Proscription, plain talk about the Holocaust, Security Kabuki, Correlation and Causation, North Korea, and other matters.

Mail 765 Wednesday, March 06, 2013


Drone Strikes On US Soil Possible


The Obama administration just keeps getting more interesting, with the US Attorney General telling Congress that drone strikes could be ordered against Americans on American soil.

Will it read your Miranda rights first? Or is this strictly a shoot first and ask questions later thing?

Kevin L. Keegan

Senator Rand Paul (R, Kentucky) has been conducting a one-man filibuster to draw attention to this. He says his goal is to get a statement from the President on the subject. Proscription lists were a major part of the downfall of the Roman Republic, and the cause of the death of Cicero, whose head was displayed in the Forum.

[Apologies: I earlier said ‘conscription’ which is an entirely different discussion. Mr. Heinlein always said that a nation that needed conscripts to defend it wasn’t worth defending. Machiavelli believed that Republics that did not employ conscription probably would not survive. Having the children of rich and poor alike involved in war affects whether or not a republic goes to war. The US ‘solution’ to this for most of its lifetime was to keep the Marines a voluntary organization and employ the Marines when it was an operation short of war. The Corps was kept rather small.  Marines and the Navy belonged to the President, but if you needed to involve the Army that was the Department of War and required Congressional action.  Conscription was needed in preparation for actual wars, as in the leadup to WW II. But it’s another discussion.

Senator Paul was discussing drones and proscription lists, and unlike most filibusters, what I heard in random trips to the live broadcast was relevant to the subject.]


Auschwitz – This is fascinating

How’s this for controversy…

The following is a copy of an article written by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodriguez and published in a Spanish newspaper on Jan. 15, 2008. It doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate the message to the rest of Europe – and possibly to the rest of the world.


Date: Tue. 15 January 2008


I walked down the street in Barcelona , and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz … We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

The contribution of these people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.

And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.

Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition.

We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.

What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe.

The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000; that is ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world’s population. They have received the following NobelPrizes:


1988 – Najib Mahfooz


1978 – Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat

1990 – Elias James Corey

1994 – Yaser Arafat:

1999 – Ahmed Zewai






1960 – Peter Brian Medawar

1998 – Ferid Mourad


The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000; that is FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world’s population. They have received the following Nobel Prizes:


1910 – Paul Heyse

1927 – Henri Bergson

1958 – Boris Pasternak

1966 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon

1966 – Nelly Sachs

1976 – Saul Bellow

1978 – Isaac Bashevis Singer

1981 – Elias Canetti

1987 – Joseph Brodsky

1991 – Nadine Gordimer World


1911 – Alfred Fried

1911 – Tobias Mi chae l Carel Asser

1968 – Rene Cassin

1973 – Henry Kissinger

1978 – Menachem Begin

1986 – Elie Wiesel

1994 – Shimon Peres

1994 – Yitzhak Rabin


1905 – Adolph Von Baeyer

1906 – Henri Moissan

1907 – Albert Abraham Michelson

1908 – Gabriel Lippmann

1910 – Otto Wallach

1915 – Richard Willstaetter

1918 – Fritz Haber

1921 – Albert Einstein

1922 – Niels Bohr

1925 – James Franck

1925 – Gustav Hertz

1943 – Gustav Stern

1943 – George Charles de Hevesy

1944 – Isidor Issac Rabi

1952 – Felix Bloch

1954 – Max Born

1958 – Igor Tamm

1959 – Emilio Segre

1960 – Donald A. Glaser

1961 – Robert Hofstadter

1961 – Melvin Calvin

1962 – Lev Davidovich Landau

1962 – Max Ferdinand Perutz

1965 – Richard Phillips Feynman

1965 – Julian Schwinger

1969 – Murray Gell-Mann

1971 – Dennis Gabor

1972 – William Howard Stein

1973 – Brian David Josephson

1975 – Benjamin Mottleson

1976 – Burton Richter

1977 – Ilya Prigogine

1978 – Arno Allan Penzias

1978 – Peter L Kapitza

1979 – Stephen Weinberg

1979 – Sheldon Glashow

1979 – Herbert Charles Brown

1980 – Paul Berg

1980 – Walter Gilbert

1981 – Roald Hoffmann

1982 – Aaron Klug

1985 – Albert A. Hauptman

1985 – Jerome Karle

1986 – Dudley R. Herschbach

1988 – Robert Huber

1988 – Leon Lederman

1988 – Melvin Schwartz

1988 – Jack Steinberger

1989 – Sidney Altman

1990 – Jerome Friedman

1992 – Rudolph Marcus

1995 – Martin Perl

2000 – Alan J. Heeger


1970 – Paul Anthony Samuelson

1971 – Simon Kuznets

1972 – Kenneth Joseph Arrow

1975 – Leonid Kantorovich

1976 – Milton Friedman

1978 – Herbert A. Simon

1980 – Lawrence Robert Klein

1985 – Franco Modigliani

1987 – Robert M. Solow

1990 – Harry Markowitz

1990 – Merton Miller

1992 – Gary Becker

1993 – Robert Fogel


1908 – Elie Metchnikoff

1908 – Paul Erlich

1914 – Robert Barany

1922 – Otto Meyerhof

1930 – Karl Landsteiner

1931 – Otto Warburg

1936 – Otto Loewi

1944 – Joseph Erlanger

1944 – Herbert Spencer Gasser

1945 – Ernst Boris Chain

1946 – Hermann Joseph Muller

1950 – Tadeus Reichstein

1952 – Selman Abraham Waksman

1953 – Hans Krebs

1953 – Fritz Albert Lipmann

1958 – Joshua Lederberg

1959 – Arthur Kornberg

1964 – Konrad Bloch

1965 – Francois Jacob

1965 – Andre Lwoff

1967 – George Wald

1968 – Marshall W. Nirenberg

1969 – Salvador Luria

1970 – Julius Axelrod

1970 – Sir Bernard Katz

1972 – Gerald Maurice Edelman

1975 – Howard Martin Temin

1976 – Baruch S. Blumberg

1977 – Roselyn Sussman Yalow

1978 – Daniel Nathans

1980 – Baruj Benacerraf

1984 – Cesar Milstein

1985 – Mi chae l Stuart Brown

1985 – Joseph L. Goldstein

1986 – Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]

1988 – Gertrude Elion

1989 – Harold Varmus

1991 – Erwin Neher

1991 – Bert Sakmann

1993 – Richard J. Roberts

1993 – Phillip Sharp

1994 – Alfred Gilman

1995 – Edward B. Lewis

1996 – Lu RoseIacovino

TOTAL: 129!

The Jews are NOT promoting brain washing children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non Muslims. The Jews don’t hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants. There is NOT one single Jew who has destroyed a church. There is NOTa single Jew who protests by killing people.

The Jews don’t traffic slaves, nor have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels.

Perhaps they should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems.

Muslims must ask ‘what can they do for humankind’ before they demand that humankind respects them.

Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel’s part, the following two sentences really says it all:

"If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel ." Benjamin Netanyahu

General Eisenhower warned us it is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead. He did this because he said in words to this effect:

‘Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses – because somewhere down the road of history someone will get up and say that this never happened’

Recently, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it ‘offends’ the Muslim population which claims it never occurred. It is not removed as of yet. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, raped, burned, starved, beaten, experimented on and humiliated while the German people looked the other way.

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be ‘a myth,’ it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people. Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center ‘NEVER HAPPENED’ because it offends some Muslim in the United States? Do not just delete this message; it will take only a minute to pass this along.

I was not fully in favor of building the Holocaust Museum on the Washington Mall, but now I wonder if there will not be pressure to close it.



Hello Jerry,

I thought you might enjoy this piece of security theatre reported in the Washington Post:

The best part of the article:

………Burlingame suspects the TSA decided to allow folding knives because they are hard to spot. She said the agency’s employees “have a difficult time seeing these knives on X-ray screening, which lowers their performance testing rates.”

Stay well,


P.S. please don’t publish my name/email with this article as I fly a lot and would prefer not to incur the wrath of the TSA.


The TSA says it cannot hire new gropers to harass travelers at the airports and will have fewer gropers working at any given time; therefore, we will have delays at airports while we wait to be groped.  This is all blamed on the "sequester crisis" that was Obama’s brainchild, but this President blames the GOP.  However, we note — once again — more activities at TSA that do not pass the common sense test. 


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will let people carry small pocketknives onto passenger planes for the first time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, along with golf clubs, hockey sticks and plastic Wiffle Ball-style bats.


I don’t think I need to delve too deeply into that point; I’ll say that I think it may become a fund raiser for TSA.  What I mean is, allowing these items increases the likelihood of an "incident", which will result in much crying by certain sections of the general public.  The mother figure or father figure bureaucrats will come in and request more funding to deal with the new bogey men. 


The impending sequester did not prevent the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  from acting in late February to seal a $50-million deal to purchase new uniforms for its agents–uniforms that will be partly manufactured in Mexico.


So the TSA managed to arrange a bailout for the Mexican gropers’ garment industry to save the TSA from unfashionable uniforms.  But, I realize that point will not mean much to most people; so let’s add some context and put this into perspective, shall we?


Under their new collective bargaining agreement, Transportation Security Administration officers get to spend more taxpayer money on their uniforms every year than a United States Marine Corps lieutenant can spend in a lifetime.


One has to ask just what leverage the employees at TSA have to secure such nonsensical agreements?  I took a course in labor relations — specifically on bargaining and negotiation — and I’m wondering what these employees offer that warrants such an expense by the management?  After all, we’re talking about people who could not get a job at Starbucks or Walmart, that have no law enforcement training, and are, basically, unskilled workers who grope people and rummage through their undergarments while harassing a number of people they may meet in the course of the day.  What value could they possibly bring that we cannot just hire someone else with fewer benefits and lower salaries? 

While writing this email, another thought struck me.  We have unions for several federal entities; what would happen if we had unions in the military? 😉


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

: Probably not funny, but…

I suppose there is a logical reason that TSA settled on 2.36 inches as the dividing point for allowable and unallowable carry-on knives. However, NBC didn’t report why this precise-to-two-decimal-places measurement was chosen, and that makes it seem rather silly. You or your knife-savvy readers may be able to explain — is this just a conversion from metric length (where the metric number is nice and round)? Or an industry standard blade in some respect?

It’s not the most helpful newswriting, that’s for sure.


According to the TSA, passengers will be able to carry-on knives that are less than 2.36 inches long and less than one-half inch wide. Larger knives, and those with locking blades and molding handles, will continue to be prohibited, as will razor blades and box cutters.


We have a number of comments on correlation and causation. Here are some of them:


From the time (long ago!) when I studied at the Helsinki University of Technology (now part of the Aalto University) I remember an even better (because simpler) example of point 3 in ‘The Causes of Correlation’: At least in Finland, there’s a clear correlation between ice cream consumption and deaths through drowning, with both peaking in summer. So which causes which? Neither; what happens is that warm weather makes people eat more ice cream and also go swimming and boating much more, increasing their opportunities to drown.

Frej Wasastjerna

Correlation and causation

Dr. Pournelle,

Thanks for publishing the essay on statistics, and to the author. I’m convinced (again) that I should have spent more time on the subject in school.

Perhaps apropos:

I think that the lesson I might take is that global temperatures seem to correlate more with volcanic activity than to anthropogenic release of CO2. But it would be very important to pay attention to the details of the case studies before making such a conclusion.


Subject: Postscript on correlation

This is too good.  By sheer coincidence today’s Dilbert (6 Mar 2013) addresses the problem of causation vs. correlation:

Mike Flynn

Here is a paper by Brian Joiner on lurking variables in correlation, anent the comment that to develop a causal hypothesis from a correlation, one needs information from outside the correlation.

Mike Flynn

Correlation and Causation

In the strict logical sense, correlation does not imply causation. I admit that in general parlance the word "imply" has a looser meaning than that.

To use correlation as a starting point for causation, one needs two things; the correlation (finding of which can be done statistically) and a plausible mechanism by which the causation could be achieved. Ideally, the proposed mechanism should be testable. Testability is not the case for the correlation between CO2 and global warming, at least in a practical sense and at current CO2 levels. IMHO neither is the case for the correlation between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease. Testing this in humans is impractical due to ethical considerations and far too high time cost, and there is no plausible mechanism so the hypothesis (high fat ruins your heart) fails on both grounds.

I’ve used an imperfect and somewhat silly/OTT example of the "correlation implies causation" fallacy: There is a strong correlation between the number of men in American shopping malls (at least in the northern parts) wearing white-and-red suits, big belts, big boots, fat suits underneath the red, long white wigs and fake beards – and the amount of snowfall outside. Do the men in red suits cause the snow?


Ian Campbell


The Professors’ Big Stage –

Tom Friedman’s NYT article on Massively Open Online Courses. Friedman tends to always be very excited by technology and the changes it affords us. Some quotes I like from the article:

Institutions of higher learning must move, as the historian Walter Russell Mead puts it, from a model of “time served” to a model of “stuff learned.” Because increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for, what you can do with what you know.


We have to get beyond the current system of information and delivery — the professorial “sage on the stage” and students taking notes, followed by a superficial assessment, to one in which students are asked and empowered to master more basic material online at their own pace, and the classroom becomes a place where the application of that knowledge can be honed through lab experiments and discussions with the professor.

and my favorite…

We demand that plumbers and kindergarten teachers be certified to do what they do, but there is no requirement that college professors know how to teach.

Having matriculated at a post-secondary school that is chartered as a research institution I can attest to the fact that a goodly portion of the professors I encountered could not teach.

John Harlow

The original California higher education master plan – I worked on it as a consultant – understood this and mandated that the California State Colleges be teaching institutions and not be able to grant advanced degrees. The University of California would have a limited number of campuses – Berkeley, UCLA, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz – and be primarily graduate schools although they would have limited undergraduate classes. Naturally the professor unions got the State Golleges first the right to give master’s, then PhD, then call themselves Universities… With the result that few of them can teach well, and they are generally lousy at research also. The big name UC campuses do have good grad schools but as they begin offering ethnicity and diversity higher degrees they sink into the muck of having undergraduate classes taught by uninterested grad students, and research degrees in subjects that have no market. And the beat goes on.

One can get a decent education without the awful classes with their crippling debts, but the universities still have the credentials monopolies.


"North Korea is a major threat because of the massed artillery along the border. The location of most of the guns is well known and plotted by both US and South Korean gunners and pilots."

A couple of sentences, while both true, are juxtaposed in such a way that would seem the threat of the artillery is mitigated by the knowledge of their location for counter-battery/attack. This would be foolhardy to accept at face value. The NK artillery placement is sophisticated with all of the locations hardened and dug in – mostly in tunnels with multiple firing positions (not to mention deceptive false positions/guns). The guns can be run out, fired, and retired back into to the tunnels and behind blast doors. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way indicating that these positions are impervious to US & SK counter activities. However, there is no possible way to stop a NK first strike, nor any way to successfully insure a 100% neutralization of the NK artillery/rocket/mortar capability quickly (i.e. initial counter-battery/attack). At best, incremental reduction of the NK capabilities would require some hours, maybe as long as 96 (my own semi-educated guess). In the meantime, significant death and destruction will be dealt civilians and infrastructure to Seoul and surrounding areas. Make no mistake, the NKs will lose the complete military exchange but the first sentence of the above quote stands.



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; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work

Of course, which is why deterrence is the strategy; when the time comes one expects China and South Korea to arrange the denouement. It’s not really a US affair.


Re: _Stalin’s Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War_.

On Mar 4, 2013, at 9:11 PM, Roland Dobbins wrote:

> <>

Kindle link:


Roland Dobbins




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