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Mail 386 October 31 - November 6, 2005






BOOK Reviews

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Monday  October 31, 2005

All Hallows Eve

Errands this morning, see last weekend Mail of which there was much.


We open today with a story about my old friend and mentor.

Subject: The Wizard of Mecosta.


- Roland Dobbins


Continue with

Subject: The Overpraised American.

 An extremely insightful article, well worth the read:


Roland Dobbins

Ain't self esteem worth anything and everything?

One reason I never attempted to put my psychology degrees to use. Most of academic psychology is useless babble, with no scientific content, mostly learned to get credentials so one can practice on live people. Tests and measurements, and engineering psychology, are a different breed of cat, and I made considerable use of those in my aerospace career, but I could never for the life of me figure out why underserved self esteem was useful. Voodoo science strikes again.


Subj: Why the U.S. Army Does Not Want More Troops


=October 30, 2005: ... The army knows that Congress is basically grandstanding by demanding that troop strength must be increased, but will not provide sufficient money to maintain those extra troops. Thus the army will have to cut back on training and new equipment in order to pay for the additional troops that are not wanted. ... U.S. Army troops strength in Iraq will be declining soon, and the risks of being in Iraq are already declining. Thus by the time the army got any new troops, as demanded by Congress, it would have nothing for them to do.=

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

Returning to the weekend theme:

Subj: Don't forget the Amiraults

=But in fact the verdicts weren't the problem: there were no convictions in the case. None.=

Maybe not in California.

But the Amiraults languished in Massachusetts prisons for years, long after the bogosity of the evidence on which they had been convicted had become clear, as prosecutors and judges insisted that there be "finality", bureaucrats insisted they show remorse for the crimes they had not committed, and Governor in political trouble shrank from her plain duty to correct a manifest injustice.

I hope you and Mr. Niven reserve special places for all those people, in _Inferno II_.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005023  Gerald Amirault's Freedom

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

As well as the people in the original Salem trials. False witness. We have witch trials to this day. As well as prosecutors using "jail house confessions" heard by cellmates who turn out to be professional informers paid in time reduced by the number of convictions they facilitate. Prosecutors know better, but use false witness anyway. There is a place in Hell for them.


Harry Erwin's Letter from England

A request from my chaplain: Please pray for Pastor Ferdie Flores, missionary in East Timor. Thanks.

Increase in home purchasing costs in the UK. The market impact has not been thought through. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1851272,00.html

David Blunkett under pressure. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4391570.stm>  <http://politics.guardian.co.uk/blunkett/story/0,15648,1605174,00.html

UK IT chief calls for downscaling of ID card plans

Enormous tax liability for UK orchestras <http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1605152,00.html

'Mad Cow' rules will prevent the use of an important flu treatment <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25149-1850984,00.html>  Recently it was discovered that the reason vCJD was not more prevalent in the UK and primarily hit the young was that many older people had a good immune response to it. Apparently there had been an earlier bout that had done less brain damage but immunised the people affected against the more recent epidemic.
 <http://www.bnn-online.co.uk/comments_display.asp? HeadlineID=1930&Year=2005>  <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4361426.stm

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

Fascinating. So there is immunization to prions? Will someone who knows more about this please comment?


 More (from another conference) on Maureen Dowd's dating problem:

"He predicted that I would never find a mate because if there's one thing men fear, it's a woman who uses her critical faculties. . . . Men, apparently, learn early to protect their eggshell egos from high-achieving women. The girls said they hid the fact that they went to Harvard from guys they met because it was the kiss of death."

Haha. Self-flattery much there? Men sound pretty ugly with that description; truth is, though, is that for every harsh seeming aspect of male psychology, there is an equally cruel/shallow female corollary. Welcome to the biggest Social Darwinism of all - the one of dating. After all, do women really go after higher IQ men, because women are more concerned with all things intellectual, or because higher IQ = higher status and/or higher paychecks? I think thats pretty obvious. If Ms. Dowd wants to prove this isn't so, she should stop dating movie stars and date one of the many high IQ nobodys who work at one of the many Barnes and Nobles, vegan grocery stores or community colleges spread across America. I'm sure these guys share all her political and intellectual interests and would just jump at the shot of dating/marrying/impregnating this higher-status op-ed celebrity.

Or would it hurt her "eggshell ego" to date a perfectly intelligent (and perfectly broke) blue collar nobody?


and a short response

Exactly. Along similar lines, one time-tested way to shut down a feminist coven/study section is to ask how many of the (hetero) women in the audience have dated a guy shorter than them -- and whether they would be willing to do so in the name of "equality".

The resulting sound of crickets chirping is all the answer you need.


Also from another conference, on brain drain in developing countries

I think one has to keep in mind that African professionals would not exactly be able to practice their craft in Africa. It would be a wasted brain rather than a "drained brain". It's the necessary logic of socialism. Like the refusal to track kids during elementary education, you won't bring the dumb ones up, but you *will* bring the smart ones down. Keep the guys capable of doing an MD in most African environments and they're not going to be practicing medicine.

So the underlying premise -- that these countries are being hurt by brain drain, or that they should be able to restrict *emigration* -- is disputable. "Brain drain" doesn't hurt them for the simple reason that the economy can't take advantage of the brains locally -- which is WHY they emigrate in the first place. I would bet $$$ that forex reserves and remittances from the brains abroad generate more local GDP than what the brains would do locally.

I should also note that a state which restricts emigration is a prison state, and we don't really want to encourage that .


No child left behind = no child gets ahead. I will have more on that in California shortly. California now officially says that all children have to be above average. I wish I were making that up.

Meanwhile a comment from someone familiar with working in Africa:

There are other social reasons. There was a great essay about this on the net somewhere that I am quoting but am also speaking about what I have seen myself. A European MD in Botswana lives high on the hog, essentially no living expenses, all the electronics ever made, safaris every other weekend, etc. An African MD with the same wages lives like a pauper because his family takes everything, and the more he makes the bigger his "family" becomes.

Africans leave to get away from mooching relatives, along with the other reasons you cite.


With this comment:

So why don't they just switch African countries?

Also, could the financing of a single university in a single African country with high standards of admission be used as a way to concentrate a lot of African brains in one place? Then have companies start up around it? Could this be done in South Africa since it already has some infrastructure?

Granted, someone would have to foot the bill to make that all happen.

And indeed that would be one way to start a positive spiral in Africa. It is essentially what Dave Packard did in San Jose using Stanford as the University. Of course it will never happen in Africa because the Big Man politics precludes any institution of quality.

The University of Rhodesia used to furnish most of the judiciary and a lot of the medical practitioners of sub-Saharan Africa. Rhodesia in the 1960s was a wonderful place, lacking the petty mean apartheid of South Africa. No separate medical facilities by race for example.

All gone now of course.  And see below


Subject: Dark Matter disappearing

Hi Jerry.

The paper on the use of GR to explain dark matter is one of the most surprising papers I've read. Previously I studied astronomy in graduate school, but have been inactive for the past 8 years, aside from seeing an occasional high-level talk. Explaining galactic rotation curves is one of the big problems in the field. If it really is this simple, I think the whole field (including myself) will probably feel a little bit embarrassed about the whole thing. Many people will probably be thinking "why didn't I think of that". Please note I only skimmed the paper, so if there are any glaring errors in it, I'm not going to be the one to find them. However, I'm pretty sure this will probably be one of the most scrutinized papers of the year, and if there are any errors, they will quickly be brought to light.

If this paper passes scrutiny, the next probable step is to perform similar tests on galaxy motions within galaxy clusters, as (if my memory serves correctly) the dark matter problem also exists there, and in which similar Newtonian assumptions might have been made as in the galactic-rotation-curve problem.


Mike Casey

Including me. I thought why didn't I think of that the instant I saw the paper. Sigh.


Excellent summary of la Plame and underlying issues, insightful.


 - Roland Dobbins

<snip> What conclusions might we learn from the Plame affair?

First – and most obvious – cooperating with Government investigators has become a no-win game. Like Martha Stewart, Libby stands accused of a crime that resulted from events during an investigation – with no prior crime even alleged.

Libby seems accused of having recalled conversations that took place years ago differently than do some reporters.

This suggests “I don’t recall” is the only reasonable answer, except for matters of clear fact and/or evidence, when talking with Government agents and prosecutors. As the Libertarians have long warned, the State is not your friend. <snip>

Remember this useful phrase. You will need it again and again: The State is not your friend. The Government is not your friend. It is not YOUR Government, it is THE Government. Now that is not as it was when I grew up, and the local constable was very much your friend, and the FBI were the national heroes defending us in peace and war. But that was another country.




This week:


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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Subject: Baen's Astounding Stories

Sci Fi Wire reports <http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire2005/index.php?id=33090>  that Baen Books will launch Baen's Astounding Stories, an online magazine edited by Eric Flint, in 2006. The magazine's orientation will be toward a popular audience, and its business model is intended to enable writers to make a living wage off of short fiction, the article says.


The magazine aims to pay well enough so that short fiction will be able to compete with the pay rates for novels. Flint said that he hopes this business model will allow writers to make a living wage off of short fiction—something that hasn't really been possible since the 1950s and '60s.

"We make no bones about the fact that we are oriented toward a popular audience," Flint said. "We want writers, especially popular writers, writing stories with that market in mind. We are, [to be] blunt, not interested in stories that seem to be mainly written to win an award or get good reviews. If that makes me sound like a hopeless lowbrow, so be it."


That last quote sounds so like John W. Campbell that it makes one hope for a new "Golden Age". I've always believed SF is the medium par excellence for the short form, and that much of the growth and innovation in F has come from the magazines and their shorter works. Novels get the attention, but the new writers and ideas are in the short stories, novelettes and novellas. Of course the problem is that a good short requires nearly as much brain work as a novel, but only pays a fraction of what a novel would, with virtually no chance for long term sales. Perhaps this could be a step towards a slight reversal of that situation?

Petronius The Arbiter Of Taste

Only A Blockhead Ever Wrote For Anything But Money

I don't do short fiction although I might if it paid well enough. The natural length of a science fiction story is often about 20,000 words, which is an awkward length for magazines, and far too short for books. I wish them well.


Subject: Sony DRM malware


I don't usually pay attention to the details of such, but this was sent by a shooting friend.

Makes me glad I am using a Mac (just upgraded to OS 10.4 Tiger).

Jim Dodd San Diego

Here is a link to an article, on SysInternals, about how Sony installs spyware into your computer that not only can screw it up but is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to detect and even harder to delete.


This particular example of computer spyware now comes on all music CDs produced by Sony, but the same software techniques are beginning to show up from other (non music) sources as well.

In Sony's case, the music costs money, but the malware is free.

We have other stories of the Sony Spyware. Fascinating.

Subject: sony / drm / windows rootkit

Thought you might be interested in this:


Its an exploration of the rootkit/spyware installed automatically with a music cdrom from sony music. Pretty scary what liberties sony is taking with its customers computers: hidden directories, hidden executables, un-removeable software, patched system calls, hidden exe loaded at boot time etc. I'd call it malware and it seems designed to be beyond the normal customers ability to detect or uninstall.


Subject: India's Bollywood's cheap digital cinema


Bollywood seems to be taking the sensible route to digital cinema. Seems that going digital will reduce piracy. Hmmm.




Subject: Being marthad

I don't care, I think Libby was marthad. You said,

"The real question is whether Libby deliberately lied to the grand jury or not. But there wasn't a crime to be investigated, and it is a bit odd that the investigation continued once it was clear that Plame was no longer a covert agent of the CIA."

Not odd. A persecuter's job is to get someone. No get, no job.

Richard Hunt

To be marthad: criminal conviction for lying by saying that you didn't do what you weren't accused or convicted of doing.

Or perhaps to be Wilsoned? He seems to be a chronic liar, and it does not seem possible to pin him down. ============

More reflections on education:

The current edition of THE NEW YORKER on the newstands has a long article on the high-tech war Chairman Bill (and Melinda Gates Foundation) is waging on tropical diseases, most especially falciparum malaria. Tangentially, the reporter captures the utter futility of trying to get anything done in societies where nothing works.

But the real question is why should such nations spend any money on college educations for citizens who are certain to leave for the West as soon as they are trained?

Of course, America faces a related question. I sat next to a Ph.D. in English from the Houston Community College on a recent flight and she showed me the papers she was grading produced by her *best* students. None of them would have made it through my freshman high school English class. Yet our society takes their money and years of their lives and tells them that they are not only taking college courses but *passing* them.

(This professor is very worried that the State of Texas will institute a rule that it will not pay for a student to take her class for a *third* time having flunked it twice already? Why? Because she fears that the pressure on her to issue passing grades to totally illiterate students will then become unbearable. Why this pressure? Butts in seats bringing in dollars. At least now she can demand about 8th-grade work from her students at the *end* of her class. (They start much lower than that, and this Ph.D. was genuinely excited about her ability to achieve "progress" with at least a few of them. She was especially excited about a black male she has in her class. He is a rarity and while he is very slow, he keeps coming, sits right in the front of her room, and hangs on her every word.))

Of course, all her students are members of permanently disadvantaged minority groups. Mostly they are Latinas, but there are some blacks. Almost all are female. One of the papers, by a Mexican-American girl, bemoans the fact that almost all the top jobs are held by males, not realizing that a form of "discrimination" far more deadly for women "like" her is that she does not qualify to be the wife of even a *Mexican* high-achieving male.

There should be a special circle in Hell for people that mislead our young as to what direction their lives should take.


And if that doesn't scare hell out of you, what will?


Subject: Mr. Crichton


Green Gray Areas Books that question the conventional wisdom on the environment.

BY MICHAEL CRICHTON Saturday, October 29, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Five books briefly reviewed, of which the most interesting and novel item was

5. "The Logic of Failure" by Dietrich Dörner (Perseus, 1998).

Future environmentalists will heed Dietrich Dörner's "The Logic of Failure." Mr. Dörner is a cognitive psychologist who invited academic experts to manage the computer simulations of various environments (an African herding society, a town in Maine). Most experts made things worse. Those managers who did well gathered information before acting, thought in terms of complex-systems interactions instead of simple linear cause and effect, reviewed their progress, looked for unanticipated consequences, and corrected course often. Those who did badly relied on a fixed theoretical approach, did not correct course and blamed others when things went wrong. Mr. Dörner concludes that our failure to manage complex systems such as the environment reflects bad habits of thought, overreliance on theory and lazy procedures. His book is brief, cheerful and profound.



The Black Widow Nebula.


--- Roland Dobbins






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Wednesday, November 2, 2005


Holmes & his commentators.


-- Roland Dobbins

I saw no sign of him in Sussex, but my trip was brief.


Subject: La X?

One reason your site is educational is that interesting people make comments, and when I don't understand things they say I use Google and learn something new. (For example, I had never heard of Wittgenstein or his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus before reading the pirate-ified version on your site!)

Usually I don't ask you any questions. But I'd like to, now:

There is an idiom of referring to a woman as "La X" (where X is of course her last name). For example, La Plame for Valerie Plame.

Could you please tell me anything of what this idiom implies, and perhaps from whence this idiom comes? Does it carry an implication that the person so named thinks very highly of herself, perhaps? Does it make a humorous implication that the person is classed among royalty, or opera singers, or... I don't know what.

Is there a male form? ("Le X"? "El X"?)

I'm really not sure how to Google for this. Google says it has "about 1,300,000,000" hits on "La" and I don't quite know how to narrow that down to the answer.

Thank you for your time. -- Steve R. Hastings

It can mean a number of things; exaggerated importance is one of them, but in this case it is closer to an abbreviation of "L'affaire Plame". The Dreyfus Affair occupied a great deal of French thought and attention, and was a Big Deal. Usually when one uses that kind of designation in the US the implication is that it is a tempest in a teapot and not worthy of the attention it is being given. One doubts that Valerie Plame intended any result such as this. Her husband is the one who seems to enjoy gathering attention, to the point that he will say he saw and pronounced judgment on documents not yet in existence when people were paying attention to his pronouncements.

Despite my name, I have very little French.

Subject: The use of French idioms

Contrary to my name I do have some basic knowledge of French. The idiom as described is used, in its most common form, to identify women who have stood out, particularly in the arts. You may be vaguely familiar with La Bolduc and most certainly La Piaf both of which were striking female vocalists. The use of the idiom in a political context could simply be a reflection of the conversion of political characters into entertainment personalities. The use of the term in reference to "L'affaire Plame" is probably not exact but would certainly be understandable in the above context.

Allan Mason BA MPa


And see below


Giant lemurs of Madagascar.


-- Roland Dobbins

Algorithm agility is an essential feature in any Internet protocol.

-- Bruce Schneier

Well, they had to eat something...


Halloween on the Hill.


- Roland Dobbins

The Broadcast Flag!  It's alive, it's alive...




--- Roland Dobbins

Ah, but Hillary knows they don't vote...


Subject: IRT: Google Search Results against live.com

I'm sure by now that many people have pointed out the "." in the search term is, on Google, a wild-card character, and the search was in effect, looking for "liveecom" - for which no results are currently returned.

Putting the search term in quotes ("live.com") returns more than a few results, and of those results, some are even interesting. :) In fact, the results as of right now are:

Results 1 - 10 of about 2,220,000 for "live <http://www.google.com/url?sa=X&oi=dict&q=http://www.answers.com/live%26r%3D67> .com <http://www.google.com/url?sa=X&oi=dict&q=http://www.answers.com/com%26r%3D67> ". (0.12 seconds)

Impressive, no?

Yours, -Paul


On IQ, G, and social competence:


You of course cannot use my name, for obvious reasons. But suffice it to say that I work in human services, and these days I'm working in jails.

Jails are interesting places. One gets to see many people of many races, both as inmates and as staff. I have had a chance to draw some conclusions on the utility of G, and the utility of inter-human skillfulness.

When I have had access to IQ tests, I have been stunned with how low some results are. While it's true that some African-American subjects have been on the slow side, they seemed far brighter than their scores. This is, of course, consistent with the data. But it's always a shock to see someone you're guesstimating as 80 or so come out 60, but there it is. A white guy with an IQ of 85 is dumb. With an IQ of 70 he is definitely retarded, and can't live very well on his own. African-Americans with an IQ in the mid-80's seem normal; those with IQ's in the 70's are perfectly able to live on their own. Clearly, the G that IQ tests are measuring fails to capture an essential element of being a human being.

That experience set me to observing more carefully, mainly with correctional officers. Now, some jails have formal intelligence testing of some sort to keep out G-challenged individuals. But I have seen a number of CO's who seem so dumb they almost look retarded. Interestingly, these have all been white. Conversely, when observing average-seeming African-American CO's who have normal interpersonal wisdom and skills, I can see that these individuals work on a more basic intellectual level than white people who have similar interpersonal skills and wisdom.

What is more interesting is that at one jail, they have not administered a written sergeant's test in a long time. I asked a lieutenant why. He pointed at a white sergeant he had just dealt with (I was present when he did) and indicated that while the man had passed his exam with flying colors, he was useless as a sergeant.

Pulling it all together, it appears to me that the skills needed in a jail setting are not high-G skills, but high human-wisdom skills. People equivalent to sergeants major (e.g. - correctional lieutenants) have a good sense of which CO's possess these skills. People equivalent to officers (e.g. - correctional captains and administrators) typically do not know which of their officers have human-wisdom skills. And testing for G is totally irrelevant to such discovery. And I mean totally.

In fact, too much classic intellectual intelligence can breed the intellectual arrogances of exceptionalism and case-by-case rulemaking which totally destroys the orderly function of a setting like a jail. Jails, of course, learned this centuries ago, as did military services. But there is always some new administrator who thinks he can rule by particularity. An institution's response is typically to buck all decisions up to the Really Smart Man at the top, who then proceeds to burn out as his situation deteriorates.

I'm getting to the point where I expect superior human-wisdom skills from reasonably intelligent African-American CO's. They seem to have fewer problems than their white colleagues, and not just because most of the inmates are African-American. Now, expand your gaze a bit outside corrections and you can probably find lots of other areas where high human-wisdom skills are more important than high-G.

As Xenophon learned on his return trip from Mesopotamia, it pays to have diversity in your ranks.


And some comments:

"In fact, too much classic intellectual intelligence can breed the intellectual arrogances of exceptionalism and case-by-case rulemaking which totally destroys the orderly function of a setting like a jail. Jails, of course, learned this centuries ago, as did military services. But there is always some new administrator who thinks he can rule by particularity. An institution's response is typically to buck all decisions up to the Really Smart Man at the top, who then proceeds to burn out as his situation deteriorates."

Evelyn Waugh's "Decline and Fall" has a hilarious segment involving the highly intellectual new governor of an English prison who tries to decide a punishment for each insubordinate prisoner brought to him on a case by case basis, with catastrophic results. Exactly like this.



Wouldn't this be consistent with entire nations of people of 70 IQ people who don't seem retarded at all, yet white Americans of 70 would definitely be retarded?

Aren't blacks stereotyped as being good at people skills?




Your correspondent's view comports exactly with my much-more-limited experience of Afro-Americans. They often exhibit a solid folk wisdom that eludes their much-higher-test-scoring white brethren.



I read somewhere that it was the observation that low-IQ blacks are not retarded that got Jensen interested in IQ in the first place.


And indeed that was the case. IQ measures g, the "general" factor, which is a residual after the special factors are accounted for. IQ, or "g", does a pretty good job of predicting success in most endeavors that require cognition, and particularly abstract thinking. And of course there are high IQ blacks. The interesting observation is that an IQ 85 white guy is really stupid; but that is not the case with an IQ 85 African-American. IQ and g factors are still the best predictors of academic success, and low IQ people  do not do well in academic studies; which is not to say they cannot do well at other activities; but it is to say that it's probably wasting time to put them through academic training rather than devise a form of education that can do them and the society some good. Which, come to think of it, was what Jensen said in the first place before he was savaged.

Unfortunately, in these times the likelihood of someone getting a grant to study just what factors are operating here is about nil.

And see below, as the discussion continues.


Subject: Recommended reading on intelligence

I note that you frequently receive inquiries from readers asking you for recommended reading materials on I.Q. issues. I recently read the Wikipedia entries on “I.Q. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ>  ” and “Race and Intelligence <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence>  .” Both entries contain extensive links to other websites and extensive references to studies and books not published on the internet. I recommend the entries as providing a good overview on the issues, and also as resources for identifying further reading material for those who wish to explore the issues in greater depth.

Furthermore, it might be useful if you created a new section of your website titled “Recommended Reading” in which you identify useful literature in various subjects that reappear frequently on your website. As you’ve been told before, searching for information on your website can be challenging. This ignores the fact that you already have a full plate in front of you.

René Daley

I can't recommend wikipedia, particularly on any controversial subject, because it's all likely to change at any moment, and the links may or may not lead to something useful. Wikipedia seems most useful when the subject is extremely technical; when it's something many people have opinions on, the ones with the strongest held opinions eventually wear everyone else down. Or such has been my experience. Which is a pity, because the concept is good.

For example, the entry on Twin Studies has no references to Bouchard or the Minnesota Twin Studies, which are definitive (and which pretty well confirmed the work of Cyril Burt; the anti-Burt mess in which some of his enemies determined which of his data sets would be burned and which retained is a very ugly chapter in the history of voodoo science).

I also saw no reference to Daniel Seligman, A Question of Intelligence, which is perhaps the best lay introduction to the whole subject. Seligman is a journalist who set out to disprove much of what is said in The Bell Curve, but was honest enough to realize that his initial assumptions were wrong.

As to recommended reading, I would start with Seligman, then go to The Bell Curve; for a critique of The Bell Curve Thomas Sowell is probably best although I do not find him as persuasive as some do. Sowell's work is always worth respect, of course.

Probably the most definitive work is Jensen's The G Factor, a book which like The Bell Curve is more often criticized than read; many of the critiques of both books are, on their internal evidence, written by people who have not bothered to read the work they are commenting on.

One can also go back in time to such standard psychology textbooks as Anastasia and Foley, Differential Psychology, and Ann Anastasia, Psychological Testing, but being textbooks they are tough sledding, and are probably hard to find now.

So to repeat, Seligman is probably the place to start. There you will learn that much of this subject is not controversial within the field itself. Most tests and measurements experts simply avoid the public debates, but among themselves there is a lot more general agreement among real scientists than you would suppose if you confined your reading to Stephen Jay Gould's diatribes.

If you want a real understanding, including answers to just about all the critics, Jensen's The G Factor is excellent. And if you want to look at the data, Bouchard is the place to go.

I am trying to come up with a way to have a recommended reading list for those whose education omitted some of the key and necessary works of western civilization. The best thing I can say on that is start with Jacques Barzun. His Teacher in America remains one of the best apologies for genuine education, and his From Dawn to Decadence is an education in itself. Teacher in America is an old book but wonderful reading.




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, November 3, 2005

DRM as an anticompetitive tactic.


-- Roland Dobbins

A long and very curious story.


Joanne Dow (AKA Wizardess), not precisely the shortest lady I know, reminds us of olds friends from the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society:

Subject: On another paw....

"Exactly. Along similar lines, one time-tested way to shut down a feminist coven/study section is to ask how many of the (hetero) women in the audience have dated a guy shorter than them -- and whether they would be willing to do so in the name of "equality". "

And then we have women like June Moffat, one of the universe's nicest people, no mental slouch, and married to another of the universe's nicest people who happens to be shorter than she is.

It is nice that the world is inhabited by folks like Len and June, isn't it?




Subject: Nitroglycerine  in your youth...

"I still tell the story of how I made nitroglycerine in my youth."

And today that probably would have gotten a young JEP thrown in prison as a terrorist and you would not ever have been allowed to have any of the interesting jobs you've had through your life.

Regarding reading lists, I had Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One as assigned reading sometime in grade 8, and again as a High School Junior in an AP English class on Satire and Irony. I got much more out of it the second time through (and it's probably time that I read that again... it's been too long) Of course, I had Monty Python and Masterpiece Theater and years of Berkeley Rep and Ashland Shakespeare Festival under my belt by that age as well.

While there continue to be opportunities that some have and others don't, I was blessed by having teachers that pushed me hard, all the way through. When I was ahead of class, they threw me at the library, with independent study projects to do, while still being responsible for the work being done in class. I can't claim to have nearly taken advantage of everything offered me. However I was the clear beneficiary of a good school district with the ability to allow teachers to make decisions about individual tracking, something that seemingly can't be done today.

All the parents I know who care the most are either home-schooling, or home-school supplementing their kid's education. There's no other way.

Later on, something about Windows Live ... I'd suspect that a site that went "live" for the first time this week might just never have been crawled by Google, as yet. If you google the phrase "Windows Live", there are plenty of references, but links yet are sparse, since the site is so new. Sure MSN is full, because MS either preloads or specifically points their search tool at sites under their purview. I'd expect no less of them. Give it a week, and see what Google offers then.




Subject: Education -- the point:


The point is to be proficient or advanced relative to a standard.

Around here, the "standard" is defined as being approximately two years behind nominal grade level; the standards for the statewide high school graduation exam, for example, is to be able to answer questions on the core subjects (math, science, social studies/history, composition, and reading comprehension) at something on the nominal 9th-10th grade level.

This is how everyone is "above average." The "average" is defined down two grade levels.



Subject: Lady of the lake text


Here is a link to a PDF version of the full text of Lady of the Lake


Mike Plaster

Thanks. It starts a bit slowly, but there's a lot of action; and it never hurts people's writing style or comprehension of language to read well done epic poetry.

From the Summoning of the Clans (the messenger's name is Malise)


Fast as the fatal symbol flies,
In arms the huts and hamlets rise;
From winding glen, from upland brown,
They poured each hardy tenant down.
Nor slacked the messenger his pace;
He showed the sign, he named the place,
And, pressing forward like the wind,
Left clamor and surprise behind.
The fisherman forsook the strand,
The swarthy smith took dirk and brand;
With changed cheer, the mower blithe
Left in the half-cut swath his scythe;
The herds without a keeper strayed,
The plough was in mid-furrow staved,
The falconer tossed his hawk away,
The hunter left the stag at bay;
Prompt at the signal of alarms,
Each son of Alpine rushed to arms;
So swept the tumult and affray
Along the margin of Achray.
Alas, thou lovely lake! that e'er
Thy banks should echo sounds of fear!
The rocks, the bosky thickets, sleep
So stilly on thy bosom deep,
The lark's blithe carol from the cloud
Seems for the scene too gayly loud.


Speed, Malise, speed! The lake is past,
Duncraggan's huts appear at last,
And peep, like moss-grown rocks, half seen
Half hidden in the copse so green;
There mayst thou rest, thy labor done,
Their lord shall speed the signal on.--
As stoops the hawk upon his prey,
The henchman shot him down the way.
What woful accents load the gale?
The funeral yell, the female wail!
A gallant hunter's sport is o'er,
A valiant warrior fights no more.
Who, in the battle or the chase,
At Roderick's side shall fill his place!--
Within the hall, where torch's ray
Supplies the excluded beams of day,
Lies Duncan on his lowly bier,
And o'er him streams his widow's tear.
His stripling son stands mournful by,
His youngest weeps, but knows not why;
The village maids and matrons round
The dismal coronach resound.




More on race, IQ, and forms of intelligence.

From another conference:

>>I read somewhere that it was the observation that low-IQ blacks are not retarded that got Jensen interested in IQ in the first place.

True. Jensen started with much the first correspondent's view, and thought he'd show the tests biased. The reason that low IQ blacks seem smarter than comparably low IQ whites may be because they are more "normal" in other regards (e.g. social skills) because IQ 70 is only somewhat below average in their population. (They would also have fewer physical stigmata.) Jensen writes about this. The anthropologist Edgerton studied retarded black adolescents whom, as young adults, social workers could not believe were really retarded. Such observations were the basis for the "six-hour retarded" child view (i.e., retarded only in school). See the following article. It describes the great effort most of the retarded individuals made "to pass" and reveals the personal traits (e.g., sociality) that allowed the successful ones to do so, or at least adapt more successfully. More than g matters, especially at the left tail of the bell curve.

Koegel, P., & Edgerton, R. B. (1984). Black "six-hour retarded children" as young adults. Pp. 145-171 in R. B. Edgerton (Ed.), Lives in process: Mildly retarded adults in a large city. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Deficiency.

As for "their much-higher-test-scoring white brethren" being out of touch with the real world--that's another phenomenon and it varies by intellectual clan. When it comes to unreality on these matters, there is a lot of herdish dilettantism involved and competition to be holier than thou.




When I was a kid, people would say that great musical ability was related to (presumably other forms of) intelligence. They wouldn't have meant noisy drumming ŕ la Amerindians but rather classical music. I must say that I perceive remarkable talent in several styles of music as played by Africans or their descendants in America. So, do you know of any quality data, today, that would bear on a relationship between musical talent and "g" -- or some other "module"?


One needs to be careful here. The stereotype of "Negroes have natural rhythm" may have incorporated a truth, but it was used in a way that obscured the questions of equality under the law, as did many other so-called "scientific" discussions of race and intelligence. We are trying to stay with repeatable data here, on the grounds that until one understands a situation, one is in the dark about remedies.

I remind everyone: I have been an advocate of legal colorblindness since I was a teenager in the Old South during legal segregation. I was then accused of disloyalty and radicalism. I have not changed that view, and now I am seen as a hopeless right winger. So it goes.

  Of course readers will understand that by permitting any discussion of these subjects I expose the danger that this site will be mindlessly labeled as 'racist' or some such. It is pointless to present evidence to the contrary; I merely warn you that it is likely.

That said: if you postulate that there is more than one kind of intelligence, with IQ as a measure of "g" which predicts academic success and ability to profit from education in manipulation of abstract symbols, then those "other intelligences" must exist in some quantity and be capable of measurement. (Pardon my preaching: it was one of the axioms Gustav Bergmann taught his students in Philosophy of Science: anything that exists exists in some quantity and can be measured. This is not quite the same thing as saying "science is the study of that which can be measured," but it's close. It's also another discussion.) If the "other intelligences" can be measured, there is no a priori reason to assume they will be distributed equally among the races, just as talent for running long distances, and various athletic skills, certainly are not distributed equally among the races.


I am a musical illiterate, so can say little about this topic. I will, however, send you (separately) a list of references involving music and intelligence. In addition, I'd note that "broad auditory perception" is one of the Stratum II factors in Carroll's 3-stratum model of human cognitive abilities, making it more than just g. I had an undergraduate student once who analyzed the intellectual complexity of different types of American music (including jazz) to argue why brighter individuals have a taste (not necessarily talent) for the more complex music (classical being at the top and rap the bottom). The class (an honors class) was unanimous, alas, in thinking of jazz as old-people's music.



Subject: Meanwhile a comment from someone familiar with working in Africa:  - very likely refers to this piece from City Journal - of course Dalrymple has been brought up several times on your pages -

>> Meanwhile a comment from someone familiar with working in Africa: There are other social reasons. There was a great essay about this on the net somewhere that I am quoting but am also speaking about what I have seen myself. A European MD in Botswana lives high on the hog, essentially no living expenses, all the electronics ever made, safaris every other weekend, etc. An African MD with the same wages lives like a pauper because his family takes everything, and the more he makes the bigger his "family" becomes. Africans leave to get away from mooching relatives, along with the other reasons you cite. H


City Journal After Empire

 Theodore Dalrymple Spring 2003

As soon as I qualified as a doctor, I went to Rhodesia, which was to transform itself into Zimbabwe five years or so later. In the next decade, I worked and traveled a great deal in Africa and couldn't help but reflect upon such matters as the clash of cultures, the legacy of colonialism, and the practical effects of good intentions unadulterated by any grasp of reality. I gradually came to the conclusion that the rich and powerful can indeed have an effect upon the poor and powerless-perhaps can even remake them-but not necessarily (in fact, necessarily not) in the way they wanted or anticipated. The law of unintended consequences is stronger than the most absolute power.<snip>

Actually the correspondent who posted that observation did so from his own experience, but Dalrymple is worth referencing if one wishes to understand some of the problems of Africa and brain drain there.


Subject: You said...

"A proper Empire would be jealous of the power of the MPAA and Sony and the other companies that seek to protect what they would like to own at the expense of all the rest of us."

By that definition, Dr. Pournelle, China is a proper empire as there are no effective intellectual property rights there.

Somewhere between these two extremes seems to be an appropriate balance point between the rights of creators of intellectual property and their assignees and the rights of the community.

Once again I refer to my favorite discourse on intellectual property rights -- "Melancholy Elephants" by Spider Robinson -- http://www.baen.com/chapters/W200011/0671319744___1.htm 

Charles Brumbelow

You will understand that I decline to be held strictly accountable for remarks made in black humor mode.  Still, yes, indeed. China has always been Imperial of course; even when it attempted to be a republic. Most revolutions do not succeed. Ours did. But we are reverting to empire. It might be better were we to move to monarchy but that is not likely either.


Subject: Regarding the recent MPAA comment

I have to say that, while I don't condone suing grandparents for their grandkids' movie downloading, I can definitely see how that sort of thing can happen given the current enforcement regime.

Essentially, if you find somebody sharing movies on the internet, you -cannot- just ask them to stop. They're generally not listening to you, nor do you have any idea who they are. You can ask their internet service provider to ask them to stop, with varying success; some providers will cancel people's accounts, most will ignore requests as things which don't make them any money. You can't even ask the provider who the person is, in order to ask them nicely to stop.

In essence, to find out who a given pirate is, you have to file a lawsuit in federal court (against a John Doe) and then use the court to compel the internet provider to identify the alleged pirate. So by the time you find out that your pirate is a little kid, an old grandma, a Senator's son, or the commander of a battalion of infantry, you've already filed your court case. Naturally in cases of "if we enforce this, the Senator will be really mad!" are going to be dropped instantly, but when you've got a sympathetic offender... well, you've already done a significant chunk of the legal work, at your own expense, and so it's little wonder that the industry attempts to recover something before backing down. (Especially since you're already in for a lot of the negative publicity at that point anyway...)

I haven't thought up any good solutions, unfortunately. Copyright is a federal matter, so any enforcement has to be through the federal courts. Moreover, because of privacy concerns, you have to file suits essentially blind, and hope you're bringing down a sneering uber-hacker with a network of hacked machines, instead of a twelve-year-old kid on his grandma's connection. It'd be better to have no enforcement at all, except it's tough to tell what the effect would be on encouraging further violations. "If you do this, you have a very small chance of being sued by an irrational corporation who's willing to lose money to make an example of you" isn't much of a deterrent, except when compared to "nobody cares whether you do this or not!"

Andy Kent

Interesting. This needs thought.

And here is some thought:

Subject: Re: Andy Kent on Copyright Law

Dear Jerry:

I have to agree with Andy Kent on the problem with copyright enforcement. Because of the "Federal Preemption" clause in the Copyright Act, Federal District Court is, indeed, the only place you can bring an action of any kind. That includes even an injunction to cease and desist. Before you can do that, you must have your copyright registered. Moreover the "de minimus" clause means that you must sue for at least $75,000. Hence the piling on effect you get with MPAA actions.

I am involved in such lawsuit against infringers of my work myself. I can't really comment on the details, but my actions were undertaken not entirely on on my own behalf but those of other freelancer writers (and other creators since copyright law applies across categories). I have no faith in Class Actions but do hope to establish some case law which others can then use for their own cases. The amount of money is substantial, of course, otherwise no lawyer would touch it.

And that is part of the problem with the present law. There is no federal equivalent of a Small Claims Court where you can be heard and bring a case on your own.. You either have a large case or none at all. Class Actions are not a solution. That one in New York where I gave testimony is now on appeal. It will probably take another six or seven years to work its way through the system.

There are criminal sanctions in the law as well, but I can tell you, from personal experience, that the FBI and the US Attorney are not interested in prosecuting such cases, unless, of course, it is a large media firm against a small infringes and headlines can be made. I even had one FBI agent try to tout me off with the claim that there were no criminal penalties for copyright infringement. I send him copies of the relevant sections of the law to prove otherwise.

With all of these barriers the playing field is very uneven. So, since copyright is specifically mentioned in the Constitution, I've come up with a new organizing principle/ "COPYRIGHT IS A CIVIL RIGHT" . T shirts and buttons will follow, I am sure, once people wake up to the fact that they are being deprived of their copyrights and the revenue they might earn by a combination of legal restrictions, corporate greed and failure to enforce the laws we do have by those who make a lot of noise about how wrong copyright infringement is, but who take little action to actually enforce the penalties in the law.

I am also looking at the "Public Lending Right" law that originated in the U.K. and now seems to be in effect through the European Union. Book writers get an annual check based on the number of times their books are checked out of the public libraries. More than one has credited this supplement with the difference between survival as a writer and doing something else to make a living.

So, while we're at it, we might think about how to make our copyright law more effective and fair to creators.

So, got any rabble you want roused?


Francis Hamit

While we are at it, Bezos today announced that Amazon will be providing a free electronic copy with every books sold. Amazon doesn't own the rights to electronic copies. In many cases the publishers do not own those rights. And will they provide them with used copies?

It is getting very frightening out there.

And see first letter tomorrow as the discussion continues:



CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, November 4, 2005

Subject: Re: Regarding the recent MPAA comment

Much appreciated. Your site is the only place I can think of where one can read a reasoned argument of both sides of a complicated topic without wading through a morass of uninformed opinion and rude comments.

On a technical note, I'd like to correct Mr. Hamit on a point of law. Copyright registration is not compulsory for filing a copyright lawsuit, though it must be completed within 60 days of such a lawsuit being filed.

The question of electronic rights is -really- thorny. Many times, dealing with various Japanese animation series at work, the various rights packages had been parceled out to different companies, and then resold to other companies, who then went bankrupt and were bought out by other companies who eventually went bankrupt - more than once, a neat project had to be cancelled simply because nobody could figure out from whom we needed permission! To say nothing of rights issues affecting the music, which is a topic of much horror, though probably little general interest.

On balance, Amazon is probably going to get burned quite badly, simply because it's a big corporate target and thus can pay a big judgment in a fairly easy to prove case. Rather, it's very unlikely to come to fruition, because the legal liability will greatly exceed any profits from the venture... and for once, rightly so!

At least we can be somewhat cheered by the rise of BitTorrent as a distribution mechanism. It's vastly superior to competing architecture in terms of transfer efficiency, but it requires a big, dumb, absolutely-not-anonymous tracker to function, making a relatively easy target in cases of infringement. (And efforts to distribute the tracker function would make the system vulnerable to efforts to "pollute the file"... replacing bits of the requested file with admonitions not to commit piracy would be a fun challenge, anyway!)

Andy Kent


Read, mark, comprehend, hear, and believe:

Subject: Sophisticated Phishing Red Alert

Jerry, you should read this link, then post it for readers:


The executable installed by the phishing email modifies the DNS server settings so that you're using an owned DNS server, instead of your ISP's. Then when you type in www.paypal.com, the bad-guy dns server directs you to the Phishing server for you to put in all of your important data!

Needless to say, Paypal (and banks and ...) are NOT going to send you an email with a link to a download for security purposes. Not gonna happen.

*** Side Note ***

It may be a Friends of Papa Darwin thing, but you know, if we let phishing go on unhindered, then the people who fall for phishing attacks will soon be too poor to afford Internet access. Then they'll be offline, not buying viagra from spammers, nor putting their windows 98 box right on the DSL modem, to become a spam zombie some 15 minutes later. So phishing is (a) self-correcting and (b) making the 'Net smarter (on average). Hmmm.



Thanks. Be careful out there.


From another conference:

Subject: The Beginning of the French Civil War


Sarkozy will eventually win and his political colleagues will eventually lose. How many citizen's cars will be torched before the army is sent in is unknown, though.

It's cool that the blogosphere is spreading the word when the mainstream media will not.



Ramadan Rioting in Europe's No-Go Areas

From the desk of Paul Belien on Wed, 2005-11-02 21:12

This is from Sweden:

"'If we park our car it will be damaged - so we have to go very often in two vehicles, one just to protect the other vehicle,' said Rolf Landgren, a Malmo police officer. Fear of violence has changed the way police, firemen and emergency workers do their jobs. There are some neighborhoods Swedish ambulance drivers will not go to without a police escort. Angry crowds have threatened them, telling them which patient to take and which ones to leave behind."

This is from France:

"Sarkozy says that violence in French suburbs is a daily fact of life. Since the start of the year, 9,000 police cars have been stoned and, each night, 20 to 40 cars are torched."

This is from Brussels:

"The police has been told [by the Mayor] that it is 'not expedient' to patrol [in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek] and officers are not allowed to drink coffee or eat a sandwich in the street during ramadan."

This is from Denmark (and it is hot news relating to the Muhammad cartoons):

"For several nights in a row Rosenhřj Mall has been the scene of the worst riots in Ĺrhus for years. 'This area belongs to us', the youths proclaimed. [...] 'The police have to stay away. This is our area. We decide what goes on down here'. [...] Falck, a Danish private emergency service, sent a group of fire engines under police escort to the Kjćrslund nursery on Sřndervangs Allé, right across the street from Rosenhřj Mall. A window had been shattered at the back of the house, and the fire had been blazing, apparently caused by gasoline poured onto the floor and lit. Falck stopped on Viby Square, a couple of kilometers from the site of the arson attack, waiting for the police to turn up so they could be escorted to the nursery."

The Nightmare of Permanent Conflict

If you want to know what is the matter with those that are described by the mainstream media as rioting "youths," read Theodore Dalrymple's poignant analysis in the latest issue of City Journal. We are just witnessing the beginning of Europe's problems: "The sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict."

Our mainstream media, in attempts to preserve the Left's chimera of "universal cultural compatibility," hardly write about all this. Nevertheless, for some years now West European city folk and police officers have been familiar with the reality that certain areas of major European cities are no-go areas, especially at night and certainly if you are white or wearing a uniform. Three years ago, a French friend who had his car stolen learned that the thieves had parked the car in a particular suburb. When he went to the police he was told that the police did not operate in that neighbourhood and consequently would not be able to retrieve his car. This is Western Europe in the early 21st century.

Nicolas Sarkozy became France's most popular politician by promising to restore law and order in the whole of France, including in the areas abandoned by previous governments. Since Sarkozy became Interior Minister he has insisted on more police presence in Muslim neighbourhoods. This triggered last week's riots in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, when policemen went in to investigate a robbery and two teenagers stupidly got themselves electrocuted while hiding from the police in an electricity sub station. Many French politicians now probably regret that the police had the audacity to investigate a robbery in Clichy. The result of the incident so far has been six consecutive nights of rioting that is now engulfing the entire Paris suburban area and might soon affect other parts of the country. Last night at least 69 vehicles were torched in nine suburbs across the Paris region. Officials say that small, mobile gangs are harassing police, sometimes even shooting at them. The gangs are setting vehicles, police stations and schools on fire throughout the region.

Though the world is taking no notice, the same is currently happening in certain parts of Denmark.

Bring in the Army

Sarkozy has referred to those whom the media call "troublesome youths" as scum and rabble. "I speak with real words," the minister says. "When you fire real bullets at police, you're not a 'youth,' you're a thug." Unfortunately, it looks as if Clichy-sous-Bois might become Nicolas Sarkozy's Waterloo because he seems to be losing the support of his colleagues in the government. Moreover, Sarkozy does not even seem to have the means necessary to fight the "youths."

The riots in France have been going on for a week now. During the second night of street fighting in Clichy, police officers already warned that they are not up to the task Sarkozy has set them. "There's a civil war underway," one officer declared. "We can no longer withstand this situation on our own. My colleagues neither have the equipment nor the practical or theoretical training for street fighting." If there is, indeed, a war going on, Sarkozy cannot win it with troops that are mere policemen and fire fighters. As Irwin Stelzer pointed out last July when discussing the British reaction to the London bombings: In a war, use the army, rather than police. The latter, however, is unlikely to happen. If the politicians bring in the army they are acknowledging what the policemen, the fire fighters and the ambulance drivers know but what the political and media establishment wants to hide from the people: that there is civil war brewing and that Europe is in for a long period of armed conflict. This is the last thing appeasing politicians want to do and so they have begun to criticise Sarkozy.

The appeasers are found not only in the opposition parties but also within Sarkozy's own party, where Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who envies him his popularity, is eager to bring his rival down. Apart from political intra-party rivalry, however, there are two reasons why most politicians seem to be of the appeasing kind.

The first one is that the Muslim population in Western Europe has become so large that politicians fear what it might be capable of. Commenting on the situation in Britain, Theodore Dalrymple wrote in City Journal: "Surveys suggest that between 6 and 13 percent of British Muslims - that is, between 98,000 and 208,000 people - are sympathetic toward Islamic terrorists and their efforts. Theoretical sympathy expressed in a survey is not the same thing as active support or a wish to emulate the 'martyrs' in person, of course. But it is nevertheless a sufficient proportion and absolute number of sympathizers to make suspicion and hostility toward Muslims by the rest of society not entirely irrational, though such suspicion and hostility could easily increase support for extremism. This is the tightrope that the British state and population will now have to walk for the foreseeable future." It applies to all West European nations. Where, however, is the boundary between carefully walking the tightrope and falling victim to the Stockholm syndrome? The latter would mean that Western politicians act as hostages of the Muslim extremists.

A second reason why some politicians try to appease the Muslims is that these are now a substantial segment of the voting population. Demographics are deciding the fate of Europe's democracy. Time is running out. If Sarkozy cannot win the battle today, it is unlikely that he or anyone else will be able to do so tomorrow. If Clichy turns out to be Sarkozy's Waterloo, it will be a catastrophe not just for France.

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from Don Surber on Fri, 2005-11-04 02:21

As Paris burns, as l'intifada expands beyond the suburbs, as his nation is under siege, one wonders if Jacques Chirac does not want to reconsider his decision not to fight al-Qaeda on Iraqi land instead of France.

Riots in Paris show that the situation in Europe..

from Tel-Chai Nation on Fri, 2005-11-04 01:55

And all because jelly-spined leaders cannot bring themselves to stand up and take a hard-lined position against these Muslim monsters who're committing the crimes. Even Denmark is now having problems with Arab/Muslim immigrants rioting and causing on...

De rokende puinhopen van de multiculturele samenleving

from De blog van Evert on Thu, 2005-11-03 23:09

De nacht van 2 op 3 november was de zevende rellennacht op rij in een twintigtal voorsteden van Parijs. Het ging er bijzonder onrustig aan toe. 315 auto's werden in brand gestoken. Op vier verschillende plaatsen is geschoten op agenten

The fighting around Paris continues

from Posse Incitatus on Thu, 2005-11-03 19:50

As the French riots enter their seventh day, the Posse is reminded of this eerily prescient article from 2002 by Theodore Dalrymple:The average visitor gives not a moment's thought to these Cités of Darkness as he speeds from the airport

Nightly rioting continues in France

from The Glittering Eye on Thu, 2005-11-03 18:51

If you get your news from network television news, you may not have heard of this ongoing story. Rioting in the suburbs of Paris has continued for the seventh consecutive night: AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, France (AP) - France's government faced mountin...

Ramadan Riots

from camedwards.com on Thu, 2005-11-03 16:57

Well, here's an underreported story from Europe. Sarkozy says that violence in French suburbs is a daily fact of life. Since the start of the year, 9,000 police cars have been stoned and, each night, 20 to 40 cars are...

Paris Riots: Coming to an American Street Near You

from La Shawn Barber's Corner on Thu, 2005-11-03 16:42

Paris is reaping what it's sown, and if we don't heed the warnings (as if the murder of thousands and destruction of two buildings in New York City weren't enough), we can expect the same. Lax immigration policies, prostration to t...

Is Paris Secretly Burning?

from Shenzhen Ren on Thu, 2005-11-03 11:38

Ah, the suburbs! The smell of smoke, the sound of gunfire, and the leisure activity of.....uh....."youths":


SO: have we any bets on when Paris will have to call in the Paratroops? Shall we start a pool? And how long before we have similar situations in these United States?


Subject: Riots in Europe

Actually, Dr. Pournelle, I found the information about which I congratulated you in an earlier email (Heinlein Society BOD and award) while looking for information about Heinlein's book "I will Fear No Evil" as the society depicted therein seems to be where the world is headed.


"...there is another powerful aspect to the book: the glimpses one gets of the society Johann Smith has barricaded himself against. Johann's turn-of-the-millenium America has grown into a sprawling urban wasteland throughout which the have-nots wage gun battles in lawless Abandoned Areas. The haves venture out into this war-torn turf only in armored cars with armed guards riding shotgun, and return home to fortified enclaves. It is an America which has dismissed Horace Mann's dream and routinely shunts poor students into "illit" tracks in its public schools, and in which children can be prostituted in the aforementioned abandoned areas. It is an America held spellbound by television and sensational news headlines--classic "Crazy Years" items. Does all that sound a little familiar?"

This is one instance where I wish Heinlein's "finger on the pulse of the future" had been less sensitive.

In that alternate universe, I suspect the "Oath of Fealty" infrastructure is beginning to develop.

Charles Brumbelow

You are shocked, of course.

I have said this before. Remember this useful phrase, you will need it again and again: "Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide."

And see below


Subject: Estonian database spidering for fun and profit.


- Roland Dobbins

I post this largely because Estonia always triggers recognition and memory for me. I have a medal from the old Estonian government in exile (it wasn't technically that: it was the diplomatic corps of the Estonian Republic; when the USSR incorporated Estonia into the Soviet Union, the US did not recognize that incorporation, and until the Treaty of Leningrad ended all that, the US had Captive Nations Week and various events to commemorate the Captive Nations held by the USSR). I've even worn it on occasion.


Subject: I don't *think* it's April First

A couple of slashdot stories:

Patents being issued for plots: <http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/04/0239221&tid=155&tid=17

I thought this was resolved with the Betamax case:
<http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl? sid=05/11/04/0535231&tid=188&tid=126&tid=17

-- "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

I tend to avoid slashdot, lest I become enmired. What happens there is perhaps the main reason I do not allow people to post here until I have read what they want to say, and perhaps comment on it. That takes up time I don't have, but that's as nothing compared to the time it would take to go through and eliminate the 'me too' and 'you're a jerk', 'am not' messages not to mention the sheer nonsense.


Subject: Purpose of Microsoft Live

Dr. Pournelle,

MS Live serves a couple of purposes, but it is mostly aimed at convincing MS Office users not to abandon that cash cow. The threats to Office are from the freeware OpenOffice, and from coming online Office-like apps being offered by Google, Yahoo and others. (These offerings also present the additional threat that they are platform independent -- O/S is irrelevant.)

MS Live will be hooked into a user's copy of MS Office on their computer, with the promise of some value-added features. MS Live will also generate ad revenue for Microsoft. And the entire model will move user's toward acceptance of the idea that you no longer purchase software, but rather pay a recurring fee for its use. Forever.

Me? I like my software and my content on my computer where I can keep an eye on it. I don't imagine I'm alone in this.

Don -- Donald W. McArthur

Thanks for the view.

I am preparing a section of the upcoming column on this.


From another discussion forum: An educated French correspondent on the riots:

What will happen next?

Depending on the level of organization of the Djihadists, these riots will last, or not. I would believe that it is not yet the "Grand Soir", and that these riots will stop soon, or just continue at a very low level as background noise. In this case, this will have been a repetition, a training for a next real Intifada.

What is sure:

- Government will give new advantages to Muslim rioters, money will be given, new laws created, etc.

- At one moment, Djihadists will require the power in France: there is more than 10% of Muslims in French population, and it is an Islamic obligation to take power in this situation (Sourate IX).

My opinion: Intifada Al Aqsa could be such a success only because of the help of western media on the visit of Sharon and Mohamed Al Dura affair. In this case in France, there is nothing like that: until rioters are able to stage their own Al-Dura affair, and have it accepted worldwide by media, they will be in a delicate situation. More propaganda is needed.



Francis Fukuyama: History in the Remaking

By Philip Kennicott Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, November 3, 2005; C04

Francis Fukuyama knows how to toss out an idea that, like a baby rattle, is big enough for small minds to hold onto. And in the past three years, ever since he broke with his fellow neoconservatives and opposed the war in Iraq, he has emerged as one of the most devastating and prescient critics of the Bush administration. So the stars were in alignment for a little drama last night when Fukuyama delivered the National Endowment for Democracy's second annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture at the Canadian Embassy.

Perhaps a few told-you-so's, a little salt in the wounds of his fellow travelers who pushed the United States into a war that has lost the support of the people?

But no. Fukuyama, author of the best-selling 1992 book "The End of History and the Last Man," is an academic and intellectual, not a politician, and he's moved on to a new preoccupation: the problem of Islamic terror in Western society. He spoke about it for almost an hour, without lobbing any sound bites or suggesting anything that would make a good book title. If there was a bold statement, it was that the real problem of Islamic terrorism isn't over there, in the Middle East, but in Europe, in the heart of the Western, liberal democratic world, which is producing the very young men who are attacking it -- in London last summer, and in the Netherlands a year ago, when a Dutch filmmaker was brutally murdered by a Dutch-born Muslim.

If Western society is based on tolerance, openness and democratic values, how should it respond to people within its own compass who do not share these values? The problem is particularly disturbing for Fukuyama because in "The End of History," his most widely read book, he argued that the world was coming to consensus about basic, liberal, democratic values. The Soviet Union, which looked invincible, fell apart; so did authoritarian governments in Portugal and Spain and Greece, and throughout Latin America. If history is a struggle for the right kind of society -- liberal democracy -- that struggle was ending. Or so it seemed. But now something is brewing within liberal democracy that threatens to unsettle not just riders of the London underground, but also Fukuyama's own (perhaps overly optimistic) grand thesis.<snip>


Subject: Copyright enforcement - a heretical view 

Hi Jerry,

A heretical comment, given that you and many of your readers earn your living by producing copyrighted works. However, I forge fearlessly ahead:

The world has changed dramatically from when copyright law was formulated. We are now in a situation where the vast tracts of the population is technically in violation of the law - in many cases without even realizing it, because copying (be it with a photocopier, a scanner, a CD or a DVD) is so easy.

When large parts of the population are in violation of a law, I submit that the law is wrong. Copyright holders - particularly the big companies, but indeed all of them - must needs find new ways of selling and profiting from their works. Copy protection and enforcement is not the way.

As an example, you may have read about the recent discovery of the Sony "root kits". It turns out that, in a bid to control their music, Sony audio CDs played on a computer install special low-level drivers that monitor your computer activity. The slightest error in their software, or indeed an attempt to remove this software will disable your computer - because, among other things, your computer will no longer be able to find the driver for its CD drive. For the original article, see http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html.

This is beyond the pale, but the entire situation is beyond control. For example, does it bother no one that we all pay a fine - in advance - on every device that can be used for copying? It is assumed that we are all guilty of copyright infringement - and it's not far from true!

The existing copyright (and patent!) laws should be entirely abolished, and something very different put in their place...



Ain't your ox that was gored, right?


On the riots in Europe:


Interesting discussion about the Muslim "occupied territories" in France and Sweden. As a Frenchman, I am only moderately surprised at the current outburst of urban jihad, but the similarity with the situation in Sweden had escaped me. Such is the power of self-censorship of the media in Europe. Many a town in France has had its burning cars nights for a decade, but these politically incorrect things are never mentioned unless the damage and amplitude of the violence become completely impossible to ignore. That's an application of an old Leninism principle: make the discontents believe that they are alone and that their unhappiness is abnormal.

The article you quote from http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/429 ("Ramadan Rioting in Europe's No-Go Areas") suggest that since the French police force is obviously overwhelmed, untrained and unequipped against a street jihad, the French PM should send in the army to stop the riots. One little detail: about 23% of the French recruits are Muslims, mostly of North-African descent (2nd or 3rd generation). Career officers are increasingly clashing with rebellious privates who want the pay, the nice uniform (works wonder on girls), but not the orders from a roumi. Cultural and religious clashes now permeate the French barrack life.

I don't think it would be wise to rely on these troublemakers to keep roumis safe from other Muslims. The French authorities know it, even if they don't dare write it in the watered down slop that passes for a free press in Paris. So nope, no army, sorry Monsieur, and the police can't protect you, so your car will burn, the buses won't circulate, stay home.

I'd like to be able to promise some hope to my fellow Frenchmen. Hope that, for instance, when the Mullahs will finally establish a Muslim regime ruled by the Shariah, the French will be safe and simply have to convert in order to avoid violence. Unfortunately, the atrocities that followed the end of the Algerian war in 1962, and resulted in a mass exodus of both French and Arabs, show that even this meager hope could be denied.

(Name deleted for obvious reasons)

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide. Remember this useful phrase. You will need it again and again.

And see below





This week:


read book now


Saturday, November 5, 2005

Subject: French rioting

>It's cool that the blogosphere is spreading the word when the
>mainstream media will not.

Maybe the mainstream US media isn't covering this story very much, but it's been headline news here in Canada, with front-page pictures and articles in the major newspapers and lead-in stories on the TV newscasts.

It's also the lead story on the CBC News site this morning:


Some countries pay more attention to what's going on around them than others. It's what happens when you have to sleep next to an elephant.

Best Keith

I do not think the mainstream press is doing a very good job of conveying just how serious this situation is, and how widespread. Perhaps I am wrong.

Have just finished watching a programme on the Christian reconquest of Spain (being BBC it was a fairly PC item making clear that the barbarians at the gates were Christian, with which, in this case I agree). The point however being that there is nothing inherently inevitable about a Moslem 5-10% taking over.

On the other hand the more recent example of Kosovo, where in 1945 moslems formed 40%, & before we joined in, allegedly, 90%, achieved by a process of low level violence, corruption, unrestricted immigration & a government that refused to recognise racial allegencies existed.

If you look at Milosevic's speech at the Field of Crows < http://globalresistance.com/articles/jared/milosaid.html > he appears to have been, sincerely, dangerously liberal & indeed his major fault may have been an unwillingness to fight hard. Still we have produced NATO defended al Quaeda states in Bosnia & Kosovo & must accept it. At least 50% of local moslems, the female half, lose drastically out of this but thats western democracy.

Neil Craig

Most of the French seem cowed, but the Normans never were; and historically the Anglo-Saxon-Normans are the most warlike people of history, largely because we like war; it took all the superstitious awe the Church could manage to tame the Normans (Frenchified Danes and Swedes) and even then the whisper of a Crusade where they could fight for God -- God wills it! -- was enough to get them moving. William Rufus "feared God little and man not at all, and so stark a man was he that a widow could travel the kingdom with gold in safety." His brother Robert of Normandy at Doryleum stood all afternoon fighting on the defensive. "Why run? Their horses are better than ours." Until Tancred the Great came over the hill behind the Saracens.

No, I do not think it inevitable that Western Civilization will crash, but I do have my doubts about liberal democracy. Something will stir the blood before it is too late. Something always has. But it will not be politically correct.

And see below


Subject: Root kit fallout

I've been following the Sony root kit thing for a few weeks now. It just occurred to me there is absolutely NOTHING, preventing these guys from adding this stuff to any installer on ANY Sony-branded product that interfaces with a computer. That's right, the install disks for DVD burner software, Sony music player interfaces, digital camera downloaders,DVD burner firmware upgraders, whatever, COULD have the same(or worse) root kit in there. You'd never know until it's too late. There'd be the same incentives for Sony to do so, too, DRM, in spades. Looks like Sony is right off my short list of hardware or software/DVDs/CDs. Once people wake up, this could really do them some damage in the marketplace. If they're doing this with CDs, what else are they doing and/or planning? Like with DVDs or Blu-Ray?

They can't be trusted anymore with any PC executables even if they quickly put out something for remediation with the current root kit. There's a certain amount of trust in the marketplace, I'm trusting that the manufacturer of the product isn't going to install something detriemntal to the well-being of my machines when that software is needed to run the hardware I just purchased. If that trust is violated, it's going to be extremely hard to convince me that the next piece of software is just fine, even if it's from a different division of the company. I don't think the Sony music marketeers quite understood this.

I think the only pain these guys are going to understand is lack of sales, so let's give it to them. Christmas-time is perfect, too.

Stan Schaefer


Subject: Shaolin Soccer

Last night we watched a movie called Shaolin Soccer. We loved it.

There are a whole bunch of Chinese movies about Kung Fu masters who have amazing abilities to fly through the air, kick people hard enough to make *them* fly through the air, etc., and this movie applies all the conventions of those Kung Fu movies to a losers-make-good sports movie. The action sequences are frequently like _The Matrix_ in a soccer game. It's not pure Matrix-like action, though... in one of my favorite scenes, the hero kicks a soccer ball, and it hurtles towards the goal; as it flies, orange flames appear around the ball. Then the flames turn *blue*. Then they get bigger and turn orange again, and *then* the flames turn into a snarling, flaming tiger. And then... but I don't want to spoil it.

It turns out that Amazon sells the Miramax DVD release of this for under $12; this includes the original, nearly-two-hours long Chinese version, plus a cut-down version that has an English soundtrack available. We're going to buy it. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" steve@hastings.org http://www.blarg.net/~steveha


And on the story of those forged documents:

The oldest tale in the business.


- Roland Dobbins

I am shocked, shocked...


Subject: La X?

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

The original "la X" is Italian: "la Rossi" means "la Signora Rossi" (= "Ms. Smith") and nothing more than that. She can be anybody and "la" is used as well for a murderer or a minister.

When the French borrowed that usage they restricted it to famous female opera singers (the "divas"): la Malibran, la Callas.

Hence, probably, the American usage of "not worthy of the attention it is being given" as you said.

Right now I'm reading about Melanasia and thinking about the ratio "area of a country/number of languages spoken in the said country". (Look for the books of Joël Bonnemaison if you are interested, there are English translations.)

A. Romain


Jihad Watch: Taheri: French rioters calling for reorganization of France into separate religious enclaves http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/008844.php

"November 04, 2005 Taheri: French rioters calling for reorganization of France into separate religious enclaves

A two-state solution for France? "Why Paris Is Burning" by Amir Taheri, from the New York Post, with thanks to Scissor:

Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the "millet" system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.

In parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place. In these areas, all women are obliged to wear the standardized Islamist "hijab" while most men grow their beards to the length prescribed by the sheiks.

The radicals have managed to chase away French shopkeepers selling alcohol and pork products, forced "places of sin," such as dancing halls, cinemas and theaters, to close down, and seized control of much of the local administration.

A reporter who spent last weekend in Clichy and its neighboring towns of Bondy, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Bobigny heard a single overarching message: The French authorities should keep out.

"All we demand is to be left alone," said Mouloud Dahmani, one of the local "emirs" engaged in negotiations to persuade the French to withdraw the police and allow a committee of sheiks, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.

President Jacques Chirac and Premier de Villepin are especially sore because they had believed that their opposition to the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 would give France a heroic image in the Muslim community.<snip>

and from another conference, speaking of the Moslem areas in Paris where the police no longer go:

...because a lot of them are like concrete bunkers. They have very strange things there...these public buildings that you have to have a kind of security card to get into. So, you'll be going to see someone, and you'll be frantically sticking this kind of key card in the door, while you're standing outside on this very exposed sidewalk. They're places where people who are not Muslim feel very ill at ease. They're places where the writ of the French state does not run. The police don't police there. They basically figure if you go there, you're on your own. You're taking your own chances there. I mean, I don't think Americans understand quite the degree of alienation of some of these groups. You know, there's a French cabinet minister whose title is the minister for social cohesion. And I think that would be a pretty odd title to have for a cabinet secretary in the United States.

This is probably the United States in 20 years. Subject continues below.




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, November 6, 2005

Subject: Sorry, but I just couldn't resist ...

Hi Jerry,

This story just begged to be translated ...

Arrr! Swashbucklers open fire on US cruise ship off Somalia

By Daniel Wallis

Sat Nov 5, 7:00 PM ET

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Swashbucklers fired rocket-propelled grenades an' machine cannons at a U.S.-owned cruise arrr ship carryin' more than 300 swabbies in th' Indian Ocean on Saturday but th' vessel escaped an' nay one be hurt, its owners spake.

Men in two wee boats approached th' Seabourn Cruise arrr arrr arrr Line ship Spirit about 100 miles off th' Somali coast, fired on 't an' tried t' board in an apparent bid t' rob passengers an' crew, cruise arrr line spokesman Bruce Good spake.

"I looked ou' o' th' port hole an' saw a wee boat wi' about five swabbies in 't about 20 yards away," spake Norman Fisher, 55, a passenger.

"They be firin' th' rifle an' then fired th' rocket launcher twice. One o' th' rockets certainly hit th' ship. 't sailed' through th' side o' th' liner into a passenger`s suite."

Th' 161-member crew gathered th' 151 passengers into a central lounge away from windows an' decks durin' th' attack, spake Good.

"Th' captain managed t' change th' course o' th' vessel an' speed away. Most o' th' passengers be believed t' be Americans or Western Europeans. Nay one be hurt," spake Andrew Mwangura, program coordinator fer th' Seafarers` Association in neighborin' Kenya.

Good spake trainin' had helped th' crew repel th' attack.

"Thar be some windows broken, nothin' that affected seaworthiness," Good spake. "Th' crew did an excellent job an' them guys gave up. ... These guys didna plan this too well."


Th' Indian Ocean waters off th' Somali coast be classed as among th' most dangerous in th' world. Typically buccanneers target freighters that carry only a handful o' crew members.

Th' Bahamian-registered Seabourn ship be on a 16-tide cruise arrr from Egypt t' Mombasa, Kenya. Th' 10,000-ton vessel sailed on t' th' Seychelles Isles, arrr, 'ere passengers be t' disembark an' fly t' Mombasa, Good spake.

Seabourn be headquartered in Miami an' be a subsidiary o' Carnival Corp., th' world`s largest cruise arrr squadron.

Fisher spake th' captain tried t' ram one o' th' boats in an attempt t' capsize 't an' avast them gettin' aboard.

"Th' captain didna sound th' usual alarm on accoun' o' he be worried that swabbies would run up on th' deck thinkin' 't be a fire, an' that would be th' worst place t' be," he spake.

"Instead he made an announcement at five past six, saying: `Stay inside, stay inside, we be under attack."`

Th' Spir'tis passengers included 48 Americans, 22 from th' United Kingdom, 21 Canadians, 19 Germans, 19 Australians an' six South Africans. Th' others be mostly from other European nations, Good spake.

Authorities in th' United States, United Kingdom an' Seychelles be investigatin', Good spake.

Hijackers be havin' commandeered two vessels used by th' U.N. World Food Program this voyage an' ship owners now demand armed escorts t' set sail in th' waters, th' agency spake.

This week, th' London-based International Maritime Bureau spake 't knew o' 27 buccanneer attacks off Somalia since March.

Th' attacks highlight insecurity in Somalia, without a government since warlords ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

(Additional reportin' by Jane Sutton in Miami)

_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA- -


Eric Krug

Arrr! Good job, ye scurvy rat!


Subject: Media Suppression of the French Riots

Dr. Pournelle,

You said, “I do not think the mainstream press is doing a very good job of conveying just how serious this situation is, and how widespread.“ Gee, do ya think? This is the biggest international story since 911 and it goes almost unreported in America. The largest paper in my city didn't mention it until day 8 and then only in an AP article on the page 14! No one I work with had even heard about it. When Eva Longoria got a bump on the head taping her TV show last month it received more national attention than the burning of Paris, something is seriously wrong in this country. Our media is worse now than Soviet Russia, at least they knew their media lied, in this country we are under the impression they are actually reporting news. Here in America we believe that press is free and there is a balance of opinions, but yet I have to scour the net for hours to find out what's going on in the world.

It appears to me that the leftist promoters of Multiculturalism who are so entrenched in our news services don't want to let people know that the experiment has been an utter failure in France. The logical end to letting in huge blocks of racially and culturally different foreigners is surrendering some of your territory to them, in effect displacing your own children. No problem though, why actually report to the sheep what is actually happening, they just relegate the biggest event in Europe in my memory to a sidebar. If white French youths had burned 200 cars in a Muslim neighborhood there would have been endless headlines and panel discussions, When African Muslims burn over 2000 cars its a non event. After 8 days World News Tonight on ABC covered it for ten seconds, no that is not an exaggeration, they literally thought this story deserved ten seconds of coverage.

There is a media brownout in America and it is intentional and ugly. Even the so called ”conservative” radio show hosts are barely touching this. No surprise there really, the same people own the radio stations as own our TV news and newspapers, but I wont speak about that, you're not allowed to broach that subject in the new America. I'll just sit back and pull my hair out like every one else in the west and enjoy the show as America goes down the tubes.

Please withhold My name, Thank You.

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation...


Subject: Paris riots reporting

Dr. Pournelle,

In some web forums I read, almost ALL of the early reporting on the rioting in France was decried as Euro-bashing, French-bashing, or Islam-bashing. It's not being reported because it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. Report it, and get decried for sensationalism and bashing the French. Don't report it, and get slammed for not paying attention to what has become a very significant news event.

Nevermind that the riots were sparked (pun intended) by a couple of kids who ran across some high voltage wires when messing around where they shouldn't have been, any analysis of the events will draw fire regardless of the viewpoint of the analyist.

Better to put a bland mention of the rioting on the CNN front page, and grab any excuse to relegate it to a sidebar. Worlds biggest cookie? Hooyah! Put that on the front page, because nobody but a few dieticians are going to complain about that. And the nasty story about Paris burning, decried initially as mere rumor mongering for the first few days, is quietly put aside where it will stir up no further trouble.

That takes courage, reporting like that. What would Clark Kent do?

Sean Long






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