Civilization, Where was the Guard, and many interesting subjects as I catch up a bit on MAIL

Mail 853 Monday, December 01, 2014

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

I have never said that human society ought to be aristocratic, but a great deal more than that. What I have said, and still believe with ever-increasing conviction, is that human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic. Of course I am speaking now of society and not of the State.

Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the JMasses


A definition of "civilization" —

Definitions are important — ask any lawyer — and the discussion once again has turned to the difference between civilized and uncivilized people. I am just arrogant enough to have coined my own definition.

That person is civilized who, having the means and opportunity to compel another against his will, and profit thereby, refuses to do it because he believes it is wrong.

Richard White

Austin, Texas

And how does he learn this?


Two Nobel Prize winners, Watson and Shockley, have put forth theories of racial intelligence levels. Both were, essentially, shouted down and few, if any, comprehensive studies have been performed. It seems as if the Liberal Shouters are afraid that Watson and Shockley are right.

My non-scientific observations lead me to believe that they are wrong. My brother, who spent a good deal of time at California Horse Race Tracks, observed that anyone who thought Blacks were deficient in math skills had never observed how quickly they could calculate the payoff of a multi-race parley without the use of pencil, paper or calculator.

I believe that any observed racial differences in native intelligence are due to cultural factors rather than race. Consequently, any study needs to develop methodology to account for these Cultural differences. Standard IQ test will not yield valid results.

Bob Holmes

Hundreds of psychologists have attempted to remove the cultural influences in IQ tests.  They claim to have done so.  When I breed Border Collies or Huskies, I expect to get smart dogs. Other breeds are selected if you want other traits.  It works in dogs and horses, and it seems reasonable to assume that smart people produce smart kids: this has nothing to do with race, but the tests continue to show racial differences.  If it’s true that there are racial differences in IQ, then it behooves us to rescue the smart kids.



James Watson

Hi Jerry

Just a brief comment about James Watson and his quote in 2007. He apparently said that he was pessimistic about prospects in 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."

This has been the elephant in the room for a long, long time.

Something has prevented – and continues to prevent – much of Africa from joining the economic and technological upswing evident throughout most of the rest of the world. If cognitive differences are a contributing factor, then we need to know this so that we can do something about it. Denying reality is just not helpful.

If the cognitive differences are present, then the next question is why. Such differences could be genetic, in which case we need to change our approach to helping Africa. Alternatively, they could result from nutrition or disease, in which case, the problem is eminently fixable. However, researchers are never going to investigate the cause as long as admitting the problem itself is equivalent to career suicide.

If even a Nobel Laureate is not allowed such a gentle criticism of the social policies directed at Africa, what hope do ordinary mortals have?





Punishment by percentages

It is with great sadness to see punishment being dealt out according to the color of one’s skin rather than having it be a corrective action.

There is no education in that but it looks good on paper.



Your post on civilizing barbarians

Long time reader via Instapundit since 2002.

I remember some Republican politician being crushed for suggesting that US students clean their schools like they do in Japan.

I lived in Japan and I respect that country very much, but I’m not a pop-culture Japanophile (sushi, anime, etc…) When I found out that students in Japanese public schools have rotational cleaning duties in their school that only US janitors would do, I was embarrassed for my culture. When I saw students and teachers picking weeds out on a terraced flowered facade of a school while I was driving to work (military), I was embarrassed for my culture.

The other day, I was in the DMV which is a terrible experience in and of itself. There was an Asian women two people in front of me and a US-born person of color who was rather large, directly in front of me. The staff called for "next" and English being her second language, she did not immediately react. The person of color waited until the second call of "next" and just walked right up to the counter. The Asian women then realized he cut her in line and was visibly livid (sort of shaking but trying to repress her anger – very Asian) and I recognized what that was and knew she would end up just letting it go. So I spoke up. I told the man that she was next and he said "Too late, I’m here." What ran through my head was "And that’s why you are where you are at in life."

I told my Japanese wife this story and she had the thought that maybe the one hour a day of ethics she had to take at school from first grade to high school may be the reason Japanese don’t act rude and cut people in line.

I was like "Wait. Ethics in public school?"

That is one of the many reasons that we both feel a move back to Japan, even if our income is cut in half (and I’m not making alot now) would be the best for our family.

Robert F





Ferguson and the national guard

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I wonder if you or your correspondents would be able to provide insight into a small mystery.

As you can see, the Ferguson police chief is quite puzzled. He had expected to have national guard assistance on Monday when the grand jury decision was announced. Yet "the mission" was changed . The Guard was not sent, and his tiny police department was left to fend for itself. Guard units were not deployed until Tuesday.

Who made this decision, and why?

As you can see, the police chief himself is asking those questions, and is not getting answers.

I confess, as a citizen, to being curious about this myself. Someone high up had to make that decision, and it had to be political. The kind spin is perhaps they were afraid that deploying military forces would provoke just the kind of riot they were afraid of. They cynical spin is that they knew darn well what would happen and WANTED a day of rage.

I make it a rule never to attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence; 14 years as a government contractor showed me ‘incompetence’ at any level was a very safe bet. Nonetheless, circumstances are such that I find that I cannot wholly dismiss the more sinister scenario.

Also on the topic of Ferguson, here is a link to many of the grand jury materials.

I have not thoroughly examined them yet. A prima facie read suggests that an overwhelming number of eyewitnesses state that officer Wilson pursued and fired on Mr. Brown when Mr. Brown was not resisting. However, the physical evidence does not bear our their accounts; only one of the bullets which struck Mr. Brown may have been fired from behind him, and since that is in the arm, that evidence is disputable at best.

Another question that liberals are asking — and I think it is a reasonable one — is exactly why the DA was essentially acting as Officer Wilson’s defense attorney, quoting Justice Scalia, of all people, in the role of the modern grand jury.

"It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence,neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented."

So why did the prosecutor call Darren Wilson to testify in his defense, when this would be more appropriate to a petit jury after indictment?

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the prosecutor was not exactly pursuing this case with wholehearted vigor, and so difficult for the community in Ferguson to avoid the conclusion that ‘the fix was in’. Which provokes anger.

Which is, of course, an excuse for peaceful marching and civil disobedience in the streets, NOT for plundering, murder, and rioting . This man was killed during the riots; yet none of the rioters seem to be demanding that HIS killers be brought to justice.


Brian P.

I have been told that the Attorney General of the United States told the Governor to keep the guard away from the crowd but I cannot say this is from a reliable source. I do not know why the Governor did not either order the Guard in, or turn it over to the Lieutenant Governor (A Republican) or simply go give a speech in another state…



When the incompetent are led by the malicious

Dear Jerry:

I shared your thoughts about barbarianism with a homeschooler of my acquaintance. She believes that the schools do indeed indoctrinate and that they are getting exactly what they set out to get. That’s why they continue to do what they are doing. They are not sowing the wind. Their plan is calculated. They just happen to have goals that are different from yours and mine.

I will remind her that we should not impute maliciousness when incompetence is an adequate explanation.

In support of that view, I have another acquaintance who happens to be a teacher of school teachers and administrators. She is appalled at the intellectual inadequacy of those being entrusted with the education of our youngsters.

Perhaps it is the incompetent being led by the malicious that most fully accounts for the destruction of America’s educational system.

Best regards,

–Harry M.



IQ and Automation

"half the jobs people are doing now can likely be done by a robot which can be purchased for about the annual cost of the person now doing that job."

Combining that with this: "Automation Makes Us Dumb" (WSJ)

and you get a nicely vicious circle. Perhaps those whose jobs were automated earlier and who consequently had no jobs in which to develop skills — perhaps were even barred from such jobs — would wind up with a lower group-average IQ. As automation reaches into other categories of work — doctors, airline pilots, as discussed in the article — we will see a decline among them, as well.


Maybe we ought to write a story about such a world…




Reprieve for Warthog – they are listening to you

The Times 28/11/14

Reprieve for Warthog as US sends thunder from the sky down on Isis Michael Evans Last updated at 12:01AM, November 28 2014 An American ground-attack aircraft that the Pentagon wanted to scrap to save money has been reprieved to combat Islamic State militants in Iraq.

The A-10 “Warthog”, known as the flying tank and one of the most feared aircraft during the Iraq war, has been sent to a base in the Gulf region to join the airstrikes against Isis.

A squadron of about ten A-10s, with 300 US Air Force personnel from the US Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, arrived ten days ago. The group, usually based at Fort Wayne, Indiana, is believed to be based near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The A-10 is known officially as Thunderbolt and its seven-barrel Gatling cannon can fire 4,200 rounds a minute. Their presence on the battlefield indicates a determination by the Pentagon to take a more aggressive approach towards Isis.

The sacking of Chuck Hagel as US defence secretary, because he was considered too passive by the White House, was another sign that President Obama wants a tougher attacking stance to back his public pledge to “disrupt and destroy” the Islamic militants.

It is an extraordinary reprieve for an aircraft that the Pentagon was planning to axe to save $4 billion. Bipartisan support in Congress to save the Warthogs temporarily halted Pentagon plans, but with the US Air Force insisting that other aircraft can perform the same role, its future remains in doubt.

With the deployment of A-10s, the US has built up an array of aircraft to take on Isis. Apache helicopters were used for the first time in Iraq last month. Carrier-borne F/A-18s as well as US Air Force F-16s, F-15Es, B-1 bombers and armed Predator drones have been involved since airstrikes began in August.

The Warthog’scapability to launch massive bursts of firepower from a low altitude proved devastating in the Gulf war of 1991 and the Iraq war from 2003.

Two A-10s were involved in a friendly-fire incident in the Gulf war when nine British soldiers were killed.

Andy Gibbs

With a brigade from the 101st and the Warthogs any competent brigadier could put paid to the Caliphate, while establishing a base in Kurdish Iraq. This would have a salutory effect on Baghdad, and tellthe world that it’s good to have the United States as your friend.


Your efforts have been noticed

Dr. Pournelle:

Your republishing of the sixth-grade reader has gained some notice. Bill Whittle, a conservitarian commentator has a piece on YouTube citing you, the edited reader, and the stupidification of the education system. It’s at

Pete Nofel


Footfall without the Fithp- Directed Deep Impact


Another example of Science catching up with the Science Fiction of 30 years ago–

Best regards,

Doug Ely



Re: Mike Lieman’s note

"As a Jewish-American, I can remember another person who characterized people as ‘barbarians’, consequently, I don’t think that framing is useful.

To counter the ‘Old White Man’s Echo Chamber’, you should read this piece by the author Kiese Laymon, "My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK < > ", which provides a counterpoint to the dehumanizing stereotypes you’re so casually invoking."


It seems to me Mike’s criticism was pretty far off base. Hitler’s characterization of Jews (and other ethnic groups) was based solely on their ethnicity. Your characterization of a subset of African Americans (and I assume you would also include a subset of white Americans, Hispanics, etc.) as "barbarians" is based on their words, behavior and actions, not on their ethnicity. I didn’t see any stereotyping in your essay.

Best regards,

Doug Ely



Dear Jerry;

Since with the advent of the Mann v. Steyn case, Scientia est omnis divisa in partes tres….

It’s high time someone authored a book entitled :

De Bello Climatico

Too bad the Aldine Press folded:

Russell Seitz

Fellow of the Department of Physics Harvard University



"Ukraine is historically part of Russia, not merely an imperial acquisition."

That is what the Russians would have you believe. It is not necessarily so.

The current Ukraine was assembled by Stalin. Before him, Ukraine was basically the basin of the Dnieper river. Stalin attached the basin of the Donetsk river east of the Dnieper to the Ukraine SSR. Later, in the aftermath of WWII, Stalin attached the southeastern provinces of Poland to Ukraine, and moved the Poles out of what is now Ukraine into Poland. He then set the western border of Poland as the Oder River. And expelled all ethnic Germans who had lived east of there into Germany.

Before the 20th Century, Ukraine was ruled numerous powers. Russia did not control Ukraine until the 18th Century. From the time of the Mongols Ukraine was ruled by Lithuania, later Poland-Lithuania.

Russians like to tell a story that Russia began in Kiev in the 10th Century. Indeed, the Slavic orthodox church was established in Kiev at that time. However, the is no real political, cultural, or institutional connection between that era and Muscovy of the 14th Century, which is the core of modern Russia.

If the foregoing is not a story of imperial acquisition, I don’t know what would fit the bill.

Robert Schwartz

I would have said that ownership since the 1700’s would be a pretty good title: it is longer than we have owned most of the United States. It is certainly longer than Russia has controlled East Prussia.

As to the history of Ukraine and its legitimate ownership I can only say that I know many Ukrainian dwellers who have many different views, and Cossacks who have yet another. The 20th Century was not kind to Eastern Europe; Germans, Poles, Kievans, Ukrainians were forcibly moved. Ukraine was the location of the Harvest of Sorrow where a third of the population was deliberately starved by Stalin. Crimea was given to Ukraine by Khrushchev. The very boundaries changed several time in the 20th Century as well as in the 19th. The Cossacks, Tatars, Kievan State Vikings, Polish refugees, Diaspora Jews, were stirred about, encouraged, then displaced, and all that before Stalin’s Harvest of Sorrow.

The Polish border was settled after World War II by giving part of Germany to Poland and part of Poland to Russia. The inhabitants were not consulted, but were told to migrate to their new homes according to their ethnicity and language.

Whether wisely or not, we have admitted the Baltic Republics to NATO, and thus have an obligation to defend them although it is questionable whether they can contribute much to the defense of the United States. I have a strong sentimental interest in the freedom of the Balts, having many friends from all three of them; but I am ot sure I would have made an entangling alliance with them. I certainly know of nothing good that could come from having Ukraine as a NATO ally.

There comes a point at which the United States needs to mind its own business, at least until that business is running properly. If we can remain a free society and not become the welfare state with permit raj that we seem headed to be, I suspect that would be enough.

Russia cannot absorb all of Ukrainian speaking Ukraine. The Tsars perhaps could, but for the Bolsheviks it required human caused famine to control the land. I do not believe Russia has enough ethnic Russians to control Ukraine, and Putin appears to know that. He does want the Eastern Ukraine, where he probably has the required Russian speakers, and may be able to make a deal with the Cossacks.

What is certain is that we do not know.

We chose sides in the Balkan wars out of sentiment, only to see “our side” practice the same ethnic cleansing that had won the support of Madeleine Albright. There are no Slavs left in Kosovo, as the Russians told us would be the outcome of this. This did not endear us to the Panslavic Russian.

I don’t know what is the best possible solution to the territorial and boundary disputes of Europe. I do not believe they are our business.


What Should a Bayesian Infer from the Antikythera Mechanism?



Roland Dobbins

Thank you for finding that.  It’s a fascinating lecture.  I have been intrigued by that machine since I first learned of it in high school



Sony’s New Movies Leak Online

I think that may be bad reporting. At least it needs more clarity. Are they implying that multiple distinct digital copies of each film have been downloaded and leaked, or are the using the word "copies" in the sense of "one copy of each film." If the former, it is still possible that multiple drafts were hacked by a single source, some of which were from before the addition of digital watermarks, and still does not preclude efforts by the hackers to remove the digital watermarks prior to re-release.

In a message dated 11/30/2014 9:01:56 A.M. Central Standard Time, —– writes:

"Many of the leaked copies are watermarked." Many? That indicates multiple sources.

"Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid."

"Sands of Iwo Jima" (1949), John Wayne’s character, Sergeant Stryker




An alternative to civilizing barbarians is to simply prevent or discourage their procreation.

Building and operating abortion clinics in the neighborhoods that are inhabited predominantly by barbarians is a good start.

Welfare reform that ceases to pay barbarian mothers to keep birthing more barbarian babies as Gingrich forced Clinton to do is another effective tactic. President Obama has largely reversed this policy by eliminating time limits on unemployment. However; given Obama’s avowed aversion to procreation it might be possible to persuade Obama to tie continuing wealth transfer payments to some type of contraception such as Norplant or better yet, permanent surgical sterilization.

An even better tactic might be to develop a highly additive hallucinogenic or intoxicating drug that is also a potent contraceptive or sterilizing agent. I have often wondered if the Borlaie grown on Tanith in your CoDo stories might be such an agent.

Since the barbarians, particularly young adult male barbarians, commit homicide at a rate ten times higher than the general population, usually killing fellow young male adult barbarians, ensure that the barbarians have easy access to cheap, low quality, short range weapons, particularly handguns. The handguns that are marketed to the barbarians should be intentionally designed to be prone to discharge accidentally. If a smart gun is developed, it should be programed to discharge at random intervals. Given the fact that barbarians are n the habit of carrying handguns in the front of their pants, this would help to prevent the male barbarians from procreating. Handguns with no manual safety, no trigger guard and a light trigger pull would be particularly effective.

James Crawford=

A modest proposal, I presume…


Toward artificial life…

The ultimate goal of the project is to give people access to their own digital worm called WormSim to study on their computers through the OpenWorm project.

Charles Brumbelow



Maxwell’s Demon?


It may not technically be Maxwell’s, but apparently this thing cools without using any energy.

Device cools itself in the blazing-hot sun

"The team designed a structure of seven alternating layers of silicon dioxide – essentially glass – and hafnium dioxide. Both materials are transparent to visible light but emit radiation strongly at wavelengths of around 10 μm. These layers are stacked on a layer of silver to create a mirror that reflects visible light. Fan and his team used a computer simulation to choose thicknesses for the different layers that would maximize both how much sunlight the combined device reflects and how much infrared radiation it emits.

"The researchers then mounted the device, which was just under 2 μm thick, onto a 20 cm-diameter circular silicon wafer, added a plastic sheet to block convective air flows, and placed the apparatus on the rooftop of a building at Stanford. They found that on a sunny day, the device cooled to between 4 and 5 degrees below the surrounding air temperature. The device therefore appears to be the first object known to achieve such cooling under direct sunlight without consuming energy."

When the temp is 104, as it is quite often out where I live, I’m not sure getting it down to 100 would be much of an improvement, but anything would help.

Braxton Cook


IHS story on safe cities (Todos Santos?)

Hello Jerry,

Have been thinking about Todos Santos since the Ferguson riots and how such arcologies might be coming our way soon when I ran across an article about safe cities in IHS Quarterly/Technology.

An excerpt from "Why safe cities are not necessarily smart cities":

Safe cities, however, have a more concise focus, concerned only with the security, safety and operations of the city to protect its physical assets and citizens. The safe city concept revolves around multi-agency collaboration using a consolidated information technology (IT) platform that integrates public safety information obtained through sensors, such as video surveillance, physical access control, gunshot detection and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive).


And later ran across this website:

Just years ahead of your time (Niven too).

Blair Shorney



Subj: Gregor Mendel is spinning in his grave…

as is probably every other geneticist.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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