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Mail 471 June 18 - 24, 2007
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June 18, 2007
I'm terribly sorry that I haven't had time to email you any updates from out here in the Middle East, but I would like your guidance on something of a personal nature. Maybe your uber-smart crew of technical advisors can help too.
I just found out that we civilians here in the Middle East who are working for the DoD must decide if we are willing to take the Anthrax vaccination shots. If we take them, we can stay and keep working. If we don't take them, we have to leave.
I an prior Active Duty US Air Force and didn't have to take it when I was in, so this is a HUGE decision for me.
My problem is, I am having a hard time finding objective (or seemingly objective) information on the side effects of this particular vaccination. I have found a lot of material on both ends of the spectrum:
- DoD - It's Perfectly safe! - Others - It will make you sterile, impotent, unable to work, etc.
I cant seem to find anything in the middle, but I don't know if I just cant find the right information in my searches.
My question is, what would you and/or your advisors do if YOU/THEY were in my position? Would you take the shots or not? I've already talked it over with my family and am close to making my decision, but I would appreciate an opinion from some of the smartest people I know on the net.
Name withheld by request.
My son Phillip was required to take the shots. He did. I don't have statistics on the subject, but I don't think the military has had any great disasters as a result of anthrax vaccines.
It's a matter of comparative risks. If you take the shots the upside is you get to stay and work and neither you nor your employer has to worry a lot about that particular form of terror attack. If you don't take the shots, you won't be there to worry about. There is always a risk with vaccinations. Always. The side effects run from the most probable (negligible) to permanent crippling (rare as far as I know) to death (quite rare but not zero). You need to find the statistics and decide which way to bet.
Neither the government nor your employer has much to gain from deliberately harming you with this.
Letter from England
--Not a great many things happening this week.
--Queen's birthday salute .
--Blair's argument with the press.
toothless beasts they have here.)
--The church *is* doing something about this. An institution historically connected with the conservative side of UK society and currently losing parishioners and posts is finding it difficult to convince UK minorities that they won't be discriminated against. Most minority churchmen are non-European immigrants or refugees, but they do seem to have more initiative and to take their call more seriously--look at John Sentamu's background. I like working with them. The second story is also relevant to them and me.
--So we're loafers and shirkers in the North? Getting the short end
of the stick in the various post code lotteries and being
discriminated against in hiring, pay, and promotion aren't enough?
--This story reflects the usual response here to innovation.
--Legal rift on anti-terrorism laws .
--Note where the US is on the graph.
--How the other side lives.
Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security,
University of Sunderland.
THE YEAR OF THE RAT
If you're tired of worrying about loose nukes in Kazakhstan, consider this terrifying chemical wild card in al Qaeda's back yard
Subject: oath of fealty
After reading your Sat view update, I suspect that your recent Oath of Fealty release will be quite popular.
I suspect that a modern update of the story would be even more popular, but you have other priorities other than pandering to the retarded excesses of our elected elite...
Well it won't be out until next year, I think. Oath was always one of my favorites, and it was a NYT best seller. We thought of rewriting it but it's a good story as it is. We did a new introduction. Thanks for the kind words.
Data stored in live neurons
Hello Dr. Pournelle,
Subject: One step closer to the Borg?
This New Scientist article reminds me of Larry Niven's "A World out of Time" in which memories from a 'corpsicle' are written into the brain of a criminal -- overwriting the old personality in the process. (By the way, you might hint to Niven that we gentle readers have been waiting for a sequel to that story for a long time.)
Information has been stored in live neurons for the first time, bringing closer the creation of "cyborg" computer chips that combine electronic circuits with human cells.
Networks of cultured neurons are known to spontaneously fire in specific patterns. Researchers have previously attempted to program these neural networks with new patterns, representing bits of information, by electrically stimulating individual cells. However, such zapping disrupts their spontaneous firing patterns, and for a network to successfully store information new firing patterns must be imprinted without erasing the old.
Now Itay Baruchi and Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University in Israel have taught new firing patterns to a network of neurons by targeting specific points of the network with a chemical called picrotoxin. The new patterns lasted for up to two days without harming the pre-existing firing patterns (Physical Review Letters E, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.75.050901). "You can think of it like a Christmas tree with lights that flicker," says Ben-Jacob. "We imprinted another pattern of lights on top of the original."
Many believe that complex patterns of neuronal firing are templates for memory, which the brain uses when storing information. Imprinting such "memories" on artificial neural networks provides a potential way to develop cyborg chips, says Ben-Jacob. These would be useful for monitoring biological systems like the brain and blood since, being human, they would respond to the same chemicals. ***********
Cheers, Clyde Wisham
Using Statistics to predict War's Outcome
Too bad Rumsfeld & Co. didn't talk to the University of Georgia before opening up a trillion-dollar can of whoop-ass:
Based on Sullivan's model, the current war in Iraq has a probability of success of nearly 26 percent with an estimated duration of 10 years.
Here's the link:
And the text:
problem based learning
I read Harry Erwin's letter, and comments about his students, with interest.
There have always been the few (10%) who are really good, the several (20%) who are in over their heads, and the remainder who require external motivation. That said, I have the impression that the problem is worsening. It seems to me that students are, on average, less mature and more spoon-fed than they were 10 years ago.
There are lots of possible reasons. One is that both Harry Erwin and I teach computer science. It's not as popular a field as it was 10 years ago, and that has probably affected the average quality of student we get.
But there may also be demographic reasons. More students are still living at home - not independently. While this may be for financial reasons, it may also correlate to reaching maturity later. If mom is still doing the wash, it is perhaps easier to think college is the same as high school.
Finally, it seems to me that at least my school supports the immaturity of the students. As an example: we get evaluated by students. At the end of the semester, we get a graphical report showing green bars where the students rated us well, red bars where they rated us poorly, an yellow bars in between.
I'm of the opinion that any instructor with all green has failed to challenge his students. For example, in one course I usually get a yellow or even red bar for the written course material I give the students. This is a final year course, and I want to prepare the students for real life. So I give them references as starting points, but expect them to locate and read the source material themselves.
In my most recent evaluation by the department head, he pulled out these ratings, and was quite unhappy to see that I wasn't all "green". This became part of his official evaluation. Apparently the school's goal is to make the students happy, not necessarily to help them learn. Maybe I should go teach for Harry?
- - - - - - - Dr. Brad Richards
June 19, 2007
You may have seen this before...
Here is a story from USA Today about a plane that made a forced landing in Greenland during WWII. Relevant excerpts:
268 Feet of ice (not snow) in only 50 years! 5 .3 feet of ice a year! 1.6 meters a year!
How much does it have to snow for this much ice to accumulate? Is this, or was this normal for Ice accumulation in the Greenland Ice Cap? (OK, maybe it fell into a cravass, but then again, maybe not.)
Olvier Richter - email@example.com
Indeed. Detritus from Belgian lakes indicates that the low countries went from deciduous trees to evergreens only to ice in under a century the last time the ice came down...
Cheap Chinese goods made by slave labor....
"In a wave of raids over the past week, Chinese police have freed more than 550 people, including children and the mentally handicapped, who were allegedly forced to work against their will in brick kilns and mines in Henan and Shanxi provinces in inhumane conditions, according to the state-controlled Xinhua News." ... "Local government officials and Communist Party members have been implicated in the human-trafficking scandal, which has seen 168 arrested and shocked the nation. ".... "Their case gained media attention after an open letter was posted online signed by a group of 400 fathers appealing for help in tracking their missing sons, who they believed were sold to kiln bosses."
I forget, why is it we embargo Cuban goods, but granted China Most Favored Nation status and fill our stores with their goods?
Google pushes 100-mpg car
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Google said Tuesday it is getting in on the development of electric vehicles, awarding $1 million in grants and inviting applicants to bid for another $10 million in funding to develop plug-in hybrid electric vehicles capable of getting 70 to 100 miles per gallon.
Good for them. No one is in favor of waste, and I sure like the idea of prizes...
Sounds Like an Invasion to Me...
What else could we call it? Not that anyone cares.
Salman Rushdie receives knighthood
"Buckingham Palace today is honoring iconic author Salman Rushdie.
The author of "The Satanic Verses" went into hiding after a 1989 Fatwa (FAHT'-wah) called on Muslims to kill him because the ayatollah believed the book insulted Islam.
He re-emerged after the Iranian government said it would no longer support the edict in 1998 nor could it rescind it.
Rushdie says he still gets a "Valentine's Day <http://www.kxmb.com/t/valentines-day> card" every February 14th from Iran, reminding him he is a marked man.
Today, he was knighted."
England has done more than its fair share of bonehead moves in the last quarter century, but Her Majesty the Queen deserves respect for her courage, among other things.
There are those who think she should not have done it. I am not one of them.
'Homeland security', Chicago-style.
-- Roland Dobbins
Iraq alternative Timelines
AFAIR exactly this happened during the first US gulf war. The Marsh Arabs were badgered into revolt but unfortunately Tommy Franks ( or some other valiant warrior from the land of the meddlers) was busy getting his ass back to Kuwait. (You will find only small hints of this on the EN wikipedia page "Shia uprising": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_Arabs. A bit more in depth info on the alternate language pages. german, .. )
Over the years I have observed an interesting disconnect of political perception between the US on one side and most other countries on the other side.
The press in Europe knew quite well that Chalabi was a fraudulent goon ( he has a jail conviction in Jordan for bank fraud ) no question that his backing was very limited (essentially to other iraqi "entrepreneurs" that had left the country. Only the US media and politicians were sure that this guy would be a shiny messias carying US interests and democracy into iraq.
The neocons thought Chalabi the Thief was going to take over in style. He promised a pipeline to Israel among other things. He hadn't spoken with Jordan about it, though.
Goon he is not. Chalabi is a survivor.
The problem with music.
This piece contains some obscenity, so, if you decide to post it, I'd suggest putting a warning notice in the post. That being said, it's well worth a read; by the time you reach the end and look at the balance sheet, it becomes obvious that the real obscenity is what the major labels end up getting away with, IMHO. It's the kind of stuff Courtney Love (who has problems of her own, of course) was ranting about a few years ago.
-- Roland Dobbins
WORLD WAR 3.0 ?
Following lethal riots over the removal of a Soviet era Red Army war memorial , Estonia has come under Cyber attack from within Russia .
Phillip Ball reports in Nature on how the denial of use wave assaults are progressing and how the Kremlin is spinning it . I've posted the link with comments at
Both of the Shakespeare and Einstein?
Is the physics case perhaps mitigated by the depth of specialties? E.g. one could get into solid state physics and not "need" the rest?
Jay R. Larsen
That's all right. The world is safe: they don't have to teach Creationism in Kansas. So we're all right. Trust the experts.
June 20, 2007
Do you make your own powder for the sinus pump?
Do you have a formula for the sinus pump powder that I may use?
I usually buy theirs, but if I run out I use table salt and baking soda. I tend to the Morton's "Lite Salt" which is half potassium chloride.
I prefer theirs. It lasts a long time, and doesn't cost all that much. But I am given to understand that half and half salt and soda and their measuring thing works fine.
" Burning and destroying churches, desecrating
Christian religious objects <http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/
"I expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza," said Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Jihadia Salafiya, an Islamic outreach movement that recently announced the opening of a "military wing" to enforce Muslim law in Gaza.
Jihadia Salafiya is suspected of attacking a United Nations school in Gaza last month, after the school allowed boys and girls to participate in the same sporting event. One person was killed in that attack.
"The situation has now changed 180 degrees in Gaza," said Abu Saqer, speaking from Gaza yesterday.
"Jihadia Salafiya and other Islamic movements will ensure Christian schools and institutions show publicly what they are teaching to be sure they are not carrying out missionary activity. No more alcohol on the streets. All women, including non-Muslims, need to understand they must be covered at all times while in public," Abu Asqer told WND.
"Also the activities of Internet cafes, pool halls and bars must be stopped," he said.
And if not, if any of these activities of normal every day life continue without reaching the Islamic outreach leader's standard of approval,
"...we'll attack these things very harshly."
The world has just had a terrifying glimpse how they "attack these things very harshly," the residents a more horrifying one. They know how he'll keep his promise. Welcome back to dhimmitude."
They may finally manage to drive the Christian Arabs back into alliance with the Israelis, but probably not. The Israelis drove them away in the first place. Most Christians have abandoned the Holy Land for emigration to other places.
But isn't multiculturalism a wonderful thing? And how about them Dodgers?
"Iraq 'has ruined case for liberal interventionism'"
-- 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>
Nah. They'll be invading someone just as soon as they get in power. They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
June 21, 2007
Happy Summer Solstice
"The mud at the bottom of B.C. fjords reveals that solar output drives climate change - and that we should prepare now for dangerous global cooling."
Here is another example of global weather trends based on solar output...
It can be found at:
Read the sunspots
Here is what I have to "Sigh" about (some extracts):
and most importantly:
As I said, "Sigh."
I can only imagine how silly Gore's book and movie "An Unpleasant Truth" and the Kyoto accords on global warming will look in 2020. Don't get me wrong, I believe that reducing air pollution can only have beneficial effects, especially, since I have one child who has asthma.
With highest regards,
global warming? right.
More confirmation the warmist alarmists do us no favor. Take a look at
And perhaps this is not correct either, but coupled with the glacier evidence it appears we have had a long warming trend and we may now be headed for a cooling trend. We'll see.
As I have said many times, before we spend our money on remedies, it will help a lot to know what is happening.
That's not good enough for the bureau scientists who want to control DOING SOMETHING although they don't understand what's happening.
Good afternoon Dr. Pournelle, Fred's makes some good points here. http://fredoneverything.net/Bageant.shtml
He does indeed. I grew up in Capleville, Shelby County (well until high school) and it was much the same. These are the people Jefferson saw as the hope of the future...
June 23, 2007
I took the day off. More or less.
|This week:||Sunday, June
On Friday you posted: >
Well, yes and no. The case is somewhat misrepresented in the media and does not directly address what most people mistakenly think it is about: legal rights regarding virtual property.
The primary focus is instead within the realm of consumer law. This would perhaps be more clear had the venue been within European legal jurisdiction. Specifically, did Linden Lab go too far when it froze and tried to confiscate the plaintive's *total* inworld assets, not just those related to the questionable land deal?
The main interesting point so far is what I noted Friday, 8 Jun 2007 ( http://leuf.net/NewKerfufflesInSecondLife#1 ), that the judge found the Linden Lab ToS "unconscionable" and essentially not legally binding in its entirety. Another point of contention is that Linden Lab failed to move the dispute to arbitration as stipulated by its own ToS -- it just closed the account and seized assets.
I have read numerous false analogies of what Bragg did, some trying to justify the hack as technically legal if unethical, some trying to depict it as illegal as outright theft. Neither extreme is correct.
One closest Net counterpart I can think of is to hack a payment-site URL to have it process an incorrect lower payment for a transaction at a merchant site, in the hope that the payment-successful message sent to the merchant site will trigger automatic shipment of goods. * Corresponding dispute: is it then appropriate that the shop later try to freeze all funds on the credit card used and have all goods previously purchased by that customer repossessed?
The closest real-world analog is probably for a shop customer to discover that he can sneak into a back stockroom, find a price-marking tool, and put his own price on some item not yet available on the shelf in the shop proper. Part of the picture is that POS terminal accepts the tag and the customer can walk out the door with the item having "paid" for it. * Again: is it appropriate that the shop tries to seize all customer assets within its reach and repossess all goods ever purchased by him?
Undoubtedly. the case may have consequences about the legal standing of ownership rights for virtual property, but then I think only indirectly, primarily in regards to the way the operator ToS is formulated.
For Linden Lab, the case is mainly about the evident contradiction about what has consistently been said about resident "ownership" of land, and the end-of-the-day operational interpretation as an arbitrary call by Linden staff making a mockery of presumed ownership rights. Not just of virtual land, but also of entire inworld business, collection of objects, invested resources, etc.
I doubt this will be the last of such lawsuits.
Most robots are not druids (short for android, or man-shaped robot, of course). However, this is a droid:
We knew it would come, but $120k is pretty cheap.
It had to come. Are we approaching a singularity? Stay tuned...
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