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Monday  December 18, 206

New Diatribes by Joanne Dow. It includes a story on how Bethlehem is no longer safe for Christians.

I missed this when it came:

Subject: 12/6 Dow Diatribe

She includes this line:

>Enraged Christians poured into the streets of many major cities
>smashing shop windows and setting cars on fire shouting "Crucify
>them!" and "Death to the Moors!"

taken uncritically from the LGF entry, but without the final sentence of the LGF entry: "Not."

Westerners are not yet at the point of rioting like that. I don't know if Dow missed that last word and believes the rioting genuinely happened (from her comment about it going too far, I would guess so) but some sort of clarification might be in order.

Kent Peterson urquan@rocketmail.com

"... there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past ..." - Ray Bradbury, _The Martian Chronicles_

And I have to say I missed that comment of Joanne's or I would have looked into it, because I would have doubted its accuracy.

Otherwise, I was overwhelmed today. Mail tomorrow.





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Tuesday,  December 19, 2006

Final Flight

Date: Saturday evening, December 3, 2006 American Airlines Flight 1904, ORD – MIA

Captain Jeff Wallace By First Officer Gary Blied

We were informed at the gate that the remains of MSgt. Shawn Richardson would shortly be loaded on our flight for the trip to Miami. He was a 17 year veteran of the United States Air Force and had been killed in the service of our country. I went down onto the ramp and found the long box appropriately stationed off to the side in a luggage cart.. The curtains on the cart were pulled. It was my honor to spend a few moments in prayer with him.

The captain and I finished our preflight duties and then went back down onto the ramp and checked in with the crew chiefs to observe the loading of MSgt. Richardson. We departed almost an hour late due to our late arrival into Chicago.

We called for push and it was immediately granted. Normally, there’s a wait. We called ground for taxi and again – immediately granted. Normally, there’s a wait. We were cleared onto the runway and for an immediate take off. Passing through about twenty five thousand feet we were further cleared direct OMN (Ormand Beach) which is the first fix on the arrival into Miami. That’s basically a thousand mile straight line and the most direct clearance I’ve ever received to Miami. Not a word was ever said – but people were watching out for us.

The flight to and landing in Miami were uneventful, until we went to turn off the runway. The tower asked us to proceed a little further down where an escort was waiting for us. We did as instructed and a Miami Dade Police cruiser met us on the taxiway. He escorted our American Airlines Boeing 757 to the D terminal. The entire north ramp had been cleared of all aircraft. I’d never seen that either.

As we approached the ramp we noticed the lights. There were at least a half dozen fire trucks, no less than 15 police cars and countless other vehicles. They were all parked in rows with their lights flashing. As we taxied our aircraft to the gate, the fire trucks saluted our arrival with crossed streams of water shooting over the aircraft. My first seven years of service were in the Air Force Crash Fire Rescue Department. There is no higher salute from the fire department.

We parked the aircraft and shut down. After our checklists, Captain Jeff Wallace and I went down to the ramp level and observed the unpacking of the casket, then the dressing with a flag. It was accepted by the bearer team which was comprised of members of the Miami Dade Police Department and Air Force Honor Guard.

After the “present arms” order (when all military and former military render salutes and civilians put their hands over their hearts) and the “order arms” order, when the salutes were finished, I noticed our jet. As I looked up from the ramp level I saw a somber face in every window. Not one of our passengers had moved until our fallen solider had departed the aircraft.

When the procession left the airport, there were two cruisers in front of the hearse and I have no idea how many behind. It was worthy of a presidential motorcade and a fitting and probably all too uncommon show of love and respect for one of our fallen.

And in case I haven't mentioned this previously – it was 1:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, we were almost two hours late. Our reception had probably been waiting for hours and I would bet that most of the people on our ramp were not on the clock.

Every now and then you see it: the silent majority that makes this country the best in the world. I was so proud that night. Proud that my fellow citizens on every level worked to get MSgt. Richardson to his final repose. Proud of all the people who showed up on the ramp late that Saturday night and waited hours into Sunday morning to show their respect. Proud of our passengers that they recognized a greater purpose than getting off the jet. And proud that my company, American Airlines, knows how to handle this situation with humility and honor.

As you go through your day, remember that there are thousands of men and women overseas in the service of our country, far from home and in dangers way. Please remember that they have families back here who live every day in fear of the phone call or official visit with the news that their worst nightmare has come true.

Be thankful for their efforts and if you know someone who is in the service – get their address from their family and write them and thank them. It’s the least you can do.

Gary Blied
Pilot, American Airlines
Major, USAF (ret)




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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I will try to catch up some with mail:


From yesterday's mail:

> A good brief analysis of the efficiencies (or lack thereof) of
> hydrogen: > > http://www.physorg.com/news85074285.html < http://www.physorg.com/
> news85074285.html> > >

Chris I would point out that this analysis ignores some critically important points:

Not all energy is equally valuable. The energy in a rolling vehicle is worth more than the same amount of energy in a filling-station gas tank, and that's worth more than the same amount of energy in a Kuwait oil field. It's almost certainly worth spending 100 KWH of cheap nuclear power to get 23 KWH of actual transportation.

The analysis also skips over the potentially huge non-energy costs of electric vehicles, which include manufacturing and disposing of the batteries. Batteries are a very unclean technology.

And it's quite possible that the industry will eventually settle on some other way to transport hydrogen other than compression or liquifaction. For example, metal hydride storage, or using the hydrogen to make methanol which is then reformed before the hydrogen is burned in a fuel cell.

I come here not to praise hydrogen, but to bury yet another misleadingly superficial analysis.

Hydrogen isn't anywhere near ready to deploy, but it's much too soon to give up on it.

. png


Subject: Decreasing CO2

Jerry, I had a discussion with a friend about a year ago on global warming. He was giving me a very alarmist view of it. I mentioned that we should treat it as an engineering problem (an idea I first got from your site) and consider reducing Co2 directly. He asked for an explanation and I gave a couple of ideas. I said we could have a massive reforestation effort. or we might be able to build some kind of "scrubbers" that just remove CO2 from the air.

He got pretty upset. "Don't you understand that those won't have any affect on the problem?"

 I said sure it will, as it will reduce CO2 and therefore slow or stop the warming trend.

He replied "But the cars and factory would still be emitting gases".

I tried several times to explain that removing the CO2 would mean that the emissions wouldn't cause warming, but he was having none of it. He only wanted to stop the emissions. Any other solution was anathema because exhaust would still spew from cars. It was enlightening (for me).

- RP

Several of us have had similar enlightenments.

Manning the Legions.


- Roland Dobbins


Subject: A major oops....


And how do you fix the damage? (I think the insurance adjuster will be somewhat annoyed...)



Subject: response from Randall Parker


First let me say I have enjoyed every one of your books that I have read, and I believe I have read them all.

I also enjoy your commentary on the war- I'm currently in Iraq as a contractor and find that many people's perceptions don't match my own, but I agree with many of the things that you write.

I wanted to point out in response to a recent post, that there are cheap alternatives to the University credentialing process, as well as shortcuts.

Please check out WWW.WGU.EDU.  Western Governor's University is a non-profit online university, and I found their program immensely helpful to working adult lifestyle. disclaimer: I am not associated with or profiting by this at all. I am an alumnus.

Shortcuts that I've found useful are the CLEP and DANTES programs. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/about.html  and http://www.getcollegecredit.com/  <http://www.getcollegecredit.com/>  .

I was able to achieve an accredited bachelor's degree with less than a year of wasted time in a classroom. I would have loved to attend college and learn, however, I found that there was a lot more 'attending' than 'learning'. My military transcript from the Community College of the Air Force helped out as well.

Perhaps your readers can benefit from these links.

Larry http://thebastidge.blogspot.com --

Half the harm that is done in the world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't want to do harm—but the harm does not interest them . . . or they do not see it . . . because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

~T.S. Eliot



Subject: IQ etc.

Hi Dr. Pournelle,

Your essay on IQ is very thought provoking, and from what i've read other places, seems to be on the mark. None of which keeps it from being politically incorrect. But I do think you're missing an important point. Yes, indeed, there are many among us who cannot benefit from college, and it is a shame to con them into thinking they can. But it seems to me that the real problem is in so doing, our country winds with a dreadful shortage of competent plumbers, electricians, and mechanics. Persons who could have been successful, even wildly successful, in a trade, instead get conned out of four years of life and a great deal of money, for a degree that, at best, condemns them to a life of mediocrity. They suffer, and society suffers for lack of their potential skills.

Thanks, Jerry Boyd

Precisely. Well put.


Subject: Skills


As has happened before, I read your recent essay on education with a mixture of recognition, resignation, and frustration. I can't add much to what you have already said -- except to draw an example from my current experience. We have bright young engineers lining up to join our company -- more than we can hire. Meanwhile, I've been trying to hire a master machinist for over a year now without success. Several of our rocket fluid technicians have worked their way up from entry-level positions; we have had much better luck training them ourselves than finding anyone with relevant experience.

When I was in school, we had "vocational education" for students who wanted to be technicians, electricians, mechanics, etc. Whatever happened to that kind of education?

Jeff Greason XCOR Aerospace


There may be enough of you in Mojave to prevail on the local school board? And even contribute to shop classes? Surely there are enough businesses out there who have this problem?

Government isn't going to come up with answers but sometimes it can be prevailed on to implement solutions others come up with.


You may print the letter. And you have anticipated the steps we're taking; we're in touch with the local school and job placement officials to see what we can do about it, and we're looking for some candidates with aptitude who want to train under our more senior machinists. There's always some way to move forward.

I just don't understand how, in one generation, public education has gone from having the solution already implemented to having forgotten there was ever a problem, let alone what the solution was!


Of course that is the definition of a Dark Age: when you no longer remember that you ever could do something. As we no longer remember that it was unusual for anyone to be illiterate with the only exception being hillbillies who had never gone to school; the Army used to find few illiterates who had been past fourth grade. We no longer remember that. As we no longer remember that a nation of high school graduates built the Army, Navy, and Air Corps that won World War II in a very few years.

Since we don't know we ever did such things, our teachers never try to do them.


Subject: IQ essay

With respect to the point you address about assuming everyone wants to be an egghead-- Homogenously intellectually incapable ghetto schools don’t have kids killing each other for their Air Einstein Action Protractors. Charles Murray has also noted this, obviously in other terms, in an essay I ran across years ago.

Most people talk about the situation with black intelligence as if blacks are entirely innocent of the fact that the system is rigged for them and why it’s rigged. They are not. It’s a major parameter of their American life. They know all about it.

I know that Asians and Ashkenazi Jews are smarter than whites on average, and I am white, and it does not make me feel inadequate or that whites are inadequate. Why do people assume blacks are writhing in agony over the fact of racial differences in IQ?

If you pressed me on why I still think white people are interesting and worthwhile even though we’re not on average the smartest, I would point to any number of things white people seem to be super good at despite the differences, such as literature and music. Blacks physically superior to all other races in almost all ways when it comes to performance -- something blacks know and are quite proud of. That’s not exactly a third-rate consolation prize. I wouldn’t trade—but do I really know they would? Why should I assume so? I don’t want to be an Ashkenazi Jew, particularly.

When it gets right down to it, I tend to think of the root of liberal intellectual resistance to the science on this subject looks a lot more like narcissism than compassion. A *lot* more. But maybe it’s just the ivory tower to blame. It’s sad to think a primary effect of concentrating brains in one place devoted to scholarship might create a kind of intractable myopia.

As a postscript—I have been quite interested in this subject ever since I read The Bell Curve and realized everything I knew was wrong. I have until recently always thought that the dominant ideological paradigm on these issues was completely intractable. Now I’m not so sure. Things seem to be changing the past few years. Perhaps it’s just the aging and crumbling of the influence of the Worst Generation.

Gerard Knorr



You wrote in Thursday View that Microsoft has done it to you again and then say solution was to turnoff Symantec Firewall. Would it not be more proper to blame Symantec or whoever configured it the way it was set? Was the problem with the 2006 or 2007 version?

While I have seen numerous posts knocking recent Symantec products, I see PC Magazine gave an editor's choice to the 2007 version of the suite. Take your pick which to believe.

Meanwhile, here is a case where Microsoft messed up Mac users this week. And while they recommend uninstalling, they do not provide an uninstaller.


Welcome to the Microsoft Security Response Center Blog

Information on accidental posting of pre-release security updates for Office for Mac

We¹ve seen some questions from customers about some security updates that posted for a while today for Office for Mac that they didn¹t see any security bulletins for.

I wanted to let you know that these weren¹t security updates related to this month¹s release or the two Word issues we¹ve written about in Security Advisory 929433 and on our weblog: those investigations are still underway and we¹ll release updates for those issues once we¹ve met the appropriate quality bar. The updates posted in error were pre-release binaries that had been staged internally as part of our testing for an upcoming release. Due to human error, they were accidentally published to the public websites before our full testing release process was complete.

As soon as we discovered the error, we moved quickly to address it and remove the pre-release binaries from our public sites.

Once our investigation into this issue is complete and we have security updates that meet our quality bar for release, we¹ll release those final security updates for all products affected along with a security bulletin. We¹re also taking steps to ensure a mistake like this doesn¹t happen again.

We recommend that anyone who may have installed these pre-release updates to uninstall them.

I¹m sorry for any confusion this might have caused.



*This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. *


Subject: Education links

http://www.rense.com/general74/ebon.htm  The Farce Of Multiculturalism & Ebonics

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1215/p01s01-ussc.html  To fix US schools, panel says, start over

Just in case you've not seen these.


Subject: IQ

Nice essay on IQ. Problem is, you're an egghead too. So am I. I have a biological son who is also an EH. I also have an adopted son, part black, black enough to be called black or afro American or whatever nutty term you yanks use these days.

Darrin is not an egghead. No more academic ability or interest than a tomato. Drove me nuts. Went to the quacks. They claimed ADD, ADHD, etc. etc.

I am also a hunter. Hunt in a very eggheady manner. Think, plan, cogitate. Darrin walks into the bush with a .22, disappears, and shoots things. No training, none. He shot my .22 5 times at age 12 before picking off gophers at 100 yard with iron sights on a depression era .22 with a shot out barrel. ADD, horse pucky. He has PTP (Perfect Trajectory Prediction) and AES (Attention to Everything Skills). When I hunt with Darrin game never surprises us. He has similar skills for any mental activity related to 'hunting' style pattern recognition as opposed to egghead 'analytical' pattern recognition.

The race has many strengths, the mind has many skills, eggheadery is just one of them. Useful today, maybe not so much tomorrow. Egghead that I am I cannot understand or duplicate what he can do. He has taught me to be very careful about denigrating 'other' skills.

Cheers, keep on thinking, think about how we can use his type, and others,

Fred Z


Subject: Two ends of the "using the web to do math" spectrum Buffy Willow

I sent you the first one a few years ago:

Java Slide Rule!


And now, for something else fun...and the other end of the mathy-fun spectrum:


Truly, we live in an age of wonders...

I'm wondering when someone is going to use AJAX to reverse engineer something like Mathematica as s "free web app".


Subject: The Blogosphere - A Contrary View

As the creator of the first "blog", and as one who takes the time to select and frequently comment on proposed posts, you may find this of interest, Dr. Pournelle.


 "The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

"More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.

"Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . ."


Charles Brumbelow




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Subject: IQ discussion

As regards Gerald Knorr's note asking why blacks should agonize over being lower-IQ when whites don't - it seems worth pointing out that a certain percentage of whites DO. Why else the obsession with Jews as being the source of all evil in the world? Mind you, these whites have a certain point; Jews _are_ on average smarter and therefore _are_ likely to be more represented in positions of power and influence that depend on being smart. That such a simple fact of life gets converted into massive conspiracy theories and Final Solutions is no less unreasonable than blacks insisting any failure on their part is because the system is rigged.

Beyond that - it seems reasonable that whites would be less prone to such thinking because they aren't as visibly low on the scale. Being white, with average white abilities, is "normal", so it doesn't matter too much if there are exceptions on the fringes. If whites become just another minority in a country where higher-IQ groups are comparable in population, I think you could see a drastic growth in the attitudes that currently lead to antisemitism.

This is fundamentally the problem with openly acknowledging IQ differences and taking an attitude of "just deal with it". Being smart is absolutely essential (though not necessarily sufficient) for success in a technological world. The letter about the adopted black son with assorted non-egghead skills makes good points, but how can skills of that sort be rewarded by a global market where technology drives everything? If it is possible, that would be good, but I don't see it happening; and that leaves such people permanently locked below a glass ceiling in terms of what they can earn, and their consequent status in society. Being smart is an aspect of personality that a given individual is absolutely helpless to affect. When brought face to face with such a situation, where they are locked into a certain segment of society with NO CHANCE to ever get out of it - well, in a class-conscious society, where knowing one's place is considered virtuous and normal, there would be no problem; but our current culture tells everyone to shoot for the moon because you can make it if you just try hard enough, because everyone is equal - which has been taken to mean that everyone is basically the same.

What does equality mean, if we accept that different groups are fundamentally different, and that the consequence of that is that some groups will be rewarded with more money and others never will reach that level? How does one value a human being, if not in the market sense - in terms of how much money can be offered for them? How can "I'm just as good as him" be reconciled with the fact that no matter how hard "I" work, "he" gets all the fast cars and hot women and happy family and big house without half trying, and how can "I" be expected to be satisfied with that situation in a country where "anyone, even you, can grow up to be President"?

Admitting that people are unequal and teaching them what sort of things they will probably be good at, and what they should reasonably expect out of life, seems to be the way out - the only way to have a multiracial society that doesn't lie to itself. But that is a society with castes, and it is not at all something that fits with what I've always understood as the fundamental values of America.

I hope genetic engineering gets going fast enough and effective enough so we can make ourselves as smart as we like or find necessary without having to face this sort of thing.

Kent Peterson urquan@rocketmail.com

"... there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past ..." - Ray Bradbury, _The Martian Chronicles_

Teaching people to do what they will be good at is NOT a caste system. Banning IQ tests, and then expecting to see equal outcomes, is insane.

There are fewer IQ 100-120 blacks than IQ 100-120 white (both in absolute numbers and in proportion to the racial numbers) but fewer is NOT ZERO. There are fewer 80-100 IQ whites than 80-100 whites in proportion to racial numbers, but there are not zero.

Now it takes some skill to determine whether a given child ought to be on the Skill or the Education (College Prep) track, and there are intermediates who could do both. In the case of those who can do both, it's probably best for them to be at the top of the skill set rather than the bottom of the college set, but that's not an absolute either.

The point is that half the kids ought not be college bound in the first place. At least half. Were it left to me I'd make that an even smaller number; I'd say 110 or above as a minimum for college bound.

In Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940's there were three tracks in high school. There was Central High School which was all university prep, and indeed graduation from Central with a B average was automatic admission to the University of Tennessee. There was Memphis Tech, which was skill oriented with superior shop classes, draftsmanship, technical math, carpentry, and the like; and there were the general high schools, and  they taught mostly general education. They had college prep tracks as well as shop classes. It may not have been an optimum system, but it did seem to work. Heaven knows it had to work better than what we have now.

Of course those were times when it was almost inconceivable that someone would graduate from 8th grade unable to read or do simple arithmetic.

This was a segregated school system. Ed Crump, the Memphis City Boss, decreed that there would be one excellent Negro high school in Memphis, and I am told -- I am ashamed to say I have no direct knowledge -- that Booker T. Washington High was a first class college prep high school. I have no knowledge at all about the other Negro high schools. I am told that the old Central and Tech schools are no longer what they used to be and the Memphis school system is as abysmal as all the rest in the country, but again I have no direct knowledge.

The problem is that no one is studying how we might teach skills to those who need skill training, and symbol manipulation to the High IQ set, and sort people into those tracks (with appropriate means for changing tracks on demonstration of capability or lack thereof). It is hardly a simple task. But it has to work better than what we have now.

But it need not be a caste system. Yes, the universities will have more Ashkenazim, Asians, and whites, and fewer blacks than would a sample proportionate to the general distribution of the races; but there will not be zero blacks. It is not a caste system.

And I do point out that it's more than possible to be a success without being an egghead.


Subject:  Painting the roof white

I thought that you were kidding the first time you mentioned painting roofs white, but you've now mentioned it several times, so I conclude that perhaps you're serious.

So I decided to run some back-of-the-napkin calculations. The first problem, obviously, is getting a decent value for roof area per person. I estimate that Barbara and I have 2,000 square feet of roof on our house. (The last time we got a new roof, it took 23 squares, so allowing for wastage, 2,000 square feet seems about right.) Barbara also has a small amount of shared roof at work, which we can safely ignore. That means we have 1,000 square feet of roof each.

Some people have larger homes than we do, but many others live in apartments, and most homes our size (~2,800 square feet) have more than two people living in them. Taking into account business roofs, mall roofs, etc., it therefore seems reasonable to use 1,000 square feet per person.

The United States just passed 300,000,000 population. At 1,000 square feet each, that comes to 3e11 square feet of roof. Dividing 3e11 by (5,280*5,280) gives us about 10,761 square miles of roof. The total area of the United States is 3,718,695 square miles, so we'd be painting about 0.29% of it white.

A typical roof has about the same reflectance as a photographer's 18% gray card (the same as asphalt paving). Typical white paint, when new, might reflect 80% of the incident light. I seem to remember that the average albedo of Terra is also about 18% (as is Luna), so the only net change would be to increase the reflectance of 0.29% of our surface area from 18% to 80%. That seems to me to be almost Kyoto-like in its futility, although painting the roofs of 300,000,000 people white would certainly cost less than Kyoto, even considering the need to repaint frequently.

I just ran these numbers very quickly and didn't check, so perhaps someone else would care to check them for me.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

It ought to do as much as Kyoto and cost less; I figured that out on the back of an envelope. I haven't done any more than that. I expect your numbers are right, but I still don't know the total energy balance involved here.


Subject: Urban Heat Islands 


I think it has been discussed on the site before that one element of supposed global warming is the location of most measurment stations in urban areas subject to the urban heat island effect. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_heat_island )

This seems to be largely a consequence of the higher heat capacity of pavement and building materials than of native foliage. I would propose to combat it by developing inexpensive free-standing trellises that can support ivy growths, both shading the parking lots and buildings during summer (much to the relief of pedestrians who have to keep vehicles on those parking lots during the days) and providing plant growth to help fix the excess carbon dioxide.



Hi Dr. Pournelle,

Robert Bruce Thompson runs off some numbers about white roofs and concludes that, relative to the total land area of the U.S., roofs are only 0.29% of the land area. This, he concludes, is an insignificant amount and the contribution of painting all roofs white would be as miniscule as the effects of the Kyoto treaty. You correctly point out that the costs would be vastly smaller for the same benefit.

I just want to point out that roofs are concentrated in urban areas (about 2.6% of total land area according to the USDA) so the benefits would also be concentrated. This would be expected to have a noticable impact on urban heat effect where the roofs are white. Reduced air temperatures would reduce air conditioning loads and white roofs also directly contribute to keeping buildings cooler. So this would reduce, e.g., coal burning for electric power generation. The secondary effects would probably contribute significantly to CO2 reduction, a fact that the warmists consider significant.

It would be a useful experiment to require white roofs on all buildings in a town or city and compare the temperature and power consumption to that in a comparable non-whitened town or city. It won't happen, of course, because the warmists are not interested in cheap or low-tech partial solutions - they are all-or-nothing types (i.e., fanatics).

Bill Hembree


Dear Doctor P,

A recent news article told of the discovery that high energy particles from a flurry of super-novae in the earth's neighborhood a few million years ago, had caused an increase in cloud cover, increase in clouds led to global cooling and an ice age. This process was akin to the particle trails in a high-energy physics lab "cloud chamber", with the high-energy particles imparting electric charges to dust particles in the upper-atmosphere, causing them to clump together, making it easier for water molecules to condense onto the larger particles, making for more numerous and thicker clouds than theretofore. Complicated yet elegant.

The solar wind as it varies in the 11 year solar cycle also plays a role in this. When the wind is strong, it reduces the energy of the cosmic ray particles striking the upper atmosphere, since it "blows" against them, creating a sort of "headwind" the cosmic rays have to pass through. When the solar wind is weak, the cosmic rays are more energetic, and they create more clouds than when the solar wind is strong and the cosmic rays thus less energetic.

So, how would it be if we pointed some big particle accelerators skywards and increased the cloud cover? Or maybe they would need to be in orbit, and shooting downwards to mimic the cosmic radiation? I like the thought, and as a bonus it would help us pay for some research on really big particle accelerators that can shoot down nasty stuff anyone throws at us.

Of course putting big particle accelerators in orbit will drive Art Bell even crazier.

From a page that explains this process:


Since cosmic rays dominate the troposphere ionization, an increased solar activity will translate into a reduced ionization, and empirically, also to a reduced low altitude cloud cover. Since low altitude clouds have a net cooling effect (their "whiteness" is more important than their "blanket" effect), increased solar activity implies a warmer climate. Intrinsic cosmic ray flux variations will have a similar effect, one however, which is unrelated to solar activity variations.

The closer you look at climate, the more you realize just how complex it is.





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Friday,  December 22, 2006

What we once accomplished:

My maternal grandfather left school after the eighth grade ca. 1921, in a small Missouri town. He became a master automobile mechanic at a time when cars were the latest tin high-tech, about as glamorous as computers to us. He worked with engineers in the Detroit factories of both GM and Ford (at different times) helping develop and write the shop repair manuals for the dealership repair shops. In his spare time he taught himself radio and television repair (he had a complete test rig including oscilloscope in his garage), learned to fly, built a couple of houses (doing all the wiring and plumbing, and meeting the codes on all requirements) from the ground up using plans he drew himself, and became a 32nd degree Mason and Shriner.

What man has done once he can aspire to. At least, if he remembers he once did it.


The definition of a Dark Age is that we no longer remember what we once could do.


Subject: White Roofs - 

Hi Dr. Pournelle,

Robert Bruce Thompson runs off some numbers about white roofs and concludes that, relative to the total land area of the U.S., roofs are only 0.29% of the land area. This, he concludes, is an insignificant amount and the contribution of painting all roofs white would be as miniscule as the effects of the Kyoto treaty. You correctly point out that the costs would be vastly smaller for the same benefit.

I just want to point out that roofs are concentrated in urban areas (about 2.6% of total land area according to the USDA) so the benefits would also be concentrated. This would be expected to have a noticable impact on urban heat effect where the roofs are white. Reduced air temperatures would reduce air conditioning loads and white roofs also directly contribute to keeping buildings cooler. So this would reduce, e.g., coal burning for electric power generation. The secondary effects would probably contribute significantly to CO2 reduction, a fact that the warmists consider significant.

It would be a useful experiment to require white roofs on all buildings in a town or city and compare the temperature and power consumption to that in a comparable non-whitened town or city. It won't happen, of course, because the warmists are not interested in cheap or low-tech partial solutions - they are all-or-nothing types (i.e., fanatics).

Bill Hembree


Subject: White roofs; is sky blue close enough? 

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I've been reading the recent exchanges regarding the realized benefits of painting all roofs white with interest, and a potential way of quantifying those benefits came to me. Perhaps a comparison of the average home HVAC energy usage (mostly cooling, in this case) between the Greek island of Santorini (where they whitewash their buildings and paint their roofs sky blue) and another city in the same region that uses more typical colors would be interesting. Also, it might be worth the effort to see if Santorini creates as much of an "urban hot spot" as the comparator city of the same size.

Which might be more trouble than it is worth, of course. But at least we'd be trying to quantify the benefit of our proposed action, apparently unlike the majority of climate activists.


Mike Smith

And Santorini -- Thera, site of the biggest whambango in recorded classical history and possibly the end of Atlantis -- is beautiful. I loved it there. I spent a week with Spyridon  Marinatos, who was a most gracious host.


Jerry P:

Painting the roof white

I think they ignore one benefit of painting the roof white. That is the reduction of radiative heat absorption in the summer. Las Vegas new homes typically have multiple air conditioners, which consume electricity. Given that the electricity is from Hoover Dam, which is hydroelectric, but that energy could be channeled to uses other than quite so much air conditioning. Current building practices insulate the ceilings and that helps but there are a number of consumption trade-offs involved in that. The cost of producing the insulating materials consumes energy and releases those bad old greenhouse gases. So the energy balance is quit interesting and not a simple calculation. There have been several articles in past Scientific American magazine that investigated building techniques of temperate countries in the middle east and their natural convective circulation techniques that reduced internal temperatures. Shading with deciduous trees is also good as they provide shade in the summer and after the leaves drop in the winter allow sunlight to warm the roof. But no one is interested in this in this era of cheap electricity.

Charles Simkins



I disagree with you about increasing CO2 being the ill effect; the problem is warming, not CO2. Or, at least, what everyone says is the problem is warming. It's an interesting that we could debate the climate we want and possibly make slight modifications, and indeed we have unwittingly done so already. The size of that modification is open to debate, but it is there.

On this suggestion, "Query: is seeding the high altitude with contrails or water vapor thus increasing cloud cover and increasing the albedo or reflectivity of the Earth and thus lowering the solar energy absorbed under study? Surely it ought to be feasible".

I think it is very feasible, and I suggested exactly this in about 1982 at a Physics dept. colloquium when I was in grad school at U.W. The response was uproarious laughter, with comments about "Send him to Boeing to work on Star Wars." However, I reasonably pointed out, that even then it was obvious that the Chinese were not about to stop using fossil fuels because we tell them too. Nor is anyone else. If warming is a problem, we must find regulation systems, since no one is going to stop using fossil fuels until we run out. (Only caveat: Or until something else it cheaper.)

So, your point about control systems, whether it is to regulate CO2, or decrease the net solar radiation absorbed by the earth, is very reasonable. Not easy, but I think doable if/when the problem is understood as urgent. For example, my favorite approach to lowering albedo is just to put fine-grained dirt in LEO. Like the ocean blooms, this is controllable and reversible by picking the orbital lifetime. Probably the best way to do it is to establish a lunar base and send bucketloads of dirt down via a "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" catapult and aerobrake into orbit. Expensive? Well, compared to what? All the other solutions cost as much or more...


Well I did work on Star Wars at Boeing, Aerospace, and then as Chairman of the Advisory Council that wrote the space transition team papers for Reagan's incoming administration.

But so far the warming levels we have are not outside historical precedents. It has been at least this warm in the Christian Era. We have not had CO2 levels this high in a long time. Running the CO2 experiment is, it seems to me, more perilous than the warming, which isn't unprecedented.

Once you decide to change the Earth's albedo, one way is simply to shut down a lot of the particulate matter scrubbers from coal stacks, combined with very high stacks.



Subject: Hi Jerry; You asked: Cooling by Aerosols

Substantial research has been done, using (what else...) pollution. The PBS special is especially good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_dimming



Subj: Religion in society: WSJ columnist asks some of the same questions you've asked


=Do virtues matter as ballast in a dynamic, complex society? If yes, where will they come from? Do secularists simply expropriate them from religion? Or do they create their own, such as "do not oppress"?=

Good to see the questions being asked in a wider forum!

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com

Wider but not better...


Subject: IQ Discussion

Dr. Pournelle,

Mr Peterson said a number of things which leads me to guess that he works and lives around yuppie eggheads. This is the myopia that you describe. The people that he interacts with every day must be invisible to him or he judges them to be failures.

Being to the right of the bell curve is not essential for success in the technological world. Not to be simple, but it depends on how you define success. If you define success as being richer than 95% of the people in the country, sure high intelligence is essential. But I am very good friends with a number of people who I think are successful. They have small houses, children who are not criminals, and careers. They have families and friends and happiness. They are honorable.

Technology does not drive everything. It takes a certain amount of college to believe that we do not need: 1. Engine Repair 2. Electricians 3. Chefs 4. Machinists 5. Entertainers 6. Government anythingers. (Soldiers, Cops, and Firefighters included) 7. Plumbers 8. Truck Drivers 9. Store Managers 10. Cosmetologists 11. Farmers 12. Home Builders 13. Secretaries 14. Dry Cleaners 15. Tailors 16. Cable/telephone installers 17. Trashmen 18. Apartment Managers 19. Corporate Security People 20. PC Repairmen

If I seem angry, it is because I am. I am tired of people believing that everyone wants to be them. Pride is a sin.

You may be interested to know that the NAACP is working to expand shop classes and trade schools. Maybe what man has done, he can aspire to.

Will Albenzi Prince Hall Freemason










This week:


read book now


Saturday, December 23, 2006

washingtonpost. Uncle Sam Wants You to Shop at His Web Site

By Stephen Barr Wednesday, December 20, 2006;

If the Santa wish list isn't working out, let Uncle Sam help you find a holiday gift.

FirstGov.gov, the government's official Web portal, includes a "holiday gifts for sale" link that shows you where to purchase books, mementos from museums, holiday ornaments, folk recordings, jewelry, art and souvenirs.

For example, the U.S. Mint touts an American Eagle one-ounce silver coin for $27.95, the Supreme Court Historical Society sells a rhinestone flag pin for $18.99, and the Library of Congress offers railroad songs and ballads on an $8.95 CD.

"There are lots of things for sale by the government that you don't realize," said Martha Dorris, deputy associate administrator for the office of citizen services at the General Services Administration.

If you're looking for the offbeat or for a bargain, the Web portal also links to GovSales.gov, which sells surplus and seized property, such as cars, trucks, real estate, computers and furniture. Yesterday's listings included a 1996 Jeep Cherokee with 68,876 miles. Initial bids have driven the price to $800; the bidding ends Dec. 24.



Financial Times

UK report says robots will have rights

By Salamander Davoudi in London

Published: December 19 2006 22:01 | Last updated: December 19 2006 22:01

The next time you beat your keyboard in frustration, think of a day where it may be able to sue you for assault. Within 50 years we might even find ourselves standing next to the next generation of vacuum cleaners in the voting booth.

Far from being extracts from the extreme end of science fiction, the idea that we may one day give sentient machines the kind of rights traditionally reserved for humans is raised in a British government-commissioned report which claims to be an extensive look into the future.

Visions of the status of robots around 2056 have emerged from one of 270 forward-looking papers sponsored by Sir David King, the UK government¹s chief scientist. The paper covering robots¹ rights was written by a UK partnership of Outsights, the management consultancy, and Ipsos Mori, the opinion research organisation.

³If we make conscious robots they would want to have rights and they probably should,² said Henrik Christensen, director of the Centre of Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The idea will not surprise science fiction aficionados. It was widely explored by Dr Isaac Asimov, one of the foremost science fiction writers of the 20th century. He wrote of a society where robots were fully integrated and essential in day-to-day life.

 Not to mention Robert Heinlein and others. And R.U.R.


Variety Sony BMG to pay fines Music giant agrees to judgment By PHIL GALLO

Sony BMG In the land of ones and zeroes, it's consumers 1, Sony BMG 0.

The music giant agreed Tuesday to cease embedding compact discs with digital rights management software that limited the number of copies consumers can make of the music and harmed the computers of some consumers. It also agreed to pay fines in California and Texas.

Sony BMG entered a stipulated judgment with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General's Office to remedy a civil consumer protection complaint filed by the D.A.'s Consumer Protection Division and the attorney general's Consumer Law Section. They made a similar agreement in Texas.

Each state will receive $750,000 in civil penalties and costs.

Complaint alleged that the business practices of Sony BMG -- which owns and distributes albums on labels such as Columbia, Epic, RCA and Arista -- constitute false advertising, unfair competition and unlawful computer intrusion.

Allegations that Sony BMG was using so-called spyware to garner information on consumers were found to be false by an outside agency, CyberTrust.

They got off easy.


Subject: Painting the rooftops and the Hollywood mogul

Dr. Pournelle:

There is an apocryphal story about some Hollywood mogul back in the day who was thundering to Defense people that they needed to Do Something about protecting his studio from the risk of Japanese bombing planes. Story goes that some Army officer sent a crew to paint the roofs of the studio for camouflage. Well, this studio bigwig didn't have an immediate vantage point to see what got painted on his rooftops until someone presented him with an aerial photo showing that the studio was disguised to look like the Douglas Aircraft plant.

Paul Milenkovic Madison, Wisconsin

I never heard that story, but I live out here, and stranger things have happened....


Knowing the Enemy.

An important article, well worth the read. I don't agree with all of this, obviously (the author's condemnation of hardline anticommunists and his conflation of them with so-called 'neo-conservatives' would be amusing, if it weren't so maddening), but there's much food for thought here, if we're determined to try our hand at empire:


By speaking of Saddam Hussein, the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, the Taliban, the Iranian government, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda in terms of one big war, Administration officials and ideologues have made Osama bin Laden’s job much easier. “You don’t play to the enemy’s global information strategy of making it all one fight,” Kilcullen said. He pointedly avoided describing this as the Administration’s approach. “You say, ‘Actually, there are sixty different groups in sixty different countries who all have different objectives. Let’s not talk about bin Laden’s objectives—let’s talk about your objectives. How do we solve that problem?’ ” In other words, the global ambitions of the enemy don’t automatically demand a monolithic response.

-- Roland Dobbins

Indeed. But trying our hand at empire is precisely what we ought not be doing. Do we really want to train an army to rule without the consent of the governed? What do we DO with that army when it's not oppressing someone else? The cost of the Iraq war is not less than a trillion dollars. For that money the United States could have been energy independent, had a strong army and navy, and have colonies on the Moon. Why can we afford war in Iraq and we cannot afford real progress?



CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday,  December 24, 2006     

Subj: Offshore, the musical



Remember that famous song "Downtown" originally performed by Petula Clark in 1964? Okay, now get that tune in your head, and sing the following lyrics:

Does work that you know
Seem like it's suddenly flowing
To some parts unknown?
Offshore. ...


[sigh] I'll have to put that one on the mental shelf next to the Lovecraftian lyrics for the tune from Glenn Campbell's _Wichita Lineman_.

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


The solution to global warming.


This is obviously grossly exaggerated nonsense, too, of course.

 Roland Dobbins


It's because they're literally illiterate.


- Roland Dobbins



' . . . they must take the Koran instead.'


-- Roland Dobbins

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.


From another conference:


If it is IQ that determines national per capita GDP, why is per capita GDP rising rapidly in China and India *now* after being stagnant for decades? Did the average IQ in those countries suddenly take a Great Leap Forward?

The evidence that tax rates impact GDP growth is *overwhelming*. India didn’t start to grow until around 1990, when they cut the top income tax rate from 98% to something like 40%. Ireland went from the lowest GDP per capita in the EU to the highest in 10 years by cut top corporate tax rate from 50% to 12.5% and cutting the top personal tax rate from 58% to 42%. Now the Irish Diaspora is returning to their native land for the opportunities it offers.


People are like computers. The Chinese and Indians were running really bad software. Now their software is greatly improved and their economic performance is rising toward their hardware limitations.

Do 98% taxes stifle economic growth? Of course. But the benefit of going from 98% to 50% is far greater than the benefit of going from 50% to 25% and the benefits of lower tax rates continue to decline from there.

Ireland was also helped by the English language, its location between Europe and the US, and big EU subsidies.

Ireland is now getting ruined by low IQ immigration.









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