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Monday  May 22, 2006

May 22, 2006 Voice Encryption May Draw U.S. Scrutiny By JOHN MARKOFF

SAN FRANCISCO, May 21 ‹ Philip R. Zimmermann wants to protect online privacy. Who could object to that?

He has found out once already. Trained as a computer scientist, he developed a program in 1991 called Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, for scrambling and unscrambling e-mail messages. It won a following among privacy rights advocates and human rights groups working overseas ‹ and a three-year federal criminal investigation into whether he had violated export restrictions on cryptographic software. The case was dropped in 1996, and Mr. Zimmermann, who lives in Menlo Park, Calif., started PGP Inc. to sell his software commercially.

Now he is again inviting government scrutiny. On Sunday, he released a free Windows software program, Zfone, that encrypts a computer-to-computer voice conversation so both parties can be confident that no one is listening in. It became available earlier this year to Macintosh and Linux users of the system known as voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP. <snip>

So they are after Zimmerman again. Sooprise.


Subject: Re: Microsoft excel metadata and change tracking

As a long-time Excel user, here are my thoughts for reader Sean Long who asks:

1. Would any stored metadata help me determine what user altered the files? 2. Would any stored metadata tell me what any particular user did to the files? 3. Would any stored metadata help me recover the document from before the changes? 4. Does anyone know of any software that would let me view this metadata and pull out the information I need?

Re: 1, with the workbook in question open, File | Properties displays document metadata and includes tabs that show what user last saved the file and some possible user-created fields that may provide hints.

Excel's Track changes and Tools | Sharing provide an interface to change history, and may also contain some data re: users who have worked on he book. However, unless they were turned on prior to the changes, they probably won't show the change information Sean is looking for.

This means accessing the Excel file structure directly (proprietary file format). I don't know of software to do this myself, but I recommend searching/posting on Mr. Excel (www.mrexcel.com). Their searchable archives are extensive, and the message boards are monitored by very helpful folks, some of whom are Excel consultants. I have found they are generous with their free advice, and if the problem requires more than what can reasonably by done over the boards they are probably your best source of reasonably priced expertise. Good luck.

Greg Alonzo Philadelphia, PA


Subject: illegal aliens

I'm amazed (well, I'm not, but I wish I was) that we are so hoodwinked by the ever-expanding State that one of the primary causes of illegal immigration has not even entered the debate on this issue: over-regulation of legal employment. Who really thinks that all costs equal, domestic employers would prefer to hire illegal foreign workers? Now, who really thinks that the primary factor in the cost differential is competitive wages as they would be assessed in a less regulated market? How much of the illegal immigration and employment dynamic is a direct result of minimum wage regulation, health insurance regulation, income tax withholding and reporting regulation, OSHA regulation, Social Security regulation, COBRA regulation, child support withholding regulation, "domestic partner" benefits regulation? - I'll stop there, but the list is nearly inexhaustible. Not so very long ago, we had a President who vowed to "get government off our backs". Unfortunately, he was not able to fulfill that promise, and today that government has not a foothold on our backs, but a boot on our necks. Perhaps if he had been allowed to realize his vow, immigration is one of many problems that wouldn't have accrued headline importance.



Subject: Speech and debate?

Speech and debate?


-- Roland Dobbins

Very much a sticky wicket. I have never heard of a president asserting that kind of authority over a sitting Member of Congress in his official capacity: and a search of a House Office Building is certainly a new power assertion.

This is very likely to go not just to the Supreme Court. Congress is, after all, the real sovereign of the United States. At least under the republic.


Subject: Republicans cry foul over search of Democrat's office

Apparently Republican Representatives are crying foul over the FBI's serach of the Capitol Hill office of a Democratic Representative:

<snip> Republican leaders said Tuesday that the FBI search of the Capitol Hill office of a Louisiana Democrat - who the FBI says was taped elsewhere accepting a $100,000 bribe - was an unacceptable breach of precedent and congressional prerogatives. <snip>

<snip> Awkwardly for the White House, the issue placed it at odds with Republicans who in the past have often defended its muscular assertions of executive- branch powers. <snip>

<snip> So, while few Democrats defended Jefferson's actions, several Republicans expressed outrage over the search. They included the House speaker, Dennis Hastert of Illinois, and an earlier speaker, Newt Gingrich. Representative John Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, spoke of an "invasion of the legislative branch" and suggested that the matter might reach the Supreme Court. <snip> < http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/05/23/news/cong.php <http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/05/23/news/cong.php>  >

Congress feels quite confident that it can subpoena executive branch documents. For example, Republicans and Democrats alike blew a gasket when Pres. G.W. Bush invoked executive privilege to refuse to produce documents subpoenaed by Congress in 2001. < http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A40761-2001Dec13 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A40761-2001Dec13>  > Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that an assertion of the executive privilege “based only on the generalized interest in confidentiality . . . must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.” U.S. v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 713 (1974). Similarly, a legislative privilege also should fail in the context of a limited search warrant issued in an ongoing criminal investigation. I find some irony that the Republican Representatives who have generally approved of Pres. Bush's warrantless domestic wiretapping of American citizens are suddenly concerned by the executive branch's use of a search warrant to search a Representative's official office. We get what we elect.

René Daley

We have here an incipient constitutional crisis brewing....






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Tuesday,  May 23, 2006

Subject: The 2004 truth about global warming

Swiss/German study suggested more solar output causes global climate changes; East Anglians concurred.

 Has this been debunked? Indirect effects on the ozone layer and cloud cover were cited, which could magnify the hotter sun.

-- John Bartley,

I have no idea. I would have thought that solar output variations would be the first thing one would look for, unless one started with a conclusion about CO2 and worked back from there.


Subject: singularity conference

I think the singularity conference missed the elephant. While the number of transistors in a computer chip continues to double every eighteen months, the work produced by those chips stopped doubling some time ago. The AI humans have to be concerned about isn't in a box, it's in our corporate business structure.

At the dawn of the twentieth century the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations had all the rights of a human being, but few of the responsibilities. Marry that to an amoral legal structure that insists upon a separation of church and state that it enforces by recognizing only secular humanism as an acceptable world view and we have a system that has removed control of our government from its citizens.

Allowing no moral guidance, the globalist corporate entity will just expand until it has used up all resources on the planet, at which point it will collapse. Does Vinge's date of 2037 sound about right to you?

-- Ben Capoeman capoemanatshawdotca

Corporations are required to serve no god but Mammon, by law (fiduciary responsibility), as witness the lawyers trying to get the US Naval Institute to steal Tom Clancy's characters and a percentage of all his future income on "fiduciary responsibility" grounds. NOTHING is beyond the dreams of avarice. Corporations have only avarice for goals. They can't do otherwise.


Subject: Virtual OS licenses -

Hi Jerry,

I can answer the question on OS licenses for virtual machines - when I was an Enterprise Architect at our local utility we consolidated servers using VMWare and virtual OS machines, so this is first-hand knowledge.

For Microsoft OS's you need to own one license for each instance of an OS - virtual or physical. MSDN is a good way to make that affordable (it's what I have to license all my VMWare images I use for governance product demos). Free Linux distros, of course, don't cost anything.



But see below




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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Doug’s information on Microsoft licensing is out of date, this link is the server licensing whitepaper http://download.microsoft.com/download/6/8/9/68964284
-864d-4a6d-aed9-f2c1f8f23e14/virtualization_whitepaper.doc  - if you have Windows 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition you can run one host and up to 4 concurrent virtual servers with a single server license. The rest is a hell of a lot more complicated. Note this doesn’t apply to desktop operating systems.

What I find really scary about Microsoft licensing is going largely unnoticed and it applies to things like Microsoft Dynamics CRM; they are licensing your use of the data. The old Oracle “lifecycle” clause was bad enough, “if you benefit from data held in a database, which at any time in its existence was held in Oracle, you need an Oracle license”. An example of being stung by this is a SQL Server data mart which pumps data from Oracle sources using DTS – the data mart user needs an Oracle license – but at least you could buy Oracle CPU licenses, as you can with SQL Server.

Microsoft Dynamics has no CPU option, you have to buy a CAL for each user, and if you process any data which has data elements from Dynamics you need a CAL. We’re being stung because we use workflow, InfoPath and email – if we send someone an email quoting a CRM care reference number, they need a $1000 CAL. We put in CRM 1.2 last year and now with CRM 3.0’s new licensing terms, we might now have to rip it out.

This will be embarrassing for all. We are a Microsoft reference site and hosted regional government delegations from Norway, Sweden and two UK local authorities around this month. We’ve escalated this to Redmond but the feedback we have suggests that having laid the foundations for a service orientated architecture, Microsoft suddenly realised the risk of lost revenue, and is struggling to find a commercial model to deal with the challenge.




Subject: Multi-core, multi-threaded, multi-trouble

Dr. Pournelle:

Multi-core, multi-threaded, multi-trouble -- is this the direction computing is headed?

It looks like Intel and others are really pushing the concept of multiple processors having common access to an address space for the forseable future. It has progressed to the point where Intel is running ads in DDJ showing some kid gazing up to the sky to promote Intel compilers for writing multi-threaded programs for physics and astronomy so that kid will have something to aspire to, or so goes the thrust of this marketing campaign.

I am thinking that Java will be the way to get performance out of the new-generation computers. While Java remains slower than C/C++ for a single-thread application, Java may make it much easier to write the multi-threaded coded needed to get performance on the new multi-core/hyperthreaded systems. Support for threads is built into the Java language. On the other hand, I read a piece by Brinch Hansen slamming Java for a sloppy implementation of threads compared to the more rigorous treatment afforded by Brinch Hansen's Concurrent Pascal. One could say Brinch Hansen is promoting his own work, but while people like Djkstra, C. A. R. Hoare, and Brinch Hansen are best known for the Structured Programming revolution, they moved on to the problem of concurrent programming, developing the theory behind the now well-known synchronization mechanisms as well as languages to support them. Much of that work addressed operating systems as multi-processing has not been a concern of application programmers until now.

The story behind C is that it got the gist of Structured Programming but without the annoying restrictions imposed by that Algol and Pascal crowd regarding array bounds and type casts, C became immensely popular, and we are still dealing with the damage in the form of buffer overflow security vulnerabilities. The story behind C++ is that it got the gist of Object Oriented Programming without all of the bothersome runtime overhead of Smalltalk, and people are wondering if we are realizing the productivity gains promised by objects. Are people going to embrace Java as the quick-and-easy route to multi-threaded programs and later wish they had heeded the wisdom embodied in Concurrent Pascal or perhaps Ada?

Do we want application programmers to be writing concurrent programs, previously the domain of operating system designers? Do we want them writing those programs in Java, or do we want to reopen the debate regarding Algol, Pascal, and derivatives as representing the distilled wisdom of some smart Europeans whose advice we impatient Americans seek to ignore? Can the thread-synchronization facilities in Java be used in a disciplined and codified way to incorporate that wisdom? Will there be any kind of debugger that will allow us to single-step or otherwise examine a multi-threaded application program in any meaningful sort of way? Is there some software product other than Java tucked away in some lab that will have the answer, and that we need to wait for it to emerge? Visual Basic famously made GUI programming accessible to a large number of people. Does Windows Vista address any of those concerns, or has Microsoft decided to punt on the issue of bringing multi-threading to the masses?

Paul Milenkovic Madison, Wisconsin

Well,, I for one have always favored real structured languages with strong type checking and range checking; but clearly I lost that debate a decade ago. New machines make that a much better alternative now I believe but programmers have learned other stuff.

I once put it to the Microsoft Security people that if they had (1) written Windows in a Pascal-derived language like Oberon, and (2) spent some time developing optimized code generators for that language, they would have far fewer security problems and bugs; they all agreed, but also thought nothing could be done now.


Asian "temporary" workers have "lower runaway rate" By Steve Sailer May 22, 2006 http://www.vdare.com/sailer/060522_bush.htm 

"To secure the border effectively, we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across. Therefore, I support a temporary worker program that would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter our country..." President Bush Primetime address, May 15, 2006 The President claims the remedy for illegal immigration is legalization. That's like saying that the remedy for rape is consent. (Moreover, the White House recently announced that Mr. Bush lied when he referred six times in his speech to a "temporary" worker plan. In truth, the President supports the Senate's Hagel-Martinez bill, which would allow almost all temporary workers to become permanent residents.)

Yet, will this "temporary" worker program even turn illegal Mexican immigration into legal Mexican immigration, as advertised? In reality, employers are likely to use the Senate's guest worker program to import millions of unskilled indentured cryptoslaves from Southeast and South Asia -- while simultaneously encouraging Latin Americans to continue to immigrate illegally.

America has had intermittent experience over the years with "temporary worker programs," much of it sordid. Liberal saint Edward R. Murrow's shocking 1960 documentary Harvest of Shame led Congress finally to eliminate the emergency WWII Bracero system in 1964. <snip>

What's the functional difference between all this and the slave importation from Africa which saddled us with never-ending black-white problems? Deja vu is right.




The last major attempt I made to understand "The European Miracle" was to read the book of that name by my friend ,the economic historian, Prof. Eric Jones when I found it amongst the books prescribed for my son's economic history course at Eric's own university (then La Trobe).

From memory, disease figured, especially for countries, including India, near the equator. I am not sure whether he made much of the rather obvious fact that the English speaking countries have been remarkably well protected from enemies in the last few hundred years, especially by the sea. Since the takeover by the Manchus I can't see that as greatly distinguishing them from China, but I suppose that the Manchus following the recommendations of Machiavelli on how you rule a conquered people would have put a bit of a dampener on Chinese innovation and enterprise, even if the Emperor's court and mandarins hadn't been preferred ancient static ways.

It seemed to me that one of the best points Jones made was about the political diversity, or at least competing statelets and nations, in Europe. So your ideas weren't welcome at home? Just move to a country or court where you would be tolerated if not valued. I can't remember whether he dealt with the hypothesised indirect contribution of Christianity or, perhaps, the Judaic monotheistic religions generally - that it/they were somehow more compatible with scientific thinking than other great religions or systems of thought. Not that science underpinned later progress until pretty late in the Scientific Revolution I recently heard Lewis Wolpert say. It was technology, not science, which got the Industrial Revolution off the ground, but then one has to look, I suppose, for some other accidents, happy or otherwise, which brought together the capital, technology and enterprise.

Money made from the Atlantic slave trade and the Americas' plantations and other sources of wealth, and later from looting the Indian princes's treasuries, may have been important, while Eric Jones's original academic fame was as historian of the English Agricultural Revolution from about 1700, and that was a great source of capital. Ah, but what allowed that Ag Rev to take off? Peace and prosperity allowing English country gentleman to be experimental farmers would be consistent with the admiration that Voltaire had for England at that time.

The Renaissance must have given great impetus to innovative thinking (albeit given its kick start by ancient texts) and the coincidence of the Reformation (especially the rise of Bible reading and the emphasis on individual conscience) must have assisted in breaking down the hold of authority. By contrast, India was being subjected to Mogul rule, and China did not have a Renaissance, Reformation (or Enlightenment) as I remember John Derbyshire quoting a Chinese friend as observing ruefully.



NEWS By Dawn Kopecki

Intelligence Czar Can Waive SEC Rules Now, the White House's top spymaster can cite national security to exempt businesses from reporting requirements

President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.

Unbeknownst to almost all of Washington and the financial world, Bush and every other President since Jimmy Carter have had the authority to exempt companies working on certain top-secret defense projects from portions of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act. Administration officials told BusinessWeek that they believe this is the first time a President has ever delegated the authority to someone outside the Oval Office. It couldn't be immediately determined whether any company has received a waiver under this provision.

The timing of Bush's move is intriguing. On the same day the President signed the memo, Porter Goss resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency amid criticism of ineffectiveness and poor morale at the agency. Only six days later, on May 11, USA Today reported that the National Security Agency had obtained millions of calling records of ordinary citizens provided by three major U.S. phone companies. Negroponte oversees both the CIA and NSA in his role as the administration's top intelligence official.<snip>


Subject: The No Child Left Behind Corollary to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy

Dear Jerry,

A decent piece from the Cato Institute:


It reports that the NCLBA hasn't produced anything more than the Elementary and Secondary Education Act did in 1965: "few discernable academic gains, but brand new special interest groups that feasted on taxpayer dollars and put their desires ahead of the children they were supposed to help."

Further into the article comes a corollary to Pournelle's Iron Law:

"It's practically a political law: The people who are employed by government programs tend to gain the most from them, and are therefore the programs' most powerful lobbyists. And, naturally, they tend to lobby for as much money, and as little accountability for their work, as they can get."


Steve Erbach, Neenah, WI


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

Indeed. I should have more comments but being in Seattle with pen computer this will have to do.


Subject: Wal-Mart withdraws from ROK.

Wal-Mart withdraws from ROK.




---- Roland Dobbins


Subject: The Language Police Redefine "American"

Detroit News Online www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?

This is a printer friendly version of an article from The Detroit News To print this article open the file menu and choose Print.

May 24, 2006

Keep 'America' in Michigan schools

State bureaucrats want to do what Stalin, Osama could only dream about

Michael Warren

C ensoring the word "America" from our own schools is something Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden would never have thought possible. Michigan has done it without a whimper.

In perhaps a well-intentioned, but pernicious example of political correctness, the Michigan Department of Education is attempting to ban the "America" and "American" from our public schools. Even though the word "America" appears in the department's own civics and government benchmarks, the department's style protocol for the Michigan Education Assessment Program requires that "America" and "Americans" be expunged from our testing and grade level expectations. Last week, the department ordered that our hard-working teachers not utter the words.

We're all 'North Americans'

The Department of Education asserts that "Americans" includes Mexicans, Canadians and others in the Western Hemisphere, so referring to U.S. residents as Americans is inappropriate. In the department's view, "America" happens to include South, Central and North America. Accordingly, when referring to the colonial period, the state bureaucracy requires teachers to refer to "the colonies of North America" or "North Americans." After the American Revolution, the nation is called the United States (not of America).

The state's edict would be laughable if it were not so disgraceful. Instead of focusing on better teaching methods and educational resources to help our hard-working teachers and parents, the Department of Education spends its energy on confusing, misleading, historically inaccurate and counterproductive wordplay.

One can only imagine how teachers struggle to meet the semantic dictates of an educational bureaucracy gone awry. According to the department, before the American Revolution, George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were North Americans. But so were the French colonists in the Louisiana Territory, the Spanish settlers in Mexico and the British colonists in Canada -- not to mention the Native Americans.

No 'American' Revolution?

After the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers no longer qualified as North Americans, but apparently the British, Spanish, French and Native Americans did. What people in the United States are to be called after the Revolution is not clear, so long as they are not referred to as Americans.<snip>



Subject: A couple comments on your Stanford report


Two things.

First, on the Drexler stuff - I think Eric overestimates the resources needed. Just to illustrate, my brother (Adrian Tymes, whom I doubt you've ever heard of) is doing R&D work through the Stanford Nanofab on building a Casimir-effect generator. He's self-funded (pays for it via programming consulting), and the sum total of his office/lab is a laptop on a folding table. He pays for fab/lab time at Stanford, and that's about it. The reality is, he's doing it all on under $100K/year. So Eric, methink, needs to think on that point.

Second, on the AI "convergence" and expert systems... have you ever read a book, "The Two Faces of Tomorrow", by Jim Hogan? Nice bit of fiction, but he makes an interesting set of points. To keep it short, his world is ours, in the not-too-distant future, populated by massively networked expert systems. Expert systems that start putting together data from each other, with surprising results (forex, using a lunar mass driver to blast obstructing geography out of the way in minutes, rather than using earthmoving equipment that would take weeks). The rest of the book takes that as a departure point - what if you then gave the system a survival instinct, and forced it to evolve _quickly_. Good read. However, he makes some interesting points - and your comments about the current state of AI research bear directly on that.

Anyway, looking forward to meeting you at Baycon.

PS - were you ever able to get that slide -> digital problem resolved? -- Charles Prael Los Trancos Systems http://www.lts.com

The Babbling Brook http://www.livejournal.com/users/chuckles48/


From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                                  Subject: Global Warming
saintonge@hotmail.com                       http://www.rantsandrayguns.motime.com/
Dear Jerry:
        John Barley wrote (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/mail415.html#Tuesday)

Swiss/German study suggested more solar output causes global climate changes; East Anglians concurred.

 Has this been debunked? Indirect effects on the ozone layer and cloud cover were cited, which could magnify the hotter sun.

        It not only hasn't been debunked, but there have been recent reports of astronomical data suggesting that Mars and Jupiter are also warming.
        As you say, solar output would have been the first thing to check out, if the science had been honestly intended.  But how could saying that 'the world will get hotter because of solar output' serve those who lust to rule us?  The 'man-made global warming' thesis was never honest, and it's a capital mistake to pretend that the search for truth motivated its backers.
Stephen M.
            St.  Onge
Minneapolis, MN


Odd Math for 'Best High Schools' List http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/17/education/17education.html 


YOU would think they'd be celebrating in Rye Brook, N.Y. The local high school in that prosperous suburban Westchester district, Blind Brook High, jumped from being ranked No. 200 on Newsweek's list of America's Best High Schools in 2005, all the way up to No. 88 on the 2006 list.

But at last week's school board meeting, there was Monroe Haas, a longtime board member, blasting the Newsweek rankings as "meaningless," "ridiculous," "illegitimate" and "journalistic Barnum & Bailey."

Newsweek says it can rank all 25,000 public high schools in the United States by assigning a precise numerical value calculated to three decimal points based on a single variable: the number of College Board Advanced Placement exams taken by students at a high school, divided by the number of graduating seniors.

The idea is that schools should be recognized for pushing even average students to take challenging AP courses, the more, the better.

How the students score on the AP tests does not figure into the Newsweek ranking. As Mr. Haas pointed out, "every student at the school can fail every AP test, but as long as lots of students take the tests, you can still be one of Newsweek's best high schools."

A rating system that rewards quantity without measuring quality produces some truly bizarre results.

For example, Foshay Learning Center, a high-poverty school in Los Angeles, is ranked No. 414 on Newsweek's list with a ratio of 1.888 AP tests per graduating senior; Lexington High, in well-to-do suburban Boston, is ranked No. 441, with a ratio of 1.831. For Newsweek, it does not matter that Foshay students failed 83 percent of their AP tests with scores of 1's or 2's; while at Lexington, 91 per cent were 3's, 4's or the top grade of 5 qualifying those students for college credits.

"Shouldn't results on the test count for something?" asked Michael Jones, Lexington High's principal.



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Thursday, May 25, 2006


Education disaster continued (please withhold name)

Dear Jerry,

I have been informed that people who are applying for jobs in education are being googled and what they post on blogs is looked at in order to insure political and ideological correctness.  We really do have a communist education system.

Thank you

I have generally removed names of those in teaching positions as well as those of serving officers for precisely that reason. It is pretty unfortunate.

I used to tell people that "pieces of paper have the habit of being around for a long time," referring to memos sent in companies. By extension...

The Supreme Court refers sometimes to chilling effects. Precisely.


Subject: Article in BusinessWeek about business' problems with a poorly educated workforce

Just started reading it, but thought you'd find it interesting...


They appear to be catching up to you, a bit

Best Regards,

Doug Hayden


Subject: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction"


The last part of the quote is something I've heard on Chaos Manor quite a lot. I do not know the actual source of the quote (what speech, where at, etc.).


"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free" -- Ronald Reagan


Subject: global warming

Jerry, Gregg Easterbrook has revised his opinion:

"Yes: the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous. As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert."


"That research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger:"


Oughtn't we to be taking some measures -- even if they're less than all-out and at reasonable cost -- to mitigate the potential adverse effects?

-- Cheers, Alan Messer

So far I have seen proof by repeated assertion, not actual data. The data we see are conflicting. Some glaciers grow. Many shrink. It is still not, so far as I can tell, unambiguously clear whether we are headed for warming or dimming, heating up or Ice Age ((we are after all overdue for an Ice Age). If we start to prepare for the one and the other happens we are in trouble.

The classic Bayesian analysis in the case of conflicting predictions is to invest in reducing uncertainty, not in multiple preparations. We ought to be spending WHATEVER IT TAKES to reduce the uncertainties here. We are not doing that. We spend more on trying to persuade each other that we KNOW when we DO NOT KNOW.

Proof by repeated assertion is not a very good proof. The research is NOT in. It is NOT unambiguous.


Subject: Global Warming

Is it real? You may have seen this already, <http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st285/st285f.html http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st285/st285f.html

 “Scientific debate continues regarding the extent to which human activities contribute to global warming and what the potential impact on the environment might be. Importantly, much of the scientific evidence contradicts assertions that substantial global warming is likely to occur soon and that the predicted warming will harm the Earth's biosphere. “


Subject: NRO seeking suggestions


It's a really awful website, but it's interesting to see such a public effort to get external input on future opportunities for reconnaissance technology from such a famously private organization...

. png


Subject: Java and threading


I’m a bit mystified by Paul Milenkovic’s email on multithreading. My group’s work product is an in-house real-time data analysis tool for a major cell phone company. It has multiple parallel worker threads, and as far as I know we’ve never had a concurrency problem with our code. Not only is it not “trouble”, it’s not even difficult. Java has built-in hooks for multi-threaded debugging, and the major IDEs I’ve used all support it reasonably well. I don’t know if Java’s use of threads is “rigorous” or not from a theoretical perspective, but I do know you can base a successful application on it. Of course Java isn’t perfect, but I’ve written applications in C/C++, and I wouldn’t depend on POSIX threads for any non-trivial project that actually had to work reliably.

The big drawback to depending on concurrency is some problems don’t lend themselves to that kind of deconstruction. If I have to finish task A before I start task B, one thread is as fast as 100. So to say an eight-core system is 8x as powerful as a single core system is probably incorrect.

By the way, I agree with your comment regarding strong type checking and range checking. Not necessary for a school project, but for large commercial and military applications it’s a must. I don’t see how you’ve lost that argument, since Java seems to be the language of choice for large projects these days.



Subject: Driversplanet.com PR

Driversplanet.com Resurrection

New on Driversplanet.com: More than 40.000 New Supported Models Available in Just Three Clicks, Forum, Live Support, Daily Fresh News and Articles, and Featured Software for a Cute Price

SLOVENIA, 19. May 2006 -- Driversplanet.com, a web page providing links to device drivers and device information is back. In last couple of months there has been updated over 40.000 new models, and broken links have vanished. Now the database is constantly being updated with new links providing the best possible service to users.

To help users finding what they need and to help them solve hard/soft problems online, a bulletin board has been put on a web page. It contains many interesting forums, where anybody can find an answer to his prayers.

Don't give up on problems! For demanding/desperate users Live Support can provide solutions from professionals. For users demanding professional help, Live Support offers online help from trained personnel 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Non-stop actually.

There are also daily served fresh news and articles about information technology around the globe. If there's not what you seek on Driversplanet.com, there's always an option to subscribe to some of Driversplanet featured magazines. Oh yes. Featured software is also available to users who need ... well, some featured software.

Take care

Domen Verbic, editor Driversplanet.com

*******Copy/Paste version of DP's PR (for easy input)

Driversplanet.com Resurrection

Driversplanet.com, a web page providing links to device drivers and device information is back. In last couple of months there has been updated over 40.000 new models, and broken links have vanished. To help users finding what they need and to help them solve hard/soft problems online, a bulletin board has been put on a web page. It contains many interesting forums, where anybody can find an answer to his prayers. For demanding/desperate users Live Support can provide solutions from professionals 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Non-stop actually. There are also daily served fresh news and articles about information technology around the globe. If there's not what you seek on Driversplanet.com, there's always an option to subscribe to some of Driversplanet featured magazines.

Take care

Domen Verbic, editor Driversplanet.com 24. maj 2006


Subject: The Secret Anti-Spammer Death Squads


I can’t say I agree with him … but it is a good column..


In fact one longs for The Godfather Corporation.


Subject: Global warming vs. cooling

I don't know -- or pretend to know -- if what's going on is global warming, or part of a cycle, or where it's headed.

But I'm not sure it much matters -- even if it turns out that, greenhouse gasses are causing global warming, it doesn't follow that lowering greenhouse gas emissions (or, as per Kyoto, transferring money from US taxpayers to Third World countries without lowering greenhouse gas emissions) is either necessary or sufficient to deal with the problem.

Me, I'd figure that it would be kind of nice, if what we need is either more energy or less energy coming into the system, we had a way to make that happen, say, by orbiting mirrors that could be deployed to do either or both. I ran the math some years ago, and found myself amazed at the preposterously larged area of 10-micron thick mylar that could be hauled up by a single Shuttle mission.

Deploying it, of course, wouldn't be trivial . . .

Joel Rosenberg


Subject: Marines Will Face Charges In Deaths Of Iraqi Civilians

Will anyone please forward me an article about the leadership of Al Queda, Hamas, Iran, the Taliban (or any of the listed terrorist organizations http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/37191.htm)  that have investigated, arrested, charged, tried and meeted justice upon any of their citizens or members for deaths of civilians.

Yes, we may make mistakes as a country and some of our soldiers and Marines have human failings or do evil things; but, we do not tolorate or condone such actions. Let us truly remember who the good guys are.


I an not certain that this is justice at all, or that anyone should fight for PC.


Subject: Massive Misreporting in the Media Ignored

Of course, other people have other opinions.




Subject: Language maps

Dr. P: World maps color coded by language.

http://www.gmi.org/wlms/users/huffman/ <http://www.gmi.org/wlms/users/huffman/

"A time will come when a politician who has willfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own" -- H.G. Wells

my guess is thus wells's Noble Sentiment will cause havoc. Why ever let go  The reins of power?


global dimming vis a vis global warming


I keep waiting for someone to connect the dimming (opaque pollution) with the warming (transparent pollution).

Currently the dimming is better controlled worldwide, so there is an excess of warming. And as you keep saying, what excess?

An easy bone to toss the warming folks is turn off the pollution control equipment on coal fired power plants to increase the dimming to match the warming (and increase repiratory aliments). If ice age shows up then the equipment can be turned back on.

Scott Rich


Subject: I"m sorry Mr. Rosenberg


My apologies to Mr. Rosenberg:

Assume (1st order): Shuttle payload = 20,000 kg density of 10 um mylar = 1000 kg/m3

mass = density * area * thickness so:

area = mass/ (density*thickness)

= 20000 kg / (1000 kg/m^3 * 0.00001 m)

= ( 20,000 / 0.01 ) m^2

= 2,000,000 m^2 = 2 km^2


Radius of earth = 6,700 km (approximate)

Heated area A = pi * 6700 * 6700 km^2

= 141,000,000 km^2

Thus, enough mylar to affect insolation by 1% (assuming 100% transmissivity/opacity):

1,410,000 km^2 (1% of heated surface) / 2 km^2 (area of mylar per shuttle flight)

= 705,000 shuttle flights required

Or have I missed something?

(of course, the intercepted wattage is:

1,410,000 km^2 x 1,000,000 m^2/km^2 x 1000 Wts/m^2

= 1,410,000,000,000,000 Wt = 1,410,000 Gigawatts intercepted.

Space is BIG.





CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


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Friday,  May 26, 2006

Subject: Re: Separation of Powers, not Imperial Congress -

Dear Jerry,

I do not see Bush as Cromwell. In fact, I don't believe that the Mother of Parliaments maintains its own armed police force, unlike the self-aggrandizing Capitol Gang in DC.

If even one blatantly corrupt Congresscritter is allowed to remain, unmolested, in Congress, Gresham's Law will kick in and corruption will become the norm. That, too, is amply documented in history. Jack Abrahamoff may be gone, but there are plenty of similar folks on K Street who are simply a bit more discrete. Further, even Lincoln's clear excesses in the War Between the States (e.g., attempting to arrest the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because Lincoln feared he would rule against Lincoln) did not tip the US into tyranny.

When, in a dispute over the powers of the several branches, two branches are in agreement against the third, the formula of tripartite government is that the minority branch loses. In the case in hand, the Executive and Judicial branches are in agreement against the Legislative. Agents of the Executive branch sought and obtained from the Judicial branch a proper warrant for the search of a member of the Legislative branch. Current reports on the matter certainly make it appear that the Justice Department took extraordinary "clean- room" measures (e.g.,using FBI agents not associated with the case to execute the search) to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

If you or I were to ignore a subpoena for over 8 months, we would (in far less than 8 months) find armed agents hauling us before a judge who would, in the face of continued recalcitrance, simply ship us off to jail for contempt. Rep. William Jefferson (D-$$$) was allowed to demonstrate his contempt for the court in a way that would never be tolerated in mere citizens. Like the pigs in Animal Farm, he thought he was more equal than the rest of us.

Bill Hembree

He WAS more equal than the rest of us so long as he held that office. But of course that is what will be said, by Jay Leno and all the others. This is equality in action, and a Good Thing. And you will live to regret it.


Subject: Seperation of Powers -

Hi Jerry,

The most frightening thing about the Constitutional crisis is how little the public and press understand - or care - about the real issue. I find it ironic that Congress' (particularly the Democrats) attempt to gain political advantage by eliminating the history of the republic from our classrooms, has created a nation where there is no outcry when the executive exceeds it's authority. I suspect that even the FBI agents who conducted the raid didn't understand the constitutional implications of their actions. They reap what they sow.

We are dangerously close to an imperial executive. If the President knew of, or authorized the search and seizure, impeachment is warranted - even if he now orders the return of the materials. This 'trial balloon' must be slapped down hard. If he was unaware of the situation, then Congress should allow him to make it right, by passing a joint resolution ordering (not requesting) the return of the materials within 24 hours, on threat of impeachment.

Above all else, Congress needs to keep the Judiciary out of this situation. If they appeal to the courts, they are seceding sovereignty to the judiciary (which has already been done to too great an extent). Congress has sufficient inherent authority to take whatever action is required.



Disclaimer: I'm a paleo-conservative and a lifelong Republican, so this is not a rant by a liberal Democrat looking for an excuse.



Subject: re: Your Sanity

Dear Jerry

>>Morning. Many of you have sent mail questioning my sanity regarding the seriousness of the Executive's violation of the immunities of the Congress.<<

I thought it was all spot on. Well, as Padme said in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith", 'So this is how liberty dies, to thunderous applause." Lucas nailed down 'Movie Quote of the Century' when the contest was barely begun.

Best Wishes,




I suggest that the unnecessary search of the Congressman's office is symptomatic.

The answer these days to every problem seems to be to bear down, to tighten control, to regulate, to enforce. People who want immigration reform want more controls on employers. Citizens could end up needing the federal government's permission to earn a living! How weird is that? Isn't that sort of thing why we got rid of the British?

They'll run it the way the TSA runs the no-fly list!

Why did the judge issue a warrant to search a Congressman's office? Why did the Capitol Police honor the warrant?

People expect this kind of crap!

Bob Wakefield

It is selective enforcement that brings anarcho-tyranny.


Subject: UK Bars US Methodist Ministers Under Anti-Terror Law

Having recently participated in a religious program in the UK as a long-time member of the United Methodist Church, I was struck by this article:


-- "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: separation of powers thread


I have to admit that my entire "education" about the seriousness of this FBI raid and the implications towards the separations of power was gained only through your discussion/thread. Somehow I managed to miss this entire part of the Constitution - though I am young enough that the school systems' failures are my excuse. I saw on FNC that their story has pointed out that the Republic has never had this happen in its history. So, I have to concur with you regarding the seriousness of this event if left unchallenged. For those that dispute the seriousness - I point to all the other degraded liberties that we have lost, Fred on Everything has covered many of those examples. How long will it be until further Executive incursions into the other branches??

Perhaps this will speed up the future civil war without having to go thru an extensive empire phase - hopefully we can emerge with a republic closer to the one we've lost (some requirements for voter privileges, the States appointment of Senators, etc.).

Holding off Despair,
 Jim Laheta

For two hundred years no president has dared do this. Reflect on it.





This week:


read book now


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Subject: Congressman William Jefferson and Abscam

Dear Mr. Pournelle,

When I was young, a remember a scandal called Abscam where a congressman was caught on tape accepting a bribe from undercover FBI agents.

I don't recall any concerns over the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches (although I was only 12 or 13 at the time).

I don't understand what the difference is between what Mr. Jefferson has done and what those congress critters did in the early 80's.


Kurt Isley

It is not what the Congressmen did but what the Executive Authority has done.

No one objected to the Abscam sting operations, which ended the DeLorean among other things; but there were no searches of Congressional offices, either. It is entirely one thing to investigate on-going crimes which turn out to involve sitting Members, and another to search their offices.

I have a lot of mail telling me how horrid it is for a Member of Congress to get away with various corrupt practices. None have explained to me why for 200 years we have endured without violating the separation of powers in this way. Perhaps no evil will come of this and no executive will ever think of targeting a Congressman for investigations because of political opposition or inconvenience. Let us all hope so.

I prefer means other than hope. History has shown us what can happen here.

But perhaps all will be well.











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