSA and their antics. And there is, of course, the whole wretched business of the FBI - an organization excellent for killing unarmed women and children, but utterly incapable of capturing terrorists.

I'll be the first to say that 90-95% of law enforcement personnel are decent people - but the remaining 5% are bullies who have found a legal way to slake their lust for pushing people around. And the police are notorious for NOT being willing to police their own ranks.

My own opinion is that the resentment is building to an explosive level. The police were never very popular with the Left. Now, they are alienating a large portion of the Right. And I think it is only a matter of time before there is a reckoning.

V/R: Mike McDaniel

I hope you have your proportions correct, but I suspect them. Anarcho tyranny is popular. But there is hardly likely to be a reckoning.

I appreciated your comment on the taser situation immensely. I'd like to add an important fact: Now those stupid cops have also transferred at least $100,000 of the taxpayers wealth into that woman's pocket. She's going to file a claim against the city. And God help L.A. if that claim isn't settled and goes before a jury!

Go LAPD! Thanks for raising everyone's taxes even more!


Florida, but indeed another sign of the times. This is continued next week.


Subject: Lodi Terror Bust

Does no one want to point out why in the heck are there terrorist camps in Pakistan as recently as a year ago? Is no one scared by this? Do we just add this to our list of problem with the Pakis that we do NOTHING about?


The FBI said in a court affidavit that Hamid Hayat later admitted to having attended a "jihadist training camp in Pakistan for approximately six months" more than a year ago. Hamid told the FBI "that he and others at the camp were being trained on how to kill Americans," the affidavit said.










This week:


read book now


Saturday, June 11, 2005

The following exchange took place on another conference. I have included it here, and I will put up references to it in other places, because the reply by Professor Gottfredson is as good an answer as any I know.

It began with this question from an academic/politician:

Excuse the use of "propaganda" in our always mild, courteous, good-tempered and rational discussions; it wasn't always a dyslogistic term.

I am seeking ready-made answers to those who question the IQ test outcomes' connections to objective material reality or social utility and can't be put down by general reference to the correlation of IQs on average with income or other presumed goods on average.

The substitution of "height" for "IQ" in some discourses has been fruitfully suggested. So I start with noting that height is itself like IQ in being a correlation of a person when asked to display themselves along a measuring tape or equivalent and not a counting of molecules or explanation for how my height is today, at this hour, at the 6ft ¾in mark. There must be much better, quicker, cuter ways of demolishing the rhetorical effect of objections that IQ tests merely test the current capacity to do IQ tests. A good knock-down analogy or two are what is wanted I think. Any suggestions?


which is itself worth noting; and elicited this reply from Professor Gottfredson:

I'd appeal to data rather than analogies. Several kinds come to mind. The supporting data can be found in my articles and conference presentations with titles mentioning "life," "everyday life," "death," "practical," "why g

matters," "health," and such. See also Herrnstein and Murray for number 1 below.


1. IQ (as long as it's a good measure of g) predicts a broad range of life outcomes better than does SES, from GPA to longevity. Corollary: You can wash out IQ's apparent predictive superiority only if you load your SES battery with additional surrogates for parents' or own g.

2. The phenotypic correlations between IQ and measures of social class (education, occupational prestige, income) are from a half to two-thirds genetic in origin.

3. SES cannot explain the big IQ differences among siblings growing up in the same household: They differ two-thirds as much in IQ, on the average (11-12 points), as do any two random strangers (~17 points). This is a glaring fact that SES enthusiasts have studiously ignored.

4. Adult functional literacy (e.g., see the fed's NALS survey) predicts life outcomes in exactly the same pattern as does IQ, though they won't tell you that. Functional literacy is measured by having subjects carry out everyday life tasks, such as using a menu to figure out the price for something. Persons scoring at levels 1-2 (out of 5) have been described as not having the ability to use their rights or meet their responsibilities in the modern world (40% of whites, 80% of blacks). Pick out a few NALS tasks at various levels and ask your critic what % of adults s/he thinks can perform them. They will be shocked and so will you when you see the data--go to my 1997 "Why g matters" article for NALS, or my 2002 "highly general and highly practical" chapter for health literacy items--e.g., on diabetes.

5. IQ predicts on-the-job performance better overall than any other single predictor (SES isn't even in the running), it predicts better when performance is objectively rather than subjectively measured, and when the tasks/occupations are more complex in what they require workers to do. At the same cognitive complexity level, IQ predicts job performance equally well in manual and non-manual jobs (e.g., trades vs. clerical. The exact same complexity pattern is found with functional literacy--the hardest items are the most complex (require more inference, are abstract rather than concrete, contain more distracting irrelevant information, etc.)

6. A large followup of Australian veterans found that IQ was the best predictor of death by age 40 (had 50+ predictors). Vehicle fatalities were the biggest cause (as is typical), and, compared to men with IQs of 100+, men of IQ85-100 had twice the rate and men IQ 80-85 had three times the rate. (Remember, SES could not explain this.) The US (and apparently Australia) forbid induction of persons below IQ 80 because they are not sufficiently trainable--found out the hard way.

7. Finally, if you succeed in describing g as a general learning and reasoning ability (one that gives high g people an increasing edge when tasks are more complex), then it is easy to show g's life and death relevance when you describe how health self-care and accident prevention are highly dependent on learning and reasoning. Consider what it takes to be an effective diabetic--lots and lots of judgment on a daily basis, or you're likely to lose your sight, your limbs, etc.

The more usual claim is that IQ is just an "academic ability," but it clearly is far more practical than that. It is far more practical than Sternberg's so-called "practical intelligence," whose existence rests solely on the chimerical evidence he conjures up.

You'll need a separate set of facts if the complaint is that IQ differences result mostly from nurture, not nature.

Linda S. Gottfredson
 Professor, School of Education
 University of Delaware
 Newark, DE 19716 USA

Which is as succinct and yet sufficient as anything I have seen. Posted with Dr. Gottfredson's explicit permission.

* g





CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, June 12, 2005

I took the day off.





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