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Mail 458 March 19 - 25, 2007
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|This week:||Monday March
Apologies: I'm way behind in work, and today will be Short Shrift...
I'll start with the commentary. The current Government has reached the point that those with agendas are starting to realise that it's now or never for their social experiments. I'll label those stories (SE). Gordon Brown is due to replace Tony Blair shortly, and he's concerned with keeping the trains running on time long enough that he has a chance in the next general election. So those stories are labelled (GB). Then there's everything else (EE).
Now for the news:
Blair exit timetable (GB) <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6456945.stm>
Scientific experiments too dangerous (EE)
Zimbabwe chaos (EE) <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6462117.stm>
Lack of housing (SE?)
Bombs designed not to explode (EE), yeah, right... <http://www.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,2036162,00.html>
Big oops--expensive artwork destroyed as rubbish (EE)
Caution urged about climate risks (possibly SE)
Evoting problems in the Netherlands (EE) <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/17/foi_dutch/>
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information
Systems Security, University of Sunderland.
<http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at:
Reminder: Joanne Dow's "daily diatribes" documenting sharia and dhimitude are found on their own page.
Subject: Right to resist?
Jerry: A man's home is his castle? Maybe, in Sarasota.
-- Right now the Republicans and Democrats in Washington seem, from the outside, to be an elite colluding against the voter. Peggy Noonan
Subj: MIT ambient intelligence group
Nice PowerPoint slide show!
Good stuff. Thanks
Subject: That Global Warming Swindle program
Thanks for the link to that program on YouTube, I had missed it when it aired. A friend of mine then pointed out the controversy surrounding the show.
It is reported that the program maker had altered and misrepresented the data he was using. Leading to serious questions about the conclusions. One newspaper has used the word "charlatan" to describe him.
However I note this morning (Sat 17th March) that the BBC News is leading with an article on overplaying the risks of climate change! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/6460635.stm
I guess the question is still do we have enough data? Al Gore seems to think so.
As I said in Sunday's View
According to the latest (1999) USDA census there were a total of 121,306,000 cows and calves in the United States and Canada combined. That is a lot of cows. On the other hand, it is worth noting that the domesticated animals that supposedly threaten our very existence, replace 60,000,000 or so, equally flatulent Buffalo.
With the decline of the vast herds in Africa, whale populations, etc., it would not at all be surprising to discover a world wide net decrease from say, the state of affairs in 1700.
Very truly yours, Paul Bloom
I have never seen numbers on flatulent bovines.... (see below)
Subject: Walter Reed,women in comabt, iMac
Dr. Pournelle, The commanding general may never have inspected Mr Hamit's barracks, but mine did when I was at Ft. Polk in 86-88. The company CO and 1SG went through every day. The battalion commander once every few months. We had a division command inspection once in a year and a half. The division commander and a chunk of his staff, including the division command sergeant major, spent the day going over our company with a fine tooth comb. My understanding was that most stateside commands were like that, and I was surprised that Walter Reed wasn't. According to the Post (and some troops I've talked to personally (none of them around now, this isn't new)) the soldiers had complained to their chain of command and the inspector general. They went to the press as a last resort.
The BRAC and Army, between them, did lots of damage there. The Army outsourced the maintenance of Walter Reed to a civilian firm. The BRAC then decided to close Walter Reed. (During a war! But the idiocies of various government entities during this war are entire other rant...) The civilians, understandably, then went looking for more permanent employment.
On another subject. The only problem with not allowing women in combat is that you would then have to find replacements for them. Since any military job is, potentially (at least in the Army) a combat job, you would need to replace all the women in the Army. The only way I can see to do that would be to bring back the draft, or have a substantially smaller army. Either way the Army couldn't then do things like invade Iraq or Iran, for political or logistical reasons and, ummm. Hmmm. Well, I'm sure someone would have a problem with that.
No intarweb problems here in Nova, the tubes seem to be clear. Maybe a bad router on your (or your ISPs) end?
Last weekend I bought an iMac after my 6 year old Linux box died. Rather spectacularly, in fact, with smoke coming out the back. In a couple of weeks I may write up my entire Linux->Mac migration experience. No problems yet, but Mac does have some quirks.
I wonder how many Mac developers had to sell their Immortal Souls to make a user friendly unix?
There's a lot here worth comment, but it was short shrift or nothing, I fear.
Subject: The Trouble with Science
It seems the consensus group-think in science problem is not limited to just climatology and virology. I'm currently reading,
The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin
and the author makes a convincing statement that theoretical physics is suffering from the same problem and has been for decades. If you're not a string-theorist, it seems, you're not taken seriously. I grieve for the future -- the current generation of scientists is competent but lacks objectiveness, and future generations may lack basic competency.
That was the book of the month in one of my columns.
Subject: Gurkha pay and pensions
=... [U]ntil the new changes, when Gurkhas signed up for the British army (and there is fierce competition for the few hundred openings each year), they agreed to receive a pension based on what soldiers get in the Indian army. ... The Gurkhas want to dispense with the two century old colonial arrangement, and get paid the same as any other foreigner who joins the British army. ...=
The Youtube version of the Global Warming thing was good, even if some parts were possibly out of sync or misrepresented. At least the scientists who spoke against the man-made causes of it all, were sincere and made good points. Absent of course from the arguments of skeptics of the program was the effect of global water vapor as a greenhouse gas. The water vapor factor has always been a worry as it immediately is translated into the cloud argument.
Also, there are historical effects that don't get entirely included as there are few methods of capturing them. Volcanic activity can probably produce enough high level particulate matter to significantly effect the albedo. So the important thing is that some scientists get a chance to comment on the issue. And also important is that when the computers go wild in speculation, there is no backward calculations that demonstrate how the historical climate was created. As we witness the terrible winter in the northeast, and a cool to mild, dry, late winter on the west coast, it is important to understand that the climate scientists are not good weathermen, and it is the wise course to be conservative in accepting their projections as those are driven by political considerations.
It is still a good idea to instead lobby for a wise nuclear energy policy and admit that the local political opposition to permanent high level waste storage, non-retrievable, is not going to go away. So what is wrong with doing a high level storage, with provisions for regularly retrieving the materials and inspecting them, even repackaging it if necessary, in order to mute the critics that look hundreds of thousands of years into the future, in fear of a neutron or so getting loose?.
Volcanoes produce all kinds of things including methanes, CO2, and fine dusty particulate matter that can change planetary albedo. Do you recall "nuclear winter?". Tambora caused "The Year Without A Summer". Benjamin Franklin speculated about volcanoes and The Little Ice Age when he saw Iceland and its volcanoes. Climate models can't possibly take this into account since we can't predict volcanism, but volcanic activity can make for hotter or cooler climates. The Solar Cycle is somewhat predictable; volcanoes hardly at all.
Subject: "flatulent" bovines"
My family raised cattle in Missouri for years, and there ain't no flatulent bovines.
Ruminants can't expel gas from the "South end of a north-bound critter". They actualy emit the methane produced by their cellulose-digesting bacteria from their mouths.
As a better term, might I suggest "belching bovines"?
All in service of better science!
Thanks for clarifying that... (but see below)
Subject: the hooters
Hello Dr. Pournelle
America lobs a weapon of cultural mass destruction, into the Middle East. I particularly like the quote by Ofer Ahiraz, who advises, "I strongly believe that the Hooters concept is something that Israelis are looking for." Well, he might just be right. If they actually ever manage to get the franchise extended to Iraq, and the rest of the Mid east, we will have won the war. I wonder if the waitresses in an Iraqi Hooters would have to wear veils, along with their shorts and halters.
Subject: FW: Islamist Site Instructs Mujahideen to Foster Anti-War Sentiment in U.S.
This article from MEMRI is interesting...jim
March 20, 2007
I have received this from several sources. It looks authentic.
From the Chief of Chaplains, Walter Reed Army Medical Center...........
I have had enough and am going to give my perspective on the news about Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Please understand that I am speaking for myself and I am responsible for my thoughts alone. The news media and politicians are making it sound like Walter Reed is a terrible place and the staff here has been abusing our brave wounded soldiers; what a bunch of bull!
I am completing my 24th year of service in the Army next month so you decide for yourself if I have the experience to write about this topic. I have been the senior clinical chaplain at Walter Reed for four years and will leave to go back to the infantry this summer. I supervise the chaplain staff inside Walter Reed that cares for the 200 inpatients, the 650+ daily outpatients from the war who come to us for medical care, the 4000+ staff, and over 3000 soldiers and their families that come for clinical appointments daily. Walter Reed has cared for over 5500 wounded from the war. I cannot count the number of sick and non-battle injured that have come through over that timeframe. The staff at this facility has done an incredible job at the largest US military medical center with the worst injured of the war. We have cared for over 400 amputees and their families. I am privileged to serve the wounded, their families, and our staff.
When the news about building 18 broke I was on leave. I was in shock when the news broke. We in the chaplains office in Walter Reed, as well as the majority of people at Walter Reed, did not know anyone was in building 18. I didn't even know we had a building 18. How can that happen? Walter Reed is over 100 acres of 66 buildings on two installations. Building 18 is not on the installation of Walter Reed and was believed to be closed years ago by our department. The fact that some leaders in the medical brigade that is in charge of the outpatients put soldiers in there is terrible. That is why the company commander, first sergeant, and a group of platoon leaders and platoon sergeants were relieved immediately. They failed their soldiers and the Army. The commanding general was later relieved (more about this) and his sergeant major has been told to move on--if he gets to. The brigade sergeant major was relieved and more relief's are sure to come and need to. As any leader knows, if you do not take care of soldiers, lie, and then try to cover it up, you are not worthy of the commission you hold and should be sent packing. I have no issue, and am actually proud, that they did relieve the leaders they found who knew of the terrible conditions some of our outpatients were enduring. The media is making it sound like these conditions are rampant at Walter Reed and nothing could be further from the truth. We need improvements and will now get them. I hate it that it took this to make it happen.
The Army and the media made MG Weightman, our CG, out to be the problem and fired him. This was a great injustice. He was only here for six months, is responsible for military medical care in the 20 Northeast states, wears four "hats" of responsibilities, and relies on his subordinate leaders to know what is happening in their areas of responsibilities. He has a colonel that runs the hospital (my hospital commander), a colonel that runs the medical brigade (where the outpatient wounded are assigned and supposedly cared for), and a colonel that is responsible to run the garrison and installation. What people don't know is that he was making many changes as he became aware of them and had requested money to fix other places on the installation. The Army did not come through until four months after he asked for the money, remember that he was here only six months, which was only days before they relieved him. His leaders responsible for outpatient care did not tell him about conditions in building 18. He has been an incredible leader who really cares about the wounded, their families, and our staff. I cannot say the same about a former commander, who was my first commander here at Walter Reed, and definitely knew about many problems and is in the position to fix them and he did not. MG Weightman also should not be held responsible for the military's unjust and inefficient medical board system and the problems in the VA system. We lost a great leader and passionate man who showed he had the guts to make changes and was doing so when he was made the scapegoat for others.
What I am furious about is that the media is making it sound like all of Walter Reed is like building 18. Nothing could be further from the truth. No system is perfect but the medical staff provides great care in this hospital. What needs to be addressed, and finally will, is the bureaucratic garbage that all soldiers are put through going into medical boards and medical retirements. Congress is finally giving the money that people have asked for at Walter Reed for years to fix places on the installations and address shortcomings. What they don't want you to know is Congress caused many problems by the BRAC process saying they were closing Walter Reed. We cannot keep nor attract all the quality people we need at Walter Reed when they know this place will close in several years and they are not promised a job at the new hospital. Then they did this thing call A76 where they fired many of the workers here for a company of contractors, IAP, to get a contract to provide care outside the hospital proper. The company, which is responsible for maintenance, only hired half the number of people as there were originally assigned to maintenance areas to save money. Walter Reed leadership fought the A76 and BRAC process for years but lost. Congress instituted the BRAC and A76 process; not the leadership of Walter Reed.
What I wish everyone would also hear is that for every horror story we are now hearing about in the media that truly needs to be addressed, you are not hearing about the hundreds of other wounded and injured soldiers who tell a story of great care they received. You are not hearing about the incredibly high morale of our troops and the fact that most of them want to go back, be with their teammates, and finish the job properly. You should be very proud of the wounded troopers we have at Walter Reed. They make me so proud to be in the Army and I will fight to get their story out.
I want you to hear the whole story because our wounded, their families, our Army, and the nation need to know that many in the media and select politicians have an agenda. Forget agendas and make the changes that have been needed for years to fix problems in every military hospital and the VA system. The poor leaders will be identified and sent packing and good riddance to them. I wish the same could be said for the politicians and media personalities who are also responsible but now want it to look like they are very concerned. Where have they been for the last four years? I am ashamed of what they all did and the pain it has caused many to think that everyone is like that. Please know that you are not hearing the whole story. Please know that there are thousands of dedicated soldiers and civilian medical staff caring for your soldiers and their families. When I leave here I will end up deploying. When soldiers in my division have to go to Walter Reed from the battlefield, I know they will get great medical care. I pray that you know the same thing. God bless all our troops and their families wherever they may be.
God bless you all,
Greetings, Dr. Pournelle,
One of your other correspondents (a "Petronius") misinformed you. He wrote:
He's incorrect; a north-facing cow produces a lot of methane from its southern end -- enough so that instructors in agricultural and vet med programs will demonstrate by lighting it with a candle; one cow was famous for being able to sustain the flame even after the candle was removed.
I'm not sure where he got the idea they weren't flatulent. Finding primary references for this is very difficult, of course, because of the plethora of stories online reporting on it due to the global warming scare.
That would have been my belief as well. When I lived on our farm in Capleville, Tenn., we had dozen dairy cattle. We didn't breed cattle and we didn't sell milk, and while I learned to milk cows and did so sometimes, that was mostly work for the field hands (who also got the milk). I raised a Jersey as my 4H Project. I don't recall flatulence ver coming to mind, but this was all more than sixty years ago. I am willing to take others' word about cow flatulence...
I never saw the demonstration you describe. You'd think someone would have filmed it for You-Tube...
“Ruminants can't expel gas from the "South end of a north-bound critter" was made in your blog.
As one how was raised on a farm with many registered Angus cattle that statement is totally untrue. While the majority of the emissions may be oral, many a time I have awakened sleeping animals and was greeted with the brrrraaaaatttt from the south end along with the accompanying olfactory confirmation.
Bovines do indeed expel large quantities of gas from both ends and neither is pleasant.
Ray Thompson Tau Beta Pi (www.tbp.org <http://www.tbp.org/> )
The Engineering Honor Society
Another precinct heard from. I may get more mail on this than on Global Warming. Which probably says something, but what and about whom I decline to speculate. And for the final word, see below.
I just read the Chaplain's e-mail on your site. I agree that it sounds authentic. I also think he's out of touch.
I'm a military dependent living in the Washington DC area and so my health care comes out of the military medical system. I've been treated at the main Navy (Bethesda), Air Force (Malcolm Grow), and Army (Walter Reed) hospitals in the area. The order listed above is not random. They are listed best to worst. Everyone I've spoken to about it who lives in this area knows it. The only place even worse to go than Walter Reed is the clinic (former hospital) at Ft. Meade. I was stationed in this area in the Navy almost 20 years ago and it was the same then.
Personally, I've not had a bad experience at Walter Reed, but I was only there for a hearing test (when I called for an appointment Bethesda and Malcolm Grow were completely booked, but Walter Reed had lots of open appointments). Other than that, I've managed to avoid it. I know of people having had terrible experiences at Walter Reed with inpatient care.
Frankly the entire message from that Chaplain angers me. If the commander of the facility isn't responsible, who is? No wonder they have problems.
Men and women do think differently, at least where the anatomy of the brain is concerned, according to a new study.
Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico. Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.
"These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior," said Haier, adding that, "by pinpointing these gender-based intelligence areas, the study has the potential to aid research on dementia and other cognitive-impairment diseases in the brain." The results from this study may help explain why men and women excel at different types of tasks, said co-author and neuropsychologist Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico. For example, men tend to do better with tasks requiring more localized processing, such as mathematics, Jung said, while women are better at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions of the brain, which aids language skills.
Scientists find it very interesting that while men and women use two very different activity centers and neurological pathways, men and women perform equally well on broad measures of cognitive ability, such as intelligence tests.
I find none of this a surprise. If one takes evolution seriously, one would expect considerable difference between the sexes, and indeed we find them in other species. One does not expect bitches to behave like dogs, and one seldom finds lions defending the cubs. One does not expect women to have the same attitudes toward other women that men have toward other men. And so forth.
Of course it is monstrous to say such things: women scientists at Harvard have been known to get the vapors and rush out of the room unable to breathe when such things are said in their presence.
One does note that there are no documented cases of male scientists behaving this way.
I suppose I must add that we are dealing with averages here; individuals do not necessarily conform to averages.
Hi Jerry -
This article has a good explanation of Dr. Bussard's fusion reactor: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=2584496&C=america
I don't understand why this isn't getting more attention.
Bob Bussard is an old friend, and one day I'll have to write up my observations. (and see below)
So-Called 'Post-Normal Science'
I saw a reference to this subject - Post-Normal Science - in some materials on global warming. I'm sending these links in case you have not seen them yet. First, the Wikipedia article, second a blogger's comments (who does a good job of calling a spade a spade).
Warning: although the articles are short, the subject matter will induce nausea.
have you seen this story in Time mag? i would be interested to know what this community makes of it. provided there is no undue prejudice involved in the story, wouldn't it be best if schools did have standards? or is this wrong philosophically in the public schools?
it seems to me the that education from k-12 and creeping up to grad schools is now merely for accreditation and not actual learning. there is no commitment from students to acquiring knowledge as a goal. school is a place you go that mom and dad pay for so that they can work. education is a right for the WILLING. can one be forced to gain an education?
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20060927/ai_n16746203 one study found that cal (berkeley) students knew less of american history AFTER undergrad education. the default major at Harvard is now econ. what kind of civilization will occur if people don't know history or many underlying facts but are convinced anything that they crank out of excel is true (enough) to run with? the epidemic of those that don't even begin to know what they don't know would surely continue.
hmmmm... perhaps they would blindly believe in climate models of unknown origins? that driving electric or hyrid cars in climates that require heating and a/c often will never work? that hydrogen is only a savior when arrived at by nuclear or solar inputs? that C02 is the only greenhouse gas of import? gosh...i would hate to be stuck in a world like that...
Jay R. Larsen MBA, CNE, MCP
The attachment is a graph proving beyond any doubt that it is the absence of pirates that is the cause of global warming. I know that you have an interest in pirates as well as in global warming and hope that you will accept my assurance that the file has just been virus checked with AVG and is safe to open.
Regards, John Edwards
Geehrte Herr Doktor Pournelle,
I stand corrected, RE: Bovine Flatulence versus Bovine Belching.
In the process of checking my data, I conferred with the primary researcher (my father). He pointed out rather sharply that cows indeed DO emit substantial quantities of methane from BOTH ends.
It seems my memory was correct in regard to the lack of such dual emission activity in our herd. This was apparently due to their having been primarily corn fed. Cattle fed on grain produce much less gas than cattle fed on silage and/or grass. The additional redaction tom the primary researcher that "You never did know which end of the cow was which", explains my misreading of the data points.
Now if only we could decipher the closing line from Dante's "Divine Comedy": Inferno Chapter XXI "ed elli avea del cul fatto trombetta".
Further deponent sayeth not.
March 21, 2007
A suitable comment Jerry.
I have no idea of where this picture was first printed, so it might or might not be copyrighted.
I'm a real skeptic about the idea of global warming, but I consider this picture to be on about the same level as many of the other so-called "proofs" of global warming.
If you want to publish this with my name attached, you may do so.
Subject: The most intense solar storm in 50 years is (predicted to be) coming.....
I wonder what impact solar storms have on our climate. Seems like they would heat the upper atmosphere.
John Harlow, President BravePoint
Subject: The Quest Continues
Partial success at least:
Regards, Peter Czora
I'll have more after this weekend's Space Access Society meeting in Phoenix.
Subject: Falcon 1 Partial Success
The partial success of the Falcon 1 reminds me of the Atlas missile development program. Since there were no wind tunnels of large altitude engine test cells, the Atlas was developed by launch, find the problem, fix it, and launch another one. A few years later, NASA did it the long way by building multimillion dollar test cells and years of testing before launching the first Saturn. I often wondered which was cheaper in the long run. As I remember, GD set up a production line for the Atlas prototype missiles and manufactured them rather cheaply. A side benefit was a lot of newsreel footage of Atlases being destroyed. Incidentally, I never heard a reporter say the Atlas was destroyed by the range safety officer. They always just said it blew up.
I worked on the Mercury program and one item I remember from that program was that analysis of all failed Atlas launches to date had given sufficient warning to allow the escape tower to pull the capsule far enough away to avoid damage. Also I don't remember how many of the Atlas failures were from explosions rather than being destroyed by the range safety officer. Do you remember anything about this?
I feel much safer now. I'm sure OBL will respect us and leave us alone now that we've shown our support.
Beware the fury of the legions.
One of the accusations the anti-war left makes on a regular basis is that the right is "questioning their patriotism".
As you note:
They are now burning American Soldiers in effigy. So far have we come.
*Now* can we question their patriotism?
Re: Second Amendment
I intervened in a domestic/custody dispute in Houston this past weekend even though I was not in town. I allowed a friend of a friend to flee her insecure apartment complex to my much-more-secure main Houston residence in a "doorman" building high rise. Still, the mother involved was concerned that her ex-husband, a big guy who runs marathons, would simply force his way in (assuming, somehow, he learned where she and her 2-year-old had gone, which there really was no way for him to do).
I called a new neighbor whom I just met who answers to the description of the most new acquaintances I make randomly (including the refugee mother)--"extraordinarily attractive young woman" mostly to see if she could provide some respite child care (said neighbor had shown a great interest in my children when she encountered them on a previous trip, so I thought it might be worth a try). But I also mentioned that the mother was getting angry cellphone calls from her ex threatening to track her down (somehow). My neighbor, whom I used to refer to as just <first name>, but whom I now refer to as "<first name>, Warrior Princess". matter-of-factly announced that if this fool did, she and her Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol would be waiting for him (she has a Texas permit-to-carry, and as with the American Express Card, her motto is "Don't Leave Home Without It".
As it happened, the guy with the anger-management problem was newly arrived from Washington, D.C., the jurisdiction the court decision below applied to. In DC, breaking down a door to get at an ex-spouse to beat her up is an effective thing to do. I truly do believe that in Houston this weekend it would have been suicide. I don't know what the abuser thought, but he stopped calling.
No comment needed.
March 6, 2007-A new population of bonobos, one of humankind's closest genetic relatives, has been discovered deep in a forest in Africa's Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Perhaps the largest known concentration of bonobos anywhere, the group may number as many as 3,000-a significant addition to a recent estimated total of 10,000.
Bonobos, or pygmy chimpanzees, live only in the Congo River Basin and are notable for using sex for greetings, reconciliations, and favors for food.
The apparently thriving new population may owe its success to its location-partly within a private ranch-and to the local Bateke people
"We consider them human, our ancestors," a Bateke man said. "We don't eat them, and we don't kill them."
Subject: Advanced Toolbar
You wrote: Which still doesn't tell me why it's worth taking out a full page advertisement in PC Magazine to push this.
I subscribed to PC Magazine for many years, and it often had ads for software of marginal use. I suspect that it makes more sense for them to advertise there because I don't know of a single IT professional that uses it as a source of information. It has mainly moved to an audience of "weekend IT guy" status. There are lots of them out there (look at PC Magazine's distribution) and they are exactly the kind of people who see value in this, because they generally don't know any better.
Subject: The Fury of the Legions
Dear Dr. Pournelle:
I've searched in vain for this quote but no one seems to use it but you, or people quoting you. Can you tell me, please, where it comes from?
Regards, Tim Scott
We hear that there are tumults and riots in Rome, and that voices are raised concerning the army and the quality of our soldiers. Make haste to reassure us that you love and support us as we love and support you, for if we find that we have left our bones to bleach in these sands in vain, then beware the fury of the legions.
I first saw this as the frontispiece aphorism for Larteguy's Centurions, hardbound edition. Someone has stolen that copy so I do not have it to hand, and it does not appear in the paperback editions. I found a reference to it in some historical work in the University of Washington library some years ago, so I was satisfied that it was real and not something Larteguy made up, but I didn't make a note of where I found that.
Larteguy isn't read now. He should be. He dealt with questions we have not resolved.
March 22, 2007
Regarding Ortega's mass man.
I see two things happening since Ortega wrote: (1) The elites are playing divide and conquer, (2) Laws and regulations are accumulating to the point that the masses find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
Regarding (1), abortion, smoking & gun rights come to mind.
Regarding (2), (a) I have a blue collar friend who showed up on my doorsteps two years ago with his kids, incoherent. Puzzled I go outside to look at his van to see that the date on the temporary license was that day. Plus he had been served divorce papers at work. I got his van fixed, papered & insured, bought off his creditors, found a lawyer, plowed through the lawyer paperwork, informed his relatives (his ex made off with the phone & computer), etc. (b) In contrast my white collar friend kept on top of his own divorce paperwork, did much of his own legal research & was able to direct his lawyer, thereby minimzing legal time & fees.
Just as per sleeping under bridges and stealing bread, the effect of legal paperwork is as a mountain to the left side of the bell curve while being only a mole hill to the right side. The right side complains about the paperwork and yet cares little or nothing about the effects of that same paperwork on the left side.
Interesting. It does not make reading Ortega optional if you want to understand the century we just left. The Revolt of the Masses remains one of the pivotal books. Of course it is seldom read now.
Orson Scott Card on global warming:
Way to go, Alfred!
"London's longest-serving taxi driver has retired, after 70 years of ferrying passengers around the British capital.Alfred Collins, 92, picked up his first fare in 1937 and plied the streets until two years ago, keeping his black cab licence until last month when he finally decided he was not going to get back behind the wheel."
Subject: Politics makes strange bedfellows
How about Nancy Pelosi and an Icelandic Volcano? http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/03/scablands_and_i_1.html
I've known about Lake Missoula and the Scablands for some time; indeed Niven and I may set the next Burning City sequel up there in a land of fire, ice, and water...
Subject: The absence of pirates that is the cause of global warming
As much as I enjoy poking fun at "Global Warming," your chart is factually wrong. Piracy is still very much a real though overlooked problem in much of the world including SE Asia.
While the traditional "Black Beard" style pirate who would actually fight toe to toe with major Naval combatant ships is gone, tens of thousands of part time pirates still molest Fishing vessels, small cargo boats and other craft. A substantial portion of the "Boat People," who died escaping from Viet Nam were according to all published reports that I've seen killed by pirates.
Alas Piracy and Slavery are both alive and a substantial plague on people living in many parts of the world.
"The state which separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools," Thucydides.
Yes, I know. There are plenty of pirates out there.
Is a Thinning Haze Unveiling the Real Global Warming?Richard A. Kerr
The sunlight-reflecting haze that cools much of the planet seems to have thinned over the past decade or so, remote-sensing specialists report on page 1543 <http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/315/5818/1543> of this issue of Science. If real, the thinning might explain the unexpectedly strong global warming of late, the accelerating loss of glacial ice, and much of rising sea levels. (Read more <http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/315/5818/1480> .)
The albedo of the Earth is very much affected by particulate matter in the atmosphere, as well as by clouds, and will have a much greater effect on climate than the greenhouse effect.
March 23, 2007
In Phoenix for the Space Access Conference. Still Short Shrift, alas.
I read the link from Tuesday's mail regarding the work Dr. Bussard had been doing, and if the figure of $200 million for a full-sized reactor is accurate, why isn't a Bill Gates or Richard Branson jumping on this? This could be huge. I'm not going to depend on the government, where everything takes longer and costs more, for funding, but you'd think some publicity-hungry billionaire (Bezos?) would be all over this like white on rice? Maybe it lacks a coolness factor that other projects have? Is there some rich guy from California network to plug into? Hey, maybe you and Niven!
Best regards, and have fun in Phoenix,
Ben Cohen explains the federal budget, with oreos http://www.truemajority.org/oreos/ . Congress-critters and brass hats being what they are, the strategy described could result in even more neglect of soldiers. Other than that, a nice starting point, maybe?
Subject: Terrorist Media Strategy
It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This
March 22, 2007: Islamic terrorists are encouraging their supporters, who can write in English, to get on American web sites and pretend to be friends or family members of American soldiers or marines. The "media jehadis" are instructed to tell stories in line with the anti-war tone of American and European media. Things like soldiers committing suicide because they were forced to take part in atrocities in Iraq. Or wounded soldiers suffering, or killing themselves, because of the poor care and abuse they have received from the army. The media jihadis are told to make it sound like they are simply passing on what a soldier said, not to pretend to be a soldier or marine. Media jihadis are told not to discuss anything from the Moslems side, and Moslems should only be referred to as innocent victims. Never mention the Sunni-Shia conflict or Islamic terrorism. Posters should not stick around for discussions, lest they be found out. Care should be taken to select screen names similar to other English speaking posters. Keep messages simple, so as not to betray the fact that you are not a native English speaker.
This is a clever strategy, and whoever started posting it openly on Arab language web sites, demonstrated a keen understanding of how the media works in the West. Bad news is more believable, and stories like this are already spread by the mass media. On some American anti-war sites, American posters are already inventing such stories. Some will be believed. That's the way the world works.
This strategy is already being executed by American media is very subtle ways. For example, most American media stories about the suffering of Iraqi civilians leaves out the fact that most of these victims are Sunnis, or Shia who have been attacked by Sunni terrorists. Outside of Sunni and partly Sunni areas, where 70 percent of the population lives, economic conditions are much better, and there is little violence. But by concentrating on the Sunnis, you get an anti-war human interest story, without revealing that you are examining the self-inflicted tribulations of the people who have caused all the problems in the first place. Information War doesn't get any better than that.
Subject: Bussard built a Farnsworth fusor
Interesting, but it sounds just like Farnsworth's design, though Bussard has obviously taken it much further, towards an actually usable power plant.
The Farnsworth fusion reactor is something a hobbyist could build in a basement.
This is the same Farnsworth who invented television.
The other thing that can be done with this is to use it as a fusion pulse rocket, sending the exploding plasma down the exhaust with magnetic fields.
Novak: Nom de Plame.
- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Tracking cell phones
One of your correspondents reported how he allowed a woman and her child to stay at his residence to avoid an angry ex-husband. He also indicated that the lady had been receiving angry calls on her cell phone from her ex-husband. Finally, your correspondent repeatedly emphasized that there was no way the ex-husband could find her.
I think your correspondent and everyone who encounters similar domestic dispute situations needs to recognize the capabilities of modern cell phones. For example, http://www.world-tracker.com/ (this service is UK only) is an outfit that will show you the current location of a cell phone, all you have to provide is the number of the cell phone. The first time this service is used for a number, a text message is sent to the phone, and a reply must be sent. Subsequent attempts to check on the cell phone's location do not result in a text message. In short, the ex-wife was carrying and using a tracking device. If your corresondent continues to harbor the ex-wife, he should definitely consider requiring the lady to turn her cell phone off at all times she is in his residence and she should be informed to not make cell phone calls from predictable locations.
TSA Employees Accused of Thefts at LAX.
'LAX Security Enhancement Initiative' - ironic, indeed.
- Roland Dobbins
Hardly Astonishing. Qui custodiet...
Of course TSA is "security theater" rather than actual security anyway. At present playing farce as a specialty.
Illegal immigrants allowed at least five strikes.
- Roland Dobbins
No surprises here.
Subject: Dr. Bussard's Fusion Reactor
Mike Flynn notified me there is a post about R. W. Bussard’s new fusion reactor scheme on Chaos Manor, and wondered if I could chime in. It goes way beyond a Farnsworth Fusor, but that is the starting concept.
I worked for him on this for over 5 years, I think he’s nailed the problem and knows how to build a net power machine.
I’ve gotten suckered in to being one of his unofficial spokespersons. We’ve had quite a lot of technical discussion of it at fusor.net and NASASpaceFlight.com, the Advanced Topics section. Consequently, I’m not sure I want to get too technical here.
There is a repository of technical information linked at the following site, including a talk he gave for Google and a big paper presented at a space conference last fall:
He just started a Non-Profit Organization to try to get the research restarted, and the website for that is
Subject: Bussard and the Farnsworth Fusor
Bussard has admitted that he's working from Farnsworth's materials from the get go; what he's done is make it a multi-axis containment mechanism. There's a long video presentation of Dr. Bussard giving a talk at Google Headquarters where he describes what he did, what went wrong, what they learned from it, and the final head-slapping moment.
Per his presentation, their final tests - which wrecked the test gear - did Boron-11/H fusion in a lab bench environment, including generation of the three Helium atons as the waste product. The gear was carted up and put in storage with another firm in New Jersey becuase they had to shut down the lab due to lack of funding.
I forwarded the link on to the Gates Foundation, just on the off chance that someone there reads the "crackpot bin".
What this makes me wonder is if there's a viable alternate timeline story where Farnsworth perfects industrial electrostatic fusion reactors in the 1950s...
March 24, 2007
Subject: Could you mention the bloggers reporting on Space Access '07?
Jerry, would you be willing to mention some of us who are reporting on Space Access '07?
Thank you for your consideration
-- -- * * * * Henry Cate III <firstname.lastname@example.org> * * * * "Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others." -- Jacob M. Braude
'Because, like it or not, this is YOUR war.'
- Roland Dobbins
Houdini to be exhumed?
-- Roland Dobbins
Where the rubber meets the road:
'But since we stubbornly refuse to understand the nature of our foes, we are literally defeating ourselves.'
- Roland Dobbins
One needs to think hard on this.
-- Roland Dobbins
Interesting trip. I may have found a character for the novel...
- Roland Dobbins
Infoworld to fold?
- Roland Dobbins
Just now, I have no information on this beyond what is at this site.
I would like to bring to your attention a brief article in Science March 16, 2007: "Is a Thinning Haze Unveiling the Real Global Warming? by Richard A. Kerr. While the instrumentation is not the best, and there are doubters, it is a real issue as the effect of haze, some generated by volcanism, is a factor that is not well mentioned in the discussions I have seen on global climate change. One problem is probably that the effect of haze on the albedo may be great enough to affect the temperature, but may not be significant enough to be detected in material deposits in glaciers etc. Just how much is enough and its distribution over the earth's surface seems to be potentially an area for study.
We know that the "Year Without Summer, 1816, was likely caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in what is now Indonesia, was responsible for this climatic anomaly. As there were also other volcanoes active at this period of time, we do know that there seemed to be significant amounts of dust in the atmosphere and that did affect the climate for some time. So the question is whether or not the present warming trend, assuming this to be the case, is due to a relative low level of volcanic activity in critical areas of the globe?
I would not have thought that anyone knows. Vulcanism is unpredictable; and I do not think we have any real understanding of its role in global climates. It's pretty well certain that "the year without a summer" was caused by Tambora, and I believe I have seen studies showing climate effect from Krakatoa. That is two events in a century; how much effect they had compared to CO2 greenhouse effect is not known to me, nor do I think anyone has done a serious effort to find out.
These are the kinds of things we need to find out before we start spending money on remedies.
Subject: It's one mean Green commuting machine - The Saturn V
French UFO Report. Paging Art Bell
France opens secret UFO files covering 50 years
France became the first country to open its files on UFOs Thursday when the national space agency unveiled a website documenting more than 1,600 sightings spanning five decades. The online archives, which will be updated as new cases are reported, catalogues in minute detail cases ranging from the easily dismissed to a handful that continue to perplex even hard-nosed scientists.<snip>
To visit the website: www.cnes-geipan.fr.
Concerning the CO2 effects:
Shows the effects of CO2 on the bandpass of IR. You'll note that most of the effect was already occurring at the "natural levels" of 280 ppm.
When you pull the curtains, putting an extra blanket over the top of the curtains doesn't give you a lot of additional darkness.
Dr. Hug actually measured the additional absorbance which would come from a doubling of the CO2 in the atmosphere and found it to be some 80 times less than the indifferently calculated value used to calculate the temperature forcing used by the IPCC.
How is it that the Global Warming zealots can get away with the claim that all scientists agree with global warming?
|This week:||Sunday, March
If ancient Rome had the Internet . . .
-- Roland Dobbins
Thar she blows!
-- Roland Dobbins
- Roland Dobbins
Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog
Very choice, indeed.
Subj: Sweating It Out On The Virtual Bridge
=The U.S. Navy wants to install NSST (Navigation Seamanship Shiphandling Trainer) simulators in up to a hundred naval bases over the next six years. NSST is basically a video game that is played out on an accurate mockup of the bridge of a ship. There is a 270 degree video system providing photorealistic images for the sailors to view out the windows of the bridge set. The "players" are the sailors and officer standing watch (on duty) while at sea. The navy has been using this technology for fifteen years now, but only in seven locations. ...=
Lessons From Off The Grid: Important Personal Finance Lessons My Childhood Taught Me.
- Roland Dobbins
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