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Mail 457 March 12 - 18, 2007
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March 12, 2007
Train services back <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cumbria/6439403.stm>
Head teachers 'more vulnerable'--other education news
Hirohito and Japanese decision-making <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6436169.stm> I personally suspect he made the crucial decisions that eventually led to war in 1926 when he ascended the throne. I believe Japan gave up on oil autarky at that point.
Report on electronic voting in America <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/10/evoting_report/>
NHS news <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2031225,00.html>
Walter Reed problems? <http://www.washingtonpost.com/
In the UK, too? <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
House of Lords debate <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/
My son, who researched this when he discovered we were descended from a number of the accused women, says the Salem witch trials were political in motivation. Most of those accused were independent women of means who were opposed to the puritans who ran the town.
The proposal for House of Lords reform that got the most support in Commons was 100% elected members. That's my preference, too, if the elections are periodic, with a fairly long interval, asynchronous with the general elections, and with open nominations.
-- 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>
There have been speculations on the motivation of those Salem prosecutions for centuries, but none could explain the jury verdicts; the rye ergot theory addresses that. Some jurors may have seen spectral phenomena, and apparently some of the witnesses really thought they did (others may have been more cynical).
Conversion of the House of Lords into a Senate with some members holding membership ex officio makes a certain amount of sense; the hereditary memberships made sense in the days of entailment and property concentration.
Subject: Women in the military
Some comments on women in the military, for what its worth.
1. Women were becoming prevalent during my father's (a NCO) mustering out tour (Germany, '79 - 81). He once said something to the effect that most of them were there to get pregnant and get back to the states -- with full medical -- as quickly as possible. I have no data to either confirm or contradict.
2. I was however closely involved with a coworker who was a VMI graduate at the time they were required to integrate. He maintained that it was wholly inappropriate for women to be involved in combat. He -- and other VMI graduates of my acquaintance -- were very disturbed both at the reduction in physical standards, and the necessity to eliminate hazing as an element of building camaraderie. He was actually involved in a program -- not quite defunct, though unlikely ever to be funded at this point -- to establish a private school that would continue the traditions of all-male education in military style.
3. In my own opinion, I have no problems with women being in uniform in jobs that they are physically capable of doing, and certainly gender doesn't make a lot of difference in any number of positions. However, most of those are behind the lines, and I dread the day when a mixed unit goes down where an all-male unit would have survived, particularly since I see at least a portion of the males taking extra risks to try to protect their female counterparts under fire.
For what it's worth.
My little sojourn in the Mather Field hospital with my 1951 post Korea malaria was remarkably like the chicken currently being complained about at Walter Reed. I suspect that this is a price you will pay whenever you have a large scale government or corporate operation. You need rules to avoid the troops spending the budget on beer parties, and the rules cannot be comprehensive. I will never forget one weekend I spent making pillow cases. Our company's count was over on bedsheets and under on pillow cases. We tore some sheets in the proper size, stapled them into pillowcase config and everted them to conceal the staples. Them came apart, of course, in the washer, but our books were clear. Perhaps you and Larry could write a story of an Army where chicken had been eliminated. Fiction, of course.
Walter E. Wallis Inspire 28
The other day you said: "The world has made it very clear to dictators: get nukes and get them fast, and never let go, never retire. If you don't have nukes you can be invaded on the will of the President and his advisors. If you retire or let go of power, even if you establish a democratic regime on the way out, you will be hounded for the rest of your life and you will probably die in captivity if you are not executed."
For the most part I agree with you, however, how do you explain Libya? I would argue that you can be a dictator, not try for nukes and avoid an invasion, as long as you don't yank on Uncle Sam's coat. Admittedly, Khaddaffi played the game for a few years, and traded blows with the US; but saw which way the wind was blowing after Desert Storm and repented. Cuba is another edge case, I think.
Dictators that /try/ for WMDs, or assert their right to try for them, yes, they are placing themselves at risk until they succeed in their quest.
with best regards,
PS Have you seen this?
Khaddaffi looked at cost/benefits and decided that it was far too dangerous to try to acquire nukes; better to cave in. But count no man happy until he be dead: Khaddaffi may have bought a peaceful retirement, and he may not. Your analysis is correct: striving for nukes is dangerous. So is tryng to hang on to power when you no longer have the will to do what that requires. The problem is, what are the alternatives? If you have nukes you can twist the lion's tail -- see North Korea for details. If you put yourself under someone else's nuclear umbrella you restrict your choices. If you have them for yourself -- well, again see North Korea.
Iran is going to get nuclear weapons. What we need to be doing is setting up the framework of deterrence. It's to both our interest and that of Russia that Iran not use those nukes...
Hmm. A CoDominium?
One of the many things about the Iraq war that seems to be glossed over is that a very large percentage of the supply operation has been outsourced. Halburton's name popped up from time to time, but no one dwells on the number of actual contract boots are on the ground over there. I vaguely remember a number of 160,000 contractors...can that be right? If so, doesn't that put it more in the proper perspective in regards to our occupation of Germany post WWII? I don't think the outsourcing craze had caught on yet in the 1940's.
Next question. Why are we there? Obviously, WMD's were fabricated. Was that with the full knowledge of the White House? If they did believe it, could they really have been that wrong? I would prefer to believe that our leaders don't make those kinds of mistakes. But, on the other hand, if not WMD, then why? Oil? Revenge for daddy? I realize there are companies making lots of money off this war...that 1/2 a trillon dollars is going somewhere...but again, I would prefer not to believe our leaders bought into that. Can you explain?
To deal with the last paragraph first, don't be silly. Everyone thought Saddam had WMD. Even his own generals thought it. The French thought so. The Russians thought so. The CIA thought so. MI 6 thought so. Of course they could all have been that wrong. Saddam wanted them to believe it; he needed to be seen to have WMD for his own purposes.
As to why we are in Iraq, the President is a Jacobin as are most of the intellectuals in the United States. He truly believes that democracy is the only legitimate form of government, and that all people truly long for democracy and freedom. Most of the intellectuals DO NOT beleive that but they PRETEND TO BELIEVE IT and about half the time they have convinced themselves they believe it; but for the most part the neo-con chicken hawks wanted the war for a whole bunch of reasons unrelated to US interests.
Understand: if Iraq could have been converted into a reasonable democracy, or even into a simile of Jordan, it would have been good for the United States, and very good for the Middle East. A multi-cultural democracy in Mesopotamia would be a wonderful thing. That was the goal, and had we achieved that goal the President and the neo-con chicken hawks would -- rightly -- be exalted as public benefactors.
No doubt there were people in the neo-con advisory circle who had ulterior motives; but most of them, and certainly the President, really believed that we have the military power to bring about democracy in Iraq. There really were people who believed the "End of History" nonsense that floated around in academia around the time of the Gulf War. Certainly the President wanted to put right the ghastly mistake of his father: encouraging revolts against Saddam then leaving the rebels hung out to dry. Wouldn't you? And certainly our military success in the Gulf War made many think it would be a cakewalk to Baghdad -- after all, it was -- and since few intellectuals study any history why would they not believe that conquest works, and pacification works? Saddam pacified Iraq. If he could do that, why can't we?
I think you do not appreciate the ability for self-deception among the neo-con chicken hawks.
General Colin Powell tried to warn them. He believe the intelligence reports of WMD -- Saddam was damned good at that deception -- but even then he had misgivings about regime change. He understood how brutal one must be to govern without the consent of the governed, and as an American of African origin he understood better than most just how difficult multi-cultural democracies are to establish. Powell, I am sure, went along with the invasion somewhat reluctantly because he feared Saddam with WMD. He had his misgivings about it, but he was on the team.
I understand his dilemma. Like Powell I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq for reasons I gave at the time, and those included my conviction that we could win the war but not the peace: but once we sent in the troops, what could we do but stay out of the way? It was the wrong war for the wrong objectives begun on the wrong theory and in disregard of history. But if it failed, Powell was damned if the failure would be his fault. So was I. What other course could an honorable man take?
As to contracting things out: good soldiers do not make good constables. We have tried to do things without appreciating their true costs. Logistics are part of the cost of a military.
We have made a lot of mistakes in this. If we intend to occupy nations, we need an army trained not for military combat, but as constabulary.
Since we need Legions who can fight wars, that means we need to build a second army of constabulary. That will be expensive, but it will be a lot less expensive than contracting it out to pure mercenaries. A constabulary army will be paid soldiers, careerists, but it will be an army and many in it will be patriots with patriotic motives. That's better than hiring mercenary auxiliaries.
Logistics are in integral part of military power: and the supplies have to be kept running when the fighting begins. Those who have not do the logistics tasks before the shooting starts will have to learn how under fire. That's not good. Better to have Sergeant Bilko and the support troops do all that work in peace time even though it could be contracted out.
The principle is: whatever an army must do in war time, it is better to have learned to do that during peace time. Running the PX isn't a military task -- until the supply lines are being bombed.
Your wife dragged you to a chick flick on the opening weekend of 300?!? I suggest you gently remind her that this is the female equivalent of the oft repeated male faux paux of missing Valentine's Day.
Go ahead and print this out and leave it where she can see it. I'll take the heat for you. :)
I won't even try to vouch for the historical content. While I'm pretty certain they got Leonidas' name right. I don't think even the Spartans fought in loincloth and cape. I doubt that Xerxes was ten feet tall and possessed of a sepulchural voice that would make Hades himself proud. There probably wasn't even a rhino there.
But I don't give a damn.
It was refreshing finally to see a movie present unapologetically the message that not only is it OK to fight and die to protect what you love (your wife, your family, your country, your gods) but that it is both right and proper for you to do so.
Oh, and it was great fun too. Chris Knight said it best in the title of his review: "Because surviving against all odds is just for wimps".
Subject: Tigerhawk recommends _300_
=There is nothing inherently right-wing about it. Indeed, it is telling that leftists attack the movie on that basis. Once, the honoring of heroism and sacrifice in the defense of values -- the only real message in the movie -- was a staple of the left. It was the left that stood up to fight Franco in the Spanish civil war, a campaign of startling heroism and self-sacrifice. Today, however, it is very hard to find leftists that respect these martial values, even in defense of the principles that they purport to hold dear.=
My wife suggests that Niven and I go see 300.
Subject: I am NOT making this up, I swear!
Seen on Drudge just now:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/11/ngreen211.xml "Timothy Ball, a former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, has received five deaths threats by email since raising concerns about the degree to which man was affecting climate change."
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21361191-421,00.htm "A LEADING Muslim cleric has blamed the devastating drought, climate change and pollution on Australians' lack of faith in Allah. "Radical sheik Mohammed Omran told followers at his Brunswick mosque that out-of-control secular scientific values had caused environmental disaster."
The Muslim view is interesting. A year or so ago, the main newspaper in Bangkok carried an interview with a Thai naturalist. The story mentioned his run-in with a local imam in a mostly-Muslim village. The local boys were fond of shooting the birds, for sport. The naturalist begged the imam to ask the boys to stop it, and be good stewards of the environment instead. The imam flatly refused, saying that as long as man had proper fear of Allah, the birds would always be plentiful, and the boys shooting them would not make any difference.
John R. Strom
|This week:||Tuesday, March
Thank you for posting the link to Windows Powershell, I agree that it does sound interesting. But when I downloaded and read the docs at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=64774&clcid=0x409 my paranoia was immediately triggered.
In the PowerShell User Guide it says "Windows PowerShell supports scripts that are analogous to UNIX shell scripts and Cmd.exe batch files, but have a .ps1 file name extension". So as well as being a powerful tool for administrators it's also one for virus writers.
Googling http://www.google.com/search?q=%22powershell+virus%22 gives 170 hits like: 'Windows PowerShell and the "PowerShell Worm"' and 'A new form of malware has come to light. It is written in Windows PowerShell script, and its name is Cibyz'.
I'm sure that the anti-virus companies are well aware of this but according to this page http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP030850041033.aspx the .ps1 extension isn't on the list of attachment file types blocked by Outlook. It may just be that this page hasn't been updated recently, but just in case there is some advice here that might be useful: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/837388/ "How to configure Outlook to block additional attachment file name extensions"
"They were experiencing temperatures that weren't expected with global warming."
- Roland Dobbins
". . . overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”
The fact that this article is appearing in the New York Times, of all places, is highly significant:
-- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Captain America, RIP
Say it isn't so, Joe!
Subject: The movie 300
Dr. Pournelle, The movie 300 is worth seeing, if nothing else the production values are visually a treat. Too bad it is only loosely based on reality.
However, there was one scene where Xerxes was threatening King Leonidas with oblivion. Xerxes said he would conquer Sparta, burn every scrap of parchment, cut out every poet's tongue, and chop off the writing hand of every historian. Thus Sparta's name would fade from the pages of history.
As Xerxes was saying that, I could not help but remember a scene from PRINCE OF MERCENARIES. In the year 2094, Prince Lysander (of the planet Sparta) is in scuba gear, waiting in Nessie infested waters. To calm his nerves, he starts reciting the names of the three hundred heroes of Thermopylae.
So despite Xerxes's threat, the three hundred are still remembered a hundred years in our future, and Xerxes is all but forgotten.
March 14, 2007
In mail457, Paul Dove writes
PowerShell looks to be a lot better for the good guys than any comparable system I'm familiar with. It has an "execution policy" that controls which scripts, if any, can be run, and the policy defaults to "restricted." That is, no scripts run at all. You have to explicitly choose a more lenient policy to run scripts, but even the "Unrestricted" policy is supposed to prompt before running scripts from within Outlook, OE, and Messenger. If you set the policy to RemoteSigned, you can run unsigned scripts that you've stored to disk, but you presumably won't be doing that with ones you've downloaded without looking at them first, right?
I am an old Unix bigot who moved to Windows development a couple of years back. Somewhat reluctantly, but that's where the money is. My first impression of PowerShell is that somebody at MS got permission to do some damned fine work: I may finally be able to get away from retrofitting cygwin + bash (and cursing the resulting seams) while still freeing myself from a lot of tedious pointing and clicking.
A lot of though obviously went into this product, and the result seems to be very clean and consistent. It's secure out of the box, and currently is on so few computers that it doesn't present much of a target for attackers. When it becomes more common, the content-filtering and a/v guys will start handling it by default.
Dear Mr. Pournelle,
I too heard Dr. Williams on Rush’s show today. I have often thought that Dr. Williams is one of the weaker replacement hosts for Rush.
Generally, I am a proponent of free trade, but I find your idea of a flat 10% tariff to have merit and I would have no problem if that tariff were implemented.. The only problem I can see with that is the temptation that would come to congress critters to raise the tariff to protect ‘vital’ industries.
The fear I heard expressed in some callers, inarticulately, was that manufacturing was going to eventually disappear. In my opinion, Dr. Williams did a horrible job addressing this fear. I wonder how long it has been since he taught an undergraduate class?
I heard somewhere, that although manufacturing jobs are decreasing, the value of US exports is increasing. We still make ‘stuff’. Other countries have an advantage making cheap ‘stuff’. We have an advantage making the more valuable, hard to make ‘stuff’.
I did some digging on the internet and found this document from the census bureau that supports what I heard. http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/historical/goods.pdf
Since 1960, the value of US exports has gone up almost every year. We sell more and more valuable ‘stuff’.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I merely minored in Economics at a state university. I don’t have a PhD. Trade deficits and what the lower 50% of the bell curve will do for a career in another generation are subjects we should be concerned about, but we still have strong manufacturing sectors.
Subject: Seitz Letter From A Noble Lord
The president of the Royal Society , Lord Rees , has responded to Russell Seitz's Op-ed taking the RS to task for trying to impose funding constraints on climate debate--
Subject: these meteorologists soon to be out of work
These Cleveland weather folks are probably gonna be excommunicated by the climatology high priests:
Enjoy!! Jim Laheta
Maybe there will be dairy farms in Greenland...
Subject: Re: Al Gore & renewable energy credits
One of your letters states...
"Gore, by the way, offsets his fossil-fuel use by paying extra for renewable energy credits."
In a nutshell, it appears that Gore sells himself his carbon offsets. Somewhat like the Social Security trust fund.
Given Gene Horr's argument, shouldn't people who drive all-electric cars pay fuel tax on the electricity? Hybrids don't count, since all the electricity comes from gasoline/diesel in the first place, except for the one's that have modified to run on outlet power. A more rational system would be to pay a road use fee when you renew your vehicle registration based on vehicle type and mileage, but I don't see that happening.
Of course, all of this is a rounding error compared to people who don't pay sales tax on internet purchases. What I think is they should change the law to say that an online transaction takes place in the seller's state. That makes it easy for the seller to pay the taxes and the buyers don't have to go through a lot of hassle to be honest. Of course, all the big online stores would move to New Hampshire and Delaware.
As an academic who deals in "bullshit" rather than "reality", Ms. Hirshman has no cross-section to how impossibly complex and demanding the world economy has gotten. Back in 1979, as far as I am aware, I knew more about the innards of IBM's flagship mainframe operating system (then called "MVS") than any three other people. However, I by no means knew enough about every section to do a workmanlike job of a project in all of the 13 or so (back then) separate enterprise systems management disciplines. To be this knowledgeable, I had to have 1500+ SAT points and be totally workaholic (nights and weekends) and no family commitments.
Since then the overall complexity of the computer field has gone up at least 2 orders of magnitude. It's not just that we have added the UNIX, Windows, Java, LAMP, etc. etc. computing ecosystems. It's also that we have never gotten *rid* of any computing ecosystems--about 70% of large-enterprise "run-the-business" information is said to be still on IBM mainframes (now called zOS). The complexity is combinatorial. Every year, to even know what is going on around one, one must be smarter and work harder. I have no idea how anyone could enter the field of enterprise computing today and ever catch up to the field.
And it's not just technology anymore. To understand what one's company must accomplish with "data-at-rest" encryption, one must understand the view not just from the CIO's office, but from Capitol Hill. Enterprise systems management projects are now more often driven by the requirements of regulators and their political masters than by internal "ROI" issues. I am in the process of trying to educate one of my portfolio company's Silicon Valley outside PR firm on the need to not just follow the editorial calendars of publications like COMPUTERWORLD, but also the RFCs coming out of bodies such as the Department of the Treasury's Critical Infrastructure Protection group.
So yes, sorry, Ms. Hirshman. The high-paying jobs in today's knowledge economy require, to be effective at all, the kind of all-out effort that can only be put in by singles who are workaholic celibate orphans, or (close to the same thing) unhappily-married men who dread going home. (My thanks to Peter Schaeffer for this latter insight.) No public policy-style reforms can change this reality because it is rooted in the nature of knowledge-work today.
The only difference between 1977 and 2007 is that back then I could keep up without being celibate. Now, I doubt even the 29-year-old version of me could. There is just too much to know.
March 14 is International Pi and Pythagoras Day Celebrate on 3-14 or be Square! Celebrate 3, 4, 5 with a Flair!
On Pi Day, March 14 or 3-14. It is all around the best day of the year so celebrate around the clock.
HAPPY PI DAY!
March 14 is Pythagoras Day 3.1415 Wow! 3-4-5 is the Pythagorean Triplet
HAPPY PYTHAGORAS DAY
Pi (π) is a Greek letter phonetically equivalent to the English "p". Pi is also the geometric symbol used to designate the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Oddly pi contains the Pythagorean triplet, 3-4-5 right at the very start of this most important and popular constant.
Pi = 3.14159... Pi starts with 3_4_5 which is the Pythagorean Triplet, the smallest possible triplet that represents the Pythagorean triangle. Recall from high school the Pythagorean Theorem, if two sides of a right triangle are 3 and 4 respectfully then the hypotenuse will be 5. Though the 3-4-5 triplet at the very start of pi is very significant the addition of other "oddities" as shown on Document A conclusively demonstrates intelligent manipulation of this geometric constant.
God, the Master Mathematician enumerated pi so that the Pythagorean triplet will be noticed. Since God intentionally put the Pythagorean triplet right at the start of pi, lets us also acknowledge Pythagoras with a day of celebration. Pythagoras made many experimental and theoretical scientific contributions that made our modern world possible so this is an additional reason to honor this extraordinary man! Due to the Pythagorean triplet starting in pi I believe it is appropriate for Pythagoras Day and Pi Day to be celebrated on the same day, on March fourteen.
I wish you a very happy 3-14 day. At exactly 3:45 take a spin and make the sign of the 3-4-5 triangle and you will be initiated into the mysteries. This off course initiates you only as a step “314” neophyte. Hey! You can’t expect anything more than that with such a simple ritual!
Vas Gardiakos If you like art, music and science visit my website: www.ArtMusicDance.com <http://www.artmusicdance.com/>
More Pi Day info: http://www.artmusicdance.com/vaspi/pi-day.htm
Spread the message. Tell your friends!
Subj: Be More Than You Can Be: inside the Pentagon's human enhancement project
Subject: Lunar Transit from STEREO,
Take a few seconds and check this out:
It's the moon transiting the sun, as seen by the STEREO spacecraft. You get to seen the sun rotating. It's very neat.
Feeling Safer Already
Subject: The Road to the Horizon: The Day I Got Deported From the US
More evidence of the insanity of the TSA/DHS:
Dr Alun J. Carr School of Electrical, Electronic, and Mechanical Engineering University College Dublin Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
And now the Democrats want to let these amiable incompetents unionize. There is no end to this madness. There needs to be some alternative to these political parties. And a mass firing of people who understand thoroughly that what they are doing makes no sense, but RULES are RULES. Ordnung!
Subject: Marxism and stay-at-home moms
Could it be that a large number of women are naturally predisposed to prefer domestic life raising children to office work? Ms. Hirshman says that "women who quit are making a mistake". If the right to self-determination is at the root of feminism, how can Hirshman be qualified to make a fundamental choice about how another woman lives her life? Hirshman never seems to consider that traditional notions about family and child-rearing could be asserting themselves naturally.
You clearly do not understand Enlightenment. The Enlightened have the right, nay, the duty, to instruct the Benighted.
Just a small correction about the Global Warming TV program now apparently on YouTube. It is NOT a BBC program; it was made for Channel 4 which is a commercial network. The BBC is unfortunately, far too politically correct to show something like this. And it is very well worth watching, since it blows a fairly substantial hole in all the arguments of the global warming doom-mongers.
March 15, 2007
Subject: Army Medical Corps shortages
The resignations of Lt. Gen. Kiley and MG Weightman over the Walter Reed AMC mess got me to wondering if things had changed since my father's day. There just weren't that many flag-rank officers in the Army who were also doctors, to casually fire one. I looked at their web site and it seems that nothing has changed, or it has gone back to the way it was in the Vietnam era. Kiley, as Surgeon General, is the only three star. The two deputies are Major Generals and female, but both are nurses, not doctors, and the Army Surgeon General has always been a qualified doctor of some kind...and always a white male, come to that. There are a handful of Brigadiers at subordinate commands, but some of them are National Guard/Reserve officers with private practices. There is a female Brigadier who is also black, but she is neither a doctor or a nurse, but a health adminstrator...which is what the job really requires because it is all paperwork.
Forcing Kiley into retirement may have been the course of wisdom, but the Law of Unintended Consequences leaves a gap that will be hard to fill. Here is the truth about that job; most doctors don't want it. My father retired in 1968 when they started making noises about putting him on the fast track for it. He was seduced by a drug company that offered him triple the pitiful wages he was getting there. But as he put it to me when I asked, "Generals don't get to do surgery, they get to do paperwork." He didn't last long at the drug company, but ditched that and took a cut in pay to become a surgeon who taught other doctors how to be surgeons, which is what he had been doing in the Army before they transferred him to Washington. Like most Army officers of that era, he was not political.
The politics of the moment would seem to make a female or minority (or both) doctor the ideal choice as a replacement. To get that they will have to reach deep into the ranks and bump someone up two or three grades. But, from what I read yesterday, the Army is doing that anyway. There is a shortage of mid-level officers at the Captain, Major and Lt. Colonel level, so that everyone lower is getting promoted simply because of time served.. Shades of Vietnam! The people really in charge will be the NCO corps. Twas ever thus. We seem to be going back to the "hollow Army" of the 1970s.
Forcing General Kiley out may have looked like a good political move, but it was a lousy one from an administrative point of view. The ideal candidate would be someone like Col. Rhonda Cornum, who is a Special Ops qualified surgeon who used to be the C.O. of the Landstuhl Medical Center and was a P.O.W. briefly during the Gulf War. However, she seems to have retired.
The real villains of the Walter Reed mess are not Kiley nor those who replaced him, but the BRAC decision to close and consolidate Walter Reed with Bethesda and then deciding to outsource maintenance and repair to profit-making contractors that cut staff by 72 percent. I felt for Kiley when those senators were asked him if he, personally, had ever inspected the infamous Building 18. That kind of duty is given to Captains, not Generals. I cannot recall, when I was in, my commanding general ever inspecting a barracks. Not for lack of zeal for the troops welfare, either, but because this is the kind of petty detail you delegate to subordinates. Of course, if they screw up, it's still on you and you take the fall.
So look for the situation at Walter Reed to get worse before it gets better. They just fired those best able to get the problems fixed simply to look like they were doing something about it.
Subject: New brigade to help soldiers at Walter Reed - Military News, Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times
Subject: and even more on global warming as religion
A few of the comments that put my head somewhat askew:
"But there are two other characteristics of science that are also important when it comes to deploying its knowledge for the benefit of public policy and society: that scientific knowledge is always provisional knowledge, and that it can be modified through its interaction with society."
"The danger of a "normal" reading of science is that it assumes science can first find truth, then speak truth to power, and that truth-based policy will then follow."
"But to proffer such insights, scientists - and politicians - must trade (normal) truth for influence."
If I'm reading this op-ed correctly, Mr Hume believes that there are two levels of scientific truth, one which is "normal" - just the cold, hard facts - and one which is "post-normal", in which politics and ethos bear a far greater role than what is accurate or not.
Disturbingly, while I found it wonderfully absurd and amusing at the time I first read it, I'm seeing more and more the society of Fallen Angels right around the corner.
Yours in bemusement, Mike Walsh
Fallen Angels wasn't entirely a comedy, alas.
Subject: Live from Mars , sort of , a Mars Rover's eye view of a jaunt though the Columbia Hills
And a run along the brink of Victoria Crater ,courtesy of Hollywood's best photoanimation software ,
Some details of how it was done at :
Subject: Last WWI Combat Veteran Laid to Rest
This one slipped by-WWI has now passed from living memory...
"PORTLAND, Ore. - The echo of a 21-gun salute and bugler playing Taps seemingly marked the end of an era as a state and national treasure was laid to rest in Portland, Ore., March 2.
Retired Army Cpl. Howard V. Ramsey, Oregon's last living World War I veteran and the last known U.S. combat veteran of WWI, died in his sleep Feb. 22 at an assisted living center in southeast Portland. He was honored in a memorial service attended by nearly 200 people at Lincoln Memorial Park exactly one month before reaching his 109th birthday.
"This is a very historic occasion; we lay to rest today our nation's oldest combat veteran," said Pastor Stu Weber, who officiated over Ramsey's memorial service.
In an Associated Press report, Jim Benson of the Veterans Administration said there are now only seven WWI veterans on record with the VA, although it is possible there are unknown veterans who may still exist...."
"Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
They won't be forgotten.
It still seems strange to me that so few are left from that time. I remember as a boy about 50 years ago going with my parents to a Veteran's Day parade, sitting on my dad's shoulders so that I could see the parade and all of the men marching in their uniforms.
The WWII veterans were young men then, like my dad in their 30's. There were many WWI veterans in the parade. They seemed very old to me then, although of course they weren't much older than I am now.
And I'll never forget visiting my grandfather in a VA hospital when I was maybe five years old. There was a very, very old man there, and my dad took me over to talk to him. He asked me if I knew who Abraham Lincoln was, and I said that he'd been a president a long time ago. The old man told me to shake hands with him. Afterward, he told me that when he was about my age he'd shaken hands with Abraham Lincoln.
I remember thinking later that, as a boy, he might also have shaken hands with an old man who, when he was young boy, had shaken hands with George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
Robert Bruce Thompson
We had parades during the Depression when I grew up. But that was a long time ago, even if it seems like only yesterday.
Subject: Women in the Military -
Reference J's comments on women in the military -
For your consideration:
Note, a second female MP received the Bronze Star for her actions in this incident.
For a more detailed account"
MPs (National Guard MPs, at that) proving once again that they really are a combat branch.
Timothy K. Morris
No one doubts that women can be effective combat soldiers. The debate is over total effectiveness of military units and armies in general: do armies with combat units integrated by sex work better than those which remain all male.
From: PenGun [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2007 10:21 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Internet
Hi Not that it matters much but your claims that the Internet is slow, fast, buggy or whatever are really dumb. I know you are old but so am I, it's your connection stupid.
My point in mentioning the speed of the Internet is in part to record it. THIS IS A DAY BOOK, it says clearly on the home page. I record things here.
It may well be that Time Warner cable modem is not working well; indeed, it got so jerky at one point that I fired up the satellite connector machine with a view to comparing connection that way (which would have been jerky whenever it needed to make a new connection, but speedy when transferring files once connection was made) with the cable modem (which ought to be fast and responsive when doing new connections, but wasn't, and was also jerky when transferring files, which can't be the fault of DNS servers). I didn't do the connection because when I fired up the machine that services the satellite connection it wanted to download and install a large number of service patches; I sure didn't want to be connected to the Internet without the security patches.
By the time it had patched itself, the cable modem connection was fast again, so I never did have a chance to make the comparison.
As to old, I don't feel old. I turn out a couple of thousand words a day, Niven and I went to the top of the hill (5 miles RT, elevation change up 850 feet and back down) and I get a fair amount of work done.
It's a log book. I invented the public daybook a long time ago. It works pretty well for some. I understand that there will always be features some don't like, but that's the way public radio works.
Math proves that the Buffy universe harbors no more than 512 vampires.
- Roland Dobbins
I have one question regarding the story of the couple using recycled vegetable oil in their car.
If it's reasonable for the People [i.e., "Feds"] to charge the couple with felony tax evasion because they're using an alternative fuel on which highway taxes aren't assessed, what about all those people who have bought hybrid and electric cars? I don't recall seeing a line for highway taxes on my electric bill.
(Oh, I see Mr. Wetzel is asking the same question in the article. I'm still interested in the answer.)
I must have been unclear. I find it reasonable to require them to pay road taxes. I don't find criminal prosecutions reasonable at all, nor do I think the state has been reasonable in setting things to make it easier for these people to pay.
I suspect, though, that once the attention of the legislature is drawn to this, something more sane will be done. Politicians can do some things right. Sorry I wasn't clear.
The Maes-Garreau Point.
- Roland Dobbins
Roman gladiators were fat vegetarians?
-- Roland Dobbins
Fat I don't know but Roman soldiers didn't much like meat. They wanted -- wait for it -- Roman meal. There was a near mutiny one year when they had to live off game and cattle.
March 16, 2007
Alice's New Adventures.
So perhaps the lack of fear was one reason behind Carroll's popularity in the Soviet Union: For people stuck in a gray reality, Alice's rabbit hole and looking-glass offered a way out.
Interesting take. Thanks.
Zeroing in on Jean LaFitte's treasure?
-- Roland Dobbins
Interesting. My family has some history with LaFitte and treasure. My great grandfather McKinnie actually got some of it. There were a number of mysterious events surrounding that. Story for another time.
Rishathra: Evolution's Hidden Secret?
-- Roland Dobbins
Subject: avian flu
Perhaps you or your readers could help me understand the efficacy of culling flocks infected with avian influenza. My apologies if I’m asking question that has already been dealt with or is painfully obvious to the experts. I haven’t been able to do much research on the topic from where I currently live; a shipping container in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Iraq. Internet access is a valuable commodity here.
In regards to avian influenza, why is the standard practice to cull infected bird populations? If my understanding of the life-cycle of influenza is correct, the best way, the only way, to eradicate a strain is to eliminate its host pool. This can be done by extirpating the entire genus or by the more traditional method; built up immunity. The population that survives an outbreak is immunized from subsequent infections of the same and closely related strains. As the immune population grows, the influenza has a smaller and smaller host pool until the flu dies out.
Culling the flocks guarantees that birds that may have developed a resistance will not survive. Since it is a given that domestic farming flocks of poultry will be replaced, culling the flocks guarantees that a fresh pool of birds will be available for infection within a season or two. Combine this fact with the impossibility, and inadvisability, of killing every wild migratory bird and there is almost a guarantee of re-infection.
Would it not make more sense to quarantine the flocks, let the influenza run its course and emerge with a bird population somewhat resistant to the next wave of infection? There is always the risk of a breach of quarantine, just as there is always the risk that some birds will escape a culling. I find it more likely that a farmer will be willing to quarantine his flock for 30 days (or whatever the appropriate time is) than hand over 100% of his stock for destruction. The risk of quarantine is further mitigated by the relative difficulty this strain has crossing from birds to humans.
Thanks for any help you can bring to bear on this.
PS- Thanks for the site. It's nice to be able to see reasonable debate. I look forward to exploring it further upon my return.
You know, I never thought about this, but it's a very good question. I will see if I can find some epidemiology expert to comment on why things are done as they are.
Global Warming Swindle
I had a chance to view the BBC “Global Warming Swindle” documentary aired last weekend (see the YouTube link below) over the last few evenings and wanted to pass along a very hearty recommendation that you view it too.
Admittedly I have been a skeptic of the hysteria over global warming. However, that said I have been willing to entertain that human activity could be influencing climate and that this subject merited scrutiny. Like you I’m no expert and have never really had the time to educate myself and investigate this topic as much as I would like in order to read past the hype and draw some thoughtful conclusions.
Well, this documentary is simply STUNNING in the clarity of what the true facts appear to be, and that is that man made CO2 is essentially a non-issue relating to climate! I cannot vouch for all of the material presented but it appears to be extremely credible. However, as an engineer I am extremely impressed with how they structure an extremely compelling argument and quote and connect multiple data sets to make their case. They also provide some very interesting insight into the (ironic) origins of the global warming debate, how major political and monetary interests now hugely corrupt the pro hysteria side, and the tragic consequences the alarmist agenda implies for the 3rd world if they prevail. Truly an amazing scale of content for a 75 minute run time!
Succinctly this is THE BEST documentary I have ever seen.
This is one of many letters I have had on this subject. One correction. It was not BBC, it was Channel 4.
Subject: UK University Students to be "Class Tested"
-- 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>
Europe is getting serious about global warning. They're going nuclear:
Blaze: James Randi owes me a million dollars.
--- Roland Dobbins
Subject: What to wear on the road to Hell , Guatemala , or Southern Iran
There is more in the quartermaster pipeline than digital camo--
But if God speaks in Binary (and if I did the math right), today is (based on 3.1415)
11.0010010000111001 ... day
Where is the hidden message in that?
Subject: memorial day parades
Hello again Dr Pournelle,
Ferndale, Michigan where I graduated from High School in 1985 is an older, inner ring suburb just north of Detroit. Ferndale ALWAYS had a good Memorial Day Parade, with lots of veterans groups and local Reserve and Guard units marching. At one time it was the biggest Memorial Day parade in the area, surpassed only by Dearborn (a much larger and wealthier suburb to the southwest) and Detroit itself. Viewers along the parade route could also usually count on flyovers by Air National Guard jets from a nearby base, and warbird flyovers from the Yankee Air Force out of Willow Run field (a WW2 bomber plant) in Ypsilanti.
My wife and I would usually take the kids up to my folks house and go to the parade with them, because I think such things are important for children to see. Lately, the demographics of the area seem to have shifted a bit.
The last Ferndale Memorial Day parade we went to was last year, when I was newly returned from my own two year Reserve mobilization. The parade was puny, with no flyovers and no veterans groups or soldiers marching. Groups that were marching (and as a former Drill Sergeant I use the term "marching" rather loosely in this context) in this MEMORIAL DAY parade were various (at least three different) gay rights advocacy groups, anti-war protesters, some global warming enviro-Fascists, and the infamous "Raging Grannies," a group of female senior citizens who show their dislike for Pres. Bush and the war by attempting to enlist at local recruiting offices. They like to say that they're trying to go to war so that their grandchildren won't have to. I have no idea what their thoughts might be on the nanny state that is going to control their grandchildrens' lives from cradle to grave. I suspect they haven't thought that far ahead, or worse that they see it as positive.
Needless to say, we'll be looking for a different parade this year.
I have five children aged 11 to 1.5, and I've learned that when thoughts of their future waver between the sins of rage and despair, it's time to give them more prayer and more rifle marksmanship instruction.
Thank you for your service (my late father-in-law served in the Korean War too) and for your marvelous website.
Cordially, as always,
Gore, greenhouse gases, and Boy Scouts
Personally I think Al Gore is an environmental demagogue. Yes, yes, I know he invented the Environment (after he was done with the Internet). So he deserves some dissing. That being said, it seems like we (forget Al’s frothing) ought to behave a little bit like the Boys Scouts? You know – leave the campground in better condition than we found it, I don’t think anyone would accuse us of doing that vis-à-vis Mother Nature and the good earth these days.
It isn’t so much that I personally know what the effects of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere are going to be 100 years from now. It is more the case that I don’t know, so we should be prudent about things we don’t know. And it doesn’t help giving all our money to those who hate us.
I don't disagree. However some development is irreversible: railroad cuts through mountains. Coal mines. We have extracted much of the easy to get at mineral wealth; if we lose technological civilization, it will be much harder to establish it again.
I like wilderness, and I like the Scout command: take only pictures, leave only footprints.
This from a state that once led the nation in school scores but is now lowest in the nation. I guess it should have been expected.
March 17, 2007
I know that's the conventional wisdom, but I don't think it's true.
Most of the mineral wealth that's required to build a civilization is metals, and most of the metals we've extracted over history are pretty much lying around. If a dark age fell upon us now, in a hundred years or a thousand, there'd still be a lot of metals free for the taking. Junked cars (by then in the form of piles of rust), I-beams embedded in concrete buildings and roads, large amounts of aluminum and other metals free for the scavenging, etc. All of it not just near the surface, but pretty much on the surface. Some key materials, such as sulfur, might be harder to come by, but I think the brighter of our descendants could deal with that problem. With lots of steel, you can do almost anything.
Of course, the easily accessible coal and petroleum are gone, but you can do a lot with wood, and presumably much of our land area would by then again be covered in old forests.
-- Robert Bruce Thompson email@example.com
I thought about that and said
This is worth discussion. It's one of those conclusions I have held since I read Harrison Brown probably in 1958 and haven't thought about again. I see I should rethink it.
We many of us have these conclusions on matters we thought through once and need to rethink. I do recall writing a story in which junkyards are fought over by miners.
And, for that matter, there'd be a bazillion tons of petroleum still lying around in the form of degraded asphalt roads, again right on the surface. Now, granted, it's not sweet, light crude, but any self-respecting organic chemist would be delighted with having a billion tons of asphalt with which to build a civilization.
All of which is true. I may open this question again another time. Harrison Brown's Challenge of Man's Vast Future was persuasive. I thought through the matter when I read it (likely as an undergraduate, certainly early on) and haven't thought about it again. I should. Live long enough and your head will be cluttered with things you thought through once and need rethinking.
Subject: Chiquita Bananas pays terrorists in Columbia
Prosecutors are going after Chiquita for paying a cost of doing business. Is this what the anti-terror laws were intended to do or is it just a case of an ambitious prosecutor trying to make a name for himself?
Subject: A Damning Indictment...
More about the Walter Reed scandal, Dr. Pournelle. (Incidentally, this helps make the case against a federalized system of health "care" for the rest of the population.)
"Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, described the problems at Walter Reed in words that should be inscribed on portals across every bridge leading into Washington: "Life every day in this system is like running in hip boots in a swamp." He called it a "bureaucratic morass."
Sounds like the iron law to me...
"Washington of late has been giving talented civilians reason not to come there to serve, for fear of being destroyed in feckless political wars. So naturally it follows we should also drive out the best people willing to forego civilian wealth to defend us in real wars."
"A government establishment so profligate that it thinks nothing of throwing its best people onto bonfires of its own making will likely, over time, burn down to nothing."
Subject: Plans for an old idea
* * "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' - but 'That's funny...'"
I continue to believe that the retirement of us Boomers will force society to discontinue supporting its underclass. Given that what delivers us new members of our underclass is blatant child abandonment, endangerment, neglect, and abuse, ending its existence will come none too soon.
My preferred means of bringing an end to permanent poverty in the U.S. is to allow women total reproductive freedom as today, but impose reproductive responsibility on all our males. No male who was not completely ready to fully support any and all children he might father would be allowed to be fertile. This way, all American children would have at least *one* competent and responsible parent--right now our biggest problem is not the single-parent family, it's the *zero*-parent family.
Women who wanted to have a baby but who could not command the DNA of a fertile male would be given the services of a sperm bank. But only the DNA of society's "winners" would be available, so if their baby did not get anything else from their father, they would get a shot at having the characteristics that make for success in an advanced capitalist nation of the early 21st Century. And they would be assured a mother who really wanted to have a baby and took action to get pregnant, rather than a mother who just lets life happen to her.
I know our liberals are really attached to our current system of "cuckoldry by taxation", but it really has not worked out. It's too hard on the fatherless kids, and, in any case, with the Boomers retiring we just won't be able to continue to deliver "First World" services to a "Third World" population segment.
|This week:||Sunday, March
Poor man's WMD.
- Roland Dobbins
Subject: China & co2
Good evening Dr. Pournelle, it occurs to me that if the west burdens itself with carbon restrictions, China will have breathing space to recover from it's impending problems. No worries about a re-industrialized west. Wonder how many eco-nazis invested in China?
Subject: More European Muslims Embrace Jihad.
More European Muslims Embrace Jihad.
- Roland Dobbins
Antarctic Glaciers' Sloughing Of Ice Has Scientists at a Loss.
-- Roland Dobbins
Once again demonstrating that we need to know more, because we don't understand what's going on.
-- Roland Dobbins
I note that National Review has still not apologized for allowing the egregious Frum to denounce conservatives who weren't for the invasion of Iraq and who wanted out fast. National Review read me out of their circle as defined on their pages by the egregious Frum. Now Buckley seems to have stepped outside that circle as well. Welcome home, Bill.
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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).
Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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