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Mail 414 May 15 - 21, 2006






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Monday  May 15, 2006

There was mail over the weekend. Includes utilities recommendation.

Subject: New Flexible Material Conducts Electricity


This really reminds me of a material from science fiction writers Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's classic 1974 novel The Mote in God's Eye. When human beings first encounter a native of the Mote civilization, they see it rewiring a circuit board by hand with an unusual sort of 'goop':

Bill Shields


Subject: You might be interested

You and your readers might be interested in Securing America’s Energy Future -- a new house of representatives study on energy is out, this is the majority report.

My article here: http://noblesseoblige.org/wordpress/?p=89 

My only comment, Pournelle proves to be prescient once again. In his seminal work “A Step Further Out” Jerry predicted something to the effect that Oil would become to valuable to burn. (good luck finding the book, I have bought aproximately ten copies of this book over the years, and everytime I have lent it out it has never come back. The reason has always been something to the effect of “Oh, it was an important book and I wanted so & so to read it”… so&so then gives the same story. Results: I no longer have a copy and can’t find one.)

House Report link here:
http://reform.house.gov/UploadedFiles/050806 Majority Staff Energy Report.pdf  



I am working to get Step Farther Out in to shape for republishing. There has been a minor complication.


Subject: Thermal depolymerization plant

Jim Laheta said "Imagine using abundant electricity (from AFRs) to power thermal depolymerization plants..."

Not necessary!

There is already a TDP plant, operated by Changing Worlds Technology, in Carthage, Missouri. Changing World's TDP plant already powers *itself*. It processes the feedstock (currently, turkey offal) into several output products: a quality oil, some leftover minerals (mostly carbon), and some gases (methane, butane, etc.). It is not practical to package up the gases to sell as a product, but they are just dandy as a fuel to use to run the plant. The plant burns the gases to provide the heat for the TDP process, so they don't need a nuke plant to help them out.

Their biggest problem, historically, has been that the oil they produced wasn't cheap enough to compete with oil from wells. The price of oil has gone up recently, which should help them. Their second biggest problem is that they have been accused of releasing bad odors: their plant was shut down by the governor of Missouri because of complaints about bad odors, from December 2005 to April 2006. The plant is back in operation now, and the latest news seems to indicate that they have this issue under control.

They were expecting that, because of worries about Mad Cow Disease and the like, animal offal would become very cheap, or free. In Europe, it is no longer legal to grind up animal offal and feed it to other animals; in the US, it's still legal. So Changing Worlds has to buy their turkey offal instead of getting it for free. Their next TDP plant will probably be built in Europe.



-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" steve@hastings.org http://www.blarg.net/~steveha


Subject: BioDiesel from Algae grown on sewage

If this is true, we should have plenty of fuel in the future.


John Harlow, President BravePoint

You have to do the numbers. Southern California Edison tried to do this with the sewage from Oceanside (and Camp Pendleton); the results weren't encouraging, but that was 30 years ago.


Subject: Energy Independence

Here is an interesting thread on energy independence, Dr. Pournelle.


(You may need to add back the question mark if the link doesn't work.)

Argumentative phrasing in this quote, from about halfway down, but still facts are facts...

"The lower heating value of gasoline is about 19,000 btu per pound, that of ethanol is 11,550 btu/lb, and methanol is only 8,600 btu/lb. "

"Engines are machines that convert heat energy into mechanical power. "Can you see the relationship ? "Can you see that 1 gallon of gas is equal to 1 2/3 gallons of Ethanol "Can you see that 1 gallon of gas equals 2 1/2 gallons of Methanol

"Can you see, that to go the same distances you need much larger fuel tanks for alcohol "Can you see that "fuel" mileages in cars WILL GO DOWN (not up !) when we run more alcohol? "Would you consider it good if a Methanol car did 10 MPG while a Gasoline car did 24. (Guess what...they are the same!)

"Can you see that 3$ a gallon for gas and 2 $ a gallon for ethanol, means the ethanol will cost you 3.66$ to go the same distance as gas ?

"Can you see that alcohol absorbs water from the air, and will dilute itself, when ever exposed to moisture, making it even less powerful. "Can youu understand that a Ethanol economy would require 66 % more gas trucks on the road ,just to handle current requirements

"Can you understand that there are not enough french fries cooked to put everyone in bio-fuel"

Charles Brumbelow


Subject: RAH is back


In his first novel, Beyond This Horizon, Robert Heinlein had people screening their potential offspring for genetic diseases. Well, it has begun:




Subject: Here's a utilities page you might be interested in, Dr. Pournelle

Hello Dr. Pournelle – an acquaintance of mine just pointed me to this list of freeware utilities. Looks pretty good, and a decent resource for your readers and you.

I have no interest in this page, just thought I’d pass this info on to you. Seems to be free of any malware too.



Greg Trent


Subject: Michael J. Totten: The Palestinians of 1948

I'm sure that I may have recommended Michael Totten's Middle Easter coverage previously. But I still think his is the most interesting "nose on the ground" I've come across regarding this subject. Also, he spent time in Kurdistan & wrote about it -- fascinating.




The following is representative of many letters:

Subject: Migration, Not Immigration

It seems that most folk feel about like I do. This country was based on immigration. A slow, steady flow of new people, new ideas, new values keeps the blood tuned up.

However, if our friends who died in the Alamo, trying to prevent Mexican domination of Texas, could come to San Antonio now----

Taco Cabana, last time I visited, was a good place to eat. Not sure I ever saw an immigrant inside their walls, however. Americanized immigrants, maybe.

Now then. Migration, has often been accompanied with warfare, sooner or later. Looks like Santa Anna won, later.


George (Jim) Hebbard ChE PE Lithia, FL USA

The Melting Pot works only when given a chance. The Imperial Courts have decreed that requiring English is unconstitutional and ballots have to b e distributed in Hmong and Spanish and such, and most government services can't be withheld from illegal immigrants, and multi-culturalism is more important than the Melting Pot. The result will be internal gang warfare, possibly within my lifetime, certainly within most of yours.

We have sown the wind, and we sow it still.


Subject: A reply to "A note from Chaos Manor" mailing to subscribers

Dr. Pournelle:

I find it quite timely that you are creating a California 1910 reader at the same time as the California Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve SB 1437, which removes words like "Mom" and "Dad" from school textbooks. I hear it is expected to pass through y'all state Senate, too. I believe the sponsor is "Zelda" from the old Dobie Gillis show. Weird.

I'm sure this will be challenged somewhere... but where?

I have no children yet, but plan on starting a family right after next month's wedding (at the age of 45 now is a good time). We're debating home schooling versus sending our future little ones to a local Episcopal school that comes highly recommended. Independent of where we send future kids, I would still be interested in your reader, and future ones as well. I was taught to read at age 3 (phonetic flashcards and a lot of patience from Mom) and I want kids to have the same opportunity. I'm also interested in your wife's program. Could you send me the link, if and when you have time?

Best regards,

Bill Kelly Houston (MBA in two weeks... finally)

Roberta's reading program can be found here.

I'm working on getting the reader set up in pdf format.


Subject: RE: Rome and the Barbarians

Good morning, sir.

> The professor, Kenneth Harl, specializes in
> researching the economic history of the Roman
> Empire and its frontiers.

I'm going to have to put that on my list.

I haven't listened to these lectures of Dr. Harl's, but I have listened to his "Era of the Crusades" series (http://www.teach12.com/ttc/assets/
=Era+of+the+Crusades&pc=Professor170) , which I would also recommend.

He covers the background of the Eastern Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, and the situation in Western Europe; the crusades and their side-effects; and their aftermath.

I've listened to other "Teaching Company" lectures also, and the were all very good.



The Intelligence Discussion Continues:

Subject: Iraqi Intelligence Estimate Post Hussein

Dear Jerry,

Generals Schwarzkopf and Zinni have both indicated that CENTCOM (the Command, not General Franks personally) had its own estimate, since fully validated, of what the consequences and results would be of removing Hussein. And the likely troop strength required to stabilize the country were they ordered to remove Hussein and/or the Ba'athist Party. And that they had made detailed contingency plans based on this estimate. Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki relied on this institutional CENTCOM view in making his own pre-war testimony to Congress. For which action he was humiliated and retired early. Former Secretary of State and Gulf War I Chairman of the JCS Powell has also now said he issued a direct warning to the same effect to President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld.

Therefore one or more someones provided a strong rationale to justify Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush in ignoring everything CENTCOM had learned and planned over 12 years, and also the advice of the former JCS Chairman with the most direct experience of Iraq. Who were they? The CIA product I'd most like to read at this point is its pre-invasion assessment of what Iraqi society would look like post-Hussein and what had to be done to stabilize the country. Surely CIA's analysts produced one in the run-up to invading Iraq? We've heard rumors that Chalabi was already distrusted by CIA. Did they say anything else con on the concept or just indicate that young maidens would strew flower petals in the troops' way? By the way, this latter assessment would naturally provide the President with a 'balanced' view to off-set CENTCOM's and DIA's own gloomier institutional outlook.

The matter is purely academic at this time. It therefore is a good starting point for Congressional policy makers to determine whether any further funding for the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence is a worthwhile investment for the USA. I see no reason this particular 'product' shouldn't be declassified for the citizens to evaluate, too.



You make a good point. The neocons and the egregious Frum had their plans and objectives, and everything was viewed through those blinders. Why the military professionals were ignored is a very complex story. Part of it was conflict: the old order generals were resisting the remaking of the army, and thus had earned the distrust of the civilian controllers. Irsaeli intelligence gave estimates in conflict with the estimates that made their way to the Oval Office.

We have an intelligence crisis, and putting up a superbureaucracy on top of the CIA which was itself a superbureaucracy to make a single estimate out of those from State, Defense, Army, Navy, Commerce, and then had to be supplemented with NSA.

Pournelle's IRON LAW OF BUREAUCRACY applies to intelligence organizations as much as to any other.


Subject: Copyright enforcement

Dear Jerry:

Tell Cory Doctorow that he has no reason to fear the criminal penalties from the DMCA. The U.S. Attorney and the FBI refuse to investigate complaints, much less enforce that law....unless the target is some poor schmo who lacks the the wherewithal to mount an effective defense and the incident is guaranteed to make headlines in a way that reassures the Public that the law is being enforced.

I speak from direct personal experience on this, having been told (wrongly) by one FBI agent that there are no criminal penalties in the statutes for copyright infringement and that not all laws are enforced. (This is a correct statement reflective of the notion of "prosecutorial discretion" when it is applied to cases against very large media conglomerates).

Oh, wait. Doctorow is one of those little guys, isn't he? Never mind.


Francis Hamit


A question from a reader:

Subject: Microsoft excel metadata and  change tracking

Dr. Pournelle,

I have a problem and a few questions you or your readers may be able to help with. I have some excel spreadsheets that have been tampered with, and I'm trying to find out who altered them and what they did. I understand that office products store metadata in the file that may track this information, so here are my questions:

Would any stored metadata help me determine what user altered the files? Would any stored metadata tell me what any particular user did to the files? Would any stored metadata help me recover the document from before the changes?

And the biggie...

Does anyone know of any software that would let me view this metadata and pull out the information I need?

I know word stores versioning data and sometimes appears to store this whether the track changes option is selected or not, so I'm hoping that excel has something similar that can be pulled out of the file.

Thank you in advance, and also thanks to any readers who may have some info that might help with this little problem. A quick google search turned up 10 links for people who want to sell me new and used excel metadata...

Sean Long


On Intelligence and the Restless Legions

Dear Jerry:

As I recall, Eric Shinseki was the General designated by the Army to manage the transformation to "The Army After Next". He was the one who formed the Stryker Brigade, which was originally a very large "proof of concept". The Army is always changing and it has a strategic vision that runs decades ahead of that of the politicians who are most concerned about the next election and keeping their party in power.

Rumsfeld is one of those businessmen who thinks the government should run like a business and in this he plays very well with our MBA President, whose own training doesn't tell him anything different. The Army, on the other hand, is not that interested in maximum efficiency since it raises the risk of failure in battle to unacceptable levels. Rather than "least cost, least effort", their measure of efficiency is "Ample sufficiency for all contingencies" because anything else risks failure that is catastrophic. You lose the war and that's pretty much the end of the enterprise.

So, what we had was a gigantic cultural clash where, since the military always bows to civilian authority, they were predestined to lose. Eric Shinseki got screwed for doing his job, and doing it well. Giving his best judgment and advice to those over him. Note that he went quietly and said little. In some countries there would have been tanks on the street the next day, but that is not how we do things here. What did happen was startling enough. Generals retired, some rather early in their career path, so they would then be free to speak out and oppose the madness. This is a path not without risk since they can be recalled to active duty at the whim of the people they are criticizing. Both military custom and the UCMJ prevent those in the ranks from speaking, so their generals spoke for them. Not with a single voice, since we are still a democracy, but in a way that has not been seen since the Civil War.

The problem has never been that the Army and the rest of the U.S. Military were a bunch of old fogies who simply couldn't get with the program but that they knew the program proposed was hasty, ill conceived and likely to bring ruin on the very institution it was supposed to transform. They HAD a plan, and in fact they think the next three transformations out, like a good chess player.

The way that General Shinseki was dismissed, to use Rumsfeld's own words against him, was "not helpful". Rather it produced a cold fury against those responsible, one that slopped over into the Intelligence Community, who are also soldiers, and ensured that every error of this administration would be highlighted brilliantly.


Francis Hamit

For other observations of an earlier time when the Army was being remade, see THIS KIND OF WAR, and Ted Fehrenbach's thoughts on the subject.


Subject: Letter from England

The blood-letting in Iraq continues: <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2180931,00.html

I led the intercessions at the Minster Sunday, and included the following personal prayer: "Both sides are dealing clumsily with a strike, offending their potential allies, and students are now very concerned with passing their degrees and graduating. None of us owns this community of scholars, and continuing as we are is a path to disaster. Father, please give these administrators and lecturers the wisdom--so far missing--so that they can find a solution that is good for all in our community." That triggered a long discussion at coffee after the service-- apparently I'm hardly alone with these concerns. Meanwhile both sides continue to play chicken. I'm particularly critical of the administration--they want to run the university as a business, but as former academics, they seem to lack the basic managerial competence to actually carry it off. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4768037.stm

A faint light of hope in Northern Ireland? <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4769945.stm

Blair works to rescue his historical reputation. <http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/story/0,,1774958,00.html>  <http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,1774972,00.html>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article484129.ece>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article484130.ece

My known ancestry in America and the British Isles is similar--mostly gentry and higher gentry--except that once they reached America, the percentage being killed in civil wars or executed for treason dropped precipitantly to zero. I suspect most of us would find this to be the case. (Please note that everyone's *known* ancestry is probably similar. Families don't remember the peasants, just the knights and kings.) <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2180698,00.html

Economic comment. <http://news.independent.co.uk/business/comment/article484464.ece

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>









This week:


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Subject: Schneier's Blog

I assume you monitor it and have seen <http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/ product/curing.pdf

If not, you should.

-- "The data (or the marks when teaching) are sacrosanct--they tell us what actually happened." Harry Erwin, PhD http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her


Subject: The Real Point about the NSA Program


-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>


Subject: Book of Daniel.

Book of Daniel.


 Roland Dobbins




This week:


read book now


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On Closing the borders

Dr. Pournelle,

In your current essay in View you fail to mention one key point about the migration issue. The reason why none of the measures that you mentioned will be implemented is precisely because we are in fact a democracy. It is not that no one in Washington understands the issue or what is at stake. They do understand. People on both sides of the issue understand perfectly well what they would have to do to stop people from crossing the border as well as the consequences if we fail to do so. For that matter they know perfectly well what it would take to get all the illegals deported. I believe you have mentioned bounties on illegals and fines on those who employ them, half to be paid to the people who report them. This would work just fine and I am sure that most in Washington know it (if only in their most private thoughts).

Most importantly though, they also know that if they even suggested any of these measures that would be the end of their time in Washington (in very short order). It is simply politically impossible to do what needs to be done here. In our democracy every decision a politician makes is scrutinized by their electorate, most of whom have no real knowledge of the consequences of those decisions. As a consequence, as with any democracy, we cannot do what needs to be done.

Personally, I trace the root of the problem back to voting rights. In the old Republic, states and local communities had broader powers to determine who was and was not allowed to vote. Despite what much of revisionist history tells our school children today, voting qualifications were primarily used to ensure that before someone could vote they had a real financial stake in that vote (that it was really worth something to them). Yes, this power was abused and taken too far. As an alternative now anyone can vote. Citizenship and a pulse for 18 years is all it takes. Is this better? I don't know. We are in the process of finding out right now. The 24th and 26th Amendments (many would include the 14th as well) took away the last vestiges of local control over voting and were perhaps the final gasps of the Republic. We've been furiously voting ourselves bread and circuses ever since (the death of every democracy). All we are seeing in the migration debate (I cannot bring myself to call it immigration) is one more instance of this, like Social Security, Welfare, AFDC etc, etc ad nauseum.

Unfortunately, I do not see this ending well for us. Am I committing the sin of despair by saying this or is it just a realistic interpretation? If it is true and we cannot recover the Republic, where do we go from here? I've been reading "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Gibbons a lot lately. It is very depressing to read that and then look at what is happening to us. Anyway, this is just my two cent's worth. I invite one and all to pick it to pieces and show me the error of my ways. I sincerely hope that I am wrong.

Matt Kirchner

Kirkuk, Iraq

Every current opinion poll shows overwhelming popular support for border enforcement. By overwhelming I mean 68% and more. Among Latino voters the support for border enforcement is about 55%. Even illegals understand that more illegals will be rivals for their jobs.

It is thus clear that both political parties are beholden to groups other than their constituents. The Republicans want the donations from big businesses who profit from having a copious supply of cheap labor. Unions see the potential members; not the first time that union leaders have betrayed the interests of their current members in hopes of future growth. Democrats see potential voters.

And the American people be damned.

The House, which is the most democratic of our institutions, apparently sees what must be done. The President, Senate, and Judiciary have their own agendas.

Republican institutions are supposed to temper the temporary whims of the democratic electorate in favor of their long term interests. We have a total reversal here. The electorate has been in favor of border control for thirty years, but we don't have it due to the politicians.

I have heard speculation that it is fear. The drug cartels assassinate judges and legislators in Mexico and Columbia whenever their interests are threatened. But of course our courageous Senators and Judges cannot be so influenced.


Subject: drugs and politicians


You raise a very interesting point about the drug cartels. I've read more than once that the US illegal drug industry is over 100 billion dollars a year. If that figure is correct, and the industry only spends 10% on "marketing" and "administration" then they have 10 billion dollars a year for things like bribes and assassination.



Subject: Border Control

Dr. Pournelle,

So in our case then it is the special interests/big businesses that are voting themselves the bread and circuses, or controlling the voting blocks and campaign funds in any case.

I just cannot help but wonder if that would be possible if the franchise were limited to people with a real social and/or financial stake in the well being of the system. Would Senators then be able to get away with saying one thing on the campaign trail but then bowing to the special interests once they got to DC? Of course they always will, but would it not be lessened? Would not a more informed and interested electorate be more able to hold their representative's feet to the fire? Could they not send people to Washington who would tell the Supreme Court to go mind its own business? Of course they are still going to be beholden to their financial backers, but the more informed the electorate, the more limited this will be.

For better or worse, our representatives are still elected. If nothing else, I still have faith that votes are in fact tallied accurately in most places and our representatives are in place legitimately (voting fraud at a minimum). Why then are people standing for their politicians not doing what they want them to do? Maybe they don't have reason to care enough or don't understand why they should. They could do something about it if they really wanted to. Or could they?

Anyway, it's late here and I've had a long, hard day. Please forgive me if this is a bit slapdash. I will try to write something more sensible after a decent night's sleep. Take care.

Matt Kirchner

Kirkuk, Iraq


From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                     Subject: Illegal Immigration
saintonge@hotmail.com               http://www.rantsandrayguns.motime.com/
Dear Jerry:
        You write:
        Every current opinion poll shows overwhelming popular support for border enforcement.  By overwhelming I mean 68% and more. Among Latino voters the support for border enforcement is about 55%.  Even illegals understand that more illegals will be rivals for their jobs.

        It is thus clear that both political parties are beholden to groups other than their constituents.  The Republicans want the donations from big businesses who profit from having a copious supply of cheap labor.  Unions see the potential members; not the first time that union leaders have betrayed the interests of their current members in hopes of future growth.  Democrats see potential voters.

        Agreed, but I think you're missing the important point: single-issue politics.

        Back in 1788, the majority of the nation wanted to ban the slave trade, and most of the rest was willing to see the slave trade banned.  South Carolina wasn't, and they made the continuation of the slave trade till 1808 a condition of joining the union.  They got their way, because the other twelve states wanted South Carolina in the Union more than they wanted to stop the slave trade.

        I rather doubt the 18th Amendment would have been passed if there was a popular referendum, or even a series of conventions to consider the matter.  But there wasn't.  Despite that, Prohibition was passed, and continued for 13 years, because the Prohibition movement wanted liquor illegal (though available), and wanted it more than the majority wanted liquor available again.

        In the 1970s, as the Great Inflation sent property values and property taxes through the roof, a large majority wanted property tax rates held down.  It didn't happen, because the people who wanted to spend the additional money vowed to destroy any official who was for lowering property tax rates, and the majority refused to make lower property taxes an issue that would determine their vote.  Eventually, Jarvis and Gann got an initiative on the ballot, and then the majority was able to express their will.

        So yes, I'm sure you're right that people have wanted the border secured.  But how many of them were willing to call up their Congresscritters and say "You're a marvelous person, I agree with you completely on every other issue, I hope to keep re-electing you as long as you care to run, but if you don't vote to secure the Mexican border, I will vote against you, even if your opponent is Satan himself'?  Answer: not many, until recently.  But are a lot of people who would vote for Satan if he pledged to let the border stay open, and his opponent wanted to shut it.

        Until we get an initiative/referendum process at the federal level, we will continue to have a situation where the interest groups usually overrule the majority by dint of greater commitment and concentration.  Sometimes, opposing single issue groups will form, and be balanced enough in strength that the legislators can safely vote for what the majority wants.  That may be happening with illegal immigration, and with "pork-barrel" spending.  But all indications are, such balance of interest groups will be rare.
        And we won't get an initiative/referendum process at the national level until it has a single-issue constituency that can swing the election in three quarters of the states, and two thirds of House races.  So we're stuck.  Sad, but since the people refuse to do what is required to bypass interest groups, in the end the outcome is Democratic after all.
Stephen M.
            St.  Onge
Minneapolis, MN


Subject: Immigration

I believe that a more realistic approach to dealing with illegal immigration is to strengthen enforcement of existing laws against hiring illegal immigrants instead of solely focusing upon stopping people at the borders.

While beefing up border controls is necessary, assigning 10,000 national guardsman to visit all employers, but especially those in industries with historically high rates of violation of immigration laws, would quickly reduce the incentives to come here illegally. Imposing and collecting fines against employers for illegal hiring could help pay for the policing.

I mean, when neighborhoods have problems with prostitutes, they may go after the customers, but they usually go after the suppliers (the prostitutes) and eliminate the trade. Likewise, if there were no jobs, and the risk to an employer for putting an illegal on the payroll, even if off the books, was high enough, then a lot of the reason for coming to the US is eliminated.

Eliminate jobs for illegal immigrants, and you eliminate the primary reason for crossing the border. It won't eliminate the problem, but should certainly reduce the scope a lot and make things easier to resolve.

John McGing Columbia, MD

Using the Guard to stop border crossing is probably legal since it is repelling an invasion. Using the Guard to check employment records is definitely not allowed under the posse comitatus act, NOR SHOULD IT BE. We do not want to turn the Army into a constabulary; that will happen as we convert from Republic to Empire, but there is no good to come from hurrying the process. Remember Waco and Ruby Ridge. Armies have different missions from police.

Indeed, were it left to me to guide this transition to empire, I would start a Foreign Legion, recruited largely at the Mexican border and in the border states (coupled with sweeps to unsettle illegals); the Legion would use English only, never be stationed in the United States (it can be headquartered in any convenient overseas place) and used as constabulary in occupation duties. After two tours of 4 years and 14 years (serve 4, reenlist if you want and if the Legion wants you) of honorable service its members are given citizenship on discharge. With all the benefits of citizenship, including the right to become domestic police if any local government wants to hire them, veteran's preference on civil service applications, etc., etc. But the Legion would never set foot in CONUS (we might have the initial training camps here, but the regiments would always be overseas.

As to sweeps of employers, of course: that's the law anyway. And local law enforcement can do that: pay county sheriffs to make those checks. It's the cheapest way to do it, and doesn't expand Federal manpower. I am always wary of using Federal Officers in such matters. Use the County Sheriffs. And pay them for doing it.


On Backward Light

Subject: Backward light


On another forum I mentioned the backward light phenomena that you've been getting mail about recently. In reply these helpful links were posted:

http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/classes/109N/more_stuff/Applets/sines/GroupVelocity.html http://gregegan.customer.netspace.net.au/APPLETS/20/20.html 

If I've understood this, and that's a big IF, it's because when you mix different frequencies of light you get a group effect, like the beat frequency that you sometimes hear with two similar, but not identical, sounds. This group effect has a different frequency, and speed, to that of the source light and can even appear to be travelling faster than light or backwards. By constructing a specific experiment, with materials that have different refractive indexes, you can create the illusion discussed in the original article.

But that's all that it is, an illusion created by out of phase waves adding together to produce something that at first sight looks impossible.

Best Wishes

Paul Dove



Here's a better, more comprehensible explanation of the backwards light trick.




On The Da Vinci Code


Followed up Da Vinci code with Brown's Angels and Demons.

OK, admittedly I don't know from religious conspiracy, but Angels and Demons deals with subjects I do know a bit about -- particle physics (including particle physicists who are members of Catholic clergy, in my case a nun), antimatter, and CERN (where I spent six weeks as a student, albeit 26 years ago).

(If you're not familiar with the story line, our hero Robert Langdon is called to investigate the apparent murder of a Catholic priest/physicist at CERN, the theft of a half-gram of antimatter he has manufactured there, and the subsequent deposition of said antimatter at the Vatican, ostensibly to perpetuate the final destruction of the Church by the remnants of the Illuminati.)

Let's just say that if Brown's understanding of both the culture and the practice of elementary particle physics is that flimsy, my respect for the imputed accuracy of his later novel has suffered dramatically.


Brown writes fiction. In the Da Vinci code a homicidal albino monk of the Opus Dei order is important: of course Opus Dei does not have any monks, but leave that aside.

There is no good reason why Leodardo Da Vinci would have known about a 1500 year old conspiracy to keep things secret; but then there is no reason why the Church would exist if its central purpose were a conspiracy of that kind. Conspiracy theories always founder when it comes to finding reasons for their existence. The blood of martyrs has been the mortar of the Church: but few want to be martyred unless they expect some greater reward. It may be sweet and proper to die for one's Fatherland, but getting fried on a grill to protect a conspiracy seems a bit much.

There may have been a conspiracy to steal the body of Jesus, but there wasn't much incentive for the Apostles to continue the Church if they were in on that conspiracy. Paul put it simply: "If Christ be not risen, then is all our faith in vain." That's no proof that the Resurrection wasn't faked, but it's a pretty powerful argument against the Apostles being in on that plot. What in this world was in it for them? Paul guarded the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen to death; an experience that affected him greatly. What in this world was in it for Stephen?

Which is to say, what in this world is in it for those who have conspired to hide the Da Vinci Code's Awful Truth?

Gnosticism is a powerfully attractive heresy, but it holds out far more for its insiders than is ever hinted at in the Da Vinci Code and other books of that sort. The Albigensians may well have thought that Christ married (Mary of Bethany, not Magdalene) and sired an heir who is the legitimate king of this world, but they believed a number of other arcana of a far more spiritual nature. Gnosticism holds out the possibility of great rewards for knowing the inner secrets (possessing the gnosis); but that's an entirely different novel.

As to Weisskopf's Bavarian Illuminati and their particular gnosis, that too is another story.

When Stirling and I did the Man/Kzinn novel we threw in the Holy Blood conspiracy as held by the Rosicrucians, but that was pure fun. Maybe we should have written our own technothriller about modern times, instead of a fun space opera. Oh well.


On the intelligence discussion:

Subject: CIA Record

Dear Jerry,

A principle rationale for adopting William Donovan's plan and creating the CIA was to 'prevent more Pearl Harbors'. By this people presumably mean to provide adequate warning so the next Pearl Harbor had a different outcome. CIA's actual analytical record since it was established in 1947 does not persuade me it would have made the right call on December 6, 1941. I'll be fair and use STRATFOR's standard: "On the surface, the answer to that is clear: The job of the intelligence community, taken as a whole, is to warn the president of major threats or changes in the international system."

A partial list of surprises and wrong calls about "major threats or changes in the international system" occurring on CIA's watch includes:

--- The North Korean invasion of South Korea in June, 1950.

--- The Chinese Intervention in Korea in 1951.

--- Rapid deterioration of the Batista regime in Cuba in 1957, and Castro's long standing Communist and Soviet connections. CIA debacles in Cuba continued through the Bay of Pigs (also a covert ops disaster) and into Soviet deployment of nuclear weapons there.

--- Persistent misdiagnosis of North Vietnamese strategy in South Vietnam and Indochina, and changes at key points.

--- A half-decade failure to recognize the growing domestic chaos in China and the concurrent rapid degeneration of Beijing's relations with both Moscow and Hanoi. Had the right call been made here, more military options might have appeared viable for Vietnam. For instance, a limited ground invasion of North Vietnam and Laos in late 1967 to sever the Ho Chi Minh Trail, combined with a naval blockade and Linebacker/Desert Storm style air war. Instead CIA's analysts helped perpetuate a threat of Chinese intervention long after one vanished.

--- Persistent overestimation from the late 1960s forward of the size and technological capacity of the Soviet economy. This was combined with an equally chronic underestimation of Soviet military spending. Starting in the early 1980s CIA added a consistent underestimation of the growth, scope and strength of non-Russian nationalism in the former USSR, to which it added an enduring overestimate of the Communist Party's political position that continued through August 23, 1991, when the CP-USSR collapsed. Viewed in perspective, the CIA's long term Soviet performance makes one want to resume James Jesus Angleton's mole hunt, this time with a focus on the Directorate of Intelligence and multiple moles.

--- The extent of Cuban influence and activity in Grenada, to include deployment of a Cuban Army engineer battalion.

--- Iraqi military buildup and probable intentions towards Kuwait in July, 1990. In contrast the CENTCOM J-2 consistently provided timely advance warning of coming events.

--- Consistent underestimation of battle damage inflicted during Desert Storm's aerial phase, again at direct variance to the concurrent CENTCOM J-2 assessment.

--- The Iraqi WMD assessment circa January, 2003.

To which we can perhaps add:

--- Pre-March 2003 estimates for post Hussein Iraq???

Viewed in perspective, this is a catastrophic analytical record for a group claiming to be a modern Oracle of Delphi for American Presidents. Traitors undoubtedly made some contributions at times to the above record. But they cannot account for all of it. I think the major explanation centers on the responsibility-free position from which CIA offers its 'assessments' and 'estimates'.

Best Wishes,






CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, May 18, 2006

This was Roberta's take on the immigration issue:

Subject: I think

I think I’ve figured it out. The National Guard will be watching the corrupt Border Guards who are in cahoots with the Mexican Army that is in cahoots with the Border Patrol. The Prez does not want to accuse V. Fox of using his military to bring in money from the cartels. (He’s saving for his retirement overseas along with the other corrupt Mexcian office holders.)

The Border Patrol workers don’t make a heckuva lot of money for unglamorous work under less than ideal conditions. V. Fox has a wall on his Southern border to keep the Guatemalans and those from Belize from sending their poverty stricken populace into Mexico, as well as an interesting policing policy that is not gentle. George W is trying détente with Vincente’s forces as he does not want Fox replaced with an unknown factor.

It is the only thing that makes sense. The technodrones that the NG will bring down can track the drug traffic without being obvious. Use the pix from the drones to quietly show VF that we have the undeniable goods on his military without dragging them in front of a public tribunal. We need to dampen the border scene not inflame it. The task as described above is not beyond the relatively small number of troops expected in the operation.

The Minutemen will continue building their walls on their own private property as shown on the weekend news shows. More of them will be deputized by TPTB in Arizona. Once that is up and running satisfactorily what’s to stop the governors elsewhere to try the same thing. Semper Fi!


That may be it. I have never seen a situation in which 75% of the country wants something important and NEITHER party wants to give it to them. It is unprecedented.

Perhaps this is the explanation.

You noted on our walk this morning that the local papers have stopped covering the corruption in the Border Patrol; there used to be constant stories on that.


Subject: Noonan on Illegals

Ms. Noonan spotlights the President's speech and finds it lacking in context, Dr. Pournelle. Or maybe even more damning, she finds it only has context from Bush's point of view.


"What was missing in the president's approach the other night was the expression, or suggestion, of context. The context was a crisis that had gone unanswered as it has built, the perceived detachment of the political elite from people on the ground, and a new distance between the president and his traditional supporters. The president would have done well to signal that he knew he was coming late to the party, as it were; that he'd come to rethink his previous stand, or lack of a stand, and had begun to consider whether there was not some justice in the views, and alarm, of others.

"Without an established context the speech seemed free-floating: a statement issued into the ether, unanchored to any particular principle and eager to use, as opposed to appreciate, whatever human sentiment flows around the issue of immigration. It was a speech driven by an air of crisis, but not a public crisis, only a personal and political one."

Charles Brumbelow


Subject: Burkas Next?

These students would be Onondagas, part of the Iroquois nation.



    LaFayette (NY) graduates can wear regalia Native American students must have approval of Native American counselor. Thursday, May 18, 2006 By Elizabeth Doran Staff writer

    LaFayette school administrators have decided to allow Native American students to wear their regalia to high school graduation ceremonies June 25.

    Seniors must have the native regalia they'll wear approved by the school's Native American counselor before wearing it at the ceremony.<snip>


Subject: Alligators Exact Revenge?

A better headline: Woman gets cited by police for shooting alligator that was attacking her dog. Charge: Hunting without a license.

The world is indeed in a free-fall; even the alligators seem to know this!



The Alligator Is Not a Man-Eater -- Unless, of Course, It's Feeling Hungry

By Ken Ringle Special to The Washington Post Thursday, May 18, 2006; C01

Nature, it should be pointed out, always bats last. This is true even in Florida, where, as novelist Carl Hiaasen makes clear, life is more than a little surreal, and where three people were recently attacked and killed by alligators in less than a week. Previously, 17 people had died from alligator attacks in Florida since 1948. There is no record in the United States of three fatal alligator attacks in one year, much less in one week in one state.

So something clearly is going on in Florida. Yesterday, as if to emphasize Hiaasen's point, an alligator walked through the doggy door of a woman's house in Bradenton and went for her golden retriever. The woman grabbed a shotgun and blazed away. The alligator escaped with a flesh wound. The neighbors heard shots and called police, who promptly cited the woman for hunting without a license.

To those whose closest acquaintance with alligators is a wallet or belt, this must sound like the Revenge of the Handbags or Wingtips Fight Back. <snip>






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


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Friday, May 19, 2006

Subject:  Illegals granted Social Security

Can a list of those who voted FOR this be found? I have a new rope that needs stretching.

Harry Reddington

Illegals granted Social Security

By Charles Hurt THE WASHINGTON TIMES May 19, 2006

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents. "There was a felony they were committing, and now they can't be prosecuted. That sounds like amnesty to me," said Sen. John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who offered the amendment yesterday to strip out those provisions of the immigration reform bill. "It just boggles the mind how people could be against this amendment." The Ensign amendment was defeated on a 50-49 vote.

The rest of the article is HERE:


Joanne Dow on the Singularity Summit Report

Subject: Re: Chaos Manor on The Singularity Summit (1)

I've been contemplating your Singularity Summit report and have some thoughts to share.

I think the concept as most people see it is not something that can be achieved as Vernor Vinge envisioned it in "Marooned In Real Time". It falls prey to the "Science Fiction World" where the whole world is one homogeneous <whatever the author needed>. As pictured in Vernor Vinge's novel those embobbled just before the singularity unbobbled to find a world virtually unpopulated. The few people left had no idea what had happened, at least not in any coherent fashion. This implies he was envisioning everybody transcending or singularizing all at the same time or within a very small number of years of each other.

The problem I have with this vision is the third world or even the second world of China and India. The scientific knowledge spectrum between the scientific leader nations with heavy Internet connectivity and serious education down to the nations like Sudan or even extreme rural China, India, or Iran is probably as wide and diverse as the wealth concentration spectrum. So while much of the US, Europe, and perhaps chunks of Asia might go through a knowledge singularity most of the people in the world would be left behind, at an ever increasing rate. This would at least smear the singularity effect over many years and perhaps even decades. It will also probably leave a large number of people, in the half to several billion range, far behind and unable to play catchup. They will have known something fantastic happened. But they'll have no idea what it was other than rapid scientific advance, use of energy, and so forth propelled a large number of humans in some direction those remaining cannot define.

The key point is that the singularity will be a big smear and will leave a large number behind. And just like with a black hole some who are on the edge will "escape" the singularity while others will "fall" into it. They would be able to report at least some of what happened. And they'd probably never be able to make it into the singularity. IQ will likely be yet one more barrier for some.

You also have a good point about the S curve rather than true singularity. A true singularity would mean something close to being in possession of or with access to infinite knowledge. If you want to know something it is possible to know it or know precisely why the question itself was a bad one.



Subject: "pay a meaningful penalty"?

Dr. Pournelle,

When I called the White House comment line the other day, it was right after I had watched Senator John McCain defending the President's proposals made in Monday evening's speech. He echoed President Bush's comments and exegeted them a bit. His understanding and defense of "not amnesty" coincided very well with my understanding of the President's proposals, that is to say, Senator McCain's explanations left as much to be desired as President Bush's original words did.

When I read back to the comment line operator the portion of the President's speech where he stated that illegal aliens who wanted to stay and pursue citizenship would have to "pay a meaningful penalty" and included the "penalty" the President proposed (and senator McCain repeated from the senate floor), I added the question:

"If paying taxes, speaking English and working are 'a meaningful penalty' for entering the country illegally, evading taxes and using forged documents then what am /I/ being penalized for?"

A gasp. Silence, then a nervous laugh that quickly transformed into a loud guffaw. "I never thought of it that way," she finally said.

But everyone I have mentioned that to has resonated with my interpretation. If it's not amnesty, then these folks will be prosecuted /under the laws they have broken and punished according to the penalties for breaking *those* laws/, not some new "penalty" that is simply normal life for all citizens and legal residents of these United States. If they are *not* to be subject to the specific penalties for the specific laws they have broken, then the President's proposal /is/ amnesty and he and his defenders are at the very least (and in the most polite construction) being disingenuous.

If a politician can't sell their proposal without outrigth baldfaced lies, then that proposal is morally bankrupt, and the person proposing it is... well, less than worthy of our trust.

Oh, and the "back of the line" meme? Not going to resonate with Americans who have any spirit of fair play. "Waiting in line" inside, by the fire with a nice hot cuppa cocoa ("May I warm that up for you, Jose?") is not the same as waiting outside in the cold, patiently queueing up with other lawful aspirants.

"Pay a meaningful penalty"?

Even paying their back taxes is no "meaningful penalty" for all the laws they have broken. Heck, YOU (or any of us) avoid taxes for 8-10 years and see what kinds of penalties the IRS can levy... And I'll bet it wouldn't be just the amount of back taxes alone. Can anyone say, "Be living in a cardboard box under the bridge in no time"?

"Pay a meaningful penalty"?

Riiiight. DON'T pull the other one, Mr. President.

(BTW, that same lil schtick has played pretty well with congresscritters' offices, too. Phones are wonderful things. So much better than emails, faxes or letters alone, although all of them together are better than any one of them singly, IMO.)

David Needham



Subject: immigration politics

Hi Jerry,

I understand all to well why the Senate intends to allow illegal immigrants to collect Social Security, et al. It's not a conspiracy, but could just as well be.

My time living in Boston gave me, not contact with, but a distant view of what Fred so aptly refers to as the "ruling gas". This is an nebulous group of people, many of whom are CEOs and board members, politicians and upper level bureaucrats, "powers behind the scenes" such as party officials, and the like.

Remember the "Skull and Bones" club? Children of privilege raised to continue in family positions of power. These children of privilege live in a different world from the rest of us, and quite clearly have no concept just how sheltered their lives and experiences are.

The existance of this clique was briefly brought back into view by Mr. Kennedy's recent auto accident. DUI, and his second accident in 2 months? Anyone else would have spent the night in jail, and be facing charges in court. Instead, he is quietly escorted home and the story quickly and effectively suppressed. Now he's back helping run the nation. And it's a surprise what comes out of Congress?

Mind you, it's not deliberate stupidity. It's just what you might expect from a group of spoiled children, most of whom haven't the practical experience to walk their own dogs, and who have grown up to inherit the reigns of power. They make laws to fit a world that only exists in their fantasies. "Noblesse oblige" - I'm sure they honestly think they are doing it for our own good...

I must've gotten up on the cynical side of bed today.



Subject: r.e. Mrs. Pournelle & Noonan 

Dear Jerry,

I agree that drugs are an integral component of what's happening. I do recall that in September, 2001 federalized Army National Guards were sent to the border crossings. Despite the busy situation then the Commander In Chief or his staff at that time did not forget to send a Commander In Chief written order decreeing these troops were not to be issued ammunition. So I'm expecting suitable mission orders will accompany the current deployment to prevent any 'mission creep'. And I'm confident their only real mission is to serve as extras for network news shows while El Presidente is securing another illegals amnesty. Probably a standing one. After which they'll be demobilized or deployed armed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

>>It was a speech driven by an air of crisis, but not a public crisis, only a personal and political one."

I didn't watch it since I already felt I knew what he'd say. I believe Noonan's assessment, though. I think the real crisis is the prospect of being alone with a Democratic Congress for the next two years. And dependent on Democratic Congressional leadership to prevent an embittered shrunken GOP delegation from joining with liberal-left Democrats to impeach him. The House GOPers' best chance is to go down with their guns firing this year. The electoral losers can come back in 2008 either as Independents or as part of a new Party, if elections are still being held then. The next two years are very unlikely to have so much good political news that Democrats can cement their House majority.

We live in 'interesting times', as the Chinese curse goes.

Best Wishes,



Subject: If you want it bad, you get it bad...

See this story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4790334.stm

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


I doubt the veracity (or at least the recency) of this story, but it's a nice picture:

Subject: INS ?

I have a friend who is president of his homeowner's association down in Washington. They are having a terrible problem with trash on the side of the road that is around his association's homes. The reason according to Wallace (my friend) is, there are being built just next to them, six new homes... big ones! Wallace said the trash is coming from the Mexican work crews working at the construction sites. (McDonald bags, Burger King trash, etc). He has pleaded with the site supervisors and the general contractor to no avail, called the City, County, and the Police and got no help. So... guess what some people in his community did...

They organized about twenty folks, named themselves the "Inner Neighborhood Services" to go out at lunch time and "police" the trash themselves. It is what they did while picking up the trash that is HILARIOUS !!!!!!!!

They got some navy blue baseball caps and had the initials "INS" in gold put on the caps. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, however, to understand what they hoped people would think it means.

Well, the day after their first pick up detail, with them wearing their caps and some carrying cameras, 46 out of 68, of the construction workers did not show up for work the next morning!!!!!!!!... and haven't come back yet!!!!! It has been ten days.

Now the General Contractor, I understand is madder than hell, but can't say anything publicly, because he could be busted for hiring "illegal aliens". Wallace and his bunch can't be accused of impersonating INS folks, because they have on their home owner association records the vote to form the new committee within their association, plus they informed the INS about what they were doing in advance, and the INS said basically according to Wallace... "Have at it"!

For one thing, there is no INS and hasn't been for a while. But I suspect The Word may not have got out. But it might be an interesting idea for study.





This week:


read book now



Subject:  The Storm over the Israel Lobby

Not since Foreign Affairs magazine published Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations?" in 1993 has an academic essay detonated with such force as "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," by professors John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Published in the March 23, 2006, issue of the London Review of Books and posted as a "working paper" on the Kennedy School's Web site, the report has been debated in the coffeehouses of Cairo and in the editorial offices of Haaretz. It's been called "smelly" (Christopher Hitchens), "nutty" (Max Boot), "conspiratorial" (the Anti-Defamation League), "oddly amateurish" (the Forward), and "brave" (Philip Weiss in The Nation). It's prompted intense speculation over why The New York Times has given it so little attention and why The Atlantic Monthly, which originally commissioned the essay, rejected it.



It is a dangerous subject to write about. Israel and the US have some common interests, but since the end of the Seventy Years War there has been a sharp divergence. Israel obviously wants the US to remain entangled in the Near East, to keep troops and bases there, and in general to be around just in case. And, of course, the $300/Isreali citizen subsidy that the US pays is important: without it, Israel could not keep its socialist economy and would have to undergo dramatic and painful economic reforms. NOTE

Influential groups in the US are afraid that the US will withdraw its guarantees of Israel's existence; which would be fairly frightening to those who hold Israel in high regard. They have in fact been very good at defending their nation without much -- sometimes with no -- help from the US and with the increasing disdain of some of the major European powers (if any European country can be called a 'major' power); but no one wants to be a on a war footing all the time. The Israelis have to win every time. The Arabs only need to win once.

But one notes that there is little rational debate on this subject. "Smelly." "Conspiratorial." "Nutty." Epithets, but few arguments. The hope is that by labeling the very subject "anti-Semitic" all debate can be diverted, and the actual subject not addressed.

And the actual subject is, simply, should the United States maintain a web of entangling alliances and concern itself over territorial disputes in Europe and the Middle East. Clearly the Cold Warriors, of which I was one, were in favor of the entangling alliances and the territorial integrity of allies while we were faced with the Red Army in Europe and 26,000 warheads aimed at the US. It is not so clear that those alliances and guarantees are so useful now: think Taiwan, for example. How much is it worth to the US to prevent the "Hongkongization" of Taiwan?

"But we have a treaty!" So we do, but like all treaties it has an escape clause. We can give notice to Taiwan that we have done our part, and in five years they are on their own. "But that would be ungrateful." And so it would be; and we can discuss the place of gratitude in international relations, and the maxim that nations have only interests, not permanent friends, and so forth, and be better for the debate.

We can have a rational debate over the Taiwan issue almost anywhere but in Chinatown. But it is unlikely that we will ever have any rational debate over our Middle East policy anywhere: the cry of "the stench of anti-Semitism" will be raised early on, at which point rational discussion slows to a halt.


Note: The exact subsidy is harder to calculate than one might think; there is direct aid, but there are also military payments, and the payments to both Egypt and Israel for peace keeping. When I wrote the above I meant $200/citizen and wrote $2000/citizen, which is  high by quite a lot. A reader questioned the number: from what I can determine the true number is about 3/7 x 10^3. A reader also said that Israel is going through the reforms necessary to ditch the socialist state. I have no strong evidence on this, but if that's true it doesn't seem widely reported.

The amount of the subsidy is not as important as that there is one. By subsidy I mean direct payments from the US Treasury; obviously private citizens are free to send as much money as they please.

I note that my last paragraph seems on target: the message pointing out the error also goes on at length about liars. {Correction: my apologies again, my correspondent tells me that is simply the tag he uses, and it is from an ancient Sufi text. So I may be wrong on this point. I certainly hope so.}


One last point: my position on all this has long been that we ought to come home, defend our borders, and invest in alternatives to Middle East Petroleum. That would mean nuclear power plants, space solar power satellites, development of better fuel cells and other mobile electric power storage to facilitate moving much of the transportation energy source from petroleum to electricity, and so forth. It would take some years, but if it had been started in 1988 we would be pretty well energy independent now. Of course the cost would have been hundreds of billions of dollars, and space exploration is dangerous so perhaps dozens of lives. Perhaps that is too high a cost?

But war costs more.

There is certainly a case to be made for support for Israel as a civilized outpost in the Middle East, but the cost/benefits change a lot if we have no other interest in that region and in particular if we are not dependent on Middle East oil.


Scott Adams on foreign aid to Israel.


--- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Princeton-Microsoft Intellectual Property Conference roundup


-- Roland Dobbins

A good roundup of academic and legal positions. Not much settled, but at least some of the right questions were asked.


Criminal mastermind jailed.


--- Roland Dobbins





CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, May 21, 2006

10% of Mexico's population now living in the U.S.


--- Roland Dobbins

Is this an invasion? Does the Federal government have an obligation to Do Something?


Critique of Helprin on immigration.


- Roland Dobbins

Country club Republicans drive me wild.


Mexico works to bar non-natives from jobs.


-- Roland Dobbins


From Sue:

Subject: Digital Forensics


Digital Photo Forensics Sunday, May 21, 2006 By Hart Seely Staff writer

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a word might be worth a few thousand pixels. That's because digital photographs are made up of millions of pixels, and they hold a certain imprint.

A research team at the State University of New York at Binghamton has discovered a way to use all those pixels to trace digital pictures to their sources.

As forensic examiners link bullets to the gun that fired them, this process links images to the digital camera that took them. It could mean a breakthrough in the fight against child pornography, and might even render a verdict on some future generation of Bigfoot photos.<snip>


Harry Erwin's Letter from England is up early because I have a trip in the morning.

Subject: Letter from England

Guardian report on events in Iraq: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1779414,00.html 

The unreliability of records and other Home Office problems: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5001714.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5001624.stm 

National Health Service budget woes: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1779276,00.html  http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1779805,00.html 

 Department of Work and Pensions disarray: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/4995078.stm 

Gridlock in university strike: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1779299,00.html  (My opinion is that the real problem is with Treasury game-playing that I've mentioned in other contexts.)

UN opinion of US torture policies: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-2188305,00.html 

I don't know what to say... http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2188511,00.html 

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>


Subject: Senate Votes

The following link lists the votes relating to Social Security benefits and illegal aliens. http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/

Senator Ensign of Nevada proposed an amendment < http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:SP3985: >  to provide that people are not entitled to benefits based on social security credits earned before a social security account was assigned < http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?r109:1:./temp/~r109R8QU6i:e70198: >  The Senate agreed to table the amendment (quietly killing it). Not surprisingly, both Senators Boxer and Feinstein voted to table the amendment. Thus, there was (as far as I can tell) no actual vote to allow illegal aliens to obtain benefits related to work performed before a valid social security account was assigned, but rather an effort to outlaw such an outcome was blocked.

Sincerely, René Daley


Subject: Senate and Illegal's social security


I can almost see the senate's point of view (assuming no conspiracy). If someone has stayed here in a regular job and paid withholding for a period of time spanning a decade or more, then they have demonstrated a desire to join us and are probably a good risk. Of course they may be to the far left of the Bell Curve as Fred on Everything mentions last week, but we can't all be rocket scientists. However, as usual with the Senate, there are a few problems (at least).

1. most illegals use bogus SSN's, so how do we figure out what they really paid in? How do we determine the balance in their account? 2. How do we get proof that they have been here for say, a decade? 3. Since many times one successful SSN will get used by many illegals does this mean that one of them gets all the contributions of the others? 4.Who will provide the man power and the money to pay for that man power to implement their newly passed decree?

For those of you who may have never seen federal law put into federal regulations, one sentence of a bill can easily equal several thousand lines of federal regulations.













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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).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

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. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

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