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Mail 433 September 25 - October 1, 2006
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This is the coolest R/C flight I have ever seen.
The auditory cortex conference was interesting, but I don't think there's anything earth-shattering emerging. Most results were either at the level of the individual neurone or involved large parts of the brain. We're not figuring out the neural circuitry of the cortex yet, and I suspect that will be the interesting results.
On to news in England.
There's a rumour floating around of Bin Laden's death. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5374998.stm> <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2372390,00.html> <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1879905,00.html>
UK voters want a change: <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1879885,00.html> <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5375186.stm>
Global warming relief? <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1879862,00.html>
Also, check out the Sunday Telegraph ("Torygraph") <www.telegraph.co.uk> . They make it hard to link to their stories, but some are interesting. For example, a lot of public money in the UK is spent by 'quangos'--quasi-non-governmental-organisations, and that creates an opportunity for a lot of feather-bedding.
-- 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>
You may recall that during the 1980s I worked for some private investigators as an operative. This is not that much different from being a reporter. Pretexting is a very common tactic. Geeks call it "Social Engineering". I've done it myself, which is why my bank is under strict instructions to accept no orders from me or anyone who says they're me over the telephone. Most of the "precautions" are laughable and easily overcome. Your mother's maiden name is a matter of public record.
One place I worked, we had a client; a charity which was losing lots of money to someone running a phone room that pretended to be them. We called the one number we had for the phony operation and told them that we were the phone company security department and were alerting them to "unusual charges" that would appear on their next bill. "How much?" they asked. "Over ten thousand dollars and growing." We then offered to check out their other numbers and left them a number to call us back, which they did. That number was a "gag line", a dedicated telephone which was always answered with "security". They called back in an hour and gave us the rest of the numbers in their phone bank. We turned these over to the client, who called the District Attorney. The next day the physical premises were raided and the whole thing shut down. The charity had lost three million dollars in donations these people diverted.
So, this was a good thing, right? Of course, it was technically illegal. The California Code term is "False Personation" and it is a misdemeanor. But this is what Private Investigators do and they do it because you can't get the police, who are very busy with crimes they can already prove, to even take a look at something like this without providing information that makes an easy arrest.
Large corporations use private investigators all the time. Industrial undercovers, where an operative is placed within a factory or office, go for months, or even years. I knew one who'd worked in a big bakery for two years and spent an equal amount of time in a steel mill. In each case he busted drug rings, gambling operations and even prostitution. Management can't afford to turn a blind eye to such things, not just because of potential bad publicity, but also of legal liability, which can be criminal as well as civil.
It gets dicey because there is usually some kind of Union and there are Federal laws against spying on union activities. It can also be dangerous. And these investigators are not police and have no special powers of arrest or back-ups.
The HP investigation is harder to justify. It is not a crime to talk to a reporter and the idea of infiltrating newsrooms is bizarre. Like they're never going to find out? These are people who are nosy as a profession. California has the Right of Privacy in the State Constitution, so it almost automatically invites lawsuits. Ms. Dunn, as a former journalist, would be presumed to know this. In the History of Bad Ideas, this one is near the top of the list.
The Iraqis Themselves.
- Roland Dobbins
Democracy vs. tribalism...
Hello Dr. Pournelle:
I wonder if it has occurred to anyone, that the outbreaks of infection in our food supply might be caused by the immense uncontrolled immigration taking place. For decades, there have been running jokes about dysentery, not drinking the water, and a whole collection of other ills associated with Mexico. In truth, whatever substance these old stories and jokes may have, when you permit huge numbers of people in, from what is essentially a third world country, you also invite in their diseases, and their interpretation of hygiene and public health. I think that it is more than a coincidence that these problems started in the produce and meat industries in which illegals are so heavily represented. Of course, it would be racist to speak of this, so nobody does. They will no more look towards illegal Mexicans as a possible source of disease, than they do towards middle easterners as a possible source of terrorism.
All of this is, of course, in addition to the huge load that illegals put on the medical and welfare systems of this country, not to mention the extra load placed upon the prison and law enforcement resources. Why do we want to do this? I have a high regard for the United States, and for it's culture (what's left of it), and do not see any advantage to transforming it into a third world country, by reintroducing problems which we have already solved a century ago. Since our alleged representatives seem unwilling to deal with this problem, we may as well begin to get used to living by third world standards. So we need to lock our doors against the increasing criminal element, not talk to the police, expect to be robbed and dominated by our government, and look forward to increasing poverty and insecurity. We also need to remember to cook all food thoroughly, and not drink the water.
I am almost glad that the World War Two veterans are, as a generation, dying off. As much as we could use people of their mettle, I am ashamed to have them see what is being done to the country for which they sacrificed so much. It seems that, unlike them, my generation is largely unwilling to fight for our country, or even to care for it. It may be that the old generation will be the last whole generation, outside of separate individuals, to be considered as traditionally American.
Depending upon what history you read, and what definitions you use Valens, Flavius Aetius, Jovian, and Theodosius, as well as others, have all been referred to as the Last Roman. What is interesting about this is that many of those so named lived decades, or even centuries before the official fall of Rome. Certainly, they are only the last Romans in retrospect, and did not perceive themselves as such. I wonder if the last American has been born yet, and if not, how far in the future does his birth lie?
You have my sympathies, by the way, and I hope that something can be done about your neck, and sinuses. I suppose that they have checked you for Lyme, and other such things. It is cheering that nothing bad was found when your head was examined. In the meantime, I always look forward to browsing your site, and appreciate that you are continuing to update. It may be, that the last American is out there somewhere reading your column.
Of 32 emergency rooms in LA County, all but 11 seem to have closed. No private hospital can afford to have an emergency room. If you are wealthy and worried, you need to leave California.
But we are all politically correct.
Subject: Sometimes I wish I had stayed in the Navy
Tim of Angle
Subject: Who was in charge?
According the story, the Deputy Secretary of State allegedly threatened to make war on an islamic nation that possesses nuclear weapons (Pakistan), and the President of the United States was not aware that the threat was being made! Makes we wonder who was really running our Foreign Policy back then.
Richard Armitage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia On March 2, 2006, bloggers discovered that "Richard Armitage" fit the spacing on a redacted court document, suggesting he was a source for the Plame leak. ...
Subject: On spinach
Been monitoring the Mountain View Police primary frequency for a while as part of a comm system I'm about to put up. Guess what all the radio calls are about? Hispanic's - gang related and spousal abuse. At a community meeting a while back the cop that was present, mentioned that our local police spent 95% of its time on less than 5% of the population. So instead of stopping flagrant traffic violators, we get speed bumps every where. But we have cheap lawn care!
|This week:||Tuesday, September
For the descendants of the Vikings who once ruled the Atlantic, Mediterranean and all the rivers of Europe and Asia as far as Tashkent.
Michael Z. Williamson
Subject: Safer and safer
My favorite part on the new, new, uh, -really- new TSA rules on liquids in carry on luggage:
It is just SWELL of them that they don't care (temporarily) what SIZE clear plastic bag you use to enclose small containers of those dangerous eye drops, toothpaste and deodorant.
I think the reason that we've had no airline related security incidents since 9/11 is that the people who might want to commit such acts have decided that the disruption already created, and the wasted resources, is the best outcome they could have hoped for. That, or they just can't stop laughing....
The purpose of TSA is to demonstrate to the people of these United States that we are no longer citizens. It serves that purpose well. We are now subjects, and we are to be deferential to those who cannot get better jobs than as TSA screeners. As you say, the disruption to air travel is an effective tool of economic warfare. Even as insanely rich as we are, this is costly. And of course the principle of "equality" (meaning equal misery) demands that we treat 80 year old grandmothers exactly the same as we treat bearded young men clutching Korans and glancing nervously about.
Our masters have gone barking mad, and there seems to be no way to cure this. Electing Democrats won't do it. They'll do worse.
Competent Empire we might be able to tolerate. What we have now is clowns in command.
Fred is grumpy. Among other things, he says we are over-governed:
So. Everyone read this and think on it. Then comment. I'll have my own after you get a chance to look at it.
Subject: Daily Diatribe -
Maybe I seem a little harsh on the Mohammedans of late. Perhaps just a wee bit of it involves the way they treat their women. They "relieve us of the responsibility to spend the income we earn." The men take it all. When it comes to a court of law the word of a woman gets half the weight of the word of a man. That is in the Qur'an. In practice it is much worse.
So in Afghanistan there was a leading official working on women's rights. She was gunned down as she left her home for work in Kandahar. It is not unreasonable to suspect the Taliban is responsible. She was a sharp, eloquent, and ardent critic of them.
This tells us two things, there is a resurgence of Taliban violence, and the general Mohammedan notion of a strong woman pushing education and women's rights is worthy of murder.
And they we can offend Christians to a farethewell. We can offend Jews to a farethewell. We can offend pagans quite freely. We can offend everyone but Mohammedans. An automobile commercial and promotion by an auto dealer was censored. It was too inflammatory. Yeah - why do these Mohammedans think and demand that they receive a higher standard of protection from insults than the rest of our world here in the US. WE can laugh at ourselves. That is part of our culture. They can't. It is time they joined our culture if they intend to live here.
And we all remember South Park - It is open season on Jesus but not on Mohammed. Of course Mozart gets censored too.
And so do newspapers in Egypt
Them thar Mohammedans have no sense of humor. And if they do not then perhaps they do not belong in this country. I am sure there are some countries that would welcome them and their attitude. It is not welcome here, IMAO.
So the Italians are deciding it is time to do something about their rapidly growing population of embedded terrorists er Mohammedans. The Interior Minister is drawing up a charter of values to which the Mohammedans will be expected to subscribe to indicate their readiness to be fully integrated into Italian society. Allowing them to stay separate has not worked. He's developing an alternative approach. He has my applause. Robert Spencer takes him to task on details. But we all must start somewhere. I'm willing to applaud the guy and give him a chance to try it.
For a nice snicker consider that these are the UN guys guarding us from nuclear proliferation. The IAEA commissioner falls into water tank at a Czech nuclear plant.
OK OK, the water was not radioactive. But still, when you are in a group and are instructed not to leave the group there is usually a pretty good reason to listen - and stay with the group. But then, it is the UN. And we've all learned not to expect brilliance from them unless there is corruption opportunity at stake.
Subject: Virginia Heinlein
The Rio film festival RAH and Ellison attended occurred in March 1969, while Harlan Ellison didn't pass Robert A. Heinlein for total number of Hugos (5-4 at the time) until Labor Day weekend 1969, in St. Louis. In March 1969 both would have had four Hugos.
The issue is that over time capital accumulates, reducing the marginal value of labour and eventually eliminating all but highly skilled jobs. If debts are inherited, it becomes even worse as a small minority eventually owns all the capital, producing a society that requires only the small amount of production to satisfy the needs of the owners. To overcome this, you have to do two things:
1. Allow each generation to start anew without holding them accountable for the debts of their parents, and
2. Give each generation a free and effective education to endow them with effective skills.
This was the solution seen in New England during the first century of the Republic, underlay the Northern opposition to slavery (which was a threat to the marginal value of skilled labour), and produced the land-grant universities. The recent papers on expertise that I've cited elsewhere strongly suggest that even the lower half of the population can develop expert-quality skills; the only things holding them back being effective education and motivation. I might even suggest that the last fifty year's destruction of the educational system in America might have been deliberate policy on the part of those who stood to gain in the short to medium term (not long term) from the centralisation of capital in their hands.
-- 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>
Yes, but the education system must accommodate both those who require EDUCATION, and those who require SKILLS. Skills are learned in a different manner and appeal to different people from the symbol-manipulation set.
Belloc and the distributists thought a periodic redistribution of ownership would suffice: a fool and his money are parted, but it takes a while, and meanwhile everyone has a good start, some better than others but none at rock bottom. Henry George had similar views with a different remedy.
The education bureaucracy has utterly destroyed public education although there are exceptions. Skills are mostly a matter of inheritance now, with some learned by apprenticeship, but since skills aren't taught there is less and less ability to compete with offshore workers.
It is pretty clear that the US would survive and be wealthy if, magically, all imports and exports were blocked. The Technocracy people for all their odd views did a pretty good resource survey and concluded that a Technate of North America could be quite self-sufficient. I understand there are a few vital resources like chromium that must be imported, but there cannot be many vital resources with no substitutes whatever. An economically isolated United States is not only possible, but one could argue that by requiring the contribution of nearly everyone in the country, it might well be better off in the sense of being a working republic.
As I have said many times, my own view is that a tariff of between 10 and 15% on all imports would be about right; it would provide enough protection for "inefficient" enterprises (such as those that provide health care and pensions and worker safety) without leaving the domestic industries utterly without competition and thus grossly inefficient. I have yet to see a good economic refutation of this taking into account the reductions in anomie, the lowered costs of prisons and welfare systems and parole officers and the whole machinery of compensating for a large underclass with no economic importance. When I ask economists about this they wave their hands and say I have not read Ricardo and do not understand comparative advantage, none of which addresses the question I raise: given political realities, does exporting jobs make sense?
Clearly exporting SOME jobs makes sense; the question is how many, which ones, and what the hidden costs of job exports are. The firm that exports the job gets the benefit of work at lower cost; that firm does not bear the social cost of unemployment or downgraded jobs, of casting someone from middle to lower class and from lower class to underclass. Those costs are born by all. I have yet to see a real economic model taking all this into account.
Bah! Fred seems to be running for Supreme Nattering Nabob of Negativism.
Everything's gone to s---, nothing can be done about it, we're all Doomed! Doomed, I say!
Me, I'd rather think about, and discuss, what we can do to *improve* the situation.
How about let's light some candles, rather than just cursing the Darkness?
We can begin by coming up with a way to teach all the kids to read. Oops. We have that. Now we need a way to get it out to them and get the teachers to use it. That doesn't seem to be working so well.
We can also try to get someone in authority to stop being so damned PC and admit that half the children are below average, they can't be drowned, and schools have to have something for them: there have to be ways to teach skills as well as "educate" in the public schools. I've been trying to do that for 40 years. I don't seem to have got it across. Instead we got No Child Left Behind and everyone is proud of that imbecility. Mr. Gates wants to use his money to provide a world class university prep education for everyone, as if that made sense anywhere but in Lake Wobegon. The truth is that intellectuals hate skilled work (usually), but there are plenty of skilled workers needed -- but instead of teaching our kids to do them, we offshore that work when possible.
Despair is a sin, but I do hope I will be permitted to go write some books and make a bit of money, having put my tender members in the Disposal for all these years...
Jerry, about this:
There is a study cited in Emmanuel Todd's L'Illusion Economique - I looked it up on Amazon and it doesn't look like it's been translated into English. Unfortunately, I don't have the book with me right now, and I don't remember the exact references. I'll try to get it back and look it up if you're interested.
The study was about a short period at the end of the 19th century when most industrialised nations agreed on free trade agreements. According to the study, international trade dropped and growth in participating nations slumped, so after a few years protectionism gradually crept back in and growth and international trade came back.
This is counterintuitive, but Todd's thesis is that you can't dissociate economics from society - he's an ethnologue and his basic theory is that family structure conditions both political and economic structures, the main parameters being nuclear/extended, patriarchal/non-patriarchal, endogamic/exogamic, and inheritance patterns.
In the case of free trade, however, his analysis is that it dissociates supply from demand in the mind of economic decision-makers. In a protected system, your employees are also your customers, so if they're doing well, so will you. In a free trade system, employees are just cost. Of course, at the end of the day, if employees all over the world are getting pressured, demand falls for everybody, but it's a classic game-theory situation where you're pushed into a sub-optimal choice.
Another point Todd makes is that Ricardian specialisation at the country scale is plain stupid. Not everybody in Switzerland is a genius at making watches or cheese, so if you insist on everybody in Switzerland doing just the one or the other, you'll end up turning great aerospace engineers into poor milkmen and overall efficiency will drop. Of course, you could force Swiss aerospace engineers to relocate to Seattle or Toulouse, but we all know it just doesn't work that way.
But the real problem according to him is that globalisation forces everybody to use the same economic system - these days, that's the anglo-saxon financial, stock-market driven model - and that simply doesn't work because of societal pressures. You can think of it roughly as the Germans being more efficient working in patriarchal conglomerates, the French in a Jacobin, state-pushed system, etc... just because it corresponds to the family structure in which they're raised.
An interesting point he makes is that in the US, de-industrialisation started roughly at the time when in the 1970's - early 1980's families of Germanic/Scandinavian ancestries got fully assimilated and the corresponding family structure disappeared in the US.
At least one of Todd's books is available in English on Amazon, After the Empire, about the US course to, well, just that, written in 2002 and updated in 2004. You could find it worth your time.
As a final note, he's half American and half French.
Jean-Louis Beaufils, Paris
Fascinating. That looks like precisely the kind of analysis I had in mind, and I like the notion that when there are tariffs, employees are customers (as with Henry Ford) and not just a cost.
I have often said the same thing regarding Ricardian specialization, but the economists just throw up their hands and say I don't understand. I am not sure what I should have learned that I didn't. I used to be pretty good at operations research and models, but economics seems to make some very odd assumptions.
We all grew up hating tariff -- at least I did, in the Old South, learning in 8th grade that Smoot Hawley caused the depression. In those days Republicans were protectionists, and Democrats had the platform plank "Tariff for revenue only." (Note that it was considered a legitimate source of revenue to have an excise tax on imports.) Today I wonder.
As expected, Microsoft released the fix for the "VML" exploit that security researchers say is 'running rampant' (their opinion, not mine). Details are in this KB article: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS06-055.mspx <http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS06-055.mspx> . Most users (at least those that have automatic updates set up properly) will get the update by tomorrow; if you want it faster, just use the "Microsoft Update" or "Windows Update" in the Start menu. Corporate users should work with their help/support staff.
As I have said before, I don't think this is as urgent as some have claimed. "Safe computing" practices work for me (for new readers: fully patched OS/apps via automatic updates, current anti-virus, using the 'preview pane' in Outlook, avoiding the 'dark side' of the Internet, data backups). Note that users should ensure they have "Microsoft Update" on their Start menu; this will get them the critical MS Office updates.
Now, there are exploits out there for this. And all
varieties of operating systems (and applications) need to be kept current.
For instance, web sites hosted at one hosting place (HostGator) were
compromised by and exploit against the "CPanel" program (used to remotely
administer your web site). That exploit gave the hacker control ("root")
over the web site, and they installed HTML code on those pages that
redirected visitors to sites with malware-enabled pages. Since the hacker
had control of the web servers via the CPanel program, initial efforts to
recover worked for a while until reinfected. The CPanel program vuln has
since been fixed. (More info here
The point is that no OS or application is immune from attack. Some environments are attacked more than others. And sometimes the attack can come from an unexpected direction. "Safe computing" practices by users and administrators is important.
In the words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (the late Michael Conrad) on Hill Street Blues: "Hey, let's be careful out there!"
Regard, Rick Hellewell
Warning: follow the next link at your own discretion. I advise you not to, actually. You may regret it if you do.
Just when you thought you'd heard everything, this from the BBC:
Two important articles from the Brussels Journal:
Dalrymple on Decadence, Europe, America and Islam.http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1345
The Benedictine Rule.http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1346
September 27, 2006
-- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Survival rations
Just for fun, I offer this. I've seen the stuff sold, though I've never seen anyone eat it.
I'm pretty sure this is the ultimate survival food, because I guarantee it will be the last thing on the pantry shelf.
-- Michael Z. Williamson
Subj: CDC: Pournelle's Law not yet taken hold?
It would appear that Pournelle's Law has not yet fully taken hold at the CDC:
There is probably an interesting doctoral dissertation or two to be written about *how* the CDC evades Pournelle's Law.
Why Americans Oppose the Iraq War.
--- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Daily Diatribe - basically one topic today. Mohammedan perpetual pique
The little baby Mohammedans are getting more and more petulant.
Bombing churches. Taliban demanding apology...or else. More enraged Muslims prove the Pope's point. An Arab op-ed threatens: Pope's remarks may lead to war.
and the list goes on with links all over the place. There is a nice article by Father Raymond de Souza speaking out in the National Post with an excerpt in Michelle's blog posting.
Are the Mohammedans a case for arrested development? Are their actions the actions of adults? Arguably their religion prevents their growing up to be fully realized human beings grasping all their potential. It's rather a shame.
Father Raymond de Souza thinks otherwise, quoting from Michelle's excerpts: It does a disservice to children to call the wild-eyed statements and deranged behavior of the past days childish.
It is not only the obscenity of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist terrorist band suppressed in several Muslim states, demanding an apology from anyone, let alone the Holy Father.
It is not only the grandstanding Pakistani politicians passing resolutions condemning a papal speech few read, and even fewer understood. It is not only the extraneous charges about the Holocaust and Hitler by the agitated and excited.
It is that we have seen this before.
I suppose it is a disservice to children. But even monkeys are not as extreme and petulant unthinking unreasoning animated pieces of meat as the Mohammedans rioting over a recounting of a historical discourse between a Pope and a very learned Mohammedan scholar and theologian.
How is the world to deal with these people if we cannot clearly identify the moderate Mohammedans and give them encouragement to spread their concepts and beliefs. These moderates of good will have a very steep mountain to climb to alter the very foundations of a very violent religion.
Meanwhile, we non-Mohammedans are in the beginning stages if a new fight for our very existence, the same as what faced the first crusaders.
If these Mohammedans are not stopped - the human world stops. Note that there is NO equivalent of the Pope within Mohammedan law, tradition, or Qur'an. It's every man for himself with the most charismatic being leaders of others convincing them of HIS take on the religion. Given that, the last two Mohammedans left alive will be forced one to kill the other over the most minute difference in belief. For that difference makes each an apostate in the others eyes. And apostates are to be put to death. Literally the human world ends if the Mohammedans win it all.
Then we have Father Samir K. Samir also speaking out. Michelle's quote begins: Rather than criticizing Islam, the pope is actually offering it a helping hand by suggesting that it do away with the cycle of violence," Fr. Samir K. Samir, SJ one of the Vatican's leading experts on Islam wrote in the Catholic newspaper Asia News.
That very much is what the Pope offered. However, the Mohammedans are deathly afraid of any change to the scriptures. The tradition says those who would "interpret" the scriptures are apostates. They are to be taken as written.
And if you need to lighten up a little Daffyd is at full sail in his blog entry link in Michelle's blog item above. He claims to have the original pre-editing manuscript for the NYTimes piece on Pope Benedict's horrid gross misstatement.
The party continues in Michelle's next blog post: http://michellemalkin.com/archives/005937.htm
It is complete with a graffiti picture of the Pope with Mohammedan love poems pasted over the picture. You know - things like "The pig, worshiper of the crosses," "Sacrifice him/Behead him," and other expressions of their undying love for the Pope.
Question - why are all the posters in the riots and protests in English? Or at least they seem to be. Are the other language posters invisible to the news camera critters?
This needs to be quoted in full: And remember that "Mr Pope Be With In Your Limits Banner?" Robert Spencer explains what it means: What limits? Classic Islamic law stipulates that Christians may live in peace in Islamic societies as long as they accept second-class status as dhimmis, which involves living within certain limits: not holding authority over Muslims, paying the jizya tax, not building new churches or repairing old ones, and...not insulting Allah or Muhammad. If they believe that a Christian has insulted them in some way, even inadvertently, his contract of protection -- dhimma -- is voided.
So are these protestors warning the Pope to behave like a dhimmi, or else? I expect so. After all, so many Christians and post-Christians in the West in recent years have been willing, even eager, to accept such limits -- witness the chastened reaction to the Cartoon Rage riots, in which Church officials, government leaders, and others solemnly pontificated against "insults to religious figures." But it wasn't really a question of blasphemy then, and it isn't a question of insult now. It is a question of whether non-Muslims will submit to Muslim standards and restrictions on their speech, thought, and behavior.
And I hope that the Pope, for one, is not willing to do so.
I hope so, too. Today all good men and women are Catholics WITH the Pope and against the religion of perpetual pique, Mohammedanism.
"Pope to address controversy on Sunday"
I hope he does so sensibly rather than giving in. His address in two and three quarter hours as I write this.
On a related but slightly different note, we can see who is really in charge in Lebanon. Hezbollah tells the UN peacekeepers what they are allowed to do.
September 28, 2006
Subject: Closeup of the Face on Mars,
Closeup of the Face on Mars:
As a face, well, this dude's fairly u-u-u-gly.
The Pope's Message
The muslim reaction to the Pope's message has had at least one effect. I, again, support the Iraq war. I did at the start and then, gave up on Bush for his inept handling of the war. But, after the way the muslims have attempted to harm the Pope, I believe the war is necessary.
Militant muslims are the danger to the west and I'm glad that they exposed themselves. Given the opportunity, they would white wash St. Peter's and behead Benedict. War is the only way to produce a kinder Kzinti! They must be stopped.
Yours truly, Christopher Vaughan
Rod Montgomery criticizes Fred for not being constructive about the situation in the United States. That brought to mind another article Fred wrote a couple years back in response to just such a criticism. I think you will find it interesting.
This dovetails neatly with a view that I've been refining over a long term, which is that America is in an absentee-landlord situation; only the lands in question are industry and the economy. The people who run US Airways, for example, when they need to fly somewhere, do not book their flight a month in advance and go to the airport four hours early and get run through the security mill and then stuffed into closer quarters with strangers than they typically are with their own family. They get on a private charter jet. The jet may say "US AIR" on the side, and the staff may wear US Airways uniforms, but they're employees only by courtesy; they're personal servants, and the charter jet is the executive fief. The CEO of Comcast Inc. does not dial 1-800-COMCAST when his cable modem disconnects. The president of McDonald's does not eat dogfood burgers served by functional illiterates. There is a _fundamental_ _disconnection_ between the people who make the money and the people who do the work. There is no use in yelling at service employees anymore; even if they wanted to help you there's really nothing they can do beyond what they're allowed. The people who have the authority are all at the Home Office, which is only open until 2 PM and is located in Minnesota.
When a business is large enough that the owner does not need to speak to his customers, it is too large.
Subject: Security classification
Regarding the NIE declassification, security declassification authority is specifically given to a certain level of authority, however anyone in a lateral organization who does not directly report to the classification authority or declassification authority is theoretically immune to prosecution for "unauthorized" declassification.
As an example, I can produce a "classified" document in the normal conduct of my job, but the declassification authority may be fairly close to my own level so anyone above that level may be allowed to declassify that document on their own authority.
Since declassification authority for a military document is typically within the military chain of command, and a congressman will typically hold themselves as above/outside the military chain of command, there are few congressmen who needs to think twice about "declassifying" a document classified secret by a military authority.
Don't post my name on this, since this is an uncomfortable *fact* that a lot of people don't want to know. The US military is 100% dominated by our civilian authority. This is a good thing in the broadest interpretation, but it also means that military matters are 100% subject to political interests and that includes security classifications.
You can't do this because you're not elected to an office above or separate from the military chain of command (your public service that exposed you to classified material was in the service of the President) but a congressman does not report to the President or any military authority for that matter, so a congressman who spills a secret classified by me or my organization (for example) is de-facto pretty much immune from prosecution.
Does this mean that any Congress critter can leak the National Intelligence Estimate with impunity?
I am not sure I understand what you've said here.
This is a long article; it's of interest to anyone concerned about the future of education in the United States.
The teachers colleges have accomplished much of this, while simultaneously producing an educational dark age in which we no longer even remember that there was a time when every child could read by the end of Second Grade.
Jerry, I have 2 children and have relied upon Norton Internet Security for Parental control features that prevent my kids accessing inappropriate content on the internet. I'm sure it does not work 100 percent but I also try to monitor my kids within reason to ensure that the content they are viewing is appropriate. What I wanted to write to you about, is the parental control feature seems to be missing from NIS 2007. I contacted Symantec and was told that it was left out because customers did not want it.
Accessing the Symantec website, using the product selection wizard and selecting parental control still points to NIS 2007. The tech told me that it would be released as a potential patch in a few weeks for the customers that want it. To me this is inappropriate. If the software is installed on a computer, the parental control form the previous version is obviously uninstalled. Either the user is forced to return to the previous version to await the patch "in a few weeks" or leave the potential can of worms open until the patch is made available.
Symantec in this case is misleading consumers and I thought you might want to warn your readers that might be looking for the parental control functionality and are intending to upgrade.
Again, just thought you might want to have this information.
Jeff Cooper died on Monday.
I had the great privilege of learning both handgun and rifle under him, and knowing him for the last 15 years. He was both a warrior and a philosopher, perhaps Leonidas reborn.
Subject: Thou Shalt Not Mock Government Employees
And my family thinks I'm being irrational about my dislike for the TSA.
(Gee, do I need to withhold my name from this? I've got to get on an airplane soon.)
Subject: ERIC THE GREEN?
Subject : Grain in Greenland ? -That aint hay in the foreground , and the large white object is exactly what you think it is - http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2006/09/greenlands_ungr.html
ALAS the link doesn't seem to work.
This one doeshttp://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2006/09/eric_the_green.html
Thanks to Bill Billings!
re: Doggy Diner
No K-rations for me, guv'nor. I'll jolly well stick to bread pudding http://www.janeausten.co.uk/magazine/index.ihtml?pid=337&step=4 or "spotted dick" as we likes to call it.
Also, I 'eard a rumor that our lads in Iraq 'ad an affectionate nickname for the Yank's Commanding General - http://www.britishbacon.com/comersus6f/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=2 "Bangers" they called 'im, meanin' no 'arm ... seein' as 'e *was* Tommy Franks ...
-- Bill Kilner
The answer is contained in the comment. Mr. Pritchett (and you, and I) want to preserve Western Culture. But as Jacob Leib Talmon pointed out, in his trilogy The origins of totalitarian democracy, Political Messianism, and The myth of the nation and the vision of revolution, lots of people in the West have hated our culture since the Enlightenment (especially those who think they should be philosopher-kings with absolute power). And until we recognize that many so-called reformers and social critics are really just at war with Western Civilization, we won't be able to counter them.
Best, Stephen M. St. Onge Minneapolis, MN
DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!
Subject: You said...
"We all grew up hating tariff -- at least I did, in the Old South, learning in 8th grade that Smoot Hawley caused the depression."
Another Old South reason for hating tariffs, Dr. Pournelle, is that they were a major cause of the "War of Northern Aggression" as my west Tennessee relatives refer to the unCivil War. Lincoln was elected by the industrial north which wanted tariff protection, while at the same time these tariffs hurt the agricultural south by increasing their costs for manufactured goods and simultaneously (by limiting the markets) reduced their revenue from agriculture.
Since history books are written by the victors, I doubt that the part played by tariffs in causing the Civil War received much coverage in your schools (or mine, for that matter).
You're in Nashville, no? I know they think that Shelby County is full of uneducated rednecks, but I can assure you, we had heard about tariff and the War even in Capleville, Tenn., in the 1940's. I am aware that about 80% of the revenue of the US prior to 1860 was paid in the South, but 85% of all Federal spending was in the North or on the Navy, and the debates on Secession. They did learn us a little of that stuff in Shelby County!
Subject: Outsourcing Education...
Fuel to the fire about education in the USA, Dr. Pournelle:
"The outsourcing trend that fueled a boom in Asian call centers staffed by educated, low-paid workers manning phones around the clock for U.S. banks and other industries is moving fast into an area at the heart of U.S. culture: education.
"It comes at a difficult time for the U.S. education system: only two-thirds of teenagers graduate from high school, a proportion that slides to 50 percent for black Americans and Hispanics, according to government statistics."
The way to see that no child is left behind is to make certain none get ahead.
I wish I'd had computers when I was planning air strikes on Tirana about a zillion years ago...
For the background to this click here
After a poster to Harlan's message board
And after a few more people complained about the 'bitch' comment, Harlan replied with this:
HARLAN ELLISON - Thursday, September 28 2006 19:1:1 PUBLIC SHRIVING REDUX
I would imagine that probably ends it pretty much.
Cheers, Jonathan Stover
I suppose I am technically uninvolved, but Robert and Ginny were close friends perhaps twenty years, and Ginny Heinlein was generally a gracious lady. She could be sharp when pressed, but in many cases even those incidents were more impish humor than malice. I can well believe the story as Harlan tells it here. I could not believe it as he told it the night of the Hugo awards
As he says, there is no one to apologize to. Yet, I recall, Harlan was extremely displeased with Charles Platt for defaming Larry Shaw, and expressed that rather vigorously; he may not have demanded that Platt apologize, but he certainly made his position clear. The way Harlan told the story in the video clip made Ginny look considerably different from the way many of us remember her.
I still have no idea what Mr. Harrington's problem is, or why he should interpret my telling of this slight, anything but disrespectful, but nonetheless real, anecdote as "defaming a dead person."
but I think anyone watching the video, then reading the account Harlan gives above, might be forgiven for thinking Mrs. Heinlein "defamed".
September 30, 2006
Subject: Japanese quality in decline - the fruits of prosperity?
The Japanese fret that quality is in decline:
The crucial points are buried in the middle of the story, but it seems that prosperity is finally getting to them the way it did to us.
I am sure everyone has seen this, but for the record:
Anousheh Ansari weblogging from space.
--- Roland Dobbins
October 1, 2006
Gee, Roberta should have gotten in on some of this money!
The problem is that it didn't work that way. This is a very important article. It demonstrates just how pernicious "Federal Aid to Education" has become. Most of you will not remember when "Federal Aid to Education" was a controversial matter. Some of us opposed it, for a number of reasons. One was that we predicted this kind of thing would happen.
The article continues:
And I can only say, "I flipping told you so!"
Your Sept 29 View included this statement:
Can you provide any reference?
Earlier this year, without any discussion with the booksellers, eBay implemented a new policy banning the sale of teacher's edition textbooks. There was considerable protest over this, and eBay has been prevaricating ever since. A discussion thread on the Booksellers Board has over 1400 posts (I can provide a brief synopsis, if you're interested), but there is no movement on policy. As an example of the absurdity, the policy prevents the sale of TE Dick and Jane readers, which are collectible and haven't been used in schools for decades.
As far as I can recall, there has been no dicussion of any teachers union involvement in the ban. But since eBay is a California company, I am wondering.
Best Regards, D.R. Williams
The reference is from correspondence, and some statements by Dr. Robinson of the Oregon Institute which has some excellent home schooling curricular materials, and who has experience in trying to get approved textbooks. I see now that the document I had is dated last spring, and apparently there have been some changes.
It is likely -- indeed it is certain -- that my statement was overly broad. I should have said that "some" teachers unions have this policy and goal.
For the record, I was for a year the business agent of Professional Educators of Los Angeles, which was a teacher's association that was legally a union but which rejected most of the notions of what a union is. That is, we bargained with LAUSD, but not with the threat of strikes. PELA was absorbed into the union system after my departure.
Most teachers unions are perfect examples of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy; the best teachers want nothing to do with union management and are not looking for released time (being paid by the school board to do administration, not teaching). Those who take the positions usually do so because they didn't like teaching or -- well for other reasons having to do with classroom performance. The number of teachers union officials who have an outstanding record in the classroom is vanishingly small.
The result is that teachers unions work to benefit the union; to keep membership large, and that means protecting everyone in the union. The more heavily unionized a district the more difficult it is to fire an incompetent teacher.
It is a matter of public record that the teacher unions in California opposed the law allowing principals to reject transfers of incompetent teachers into their schools; and oppose any weakening whatever in the tenure laws, including longer 'probation' times for teachers.
Whether "tenure" in public schools makes sense is a matter worth discussion, but no teachers union will host such a discussion. They have tenure as a major policy goal.
"That's not my job."
- Roland Dobbins
I am preparing an essay on Iraq and what we should do if we want to retain the republic. It will be a while in preparation. It's not an easy thing to write.
It's very easy for me to say "I told you not to go in there." We have done so. The question is, what do we do now that we are there and it didn't work?
I will point out that for the $300 billion the war has cost we could have energy independence, and stop sending billions of dollars to Arab nations. The only way the Muslims can get at us is for us to pay their way to get here; paying $60 /bbl for oil is one way to pay their way.
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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.
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