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Monday, July 9, 2007

There was considerable mail, some important, over the weekend.


In Praise of Skinned Knees and Grubby Faces - washingtonpost.com

A book agreeing with your ideas on innate differences between boys and girls.




'Founder' of Climatology debunks claim humans responsible for global warming -

Interesting that *he* calls it a scam....no?




Are we bankrupt?

"the US has been playing a big game of IOU with the rest of the world."

Dr Pournelle,

An Irish POV on a recent milestone, but one I that I think you'll agree with.

<Quote> On June 15, the US government was given two fingers, not by a bunch of internationalist lefties, but by its main supporters, the international financial community.

The US treasury tried to sell new US ten-year treasury bills worth $8 billion to plug the gap between what Americans spend and what Americans save. For the first time ever, foreigners said: ''No thanks."

In doing so, foreign investors kicked off a process that has left the financial markets and the dollar in a tizzy. By taking up only 10 per cent of what the US government was trying to sell, investors have screamed: ''The emperor has no clothes!" </Quote>

Full version. http://www.davidmcwilliams.ie/2007/07/08/

Considering the significance of the event I would have expected a great deal more coverage, or perhaps not ?

Best Regards, Pat

Dr. Robinson in Access To Energy observes that between bonded indebtedness, IOU's to China for the trade deficit, and mandated entitlements, the US now owes the entire capital value of the United States: that is, every cent that every one of us owns is now owed to someone. Samuelson once said "We owe it to ourselves" with regard to the National Debt; that was never strictly true, and today it is even less so.

This problem will become increasingly worse.

The numbers are very large, and very scary. We will at some point have no choice but to repudiate the debt. Before we do that we will inflate the currency, destroying all savings. This is the price of all that spending. The Bush administration has shoveled money out as if there were no tomorrow. It is now dawn of tomorrow.

This important discussion continues below


Haves and Have-Nots of Globalization.


-- Roland Dobbins


bread and circuses - 

Hi Jerry,

You'd asked the question: "Is it better to have citizens who can buy cheap goods but are kept docile by bread and circuses, or to pay more for goods made by those citizens who see themselves as productive and useful members of the community?"

I'd argue the second is the only viable option. For the former, there's an assumption (made by socialists) that productive citizens will continue to work hard to support the bread and circuses, regardless of how high the tax goes. Ayn Rand was right. Imagine a bus trip with the football team (40 kids) and the computer club (20 kids). The jocks forget their lunch, and in the democratic tradition there's a vote on whether to share the lunches that everyone (i.e. the nerds) have brought. What's the line about voting themselves largess from the public treasury? It only works as long as it keeps being filled.

Eventually the producers will realize that their total tax burden is more than 50-70% and simply stop working harder for increasingly lower return. The surplus that allows the bread and circuses will cease (the mob requires ever more shocking events to overcome it's tolerance), and the whole system will collapse.

I think this will happen in California before anywhere else (not counting France and Germany). Hopefully the rest of us will learn from it's example.

Atlas will shrug.



Remember Rule #6 ~ Art of Possiblity, Benjamin Zander


Roast Haunch Of Gore 


How successful were Al Gore's efforts to render the Live Earth extravaganza " Carbon Neutral"?

Not very- about 150 Gigawatts of electricity, much of it coal fired ,went missing from the organizer's power-point slides.

Then there were the canned penguins.

Russell Seitz


Action on climate change

If you want to see what can happen if you act on climate change with imperfect information, look here: http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=52&id=1060072007  - even the excuses are self-condemning as "how were we to know?".


Indeed. Indeed.



Dear Jerry

Tom Knight has always liked to build things from scratch. We both first knew him as one of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory's fortemost firmware hackers, but he has evolved into a founder of synthetic biology , the emerging discipline that addresses the debugging-- and embodiment--of genetic codes.

Now word has come from Switzerland of a truly momentous milestone in that infant discipline's growth. Something very close to life has been created from scratch in a bio lab.


Russell Seitz


History and the repetition thereof 

In my historical readings I have come across more than once this charming incident, which shows the utility of repression in human affairs, and may serve as a guide to our current imperial aspirations in Iraq and elsewhere:

"On February 16, 1568 a sentence of the Holy Office condemned all the inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as heretics. From this universal doom only a few persons, especially named, were acquitted. A proclamation of the king, dated ten days later, confirmed this decree of the Inquisition and ordered it to be carried out into instant execution without regard to age and sex. This is the most concise death warrant that had ever been framed. Three million people—men, women and children—were sentenced to the scaffold."

(The Rise of the Dutch Republic, by John Lathrop Motley, Volume 1, Part 2, Chapter 2, par. 12, p. 2.)

The result? The Netherlands are largely Protestant and independent of Spain. Boy, that certainly showed them!

I politely put it that even the most brutal possible repression won't stop people from resisting a foreign occupation. Unless you actually DO kill them all.


See below for discussion


Our old friend Jack Woodford is back in print:


Trial and Error

This is the one--the BIG book on writing!

Taught in universities, read by best-selling authors, damned and praised for nearly 50 years. Here is the first paperback edition of the most controversial and famous how-to-write book ever written."


I learned a lot from Woodford's books. An odd but interesting person.





This week:


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TuesdayJuly 10, 2007


The snippet re: aerosols being missed in computer models echoes what I've been saying for two days. A fire in Utah has caused smoke haze in our western Colorado city of Grand Junction. The weather was forecasted to be over one hundred degrees. It didn't make it that hot because the haze reflected some of the Sun's potential heat. (100° is normal in this area for July in GJ.) It felt cooler all day and my dog even was willing to venture out. I kept thinking of your book "Fallen Angels" and how the enviros are ruining our weather with their too-clean air.

Thanks for your constant insights.



Re: Bankruptcy (see earlier)

Subj: US Treasury Debt

I'm having a little trouble reconciling the report of the supposedly failed auction on 15 June 2007 of "new US ten-year treasury bills worth $8 billion" with


which announced the results and with


which announced the offering. (I don't know how much to make of the mistake of calling them "bills" rather than "notes". Bills are short-term securities, maturing in a year or less; securities with maturities between one and ten years are "notes". Just sloppiness, I expect.)

It looks to me like, indeed, there were no noncompetitive bids from "Foreign and International Monetary Authority (FIMA) accounts", but it doesn't look like there was any trouble selling the issue -- there were over $20 billion of competitive bids for the $8 billion offering.

I looked on page http://www.treasurydirect.gov/instit/
annceresult/press/preanre/2007/2007_10year.htm  at the results for the three prior 10-year-note auctions in 2007, and found that only one of the three had FIMA bids, in the amount of $100 million for a total offering of $8 billion in February.

Whatever's going on, it's not a sudden cutoff of FIMA bids in June.

There was a _Wall Street Journal_ article on 13 June, "U.S. Bond Yields Climb, Hitting A 5-Year High", that talked about the rate for the 1-year note hitting 5.25% as investors "continued to dump Treasurys." But the article also talked about this jump in Treasury rates being an aspect of bond yields in general returning to normal, restoring some slope to a yield curve that had been anomalously flat or even inverted recently.

The WSJ article did talk about "lackluster interest, especially from foreign investors" in the 10-year-note auction, but the WSJ language fell far short of the sky-is-falling/we're-doomed language in the David McWilliams piece.

Do you supposed David McWilliams might have been spinning his language to play to his audience? I don't recall ever having heard of him before. The "About David" link on his site says he's a TV personality who used to be an economic analyst who worked for the Irish Central Bank and some big international commercial banks.

I haven't found (maybe because I haven't looked hard enough) quantitative data about the *distribution* of the bids submitted to Treasury auctions; to assess the David McWilliams Jeremiad, I'd want to look at historical trends over time in the distributions of bids from domestic and foreign bidders separately.

Personally, I'm inclined to give more credence to the more moderately-worded WSJ piece than to the sky-is-falling/we're-doomed David McWilliams piece.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

There is a lot more mail on this and I will try to put up a variety.

My view is this: we cannot continue to live by selling capital assets and borrowing money. Whether this year or another, the economy cannot sustain these massive deficits, nor can our republic tolerate the anomie that is the inevitable consequence of unrestricted Free Trade coupled with the train wreck that is our school system. Water runs downhill. And it will reach bottom, if not this year then another.

Do not forget: our entitlements already have committed the entire capital value of the US.

US Bankruptcy & Reindustrialization 

Dear Jerry,

>>We will at some point have no choice but to repudiate the debt. Before we do that we will inflate the currency, destroying all savings. This is the price of all that spending.<<

Probably it will become a little difficult to keep importing under those conditions. Communities can therefore do without or start - ahem - making things again. All those 'cheap' Chinese machine tools at Harbor Freight and Enco won't be so 'cheap' anymore when inflation soars like a Saturn V. So the process of reindustrializing will be a real drag when you've allowed your machine tool and foundry industries to atrophy as badly as we have in the USA. Even South Bend Lathe finally bit the dust as of May, 2007. 'Capital formation' with paper money will be equally difficult when paper money is worthless.

A fellow named Pat Delaney has done some interesting work to help address this situation. This is build machine tools using concrete and salvaged vehicle engines and parts. See:




I have reason to suspect similar but more developed plans exist somewhere in the catacombs of the federal archives in Washington. Who knows? Perhaps some left behind patriot there will unearth and make them available to the people who originally paid for them.

Best Wishes,


p.s. Don't forget seeds and practice for those large family gardens, boyz and girlz. During inflation 'Oil' is among the imports whose price will soar out of reach like a Saturn V. And riding that rocket as payloads will be the prices of the corn, soybean and potato feedstocks for our already soaring domestic biofuels sector.

The US has not entirely lost its industrial base, but our schools plus Free Trade are making progress.

Are we bankrupt?


This is something that has driven me nuts for many years. Back in the 60s & 70s I read every word I could find on this subject and your writings on space based solar generation put you well up on my favorite author list then as well as now. Reading through A step farther out and another step farther out brought home to me again how our politicians of all flavors have cheated not just the American people, but the people of the world from having surpluses of cheap power instead of todays high priced rationed power. I firmly believe that Enron and other happenings could not have happened if the proposed power satellite program had not been cut from the budget during the Ford and Carter administrations by short sighted politicians. After reading your materials on the subject again I dug out Colonies in Space by T. A. Heppenheimer from my book drawers and read it over again and got more angry about how the people of this nation and the world have been cheated out of what could have been. I did find that he has made his book available on line to read as you have done with some of yours.


I also found two other groups of material posted on line dealing with space colonies and space industry that would have prevented the current energy and CO@ scam's from occurring if the plans of the early 70s for the third industrial revolution had been carried out instead of being cut out.



What we could have had with brighter and braver people in political office really makes me angry all over again. Maybe we should put RAH's book on taking back your government on line and push it to the hilt as required reading. I dug it out and read it again just a couple of months ago and think it should be required reading for all citizens in this nation. When you just stop and think that we could be selling surplus electricity to the world instead of having to buy oil and gas to keep going I think of that old and true phrase, do not get mad, get even, but where is there a politician worth voting for that is not as bad or worse than what we have now.

-- James Early Long Beach, CA

Precisely. If we go for Free Trade, then we MUST have X Projects and a strategy of technology, and structure the schools to teach skills to the skilled and educate the innovators. We do neither.

Litigation and the D.C. schools


"In a hard-hitting series last month, the Washington Post investigated the enduring calamity that is the Washington, D.C. public school system, which persistently ranks at or near the bottom among the nation's leading cities. (Dan Keating and V. Dion Haynes, "Can D.C. Schools be Fixed?", Jun. 10

 ; April Witt, "Worn Down by Waves of Change", Jun. 11
?hpid=topnews>  )

(via Frum <http://frum.nationalreview.com/post/?q=
Y2VmMjQyMjZjYTIxZjEzYTQyMGM3ZGEwYThkNWI2ZGU=>  ). Along with familiar problems of cronyism, mismanagement and undislodgeable incompetents, there is another persistent theme: "Reformers' lawsuits have backfired, time and again." For instance:

The activist group Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools tried to force city officials to help the schools in 1992 by suing over fire code violations in dilapidated buildings. Members thought they were helping [Superintendent Franklin L.] Smith by forcing Mayor Marion Barry, the D.C. Council and Congress to pay to rebuild the schools.

Instead, D.C. Superior Court Judge Kaye K. Christian closed schools with fire code violations. The suit dragged on for years. It contributed to the 1996 ouster of Smith, a favorite of Parents United activists. ...

"In our wildest imaginings, we never thought this would happen," Delabian Rice-Thurston, then executive director of Parents United, told The Washington Post the day Smith was fired. "The whole thing -- the lawsuit, the court dates -- it all backfired. Be careful what you wish for; you might get it."

And then this, on special ed:

[Former superintendent Arlene] Ackerman balked when she discovered that the school system was paying millions of dollars annually to lawyers representing special education students who had successfully sued for better services. A lawyer sending a short form letter setting up a meeting might bill the schools $450, she said. Ackerman persuaded Congress to cap the amount lawyers could bill the schools at $80 an hour, she said.

Instead of winning plaudits for saving money, "you would have thought that I was responsible for World War III," Ackerman said. "I started getting pressure -- 'we don't need to get a cap,' 'this is not fair' -- and I mean from all parts of the community. Somebody said to me these were trial lawyers who support certain politicians."

Ackerman was summoned to meet with [Anthony] Williams, by then the mayor, about raising the cap. She resigned before the meeting took place, and her initiative was soon rolled back, she said. Williams, in a recent interview, conceded that he "might have caved in" to political pressure even though he fundamentally believed Ackerman had been right to limit money spent on lawyer fees that could have gone to classrooms.

Overall, the Post reports, special-ed lawsuits wound up forcing the system to spend about $120 million a year to pay private tuition for 2,400 students out of a system of 55,000, plus $75 million for special education transportation. That left less money to fix the system's own inadequate special education programs that sparked the lawsuits in the first place."

All typical.



An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization.


 Roland Dobbins


Battle Hymn of the Republic

I moved from the Midwest to the Southeast recently for a job. I frequently hear the song being sung here. It's almost as if the North taught a lesson that's still remembered here but, sadly, has been long forgotten up north.

I learned it in public school in Tennessee. Along with Dixie.




This week:


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Wednesday,  July 11, 2007

http://www.peeniewallie.com/2007/03/saturnalia.html  (for video, which is over 1 MB, so I'm not attaching it)

A hexagon-shaped feature at Saturn's north-pole, first observed by Voyager 1 and 2 over 25 years ago, was filmed by the Cassini space probe on November 10, 2006. The hexagon is 25,000 kilometers (15,000 miles) across, and about 100 kilometers (60 miles) deep. It is large enough to fit four Earths inside.

This nighttime movie of the depths of the north pole of Saturn taken by the visual infrared mapping spectrometer onboard NASA's Cassini Orbiter reveals a dynamic, active planet lurking underneath the ubiquitous cover of upper-level hazes. The defining feature of Saturn's north polar regions--the six-sided hexagon feature--is clearly visible in the image. This nighttime movie was acquired over a one-hour period on Nov. 10, 2006, from an average distance of 1.03 million kilometers (621,000 miles) above Saturn's clouds.



Hi Robert,

First, my thanks for your thoughtfulness in not dumping the movie on me. We are still on dialup in this part of rural western Ireland, and those people who insist on sending me unsolicited collections of pictures of their offspring, cats, and vacations can be a real pain when I'm on limited time and need to get to the rest of my e-mail. Much appreciated.

The hexagon is interesting. Personally I find the interpretation offered by the Electric Universe people the most persuasive. They've been saying for a long time that the Saturnian system is highly active electrically, and suggested that the "cracks" on Enceladus are in fact channels carved by planetary-scale discharges. They contend that a hexagonal or other form of symmetric pattern is the kind of thing to be expected from powerful spatial Birkeland currents converging on the polar regions. Hexagon and stripe patterns are observed in dielectric barrier streamer discharge demonstrations in terrestrial labs. But the conventional indoctrination process only permits one to talk about gravity.

Bests as always,

Jim Hogan


Looks like you are right about Iran


WSJ article:


Their survey agrees with you on Iran.


What Iranians Really Think By KEN BALLEN July 11, 2007; Page A14

Keen observers of Iran have insisted for years that the Iranian people are pro-Western, indeed pro-American, while opposed to the largely unelected clerical regime that rules them. For the first time, Terror Free Tomorrow's unprecedented nationwide poll of Iran offers indisputable empirical proof that these commentators are dead-on in their assessment of the "Iranian street."

Discontent with the current system of government, the economy and isolation from the West is widespread throughout Iran. In this context, nuclear weapons are the lowest priority for the Iranian people. The overwhelming popular will to live in a country open to the West and the U.S., with greater economic opportunity, is a powerful plea from every region and segment of society. Iranians also speak with one voice in rejecting the current autocratic rule of their supreme leader and in courageously asking for democracy instead.


Laws, Sausages and Journalism


"Michael Yon's solid documentation—the units involved, their commander's names, the exact GPS coordinates of the site, video, and still photographs of the bodies, and a face-to-face meeting between Yon and AP reporter Robert Reid—and we get al Qaeda "reportedly" left mass graves.

In the second graph, through the magic of the AP's Baghdad Bureau, a nameless medic and fearful anonymous doctor are now, "Iraqi officials."

Otto von Bismark was once credited with stating, "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making."

As we gain a greater understanding of how one vague, phoned-in account after another is squeezed into an Associated Press casing and squirted across the wires, we're forced to face the reality that like sausages, many of the "facts" in an Associated Press story are those we'd never swallow for a second if we knew what went into them."

And people wonder why I say not to believe the news unless you can confirm it through other sources.



Global Warming:

I thought you might get a kick out of this evidence of global warming: a photo of snow in Amman, Jordan, last March. My daughter took it from the roof of the house where she was living. Snow in March is not unusual -- in New England. But it had never been seen in Jordan within anyone's memory.


-----Original Message-----

Subject: My Neighborhood in Snow

I took this last Thursday when we had a surprise freak snowstorm. It was only 1 1/2 inches, and most of it turned to slush as soon as it hit the street or the ground, but it still had a lot of people freaking out. The streets were very slippery. The house that is sitting in a diamond shape is one of the last "old houses" left in this neighborhood. This isn't a fashionable neighborhood, but a lot of 'Iraqis are coming here... I keep wondering how much they will be able to sell their land for, and if they will decide to sell, b/c they're running out of space to build new buildings, but a lot of people are selling their old houses and land to knock down.

I took this from the roof.



Who will POLICE Iraq?

Dr. Pournelle:

In today's Current View, you said, "The problem remains: good soldiers don't make good constables. Armies break things and kill people."

Quite true. If not our soldiers, and not the woefully lacking Iraqis (who SHOULD be training a much broader constabulary), who will act as police? There were (in 2005, the latest source I could find) 20,000 private security personnel in Iraq. Some are company security to companies doing business in Iraq, and others are mercs. I'm interested in your opinion about hiring private security to fill in some of the major gaps needed to police Iraq. The problem I've seen with Baghdad is that their police do more of the support roles than actual cop-on-the-beat patrolling. Ditto with their National Police. They aren't chasing after insurgents, they are supporting those who ARE chasing the insurgents, the US Army.

Here's my source on the private security, the best I could get from the Ask.com algorithm:


I think that private security, without having any kind of Sunni/Shia/Kurd affiliation, paid for by the Iraqi government, could take care of a lot of the day-to-day patrolling done by our military forces. Any thoughts?

Best regards,

Bill Kelly

Houston, TX

I don't disagree, and given my history I hardly could, but I do point out that the people you recommend here are generally known as "mercenaries."

A nation can hire its security done: Athens employed slave archers, as an example, to sweep people into the agora for votes, and generally to keep the peace. The Vatican hires Swiss Guards.


Subject: Gurkha Harry


"SOLDIER Prince Harry has joined one of the most fearsome units in the British Army — the Gurkhas.

Harry, an officer with posh cavalry regiment the Blues and Royals, is doing a spell with the legendary fighters to learn their killer expertise.

Yesterday he was driven to the Brecon Beacons in Wales with men of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles for a four-day exercise.

He will take part in every aspect of the operation and an insider said: "To all intents and purposes he will be a Gurkha."

He joined the tough men from Nepal — who have struck terror into Britain's enemies for 200 years — looking ready for action kitted out in full camouflage gear.

At the end of the exercise Harry, a 22-year-old 2nd lieutenant whose own unit has gone to Iraq without him because of fears for his safety, will be presented with an honorary kukri — the curved knife of the Gurkhas.

An insider said: "Harry will be told that when the kukri leaves its sheath it can never be returned without blood being drawn."

It appears Prince Harry has more guts than the MoD.

I have Gurkhas in Mamelukes, but not led by a prince of the house of the Electress Sophia of Hanover...



Dr. Pournelle,

Just dropping a note with a link to how some of us celebrated Independence Day in Baghdad. Please don't publish my name or email address.


War has definitely changed.

Thanks for your good work!


If Public Libraries Didn't Exist, Could You Start One Today?

Interesting read

I need to think this over



I point out that at one time, the 21,000 libraries were a prime market for hard bound books. Authors used to speak at libraries free, and we all sought reviews in library journals.


brutal repression

"I politely put it that even the most brutal possible repression won't stop people from resisting a foreign occupation. Unless you actually DO kill them all."

That is obviously not true. Otherwise European colonialism wouldn't have succeeded for 450 years. What brings down empires is not the resistance of subject peoples to foreign occupation, but internal rot or attacks from other empires.

James Perry

Well, I would disagree. There was damned little "brutal repression" in the British Empire (see the account of Miss mTombe's toe in Rhodesia as an example; even in the Boer Republic of South Africa the repression was pretty mild compared to, say, Stalin). European colonialism had many faults, but I suspect that many in Rhodesia wish the British Raj and the Queen's African Rifles were back. I suspect you could find some sentiments for the return of the Brits in Nigeria as well. The slogan 'good government is no substitute for self government" is taking a hollow ring in many parts of the world.

Most regimes fall for lack of defenders. When nations no longer believe in what they are doing, the bureaucracy will continue for a while, using paid soldiers and police; but rule with mercenaries who are really mercenaries -- that it who don't believe in any cause and would change sides for more money -- seldom works. After a while there are no more defenders.

I also point out that Islamist extremists definitely do believe in what they are doing, witness the recent executions by stoning for adultery in Iran.

Ferdinand of Austria famously said he would rather rule a desert than a Protestant nation, but when Wallenstein took him at his word he found he didn't believe that after all. Apparently some of the Wahhabi do believe it.

Internal rot doesn't usually destroy empires from within; see Wittfogel's Oriental Despotism.


Rape and Murder in Tennessee & The Whore at Duke


FWIW, I saw one article buried in the local paper about the rape and murder during the time the front page was routinely covering the Duke situation. I don't pretend to read all the paper every day, so maybe I missed some additional articles...

I had rather my name not be included if you use this item.


And Mike Flynn:

The Sphericity of the Earth

"Sciences are differentiated according to the various means through which knowledge is obtained. For the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion—that the earth, for instance, is round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e., abstracting from matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Question 1, Article I, Reply to Obj. 2

The Ol' Dumb Ox was confident enough in the sphericity of the earth to use it here in passing in an argument about theology, in this case "Whether any knowledge beside philosophical science is needed." One comment: astronomy was considered mathematics, not physics, because no one supposed that the Ptolemaic epicycles and deferents used to "save the appearances" represented anything physically real. Astronomy did not become a physical science until the Copernicans began to insist on it. We're so used to math and physics being intertwined that we forget that someone had to do it first - Nicole d'Oresme in the century after Aquinas. He was a bishop, too; and enunciated the relativity principle:

"One cannot demonstrate by any [sense] experience whatever that the heavens are moved with daily movement, because … if an observer is in the heavens and sees the earth clearly, the earth would seem to be moved; and if the observer were on the earth, the heavens would seem to be moved. The sight is not deceived in this, because it senses nothing except movement. But if it is relative to any such body, this judgment is made by the senses from inside that body, as Witelo stated in his Perspectiva; and such senses are often deceived…"

Nicole d'Oresme, Traité du ciel et du monde

+ + +

Since I can't resist it.... My favorite medieval quotes, however, deal with two other matters:

Possem enit dici quod quando deus creavit sphaeras coelestes, ipse incepit movere unamquamque earum sicut voluit; et tunc ab impetus quam dedit eis, moventur adhuc, quia ille impetus non corrumpitur nec diminuitur, cum non habent resistentiam.

Jean Buridan de Bethune, Quaestiones super caelo et mundo

Roughly translated: A body set in motion will continue in that motion if it meets no resistance.

And Haec namque pars Perspectivae perfecte cognita ostendit nobis modum, quo res longissime distantes faciamus apparere propinquissime positas et quo res magnas propinquas faciamus apparere brevissimas et quo res longe positas parvas faciamus apparere quantum volumus magnas, ita ut possibile sit nobis ex incredibili distantia litteras minimas legere, aut arenam, aut granum, aut gramina, aut quaevis minuta numerare.

Robert Grosseteste, De iride.

Roughly translated: This part of Perspectiva ... shows how we may make things at very long distances appear as if nearby and nearby large things appear very small... thus, it may be possible for us to read the smallest letters at incredible distance, or count sand or seeds or anything minute.

Grosseteste also claimed that the Milky Way was composed of numerous small stars. Did he actually build a telescope or not? And if he did, what happened to it? He would not have feared his local bishop. He =was= the local bishop, and a trained theologian. Maybe the answer is only that concave lenses were much more difficult to produce in those days than were convex.




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, July 12, 2007

"It beggars belief that in this day and age Borders would think it acceptable to sell and display Tintin in the Congo."


---- Roland Dobbins

I have somewhere a complete collection of Tintin, along with the original Strumph (Smurf in the US) books...




- Roland Dobbins



On July 11, 2007 you commented in "Mail":

"I suspect you could find some sentiments for the return of the Brits..."

Which reminded me of how at least one British colony rebelled -against- independence:


"When in the spring of 1967 the tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla rebelled against independence and in favor of colonialism, the action was so misunderstood by the islander's ex-mother country, Great Britain, that two years later the English invaded the place with 315 paratroopers in a witless attempt to put the rebellion down. Since British rule was exactly what the Anguillans had been asking for, this was a military expedition doomed by its presumptions to plunge into defeat, humiliated rather than slaughtered, but resoundingly trounced for all that."

The Anguillans are still happily listed as a "colony" of the UK by the United Nations. They just refuse to be "freed"!

Hey, maybe we should invade?



In The Jungle, The African Jungle, The Lion Freezes Tonight...

Officials at Live Earth Johannesburg have blamed global warming for poor turnout . Organiser John Langford said the first snow in a quarter century, deep enough to block roads and isolate Lesotho, kept people away from the concert

http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/07/in-the-darkness.html <http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/07/in-the-darkness.html

Russell Seitz



You had asked how a published diary on the Internet (World Wide Web) came to be called a "blog".

BLOG was one of the protocols built upon IP (such as TCP, UDP). It was an acronym for "Brilliant Literature / Obnoxious Grunting". There was a certain amount of punning involved, since it could be used as a verb to describe singular and plural-voiced publication (iBLOG and weBLOG).

Some claim it was also derived from the old Kiltiberian blaugh (pronounced "blaugh") meaning compulsive chatter. Our modern terms "blather" and "blah blah blah" descend from that root; possibly "blarney" does also. The content of the typical blog displays a distinctive and memorable level of taste - reminiscent of Sturgeon - suggesting this family of terms should include "blah" and "bleah".

-- Bill Kilner

P.S: No cites were harmed in the production of this post.




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


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Friday, July 13, 2007

a guy who invented 9 out of the current 14 vaccines for childern


There is an article in the WSJ opinion section blasting (rightly in my opinion) Moore's "Sicko" that identifies the man responsible for the bulk of children's vaccines today:

Mr. Moore's choice not to talk to anyone from pharmaceutical companies was a loss for his viewers. During the past century the lifespan of Americans increased by 30 years, and almost all of that increase was due to one class of medical products: vaccines. Children today receive 14 different vaccines by the time they are two years old. Although most people don't know it, nine of those 14 vaccines -- which save about eight million lives a year -- were made by one man. And that man, Maurice Hilleman, spent much of his career at Merck. If he hadn't -- if he'd stayed in academia -- he would never have been able to convert his dedication and brilliance into the products that save our lives. When Mr. Moore talked about better health, it would have been nice to have seen Hilleman's image on the screen.


Agreed. Of course all vaccinations carry some danger of side effects, particularly when administered all at once to very young children. I have never understood why we do not offer the alternative of paying an extra hundred bucks to get the vaccinations given over a six month period, one at a time, rather than infecting babies with a dozen of the most dangerous diseases known to man all at once. I understand it costs more to do it that way.

The vaccination situation is a bit analogous to an army in enemy territory: it they break and run, few will survive.

There was thirty dead an' wounded on the ground we wouldn't keep --
No, there wasn't more than twenty when the front begun to go;
But, Christ! along the line o' flight they cut us up like sheep,
An' that was all we gained by doin' so.

If everyone retreats in good order, most will get home safely, but of course there is a chance that any individual will be killed.

The optimum strategy for an individual is to talk your comrades into obeying orders, count on the captain and the sergeants to do their job -- and cut and run. Of course if everyone does that they're all lost.

We was 'idin' under bedsteads more than 'arf a march away;
We was lyin' up like rabbits all about the countryside;
An' the major cursed 'is Maker 'cause 'e lived to see that day,
An' the colonel broke 'is sword acrost, an' cried.

It's that way with many vaccinations. If everyone else gets them, and you don't, you won't be exposed to the dread diseases, and you won't take a chance on a bad reaction.

I have taken every vaccination offered, and I get most of them renewed whether I need them or not. Particularly tetanus. If they offer a West Nile vaccination I'll get it. There's West Nile in LA County, and I've noted that it has been years since I saw the evening flocking of crows. The crow population in Studio City is considerably smaller than half what it was a decade ago, and I rather miss them. But we do have some crows, and some mosquitoes, and it's only a matter of time before we have West Nile here.

I confess that I cannot stand Moore; I find him whiney, contentious, and mendacious, and I don't think I will learn much by risking apoplexy while watching him.

There are some problems with the American health care system, but I'd rather be here when I have a medical problem than anywhere else in the world.


Jerry P:

Rome reborn!! Magnificent, thanks. The difference is that Chaos Manor brings us really great stuff many, many times and the other sites are down in the noise level. The potential of course is that the world will expand even more for the next generations, if they are wise enough to understand what they have been given.


Well, thank you!


Getting ready for cyberwar, 


Says here that China, the US and others are getting ready for cyberwar:


I expect that this will happen. After all, the Law of the Tool has never been broken - including the case of nuclear weapons.





Searching for intelligence is very different from searching for life

SETI's reasonable assumption is that we can eavesdrop on distant civilizations talking to themselves , whether as broadcasts or the extraterrestrial equivalent of the Internet. This human effort has coincided with the dawn of synthetic biology. Yet strangely, very little has been done to discover what can happen on alien planets in the eons before life evolves.One of their stranger--and more colorful--sights may be metal saturated drops of ammonia rain.

Stranger still is the fact that most current efforts to emulate this sort of alien geochemistry relate not to exobiology, but light emitting diode technology--


Russell Seitz


Chinese have a big China's Weather Modification Program, 


Whatever global climate has in store for us, the Chinese will be waiting with their China's Weather Modification Program:


"And now China's weather officials have been charged with another important task: ensuring clear skies for the Summer Olympic Games next year. . . . [S]imilar efforts in the past have already helped to create good weather for a number of international events held in China . . ."

The Chinese say the annual nationwide budget for weather modification is between US$60 million and $90 million.

"In 2004, Shanghai decided to induce rain simply to lower the temperature during a prolonged heat wave . . ."



Subject: Glacier Girl.

Glacier Girl.


--- Roland Dobbins


: Global Warming Again?

"New measurements reveal that Earth is smaller than was previously thought—though not by much."


"If you're a planning a trip around the world, you may be pleased to hear that you have about 0.1 inch (2.5 millimeters) fewer to travel.

"Although the change is tiny, experts say it could have implications for predicting sea-level rise and the effects of global warming..."

Charles Brumbelow


Something big is up in Lebanon

Jerry, Maybe you have seen this or someone has sent it to you but just in case here is something I think you will find interesting from the daily newsletter from Strategypage.com Dave C

Something big is up in Lebanon

posted at 7:04 pm on July 9, 2007 by Allahpundit

I saw this MEMRI report a few days ago but shrugged it off — until Totten’s mini-bombshell today. Has Syria re-invaded Lebanon?



I fear I know nothing about what's going on in Lebanon. But see below





This week:


read book now


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Re: I fear I know nothing about what's going on in Lebanon. 

Dear Jerry,

I think 'Hezbollah' is a far more significant development for considering the future than 'Al-Qaida'. For the 20th Century style state, Al Qaida model groups are just irritating gnats. It is impossible for them to overthrow any regime. They are mushrooms who require the chaos of an already failed state to thrive. Afghanistan, Somalia and 'Iraq' come to mind. 'Al Qaida' did not cause of any of these states to collapse. It appeared as an opportunistic infection afterwards.

'Hezbollah' on the other hand apparently offers a viable replacement model for rebuilding some type of civil polity in an area that has collapsed into chaos. When we consider Lebanon's history since the early 1970s, it seems to me likely that what we see today there is what 'Iraq' will look like circa 2020. And probably many places far beyond 'Iraq', not excluding areas of North America.

Meanwhile there is an ugly 'Secret of Empire' leaking out. It doesn't take Boeing's infrastructure to build precision guided missiles and rockets. Nor need they cost more than a few thousand dollars. This "$5,000 Cruise Missile" is already public domain: http://www.interestingprojects.com/cruisemissile/ There are other possibilities, still cheaper and less jammable. And which I won't be the first to publicly mention since I can't find them discussed on the internet via search engines (intentional perhaps?).

Best Wishes,


Hezbollah seems to have fought the IDF to a standstill. Israel managed to alienate most of Lebanon when it bombed installations in the capital and north in retaliation for Hezbollah action at the southern border; whether it's true that Israel considers all Lebanese as equal and enemies, most Lebanese now believe that, and Hezbollah emerged from last year's adventures much stronger than when it went in. As you say, they seem to be able to govern without making as many enemies as the Taliban accrued.

Various Islamic revival movements have occurred in the centuries since The Prophet. Some of those were very important in the history of Spain.

Despite some fatuous claims, history has not ended.

It's pretty clear one could make a pretty good missile out of off the shelf model airplane technology (although if you live in Palestine, don't try to buy one; shin beth has been known to make modifications in the kits before they are delivered). It's also pretty clear that the same technology could be used to make fairly cheap helicopter interceptors.


Fear of a global 'coldening' 

LAST month Australians endured our coldest June since 1950. Imagine that; all those trillions of tonnes of evil carbon we've horked up into the atmosphere over six decades of rampant industrialisation, and we're still getting the same icy weather we got during the Cold War. http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/

"Think of these little factoids the next time your read a report linking a hot day or month or year to global warming. And, if you run into this Owsley bloke, please ask him to quit adding things to environmentalists' water supplies. "








CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday,  July 15, 2007     

I take this day off.






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