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Monday  April 9, 2007

“A $187 million high school is a slap in the face of [sp] taxpayers. It doesn’t help the students, and it doesn’t help the taxpayers.”


- Roland Dobbins


Why So Gloomy?


Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.

Moreover, actions taken thus far to reduce emissions have already had negative consequences without improving our ability to adapt to climate change. An emphasis on ethanol, for instance, has led to angry protests against corn-price increases in Mexico, and forest clearing and habitat destruction in Southeast Asia. Carbon caps are likely to lead to increased prices, as well as corruption associated with permit trading. (Enron was a leading lobbyist for Kyoto because it had hoped to capitalize on emissions trading.) The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem. The conclusion of the late climate scientist Roger Revelle—Al Gore's supposed mentor—is worth pondering: the evidence for global warming thus far doesn't warrant any action unless it is justifiable on grounds that have nothing to do with climate.

Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.

- Roland Dobbins


"Now, we regret that Saddam Hussein is gone, no matter how much we hated him."


- Roland Dobbins


“You have the military fighting for the freedom of other people overseas, and we’re losing our own back home. It makes no sense."


- Roland Dobbins


Subject: ExxonMobil...

I'm a tiny shareholder in ExxonMobil, Dr. Pournelle, so I get PR mailings as well as the required financial reports.

One such PR piece (maybe the only regular one) is a magazine called "The Lamp". The latest issue has interesting information about global warming, alternate energy sources, and dealing with CO2...among other things.

I was going to scan the two-page article on dealing with CO2 ("Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions") and send it to you, but found the entire publication on their site at


In a one sentence summary, that article discusses capturing CO2 at the power plant and injecting it into unminable coal beds, depleted oil/gas pockets, and/or a deep saline aquifer.

While wandering around their site, I found this interesting paragraph:

"The progress of people around the world is driving demand for more energy - about 60% more by 2030 compared with 2000. Meeting this increased demand poses many challenges: improving energy efficiency, developing new supplies and safeguarding the environment. Technology will play a critical role in meeting these challenges."

60% more energy required in less than 25 years, and some folks think Koyto is a GREAT idea...


Charles Brumbelow


Something Else to Blame on Carbon Emissions?

Well, not really, but solar flares are acting up and causing grief, Dr. Pournelle.


"Global positioning system or GPS relied on for everything from navigating cars and airplanes to transferring money between banks, may be threatened by powerful solar flares, an Associated Press report, quoting a panel of scientists, said.

"Our increasingly technologically dependent society is becoming increasingly vulnerable to space weather," David L. Johnson, director of the National Weather Service, was quoted by the Associated Press report as saying."

"The cause for their concern, Johnson said, was an unexpected solar radio burst on December 6 that affected virtually every GPS receiver on the lighted half of Earth, the report said."

"Solar activity rises and falls in 11-year cycles, with the next peak expected in 2011, the report said."

Charles Brumbelow

I am trying to find out the energy balance consequences of solar flares. They have some effect on global warming. I am not sure what; and apparently there is considerable controversy on this.

Our global warming models don't understand a lot of factors. The one thing we can be certain of: the Earth appears to be in a period of respite from a long cycle of glaciation, and we are due for another Ice Age (real Ice Age; see Fallen Angels ) NOW. If things are warming a bit now, we should count our blessings.


gender education

Hello Dr. Pournelle

Apparently, it has occurred to some, that boys and girls might just be different after all. According to a recent article, on education:

“The boys need to be asked more questions, reminded to take notes and given opportunities to taste, touch and smell whatever they are working on; the girls prefer more time to discuss various issues that arise in class. The boys are more boisterous, their grades not as good; the girls can be eerily focused and "go above and beyond every time." Such differences might be overlooked in a regular class. But this school year, they are at the forefront as Arrowhead conducts its first boys-only and girls-only classes, taking advantage of new rules for single-sex education by the federal government.”

Unfortunately, according to the same article, this basic fact of nature still seems to escape the notice of others:

“Janet Shibley Hyde, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also challenges the reasoning behind single-sex education - that girls and boys learn differently. Hyde said available research shows that girls and boys are more alike psychologically than dissimilar. Same-sex education promotes making generalizations about students based on gender, such as that boys are more active, she said. A better alternative could be to have a class devoted to active learners regardless of gender, she said. "If you try to look at scientific literature on learning styles and gender differences, it's not there," Hyde said.”

Saying that the two sexes have more similarities than differences might be factually correct; but it is irrelevant. Apples and pears have more similarities than differences, yet the differences are still important. I find it a bit ironic that claims of insignificant differences between the sexes are being made by a professor who has decided to specialize in the study of women.

Personally, I don't know if single sex classes are good or not. I have never been in an intentionally gender segregated class, though I do recall some science, and engineering classes, which were so predominantly male, that this may just as well have been the case. I actually kind of liked having girls in my classes at school; but who can say that the boys, as well as the girls, might not have gotten a better education, had they each been in classes of their own. For much of human history, the sexes have been kept apart when young, and have existed in different social circles when grown. Often this is by choice, boys and girls tend to have more things in common with each other, and tend to self-segregate. In some cases, it is a matter of keeping order. In primary schools, boys and girls have separate playgrounds, so that the boys don't pick on the girls, or fight with each other in order to impress the girls.

Much of this behavior disappears with maturity, as boys learn to become men, and girls learn to become women. Still, I wonder if boys might learn this lesson better, in the company of other boys, and girls might learn it better in the company of other girls. But then, there are some who do not wish to recognize, or encourage, significant differences between men and women. This may have some unintended consequences.

Rather than homogenizing the sexes, into a sort of a genderless same, as many of the progressives seem to want, we may have simply retarded the growth of boys and girls, into men and women, by our emphasis on what we like to call equality. increased rates of spousal abuse, divorce, and single parent families, seem to indicate that we are not functioning very well as an androgynous society. Perhaps it is time to try letting the next generation grow up into men and women.


Neal Pritchett

Larry Niven went to an all boy's boarding school and hated it. I went to an all boy's high school (not boarding) and thought it a good idea. Most of my friends went to the usual kind of high school. It is certainly the case that boys have to learn to be men and girls to be women, but I fear I don't know the best way to accomplish that.


The solution to this problem is training with live ammo.


- Roland Dobbins






This week:


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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Subject: sunspots and global warming

I found this interesting article linking sunspot activity to global warming and cooling. The Maunder minimum coincided with the Mini Ice Age in the Middle Ages, and the sun now has more sunspots than any time in the last 1000 years, coinciding with our current global warming.


Warming has been going on for a long time but many people are not looking at history. The Roman period was warm. Greenland was settled by Vikings before the Mini Ice Age. Then came the Mini Ice Age and starvation in Europe due to it. Greenland’s marginal climate no longer supported the Vikings. The Thames froze in winter.

But it warmed up again. A letter written in Virginia around 1750-1760 said that when the writer was young, snow stayed on the ground all winter but now it lasts only in areas sheltered from the sun. My father and others remember brutal North Dakota winters in the 40’s and said that the ones I grew up with in the 60’s and 70’s were milder. How much of this was due to man and how much was due to solar cycles? Some of this was prior to industrialization.

Global warming is as much political as it is real. Scientists fighting for funding. Others with their own agendas. Environmentalists who don’t know the first thing about science (or history). Verbal attacks against scientists who disagree. Calls to get rid of meteorologists who disagree or criticize global warming. Global warming models treated as facts when we still don’t fully understand the effects of clouds or the oceans.

Suggestions to modify our climate by feeding the plankton, etc., are premature. Will we be able to stop what we start or will we cause something worse?


We've linked to that site before, but the reminder is worth repeating. Feeding plankton has the great advantage that all you have to do is stop; it's not a self-sustaining mechanism (so far as I can tell; clearly one wants to do a few experiments).

What is needed is some funding of contrarian studies. But that's a big problem with all of Big Science today.


Subject: Even "Smart Late" is Better Than "Never Smart"

Some women at least are finally beginning to pick up on what Heinlein pointed out long ago, Dr. Pournelle. Women who settle for "equal rights with men" are selling themselves short.


"On any given day, one isn't likely to find common cause with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's a dangerous, lying, Holocaust-denying, Jew-hating cutthroat thug -- not to put too fine a point on it.

"But he was dead-on when he wondered why a once-great power such as Britain sends mothers of toddlers to fight its battles."

"In the eyes of Iran and other Muslim nations, we're wimps. While the West puts mothers in boats with rough men, Islamic men "rescue" women and drape them in floral hijabs."

"Why the West has seen it necessary to diminish motherhood so that women can pretend to be men remains a mystery to sane adults. It should be unnecessary to say that the military is not a proper vehicle for social experimentation, but a machine dedicated to fighting and, if necessary, killing.

"Women may be able to push buttons as well as men, but the door-to-door combat in Fallujah proved the irrelevance of that argument. Meanwhile, no one can look at photos of the 15 British marines and sailors and argue convincingly that the British Navy is stronger for the presence of Leading Seaman Faye Turney -- no matter how lovely and brave she may be.

"But let's assume for the sake of argument that women, despite all evidence to the contrary, are as capable as men in any battle. If our goal is to prevail, then shouldn't we also consider other ramifications of putting women in combat and/or in positions of risk?

"Those ramifications include women's unequal vulnerability to rape and injury, as well as cultural attitudes toward women that may enhance their exposure to punishment or, alternatively, make them useful to our enemies."

"At the point when our men can stand by unfazed while American servicewomen are raped and tortured, then we will have no cause to fight any war. We will have already lost.

"Positioning women to become pawns of propaganda, meanwhile, is called aiding and abetting the enemy."

To which I, the husband, father and grandfather of girls, add "Hear, hear!"

Charles Brumbelow




This week:


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Subject: On job exports

Jerry -

Really enjoyed your article <http://pages.citebite.com/k1s5i0f7b5utu>  .

I, however, don't you understand how much worse it really is. The capitalist cheerleaders are not merely undermining the cultural and legal structures that support markets. They are actually making true many of Karl Marx's own predictions.

Mass immigration basically reproduces all of the conditions of a Marxist reserve labor force. This labor force is an army of unemployed people that capitalists can dip into to keep exisiting wages low (Remember, Marx was a classical economist who understood that businessmen are, among other things, relentless cost cutters.) Marx predicted that the instability and poverty that such a system created would eventually anger the workers who would revolt and then push aside the entire rotten system.

Marx, of course, was wrong. Empirically, the period in which he wrote was marked with rising real wages. Theoretically, his error was assuming that capitalism exploited the proletariat when, in reality, it created the proletariat. In pre-capitalist days, a worker would need to either move to a wealthier household to become a servant or he would need to inherit the land and tools if he was going to survive. If he could not do this, then he either starved to death or he was never born in the first place. Capitalism so improved the productivity of labor that it became possible for an average person to sell nothing but his time. This led to a population explosion unprecedented in history. Marx took for granted that all these new people were just there, when, in reality, they were allowed to live. Thus, Marx's predictions were wrong.

Today, with global markets, there are billions of unemployed people that capitalists can now dip into to keep real wages low. Thus, the American standard of living is being dissipated.

If I were a cynical socialist, then I would engineer this situation so that I could see socialism win. If I were a cynical socialist who understood that he might actually be a loser in such a system, then I would have to go to great lengths to ensure that my position is not dissipated. Just imagine the kind of sociopaths America would end up getting ruled by if both of these conditions are met.

More generally, America needs to go back to its traditional economic history and reject the newfound liberal economic history that has taken hold.

Mark Pokorni Chicago, IL

When I say things like that I get mail from economists who tell me I just haven't read Ricardo...


"I set up my own record label called Blueberry Pie and just got the music out there."


 Roland Dobbins

We can expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing. The recording industry monopoly is broken. Of course most recording artists hate, despise, and detest their publishers, generally with good reason.


Tax Treatment of Players in Second Life and World of Warcraft.


- Roland Dobbins

Some people clearly have too much time on their hands...


Subject: Climate change

Jerry: This link (from Technocrat):


“Similar cores through polar ice reveal, contrary to received wisdom, that past temperature changes were followed - not preceded, but followed - by changes in the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide. Yet the public now believes strongly that increasing human carbon dioxide emissions will cause runaway warming; it is surely a strange cause of climate change that naturally postdates its supposed effect?

“Am I the first scientist to have observed these climate patterns? Of course not. That climate changes frequently, rapidly and sometimes unpredictably has been conventional knowledge among earth environmental scientists since the early days of ocean drilling in the 1970s.

“Yet we do not read about natural climate change in the everyday news. Instead, newspapers, radio and television stations bludgeon us with a merciless stream of human-caused global-warming alarmism, egged on by a self-interested gaggle of journalists, environmental lobbyists, scientific and business groups, church leaders and politicians, all of whom preach that we must ‘stop climate change’ by reducing human CO2 emissions."

Personally, my own observation of global "warming" is that (in Minneapolis) we've suffered through 10 days of weather that is ~20 degrees colder than average, and today we've had 3 inches of snow. I'm in favor of global warming, I just wish I could get some!


"Time is the best teacher. Unfortunately, it kills all its students."-- Hector Berlioz

We should have entered a new Ice Age with glaciation, with Seattle and Chicago under half a mile of ice and glaciers reaching almost to Olympia and Cairo, all of New England under ice, about 5,000 years ago. The astronomical parameters are there. We have been spared that for some reason or another.

So now we are terrified of longer growing seasons in Alberta. Perhaps we should be, but I would rather have a few degrees of warming than half a mile of ice over Seattle and Tacoma.

And coincidentally:

Subject: Solar Constant and climate change.

This may shed some light on the discussion of the solar constant and the sun's contribution to global warming.


"Some say that as much as 1/3 of the global warming may be the result of an increase in solar energy."

Also, I recommend William Ruddiman's book "Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate "


The book is a popular presentation of his ideas and doesn't get very nitty-gritty but Ruddiman does give a pretty good overview of his take on the evidence. Ruddiman thinks we are overdue for an ice age based on earth's current orbit. His theory is that human forced climate change has been ongoing since agriculture was developed. With about half of warming due to clearing of forest for fields and the development of rice paddies (methane emissions). He thinks several historical cooling trends correlate fairly well with reforestation due to plagues (little ice age following the black plague and extended by the population crash after European diseases entered the Americas). While he is certain that industrial green house gases make up a lot of the change he does not shy from the uncertainties in the arguments being presented.

Here's some links to info about and a paper by Ruddiman.



While not completely convinced by Ruddiman I do think his work is a good example of alternative thinking within the climate community and also a good example of the large degree of uncertainty involved.

I need to confer the Mrs. about subscribing as I really want that primer. I'm looking forward to the upcoming new books.


Brian R.

That was of course the theme of Fallen Angels. Throw another log on the fire...


Subject: The Fad Wheel in K-12 Education Makes Another Circle

It seems that the large comprehensive high school, which was all the rage 40 years ago, is now out of style and the small high school is the coming thing again, Dr. Pournelle


"Forty years ago, former Harvard President James Bryant Conant argued that it made no sense to have thousands of small secondary schools. He pushed for the consolidation of those schools into big ones -- like Northwestern High School in Baltimore..."

"Baltimore schools CEO Charlene Boston says the district is moving in another direction. Soon, she says, there will be no more "zoned [comprehensive] schools." Instead, she says, Baltimore students will be able to choose their school, "understanding that they can go to the school that will help them implement their career options and choices."

"One argument for the comprehensive high school was economic: Those big educational shopping malls were supposed to cut back on administrative costs. That would allow them to offer Advanced Placement courses, a football team and arts programs, all under one roof.

"But big schools created new problems: the violence and intimidation that come when thousands of teenagers are bunched together. Nettie Legters of Johns Hopkins University says smaller schools actually reduce overhead.

"In a large high school, you're going to have more security guards, more coaches," she notes. She says smaller schools tend to be safer, so they need fewer staffers devoted to keeping order."

Everything old is new again... Or, if you want to know just how limited the repertoire of the organ grinder's box is, just walk along with him for awhile.

I do wonder how school districts which have become wedded to complex bus routes for student transportation will deal effectively with the results when students from each neighborhood are scattered all over the district. Maybe they will issue passes on the city's mass transit system and shut down the school system's transportation business.

Charles Brumbelow


Subj: A Quiet Step Forward for the Rule of Law


=Arguably, Col. Mark Martins runs the most multifaceted, pressure-packed and press-scrutinized law practice in the Middle East. ... However, Martins, his staff and civilian legal personnel serving with other U.S. agencies in Iraq have an even more complex and, in my view, more critical assignment. These legal experts are helping Iraq's nascent democratic government implement the Rule of Law. ...=

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


Subject: Voodoo Sciences and Funding


I relation to your comments regarding voodoo sciences and funding here's a data point.

John Cramer can't get funding for a measly 20 grand.

""I guess you could say we're now living on borrowed time," wryly joked John Cramer, a physicist at the University of Washington. "All we need to keep going is maybe $20,000, but nobody seems that interested in funding this project."

It's a project that aims to do a conceptually simple bench-top test for evidence of something Albert Einstein called "spooky action at a distance." The test involves using a crystal to split a photon, a light particle, into two reduced-energy photons that -- through careful manipulation -- Cramer thinks could reveal a flash of time traveling backward."

Brian R.


Subject: Government just gets fatter and fatter


I read this http://education.guardian.co.uk/egweekly/story/0,,2048268,00.html  and immediately thought of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

"The joy Paul C Light gets from bureaucracy is like that a coroner might feel, were it possible to dissect a live body, yet have that body suffer no pain. Professor Light has been teasing apart one body in particular: the US government."

He's compiled a list of administrative positions, the longest title being "Chief of staff to the associate deputy assistant secretary". Light's conclusion: "Congress and presidents behave as if new layers of management and more managers at each layer somehow improve accountability and performance".

Best wishes

Paul Dove


Subject: Space solar power - 

Dr. Pournelle,

I just wanted to quickly point out an article I saw today on space.com regarding space solar power.


Apparently you're not the only one who thinks it is a good idea. I do find their estimate of 20 years before the deployment of the first system a bit pessimistic. I expect an x-prize for space solar power could speed this up quite a bit.


Mike Smith

Sure. Two billion dollars to the first company to send one megawatt of power 95% of the time from space for one year ought to do it.


Pentagon Considering Study on Space-Based Solar Power (Buffy Willow)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Pournelle,

Despair is a sin, as you often remind us. Yet there is hope:

The Pentagon’s National Security Space Office (NSSO) may begin a study in the near future on the possibility of using satellites to collect solar energy for use on Earth, according to Defense Department officials.   <http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/070411_tech_wed.html>

Robin K. Juhl


Subject: Beware the wrath of the legions


Although they have not yet progressed to wrath, here are the first rumblings of the legions in dissent:


Well, it's not as if you haven't been warning anyone who would listen.

The Atlantic Monthly has an interview with a man who does not believe the soldiers have a right to their dissent. I didn't read that part, but the introduction is a nice short summary:




Subject: Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high


"Dr Solanki is presenting a paper on the reconstruction of past solar activity at Cool Stars, Stellar Systems And The Sun, a conference in Hamburg, Germany.

He says that the reconstruction shows the Maunder Minimum and the other minima that are known in the past thousand years.

But the most striking feature, he says, is that looking at the past 1,150 years the Sun has never been as active as it has been during the past 60 years. "


Which may or may not have some explanatory value. But who investigates these things?


Subject: Military thinktank sees dark future,


A UK military thinktank sees a dark future in the "reverse colonization" of Europe:


". . . the Barbary corsairs might soon prowl the Mediterranean once again . . . "

It's nice to see someone is taking notice.







CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dr. Pournelle:

Newt Gingrich, seduced by the dark side?



He certainly did not consult me on this.

As a tactic I am willing to concede a "may be a cause" if we can get nuclear power and space solar power out of it. But the science hasn't changed: we don't know enough about what's going on, and as a practical matter there's not a lot we can do. Whatever the coming disaster we need electricity: wealth creation correlates quite well (negatively) with the price of energy. Wealthy societies can do things that poor societies can not do.

As a practical matter, what Newt proposes is less harmful than the imbecile and corrupt "solutions" such as sending money to Al Gore's "forgiveness" company; but it's still based on bad science.

I am not half so afraid of mild warming as I am of a winter in which 20 feet of snow fall, not just in a few local places, but across the northern plains. The evidence is that Ice Ages take under a decade to go from deciduous trees to tundra to ice, or at least that's what happened in England and Belgium.



Subj: IBM Moves Moore's Law into the Third-Dimension


"The IBM breakthrough enables the move from horizontal 2-D chip layouts to 3-D chip stacking, which takes chips and memory devices that traditionally sit side by side on a silicon wafer and stacks them together on top of one another. The result is a compact sandwich of components that dramatically reduces the size of the overall chip package and boosts the speed at which data flows among the functions on the chip."

From the details, I don't think "on a silicon wafer" is quite right. I think it's more like "on a printed-circuit card", or "within a multi-chip package".

And won't stacking chips up just make the Cooling Problem harder?

I suppose they could interleave tiny little heat pipes amongst the stacked chips.

Just think: we could market a dual-purpose computer and immersion heater! 8-)

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


admiral nostradamus

Dr. Pournelle:

RE: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/11/admiral_nostradamus_parry/ 

I'm worried about the other conclusions in that article--flash mobs as a form of terrorism; electromagnetic pulse weapons directed against space assets (I suppose most satellites have backup satellites, but are any of them hardened against EMP?) or other communications assets.

Cars are so computerized now that it wouldn't take a whole lot of EMP to make them essentially immobile--guys that have old cars may be the only ones who will be able to get around--I suspect that a mid-50s collector car wouldn't be too much damaged by EMP, and a Model T not at all.

Is anyone DOING anything about this? Should we buy spare electronics and keep them in very carefully protected Faraday cages? Is there a solution?



Subject: finding sympathy for all those computer geeks, 


Mr. Hamit commented the he is "having trouble finding sympathy for all those computer geeks who complain about foreign labor coming in. There are jobs everywhere." But as he noted earlier in his own note, employers are offering very low salaries to people with enormous experience. This encourages these geeks to find other employment - just as Mr. Hamit did.

There has been a long string of letters published in Aviation Week responding to stories about looming shortages of aerospace engineers. The responses tend to follow the lines of the first part of Mr. Hamit's post: they are saying goodbye to their professions, and advise that no one follow them.

But his overall point is dead on: "[a]ny economist will tell you that labor shortages disappear when you meet the price that labor wants." This is likely to be true for picking crops and cleaning toilets as well, I suspect - as long as we don't have people who are willing to live fifteen to a room and take $3 an hour to do those jobs.


If the purpose of the United States is to take care of everyone in the world n preference to US citizens, the result is going to be a revolt against the elites -- who are not making any sacrifices. They get their cheap labor and put their earnings in the bank. And use their influence to tell everyone this is the way it ought to be. When the media people begin to lose their jobs things may be seen slightly differently.


Subject: Three Years of Saturn


This movie shows three years of Saturn's motion in the starfield. It's a a nice illustration of retrograde motion.




Subject:  Mars heating not caused by the Sun?

Hi, Jerry.

Nature has published a paper proposing a mechanism to explain the observed heating of Mars that isn't caused by changes in solar output.

"Lori Fenton at the Carl Sagan Center, Mountain View, California, and colleagues looked at maps of Mars's 'albedo', a measure of how much light reflects off a surface. By comparing a map from 1976-78 with one from 1999-2000, they found "some pretty dramatic changes", says Fenton. In particular, the southern highlands region of Mars had darkened significantly.

The darkening is thanks to the clearance of light-coloured dust that covers the planet's darker bedrock, they propose. When the Sun's light hits dark rock it warms the surface, and the heat is kept in by the atmosphere. This warming kicks up winds, which swirl any dust around and can even make dust devils. This sweeps the light-coloured dust into pockets, revealing more bedrock and causing further heating."

There's an article about it here.


Regards Keith

Perhaps so. And the warming on Pluto?


Subject: Education and credentials

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I happened upon your website in the haphazard way one often does on the Internet, and was most interested to learn of your views on education. I found them very much in agreement with my own, and share your admiration for Charles Murray.

You comment in View 456 that "What's needed is some way to certify credentials that doesn't involve the expense of going to a modern university. We need a system that will allow people to learn something, get certification that they know it, and have that count when the racial profilers count up the quotas in employment."

Perhaps you're already aware of it, but I note that the University of London has conferred "External Degrees" by examination since 1858. It accomplishes almost exactly the goal you describe. See <www.londonexternal.ac.uk



Yes. There are trends in the right direction. Unfortunately the Equal Opportunity Racketeers and the Educrat Goons are aware of these and are moving to counter them by tightening up the "credential" process. Since most of the public thinks "credentials" means professionalism and competence that may work.


Subj: Recruiting: amateurs outperform the pros


"The U.S. Army National Guard appears to have found a solution to its recruiting problems. It's all about the $2,000 recruiting bonus paid to Guard members for each new recruit they bring in. Last year, one Guard member made $94,000 in bonuses by bringing in new recruits. ..."

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


Subject : Seeing Double in Deep Space

Can One Have Too Many Tatooines ? A lot of intelligent species may be seeing double at sunset, even if they don't drink


Russell Seitz


Subject: The nail that's not flush gets hammered


Back in High School, I was in a class of older boys that were giving me a lot of trouble. To get even I bet them that if they open their pocket knifes to 90 degrees and place their finger at the base of the blade they would not be able to open the knife without cutting their finger. Well within 15 minutes everyone but me has at least one finger bleeding and one guy has 4 fingers bleeding. At this point, it dawns on me that if I don’t cut myself I’m going to get the hell beat out of me so I tried to open the blade. At this point you ask what this has to do with anything, maybe Newt Gingrich finger wasn’t bleeding.


Curtis Owens, PE



Subject: Could you mention the Carnival of Space?

Jerry, I am kicking off a Carnival of Space.

Would you be willing to mention it on your blog? Here is the announcement:


Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you for your consideration.

-- -- * * * * Henry Cate III <cate3@panix.com> * * * * "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 Our blog: http://whyhomeschool.blogspot.com/ The 67th Carnival of Homeschooling: http://apollosacademy.blogspot.com/2007/04/coh-week-67-poetry-of-homeschooling.html


Subject: RegisterFly.com 

Dr. Pournelle -

The domain name of the company I work for was registered through RegisterFly.com. When we went to renew it yesterday, they took our money and changed the DNS servers from ours to theirs which now point to a cyber squatter website. Using their web interface we changed the DNS servers back to the correct entries, but it appears that ICANN has decertified RegisterFly, and maybe because of that the correction of the DNS servers has not propagated. So now we are without email, ftp, or website, and those who go to "our" website see a bogus site instead.

We are attempting an emergency change of registrars to your recommended GoDaddy.com, but find that RegisterFly has "locked" our domain, which apparently means this nonfunctional company must give permission to let us switch registrars. Further complication is that our technical contact is an address on our domain, which of course means it is dead.

I am writing to warn others of this problem (RegisterFly is reported to have had around 100,000 domains registered) and to ask if anyone has any ideas of how we might get our domain back faster.


Ray A. Rayburn

See mail in Chaos Manor Reviews. I continue to recommend GoDaddy as the place to register your domains.





CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  April 13, 2007

Is this common?

Subject: Your comments on my Slate column

You're getting this (one time only!) email because you took the trouble to write me and share your thoughts about one (or more!) of my columns in Slate.

My new book "More Sex is Safer Sex" owes a great debt to readers like you. As it says on the first page: "I am grateful to the thousands of Slate readers who have called me to account on points that needed more explanation, and occasionally on points where I was wrong. Several chapters in this book have been greatly improved by what I learned from my readers."

I will, of course, be pleased and honored if you have a look at what our collective efforts have produced; the book is available on Amazon and in all major bookstores. I'll be even more pleased if you buy a copy, and even more honored if you let me know whether I've gotten it all right this time.

If you want to see what others (like Steven Levitt and P.J. O'Rourke) are saying about "More Sex is Safer Sex", check out my website:

http://www. landsburg.com

And thank you once again.

Steven E. Landsburg

My memory isn't very good, but I don't recall commenting on any such book; is this some kind of publicity stunt? I cannot think I would ever read a book called "More Sex is Safer Sex" in the first place, and I don't recall Mr. Landsburg. I suppose that a reader commented on something he said, and I commented on the reader's comment? Or is this just a general fishing expedition? Maybe I ought to try that to promote my books. Or get subscriptions to this place.


Times of London on Climate Change

A remarkably measured editorial: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/

Entitled "A Climate of Intolerance"

A comment includes a delightful definition for algoreism = A lie that is so big that you do not dare not to believe it.

-- David Smith 

Indeed it is. Perhaps there is some hope for England yet.

Or is there?

Subject: Dream of the West


"I recently had a dream that British marines fought back, like their forefathers of old, against criminals and pirates. When taken captive, they proved defiant in their silence. When released, they talked to the tabloids with restraint and dignity, and accepted no recompense.

I dreamed that a kindred German government, which best knew the wages of appeasement, cut-off all trade credits to the outlaw Iranian mullahs — even as the European Union joined the Americans in refusing commerce with this Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic, and thuggish regime.

NATO countries would then warn Iran that their next unprovoked attack on a vessel of a member nation would incite the entire alliance against them in a response that truly would be of a "disproportionate" nature."

Serving Officer


Subject: Charles Simonyi at the ISS

Dear Jerry;

Space Adventures has made history again with the successful launch and arrival of Microsoft billionaire, Charles Simonyi, to the International Space Station (ISS). We are proud that our company also launched Dennis Tito to orbit as the world's first space tourist; sent the first African in space; is organizing the world's first private mission to the moon; and, in fact, has launched all of the world's private space explorers to date!

During his 10-day stay aboard the ISS, Charles will assist several international space agencies by conducting experiments, communicate with hundreds of high school students via HAM radio signal and celebrate Cosmonauts Day by sharing a gourmet meal with the crew.

His mission to the ISS is the latest destination in a life defined by exploration and discovery. Born in Budapest, Charles immigrated to the United States close to 40 years ago and since then he has changed the scope of productivity worldwide by creating perhaps the most widely used software business applications ever, Microsoft Word and Excel.

Below are a few links to some of the best stories to date; and of course, you can find a wealth of information on www.spaceadventures.com <http://www.spaceadventures.com/>  and on Charles’ personal site, www.charlesinspace.com <http://www.charlesinspace.com/>  :

On the Launching Pad: A $20 Million Childhood Dream

The New York Times


Former Microsoft Engineer Prepares to Blast Off

The New York Times


Microsoft Billionaire Simonyi to Become Fifth Space Tourist



American Space 'Nerd' Blasts Off

BBC News


Space Travel: Only for Billionaires?



Our mission and objective at Space Adventures is to continue to show the world that it is possible for private individuals to carry out human space exploration and to inspire our next generations of space explorers.


My Very Best Regards,

Eric Anderson

President and CEO

Space Adventures, Ltd.

www.spaceadventures.com  <outbind://366/www.spaceadventures.com> 

I don't usually reprint press releases but this may be of interest.


And another press release of some interest:

When should doctors say "I'm Sorry"?

Some physicians are avoiding the obligatory apology to patients for fear it could come back to bite them later. However, nine states are considering "I'm sorry" laws, which would prevent physicians' apologies from being used as admission of guilt in malpractice suits.

On the other hand, hospitals oftentimes encourage their doctors to apologize to prevent lawsuits, according to Scott Nichols, health care attorney and Partner at law firm Strasburger & Price.

So, what's the safer bet? Nichols can share the advice he gives to hospitals and physicians, and give legal perspective on the possible effects of these pending state laws.

Nichols defends and counsels health care providers including representation in medical malpractice defense litigation. He also counsels health care providers regarding improvements in processes and other issues concerning patient care.

To speak to Nichols, please contact me at xxx

Thanks for considering.

Kristen Forbriger


Subject: Mail 460, by Jim Cofey Re: Navy nuclear reactors for local power generation

In response to:

p.s. In case of emergency we can always dock our Navy nuclear reactors and plug them into the local utility grid - this should hold back the dark ages for a while. I'm sure your son Phillip has done at least one contingency planning exercise of this type.

Jim Coffey

You might be interested in these newsbits:




Subject: Navy nuclear reactors plugged into local electrical grid has been done already.

First time I'd heard of Navy using submarine based reactors to aid land based needs was over twenty years ago....

It was an important plot point in a book called "Footfall" - a very enjoyable book written by a couple of men very familiar to readers of this website!

I bought the hardcover when it first came out, & it's nearly worn out....

(And I still can't figure out if the general shot the president, or merely had him arrested.....)

Strongly recommended...

Jim W





This week:


read book now



security: inside job on Navy computers

A Navy contractor, angry because he lost a bid, engineered a DOS attack of some kind by "programming malicious software codes into computers that track Navy submarines in May 2006 while in Naples." The article is not clear on the details, but it sounds like the Navy has configuration management issues.

"Fowler said it took 540 man- hours to repair the damage and inspect all 65 computers at the Naples site. The sabotage also forced the Navy to impose additional layers of security to prevent similar security breaches."

Here's hoping there's been a review about who gets to put what into production on the Navy's C3I systems.



You'd hope so. I have little confidence in the mechanism of government, though. The military is the most efficient element of the bureaucracy, but it is being crippled with civilian contracting. I note this morning that "concerned" groups are accusing the military of "excessive force" in shooting their way out of an ambush. We will see much more of that in future.

The bureaucracy is out of control. Under the spoils system there was at least a possibility of change. Now?


Subject: One Of Hell's Better Neighborhoods

With a little fixing up, Superman would feel right at home. The astonishing thing is that these are NOT the largest crystals on Earth


Russell Seitz


Subject : Dinosaur Soup Now if only they could sequence the DNA of Oyster Crackers --


Russell Seitz


Subject: How an economy aids war,


In ww2 our economy was the essential engine in the victory over the Axis. OK, that was on a grand scale. But on a much smaller scale our troops in Iraq are buying things to help them out in combat:




Capt. Raymond Murphy, USMC (ret.), RIP.


-- Roland Dobbins


“I’d kill him. Then I’d go to prison. And when I got out, I’d be a hero.”


- Roland Dobbins


Gandhi's smile.


- Roland Dobbins












CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday,  April 15, 2007     

Then and Now.


Roland Dobbins





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