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Mail 489 October 15 - 21, 2007







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Monday October 15, 2007

Harry Erwin's Letter from England

UK politics--


npoll413.xml> <http://tinyurl.com/2c3hlq>


npoll513.xml> <http://tinyurl.com/2hdjuw>






npoll413.xml> <http://tinyurl.com/2c3hlq>

Changes in the UK tax rules--effective for the *current* tax year--


npoll313.xml> <http://tinyurl.com/2ycgwz>



Post office strike--




transport/article2651549.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/2e6rgg>

Social services trying to meet adoption quotas--



Turkish operations against the Kurds in northern Iraq--



The rules of medical cleanliness have been forgotten in the UK--



Binge drinking culture in the UK--





Life at Saturn?--


spaceexploration.starsgalaxiesandplanets> <http://tinyurl.com/22uqps>

The inquest into Princess Diana's death--



"The data (or the marks when teaching) are sacrosanct--they tell us what actually happened." Harry Erwin, PhD http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her


More on LeGuin/Doctorow

Apology Accepted?

Dr. Pournelle,

Please, feel free to reprint any part of this e-mail, or even the entire thing, as you wish. Please, however, do not reprint my e-mail address as I already get enough unwanted e-mail.

I have been a fan of yours from early on in my reading career. "The Mercenary" was one of my favorite books, and remains so to this day. I understand what I've read of your stances on copyright and upholding it. As a writer, your life's work depends on getting paid for your words and, so far, no one has come up with a better solution than copyright. Sadly, I no longer understand the limits and restrictions of copyright because the lawyers have made it so convoluted and complicated that their participation in deciphering it has ensured them work for many ages to come. In my own feeble attempts at writing, I either give them away and assume the worst will happen, or, sell them and get paid as I can.

All that being said, I was sorry to read on your site, in a letter by Ursula K. LeGuin, who I also respect as a writer, that the SFWA e-piracy committee had been dissolved. Though I may not always agree with the ways our legislators decide to create laws, or enforce them, they are still the law of the land. And, as it is hard enough to make a living as a writer, I'm in favor of anything which helps that cause, including the e-piracy committee. I think it should be up to the author of a work where and how it is displayed. Currently, legislation supports that view, mostly, as far as I can tell. And, any law that helps a writer get paid should be rigorously enforced.

I think that Mr. Doctorow made an honest mistake based on his own interpretation of the law and that he honestly did not mean to infringe on Ms. LeGuin's rights. I hope you will post a link to both his apology (http://www.boingboing.net/2007/10/14/an-apology-to-ursula.html)  and Ms. LeGuin's apparent acceptance of that apology (http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Note-OpenLetter.html).  As vocal as you were about the original incident, I hope that you will be equally vocal about its resolution.

Thank you for your time,

Jim Hoffman

- "Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes)." --Walt Whitman

My own reading of Doctorow's apology is that it is more defense than apology, and his removal of every reference to Ursula throughout his works seems more spiteful than remorseful; but perhaps I am mistaken.

One reader takes a more extreme view

Double* Nickels! Arrghhhh....


My trusty pain meds are kicking in and I was about to make another attempt at getting a couple of hours of sleep, but I thought I'd check if you'd updated your pages (sheer laziness -- wanted to catch any "Sunday traffic" before it moved off to "previous week," requiring another click. Oh, the humanity.)

So, I scroll to the bottom of Mail, and what do I see but *more* from yonder Corymouth! Whine, whine, whine. What an incredibly prodigious "me-me-me"-machine!

I won't bother picking over his numerous whine-points and abundant bovina fecundis. I'll go straight for the gold: "Andrew Burt, the person whom Ms Le Guin chose to communicate the matter to me, is someone with whom I had put in a killfile following an altercation. I delete all emails from him unread, and if he sent me a message, I did not see it." [Quoted under Fair Use doctrine etc.]

Wow, that's just brilliant. What a stroke of *genius*! I mean, after *everything* that's happened, Mr. Rocket Scientist blocks ALL mail from someone who is *very* likely to be used to convey *important* information (hey, doesn't information want to be free?) regarding The Topic which cause His Nibs *so* much angish and vapors. In fact, it goes beyond merely "likely" -- it actually happened!

Visualize scolded child, with fingers in ears, chanting "Wabbalabbababbawabba-I-Can't-HEAR-You-wabbanabbalabbafabba..."




I was only part way through his screed when I sent my last email. I then continued reading, and hit *this* gem, and my jaw about hit the floor.

This, regarding someone he was gushing over as one of his greatest inspirations in life:


"I did so immediately, also removing all other quotes and references to Ms Le Guin from Boing Boing's archives."


Filed under: "Vindictive pricks," "Pissing in the punchbowl," and, "It's good to know what kind of person you're dealing with."


PS: "Though I didn't quote the copyright notice that appeared in Ansible, I did clearly state the author and time of publication in the post. The copyright notice isn't necessary in this context, since it creates no further statutory rights for the author being quoted, and identifying the author and date of publication is all that is required here to affirm the copyright in the work."

He's kidding, right? Let's file *that* hairball under "Too clever by half."

It "creates no further statutory rights for the author being quoted"?

What about the EXISTING rights that it NEGATES? What about the little problem with the APPARENTLY "free-as-in-beer" work *propagating* to OTHER venues? And then cascading to more and *more* venues, since there's no copyright notice?

It "isn't necessary in this context"??? Oh, pleaze.

PPS: "My understanding is that she is unsatisfied and remains upset with me."

Go figure!

Perhaps an extreme reaction...


On Armenia and Turkey

re-writing history 

Dr. Pournelle,

I fail to see how any reasonable person (even congresscritters are reasonable sometimes) can see how escalating tensions with Turkey, one of our few allies in “that region”, will help anything.


This is nothing more than re-writing history for political gain, at the expense of vital US national interests. Turkey already admits that a massacre occurred, so why poke them with a stick? Doesn’t the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs have any real work to do? Or are they sitting around looking for the last few remnants of decent international relations the US has left, in order to thoroughly destroy any international goodwill we have remaining in the world?

My question is who benefits from this. We already know that the President and his administration (and the nation) will suffer greatly if Turkey takes offense to what seems to be an utterly unnecessary provocation over an incident that happened nearly a century ago when both the US and Turkey were very different nations.


There are two Los Angeles Congressional Districts with very large Armenian populations. The Armenian community can pretty well dominate the Democratic primaries in those districts. The incumbents know this and are careful to reflect the Armenian interests. One understands this. Apparently many other Members of Congress have paid little attention to the matter, and were willing to go along with the wishes of these two Members.

That does seem an interesting way to develop foreign policy for the United States.

The consequences will be severe.

Meanwhile, Kurdish freedom fighters/Kurdish terrorists are using the Kurdish region of Iraq as a sanctuary for raids into Turkey, Iran, and Syria.

None of this was unexpected, at least not by me, back when I counseled against going into Iraq.

Of course one reason the Kurdish area of Iraq is so thoroughly independent is that the Turkish Parliament would not let us send the 4th Infantry through Turkey into northern Iraq, so we had to rely on Kurdish Iraqi insurgents to keep order in that area.


Space Opera

If the uninformed advice of a reader interests you, here's mine: space opera has to be interstellar, not interplanetary. Interplanetary SF, especially if it takes place in the asteroid belt, is too cramped to have the real space opera feel. Not that the solar system isn't very, very large, but that realistically we're living in confined habitats when we venture out there. And for many SF fans, being stuck in the solar system feels like confinement, even if the solar system is enormous compared to where we are.

If you do go for interplanetary fiction, set it far enough in the future that you can have hundreds of thousands of habitats, a terraformed Mars, etc. This makes it fantastic and boundless enough to have some of the feel of space opera.


IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To comply with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained herein (including any attachments), unless specifically stated otherwise, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purposes of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter herein.


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This email was Anti Virus checked by Astaro Security Gateway. http://www.astaro.com



Dear Jerry:

I regret to report our old acquaintance from Biafran days, David Muffett OBE, has passed away.

You may recall he became so famous in Nigeria for riding down villains that "Aka yi masa mafed"--' they did him a Muffett'-- has entered colloquial Hausa as meaning "Justice caught up with him", and that two years after seconding the Sardauna of Sokoto in Nigeria's independence negotiations, he famously collared the Tigwe of Vwuip for eating a tax collector.

Had David not lived, it would be necessary for Harry Harrison to invent him .

I have posted a short memorial note on my blog:


-- Russell Seitz


Star Wars X-Wing flight

Some Star Wars enthusiasts built their very own X-Wing fighter, including R2D2 aboard, and sent it up into the sky. Here's the video clip of the ill-fated flight:


But here's what REALLY happened:





Piracy t'aint what it used t'be argh 

Ahoy there, Goodfellow Cap'n. Pournelle,

'Tis a sad day for all the Brethren of the Coast when a Brother in Good Standing plying The Trade against all comers can nay keep the ill gotten gains he has pillaged and plundered. I speak here of Captain Doctorow, and his rightful taking of the LeGuin, a shallow draft brig caught becalmed off Fair Use Island.. Aye, true, petty was the cargo, but betimes a body must take what is offered, and keep the cutlasses sharp for when real meat is t' be had. Beggars can nay be choosers. Aye, true it is that The Good Captain calls hisself naught but a mere Privateer, but we of the Life know's a Pirate when we see's him.

Oft-times Captain Doctorow has taken the challenge from all and sundry comers, bested them, and keelhauled them what didn't meet his steel, bleaching their bones from his yardarm. Would ye now hang the Good Captain from his own yardarm for a mere trifle such as the LeGuin? Argh, avast and belay that bilge! A Pirate is a Pirate, for all that he is, and don't ye forget it, matey!

Argh, the tide is rising, and there's a sail on the horizon, so's off on the hunt I be, May Fair winds be at your back, and keep a weather eye out for that Captain Burt. He holds the King's Commission against the Brethren, and a fine crew he has with 'im. 'Twill a be sad day for Free Men when we can nay fill our purses with their gold.


Cap'n Petronius

News must come slow to your parts. Captain Burt's commission has been cancelled and the King is contemplating leaving all ship owners to fend for themselves.


Subject: A Few Other Stories

National Health Service Dental Care? <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7041291.stm>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?
xml=/news/2007/10/15/ nteeth115.xml>  <http://tinyurl.com/2dj3cx

UHT milk greener? <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7044693.stm

Labour tries to cut off Tory funding-- <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article3061124.ece>  <http://tinyurl.com/34xx37

-- Harry Erwin, PhD,

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




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TuesdayOctober 16, 2007

SFWA, Piracy, and Serious Literature

Mr. Pournelle,

I am sure, given boingboing's reach that you have received many comments, however, I feel compelled to respond.

Response to Gary Pavek -

"Can anyone point to a case where quoting one paragraph has been successfully prosecuted as copyright infringement?"

The Ashleigh Brilliant example is not pertinent, and the plain language of WSJ Amy Stevens covers this. Had Ashleigh posted his one of his one-liners as a comment in a public forum then he would not have been so successful with his court actions.

The suggestion here by Gary being that the author of any comment on a public blog can control who quotes that comment. Sorry chum, but once you open your mouth (or engage your typing fingers) in a public forum what you have said / written will be reused / pointed to / discussed / quoted / parodied and criticized, an expectation otherwise is disconnected with the reality of the Internet.

Nobody forces you to make public comments, and lets be clear here there is a huge difference between the copyrights granted to the content of a book and the copyrights that can be claimed to a publicly posted comment.

Second, as for the Stanford copyright page, maybe you should have read the entire page before cherry picking a sentence. Yes the amount and portion taken is part of the legal equation but so is publicly published (as in comments in a public forum) the potential value (as in how much value dose something that has been put out in a public forum really worth) and the underlying intent of the use good or bad (as in, was the intent of the use to deprive the author of revenue). As the copyright page says fair-use is subjective.

Third, looking in from the outside – this has the appearance of sour grapes, testifying under threat of perjury that you own the copyrights is very serious, the DCMA is a powerful tool and the framers wanted to ensure it would not be abused – like using it to take down materials that are not copyright infringements or that do not belong to the filer of the DCMA request. (See chillingeffects.org as to why false DCMA requests are such a big deal). It would appear that in some minds quoting a quote from a public forum is analogous to lying under oath. It is not.

Finally P.T.Barnum was correct, but for this public flap I would not know Ms. Le Guin existed or of her works, I will certainly read one of her books over the next 12 months and if it takes my fancy I may become an avid reader – something that would not have happened but for this event.

Martin Davies

Interesting points. Thank you.


Scribd's real business model?

[Disclaimer: This is NSFW.] {Not Suitable For Work Place == Obscenity Warning}


-- Roland Dobbins

And for this SFWA disbanded the anti-piracy committee; and it was denial of this audience for his story for a few hours that set Cory Doctorow off.


Subject: Bureaucracy


I suppose the most obvious threat to a bureaucratic society is competition with a society that isn't so tied down by rules and regulations. On the other (gripping?) hand, it seems that a technically advanced society, with its requirements for a great deal of economic specialization, and a great deal of interdependence among large numbers of individuals is inevitably going to trend toward bureaucratic. So if we can't escape the bounds imposed by the speed of light, and can only send our rebels and dissidents off on one-way interstellar voyages, what will the fate of earthbound humanity be? I guess it will either be a bang and a fresh start, or a comfortable, stifling whimper. I'm trying to imagine how evolution will equip us to better survive and thrive in an endless bureaucracy....

CP, Connecticut

Possony and I were/are working on a history of society: it seems that the general tendency of society is to convert more and more of its output into structure, until you end up with a permit raj civilization. There are counter trends, but they're mostly wars and great discoveries.


From another conference:

Steve Sailer had a blog post last week about spice and climate. Here's a brief reflection:

Spicy food is one many bits of culture that vary with latitude (others being, for example, size of color vocabulary, syllable complexity, importance of unilineal descent, etc). The definitive work on this is:

"Antimicrobial Functions of Spices: Why Some Like It Hot,"Jennifer Billing and Paul W. Sherman, "The Quarterly Review of Biology",Vol. 73, No.1, March 1998

These guys present tons of evidence that the main function of spicing food, traditionally, is retarding spoilage, and that this accounts for the strong latitudinal gradient, with food spicier in the tropics. They argue that greater availability of spices in the tropics is not important: there's actually no evidence in their research for this, and you get the same trend looking at imported rather than local spices. It's not just a matter of making bland food more palatable, either, since bland vegetable foods get less spice than meat. And there's plenty of evidence that spices are antibacterial: actually it's pretty noticeable once you start paying attention how much longer the curried stuff in the back of the fridge lasts than the plain hamburger. A lot of spices are probably very mildly toxic: not a big problem for grownups, but potentially so for children, and fetuses. Hence kids' and pregnant womens' preferences for blandness.

Any genetic basis to population differences in taste for spicy foods? Not if current enthusiasm for spices in formerly bland cultures are anything to go by, but who knows?


Niven and I had reflections on spices in both Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall.


> Spicy food is one many bits of culture that vary with latitude

One exception may be Korea, which is not tropical by any means, but quite spicy. Korean food has become popular in Japan, where pickling, smoking, and drying were the traditional ways of preserving food, and spicy foods were rare.

Philippine food is also not very spicy, which is surprising, given that they are only a stone's throw from the Spice Islands.



The Three Hundred!


Dr. Pournelle,

Living in SoCal, you will probably appreciate this.



That may be the most politically incorrect thing I have seen this month. I love it.





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Wednesday, October 18, 2007

Busy in Hell. Apologies.






CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

 Continuing Discussion

The Independent October 17, 2007


Fury at DNA pioneer's theory: Africans are less intelligent than Westerners Celebrated scientist attacked for race comments: "All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really"

By Cahal Milmo Published: 17 October 2007

One of the world's most eminent scientists was embroiled in an extraordinary row last night after he claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that "equal powers of reason" were shared across racial groups was a delusion.

James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in the unravelling of DNA who now runs one of America's leading scientific research institutions, drew widespread condemnation for comments he made ahead of his arrival in Britain today for a speaking tour at venues including the Science Museum in London.

The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts when "testing" suggested the contrary. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade.

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson's remarks " in full". Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".<snip>

Beginning a new storm. We will not hear the end of this for some time.


James Watson has committed PC suicide...

Isn't it curious how some folks accept the idea that the Grand Canyon isolated two groups of squirrels such that they evolved with different characteristics, but cannot accept the idea that isolation of groups of humans could result in inheritable differences?


Likewise, It is OK to recognize that one group generally has certain superior athletic abilities while refusing to recognize that those gifts might be offset by lesser abilities in other areas. A movie was made fifteen years ago exploiting this prejudice:


And there is some perception that white people can't dance, either:


Charles Brumbelow

The Bell Curve had much to say about implications and policies; but those who condemned it out of hand were quick to say they had not read it. I was at a AAAS meeting convened to destroy The Bell Curve at which the chairman of the panel boasted that he had not read the book and did not have to.

Arthur Jensen looked into racial IQ differences with a view to changing education: some people learn by abstract reasoning, others through skill training, and it's damned important to apply the proper teaching techniques to the proper people else you will end with uneducated children. That, of course, now happens more and more in this era of mainstreaming and equality.

We will not soon hear the last of this.



    Science Museum cancels talk by Watson after 'racist' comments

   By Cahal Milmo   Published: 18 October 2007    

A speaking tour by the DNA pioneer James Watson was thrown into chaos  last night when one of Britain's most high-profile scientific  institutions announced it was cancelling a planned sell-out  appearance.  

The Science Museum in London said Dr Watson had gone "beyond the  point of acceptable debate" during an interview this weekend in which  he claimed black people were less intelligent than their white  counterparts.

I was unaware that in "science" there is a "point of acceptable debate".


But it is no longer science; it is ideology. American big science ceased to follow the rules of science long ago. In AIDS research, in climatology, in IQ and education, politics prevails.


THE GOLDEN CHAD <http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/10/the-nobel-chad.html

Though struck from an equally hefty kilogram of gold, the Nobel Peace Prize has little in common with the science and literature awards,being awarded by a committee of Norway's parliament, the Storting.

The other Nobels are assigned by committees of experts in the orbit of the Swedish Academy of Science, but the Peace Prize a committee reflects the current strength of Norwegian political parties.

Were Norway's anti-immigrant Progress Party to gain a majority, Al Gore 's successor as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize could even be Pat Buchanan.

http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/10/the-nobel-chad.html <http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/10/the-nobel-chad.html

Russell Seitz


Goblins and copyrights

Dr. Pournelle:

Given all that has appeared on your site on copyrights and infringement, I thought you'd find the document referenced by Instapundit to be interesting, or at least amusing.


Link to SSRN site:


Tom Brosz


Dr. Pournelle,

If you need a quick break from your time in hell…

This parrot has better moves than almost everyone I know. Talented bird.



Dancing parrots?


Subject: the 300


That was an inspiring video. I have seen one that was better though and in a major movie. Remember the coming to America scene in Cheech Marin's movie "Born in East LA"? And it was even less politically correct than the U-tube one, it also used Neil Diamond's song of the same name for theme music.

-- James Early
Long Beach, CA


Subject: Super computer game console


I guess a super computer in every home is just around the corner: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/news/2007/10/ps3_supercomputer 

CP, Connecticut


The Vela Incident.


- Roland Dobbins

Damned interesting indeed.


On space operas

"If the uninformed advice of a reader interests you, here's mine: space opera has to be interstellar, not interplanetary. Interplanetary SF, especially if it takes place in the asteroid belt, is too cramped to have the real space opera feel.”

For whatever little it may be worth from a similar ill-informed reader, there was a particularly short-lived TV series with an accompanying movie, set in an environment lacking FTL transportation, and all confined to a single star system with few habitable planets and a great many that were to varying degrees less so. Regardless of your own opinions of “Firefly,” it was—at least in hindsight—successful, and told a few interesting stories in an medium not generally known for such, and certainly qualifies as “space opera,” frequently of the two-fisted sort. A Canadian game company has been marketing a somewhat more interactive near future single-system space opera for several years under the title of “Lightning Strike,” and producers of anime have made quite a number of well-received series, the various “Gundam” titles being emblematic. “Space:1889” from Heliograph Publishing and similar such titles would be well considered space opera settings, or at least possessing a dual-classification with steampunk. Lastly, a great volume of the old Republic serials were confined to Sol system, and still possessing the sorts of rampaging armies from Jupiter requisite for (some really, truly, incredibly, horribly, bad) space opera.

It would seem to my mind that space opera doesn't necessarily demand a cast of trillions on a stage parsecs across, ending in titanic fleet engagements of such size that the combined mass of the combatants would coalesce into a small star. Space opera to me simply requires the right attitude from the participants, and a cavalier disregard for certain aspects of economics, physics, logic, etc. in varying combinations on the part of author and reader, and could well be done as a comparative miniature on a smidge of space-time canvas measured as some dozens of AU. (Stout women with horned helmets belting weighty prose in Loglan whilst the antagonist and protagonist end their rivalry in single combat with paired sword and laser pistol being mere options...)

KC Deines


Profound (?) thoughts


(I may have sent the first of these earlier...)

Profound thoughts of the week:

(1) Kim Jong-il's purpose is to distract the US from what China is doing, without becoming a sufficiently great nuisance as to become a radiation hazard to China's northeast border.

(2) I never read Golitsyn's "New Lies for Old" through, but I vividly remember the last chapter...and it's beginning to look more and more as if "the end of the Soviet Union" was simply the KGB winning the three-way internal standoff with Party and Army. Of course, the rest of the world is acting as if it was real...


PS - Amazon had two copies of the book available from the 1990 paperback -- said to be in new condition -- I and just glommed the one that was reasonably priced. I note that his follow-on was titled "The Perestroika Deception" QED.




-- Roland Dobbins


The Geopolitical Foundations of Blackwater

This is well worth a look. I don't agree with everything here, but it provides an excellent overview of the path we took to get where we are.


"Nevertheless, since before the fall of the Soviet Union, a systematic shift has been taking place in the way the U.S. force structure is designed. This shift, which is rooted both in military policy and in the geopolitical perception that future wars will be fought on a number of levels, made private security contractors such as KBR and Blackwater inevitable. The current situation is the result of three unique processes: the introduction of the professional volunteer military, the change in force structure after the Cold War, and finally the rethinking and redefinition of the term "noncombatant" following the decision to include women in the military, but bar them from direct combat roles. "

He actually adds a fourth reason later in the essay. The CIA's forces.




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


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Friday, October 19, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury Like the Truth Spoken

Nobel laureate biologist James Watson was suspended Friday from his longtime post at a research laboratory and canceled his planned British book tour after controversial comments that black people are not as intelligent as white people…The board of trustees at New York's Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which Watson has led for nearly four decades, said they had suspended his administrative responsibilities pending a review of his comments…London's Science Museum canceled his talk there

Just another example. Remember Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White.

John Abshier

Retired and no longer forced to be politically correct.


Subject: A curious observation about the race and IQ debate


As you have observed many times, even posing the question of whether there might be racial differences in intelligence is sometimes sufficient to bring a charge of racism. What I find interesting is that the supposedly biggoted purveyors of such polically incorrect heresy often fail to conclude that their own racial group is superior.

We hear loudly from critics when a white scientist of European descent points out that black racial groups have lower IQ scores on average, than whites. But if the point is to prove the racial superiority of whites, then why do they also conclude that East Asians are smarter than whites, and that Ashkenazi Jews are the smartest of all. Those latter conclusions are hardly going to appeal to your average white supremicist....

CP, Connecticut


Close air support for mercenaries?

This is interesting. This organization is apparently offering air combat and close air support training in first line Russian and US military aircraft, including mid-air refueling, for anyone with money. The airbase from which they operate is northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


John Witt Senior Mechanical Engineer


Dr. Crippen innocent?


--- Roland Dobbins


Neanderthal speech?


-- Roland Dobbins


Deborah Kerr, RIP.


-- Roland Dobbins

She was very much a class act.


Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14.


-- Roland Dobbins

I suppose it had to come...


'If the polls were accurate Dr. Paul should not be in third place in the GOP money race.'


-- Roland Dobbins

I have many mixed feelings about Ron Paul, but he is certainly the candidate most likely to restore the Old Republic. Or try to.


"We wouldn't be surprised if there is life on this planet."


-- Roland Dobbins

Another chapter in Habitable Planets for Man... At 20 LY.





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Saturday, October 20, 2007


The Electronic Telegraph

School probes racism claim against boy, four

Last Updated: 3:04am BST 20/10/2007

A headteacher has defended her decision to investigate an allegation that a four-year-old boy was guilty of racism during a game of chase.

Anne Phipps acted after Rocky Smith spat at a 10-year-old black boy on the school's playing field. She said she had no choice but to pursue the accusation, despite the child's age. <snip>


Skintight Spacesuit a Good Fit for Mars


Well, you've known about skinsuits for decades. Now they're getting closer:



They figure largely in Birth of Fire, a story about living on Mars which I wrote in the 1970's...



12 years after Sputnik I's alarming debut, I photographed the roaring launch of Apollo 11 for an Analog cover. I've been in volcanic eruptions before and since, but the 1969 event was like nothing so much as 9-11 run backwards.

Only louder.

The political dark side of NASA's thundering technological triumph has parallels in the aftermath of 9-11 too.

The focused idealism seen in the months following each event gave way to both millenarian dreams and dystopic fantasies, and a plenum of unjustified claims.


 Russell Seitz


Firefly Serenity


Just to be clear; Firefly was decidedly an interstellar storyline. What with "Core Worlds" and "Rim Worlds", "Ravers on the edge of known space", "Earth that was" and other assorted what-nots. Not to mention that engine, a cross between a James Blish spindizzy and A. B. Chandler's precessing gyro.

And for those that believe the Solar System is too small for good space opera . . . imagine how long it takes to travel between Ceres and Vesta when operating without the benefits of handwavium or unobtainium.


Paul Taggart

ps. This is liberty hall, you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard - John Grimes (A B Chandler)


Something about this REALLY bothers me

In a reading at Carnegie Hall Friday night, J. K. Rowling said that Dumbledore is gay.



I suspect she just discovered it. Anyway it's certain that Snape wasn't.









CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday, October 21, 2007      

I am getting the mailbag and column out today.





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