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Mail 448 January 8 - 14, 2006







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Monday  January 8, 2007

Mark this as a day when I was overwhelmed. I'm dancing as fast as I can.





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Tuesday, January 9, 2006

Trying to catch up

Harry Erwin's Letter from England

Bush's 'surge' is catching a lot of flak in the international press, much like it is in American papers. Some left-wing blogs are suggesting that the intention is to declare war on the Shiite militias, get defeated, and give Congress no choice but to reinstate the draft and go to total war in alliance with Israel. I don't think any of our decision-makers are that dumb, but it's interesting to see it suggested. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2533292,00.html>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2534617,00.html>   <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2535310,00.html>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2534996,00.html>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/07/ uiran107.xml

Blair and Brown's reactions to Saddam hanging: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6238741.stm>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/07/ uhang107.xml

Gordon Brown: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6238565.stm>  <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6237115.stm>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/07/ nmod07.xml>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/07/ nmod107.xml

 NHS budget problems: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6238955.stm>  <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6235573.stm> <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6228659.stm>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/07/ nhs07.xml

Polish Archbishop resigns over spying: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6238165.stm>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/07/ ucatholic107.xml>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/05/ wpoland05.xml

Security theatre--inconveniencing millions moderately and tens of thousands severely. (I've been a systems engineer for a fingerprint system, and I know their performance statistics.) <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1984496,00.html

Dumping household waste in the UK. (My experience is that local authorities aren't interested in recycling if there's any cost involved.) <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6238357.stm>

Making your targets on crime:
/news/2007/01/07/ ncrime07.xml

 Protecting hunted criminals' privacy:
?xml=/news/2007/01/07/ ncrime107.xml>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2533610,00.html

Religious equality row in the courts: <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article2126332.ece

Scottish nationalism <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1984531,00.html


My teaching starts up again on Monday, and I've been busy revising and uploading lectures (19-I counted them...). It looks to me like people here in Britain and in America haven't really come back from Christmas yet. When they do, I expect political events to get very stormy and remain so into the summer. Here's a question for your American correspondents: what do they expect to happen in Iraq? Here's another: what's their take on the fight over presidential signing statements?

-- 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>

Emphasis added. I find the story of murderer's rights to privacy particularly appealing. Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.


Subject: moderate Islam

> however much apologists may protest that Islam is a religion of peace,
> the incidents and pronouncements Ms. Dow collects are generally not
> addressed by those who speak for "moderate Islam."

Sure they are -- there are Fatwas from almost all of the major Islamic scholars, as well as regular conferences around the world, against terrorism and working on ways to deal with these issues (The king of Morocco is a major supporter, as is the King of Jordan).

The real question is why the PRESS doesn't cover these moderate yet traditional voices.

I suspect it's because the press sees the two as contradictory (tradition vs moderation) so they are unable to deal with it.


They must do a remarkable job of suppressing those protests. Not only here, but in the Islamic world. Those fatwas are not circulated. A bit like in pectore cardinal appointments.


Subject: Roberta's Reading Program on an Intel Mac


No need for Windows. Install either SheepShaver or Basilisk II on an Intel Mac. Then use a ROM grabber to get and install a PowerPC ROM. Then install an appropriate version of the MacOS (7.6 through 8.0 will work). Then install Agnes (If I recall correctly, there is a high quality Agnes on the MacOS 8 CD system disk). And you are good to go. It is also possible to emulate the Apple ][e on an Intel Mac, for I've seen such a beast in the wild, although I haven't done this myself.

I happen to have a collection of old Macs (including my original 128K Mac and a Mac Plus). All three of my kids learned to read using Roberta's program on a Performa II. My son, who is now 9, is the high outlier for reading speed & comprehension in his school and both the girls are also at the top of their class in reading.

A challenge: List 10 things that you think are impossible to do on a Mac. I don't think that you can do it.


That's the very old Mac program with synthesized speech. It works, but she likes her Windows version -- which runs very nicely on a Power PC Mac with Virtual PC and any version of Windows -- somewhat better. She's going to revise her web site Real Soon Now.

Thanks for the kind words. We have heard from many readers over the years that Roberta's reading program really works. Anyone with children past first grade still not reading ALL English, not just controlled vocabulary, should get the program. There is no reason why a child's reading vocabulary should not be larger that the speaking vocabulary, and it's shameful when children know and use words in conversation but can't read them.


Subject: Scotland on Sunday letter on global warming

A letter in Scotland on Sunday today. This is another ribbing catastrophic warming enthusiasts. There probably, though not certainly, is some warming taking place & a part of it, perhaps a vanishingly small part, is likely to be caused by humans. On the other hand it is within historic parameters & I go with the Oregon Petition of 17,000 scientists that there is no reason to expect anything catastrophic & indeed that it is likely to be beneficial.


" Kevin Hutchens (letter 31st Dec) says that because the government appointed advisor say global warming will result in a 3 degree increase that is proof of its reality.

This was the warning which the BBC described as his "strongest warning yet". He also earlier warned that in 2100 Antarctica would be "the only habitable continent" which implies something like a 30 degree warming.

If that is what passes for evidence among catastrophe enthusiasts perhaps we may look forward to somewhere between 0.3 & 0.03 warming before we get back to the next new ice age scare. In fact 5 of the years since 1998 have been cooler which does not seem to show a warming trend, let alone the spectacularly fast warming promised."

That they have allowed 2 letters both sceptical of catastrophic warming may be affected by the fact that recent online comments on warming stories have been overwhelmingly sceptical.

classic liberals for 9% GROWTH Party <http://9percentgrowth.blogspot.com/>  http://9percentgrowth.blogspot.com/ <http://9percentgrowth.blogspot.com/

If you would like to help this movement or just to receive future communications please email crgn143@aol.com write to 9% Growth, 200 Woodlands Rd., Glasgow G3 6LN phone 0141 353 3975

Neil Craig

The warming may be real. The cause isn't so clear. But it's certain that the CO2 levels are up. We ought to be looking at ways to reduce CO2 (planting trees helps) without beggaring everyone. On the other hand, what we do should be reversible (cut down old trees and keep the wood available for burning if needed?).

Not that any such things will happen.


Subject: RE: Thanks for subscription


Just what you've heard many, many times, I'm sure.

1) I don't have any complaints with what you've got now.

2) I don't have any problem chipping in a little financial support.

3) I'd far rather you spent your time earning a living than adding extra content. And I'd *really* hate for the entire project to become such a time sink that you dropped your website entirely!


Thanks. I manage even if sometimes I get just a wee bit behind...


Subject: along the lines of the diatribes

This is quite a story:


(begin quote:)

I could not agree more with your last post if I tried. Yes, of course, moslems are an alien body in our midst. Every day in London - on the tube, in shops, in parks, whilst shopping, whilst going about the 101 tasks that make up an average life - this is borne in on me.

In London today moslems dress differently, are rude to locals, jump queues, shout at us, wave their fists at us, call us ‘worthless infidel’ in public and in loud voices. I have, just four days ago, been elbowed aside by a moslem couple, with sidekicks, whilst trying to top up my Oyster card at a tube station at the automatic machine. Apparently, I had taken longer than the ten seconds that they were prepared to wait and so three burly males forced me aside and, when I objected, pushed me to the floor and - quite literally - and took over the machine which I was attempting to use.

Not, in a crowded and impatient city like London that this was a surprise, but that in this instance that I was insulted by these people was a surprise. The eldest male in the group, dressed in the usual and ridiculous garb of mohammedans everywhere, looked directly at me amd said, in quite clear English, (and I quote verbatim) “Get out of our way infidel slave”.

You may imagine how I felt at that moment. To be so insulted in my own capital city was stunning. It took all my self-control not to do something rash at that moment.

Knowing that CCTV cameras would have captured this incident I complained, some three hours later (after having completed my journey and return), to the British Transport Police on the Broadway. I need not have bothered. Not only would no-one there take my complaint of ‘technical assault and insult’ seriously but no-one to whom I spoke was even prepared to initiate any paperwork whatsoever nor were they remotely prepared to find and look at the video recordings. Indeed, one Officer even said to me that I ’should swallow my pride’ and live with it because - and, once again, I quote verbatim ‘you are just being racist and you have to remember that it’s cultural with them’.

Obviously, at this point, I indicated that I felt that I had been physically assaulted and that I would really like to have my complaint investigated. Well, this is really where everything about that evening begins to stick in my craw. When I said that, the Officer of the BTP who was listening to me actually cautioned me and warned me that if I persisted with making a nuisance of myself I would be charged under the The Race Relations Act 1976 and the RRAA (Race Relations (Amendment) Act) 2000.

I gave up at this point. Cowardice is sometimes the better part of valour. But, damn it, they won, didn’t they? I have been intimidated into a dhimmi position by them and the very powers which should have protected me in my own country.


Quite a story isn't the half of it. Ye gods.

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




The latest essay by La Griffe du Lion on gender differences in intelligence is sure to stir the pot. And, didn’t I hear that a woman will be Harvard’s next president?


Some extracts



General intelligence, its form and how it is distributed in various populations are among the topics covered in this conversation with Prodigy. A new kind of meta-analysis is unveiled, and with it an assessment of the cognitive gender gap. All this and more when La Griffe du Lion interviews a celebrated whiz kid.

P: Using new analytical methods, I reassessed the cognitive gap between African Americans and Non-Hispanic whites.

LG: That is arguably the most studied of all group differences. What prompted you to reexamine it?

P: It is precisely because this gap has been so well-studied that I decided to reevaluate it. What better test of a new analytical procedure? Here is the result of my analysis:

A white-black mean difference in g of 1.09 SD exists in favor of whites, equivalent to 16 IQ points. The black g distribution is narrower than the white, with a variance ratio (B/W) of 0.888.

As you see, no surprises. The male-female gap, however, is more problematic. Recent estimates run anywhere from no gap at all to more than 8 IQ points in favor of men. I applied the same method to look for a gender gap, hoping to clarify the situation. Here is the result:

A male-female mean difference in g of 0.162 SD exists in favor of men, equivalent to 2.43 IQ points. The female g distribution is narrower than the male, with a variance ratio (F/M) of 0.916.

You will find these to be the definitive estimates of both the white-black and male-female cognitive gaps, as they follow from the most elegant analysis of the largest samples ever examined.

Al Perrella

Mean IQ differences, and perhaps as important dispersion IQ differences between groups are real, repeatable, and significant. In some cases very much so. It is the case that mean IQ of Chinese in China is several points higher than mean IQ of Americans in America. This has real significance. Among other things, it means that the reason America, not China, is the dominant power is because of the way the Chinese hae been governed for a thousand years. It also means that we cannot afford to waste any of the 90 - 120 IQ resources of the US. But of course we are. No child is left behind if none can get ahead. That wastes the resources.

We sow the wind.


Subject: The Microsoft update schedule - a conspiracy

Jerry - I just figured out something.

Bill Gates tries to keep you busy updating and debugging Windows just so you don't have time to give Linux and Mac OS X much attention.

A funny thought!

Keep on doing your good work.

Sci Fi : I read a couple of Frank Pereti's children's books, and a new twist I hadn't read before was in "The Legend of Annie Murphy". I think you would enjoy it, although the "sermonizing" may turn you off.

Its at



T. Boyd Moore KO4WK 1 Tim. 3:16

Good grief, you may be right!




This week:


read book now


Wednesday, January 1, 2006

Subject: how times have changed 

Dr. Pournelle:

The following is floating around the net--unfortunately, it's too close to truth to be satire. Alas for our times.

1963 and 2006

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1963 - Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 - School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.


Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1963 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

2006 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.


Scenario: Little Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1963 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal. Sits still in class.

2006 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

1963 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006 - Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to school.

1963 - Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.

2006 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car is searched for drugs and weapons. +++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Mary turns up pregnant.

1963 - 5 High School Boys leave town. Mary does her senior year at a special school for expectant mothers.

2006 - Middle School Counselor calls Planned Parenthood, who notifies the ACLU. Mary is driven to the next state over and gets an abortion without her parent's consent or knowledge. Mary given condoms and told to be more careful next time. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1963: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2006: Pedro's cause is taken up by ultra-liberals. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can't speak English. +++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1963 - Ants die.

2006 - ATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again. +++++++++++++++++++++

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary, who hugs Johnny to comfort him.

1963 - In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2006 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. +++++++++++++++++++++



And this is what they call progress?

But think how interesting it is to watch anarcho-tyranny develop.


Subject: Risky PR opportunity 

Dr. Pournelle,

I was watching the daily show (9 Jan 2007) and the guest was book author on who was decidedly non-funny, but it got me thinking about the PR value of even a bad appearance on Stewart's wildly popular show.

Since both your inferno and sequel are virtually dripping with the kind of not-quite-satirical political and social commentary that is the bread and butter of Stewart's show, have you considered sending a press notice and a copy of the book to Jon Stewart and the Daily Show when the book hits the street? You and Niven can think on your feet well enough to escape looking terribly bad, and even a bad appearance would sell books. It seems like the kind of thing he might put on his show especially as the book depicts what might happen to real-life people we all know and either love or hate, if they happened to find themselves in Dante's version of hell.

Anyhow, it's probably a long shot but it shouldn't cost much to put into the over all PR effort.


I have never seen the show. My experience is that the first rule of appearing on those shows is never to embarrass the host; make the host look good and you'll get other invitations. Whether Niven can so restrain himself I am not so sure. He's never had to; I do almost all the PR, and I haven't done a lot since Lucifer's Hammer. I'll look into it, but before one publicizes a book one needs a book to publicize. Inferno 2 is coming along nicely. I got another 800 words of a difficult scene done yesterday.


Subject: Re: Reading in First Grade

I remember my own experiences. In first grade, we were each asked to bring in our favorite book that we would read out loud for everyone else in the class. I bought in a Tom Swift book. I was told that it had too many big, confusing words like “ultramodern” and “aerodynamic”.

Another story (which I don’t remember personally, but my parents tell me it happened) was that I was asked to display my reading skills for my grandparents. So I got a book, which…I…proceeded…to…read…like…this…with…a…pause…between…every…word… My mother asked me why I was reading like that, and I replied that it’s how all the other kids read. She let me in on the secret that those other kids read that way because they didn’t know any of the words…


Those who have learned to read properly add words to their speaking vocabulary After a while they learn to recognize words they already know and don't need to do any decoding. But those who can't read, or read only ideographically, freeze up when they encounter words they have never seen before even if they actually know the word and use it in conversation.


Subject: Those who fail to study history...

Your governor probably should have done some research on TennCare before advocating a California version. TennCare almost bankrupted the state of Tennessee, and was arguably created in the first place as a wedge to get a personal income tax past a state constitutional prohibition.


Charles Brumbelow

All this is in lieu of enforcing the immigration laws.


You commented on Tuesday:

>Emphasis added. I find the story of murderer's rights to privacy particularly appealing. Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

One also notes, reading the article:

>Jason Croft, above, and Michael Nixon, both serving life sentences for murder, went on the run while on pre-release outings.

>Croft was given a life sentence in 1996 after stabbing a youth in the chest as he lay unconscious in a street in Moston, Manchester.

>Nixon was also jailed for life in 1996 after he dropped a concrete block on a teenager’s head in the Newton Heath area of the city.

These two murderers, sentenced to “LIFE” 1n 1996, were apparently about to be released anyway. Which to me is a bigger story than the hoorah over not initially publishing their pictures. And just how supervised was this “outing”?

Emphasis added in quotes

-- Cecil Rose alabama@earthlink.net

Apex, NC

Apparently there will not always be an England.


Subject: Article about Jim Baen

I don't know if you have seen this yet but worth reading.


Alan F. Miller



An article on the American Spectator web site quotes you at length on Regan and SDI. The article is about Jim Baen. Was this already in the print version? I stopped reading AS in print a while ago.


Cheers, JD

Interesting. I had not seen it nor heard it was being written.

Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D
Chairman, Citizen's Advisory Council on National Space Policy


Hey Everybody! JP isn't the only sane American.


John Mueller of Ohio State University has made a study which compared the dangers of terrorism to other commonplace hazards faced by the American citizen. He found that there was an equal or greater chance of being killed by lightning, by an allergic reaction to peanuts, or by crashing a car after hitting a deer. If one didn't know that when the TSA was tested they missed twenty two of twenty four fake bombs being smuggled on to aeroplanes one might think that the TSA deserved credit for this. As it is one is justified in continuing to regard the TSA as a modern form of outdoor relief for the congenitally stupid and downright nasty. For the full report go to http://psweb.sbs.ohio-state.edu/faculty/jmueller/6PROPS.PDF 

John Edwards

Alas, sometimes I think I am. The TSA is worse than useless. More, we all KNOW that it's worse than useless. Those who take money from that agency ought to be ashamed of themselves.


Senators Dorgan, Snowe Introduce Legislation for Federal Regulation of Internet

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- FreedomWorks is disappointed that a coalition of liberal Senators has started the 110th Congress with legislation designed to expand government regulation of the Internet. The so- called Internet Freedom Preservation Act is co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Barack Obama (D-IL) and would include 'net neutrality' mandates. Net neutrality would mandate specific business models and pricing for the Internet, and would mark the beginning of a new era of federal political and regulatory control over the Internet.

FreedomWorks is concerned heavy handed government regulation would stifle innovation as America falls further behind the world in this critical sector of the economy. Where the United States was once a leader in technology, we now have fallen to 11th in the world in broadband deployment.

FreedomWorks Chairman and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey commented,

"Common sense tells us that if it ain't broke don't fix it. The real problem is that there is already too much government meddling in the telecom sector. Instead of net neutrality mandates, Congress should move to pass sweeping reforms to bring greater broadband competition to America. That's the best way to ensure an open and dynamic Internet.

"The Internet has done just fine without the help of regulators and politicians. Liberal politicians and groups such as MoveOn.org are promoting the idea that active government interference is necessary to 'save' the Internet. The Internet is the modern frontier of innovation and economic development, and should remain free from regulation. Net neutrality mandates are something true small government supporters need to rally against."

FreedomWorks will continue to advocate against government regulation of the Internet and any attempt to resuscitate net neutrality mandates in the 110th congress. FreedomWorks will continue to lead the effort to stop new Internet regulations by expanding its "call to action" to its nationwide army of volunteer activists. Volunteers all over the country will lobby their legislators on this issue through district office visits and continued calls, letters, and emails.

FreedomWorks is a grassroots organization with over 800,000 members nationwide dedicated to lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.

SOURCE FreedomWorks



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now



Subject: Opera Sopranos

Vancouver Opera is doing Ariadne in March, closely followed by Tosca.

My wife took me to see Turandot for my birthday in October of 2005, which starred the nearly spherical Audrey Stottler. We're not going to draw from as large a talent pool as LA, so I can more easily accept a soprano who outweighs me as long as she has the pipes to perform the role. I don't have my program handy, but there was a local singer in a smaller role (and greater decolletage) who was very attractive but just couldn't match the vocal range of Stottler.

That said, Turandot doesn't sing in the first act, but she does appear, with everyone going on about how she is the most beautiful and desirable woman in all of China. The latest in a long line of suitors is publicly executed for failing a sphinx-like riddle game, and we're expecting the appearance of the divine goddess capable of driving men to such suicidal actions, and then they wheel out a veiled Jabba the Hut.

No one laughed aloud, but I am sure I wasn't the only person in the QE Theatre privately to compose themself.

-- ben capoeman



All for naught.


- Roland Dobbins

Not quite. Now he has no allies with 26,000 warheads. The price of bananas may rise. We will get more immigrants, legal and illegal.


'They were told by the bus driver the route is for non-English speaking students only.'


-- Roland Dobbins

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


Subject: Citizen's Advisory Council on National Space Policy

... is mentioned in Jim Baen's epitaph in the American Spectator.


Since you were (IIRC) both a friend of the deceased and on that panel, I thought you'd find the article interesting.


Brian P.

I was Chairman of that Council. Reagan asked Gen. Schriever to prepare some transition team papers. Shriever turned to his old Director of Plans, Col. Francis X. Kane. Kane, Possony, and I wrote Strategy of Technology (Kane being on active duty at the time was not named as a co-author.) I got Niven to host the group since he had a large enough house and his wife was willing to provide food for 80 participants. I also sent the invitations and wrote the final reports.

I invited Baen. He had been editor of Galaxy when I was science editor. We were very old friends.

It says a lot about the scholarship of the Spectator that I was unaware that the article was in preparation, and no one made any contact with me about it; and that it doesn't seem to know who the Chairman was or who signed the Council reports, or why the National Security Advisor gave them to the President (Richard Allen had been Possony's associate at the Hoover for a decade).

Jim deserves the obituary, but the Spectator was pretty sloppy in preparing it.



After reading Nealz Nuze today (www.boortz.com) , I spent an interesting hour this morning pulling up economic statistics from the web and doing a little charting.

In every case but one since 1970, when the minimum wage has been increased, unemployment has increased dramatically in the next two years after the minimum wage increase.

The one exception was in 1996, when (I infer) the dotcom boom managed to smooth things out for a couple of years. But unemployment was already on the rise again as a result of the dotcom bust even before 9/11, which just made things that much worse.

(Since I believe that the whole dotcom boom was an intentional conspiracy on the part of the Clinton administration to overheat the economy and make him look better -- and that his "balanced budgets" were the result of a massive transfer of wealth from retirement funds to the government stimulated by this practice, as the dotcom founders paid their gains taxes on the stock they sold -- the economic consequences could easily have been worse even without 9/11.)

I also tried to correlate the inflation rate with minimum wage, but the correlation was significantly weaker, probably because inflation depends on broader factors than employment (including government deficits and private consumer borrowing, trade deficits and exchange rates, and other factors. I haven't had time to do a more detailed correlation of those factors as well, and would probably want to look at monthly data in addition to annual).


von Mises and others have always said that minimum wages either cause unemployment or have no effect whatever. Milton Friedman went further: "Every economist knows that minimum wages cause unemployment. That's not a statement, that's a definition."




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, January 12, 2007


much was made, with some good reason, about Kerry's stupid comment about who serves in the military. I haven't yet seen the same umbrage expressed about comments made by one of the leading conservative supporters of the war in Iraq.

Michael Ledeen said, "Note that an increase in embeds doesn’t necessarily require an increase in overall troop strength. We’ve got lots of soldiers sitting on megabases all over Iraq. They should be out and about, some of them embedded, others just moving around, tracking the terrorists, hunting them down. I don’t know how many guys and gals are sitting in air-conditioned quarters and drinking designer coffee, but it’s a substantial number. Enough of that."

A cursory glance at Mr. Ledeen's bio will reveal no military service. This may explain his ignorance of the current makeup of U.S. military forces. For example, were I sent to Iraq, I would be in the rear with the gear due to the duties I would be expected to perform as a JAG. Even were I positioned with patrolling troops, no one would count me as much of an force multiplier. The support-to-trigger-puller-ratio is high, probably too high, but it's a matter of how we are constituted.

More insulting, however, is the clear implication that life in Iraq is somehow "cushy" for troops who aren't trigger-pullers. My friends there uniformly report that there is no "green zone" in any but name. Perhaps he bristles at the existence of either AC or good coffee? One must speculate that his trip to work every day, with a routine stop at Starbucks, lacks the possibility of improvised explosive devices or sniper attacks, but I think the speculation is safe.

A serving officer


 Mr. Ledeen is a fairly typical neo-conservative. Few of the new-cons have any military experience, leading some to call them "chicken hawks." Mr. Ledeen is part of the set to which the egregious Frum belongs. Since Frum took care to read me and my old conservatives out of the movement when we were not enthusiastic about invading Iraq, I can hardly be taken to task for Mr. Ledeen's fantasies. He has also called for the US to initiate regime changes in Syria and Iran. I have yet to see his plan for what to do with Syria once the regime is changed. As to Iran, much of the populace is sympathetic to the United States. Military action against Iran would unite the country against us. It is difficult to think of a more dangerous scenario: the only way we could win such an action with be all out WARRE, conscription, rationing, and full mobilization of the power of the Empire -- and Empire we would be at its conclusion.

I have not read many of the works of Mr. Ledeen, but given the samples I have seen I am not keen to; but then I don't spend much time reading the works of neocons who have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.


Subject: 5 Tibetan Rituals

Looks like the link is down again:


I think I found it again, though:


Is this right?

That appears to be correct. My thoughts on the Tibetan Rituals and writing are to be found here


Dante's Roman Nose


Thought you might find this to be of some interest:

Dante gets posthumous nose job - 700 years on


Italian scientists have made a reconstruction of the face of the poet Dante some 700 years after he died and have found some surprises, particularly about the supposed shape of his famous aquiline nose.


"It was a surprise for me too," said Professor Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist at the University of Bologna's campus in Ravenna, the Adriatic city where Dante is buried.

Gruppioni told Reuters in a telephone interview that the multi-disciplinary project discovered that Dante probably did have a hooked nose but it was pudgy rather than pointy and crooked rather than straight, almost as if he had been punched.


Dante was proud of his Roman origin. Florence was the site of a city which supported the Cataline Rebellion. The Senate resettled the city with Roman colonists as well as the original Tuscan (Etruscan) inhabitants. This mixed origin of the city was conventionally supposed to have been the reason for so much internal strife in Florence with sects exiling each other with regularity.


Next time you want to scare...

...the crap out of somebody, hit this link!

Originally explained as: “The next time you find yourself on public transport, sitting next to someone who cannot resist chattering to you endlessly, I urge you to quietly pull your laptop out of your rucksack, carefully open the screen (ensuring the irritating person next to you can see it), and click on the link:


I do not advise doing this in airports.


Subject: Fwd: U.S. ATTORNEY / On the Record: Kevin Ryan buffy willow

I think this clears up some of what the government is thinking regarding backdated options. I'm still not sure what they base their decision to prosecute on. Looks to me like the Iron Law in action.

U.S. ATTORNEY / On the Record: Kevin Ryan






This week:


read book now


Saturday, January 13, 2006



I believe there are roughly now 135,000 US troops in Iraq, and earlier there were about 150,000. It seems that the "surge" is no more than a restoration of a troop level that we had previously, and the violence in Iraq was escalating even then. I don't see how a surge of this order, about 15%, solves the problem. As Jon Stewart put it, "That's not a surge, that's a tip."

The real issue was pointed out by my Dad, who served in defeating the Germans in Italy and later was in the occupation forces. He says that the US troops on the ground in Iraq are about 1/3 the size of the US occupation force in Italy, per capita of the occupied country. Add to that the fact that the Italians were -glad- to be rid of the Germans and done with the war, had prior experience with democracy, etc.

Why is the surge 20,000 troops? More or less, that's all we can muster without a draft! So, I think it is safe to say that without a draft there is no military solution in Iraq.

I believe the only solution is partition. At this point, the only questions left are how long we have to wait before that happens, the exact details of the division, and whether we get three new "countries", or we the divisions are absorbed into the surrounding "states". The quotes are because all these groups are really tribes with flags, not nations in any western sense of the word.



Dear Jerry:

It's been a busy week, but I've managed to follow along the debate on Iraq. Bush has finally seen the failure of his strategy -- if it really was his and he wasn't just displaying set of political round heels for the neocons and right wing Christians who want to turn back the clock several centuries. You will recall that , from the beginning, I described this war as a "tar baby". In the Bere Rabbit fable of Joel Chandler Harris, the harder the Tar Baby got punched, the worst the mess got. But if you stop punching, you are still covered with tar.

Speaking as liberal who is not afraid to use that word, the only solution here is more troops. Lots more troops; more than we have or will have for about five years. That's how long, minimum, it will take to rebuild the Army and Marines to the level where Regulars can simply sit on this tea kettle. The ghost of General Eric Shinseki has been much invoked lately. Only his career died when he spoke truth to power, but the current situation cannot give him any pleasure. The Army is his tribe and pays most of the Butcher's Bill.

The safest city I was ever in was Saigon, during the war. The reason was simple. There was a man with a rifle on every street corner and a curfew that started at dark and lasted until dawn. Nothing moved outside military reservations. However, it my father's report about his brief tour as the Army Medical IG in 1967, he recounted an incident where an official ceremony in the center of that city had to be canceled because mortars started coming in. He said it was hard to believe we were winning that war when such a thing could happen. (This was in his official US Army report.) This is the edge that insurgents always have. Their force multipliers are cheap and easy. Ours cost millions and are designed for another kind of war entirely.

We've been playing a lot of poker lately. One of the things you try to do in Texas Hold-em is to trap your opponent into making the wrong decision. Here we got played by Iran with a brilliant disinformation campaign through their proxy Chalibi. Iran's best interest was to mire us in the Tar Baby. As you pointed out, none of the neocons ever served in a war zone and do not grasp the realities of what they propose. Bush's surge reminds me of the kind of "value bet" that is sometimes made to invite a raise by an opponent so that you can then go "all-in". No one wants to make an "all-in" bet on this war. Not Nancy Pelosi, but also not Chuck Hagel. John McCain is only for it because he realizes that without it, we lose.

Baghdad is a lot bigger than Saigon. It is almost as big as Los Angeles, and there are weapons and explosives under every rock. The conflict there is less ideological than it is tribal. Both sides hate us almost as much as they hate each other. Another thing you do in poker tournaments is to let other players eliminate each other. Here's a tactic we might use: Take the leaders of all of these sectarian militias and their supporters to Fallujah or similar garden spot and say, "this too can be yours". Pull the troops back to the borders so that Iran and Syria cannot interfere. Give the Kurds autonomy  (telling the Turks they should have thought about this when they didn't help out) and tell the rest of Iraq that the sectarian violence is an internal problem they will have to solve themselves. Keep enough troops in the region to put Iraq and Syria on notice that if they even hint at interfering, all bets are off as to the safety of their borders. The knife will cut both ways. Station four of our twelve aircraft carrier groups nearby. Set up to handle ten million refugees in the Kurdish area and Kuwait.

All of that is not as neat as my idea of simply hiring the North Korean Army, but it will be a far more serious game of geopolitical poker. If we do not do something equally bold, we might as well bring the troops home, because we've already lost. We are still a democracy. Without public support, no war can be sustained and Bush and the neocons cannot be allowed us to trick us into escalating this war, which is what that "surge" is all about. It's a "value bet" against the American people.

We lost the war in Vietnam on a lack of political will. At the peace talks an American general said to his counterpart "You never beat us militarily." The Vietnamese general replied. "That is true. It is also irrelevant ." Bush's "surge" is also irrelevant. Military force alone never wins an insurgency. There have to be political and economic strategies as well. The one part of the Bush new strategy that makes sense is the jobs program. The Devil makes work for idle hands.

And there will be an American military presence in Vietnam again, probably within ten years. As the old communist guard dies off, the new generation will look at their historic enemy China once more and their military spending, and invite us to take up residence at Cam Rahn Bay once more. And we will do so, because our national interest will demand it.

The U.S. Military will get bigger. It has to. We need a much bigger chip stack to play the new game.


Francis Hamit


As I said before we went in: the sensible move is partition, but there is the problem that the Turkish Army will consider an independent Kurdistan an act of war, and will invade instantly. Turkey is strong enough to suppress Turkish Kurdistan and to conquer Iraqi Kurdistan unless the US turns on our Cold War ally and aids the Kurds. That would not only be a perfidious act but it wouldn't be anything like easy: Turkey has a very good army, much of it supplied and trained by us. Turkey is also a NATO member, and heaven knows what the implications of that would be. But Turkey, and the Turkish Army which is the guarantor of the Turkish Constitution, considers an independent Kurdistan on its borders a mortal threat.

Giving Iraqi Kurdistan to the Turks would not be a very good idea either. It may be the best of many bad alternatives, but it's a very bad one indeed. I discussed all this before the ill-advised invasion of Iraq.

As to the size of the Standing Army, there is a reason why Republics have long resisted large standing armies of paid soldiers; and you will never get conscription through Congress. The facts remain: Republics make lousy empires. When a republic goes imperial there is a logic of empire. When you build a large standing army of professional soldiers you run the risk that at some point that army will no longer care what your Congress has to say. Why should it? John Marshall made decisions that Jackson wouldn't enforce. Lincoln defied the Congress once he had his GAR. And that's in OUR history. The Framers well knew what happened in the English Civil War and resulting Commonwealth. Few of our politicians today could tell you who Oliver Cromwell was, and fewer could explain why his son Richard was unable to control the New Model Army that put Oliver in place as Lord Protector. When you ask for a large standing army that knows how to govern without the consent of the governed, you must be very careful what you wish for.

We can't hire the North Korean Army to control Iraq, but we could afford Gurkhas.




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday,  January 14, 2006     

Subject: What Thomas Jefferson learned from the Muslim book of jihad

Greetings again.

I thought you and your readers might like to see this article, especially given your recent reference to Barbary pirates.

What Thomas Jefferson learned from the Muslim book of jihad By Ted Sampley U.S. Veteran Dispatch January 2007

Democrat Keith Ellison is now officially the first Muslim United States congressman. True to his pledge, he placed his hand on the Quran, the Muslim book of jihad and pledged his allegiance to the United States during his ceremonial swearing-in.

Capitol Hill staff said Ellison's swearing-in photo opportunity drew more media than they had ever seen in the history of the U.S. House. Ellison represents the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota.

The Quran Ellison used was no ordinary book. It once belonged to Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and one of America's founding fathers. Ellison borrowed it from the Rare Book Section of the Library of Congress. It was one of the 6,500 Jefferson books archived in the library.

Ellison, who was born in Detroit and converted to Islam while in college, said he chose to use Jefferson's Quran because it showed that "a visionary like Jefferson" believed that wisdom could be gleaned from many sources.

There is no doubt Ellison was right about Jefferson believing wisdom could be "gleaned" from the Muslim Quran. At the time Jefferson owned the book, he needed to know everything possible about Muslims because he was about to advocate war against the Islamic "Barbary" states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli.

Ellison's use of Jefferson's Quran as a prop illuminates a subject once well-known in the history of the United States, but, which today, is mostly forgotten - the Muslim pirate slavers who over many centuries enslaved millions of Africans and tens of thousands of Christian Europeans and Americans in the Islamic "Barbary" states.

Over the course of 10 centuries, Muslim pirates cruised the African and Mediterranean coastline, pillaging villages and seizing slaves.

The taking of slaves in pre-dawn raids on unsuspecting coastal villages had a high casualty rate. It was typical of Muslim raiders to kill off as many of the "non-Muslim" older men and women as possible so the preferred "booty" of only young women and children could be collected.

Young non-Muslim women were targeted because of their value as concubines in Islamic markets. Islamic law provides for the sexual interests of Muslim men by allowing them to take as many as four wives at one time and to have as many concubines as their fortunes allow.

Boys, as young as 9 or 10 years old, were often mutilated to create eunuchs who would bring higher prices in the slave markets of the Middle East. Muslim slave traders created "eunuch stations" along major African slave routes so the necessary surgery could be performed. It was estimated that only a small number of the boys subjected to the mutilation survived after the surgery.

When American colonists rebelled against British rule in 1776, American merchant ships lost Royal Navy protection. With no American Navy for protection, American ships were attacked and their Christian crews enslaved by Muslim pirates operating under the control of the "Dey of Algiers"--an Islamist warlord ruling Algeria.

Because American commerce in the Mediterranean was being destroyed by the pirates, the Continental Congress agreed in 1784 to negotiate treaties with the four Barbary States. Congress appointed a special commission consisting of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, to oversee the negotiations.

Lacking the ability to protect its merchant ships in the Mediterranean, the new America government tried to appease the Muslim slavers by agreeing to pay tribute and ransoms in order to retrieve seized American ships and buy the freedom of enslaved sailors.

Adams argued in favor of paying tribute as the cheapest way to get American commerce in the Mediterranean moving again. Jefferson was opposed. He believed there would be no end to the demands for tribute and wanted matters settled "through the medium of war." He proposed a league of trading nations to force an end to Muslim piracy.

In 1786, Jefferson, then the American ambassador to France, and Adams, then the American ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the "Dey of Algiers" ambassador to Britain. The Americans wanted to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress' vote to appease. During the meeting Jefferson and Adams asked the Dey's ambassador why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.

In a later meeting with the American Congress, the two future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja had answered that Islam "was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."

For the following 15 years, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.

Not long after Jefferson's inauguration as president in 1801, he dispatched a group of frigates to defend American interests in the Mediterranean, and informed Congress.

Declaring that America was going to spend "millions for defense but not one cent for tribute," Jefferson pressed the issue by deploying American Marines and many of America's best warships to the Muslim Barbary Coast.

The USS Constitution, USS Constellation, USS Philadelphia, USS Chesapeake, USS Argus, USS Syren and USS Intrepid all saw action.

In 1805, American Marines marched across the dessert from Egypt into Tripolitania, forcing the surrender of Tripoli and the freeing of all American slaves.

During the Jefferson administration, the Muslim Barbary States, crumbling as a result of intense American naval bombardment and on shore raids by Marines, finally officially agreed to abandon slavery and piracy. Jefferson's victory over the Muslims lives on today in the Marine Hymn, with the line, "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our country's battles on the land as on the sea."

It wasn't until 1815 that the problem was fully settled by the total defeat of all the Muslim slave trading pirates.

Jefferson had been right. The "medium of war" was the only way to put and end to the Muslim problem. Mr. Ellison was right about Jefferson. He was a "visionary" wise enough to read and learn about the enemy from their own Muslim book of jihad.


Tim Elliott Burbank

I doubt that is the lesson Ellison wanted us to learn; but given what it taught in our colleges, it is unlikely that he knew any better.


Subject: Pork Soup and its meaning

I find it interesting that the mayor of Paris would choose this item as a rallying cry against discrimination, he's got it at least halfway wrong, in the case of jews there's has long been a rabbinical ruling that the sanctity of life goes before everything else, it's called "pikuah nefesh" this means that you can do things that religiously would be wrong in order to save your life.

So, from the point of view of the jews pork is unclean and one should not eat it, but if you're in dire straits you can choose to eat it in order to save your life.

I believe that the Paris city government is more interested in appeasing the people who rioted last year than in re-establishing the reign of law and some security for the rest of their citizens.

Keep up the good work

Ariel Fabius
 Montevideo, Uruguay


Subject: Asians students at Berkely (Not ONE African American student in Engineering)

Hi Jerry,

I found this article fascinating:  

Take care,

Alex Schmidt


My Congressman:

ADVOCATES for looser restrictions on copyrights had high hopes for the new Democratic Congress (NY Times)

By DAN MITCHELL Published: January 6, 2007

ADVOCATES for looser restrictions on copyrights had high hopes for the new Democratic Congress. Those hopes faded somewhat last month when Representative Howard L. Berman was named chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the Internet and intellectual property.

Putting Mr. Berman in charge of the panel, diminishes the chances for ³real reform² of copyright policy, Lawrence Lessig, perhaps the best-known authority on the legal issues surrounding intellectual property and the Internet, wrote last week on his blog (lessig.org). Change is needed, he wrote, ³to fit the legitimate objectives of copyright ‹ to assure that artists have the incentives they need to create great new work ‹ into the contours of digital technology.²

Mr. Berman, though widely regarded as a smart and savvy politician, is a favorite boogeyman of advocates for copyright reform, many of whom say he is in the pocket of his Hollywood constituents (he actually represents the San Fernando Valley, but many media industry figures live there).

In 2002, he introduced a bill that would have allowed media companies to hack into peer-to-peer networks to ³disrupt² or ³impair² illicit file trading. The proposed law would have limited the liability of copyright owners to $50 ³per impairment to the property of the affected file trader.²

Critics said the measure, which never got out of committee, would have essentially allowed copyright holders to destroy people¹s computers with near impunity. Mr. Berman labeled the loudest criticism as ³hysteria,² and insisted his bill included adequate limitations and consumer protections.

Putting Mr. Berman in charge of the copyright committee ³is like making a congressman from Detroit head of an automobile safety subcommittee, or a senator from Texas head of a global warming subcommittee,² Mr. Lessig wrote.
















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