picture of me

Chaos Manor Home Page> Mail Home Page  > View Home Page > Current View > Chaos Manor Reviews Home Page


Mail 442 November 27 - December 3, 2006







BOOK Reviews

Chaos Manor Reviews

read book now

emailblimp.gif (23130 bytes)mailto:jerryp@jerrypournelle.com

CLICK ON THE BLIMP TO SEND MAIL TO ME. Mail sent to me may be published.

LAST WEEK                                   NEXT WEEK


Atom FEED from Chaos Manor

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Highlights this week:


  If you send mail, it may be published. See below. For boiler plate, instructions, and how to pay for this place, see below.

line6.gif (917 bytes)

This week:


read book now


Monday  27 November 2006

Subject: Letter from England

First, Happy Thanksgiving! Diane and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for American and Canadian students in Sunderland for the sixth year in a row.

The big story is the ex-Soviet spy dying of polonium poisoning. The Russian FSB has its fingerprints on the case. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2472059,00.html>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Observer/uk_news/story/0,,1957279,00.html>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Observer/uk_news/story/0,,1957403,00.html>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6240540,00.html>  <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6186194.stm>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article2016151.ece>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article2016152.ece>

Pope Benedict XVI in Turkey. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2471894,00.html>  <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6185436.stm>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2016147.ece

US forces in Iraq helpless to stop the civil war? <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2472223,00.html

Pakistan to the UK: do a deal with the Taliban. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2471865,00.html

The surveillance society in the UK <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6186348.stm>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article2016134.ece>  <http://www.sunderland-echo.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx? SectionID=1107&ArticleID=1898401

Problems with the exam culture in the UK <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-2472124,00.html>  I stopped assessing coursework in one of my programming classes this year. Now, I even encourage collaboration and pair programming on the assignments, finding that the students learn better from each other. What I do instead is have the students take a test afterwards on what they learned from the project. So far, much better.

-- 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>

But what happens to individual responsibility? I ask in genuine curiosity.


Subject: Civil Defense HAS been reborn, but no one's been told...

For your consideration and support:


Of course FEMA's bureaucrats are not yet eager to notify the citizens of the United States that they are encouraged to self-organize. It might highlight their own inadequacies, and suggest a lower annual budget...

--Catfish N. Cod


Subject: Individual Responsibility?

The students are *individually* assessed. The following is a typical exam. (The project was to develop a surface movement management workstation for an airport.)

The marking scheme for all five questions is as follows: 1-7, failing answer—either the student failed to answer the question or provided inadequate supporting evidence from their project work. 8-12, adequate evidence provided from their project work but no central idea defended. 13-14, central idea also defined but not adequately defended 15-16, good critical discussion of the central idea 17-18, central idea defined and critically assessed with some element of novelty 19-20, central idea defined and critically assessed with some element of novelty—and with evidence of professional quality work.

A passing mark for the examination was 40, with the maximum less than 80.

Success (answer one of the two questions, using examples from your project)

1) Describe the organisation of the project team and the roles you played on the team. If you did the project alone, discuss how you organised your work. What parts of the programme were you responsible for testing? Which parts were the hardest to test and why were they hardest?


2) Describe the organisation of the project team and the roles you played on the team. If you did the project alone, discuss how you organised your work. What agile methods did the team use? Why did the team choose to use those methods? (20 marks)

Programming skills (answer one of the two questions, using examples from your project)

3) Describe the approach your team took to interfacing between the surface movement management subsystem and the test scenario subsystem. What features of the Java language did you find useful in doing this? Why were they useful?


4) What features of the Java language did your team investigate when developing the classes that represent aircraft in the subsystems? Why did you use/reject those features? (20 marks)

Design skills (answer one of the two questions, using examples from your project)

5) Summarize the top-level object-oriented design of the surface movement management system (not the test scenario simulation). Show the important class relationships on no more than one page and the important inheritance hierarchies on a second page. Why do you regard them as the important ones?


6) Summarize the top-level object-oriented design of the test scenario simulation subsystem (not the surface movement subsystem). Show the important class relationships on no more than one page and the important inheritance hierarchies on a second page. Why do you regard them as the important ones? (20 marks)

Requirements and Design Documentation Practices (answer one of the two questions, using examples from your project)

7) Draw a UML activity diagram showing how the test scenario subsystem manages simulated aircraft movements in your system. What problems did the team encounter implementing this requirement?


8) Draw a UML sequence diagram showing how the surface movement subsystem handles simulated radar reports from the test scenario subsystem. What problems did the team encounter implementing this requirement? (20 marks)

Understanding of Theory (answer one of the two questions, using examples from your project)

9) What exact approach did your team take to designing the graphical user interface? What problems did the team encounter in implementing it? If you were to do the project over, what approach would you take and why?


10) What approach did your team take to managing multiple aircraft movements taking place simultaneously? How did you deal with the problem of synchronising movements with command processing? Were you successful, and in what sense? (20 marks)

Jerry, if your concern is with the students taking individual responsibility for a significant package of code, that's actually demonstrated by their senior project. My concern is that they develop programming and design skills and a knowledge of modern development methods. I find they learn the practical material better from each other (due to peer pressure) than from me and the tutors (who have only a few minutes per student per week).

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




This week:


read book now


Tuesday,  November 28, 2006

They Didn't Attack Switzerland.



 - Roland Dobbins

Actually, Switzerland did have a small civil war in the 19th Century, but that doesn't change the argument. America can defend herself.


Trotsky's Shadow.


-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Disposal 

Dear Jerry,


"Nuclear waste dump faces new roadblocks"

Specifically the new Senate Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

"Among Reid's first acts after this month's election was to convene a conference call with home-state reporters to declare Yucca Mountain "dead right now." Reid, however, pledged after the Nov. 7 election that not only will no bill to help Yucca Mountain reach the Senate floor under his leadership, funding for the project also will dry up quickly... About 1,500 people in Nevada are now employed there. Yucca Mountain also has lured research grants to the University of Nevada, and even Reid aides say some spending should be maintained."

I fail to see a difference between this and the worst alleged GOP district pork abuses. The Majority Leader will kill the program but apparently leave a lot of Nevada specific funding. If it's any consolation to Republicans, the new Democratic Congressional majority is unlikely to last long given a leadership that behaves identically to the former GOP leadership. The bad news is the "USA" may not long survive this kind of behavior intact, either.

It's also a good example of why I'm physically focusing on local biomass energy implementations. It's not that they're theoretically best. They're smaller scale projects, don't require a Congressional majority with a national interest first outlook and are more likely to be implemented.

Best Wishes,


Local biomass conversion is good pollution control, but the net output isn't much energy. It won't save us. Nuclear can get us past the hump.


Subject: 'Peak Oil Agricultural Doomsday'

Dear Jerry,

Agricultural doomsday is a central belief of the Peak Oil Doomsday Cult. Another central belief is there are no possible replacements for 'oil'. The first semantic trick of these prophets of Peak Oil mass starvation is to state everything in 'oil equivalents'. This is done even though much of the energy input IS NOT oil derived even today. Let's assume the previous letter about '400 gallons of oil equivalents' to feed one American and the energy percentages are close.

"In the United States, 400 gallons of oil equivalents are expended annually to feed each American (as of data provided in 1994). Agricultural energy consumption is broken down as follows:"

"31% for the manufacture of inorganic fertilizer"

(Comment: Inorganic fertilizer is mainly produced using natural gas, the Haber process and air (78% nitrogen). Prior to cross country natural gas pipelines, beginning in the 1930s, manufacture was accomplished by gasifying coal.)

"19% for the operation of field machinery"

"16% for transportation"

(The total here, 35%, in fact uses liquid fuel. Field machinery can also be fueled with ethanol and bio-diesel. Methanol produced from waste biomass - very prolific in farm country - could also be used. Or we can make synthetic fuel from coal. There's also this alternative: http://www.gengas.nu/byggbes/index.shtml to fuel farm machinery using wood fuel and 'gasification'. Europe did this at the start of World War II and the British oil blockade. Over one million gasifiers were eventually built in Europe during the war years. FYI, powering vehicles is the worst application for biomass gasification. But it was done successfully before to stave off famine and could be done again. A large portion of the 16% 'transportation' is by railroad, meaning we could substitute nuclear electric powered engines for diesel electric engines).

"13% for irrigation"

(comment. Irrigation pumps are overwhelmingly powered by electricity or natural gas.)

"08% for raising livestock (not including livestock feed)"

(comment. This is not specific but might refer to winter heating as is done in the Midwest, and other feedlot uses. If so, the energy sources again are electricity and natural gas.)

"05% for crop drying"

(comment. This heating is assuredly done with natural gas. Waste biomass gasification is also a great energy source for direct heating applications).

"05% for pesticide production"

(comment: Without knowing which pesticides and herbicides are meant, it's reasonable to think electricity and natural gas dominate this production as they do the rest of the non-plastic chemical industry)

08% miscellaneous

(comment. Assign all to oil to give the doomsters their best shot)

35% of the above inputs are obvious oil derived liquid fuels. Of course these agricultural areas are where all the ethanol and bio-diesel plants are now popping up like mushrooms. Using the above data and the most favorable doomster analysis, US agriculture is really using 200 gallons of oil per person at the outside, or 50% of the stated energy input. This is 1.4 billion 42 gallon "oil barrels" assuming a population of 300 million and no farm exports. The US currently produces, imports and consumes 20 million barrels of oil per day, or 7.3 billion barrels per year. Of this US agriculture uses 20%. And a large amount of potentially arable land close to consumers in the USA is not currently farmed for food. Two examples include my yard and the golf course my property abuts in the back.

This doesn't mean the US' energy situation is not serious. Human ignorance and low morals informing bad choices could easily produce pockets of famine in North America in the near future. But this outcome is not predestined by 'Peak Oil', science as presently understood or the lack of immediately usable alternate energy and fuel technologies.

Best Wishes,


Energy is energy, as I have pointed out since A Step Farther Out.  Energy is wealth. Given energy anything can be done; without it energy nothing will be. And cheap energy has always been the road to national wealth. If the Iraq invasion had concentrated on saving the oil wells and pumping oil there would be cheap energy here, and the Dow would be at 14,000.  Sigh.


The Politics of Corn Ethanol

Dear Jerry,

An interesting piece on corn vs cane ethanol:

"...the ethanol produced in the U.S. comes from a less-than-ideal source: corn. Corn ethanol’s “net energy balance”—the amount of energy it yields in proportion to how much energy goes into its production—is significantly lower than that of other alternatives, and modern corn farming isn’t easy on the land. By contrast, ethanol distilled from sugarcane is much cheaper to produce and generates far more energy per unit of input—eight times more, by most estimates—than corn does. In the nineteen-seventies, Brazil embarked on a program to substitute sugar ethanol for oil. Today, every gallon of gas in Brazil is blended with at least twenty per cent of ethanol, and many cars run on ethanol alone, at half the price of gasoline.

What’s stopping the U.S. from doing the same? In a word, politics. The favors granted to the sugar industry keep the price of domestic sugar so high that it’s not cost-effective to use it for ethanol. And the tariffs and quotas for imported sugar mean that no one can afford to import foreign sugar and turn it into ethanol, the way that oil refiners import crude from the Middle East to make gasoline. Americans now import eighty per cent less sugar than they did thirty years ago. So the prospects for a domestic-sugar ethanol industry are dim at best.

We could, of course, simply import sugar ethanol. But here, too, politics has intervened: Congress has imposed a tariff of fifty-four cents per gallon on sugar-based ethanol in order to protect corn producers from competition. A recent study by Amani Elobeid and Simla Tokgoz, scientists at Iowa State University, projected that if the tariffs were removed prices would fall by fourteen per cent and Americans would use almost three hundred million gallons more of ethanol..."


Cheers, Rod Schaffter

-- I know a woman who has said the Catechism of the Catholic Church has "nothing to say" to her, because the language is not inclusive. Imagine that. A book full of riches and information is useless to her because it uses words like "mankind." That's like saying that a chestnut tree, which provides shade and nourishment is useless to one, because its leaves are the wrong shape. --The Anchoress


Subject: Open religious warfare in Iraq - mission accomplished! 

Dr. Pournelle,

It's open religious warfare in Baghdad. Lets get out while they're busy killing each other instead of us. We let them kill each other for decades when our policy was containment. Since we only changed our policy when they quit killing each other and came after us, it really does sound like "mission accomplished" at this point. Half of the islamic religious nutters are flocking to Iraq, so lets let them kill each other off. They've been wanting to do this for ages and it's better they kill each other instead of us, so it's time to leave.

200 in one day was apparently too much for the average shiite, so they're burning down mosques now and saying they'll abandon the government if the US even speaks to the Iraqi prime minister. Fine, it's time to go anyhow. It'll just suck worse if we wait until the govt dissolves before leaving.


Of course, nobody's got the guts to say this in public, but we DID say we wanted the fight to occur outside the US, and we've done a great job of focusing the fighting over there.

Sounds like victory to me. They live their entire life hoping for a chance to be a martyr, so lets get out while they're busy becoming martyrs over there instead of over here. Neither faction has a place for democracy in their belief structure, so now we've contained their violence again, lets leave and let the weapons of mass Disney get back to work. Iran needs a hug anyhow, so we should probably focus on areas that don't hate everything quite so much.



Why The Special Forces are Special

U.S. Army Special Forces captain Jeffrey "Toz" Toczylowski was killed in action in Iraq a year ago. In his will, he left $100,000 to defray the expenses for a party to be held, in memory of him, in Las Vegas. The 30 year old captain was buried at Arlington on November 14, 2005. The party was held November 11, 2006, and was attended by 125 family and friends. Toczylowski believed in what he was doing, and left this message behind to emphasize the point.

"Don't ever think that you are defending me by slamming the Global War on Terrorism or the U.S. goals in that war. As far as I am concerned, we can send guys like me to go after them or we can wait for them to come back to us again. I died doing something I believed in and have no regrets except that I couldn't do more."




Subject: The Euston Manifesto 

Interesting development on the Left,, coming from the UK:


Excerpts -

2) No apology for tyranny. We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

6) Opposing anti-Americanism. We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

9) United against terror. We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

11) A critical openness. Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the "anti-war" movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.

12) Historical truth. In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.

This may be the beginning of the sort of "left" that in the 1950s and 1960s was able to support the Long War against the Soviet Union.


Do not forget that neocons are not the only Jacobins. Remember the Balkans and Madame Allbright.


On copying DVD's


I have This little device I bought at Best Buy. I think they still sell them. I goes on the video line (svideo or RCA) between player and recorder.

It removes copy protection. The bad thing is it is in real time. Works like a champ. About $100.

GODVD! Model CT-2

Sima Products Corp. www.simacorp.com

There are many such devices, which is why I don't think copy protection has much chance.


Muslims praying in the airport

Hi Jerry,

I'm sure by now you've heard about the 6 Muslim men who were refused carriage by US Airways after passengers became suspicious when they prayed in a group in the airport. There have been numerous calls for sanctions against US Airways for 'ethnic profiling', and others to ban the practice of profile. This isn't one of them.

Let's review for a moment: the 911 hijackers were Muslim men. Not Jews, Christians, Buddhists, or new age crystal worshipers. Middle-eastern (mostly Saudi) Muslim men.

In more than three million miles of air travel, my family and friends have never seen a group of Muslims praying in an airport. If I saw it happen, I'd report it, and if nothing were done I'd get off the plane. Kudos to US Airways for doing the right thing - the best security is a pair of trained eyes, a suspicious mind, and human common sense focused to detect patters out of the ordinary. Muslim group prayer in an airport certainly qualifies, and I'm damn glad that someone spoke up.

The first casualty in the war on terror (aka the war against militant Islam) must be political correctness. For too long we have adapted our culture to foreign practices. I've witnessed American businessmen instructed in how to politely decline an invitation to use a prostitute, ballots printed in foreign languages, bi-lingual education, and many other double standards. It must end. When in Rome do as the Romans. I'll bend in France and be rude to waiters. I'll bend in Scotland and not tip the bartender. I'll bend in Morocco and eat with my hands sitting on the floor. In Japan, I'll even pack in so tight on trains that I can't breathe. But enough is enough. Tolerance breeds contempt - when we bend on our core values, we look weak and encourage our enemies. Time to tell the rest of the world that when they come here, they must adopt our social norms - that we're not going to change, so they need to get over it.

And, especially post-911, that includes Muslims. If they need to pray, do it outside an airport, before they leave or after they arrive. Don't do it on a plane or in an airport. I might feel differently if we'd heard worldwide deafening condemnation of the militants, but we didn't - and still haven't, and until we do, suspicion and caution are legitimate. When Southern Baptism is criticized, the critic is invited to dinner and prayer. When Islam is criticized, we have Fatwas calling for the murder of the critic, protests in the streets, and riots in the cities. Until the Islamic equivalent of the Reformation, it is an indisputable fact that Islam is a violent religion which does not tolerate other beliefs. Time for a taste of its own medicine.

Again - kudos to US Airways. They'll get my business as a result.

It was obviously a setup and they were conspiring. If they now bring any kind of lawsuit they ought to be jailed.


Single asteroid theory.


- Roland Dobbins





This week:


read book now



Subject: The Grand SLAM: Rocketing Water to the Moon 

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/060524_slam_moon.html <http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/060524_slam_moon.html

The greatest snowball "fight" of all time, and we would all have a front row seat:

" strikingly simple concept would provide efficient water provisions for human outposts/bases on the Moon. The idea is to repeatedly clobber our already crater-rich neighbor with tons of water ice—to establish an "anywhere, anytime" delivery system.

Not only could chucking a payload of water ice to the Moon help sustain an expeditionary crew there, the impact mimics—in experimental form—a comet strike. Therefore, it’s a double-whammy: A science mission wrapped within an exploration capability test mission.

Spearheading the speculative ploy—called SLAM—is Alan Stern, executive director of the Space Science and Engineering Division here at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). He’s the lead scientist on another far out, but on the way, endeavor – the New Horizons spacecraft that is outbound for Pluto.

"I hope the SLAM idea stimulates thought and gets people thinking a little bit more out of the box," Stern told SPACE.com. "When we have people on the Moon, they are going to need water. This is an exceptionally efficient, low-cost way to get it there."


One of our insurance plans for the Moon Race involved a one-way mission with hard-landed supplies. It's sure cheaper than soft landing.


Subject: Little ice age

From physorg, "little ice age" caused by reduction in flow volume of gulf stream:

http://www.physorg.com/news84029857.html <http://www.physorg.com/news84029857.html>

Chris  Aspen Research

No group of professionals meets except to conspire against the public at large. Mark Twain

The Greenland colonies were nowhere near the Gulf Stream.


Subject: Re: Litvinenko,NATO, etc (Mail 422, Monday)

And this:


On 11/29/06, Alexey Goldin <alexey.goldin@gmail.com>  wrote:

> The big story is the ex-Soviet spy dying of polonium poisoning. The Russian FSB has its fingerprints on the case.

This is new low. Polonium is easily available from online stores, like http://www.2spi.com/catalog/photo/statmaster.shtml <http://www.2spi.com/catalog/photo/statmaster.shtml>
 On top of it, Litvinenko died just before important Russia-E.U. meeting and caused a lot of difficulties for Putin. Plus he was virtually unknown in Russia and was only a very weak irritant. I have no idea why FSB would be interested in this murder.

To add gasoline to fire:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/11/28/news/nato.php <http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/11/28/news/nato.php

"a leading U.S. senator has called on the alliance to come to the aid of any member whose energy sources are threatened by using the organization's Article 5 mutual defense clause."

Many people in Russia interpret it so that NATO will use military power if Russia stops supplying gas or oil to some country for non-payment.

Why otherwise extremely intelligent people need to assume the worst about Russia motives in every case? Do you really need restart cold (or hot) war again? Is Iraq not enough?

I tend to agree with your idea that building hundreds of new nuclear power plants would make U.S. less dependent on outside supplies and less interested in foreign adventures, making U.S. and the rest of the world much safer. Maybe we finally could stop being enemies, even if we (Russia and US) can not become friends for some fundamental (unknown to me) reason.



I received this today:

From: unesco_chimark@jumpy.it

Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 10:54 AM
Subject: Application

Our Mission The U.S. Committee for UNESCO supports the work of the World Health Organization to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world by promoting democratic governance, poverty reduction,rural development, crisis prevention and recovery, energy and Environmental issues, and reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.It accomplishes these aims by building a broad-based American constituency that educates for international development and by identifying U.S resources for specific WVI projects that support U.S national interests. A. Position: Environmental Officer Location: Belgium Salary: $170,600.00 USD. Contract: Full time They are responsible for development oversight, management, and evaluation of programs in the following areas:bio-diversity, conservation, forestry, wildlife management, water and coastal resources management, environmental education, environmental policy, environmentally sustainable agriculture, community based natural resources management, urban and industrial pollution reduction,urban planning and management (including such areas as housing, water and sanitation), urban and housing finance, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy applications, clean energy technologies,energy sector planning and global climate change. Environment Officers apply both a technical knowledge of their program area and a variety of management and program evaluation knowledge in order to ensure that projects meet the needs of who- usa 's partners and customers in a cost-effective manner. B. Senior Program Officer for Nutrition Location: South-Africa/U.S.A Contract: Full time Salary:$180,678.00 USD Overall Responsibilities The Senior Program Officer for Nutrition works closely with Senior Child Survival/ImmWVIization. Program Managers to plan, coordinate, implement, monitor, and evaluate child survival activities, with special attention to strengthening nutrition program activities. Work with the Senior Child Survival/Immunization Advisor and the State Child Survival/Malaria Program Managers in coordinate, implement, monitor, and evaluate the country child survival activity plan. In particular, design, plan, implement, and evaluate nutrition actions as an integral part of COMPASS activities. Coordinate, plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate nutrition activities related to Vitamin A, breastfeeding promotion, complementary feeding, nutrition activities related to WHO organization and National Immunization Days (NIDs), Quality Protein Maize (QPM) related issues, communications/behavior change, and community mobilization. Evaluate the costs and effectiveness of Positive Deviance (PD)/Hearth approaches to improving childhood health and nutrition. Identify and coordinate with partners from The World Health Organization Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Bank, World Health Organization(WHO), Canadian International Development Agency/Micronutrient Initiative (CIDA/MI), Department for InternationalDevelopment(DFID)International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Helen Keller International (HKI),community-Directed Treatment and Ivermectin (CDTI) Program, other academic institutions, Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs), and Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) for the development of activities at scale to reach high geographical coverage.

C. Program/Project Development Officer Location: United Kingdom/U.S.A Salary:$184 ,000.00 USD Duration: Full time They are responsible for strategy development, policy formulation, performance reporting, project management, and public outreach. They are looked upon to ensure that the Mission's operational procedures are designed to elicit teamwork, emphasize shared values, make known programming priorities, and reward innovation. Program/Project development officers must be able to apply leadership and management skills in order to ensure that program activities are designed and implemented to achieve stated objectives, within resource constraints and in a timely manner

D.Executive Officers Location; France Salary; $170,000.00 USD They oversee a wide range of administrative and logistical support functions including personnel management, contracting, procurement, property management, motor pool management, travel management, employee/family housing and maintenance management. In addition to having direct responsibility for providing the daily support of the agency's field mission, duties include planning for future personnel and procurement requirements at the assigned duty station.

E. Education Development Officers Location; France/Netherlands/U.S.A Salary; $180,000.00 USD They analyze, advise, and assist withthe development of host country education human resources and manpowerplanning systems. Strategies are designed to improve existing education programs as well as to promote organizational competencies and skills acquisition related to both individual and institutional development. Duties Include participation in Agency policy formulation, sector analysis, program and project design,program monitoring, and evaluation of activities in education and human resources. F. Agriculture/Rural Development Officers Location; South-Africa/U.S.A Salary; $175,000.00 USD They advise senior WHO and host government officials on agriculture and rural development projects. They identify problems and propose solutions, participate in project design and development, and manage and evaluate programs. Duties include coordinating the flow of resources for projects,> analyzing the effects of proposed policies, legislation, and programs and advising on interdisciplinary rural development programs. G.Program Officer Location; South-Africa/U.S.A Salary; $174,000.00 USD H.PROGRAMS TEAM LEADER Location; GERMANY/U.S.A Salary;$170,000.00 USD I. Operations Director Location; SPAIN/U.S.A Salary;$180,000.00 USD

J.Economic Affairs Location; South-Africa/U.S.A Salary; $155,000.00 USD K.Medical Location; South-Africa/U.S.A/UK Salary; $185,000.00 USD

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS/SELECTION Applicants are selected on the basis of academic credentials , experience and other relevant factors. Successful Applicants are invitedto come to Washington, for an interview/ Training Candidates are interviewed on their related knowledge, skills and abilities. Application is open to all interested applicants from any nationality.

HOW TO APPLY Please send your resume/CV to: recruitment@us-fr.it.st Dr.Brown Smith Recruitment Officer UNESCO Liason to WHO United Nations Population Fund 18745 Sioux Drive spring Lake 49456 MI FAX -1-206-339-2977

I have no comments on authenticity, but the salaries do not astonish me.


Subject: No good deed goes unpunished

The law of unintended consequences will now prevent the helping of those less fortunate. Even if not completely sanitary, surely it would be better than “dumpster diving” or not eating at all!


Freshly Baked Handouts Forbidden in Fairfax

County Says Health Of Homeless Is at Issue

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, November 29, 2006; Page A01

The casserole has been canned.

Under a tough new Fairfax County policy, residents can no longer donate food prepared in their homes or a church kitchen -- be it a tuna casserole, sandwiches or even a batch of cookies -- unless the kitchen is approved by the county, health officials said yesterday.

They said the crackdown on home-cooked meals is aimed at preventing food poisoning among homeless people.

But it is infuriating operators of shelters for the homeless and leaders of a coalition of churches that provides shelter and meals to homeless people during the winter. They said the strict standards for food served in the shelters will make it more difficult to serve healthy, hot meals to homeless people. The enforcement also, they said, makes little sense.

"We're very aware that a number of homeless people eat out of dumpsters, and mom's pot roast has got to be healthier than that," said Jim Brigl, chief executive of Fairfax Area Christian Emergency & Transitional Services. "But that doesn't meet the code."

County officials estimate that about 2,000 people are homeless in Fairfax. They are served by a network of shelters that swells to more than three dozen over the winter. FACETS, a Fairfax nonprofit group, coordinates most hypothermia shelters, which are set to open Friday in two dozen churches and other facilities.

The crackdown came after the county Health Department received a complaint about food being served to the homeless population that was bedding down at area houses of worship as part of the wintertime hypothermia program that began last year. Health officials took a closer look at what shelter residents ate and where the food came from.

Under state and county code, food served to the public must be prepared in a kitchen that has been inspected and certified by the county Health Department. Those standards are high: a commercial-grade refrigerator, a three-compartment sink to wash, rinse and sanitize dishes and a separate hand-washing sink, among other requirements.

Health officials said they weren't aware that food from unapproved kitchens was being served in homeless shelters.

"We're dealing with a medically fragile population . . . so they're more susceptible to food-borne illnesses than the general population," said Tom Crow, the county Health Department's director of environmental health. "We're trying to protect those people."

To help the churches prepare, the Health Department is waiving a $60 fee for certification and is holding additional safe food-handling classes for church volunteers. It is also giving churches that do not have approved kitchens a list of other houses of worship with such facilities.

"We're not trying to come across as being a heavy-handed government," Crow said.

Nonetheless, ministers from several of the two dozen participating churches said they oppose the crackdown and hope the Health Department backs off.

"We see the reason for being certified. They want to ensure people's health and safety," said the Rev. Keary Kincannon of Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church in the Alexandria portion of Fairfax County, which will open as a hypothermia shelter for four months starting Friday.

"On the other hand, how much do you have to be a stickler with that?" Kincannon asked. "What's more important: whether we're open to have somebody get in out of the cold and get a meal? There's kind of a balance there."

The Rev. Judy Fender of Burke United Methodist Church said 50 volunteers had been planning to cook beef stew, pork loin and other nutritious meals in the church kitchen when it hosts the hypothermia shelter Dec. 17 through 23.

But she found out this week that, because the kitchen is not Health Department-approved, it will have to prepare its food elsewhere.

It will be a logistical nightmare, Fender predicted, and is an insult to members who have cooked meals for years in the church kitchen without any problems.

"Why do [they] think that the traditional way of fixing a home-cooked meal is going to poison people off the street?" Fender asked.<snip>

The Iron Law of Bureaucracy at work.


Subject: Fwd: Fw: Is Apple Computer Insulting Islam?


Is there anything that doesn't "offend" somebody? If so, I'm sure somebody can be found to fill that vacancy......


<<<---BEGIN FORWARD--->>>

Is Apple Computer Insulting Islam?

By Kemal Silay

TCS Daily, November 14, 2006


Last month the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that "an Islamist website posted a message alerting Muslims to what it claims is a new insult to Islam" [MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series, No. 1315]. As reported by MEMRI, the Islamist site claims that the Apple Store, Fifth Avenue "is meant to provoke Muslims" because it is called the "Apple Mecca" and "is intended to be open 24 hours a day like the Ka'ba, and moreover, contains bars selling alcoholic beverages."

This "new insult to Islam" is a cube-shaped building where customers enjoy test-driving the various lines of Apple computers and peripherals in an ultramodern but cozy environment. Within the store, they can even stop by the "Genius Bar," not for a shot of scotch but to benefit from the knowledge of an expert Apple support rep. Who would have guessed that the Islamist thought police could so foolishly and maliciously interpret this building as too closely resembling the cube-shaped Ka'ba in Mecca, thereby finding in it a "blatant insult to Islam"?

Islamism is the most dangerous global phenomenon of our time, and the Wahhabism within it occupies a special space for its violent and barbaric reactions to objects. We have seen ample evidence of this violence in Muslim lands such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, and Turkey.

I have been researching the "form fetish" preoccupation of personal computer manufacturers for more than a decade now and never have I noticed that Islam or its icons had played an important role (if any) behind the research and development principals of computer hardware or the stores where computers are sold. Among all the key figures in the creation and development of personal computers, Steve Jobs stands out as the most dedicated when it comes to the aesthetic and marketing aspects of the computer. For him, the computer is not just a machine helping the user accomplish a particular task. It is, or can be, a work of art.

The techno-fetish aspects of a Mac are as important to Apple as the functionality and quality of the chips inside it. According to the Silicon Valley biographer Alan Deutschman, "Jobs had an obsession with the visual and the physical"; "he wanted to create the Porsche of computers" and viewed Apple engineers as "artists." Jobs was obsessed with the design and looks of his beloved NeXT cube, for exmaple. "Even the hidden electronic guts of the Next computer... had to have a clever, visually appealing design. 'Who is going to see the inside?' one of the NeXT designers asked. 'I will,' Steve said." Jobs' obsession with the Cube was an outcome of his love for the "perfect" machine he wanted to imagine and create, and certainly had nothing to do with any kind of religious icons, especially those of Islam. The cube-shaped Apple Store in New York is a reflection of Jobs' artistic and technological endeavor to make the failed NeXT Cube and the G4 Cube a success, at least in the form of a building.

While Western civilization is inventing scientific and artistic marvels, the other wings of Islamism are preoccupied with inventing provocations in the hope of mobilizing otherwise ordinary Muslims. We have seen this before: the Muhammad cartoon controversy exhibited the same faulty reasoning but unfortunately it succeeded in turning thousands of Muslims to violent protests. This latest incident is one more in a growing list of examples of Muslims over-reacting, over- and mis-interpreting, jumping to conclusions and causing controversy over something innocent or innocuous.<snip>

It is interesting to watch a great civilization collapsing. We are of course concerned lest we offend...



Whoever said elections don't count?


"most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability."

- a direct consequence of US election results, I think. No wonder Al-Qaeda counted it as a win.



Subject: Agricultural Doomsday

Good evening Dr. Pournelle, I have been reading with great interest the folks who have commented about the end of oil and its effect on agriculture because this is something I have pondered myself.

The reason I have thought so much about this is because I do a little farming (hay for the horse market) as a side business. I don’t make a great deal of money at it, but it has been enough to make it worthwhile for me to continue with it (not to mention it helps me keep my sanity). I have read your There will be War anthologies and I remember reading several stories that involved life after various catastrophes that brought our technological society to a screeching halt. I don’t recall the authors or the specific story names, but there was one about aliens putting something in orbit that caused internal combustion engines not to function and several others about the Russian engineers who hijacked the steam locomotive that set me to thinking.

If something like that had happened in 1900, we as a society would not have even noticed.

In 1940, we would have been inconvenienced, but life would go on.

In 1960, we would been seriously inconvenienced, but after a period of adjustment (dragging Grandpa’s harness out of the barn and asking him how to hook up the plow) life would have went on. No doubt some people in the big cities would have starved, but if there were a widespread famine in the United States, I don’t think it would have lasted very long.

Fast forward to now. Grandpa is gone, so he can’t help you with how things were done back in ‘33 anymore... Becky the mule’s harness has long since rotted and there is a Stop n’ Rob (convenience store) on top of the pasture where grandpa buried poor Becky. Not to mention there is a subdivision where grandpa’s corn used to grow and your cousin is using grandpa’s turning plow to mount his mailbox on (if it didn’t get sold for scrap 50 years ago).

In the late 1930’s, animal-powered farm machinery probably reached its technological height, even though tractors had been around for many, many years. (Mechanization was more common in the Midwest than here in the south... neither of my Grandfathers ever owned a tractor, but farmed all their lives, one row-cropped with mules and the other started with row crops and then moved into livestock as cattle and chickens were less labor intensive).

In 1935, one could buy machinery that would do ALMOST anything that modern machinery can do... and it was ALL horse and mule powered. Granted, it was a lot slower, and you could plan on using (roughly) a third of your crop (in the form of feed or money to buy feed) to keep your animals fed, but it could be done, and it was done for generations... with far more primitive equipment than what was available in 1935.

But going back to the old way of doing things isn’t really an option (as attractive as that might be to some of the tree huggers... I think spending a day staring a mule in the ass in July heat might disabuse some of them of their notions...), sure there are a few people around that could theoretically farm the old fashioned way, but there damn sure aren’t enough of them to feed the country.

Some of your readers have pointed out that the biomass/ethanol/biodiesel plants are springing up in farm country, which is a good point, because that might be the only thing to keep the machinery running if something crazy were to happen. I noticed a couple of days ago while kicking tires, that New Holland (formerly Ford tractor) has came out with a new line of tractors that are rated to run on the various flavors of biodiesel. I think several of the other manufacturers are starting to push this too (not because I think they are expecting the end of oil, but because it’s another marketing gimmick... farm machinery is pretty cutthroat these days).

Propane a very popular fuel for farm machinery back in the 50’s and 60’s. I saw a (new) John Deere utility tractor that had been converted to run on propane at the Sunbelt Expo (farm show) in South Georgia a couple of years back. Who knows? Propane might make a comeback for agriculture.

Anyway, the rambling point I was getting to, is that there are a lot of people, much smarter than I, who have been thinking about this too. The big boys (Deere, Case NH, AGCO) are looking at all kinds of stuff that can make them money, not just here, but in developing countries with no infrastructure to support mechanized farming. Between new technologies and the old technologies, I think there is enough to work with for agriculture to survive the end of oil, but whether agribusiness survives it is another question.

I throughly enjoy your site and I appreciate your taking the time to read this. My apologies for taking so long to get to the point.

Thanks Dave

My father brought the first tractor (a Case, not a John Deere) to our part of rural Tennessee. I drove it at age 10. Most of the farm where where I grew up was done with mules, and most earth moving was done with mules and slip shovels.  

Farming with chicken squat for fuel... Might be a great thing.


Dr. Pournelle,

NORAD (yes, www.norad.mil) has an official site up for kids to track Santa on Christmas Eve: NORAD Tracks Santa <http://www.noradsanta.org/index.php>  .

If you feel like giving me credit, my post is at http://www.robinjuhl.homelinux.net/weblog/pivot/entry.php?id=1136. <http://www.robinjuhl.homelinux.net/weblog/pivot/entry.php?id=1136


Best Regards, Robin Juhl





CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Apologies: it was a very busy day. Got a lot of fiction done. Mail is piling up. Awfully good mail, too. I will get to it Real Soon Now.






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, December 1, 2006

Crazy Years

>A man has been sentenced to community service for false driver's license application. That's an actual perjury on a sworn statement. Martha Stewart told an investigator, not under oath, that she hadn't done something that would not have been a crime if she did it. She got prison.

Jerry As this grows more weird with every passing day I remember Robert Heinlein and his Crazy Years period where people under high population pressure acted in self destructive ways like Lemmings. Now was he really a visionary and prophet or was his insight accidental. I feel that most good SF writers, yourself included are very good observers of the world around them and able to extrapolate from what they see happening around them what will come if things do not change. Now will we have a theocracy of the right as Mr. Heinlein predicted or one of the left (1984 style) as many others have predicted.

I await what will happen prepared for the worst by the writers with long views that I have read for the last 50 some years while hoping for better. I do not expect to see better because it seems as time passes that good SF writers are also very good predictive prophets of what is to come if people do not mend their ways. Even the NIT(Negative Income Tax) that Mack Reynolds predicted has come to pass and people laughed at him for using it in his writings! -- JWE Long Beach, CA

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss. Robert A. Heinlein


Subj: Army Recruiting: Making the Best of Bad High Schools


=...[B]ecause so many high schools, especially in large cities, do such a terrible job of getting students through high school, the army has found that, by taking a close look at applicants who did not graduate, they can get good people that the high schools missed, or just screwed up on.=

Join the Army, learn to read?

Maybe 4 years of compulsory militia service *instead* of current High School? 8-\

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

I have always been in favor of universal male conscription to military service, along the Swiss model: if you can be trusted to be a citizen you should have the privilege of being armed with a modern military weapon -- and it is a privilege that cannot be refused. Refuse the privilege and get a US passport valid for all countries but the US.

Won't happen, of course.

The value of universal military service is not so much the militia, though, as the social conditioning. I was brought up in the Old South. My attitude toward blacks -- we called them Negroes, which was the polite term -- was more or less paternalistic. That was how all of my social class regarded them. I never knew any black people socially, nor was I likely to. The Army changed that, and forcibly; for which I am more than grateful. Basic training with randomly assigned companies not based on social class or race or anything else is excellent socialization for young men. I don't know how it works for women, or that it is necessary. I stubbornly continue to believe that sexual bimorphism extends to more than just height.


Subject: Appenzall in Iraq

You wrote

> Switzerland had its last religious wars in the last quarter of the 19th Century. They solved them by ethnic cleansing: non-voluntary deportation  of Protestants from one section of Appenzall and Catholics from the other, then dividing the Canton into two half-cantons. That worked so well  that most have entirely forgotten the incident.

There are less encouraging counter examples. Dividing Palestine and India by ethnicity/religion seemed like a great solution in the late 40s. Those fires are still burning. You can put Ireland in the same category

> Is Iraq headed that way? I ask seriously. Maybe it's the best solution to the problem.

I've yet to see anyone discuss what happens to Baghdad in that scenario. Would it be divided between Shia and Sunni Berlin style? Is there a dividing line both sides can live with?

Also, I seriously doubt that there are only two sides here, and that once we have two states formed, they will be internally peaceful. Or abstain from fighting each other for that matter. The third state of Kurdistan may well work out, but that's far from sure either.

Stiil. Other than the world suddenly deciding to send 400.000 troops to impose order over a decade, it's hard to see where else this is heading. I fear there will be millions dead before it's over. The US will be seen as responsible.


 "The mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work unless it's open." --- Frank Zappa

Good questions and I don't know.

I may be wrong on the date of the Swiss religious wars. I took my data lagely from John McPhee who is a very careful writer; see  http://www.cs.brown.edu/~sk/Personal/Books/McPhee-Place-Concorde-Suisse/   

In any event you raise good questions.

I still don't know why it was our business. I didn't want to be there. Propping up the Shah was the only way to help modernize that area, and Jimmy Carter blew that one off.


Biomass Conversion

Dear Jerry,

>>Local biomass conversion is good pollution control, but the net output >>isn't much energy. It won't save us.<<

I've been working in biomass gasification actively for two years now. I broadly agree with you about it not 'saving' ujs. It can be a vital fraction, up to 10%. The best uses are a) close coupled direct industrial heating applications replacing natural gas and b) making synthesis gas for further catalysis. Either methanol or diesel via Fischer-Tropsch.

Fueling internal combustion engines with producer gas made from ag waste and waste wood is not fun. And if you must fuel ICE this way then go for power generation and steady load. The worst possible application is trying to fuel tractors, trucks and other vehicles directly. Europeans did this under pressure of the British oil blockade starting in 1939. God forbid we reach that stage of decay and desperation again.

I'm physically focused on a) direct heating apps now. I hope to move on to b) biomass gasification for synthesis gas in 12-18 months. There has been very good work done on low temperature/low pressure methanol catalysts in the last two decades. Down to 250 C & 10 atmospheres with good conversion rates. Quite small local biomass methanol plants are very practical. IF you have an economic source of oxygen to blow the gasifier. Meaning cheap watts as you know. In the absence of many nukes and cheap watts it means making your own watts to make the O2.

>>Nuclear can get us past the hump.<<

Absolutely. I personally don't know how to organize this politically right now. Seems things are in retrograde lately.

>>Energy is energy, as I have pointed out since A Step Farther Out. >>Energy is wealth.<<

The main problem and task is educational. The mass of the population still believes liquid fuels can only be made from oil. If there is any bright spot to the immoral food to ethanol program, it's educational.




Subject: Dig a Hole to China

Dr. Pournelle:

This site answers the age-old question "If I dig a very straight hole..." http://map.pequenopolis.com/ 

I think that every one started to "dig a hole to China" as a child. That site uses a Google map interface to tell you where your hole will end up. From my house, I ended up in the Indian Ocean. Interesting time-waster.

(So, if I could theoretically dig a very straight hole, and line it with a pipe to prevent lava leakage, and my hole ended up in the Indian Ocean, would my hole fill up with sea water?)

Regards, Rick Hellewell


Subject: DVD ripping

Responding to R's DVD ripping email -- I have two products to recommend (both run under Windows, and both are illegal to use in the United States as far as I know):

1) DVDShrink -- http://www.dvdshrink.org -- The purpose of this app is to shrink DVD media to fit on a single-layer, single-sided DVD recordable disc, but it can also be used for generic ripping. Tell it that you want all protection schemes removed, and not to split the resulting "VOB" file into 1GB chunks. Once set up in this way, it's easy to rip the DVD so that it's half the size of the original DVD, in one file. The resulting .VOB file can have its extension changed to .mpg, and you can throw out the other files DVDShrink created -- a VOB file that has had its copy-protection removed is just an MPEG-2 file.

2) AnyDVD and Clone DVD from SlySoft -- http://www.slysoft.com. SlySoft produces a line of products which do various CD and DVD-related tasks, including ripping and transcoding. They're all excellent, and the company makes free updates available frequently, since the media companies are constantly coming up with new ways to try to defeat products like this.



"If this catches one potential terrorist, this is a success."


-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: GWOT

You know, if you had factually described what was going to happen in Iraq in advance, not one maniac in a hundred would have endorsed going in there. But as it is, a significant fraction do so today. Not a majority, indeed their numbers are decreasing, but some do.

I suppose that this is somehow the same phenomenon that happens when you buy a stock and it tanks - many people can't bear to sell it when it goes down, even if it's a buggy-whip company. If you _gave_ them the same number of shares today, they'd sell them in a jiffy, but with the memory of the loss haunting them, they hold on and hope.

Same with GWOT: it's loony, but once we have declared it somehow we can't let go. But we will eventually, you know.

Gregory Cochran

The worst of it is that you and I and many pretty well knew this would happen before we ever went in. You assumed the neocons and their believers were just too stupid to see it, and that many in the administration were not stupid but malicious.

I assumed they could see what I could see, and that the strategy would be to get in, get control of the oil, pump the oil and use the money to buy some peace in Iraq; given that much money you can buy a lot of tranquility, pay for considerable migration, hire a Foreign Legion -- heck, hire The Foreign Legion -- to keep order in Baghdad, and generally bribe people to play democracy. I wasn't sure that would work, but it might if done intelligently. Meanwhile, the US isn't paying much for the war, Iraqi oil on the world market would keep oil prices below $30 and maybe below $20/bbl, the Dow would go to 14,000, and over time we might actually build a stable more or less ally in Iraq. It wasn't likely, and it would take a hell of a lot of skill, but it could be done. It has been done before. What man has done man can aspire to.

It wasn't done well. It wasn't done even partly competently. The Turks put a wrench in the master plan, and for some reason we never recovered from that. (I am being charitable. No battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and no war plan survives realistic contact with international politics; and if all had gone as planned with the Turks allowing passage, it's not likely that things would otherwise have gone well, but I am not trying to fix blame just now.) We refused to employ the regular conscript divisions and give the Iraqi generals "an honorable place in building the new Iraq" as we promised (although who we thought would be able to govern I don't know; Chalabi I guess).

We did it badly and now it's a sunk cost situation. Alas, the sunk cost asset is not passive here. It's not just treasure, it's blood; and the blood of the Army and Marines. They deserve a chance to make good on their comrades' sacrifice so long as that is what they want to do. We sent them in there.

That is not a popular view, and I suppose to many it sounds foolish; but I know enough history to know what happens when we send the Legions to bleed in the desert in vain.


Subject: Unesco salaries 


Your posting on the UNESCO job listing shows what happens when a bureaucracy runs rampant. To be sure, it costs a ton of money to live in Belgium, but the truth is there is a whole subculture of people that move around in the UN, WHO, US State Department Embassies (and from other countries), and several non-profit (I say this tongue-in-cheek) organizations that are supposed to be helping people.

I have had extensive experience with these folks in working on multiple projects in Asia and Africa. The people all know each other, take care of each other, and folks move from organization to organization and country to country, remaining ex-patriots most of their working life, and pulling down enormous salaries, sometime in countries where $250 a year is a living wage.

These folks, who are supposed to championing freedom, providing medical care, food, housing, creating new jobs, looking after the welfare of an emerging market nation (which it’s important you refer to these countries as instead of ‘third world’), have huge homes, several servants (they, of course, don’t refer to them as such publicly), and live at a standard they could not possibly manage if they were in their home country.

Occasionally, when these folks let their hair down, and take you in their confidence, they tell the truth about it all. I had one secretary at an embassy in an African country be very frank about the money she and her husband made, and the standard of living she enjoyed. She lived in a 5 bedroom house that had over a dozen rooms, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a separate building for a sauna, separate servant quarters, and was in a fenced security compound. She had two housemaids, a full time live-in nanny, a houseboy, a driver for each of her and her husband, two yard boys, a live-in boy to open the security gate, and monitor people coming and going, and two full-time cooks. She made $60,000 a year at the embassy, I don’t know what her husband (a minor official at the same embassy) made. She’d been there for 10 years, and had no desire to move back to the U.S.

It kind of makes you sick. These folks don’t really want to improve things in the countries they are at…they’d lose their cheap help, their standard of living, and perhaps even their job.

Tracy Walters

The Iron Law of Bureaucracy. In India for years the only credible way to get ahead was to become a bureaucrat. Of course this makes for a terrible economy, and India and China both discovered, but as we have not yet learned.

We no longer teach history so we do not know about the effect of pensions and placeholders and such in the history of the development of English and the American civilization. We'll learn.


Subject:   Common sense wins after all


The recent ban on home cooked food for the homeless in Fairfax county, VA has been reversed. Nice to see a breakout of common sense, but a shame that it took an outcry to provoke it. Note the reference to "overzealous employees". Yah, I'll say. Here in next door Arlington county my daughter's gym team has to get their prepared food inspected(!) every time we serve chili dogs at a gym meet; we could use a similar outburst of common sense too.



Eternal Vigilance is the price not only of liberty, but sensible government. The Iron Law of Bureaucracy otherwise prevails. (Actually it always prevails, but with eternal vigilance sometimes the effects can be mitigated.)


Dr Pournelle

I read with interest Dave's missive on the subject. I grew up on a ranch in Texas. We used a disc plow that had been rigged to use with a tractor. Originally, it was designed to be pulled by a team of mules; it had a seat on it.

As long as there are Amish, I don't fear that animal-powered farming techniques will be lost. I also think the contributions of the Amish for sustainable farming techniques will be required if humankind ever attempts to colonize another world.

Imagine that -- Amish in Space.

Respectfully h lynn keith

That story has actually been done at least twice I know of.


Subject: UN Job Offer letter a scam


The ‘UN Job Offer’ letter is almost certainly a 419 scam, as documented by one erstwhile blogger at



I suspected that, because the salaries were too high and no range was shown. The interesting thing is that few saw that at once; and in fact the salaries when you add in expenses and the tax status, really are quite high, at lest 80% of what was shown.





This week:


read book now


Saturday, December 2, 2006

Subject: Dividing line in Baghdad

Dr. Pournelle,

Lars asked if there is a dividing line in Baghdad that can work if the city should be divided along religious lines. The answer is yes. The line is the Tigris River. It is already, for the most part, the dividing line between Shia and Sunni in Baghdad. Yes, there are both kinds on both sides and it would still be a bloody awful undertaking to cleanse..... relocate, I meant to say relocate each sect to its own side, but if it were to be attempted, that's the line. To a certain extent it is happening already with the civil war that is already well under way there, but it is far from complete. Most have no-where to go.

Matt Kirchner


Subject: partition redux

Lars comes down on the 'partition doesn't work' side:

"There are less encouraging counter examples. Dividing Palestine and India by ethnicity/religion seemed like a great solution in the late 40s. Those fires are still burning. You can put Ireland in the same category"

The problem with Indian partition was Moslem Kashmir was left in Hindu India. Could have been fixed. Biggest problem with dividing Palestine (Israel) was it got un-divided in 1967. Dosn't prove it wouldn't have worked. Ireland was partitioned but Northern Ireland wasn't. Partition of Cyprus, Switzerland and Bosnia worked. Partition of Kosovo is starting to work..

The problem is governments that merge smaller ethnic countries - such as Yugoslavia, Iraq, USSR, India - allow mixing of ethnic populations while ethnic strife is supressed. Then when the "overcountry" breaks up into the original components the unmixing is always a very messy problem. But that dosn't mean it's not the best longer term solution.

Same with Iraq. I suspect the unmixing problems in Iraq might be shorter term than the problems of not unmixing.

(One news program interviewee claimed that the Sunnis don't have oil because that part of Iraq hasn't been explored. Intriguing.)

The problem of unmixing Baghdad is similar to the problems of Northern Ireland cities. Planning might help, such as house trading (house, not horse). There's a little of that already in Baghdad, and de facto in Serbia.

R Hunt


Subject: Deep Holes 


Please let Mr. Hellewell know that -- assuming that his lava pipe is of constant cross-section and is also thermally insulated to prevent evaporation of the inflow -- it should fill up to the mean sea level for his latitude, which would typically be several hundred to several thousand feet below ground level for most persons. There would probably be an initial surge that would go higher, but the distance and fall/flow times are long enough that I suspect the surge would be damped. There would be minor variations due to higher harmonics of the gravitational field and to transfer of seawater angular momentum to the pipe (and consquent, but probably minor, stresses to the surrounding magma).

(And all of CONUS has its antipodes underneath the Indian Ocean. The Antipodes of Western Australia nearest to CONUS translates to Bermuda, and the balance of the Antipodes of CONUS are similarly to the west of the Western Australian shoreline.)

If the lava pipe is not thermally insulated, the consequences of the resulting steam explosions are left as an exercise for the interested reader. I recommend performing the experiment from several miles away.



Subject: FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool, 


In this story, we learn, "Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones." The FBI tapped cell phones:




Subject: Police Decry Web Site on Informants,


Some things seem beyond the first amendment, like the website that outs police informants:


It is already bad in the high-crime areas, but this kind of witness-silencing could make the whole country a ghetto.

If shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater is not protected by the First Amendment, should informant-outing sites have protection?



Subject: Noonan On Discourse And Bush/Webb Exchange

Ms. Noonan has a different take from most on the Bush/Webb exchange, Dr. Pournelle. And upon reflection her take is not intuitive _today_ but none the less makes a lot of sense.



She is always worth reading. I am sure she knows what Jacobinism is even if she describes it without naming it. As to grace, I agree with her. No one is ever allowed to finish a sentence.


The French Path to Jihad.


-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: String theory and Climate change - a connection?

Hi Jerry,

There are a couple of books currently available that offer accounts of the problems with the study of String Theory which is the dominant candidate for a grand unified theory of everything within the physics community:

Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory & the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics by Peter Woit

The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin.

(I have read neither but have heard Lee Smolin speak and read reviews).

A theoretical physicist who wants to study alternatives to string theory finds things difficult eg some have to fund their own research. It seems to me that this is a similar problem to that of the human induced climate change theories - this is the dominant theory and it has been said that to try to study alternatives is fraught with difficulty. If there is a problem with Physics and String Theory - which most people really wouldn't care less about and which has no-one lining up to pay you a lot for working on then surely there could be many more problems with studying the climate.

The explanation is that science in the end is human as it is done by humans. To me this is a sad situation as I have held scientists up as bastions of integrity and honesty and this might often be the case for individuals but as a collective the scorecard is deficient.


Peter Cupit

I made this point in my review of Smolin's book over at www.chaosmanorreviews.com Thanks


Subject: More on Litvinenko poisoning

I do not know credentials of the source, but facts check out, most of the stuff is well known in Russia:






CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, December 3, 2006      

The whole thing is so absurd, words fail me.


-- Roland Dobbins

They rise to new heights...


Is Second Life Sustainable?


- Roland Dobbins

I have very little experience with Second Life. Apparently it's Snowcrash but not quite there yet?


Pyramids built using concrete?


-- Roland Dobbins

I saw this in my archeology magazines. Fascinating.


Open-Source Spying.


-- Roland Dobbins

I think I won't comment.


William L. Anderson: Duke and Deceit: Brodhead's Folly http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson144.html  October 18, 2006


The long-awaited "[10]60 Minutes" broadcast has proven to be devastating to the prosecutions case in the Duke rape hoax and, yet, Ed Bradleys masterful performance barely touched the amount of police and prosecutorial misconduct that has existed. That is not Bradleys fault; even though two-thirds of the show was devoted to the story, it would take a documentary to occur over many days just to begin to cover everything. Yes, it is that bad.

While most of my articles have dealt with the misconduct of Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong and the Durham Police Department, there is another player in this sorry tale who is almost as culpable, that being Duke University President Richard Brodhead. Despite having served time as an administrator at Yale University before coming to Duke, Brodhead has proven that he needs to be sent back to the minors. Furthermore, if federal investigators really cared about investigating crimes, Brodhead could find himself going to federal prison.

It is supremely ironic that a number of real-live felonies have been committed by people in this episode, but none of them by the accused Duke Lacrosse players. Nifongs illegal prosecutorial behavior, the filing of false reports, and the destruction of exculpatory evidence are among the felonies committed by the prosecutor and the police. While I doubt anyone in authority will bring criminal charges against these rogues in a court of law, that does not mean they are innocent.

However, in this piece I wish to concentrate on the behavior of Brodhead himself, who after Nifong is more responsible for this affair than any other person, save the false accuser herself. Moreover, I intend to establish that Brodhead very well might have been involved in the commission of felonies, and while I doubt he will face the kind of hard time that the wrongly-accused lacrosse players are facing, his conduct in this affair at very least should lead to his dismissal from Duke.

Before examining Brodheads record, however, let me say that in the early days, he was under pressure from the hard left on Dukes faculty. Being a former English professor, my guess is that his politics at very best would be left-of-center, so these people were his natural allies. However, being president means that one must be able to see the larger picture and not be a tool of the campus Marxists. If he did not wish to make hard choices and perhaps offend the hard left, then he should have stayed at Yale or gone back to the classroom. In other words, one can have sympathy for Brodhead for having to endure the onslaught from people like [11]Houston Baker in the early days of this affair, but then add that presidents are paid to have a backbone and make the hard, but moral, choices.

Much of the information I am putting in this piece comes from personal conversations and emails with parents of some of the Duke lacrosse players, as well as from the blogs, and primarily the [12]Durham-in-Wonderland masterpiece that K.C. Johnson is running. What I am alleging would stand up in court as a truthful set of events of that I have no doubt and I am not engaging in speculation. Let us begin.

Shortly after the accuser told police that lacrosse players had gang-raped her, the Durham Police Department began its investigation. From all accounts, it was clear that the players were cooperating with the police. K.C. Johnson writes:

Virtually the only "evidence" that (Police Sgt. Mark) Gottliebs inquiry generated came as a result of the cooperation by the three residents of the house Evans, Flannery, and Matt Zash. The trio each gave statements to the police without asking for counsel. They offered to take polygraphs an offer the police, for reasons that remain unclear, spurned. And they willingly provided swabs of their DNA.

Furthermore, what has been described is not in dispute. Yet, what provoked the police, prosecution, and later Brodhead to declare that the players were setting up a "wall of silence"? Johnson gives some insight:

Despite this cooperation, Duke administrators actively assisted the state. Without informing President Richard Brodhead, administrators demanded from the captains a candid account of the evenings events, allegedly citing a non-existent "student-faculty" privilege to encourage the captains to disclose any criminal activity. Multiple sources confirm that Coach Mike Pressler, apparently acting on orders from above, instructed the other players not to tell their parents about the police inquiry. Meanwhile, Dean Sue Wasiolek arranged for a local lawyer, Wes Covington, to act as a "facilitator" in arranging for a group meeting with police.<snip>

Anarcho tyranny alive and well.


"Higher" education in India is lower than in the United States. I have never been able to understand how the U.S. can have allegedly the world's best higher education system, but if other countries are like India, that explains it. Maybe I am just not grateful.

A College Education Without Job Prospects


MUMBAI, India, Nov. 29 The job market for Indian college graduates is split sharply in two. With a robust handshake, a placeless accent and a confident walk, you can get a $300-a-month job with Citibank or Microsoft. With a limp handshake and a thick accent, you might peddle credit cards door to door for $2 a day.

India was once divided chiefly by caste. Today, new criteria are creating a different divide: skills. Those with marketable skills are sought by a new economy of call centers and software houses; those without are ensnared in old, drudgelike jobs.

Unlike birthright, which determines caste, the skills in question are teachable: the ability to communicate crisply in clear English, to work with teams and deliver presentations, to use search engines like Google, to tear apart theories rather than memorize them.

But the chance to learn such skills is still a prerogative reserved, for the most part, for the modern equivalent of Indias upper castes the few thousand students who graduate each year from academies like the Indian Institutes of Management and the Indian Institutes of Technology. Their alumni, mostly engineers, walk the hallways of Wall Street and Silicon Valley and are stewards for some of the largest companies.

In the shadow of those marquee institutions, most of the 11 million students in Indias 18,000 colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, heavy on obedience and light on useful job skills.

Students, executives and educators say this two-tier education system is locking millions of people into the bottom berths of the economy, depriving the country of talent and students of the chance to improve their lot. For those who succeed, what counts is the right skills.

Its almost literally a matter of life and death for them, said Kiran Karnik, president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade body that represents many leading employers. The same person from the same institution with the same grades, but not having these skills, will either not get employed at all or will probably get a job in a shop or something.

India is that rare country where it seems to get harder to find a job the more educated you are. In the 2001 census, college graduates had higher unemployment 17 percent than middle or high school graduates.

But as graduates complain about a lack of jobs, companies across India see a lack of skilled applicants. The contradiction is explained, experts say, by the poor quality of undergraduate education. Indias thousands of colleges are swallowing millions of new students every year, only to turn out degree holders whom no one wants to hire.<snip>


 No matter what we do with inner-city public education, we can't make "First World" type citizens out of fatherless wretches who write like the "tenth grade" student below...


Rocky Mountain News

URL: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion

Rosen: Biased 'critical thinking'

December 1, 2006

Try a Google search on "critical thinking" and you'll come up with a flood of references. There's even a Foundation for Critical Thinking.

This is one of the more popular, trendy concepts in public education circles these days. In theory, it sounds like a wonderful idea. Teachers should lead students to suspend their beliefs, biases, preconceptions and conventional wisdom in order to evaluate information, ideas, theories, statements, propositions, historical events, political movements, individuals, etc., on the basis of facts, evidence, logic and reason. Who could disagree with this approach?

The world would surely be a better place if everyone, not just students, did this routinely. The problem is in the disconnect between the theory and practice of critical thinking as an educational discipline. Here are a couple of examples:

A recent article in 5280 Magazine extolled the fine efforts of Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet to turn around this underperforming district. As a demonstration of the difficulty of his task, we saw a paper submitted by a 10th grader at a DPS high school who was assigned to "write down five things the U.S. government is currently doing that might be unconstitutional." The student offered two: "1. Bushe cold have help the Katrina people whin it hapin. 2. Bushe should't be tipin in to people's phone."

The student was given a grade of 40 percent for coming up with only two of five assigned items. Apparently, he got them both correct. If this is an example of critical thinking, there must not be any right or wrong answers, much less faulty reasoning.

Of course, this leading question just drips with political agenda. How would a student be graded if he concluded that the administration has not engaged in any unconstitutional acts? But even more troublesome is the obvious fact that this 10th grader is, at best, semi-literate. Do you really imagine that he has even the most basic understanding of the Constitution? Before he's ready to tackle higher-order critical thinking skills, shouldn't he have been taught how to read and write, and then introduced to the U.S. Constitution?

In a freshmen geography class at East High School, students were instructed to "assume the personas of individuals in the next century or after, and write a letter to people in the 21st century, saying what they could and should have done to address global warming before its effects became so devastating." This is indoctrination. The question presumes an outcome that is debatable. Shouldn't a student have the option of questioning the premise? Isn't that a mainstay of critical thinking? How about writing a letter from the not-globally-warmed future thanking those in the early 21st century who had the foresight to resist unfounded claims of global-warming alarmists and avoid squandering trillions of dollars on a fool's errand? This is a possibility, too. How do you suppose that would be graded?

"Critical thinking" is too often a catchall buzzword to justify blatant propagandizing and political activism. That was the lame excuse Overland High School teacher Jay Bennish used to shield himself from accountability when he abused his students with a political tirade denouncing capitalism and comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler.

The problem with the critical thinking approach in practice is that too many of the teachers who employ it don't set aside their biases. We're all the product of our respective experiences, perspectives, perceptions, values, beliefs, ideologies and personal interests. Schoolteachers aren't some kind of detached philosopher-kings. The ones who dominate K-12 (and higher) education are inordinately Democrats, collectivists, liberals, union members, government employees, nannyists, politically correct social engineers, etc. With too few exceptions, I don't trust them to impartially referee exercises in critical thinking for idealistic, impressionable young minds. I believe in the power of ideas. So do activist liberal teachers. I'd just like equal treatment. I wonder if students are ever challenged with questions from the right, not just the left, such as:

* Name fives ways teachers' unions might be obstacles to improving the quality of public education.

* Critique Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and theorize about what motivates American leftists who obsess about their country's shortcomings while downplaying its greatness.

* Explain why the ideology of socialism is in direct conflict with human nature and, consequently, perpetually doomed to failure.<snip>














The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.


If you are not paying for this place, click here...

IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

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

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

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

 Search engine:


or the freefind search

   Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search

Boiler Plate:

If you want to PAY FOR THIS PLACE I keep the latest information HERE.  MY THANKS to all of you who sent money.  Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods. I am preparing a special (electronic) mailing to all those who paid: there will be a couple of these. I have thought about a subscriber section of the page. LET ME KNOW your thoughts.

If you subscribed:

atom.gif (1053 bytes) CLICK HERE for a Special Request.

If you didn't and haven't, why not?

If this seems a lot about paying think of it as the Subscription Drive Nag. You'll see more.


Search: type in string and press return.


Strategy of Technology in pdf format:


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

birdline.gif (1428 bytes)