Monday, April 17, 2017
Emancipation Day (Celebrated)
The map is not the territory.
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
“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Printed the taxes, wrote the checks, packed them all in envelopes. And decided to walk down to the Post Office to see them go into the slot. My tax program told me I didn’t need to do that; the taxes had to be postmarked on April 18, Monday the 17th being the day on which we celebrate Emancipation Day; a day I had never heard of before, and still know little about. The Post Office was busy. I saw mailmen on my walk, and remembered that I read the Wall Street Journal this morning even though it’s not usually printed on holidays. Everyone seemed to going to work as usual, I know of no one who actually got a holiday, but we did get an extra day to mail in our taxes. Very odd.
Since I’m still feeling plain lousy from this cold I was happy to take the day off, and I don’t feel much like working on fiction; but I have interesting mail on a variety of subjects, and from the subdued – well, mostly subdued – hysteria in the news anchors’ voices, this may be the last journal I ever write. Brink of War, they’re saying. Even President Putin is saying that the two most dangerous men on the planet are Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, we’re very close to nuclear war, and of the two the more dangerous is the President of the United States. Interesting.
I must admit I would sleep a bit better if General Curtis LeMay and the SAC he built were still in action. General LeMay adopted “Peace is our Profession” as the motto of the forces he commanded, and he meant it; but if we were ever in a war he planned to win it with the fewest American casualties. If I were a younger man I might well be in the mountains, or up at Rogue River, but the days when I was an editor of Survive Magazine are gone. It was exhausting just to walk a mile or so to the Post Office on level ground.
It is not even amusing to plan a war with North Korea, since the only way to preserve a great part of the South Korean population is to eradicate a large fragment of the population in the southern part of North Korea. They have divisions of fairly good artillery along the border, and Seoul is within their range. And when I say a lot of artillery, I mean massive amounts of it, with ammunition; we know where most of it is, but we haven’t enough counter battery fire, even if we strike preemptively. And unwanted casualties will be high no matter what we do.
I’m glad I’m not playing that war game.
Of course the likelihood is that it will all go away, a few billions will change hands, and something surprising will happen.
Meanwhile I’ll try to recover from this pesky crud
MIT expert claims latest chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged
A leading weapons academic has claimed that the Khan Sheikhoun nerve agent attack in Syria was staged, raising questions about who was responsible.
Theodore Postol, a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), issued a series of three reports in response to the White House’s finding that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad perpetrated the attack on 4 April.
He concluded that the US government’s report does not provide any “concrete” evidence that Assad was responsible, adding it was more likely that the attack was perpetrated by players on the ground.
Postol said: “I have reviewed the [White House’s] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017.
FYI: I tried to view the original article on IBT but was deluged with pop-ups.
Like you I thought this Syria chemical attack stunk to high heaven from the git-go. Don’t blame Trump since he is entirely dependent on his advisors on matters like this (Real estate moguls not real knowledgeable about chemical weapons and military matters; see nuclear triad).
Know we had virtually no intelligence on Syria as late as 2007 and doubt this has changed much. Presume we get what we have from Israel and other actors with an agenda.
That is essentially what I know from my own sources; I see no reason why Assad, who is quite popular with the minorities including Christians and Druze, most Shi’ite sects, and even Kurds, would risk everything to kill 03 civilians in a town of no importance.
: Dark Matter
This item came to my attention last week:
It’s well established that on an intergalactic scale, most of the matter in the universe appears to be on the surface of “cells” that are reminiscent of bubbles or foam in the early universe, and appear as filaments in projection onto the field of view.
This is a 17 year old press release on the subject:
The result reported below appears to be a very localized precision measurement of one of the “filaments.”
That said, there is an increasing amount of evidence (of analysis) that the fewer approximations made in a general relativistic model, the less that model supports a requirement for dark matter. On the other hand, it seems increasingly evident to me that GR is a classical approximation to a quantum reality which does not involve or require real distortions of spacetime – such apparent distortions are mathematical artifacts of GR as a model of gravity. On the gripping hand, it’s not immediately apparent to me (from intuition, not from reading any of them, so take this with a grain of salt) that the GR models are properly accounting for whatever phenomenology resulted in the foam-like structure of the macroscopic universe. And on the other gripping hand (wait…) the article below appears to confirm a level of gravitational lensing not consistent with the luminous mass of the filament, which would appear to be a localized measurement confirming localized dark matter.
This is the original press release associated with the Wired article:
And – Monthly Notices is publicizing the article by allowing free downloads:
If I am reading this right – on a skim of the press releases and the conclusion of the paper – this means that there is an apparently dark matter filament of mass 1.6E13 x the mass of the sun (at 5 standard deviations; this is 20 times the mass of the Milky Way galaxy) connecting two visible galaxies that are 40 million light years apart.
In other words, the article asserts that a localized concentration of dark matter has been detected. This is something that likely would not be consistent with “alternate interpretations” based on whole universe modeling
Assuming this is repeatable and confirmed by observations of other filaments (one five sigma observation is not sufficient for conclusions of this type), it would make something that has the properties of dark matter an observed reality. What it is, of course, remains to be determined.
A matter of some importance, and evidence to boot. I have great respect for Dr. Woosley’s judgment.
Free markets, health care, etc.
Allan E. Johnson described a foul deed done by Aspen Pharmacare and closed his comment with this:
“Whatever arguments can be made for the virtues of a free market, I don’t think any such market can be claimed to exist when a company can place the lives of its customers in danger unless they pay whatever price the company sets.”
When a company can set any price it pleases, then it is not operating in a free market, by definition. As you have frequently declared, in an unrestricted free market, anything and everything can and will be traded, including human flesh. That Aspen Pharmacare has done this thing cannot legitimately be laid to the charge of the free market, but rather to the evil that lurks in the hearts of men.
Del Valle, Texas
Freedom and ethics
Dear Doctor Pournelle,
Once again, reportedly, someone SOMEwhere, has used freedom in some way to gain an advantage . Alert the media that human nature is pretty much what it always has been.
It may be ethically reprehensible for a pharmaceutical company to pull from the market effective and safe proprietary DRUGS IN order to reduce competition for a newer drug and even increase its’ price, as the London Times has reportedly alleged some company has done. A free market allows unethical actions, as Dr. Pournelle has more than once pointed out. If this behavior is so troubling, perhaps a movement could be started to solicit millions to billions of Dollars, Euros or Renminbao to buy the drug patents for the old drugs, and produce them in sufficient quantities and sell them at cost. I support such an effort. Or perhaps you can lobby your legislature, President for life, Dear Leader or absolute monarch to do so on behalf of the world, or at the least for your own citizens. Go for it. But whining that someone somewhere has done something you find offensive, however legal, is merely the sound of a five year old who WANTS it, but has no idea how to GET it in any way other than to have it handed to them, preferably with a spoon and nanny.
There will always be horror stories. If you turned the production and distribution of these drugs over to a government agency, do you believe there would be total fairness?
? Does Mr. Alan E, Johnson have such faith in the judgment of government bureaucrats, concerned as much with the construction and maintenance of their little empires as any corporate bureaucrat with theirs?
I might also point out, though I do not know, that the new drug is probably more effective. Or safer, or otherwise an improvement over the older ones, else why was it developed, and presumably at great cost?
Everyone wants new, more effective and safer drugs. It’s like the old children’s tale of the Little Red Hen. All the barnyard animals want a slice of fresh baked bread, but none except the Little Red Hen are willing to do the work to have it. Paying for new drugs is the equivalent of doing the work to have them. Drug researchers and testers are not slaves, and want to be fairly, even lavishly, compensated for their sixty hour work weeks and years without vacations. Not to mention their decade or so of higher education, usually resulting in six figure debt to some government agency all too willing to send goon squads to ones domicile should you miss a few student loan payments.
The difference between the Crazy party and the Stupid is that the Crazies won’t even discuss such matters. They just want the Magic Want Of Other People’s Money.
Ah well, I suppose soon enough the Robots will pay for all of us, and the Entidled (sic) may sit about like the character’s in Philip Jose’
Farmers classic award winning story “Riders of the Purple Wage”, playing endless games of Gin Rummy and waiting for the next hand out.
Fine with me, as I will do my best to see that my descendants live free under sfar suns, rather than sit with Mr. Johnson’s to grow fat and shout “GIN!”
Re: United Airlines Passenger Incident(s)
Further perspective and perhaps information on that United Airlines passenger incident, some of which might have come your way already.
In contrast to first reports the flight was not overbooked. Instead the airline wanted to move employees around to staff flights the following day. Bumping customers off flights to accommodate moving employees certainly makes one’s attitude toward customers a little clearer.
United Airlines says controversial flight was not overbooked; CEO apologizes again
It seems that in negotiations to avoid additional Federal rules United Airlines boasted that ticketed passengers are guaranteed seats.
United Airlines Promised Federal Regulators That All Ticketed Passengers Are Guaranteed Seats
This passenger on United Airlines the week before the passenger dragging was threatened with being put in handcuffs and forcibly removed from the aircraft to make room for another deemed somehow more worthy. Note that this was on United Airlines itself, not a subsidiary, which in the case of the dragging incident some are claiming to mean United isn’t at fault. Sounds like a corporate-wide culture, though.
United passenger threatened with handcuffs to make room for ‘higher-priority’ traveler
This frequent long time traveler asserts that before boarding passengers are subject to Rule 25, which allows bumping, but after boarding passengers become subject to Rule 21, and Rule 21 only allows a passenger to be removed for security or safety reasons. Some out there defending the airline claim that refusing any order makes you a threat, a claim that is absurd. Declining to be bumped when not legally required to accept does not make you a threat.
Why United is in Legal Trouble Over Removing a Passenger
This might be the most significant thing to come of the fiasco. From the Duffel Blog! ☺
Pentagon awards contract to United Airlines to forcibly remove Assad
Sorry about the cold. Hope this finds you and Roberta further on the mend.
I am glad I am not a United investor. I got out of airlines a long time ago.
And I’m about of energy. Good night.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.