CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 423 July 17 - 23, 2006
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July 17, 2006
Subject: Letter From England
I usually just choose some newspaper headlines for the letter, but things are coming to a head here in the UK, and analysis would be helpful.
An number of initiatives are collapsing--NHS automation, ID Cards, reorganisation of the police forces. I had a chat with someone involved with the NHS program, and gained some insight into their issues. The NHS automation problem reflects the sheer difficulty of the requirements. For example, the system must provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability simultaneously, and those three security requirements are usually contradictory. (I suspect I might be able to come up with a feasible approach and an architecture, but I'm retired from that sort of nonsense now.) The ID card problem is similar, but with additional issues having to do with preventing criminal penetration and exploitation of the system and political opposition.
The Home Office has to release an RFP on the ID card system and database soon, but they're nowhere near ready to do that. The Prime Minister has suggested they fall back to an interim system, but that turns out to be just as hard or harder, because the things they would need to know to define the interim system are the things they haven't been able to figure out for the full system. Finally, the police forces were supposed to be reorganised into a smaller number of larger forces for efficiency, but the police and public were opposed, and that has gone nowhere. The latest Home Office initiative involves targeting toddlers who *might* some day be problems, but meanwhile the violence rises. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1065-2270687.html> <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1821676,00.html> <http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/story/0,,1821725,00.html> <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1821688,00.html>
A police investigation of an "honours for donations" scandal is leading into the current Government. Unlike America, they can't simply stonewall the investigation, and this one seems to involve the Prime Minister. If he's shown to be lying, he'll have to resign. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1821708,00.html> <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5184564.stm> <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-2272013,00.html>
The Israeli situation is looking more and more desperate. Sharon is in a coma, and no one else has a clue. My stocks are crashing, which suggests the market expects the war against Gaza and Lebanon to spread. Meanwhile existing low-level civil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1821770,00.html> <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,,1821573,00.html> <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,,1821576,00.html> <http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1821974,00.html> <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5185624.stm> <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2272153,00.html> <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2272423,00.html> <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-2272093,00.html>
Putin appears to be returning to a Soviet style of government. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1821488,00.html> <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2272065,00.html>
I need some input on what's going on in America. I haven't been over the ocean much recently, so I don't have my thumb on the pulse of politics. There was a lead editorial in this morning's New York Times that sounds completely depressed about events in Washington <http:// www.nytimes.com/2006/07/16/opinion/16sun1.html> . I'll open the question on my blog for your comments <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php> . Please explain to me what's going on!
-- 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>
When someone finds out what is going on here, they can let me know too.
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
Subject: "Vishing" - new financial fraud threat
It seems that there are more occurrences of 'vishing'. This is where you get an email (or even a phone call) from someone that claims your bank account has expired, etc. You are directed to a phone number to fix things. An automated attendant then gets your phone number, pin, etc.
This scam is made a lot easier by the proliferation of VOIP (voice over IP) phone numbers. They are easy to get [easy to get: to obtain a telephone number for the scammer's use as a collection station, not get as in find out the number of the victim; JEP], and you can get a 'local' phone number with a credit card (probably stolen). The sites only stay up for a couple of days.
There was a report in the Wall Street Journal about
this today (in their public area; not sure how long it will last:
; but I suspect that you'll be able to find multiple reports via your favorite news search engine. As I write this, Google's news search for 'vishing' came up with 75 hits.
The interesting thing about this is that the public is well-conditioned to punch in their account number by phone. That makes it a bit more successful for the 'visherman'. So, it is wise to call the phone number on your bank statement.
Another 'safe computing' rule: be very cautions about emails with links *and* phone numbers.
Regards, Rick Hellewell
Subject: War is Hell -- Especially if Your Side Loses...
Just ask any Confederate from Georgia about Sherman...
Having said that, I wonder just what payback ratio -- if any -- of Muslims killed to Israelis killed would guarantee quiet in the Middle East? It would have to be extremely high... If my memory and calculator are reasonably accurate, it would be something on the order of 25,000 to 1 -- which would see the last Israeli kill the last 25,000 Muslims. Unfortunately, the Muslims might be happy to make that trade...
The full 91 page report is here:
Dr. Wegman's main conclusions support McIntyre/McKitrick in their findings of Mann's statistical incompetence, the impossibility of verification due to lack of disclosure, etc. He makes a strong pitch for all future federal funding of paleoclimate studies to mandate interdisciplinary teams. And naturally including 'mainstream' statisticians.
"Social Network Analysis".
The Wegman Report has an interesting twist beginning in Section 2.3 (bottom of page 17) and expanded in Section 5 (start of page 37). Well worth reading. Or an ominous shot across the bow depending on your position in academe and your propensity for making public policy communiques based on the findings of your 'science', or about what the 'scientific consensus' is. This was Dr. Wegman's use of 'Social Network Analysis' of paleoclimate paper authorships to analyze and graphically depict the personal groupings in the field of paleoclimatology. In this instance Dr. Wegman used it to prove the existence of what McIntyre has nicknamed "The Hockey Team". The Wegman Report graphically depicts the Team's few sub-cliques and shows Coach Mann's central position linking the various 'cliques'.
This micro seminar seemed to be directed at Congressional committee staff as a useful method for evaluating lists of academic witnesses ahead of time.
Dr. Wegman mentioned in passing that Mann was only awarded his Ph.d in 1998, the same year MBH-98 was published. Mann's own website confirms this: http://holocene.meteo.psu.edu/Mann/cv/cv.html Mann's CV is interesting in the numbers of graduate degrees Mann is busy launching. If the few other paleoclimate cliques are as active in producing graduate degrees.
This entire issue demonstrates the fundamental flaw in relying on peer review for all science decisions. It too often looks too much like collusion.
Subject: Global Warming on Discovery TV Channel
The show had lots of powerful, emotional images. It also had several errors in fact and some examples of how to lie with statistics. If you put the bottom of the graph of atmospheric CO2 at 350 it looks like the increase is much greater than if the bottom of the graph is zero. One segment was about Hurricane Katrina. "Global warming caused this devastating storm...we may need to make an new category 6" But Katrina was not that intense of a hurricane, only a category 3. The problem was not a super hurricane; the problem was New Orleans. How do we know? We have ice cores that go back 600,000 years and can measure the CO2 in air bubbles. They then showed a graph that showed temperature going up and down and overlaid an almost identical rise and fall in CO2. No mention on how they got the temperature 600,000 years ago. No mention on why the temperature/CO2 went up and down before impact by man.
The computer models tell the truth. Bashed the U.S. on Koyoto, but neglected to mention that it doesn't apply to China (number 2 emitter of CO2) or that Europe is not meeting their goals. I stayed with the program after I got disgusted to see what solutions were proposed. No mention of nuclear. Use energy efficient light bulbs, by a hybrid car, and ride public transportation. A hybrid car is not too good for me since I have grandkids and a large dog, sometimes pull a trailer and keep all my vehicles past battery wear out. Most of our cities do not have the population density to make public transportation work.
The media are doing the best they can...
They're taking our United States and making it their United States."
- Roland Dobbins
Re: the Jefferson Affiar. The crux of your argument seems to be found in your statement that "The Capitol Police and the Sergeants at Arms have jurisdiction, and the Congress itself has jurisdiction."
Of course I agree, but then there's the thorny problem: Congress policing itself... In a democratic republic, congresscritters would (ideally) rightly fear the wrath of their constituants and so police themselves. As it stands? I have scant faith in this Congress or any recent Congress. And I have less faith in my fellow citizens' ability to grasp the fact that good character and honorable behavior is essential in those who inhabit Congress, since no matter who is voted into office, it seems the rascals, scoundrels, poltroons and outright criminals (or who would be known as criminals if the law applied to them as it does to their subjects) seem to dominate. And the electorate seems not to care, as long as backs get scratched and interest groups are petted.
No, not despair, yet, but disgust, yes.
I once knew a man (pretty well, I thought) whom I considered to be an honorable man, intelligent and decent. Then he was elected to the Senate, and from there...
Another chicken and egg question: Does political power tend to corrupt, or do those who tend toward corruption seek political power?
As much as I agree with your constitutional assessment, SOME agency (Divine wrath, perhaps?) other than Congress needs to police it, because the electorate sure isn't doing so.
David Needham -- http://thirdworldcounty.us/
If the Executive had gone to the Speaker and Pelosi and shown the evidence, and said that if the Speaker didn't do something here then all this would be in the Post, that would have been the end of it. Instead the Executive with the connivance of a judge decided to expand the executive power and cut into Legislative Immunity.
There needs to be a Bill of Impeachment.
I had previously sent him this answer, and perhaps it is worth including as an expansion on the above
My answer is short: legislative
> independence means exactly that.
> Congress is the Grand Inquest of the nation. I do not think, absent
> this nonsense of the warrant, that it would have taken long to get
> Pelosi and Hastert to act if the Washington Post simply published the
> facts then known about Jefferson and asked why the Congress hadn't
> looked into the matter.
> The Executive did the Democrats an enormous favor by trying to expand
> executive power with the connivance of the judiciary both of which say
> a way to crack executive independence. All it took was for the
> prosecutor to go public. Which is why they didn't do it.
|This week:||Tuesday, July
The last great innovation to transform classroom instruction occurred during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson: the invention of the chalkboard, around 1801. Since that time, the pace of innovation has been so slow that a student from the mid-1800’s would immediately recognize a modern classroom setting. The most sought-after private schools enroll only about a thousand more students today than they did a century ago. This degree of stagnation is unheard of outside of the education sector, because it is only in the education sector (at least in liberal democracies) that market activity has been so thoroughly extinguished by government monopoly provision.
-- Roland Dobbins
More important is a detailed analysis of why the recent report purporting to show that public schools are just as good as private schools (a thoroughly counter-intuitive conclusion shared by few who have any experience with public education) is flawed and not very conclusive. If at all.
From Stupidity Without Borders - The Alliance of Utopias:
Among political right-wingers, there is frequently a belief that what is good for business interests is good for the country. The problem is, this isn’t always true. There is sometimes a gap between the short-term interests of Big Business for cheap labor from Third World countries, and the long-term interests of the country as a whole. You cannot compete with cheap commodities from Third World countries unless you lower the general wages to Third World levels.
-- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Further on the Wegman Report /buffy willow
I've read through the main body of the "Wegman Report" three times now, and did some other googling about Dr. Wegman. I think Mann may soon be looking back on the internet duel with McIntyre/McKitrick as 'the good old days'. Mann quickly blew off Dr. Wegman and his colleagues with a snotty realclimate.org press release type posting a few hours after the Wegman Ad Hoc Committee Report was released. An interesting reply and venue because Dr. Wegman:
a. Sits on the NAS Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications
It may be as one climateaudit blog poster said. Mann is now positioning himself as a new popular martyr, at a high rate of mass media pay and without the usual physical inconveniences. Mann's reply to Dr. Wegman was odd for someone anticipating a long term academic career.
Subject: Wegman, Mann, NAS & Congress
This looks like it will get really nasty for some people personally.
I have trouble imagining someone at Dr. Wegman's career position and point making these kinds of statements to Congress unless the NAS leadership has already decided to face up to the internal consequences. Dr. Wegman briefing his own discipline's national board beforehand shows the level of credibility he thinks is in play. This is going to have world wide ramifications.
I have to credit Dr. Wegman with displaying some real moral courage. Dr. Wegman is so well established he could cease all thought today and still travel Corporate Jet class for the rest of his life. He doesn't need this for himself personally. While Mann is the report focus, the Ad Hoc report subliminally reflects poorly on the oversight exercised by the NAS Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications and on Dr. Wegman's own statistical committee under that board. In other words, his colleagues and himself. Policing the standards of applied mathematics in American science is presumably within their purview. An automatic question for many Congressional staff lawyers and many many others now will be 'how did everything get so far?'
Mann's own CV is remarkable if you study the dates. Or fantastic.
In eight years since receiving his 1998 Ph.d diploma...
The ink wasn't dry before MBH-98 was being submitted. Two years later this newly minted assistant professor was up at the UN-IPCC approving his own work and writing up why Kyoto must be imposed on all of Western Civilization. He's launched or laid down 18 graduate students since getting his doctorate, including 13 Ph.ds. And he started advising POST DOCTORAL researchers only one year after getting his own doctorate. Including a certain Scott Rutherford who is now cited as conducting 'independent' confirming studies of MBH-98/99.
The lists of courses taught, nearly 100 total articles written, the numbers of seminars, workshops and conferences presented, chaired, organized...THIRTEEN funded research proposals in less than eight years since 1998, and two proposals previously from 1996-1998 with a Master's Degree. mass media appearances...
I felt like ordering this dude a blue spandex suit and cape marked S-P for "Super Professor". But Mann's entire edifice is built on the foundation of MBH-98/99, which Wegman and Scott just said is 100% bogus.
Perhaps it is time for some adult supervision in the climate statistics studies game.
Derb: WW4? Don’t Flatter Them.
--- Roland Dobbins
Derb is always worth attention; but the key to his essay is that the West is only indulging itself in political correctness. It's not rot at the root.
But suppose it is? See Kipling on the Picts
We are the Little Folk—we!
Subject: Re: Another chicken and egg question
> Another chicken and egg question:
Clearly the SECOND !!!
The GREATEST mistake (or lie?) in the West is the first sentence, because it makes us believe that we cannot change something ( if it is a "natural" rule, we cannot do something against it ).
If we all ( or at least enaugh people ) would realize the meaning ( and consequences ) of the second sentence, then we COULD do something ( i don't know exactly what, but SOMETHING ).
It's comparable to the sentence "we are all potential murderers".
OF COURSE we can think of a situation where we might kill someone ( kill - not murder ). And OF COURSE we have bent some rules from time to time, but mostly for "practical" reasons and not because we are corrupt.
REAL corruption is something different ( as it is REAL murder ).
Andreas Reichl (Germany)
PS: In China you EXPECT everyone being corrupt when working for the state or having to do with a lot of money ( i repeat: you EXPECT it ) - why else would he want to have that kind of work?
Which is one reason for the conservative view: things will not be perfect; if things work reasonably well, don't muck it up; perfect is the enemy of good enough.
The Jacobin view is the opposite. If it ain't perfect, break it! Fix it!
Monty comments on my World War III essay:
I'm not quite so sure that the Bush Doctrine necessarily means insisting on imposing Western-style democracy everywhere the US overthrows an enemy regime.
The "Lloya Jirga" process that created the interim Afghan government wasn't democratic in the sense of being founded on popular elections, and the way I remember it, the US tried to use a similar process in Iraq until the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani insisted that only an election could legitimate an interim government.
To the extent the Bush team looked to Professor Bernard Lewis for guidance, they would not have found much enthusiasm for imposing Western-style democracy; on the other hand, they would have found plenty of hope, rooted in history, that Muslims might aspire to a form of government other than tyranny:
http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=107 Islam and the West: A Conversation with Bernard Lewis
The whole piece is well worth reading, but this part is especially pertinent to the present issue:
=It doesn't have to be in our own image. I don't see why we should assume that what is variously known as the Westminster model or the Jeffersonian model should apply here universally. I think that trying to impose our kind of democracy is foredoomed to failure. What I think one may reasonably hope for is that they will be able to develop some form of democratic government of their own. There are certain principles that are enshrined in the holy law of Islam — for example, the principle of limited and responsible government. ... There is the contractual element. ... What they don't have, which is an essential part of ours, is the idea of elected representation. They have representation in the sense of the leader of a group, who comes from within the group, but the idea of elections on the corporate bodies is new; and this is difficult, but not impossible.=
That's an abridgement of three paragraphs, all three of which are worth contemplating.
It seems to me that a lot of the pessimism floating around is founded on a belief that there is more internal consistency, both within the Bush Administration and within the population of Iraq, than actually exists. Certainly there were people in the Bush Administration who were in love with the idea of imposing Western-style democracy; but there were, and are, others who listened to Professor Lewis, and who listen still. And equally certainly, there were, and are, lots of Shiites in Iraq who "seek the return of the caliphate under the hidden Imam," and even more who seek immediate power by exploiting such Shiites; but that doesn't mean there aren't even more Shiites who are tired of tyrant following tyrant, who know enough about what's happening in Iran *not* to want to replicate that sad experience, and who want to try to return to the principles of the Holy Law of Islam, more or less as Professor Lewis describes them.
So, what should we do with *those* people? Throw them back to the wolves? Or help them learn how to defend themselves?
My reading of the Bush strategy in Iraq is subtly different from Dr. Pournelle's: I think that strategy is based on the understanding that it's the *Iraqis* who must be the constabulary. Our role is to teach them how to be that, plus to buy time, with blood and treasure, while they learn. As they learn, we'll stand down from the constabulary role.
The trouble was that the Administration really believed Achmed Chalabi and his rosy picture of our troops being greeted with flowers and cheers, and Chalabi would ride in in triumph and set up a government. That might actually have worked except that others in the Army and State hated Chalabi and didn't want to set him up in power by force. Like a ship with two captains and five first mates, all giving orders, the result was chaos. We could have ridden into Iraq, kept the Iraqi tyranny in place, and replaced it at the top with our own creature; but there were just enough genuine Jacobins in the works that that cynical approach wasn't viable.
Now the Iraqi constabulary sometimes hides Shi'ite death squads. And when people in police uniforms knock on the door, it may be real, and it may be a kidnapping.
Steve Sailer on Lebanonization
I have several letters pointing to this. Sailer is a friend and neighbor.
Tech Undermining Israeli Army?
-- Roland Dobbins
High tech wars still need good soldiers.
Subject: Bell curve as a legal defense
Don't know if you saw this yet:
Interesting legal defense in a lead based paint lawsuit: use of the bell curve hypothesis. Your kids are poor academic performers and have behavior problems because their parents were poor academic performers and had behavior problems, not because of lead paint. It's not our fault.
Seems reasonable, but likely has a snowball's chance in hell to to the PC factor.
Makes one wonder just how often "environmental factors" are malarkey.
There is a lot more mail, but I want to get down to Starbuck's to post this, since the mail page has been messed up since I tried to update a couple of hours ago.
Re: World War III
You may make sense at some pragmatic level, but on the other hand, your argument smacks to me of the apartment-dweller who, when he hears of high crime, buys better locks; and when listening to the neighbor beat his wife or abuse his children, adds soundproofing to the walls. It is distasteful to me. I also question whether it is the best pragmatic option in the long run.
You also don't seem to understand one of the prime advantages of 'imposing' democracy on the 'wogs' - OBL and others of his stripe often justify strikes against civilians in the West by saying that we all vote, we all pay taxes, etc., and thus choose to be targets due to our participation in the (evil, yada yada yada) system. Well, even if you don't like who the Pals, Lebanese, Iraqis, Iranians, Egyptians, etc., vote for, at least the mask is off. If the Palestinians vote for Hamas and the Lebs for Hezbollah, the Egyptians for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis for OBL, at least they have taken a stand and may be held to account for it. IOW we will at least know who to bomb.
I do not remember pacifist arguments against US involvement in WWII being predicated upon the notion that as Herr Hitler was democratically elected, that we might not oppose Germany's actions with war. Likewise I do not see why it is hypocrisy to oppose 'legitimately elected' governments which propound evil.
BTW, despite my strong tone above, I hope that I have avoided personalization, and accordingly can have my ideas discussed, instead of being accused of being a dirty neocon. Generally, I hope the above has not been too great a waste of your time or bandwidth. I regret I hadn't the time to be more concise.
I recall that the Japanese and Germans declared war on the US; prior to that Mr. Roosevelt was reelected on a platform that "Not one American boy is going to die in a foreign war." As to imposing democracy on the wogs, I don't know how, and my guess is that you don't either.
If the survival of Israel were at stake, the US might have an interest; but much of this is over settlements, boundaries, mines in the Jordan Valley, pulling back to the Green Line, where the Security Fence goes, prices charged by the Israeli petroleum monopoly which alone can export petrol to Gaza, Judea, and Samaria, etc., etc.
On a practical level, if Israel had taken the trouble to make friends with the Christian Arabs -- who had no reason to love the Muslims, and who were terrified that the Grand Mufti would drive them out -- then Israel would have a great many more people in the United States with an interest in Middle East stability. Instead, the Christian Arabs were treated in such a manner that to the best of my knowledge 90% of them identify with the Muslim Arabs now. In my case, when I tried to donate computers to a Christian Arab university in Nazareth (part of Israel; the students are Israeli citizens) I was told that the tariff would be 100% of their US value. That would be waived if I donated them to othe institutions and charities in Israel, none of which were Christian. The Vatican couldn't even get that policy changed. This was about 1998 during the peaceful period when we could tour from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, then down the mountains to the Jordan and up the highway from Jericho to Galilee. The Christians at the various sites such as Bethany and Bethlehem were glad of the peace, but they could not visit each other, and a Jerusalem physician had to sneak across borders to meet his wife in Bethlehem because she couldn't get a visa.
Israel chose another course. Now there are few Christians in Israel or Palestine. The US has a stake in the survival of Israel, but not in territorial disputes of the Middle East; we would do better to develop our resources and build energy independence. Had the triumphal entry of Chalabi into Baghdad gone was planned, we'd all be cheering, and I for one would have congratulated the White House and advisors on being right when I was terribly wrong. I'd have been wrong to do that -- permanent entanglement in that area including setting up puppet states that we have to protect is not a good thing -- but I'd still have cheered. But in fact the advice I gave before we went in was decapitation and withdrawal, with as little collateral damage as possible. Change the regime, replace the tyrant with one of his generals or a council of them, and get the Hell out.
We elected not to do that, and to spend half a trillion on war rather than developing energy resources. I do not believe that to have been in the best interest on the United States. We're over there now, and there are issues including credibility, the effectiveness of the Army, morale, sunk costs in blood and treasure, at stake. I am glad I don't have to sort them out. But if I did, I would look to the interests of the United States.
If my neighbor beats his wife, I can feel sorry for her. I can even offer her shelter. I can call the police. But if there are no police, why do I have the right to break in his door? Geronimo beat his wives, Cook intervened, and the result was the last Apache War and the deaths of several hundred Western settlers.
But in those cases you have first hand observation. Now let us suppose the neighbor is halfway across the city, you are reading about this in the newspapers, or getting an account by telephone. Do you go rushing into the night, gun in hand?
Subject: Velikovskians & Paleoclimatologists
Looking back at the Velikovsky Affair helps put perspective on the modern paleoclimatology and global warming flap. Velikovsky had a main central thesis. This was natural catastrophes of global scale caused by extra-terrestrial agencies had occurred in the past and were documented in Earth's physical structure. This was at a time when uniformitarianism was still the 'consensus' view among astronomers and most geologists. The scientific establishment of the time countered this by stating Velikovsky's methods were unsound, could not support his conclusions and were contrary in many places to well established theory, such as Newtonian orbital mechanics. Velikovsky then put on a hair shirt and spent the rest of his life posing as a wandering prophet without honor driven out of his home town.
So what's happened in the interval? We've discovered that planet wide cosmic catastrophes have happened in the past and continue to happen today. The Chicxulub "Dinosaur Killer" crater has been found off Yucatan and extensively explored, along with its global effects. It's now held responsible for most or all of the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction. Evidence accumulates another asteroid or meteor strike triggered the Permian Triassic Extinction. We've even witnessed the titanic event of the Shoemaker-Levy comet strike on Jupiter, in real time on the Hubble ST.
Does any of this vindicate Velikovsky? No. Velikovsky's theories did not predict any of these findings. None of them were the events Velikovsky claimed had happened, such as Jupiter had extruded Venus, which caused the events in the Book of Exodus and also caused Mars to change its orbit, producing further disasters in the 8th - 7th centuries BC. No subsequent developments of his ideas by the Velikovskians predicted any of the modern discoveries, either. They were discovered by people working according to the rules of hard 'science'. 'Hydrocarbons' have been found in many regions in space. They just haven't been found in the one place Velikovsky predicted they'd be found, which was Venus' atmosphere. Velikovsky's multi-disciplinary findings drew strong attacks from many quarters. Astrophysicists attacked his overthrow of Newtonian orbital mechanics and archeologists and historians refuted his ancient history interpretations. These were strong warning signs.
Paleoclimatology and its associated school of 'Global Warming Is Caused By Industrial Man' is now exhibiting many 'Velikovskian' symptoms. Leading statisticians say their math is junk and their data is sparse. Leading meteorologists who really know something about weather prediction say the Paleoclimatologists are clueless about how the atmosphere really works. Paleoclimatologists explain tree ring studies in ways opposite to the explanations supplied by the original dendrochronologists and botanists who studied the trees ("bristlecone pines").
Good analogy. Thanks. We have a long discussion on the Velikovsky affair elsewhere on this site.
July 18, 2006
Subject: Von Neumann Probe anyone?
Looks like we're about half way there.
And that is as good a demonstration proof that there very likely is no civilization that has ever reached our technological level within the practical travel time radius of our planet. We've not been consumed by Von Neumann Probes.
I noted your reply to Noah Ravitz, particularly this sentence:
"If my neighbor beats his wife, I can feel sorry for her. I can even offer her shelter. I can call the police. But if there are no police, why do I have the right to break in his door?"
Am I remembering correctly that you are a practicing Catholic? If so, I would like to ask you the following question: If the Good Samaritan had come across the robbery in progress, what would his duty have been? If he was the same type of physical specimen that I am, certainly hiding in the bushes until the robbers left and he could do something effective rather than getting killed uselessly would seem to be the moral course.
OTOH, let's say that this is the Good Samaritan as played by Charlton Heston a la Ben-Hur, Arnold, or Steven Segal. He has the physical capability to stop the attack. Should he? Would it be enough to stop that particular attack, whipping the curs back to their kennels, and not concerning himself with the next traveler? Or should he follow them back to their homes and kill them? Certainly, he might call the army; of course, when he recognizes several of the local garrison (similar to Syria on the UNSC) among the robbers, he might think again. What responsibility does he have, to himself and his fellow man?
The world we live in seems to require a hegemon of some sort. It was the Royal Navy; now it's us.... This isn't a new observation, but it seems to bear thinking on nonetheless.
Now suppose someone comes into your house and tells you that across the city someone is beating his wife, and you have to go stop it.
Has any sparrow fallen that the United States should not avenge? We have and army. We can break things and kill people. What things do you want broken and what people do you want killed? Is there any end to the breaking and killing?
If my neighbor beats his wife, I can feel sorry for her. I can even offer her shelter. I can call the police. But if there are no police, why do I have the right to break in his door? Geronimo beat his wives, Cook intervened, and the result was the last Apache War and the deaths of several hundred Western settlers.
I guess I’d say you have the right to break down the door because it’s the right thing to do, and if you don’t who will? If my daughter happened to be the one being beaten, and you were her neighbor, I would certainly hope you’d break down the door and put a stop to it. If not, I believe I would hold you almost as responsible as her husband. I’d come after him first, and you second.
As for Geronimo, yes, Cook’s actions did lead to the last Apache war, and did cost the lives of hundreds. I think last war is key, and Geronimo died a prisoner of that war. In this sense, I’d say Cook succeeded very well.
James A. Ritchie
And if your daughter is making up the stories? Or she's on the other side of the city or the world? You will come to kill me because somewhere in this world your daughter has chosen a bad man to live with and it's my fault?
And after I break the door down and she and her husband sue me, where will you be? When the police come to take me away for breaking into the house across the street, where will you be? Where were you when your daughter married a man who would beat her? Loading a gun to shoot the neighbor who didn't interfere?
Subject: World War III / neighbor abuse
The Iraq/wife abuse analogy does not go where some of your correspondents think it does.
We didn't go in to save the wife; she was already safe (the "no-fly" zones). Essentially, ten years ago we got her an apartment and kept him out. During that decade the wife began to recover from the effects of abuse and develop the strength to stand on her own.
So after ten years of relative domestic tranquility, enforced by separation, we invaded the husband's apartment because he associated with gangs. We then told the husband and wife they had to live together again. We are now expecting them to get along, and are surprised when a still-abusive husband and a bitter, once-battered wife can't make things work out.
That's -- unlikely.
Go ahead and criticize the content of Mann's work. That is fair game. But I'm not sure it is entirely fair to take pot shots at his conclusions based on his academic productivity. Those in the academic world know that long lists of credentials are needed to advance, and the super stars in this arena seem to achieve incredible heights based on things such as numbers of patents, publications, and awards. Numbers of grad students tends to reflect the amount of research grants received, and those get easier to acquire with a lot of publications. Mann may just be very successful at playing this game.
If you want to see a really impressive example of academic output, check out Dr. Robert Langer at MIT (http://web.mit.edu/langerlab/langer.html) . He received the Charles Stark Draper award in 2002 for his work on polymers. In a career which spans 30 years, he has received 140 awards of various kinds, produced 880 publications and 550 patents (issued or pending), and gotten licensing agreements with 180 drug companies. I don't know how many PhD's he has advised, but the photo of his current research group suggests that he currently supporting at least a couple dozen students.
My annoyance with Mann and his hockey stick had nothing to do with his CV, of which I had no knowledge whatever. It was his secret algorithms, his failure to publish his techniques for other to repeat, and his general muddleheadedness.
Einstein had no CV when he published his papers on the Edison Effect that got a Nobel Prize. The operative words here are, "he published." He didn't put out his conclusions, tell the world how significant they were, and decline to make available his proofs.
Jerry, I have always found your views on the world to be thought-provoking and insightful. Do you have a clue as to why we still have ground forces in Korea? It seems to me tha N. Korea would be largely irrelevant if we had no troops on the border, and S. Korea could certainly defend itself at this point in time, at least long enough for help to arrive, and the S. Koreans do not seem to particularly like our troops being there.
In 1950 Truman did the right thing. Containment was important and this was the first test of resolve. The alternatives at the time were to allow Soviet expansionism to go unchecked, or start preventive nuclear war. The result was Cold War and the end was the collapse of the Soviet System which could no longer let war and expansion feed war and expansion.
The need for US involvement in Korea and the rest of Asia, other than our traditional maritime national interest in keeping the seas open for trade and commerce, experied sometime during the 1990's in my judgment. Much of the South Korean populace doesn't want us there. It's expensive. And South Korea has both the financial and population resources to provide for its own expense.
I said in 1995 that we ought to give the Korean 5 years notice and pull all troops other than Marine embassy guards out of Korea. I wish we had done that then, and I see no reason why we should not do that now. Give them notice and get out. It's their country.
Subject: Regarding WWIII
[World War III]
Why call it a war, why not a police action, anti-piracy, stability, don't spook the neighbors? Labels tend to dictate the methods. War calls up the army. Police action the marines & FBI. Anti-piracy the coast guard. Stability & don't spook the neighbors the state department and CIA.
We can reduce but not eliminate incidents of the 9/11 variety. At least not without damage to our liberties.
Oil at $20/bbl is not our right. I would let prices rise to provide incentives for free market forces to conserve and develop alternates.
I do not accept the primary Bush Doctrine, because it is too roman, rendering us friendless. Perhaps later, after we are an empire and everyone else our subjects, but not now.
I agree with you on not accepting the secondary Bush Doctrine.
Those genuine democratic elections in Palestine may be unpleasant for us, but they are a valid reality check. Meaning we now have in our faces that we, and Israel, have screwed up big time somewhere. Time to try something else, perhaps Swiss style cantons, perhaps broker a second treaty of Westphalia. I would also consider the example of Pakistan - beaten in several wars against India, could not leave well enough alone, and had to develop nuclear weapons.
[Which leaves us where?]
We are in Iraq with so few friends compared to the first gulf war, that I consider our situation to be not credible already. So I'd say the faster we leave the better. I'd wager Iran would step in to aid the south, Syria and Jordan the Sunni. No clue what would happen to the Kurds who traditionally get short shift.
I will say this: Our army is best used as the classic chess threat. This basically means Jerry Pournelle is correct that the president should only have the navy and marines to play with. Stupid congress letting other people play with their toys.
Hong Kong schools under the British. Does anyone remember them anymore? "When I become Emperor" all public schools will be abolished, all taxes for the collection of moneys for schools will end. Hopefully resulting in all schools becoming private and local.
Fusion power. The projected 40 to 50 year to achieve success leaves far too much time for Pournelle's Iron Law to take root. We managed to put a man on the moon in eight years, the Iron Law took root after that.
Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt. Are they still there, festering? Can we wipe them all out or herd them all back into Israel/West Bank/Gaza? So that they no longer fester? So that Israel's neighbors are no longer endlessly reminded of unresolved problems?
I the Wargamer: In person I am nice, Christian even. But in a campaign I am imperialist one hundred per cent. Regarding 9/11, I would have chosen the time honored strategy of _head_in_the_sand_. Resulting in the Taliban still running Afghanistan, and no heroin grown. A trade-off I like. Regarding today in Iraq, I would chose the strategy of _cut_and_run_, I regard the stockpiling of money to be as vital as the stockpiling of all other forms of military materials.
Then I look back at what I've just written and wonder if a government can be Christian, turn the other cheek, open handed. I look at Israel and see the Jews of the Torah, eye for an eye, strict. Then there is empire, might makes right, do what ever works. I see us midway between Christian and empire, allied with Israel, and see a three way mess up in guiding principles. How about a long time out while we sort this out among ourselves?
Even through I am an imperialist warmonger, I still have principles: 1) Do not make any unnecessary enemies (the other way: _make only necessary enemies_ tends to make everyone my enemy), 2) Win battle first (do not stop to plunder, do not stop to rest, do not stop to celebrate).
It was not I who called this World War III; but I do observe that unless we are in it, it cannot be a World War.
And I prefer a Republic to Empire, but I much prefer Competent Empire to what we seem to be doing now.
Subject: Changing War Techniques - A Book Review
"While the U.S. spends billions of dollars on sophisticated defense systems, the dime-a-dozen kidnapper and suicide bomber have emerged as the most strategic weapons of war. While we tie ourselves in legal knots over war's acceptable parameters, international law has increasingly less bearing on those whom we fight. And while our commanders declare "force protection" as their highest priority, enemy commanders declare the need for more martyrs. It seems that the more advanced we become, the more at a disadvantage we are in the 21st-century battlefield."
"In "Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias," Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Andrea J. Dew, both of Tufts's Fletcher School, have produced a wise and cogent briefing book about who our enemies are and how to anticipate their field tactics."
Since some others have replied to this, I'll add my take.
The police don't have a special right to break in his door. They merely have permission to do it. (And because they have agreed to do it when needed, they have the duty and responsibility to do it.) We, the people, have the right, and on that basis we have granted this permission to the police.
"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
We could discuss whether you have the right to break in people's doors when there _are_ police available. Most political theorists seem to agree that we have given our government a monopoly on the use of force-- exclusive permission, in other words.
I don't agree with this theory because it leads logically to the situation in England where individuals are prohibited from using force even in self-defense.
My opinion is that even if there are police around, you still have the right to break down your neighbor's door if you reasonably believe it will save your neighbor's wife from a beating. We do have laws meant to protect individuals who take such actions, but of course you'd better be pretty sure of yourself-- and prepared to take the heat if a jury decides in hindsight that you made the wrong decision.
(As a side note, I should say that a police officer has the same right to act as an individual that anyone else does, but has in practice traded away some of the freedom to act as an individual in exchange for increased authority to act under orders.)
But you asked about the situation where there are no police-- they aren't available, they won't come, or they aren't strong enough to be effective. In this situation, you certainly have the right to enforce the laws that you and your neighbor have agreed to live together under. You also have the right to defend yourself, which may become an issue if your neighbor is threatening you or the rest of society.
As we expand this analogy to international law, we lose the sense of agreement, but we still have the right to self defense. There certainly aren't any police available. If we see a credible threat to our safety, or to the safety of others-- especially if we've agreed to protect those others-- we have the right to act.
I can't say from my own knowledge that this reasoning justifies the invasion of Iraq. I know that Hussein tried really hard to make the world believe he was a threat, but I've seen only weak evidence that the threat was credible. I don't know what evidence was available at the time to the people who made the decision to invade, but it turns out Hussein truly had no immediate capacity to threaten us or our allies. So at best, we were tricked into invading-- by the very nation we invaded. Presumably this wasn't the result Hussein was looking for, but it's still disturbing.
Now when the house is on the other side of the street? Down the block? Other side of the city? Other side of the world?
And we must not confuse RIGHT with DUTY, which is what was asserted here. I have not questioned the right of the US to meddle about in the territorial disputes of the Middle East. I have questioned the wisdom of doing it, just as I would question the wisdom of going across town and breaking into a neighbor's house to rescue his wife after watching a local TV news story reporting on what's going on over there.
At some point, surely, our obligations end? Where? Otherwise we have no serious disagreements, presuming we live in a Republic. Empires will have different rules.
Here is naught unproven--here is naught to learn,
He shall take a tribute; toll of all our ware;
He shall break his Judges if they cross his word;
HOW TO EXPLAIN THE HISTORY OF COMMUNISM TO MENTAL PATIENTS.
Scroll down for a synopsis:
-- Roland Dobbins
July 20, 2006
Subj: Dealing with death squads
Jerry Pournelle asked:
> And if the constabulary are death squads for one faction?
Politics, Selection, Organization, Training, Discipline and Justice.
Politics: Convince the important community leaders that having death squads running around will work against their interests.
Selection: Try to keep the death-squad-inclined people out of the constabulary.
Organization: Mix the factions when you form units, to make the death squads' security problems harder. This is harder for police, who are generally recruited locally, than for the army, recruited nationally.
Training: Teach the marginal constables -- who, though not inclined to join death squads themselves, might be inclined to look the other way -- why looking the other way is a Bad Idea.
Discipline and Justice: Find and suppress the death squads that form anyway, by classic "Internal Affairs" police work.
The Next Crucial Battle of the War
Like all things in War, it's very simple and very, very hard.
And like all things in Iraq, the Iraqis have to do most of it themselves. Which takes time, which must be paid for with blood and treasure.
If we can convince the leaders not to kill their enemies we won't have to convince the leaders that killing their enemies is a bad idea. Like the economist on how to get out of a well: Assume a ladder.
We agree that this will take time, blood, and treasure. Need it be ours? Are we the only ones who know how to do this? Worse, do we know how to do it at all? Were I convinced that American government and rule of law are exportable commodities I'd be out front in trying to export them. The essence of paleo conservative belief is that good government is rare, not easily installed through schemes of social improvement, fragile, and not likely to be exported: and we point to the Constitution of the United States of Venezuela copied from the US Constitution circa 1830 amid a perfect flurry of congratulations. =============
Subject: Meme 071: A virtues approach to personality
Meme 071: A virtues approach to personality An article by Michael Cawley, James Martin, and John Johnson sent 6.7.20
Notes from me [Frank]:
The article (unhappily written in the required jargon, which is worse in psychology than anywhere else) starts a re-incorporation of virtue into the study of personality. Virtue unnecessarily was kicked out of philosophy with the undermining of Christianity. What was left are utilitarian theories and deontological theories of duties and rights. Utilitarianism appeals for those whose want to do good, deontological theories to those who want to do the good thing, and virtue theories to those who want to *be* good.
Each of these theories get at emotions, and emotions are separately evolved. One cannot satisfying them all at once, but any meta-ethical theory that reduces the other two to one of them (say that virtuous people will always do good and do the good thing), no matter how ingeniously constructed, will fail to be satisfying on an emotional level. Any concept that so fails will be resisted by intellectual arguments, with increasing complexity and ingenuity. (This is one reason why philosophy gets ever more intricate, another being to give jobs to philosophers.) We know this is so from the studies of Antonio Damasio on the interconnectedness of thinking and feeling in the brain and the fact that emotions evolve separately and not solely to provide philosophical coherence.
As you will be reading, Gordon Allport (a leading AntiRacist, by the way) replaced older notions of character with "personality," with morally evaluative notions deliberately discarded. (The authors of the paper instant use the term both in this narrow sense and in their grander sense, in which virtues can be reintroduced into personality studies. This removal of virtue was continued by Kohlberg and his famous stages of development. It is not that virtue was even completely erased, though, just narrowed. This reached in culmination in J.R. Rest's "Defining Issues Test," where the only virtues are tolerance and openness to experience. (Recall that Francis Fukuyama said in passing in _The End of History and the Last Man_ that the chief virtues of "liberal democracies" are compassion and tolerance.)
The authors state, "As Kohlberg's critics have noted, the enthronement of openness and tolerance as the only virtues of modern moral developmental theory has led to a situation where moral psychology is dominated by situation ethics and moral relativism."
The authors use factor analysis to discern four major virtues: empathy, order, resourcefulness, and serenity. The problem is that the questions asked of subjects upon which the factors pop out can seriously endanger the results. To their shame, they never did consider the Seven Cardinal Virtues compiled by Christians: the classical ones of courage, prudence, justice, and temperance, plus the theological ones of faith, hope, and charity. Virtue began to be reintroduced into philosophy half a century ago, meaning that not everything about Christian *traditions*, as they evolved in Europe (like nearly everyone else, I know little about Byzantium but would be eager to know about the differences in gene-culture co-evolution).
Hooray for their efforts, which would have been even better had they reached back to specifically look for the Seven Cardinal Virtues and whether new ones have been added since. The Greeks had four, the Christians an additional seven. What new ones will evolve (indeed which ones might be designed) in the future world of designer children?
Frank Forman [name used with permission]
Michael J. Cawley, III, James E. Martin and John A. Johnson: A virtues approach to personality Personality and Individual Differences Volume 28, Issue 5 , 1 May 2000, Pages 997-1013 doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(99)00207-X
[Thanks to John Johnson for calling my attention to this most important article. I can supply the PDF.]
Michael J. Cawley, III, James E. Martin and John A. Johnson^ ^Corresponding Author Contact Information Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Received 29 July 1998; revised 15 April 1999; accepted 20 September 1999. Available online 14 February 2000.
*1 This article is based on a doctoral dissertation written by the first author and supervised by the other authors. A paper based on this research was presented by the first and second authors at the Juris Draguns Personality Symposium, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, July 14, 1997.
^Corresponding Author Contact Information Corresponding author. Present address: Penn State Dubois, College Place, DuBois, PA 15801, USA. Tel.: +1-814-375-4700; fax: +1-814-375-4784
The structure of virtue was investigated through the development and construct validation of the Virtues Scale (VS), a 140-item self-report measure of virtues. A factor analysis of responses from 390 participants revealed four factors: Empathy, Order, Resourcefulness, and Serenity. Four virtue subscales constructed from the highest loading items on each factor were correlated with the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) scales in two additional samples (ns=181 and 143). One of these samples also completed the DIT measure of Kohlbergian moral development. Meaningful, replicated correlations between the virtue subscales and personality scales and complete lack of relationships between the virtues scales and the DIT indicate that virtue is a function of personality rather than moral reasoning and cognitive development. <snip>
I recall debating the Allport hypotheses in graduate school. One problem is that not one statistician in twenty understands the complex mathematical assumptions in that arcane branch called factor analysis.
Those interested in the virtues might begin with
Subject: Luttwak on Iran.
---- Roland Dobbins
Subject: The Emperor is not ordering out the Legions!
"At a moment when his conservative coalition is already under strain over domestic policy, President Bush is facing a new and swiftly building backlash on the right over his handling of foreign affairs.
Conservative intellectuals and commentators who once lauded Bush for what they saw as a willingness to aggressively confront threats and advance U.S. interests said in interviews that they perceive timidity and confusion about long-standing problems including Iran and North Korea, as well as urgent new ones such as the latest crisis between Israel and Hezbollah."
And we all know what happens when the praetorian guard becomes unhappy, don't we? I do find it interesting that they seem unable to assimilate the concept that the United States does not have infinite resources...
--Catfish N. Cod
Subject: Video you ought to see
You have GOT to see this video. It's a video explanation for new mini-game that's going to be included with a brand new computer game. Either google for it or use bittorrent (www.azureus.com) to download it straight from me. The file is 169_portal_071806_hd.zip. It's also available at www.fileshack.com but I don't have a direct link to it.
The concept is very cool, and this is only a mini-game included with another full game. I might buy the full game just to get this. It uses the latest shooter game graphics and technology to enable a puzzle solving sort of thing that rivals the leadership laboratories the US military uses during officer training in terms of having to think creatively to solve puzzles under stress.
If you have bittorrent, get it straight from me here:
Don't wait too long to get it from me because we have a scheduled power outage sometime tomorrow... I'll start sharing it again when I get back from work though.
Fair warning: I have not seen this at all. I post it because the source is a long time subscriber and correspondent.
Just received a notice from "The Internal Revenue" service stating that
"The Internal Revenue Service Antifraud Comission has found 3 fraud attempts regarding your bank account. Someone enrolled your credit card to our Electronic Pay System - EFTPS - and tried to pay some taxes. Due to these attempts, some of your money were lost and your remaining founds were blocked. We are sorry for this inconvenience but this is the standard procedure in order to try to recover your lost money. Although, you may unblock your founds, if needed it, by accessing our webpage through the link provided here. Once again, we are sorry for this inconvenience, and we will do our best to recover your money."
The sender email was a "com" not a "gov" and the text has the usual slightly skewed phrasing and grammar. Interestingly they seem to have put their phishing message inside a donut made from a real IRS web page, as the normal IRS buttons seem to work properly...
I didn't try their convenient link "provided here"
Subject: Interesting Lack of Reporting
Isn't it interesting that the mainstream media are apparently silent on Dr. Wegman's report? With the Congressional hearings being held yesterday, you would think there would be SOME mention of the findings. But no, this was all I could find on MSNBC this morning. Nothing on CNN or Washingtonpost.com, either.
It is enough to make one believe in conspiracy theories. 8-)
Don't forget to work into that theoretical analogy the Crips and Bloods killing hundreds of people in Beverly Hills over the years by wrapping themselves in bombs filled with nails and shrapnel dipped in anti-coagulant rat poison and walking into cafeterias, buses, and wedding celebrations.
You could also include them launching rockets into the city, blowing up a city hall (embassy), or killing 240 policemen (Marines) as they slept in their quarters.
This war didn't start last week.
Sure. Pile it all in. The question is, would this be (1) the ethical thing for Beverly Hills to do, and (2) would it be effective. You have not said.
Tut's gem hints at space impact
-- Roland Dobbins
The Tribal Way of War.
-- Roland Dobbins
And exchange on space travel:
Subject: Spaceflight: another view
In my view spaceflight is an extension of flight through the air, and given the decline in personal aviation in the last twenty years or so it seems that getting people in the air first is a more prudent policy. When a modest percentage of the population can fly a light aircraft then we should worry about further manned space programs.
I lived in Wichita, KS for several years. I was astonished to discover that in this so-called "Air Capital" , very few people flew or had any real desire to. Workers at Cessna, and Raytheon (Beech) were, like their counterparts at Boeing and Bombardier, highly likely to never have been up in an airplane in their lives, and a good many were quick to say that they "knew how those things were built, they weren't getting up in those death traps." Young people in particular, held flying in contempt. Those with mechanical aptitude were more interested in building lowriders and joining the Latino Dreams Car Club (even if they weren't "Latino") or chopped Harleys, than in anything that flew.
If one were to go to Detroit and find that most autoworkers didn't have a driver's license and preferred riding the bus or a horse to work, one would be astonished. And one wouldn't expect them to openly consider the product that fed them and their families a "deathtrap".
Various theories have been advanced for this, such as the idea that the workers adopt this attitude because flying is unaffordable to them. Seeing the frequency with which they bought dually pickups, Harleys, Jet-Skis and the like and the fact both Cessna and Raytheon had excellent flying club programs, I say phooey.
You can buy a ticket for air travel
from many sources. Where do I buy my ticket to the Moon?
You missed out. When I was a kid Pan Am was giving them away.
Of course, they did go out of business, but there is not much to do up there just now anyway.
If you just want to walk on the Moon for, well. the hell of it, I bet you could pull it off for about $500 million-cold hard cash, and accepting a little risk. Considering NASA spent over a billion dollars on each of the Apollo Saturn V launches-including 8, 10 and 13- and the dollar has been radically devaluated since 1970 (the price of my Saturn bought a new Ferrari and a Chevy truck to shag parts for it then) I'd call it good.
The bottom line is, as I see it:
1. Mars is as far as we are going to get with chemical rocketry, on a manned mission, and currently imaginable nuclear propulsion schemes are not radically better. And Mars is going to be a hell of a big mission-several times the magnitude of Apollo.
2. The United States is trillions of dollars in debt, and Russia is a corrupt, backward and drunken mess. China is growing massively, but largely at the expense of the West, whose shortsighted businesspeople and their government pegboys have rigged the system to divert Western technology and capital there. When the West-especially the US-implodes, its growth will throttleback spectacularly.
3. Manned spaceflight should be left, for now, to the military and to wealthy hobbyists. There are many individuals who could write a moonflight-sized check, and since the very wealthy are getting more very wealthy whilst the middle class is being attenuated, this should make even more likely the probablilty a Bill Gates or Larry Ellison will simply write a check.
4. Getting people in the air on a personal basis is the necessary evolutionary step for two reasons. One is obvious, sort of. As the skies get more crowded personal aircraft will have to fly higher and as a practical matter faster. The technologies of life support, navigation, etc. will be developed and commoditized. The gyro set from a Segway can be used to make an INS better than the Carousel IV for a few hundred dollars-in some quantity, Cabin pressurization will go over to sealed spacecraft type systems because it's actually more efficient than bleed air. Pressure suits will become affordable. Pretty soon-thirty or forty years- buildng an orbital vehicle will be mostly off the shelf stuff at hot-rod-car prices.
The second is distasteful to most perhaps but no less true: Aviation is a great Darwinizer. The stupid and the reckless, people one can't have in spaceflight, will tend to be weeded. Motorcycles, scuba diving and other sports do this now, of course.
And finally the fifth: Supposing that during WWII the decision was made that the US had to put a man on the moon and get him back, as soon as possible and at any cost. Had a Manhattan Project like operation been launched in 1943, and each succeeding administration proceeded with 100% commitment, how much sooner would the US have done it, and at what multiple of the eventual Apollo cost? My guess-1963, and ten times.
My conclusion: Get out of civilian manned spaceflight, let the military pursue it as needed and under strict congressional control, and private space ops will take place in their own good time.
Certainly NASA has set back systematic development. We could have used Apollo to build a von Braun Wheel, learn on-orbit assembly, and build infrastructure in space. We didn't.
I will agree that huge contracts aren't needed. On the other hand, I will defend funding X projects. One such would be SSX, a 600,000 pound GLOW ship (DC/X was a scale model of what we proposed in 1988). That would identify the problems needed for that kind of reusable ship, and show the feasibility -- or lack of feasibility -- of VTOL SSTO.
I would also fund an X project for an air-launched sub-orbital ship.
Big NASA projects don't work well. We aren't ready for a big USAF procurement contract because we don't know what to procure.
X Projects and Prizes will work: and prizes cost nothing if what we ask for isn't feasible.
July 21, 2006
Subject: The peril of arab democracy
Similar to what you have been saying for awhile: http://www.slate.com/id/2145892/
Get hacked on the fly.
Video demonstrating why running Windows is a Bad Idea, and how firewalls and NAT don't help at all:
--- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Medieval Warm Period Info
-- "The data (or the marks when teaching) are sacrosanct--they tell us what actually happened." Harry Erwin, PhD http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her
After an exchange of letters on this subject I said=
What Israel is doing is assuring there will be new generations of Hizbollah.
They aren't going to exterminate the population. They are making enemies of the Christian Lebanese who used to be their allies.
Ethics has damn all to do with this. It's a very stupid way to have a war and Sharon would have known better
And received this response"
So what should they have done? The "sneak the secret agents in to kill only the bad guys" idea is a fantasy.
Is there no plausible method for dealing with a terrorist organization distributed in an innocent population, and dedicated to killing you forever? Should countries like Israel, and eventually us, I'm afraid, have to decide that a certain level of death by terror is something that needs to be lived with, like auto accidents?
Is it possible to have a situation where we take something like 9/11 in stride, pointing out rationally that a bad hurricane does far worse damage to cities? How long can that be maintained?
And when the terrorists do get the WMD they've been slavering after for years, then what? When the first nuke goes off in Tel Aviv, who do the Israelis retaliate against? And how?
During WWII we annihilated millions of civilians and their infrastructure in the process of destroying an enemy's capacity to make war.
How do you defeat an enemy without making somebody unhappy?
The answer to your first question is, I don't know; but it is usually a bad idea to treat your enemies, your potential allies, and those who just wish the war would go away with equal disdain and destruction.
I do not know how to make war -- break things and kill people -- without making someone unhappy. I would say that "making someone unhappy" is a pretty spectacular euphemism for burning people alive, telling people to leave a town and then bombing the refugee convoys as they stream out of town, and such.
Everyone skirts the question: elimination of Hizbollah will require ethnic cleansing and depopulation of many areas of the Middle East. Is Israel willing to do this? And is the rest of the world prepared to watch it happen?
Note that Israel's first excursion into Lebanon led to Sabra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabra_and_Shatila_massacre), an event that brought Sharon into disrepute, and had a good bit to do with the success of Hizbollah and the resistance movement against Israel in Lebanon.
We are now hearing optimistic talk about building genuine democracy in Lebanon, and this will solve the problems. Perhaps: but once again, democracy created by fire and sword and destruction may leave a bitterness in its wake, enough so that when a genuine election takes place it will put Hamas or its like into power.
What would I have done?
I would have considered a much more limited response to the border incursion. Occupation of perhaps five miles of territory, coupled with house to house searches, complete elimination of Hizbollah, partial depopulation if necessary, to create a genuine demilitarized zone. That might not work either.
Or: consider the Swiss solution. In the late 19th century religious wars broke out. The Swiss divided on canton: all those of one faction went to one half, all those of the other faction went to the other. No choice was given. It worked. Perhaps something of the sort would work in the Middle East.
I don't know what Israel's best strategy should be. I never have claimed to. The essence of my conversation with then-president Weizman was that I didn't know how to govern the Palestinians. Since he was primarily responsible for conquering them, it was more his job than mine; but I suspected he didn't know how to do it either. We were in agreement, and as he pointed out, in his case there was no choice: they had to do something. Whatever they did might be wrong, but doing nothing wouldn't work either.
Note that so long as the military power is in the hands of enlightened princes and nations, enlightened solutions will prevail. What happens when the unenlightened have power? When the barbarians have the power to win? If one side is willing to exterminate its enemies and the other is not, and both have enough military power to be a real threat each to the other, who will prevail?
And that may be what Israel is faced with.
In my little analogy of Beverly Hills vs. Bell Gardens I was very careful not to say what I would do were I Mayor of Beverly Hills.
But if one does place one's faith in fire and sword, then one must not shrink from the consequences. Sherman said war is Hell. Then he unleashed Hell. His memory remains to this day. What that memory is depends on where you live. But he has a big statue on Capitol Hill.
Subject: Crips and Bloods
Many factors here but when the kidnapping of soldiers becomes the new "thing" for terrorists the odds are something is going to happen. Why? Because how long can you keep the legions happy if they become the targets of kidnapping and beheadings? While the difference between two and three soldiers seems small, the multiple events against the military do seem to indicate a new method is being put in use. How long could the government control the military if such a thing began to get popular?
Then consider the civilian take on the situation. If the military cannot protect themselves, why should I think they can protect me? This of course puts strain on the government to stay in power and not lose the support of the people.
There comes a point with every threat where the question gets asked "What are the chances of this happening to me and how bad would it be if it did?" No matter what the actual odds, the perception will rule the result. An Israeli soldier is going to feel that being kidnapped and left to the Islamists is about the worst thing possible on this earth. The act is going demand some response.
Is sending in the troops a moral action? Well there are many points in our history, and a few lines in the USMC hymn that would seem to suggest it is something we would think about. However, if you are going to go in you had better be ready to finish it. With the winds blowing for a regime change in Washington Israel may decide that this may be their last chance to act with high cover in Washington for a while. Who can say?
You will note that I made my little analogy something close to home, and, alas, not out of the reach of possibility. Well, the BHPD response is unikely; but the triggering event? I do wonder how long it will be before the street gangs are headed by someone with some ambition and a little strategic sense (a little: not a lot), and the kidnappings begin. After all, in Mao's terms, they have the water for guerrilla fish to swim in.
Subject: Regarding the current Middle East
Regarding the current Middle East:
Willing to die. Our unwillingness to take casualties sends a message that we are not willing to die for what we believe. We'll telling these people to give up, that we've beaten them. Then we find to our chagrin that they are willing to die rather than give up.
Low tech smart weapons. The USA builds and uses expensive high tech smart weapons. In my mind I think of suicide bombers (foot, car, speedboat, WW2 kamikazi) as low tech smart weapons.
The Times treason. I consider the Times revealing the monitoring of worldwide finances to be less damaging than the offhand reports of that infamous war game that revealed to the world how to sink a US navy fleet. http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,778139,00.html Too bad it also revealed that our current administration is willing to cheat at war games.
Worse than cheating at war games: you learn nothing from games that are rigged. Apparently someone in DOD has forgotten why you spend the money for these operations.
He who defends everything defends nothing. Frederick the Great
It appears that Jerrymania is spreading. You appear to have a fan!
I was searching for one of your letters from a few months ago through google and found this instead. Looks new so it must have only just recently hit the search engines.
First I heard of it. I thought I had bought that address. Ah well.
Subject: regarding the sinking of the U.S. Navy
I have read the article that purports to lay out "how to sink the U. S. fleet" and apparently the recipe is hidden? The article states:
"When the US fleet sailed into the Gulf, he instructed his small boats and planes to move around in apparently aimless circles before launching a surprise attack which sank a substantial part of the US navy."
If our Navy was confused by aimless circles, then I truly fear for our safety. The terrorists figured it out one method when they attacked the USS Cole, but I don't think that tactic will work twice. If, however, they can get their hands on the Silkworm missiles, that is a horse of an entirely different color. Those have long been a concern, and one that the Israelis recently found out, much to their distaste. If Hezbollah can get their hands on them, how long before Al Qaieda launches them?
I doubt Silkworms can reach Newport. If our Navy isn't over there, it won't be attacked. But I agree: if we are going to be over there, we need to deal with such matters.
July 22, 2006
July 12, 2006 / 16 Tamuz, 5766
To my Arab brothers: The War with Israel Is Over — and they won. Now let's finally move forward
By Youssef M. Ibrahim
With Israel entering its fourth week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks. The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:
Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:
The war with Israel is over.
You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.
We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the "eternal struggle" with Israel.
Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness.
At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn't going to get better. Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts, figures, and sound advice, friends.
You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation. Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins.
Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the United Nations. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.
In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out landscape that is shrinking by the day.
What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world's have-nots?
We, your Arab brothers, have moved on.
Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq, frankly could not care less about what happens to you.
Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine, even though a huge chunk of its territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab.
Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating, conniving, leader of yours, Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of goods — more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives — while your children played in the sewers of Gaza.
The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?
Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former New York Times Middle East Correspondent and Wall Street Journal Energy Editor for 25 years, is a freelance writer based in New York City and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Eminent good sense; but is such a letter to be sent?
Were I an Iranian strategist, I would send some operatives into Lebanon, and inspire the local Hezbollah militia to raid Israel and kidnap some Israeli soldiers. A strong and independent Lebanon with law and order and a thriving economy is not in the interest of Iran.
Syria, of course, makes no secret of the fact that Lebanon is an artificial "nation" created by the European conquerors of the Ottoman holdings in that area during World War I. Syria claims with some justification that Lebanon belongs to Syria and always has been a part of Syria. Destruction of the Cedar Revolution is probably in Syria's interest, and if the Syrians are smart they will stay well out of this war, take in Lebanese refugees and invite CNN to come visit them in their misery, and look like good world citizens.
Of course, were I a Hamas strategist I would argue for the unconditional surrender of both Gaza and the West Bank to Israel. Here we are. Take care of us. CNN and Fox News welcome to come watch. But then I am an infidel.
Sir, what you're saying makes infinite sense - as always.
I rushed to drop this line because of reading the expression "artificial nation" about Lebanon by the pro-Ottoman dimwits.
It never occurs to them the Ottoman is the middle name of "artificial nation". It was an *empire*, dammit. An empire built by the sword, converting umpteen tribes to the "cause" of Islam - whatever the f*** that is (plundering others' wealth with impunity?) - mixing/mongrelizing so many incompatible ones, erasing their collective memory of millennia, creating only schizophrenic masses in its wake.
Take a look at the whole geography and you'll see nothing but "artificial" nations. No, not primarily because they were created as such by Westerners - that's yet another crypto-pan-Islamist, crypto-pan-Ottoman, frequently overtly or covertly communist interpretation of the history of the region, blaming its miserable failing on "capitalism" and its "evil" (i.e. Western, Christian) "empire".
They are artificial because the imperialist/expansionist mindset of the initial phase of Islam has been so ingrained in the Islamic masses that each and every one of the tribes in the region believes they and only they represent Islam; they and only they know how to "unite" the rest against the great Satan (which is Christendom), etc. They are artificial because they are still stuck in the pre-nation-state tribal stage. And as far as Musulman geography remains what it is, they will never be able to move beyond that stage.
Enough is enough of this crap!
An on the scene observer
And every word you say is true.
Please post this revised version:
Get hacked on the fly.
Video demonstrating why running Windows is a Bad Idea, and how firewalls and NAT alone aren't panaceas for app and OS exploits:
-- Roland Dobbins
I just got an HTML formatted email which read as follows:
The message was purportedly from "Google Updates" and the subject line is "New Google Toolbar Released."
Naturally, the hyperlink for the URL in the message was not toolbar.google.com, it was something else.
This is a nasty bit of phishing since so many people have the Google toolbar installed.
Be careful out there.
July 23, 2006
-- Roland Dobbins
Never WOUND the king.
A full scale Black September operation of the Jordanian kind is expensive in blood and treasure. It was a matter of survival for the Hashemites.
The Port of Theodosius.
--- Roland Dobbins
In Iran’s Streets, Aid to Hezbollah Stirs Resentment.
-- Roland Dobbins
So will this give someone the notion that we can impose democracy on Iran by force of arms, and that they will receive us as liberators?
-- Roland Dobbins
I told him that before we invaded Iraq. The National Review response was to unleash the egregious Frum to denounce all those who weren't enthusiastic for the Iraqi war. "We turn our backs on you."
Is the egregious Frum now turning his back on Buckley?
Vernor Vinge and the annoying Cory Doctorow on the Singularity.
-- Roland Dobbins
Worth listening to for a presentation of the views of a True Believer (Vernor Vinge). I am not sure what Doctorow was doing there. Doctorow says that pre-literate and post-literate people are practically a different species with nothing to talk to each other about. In other words, Homer and Aristotle had nothing in common. Which is so silly on the face of it that one supposes Doctorow was stuck for something to say, and in his scheme anything you say is temporary anyway, so he might as well say that.
Orwell once remarked, "You must be an intellectual. No ordinary person would say a thing like that." That applies here.
Paganism Gaining Popularity in Prisons.
--- Roland Dobbins
Diversity. Religious neutrality. What did anyone expect?
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
Gimme that old time religion,
It was good for Thor and Odin...
It was good enough for Dagon...
From Citizen to Subject — The Rule of Experts and the Rise of Transnational Anti-Democrats.
- Roland Dobbins
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
And if that isn't depressing enough, we have another important observation:
The Twin Myths of Eurabia.
--- Roland Dobbins
"We're just a number in someone's book.''
------ Roland Dobbins
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