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Monday  July 2, 2007

The triumph of Western discipline and technology, an excerpt from ZULU!


John Monahan

Welshmen will no yield. You may also enjoy reading



Subject: Roswell aliens theory revived by deathbed confession

I suppose the silly season is upon us. The Roswell story just will not die. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21994224-2,00.html 



Art Bell is now utterly convinced that every word is true. Of course I have just heard him say he understands the Chinese economy and the changes in China.

For lengthier reply SEE BELOW


Unwanted e-card conceals a Storm

As seen in this news report


There's a new version of the Storm Trojan on the loose, disguised as an e-postcard but actually recruiting zombies for a botnet, according to the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre.

The attack arrives as a spam with the subject line "You've received a postcard from a family member!" and contains links to one of several malware hosting sites, said SANS researcher Lorna Hutcheson in a SAN ISC security alert <http://isc.sans.org/diary.html?storyid=3063>. The interesting part is just how multi-layered the attack is - it uses several different exploits, both technical and social.

It starts by testing to see if Javascript is enabled, and if it's not, it prompts you to download a file called ecard.exe and run it. If that fails, it tries three different exploits in sequence until it finds one that works, starting with a QuickTime attack, then a WinZip attack, and finally what the ISC calls the "hail Mary" WebViewFolderIcon exploit.

The aim is to get the user to download a Trojan. If executed, this calls home to a malware hosting server which SANS says has been active since December 2006, and attempts to install zombie software. That then ties the PC into a spam botnet.

Perhaps the most dangerous part is that, when SANS ran it through 30 different anti-virus programs, only a quarter of them picked up ecard.exe as a suspect download.®


Of course, this doesn't matter as much if you are using a Mac or Linux

Mike 'Z' Zawistowski


The Reality Behind the World's Workshop - the flaws in the Chinese economic miracle.


-- Roland Dobbins


Derb on Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.


-- Roland Dobbins


from http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/07/


The day Nixon left office, South Vietnam was successfully defending itself. Nixon's Vietnamization policy was effective at promoting a strong Asian self-defense backed by US air power. Nixon was determined to deliver "peace with honor" in Vietnam, and in 1973 he did so. His political opponents were equally determined to throw it all away, and in the end, they did so too.

Democrats won huge in the elections of 1974, and one of their first acts in 1975 was to cut military aid to Saigon. Not surprisingly, the North Vietnamese Army saw their opportunity and overran South Vietnam a few months later. The air power Nixon promised if Hanoi violated the Paris peace accords went unused.

When Nixon went down, the hopes and efforts of all the military personnel who fought and died in Southeast Asia effectively went down with him. The consequences were catastrophic for US foreign policy, not to mention the peoples of Southeast Asia. The credibility of our commitments worldwide has been called into question ever since.

The North Vietnamese interned more than a million of our former allies into "reeducation" camps where many of them died. Two million refugee boat people fled from the North Vietnamese with an estimated quarter-million of them perishing at sea. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge murdered as many as two million people as well.



The headline says it all:

Spacesuit entrepreneurs plan parachute jumps from orbit -





Subject: Rocket Man


I'm almost finished reading "Rocket Man", about Pete Conrad. I can see why you liked him. I would have liked him as well. An engineer and astronaut who liked to hang out with the guys in the back rooms building the hardware. And he developed Skylab.

When the decision was made to toss Apollo/Saturn and build shuttle, instead of evolving forward with what existed, that was the first really clear sign that the adults were no longer in charge at NASA.


Pete Conrad was one of my heroes. I admit to being thrilled that he came to the Council meetings I chaired. We lost a giant when he died.


Roswell A/F PR officer dies and leaves sworn affidavit claiming UFO really crashed, he say the craft and the bodies



What do you think?


Now that I have read the lieutenant's deathbed story, I have two major points. First, I think his first five or six points are real up through sitting in a conference room looking at the debris, and then he went off on a flight of fancy with the story of the bodies. Perhaps not: it is conceivable that his superiors wanted him to believe in a false story. The UFO story might have been a cover up for what really happened. I am not sure I believe that, but it's possible. I do believe his story of the conference where they examined some of the debris.

Karl Pflock 's book showed what the debris was. It is quite consistent with what the lieutenant  describes happening in the meeting. (It was as light as balsa because it WAS balsa, and the stuff about how it couldn't be cut or burned came later; they didn't try burning anything in that meeting.) After that the lieutenant goes fanciful: details lacking, there is only one witness and that one dead. He may be describing a dream? He saw bodies but from a distance, etc. It's typical Roswell drinking buddy stories.

Incidentally the "disappearing nurse" was found by Karl Pflock. So were the "alien hieroglyphics". It broke Karl's heart to have to write his book showing the real truth about Roswell. I knew Karl well, and he was a True Believer in Flying Saucers and UFO's. He set off to write the story of what really happened, fully expecting to find wreckage and bodies.

Second: The notion that a local undertaker would be let in on something so secret that farmers were supposedly threatened with death if they talked to reporters is more than bizarre. And so forth.

But most importantly I think that if the US had any hidden technology in 1964 I would have known about it. Why would they hide it from Systems Command? We were structuring the 1975 force. What would anyone in government hide it for? We were scared stiff of the USSR missile threat, hard pressed to find any war fighting strategy that made sense and would allow for the survival of the American people; we needed everything we had. We had the highest clearances because we were doing a survey of ALL RELEVANT TECHNOLOGIES so that we could evaluate force structure designs. We had an absolute need to know, and a directive to all parts of USAF to cooperate. Ye gods, why would the government hide alien technology from us? Where are these secret materials NOW?

What you say makes sense. I grew up outside Carswell AFB. The seriousness of the Cold War was impressed on me at an early age. Everyone's dad ether worked for Sac or Convair/General Dynamics.


Precisely. Project 75 (done at Aerospace Corporation San Bernardino, 1964, Jerry Pournelle editor, Bill Dorrance Director; Aerospace San Bernardino supported Ballistic Systems Division which was headquartered at Norton) was General Schriever's pet, the technology survey that would be used to design and structure the 1975 USAF missile forces. We took that very seriously. I cannot imagine that Wright Pat would keep anything hidden from us that could have any effect on missile technology. The companion study, Project FORECAST, was Air Systems Division's counterpart and directed by Colonel Francis X. Hale, coauthor with me and Possony of The Strategy of Technology.

The United States Air Force took its mission of winning World War III quite seriously. We worked on nuclear exchange war plans. We worked on targeting for winning the war, not merely avenging our dead. We understood that MAD was the national strategy chosen by the civilian heads of government, and we certainly worked to implement a second strike retaliation capability; but our hearts were in winning the damn war, not just killing a lot of Russians.

I cannot imagine that any SAC officers or former SAC officers knew of technologies hidden away at Wright Patterson AFB and did not betray one hint to their brother SAC officers who were intimately involved in Project 75. One of our officers, Colonel Hale (who later went to Vandenberg to direct Blue Scout) was a SAC navigator. He had served his tour on the KC=135 group that operated at our furthest northern bases; if the balloon went up it would have been his mission to rendezvous with the B-52's coming north, refill their tanks over the Pole, and pump his own airplane dry. The KC's would have 2 minutes fuel to break away clean from the 52's, after which they were dead stick over the Arctic. That was part of the price to be paid for war.

In the name of heaven, why would any USAF officer, SAC or Systems Command or Intelligence hide significant technology from the SAC officers involved in designing and structuring the force? Why would some SAC troop from Roswell have hidden technology information from his brother officers who were willing to fly the refueling mission (and from those willing to fly the B-52's on their death run into the USSR)?

No one has ever answered that question. It's just so much more fun to believe in UFO's and government conspiracies and little alien bodies in children's coffins. And God knows it's more lucrative for the radio show hosts to believe in all this than to admit that what happened at Roswell was the crash of a secret experimental balloon (not a damned weather balloon for God's sake; Mogul was HUGE).

When I first heard of Roswell I thought they had laid an egg: that is, that a nuke had fallen out of one of the aircraft (but did not explode; it has happened more than once). At that time we didn't have many nukes, and we kept them and the airplanes moving around so they couldn't be wiped out in one strike. Roswell certainly had the nuclear strike force based there at one time, and probably at the time of the incident. Some of the ham-handed tactics of the security forces make me believe that they thought we'd dropped an egg and it was now important to recover the fissionables and cover up the incident. Until Karl Pflock wrote his book that was what I believed had happened at Roswell. It's now pretty clear: Pflock went through every Roswell "story". I note that the True Believers seldom mention Pflock's book, and none do so dispassionately. Pflock became a traitor to the cause when he wrote what he believed; worse, he wrote the book using UFO True Believer grant money, given to him because it was assumed he'd find out the real story!

So we will once more go through a cycle of Roswell stories because a Lieutenant speaks from the grave. But I do not think we will find any actual wreckage and bodies, and I do not think we will find that the US Air Force has been hiding technology relevant to rockets and space and flying craft for sixty years.


Dr. Pournelle:

I’m the guy who wrote the National Review cover story on global warming. I’m not the Jim Manzi who used to run Lotus, as is obvious from my bio on the National Review website.

You apparently think that I have violated some conservative principles, and say that: “We can in fact make a pretty big difference in CO2 levels. It won't be by reducing carbon emissions. If we need to get rid of some CO2, there are some very large scale methods of doing it. The costs are trivial compared to Kyoto -- but if we do the Kyoto nonsense or some variant that the bureaucrats will come up with, we may not be able to afford any large scale methods. And in fact we don't know if we need to get rid of the CO2 in the first place.”

In fact, in my article I say that (1) the impacts of global warming could plausibly range from negligible to severe, (2) a program of emissions reductions should be resisted at all costs as way too expensive, and (3) we should focus on developing economical technical hedges, including technologies for removing carbon from the atmosphere at scale, without disrupting the economy.

You correctly state that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a proper conservative principle. So is prudence.

Best regards,

Jim Manzi

Apologies: I did not know who you were, so I did a Google on your name since I couldn't find anything on the NR site other than the blurb at the bottom of the article

Jim Manzi holds a degree in mathematics from MIT and is the CEO of an applied artificial intelligence software company.

I knew the founders of Lotus and didn't remember you, so I suppose I should have looked closer, but this didn't seem inconsistent with founding Lotus. What I was looking for was why you were chosen to write a definitive article on the "conservative position" on a topic of the importance of Global Warming and a strategy for dealing with it.

In the National Review On Line article
you say nothing I strongly disagree with.

I could have written the concluding paragraph

The available evidence indicates that it is probable (though not strictly scientifically proven) that human activities have increased global temperatures to date and will likely continue to do so. But in spite of all the table-pounding, nobody can reliably quantify the size of these future impacts, or even bound them sufficiently to guide action. The total impact of global temperatures over the next century could plausibly range from negligible to severe. Long-term climate prediction is in its infancy, and improved forecast reliability is crucial to enable useful guidance for policymakers. Better science could give us what is most need in this debate: more light and less heat.

myself, and in fact what I have advocated for years is more money for better science: find out what is going on, before we DO SOMETHING. The Earth appears to be warming; but it has been warming since George Washington dodged ice floes in the Delaware River in December 1776, and much of the warming took place before Arrhenius did his back of the envelope calculations about CO2, industry, and warming in 1895. Just how much warming there has been in the past fifty years is not as settled as you seem to believe, due to the difficulty of coming to any agreement as to what combination of measurements is to be used as "the temperature of the Earth." Clearly most of the surface of the Earth is covered by the seas. What is the "temperature of the sea"? Until we have some basic agreements on the operations to be used to generate that number, it is pretty hard to speak meaningfully of warming or cooling of the seas.

If your "game plan" for Conservatives had been to press hard for better observations and better models, I would have been first to cheer. That does not seem to be what your game plan is.

Alas, I have thrown away the original of the cover story, and I declined to pay $15 to get another; but my recollection of your cover story of a conservative strategy was nothing like the reasoned article I find under your name in National Review On Line. I decided to go looking.

It took me a while to find it, but I did:


And perhaps I misread your "game plan"; but it appears to me that it says we ought to abandon scientific truth and principles and concede the debate over climate changes and causes to the liberal "consensus". This may be good electoral politics. It is terrible science, and in my judgment terrible conservatism. And as an old party manager, I think it's terrible politics as well.

Conceding that man-made global warming is significant is giving the opposition a tremendously powerful weapon! And then trying to play local politics with "do you want to give up your job for someone in the Sahara 100 years from now" in the face of having admitted that we're going to boil the Polar Bears is, well, it would seem to me ill advised.

I have often advocated more prizes. I have no quarrel with many of the substantive parts of your article. But your strategy of conceding the science to the liberals -- who look to be enemies of science and rational thought to me -- in order that we can get on with politics and managing the global warming crisis looks suicidal.

You want to minimize what you have conceded: but in fact the opposition will not let you do that. And once you have conceded the science -- once you say that there is a problem that needs managing -- I think all your further appeals to local job interests will be lost in the sound of boiling Polar Bears.

My strategy remains what it is: offer prizes for technologies for reducing CO2 because, as I said about 30 years ago now, we probably don't want to be running an open-ended experiment on loading the atmosphere with CO2. There may be benefits to lots of CO2 but lets stop at some reasonable elevation and see just what the effects are.

Invest a lot more in sensors and refining measurements and getting some agreed on procedure for establishing temperatures of the atmosphere, seas, and ground (that latter being hard to do because people keep building things around the thermometers).

Invest in better models, but don't simply hand the money to the current modelers. Sure, give them grants, but give some grants to others. Don't build a blooming consensus and use peer review to make sure no one who doesn't share the consensus can be funded!

Experiment with ways to reduce CO2, by such means as seeding ocean deserts with nutrients to see if we can induce plankton blooms. Be sure that any such experiment can be terminated by simply no longer providing the nutrients. Etc.

Look deeper into el Nino and predicting when it will form. That has more effect on North American climate than anything else.

And, for conservatives, be conservative: point out that the Scientific Method is NOT a consensus forming T-group, and good scientific strategy always mostly funds the consensus but reserves funds for those who don't agree. In particular, pay attention to the warming trend data not only on Earth but in the Solar System as well. If the Sun is a variable star -- and there is some evidence that during one of the Warm Periods of the past the Sun was 5% larger than it is now (an account of an annular eclipse perfectly described only for that time and place the eclipse should have been total; to be annular requires that the Sun be 5% larger; perhaps the observer was off his head, but who told him what an annular eclipse looked like?)-- if the Sun is a variable star we probably ought to know that. It might be important.

In other words, our game plan ought not to be to abandon those who have fought the battle for rational discussion of all this, throw them to the wolves, and get on with political management. If that is not what your article advocates, I misread it; but I don't think I did. But then I don't have contempt for Fred Singer and Sallie Baliunas and the others who have tried to show that we don't understand climatology very well, and the case for significant man-made global warming has yet to be proven.


Incidentally, I did not address my remarks about your article to National Review because I have never had a reply or acknowledgement of anything I have sent to National Review since the egregious Frum read me and my friends out of the Conservative Movement. Composing letters to be sent to National Review has been for me a colossal waste of time.

Again I apologize for getting your resume wrong; but I don't I was insulting you. The founders of Lotus included the then Editor in Chief of Byte...

(continues below)



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TuesdayJuly 3, 2007

Dr. Pournelle:

Thanks for your reply; I've just read the post on your blog.

It seems to me that we agree on a lot: radiative transfer is real; we lack the modeling capability to even measure its net effect to date, never mind project the impact of future emissions scenarios accurately; we should invest more (and more intelligently) in better prediction tools; significant emissions reductions programs are insane, and should be resisted at all costs; using prizes to stimulate development of technologies that could enable us to engineer our way around a problem when and if it develops is smart; and so on.

It seems to me that the primary area of disagreement is how to present the case. I think it makes sense to concede that global warming is a real risk (not certainty) and move on the question of what to do about it. I think this concession is not a "noble lie", as per my article and the prior paragraph - by any way I know to use the English language, it is a correct statement. I have what I think are good reasons for advocating this political position (I think it's the truth; I think that "global warming is real" is about a 75% position among the electorate; most importantly, I think that voters are pretty good at pursuing their own interests and the cost / benefit of a carbon tax, cap-and-trade or similar measure is terrible), but I certainly think smart people of good will can disagree about this political strategy. I don't find them to therefore be "not conservative" or anything else.

Thanks again for your very thoughtful reply.

Best regards,

Jim Manzi

I suppose our primary disagreement is that I do not concede that there has been any great contribution to climate change by human activity: by great I mean large in comparison to natural events over which we have no control. Secondly, while it is obvious that the Earth has warmed considerably since the Medieval Warm, it is not obvious that the warming is continuing at present, and it is certainly clear that the rate of warming has slowed.

The Earth has been warmer and colder than it is at present, and this in historical times. That, I think, needs a lot more emphasis than it is getting.

Back in the days when I was a space advocate, I was asked my strategy. I generally replied, "Tell the truth and shame the devil." That hasn't always worked, but I still find it the right political strategy and tactics.


Two comments on the commutation

Libby Commutation

I disagree with your analysis for one very important reason: we need someone like Libby to take his appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. And that is what I believe Bush wants to have happen also. The only reason Bush even commuted the sentence was because the judge was being unreasonable about bail during the appeals process. Otherwise, Bush would have let the sentence stand until all appeals had been exhausted. In fact, he can still pardon Libby should the Supreme Court not take the case or rule against Libby.

I don't take the penalty to Libby lightly either. Until his conviction is overturned or pardon, Libby is a convicted felon with all the penalties that entails (i.e. loss of voting rights, not allowed to own a gun, etc.) It will also be a very expensive process without any hope of compensation. It is unfortunate for Libby that he has to fight this, but that is the way our judicial system works. There has to be a defendant like Libby, Roe, or Miranda (to name few famous ones). The Supreme Court nor any of the circuit courts can consider a hypothetical case to establish precedent and settle matters of law. Libby will be doing us a service by fighting this wrongheaded prosecution and (hopefully) winning.

Kenny Biel

You may be correct, but I have seen no signs of that kind of thinking in the current administration.

Bush Advisor


Whoever advised Bush to commute Libby's sentence rather than pardon him should not be put in a position to threaten the public health. This person is obviously not competent to be either a dishwasher of McDonald's Manager. It is doubtful that this person can use toilet facilities without seriously soiling himself!

Bob Holmes

Of course you're right.



Richard Cohen is not exactly a conservative columnist, but I believe he is in substantial agreement with you that money is not the answer to the ills of public education.


So, the point is obvious to everyone, what to do about it? Some years ago there as an excellent WSJ article on the DOD schools on military bases. A key element was that the base commander had the authority to hold the PARENTS to account for their children and it seems to me that something along those lines is needed across the board.

A good friend, who was once on the school board (and the only totally sane SB person I've ever known) told me that "We can't, in six hours a day, make up for what happens with the kids during the other 18 hours." And yet, NCLB and the state level testing require them to do so, or pretend to do so, so what we get is a system that is rigged to show the "results" mandated by these bad laws.

Until we get parents---all parents---involved in public education, no amount of money and no amount of "testing" is going to fix the root problems. What we get instead is political pandering and slogans, but no results.


Perhaps; but so long as we insist on "equality" and that no child be left behind, the schools are the problem: the more money they get the more they come down hard on the smart kids, and even the average kids, in favor of the hopeless kids.

Give the money to the parents as vouchers. But mostly abolish the entir federal education structure. Leave it to the states, and work on the states to devolve control to counties, and on counties to devolve it to local boards. Of course we won't do that.




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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Declaration, followed by Mencken's interpretation.

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and
pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his
Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly
neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large
districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right
of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them
and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public
Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance
with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing
with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of
Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their
exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the
dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for
that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;
refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and
raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his
Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of
their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms
of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without
the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior
to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign
to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his
Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any
Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring
Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and
enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and
fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws,
and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves
invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his
Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries
to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already
begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled
in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a
civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high
Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners
of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has
endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the
merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an
undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.
We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Declaration of Independence in American, by H. L. Mencken, 1921 http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/decind.html


WHEN THINGS get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody.

All we got to say on this proposition is this: first, me and you is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better; second, nobody ain't got no right to take away none of our rights; third, every man has got a right to live, to come and go as he pleases, and to have a good time whichever way he likes, so long as he don't interfere with nobody else. That any government that don't give a man them rights ain't worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of government they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any government don't do this, then the people have got a right to give it the bum's rush and put in one that will take care of their interests. Of course, that don't mean having a revolution every day like them South American yellow-bellies, or every time some jobholder goes to work and does something he ain't got no business to do. It is better to stand a little graft, etc., than to have revolutions all the time, like them coons, and any man that wasn't a anarchist or one of them I.W.W.'s would say the same. But when things get so bad that a man ain't hardly got no rights at all no more, but you might almost call him a slave, then everybody ought to get together and throw the grafters out, and put in new ones who won't carry on so high and steal so much, and then watch them. This is the proposition the people of these Colonies is up against, and they have got tired of it, and won't stand it no more. The administration of the present King, George III, has been rotten from the start, and when anybody kicked about it he always tried to get away with it by strong-arm work. Here is some of the rough stuff he has pulled:

He vetoed bills in the Legislature that everybody was in favor of, and hardly nobody was against.

He wouldn't allow no law to be passed without it was first put up to him, and then he stuck it in his pocket and let on he forgot about it, and didn't pay no attention to no kicks.

When people went to work and gone to him and asked him to put through a law about this or that, he give them their choice: either they had to shut down the Legislature and let him pass it all by himself, or they couldn't have it at all.

He made the Legislature meet at one-horse tank-towns, so that hardly nobody could get there and most of the leaders would stay home and let him go to work and do things like he wanted.

He give the Legislature the air, and sent the members home every time they stood up to him and give him a call-down or bawled him out.

When a Legislature was busted up he wouldn't allow no new one to be elected, so that there wasn't nobody left to run things, but anybody could walk in and do whatever they pleased.

He tried to scare people outen moving into these States, and made it so hard for a wop or one of these here kikes to get his papers that he would rather stay home and not try it, and then, when he come in, he wouldn't let him have no land, and so he either went home again or never come.

He monkeyed with the courts, and didn't hire enough judges to do the work, and so a person had to wait so long for his case to come up that he got sick of waiting, and went home, and so never got what was coming to him.

He got the judges under his thumb by turning them out when they done anything he didn't like, or by holding up their salaries, so that they had to knuckle down or not get no money.

He made a lot of new jobs, and give them to loafers that nobody knowed nothing about, and the poor people had to pay the bill, whether they could or not.

Without no war going on, he kept an army loafing around the country, no matter how much people kicked about it.

He let the army run things to suit theirself and never paid no attention whatsoever to nobody which didn't wear no uniform.

He let grafters run loose, from God knows where, and give them the say in everything, and let them put over such things as the following:

Making poor people board and lodge a lot of soldiers they ain't got no use for, and don't want to see loafing around.

When the soldiers kill a man, framing it up so that they would get off.

Interfering with business.

Making us pay taxes without asking us whether we thought the things we had to pay taxes for was something that was worth paying taxes for or not.

When a man was arrested and asked for a jury trial, not letting him have no jury trial.

Chasing men out of the country, without being guilty of nothing, and trying them somewheres else for what they done here.

In countries that border on us, he put in bum governments, and then tried to spread them out, so that by and by they would take in this country too, or make our own government as bum as they was.

He never paid no attention whatever to the Constitution, but he went to work and repealed laws that everybody was satisfied with and hardly nobody was against, and tried to fix the government so that he could do whatever he pleased.

He busted up the Legislatures and let on he could do all the work better by himself.

Now he washes his hands of us and even goes to work and declares war on us, so we don't owe him nothing, and whatever authority he ever had he ain't got no more.

He has burned down towns, shot down people like dogs, and raised hell against us out on the ocean.

He hired whole regiments of Dutch, etc., to fight us, and told them they could have anything they wanted if they could take it away from us, and sicked these Dutch, etc., on us.

He grabbed our own people when he found them in ships on the ocean, and shoved guns into their hands, and made them fight against us, no matter how much they didn't want to.

He stirred up the Indians, and give them arms and ammunition, and told them to go to it, and they have killed men, women and children, and don't care which.

Every time he has went to work and pulled any of these things, we have went to work and put in a kick, but every time we have went to work and put in a kick he has went to work and did it again. When a man keeps on handing out such rough stuff all the time, all you can say is that he ain't got no class and ain't fitten to have no authority over people who have got any rights, and he ought to be kicked out.

When we complained to the English we didn't get no more satisfaction.
Almost every day we give them plenty of warning that the politicians over there was doing things to us that they didn't have no right to do. We kept on reminding them who we was, and what we was doing here, and how we come to come here. We asked them to get us a square deal, and told them that if this thing kept on we'd have to do something about it and maybe they wouldn't like it. But the more we talked, the more they didn't pay no attention to us. Therefore, if they ain't for us they must be agin us, and we are ready to give them the fight of their lives, or to shake hands when it is over.

Therefore be it resolved, That we, the representatives of the people of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, hereby declare as follows: That the United States, which was the United Colonies in former times, is now a free country, and ought to be; that we have throwed out the English King and don't want to have nothing to do with him no more, and are not taking no more English orders no more; and that, being as we are now a free country, we can do anything that free countries can do, especially declare war, make peace, sign treaties, go into business, etc. And we swear on the Bible on this proposition, one and all, and agree to stick to it no matter what happens, whether we win or we lose, and whether we get away with it or get the worst of it, no matter whether we lose all our property by it or even get hung for it.

Author's Note

When this was reprinted in A Mencken Chrestomathy, the author added the following note:

"From THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE. THIRD EDITION, 1923, pp. 398-402. First printed, as Essay in American, in the Baltimore Evening Sun, Nov. 7, 1921. Reprinted in THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE, SECOND EDITION, 1921, pp.
388-92. From the preface thereof: 'It must be obvious that more than one section of the original is now quite unintelligible to the average American of the sort using the Common Speech. What would he make, for example, of such a sentence as this one: "He has called together bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures"? Or of this: "He has refused for a long time, after such dissolution, to cause others to be elected, whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise." Such Johnsonian periods are quite beyond his comprehension, and no doubt the fact is at least partly to blame for the neglect upon which the Declaration has fallen in recent years, when, during the Wilson-Palmer saturnalia of oppressions [1918-1920], specialists in liberty began protesting that the Declaration plainly gave the people the right to alter the government under which they lived and even to abolish it altogether, they encountered the utmost incredulity. On more than one occasion, in fact, such an exegete was tarred and feathered by shocked members of the American Legion, even after the Declaration had been read to them. What ailed them was simply that they could not understand its Eighteenth Century English.' This jocosity was denounced as seditious by various patriotic Americans, and in England it was accepted gravely and deplored sadly as a specimen of current Standard American."


Subject: The Declaration of Independence


Worth reading, though it is 231 years old today:


Two things struck me as I re-read this tract:

1 . If the ACLU and their cronies have their way, it will be stricken from our history because it depend on God as the source of our inalienable rights (since I'm not Jefferson, I can't really call them "unalienable").

2. This: "all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

That's about where we are with our current government. I know that already, the "long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism" has already brought various Ruby Ridge style groups to the conclusion that "it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

But for the rest of us? Wouldn't it be nice if by using our political processes we were able to roll back the casual despotism that oppresses us in our daily lives? Heh.

Happy Independence Day.





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Thursday, July 5, 2007

"If we had a 2 million-man army, we wouldn't be having..." 

Dear Jerry,

The number of things we wouldn't be having if we had a 2 million man army on active duty are too many to list in the available space. But leading the list of things we wouldn't have are:

1. The current elite composition of both major parties. Neither group is competent, either alone or jointly, to raise, supply and command a 2 million man army in war time. And I believe they are acutely aware of this, which is a main reason we're fighting a splendid little imperial war rather than republican style total warre.

2. An open borders immigration policy designed to facilitate alien invaders in stealing future veterans' post war employment.

3. The level of war profiteering - and worse, incompetent war profiteering - that we've witnessed in the last five years.

4. The current de-industrialization trade policies.

5. The current fuel and energy policies. The 2 million man army and interested relatives would be scouting all possible domestic alternatives to overseas employment of the army to secure foreign energy sources.

Best Wishes,





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FridayJuly 6, 2007

IPhone cracked

I can't claim to have followed the tech argument all the way, but it sounds bad.

In the past, you have followed several pieces of excellent advice with the phrase "What I tell you three times is true." You may already have done this with the advice, "never buy the first version of any new technology or OS." If not, you probably should. It's been a rule of mine for many years.

Of course, there would be an exception for those who make a living "doing things so others don't have to."

Tom Brosz

Well, Apple has a better reputation in these matters, but apparently they rushed this one out. Or something. I am still gathering data.


Oldest DNA Ever Recovered Suggests Earth Was Warmer


A link and cut and paste for your convenience.


Oldest DNA Ever Recovered Suggests Earth Was Warmer Discussion at PhysOrgForum <http://forum.physorg.com/index.php?showtopic=16089

New Danish research shows that large parts of Greenland were covered by forest. This was discovered by analysing fossil DNA which had been preserved under the kilometre-thick icecap. The DNA-traces are likely close to 450000 years old and that means ... New Danish research shows that large parts of Greenland were covered by forest. This was discovered by analysing fossil DNA which had been preserved under the kilometre-thick icecap. The DNA-traces are likely close to 450,000 years old, and that means that Greenland was also covered in a large ice sheet 125,000 years ago during the earth's last warm period, Eem. This was while the climate was 5 degrees warmer than the interglacial period we currently live in. Credit: Drawing of reconstruction of ancient Greenland by Bent J?rdig Knudsen

Ancient Greenland was green. New Danish research has shown that it was covered in conifer forest and, like southern Sweden today, had a relatively mild climate. Eske Willerslev, a professor at Copenhagen University, has analysed the world’s oldest DNA, preserved under the kilometre-thick icecap. The DNA is likely close to half a million years old, and the research is painting a picture which is overturning all previous assumptions about biological life and the climate in Greenland.

Ten percent of the Earth’s surface has been covered with ice for thousands of years. No one knows what lies beneath the kilometre-deep icecaps. These are the earth’s unknown and unexplored regions. But some have begun the exploration. Several projects under Danish leadership have been drilling through the icecap on Greenland <http://www.physorg.com/news102864888.html#>, and collected complete columns of ice all the way from the top to the bottom. The ice has annual layers and is a frozen archive of the world’s climate.

“I wonder, if there could also be DNA <http://www.physorg.com/news102864888.html#> down there”, thought Eske Willerslev, who is the world’s leading expert in extracting DNA from organisms buried in permafrost. His thinking was that perhaps he could reconstruct the environment of the past. <snip>

It's a fascinating article, and well worth reading the whole thing.=========

Greenland's Warm Past


My question is, of course, are we responsible for this warming period as well?


But of course... After all, didn't the Viking farms on Greenland use up all the warm and bring the cold?


Let No Child Get Ahead

Dear Jerry,

The New York Times finally documents the Official U.S. Department of Education policy to Let No Child Get Ahead. Under current Dept of Ed policies, states may not use "growth models" to actually track the progress of individual students. Instead, states are required to compare this year's 4th grade students to last year's 4th grade students despite any changes in class make-up or size.

Only an educrat would think this preferable to tracking actual individual student progress, although a teachers' union president said the growth model is "voodoo math" because "you have to be a Ph.D. in statistics to even comprehend it."


Jim Ransom


NCLB, equality and IQ

Dear Jerry,

I think we can all agree that the goals of our public education is equal opportunity for all. The problem seems to be defining and measuring how equal everyone's opportunities are.

The current system, No Child Left Behind, defines a standardized test and sets a bar and says everyone must at least meet this bar. The result: gifted children get neglected because they hurdle the bar with no problem so they don't need any more attention and below average students are pressured to drop out or their results are fudged.

Here's my idea: give all the students an IQ test and then set their desired score on the NCLB tests according to their IQ. In theory, IQ is not teachable but should give an indicator of how much someone can learn so this should allow below average intelligence students to learn to their full potential without dragging down the school's standing and force the schools to challenge above average intelligence students so that they can meet their higher expectations.

Of course the devil is in the details and IQ tests are so politicized at this point that it would be a difficult sell but I think the basic idea has merit.

Regards, Dave Smith Tokyo

Jensen's original studies were intended to identify children who needed "training" as opposed to "education". He did not start off trying to identify racial IQ characteristics. The problem is that if you use IQ tests, you WILL have more blacks in the "train rather than educate" track, and since this is unacceptable, the alternative is to attempt to educate everyone. As Frederick the Great observed, he who defends everything defends nothing. We may also observe that those who try to educate everyone generally educate no one.

Tracking and IQ have been outlawed in these United States. The result is that no child can get ahead; and of course that is the real meaning of No Child Left Behind.

The first move we must make is to abolish the Department of Education,  root and branch; fire them all and close down their programs. The few laws that make sense, like extra funding for "impacted" areas where local schools are responsible for educating federal employees and military dependents, can be taken over by General Services.

We should then work to abolish the Supreme Court's legislation -- it was not a judicial decision -- removing local taxation as the main means of funding schools. That usurpation -- there is no other word -- by the Court, imposing a requirement on the states and not even Congress could have imposed -- delivered control of the schools to bureaucrats far away, and turned most of the schools into prisons more concerned with maintaining attendance than doing their jobs. I know there are still some good schools. There are fewer all the time.

This is far more important than the war in Iraq. The United States is losing in this educational war.


Reinventing the Roman legions, 


Reinventing the Roman legions with "a dual system combining large "static" local police forces and a small, highly mobile national army" for Iraq:




Mainstreaming and thoughts of Madison

The more I read about the incremental creeping of the US government towards socialism, the more I think about James Madison. The article entitled "Mainstreaming" provoked yet again a few of Madison's quotes in my mind.

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America."

"With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."

Harold Bunch


Our Biotech Future

By Freeman Dyson

 Two facts about the coming century are agreed on by almost everyone. Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century. Biology is also more important than physics, as measured by its economic consequences, by its ethical implications, or by its effects on human welfare.




Declaration and Constitution

I found this comment ironic...

"'It must be obvious that more than one section of the original is now quite unintelligible to the average American of the sort using the Common Speech."

If one goes by actions rather than rhetoric, apparently most if not all of these documents have become unintelligible to all employees of the federal government. The Constitution in particular is honored far more in its breech than in its observance.

Charles Brumbelow


Subject: Mencken's declaration

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Many thanks for Mencken's version of the Declaration of Independence. He sought to mock speech patterns, but when he set aside irony he achieved a kind of demotic poetry. "But when things get so bad that a man ain't hardly got no rights at all no more, but you might almost call him a slave, then everybody ought to get together and throw the grafters out, and put in new ones who won't carry on so high and steal so much, and then watch them." Hip-hip-hooray! Message received and understood!

(Even his sarcasm folds in gently. Put in _new_ grafters, and then watch them!)

The effect, to my ears, sounds more Southern Black, with a hint of backwoods, than mainstream American. Perhaps it is time for another update.

Nathaniel Hellerstein


From another conference:

About the Navy: First, the Navy has a very rigorous preventive maintenance program on subs. Every part is numbered, and certain parts are examined and/or replaced on a detailed schedule. Thus, there are a number of different light bulbs on a sub, with a schedule for each light. Records are kept for each inspection and/or replacement, showing when, what the serial number, model number, manufacturer, what the batch number was, the date, and the name and signature of the seaman who did the inspection and or replacement, and the seaman who checked the inspection and or replacement. Secondly, there are detailed plans and blue prints of the subs and all of its systems. Third, there is an extensive onboard machine shop, maintenance facility, with a full range of tools which make it possible to deal with most mechanical problems without surfacing, etc. Finally, if there is a problem which can not be rectified with any of the above, there are maintenance ships which can be sent out to the sub to make major repairs. If that does not work, you get the sub back home one way or another.

There is a true story which tells it all: A sub began to have washers fail. Many of them. But washers never fail -- so this was a puzzle. The Navy went into its tracking records and found out all of the failed washers came from the same source -- same manufacturer, place, same worker. The Navy went out and interviewed the worker and found his wife had died and he was not focused on his work. They sent the man to recover and replaced him with another worker. They went in and replaced EVERY washer that man made within the entire fleet and got rid of all the rest of the washers in storage this man made -- and continued on. They had that kind of information for every part on the ship.

The Soviets did a lot of major innovations on orbit with specially developed tools and procedures never tried before in order to deal with repairs never anticipated or planned. These were done with parts and procedures which the crew or the ground and the crew together invented and built. Models were often designed by the ground team, were built on the ground and then sent up on the re-supply ship. The ground and flight crews tested the repair with models and two way communications, tv, etc. The space repairs were very complex.

Best! BJ


Thanks BJ,

humans seem to pose problems, even after engineering marvels are commissioned ! ...and the examples are well known in aeronautics and space industry as well.

Now, I hope those roboticists are not scanning this thread to make another case against humans in the loop. Perhaps we should be out of the loop, but I can't see when and how that might come about.....



Well, actually, I thinks the Navy speaks pretty well for us ole humans and I'd pick us to rustle those robots in a pinch any day. We're the builders!


Robots are fine, but you begin to learn how smart a moron is when you try to program a robot. We will not be a spacefaring nation until we have able spacers and petty officers routinely running the ships.




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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Had you seen this story about the thousands of rubber ducks floating around the world? http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/



Good Grief!


Nukes on America


"When I first heard of Roswell I thought they had laid an egg: that is, that a nuke had fallen out of one of the aircraft (but did not explode; it has happened more than once). At that time we didn't have many nukes, and we kept them and the airplanes moving around so they couldn't be wiped out in one strike."

I buy the Mogul theory on Roswell rather than the egg. But I will agree that the only entity that ever dumped thermonuclear weapons on the USA was the SAC. Back in 1963 I was the de facto CO of an outfit the senior sergeants of which were still pissed that the guys from Ft Meade instead of our outfit had mopped up the SAC dump of 3 or 4 of the sweet babies on a western Maryland hillside the year before. (Obviously, the safety cutouts worked perfectly, unlike the bomb bay mechanisms of the B-52 model preceding the current one.)

People who have never been shot at have a strange idea of what constitutes glory. The Geiger and scintillation counters of the time were pitiful. "You mean that you want to crawl on your hands and knees through four or five square miles of poison ivy covered hillside in the middle of August, sergeant, knowing that your success will be classified three or four clicks above TOP SECRET?" That is as elegant condensation of an afternoon's worth of syrup that I can manage. We had other fish to fry in 1963. In 1965 when the SAC had a similar little problem 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, the response team appears to have been a lot better trained.

Val Augstkalns


Jerry, set down your coffee, and return your chair to the full upright and locked position before you read this. You do NOT want to spray coffee all over your monitor.


The imbecility of some people knows no bounds.





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Sunday, July 8, 2007      

Colapsa la relación de Colombia con Estados Unidos


"The headline above -- The collapse of Colombian-U.S. relations -- comes from an article <http://www.novacolombia.info/nota.asp?
n=2007_7_4&id=38525&id_tiponota=10>  in Nova Colombia, detailing how an anti-trade contingent in Congress, aligned with organized labor, is using every political weapon to block the new, bilateral free trade agreement. Its failure could be devastating for democratic progress in Latin America.

On Friday, Investor's Business Daily editorially explained the real crisis facing trade and democratic progress in Colombia and Latin America, " Congress Holds Colombia Hostage <http://www.investors.com/editorial/
article&id=268613779208274>  ." It's a harsh editorial, one that does not adequately acknowledge the level of internal congressional debate on Colombia, but it does powerfully paint the stakes of a failed FTA.

The trade pact Colombia negotiated in good faith with the U.S. and which it needs to sustain its dramatic economic recovery from the ruins of a 44-year war must wait until Democrats arbitrarily decide they're satisfied with the violence level. This gives every anti-free trade Colombian thug an incentive to keep killing.

And what do the Colombians think? Again, IBD:

Millions of Colombians instead issued a people's cry last Thursday against the more serious enemy of their country's well-being — the Marxist FARC narcoterrorists. They marched through the streets of Bogota, Medellin and Cali — calling for an end to the violence from the radical left. Led by Uribe himself, the first million-plus protest in Colombia in decades was triggered by the cold-blooded murder of 11 legislators by FARC, who held the elected leaders for five years before killing them.

The NAM supports free trade agreements as a means to expand export opportunities for manufacturers in the United States, and the US-Colombia FTA certainly meets that goal. Most U.S. exports to Colombia are industrial goods, and nearly 80 percent of Colombia's tariffs on these goods will fall to zero when the FTA takes effect.

But we are cognizant of the broader foreign policy issues, as well. Destabilization of Colombia -- the collapse of relations, as the headline calls it -- will be a damaging blow to democracy in South America, empowering anti-American, anti-trade forces like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. The domestic political game being played here in the United States with the U.S.-Colombia FTA is extremely dangerous."

There are some interesting things above. One is that this free trade agreement should, in theory, be aiding industrial production in the US. I've been watching this particular issue, as the Colombians faced increasing opposition in Congress to their efforts to end their civil war and drug issues. Isn't it interesting how often the things our Congress do result in exactly the opposite of their ostensible goals? A decade ago I didn't see any chance of the Colombians cleaning up their rebels and the drug cartels they were allied to, and now it is particularly galling to see this success story under attack by the only boobs in our country bigger than the ones found in strip clubs.



missing Art Bell

In which you wrote

>I miss Art Bell. He was reasonably sane...

I must agree

One of his strengths was that he got into broadcasting via ham radio and other forms of amatuer radio, and via the military in various area broadcasting in the western pacific and the Philipines (he has also visited mainland China)

This enforces a certain rigor of logic based on practical engineering because while electronics works by PFM, most of the time it either works or doesn't based on real principles, and all the sacrifices of white chickens in the world will not help, not much, usually.

Having a boat and dealing with old man sea is another similar activity where mistakes are not easily forgiven. Something falls over the side into Davy Jones' locker, Davy Jones will say thank you very much, and not return it.

So he while he would give people plenty of rope to let them hang themselves, you couldn't just snow him completely with smoke and mirrors.



The Myth of the Flat Earth.


- Roland Dobbins

How does investigating the myth of the flat earth help teachers of the history of science?

First, as a historian, I have to admit that it tells us something about the precariousness of history. History is precarious for three reasons: the good reason that it is extraordinarily difficult to determine "what really happened" in any series of events; the bad reason that historical scholarship is often sloppy; and the appalling reason that far too much historical scholarship consists of contorting the evidence to fit ideological models. The worst examples of such contortions are the Nazi and Communist histories of the early- and mid-twentieth century.

Contortions that are common today, if not widely recognized, are produced by the incessant attacks on Christianity and religion in general by secular writers during the past century and a half, attacks that are largely responsible for the academic and journalistic sneers at Christianity today.

A curious example of this mistreatment of the past for the purpose of slandering Christians is a widespread historical error, an error that the Historical Society of Britain some years back listed as number one in its short compendium of the ten most common historical illusions. It is the notion that people used to believe that the earth was flat--especially medieval Christians.

It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat.

A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters--Leukippos and Demokritos for example--by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans.

Nor did this situation change with the advent of Christianity. A few--at least two and at most five--early Christian fathers denied the sphericity of earth by mistakenly taking passages such as Ps. 104:2-3 as geographical rather than metaphorical statements. On the other side tens of thousands of Christian theologians, poets, artists, and scientists took the spherical view throughout the early, medieval, and modern church. The point is that no educated person believed otherwise.

Historians of science have been proving this point for at least 70 years (most recently Edward Grant, David Lindberg, Daniel Woodward, and Robert S. Westman), without making notable headway against the error. Schoolchildren in the US, Europe, and Japan are for the most part being taught the same old nonsense. How and why did this nonsense emerge? <snip>

A lively current version of the lie can be found in Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers, found in any bookshop or library.<snip>

He proceeds to show that prior to 1835 no one believed that the Medieval scholars believed the Earth was flat. His account of how this nonsense about the Medieval period became the "consensus view" of intellectuals makes for an interesting story, and one I recommend to everyone. It is a stark illustration of why "consensus" is not always a good measure of truth.

Mike Flynn (First author winner of the Heinlein Medal) has been giving lectures on Medieval science and scholarship for several years now. He has taken the trouble to find the correct view and present it. He also shows what nonsense this generation believes about the Medieval period of Western history.

Flynn comments below


SCIENCE Magazine Waffles on Warming


" The last issue of SCIENCE is waffling like mad on the global warming fad, warning its readers that it may not be so settled a question. Under the headline "Another Global Warming Icon Comes Under Attack," SCIENCE writer Richard Kerr writes <http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/317/5834/28a>  :

"...a group of mainstream atmospheric scientists is disputing a rising icon of global warming, and researchers are giving some ground." ...

"Robert Charlson of the University of Washington, Seattle, (is) one of three authors of a commentary published online last week in Nature Reports: Climate Change. ... he and his co-authors argue that the simulation by 14 different climate models of the warming in the 20th century is not the reassuring success IPCC claims it to be."

(IPCC is the supposed international scientific consensus document on global warming - JL).

"... In the run-up to the IPCC climate science report released last February ... 14 groups ran their models under 20th-century conditions of rising greenhouse gases. ... But the group of three atmospheric scientists ... says the close match between models and the actual warming is deceptive. The match "conveys a lot more confidence [in the models] than can be supported in actuality," says Schwartz. [....]

"Greenhouse gas changes are well known, they note, but not so the counteracting cooling of pollutant hazes, called aerosols. Aerosols cool the planet by reflecting away sunlight and increasing the reflectivity of clouds. Somehow, the three researchers say, modelers failed to draw on all the uncertainty inherent in aerosols so that the 20th-century simulations look more certain than they should." [Italics added]

What? "Somehow" they missed the biggest unknown factor in climate prediction? "<snip>


Theory links lead exposure, crime

Economist says removing metal from gas, homes has reduced violence

By Shankar Vedantam

The Washington Post Updated: 11:57 p.m. ET July 7, 2007

Rudy Giuliani never misses an opportunity to remind people about his track record in fighting crime as mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001.

"I began with the city that was the crime capital of America," Giuliani, now a candidate for president, recently told Fox's Chris Wallace. "When I left, it was the safest large city in America. I reduced homicides by 67 percent. I reduced overall crime by 57 percent."

Although crime did fall dramatically in New York during Giuliani's tenure, a broad range of scientific research has emerged in recent years to show that the mayor deserves only a fraction of the credit that he claims. The most compelling information has come from an economist in Fairfax who has argued in a series of little-noticed papers that the "New York miracle" was caused by local and federal efforts decades earlier to reduce lead poisoning.

The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children's exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.

Findings hold across countries What makes Nevin's work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.

"It is stunning how strong the association is," Nevin said in an interview. "Sixty-five to ninety percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead."<snip>

As a colleague points out, the study does not show the relationship between lead and IQ, or between IQ and crime. Alas, it is easy enough to lower IQ with environmental means. Some are not reversible. I pointed this out in A Step Farther Out more than 30 years ago.




Took Jay and his buddy to the Transformers movie last night. It was doing very brisk business, and not all of it was teenaged/twentyish guys and the dates who consented to go with along with their dorky boyfriend's childhood toy fetish (seated across from us were a couple of thirtyish ladies, and there were other older unaccompanied women in the theater).

The CGI was very well done except that I think the "transforms" were shown to go quickly so that there was no by-eye obvious conservation of mass, even at the component level, between the "vehicle" and the "robot" forms. Of course, that doesn't address the standing question about why intelligent metal-based anthropomorphic extra-terrestrials would find it worth their while to transform into American road vehicles in the first place. The battle sequences were well done and stayed within the context of the film. The high-level DoD interaction shown was less believable (in one of the least developed and believable character moments, a young lady with a British accent, already having been personally admonished by the SecDef against wild speculation about the nature of the signal that they are trying to interpret, downloads a copy onto a flash card and carries it through security so that her hacker buddy, who apparently lives within walking distance of the Pentagon, can interrupt his streaming rap downloads and decrypt it before the FBI catches up with her). The love interest was more than just a bit comic-bookish, but was overall satisfying.

Overall, if you are capable of leaving your disbelief at home (or e-mailing it to another continent; even dropping it in the theater parking lot might be asking too much) it's a fun film. Jay loved it and has spent the morning googling sequel plans.


haven't seen it yet, but I expect I will. Thanks.








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