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Mail 366 June 13 - 19, 2005






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Monday  June 13, 2005

First see the IQ debates summary document from last week.


The following section is reasonably long. If you want to skip it, the end of it is here. The Taser Incident began when a policeman made a traffic stop. You can find the beginning of it here. It includes audio-video of the incident. There is mail and a considerable amount of comment, including from me. Following now is a lot of mail.

It began with:

Pretty disgusting if you ask me.



After which there was comment by me, and more mail.


I suspect the reason that woman got tazered is the same line of thinking that got my Korean girlfriend subjected to the TSA's tender mercies on her way home from Vegas. As you've noted before, the authorities can't concentrate on the real threat because of the Balkanization of our society.

Look, the only way the police department can avoid getting sued is to TREAT EVERYONE THE SAME. With no exceptions for common sense. So a woman who doesn't snap to it when ordered to get off the phone gets the same treatment as someone who could be a threat. Otherwise every time he uses his tazer he'll be in court accused of being a racist/homophobe/anti-Muslim/whatever.

"You were following policy? Oh really, officer, what about that time you ordered the woman to drop her phone? Isn't this a case of selective adherence to the rules?"

In other words, as a practical matter if he doesn't use the tazer here he can't use it when it's appropriate. Yes, it's terrible, but I don't think you can chalk this up to thuggery on the part of the police - they're doing what they've been trained to do.

On the other hand, I have no sympathy with the "she deserved it, she should have known" argument. Just because she should have known the police would probably carry through on their threat doesn't mean they have the moral or legal authority to do so. If I walk alone at night in a bad neighborhood I might well be doing something stupid, but that doesn't mean the mugger is acting on some higher authority.

Eric Baumgartner


You said:

"This is all right and proper. The officer even consoles the suspect. It was all done within policy, and after all, this was a really awful criminal, driving with a suspended license. It was all done properly.

So why are we not proud?"

This came across MetaFilter a few days ago. Amazing and highly depressing at the same time. You are correct, it was completely covered by the 'ROE'. How sad.

James Fallows has an interesting 'Future History' article in the latest issue of The Atlantic. A look back from 2016 on the coming U.S. political and economic crash. Not remotely plausible given too many shaky suppositions, but enough consideration of how what we're doing around the world today *could* have interesting and potentially negative consequences.

Enough. I have to pack. Off to Seattle on Monday to attend oldest daughter's wedding. I fully intend to lean over to the groom at the end of the aisle and tell him, "Remember, all sales are final....." Then a long-awaited week in the Canadian Rockies to recharge the batteries and soul. [And if I keep seeing stories like this one, perhaps to do some job hunting...]



Dean Riddlebarger



I suspect the reason that woman got tazered is the same line of thinking that got my Korean girlfriend subjected to the TSA's tender mercies on her way home from Vegas. As you've noted before, the authorities can't concentrate on the real threat because of the Balkanization of our society.

Look, the only way the police department can avoid getting sued is to TREAT EVERYONE THE SAME. With no exceptions for common sense. So a woman who doesn't snap to it when ordered to get off the phone gets the same treatment as someone who could be a threat. Otherwise every time he uses his tazer he'll be in court accused of being a racist/homophobe/anti-Muslim/whatever.

"You were following policy? Oh really, officer, what about that time you ordered the woman to drop her phone? Isn't this a case of selective adherence to the rules?"

In other words, as a practical matter if he doesn't use the tazer here he can't use it when it's appropriate. Yes, it's terrible, but I don't think you can chalk this up to thuggery on the part of the police - they're doing what they've been trained to do.

On the other hand, I have no sympathy with the "she deserved it, she should have known" argument. Just because she should have known the police would probably carry through on their threat doesn't mean they have the moral or legal authority to do so. If I walk alone at night in a bad neighborhood I might well be doing something stupid, but that doesn't mean the mugger is acting on some higher authority.

Eric Baumgartner


Jerry P:

I also grew up in a small town, smaller than Memphis, but the local cop used to park by the school to make sure drivers didn't forget to slow down for the kids and in the winter, which in Oklahoma is not that bad. We used to be invited to sit in his car with the heater going and talk about things. I also had minor run-ins with police at Halloween when we pretended we were pulling a rope across the street in front of cars, one of which was a police cruiser. Nothing happened because the police officers knew that we didn't realize that someone could panic and cause a problem. We did get a stern lecture but told to go home. But in small town America, in the good old days, the cops were not storm troopers who didn't remember who they worked for. They didn't have a union and the police chief knew who would get in trouble if they did act like storm troopers.

The facts were that the woman stopped her car when the police lit her up. Yes, she was talking on the phone, which is an offense in itself, but not worth an assault with a taser. It does demonstrate that her priorities were talking on the phone not paying attention to the police. Bad judgment, but the cop had nothing important to do other than wait out the dumb lady. As a result he will have the incident on his record and that is not a good career move. Maybe he can get a job in the real world where that type of action would get him sued personally. Yes, she was stupid, but the police need to understand that they serve the public. They are not the authority, the public institution they work for has the authority and those people are elected by the public. It is a representative democracy and poor choices by one officer end up causing their brother officers more grief in the long run. The public will respond in a negative manner long after the incident is out of the papers, and it is a stain on the blue.

Charles Simkins

Actually my experiences with community policing was the sheriff deputies and village constables of Capleville, Tennessee, now a suburb of Memphis but then just a small town way out in the sticks out Highway 78 from Memphis. We were actually closer to Mineral Wells, Mississippi than to Capleville...


A woman in an SUV. UNMARKED police vehicle. She had already tried to get out earlier and was told to stay in the car. She was telling someone where she was and what was going on. 34 seconds from the 1st yelling order to get out and being shot with taser. A gracious 18 seconds to 2nd taser shock.

Time from time marks on film.

I honestly do not know what I would do if my wife, daughter, girlfriend, mother, or grandmother had that done to her, probably go to jail for a long time. But for sure I would be looking for a slimy lawyer.

Please leave my name off.


When I was but a young lad, my lawyer father instructed me about how I was to conduct myself with an officer of the law: "yes, sir; no, ma'am; yes, officer, whatever you say."

You see, the policeman--my father informed me--does not decide the case, a judge does that. Arguing with a police officer is arguing with the wrong person, and so is being disrespectful. Make sure that when your attorney asks the officer in court if he had been treated politely and with respect, that the answer is "yes." That may be crucial in arguing with the right person,--the judge,--about your verdict in the matter.

What you said about Capleville is still true today in my small Midwestern hometown. Drunks almost always get a ride home, instead of to jail--for as many times as it takes,--and so do many of the local kids who might get into rowdy situations with their gang of friends. For those who repeat the offenses, a few days in the county work program, cleaning up the parks, courthouse, and other public buildings, seems to restrain the repeating temperament.

Separately, my wife and I have lived in Germany for 4 years and notice a sharp contrast in the attitude of the police from what we have been used to in America. They are not "enforcers". They are not looking under rocks for violations; they are not chasing down speeders (hidden radar cameras taking your mug shot and license number to mail you the violation, do that); they are not trying to fill the city coffers with fines. They are there to help and investigate. This, in a country where children as young as 7, travel the city busses alone to get to and from school (the city transit system IS the school bus system throughout most of Germany). That difference makes for a much calmer and safer feeling about one's surroundings--aside from being more sensible in the first place.



You said "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."

No, you're not.

Traffic stop procedure in Los Angeles is for the alleged miscreant to stay in the car.

My source on this is firsthand experience in El Segundo, summer of 2004. I'd made an error, was pulled over. Standard practice that I've followed in such occasions in the past (going back probably 30 years) has been to get out of the car, slowly, and walk back to the officer. The moment I open the door and stand up, the officer starts SCREAMING at me "GET BACK IN THE CAR, NOW!" There may be times to argue with a cop, but this clearly wasn't one of them. I got back in the car, closed the door, and waited. We did the entire traffic stop with me in the car, him standing beside the door. He finished up with "When you are stopped out here, STAY IN THE CAR. Getting out of the car is a good way to get a gun pointed at you."

I have no doubt that, if I had not gotten back in the car, as ordered, he would have very shortly been making a shoot/don't shoot decision, and I would probably have lost the coin toss.


As long as I stay in LA. After all, I was once Deputy Mayor here...


Mike McDaniel wonders how long the public will continue to put up with police bullying. I believe there's a relatively simple answer. Until the cops begin to look like a significant danger to the average man's family. At that point being a "law enforcement officer" will become a much more life threatening occupation. Note that there is somewhere in the neighborhood of ONE cop for every 800 or more people in the country. They're badly outnumbered. Note that 40% of American households have guns in them...frequently several guns for various purposes from target shooting to long range varmint hunting. The cops are badly outgunned. Note that city cops, county sheriffs and state trooper outfits are ALL having major problems finding acceptable recruits even though the entrance requirements have been sharply reduced. The cops are outnumbered and outgunned by a population that's generally smarter (and more disciplined) than they are. What does military history say about the probable outcome of this conflict?

Tim Butler Rock Hill, SC


Which ought to be enough on this subject.

 Back to beginning: Begin Taser Incident


On Global Warming: A debate/discussion

It began when I sent this email message to Gavin Schmidt of NASA Goddard.

Following went up on my web page today

On Global Warming: There are several issues here, all twisted together. Those whose funding depends on the "consensus" that leads to the Kyoto conventions find it expedient to wrap them all together into one issue -- Do You Care About Preserving The Earth or Are You a Monster -- but that isn't a very useful thing to do.

First issue: is Earth warming? Yes, of course it is; this is supported by all the evidence. Moreover, it has been warming since about 1800, and we all know it: measure growing seasons everywhere (look in old Almanacs if you like for planting dates and harvesting dates), thickness of the ice in North America (we all know that cannon were dragged across frozen rivers in 1776 in places where the ice no longer gets thick enough to walk on, or never forms at all now), retreat of glaciers all across the world and in both hemispheres. Yes. Earth is warming.

Second issue: is this due to human causes? Not very likely. The very trends that show warming since 1800 also show that the warming has been pretty uniform over that time, and modern industrialization didn't put enough CO2 into the atmosphere to matter until well into the 20th Century. Indeed, early coal burning probably put enough particulates into the upper atmosphere to have a cooling effect. Certainly the 1815 eruption of Tambura had a distinctly cooling effect (causing the notorious "year without a summer" which was so gloomy that Mary Shelley wrote the gothic novel Frankenstein because the Shelley's and Byron's weren't having any fun on Lake Geneva due to lousy weather). But despite a glitch in the trend during 1815 the warming has been pretty well linearly constant from around 1800 to 1960, at which point the warming continued but perhaps less rapidly. This is hard to determine because this was when we began better instrumentation, but that itself can cause ambiguities since we can measure temperature effect undoubtedly caused by humans -- cities for example -- which are highly local.

Third Issue: is CO2 increasing? Yes. Is it having an effect on Global Warming? Probably, but it's hard to see because the trend in warming from 1800 is so strong that a small addition from CO2 isn't easily seen (if at all; there's some controversy on whether the effect has been observed, but no one seriously contends that it is large yet). There is serious debate on the future effects of CO2 on global warming, and people with good credentials take all sides of the issue.

Effects of CO2: the best paper I have seen is http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm and I have yet to have one of the environmentalists give me a serious refutation of what that paper says.

Fourth Issue: is Global Warming likely to continue? Surprisingly, we don't know. If there is a serious possibility of serious global warming we ought to be looking into ways of doing something about it. Alas, the climate trends are such that it's as likely we are in for another period of global cooling as warming, and I can remember when climatology predictions at AAAS meetings were about the possibility of new Ice Ages; Stephen Schneider who now mostly talks about Global Warming wrote The Genesis Strategy http://www.wilmonie.com/cgi-bin/wmb455/105317.html about preparations for global cooling not all that long ago. I took the photograph of him and Margaret Mead that was used for promoting the book. It's not a bad book although like much of Stephen's work it tends to get polemical; which is to say he feels strongly about what he concludes.

Fifth Issue: what should we do? Note that this is policy, not science. My recommendation is that we spend as much as we must to obtain an understanding of what's going on and what we face: should we be preparing for Global Warming or a New Ice Age? Or nothing at all? Clearly the different courses of action are mutually exclusive, and except for the "do nothing" alternative are likely to be expensive. Why Do Nothing? Doing nothing seems wrong, but in fact might be proper: certainly we should Do Nothing until we know what it is we are Doing Something about. As to why "Nothing" may be the right answer, recall that the Vikings settled Greenland, and prior to about 1325 there was a long period of warm climates, long growing seasons, and generally mild weather: Good Weather. It may be that we are warming back up to that point. Those concerned about CO2 are right to point out that if we have a warming trend to an optimum the CO2 warming may take us well past that point to something we don't like. However, there's little evidence that will happen, and there's even less that it will happen suddenly: the Earth is big and the oceans are large, and warming up the whole mess takes lots of time because there are so many thermal sinks. We have no historical evidence of sudden onset warming.

We do have considerable evidence of sudden onset cooling: England went from deciduous trees to snow and ice in under 100 years in the last Ice Age, and the Little Ice Age came on very quickly. If we're warming up, preparations will be needed but there should be time -- and things will get better for quite a while before they get worse, so there will be more money to spend on Doing Something. If however it's ICE that's coming, things get worse before they get awful, there will be less money, and less time. Schneider's Genesis Strategy is a start on what we might do. And that, it seems to me, is about where we are.

So: since this seems so reasonable (at least to me) why is there such bitter controversy and so many really horrible charges thrown about, with people denounced, and attempts made to get people thrown out of academic positions and professional societies for having contrary views?

Well, there's a LOT of money at stake. The "environmentalists" generally charge anyone who challenges their conclusions and policy recommendations with being in the pay of the evil oil companies -- and also work very very hard to see that every nickel of funding from other sources goes to people with a big stake in the "consensus" position and won't disrupt the gravy train. When we feared an Ice Age there wasn't a lot of money for some reason; but Global Warming caught on, and there's lots and lots of money for studies and academic positions, and if that dries up -- who will support the "consensus" people? I admit that's a pretty harsh view, and it probably doesn't apply to more than a small percentage of the "consensus" defenders: but it emphatically does apply to many of the more vociferous, and particularly to those who go about denouncing those who oppose them.

It may be possible to have rational debates on climatology, but my experience has been that if the opening arguments don't convince you to join the "consensus" then either you will be denounced, or communications will simply cease. That happened in the discussions with NASA's Gavin Schmidt [gschmidt@giss.nasa.gov] here on this web site, and that was neither the first nor the last time.

But the facts remain: the warming trend was going on well before the CO2 levels began escalating. The Earth has been both warmer and cooler in historical times. Computer models produce predictions, but none of those models can duplicate the past (start with 1900 and run a 100 year projection that "predicts" the realities of the Year 2000; or start with 1950 and predict 2000 with the model; or heck, just give us a good picture of what is going to happen next year, or this summer). Observation scientists tend to be less enthusiastic about the "consensus" and many reject it entirely. And there are counter-trends: We don't know if we are headed for an Ice Age or Global Warming, but for a while at least Warming produces a more benign world with more resources to spend. And the return of the Ice Ages would be very bad.

And many of the environmentalist protagonists use tactics that they would (and do) deplore if used by anyone else.

Which got this reply:

Just to show that I don't completely give up, here is a picture that, I would contend, demonstrates what you request:

"start with 1900 and run a 100 year projection that "predicts" the realities of the Year 2000"


The hindcast comes from running the models with our best guess of all the historical forcings (including CO2, CH4, solar, volcanoes, aerosols etc.): http://www.giss.nasa.gov/data/simodel/F_line.gif 

(full context from http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2005/2005_HansenNazarenkoR.pdf  and http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=148 ).

Somehow I doubt you will be happy though....


I replied:

Happy? If I thought we had a real handle on all this I'd be ecstatic.

Query: what was the largest driving factor? I will bet it was not CO2

You would lose:


CO2 is the largest single term, and when added together with the other well mixed GHGs (CH4, N2O, CFCs etc.) they are plainly dominant - most obviously so after about 1970 when the net forcings start to be persistently positive (except for a couple of volcanic excursions).


Now wait a moment.

From everything I can see, warming has been roughly linear since 1800. You are telling me you now have a model that can show the trend from 1900 to 2000. Presumably it shows fairly linear warming from 1900 to 1960, then a slight decrease in the warming trend from then to 2000; at least that's what I see in the data.

If that's the case, I don't understand how CO2 was a big driving force. Have I misread something?

The Earth is certainly warming. Is it warming due to CO2 and human causes? If your model shows that, how does it account for what happened between 1800 and 2000, or even 1900 to 1950?

You have set up a false dichotomy - either CO2 is the only thing going on, or CO2 is not important at all. The actual situation is that other forcings are important (volcanoes, solar, aerosols, land use etc.) and for much of the earlier periods there wasn't one thing that was was dominant. The dominance of CO2 (and the other GHGs) appears as the largest term only in the last 50 years, and most clearly in the last few decades.

>From 1900 to 1950, you have increases in solar and CO2/CH4, and also a decrease in volcanism, balanced slightly by an increase in aerosols (which is the most uncertain component).

In the last thirty years, solar was static, volcanism increased (though not much has happened since Pinatubo), aerosols are (globally) holding steady, and yet CO2 continues it's upward march.

Different periods have different things going on. Overall, the biggest term this century has been CO2. I don't see a contradiction there.


We now pass to a long exchange in email format:

On Sat, 2005-05-28 at 16:52, Jerry Pournelle wrote:
> Biggest term this century? You mean 2000 -- 2005 or 1900 -- 2000?

I actually meant the last century (apologies). But on present form, it is looking like being the biggest term this century too.

> Again, I look at the data and see fairly uniform linear warming from
> about 1800 to 2000, except that warming actually slowed a bit after
> 1960 (but not by much and that may or may not be a misreading).
> Is this incorrect?

If we stick to the instrumental period (1850+) to avoid problems with tree rings and other proxies
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png )
things are kind of flat until 1900, a brief dip and then rise to 1940, another dip, but basically flat until mind 1970s and then a steady rise (doing a decadal average by eye). Not really radically different from your reading....

> Because if the warming is uniform from 1800 to 2000, and we know CO2
> wasn't terribly important until well after 1920 and probably not until 1970.

... but I don't think you can claim the warming has been purely uniform.

> Am I correct in understanding you to say that we had a warming trend
> driven by solar and perhaps volcanism until about 1950, after which
> that leveled off, but CO2 and man-made activity in general caused the
> continual warming after that? That we had a warming trend from outside
> causes, but that peaked out, and the warming we see now is from other
> causes that took over as the outside forces diminished?

I don't think that outside forces have diminished, more that those outside forces that appear to have been important in recent history are now just smaller than the effect of the increasing GHGs. Prior to the 1950 say, GHGs were just one factor out of many, now they are the dominant factor. It's clear that sometimes the other 'natural forcings'
(solar and volcanic mainly on these timescales) will sometimes work together, and sometimes work in opposition (there being no mechanism connecting them AFAIK). In the early part of the 20th Century they appear to have worked together to warm, and in the late 17th Century, they may have worked together to cool. In the early 19th Century they opposed each other. The point is that we would have cooled in the 1980's-1990's if we were just going by the natural forcings. Thus, detectability of the GHG forcing only really became possible in the last few decades. Prior to that there was a physical effect, but it could not be cleanly separated from the other things going on.

> If so, is there evidence for this or is it an inference from the
> models? I know something about models and operations research in
> general, but not about the mechanisms of data gathering in
> climatology: it's my understanding that most of what we think we know
> about temperatures in the past comes largely from inferential sources
> like glacier retreats (linear from 1800 to present), ice thicknesses
> and breakups, growing seasons (from almanacs) and the like, there
> being precious little actual temperature measurement and recording until fairly late in the 20th Century.
> Is this correct?

Based on the picture we have now of temperature variations and how much information is required to estimate the global annual mean anomalies of temperature, it turns out that we have a reasonable idea of the global (or at least Northern Hemisphere) mean back to about 1850 from instrumental temperature records alone (though error bars obviously increase as you go further back).

Estimates of the forcings (solar, volcanic, CO2, land use...) are put together from all the relevant evidence from ice cores, early observations, etc.

Models are used to see if the forcings and the observational data are physically consistent over the recent time period, and that's what you see in results like the figure I highlighted earlier.

Not all forcings are know to the same accuracy - in particular aerosol distributions are difficult, as are some of the aerosol-cloud interactions that are a big part of the forcings. GHGs are known well, and volcanoes are reasonably well known....

> In which case the only independent solar data I know of until fairly
> recent times are records of the brightness of Venus and Mars as
> recorded by such places as the Lowell (I was on its board for 6 years).

...but there is also some uncertainty in the long term solar changes.
There are data from a number of sources - sun spot records are one, cosmogenic isotopes are another (isotopes like 10Be and 14C whose production is modulated by the shielding effect of the solar magnetic field which varies with solar activity). However calibrating this to climate-relavant solar activity is pretty uncertain. You could double or halve the 20th C solar contribution without straining credulity.

> I am trying to tease out what are the independent variables in the
> model and what are inferences.

The forcings are independent variables, the temperature changes produced by the model are dependent on those (to the extent that intrinsic variability in the climate allows), and the validation is against the observed temperature data. Actually it's more complicated than I state because of other data that are used to validate the models (ocean heat content, sea-ice changes, etc...) and the use of models to estimate the complex 3D fields of aerosol and ozone change, but that's the basic idea.

> And I keep coming back to the fact that until not long ago the big
> concern was the Return Of The Ice (Schneider's Genesis Strategy). What changed?

You have to put it in context. The early 70s saw two advances that were quite novel - firstly that Milankovitch cycles did explain a great deal of the ice age cycles, with the corollary that since we are now in an interglacial, at some point a new ice age was likely. Secondly, the cooling effect of particulates (aerosols) was first quantified - and since (like GHGs) they are a by-product of industrialisation, they had been increasing with time, giving a cooling tendency. These two things coincided with the slight dip in temperature from the 1940s, and thus gave rise to the idea that the new ice age was imminent. But before you make the case that is exactly parallel to the situation today, go back to the scientific papers at the time - you'll find that the discussions were often very nuanced and often the impact of CO2 was balanced against the aerosols. The classic 1971 NAS report concluded that much was unknown and more research was needed. Of course, neither you nor I will claim that reports in the popular media (i.e. Newsweek) generally do a good job of conveying scientific uncertainty. William Connelley has done a nice job summarising what the actual articles were saying:


which even includes a brief discussion of the Schneider book.


Which is where matters stand. I have asked a couple of climatologists who don't subscribe to any of this for comments, but it has been well more than a week and it is unfair not to post Dr. Schmidt's arguments.

I have no resources to challenge any of this beyond my general views; I do think this is about as succinct a presentation of the Global Warming argument as I know. I now leave it for your comments. I'll have my own later.

Continued below


Harry Erwin's Letter From England

Subject: Letter from England

Things are very quiet at the moment. There's an argument in the EU over tax monies <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4084594.stm>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,7369,1505234,00.html>  <http:// www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1652078,00.html> .

The Government is talking about providing child care in the schools <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1652456,00.html> .

Can anyone explain to me what Apple is doing? I understand the development version of MacOS X 10.4.1 can be made to run on most Intel-based PCs. Is Apple trying to steal Microsoft's user base?

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her


Dirty Magazines

Soon after being transferred to a new duty station, my Marine husband called home to tell me he would be late - again. He went on to say that dirty magazines had been discovered in the platoon's quarters and they had to discipline the whole squad. I launched into a tirade, arguing that many men had pictures hanging in their quarters at our previous post, so his new platoon should not be penalized for something trivial.

My husband calmly listened to my gripes and then explained, "Honey, dirty magazines: the clips from their rifles had not been cleaned."


Sounds like from Reader's Digest...


Hi Jerry,

Here you go ! I fully expect to read about some nerd getting arrested for playing a pc war game on an airplane someday.


Thanks for all the great words, Lynn






This week:


read book now


Tuesday,  June 14, 2005 FLAG DAY

More on Global Warming

Jerry P:

I agree on the indicated web site as being pretty good. But I repeat, all the reports I have read either ignore the water vapor factor, or lump it into a discussion of clouds as if they have done a thorough study. Those that acknowledge water vapor admit that it is the most significant greenhouse gas. But they claim, without much real data that I can see, that it has no forcing function, either positive or negative. I find this less than convincing science and await further real science since what has been demonstrated is largely statistics. I omit the quote attributed to Mark Twain as it is redundant. The fact is that glaciers and Bristle cone Pines in the White Mountains may not be good indicators of large scale climatic conditions if the atmospheric weather patterns are significantly different than what have been recorded. Much, much more scientific effort has to be made to understand the oceans and those parts of the atmospheric system that have largely been ignored. Make a model that produces lush vegetation in the Sahara. What does the circulation pattern look like then? It is not just that orbital fluctuations can produce some of the anomalies, but then that whole atmospheric circulation pattern must be reproduced to demonstrate what the rest of the world would look like. Does an ice age mean anything to South America's climate, and what would it have been like? We have all seen enough graphical examples used to support the warming hypothesis, or to refute it. Do the hard work please, if you are a climate scientist. Then realize that the problem may be out of human hands to mitigate.

Charles Simkins



The models have always bothered me for a much deeper reason than the issues discussed by you and Gavin Schmidt. The climate is the average of the weather, what we see day to day. It is well understood that the weather is unpredictable beyond about two weeks due the physics and mathematics of the atmosphere. Briefly, the physical equations are coupled nonlinear partial differential equations which are subject to sensitive dependence on initial conditions, aka, chaos. This results in time series that never repeat and has severe consequences for prediction. Even if the models are perfect, a slight error in the input data causes the prediction to diverge from reality exponentially fast. Neither the models nor the data are perfect or even complete, which compounds the error. So we can't predict the weather but we can predict the average, the climate. Huh?

There are other problems that have to do with the data. For example, http://www.realclimate.org/figure1_hansen05.jpg  shows a nearly 0.5 C temperature rise from 1980 to 2000. The satellite data is nearly flat for this period. See http://www.junkscience.com/GMT/NCDCvsMSU0405.gif   to compare. So which is right? If the satellite data is correct (that's the way I'd bet) the entire exercise is an example of parameter twiddling to get the desired answer.




I certainly have not gone over to the dark side: I haven't seen enough evidence to convince me that warming has not been uniform since about 1800. Earth is certainly warming. There remain two questions: what is causing it, and is this bad?

Subject: Climate and Chaos

Just responding to Paul's comment on predicting the average climate although we can't predict the weather. There's a 1997 paper on the subject: T. Sauer, C. Grebogi, and J.A. Yorke, How long do numerical chaotic solutions remain valid?, Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 59 (1997), which discusses shadowing of a true solution by a model. This can be used to access the literature on the subject. The issues are how non- stationary is the weather and how well do the climate models shadow the real evolution of climate? I'm aware that accurate weather prediction would require a dense 3-D grid of measurement stations, but as long as the deviation between the local weather and its model is fairly small, the climatic model will still be fairly good.

Now try doing that for brains if you want a real problem.

-- "The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is." (Tom Vogl)

Harry Erwin


Subject: Global warming vs Iraq?


E.C. "Stan" Field

There is some justice in that...

And see below


Just a thought....

On a radio program in the past 2-4 years (memory's going, sorry...) Miss Manners (Judith Martin) commenting on what she thought was the greatest challenge facing society today. Her reply was 'lack of manners', which, while not a surprise, was very persuasively argued.

Her theory is as follows: Society once was able to run smoothly because there were unwritten laws, customs, which were informally enforced much more strictly than written law. These customs defined how people were to interact, especially if they had no interpersonal history, to minimize misunderstanding, discomfort, and conflict.

"Recently" (Miss Martin didn't specify exactly when, but I'm sure that the 1960's were foremost in her mind), the *requirement* to follow the unwritten laws were abolished in the name of being 'genuine', 'honest', and 'real'. While this had resulted in a situation where certain groups were allowed to take a more active role in society (women, minorities), it had been taken too far.

One result of this wholesale abrogation of custom was an increase in the specificity of rights and obligations under the law, since the 'unwritten law' was considered out-of-date and of decreasing utility.

All of which leads me to this: If the unwritten laws were being followed, the tased woman could have said, "I've been pulled over for a traffic stop. I'll call you when I'm done." Or, conversely, the policeman would have been allowed to wait until she ran out of steam and sat there with a stupid, ashamed look on her face.

Is it possible to vote to bring back unwritten laws? As long as they're rooted in equity and politeness, not in undeserved hidebound elitism? I'd vote for it! <grin>

Best Regards, and sorry to ramble so,

Doug Hayden


Regarding the 'unwritten laws' mentioned by Doug Hayden, I believe Roberth A. Heinlein in the Notebooks of Lazarus Long, wrote:

"Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide the lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or "dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best."

E.C. "Stan" Field


Subject: Feeling Safer Now?

The latest on the War on Terrorism from the Washington Post:

Yes, let's be suspicious of foreigners who behave oddly -- even if they are military officials coming to meet with our own.

You couldn't put things like this in one of your science fiction novels. You have to try to make your novels believable.


Chuck Divine





This week:


read book now


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Subject: Cell phone lady, tasers, and the black community

Dr. Pournelle:

One point that eventually comes up in any discussion of heavy-handed police is "You think you have it bad, people in the black community have been saying this for a long time." As in the black community, the reaction in this forum to cell-phone lady ranges from thoughts of passive resistance all the way up to thoughts of broad-based violence. You call what drives these feelings "anarcho-tyranny" -- the anarchy of nothing done about the broader violence in society but the tyranny of mindless enforcement of rules, procedures, and zero-tolerance policies. One could say that the South Central L.A. is 20 to 40 years ahead of the curve in its residents experiencing the anarchy of gang violence along with the tyranny of the LAPD.

To turn this around, I also have wondered why residents of South Central and other minority communities have such a negative attitude about the police. It is one thing to grow up poor but it is another thing to grow up with bullets flying around from criminal gangs vying for turf. What is worse, being stopped and questioned by a rude police officer trying to maintain order in your neighborhood or being afraid your your child being in the crossfire of an inter-gang shooting on the way to school?

I suppose one answer is that if the police are not perceived to be effective in controlling the violence, the rude officer is one additional indignity without otherwise improving the quality of one's life. Many of the people on this forum are not stopped by the police on their way to work out of South Central but are subject to the graces of the TSA on their way to work on flights out of LAX. The view on this forum is that worrying about planes flying into major buildings is fighting the last war because 1) the enemy used up their tactical surprise on that one, 2) if the enemy had any tactical smarts, they would be thinking completely different kinds of attacks to restore tactical surprise, 3) passengers will riot because the social customs and laws preventing them have been removed, so the worst thing that can happen is the loss of the aircraft. In that context, TSA is an unnecessary indignity.

I am still of the mind that the heavy-handedness of the police is a symptom and not a primary cause of a broader social problem. The problem is that there are a lot of violent people out there, the police remain necessary to protect all of us, but the police have to protect themselves. There are fathers and teachers in the black community who teach their youth how to be stopped by the police -- hands visible on the steering wheel, don't reach for anything until ordered to do so. Given the danger of a traffic stop to an officer and the tactics this requires, I think these are good lessons for people of all ages and races.

Paul Milenkovic Madison, Wisconsin

In the riots a few years ago, my sometimes collaborator Steve Barnes had to go into the black area to get a friend. (He had long before moved out of there.) He dressed, as he put it, in the appropriate gang colors: a suit and tie for the police, figuring his black skin would take care of the rest. It worked. But he was never worried that the police would bother him without provocation and he knew precisely how to talk to them. Not that he didn't resent what was done to Rodney King.


Subject: Global Warming

Meanwhile, the Mainstream Media ("MSM") is reporting that "The Debate is Over..."


The debate's over: Globe is warming By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY Don't look now, but the ground has shifted on global warming. After decades of debate over whether the planet is heating and, if so, whose fault it is, divergent groups are joining hands with little fanfare to deal with a problem they say people can no longer avoid. <http://images.usatoday.com/_common/_images/clear.gif>  <http://images.usatoday.com/news/_photos/2005/06/13/warming-inside.jpg>  <http://images.usatoday.com/_common/_images/clear.gif>  The Larsen B ice shelf, on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, has shattered and separated from the continent as a result of warming. <http://images.usatoday.com/_common/_images/clear.gif>  National Snow and Ice Data Center ============================================================================

Of course, WE know that the vast majority of Antarctica is getting COLDER!



I bought a brand new G5 iMac a week before the Intel announcement. And I'm happy about it! (The 20" screen is flat out gorgeous.)

Why? Well, I honestly think this computer will last me well past the Intel transition. Our last primary Mac was a G4 Cube and it lasted four and a half years as the primary. Truth be told, it still runs everything I need just fine; I bought the G5 because it was a great deal (refurb with a lower price and special financing). (Of course, the G5 has spoiled me enough that I'm not switching back...)

It really is true that even a five year old computer is still Good Enough, and I think today's computers will be Good Enough in 2010. So for Mac users worried about the 2006/2007 Intel transition, I would say, if you need a new desktop Mac now, go ahead and buy it today. Or if you find a great deal, go ahead and take it. Computer prices have dropped enough, and computer lifespans have lengthened enough, that Mac users should just continue buying on their normal cycle.

Laptops? I think I'd give the same advice. On the one hand, laptops (all brands) wear out their welcome faster. On the other hand, the Intel chips may well show up in Apple laptops before they show up in desktops, based on Steve Jobs's comments.

Steve Setzer


On Grade Inflation

Mr. Pournelle,

I wanted to comment about the grade inflation at colleges that you've been discussing. I graduated from Caltech two years ago. While I imagine that grade inflation has occurred there, it is certainly less prevalent there than at places like Harvard and the other Ivy League schools. This gives us a really nasty disadvantage.

I barely managed to eke out a 3.5 GPA at graduation by taking easier classes my last year and working hard on them. There are good students, friends of mine, who worked hard taking very challenging classes and got worse GPAs than mine, although I'd credit them as being smarter and more hard working than me. Their reward? Their graduate school applications go straight into the trash. Most graduate schools won't even take a second look at applications that have anything less than a 3.5 GPA, because at a school that grade inflates, less than a 3.5 means that the student is incredibly lazy or an imbecile.

Don't get me wrong - we're very proud of our school, and wouldn't want it any other way. I only got two A+s in my four years, and I'm proud of them, because I earned them. And the C's I got? Well, I earned those too. But it's very frustrating when we have to go ask our advisors to call up graduate schools and say "Take another look at his application - he's a Caltech graduate, and a 2.9 is very good here." I shudder to think what happens at rigorous schools without such a good reputation as Caltech.

The other thing I've noticed since coming to graduate school is that none of the other graduate students learned how to think about problems in college. I was a Chemistry major, and I'm in a Cell Biology graduate program now, so I expected to be behind the rest of my classmates. And sure, they know a lot more about all the cellular systems than I do. I took a class last year where all we did was discuss new papers that came out in cell biology. I didn't know what any of the systems they were talking about were before I read the papers, although everyone else had studied them before. But I could read the papers, understand them, and critique them, while they couldn't come up with coherent criticisms of the papers to save their lives.

What got me thinking about this was your comments on education versus skill training. I got given an education - I learned chemistry, but more importantly, I learned how to learn things. I can teach myself things that I need to know - molecular biology, computer programming, whatever. It seems like most colleges just teach the subject. So they come out knowing biology, and how to do biology in the lab.

It's just frustrating, and I can't help but feel that they got ripped off. Sure, Caltech was expensive, but even if I never go into chemistry as a career, what I learned there will be useful for the rest of my life. Most colleges don't do that, and leave their graduates with a body of knowledge, some skills, and no practice in how to improve themselves. I don't mean to be insulting - these graduate students are smart people, and deserved a lot better education than they got. What a waste.

Brett Olsen


Subject: Why I Was Mugged in Scarsdale


This man has a fine way of rating high schools.




Subject: Presbyterians: No Public School


Wednesday, June 15, 2005 Presbyterians: Pull kids from public school Pastor follows Baptists' lead in presenting resolution to denomination Posted: June 15, 2005 1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Ron Strom © 2005 WorldNetDaily.com

Following the lead of Baptist activists, a Tennessee pastor from the Presbyterian Church in America today is scheduled to introduce a resolution to the denomination's General Assembly to urge members across the nation to pull their children out of public school.

As WorldNetDaily reported, a group of Baptists last year presented a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention that eventually was killed.

Noting that "the millions of children in government schools spend seven hours a day, 180 days a year being taught that God is irrelevant to every area of life," the resolution said, "Many Christian children in government schools are converted to an anti-Christian worldview rather than evangelizing their schoolmates."

Similar in tone, the Presbyterian resolution is considerably shorter than the Baptists'. It states:

Whereas, The Bible commands fathers to bring up their children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), and all parents who have had a child baptized in the Presbyterian Church in America have taken a vow to strive by all the means of God's appointment to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (BCO 56-5), and

Whereas, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), and any instruction that does not teach the centrality of Jesus Christ for understanding all of life cannot impart true wisdom and knowledge, and

Whereas, The public school system does not offer a Christian education, but officially claims to be "neutral" with regard to Christ, a position that Christ Himself said was impossible (Luke 11:23), and

Whereas, The public schools are by law humanistic and secular in their instruction, and as a result the attending children receive an education without positive reference to the Triune God, and

Whereas, Some courageous teachers in our congregations disregard this law. Obeying God rather than men, they try to give their students a truly Christian education (Acts 4:18-20). This resolution should not be construed to discourage these adult believers who faithfully labor as missionaries to unbelieving colleagues and students. However, these rare exceptions should not lead anyone to believe the public schools are regularly giving children a truly Christian education.

Whereas, Sending thousands of PCA children as "missionaries" to their unbelieving teachers and classmates has failed to contribute to increasing holiness in the public schools. On the contrary, the Nehemiah Institute documents growing evidence that the public schools are successfully converting covenant children to secular humanism, and Whereas, We are squandering a great opportunity to instruct these children in the truth of God's word and its application to all of life;

Therefore, be it resolved that the 33rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America encourages all her officers and members to remove their children from the public schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God and the good of Christ's church.



Subject: Homeschooling Conference


Thought you'd like to see this.




From Another Conference

On Improving the breed...

A really controversial idea would be to make high quality sperm available to single women who would otherwise get pregnant by a CAD mail. I keep seeing reports that many single women consciously decide to become pregnant to be a mother now rather than waiting for a adequate quality male willing to marry them. The quality of sperm that is in a typical sperm bank is probably much higher than the typical CAD they would pick up in a bar, or their current boyfriends. It could probably be made a little higher quality if the donors were tested for IQ and the highest picked. I suspect with a little advertising and a small subsidy, some of these women might choose the artificial insemination over just accepting the available males. I know of one women (a lawyer) who did get who self-inseminated to have a baby even though single. She was honest enough to mention this on a first blind date (that she was already pregnant).

To be even more controversial there are reports that many black women find light hued babies cuter. Of course, such a baby can be arranged, as well as greatly increasing the probability that the baby will finish high school, and avoid being shot or sent to prison.

While I hesitate to encourage child birth out of marriage I suspect the women who would take the route would be those already planning to become pregnant, and the genetic quality of the offspring would be improved. I suspect the cost would be low, the cost of making the insemination and sperm free (or possibly at a subsidized cost) and some advertising and insemination. Indeed, it would be easy to get vast amounts of free publicity just by starting such a program. The program would be denounced, but its availability would become known to at least some of the target population.

(Name Withheld)





CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Subject: Star Wars & George Lucas's Politics

When the first "Star Wars" film appeared in 1977 it was widely attacked by the left as pro-US Cold War propaganda and "free enterprise special pleading." It seems to me the essential values, texture and "feel" of the story is conservative rather than left-wing.

If Lucas is now making left-wing or anti-American noises about it to appease the Cannes-film-festival-Hollywood crowd who have always despised him, he may be making a Faustian bargain such as Anakin Skywalker came ultimately to regret. His natural audience won't like it. His last flirtation with leftism, "Howard the Duck," was a monumental disaster.

Incidentally, how did the Emperor cross space to rescue Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader from the lava-flow in only a few minutes?

Hal Colebatch
(Author, some Man-Kzin Wars)
 Nedlands, Western Australia

And see below, The sins of the Jedi


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I was sorry to read about Mr. Olsen's difficulties with getting into a graduate school, but I'd like to inform him and your other readers that his experience is not universal. I was accepted by several top tier geoscience graduate schools even though I earned only a 2.8 GPA at Caltech (class of 1990), and now as a professor at a top tier geoscience graduate school I can assure him that we would be happy to consider an application from a Caltech student with only a 2.8 GPA, especially if that were the result of taking the hardest classes. We are quite aware of grade inflation and adjust our GPA expectations according to what school the student attended.

I speculate that his trouble may be due to the fact that cell biology is now so dominated by "big science" that graduate students have become mere worker bees in the lab. In that case students are commodity labor and are treated as such. The geosciences are still mainly "small science" where graduate students do independent research and therefore need to have the skills that a Caltech undergraduate education provides. We give graduate applications individual attention because automatic sorting like Mr. Olsen describes would degrade the quality of our students.

Joel Norris


Subject: Arrgghh... grade inflation again!

With regard to your correspondent who attended CalTech and his claim that his alma mater has less grade inflation than the Ivies (I go to Penn) I refer you to CalTech’s website where it is stated that in 2004, of 208 BS degrees, 109 were granted “with honors”. That would appear to be a prima facie case of grade inflation. As far as I know, Penn does not publish a breakdown of how many students graduate with honors. I do know that to make the Dean’s List requires a 3.7 GPA for the academic year and that represents about 10% of the students at any given time. As to honors in general here, the percentage is far lower. At this spring’s graduation you would have be hard put to spot the distinctive gold cord that students graduating with honors wear. I saw a bare handful (yes, exactly 5) while watching the kids file into Franklin Field.

Admittedly a small sample, but this grade inflation thing, IMHO has become something of a boogey monster for those who have decided that our educational system is failing. A couple of data points from opposing ends of the spectrum:

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:


Valuable for history and methodology and easy to filter for the occasional self serving statement.


Where the statistics suggest that Ivy grade inflation at worst is similar to the nation as a whole and may be somewhat less. Be warned that this is a survey site – the author appears to have done no research himself.




Subject: Education, IQ, and Race


(1). Where do Indians rank on the IQ scale?

(2). If Asians really are smarter (on average) than the current population of North America then isn't the game over? The IQ edge coupled with the large difference in population, and the different social dynamic (motivated underdog vs. complacent reining champ) seems to be an unstoppable combination.

(3). Is our only hope some kind of genetic engineering program to raise the average IQ, or at least create a high IQ priesthood to give our nation a fighting chance? Wouldn't that make an interesting premise for a science fiction book? (Maybe someone has already done it???)

CP, Minnesota

Indians (from India) apparently are about 101 on average, but of course there are a lot of them, and their best schools are better than our average schools by a very wide margin.



Subject: Herr Governor

Jerry P:

While there is no argument that the legislature in Sacramento is, and has been for years, the roadblock to any type of good government, the governor has bought into the dog fight. With counties scraping the barrel to provide services mandated by state and federal legislation, much of which comes from Republican houses, it is an act of vanity for the governor to add further costs on these counties. In my retirement time I have served on grand juries and a juvenile justice commission and have a pretty good understanding of the problems agencies in my county face. The great fallacy is that if you feel that a system of governance is ineffective or inefficient, you can correct that by choking off funds. It is just as stupid as the liberals thinking that you can improve the same situation by throwing money at the problem. Young people in this state will not be helped by the special election if it means taking away programs that are providing assistance to them. That said, the redistricting needs to be done, probably on the Iowa model. The California initiative petition process is a great excuse for the legislature not to do what they were elected to do. Just float an initiative petition and claim that the people have spoken. Direct democracy is not what they were elected to perform, but it is their excuse for inaction.

Charles Simkins

Surely we can disagree? The ONLY way to cut back on government is to starve the beast. Governments will always spend more than they take in. The best example was after Reagan's tax cuts. US revenues went up, not down, but his budgets were famously "Dead On Arrival" in the Democratic Congress, which proceeded to spend until the deficits went up faster than the revenues. If government can't get at the money they can't spend as much. They'll still tax and tax, spend and spend, in the hopes that they can elect, elect; and the neo-cons with their "Big Government Conservatism" are obscene. Conservatives, at least my brand, favor self-government, which is effective and cheap; and "associations" as Tocqueville described, not "compassionate government" which support bureaucracies not people. The Salvation Army does a far better job with welfare than the bureaucrats.

The DC school system spends more per pupil than any other I know of; the results hardly justify that. Yet California thinks it can do better if it copies the DC system.


From Another Conference:

Studies Rebut Earlier Report on Pledges of Virginity http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/15/health/15pledge.html 

[My reaction when reading the headline was, "here's another example of why you should be suspicious of studies that get widely cited because those who cite them want to believe the results but which do not get any followups. I mentioned before such studies as Dr. Kenneth B. Clark's ones on black children reacting to black vs. white dolls, a study about the IQs of illegitimate children of American soldiers and German mothers after WW II (the IQs were the same irregardless of whether the father was white or black), and the case of "homophobes" having greater penile erections than other men when shown homoerotic pictures. Where are the followups?

[But after reading the article, though I think my advice is sound, I'm distressed that the Heritage Foundation's rebuttal does not give any quantities. Well, yes, pledgers may have lower rates of STDs, but how much? 1%? 25%? 90%? My *suspicion* is that the difference is not great.

[But, maybe the Times is biased and would not have reported a big drop. To www.heritage.org , then. I append it below. And in a moment, the entire restudy.

[I'm sending all this, not to get at the bottom of this one issue, but to help you think about how to judge controversies. And you'll have to judge whether the reduction in STDs is significant or not.]



Challenging earlier findings, two studies from the Heritage Foundation reported yesterday that young people who took virginity pledges had lower rates of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases and engaged in fewer risky sexual behaviors.

The new findings were based on the same national survey used by earlier studies and conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services. But the authors of the new study used different methods of statistical analysis from those in an earlier one that was widely publicized, making direct comparisons difficult.

Independent experts called the new findings provocative, but criticized the Heritage team's analysis as flawed and lacking the statistical evidence to back its conclusions. The new findings have not been submitted to a journal for publication, an author said. The independent experts who reviewed the study said the findings were unlikely to be published in their present form. <snip>


Subject: multiculturalism

Apparently Scotland Yard is catching on that some of the more bizarre African cults practiced in London these days may involve ritual killing of young boys kidnapped or bought and imported for the purpose.


Times have changed since the days of "it is your custom to burn widows alive on their husbands' pyres. It is our custom to hang people who do so." I tend to doubt so straightforward an approach will be applied by the current British authorities.

Oh, and just as a final bit of kindling tossed on civilization's pyre, the news story opens by describing these people as "fundamentalist christians", which I think says a lot about the writer and very little about the subject of the story.

It's Thursday, so I guess I'll laugh...


I hadn't realized that fundamentalist Christians were indulging in ritual murder. Nor do I know it now. Well, we see Western Civilization in its decadence. It was a good long run...

Sowing the wind is fun, though.


Subject: More on IQ

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-brainsex16jun16,0,3234432.story?coll=la-home-headlines <http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-brainsex16jun16,0,3234432.story?coll=la-home-headlines

An interesting article, parts of which belong in the IQ discussions in the Chaos Manor website. You may have seen it already.

Valerie Milewski

Read it at breakfast this morning. Thanks.


Subject: Apple's strategy--timing

--------------- Jerry,

Ignoring the actual x86/Power issue (either one can certainly be made to work), everybody seems puzzled by the timing. Although I can find no hint of it, the timing would seem to make perfect sense if Apple and Intel are going to collaborate for a consumer thingy which can hit the shelves this Christmas season. Certainly Apple's stronger in the consumer channel than the sytem/OS business anyway, and just as certainly this is the part with which Intel could use serious help.

Even the "Osborne Effect" for Apple's systems business could be considered an acceptable cost if Apple and Intel can work together and hit a home run in the consumer channel. If I had a couple billion dollars and a desire to break into the consumer channel, Jobs would be the first person *I* would call. Who cares if a couple of your partner's secondary business units flag a bit while executing on a really promising strategy?

Regards, Andy Valencia

Interesting but I can't think they will have shipping systems by this Christmas. Will they?


The Latest WARNING

Subject: IMPORTANT - Trojan Emails Getting More Sophisticated and Targeted 

Dr. Pournelle:

Reports from the security centers at USA, UK, Canada, and Australia indicate a significant increase in highly targeted emails containing malware (viruses, worms, trojan horse programs). They appear to be more successful than the 'average' malware due to clever social engineering techniques. Current software/firewall protections may not protect against this malware.

These emails seem to be very targeted. The "From" address is spoofed (faked) making it appear to be from someone you know. The subject line and text look like information related to your work (it may be copied from previous legitimate email). And the attached file appear relevant to your work.

If you open the attachment, a Trojan will be installed on your computer. That trojan can do the usual things: gather confidential information from your computer, send spam email, delete files, or use the computer for a Denial of Service attack.

The technique may also be related to the trojan-based economic/industrial espionage case that was exposed in Israel this (last?) month. And since these are highly targeted attacks, current anti-virus or firewall protection may not be enough protection. In fact, there may not be any completely effective mitigation against these attacks, even at the corporate level.

So, the most effective technique is "BDAC"-based (Between Desk And Chair). Users should (continually) be educated against clicking on links in email, opening attachments, and ensure that all operating system, application, and virus updates are applied. Spyware detection / scanning is also helpful (Spybot Search & Destroy, Ad-Aware, Microsoft Anti-Spyware -- all free). (Repeat this paragraph three times...)

Note also that the new Microsoft Update site will now scan for MS-Office applications ( http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/  ). Corporate/business users should investigate the new Windows Software Update Server (free) for proactive managed automatic updates of corporate workstations (strongly recommended).

More info on the latest email threats here: http://www.ocipep.gc.ca/opsprods/info_notes/IN05-001_e.asp  (Australia) ; http://www.uniras.gov.uk/niscc/docs/ttea.pdf  (UK); http://isc.sans.org/diary.php?date=2005-06-16  (USA).

Regards, Rick Hellewell

You have been warned!



CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  June 17, 2005

Subject: The Michelangelo Code.


---- Roland Dobbins

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...



Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Jerry, The Minnesota State Court of Appeals recently held that the presence of PGP on a computer, and by implication any other encryption programme, is of itself, evidence of criminal intent. It is not a defence to show that no file on the computer has been encrypted. Those are the facts. I leave comment to those less easily dumbstruck than I am.

 John Edwards

This seems so bizarre I doubted its accuracy. Google took me to http://news.com.com/Minnesota+court+takes
+dim+view+of+encryption/2100-1030_3-5718978.html   which makes it a LITTLE less silly, but not much.

I have never understood why it would be a crime to have electronic images of anything on one's hard drive; a small case can be made that images of children in sexual situations could only be obtained by exploiting children (by the same logic the Kinsey Report was evidence of sexual molestation and should have been used to prosecute the author and publishers and all those who possess a copy either in print or electronic); but an electronic image done by computer generated graphics?

This case goes beyond that. Possession of PGP can be used as evidence of criminal intent? The logic is I suppose the same as that of criminal conspiracy, in this case the conspiracy being with oneself: an act in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy, although itself not a crime, is evidence of complicity in the conspiracy, etc.

But we were born free.

Anarcho-tyranny. One may be quite certain that worse things than possession images on a hard drive are going on in Minnesota even as we speak...


This writer (Douglas Wilson) is known in some circles for his advocacy of classical education. He claims he is being harassed by some groups within his town; here is his response to someone's attempt to keep his church from serving communion to children at the University of Idaho's Kibble Dome.


Ian Perry



Things we might like to see:

The latest "You are dethpicable" response to White House critics demonstrates the need for a change in that office to someone who can respond more in the language of today’s discourse.

Gulag/Nazi accusations need something more than prissy tsking.

I propose that the office be shared between Ann Coulter and John Bolton, with the occasional addition of a sock puppet to respond appropriately to the more idiotic, Helen Thompson type questions. If that does not bring the press conference back from the gotcha game it has become to a sincere machine to answer questions, we can borrow one more device, pouring green goo down from the ceiling on really inappropriate commenters.

Walter E. Wallis

Palo Alto

Maybe we can expand on this idea. Lots of people nominally on my side could benefit from such...


Subject: 80s budget deficits

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

As a moderate who turns to your web page for rational, fact-based conservative ideas and opinions (I'm still looking for a liberal counterpart--I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's hard to find one), I found myself somewhat dissapointed to see you repeat the line that the Democratic congress of the 1980s went on a spending spree in refusing Reagan's budgets and passing their own. Completely aside from the fact that the Republican party controlled the Senate for quite a few of those years, the claim that congress significantly exceeded Reagan's budget requests is based on a misunderstanding of the budget process.

It is frequently claimed, for example, that Reagan proposed a 773 billion dollar budget for FY 1983, and that congress went and passed an 808 billion dollar budget--4.5% higher. This is very misleading: in fact, the Reagan White House proposed a budget that it ESTIMATED would cost 773 billion. All budget proposals are estimates, based on guesses as to economic growth, interest rates, unemployment, and so forth. The Reagan-era budget estimates were consistently based on guesses about the economy that turned out to be wildly optimistic (the exception, of course, being FY 1984, where economic growth hit something like 6%--exceeding hopes). There is no question that the majority of Reagan's budgets would have cost more had they been passed than was estimated by the Reagan White House.

The real question is whether Reagan's budgets would have cost more had they been passed than the ones subsequently passed by congress. We can certainly never know for certain, but about a decade ago the House Appropriations committee (admittedly not the most unbiased organization in the world) estimated that had all the Reagan budgets been passed, the total US debt at the end of the Reagan administration would have been about 30 billion dollars higher (that is, for all intents and purposes, the same).

One can argue all one wants that the budgets passed by congress during the Reagan administration were spending money on the wrong things--you'll get no argument from me!--but it is simply inaccurate to argue that congress went on a spending spree in general; it turns out that in REAL dollars annual federal spending increased more slowly under Reagan than under the previous three presidents!

See http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/5Debt.htm for more details.

Thank you for your time, and on a friendlier note: keep up the good work (both on the computer and fiction fronts)!

J. Edwards

Was you there, Charlie? I was, and I don't retract a thing. I recall the "Dead On Arrival" announcements from the Speaker before the budget ever got there.

And it remains a fact: the tax cuts produced expanded revenue. Reagan certainly sent over large budgets: he was rebuilding the defenses of the realm after Carter's reign -- but he certainly did not expand the social sector. The liberals demanded their spending plans as the price of allowing the nation to defend itself.  When Reagan took office there was serious doubt as to whether we would survive the Cold War. Now of course the conventiona. wisdom is that the USSR was never dangerous, there was no threat that the Russians might "unify" Europe, and the 26,000 nuclear warheads aimed at these United States were no actual threat at all; but in 1979 I assure you the then President and many others felt quite differently about it.

Yes Reagan had large budgets; but they were not expanded entitlements. It was not defense spending and it was not tax cuts that built up the deficit.

Moreover, borrowing money for defense makes some sense: if you don't survive it it pointless to save money. But borrowing money for expanded welfare programs is another story entirely.


Subject: If she wasn't before, you'd better believe she is, now.


----- Roland Dobbins

You know it... I suppose there is some reason we are unaware of?





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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Star Wars: The Sins of the Jedi

(Continuing a previous discussion) and above

Subject: Star Wars Episode III

Dear Jerry,

I went and saw it now that the crowds are down. I thought it contained a lot of elements of your portrayal of end game Codominium times, but with Bronson as the winner in the struggle for successor power. Lucas collected up many of the Episode IV plot lines and also set the stage for an Episode IV remake, market willing.

Jedi. The end time Jedi council struck me as a collection of Bolsheviks forming up in an embryonic Politburo. Their previous function in the (multi-cultural) republic was revealed to have been that of political commissars. It seemed only natural the republic's military adhered to Palatine. It was too easy for Palatine to hoist the flag of legitimacy and legality against a self-appointed priesthood's insurgency. The Jedi identification with moral relativism was sealed. It was introduced in Episode VI by Obi Wan's ghost ("many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view". This was followed by Obi Wan's "only Sith Lords deal in absolutes". It all strengthened the Jedi Council-Bolshevik Politburo comparison for me.

Lucas failed to persuade me that things would have been any better for the larger society had the Jedi defeated Palatine and the Sith. In the wake of an alternative victory, I could easily imagine 'worse' in the form of a massive intensification of the Jedi 'guardianship' into totalitarianism, all in the name of 'defending democracy'. As it was, the larger society appear to have opted out for local neutrality modified by passive cooperation with force majeure, as Lando Calrissian was shown to have done as leader of his city in Episode V. Episodes IV-VI all seem to show the Empire - i.e. Palatine- to have pretty Laissez Fair policies towards anyone not presenting a challenge to his rule. Would the Jedi have been so benign in the wake of a victory over the Sith?

Padme had the only great line. "So this is how liberty dies, to thunderous applause."


p.s. The Empire's apparent final defeat in Episode VI was made more mysterious by the conclusion of Episode III. It appears to have taken the Empire 16-18 years to build the first Death Star, which is shown being laid down. But it only needed 5-6 years to lay down and bring the replacement to operational status. Total defeat against the background of rapidly improving efficiency is very strange. Or was only the Emperor defeated? Given the actual history now shown, would society and particularly the Empire's large surviving fleet and army truly accept the Return of the Jedi?
Mark & Elena Gallmeier


Good analysis. Cultural Diversity and Moral Relativism at work...

Continued next week


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_17-6-2005_pg9_1  Friday, June 17, 2005

Outraged black activists protest that King Tut has been whitewashed

US black activists demanded that a bust of Tutankhamun be removed from a landmark exhibition of artefacts from the Egyptian boy king's tomb because the statue portrays him as white.

The bust that activists object to, is a central part of "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," the first US exhibition of relics from king Tut's tomb in nearly 30 years, which opens here Thursday amid Hollywood fanfare. The face of the legendary pharaoh, who died around 3,300 years ago at the age of just 19, was reconstructed earlier this year through images collected through Cat Scans of his mummy, found near Luxor in Egypt in 1922. But Legrand Clegg, a historian and prosecutor of the Los Angeles area city of Compton, is demanding that the bust of King Tut be removed from the show because its rendition of his face is a "distortion of reality." "They have depicted King Tut as white, but the ancient Egyptians were black people," he told AFP. We do not need modern scientists to reconstruct the bust and tell us what to see. Do not deprive black children of their heritage," Legrand said in an appeal to organisers to remove the likeness from display. Clegg said the protest would take the form of a peaceful picket outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where the 27-month three-city tour of the United States is poised to open.

The action comes after Los Angeles city officials declined to intervene with exhibition organisers to remove the bust. "There is no evidence that King Tut was white," Clegg told city officials at a public meeting last week. "Egypt is on the continent of Africa." Clegg maintains that the inhabitants of ancient Egypt were descended from the black Nubian people that inhabited that country and neighbouring Ethiopia.










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