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Mail 420 June 26 - July 2, 2006






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Monday June 26, 2006

In case you missed it there was a lot of interesting mail last Friday

Subject: Letter From England

Typical... <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2240784,00.html

You might find this site interesting--all sorts of interesting keyboard designs: <http://tim.griffins.ca/gallery/keyboard/all.html

Cameron (Tory leader) proposes to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5114102.stm

Single-sex schools "no benefit for girls" <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1805434,00.html

 American politics from a UK perspective <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1805330,00.html

NHS automation becomes more and more iffy. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1805437,00.html

Story on early warming of July 7th bombings <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article1096223.ece

Energy sector forecast <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2095-2241803,00.html

Pfizer decides to go to Germany due to UK planning shambles <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,1805084,00.html>  (Remember my story about the £100 planning application for a £5 sign to point to the handicapped entrance at my church?)

-- 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>

Planning for unemployment...

Harry adds:

Unfortunately, the "Torygraph" makes it very difficult to link to its stories, but the top ones today are worth reading, if only for the weirdness of some of the Government proposals.

"Parents face scrutiny by Government"

 "Bureaucracy can't bring up children"

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



Hello, did you know that you are a "googlewhack"? a pair of words entered into the "google" search engine that only bring back one result... i entered the words "antidestablishmentarianisn" and "resistant" and the engine came up with your site.

try it if you like :)

thank you for reading



Subject: Ivan Skavinsky Skivar


I just found your note on Ivan Skavinsky Skivar at http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/ivan.html 

I understand that for years it has been a require song at the US Military Academy.

Harry Ward

Odd, the stuff that accumulates here. Which is why we're unique, I guess.


Subject: Gates and Education

Hey Jerry,

Was pleasantly surprised to read the brilliant idea of dropping nuclear waste down a subduction zone. As you say, there are solutions to our problems; we just lack the will to implement them.

And on the subject of solutions, after reading that Warren Buffet is giving the Gates Foundation $37 billion (http://money.cnn.com/2006/06/25/magazines/fortune/charity1.fortune/index.htm) , doubling the size of what is already the world's largest philanthropic foundation, I read up on some of the work the Gates' have been doing. One $134 million project was targeting 16 high schools in Washington State and inciting them to redesign their structure, curriculm, expectations, and teaching style. Nicely ambitious, and reminds me a little of Mariesa Van Huyten's "Mentor" schools in Michael Flynn's Firestar series. Of particular interest were some of the Key Lessons they report after the first five years of the project. (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/AboutUs/OurWork/Learning/Achievers/KeyLessons.htm)  Reading between the lines you can hear them encountering some of the very problems with the school system you've discussed. Perhaps the lure of Gates' fortune can inspire some positive results?

Cheers, Michael Buttrey

If they want all the children to learn to read, we know how to teach them. Using software. See Mrs. Pournelle's reading page. But big foundations become big bureaucracies and are subject to the Iron Law.. I would like to be pleasantly surprised this time.


Subject: Global warming

One more note on the global warming debate since I see you are getting more email from proponents of human-created heat death for the planet (Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!)

Physorg has a post up about a new article in June’s Nature on the huge CO2 sink represented by the Antarctic Ocean depths.


Noting current warming trend & and new volcanism disturbing normal thermals under the Antarctic Ice Shelf…. Related? I don’t have the time to find out but I hope someone does.


Scientific American this month has an article with alarm bells about the Greenland Icecap. It sounds ominous with 21 foot sea level rises -- enough to wipe out my beach house. I am sitting about 8 feet above sea level here, and at high tides in a storm water can wash from the Pacific across to Mission Bay already.

And yet: we know there were dairy farms on Greenland in the time of Leif the Lucky. How could that be? The sea level was not 20 feet higher then, I would wager. I don't really know, but I have not seen a climate model that takes the Medieval Warming period into account. Yet we know there were farms on Greenland then. Where was the ice then?  I ask this as a reasonable question because I just don't know the answer.


Subject: You are probably interested in this

Highly interesting NASA news




Subject: Real-world demonstration of Pournelle's Iron Law

Dr. P,

I strongly recommend that you (and your other readers) check out Mr. Arkin’s “Early Warning” blog:

William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security

Understanding the Revolving Door

My hat's off to Eric Lipton and The New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/washington/18lobby.html>  for the revolving door series, started yesterday. Amongst other regrets and missed opportunities in writing this blog over the past year, I regret not writing more about this subject.

The sad truth though is that there seems little appetite, in Washington in particular, for the subject.

And I have been uncomfortable with the dominant models for reporting the story: a straight government ethics and kickbacks/influence peddling theme, which offers no broader lessons; a following one individual or set of individuals -- homeland security officials in the Times series, as an example -- eminently worthwhile but an endless Niagara; or with an assumption that this is uniquely a Republican or Bush phenomenon theme, which is dead wrong, and offers the wrong lesson.

I do think to understand the Washington revolving door story, one has to follow the money. It is the lure of a big payday that even the most ethical public servant can't resist.

The New York Times couldn't say it directly, but "government service," even after 9/11, even in homeland security -- THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD to its occupants -- has turned into a ticket. (emphasis added)

The New York Times reported yesterday in the first part of a series on the revolving door -- note to editors: where's The Washington Post on this story? -- describing the fate of dozens of national security officials who toiled after 9/11 and who are "now collecting bigger paychecks in different roles: working on behalf of companies that sell domestic security products, many directly to the federal agencies the officials once helped run." <continues>


Mr. Arkin’s self-appointed function is to highlight excessive governmental secrecy, so there’s lots of other interesting stuff to read on his blog.


William Clardy


Subject: Color of Crime


The 2005 edition of The Color of Crime (New Century Foundation) is now available free as a pdf.


 Hell is truth seen too late. - Thomas Hobbes


Subject: No Boy Crisis


Study Casts Doubt On the 'Boy Crisis' Improving Test Scores Cut Into Girls' Lead

By Jay Mathews Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, June 26, 2006; A01

A study to be released today looking at long-term trends in test scores and academic success argues that widespread reports of U.S. boys being in crisis are greatly overstated and that young males in school are in many ways doing better than ever.

Using data compiled from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federally funded accounting of student achievement since 1971, the Washington-based think tank Education Sector found that, over the past three decades, boys' test scores are mostly up, more boys are going to college and more are getting bachelor's degrees.

Although low-income boys, like low-income girls, are lagging behind middle-class students, boys are scoring significant gains in elementary and middle school and are much better prepared for college, the report says. It concludes that much of the pessimism about young males seems to derive from inadequate research, sloppy analysis and discomfort with the fact that although the average boy is doing better, the average girl has gotten ahead of him.

"The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse," the report says, "it's good news about girls doing better.



Subject:  New Spam Scam?

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I received the following from noreply@hotmail.com with an attachment called data.zip. Needless to say I deleted it immediately but Chaos Manor readers may be interested.

Cheers, Simon Woodworth.


You have received Secure Mail

To read the message open attached file.

User ID: 32018 Password: 4d875453

Keep your password in a safe place.

Sincerely, Encrypted Message System, HotMail.com

I think most readers are familiar with this, but just in case I present it again. Zip files with passwords are often executables that will run when you open them and infect your machine. Never open unexpected mail attachments. Never open unexpected mail attachments. Never open unexpected mail attachments. What I tell you  three times is true.


Subject: The Private of The Buffs

 When our soldiers were taken and ignobly slain, I recalled this poem, and have tracked it down.  I had thought it Kipling.

To paraphrase:

 They only knew that not through them

Should America come to shame.



The Private of the Buffs

 Sir Francis Hastings Doyle


Last night, among his fellow roughs,
He jested, quaffed and swore;
A drunken private of the Buffs,
Who never looked before.

To-day, beneath the foeman's frown,
He stands in Elgin's place,
Ambassador from Britain's crown,
And type of all her race.

 Poor, reckless, rude, low-born, untaught,
Bewildered, and alone,
A heart, with English instinct fraught,
He yet can all his own.

Ay, tear his body limb from limb,
Bring cord or axe or flame,
He only knows that not through him
Shall England come to shame.

 Far Kentish hop-fields round him seemed,
Like dreams, to come and go;
Bright leagues of cherry-blossom gleamed,
One sheet of living snow;
The smoke above his father's door
In gray soft eddyings hung;
Must he then watch it rise no more,
Doomed by himself so young?

 Yes, honour calls! - with strength like steel
He put the vision by;
Let dusky Indians whine and kneel,
An English lad must die.

And thus, with eyes that would not shrink,
With knee to man unbent,
Unfaltering on its dreadful brink,
To his red grave he went.

 Vain mightiest fleets of iron framed,
Vain those all-shattering guns,
Unless proud England keep untamed
The strong heart of her sons;
So let his name through Europe ring, -
A man of mean estate,
Who died, as firm as Sparta's king,
Because his soul was great.


      Footnote: In response to a request I had left here about the origins of this poem, I was very kindly In memory of our soldiers taken and slain by barbarous enemiesprovided with the following information from Bryce Major from New Zealand:


                              Journal of the Army Historical Research

                              Vol.41, 1963 p.42 ff.


                              The Private soldier was John Moyse who originally came from Scotland before joining the Buffs. Hence, the poem is also sometimes known as "The Scottish Soldier". He was executed for refusing to prostrate himself before a Chinese mandarin when taken prisoner.

                              The episode around which the ballad occurred was in the China War of 1860.

I suspect today's attitude would be "silly Scottish twit..."









This week:


read book now


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Subject: Interesting blurb on the Very Large Array

http://www.abqtrib.com/albq/op_columnists/article/0,2565,ALBQ_19865_4742793,00.html <http://www.abqtrib.com/albq/op_columnists/article/0,2565,ALBQ_19865_4742793,00.html

 “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” ----Albert Einstein


Subject: Anti missile


Article discusses a significant amount of American anti missile technology - more than I was aware of - deployed under the "joint missile defense project" in Japan. Do you or your readers know how effective the "Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles" are? Apparently the original Patriots were a disaster at shooting down missiles because only designed for planes.

R Hunt


Subject:  Smartfilter final word (re Osan AB?)

Last week I GUESSED that Osan AB might be using smartfilter, since the code reported for your web site was the same as smartfilter's.

It seems that another reader (as posted in your mail) and I both asked to have the code changed and they've complied. You are now listed at http://www.securecomputing.com/sfwhere  as:

V4 Politics/Opinion 3.x Premier Politics/Religion

(V4 has many more categories)

What probably happened is that someone took a cursory look at your site and classified it based on your home page and nobody has ever asked to have it changed before.

IF and Only IF this is what Osan AB is actually using, then your site probably won't be blocked any longer. That's a definite maybe. As a bonus, you will be available at more schools and libraries now, if anyone knows to look.



Subject: NASA's "culture change"


And NASA's top safety official, along with its chief engineer, both recently voted against clearing Discovery for its July 1 launch. They were overruled by NASA administrator Michael Griffin and other top managers.

"Plus ca' change, plus ca' meme chose".



Subject: How to Avoid Going to Jail under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 for Lying to Government Agents

Hi Jerry,

A service to your US readers...

How to Avoid Going to Jail under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 for Lying to Government Agents





Subject: Global warming - an armchair scientist summarises his observations

Jerry, I've read your comments on global warming and feel impelled to add my 2 cents worth. My background is just that of someone who's had a keen interest in the subject for over 20 years, and who's had a ball with all the web-available remote sensors. It's been like reading and experiencing a v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y, s-l-o-w but superbly realistic (duh) science fiction story. The best part is the plot twists, the personalities involved, and the surprises that pop up. I'm a systems analyst, and love having a complex system like this to putter over in my spare time.

Here's my pocket-digest surmise of what's going on, going from the larger timescale to the recent:

0) We're in a phase of the global continental geometry and other factors where small changes in insolation amount and timing are magnified by positive feedback, thus the small Milankovich cycle effect leads to periodic glacial/interglacial episodes. With 20-20 hindsight, this is not surprising: it's ideal for the evolution of intelligence, so this is not a coincidence.

1) Both the long-term models (well most of them) and nearly all the observations (as refined over the last few years) predict a slow (circa 1 °C/1000 years) cooling. In some models, this flips us over the edge of the positive feedback into run-away cooling. In other words, sans CO2/methane changes, we could expect a slow slide into an ice age a la your book Fallen Angels. This is the "natural trend" confusing the picture and adding fuel to the early arguments.

2) Also confusing the picture is the fact that particulates created by the industrial revolution are cooling the globe, particularly the northern half, about 1/2 to 1 degree C. (In the southern half, an unexpectedly deep Pacific Ocean current system kept it down below the early model's predictions.) Particulates seem to be the cause of the dip in temperatures that all the graphs show from 1945-1970 or so. The effect kicked in especially hard in the late '40s & '50s when the tall smokestack technology was invented and started kicking the stuff virtually into the stratosphere. The sunscreen dust effect seems to be bouncing around: for every country wising up to the downsides and reducing smokestack emissions there's been another one taking up the slack. Eventually, for economic reasons if nothing else, the smokestacks will be cleaned up.

3) Yah, the world is definitely warming: the match between the models (and the observational data I've seen) is showing that classic and unmistakable convergence. Year by year the difference between models grows less as the models get cross-refined (adding in factor #2 above was a big jump). Crucially, each year's new data points fit within a trend line that's on the high side of the models. The data also is starting to show a bit of an upward curve.

For a great summary of some of the graphs from different groups, see http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/Warming_Look.htm  this is a great web page because its the skeptics (!) web page. On it I see: UAH MSU 1-2006: +0.304 °C GISTEMP 1-2006: +0.61 °C NCDC Anomaly 1-2006: +0.28 °C CRU 12-2005: +0.305 °C HadCRUG 11-2005: +0.47 °C (each of the above numbers uses a different definition of "Temperature Variance From Average", but you get the idea.) The trend for the last decade is about 0.3 to 0.5 °C/decade.

4) The effect is, as predicted, greatest at high latitudes. What I've been looking for - the gold nugget - is the start of non-linear conditions, where feedback (negative or positive) kicks in. Thus far the positive is winning: the Arctic ice cap, continuing a multi-year trend, looks much thinner and has much lower reflectivity. I'm pretty confident that this year see major melting of the Arctic ice cap.

Ken Rushton. A few good links:
 http://pm-esip.msfc.nasa.gov/amsu/index.phtml?2  http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.NOAA/.


Subject: some suggestions for you web site from a french fan


About your trip in Paris, April 19, 2001 :


On page one : you should write "Place des Vosges" instead of "Place des Voges".

On page three : This sign (see below) means "ball games strictly forbidden", so you can step on the grass.

I was a great fan reader of your columns in BYTE in 80 and 90's and I've just discovered you web site...

Best regards,

Pascal Biettron

I have fixed the errors, and thanks. I post this in part to remind new readers that there are illustrated trip reports on this site.


Just when you think there’s no justice... a news article from a Florida Newspaper:

“When Nathan Radlich’s house was burgled, thieves left his TV, his VCR, and even left his watch. What they did take was “generic white cardboard box filled with grayish-white powder.” (That at least is the way the police described it.) A spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale police said “that it looked similar to cocaine and they’d probably thought they’d hit the big time.” Then Nathan stood in front of the TV cameras and pleaded with the burglars:

”Please return the cremated remains of my sister, Gertrude. She died three years ago.” Well, the next morning, the bullet-riddled corpse of a drug dealer known as Hoochie Pevens was found on Nathan’s doorstep. The cardboard box was there too; about half of Gertrude’s ashes remained. And there was this note.

It said: “Hoochie sold us the bogus blow, so we wasted Hoochie. Sorry we snorted your sister. No hard feelings. Have a nice day.”


Several readers have gone to the cosmic killjoy, Snopes, to discover, as almost anyone would suspect, that the story is mostly made up. I wouldn't bother to point that out, but I want to save the rest of you the trouble of telling me.

I suspected the story was too good to be true; and so what? It's one of those stories that ought to be true...


This one is true:

Subject: The Moving Moons of Saturn


This - http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap060627.html  - is very cool.


Very cool.




This week:


read book now


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Subject: More on the Medieval warming period, etc

Dear Jerry,

Also, in the 12th-13th century (even later perhaps) in west central Poland (around Zielona Gora near the center of the Odra-Nyssa river) they used to produce a good bit of wine as well and they still have an annual wine festival there.

Kudos btw for your remarks on the traitors who leaked the Swift program. It appears that not only do the NYT people believe that the Constitution is a suicide pact but they see themselves in the role of Dr. Kevorkian. In a few weeks my book will be done (I’ve got to find the right cover photo – this scholar is not overly visual in his scholarship – I prefer being an archival rat). If it is alright with you I’d like then to kibbutz a bit about the current state of the War on Terror and Iraq. I’ve been to an academic workshop on terrorism that was not only surprisingly well run but had a number of former military types who are currently in various public-private sector initiatives to deal with the War on Terror and I had the opportunity to hear in person the kinds of arguments you have made about this being the wrong war. I’m still not convinced, but I think I get the case against the war better (no disrespect to your abilities as a thinker is implied and I try not to get too dewy eyed when talking with professional soldiers, its just that in a give and take conversation as opposed to e-mail correspondence I found it easier to get a handle on some of the arguments)). Anyway, ‘twas eye-opening and I was as struck by the tone of some of the former officers towards the current administration (very hard-edged, even contemptuous). While some of that was certainly due to some of the officers’ political preferences, it does suggest that there are deeper divisions within the armed services than a few Clinton era generals out to make a point.

On a different note I also saw how you might have been a bit too prescient with your merc of the future novels. We went to Blackwater’s facility in North Carolina and heard a presentation. One of the officers with whom I talked during the conference (who had worked with Blackwater guys in a couple of places in the Muslim world) had nothing but contempt for them and called them mercenaries but also talked about how the US basically needed a(n imperial – my words but his implication) gendarmie (your constabulary/legion) for situations like Iraq. It appears that Blackwater and the like represents our efforts to create a free market version of such a gendarmie – and while this officer talked about the price difference (4 years of training and paying an infantryman = $400,000 vs. the $2+ million it would cost for a comparable Blackwater contract) I wonder if the different political costs do make it more “efficient” [4 Blackwater guy’s hanging on a bridge at Fallujah, $500,000 worth of insurance payments/each(?), but 4 US Army soldiers hanging from same bridge = priceless political damage]). The whole thing was quite disturbing, if only for suggesting how the nation-state’s effort to limit the use of force by private companies is coming unraveled before our eyes/under the radar screen.

But the editing of the book awaits me…


A Youngish Jacobin

I eagerly await the book and your contributions. Thanks.


Subject: Does "treasonous" equal "chilling effect?"

"Congressman Peter King, R-NY,... the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Bush administration to seek criminal charges against The New York Times for reporting on a secret financial-monitoring program used to trace terrorists."

"King, R-N.Y., said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the nation's chief law enforcer 'begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times _ the reporters, the editors and the publisher.'

'We're at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous,' King told The Associated Press."


According to The Register, "King has also called for the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to investigate the Times and prosecute the reporters, editors and publisher on any and all charges they can dream up."


One of King's points is that nobody elected the New York Times, so they shouldn't be making decisions about what the public should know about. I don't remember "deciding what the public should know about" being on the ballot in either 2000 or 2004. Perhaps my memory is faulty. All I remember is the lady in line ahead of me being turned away from early voting because they had a record that she had already voted as an absentee. When she said she had never voted absentee in her life they sent her to the county elections office. I wish I'd gotten her contact info so I could find out how that turned out -- I've always wondered.

--Gary Pavek

There are two issues here. One is, what newspapers can publish with impunity. We have always been very careful in these matters, and should be. The other is the protection of sources who have clearly leaked classified material.  ===========

Subject: Training Advice - Fear Misquotation

The article, How to Avoid Going to Jail under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 for Lying to Government Agents, http://library.findlaw.com/2004/May/11/147945.html , reminded me of some advice I received while training to be a SCUBA instructor.

When approached by a reporter, government official or other unknown inquisitor, reply to any question with, “I have no comment at this time for fear of being misquoted.”

Years later, when I worked as a security guard in college, I was approach by a reporter, accompanied by a TV cameraman, and asked a series of questions regarding the procedures the security teams were using for confiscating alcohol at a city event. I took great pleasure in watching the reporter and cameraman blink with dismay at my continued repetition of “I have no comment at this time for fear of being misquoted.” They soon departed. I did not make the evening news.

I wonder, and hope never to find out, how that would fly with the FBI.

I plan to renew my ‘subscription’ to your site in July. I use my birthday as the reminder for such things. I also plan to purchase Strategy of Technology at that time. Will you, or do you, have a plan to sell the 6th grade reading primer you have mentioned earlier? Are these collected in a single location on your site?

Thanks for all your work and efforts to teach us over the years.

Terry Losansky

I am working on the reader. Thanks for reminding me.


Subject: "rights"

I am waiting for the day when we in this country wake up to the fact that our government was originally intended to only protect basic rights as recognized among 18th century Englishmen so that we might be free to "pursue" our own happiness or misery , for that matter. There is no guarantee in our founding documents of outcome or assistance to pursue that happiness. The pursuit of my own happiness does not involve how someone else lives or chooses to govern or not govern their own household unless there is a tangible effect on me or mine.

A constitutional democracy can only exist if the great majority of those in it are responsible for their own affairs. A welfare state by its' very nature dulls the senses of individuals by subsidizing failure in various ways, thus undermining the responsible. It is by its' very nature juxtaposed to the founders intent. We drastically accelerated the undermining our very basis in this country since the thirties.


Paul D. Perry



Subject: On re-reading The Voodoo Sciences


I couldn't help being reminded of one of John Kenneth Gailbraith's more famous lines: "Economics exists to made astrology look respectable."



 “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” ----Albert Einstein


Subject: Hamas and Dane-geld

Dr. Pournelle,

I doubt I'll be the first. But apparently Hamas training does not include the classics.

Do I really need to say this?


Rudyard Kipling

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
 To call upon a neighbour and to say:-
"We invaded you last night-we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:-
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:-

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"

Mark E. Horning, Physicist,


Subject: Palestinian kidnapping June 2006

I wish Abba Eban's aphorism weren't so continually demonstrated.

"The Palestinians never miss a chance to lose an opportunity" indeed.

Steve Setzer


Subject: Re: Hamas kidnaps Israeli Soldier

You wrote: I don't know what Hamas thought it would accomplish with this, but it was pretty clear from the first moments what the consequences would be.

I suggest that Hamas got the consequences they wanted.

Tim Cunningham

Well, one suspects that someone in their organization understood the consequences, but prudential behavior has never been their strong point.


Poodlemaster speaks:

Subject: Tactics

Hi You said:

"to make it clear to everyone in the area that this wasn't a good idea."

I disagree. It's obviously a very effective tactic and given the timing may have been inspired by the reaction of the US media to the recent kidnapping and murder of the US soldiers in Iraq. This is kinda sweet actually as the premise takes advantage of the great disparity between the "terrorist", scum who should be killed and the "hero", our brave troops who's lives must be saved, no matter what.

This is war folks, try to remember that. What hurts your enemy is fair game. It's obvious the Isrealies and the US don't play by the "rules of war", why should the Iraquis and Palestinians? Total war has no rules as your leaders plainly understand.



Subject: Israel says "Can you hear me now ?" to Syria

Hi Jerry,

Israel says "Can you hear me now ?" to Syria: http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/06/28/D8IHC64G0.html

Nothing like an F-15 at Mach 2 over the house to remind one that he who controls air, can bomb the ground underneath.

If I were Syria, I would be pulling troops far away from the border right now.

Lynn McGuire Proud father of a US Marine serving in the Sandbox


Subject: Concise analysis of latest Israeli conflict

Dr. Pournelle,

I found this online from a near-anonymous source, regarding the latest fighting in and around Israel:

"It's just more of the same. It'll be a convenient rallying cry for all the bearded camel ****ers to get behind. They won't lift a finger to constructively help the Palestinians, not with money, or with food, or, god forbid, with a couple bulldozers and cranes to maybe help transform that stinking garbage heap into something resembling a society, but they'll be sure to use every forthcoming casualty as a reason to burn some flags, yell some slogans, and remind themselves that Allah is still Akhbar, the west is still the devil, and that paradise is still only a bomb-belt away."

Some might say that this nail has been whacked square on the proverbial head. Some things won't change.




Subject: Fwd: (SSS) Prosecute the NY Times

This is where the "rubber meets the road". Bill

Begin forwarded message:


June 26, 2006 A word from Lt. Cotton

Lt. Tom Cotton writes this morning from Baghdad with a word for the New York Times:

Dear Messrs. Keller, Lichtblau & Risen:

Congratulations on disclosing our government's highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.)

Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato's guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months' salary. As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry, and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion -- or next time I feel it -- I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others -- laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,

Tom Cotton Baghdad, Iraq

William Haynes

I have no confirmation on whether this letter is genuine. Col0nel Haynes has sometimes had more enthusiasm than skepticism. Nor do I know whether this represents the sentiments of the officer corps, but I suspect it does.


Subject: r.e. Global Warming 

Dear Jerry,

The recent letter reminded me to check on Steve McIntyre at http://www.climateaudit.org/ <http://www.climateaudit.org/>  . This year he has broadened his horizons from Michael Mann 98 to
a) other recent statistical analyses of historical global temperatures and
b) the methodologies typically employed in data set selection and data set construction.

This thread http://www.climateaudit.org/index.php?cat=27 <http://www.climateaudit.org/index.php?cat=27>  deserves acute study by people who believe the underlying climate research data sets are ok even though some formerly leading researchers have been shown to be statistical nincompoops at analyzing them. It includes such precious quotes from renowned GloboWarmers as:

"However as we mentioned earlier on the subject of biological growth populations, this does not mean that one could not improve a chronology by reducing the number of series used if the purpose of removing samples is to enhance a desired signal. The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology."

"But, for certain, D’Arrigo put up a slide about "cherry picking" and then she explained to the panel that that’s what you have to do if you want to make cherry pie."

"If we get a good climatic story from a chronology, we write a paper using it. That is our funded mission. It does not make sense to expend efforts on marginal or poor data and it is a waste of funding agency and taxpayer dollars. The rejected data are set aside and not archived. As we progress through the years from one computer medium to another, the unused data may be neglected."

Some of this returns to the question of Climatology's internal professional standards. I can't speak to those or to comparable standards in disciplines like astronomy, physics and chemistry. I do however know that statistical procedures such as McIntyre is exposing among leading alarmist climate researchers have gotten more than one defense contractor locked up for fraud when used for quality assurance testing.

Best Wishes,


The basic assumption of statistical inference is random selection of the sample. If that assumpti0n is not met, other inferential tools are required.

Am I correct in concluding that the Hockey Stick has rather quietly vanished as its assumptions were exposed?

Do understand that exposing the alarmists as having systematically selected data is not the same as proving they are wrong; it does mean they have not accounted for all the data, and their proofs are not convincing. (and see below)


CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Subject: (U) Poodlemaster barks

Dr. Pournelle,

Better to be silent about that which one does not understand and be thought wise, than to speak and be proven a fool. "Poodlemaster speaks," you say? Maybe in the way a poodle "speaks," because it makes about as much sense.

He claims that the Americans and the Israelis are waging total war? What a fool.

Imagine Afghanistan a barren post-nuclear wasteland, with Osama and his pet Mullah Omar dead of radiation poisoning, like most of the rest of the population. Think Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but multiplied by the hundreds. That's what we've done in a "total war."

Imagine Bagdad as a rubble heap, not one brick stands upon another. Most of the Iraqi "insurgents" aren't to be found--they died when we killed the army in the first minutes of the war. There are no prisoners in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo--we simply execute them after questioning. Iraqi widows weep by the millions over their dead, as they wait to see if radiation poisoning or starvation kills them, too. Think Dresden. Think of the Apaches. That's what we've done in a "total war."

Imagine the decapitation strike that takes out all of North Korea's leadership. That big military parade where they show off all their missiles? Ours join the party. They're already starving, so an influx by the combined South Korean and Japanese humanitarian groups is their only hope of salvation. We could DO that!

Imagine the planes that buzzed Syrian leader Assad's house leaving more than broken windows behind, like a few 2,000 Lb. bombs. Think Reagan's attack on Libya. They could have done that. They may yet.

Imagine the Israeli bulldozers leveling every building in Gaza as they drive the entire population over the border to Egypt. They could do that. I'm tempted to say that they should.

Imagine targeting whole classes full of children at school for murder and making those who do it into national heroes, even naming children's summer camps after them. That's total war, Palestinian style.

Poodlemaster must really hate America to be so blind...that is so sad.

A serving officer


Subject: Israeli version of "the final solution"


It is weeks like this one where I think that Israel will just decide to bulldoze the Palestinians. Literally. Right now the Gaza Strip and the West Bank strongly remind me of the Welfare Islands from your Falkenberg series. Eventually Israel is going to say enough, lets eliminate them all and let Allah sort them out. Is this the outcome that the Palestinians want? I'm actually asking seriously - the Israelis do seem to be effective when they make up their minds.

Sincerely, Jim Laheta

I have no idea. I presume the Hamas leadership wants to provoke a massacre in hopes that this will bring them world sympathy, and that world opinion will influence Israel as it did South Africa. The problem with that strategy is that Israel is not South Africa; and has resources that the Boers never had.

Recall that Colonel Netanyahu's soldiers executed in cold blood all the terrorists at Entebbe.

Hamas makes no secret that they would drive all the Israelis into the sea, given the power to do so. Somehow they have retained considerable sympathy in world opinion.

My sympathies in that area are complex and divided. I believe that Israel blundered badly when they alienated the Christian Palestinians, and did so with deliberate policies. After 700 years of Muslim rule the Christians were driven to make common cause with Muslims. It would not have been difficult for the Israeli government to make friends with the Christians and have the Vatican as a friend. They chose otherwise. This was a serious strategic blunder.

I have no idea what ought to be done in the Middle East. I do wonder if it is the business of the United States of America. I also know that no government that hoped to retain the loyalty of its army could possibly have acted much differently in this case. When one draws the sword, one takes on some responsibilities to the weapon.

Back in the Seventy Years War, militants in Lebanon kidnapped an American CIA Station Chief, and a Russian Diplomat. The US used what we thought were appropriate measures, and our man was tortured and killed. The KGB came to Beirut, asked around, kidnapped half a dozen people at least one of whom was related to those holding their diplomat, and began carving off parts and sending them to the militant leadership. After about two weeks their diplomat was released.

American principles were upheld, we were told. We did not descend to their level. Etc. One may estimate the effectiveness of the CIA.



Subj: Infantry Company Intelligence Center


=... While the battalion, brigade, division and higher intelligence troops are all gathering information and crunching it, their conclusions are usually not frequent, or detailed, enough to be of a lot of use to most infantry companies. So the more resourceful company commanders find three or four troops who have an aptitude for intel work, and set up a company intelligence center (CIC). Sometimes this is at company headquarters, although it usually works better if it is at a separate location. This is because one of the principal functions of the CIC is to talk to (debrief) all the troops when they return from a patrol. This is (usually) always done even without a CIC, but with a CIC you make sure everyone who went out, gets to report. The smallest detail can be meaningful. The CIC crew specialize in knowing who to press, and who will usually say all that has to be said right away.=

=... [C]ompany commanders are beginning to discuss changing the [standard] organization of the infantry company to include a CIC. The Internet provides the means for company commanders to discuss this sort of thing, and helped spread the CIC concept in the first place.=

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

Note also hajinets. In the old days, all the officers of a legion not only knew each other but were in constant communication with each other. By officers I include the Centurions who were what we today would call senior NCO's, and in any case were the leaders the troops were most loyal to; it was to the Centurions that Caesar appealed in cases of unrest in the legion. Today's Platoon Leaders and Company Commanders have that role.

Every Legion had its own frumentari and questionari, usually senior centurions.


Subject: Financial tracking of terrorists


I wonder about the possibility that this was an intentional leak, done to gain a hammer with which to pound on unfriendly press outlets? After all, we have gone after drug dealers for years by tracking the money. If you've ever tried to cash a personal check for more than $10,000 you have probably observed that the transaction attracts extra attention. After 9/11, tracking the money was a commonly mentioned strategy (although details were obviously not given). So it isn't like the concept is a big secret to anyone with something to hide.

Given that the main focus of the administration's response to the leak appears to be a coordinated attack on the press, rather than a search for the guilty leakers, I can't help but wonder if someone thought it was worth sacrificing the secrecy of a less important program to gain a political issue in advance of the election?

CP, Connecticut.

I have no idea. I would think this deserves at least as much investigative effort as the Wilson/Plame leak. If it leads to a deliberate political ploy, so be it.


Poodlemaser speaks:

Subject: Total War

Hi You, well your responders, seem to forget that Putin can still pound the US flat. Total war against Russia's friends would be kinda dumb.

We can do the imagine DC after an SS 22 and say 50 megaton in 5 vehicles kinda thing but it's boring.

You seem to think colateral damage at a level that kills many women and children is fine if a so called terrorist leader is killed but freak totally if one of your troops is f@#x& over. I have trouble with hypocrisy this huge, the whole damn world does.


And my bombs are bigger than your bombs. I suspect that Putin has no more interest in vaporizing Moscow and the daschas fifty kilometers north of there than we do in having DC and Fairfax turned into radioactive waste. Extended deterrence is a tricky concept at best. It has to be credible.


Subject: World of Warcraft woes

As with all Blizzard products, they are very much victims of their own success. Every on-line game they've ever released has been many times more popular than they estimated, from Diablo I on. With WoW, when they started, they expected to have more subscribers than EQ after the first year - around 500,000. They had that the first month. After 9 months Blizzard had 3.5 million. They have been playing hardware catchup since day 1, but they are finally getting there.

However, they have done a great deal to improve things since the game came out. Patch releases are still problematic; expect a couple of days of downtime when a major patch is released( like last week with 1.11). And some realms are worse than others. The one I've been on since the game came out has been quite stable. Blizzard's patch delivery system does indeed suck dead bunnies, however -- many people download the patch from one of the mirrors, rather than use Blizzard's bittorrent-based "let the subscribers distribute the patch" patch client.

It is a very well done game, with much to do for both hardcore and casual players, and Blizzard is constantly improving it.


And indeed, just after I wrote that screed, Silvermoon was suddenly available and the Paladin was able to ride -- well run, he hasn't attained a level at which he can be mounted -- forth to slay the enemy.

It's good to kill evil orcs.


Subject: Re: WGA may become mandatory

I read the ZDNet article, and my reaction was similar to yours. Microsoft is certainly capable of doing stupid things, but they're not THAT stupid. I would attribute the initial phone support "in the fall, having the latest WGA will become mandatory..." conversation to a call center drone being ordered to give WGA the hard sell, without being given enough training on either the technical or sales side to understand where hard sell leaves off and public relations fiasco begins. The 30 day limit sounds like he/she may have gotten product activation and WGA mixed up.

The response to Ed Bott's inquiry sounds like a lower level PR hack who's aware of a political struggle within the company over how hard a line to take with WGA holdouts, and is trying to stay out if it. Who gives a bland recitation of the company line rather than answering the question.

To me, this indicates that Microsoft has three serious problems.

1. Inadequate training and supervision of call center workers in how to handle questions about controversial changes in company policy.

2. Company spokesmen who appear to be more concerned with internal company politics than in handling press inquires on sensitive subjects.

3. The fact that the story sounded plausible enough to attract any attention implies that Microsoft has a real problem with its reputation.

Agreed on all counts...


Subject: NY Times again

Treason yes... but one major item that has received minimal press or notice is the assumption that the terrorists are stupid enough to believe they haven't been being financially monitored for years.

Warm regards, Gary


Subject: SWIFT

Hi Dr. Pournelle,

Although I operate a small aerospace company, I still lecture periodically at the local university to MBA's, BCom's, and all BSci-ACC(accounting) students on international money laundering and electronic transactions. The SWIFT program is covered in all classes in banking, accounting, mutual fund courses, and even law. Every banker and bank teller knows about the program because of money laundering restrictions on large cash transactions (remember hawalla's?).

I can understand a politician or an aide not having knowledge of basic accounting, business, banking, or accounting laws and regulations, but those who do don't have any understanding what all the fuss is about. A few years ago the US government was very publicly castrating various countries around the globe under SWIFT for ilicit money laundering activities (Bahamas, Bermuda, Antillies,etc) adn wanted the general public to know.

Now it's a secret???

Christopher Todd Gaska, CEO One Vision

P.S. I do wish people, that take the time to comment on your site, would read 'A Step Farther Out' so they would at least not re-invent the wheel that you did so long ago. Please push it out the door again so a new generation can learn what good men with ideas and vision can do with the technology that you and your brethern developed.

Many many thanks for all the ideas and daydreams...


I expect you are both right. There have been other sources of information about using the financial tracking systems, including in UN reports. It has never been much of a secret, and if the enemy had been on his toes he would have known.

Two things are worth noting: first, at least some of the terrorists were stupid, and got caught through that means; it's unlikely that will happen again.

Second, as a news story it wasn't much of a story; in normal times most newspapers would honor a request from the President to sit on the story since the upside of printing it is not much, the downside of not printing it is not much, and the potential damage is not zero.

These are not normal times. The polarization of the nation has ended ordinary civility, and made bitter enemies of what used to be a more orderly tension between news outlets and the government. That is not a healthy condition for the Republic; nor is having the military routinely think of the press as the enemy, to be given little more consideration than one gives rats and cockroaches. Sure: there are military officers who understand the complex relations between a free press and a government in time of war; but there are many who see enemies and friends and nothing else just as many police officers see friends and scumbags and little else. Perps and vics.

Of course the Republic is slowly vanishing even as we watch; which does not mean the end of history. It is not my preference, but there is much to be said for a more imperial style of government. It is perhaps time we began to think about that. I probably will not live to see maiastas as a criminal charge; but I suspect many of you will.


Subject: Military comments vs. NYT legit


T.F. Boggs is a 24-year-old sergeant in the Army Reserves serving his second tour of duty in Iraq, where he helps to provide security for a military base in Mosul. He is also an occasional blogger, venting his views at www.boredsoldier.blogspot.com.  (He posted as to the New York Times) "Your recent decision to publish information about a classified program intended to track the banking transactions of possible terrorists is not only detrimental to America but also to its fighting men and women overseas," Boggs wrote. "Terrorism happens here every day because there are rich men out there willing to support the . . . terrorist who plants bombs and shoots soldiers. . . . Without money, terrorism in Iraq would die because there would no longer be supplies for IED's, no mortars . . . and no motivation for people to abandon regular work in hopes of striking it rich after killing a soldier. Thank you for continually contributing to the deaths of my fellow soldiers."


Subject: r.e. Hockey Sticks

Dear Jerry,

>>Am I correct in concluding that the Hockey Stick has rather quietly vanished as its assumptions were exposed?<<

It's at least back in the shop having its many cracks spliced. More importantly, McIntyre and McKitrick are now being taken very seriously. For example, they recently presented before a NAS panel convened to consider the type of issues they are raising and were then invited to submit a paper to NAS. And 'mainstream' science journals no longer dismiss them out of hand. Their initial issues of data archiving, data quality, full disclosure of data, methods and researchers' fundamental statistical competence are now on the table in plain sight. This is good.

>>Do understand that exposing the alarmists as having systematically selected data is not the same as proving they are wrong; it does mean they have not accounted for all the data.<<

In the case of historical climate studies, 'not accounted for' includes selected data sets supposedly used in other recent historical reconstructions, as well as the data sets that are deselected for various reasons. The 'Mann Problem' of misplaced and lost data and secret code has been found to exist in other recent studies producing Mann-type Hockey Sticks.

I think what McIntyre and McKitrick *have* proven is the 'Hockey Team' has not met the prerequisites for their results to be deemed 'scientific'. That is, if 'scientific' still means disclosure of data and methods so the analysis can be duplicated by other researchers and the conclusion thus confirmed or falsified. The obstacles to obtaining the information to do this was Steve McIntyre's original entry point with MBH-98. This issue, the statistical methods used to process the data and the interpretation applied to the results obtained were and remain M-M's focus.

After spending over three years on the subject McIntyre has since broadened his horizons a bit to inquiries into how the underlying data is obtained and selected. And McIntyre's own blog has become a rallying point for dissenting climatologists to raise other more specific issues, such as the theoretical validity of data types used as historical temperature proxies. The failure of 'Bristlecone Pines' (a vital historical proxy for the Hockey Team) to accurately reflect recorded temperatures in the 20th Century is an example of this discipline specific discussion.

As you've said, it's a very important field of research and deserves to be put on a scientific footing.

Best Wishes,


Pity it's not science yet. I would think it important to turn real science loose on a problem of this importance.




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  June 30, 2006



Johnson V Eisentrager (1950)

<snip> Respondents, who are nonresident enemy aliens, were captured in China by the United States Army and tried and convicted in China by an American military commission for violations of the laws of war committed in China prior to their capture. They were transported to the American-occupied part of Germany and imprisoned there in the custody of the Army. At no time were they within the territorial jurisdiction of any American civil court. Claiming that their trial, conviction and imprisonment violated Articles I and III, the Fifth Amendment, and other provisions of our Constitution, laws of the United States and provisions of the Geneva Convention, they petitioned the District Court for the District of Columbia for a writ of habeas corpus directed to the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, and several officers of the Army having directive power over their custodian. Held:

1. A nonresident enemy alien has no access to our courts in wartime. </snip>

Once more I come to the conclusion that IF this President had just cause to go to War, that he should have asked Congress for a Declaration of War. Based on what I read above, if we were officially at war, the "noncombatants" would have no access to our Courts. Because of the limbo of "we will stay until we are not needed any longer or Congress pulls the financing," the Courts have a doorway in which to usurp yet more power from the Legislative and Executive branches. Their latest ruling is almost humorous in the way it's worded.


It starts off stating that the Congress authorized the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda terrorist attacks" but later states that "The military commission at issue is not expressly authorized by any congressional Act."

Now, I'm no legal expert, but I'd say "use all necessary and appropriate force against those... persons he determines ... aided" the September 11, 2001 attacks easily covers setting up military tribunals to determine if a "noncombatant" did so aid the terrorists responsible.

It's just an opinion, mind you, but after reading this, it looks more like the Court is saying "We can't turn you loose but we don't want you tried outside our jurisdiction because that might cost a little of our gathered (and often unconstitutional) authority."

Braxton S. Cook

Well I don't usually put it that strongly, but I do think the courts have unreasonably expanded their jurisdiction -- Surprise! Pournelle's Iron Law applies to the Courts, too!

I also agree that a formal Declaration of War would be preferable to these odd Congressional resolutions we have had.

Clearly we are feeling our way toward a more Imperial form of government; first a centalized national government rather than federal; and then toward a more Imperial form with regard to other nations and interests.


And from a career military legal officer:


your other correspondent who quotes Eisentrager misses a couple of pertinent differences. One of those points is in his quote, that is the the accuseds in that case were captured, tried and convicted in China, the area of operations in which their crimes were committed. The Hamdan court speaks to the three types of commissions, and on the battlefield is one type, not present here. Guantanamo is (arguably, and has been held to be) the territory of the U.S. Cuban law doesn't apply, U.S. law does.

The Authorization to Use Force is not obviously an expansion of Presidential power, and the court rejected the notion that the authorization to use force expanded the President's power to include creating special courts.

Of course, the finding that the detainees are covered by Common Article 3 was a significant ruling by itself, and would have invalidated most of the procedures in use.

The prior Supreme Court precedent on commissions was decided in a different era, and the law was different. Most importantly, the federal courts could not review military cases, other than for jurisdiction. That changed post-WWII. That limitation was a large part of the rationale for the prior commission cases, and didn't apply any longer.

As for the DTA (Detainee Treatment Act), the act had several provisions, two of which explicitly were retroactive, and the other provisions were silent. In such cases, the rule of construction would find that the ones which were silent were prospective only. The prospective provisions included that provision removing habeaus jurisdiction from the court. So, anyone who already had a habeaus petition being considered still had a right to be in court. Scalia believed that the language could only be read to be retroactive. I (along with most others, and the majority of the Supreme Court) disagree.

In sum, I'm obvioulsy biased, given my job, but I think the court was right. No U.S. flagged court should exist without a right to confrontation, to self-representation, to full and equal access to evidence. There is also little rationale beyond ensuring convictions in removing our existing rules of evidence and procedure. Certainty in rules would be nice, not rules that change day to day. Congressional action puts the legislative job back in the hands of the legislature.

Mr. Acting Officer


Dear Jerry,

I guess I have one question about Guantanamo relative to the U.S. Supreme Court. If a civilian contractor or civil service employee is arrested for a felony on the base, what is done with him with legally? Where is he prosecuted?


The Treaty of 1903 between the USA and Cuba establishing Guantanamo Naval Station provided that United States law would prevail within the base. See Article IV, which was reincorporated into the 1934 Treaty concerning Guantanamo:

"Article IV

"Fugitives from justice charged with crimes or misdemeanors amenable to Cuban law, taking refuge within said areas, shall be delivered up by the United States authorities on demand by duly authorized Cuban authorities."

"On the other hand, the Republic of Cuba agrees that fugitives from justice charged with crimes or misdemeanors amenable to United States law, committed within said areas, taking refuge in Cuban territory shall on demand, be delivered up to duly authorized United States authorities."

So, what in fact has been happening for the last century to Guantanamo military family dependents, DoD civil service employees and civilian contractors when they are accused of felonies? They're certainly not being court-martialed under the UCMJ. Nor are they being turned over to the Cuban government because the Treaty specifically cedes legal jurisdiction to the U.S.A.

>>Johnson V Eisentrager (1950)<<

>>At no time were they within the territorial jurisdiction of any >>American civil court.<<

This is precisely the crux of the matter. Guantanamo IS NOT an extraterritorial Allied Power like China 1945 or occupied enemy territory like Germany 1946. Have any United States Courts routinely exercised jurisdiction over Guantanamo Naval Station and its non-military population during the last 100 years? Ever wonder why the CIA didn't want to use this handy stash for those it deems really high value prisoners? Perhaps CIA legal staff anticipated that US judges at some point would assert a pre-existing jurisdiction over Guantanamo Naval Base.

Best Wishes,



As far as I can tell now, it was the geniuses of the Bush Administration who chose to bring these people within an existing jurisdiction of the federal civil courts. They have steadfastly insisted these people are neither enemy civilians or military prisoners of war but occupy a previously unknown (to US law) third category of people. In other lands and times this category has been called Enemies of the People, Enemies of the State, Enemies of the Crown or Enemies of God.

The 'liberal' wing of the Supreme Court resisted this and the accompanying unilateral creation and operation by administrative diktat of a parallel 'tribunal' system operating on territory that, by century old treaty, HAS been subjected to US legal jurisdiction. The Constitutional crisis, if any, appears to me to have started in the actions of the Executive Branch by trespassing on Congress' sole Constitutional authority to legislate both civil and military crimes and to establish courts.

Subject to this it seems to me the Court acted in a cautious manner by choosing to treat the Guantanamo prisoners as enemy prisoners of war, rather than as interned enemy civilians. Had the Court held them to be interned enemy civilians the floodgates of civil litigation would truly have been opened, beginning with 450+ petitions for habeas corpus accompanied by demands they either be charged with definite crimes or released.

In my opinion score one for the Old Republic vs New Empire.

The next time this comes up, I suggest trying a long term bare bones charter of a foreign flagged cruise ship.

Legal discussions are of interest, but history shows that there comes a time when they are swepts aside. Inter armes, silent leges. In perpetual war for perpetual peace there is a probable result.

John Marshal has made his decision. Now let him enforce it.

That is: lawyers are important so long as those who command weapons believe they are important. John Adams thought the lawyers were the aristocracy of the republic; but that was long ago.


Subj: Why do other countries have trouble copying America's Silicon Valley?


=[T]he hardest thing is simply creating the culture where failure is not just tolerated, but admired for its expressed audacity and ambition. And you know what? I can’t help but think when I read this article that our youth’s gaming culture really plays into that mindset, by creating competitive environments (you against the machines, typically) where frequent failure is a given but beating the system and the odds is likewise a given--just one extended a bit by time, frustration and experimentation.=

This reminds me of the scene in _Oath of Fealty_, in which the woman responsible for recruiting entrepreneurs for the arcology says she's *displeased* her failure rate is so low, because it indicates she's *not taking enough risks*.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/world/2006-06-27-silicon-culture_x.htm USATODAY.com  - Tech start-ups don't grow on trees outside USA

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


Greetings from somewhat damp Philadelphia!

I saw the reminder link to your trip reports and, being a Classics major, immediately browsed your visit to Rome.

Naturally, I have a couple comments:

(Remarks have been appended to the Rome reports)


Last item for today. It is quite long:

Attached is the Commanding General, MCI West speech to the MAAC yesterday morning. For those that don't attend I thought it might be of interest.

(deleted official emails. I'll vouch it's real--Mike)

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Eight days ago, I was present in the audience when Tom Brokaw addressed the 2006 Stanford graduating class. After the initial pleasantries and one-liners, Mr. Brokaw said something unexpected. He told the class that they were the children of privilege, fortunate to be attending one of the finest educational institutions in the country, the anointed because they had both the test scores for admittance and parents who were able to afford their tuition. He noted that they could likely expect rapid advancement in almost any endeavor they choose and that they were destined to lead the most powerful country in the world.

The class was beaming.

And then Brokaw reminded them that the liberties and freedoms they enjoyed were being defended by young people their age that did not have their advantages. That at this time thousands of men and women were fighting, dying and suffering debilitating injury to ensure that the rest of us could live the American dream.

There was an uncomfortable shifting in the seats, followed by slow but growing applause from the audience.

When we sent my son to Stanford four years ago, we filled out a form asking for demographic information. One of the questions for the parents said, what is your profession? After it was a list of about thirty professions including doctor, lawyer, congressman, educator, architect. Military was not listed so I filled in “other”

My son was the only graduate who had a parent serving in the armed forces. As I was introduced to his friends’ parents, it was interesting to watch their reaction. Few had ever spoken to a member of the military. One asked me how my son was able to gain admittance with the disadvantage of having to attend “those DoD schools”. Many voiced support for our military and told me that they’d have served but clearly military service was not for their kind of people.

This year of the so-called elite schools, Princeton led them with nine graduates electing military service. Compare that with 1956 when over 400 of the Princeton graduating class entered the military. Most of the other Ivy League schools had no one entering the military this year.

I wonder how many of you know the young people who are serving today. I won’t embarrass anyone by asking for a show of hands to ask how many really know a young enlisted Marine who has been to war.

I’m going to try to give you a better feel about those who serve our nation.

Our Marines tend to come from working class families. For the most part, they came from homes where high school graduation was important but college was out of their reach. The homes they come from emphasize service. Patriotism isn’t a word that makes them uncomfortable.

The global war on terrorism has been ongoing for nearly five years with Marines deployed in harm’s way for most of that time. It is a strange war because the sacrifices being levied upon our citizens are not evenly distributed throughout society. In fact, most Americans are only vaguely aware of what is going on.

That isn’t the case aboard the Marine bases in Southern California where we see the sacrifice everyday as we train aboard those open spaces that you covet for other purposes. Many of our Marines are married and 70% of our married Marines live in your communities, not aboard Marine bases. These Marines coach your soccer teams. They attend your places of worship. They send their kids to your schools. However, in many ways they are as different from the rest of the citizens of Southern California as my son was different from the rest of the students at Stanford.

One of the huge differences between the rest of society and our Marine families, is when Marine daddies and mommies go to work, some of them never come home. The kids know that. The spouses know that. Week after week we get reports of another son, father, husband who won’t be coming back. During the past four years, over 460 Marines from Southern California bases have been killed by the enemy. 107 more have died in Iraq and Afghanistan due to accidents. 6500 have been wounded some of them multiple times.

You will never know or meet Brandan Webb age 20 or Christopher White age 23 or Ben Williams age 30. They were all assigned to First Battalion First Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California. They were some of the Marines who died this week out of Marine bases in Southern California.

Last Friday, we hosted a golf tournament at Camp Pendleton to raise money for wounded Marines. There are a lot of expenses that the government cannot legally pay for from appropriated funds. The people who attended the tournament genuinely wanted to help and we invited a couple of dozen wounded Marines to golf with them. As I watched the teams leave for a shotgun start, I saw three Marines sitting by themselves and went over to talk to them. Clearly they’d been told by their chain of command that this was their appointed place of duty. They were sitting in the sun chatting, probably not unhappy with the duty but mildly uncertain as to why they were there. I asked them why they weren’t golfing and they said that they’d never learned. No one in their families ever played golf and that this was the first time they’d ever been on a golf course. I asked them how many times they’d deployed. One of the young men had just returned from his third deployment and had been wounded every time. The others teased him for being a bullet magnet. I asked him if he was going to stay in and he thought for a moment what to say to a general and he said, “I think I’d like to try college. No one in my family has ever gone.”

I asked these Marines if I could buy them a beer. They looked at me and smiled. One of them said, “We can’t ask you to break the rules sir. None of us are 21 yet.”

They seemed much older. As I left them I wondered about a policy that gives a young man the power of deciding who will live and who will die but won’t let him drink a beer. I thought about these young Americans who had never shot golf but had shot and killed other men in order to carry out foreign policy.

On the 10th of August we will open a wounded warrior barracks at Camp Pendleton. Few taxpayers’ dollars were used. We were able to raise the money through the Semper Fidelis fund to house those Marines who no longer need to be hospitalized but who suffer debilitating injuries and need follow-on care. Heretofore, when regiments left for the war, they left their non-deployables behind. These Marines often had to live in WWII era barracks with open squad bays and gang heads down the hallway. Those having limited mobility found it difficult and uncomfortable. It was no way to treat our wounded warriors. We’re fixing it.

Now let me introduce you to another enlisted Marine. His name is Brendan Duffy. Brendan was an infantry Marine. Like so many others, Brendan had dreams of going to college but no means to do so. While he was in the Corps, he immediately began using his Montgomery GI bill benefits by enrolling in Mira Costa College. Though deployed soon after signing up for college, he took his textbooks to war. Last month he received Mira Costa’s highest award for academic excellence, the Medal of Honor for Academic Excellence. Brendan described studying pre-calculus while fragments from explosions struck the sandbag shelter he was in.

Brendan left the Corps this week and has been accepted to the University of California Los Angeles to study math and economics.

Later this morning I’ll be meeting with educators across the California University system. We are trying to make California more veteran friendly. California hosts 40% of the combat power of the Marine Corps and 40% of the Marine veterans who leave the Corps do so out of Southern California bases. 96% have participated in the Montgomery GI Bill and are eligible for benefits but only a small number enter the California University system. That’s because California, unlike other states did not provide any veterans preference or even reach out to veterans. These combat veterans score in the top 50% of their age group, are drug free and morally straight but are lost to California and return to other states that aggressively work to attract them.

Several months ago, I along with senior leadership of all the Services, met with Governor Schwarzenegger and told him that California was not an education friendly state for military veterans. To his credit, he is trying to change that and this meeting today is a natural outgrowth of his support.

In Iraq, the media talks about the casualties. They seldom report the successes. I don’t think that this is intentional. It is just more difficult to quantify progress and reduce it to a sound bite.

Some of you may recall almost exactly two years ago when a four man sniper team from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines was killed on a rooftop in Ramadi. It made news because sniper teams aren’t supposed to get ambushed and because an M40A1 sniper rifle was now in the hands of the enemy.

Over the next two years, that rifle was used against Americans and we wanted it back. Last week, a 21 year old Marine sniper from 3rd Battalion, Fifth Marines out of Camp Pendleton observed a military aged male videotaping a passing patrol of amphibious assault vehicles near Camp Habbaniya. After radioing the patrol and telling them to stay low, the Marine watched the man aiming a sniper rifle that looked remarkably like his own.

He killed the enemy sniper with one round to the head. Seconds later, another insurgent entered on the passenger side and was surprised to see his partner dead. That hesitation was enough time to allow Sgt Kevin Homestead age 26 to kill the insurgent before he could drive off.

When the Marines went down to inspect the scene, they saw that the sniper rifle was one of their own. It was the same M-40A1 sniper rifle looted from the 2/4 sniper team exactly two years earlier.

We are making progress in Iraq. The Iraqi Army is more capable each month. In the Anbar province we have brought the 1st Iraqi Division - the most capable of the Iraqi formations - to the former British RAF base of Habbaniyah - between Fallujah and Ramadi. We are standing up the 7th Division. In Baghdad, Iraqi brigades own parts of the city and are reporting directly to the US Army Division commander as component units.

The Iraqi Police are the essential element - and the most difficult challenge. In any insurrection, the insurgent specifically targets the local security elements of the government - because they are essential to maintaining control via interaction with the community, intelligence gathering, and law enforcement against petty and organized crime, traffic control. These police units are having good success in places like Fallujah. Ramadi is a different kettle of fish. Some of the police departments haven’t been paid in months and the intimidation campaign is in full force.

My Chief of Staff, Colonel Stu Navarre formerly the Commander of the 5th Marine Regiments told me this story. One day in December, the Ramadi Police Dept Operations Officer (#3 in the pecking order) did not come to work. When we inquired, he told us that the day before his 10 year old son had been kidnapped after school and transported to the north side of Ramadi. He was called by the kidnappers and advised of his son's location. When the Operations Officer arrived at the location, he found his son alive, with a note pinned to his shirt, "If you go to work tomorrow, you will never see your son again. We know where you live." I wonder how many of us would show up for work with that kind of intimidation.

Your fellow Americans in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing a superb job in the most dangerous places on earth. They believe in what they are doing. The majority of the sergeants, corporals, and privates enlisted after 9-11. They knew what they were signing up for. They want to deploy in defense of the nation. We are sending best leadership to the combat zone. Service in Iraq/Afghanistan has become the norm for our Marine and Army leaders, and an essential part of their experience/qualifications for advancement. Finally, the American people have continued to demonstrate an unprecedented level of support for their fellow Americans in uniform - as well as the understanding that these young men and women are executing the policies of their elected representatives.

Reconstructing an entire nation takes time. Think about our own experience during the American Revolution. Despite having a homogeneous nation with no incipient insurgency, it was thirteen years from the Revolution to the ratification of the Constitution. We seem to have forgotten that it takes time to build institutions.

Introduction of a stable, representative form of government in Iraq is revolutionary in its impacts on the region and the world. Iraq is at the center of the Mid-East, the Arab world, and Shia Islam. Iraq has been, and will continue to be a major producer of natural resources - especially oil. It is at the center of the chess board. Iraq separates two sponsors of terrorism - Iran and Syria - and with Afghanistan - isolates Iran. It is no coincidence that Muammar Qadaffi has sensed the change in the wind and sought to distance himself from terrorism and WMD and become a legitimate player in world politics.

The Iraqis are capable of running Iraq. Today, thousands of young Iraqis are lining up to become soldiers and policemen - despite constant, highly lethal attacks on recruiting stations, police stations, and army checkpoints. Concurrently, there is no more dangerous job than being a candidate for office or an elected official in Iraq. We should not underestimate the absolute danger to any Iraqi that steps up to plate for law, order, and progress. The enemy is absolutely committed to winning. For him, there is really no other option. He also understands that the center of gravity is the commitment of the American people.

One of my major concerns is quality of life issues for our Marines, Sailors and their families. We are making significant progress but we have a long way to go.

We are building 1600 more homes at Miramar to give our Marines and Sailors decent places to live. California is a beautiful State. It is also extraordinarily expensive and we are the gypsies in your castle often driving 50 or 60 miles one way to because those are the only places that our junior Marines can afford to live.

We are replacing worn out World War II vintage barracks that we make our single Marines live in. When I took over, I visited some of the open squad bay barracks at Camp Horno in Pendleton. A young Marine corporal and veteran of the fighting in Iraq looked at me and said, “Sir, I lived better in Fallujah.” That hurt but he was right. A couple of weeks later I had a chance to talk to the Commandant and tell him the same story. I told him that at the rate we were replacing barracks, we wouldn’t have decent enlisted quarters until 2036. To his credit, he listened and we now plan to have them replaced by 2013. This won’t come without a cost because the Marine Corps doesn’t get more money to build barracks, we have to realign our priorities and not buy other things that we need. It was a significant decision by our senior leadership but the right thing to do.

With our Navy partners we are going after Pay Day Lenders. Pay Day Lenders are the parasites found outside of our military bases in Southern California who prey on young Marines and Sailors because the lenders know they are uninformed consumers. Pay day lenders take advantage that California has some of the weakest laws in the country. In North Carolina, pay day lenders are limited to 36% annual percentage rates of interest. Here in San Diego we regularly see rates of 460% and I have seen rates as high as 920% being charged legally against our service members. Service members go into a cycle of debt. Ultimately because we expect our Marines to be financially responsible, their ability to reenlist, compete for good jobs and keep a security clearance is affected.

Let me be clear. Pay day lenders are not providing our Marines with a service. They are parasites, bottom feeders and scumbags. One of them sent me a note recently telling me that he was a member of an honorable profession and that I should back off. He told me that a pay day lending institution had been found in the ruins of Pompey after Mount Vesuvius erupted. I responded to him that archeologists also found a whore house and that antiquity did not bequeath virtue. It is a shameful practice.

We also recognize that military leaders have a responsibility to educate our service members and their families about sound money management. We are doing that. We are using our base papers, information campaigns and personal intervention to tell them that there are alternatives to the pay day lending institutions.

Both the State and Federal legislatures have heard our message as well and there are bills making their way through the process to significantly curtail the excesses of payday lenders.

I know that many of you came here today to find out what I would say about the airport situation at Miramar. So as not to disappoint you, let me be clear.

The Marines came to Miramar ten years ago as a result of a BRAC decision and four subsequent BRAC rounds determined that the interrelationship of the Marine and Navy bases in Southern California provided a capability that was unmatched anywhere in the country.

The Marine Corps uses its bases as a projection platform for combat power. 25,000 Marines from California bases are presently deployed in harm’s way and over 3,000 of them are from Miramar.

Through the years, we have accommodated our neighbors development needs. Often we allowed infrastructure that was unpopular elsewhere but vital to the community. San Diego’s primary landfill is located at Miramar. A nuclear generation facility sits aboard Marine Corps property at Camp Pendleton and powers 2.2 million Southern California homes. We want to be good neighbors and work hard at it.

We examined the proposal for joint use of Miramar carefully, provided all data requested and saw that data ignored. Joint use does not work at Miramar. Thus the real issue is whether you want a civilian airport at Miramar or Marines.

If you want us to leave, you should say so. However you must understand that no matter what names are used to describe us in the Union Tribune, the decision whether or not to leave do not rest with the military leadership in Southern California. It rests with your elected leaders and most of them have clearly put defense needs above local requirements and said no to Miramar. The decision rests with the appointed civilian leadership in the department of defense. They’ve said no as well.

Sadly this controversy has effected local civil military relations. There is no way you can sugar coat it or pretend otherwise. But we are here. If our leadership tells us to leave we will. We will take our Marines, our families, our wounded and if necessary we will dig up our dead. However right now our leadership says we stay. And whether or not we remain in San Diego, the Marine Corps is committed to protecting your liberties and your freedoms.

We know that this is a difficult issue. We know that we have many friends in San Diego but we also know that we have others who see the economic potential of development of the military installations. They say that they love the military but would rather love them somewhere else than in their backyard.

If you take nothing away from this talk, I’d hope you understand and appreciate what a remarkable group of young people currently serve in your Armed Forces today. Want to know what Marine Generals talk about when we are together? We talk about what a remarkable privilege it is to lead these extraordinary Americans.

I started by mentioning Tom Brokaw. His book coined the phrase, The Greatest Generation” and our nation responded in kind. Twenty years from now we may recognize that this young generation currently serving has the same qualities of greatness.

On the battlefield today are future CEO’s of corporations, university presidents, congressmen, state governors, Supreme Court justices and perhaps a future president of the United States.

Take the time to meet one of these young people. You won’t be disappointed.


I’ve talked long enough. I’d be happy to take your questions.




This week:


read book now


Saturday, July 1, 2006

Subject: Military Service and the IVies... (Response to above)

This is from the speech to the MAAC published in letters on Friday:

"This year of the so-called elite schools, Princeton led them with nine graduates electing military service. Compare that with 1956 when over 400 of the Princeton graduating class entered the military. Most of the other Ivy League schools had no one entering the military this year."

Although it's been some time since I graduated, University of Pennsylvania had robust Army and Navy ROTC programs and affiliation with another local university for those that wanted Air Force ROTC.

Looking online I find:


Cornell, University of Pennsylvania through Drexel University, Harvard through MIT, Princeton, Columbia through Saint John's University New York, and Dartmouth College through Norwich University offer Army ROTC.


Harvard through MIT, Cornell, and University of Pennsylvania offer Naval ROTC.


Cornell, University of Pennsylvania through Saint Josephs University, Harvard through MIT, an Yale offer Air Force ROTC

While I believe that the author's general point that people going to elite universities such as the Ivy league schools are unlikely to consider a military career (I found that to be the case when I attended one in the early 1980s), I do not believe that it is anywhere near as rare as stated. Seven of the eight Ivy league schools offer ROTC in some form. Three offer it (directly or indirectly) for all three programs.

I appreciate his point, but such aparrent exaggerations do not serve any of us well. I apologize for the length on such a minor point, but my alma mater is one of the one's he, without naming it specifically, disparaged. When I was a Midshipmen at Penn, we were unusual, but not extraordinarily rare.

Scott Kitterman


Subject: Law at Gitmo 

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Some of the posts have questioned how the rule of law is enforced at military bases like Guantanamo for individuals not covered under the UCMJ. In my experience, US military bases have Federal magistrates assigned to them either on a standing or "circuit" basis depending on the size. This has what has always troubled me about the Bush administration attitude regarding Gitmo. In a nation governed by the rule of law there should always be an appeal to someone to "Cry Harold" to. I am just a simple country lawyer but I believe that we should be the example for that, not trying to dodge it. Sure the terrorists are scum and not really worthy of American justice...that's why its more important that ever to provide that very thing to them. How can we preach the superiority of our system if we are not willing to put it in action?

 Attorney and Counselor at Law
 Law Office of Richard D. Cartwright
Covington, TN 38019


A Farewell from Poodlemaster:

Subject: By


"That is: lawyers are important so long as those who command weapons believe they are important. John Adams thought the lawyers were the aristocracy of the republic; but that was long ago."

I'll leave you alone now. You are a fruitbat pure and simple.


My spam filter put this in junk mail, but I periodically go through that to see if there's anything not spam...


Subject: More IP Madness

Hi Jerry,

I'm into Model railroading, and I got this note from Blair Line, which makes model signs and buildings regarding licensing issues:

"7 more days to go and the billboards listed below are gone! This is not a marketing ploy. We have some licensing issues with Heinz on some 85 year old billboards. They want damages of about 30X our sales on all Heinz branded items over the past 8 years. My attorney feels they do not have a case, but Heinz has enough attorneys and deep enough pockets to bankrupt a small company like Blair Line if we choose to fight this issue. We started Blair Line in 1993, since then Congress passed a law making it much easier for companies, celebrities, etc. to collect damages for "improper use" of intellectual properties. I see the licensing issue getting worse as companies become greedier. Therefore we are discontinuing sales of all signs with potential licensing and copyright liability effective June 30, 2006..."

While there are many companies currently doing business they are concerned about, the list they are discontinuing also includes such companies as Studebaker, Pan Am, Burma Shave, & Admiral TV, which are not in business, but someone must still maintain the trademark.

The Union Pacific Railroad has also been recently putting the screws to to model companies, for instance suing Lionel for trademark infringement. They claim trademark rights over all of the names and logos of their predecessor railroads in addition to the UP name and emblem. They even claim ownership of this:


I thought the purpose of a trademark was to protect the company's name from competitors, not to extort money from model manufacturers.

Cheers, Rod Schaffter

-- "They say if you have two drinks a day, it helps you live longer. By the time I was 55, I had had enough drinks to live to be 3,000. I decided that was enough." --Linn Sheldon AKA Barnaby

Burma Shave!

This sounds like a Burma Shave ad...


Subject: Interesting travel companions

I spent Saturday morning flying.

The first leg, I rode up front in First Class. My travelling companions were four very young enlisted men, going home on leave. They were all classmates in a very difficult training course at their base. A fifth asked them how they'd gotten into First Class, and one of them, a private, said that the airline told them to sit there.

Kudos to American Airlines.

I was VERY impressed with these young men. They were unfailingly polite, to EVERYONE. They were obviously working HARD in their school, and they were obviously enjoying their lives and their camaraderie.

The second leg, I was in the emergency exit row in Coach. The guy in the next seat was a young sergeant, on his second hitch, coming home from Iraq on leave to spend two weeks with his wife. His first hitch had been in Afghanistan. I learned a fair amount about what Iraq is like, from the perspective of a young NCO on the ground.

As I came off the jetway, I saw that young sergeant, locked in the strongest hug I've seen in a long time, with a young blonde woman who was obviously overjoyed to see him again.

I was just as impressed with this young man. He was working hard, doing a difficult job.

Jerry, the guts of our defense is in good hands, with men like these in uniform.

--John R. Strohm

I never for a moment doubted it.


Subject: UC system veteran's preferences

Dr. P,

The Marine CG who claims that "California, unlike other states did not provide any veterans preference or even reach out to veterans" is mistaken. While "outreach" is undoubtedly restricted by fiscal constraints, California law is clear on veteran preferences. From Section 66202 of California's Education Code:

(b) It is further the intent of the Legislature that within each of the preceding enrollment categories, the following groups of applicants receive priority consideration in admissions practice in the following order:

(1) Residents of California who are recently released veterans of the armed forces of the United States.
 (2) Transfers from California public community colleges.
(3) Applicants who have been previously enrolled at the campus to which they are applying, provided they left this institution in good standing. <2 paragraphs deleted>

(c) It is further the intent of the Legislature that those veterans referred to in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) who were enrolled in good standing at a campus of the University of California or at one of the California State Universities prior to military service receive priority over other veterans recently released from military service.

Having been admitted to Cal Poly's mechanical engineering program 20+ years ago based upon these preferences, I can vouch for the fact that they have been in effect for quite a while.

Regards, Bill Clardy



CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, July 2, 2006

Subject: Gitmo Redux

Dear Jerry,

>>In my experience, US military bases have Federal magistrates assigned to them either on a standing or "circuit" basis depending on the size.<<

My experience too. And the FBI and the related US District Attorney are rapidly brought in whenever non-UCMJ classes of people are involved. This is one reason FBI were present in strength at Gitmo in connection with processing these prisoners. There is a federal civil court somewhere that's been exercising original jurisdiction over Gitmo these many years. I just dug into the treaty to show the original basis of this ancient jurisdiction.

It's amazing how we were able to triumph in two world wars and the Cold War without overturning these arrangements. It appears the Bush Administration believes we can only defeat the jihadis by dispensing with Constitutional safeguards predating the old Republic. Thousands of kamikazes, global nuclear armed powers, mega million armored armies and even Fidel Castro right outside the wire were unable to dent these principles in the course of a century. So bin Laden and his rag-tag jihadis hiding in caves with Maxwell Smart style exploding shoes must be formidable men indeed.

Best Wishes,



Subject: Guantanamo & Constitutional Crisis

Dear Jerry,

Mr. Acting Officer was spot on:

>>No U.S. flagged court should exist without a right to confrontation, to self-representation, to full and equal access to evidence.<<

And they should certainly not exist anywhere in U.S. territory concurrently under the jurisdiction of U.S. civil courts. Those sorts of precedents have a habit of expanding like the camel's nose under the tent. Today Guantanamo and aliens, tomorrow the continental USA and US citizens. Parallel courts and tribunals operating under different rules were a hallmark of the Stalinist Gulag system. It would be a defeat to see that system root itself here institutionally as an outcome of the 'War On Terror'. Didn't the Commander in Chief himself previously tell us the jihadis are attacking because they 'hate our freedoms'?

Historically U.S. Presidents and Congresses, not U.S. Courts, determine the starting and stopping points of wars, their goals and the conditions under which they will be conducted. This includes deciding how long prisoners of war taken in the field will be held. They have always done so. The U.S. judiciary as led by the Supreme Court has never interfered with this authority to my knowledge. In the case of 'Guantanamo', it's the Bush Administration who have attempted to change this policy by trying to set up tribunals acting under color of law and judicial process. Why they desired to do this is an interesting question. I think the reason is 'political'. Namely, the Administration wanted to justify continued detention by marketing the Gitmo prisoners as having been 'convicted' of 'crimes'. This would remove them from the 'political' field which is where wars take place, and where the Administration is running into ever more trouble because of the disastrous results of its decision making.

The Supreme Court resisted having the judicial process converted into a political buffer by telling the Administration that if it desired to try 'prisoners of war', it would have to try them according to existing U.S. law, including international treaties regarding 'prisoners of war' to which the USA is a party. This is precisely correct and I believe the decision constitutes a great victory in preserving our 'freedoms' which the jihadis are supposedly warring to destroy.

Best Wishes,


Some may recall that I predicted this sort of thing would be inevitable before the Iraq invasion. It is the nature of war that it expands the authority of the state, tends to undermine the institutions that limit the power of the state, and tempt everyone to "simplify" the conflict by suspending the rules, always promising to return to the rules when the conflict is over.

We know about these things in our bones, at least we in Western Civilization. Most of our legends of  heroes and warriors tell such stories, and the conflicts between the heroes and the king. Georges Dumezil is not much read these days, but he had some worthwhile insights into the Western tradition and the relation of heroes to the king and the state and the civil population.

Why anyone accuses the neo-cons who have got us into this situation of being "conservative" is beyond me. Conservatives don't rush about overturning long standing precedents just because they are inconvenient to the purpose of the moment.


Subject:  railroaded

Dr. Pournelle:

The copyright licensing phenomenon is late hitting model railroading. Major plastic model-makers have had to discontinue lines that involve military aircraft, due to similar threats from the manufacturers.

What's next? Will chess sets come without knights because the Thoroughbred Association has a copyright on the design of a horse head?



Subject: Trademark infringement

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Rod's letter about Blair Line being targeted by Heinz is not unknown to me. I build scale models of aircraft and armor, and my chosen hobby has also been targeted. This time by companies such as Boeing and Lockheed claiming royalties on warbird designs, some of which go back to pre-WWII. As most of us consider that tax dollars were paid for the designs and building of these aircraft that the designs should be in the public domain. There is an act before Congress that, with any luck, will prohibit these companies from demanding royalties. This act however will not prevent idiotic companies from attacking companies who reproduce their corporate logo in scale size. Keep in mind that these "thieves" are being true to the image they reproduce and insist on proper coloration and proportion.

The model car industry is in the same boat, with Revell and AMT/Ertl already paying royalties to sponsors of NASCAR racing. What Heinz is doing is corporate greed at it's worst, and I hope that somehow this insanity ends. This reminds me of the (urban legend?) story of how Kodak was going to sue Paul Simon for writing "Kodachrome". They contacted Nikon to see if they were willing to share in the lawsuit considering that Paul Simon was infringing on their trademark as well (I got a Nikon camera I love to take a photograph So mama don't take my Kodachrome away) and were told no thanks, sales are up in every market the song is being played in. When the lawyers checked with the marketing mavens at Kodak they discovered the same thing and the suit died (as it should). Paul Simon should have been paid by Kodak as millions of people first heard about Kodachrome through his song, and his song worked as well if not better than any jingle.

Gaming is also being attacked, see this story of how the American Red Cross is going to go after companies for using their symbol on med-packs in games like Halflife and Call of Duty http://www.shacknews.com/extras/2006/020906_redcross_1.x.  Perhaps Switzerland should sue the Red Cross, as the symbol is based on the reverse image of the Swiss flag? I wonder what Clara Barton would think?

We truly live in RAH's Crazy Years!

Stay Well,

Bill Grigg


Subject: Railroads and Trademarks (IP)

Few remember it today, Dr. Pournelle, but Lionel was paid by General Motors, Santa Fe, and New York Central to launch their replica of the GM F-3 diesel in the post war 1940s. One could argue that this made the Santa Fe War Bonnet design the most famous logo in railroading.


Charles Brumbelow


Subject: UC Veteran's preferences

Yes, the California University system has had admission preferences for veteran's, apparently.

In 1978 UC Irvine saw fit to admit a student who in high school had had a 2.12 (all GPA's the a four point scale) GPA, who in three (!) years of community college had "earned" a 1.8 GPA, and who had later completed one semester at a Midwestern "Cow College"; (Kansas State University) with a 3.0 GPA.

In 1974 I could not even make the first cut for a CALIFORNIA state college admission I applied for.

In 1978, after three years of military service, the "elite" University of California system admitted me to their Irvine campus in the middle of the class year, with essentially no questions asked.

I never thought of it until now, but obviously I received massive preference as a veteran.

I was so stunned at the time that I never wondered much about "why" and just started my classes, got straight A's and graduated with honors. Maybe they knew what they were doing?


Petronius the Arbiter of Taste


From another conference:

The symmetry between the delusional Right and the delusional Left continues: the Right denies Darwin, the Left believes in evolution, except that it could not possibly have generated any group differences that are more than skin deep.


At 3:00 PM +0000 7/2/06, J wrote:
>A review of Missing the Revolution: Darwinism for Social Scientists by
>Jerome H. Barkow (Ed.). 2006. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 302
>+ vii. $49.95 (hardcover).
> >Satoshi Kanazawa, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London >WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom.

> > http://human-nature.com/ep/reviews/ep04102106.html  >

Evolution works only on animals, just as breeding for different characters and intelligence factors works only with dogs, horses, cats, and farm animals, never humans. That is known as the standard sociological or consensus model. Evolution stopped when the human race appeared; doesn't everyone know that?






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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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Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

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