Need a new journal publishing editor; Schools; Madison on “General Welfare”; ISP eavesdropping; and other items

Thursday, March 23, 2017

“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

We are a nation of assimilated immigrants.

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.


Microsoft updates things that don’t need updating, and neglects things like LiveWriter which clearly need it. LiveWriter is full of obvious bugs, but it hasn’t been supported for years. I suppose I need a new editing program for this journal; I was happy with my old program, (FrontPage)  but was persuaded to change to this one with its supposedly better data base management. I forget what other inducements there were. Anyway the change was a big deal, and getting to the old journal – which is still up, and full of pretty good stuff – like How To Get My Job – and more serious essays, poetry, space music I can’t listen to without chills, and many essays.

Some of the links are broken now, and I don’t seem to be able to edit the old FrontPage entries, and I guess it was time to change editors when I went to LiveWriter some years ago, but it’s pretty clearly time to change again. I’m willing to learn something new, but only one; the days when I used to learn everything and write about the differences are truncated now. Perhaps I will revive some of that when I finish Starborn and Godsons, the current book Niven, Barnes, and I are working on (98,000 words so far), but not until then.

So I am open to suggestions. My present procedure is to write the opening stuff of this journal – I suppose it is a blog, but I still find that an ugly word – in Microsoft Word – whatever the current version is when they update Office – then cut and paste to LiveWriter. The spell check as you type feature of LiveWriter is pretty well broken, but it does a creditable job when I invoke it last thing before publishing, and thanks to long suffering Rick Hellewell I have a template that puts the little gold bubble section dividers in. LiveWriter lacks some of the features FrontPage had, and pasting in images is harder now, but it gets the job done; but it’s getting harder to use as everything else gets improved, and my typing skills are not.

That is: I am slowly training Word to ignore some of my most frequent typos (hitting two keys at once is the most frequent cause) but I can’t teach those tricks to LiveWriter. Probably the best solution is to learn how to use Word itself to publish this journal, but my first attempts at this were such a disaster that I have hesitated trying it again; and there are supposedly better programs to publish journals – well, blogs – with.

I invite discussion. I have to change editors.


Re: The Stray Underlining You Can’t Delete


In your post dated yesterday (which I found this morning), you mention:

“Note: I cannot make LiveWriter remove the underlining here. You’ll just have to live with it.”

It seems that the offending text has somehow been set as a link. Luckily, it’s a link to The Legacy of Heorot (Heorot series Book 1) on ☺

This is the actual link that Chrome copies from the link-text:


Personally, it’s always the simplest seeming issues that take me the longest to figure out, maddeningly seeming obvious once I finally know the answer. It’s a relief to know I have good company!




Thanks. I’ll get around to editing that later; I’m just about to head up to the monk’s cell to work on fiction. I should have thought of that, I suppose. The interesting thing is if I leave that link to Amazon in your mail, the rest of this post underlines and becomes a link to it.  Somehow that link is poison. I fixed it by removing it; haven’t time for more investigation.



I find I’ve already said what I wanted to say about schools and education:

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

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

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

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

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

From Jerry Pournelle, View, 2007


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

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

James Madison



ISP Eavesdropping

Hi Jerry,

I’m a conservative, and work professionally as a security architect. I’m all for rolling back regulations, but in this case, it’s a bridge too far.  The vast majority of American’s have a single, or perhaps two (usually one is vastly inferior) choices for a wireline ISP.  These companies, contrary to the arguments made by the rollback sponsors, are nowhere near the same as Google, Facebook, Amazon or Bing.  For each of those, I can easily choose to use alternatives.  My ISP is a monopoly (Comcast – the alternative is very poor DSL service from CenturyLink), and as such I have no options.

ISP’s are in a unique position to monitor every piece of internet activity we perform.  They know where all our email addresses are, every site we visit, and if it’s not an encryption connection, the content of those pages.  They are big brother.  Allowing them, without user notification or consent, to monitor, collect, and sell browsing history to third parties is unacceptable.  The republicans voting for this have truly turned their backs on the individual citizen – bought and paid for by big telco.  This is corny capitalism, and the buying and selling of influence at it’s worst.

If you agree, please post a note to your readers.  The bill will come up for a vote in the house, so we have a chance to preserve the rules requiring opt-in consent.  It’s time to write in.





Back in 2002 you made my third novel, Escape from Heaven, Chaos Manor Book of the month. You wrote, “Just plain fun … J. Neil Schulman’s Escape From Heaven is a romp, an attempt to rewrite C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, with the theology removed. It’s fair to say that Schulman, behind the pure fun he’s having, has the serious Miltonic purpose of justifying God’s ways to man. Milton would have thought him a heretic, and I suspect C.S. Lewis would have said Schulman (like Heinlein in Job) missed the point; but for all that it’s a good read, and if the assumptions annoy you that might make you rethink your own: no bad thing … I found I kept reading to the end.”
On Saturday February 18th, and for a few days following, the new Kindle edition of Escape from Heaven — and the Kindle edition of its autobiographical companion The Heartmost Desire — are both free to purchase on Amazon — price $0.00.




happy 3/23 day!



David Couvillon
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; 
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; 
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; 
Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; 



I mentioned Candidate Trump’s plan for this before the election:

Pence confirms plans to reestablish the National Space Council –



School Discipline

Hello, Dr. Pournelle –
In 1979, I got a job as a school bus driver. It was a well-paying job – about min wage + $2 – and meshed well with my school schedule.
On my first day, I picked up one of my first stops and this 7th-grade student stopped in the door well, looked straight at me and said, “You’re over 18 and I’m under 18. I can do anything I want and you can’t do anything about it.”
What a way to start the year.
Cam Kirmser



Precise Measurement Dear Jerry –
You have repeatedly stated that you do not see how coarse-grained temperature measurements (at, let’s say, 1 degree increments) can provide accurate results at greater resolution (for instance .01 degrees). The answer is non-intuitive but simple – as long as the individual measurements are individually, but not systematically, inaccurate, there is no problem.
Let’s take as a gedanken experiment a body of water with a temperature of 17.7 degrees, being measured with a thermometer which can only be read to 1 degree. Assume the standard rounding level (0.5 degrees) applies. Then 10 readings will all give 18 degrees, and no amount of averaging will improve the accuracy. This, I assume, is your objection to the larger question of climate measurement accuracy.
Your objection is entirely correct, but only (and I stress this) if the thermometer is perfectly accurate. Let’s say the thermometer is itself only accurate to +/- 0.5 degrees (with uniform error distribution within that interval) for any given reading, but the long-term accuracy is perfect. Then the 10 readings can be modeled as 17.25, 17.35, 17.45, 17.55, 17.65, 17.75, 17.85, 17.95, 18.05, and 18.15 degrees. Of the 10 readings, 3 will be rounded to 17 degrees and 7 to 18 degrees. The average of these 10 readings will be 17.7.
This effect is widely used in the DSP community, which routinely samples signals with A/D converters whose fixed resolution produces what is called quantization noise. By adding a small AC signal to the analog input of the A/D converter, the quantization noise gets “smeared out” over a wide frequency range and the effective signal to peak noise ratio can be dramatically improved. The process is generically called dithering.
In the case of temperature measurements, the sources of inaccuracy are legion. Any batch of thermometers, for instance, will display slightly different accuracies. Any assortment of measurers will read their thermometers slightly differently, particularly under bad conditions. While these effects degrade the accuracy of any given measurement, collectively they improve the accuracy of the overall average. There are only two requirements: first, that the errors are independent – that is, that some thermometers read high while some read low, for instance. The other requirement is that the spread of errors be greater than the resolution of the measurements. As an example, in the case of the 17.7 degree water, if the measurement error interval is 0.1 degree rather than 1.0 degrees, the improvement does not appear – all measurements remain at 18 degrees.
So, your reservations about temperature measurements are valid in isolation, but taken together the two effects (individual inaccuracy and coarse resolution) cancel each other out, at least in principle. This does require that the error spread be greater than measurement resolution interval, but this does not seem an unreasonable assumption. Given this assumption, there is no apparent reason to reject the notion of high-resolution, high-accuracy averages being derived from low-resolution data.
And even then, systematic errors are not a problem in determining trends as long as the error biases remain fixed. The temperature trends in climate research are always computed referenced to a base period’s measurements rather than an absolute temperature. And in fact you might remember a rather elegant bit of analysis several years back, concerning ocean temperatures with were not rising as expected. An analysis of the data found there were two different types of water temperature sensors on ships, internal and external, and the internal sensors consistently gave lower readings than the external sensors. Over time, the proportion of internal to external sensors had risen, causing the average to shift in a way which compensated for the real long-term rise in temperature. (While this was an elegant bit of analysis, it did raise the question of how many other such effects are going on in the climate community which are not being ferreted out because the results are not viewed as anomalous. But I digress.)
Jim Martin


Using averages of imprecise data to increase accuracy of estimates requires a number of mathematical tricks based on assumptions about the nature of the raw data; I have apparently missed this discussion in the climate debates.



What the news does not tell you….

Anti-Islam note leaves Des Moines community shaken

The article leads with the note. Read it. The first couple lines read, “You Muslims are a vile and filthy people. Your mothers are whores and your fathers are dogs.” What American calls people names that way? Bastards, yes. Dogs, no.

In the US dogs are generally good. It’s rather clear this “anti-Islam note” was hand written by a Muslim using Muslim phrasing from the Qur’an where it refers to infidels. You would think it would be the job of the media to inform you of this little detail. Alas, it is not. Our media lies to us daily. AND we let them do it without calling them on it.

Maybe, just maybe, we should rethink the ideas of special freedom of speech rights for news media vs you and I. Why should there be an elite who are allowed to get away with holding sources secret and other special protections they have, when the rest of us don’t have them? Or are we ALL allowed to make a blog post of our “news” and call ourselves journalists as we wish so we can enjoy the special treatment accorded to media? I am not sure erasing the difference is a GOOD idea. I am sure it is an idea that needs open debate.




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



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