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Mail 491 November 5 - 11, 2007







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Monday  November 5, 2007

Guy Fawkes Day

Harry Erwin's Letter From England

Martial law declared in Pakistan--


article2801658.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/yt57r4>

<http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-7048784,00.html> <http://tinyurl.com/276vrx >


<http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2205020,00.html> <http://tinyurl.com/2e5ogc >


> <http://tinyurl.com/2kb5cn>

Scotland Yard chief under pressure to resign--

<http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2205033,00.html> <http://tinyurl.com/ypgsv4 >

Iraq war planning story in the Telegraph--


> <http://tinyurl.com/279zcp>

High insurance costs because British soldiers are poorly compensated for death or injury--

> <http://tinyurl.com/25xxke

Privacy and Europe--


> <http://tinyurl.com/25fh4u>

Disaster movie about oil apocalypse--


energy.fossilfuels> <http://tinyurl.com/2hjqlk>


> <http://tinyurl.com/28zyft>

Drinking and children in Britain--



Harry Erwin, PhD

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." (Benjamin Franklin, 1755)






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Tuesday,  November 6, 2007

Subject: English innumeracy


"A LOTTERY scratchcard has been withdrawn from sale by Camelot - because players couldn't understand it. ... "But the concept of comparing negative numbers proved too difficult for some Camelot received dozens of complaints on the first day from players who could not understand how, for example, -5 is higher than -6."

Kent Peterson 

"... there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past ..." - Ray Bradbury, _The Martian Chronicles_


Leopard Server vs. Windows Server.f


Roland Dobbins


Subject: I'm surprised

you said nothing about BGen Tibbets, sir.

- Roland Dobbins

I've said a lot over the years, and I am not sure I have anything new to say. RIP.


“We are not building a GPhone; we are enabling 1,000 people to build a GPhone.”


- Roland Dobbins




Your correspondent who believes Google has “jumped the shark” might try reading Google’s pages on HOW to search effectively.

You don’t simply plonk in words and expect an intuitive program to go to work, and then be disappointed when it doesn’t know what you mean or want.


Larry May


Subj: U Delaware Diversity Program Canceled


>>The University of Delaware has cancelled a controversial residence life education program after students complained they were forced to participate in diversity and cultural identity programs that were one-sided, and talk about their sexuality with resident assistants. ...<<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

But the people who implemented it are still there and still in charge. It will be back.


Climate Change critique

Dear Dr Pournelle ,

If you have time to read this, I hope you might find it interesting. I think is an excellent short hand critique of Climate Change by non-scientists.

From UK newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/

Kevin Law

Dr Kevin Law 

(text of article below)

"The deceit behind global warming" - By Christopher Booker and Richard North - Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 04/11/2007

No one can deny that in recent years the need to "save the planet" from global warming has become one of the most pervasive issues of our time. As Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, claimed in 2004, it poses "a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism", warning that by the end of this century the only habitable continent left will be Antarctica. Inevitably, many people have been bemused by this somewhat one-sided debate, imagining that if so many experts are agreed, then there must be something in it. But if we set the story of how this fear was promoted in the context of other scares before it, the parallels which emerge might leave any honest believer in global warming feeling uncomfortable.

The story of how the panic over climate change was pushed to the top of the international agenda falls into five main stages. Stage one came in the 1970s when many scientists expressed alarm over what they saw as a disastrous change in the earth's climate. Their fear was not of warming but global cooling, of "a new Ice Age". For three decades, after a sharp rise in the interwar years up to 1940, global temperatures had been falling. The one thing certain about climate is that it is always changing. Since we began to emerge from the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago, temperatures have been through significant swings several times. The hottest period occurred around 8,000 years ago and was followed by a long cooling. Then came what is known as the "Roman Warming", coinciding with the Roman empire. Three centuries of cooling in the Dark Ages were followed by the "Mediaeval Warming", when the evidence agrees the world was hotter than today.

Around 1300 began "the Little Ice Age", that did not end until 200 years ago, when we entered what is known as the "Modern Warming". But even this has been chequered by colder periods, such as the "Little Cooling" between 1940 and 1975. Then, in the late 1970s, the world began warming again. A scare is often set off — as we show in our book with other examples — when two things are observed together and scientists suggest one must have been caused by the other. In this case, thanks to readings commissioned by Dr Roger Revelle, a distinguished American oceanographer, it was observed that since the late 1950s levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere had been rising. Perhaps it was this increase that was causing the new warming in the 1980s?

Stage two of the story began in 1988 when, with remarkable speed, the global warming story was elevated into a ruling orthodoxy, partly due to hearings in Washington chaired by a youngish senator, Al Gore, who had studied under Dr Revelle in the 1960s. But more importantly global warming hit centre stage because in 1988 the UN set up its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC). Through a series of reports, the IPCC was to advance its cause in a rather unusual fashion. First it would commission as many as 1,500 experts to produce a huge scientific report, which might include all sorts of doubts and reservations. But this was to be prefaced by a Summary for Policymakers, drafted in consultation with governments and officials — essentially a political document — in which most of the caveats contained in the experts' report would not appear.

This contradiction was obvious in the first report in 1991, which led to the Rio conference on climate change in 1992. The second report in 1996 gave particular prominence to a study by an obscure US government scientist claiming that the evidence for a connection between global warming and rising CO2 levels was now firmly established. This study came under heavy fire from various leading climate experts for the way it manipulated the evidence. But this was not allowed to stand in the way of the claim that there was now complete scientific consensus behind the CO2 thesis, and the Summary for Policy-makers, heavily influenced from behind the scenes by Al Gore, by this time US Vice-President, paved the way in 1997 for the famous Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto initiated stage three of the story, by formally committing governments to drastic reductions in their CO2 emissions. But the treaty still had to be ratified and this seemed a good way off, not least thanks to its rejection in 1997 by the US Senate, despite the best attempts of Mr Gore. Not the least of his efforts was his bid to suppress an article co-authored by Dr Revelle just before his death. Gore didn't want it to be known that his guru had urged that the global warming thesis should be viewed with more caution.

One of the greatest problems Gore and his allies faced at this time was the mass of evidence showing that in the past, global temperatures had been higher than in the late 20th century. In 1998 came the answer they were looking for: a new temperature chart, devised by a young American physicist, Michael Mann. This became known as the "hockey stick" because it showed historic temperatures running in an almost flat line over the past 1,000 years, then suddenly flicking up at the end to record levels. Mann's hockey stick was just what the IPCC wanted. When its 2001 report came out it was given pride of place at the top of page 1. The Mediaeval Warming, the Little Ice Age, the 20th century Little Cooling, when CO2 had already been rising, all had been wiped away. But then a growing number of academics began to raise doubts about Mann and his graph. This culminated in 2003 with a devastating study by two Canadians showing how Mann had not only ignored most of the evidence before him but had used an algorithm that would produce a hockey stick graph whatever evidence was fed into the computer. When this was removed, the graph re-emerged just as it had looked before, showing the Middle Ages as hotter than today. It is hard to recall any scientific thesis ever being so comprehensively discredited as the "hockey stick". Yet the global warming juggernaut rolled on regardless, now led by the European Union. In 2004, thanks to a highly dubious deal between the EU and Putin's Russia, stage four of the story began when the Kyoto treaty was finally ratified.

In the past three years, we have seen the EU announcing every kind of measure geared to fighting climate change, from building ever more highly-subsidised wind turbines, to a commitment that by 2050 it will have reduced carbon emissions by 60 per cent. This is a pledge that could only be met by such a massive reduction in living standards that it is impossible to see the peoples of Europe accepting it.

All this frenzy has rested on the assumption that global temperatures will continue to rise in tandem with CO2 and that, unless mankind takes drastic action, our planet is faced with the apocalypse so vividly described by Al Gore in his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth. Yet recently, stage five of the story has seen all sorts of question marks being raised over Gore's alleged consensus. For instance, he claimed that by the end of this century world sea levels will have risen by 20 ft when even the IPCC in its latest report, only predicts a rise of between four and 17 inches.There is also of course the harsh reality that, wholly unaffected by Kyoto, the economies of China and India are now expanding at nearly 10 per cent a year, with China likely to be emitting more CO2 than the US within two years. More serious, however, has been all the evidence accumulating to show that, despite the continuing rise in CO2 levels, global temperatures in the years since 1998 have no longer been rising and may soon even be falling.

It was a telling moment when, in August, Gore's closest scientific ally, James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was forced to revise his influential record of US surface temperatures showing that the past decade has seen the hottest years on record. His graph now concedes that the hottest year of the 20th century was not 1998 but 1934, and that four of the 10 warmest years in the past 100 were in the 1930s. Furthermore, scientists and academics have recently been queuing up to point out that fluctuations in global temperatures correlate more consistently with patterns of radiation from the sun than with any rise in CO2 levels, and that after a century of high solar activity, the sun's effect is now weakening, presaging a likely drop in temperatures. If global warming does turn out to have been a scare like all the others, it will certainly represent as great a collective flight from reality as history has ever recorded. The evidence of the next 10 years will be very interesting.

• Scared to Death: From BSE To Global Warming — How Scares Are Costing Us The Earth by Christopher Booker and Richard North (Continuum, £16.99)

Hansen is still around and still telling his story. No one seems inclined to look at all of the data. Climate Science, like Regulatory Science, has joined the VOODOO Sciences.


Preparing for the future

Jerry, You have in the past , when commenting on globalisation, the oursourcing of manufacturing overseas and the usual defence thereof quoting Ricardo, referred obliquely to us 'all getting rich by taking in each others washing.'

I'm pleased to be able to tell you that in Britain, the far sighted education Minister, Ed Balls, (nominative determinism at work again?) has annouced some changes to the education system, which should prevent the prospect of teeming hordes armed with washboards lining the banks of the Thames.

Instead of fusty A levels and the like, scholars (learners?) will be able to choose from an exciting range of 'Diplomas' uniquely equipping them for their future careers. viz. engineering; health and social care; ICT; creative and media; construction and the built environment; land-based and environment; manufacturing; hair and beauty; business administration and finance; hospitality and catering; public services; sport and leisure; retail; travel and tourism.


with commentary here:


An announcement that tractor production is up 30% would make my joy complete.






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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Subj: Nov 8, 63 BC: Cicero confronts Catiline

Readers of Dr. Pournelle's "Spartan counterinsurgency" stories may find this interesting:



Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Some traditions are worth remembering... Of course Cicero was standard in second year Latin back when high schools routinely offered Latin. I sort  of grew up on Cicero and Caesar.


Subject: need for an air force

I read your comments and the article on the army vs. air force controversy.

A division of powers is good from a political standpoint. It makes fomenting a military takeover that much more difficult.

I like it. I think it adds long-term stability to our system of government to have 3 branches at odds with each other. I seem to recall from an event from Japanese pre-ww2 history when their navy stymied the army in a coup attempt.

I am not currently worried about coups in the US, but our current political climate, where on party seems mindlessly anti-military and the other pro, could lead to problems in the future.

Tom Bridgeland

Hitler thought that, too. OKH was filled with old General Staff people who didn't think much of Hitler, so he created OKW; also the SS, and ground units of the Luftwaffe so that Goering would have troops. Dividing the Legions against themselves is pretty standard in Empires. The result isn't usually healthy for republics (although it might happen); the result is usually succession wars.

The Framers never feared the Navy, which is why the Constitution treats Navy appropriations different from Army appropriations. Of course the Framers never contemplated armies of Marines.


David Frum: A Big Country Has Lots of Crazy People

Dr. Pournelle, here's a recent diary entry from David Frum:

. . ."it is worth recalling that in the much lower-intensity race of 2000, Ralph Nader raised over $8 million for his presidential bid. It would be interesting to know how many of today's Paul donors were Nader donors then. But surely the moral of the story is that the United States is a very big and rich country, and that its political fringes are likewise big and rich. "


Ian Perry

What else would one expect from the egregious Frum?


Tracking Copyrighted Content 

Dr. Pournelle,

"New technology allows newspapers to track where their content may have been pirated online... Developing... " This may prove useful to the SFWA or its successor. This includes software, and does not appear to be a concept only.


Regards, Peter Czora

I'll have to find someone to look into it. I make no doubt that publishers will become interested in the matter when they realize where the market is going.





As part of NBC's week-long "green" event (which includes photo ops for LA stars planting trees in pots outside Rockefeller Center), we have Matt Lauer and Ann Curry, respectively, on the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. In the Arctic, Matt is reporting on the local benefits of warming and the local woman he just interviewed is concerned that tourism -- mostly "greenies" wanting to see global warming for themselves -- continue.


How many carbon offsets must they buy to make up for the junket? And from whom?


CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Thursday, November 8, 2007

A click a day keeps the doctor in pay


In your September 10, 2007 Mailbag, there was a bit on Tales of MU. I've been reading Alexandra Erin's writing since then (and even gave a small contribution).

In her RSS feed today, there is a bit about a woman who has a Chiari malformation and is trying to raise money for her medical bills via the MegaUpload reward program. As my wife has the same condition (but not as bad), it peeked my interest. You can read her post here - http://www.talesofmu.com/story/?p=131. The Project Download page may be found here - http://projecterin.com/index.html

I didn't know if this might be something you will also be willing to share with your readers. If so, please remove my name.

Hope all is well.



Ingested Chinese Toys Convert to Date Rape Drug Puffy Willow

Another good reason to buy from unregulated sources:

"Millions of Chinese-made toys have been pulled from shelves in North America and Australia after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a powerful "date rape" drug when ingested. Two children in the United States and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads."


Tim Boettcher


"This is not an area where sane discussion prevails at the moment"

See <http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071107/full/450140a.html>

-- 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>

A picture of our future?


And here's one I known about for a while, but wasn't sure when to spring it.



--- Roland Dobbins

Built by XCOR. My son Richard is a VP.


Looking for a nightmare?

Subject: Malware in Military UAVs? - 


I realize there is a low chance… but the idea of any military leader authorizing any sort of control software to be ‘offshored’ scares the heck out of me.


E.C. "Stan" Field

Holy Moley.



Through the looking glass


"You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time." --G.W. Bush, President, USA and Commander in Chief, all U.S. Military branches

Verbatim, earlier today, in post-meeting presser with French president Sarkozy, in an open message delivered to Pakistan's president Musharraf.

(Waiting to see if Musharraf replies, "You first!")

Is this an artifact of the writers strike? Who came up with this hairball?




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


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Friday,  November 9, 2007

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

First, I'm sorry to hear about the Palsy, but as you say, that's better than cancer!

Regarding the Ethanol/Politics situation, this was covered rather convincingly in Jane Jacobs' _Systems of Survival_ (which I seem to recall you citing in one of the Prince Lysander/Falkenberg's Legion books). The upshot of her argument was that governments can't resist meddling in agriculture because agriculture requires physical territory to implement, and territory is what governments are all about.

Jacobs goes into much more detail, and it's been a while since I've read the book (must re-visit it soon), but the upshot was that when it comes to agriculture and ag-related issues, don't expect economic logic from the government. Their calculus is not based on financial cost/benefit analysis, but rather on territorial control and patronage.

Best wishes.

Jason M. Bontrager


Oderint dum metuant

I've long been an admirer of Jane Jacobs and her trenchant analyses. I don't alway support her conclusions, although her Dark Age book is certainly correct in its general conclusions and recommendations. It has been a long time since I read Systems of Survival; I've ordered a copy and I'll look again.

I admit I have real concern about ethanol and Global Warming: it's quite literally enough to make me despair of democracy as a means of government. The Old Republic would have left such matters to the states, and there might have been some intelligent discussion about such things; but today we have a National Democracy, and the results are utterly irrational.  And either our leaders are insane and do not know that this is irrational, or they are quite cynically going along with it.

Al Gore, apparently, genuinely believes in this stuff. He also does well by it, selling carbon offset credits. Now which scares you most: that someone who might have been President believes this nonsense, or that he's putting it all on in order to make some money from gullible dopes and useful idiots?

(I understand that you can, and Cochran does, ask similar questions about positions of the current President of the United States. I will leave it at that.)

The only way we will ever have a Republic again is to take a lot of the power away from the National Government and return it to the States (and to the people as specified in the Constitution). That isn't going to happen.

The question then is, is national democracy a viable form of government?


Subject: Ethanol Tariff

Dr. Pournelle, I'm afraid the ethanol import tariff you complained about today is a necessary consequence of our subsidy for domestic ethanol. Because the 51 cent-per-gallon (of 197+ proof ethanol) credit for blending alcohol into gasoline is paid to the blender, not the farmer, we need the 54 cent tariff to prevent US taxpayers from subsidizing offshore ethanol production. Even some ethanol advocates are beginning to realize that it's time to do away with both sides of this incentive. If corn ethanol can't stand on its own when oil is $95/barrel, it never will. With a paltry energy return on energy invested of at best 1.3:1 the cost of ethanol is nearly as sensitive to the price of natural gas (for process heat and nitrogen fertilizer via the Haber process) as it is to the price of corn.

Regards, Geoff Styles

Certainly. And they never catch wise, do they?  Do you seriously believe that we'll change any of this?

We don't need the ethanol in the first place. Better we produce gallons and gallons and make every Senator and  Member of Congress drink two quarts a day of absolute alcohol diluted however they like. They couldn't do worse, could they?


Subject: Leopard


You have got to get a MAC with Leopard. It's cool! I tell you 3 times. I just started playing with stacks. You may be bored with the PC and with good reason. I am too. I have no interest in Vista. The only reasons I have not bought another Mac Pro to replace my Supermicro home built machine in the lab is I'm waiting to renew my developer subscription and get the discount and I'm waiting for the 45 NM processors, both of which should happen about the same time.

Phil Tharp 

Oh, I agree, and I will when I can afford it, which is when I get these books out the door, or I get another hundred subscribers marked "Get a Mac!" whichever comes first.

There's even a new Apple Store in Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, so I don't have to deal with the Glendale Mall people. Now all I need is the money.


Peak oil, yeah, you bet.


-- Roland Dobbins

There's plenty in North America, only we don't pump it. And there appears to be methane and oil nearly everywhere.


Subject: The Tibbets Legacy

Fellow Airmen

I know you are all busy providing our Air Force's critical capabilities in service to our great nation. I appreciate the sacrifices in time and effort you make on a daily basis. Please take a moment from your busy day and reflect with me on the recent passing of a great American who did his duty when our nation needed him most.

America lost a remarkable Airman on 1 November 2007 when retired Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., passed away. We all know General Tibbets as the pilot of the Enola Gay when it dropped the first atomic weapon on Imperial Japan, but there's more to the man and his legacy for us to consider.

The consummate Airman, General Tibbets was a warrior and leader, renowned for his flying prowess and for always leading from the front. He piloted the lead bomber on the first Eighth Air Force bombing mission in Europe on 17 August 1942, later led the first heavy bombardment mission in conjunction with the invasion of North Africa, and commanded the 12-man crew of the Enola Gay on its courageous mission over Hiroshima in August 1945.

This single sortie opened a new chapter in air power. It established air power as America's strategic sword and shield by clearly demonstrating air power's ability to hold targets at risk anywhere in the world.

Today, the 509th Bomb Wing - the wing Tibbets himself once commanded - continues to deter and dissuade America's enemies, flying the mighty B-2. While the size of our 21-aircraft B-2 inventory pales in comparison to the 47,500 bombers America had built by the end of World War II, unlike their predecessors, these strategic assets can flexibly launch from our own soil, fly half a world away, penetrate a country's defenses undetected, and precisely deliver lethal payloads.

But such equipment is nothing without you - the Airmen that employ it. You continue to build on the legacy of General Tibbets, not only fighting the current long war, but also opening new chapters in air, space, and cyber power. Your daily efforts provide our nation with Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power now. Your foresight and innovation will also carry the asymmetric strategic advantages of our Air Force across the 21st Century.

Today let us remember the Tibbets legacy - the United States Air Force is a better combatant organization because of General Tibbets! Let us also never forget the disciplined combat focus required to fly, fight, and win for the United States of America.

Thank you for your continued dedicated service to our great country.

T. Michael Moseley

General, USAF

18th CSAF


What Role is there for the USAF

The US Air Force has always been primarily interested in maintaining itself as a Strategic Force. If I were them I would give up the Ground Support entirely to the army and navy and concentrate on your own High Frontier suggestion.

With that in mind a US Aerospace Force is a viable structure, let the other forces have the bottom 40000 feet, let the USAF control everything above. This would include satellites, THOR weapons, Ben Bova Laser Battlestations, and a fleet of Aerospace Fighters. This is the role I could envisage for a future USAF. The control of these and other Strategic Tools would be best controlled by a arm dedicated to them.

Dave March
Military Interests Games Society Hamilton, ON

Become the Middle and possibly High Guard... USAF refused to give up the ground support mission even though it was clear they didn't want it and didn't want to do it. The miserable performance in close support is one reason USMC gets to keep its own air force. Marine Air works well with the ground forces. USAF hates the mission.


Democracy fails again, Bell's Palsy

Dr. Pournelle:

I thought the link at the top of your site read, "Democracy fails again, Bell's Palsy" with a comma instead of a semicolon. I have reading glasses, but rarely use them because I find it easier to sit a little farther back from the screen, where everything focuses, even at 1280 x 1024 on a 17" monitor. I couldn't figure out what Bell's Palsy had to do with Democracy failing. I was going to write, despite my mis-reading your link, but this made it more humorous. I'll go find my glasses now.

As someone second-handedly involved in the ethanol industry (my employer also designs corn-to-ethanol processing plants, and sells milling and material handling equipment), you are quite correct about the ethanol scam going on. This government largesse will benefit a few large companies (I think you meant ADM, not ADL) and some squeaky-wheel type (very vocal) smaller farmers in swing states. The per bushel price of corn is up 50% in the past year, driven mostly by pie-in-the-sky claims of how "ethanol will save us all" with programs paid for by the federal government. We do have countries like Brazil dying to sell us ethanol, but political butt-covering comes first. What comes second is ignorance. These politicians really couldn't tell ethanol from methanol, s*** from Shinola for that matter, but a few buzzwords is all it takes to get the ignorant on the bandwagon. I tell people that it costs more energy to grow the corn and process the ethanol than you can get from ethanol, and the feedstock leftover from distillation means less food for cows, not more… and they look at me like I've just landed from Mars. The sciences just aren't taught anymore.

The only thing we've gotten from the domestic ethanol industry is higher corn prices, which have yielded higher beef, pork, chicken, and milk prices. A secondary effect has been higher soybean prices, because soybean farmers have been switching to corn (due to that higher price). I'm reminded of Bradbury's story A Sound of Thunder in a meandering thoughts kind of way.

I am sorry to hear about your affliction. I checked out a few links on Bell's Palsy and hope you're one of the majority who make a speedy and complete recovery. You hadn't mentioned any symptoms previously, so I was a bit surprised and immediately took to the web to find out more. Everything appears to be encouraging, but I'm sure you already know that. Great news that it isn't a stroke.

Oh, after watching your 1979 interviews on Tom Snyder, I've started taking B-12 and Lecithin with Choline. While I won't have my cholesterol checked for another month, I have noticed my digestion has improved. My hair seems to be glossier, too… but that could just be the reformulated Costco conditioner!

Best regards,

Bill Kelly

Houston, TX

I continue to recommend Lecithin, and I get lots of B-12. Thanks for the kind words.  I am not sure how one gets Bell's Palsy: it must be some form of contagion, and I would guess airborne since I don't recall any other form of contact with strangers (or indeed anyone) in the past couple of months.


All ur UAVs are belong to us

The creepier version of this comes when a large fraction of our military power is remote-controlled or programmed autonomous devices. A coup now changes from something you do by convincing a majority of the military to go along with you, to something you do by compromising the cryptographic keys used to control access to the devices. Maybe there's a mercenary army in Bangalore running the remote-control tanks, helicopters, etc.

--John Kelsey


Subject: Space Solar Power Satellites


As a loyal TWIT listener, it was great to hear you on the show.

I second your opinion that a multi-billion dollar prize for a true RLV or Lunar presence would be money well spent.

I was especially excited to hear you mention Space Solar Power Satellites, as I was a participant in the latest study, which was just released last month:


A good synopsis can be found here:



PETER A. GARRETSON, Lt Col, USAF Chief, Future Science & Technology Exploration Branch (HQ USAF/A8XC) Future Concepts & Transformation Division peter.garretson@pentagon.af.mil Tel: 703-428-0891 SIPRNET: peter.garretson@af.pentagon.smil.mil

AF/A8XC Mission: Explore, develop, advocate and link future concepts, capabilities, promising technologies and their program funding to continue transforming the Air Force into a more effective fighting force.


 Commander in Chief

Jerry, the President is Commander in Chief, but isn't it Constitutionally important that the President be a CIVILIAN in control of the military, rather than an active military officer?


You mean like General Washington? Andrew Jackson? Actually,  the Framers expected that  a qualified President would take to the field as the head of the army. Commander in Chief had a specific meaning in those days (Marlborough was CINC of English forces in Europe during Queen Anne's War).

But yes, we have over time erected the "civilian control of the military" into a constitutional principle. On the other hand, the Framers understood the principle of the unity of command quite well. Of course in those days there was more time, possibly to change Presidents.




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Saturday, November 10, 2007

On Ebook readers (from another conference):

Oh yes, the N800 is one *nice* piece of kit. I've got one (and one of its predecessor, the N770 -- same screen, weedier guts, but Expansys were selling them off for seventy quid); I'm forcing myself not to buy the newer N810 for now (it's got GPS and a usable retractable keyboard and more memory).

I'm with your reader. I try to read on screen rather than on dead tree these days; I've got too many damn books as it is, and besides, having an ebook reader on you means *never* being short for something to read if your plane's delayed or your car breaks down or something. (Currently I'm reading "Implied Spaces" by Walter Jon Williams -- one that's not out yet. Editors have mostly gotten used to emailing me RTF files instead of ARCs for cover blurbs: it saves them money, saves me shelf space, and gives me longer to read it due to not waiting around for trans-Atlantic air mail.)

-- Charlie Stross









CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

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Sunday,    November 11, 2007

I took Veterans Day off   






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

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

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

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

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

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