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Mail 405 March 13 - 19, 2006






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Monday March 13, 2006 

There were several letters Sunday, including a short piece on algebra and employment.

Harry Erwin's Letter from England

Phone recording row. This will probably blow over.


UK report of Sandra Day O'Connor speech. Most people, including reporters, in the UK find American politics hard to understand.


Ireland trashes obsolete laws (humour).

CBI comments on UK business tax levels.

Pension reforms(?) http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article350922.ece

Schools unable to keep headteachers (i.e., US principals). This a side-effect of the command economy approach to education.

Comment on the education bill.

NHS crisis continues. Remember, very few ministers have ever managed an enterprise as big as a corner shop.

The great UK drought.

Money is the mother's milk of politics--the sale of peerages to finance the party.

Where has common sense gone to?

Someone always fails to get the word.

Italian story on John Paul II assassination attempt.

Battle of Moscow--history. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-2081136,00.html

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her


Dear Jerry,

To extend my subscription I am sending you today by mail a check for $ 50.- , drawn on a USA Bank. I am using mail, since money transfer from Europe is still a problem in 2006.

I wish you would cover on your Website more Science Fiction topics. Examples:

Major genetic reengineering of future human populations will be an important factor within this century. What will be the social and political consequences ?. I find it surprising there is so little coverage in todays science fiction literature. Why is this the case ?

Tampering with the human genome will be like a 3 year old „repairing“ a mechanical clock or wristwatch. There will be consequences instead of the expected results. I believe, this is a legitimate field to be explored by science fiction.

If women shrink from the burden of a 9 month pregnancy, is Aldous Huxley´s "Brave New World" approach of growing babies in a bottle the way of the future ? As a matter of fact, Brave New World is nearly a century old. Why are there such a small number of speculative writings in this area?

How about some alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and epsilon classes of future humans ?

The porno industry is in for a change. Genetically modified cats or apes will have the looks of a Hollywood star and provide a superior outlet for sexual energies. How about some speculation as to the social consequences? Changing boy and girl roles ?

Will the next generation space suit be grown via a genetically modified lobster or pig ? Worn in a symbiotic fashion by future astronauts ?

In the past there were science fiction stories covering telephatic communication. Pretty soon many people will carry a handy within their body, directly attached to neurons and their brain. You covered this to some extend in "Oath of Fealty". Widespread use will be the equivalent of telephatic communication. There will be social and political consequences. Like what ?

Consider the near term. Mr. Renner´s „Hole Card“, his personal computer in „The Mote in God´s Eye“ is nearly here today. Again, what will be the social impact ?

Yes, this opens a Pandora´s Box of questions. Your Web Site would be a good place to discuss the issues.

And yes, I am eagerly waiting for a continuation of your Prince of Sparta Series. What role will the Sparta Brotherhood play in in future political systems? Will Heinlein´s oligarchic system as outlined in „Star Trooper“ have a role ? Or your own „citizen and taxpayer“ scheme“ ?

Best Regards, Wil Spruth

 Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm G. Spruth
spruth@informatik.uni-tuebingen.de spruth@cedix.de

Thanks for the renewal, and does Paypal work from Europe?

You raise a good number of interesting topics. I'll try to get at some of them but I make no doubt the readers will get there first.

I would guess that if birth rates among the talented continue to plummet, at least one government will think about exogene babies raised in creches. Why shouldn't we do that to replace the dwindling talent? If we have all delta and gamma and no alpha, will we not be unable to keep a civilization together?

And I remind everyone that people do differ. Huxley looked at that explicitly. We don't dare do so because it is politically incorrect, but in fact there is not one shred of reason for assuming human equality other than religious. There is certainly no objective reason to consider an IQ 85 part time day laborer with 11 illegitimate children as equal to a pair of professors who have carefully raised one child to be a responsible citizen. Or to consider any of the offspring of the laborer to be the equal of the professor's child. The objective assumption and the justified prediction would be that the professor's child will be more valuable to the society than all 11 of the others. At the very heart of our democratic political theory and of political correctness itself lies the religious assumption that all are created equal and all endowed with equal rights.

Huxley's Brave New World frightened a generation; but we have now generations that may think it a wise and precocious blueprint.

Incidentally, Peter Kreeft's Between Heaven and Hell

has dialogues between Huxley, C. S. Lewis, and JFK, who all died within hours of each other; and is well worth attention.


Subject: Of biblical references and bullet trains

Dave the NCO wrote:

"I noticed this a few years ago, when I complained to my Wall Street boss, a lady with a degree from a good university and a six-digit salary, that in giving me a project to complete without the proper means to complete it, she was asking me to make bricks without straw. She stared at me uncomprehendingly. "Bricks? Straw? What on earth are you talking about, John?""

The other side of the coin is that, even though it is easier to be ignorant in this age, it is also easier to rectify this. Just tell them to Google it, and eleventy-seven references will immediately enlighten them. I actually recommend this course of action, as it is more likely to be effective than actually asking them to read the Bible.

In other news, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060313/ap_on_re_as/china_fast_trains 

China approves Beijing-Shanghai-Hangzhou bullet trains.

Remind me again why China, Japan, and Europe all have next generation train technology, while America's government detests even the idea of maintaining what minimal and inefficient passenger service we have left?

--Catfish N. Cod

On that last point, see below


Dirty Secrets of the Soprano State.


--- Roland Dobbins


Subject: I couldn't make this up!

Driver's Ed required for blind student!



Ordnung! Das Buros steht immer!


Subject: Thinkpad Finger Print Login

Thinkpad Fingerprint login Ref: Byte.com Jan 2nd 2006.

You described difficulties with finger print login. I also had those difficulties until I did two things:

1. I took to just slightly breathing on my finger tip before passing it over the finger print detector to just ever so slightly dampen the tip. Particularly after coming in from a cold and windy Yorkshire winter day, I found the trace of dampness helped. Whether this helps in hot & dry climates, well, YMMV!

2. I updated the finger print software vie the Thinkvantage "Update my system" option to version 5.4.0 (I don't recall what it was before). The finger print detector software has clearly changed as the little success / failure display is different.

With these two changes, I find I can now usually get it right first time. But I cannot say which was the most important as both happened around the same time.


Regards, David Hutton-Squire



Now for a developing thread of possible interest:


Springboard for this was a speech by former governor of Colorado, Dick Lamm, at an immigration overpopulation conference held in Washington DC.

"...[Mr.] Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States."

"First, to destroy America, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country."

"Second, to destroy America, "Invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture."

"Third...celebrate diversity rather than unity."

"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated."

Fifth "...get big foundations and business to give these [diversity] efforts lots of money."

Sixth "...include dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other."

Seventh "...place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or xenophobe' halt discussion and debate."

Eighth "...censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."


Charles Brumbelow

Sounds like a plan...


Subject: Rebuttal

"Catfish N. Cod" said "Remind me again why China, Japan, and Europe all have next generation train technology, while America's government detests even the idea of maintaining what minimal and inefficient passenger service we have left?"

The answer is actually quite simple: That "minimal and inefficient" passenger service is the best you can do on a cost-effective basis, taking ALL of the constraints into consideration.

Bullet trains are popular, high-tech, neat, nifty, keen, and sexy. They are also INCREDIBLY expensive to operate and maintain, compared with (a) conventional diesel trains, (b) highways and automobiles, (c) runways and Boeing 737s.

That last one has been documented. The Great State of Texas looked long and hard at building a bullet train connecting Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Texas TGV Ventures was spearheading it. Their big selling point was that they would not require one thin dime of Texas state subsidy money. Their ticket prices to the consumer would have been COMPARABLE to Southwest Airlines ticket prices, on the same routes. The difference is that they would have required MASSIVE Federal subsidies, on top of the local subsidies to operate terminals and parking lots and suchlike.

Herb Kelleher, then-CEO of Southwest Airlines, pointed out, quite loudly, in his inimitable fashion, that he was ALREADY meeting their quoted ticket prices, without ONE THIN DIME of Federal OR State subsidies, and that was BEFORE anyone considered environmental impact from running bullet trains through whichever neighborhood got to host the tracks. He also pointed out that 737s weren't limited to running established routes, unlike trains.

No one has yet published the corresponding analysis, using Embraer regional jets instead of 737s. I have no doubt of the outcome of such an analysis, given the number of RJ145s I've ridden from Huntsville, going either to Dallas or O'Hare.

Full Disclosure: I rode the Acela from Connecticut down to BWI, and back, a few years ago, to attend a Preliminary Design Review. It was about a four-hour ride. The corresponding ride on Southwest Airlines, out of Hartford, would probably have taken about the same amount of time, and actually been somewhat less of a pain in the posterior. Note that those tracks were not in anything like the condition necessary for a bullet train.

--John R. Strohm

But: TSA is certainly paid for by Federal funds. ONe may question how much we need a service that provides almost no security while harassing everyone equally, confiscating Medals of Honor, searching grandmothers while scrupulously either avoiding searches of suspicious looking passengers or searching everyone on that flight to avoid political correctness, and doing its very best to appear to be brain damaged officious bureaucrats no matter what they may be in private life. I'd ride slow trains to avoid the TSA. I stay home to avoid the TSA. I suppose TSA would torture the riders of bullet trains, too.








This week:


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TuesdayMarch 14, 2006

This day was devoured by work...




This week:


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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Ides of March

RFID Viruses and Worms.



- Roland Dobbins

One more thing to worry about, but it can't be ignored.


Subject: Bullet trains

I've ridden Amtrak out to California and back, largely because it's about as cheap as airline tickets and the station is marginally closer to where I live than any airport that has decent prices (Des Moines International is notoriously expensive to fly from---it's a long story). I've never known it to be other than punctual; about the only complaints I have are that the food on board is expensive and I have to muscle my own luggage on and off the train. I also get the chance to see countryside I couldn't from an airplane or a car.

That said, I think that passenger trains are never going to be a big thing again, and bullet trains are Absolutely Right Out, for one simple reason---liability. In this day and age, anything that goes wrong can get someone with deep pockets sued---this sort of nonsense did a lot to all but destroy the manufacturers of small private planes, or so I am told---and after _one_ real good accident on a passenger train, the lawsuits would be flying, fast and furious.

The railroads mostly don't want to hassle with passengers, either, because (as Arthur C. Clarke pointed out somewhere) freight, unlike passengers, doesn't mind being shunted off to a siding for four hours, nor does freight demand that its feet be warm and its martinis chilled.

Eric Oppen


Who Speaks for the Army=

Subject: Staying in Iraq

In your recent essay, you speak of the Army (or the military) as of one mind on the issue of staying to win. I've gotten the impression, however, that there is somewhat of a divide between the regular army and the part-time army (National Guard, Reserves) in terms of support for the war. I've seen polls showing that the part-timers tend to be less supportive of staying the course. If true, how would this factor into your argument that we need to stay because the Army believes it can win?

The other issue is that the Army is not static in it's makeup, particularly at the level of the infantryman. I know that a number of units have had several rotations through the theater. But I expect you still have some people being discharged, and new recruits coming in. Those new recruits haven't yet seen the blood of comrades being invested. That they are signing up during a time of war indicates that they are strongly supportive of the effort, but they still don't have the same level of investment as those who have seen combat. Because of those new recruits, you still must face the question of asking idealistic men to put themselves at risk, not for a necessary result so much as to justify what has already been lost. In investing circles, this is called putting good money after bad, and it can be a very costly mistake.

It is a common among Americans to value winning very highly, to want to win for the sake of winning, despite the merits of the contest. Maybe that is OK in business, or investing, or sports. But in war, trying to win just for the sake of winning becomes harder to justify.

In the case of Iraq, there are good reasons to question whether or not winning is realistic, particularly if you define winning as the establishment of a Western style secular democracy. That outcome basically requires that large numbers of Iraqis make the decision that their identity as Iraqis is more important to them than their identities as Shias, Sunnis or Kurds. They must decide that there are times when they will not heed the call of Islam, but give heed first to the constitution. And they must be committed enough to those decisions to risk their own lives to defend those choices. Much of that is well outside the control of the Army.

CP, Hartford, Connecticut



Can’t say that I disagree with much of what you said in your mini essay. There was some pretty good food for thought. I did have a bit of a problem with staying in Iraq, though. Specifically, you state “And so long as the Army believes that, we the people have an obligation to those we sent in harm's way to let them try.”

My question is who decides who speaks for the Army? Is it the Generals? Or are they (paraphrasing from Carter) “Shutting up and soldiering”? Wasn’t there a survey recently of the grunts on the ground that indicated they wanted out? What relevance does that have?

Perhaps we are damaging the country more by making it harder for the National Guard and Reserves to recruit, thus, not being able to actually “guard the nation” like they are supposed to do. How many have to die before it becomes not worth it?

Different subject:

Although I didn’t read the article in Byte regarding the fingerprint reader on Thinkpads, I have one and experienced it. I have been working in China and after walking to work in the cold dry weather, I have trouble logging on. Breathing on the fingertips works. I think (no proof) that it is related to moisture and temperature of my hands. Cold and dry (at least colder and drier than when you originally set the machine up) seem to cause problems. I’ve never been totally locked out of the machine though. But it does makes me think I should write the CTL-ALT-DEL password down someplace I can find it.

Finally, an interesting essay:
 http://www.howardafrench.com:  “Letter from China: A countryside jaunt to the reality of China
etter_from_china_a_countryside_jaunt_to_the_reality_of_china/>  ”

Since this is where I’m currently working, I can attest to its truth.

Thanks for the always interesting thoughts.

Regards, Craig

The question of who speaks for the Army is important, and goes to the heart of the question of the structure of military power. If we are to continue imperial adventures, we will need imperial forces; which means lessening the dependence of the expeditionary forces on the National Guard and home contingent.

If we would abolish FEMA, and restructure Civil Defense properly, we could do this, with the National Guard divided into a ready reserve (volunteer) that expects deployment and the Guard/Civil Defense forces which don't.

There are many prices to empire. This would be one of them. It is never cheap. The whole notion of self government is that it is small, relatively efficient, and cheap. If we expect large benefits from government we must also expect it to be costly and inefficient and corrupt.


Subject: Destroying America

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I read the excerpt from Dick Lamm's speech with growing horror. Items one through six adequately describe Canada, my home and native land. We are rapidly approaching item 7, and since the book mentioned is about America and not Canada, we won't get to item 8. Canada's lack of patriotism, and by that I mean real, unadulterated "I'd kill for my country" patriotism, worries me.

Last year I attended a trade show in Las Vegas. I, and my Canadian co-workers, visited the Fremont Street Experience (which IMHO is the best part of Vegas!). There we watched one of the many roof top movies that play every so often, and are always followed up by an intense bombardment of American patriotism. The mostly American crowd cheered and clapped as expected, my co-workers exclaimed that they would never be so patriotic as to cheer our flag, and I cringed. I cringed because I so wanted to clap and cheer, but it's not "my" flag. I cringed because my co-workers couldn't feel patriotic about their own country.

Why oh why, can't Canadians understand what it means to be proud about one's country? We have done many things to be proud of, though sadly not too many in recent years. Is that it? Have I answered my own question? Is it truly because we have become so ruled by the bureaucrats that we can no longer think for ourselves, no longer feel pride in our country's actions because we are isolated from those actions? Because our actions have become washed out, politically correct, and totally empty of feeling mouthings of nothingness?

Anyway I would like this letter to stand as a warning to your fellow Americans. Pay close attention to Canada people, watch our news, be aware of what is going on socially and politically in your close neighbor, because if you don't pay attention you'll end up just like us. And that is not a happy thing!

Stay strong & don't waver!

Bill Grigg Kelowna BC Canada



I always liked that speech by Richard Lamm, but I doubted it was legit. So, when it showed up on your site, I "Snoped" it out.

I was shocked! Not only did Lamm make the speech, but he provided a revised version to Snopes.com:


Some things truly are a wonder.


I am mildly astonished, not that the quote is real, but that Snopes with its agenda would take the trouble to say so.


World War IV


I've been pondering your essay from yesterday, and have discovered that I'm not among the intellectual elite who know the answer, but here's a few thoughts.

The war on terror is a politically correct way of referring to the war on militant Islam. One of our local radio hosts, Mike Rosen, refers to this as World War IV (the cold war being III). Perhaps calling it the 6th crusade (I believe that's the current count) would be the most honest of all.

The first challenge is that our opponent has largely abandoned the concept of nation-states, and formed an amorphous meta-nation. Citizens of this meta-nation owe their allegiance not to the nation in which they reside, but to a particular religious belief. They are uniting behind this single belief, while we are adopting multiculturalism and excusing Muslim hatred (witness the press response to the Danish cartoon incident).

This appeasement is no different than what Neville Chamberlain did with Hitler, and now, as then, Europe is deep in denial. We are repeating history, and now as before, America and her few allies (Britain and Australia) will stand alone.

So in response to your essay: Spreading democracy is our current strategy to battle the meta-nation and win the war. Iraq and Afghanistan are the latest battlefields that strategy has lead us to fight upon. We can argue that strategy, and the logistics, tactics, and choice of battlefields; we can debate how the war is being fought, but we cannot argue if the war should be fought. War is upon us, and it is as imperative to fight - and win - this war against militant Islam as it was to battle Hitler and Communism.

One thing is certain though: The most important battlefield is here at home, fighting against those 8 points Dick Lamm described. We cannot even have an open discussion of the true nature of the war - a war of ideas and beliefs. We reap what we have sown.




This next is very long, but I wouldn't put it up if I didn't think it worth your time. It is relevant to the above.

Subject: Fwd: Article about muslims taking over Britain deleted from Telegraph Web Site


Thank God for Google's caching. Yes indeed:


Sorry, the page you have requested is not available Please try again later

This error message may occur for a number of reasons: We are unable to locate any more files relating to this subject

The file may have been moved or deleted because it is out of date

You may have followed a link from another web site that contains an incorrect or out of date URL (web page address)

You may have typed an incorrect URL into your browser

There may be an error on the telegraph.co.uk site.

The TELEGRAPH has disavowed this previously-posted content.

'The day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state' By Alasdair Palmer (Filed: 19/02/2006)

For the past two weeks, Patrick Sookhdeo has been canvassing the opinions of Muslim clerics in Britain on the row over the cartoons featuring images of Mohammed that were first published in Denmark and then reprinted in several other European countries.

"They think they have won the debate," he says with a sigh. "They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.



Dr Patrick Sookhdeo


"The cartoons, you see, have not been published in this country, and the Government has been very critical of those countries in which they were published. To many of the Islamic clerics, that's a clear victory.

"It's confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call 'adverse consequences' - violence to the rest of us - then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent."

Dr Sookhdeo adds that he believes that "in a decade, you will see parts of English cities which are controlled by Muslim clerics and which follow, not the common law, but aspects of Muslim sharia law.

"It is already starting to happen - and unless the Government changes the way it treats the so-called leaders of the Islamic community, it will continue."

For someone with such strong and uncompromising views, Dr Sookhdeo is a surprisingly gentle and easy-going man. He speaks with authority on Islam, as it was his first faith: he was brought up as a Muslim in Guyana, the only English colony in South America, and attended a madrassa there.

"But Islamic instruction was very different in the 1950s, when I was at school," he says. "There was no talk of suicide bombing or indeed of violence of any kind. Islam was very peaceful."

Dr Sookhdeo's family emigrated to England when he was 10. In his early twenties, when he was at university, he converted to Christianity. "I had simply seen it as the white man's religion, the religion of the colonialists and the oppressors - in a very similar way, in fact, to the way that many Muslims see Christianity today.

" Leaving Islam was not easy. According to the literal interpretation of the Koran, the punishment for apostasy is death - and it actually is punished by death in some Middle Eastern states. "It wasn't quite like that here," he says, "although it was traumatic in some ways."

Dr Sookhdeo continued to study Islam, doing a PhD at London University on the religion. He is currently director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. He also advises the Army on security issues related to Islam.

Several years ago, Dr Sookhdeo insisted that the next wave of radical Islam in Britain would involve suicide bombings in this country. His prediction was depressingly confirmed on 7/7 last year.

So his claim that, in the next decade, the Muslim community in Britain will not be integrated into mainstream British society, but will isolate itself to a much greater extent, carries weight behind it. Dr Sookhdeo has proved his prescience.

"The Government, and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, are fundamentally deluded about the nature of Islam," he insists. "Tony Blair unintentionally revealed his ignorance when he said, in an effort to conciliate Muslims, that he had 'read through the Koran twice' and that he kept it by his bedside.

"He thought he was saying something which showed how seriously he took Islam. But most Muslims thought it was a joke, if not an insult. Because, of course, every Muslim knows that you cannot read the Koran through from cover to cover and understand it.

The chapters are not written to be read in that way. Indeed, after the first chapter, the chapters of the Koran are ordered according to their length, not according to their content or chronology: the longest chapters are first, the shorter ones are at the end.

"You need to know which passage was revealed at what period and in what time in order to be able to understand it - you cannot simply read it from beginning to end and expect to learn anything at all.

"That is one reason why it takes so long to be able to read and understand the Koran: the meaning of any part of it depends on a knowledge of its context - a context that is not in the Koran itself."

The Prime Minister's ignorance of Islam, Dr Sookhdeo contends, is of a piece with his unsuccessful attempts to conciliate it. And it does indeed seem as if the Government's policy towards radical Islam is based on the hope that if it makes concessions to its leaders, they will reciprocate and relations between fundamentalist Muslims and Tony Blair's Government will then turn into something resembling an ecumenical prayer meeting.

Dr Sookhdeo nods in vigorous agreement with that. "Yes - and it is a very big mistake. Look at what happened in the 1990s. The security services knew about Abu Hamza and the preachers like him. They knew that London was becoming the centre for Islamic terrorists. The police knew. The Government knew. Yet nothing was done.

"The whole approach towards Muslim militants was based on appeasement. 7/7 proved that that approach does not work - yet it is still being followed. For example, there is a book, The Noble Koran: a New Rendering of its Meaning in English, which is openly available in Muslim bookshops.

"It calls for the killing of Jews and Christians, and it sets out a strategy for killing the infidels and for warfare against them. The Government has done nothing whatever to interfere with the sale of that book.

"Why not? Government ministers have promised to punish religious hatred, to criminalise the glorification of terrorism, yet they do nothing about this book, which blatantly does both."

Perhaps the explanation is just that they do not take it seriously. "I fear that is exactly the problem," says Dr Sookhdeo. "The trouble is that Tony Blair and other ministers see Islam through the prism of their own secular outlook.

They simply do not realise how seriously Muslims take their religion. Islamic clerics regard themselves as locked in mortal combat with secularism.

"For example, one of the fundamental notions of a secular society is the moral importance of freedom, of individual choice. But in Islam, choice is not allowable: there cannot be free choice about whether to choose or reject any of the fundamental aspects of the religion, because they are all divinely ordained. God has laid down the law, and man must obey.

'Islamic clerics do not believe in a society in which Islam is one religion among others in a society ruled by basically non-religious laws. They believe it must be the dominant religion - and it is their aim to achieve this.

"That is why they do not believe in integration. In 1980, the Islamic Council of Europe laid out their strategy for the future - and the fundamental rule was never dilute your presence. That is to say, do not integrate.

"Rather, concentrate Muslim presence in a particular area until you are a majority in that area, so that the institutions of the local community come to reflect Islamic structures. The education system will be Islamic, the shops will serve only halal food, there will be no advertisements showing naked or semi-naked women, and so on."

That plan, says Dr Sookhdeo, is being followed in Britain. "That is why you are seeing areas which are now almost totally Muslim. The next step will be pushing the Government to recognise sharia law for Muslim communities - which will be backed up by the claim that it is "racist" or "Islamophobic" or "violating the rights of Muslims" to deny them sharia law.

"There's already a Sharia Law Council for the UK. The Government has already started making concessions: it has changed the law so that there are sharia-compliant mortgages and sharia pensions.

"Some Muslims are now pressing to be allowed four wives: they say it is part of their religion. They claim that not being allowed four wives is a denial of their religious liberty. There are Muslim men in Britain who marry and divorce three women, then marry a fourth time - and stay married, in sharia law, to all four.

"The more fundamentalist clerics think that it is only a matter of time before they will persuade the Government to concede on the issue of sharia law. Given the Government's record of capitulating, you can see why they believe that."

Dr Sookhdeo's vision of a relentless battle between secular and Islamic Britain seems hard to reconcile with the co-operation that seems to mark the vast majority of the interactions between the two communities.

"Well, it isn't me who says Islam is at war with secularisation," he says. "That's how Islamic clerics describe the situation."

But isn't it true that most Muslims who live in theocratic states want to get out of them as quickly as possible and live in a secular country such as Britain or America? And that most Muslims who come to Britain adopt the values of a liberal, democratic, tolerant society, rather than insisting on the inflexible rules of their religion?

"You have to distinguish between ordinary Muslims and their self-appointed leaders," explains Dr Sookhdeo. "I agree that the best hope for our collective future is that the majority of Muslims who have grown up here have accepted the secular nature of the British state and society, the division between religion and politics, and the importance of allowing people to choose freely how they will live.

"But that is not how most of the clerics talk. And, more significantly, it is not how the 'community leaders' whom the Government has decided represent the Muslim community think either.

"Take, for example, Tariq Ramadan, whom the Government has appointed as an adviser because ministers think he is a 'community leader'. Ramadan sounds, in public, very moderate. But in reality, he has some very extreme views. He attacks liberal Muslims as 'Muslims without Islam'. He is affiliated to the violent and uncompromising Muslim Brotherhood.

"He calls the education in the state schools of the West 'aggression against the Islamic personality of the child'. He has said that 'the Muslim respects the laws of the country only if they do not contradict any Islamic principle'. He has added that 'compromising on principles is a sign of fear and weakness'."

So what's the answer? What should the Government be doing? "First, it should try to engage with the real Muslim majority, not with the self-appointed 'community leaders' who don't actually represent anyone: they have not been elected, and the vast majority of ordinary Muslims have nothing to do with them.

"Second, the Government should say no to faith-based schools, because they are a block to integration. There should be no compromise over education, or over English as the language of education. The policy of political multiculturalism should be reversed.

"The hope was that it would to ensure separate communities would soften at the edges and integrate. But the opposite has in fact happened: Islamic communities have hardened. There is much less integration than there was for the generation that arrived when I did. There will be much less in the future if the present trend continues.

"Finally, the Government should make it absolutely clear: we welcome diversity, we welcome different religions - but all of them have to accept the secular basis of British law and society. That is a non-negotiable condition of being here.

"If the Government does not do all of those things then I fear for the future, because Islamic communities within Britain will form a state within a state. Religion will occupy an ever-larger place in our collective political life. And, speaking as a religious man myself, I fear that outcome."

Publishers wishing to reproduce photographs on this page should phone 44 (0) 207 538 7505 or e-mail <mailto:syndication@telegraph.co.uk>syndication@telegraph.co.uk

<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/19/nsharia19.xml>Muslims want sharia law in UK http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/19/nsharia19.xml


Poll reveals 40pc of Muslims want sharia law in UK By Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite (Filed: 19/02/2006)

Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.

The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.



50pc said interracial relations were worsening


Overall, the findings depict a Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream society, even though 91 per cent still say they feel loyal to Britain.

The results of the poll, conducted for the Sunday Telegraph, came as thousands of Muslims staged a fresh protest in London yesterday against the publication of cartoons of Mohammed. In Libya, at least 10 people died in protests linked to the caricatures.

And in Pakistan, a cleric was reported to have put a $1 million (£575,000) bounty on the head of the Danish cartoonist who drew the original pictures.

Last night, Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP involved with the official task force set up after the July attacks, said the findings were "alarming". He added: "Vast numbers of Muslims feel disengaged and alienated from mainstream British society." Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "This poll confirms the widespread opposition among British Muslims to the so-called war on terror."

The most startling finding is the high level of support for applying sharia law in "predominantly Muslim" areas of Britain.

Sadiq Khan: 'Alarming'

Islamic law is used in large parts of the Middle East, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, and is enforced by religious police. Special courts can hand down harsh punishments which can include stoning and amputation.

Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain, while 41 per cent opposed it. Twenty per cent felt sympathy with the July 7 bombers' motives, and 75 per cent did not. One per cent felt the attacks were "right".

Nearly two thirds thought the video images shown last week of British troops beating Iraqi youths were symptomatic of a wider problem in Iraq. Half did not think the soldiers would be "appropriately punished".

Half of the 500 people surveyed said relations between white Britons and Muslims were getting worse. Only just over half thought the conviction of the cleric Abu Hamza for incitement to murder and race hatred was fair.

Mr Khan, the MP for Tooting, said: "We must redouble our efforts to bring Muslims on board with the mainstream community. For all the efforts made since last July, things do not have appear to have got better."

He agreed with Sir Iqbal that the poll showed Muslims still had a "big gripe" about foreign policy, particularly over the war on terror and Iraq.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "It shows we have a long way to go to win the battle of ideas within some parts of the Muslim community and why it is absolutely vital that we reinforce the voice of moderate Islam wherever possible."

A spokesman for Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said: "It is critically important to ensure that Muslims, and all faiths, feel part of modern British society. Today's survey indicates we still have a long way to goŠ [but] we are committed to working with all faiths to ensure we achieve that end."

12 February 2006: Leader of cartoon rally warns of 'fire throughout the world'

6 February 2006: Arrest pedlars of hate, police urged


Subject: If it weren't for men...

Re: "If it were not for women, men would be living in caves, scratching and grunting."

Fred has a good rejoinder: "Without men, civilization would last until the oil needed changing."


Steve Erbach Neenah, WI http://TheTownCrank.blogspot.com 

"The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits." -- Plutarch


Subject: Telemarketing Scam

Dr. Pournelle I just received a telemarketing call from a group of east Asians who claimed that the U.S. Government. "Department of Health" had contracted with them to send "Anti-bird Flu" kits to U.S. citizens. When I asked the guy who called me where he was from he said "Florida". I then asked to speak to someone with an American accent and after being cycled through several "Supervisors" all of who had east Asian accents I could hear in the background the first guy saying "Does anybody here REALLY sound like an American?"

This group of Floridians couldn't tell me the capital of Florida or what county Miami is in. But, they were very reluctant to hang up on me without getting a credit card number. I managed to keep them talking for about ten minutes until after a couple of minutes of rather unimaginative name calling (by them) they finally hung up on me.

I didn't bother to tell them I am on the "No Call" list. It is good to see that VOIP has brought the price of phone calls from Asia low enough for telemarketing. But they either need to hire some voice coaches or some North Americans to be "Supervisors"




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Subject: Global warming


The link is to an article that suggests that global warming could be a residue caused by the Tunguska event, and the true culprit is water.


Question: If water, particularly at high altitudes, is crucial for causing global warming, wouldn't modern air travel lead to higher levels of upper altitude moisture?


Never believe anything until it has been officially denied. Otto Von Bismarck


Subject: Re: Tunguska

The bloggers at RealClimate.org respond to the Tunguska hyptothesis.


The author of the post is a climate modeler at NASA Goddard.



And the real insight is that the models are insufficiently precise to make anything certain. Tunguska may have had nothing whatever to do with climate. It probably did have some effect, but we don't know what.

We do know that after Tambora in 1815, the next year was "the year without a summer," or "eighteen hundred and froze to death". We also know that Benjamin Franklin, watching the sky darken while sailing past Iceland speculated that volcanic dust may have been the cause of unusual cold weather in Europe, and even of ice ages although the notion of an ice age wasn't fixed in Franklin's time.

We have more sophisticated models now, but in my judgment they are not sufficiently reliable to bet trillions of dollars on.


Subject: Modelling climate change

Dear Jerry,

It is a constant and well-argued theme on your website that the right thing to do RIGHT NOW about climate change is to put a great deal more effort into research.

Well there are other people who think so too, and the BBC ran a program recently calling on PC users to download and run climate models in a rather grand distributed computing effort. Of course SETI@home and some medical research experiments have benefited from the home-based PC grid.

The University of Berkeley has made available a copy of their BOINC simulator that can run on a home PC. It has taken quite a long time to get the models lean and efficient enough to run on a standard PC, and of course Moore’s Law has helped meet the modelers half-way.

At any rate, we can now download the model and run the simulation as a screen-saver, or in the background on a dual-core machine with a low thread priority, most people won’t notice it’s even there.

If this effort attracts a substantial number of users it will go some considerable distance into putting some very serious combined computing power into running the models with a wide variety of parameters.

For more info: http://www.climateprediction.net/ 

The above website has a great deal of interesting information about the project, but I thought the following quote from the experimental strategy page interesting:

“The climateprediction.net project comprises three separate experiments - one to explore the model we are using, the second to see how well the models replicate past climate and the third to finally produce a forecast for 21st century climate. Each model that we distribute will be used for all three experiments. Each model distributed is unique, and differs from all the others in three ways: the initial conditions <http://www.climateprediction.net/science/strategy.php#ini_con>  it is started from, the attributes which force <http://www.climateprediction.net/science/strategy.php#force>  it to be in one particular climate state and the parameters <http://www.climateprediction.net/science/strategy.php#param>  which make up the actual model.”

The BBC website which is more glamorous and less scientific, but is where most people will start: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/hottopics/climatechange/ 

And a direct link for the program download: http://bbc.cpdn.org/ 

There is going to be a lot of data generated and some interesting sub-project spinoffs. http://www.climateprediction.net/cpdnresearch/cpdn_subprojects.html 

If any of your readers have any information about the strengths and weaknesses of the simulation methodology I’d certainly be most interested.

If nothing else it’s a pretty cool-looking screensaver, but one might argue that we have something of a moral imperative to contribute our spare processing cycles.


Craig Arnold

I know nothing of this; anyone else familiar with it?


Subject: packaging


It's a sign of the times. I just got a shipment from Newegg. In the box were two Logitech webcam's, and a Plantronics DSP400 headset. All were packaged such that I wanted to use a pick ax to open them. Obviously, theft has become so much of a problem that standard packaging practice produce consumer packages that only the insane can open. I actually cut myself in the process. So here I am, a legitimate consumer bleeding after opening my purchase. Great marketing. Of course only 30 odd years ago, shop lifting was considered serious.

Phil Tharp

Yea, verily.


Subject: Danish cartoons

I note that the links to AMREM no longer seem to have the cartoons. Try this.




Subject: Trains vs. Airlines, Chaos Manor Mail, Monday March 13, 2006


John R. Strohm is fundamentally misinformed about airline economics.

Southwest Airlines is parasitic on the other airlines. Southwest picks up the high-profit routes in the system, but the system only works because it goes everywhere. The same principle as Metcalfe's Law. When all the insolvent airlines cease flying, most of the people in the country will have to drive about two hours to get to somewhere Southwest goes. At that point, flying will not be worth the trouble, and Southwest will fold too.

Likewise, the airlines are all parasitic on the military. Every significant technology in an airliner was pioneered in military aircraft. The real name of the Boeing 707 was the KC-135. Old airliners get sold back to the Air Force, which cannibalizes them for spare parts to keep the tanker and AWACS/command post planes flying. Every ex-service pilot employed by the airlines represents a subsidy of at least five million dollars in flight time, and the same thing applies to the mechanics, etc. A considerable portion of airports began as air bases. If the Air Force expected to be paid back, Southwest Airlines would be bankrupt. The way things are going, with chain-reaction bankruptcies and wage givebacks, the Air Force probably will have to take over the airlines in the end, and run them as a public service.

Anyone can be a business genius when being bankrolled by the federal government under a hidden subsidy arrangement. Herb Kelleher was just unusually mouthy about it.

Andrew D. Todd

But see below.



CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's Day

Subject: Re: Airlines versus the military

Andy Todd said: "...airlines are all parasitic on the military." Indeed--and that's just the way that the military wants it. It's not merely a coincidence that the rapid growth in passenger-aircraft size (and a similar increase in the number of passenger airlines) occurred after World War II.

What do you need to fight a 1950s-style nuclear war? Lots of pilots with experience flying large, long-range, multi-engine types. How do you guarantee that these pilots are available without having a tremendous Air Force that scares the Commies into doing something drastic? You subsidize air carriers and guide their development towards 250-passenger airliners flying long routes, which results in lots of pilots with experience flying large, long-range, multi-engine types...

It could be suggested that if it weren't for American nuclear paranoia then the September 11th attacks wouldn't have happened--because the idea of a "widebody airliner" would have been as crazy as a modern automobile designer suggesting a 350-passenger bus. We would have _had_ our flying cars, because the market would have been allowed to create them--rather than being incentivized and tax-broken into doing the Air Force's training work for it.

-- Mike Powers


Subj: Parasitic airlines?

Isn't Andrew D. Todd a little overboard at http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/mail405.html#airline

What does he propose? Forbid aviators to leave the Service? Forbid them to fly for airlines after leaving the Service? Rip up the runways at abandoned air bases, so no airline can exploit them?

How does discontinuing the low-volume routes Southwest finds unprofitable make people unwilling to fly the high-volume routes Southwest *does* find profitable?

Why is it necessarily the case that, if an old-style airline finds it unprofitable to provide service to a particular community, no one can possibly find it profitable to provide that service?

As for KC-135+B-707: I wonder whether the unit cost of the airplanes the Air Force bought would have been less, if Boeing had been forbidden to use the technology for the 707, or would it have been greater? I'm too lazy to look it up, but unless I'm mistaken, Boeing used its *own* money to develop the prototype that later became the KC-135+B-707. I wonder if they'd've done so, if they hadn't expected to use the same tech for airliners?

Consider also the KC-10 tanker: developed from the DC-10 commercial airliner, that was. Should the Air Force have had to reimburse Douglass for all the DC-10 development costs?

There are lots of problems in airline economics, but I don't think Mr. Todd has helped me understand any of them.

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


Subject: The old is new again?

In Monday's MAIL section someone wrote: "Genetically modified cats or apes will have the looks of a Hollywood star and provide a superior outlet for sexual energies. How about some speculation as to the social consequences? Changing boy and girl roles ?"

Why am I having flashback's to Frederick Pohl's stories about underpeople?


Cordwainer Smith, not Pohl, but yes, the ballad of lost C'mell may play out yet. And the Lords of the Instrumentality...


Subject: Imagine what the teams would look like

Dear Jerry,

Remember the Monty Python's Flying Circus routine featuring the soccer match between German and Greek philosophers? That's what I thought of when I read this news story: Gay-vs.-Muslim Soccer Set in Netherlands ( http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/03/16/D8GCRG8O1.html  ).

One can only imagine what the team uniforms would be like. Perhaps pink feather boas and leather bustiers on one side and dynamite waistcoats and ski masks on the other?

I particularly enjoyed the organizer's observation that gay Muslims can take their choice of teams.

Talk about a self-parody.


Steve Erbach

Your political incorrectness is noted and filed...


Subject: You know you're living in a company town

When a story belonging to the business section of most town's papers makes the front page of the LA Times.


Eric Pobirs

Happens all the time, too. This morning it's about the HQ of CW


Subject: An Interesting Essay on conservatism 

Dear Jerry,

You might enjoy the following essay. I am curious to know what you think.



 Best, Kim Smith

It would take too long to do a full critique. It is certainly worth reading for anyone interested in the subject.

For those wondering, Possony and Kirk were my friends and mentors; I took Kirk's side in the Meyers fusionism debates; but my view is that real federalism and state's rights would solve many of those questions.

The essay is well worth reading.


Ma Bell, reanimated

Good Evening Dr. Pournelle, from here the AT&T break-up and reassembly looks more like a case of providing exciting opportunities for the investment community. If I remember correctly, the founder of MCI had a role in promoting the break-up, which I also have second and third thoughts about, even though I remember the occasional really astonishing long distance bill.

Tim Harness

The rate payers sure didn't get the benefits of all that money, did they?


Crayons, snacks ... & HIV.


-- Roland Dobbins

No surprises here.

"Everything is the state's business."

Count Ciano, in his essay on Fascism

(Mussolini's son in law)













This week:


read book now








CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now








The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.


If you are not paying for this place, click here...

IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

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