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Monday  May 7, 2007

Harry Erwin's Letter from England

The big UK news stories this week were the local and regional elections. Labour did poorly, but didn't collapse into a singularity. The Guardian has good maps:
<http://politics.guardian.co.uk/gallery/2007/may/04/1?picture=329808055> .

More election stories:

There was a massive voting screw-up in Scotland:
<http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1750107.ece> .

UK politics:


Road construction:

DVD DRM story in Guardian:

It is now being generally admitted that the NHS has to ration medical care, and not just for minor complaints:

Here are a few conditions with rationed medical treatments:
New cancer drugs and treatments,
Macular degeneration,
Chronic asthma,
Multiple sclerosis,
Growth hormone for adults,
Neuro-stimulation for migraines,
Breast reduction and enlargement,
Weight loss,
Varicose veins,
Otitus media,
Most surgery for the obese or smokers

On the other hand, many alternative therapies are available:
Indian head massage,
Herbal medicines.

France has it's troubles, too:

Abortion ban?

Prison problems:

The English in America:


<http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1752202.ece> .

UK Education stories:
<http://www.thes.co.uk/current_edition/story.aspx?story_id=2036463> ,
<http://education.independent.co.uk/news/article2516756.ece> ,
<http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1752289.ece> .

Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland.
Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>

'These people can be forgiven if they have doubts about the virtues of globalization.'


- Roland Dobbins



Dear Jerry:

As part of the research for my second Civil War novel, the one about the Rose Greenhow spy ring, I am reading "The Road to Disunion" by William W. Freehling. This is a blow by blow account of all the rather pathetic political maneuvers taken by the pro-slavery side in the 1850s to stave off the inevitable. It is fairly obvious that you are correct that slavery would have gone away withing a few decades. Most people didn't want it. The real surprise here is how many slaves had already gained freedom. In some states free blacks outnumbered slaves. The South was hardly unified on the matter and it took a lot of rabble rousing to get a war started. "The War of Northern Aggression" was no such thing, unless you consider that slave owners political power should have been perpetuated simply to save their hurt feelings. What is that thing you say about "When a stupid man knows he is doing something wrong, he will insist that it is his duty"? Seems to be the case here.

If I may put in a plug, May 9th is Belle Boyd's birthday and May 23rd the Anniversary of the Battle of Front Royal where Belle carried intelligence dispatches under fire to Stonewall Jackson. That episode is the central event of my serialized novel "The Shenandoah Spy" available in 14 parts on Amazon Shorts at Amazon.com. Amazon Shorts can be printed out as well as read on the screen. There are more than 1,200 titles now, by over 400 authors, all at 49 cents each.


Francis Hamit


Subject: global warming

Jerry: Linked from Technocrat. The claim is that global warming has been caused by low altitude water vapor, and precedes the CO2 buildup.


-- Right now the Republicans and Democrats in Washington seem, from the outside, to be an elite colluding against the voter. Peggy Noonan

I found that good reading. Thanks



This week:


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Tuesday,  May 8, 2007

Subject: Cosmic Ray Imaging

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

We are used to using X-rays to see inside objects. But, cosmic rays? This is just plain cool.


---------- A research team has succeeded in taking images of the inside of a volcano using cosmic rays, the first time visual images of the structure inside of a volcano have been obtained using this method.

The x-ray-like images of Mt. Asama, which straddles Gunma and Nagano prefectures, were made by researchers from Tokyo University and Nagoya University. It is the first time scientists have been able to produce an image of the structure of the inside of a volcano. Previously, such information had only been estimated through analysis of seismic waves.

The images were made using muons, microscopic particles that react with the earth's atmosphere when they fall from space.

The team produced the image by observing muons that fall from space at a rate of one per second onto a palm-sized area. The thicker the object they fall on, the more they are absorbed.

The results of the analysis completed in April showed cavities that magma passes through, hollows in the crater, and hardened high-density lava layers that formed at the bottom of the crater after the volcano's 2004 eruption.

Repeated volcanic activity can be seen moving rocks and stones at the bottom of Mt. Asama's crater, as well as increased atmospheric pressure in the path of the magma rising up from deep in the ground. ----------

Best regards, Clyde Wisham

**** "Journalism is a job with no prerequisite, no responsibility and no accountability." -- Jeff Cooper

At one time it was a great secret, alas betrayed by the Falcon and the Snowman, that we could use cosmic ray backscattering to locate deeply submerged submarines; sensors in both aircraft and satellites are employed for this. At one time the very words "cosmic ray backscattering" were classified, for obvious reasons, since you only have to think about the technique to come up with ideas for using it.

Of course that technique didn't look inside objects; it depended on submarines (and whales; we located whales that way, too) are more opaque to backscatter than water...


French elections

Hello Dr. Pournelle:

Does the Sarkozy election men that we can no longer make fun of France? He has already come out with a pretty strong platform, according to the article at Fox: "One bill would make overtime pay tax-free to encourage people to work more. Another would put in place tougher sentencing for repeat offenders, and still another would toughen up the criteria for immigrants trying to bring their families to France."

My question is, would he consider stepping down, and running for office here?


Neal Pritchett


Astronomers Report Biggest Stellar Explosion:


They think this big boom may be typical of the death of the first stars to form - supermassive ones that, when they died, blew up without any residues:

"It is very convenient, as Dr. Smith and his colleagues pointed out, that the pair mechanism produces an explosion that scatters all the star's ashes enriched by thermonuclear processing, outward into space instead to down into a black hole."

Convenient, or clever design of the parameters of a universe?


Another of those coincidences without which we would not be here to observe the coincidence. Jastrow's God and the Astronomers looks at a number of those. Jastrow remains more or less an atheist but the cosmos keeps undermining his faith... It is certainly the case that a universe in which we exist is exceedingly improbable. Exceedingly.


Subj: Did you know Kettering was once a one-room-school teacher?


Reminded me of Herman Kahn's "educated incapacity".


Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


You might find this amusing


The part that really puzzles me is why so many people consider professional pretenders to be somehow experts in matters political and scientific.

It's a puzzle.

Timoid of Angle


"Jerry Was A Man" -- in Austria?

Well...it's happening again. Heinlein's science fiction precedes fact, Dr. Pournelle.

His short story "Jerry Was A Man" looks like it may come true in Austria.




"In some ways, Hiasl is like any other Viennese. He indulges a weakness for pastry, likes to paint and enjoys relaxing by watching TV.

"But he doesn't care for coffee, and he isn't actually a person -- at least not yet.

"In a case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, animal rights advocates are seeking to get the 26-year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a "person."

Charles Brumbelow

Shades of Crichton's NEXT


Subject: Carbon offsets

Dr. Pournelle:

A lot of political hay has been made of Mr. Gore's efforts to counteract a profligate level of household energy consumption with the purchase of carbon offsets, but what if such offsets are valid and cost effective?

I have read that the current price to offset one ton of carbon is $2, that cost could rise to as much as $35/ton if Kyoto were seriously enforced, but seeding iron into the ocean would turn a profit at $5/ton. The upper range of $35/ton corresponds to adding 1.6 cents per kWHr (I am paying about 12 cents per kWHr, you may be paying more) -- iron-in-the-ocean would run about a quarter of a cent per kWHr, vastly cheaper than "clean coal" plants that trap and sequester CO2, cheaper than Yucca Mountain for spent nuclear fuel. Even the 1.6 cents per kWHr for land-based carbon offsets is cheaper than coal-plant CO2 sequestration, perhaps cheaper than handling spend nuclear fuel, most certainly cheaper than land-based solar, wind power, as well as the cost differential of substituting natural gas for coal these days.

We could plant a plot of trees, wait for them to grow, and then burn them in a power plant -- carbon neutral. We could plant that plot of trees and just leave them there but continue to burn coal -- also carbon neutral. Or we could plant plankton in the ocean by that iron enrichment scheme to do the same thing? I mean, why are we even talking about oxy-fuel coal combustion and ammonia CO2 adsorbant when for vastly less money we could sprinkle iron in the ocean and burn coal guilt-free?

So why the objection to iron-in-the-ocean? It is branded as a "quick fix", "geo engineering", and "tampering with the environment to unknown effect", but isn't the planting of trees the same thing? Suppose you could seed the ocean and grow an energy crop of plankton -- wouldn't that be a biofuels project? What if you just left the plankton in place and burned coal on land -- what is the problem? If there is something forbidden about exploiting the ocean to grow biofuels, is it OK to exploit the ocean with ocean-thermal, ocean-tide, or ocean-wave power plants?

Maybe the iron-in-the-ocean scheme is wishful thinking. By the same reasoning, is the effect of land-based offsets known, or could there be some carbon-accounting sleight-of-hand?

Paul Milenkovic Madison, Wisconsin

I fail to understand why there is not more "Green" enthusiasm for genuine carbon removal methodologies. Maybe the iron in the ocean scheme doesn't work -- although there is considerable evidence that it will -- but the reluctance to experiment baffles me.


Subject: Please keep posting "not so new news" like the synfuel for B-52s


Regarding Mark E. Horning's email, please continue to post those bits of news you think your readers might find interesting and informative. As you note, it's not so much we need to be taught as we need to be reminded.

It's true that fuels other than petrol have been out there (were not some of the first cars run on a variant of today's biodiesel?). Certainly that's not news as it is not news that Germany during WWII launched alternate fuel programs when their fuel supply lines were cut short. Maybe there's nothing new under the sun after all but perhaps ideas that can help us gain energy independence bear repeating.

As an aside, I look forward to the day we in the USA have several nuclear power plants like the French. I'll take that even if a large scale nuclear program is not news.

Best Regards,

Bill Fleming

This seems to be a consensus. It was actually Samuel Johnson who said "Men seldom need educating, but they often need reminding." Dr. Johnson was a genuine sage...


"No one dared to complain for fear of being beaten."


- Roland Dobbins

The joys of Chinese Olympics.


Subject: If only they'd hold a spacesuit competition . . .


-- Roland Dobbins

Indeed. I tried to get Dan Golden to do that back in 1990. Alas, Hamilton Standard is too powerful with Congress.

The lack of decent space suits has been one of the main hampers to real space exploration, and it is all due to lobbying and politics; the technologies are known. It drives me crazy.


Subject: Civil War research

Dear Jerry:

As part of the research for my second Civil War novel, the one about the Rose Greenhow spy ring, I am reading "The Road to Disunion" by William W. Freehling. This is a blow by blow account of all the rather pathetic political maneuvers taken by the pro-slavery side in the 1850s to stave off the inevitable. It is fairly obvious that you are correct that slavery would have gone away within a few decades. Most people didn't want it. The real surprise here is how many slaves had already gained freedom. In some states free blacks outnumbered slaves. The South was hardly unified on the matter and it took a lot of rabble rousing to get a war started. "The War of Northern Aggression" was no such thing, unless you consider that slave owners political power should have been perpetuated simply to save their hurt feelings. What is that thing you say about "When a stupid man knows he is doing something wrong, he will insist that it is his duty"? Seems to be the case here.

If I may put in a plug, May 9th is Belle Boyd's birthday and May 23rd the Anniversary of the Battle of Front Royal where Belle carried intelligence dispatches under fire to Stonewall Jackson. That episode is the central event of my serialized novel "The Shenandoah Spy" available in 14 parts on Amazon Shorts at Amazon.com. Amazon Shorts can be printed out as well as read on the screen. There are more than 1,200 titles now, by over 400 authors, all at 49 cents each.


Francis Hamit


Subject: Leaving the Iraq party

If you want to leave a party, but really shouldn't leave quite yet - move toward the door.

Bush should order an immediate pull out - but only from Baghdad. Or rather, order that US troops cease entering Baghdad, for any reason. Turn over to the Iraqi government complete responsibility for that city. US troops would concentrate on stopping the entry of foreign terrorists into Iraq, and on controlling access to Baghdad to prevent troublemakers from entering and making things worse.

There'll likely be an initial surge of chaos inside Baghdad, as various elements try to grab a bit of power from the vacuum. That will mirror on a smaller scale the chaos that would follow a full pull-out, perhaps temporarily quieting calls in the US for a fast withdrawal - at least among thinking critics of the war.

The Iraqi government would have a chance to prove -- to itself and its citizens -- that it can deal with that chaos. Without American soldiers daily pointing guns at them, citizens of Baghdad might feel less justified in sheltering terrorists, making the Iraqi government's job a little easier. Citizens would also know that any chaos is of their own making, not something that can be blamed on a US military presence. Who knows - perhaps even some terrorists will be less motivated to blow up innocents, once we're out of there.

US casualties should fall, further reducing political pressure to leave quickly. If the Iraqi government proves itself even marginally competent in Baghdad, they may gain the respect and time needed to pull the rest of the country into an uneasy unity. If not, the US will be well positioned to attempt a different exit strategy.

If Bush cares at all about his party or his place in history, he needs to move on this soon. Otherwise, he can expect to either see his party go down in utter defeat in 2008, or -- more likely -- see his party barely hang on only due to candidates of his own party running on a platform of opposition to his bungling. We heard the start of that Thursday night, from several of the GOP presidential hopefuls.

On the fusion topic - I beg to differ. Fusion has been "30 to 50" years away, seemingly forever - 20 years away is a HUGE improvement!

Tom Craver Chandler, AZ


RE: Petronius on nuclear fusion, May 03

I have a few points to make here.

First of all, fusion apparently does no have to involve reactors the size of a ten-story building to work; a different approach, electrostatic confinement, appears to lead to fusion plants approximately the size of a large barrel – check out Dr. Bussard’s writings on the subject.

Second, of course we already have available a fusion plant; one that has been running for 4.5 billion years without maintenance, will run for five billion more, and has an output power of four hundred trillion terawatts. All we have to do is collect it.

Further to that last point, reading my (severely dog-eared) copy of The High Frontier tells me that the human race could have had working SPS by about 1985 if we’d wanted it enough. It may well be that Apollo was a necessary part of the Cold War, but in my opinion Apollo 11 should have been the last as well as the first; it was a technological dead end and everyone knew it. And then we should have started on really getting to space for practical purposes, including but not limited to SPS.

Think of it; if Gerard O’Neill’s vision had become reality there would have been people living in space by now in millions, and perhaps a few thousand humans would be living who were not native to Earth. And as well as that, 9/11, and the Iraq wars, and 7/7 in the UK, and various other evils would never have happened, for lack of oil money to pay for it all on the part of the terrorists. And maybe many of the problems of society, which have largely to do with the lack of a frontier for young men to risk getting themselves killed in, would never have happened either. And the human race would have a few more baskets to keep its eggs in.

Why didn’t it happen? In my opinion, an evil alliance of entrenched commercial interests, a NASA bureaucracy that cares only for its own jobs, pork-barrel politics and an American government that fears the end of the Imperium. Justified fears, all; once not all humans live on Earth, what price American power? And with a torrent of cheap power coming down from the sky, what does that do the share price of Exxon?

I’d like to write a book with this as a theme, an alternate history, but I have neither the time nor the skill to do it justice. Jerry?

Think of it folks; politicians and bureaucrats have stolen from you the Solar System and perhaps the stars, and humanity has wasted half a human lifetime, 35 years. Time, and well past time, to push the CYA merchants out of the way and GET ON WITH IT. There is not much time left to spare.


Ian Campbell

We don't have L5 Colonies in large part because we do not have on-orbit assembly, and we don't have that because we don't have decent space suits, and we don't have decent space suits because we insist that astronauts be old geezers with PhD degrees, and that's because of politics, and I get weary...


Subject: Subscription

I signed up via PayPal for a subscription. Your mail section is definitely worth the price of admission, even though you otherwise give it away for free.

Regarding solar power satellites, the Department of Energy published a report on the utilization of solar power. http://www.sc.doe.gov/bes/reports/files/SEU_rpt.pdf  The DOE report completely neglected to mention solar power satellites, but the mere abundance of solar radiation should make the idea attractive, especially since placing photovoltaic cells in space would increase their efficiency. That alone makes SPS more competitive.

Steve Hsu extracted the estimated abundances of power available on the Earth from the introduction of the report: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2007/05/energetics.html 

Sources of Electricity

• Currently - around 13 TW of Annualized Average Power Consumption on the Earth.

• Fossil Fuel → Annual Production of 25 billion Metric tons of CO2 ⇒ Requires Massive & Efficient Underground Storage.

• 10 TW ≡ 10^4 One GW Nuclear Power Plants – Will exhaust Terrestrial Uranium Resources in 10 years if constructed.

• Maximum Practical Hydroelectric Resources 0.5 TW.

• Cumulative Energy of Tides and Ocean Currents < 2 TW.

• Total Geothermal Energy on Earth 12 TW.

• Maximum Amount of Extractable Wind Power 2 - 4 TW.

• 120,000 TW of Solar Radiation Strikes the Earth Surface in the form of sunlight.

-- Benjamin I. Espen

Thanks for the kind words. There seems to be less interest in Solar Power Satellites than formerly, probably because General Graham is no longer with us: he was the sanest man inside the Beltway. Alas.



Too Close For Comfort ?

Analysis of the spectacular ,but thankfully distant, Supernova 2006cy suggests we may have an very hot-headed galactic neighbor. Eta Carinae may pop its cork at any time - including soon enough for us to live to see it. If it does , LA can expect expect a brief respite from high municipal electrical bills.


Russell Seitz




Retired! From Visual FoxPro to VB6 (and Visual J#), developers are coping with the demise of key programming languages.

by Michael Desmond

David Lambert is one of the millions of Visual Basic programmers around the world facing a stark choice. An independent consultant and former on-staff developer at Random Lengths Publications in Eugene, Ore., Lambert relied on Visual Basic 6 (VB6) to build the company's subscription system and other services.

But when Microsoft ended mainstream support for VB6 in March of last year, Lambert knew he was in trouble. Microsoft will continue to offer fee-based extended support for VB6 through 2008 and it promises working Windows run-times through at least 2016, but none of that matters to Lambert. Unable to rely on updates to the tooling, and facing a dwindling stock of active developers to work with the legacy code, he opted to move his projects to C#.

"That was really a tough decision, because I had long-term skills in Visual Basic," Lambert says. "It's helpful knowing [Microsoft is] going to continue to support the VB6 runtime, but at the same time they're not going to assuage my fears that I'm going to have to eventually rebuild this project." <snip>


Respectfully, J.

This deserves a longer reply than I have time for. It's important




This week:


read book now


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Subject: Assessing Kosovo

Dr. Pournelle,

You asked about Kosovo. Our friend has a Masters in International Relations and works for the US govt. This friend has spent a depressingly large number of months in Kosovo and Bosnia in the last three years. The assessment? When we leave, they start killing each other as if we had never been there. After just returning from some months in Afghanistan, this friend was thrilled to attend our son's high school awards dinner--"At least nobody's shooting at me!" The assessment of the situation in Afghanistan isn't good, either, by the way....


No surprises here. And no solutions that I know of. We import the Balkans into the United States, and it all continues here as well as there. We sow the wind.


Subject: Clarifying DOE Solar report statistics

Mr Espin cites stats from a 2005 DOE report which paint a picture of the implausibility of utilizing any resource other than solar to replace world fossil fuel demand. Solar may well be part of the answer, however:

Some clarification may be in order.

First, the 13TW (average instant energy usage) number in the report is ALL world energy usage (per annum /8760), not simply electricity, and not simply fossil fuel.

The statistics imply that all current energy use must be replaced; fossil fuels do supply 86% of world energy consumption, but not 100%.

The statistics imply that nuclear power has very finite fuel supply; however the breeder reactor is mentioned in the report.

The statistics assume that virtually all energy will need to be converted to electricity before distribution/consumption if fossil fuels are not utilized ... ignoring the possibility of alternative mechanisms with potentially significantly higher cycle efficiencies (as district heating, nuclear process heat production, or use of an artificial (intermediate) energy carrier such as hydrogen).

The statistics are highly subjective as to the available energy from some of the sources. For instance, a 2000 Stanford study estimates surface wind energy (above class 3) resources at 72TW (as against the 2-4 TW cited). Even this estimate ignores the possibilty of harvesting energy from a thicker slice of the atmosphere than the currently typical 300 foot turbine hub height allows (demonstrably as feasible as collecting electricity from geosynchronous orbit). Hydro stats routinely leave out technically excellent but "politically infeasible" sites.

The statistics pit all-or-nothing strategies against each other. A responsible energy policy will be robust due to the inclusion of a broad portfolio of resources...

You can't run the country on manure, garbage, sewage, ag waste, coal mine methane, or fryer grease but each of these niche energy sources is something worth doing on a case-by-case basis with strongly positive benefits despite addressing only perhaps 5% of energy needs in total. Assuming an objective to reduce CO2 equivalent emissions it may not make sense to sequester all CO2 output from fossil fuels, but this does not make the case that it does not make sense to sequester some fraction thereof.

Ben A. Pedersen, P.E.


Unabashed fan mail with a little belly aching.

Mr. Pournelle,

For a couple of years I’ve been enjoying forwards sent to me of your work. I’ve learned from you. That is surely more than can be said for the great majority of those who compose upon the ether. The gentleman who forwards your writings to me is a dear friend of many years standing, Clark E. Myers, Jr.

I’m not a man of any particular consequence and can probably teach you nothing. I am a defrocked High School History teacher who worked in the same building for 20 years until my temper began to annoy those whose children were annoying me. What I taught became so precious to me that I began to lose sight of what seems to be the prevailing public attitude about children these days: “Nothing you are doing in your classroom is more important than my children’s feelings. If they are rude, it is not their fault and it certainly is not our fault, so it must be your fault. You can’t maintain their attention and get the best behavior from them, so you clearly are a bad educator and should be done away with, professionally if not literally.”

Knowing from my own experience and from the testimonies of hundreds of students and their parents over the years that I was a darned good teacher, I really didn’t think they’d toss me out if I ever showed any anger at all after my two month suspension. I made it one month. And my reputation seems to have been outrunning me. I applied for a number of teaching positions during the first year after I lost my job at Madison High in xxx, Idaho. I even had interviews at a couple of them. One principal, after a delightful Q&A with the school board, asked me whether I wouldn’t like to see my (“your”) classroom before driving back to Boise where I lived in 2004. Yet that job (along with others) fell through.

I eventually acceded to my wife’s oft-repeated request that I apply for Social Security “disability” insurance. To my shock, I was granted the disability on the first application. It is not enough to live on, but who can complain when one is eating at the public trough in contravention of everything one has personally believed during his 56 years?

I only write this letter to let you know that your writings are a great and pleasurable distraction in my otherwise discouraging life. I thank you.

- Jim

Thanks for the kind words! And a good story. Alas that is our world in these times.


Subject: Harry Browne...

Although Harry Browne (libertarian and investment writer, twice Libertarian candidate for President) is dead, his historical web site lives on.


A number of interesting columns there. One quote I find interesting:

" a.. If U.S. politicians had minded their own business in 1917, instead of plunging America into a war that didn't threaten us, an armistice would have occurred, and the existing governments in Russia and Germany most likely would have remained in power - meaning no Soviet Union and no Hitler. But do-gooders always believe they know what's best for the world - and they claim that some simple act of force will settle matters once and for all. It never does.

a.. If the U.S. had stayed out of World War I, most likely there would have been no World War II, although it's entirely possible that other wars - more localized - would have occurred. World War II was the direct result of World War I - and, more specifically, of the U.S. interfering in World War I.

a.. If the Allies hadn't imposed draconian peace terms on Germany in 1918, there probably would have been no Hitler to threaten anyone. Germany would have resumed its role as an intellectual and cultural center in Europe. (American diplomats learned their lesson and eased their demands somewhat at the end of World War II.)

a.. The Allies forced the Germans to promise things that could never be delivered. And using force to exact promises from someone like Saddam Hussein creates about as much security as ordering your cat to guard your home. If the demands are unnatural (as expecting a country in the Middle East to disarm certainly is), you can expect a backlash.

a.. There always will be thugs like Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, or Saddam Hussein in the world. But those thugs aren't dangerous to us until we create real grievances that cause millions of people to support the thugs with money, networking, and connections that allow the thugs to threaten us."

These from his discussion of history:


Charles Brumbelow

I met him once. He was conducting a seminar on selling silver, but was leaving it to run for President. This had to be in the 1960's.


On Samuel Johnson

You wrote in the mail columns:

>It was actually Samuel Johnson who said "Men seldom need educating, but they often need reminding." Dr. Johnson was a genuine sage...

What you wrote here reminded me of another quote concerning Dr. Johnson. I searched all over the web for it, only to finally find it right here at Chaos Manor:


"Today, in the United States, it is popular among self-styled "intellectuals" to sneer at patriotism. They seem to think that it is axiomatic that any civilized man is a pacifist, and they treat the military profession with contempt. "Warmongers" -- "Imperialists" -- "Hired killers in uniform" -- you have all heard such sneers and you will hear them again. One of their favorite quotations is: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

What they never mention is that the man who made that sneering remark was a fat, gluttonous slob who was pursued all his life by a pathological fear of death.

I propose to prove that that baboon on watch is morally superior to that fat poltroon who made that wisecrack."

So which is the real Dr. Johnson?

-- Cecil Rose

Mr. Heinlein was better at polemics than scholarship. A number of scoundrels have claimed patriotism as their motives. This was a speech to the Brigade of Midshipmen, and was intended to counter some of the prevailing sentiments in the university world. I thought that remark neither accurate nor needful at the time, and I have not changed my opinion. No man is perfect, neither Johnson nor myself nor, dare I say it, Robert Heinlein.

Johnson made the remark in 1775. He was speaking to Boswell, not for publication, about specific acts of specific politicians. Boswell made it clear that Johnson was not speaking generally but denouncing false patriotism (and perhaps in jest implying that false patriotism was widespread in England at that time). There are to this day scoundrels who defend themselves in the name of patriotism. Johnson, a High Church Anglican Tory all his life, was hardly denouncing real patriotism. How could he?

If you want to know more about Johnson's sentiments on patriotism, many are assembled here: http://www.samueljohnson.com/patrioti.html Of course Google is a resource that Robert did not have.


A note from the front:

Subject: How to Lose (or Win) a War


Actually has examples and reasons be believe things aren't as they are reported.

"I was absolutely disgusted by the comments made by Sen Reid (D). When I read his comments in the Stars and Stripes newspaper, I was enraged. How can someone with his position and power openly undermine the war efforts and what I am doing. For many in the states, it may be a simple little issue of him saying we have already lost. Unfortunately, the insurgency took this as a HUGE propaganda victory. Simply look at the latest news reports from Al-Qaida's number 2, al-Zawahri. To think Al-Qaida wasn't ecstatic to hear this kind of rubbish coming out of our Congress is absolutely absurd. ... I know that the terrorists can never beat us. I know Al Qaida can never win this fight on their own. I know we still have the most capable military in the world. I have to say that the most significant weapon the enemy has at their disposal right now, is not an IED or suicide bomber, it is the will of the American people. We have allowed the terrorists to brake our collective will to fight. It is not the insurgency that will win this war, it is the American people who will lose it."


And The Skies They Are Cloudy All Day <http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/04/and_the_skies_t.html

Clouds , Nature reminds us, " are one of the biggest sources of uncertainty in efforts to measure and predict global warming. They have two opposite effects: increasing warming by absorbing heat radiated from the planet's surface (which is why cloudy nights are warmer)," So determining the effective extent of clouds is a big deal in rendering climate models realistic-- or otherwise.

A new paper in Geophysical Research Letters reveals they are a lot bigger than meets the eye-


Russell Seitz


Dr. Cochran 


I'm still trying as time permits to reconstruct the pre-war arguments and post-war assessments regarding the Invasion.

After looking at Dr. Cochran's bald assertion that Salman Pak had been "proven" to be an Iraqi counter terrorism facility with no known connection to Al-Qaida, vs. the Senate report's much weaker assertions (http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf p. 79) that the defectors who provided the intelligence did not have reliable data, and may have exaggerated some portions of their testimony, which could not be confirmed by other sources due in part to destruction of records by Iraqi intelligence in advance of the invasion...

I have to ask -- has he drunk from the purple Kool-Aid just as much as he claimed I have?

And there is still a world of difference between "After 9-11, we have to proceed on the best intelligence available and while these defectors may have an agenda, the risk of not acting is too great" and "We're really pulled the wool over everyone's eyes on this, haven't we Dick?"

I have this problem: I thought the initial invasion of Iraq (not Afghanistan) was close to madness, and nothing I saw including in private briefings convinced me otherwise. I thought Saddam was deterred, and that a billion dollars would buy a hell of a lot of covert action in Iraq to be sure that there was no real mischief. When I was told that a billion dollars is a lot of money, I said that it was chicken feed compared to a month of war.

I thought Chalabi the Thief was unreliable. I believed that Saddam had chemical weapons, and that he wanted biological and nuclear weapons. I also had great confidence that he had many enemies inside his country, and those could be used as intelligence assets. In other words, I thought that covert operations coupled with selective target destruction would keep Saddam from doing anything against our national interests.

The neocons around the president thought otherwise, and the Jacobin climate in American universities reinforced his Jacobin tendencies. He really believed that freedom would be welcome and that it could be transported to the Middle East on the turrets of Abrams tanks.

That makes it difficult for me to consider many of these historical problems. To me the problem is, what the hell do we do now?


And on that score

Yingling on Yingling.


- Roland Dobbins



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Subject: Not to belabor the point . . .

. . . or, more accurately, to belabor it just a little, I'm sure you've seen the Hamas Mickey Mouse video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZEGsnWZKh8 . Not that more evidence is needed of the combination of senses of inferiority and foiled superiority that seems to characterize Pally paranoia, but there it is.

I'm not nearly as shocked as a lot of folks I've been reading lately about this. This is pretty much standard fare in Arafatopia, and has been -- and I think that focusing on the Hamas hijacking of Mickey Mouse misses the point (although it does remind me of a beautiful bit in Barry Longyear's "Enemy Mine").

Make of it what you will -- besides the obvious, I think it adds weight to your contention that the US can't solve the Israel/Philistine problem (hard to get a useful agreement when one of the parties is barking mad, after all) and to mine that Israel can't solve the problem, either, but is best off quarantining away most of Judea, Samaria, and now all of Gaza*.

As to the "last refuge of a scoundrel," wasn't it Ambrose Bierce who argued that Dr. Johnson was, in fact, wrong -- that patriotism is the first refuge of a scoundrel? Such quotes always remind me of the comeback to Asimov's "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent" that I've been using for decades, and I assume I got from H. Beam Piper: "Yes, it is, because by then it's too late."

(Hmmm... if and when I ever do write the next Metzada story, I think I'm going to have Shimon Bar-El point out that Hitler could, at one point, have been stopped by a single French division, "and, militarily, it's hard to think of a force less significant than a division of Frenchmen.")

 * I think the withdrawal was a mistake, but an honest one, and fixing the problems it created wouldn't happen by reconquering it.

-- Joel Rosenberg

I advised quarantine to President Weizman a number of years ago. He was of the opinion that the peace process would work. That was 1998 when it did appear to be working.

By Quarantine, though, I did not mean continued Israeli control of all commerce; and I did include some kind of shared power in the Old City of Jerusalem. In those days there were still pro-Israel Christian Arabs.

Historically the Muslim rulers of Palestine despised Christians (but were fairly careful because of the threat of another Crusade) and preferred Jews. That all changed after the end of the Sultanate.

Beam and I both used that answer to Isaac; I forget which of us thought of it first, and Beam Piper was kind enough to say that he too had forgotten... I do point out that sometimes French divisions have been very effective. Ask those who faced Napoleon. (Given my name, I get a fair amount of anti-French invective. I recall a Congressional staffer who put his face next to mine and shouted "When I see a Frenchman I say Waterloo! What do you have to say to that?" to which I could only answer "Hastings."


The math on turning algae into fuel


Half Moon Bay, Calif--A number of companies have sketched out plans to convert algae into a feedstock for transportation fuel, but GreenFuel Technologies is farther along in bringing the concept to market than most.

Bill Shields



There is an embedded youtube file of a speech by Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead.

"One of the most fascinating aspects of this speech is that it forces a rediscovery of some of the unstated assumptions that govern our lives. A moderately well educated man would immediately think: well, whoever wrote this speech had never heard of "intergenerational borrowing" -- that claim which the future has upon us. Surely a man who "lives for himself" lives outside the stream of humanity. But then who exactly makes this claim on behalf of future humanity, except people who live in the present? So the even the question of "intergenerational borrowing" may not be as clear-cut as we think.

It may be put forward that we accept the restrictions of community in order to further our own self-interest. We give up something to the crowd because we expect something back from it. But if that is the case then we have an individual interest in the survival of our own communities: that to which we gave and from which we expect recompense. We have a vested interest in the survival of our culture.

But hold on, haven't we arrived at a justification for ethnocentrism? Isn't that a refutation of multiculturalism?"


Where to?


In a quirky moment there, the appropriate refrain ("Where do we go from here?") played through what's left of my mind.

I had started a longer response to the Harry Browne piece (on the theme of "Harry might have been right, but unfortunately we have to live with the situation that we're in") that got caught in when the system I was using locked (probably because of the filters on the system I was using, Drudge auto-updates lock IE and force it to quit, even when it's in the background or on a different tab.) This was before I scrolled to your response to my e-mail and expressed the same sentiment regarding "whether or not we should have gone is now irrelevant."

On that note, there are legitimate reasons for differences of opinion on what should have been done. Most of these, however, are lost in the constant drone of "Bush lied people died."

For what it's worth, my take on the solution moving forward from here.

1. We cannot afford as a country to be seen abandoning allies again. We did it in 1975, we did it in 1990-1. We simply cannot do that again and retain any national credibility. Remember that these "international interests" that are cheering for our defeat are, by definition, NOT our friends. Note that the solution has to include some measure of stability and protection for our allies on the ground in Iraq -- and Afghanistan. It DOESN'T have to include a functioning republican government (not in the political party sense, of course) but it should be a step up from the "our strongman" of colonialism, which will just feed more fire to the flames that are already burning over there. My personal preference for what it's worth (this may no longer be possible) would be some version of a confederation with 3 - 5 more or less autonomous states, a centralized Army and local police forces, an independent administration authority for the oil revenues that would give the various tribal factions an incentive to curb the violence and keep the oil pumping with definite penalties for violence, the US focused more on keeping Iran and Syria out than on internal policing, and enough curbs on Kurdish independence outside their statehood to keep the Turks relatively happy while rewarding them for their continued support.

2. Energy independence is a strategic necessity. Doing whatever it takes to keep the energy coming until we achieve energy independence is a strategic necessity. If Mr. Gore doesn't like it, he can move to rural Iraq for a few months. In the summer.

Energy independence means anything that achieves that goal as quickly as possible. ANWAR. Nuclear. Coastal drilling. Nuclear. Petroleum, LPG, and LNG/CNG. Nuclear. Oil shale Nuclear. Increased coal and coal gasification. Nuclear. Hydro. Nuclear. Solar and wind and biomass/waste. Nuclear. R&D on new technologies. Nuclear. SPS. Nuclear. There is no reason except "Won't" (the opposite of "Will") why this can't be done in six years.

3. We have to establish 100% border control in concert with energy independence. Not because I don't like illegal immigrants (though I don't). Because we don't want illegal immigrants from Syria or Iraq. Or Albania. Or....

Thanks again for supporting/sponsoring this "debate." I hope my inputs have been reasonable.

There are limits to the ability of the melting pot to assimilate.


Subject: Problems of Socialised Medicine 

This is a link to a new British Medical Association report on how to fix the (currently broken) National Health Service.

documents/2007/05/08/ rationalwayforward.pdf>

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland.


Subject: Socialised Medicine and Cancer Treatment

A couple of reports:

<http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6638617.stm>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article2527714.ece

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland.


Subject: 'Nuther pint, mates?

Perhaps there *will* always be an England.


Far-called our navies melt away;
 On dune and headland sinks the fire;
 Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one
 with Nineveh and Tyre!

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!


One hopes so, but I have my doubts.


Time to dust off the Monroe Doctrine.


- Roland Dobbins

The first of the brothers was often called Jack,
He almost saved Cuber but then gave it back,
Along with a Doctrine we got from Monroe,
Defending an outpost is non-U you know.

Whangdoodle the dawn of a brilliant new day

Poul Anderson


Keith Henson back in jail and talking about power-sats 


I ran across this interview with Keith Henson (Anti-Scientologist and TI Engineer). I am wondering what your take on his fight with the Scientologists is.



Keith Henson was a founder of the L-5 Society, and while it was still quite small I became Secretary and brought in Mr. Heinlein. Our membership drive was enormously successful. The L-5 Society was at one time the most effective of the space advocacy organizations, and stopped the Moon Treaty (signed by Jimmy Carter) and did a great deal of good work.

When L-5 went away, Keith somehow became obsessed by Scientology, and was never happy unless he was picketing the local Scientology offices and in general making a nuisance of himself, and I do not use that phrase lightly. Keith WANTED to be a nuisance. He worked at being a nuisance. Precisely what good all that did was never clear to me. He invited me to join him in those efforts. I declined.

Those who oppose Scientology have a lot of resources. Picketing their facilities including those in Hemet, California, is not a particularly effective method. If you believe in rational discourse this would seem to be a good place to try it, particularly since trying to play legal games with an organization with great resources is likely to be futile.

Henson did believe in picketing and other direct action. He was up against people with resources who were pretty smart, and whether or not Keith defied a court order, he was manipulated into appearing to have done so, the courts held that he did defy a court order.

I declined to join him in this fight. My experience with Scientology is limited, and I have told the stories of those experiences often enough. I do not subscribe to their beliefs. I find their neurology similar to the principles that were mainstream at the time Hubbard wrote them: derivative of Freud, Jung, and Korzybski. No neurological structures corresponding to Freud's postulates or to Hubbard's have been discovered. That era of supposed science led nowhere. I do not subscribe to their cosmology or history either.

As to the extreme cult-like practices that so concerned Keith, as Algis Budrys said when I asked him about those on being invited to participate in the Writers of the Future, whatever happened it was long ago. When we go to the Scientology Celebrity Center as part of the Writers of the Future conferences, we see polite teen-agers drinking soft drinks and reading, while fifty feet away out on the street young people are selling their bodies and buying drugs; and I am not exaggerating in that statement. Note that the first Chief Judge of the Writers of the Future was Budrys, a Lutheran, and the main instructor in their writers education is Tim Powers, an active Roman Catholic. Other judges in the contest include me, Niven, Fred Pohl, Doug Beeson, Orson Scott Card, and Anne McAffrey, and Laura Brodian-Freas. Writers of the Future does good work and is worth supporting.

As to Scientology, it doesn't intrude on my life, and I have no great urge to go downtown and picket anything; I am particularly reluctant to do so in defiance of court injunctions.

I will donate to Keith's defense because he is a friend. I supported some of his positions in his fight over copyright and opposed others; copyright is a tricky matter, and I do not think that "free speech" always trumps copyright rights.

I do not believe he belongs in prison. I didn't think so when all that happened, and I was relieved when he gained political asylum in Canada. I really wish he had not returned from Canada.





CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  May 11, 2007

Subject: Nuclear power running out in ten years?!

On 05/08/07 Benjamin I. Espen wrote:

"• 10 TW ≡ 10^4 One GW Nuclear Power Plants – Will exhaust Terrestrial Uranium Resources in 10 years if constructed."

Uh, well: If you use JUST terrestrial ore for your uranium fuel, and uses just Uranium, sure. But come on, that's "cooking the books".

Try this: Throw in the uranium dissolved in seawater, and you get a thousand times the provable reserves. Factor in breeder reactors (and material can go through a breeder more than once), and we get an extension of a factor of about 100. That's either 100 times or one thousand times or one-hundred thousand times as much nuclear fuel as was quoted by your correspondent.

Nuclear power with solar will get us through the short-term and into the long-term. The sun is the largest nuclear furnace in the neighborhood, it doesn't\t need any engineers to design, maintain or run it, and best of all, it's FREE!

But nuclear fission is a good back-up, and ANYONE involved with running an economy and a civilization has to like having back-up.

Speaking of back-up: Like a colony on another planet, maybe?

Increasingly I am seeing this website of yours as an attempt at a long-term planning office for the humn race.

Presumptuous? undoubtedly. But what the hell, SOMEbody ought to be working on that!


Well, I try to think ahead a little. I tried before we went into Iraq (both times). As Cochran is fond of saying, some of us have made some correct predictions, which may qualify us as analysts, but in the real world, that doesn't seem to count for much. I would think that politicians ought to be held to as much due diligence as you and I exercise in buying a new car, but they don't seem to.



And don't forget Thorium!

Three times as much of it in the Earth's crust as U-235. and it's easy to breed it into U-233 which makes a fine reactor fuel, and it can be done in conventional (nonbreeder) reactors.

Sheesh, I am a history major who took two semesters of physics, and I can come up with this in five minutes. Doomsayers! Piffle.


Easy is probably an overstatement, but we certainly need to do more research on thorium breeder reactions. There's lots of thorium available.

We have been neglecting breeder technology for a long time. I don't know why. (That is, I know of no rational reason for the neglect; there are plenty of political reasons.)


Dr. Pournelle,

These figures <http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2007/05/energetics.html>  quoted by Benjamin I. Espen match what I've read elsewhere, with the partial exception of this one:

"10 TW = 10^4 One GW Nuclear Power Plants - Will exhaust Terrestrial Uranium Resources in 10 years if constructed"

This statement is true, at least within an order of magnitude. It isn't the whole picture, however, since it neglects both the uranium in seawater and the possibility of using breeder reactors.

(Note: for simplicity's sake, I neglect energy losses in converting the fission energy of uranium into electricity. IIRC, efficiencies in nuclear plants range from 20-40%, so this shouldn't significantly affect these calculations.)

Error check: Regarding terrestrial uranium, 1 TW-year = 3.15 x 10^19 J. From the fission energy of U235 (215 MeV per fission - source here <http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/nucene/u235chn.html>  ) and the concentration (0.72%) of U235 in natural uranium, the energy content of a ton of natural uranium is 6.36 x 10^14 J/ton. Terrestrial uranium resources, which range from 4.7 to 36.7 million tons (source here <http://www.uic.com.au/nip75.htm>  ), therefore amount to 9.5 and 74 years' worth of uranium at a 10 TW burn rate. These are in the neighborhood of "10 yrs of terrestrial uranium at 10 TW".

However, in addition to terrestrial uranium, at a sufficiently high price - estimated here <http://npc.sarov.ru/english/digest/132004/appendix8.html>  at 10x that of current techniques - uranium can be extracted from seawater. (More details here <http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/2006/01/207-uranium-from-seawater-part-1.html>  , here <http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/2006/01/208-uranium-from-seawater-part-2.html>  , and here <http://www.jaeri.go.jp/english/ff/ff43/topics.html>  .) The concentration of uranium in seawater is 3 parts per billion, and the total mass of seawater is ~1.37 x 10^18 tons (source here <http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1998/AvijeetDut.shtml>  ); hence the total amount of uranium in the oceans is 4.1 billion tons, or ~8300 yrs' worth at 10 TW.

Additionally, river runoff is estimated at 1.2 million tons/sec of water (source here <http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/298/5595/981>  - alas, behind a subscription wall); the uranium content of this outflow works out to be 114,000 tons/yr, or roughly 20% of the ~500,000 tons of natural uranium that 10 TW-worth of nuclear plants would require. However, if we ignore Jimmy Carter's expert advice and use breeder reactors, then the energy content of a ton of uranium becomes 8.83 x 10^16 J/ton, and annual uranium consumption at 10 TW drops to ~3600 tons. I leave the implications of this number as an exercise for the reader.

This page <http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html>  also discusses the sustainability of uranium resources.

A more interesting question, from where I stand, is whether we can mine uranium and other fissionables off asteroids & other planets.

Respectfully submitted,

Matthew Ing

There is plenty of energy available. My view is that we should develop what we have now, do research for the future, and go for solar power satellites. There is also ocean thermal. It is not as if there were a shortage of energy sources. There seems to be a shortage of the will to develop them.

Of all the things government ought to be doing, looking out for the future and developing technologies that are at the moment not profitable to short term investors would seem to be the most important. It seem to be the least important to any government on this Earth.


Subject: What did Tenent say? 


What did Tenent say?


The CIA director speaks By Debra J. Saunders Wednesday, May 9, 2007

<snip>As Tenent wrote, "I believed (Saddam Hussein) had WMD, and I said so." The CIA was convinced Hussein had biological and chemical weapons; the only doubt concerned whether he had nuclear weapons. Also, the CIA knew that Hussein had access to 550 tons of yellow cake -- enough to produce 100 nuclear weapons -- within Iraq's borders. (Note: That's independent of allegations that Iraq sought yellowcake in Niger.) <snip>Tenet would not rewrite the record and pretend that intelligence on WMD was willfully misleading. He won't take Bush's State of the Union sentence about Iraq trying to get yellowcake from Niger and twist it into proof positive that White House deliberately misled the public about Iraq's nuclear capability -- which somehow means that Bush lied about chemical and biological weapons, too. <snip>

I have Tenent's book; it shows a number of connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda, some rather surprising. I will do a review when I have read and digested it. See also Fred Thompson's (as usual cogent and sane) comments: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/


Subject: Outlook 2003 slowness 

Have you tried binding the Outlook process to only one CPU as a temporary experiment?

Right click the process in Task Manager and you'll see a set affinity option.

Warm regards, Gary

I did that and it helped with Word and other Non-Outlook programs, but of course was no use in making Outlook itself more useful. But then -->


Office 2003 slowdowns

Hi Jerry, I too have experienced the Office 2003 slowdown blues. Some research turns up lots of others that are having the same problem. Some people, including me, have gotten relief by running the Office update. Click on Help, Check For Updates. This will bring up a browser. (I use IE for these Microsoft updates.) Click on Office Updates on the left side, then Continue twice. It will chug for a while. If there are any updates needed let them run. I'm now back to the normal slowdown when Outlook is downloading but not the awful slowness that came with the last XP update.

Hope this helps

Jim Brandvold

I am set for automatic updates, and I expect that is what has cured the problem for me, because Piggy Old Outlook is back to normal: piggy, but not unendurable.


What price a Chinese emperor? 


It seems that people in China have found a way around the Marching Morons problem:


Consider: in China it is the rich and not the poor who have more babies. Who will have a smarter population a few generations hence?


The mean IQ of Chinese in China is 105; which is 5 points above the mean US IQ; and it is very significant in productivity and general ingenuity.


Middle Eastern History

 Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Under the subject: Middle Eastern History, Bob Holmes asked you on Thursday, May 3, 2007: "Why, almost 60 years after the founding of Israel, are there still Arab refugees, but essentially no Jewish refugees?"


May I add something to your answer?

Go to <http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/whois.html>  and you'll find this:


"Under UNRWA's operational definition, Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA's services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948. The number of registered Palestine refugees has subsequently grown from 914,000 in 1950 to more than 4.4 million in 2005, and continues to rise due to natural population growth. UNQUOTE

A. Romain

And are there any German refugees who formerly lived in East Prussia or what is now western Poland?

Or Polish refugees who lived in the part of Poland that is now  part of the USSR?

Jerry Pournelle

Chaos Manor

Believe it or not, but I was reading your answer--and being very perplexed--when Windows choose to reboot my computer!

It's Windows 2000 Professional (French version, maybe that's why...).

Now, what I mean is this: do you know of any other people than Palestinians who have an official refugee status by birth? And are the consequences of that status not obvious? Just look at the situation from an Arab point of view: an ever growing pool of potential terrorists.

"UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948."

If somebody qualifies for a hard time in your Inferno it's certainly the (most certainly collective) author of this definition.

A. Romain


Subject: Ice Age Remnants 

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

From today's Globe and Mail:


Parts of northern Canada are low gravity areas, caused by the deflection of the earth's surface due to the massive build up of ice. Apparently my home country has not yet rebounded fully from glaciation.

I especially like the last line:

"The satellites found that the Earth's crust over Canada has not completed what scientists call the "post-glacial rebound." Now, it's clear that the ice age is still affecting the planet."

Gee, the planet is still shaking off the effects of the last ice age. I wonder if a symptom of that is temperature increases?


Bill Grigg

You think?


The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business.


--- Roland Dobbins


Early IQ tests good predictor of things to come.


- Roland Dobbins

I'm shocked. Not at the data but that they'd publish it.





This week:


read book now


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Subject: The Insanity Offense


"In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, many people have questioned the state's decision to make the university a "gun-free" zone, especially when it did nothing to prevent the attacker from bringing the weapons on campus. Noting the impossibility of securing a 2600-acre campus, the forced disarming of the student body and faculty has created a debate about the Second Amendment and the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. The debate has highlighted the differences between assuming roles as activists and victims.

Locally, the well-regarded Hamline University took the latter approach. After the shooting, the university offered counseling and coping assistance, even though the shooting had taken place 1500 miles away. Grad student Tony Scheffler took exception to that, and replied to the e-mail that perhaps a better solution would be to allow Hamline students the ability to defend themselves. As Mitch Berg
index.php/2007/05/11/bad-neighbor/>  notes, that's when Hamline decided that Scheffler required psychiatric treatment <http://citypages.com/databank/28/1379/article15402.asp>  :"

Why is no one astonished at this?


"The Greatest Scientific Scandal Of Our Time"


"Warmies have been accused of perpetrating a scientific fraud of gargantuan proportions on the world community -- and it's not just rhetoric, it's a well researched scientific criticism.

The accuser is Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc. -- whoa! That's a lot of initials! -- published in the March 2007 journal EIR Science. Jaworowski is now a senior advisor at the Central Laboratory for the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Radiological Protection in Warsaw. He's been measuring CO2 records in ice since 1957, in glaciers from Africa to the Arctic. The results of these studies are the foundation of numerous papers.

You know, just another climate whacko. Here's the top line of his latest work <http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/zjmar07.pdf>  :

Meanwhile, more than 90,000 direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere, carried out in America, Asia, and Europe between 1812 and 1961, with excellent chemical methods (accuracy better than 3%), were arbitrarily rejected [by supporters of anthropogenic climatic warming]. These measurements had been published in 175 technical papers.

For the past three decades, these well-known direct CO2 measurements, recently compiled and analyzed by Ernst-Georg Beck (Beck 2006a, Beck 2006b, Beck 2007), were completely ignored by climatologists-and not because they were wrong. Indeed, these measurements were made by several Nobel Prize winners, using the techniques that are standard textbook procedures in chemistry, biochemistry, botany, hygiene, medicine, nutrition, and ecology. The only reason for rejection was that these measurements did not fit the hypothesis of anthropogenic climatic warming. I regard this as perhaps the greatest scientific scandal of our time." <snip>

We've referred to these data before. You can prove anything if you make up your data -- or ignore all that doesn't fit your theory.


If you don't know about Fred Singer's newsletter:

The Week That Was (May 12, 2007)–Brought to you by SEPP

The respected, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office tells the unpleasant facts about CO2 cap-and-trade schemes: higher energy costs and highly regressive (unless fixed), (ITEM #1). And current warming appears to be mostly natural! Green hypocrisy reigns supreme. Politicians of both parties talk “green” but are reluctant to act. Maybe they know that the public may profess “green” until it comes to making sacrifices. (ITEM #2)

German professor plugs for more GW and CO2. It’s good for us and for bio-diversity. (ITEM #3)

Another upbeat account of the Vatican climate conference. Sonja Boehmer-Christensen, editor of Energy & Environment, reports. (ITEM #4)

You can sign up at http://www.sepp.org/

I first met Fred when we were both speakers at a Hoover Institution conference on satellite observation 1n 1963. His Item 3 in today's newsletter is interesting. Those looking for sound non-consensus views on climate will find it worthwhile to subscribe to his newsletter.


Massive Carbon Dioxide Burps Came From Ocean At End Of Last Ice Age


Science Daily - A University of Colorado at Boulder-led research team tracing the origin of a large carbon dioxide increase in Earth's atmosphere at the end of the last ice age has detected two ancient "burps" that originated from the deepest parts of the oceans.

The new study indicated carbon that had built up in the oceans over millennia was released in two big pulses, one about 18,000 years ago and one 13,000 years ago...

Vulcanism? Just what? No one seems to know. But it was hardly man made.


Applied Kid Cryptography.


-- Roland Dobbins

Now that is fascinating.


Subject: You say not man made? 


You said, "...hardly man made" in

The new study indicated carbon that had built up in the oceans over millennia was released in two big pulses, one about 18,000 years ago and one 13,000 years ago...

Vulcanism? Just what? No one seems to know. But it was hardly man made.

Isn't the timing about right for methane releases from the subsurface decay of civilization on Lemuria and Atlantis?

Or, for that matter, weren't there some cities burning at about that time...






CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, May 13, 2007      

Dogfight trophy of 1918 returned.


- Roland Dobbins


"It’s the way this business has run since 1640.”


- Roland Dobbins

A good discussion of the economics of book sales. Well worth reading for anyone interested in the matter.


"Why are we so tolerant? Radiation feeds us."


--- Roland Dobbins



A friend and I have been corresponding about the lack of judgment among people these days. Part of the problem is that in an effort to reduce unfair judgment of people, we have created a climate of no judgment, much to society's detriment. You're okay. I'm okay. What was once abnormal is now okay. What was once normal seems strange to others.

Consider the teen-aged Circuit City employee who called the FBI after viewing a tape of young men firing assault rifles and yelling in Arabic: God is Great. Before he made the call, he reportedly asked his co-workers:

"Dude, I just saw some really weird s-," he frantically told his co-worker. "I don't know what to do. Should I call someone or is that being racist?"

See the full story at:


Can people judge and not become judgmental? At one time society believed it followed a Judeo-Christian ethic. Now what do we follow? Who makes the rules? Who sets the agenda?

Look at this article about John Travolta arguing that a BBC reporter has made derogatory comments about his religion-- Scientology. Scientology as a religion and a religion with rights. What a concept.


Life sure feels like a free-fall lately.














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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

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Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

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