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Mail 505 February 11 - 17, 2008
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|This week:||Monday February
This story seems to have legs--it's emerging that UK defence lawyers are routinely bugged by the police, particularly if they work in human
The potential consequences:
Alasdair Palmer's comment:
'Asbos 'do not work' on the very young.' (Well, do'h!) <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7237233.stm>
Sharia law row:
Big fire in London
Don't tax you; don't tax me; tax that guy under the tree:
Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland.
Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>
Trial Run on Electoral Collage Revision
We are witnessing this year an unintended example of why the founding fathers set up the electoral college on a winner-take-all basis. In the Republican primaries, which by and large follow that pattern, there is a clear front runner and presumable nominee. The Democrat primaries, with their proportional divisions of state delegates in most cases now has two contenders running neck and neck -- one having won slightly more states, the other having won slightly more delegates.
And just to add spice to the dish, the lawyers from the Florida 2000 situation are digging out the files from that activity with a view toward replicating it to allow or avoid the seating of delegates from Michigan and Florida, where Hillary alone campaigned even though the Democratic National Committee had asked the candidates not to and had stated that delegates from those states would not be seated.
Don't like the election results? Change the rules and recount...again and again... Until you do. It's the American way!
The Framers wanted to avoid the kind of thing that has developed, hideously expensive campaigns -- after all, that was a major cause of the fall of the Roman Republic. The Electoral College was also part of the Connecticut Compromise that make the Union possible.
Perhaps Ed Begley knows something you don't.
Tim of Angle www.DyspepsiaGeneration.com
Never happen, GI Joe. But interesting.
Biofuels & greenhouse gases
Burning food never did make sense to me.
Thought I'd point you to this new article out in Science -- suggesting that when total energy required to produce biofuels like corn-derived-ethanol are factored in, the total emissions of greenhouse gases increase.
When are the nuclear lobbyists going to become as effective as the corn lobbyists? Hopefully the Japanese space based solar array that you pointed to earlier this week will be successful. Maybe whatever new administration arrives next year might delve into some X-prizes for energy and scientific applications.
It appears that there are fewer weather stations monitoring the earth's temperature
Steve McIntyre may have uncovered another scandal over at his Climate Audit site. His post entitled “How much Estimation is too much Estimation?” at http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2703#more-2703. Here’s an excerpt:
“…while GISS [NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies] says 2007 was the hottest year on record and GHCN [NOAA’s Global Historical Climate Network] indicates it had the second highest level of temperature estimation, GHCN also indicates that the number of data points for 2007 were the fewest since before 1900.
To summarize what I am seeing from the GHCN data: (1) the number of stations / records has been dropping dramatically in recent years and (2) with that drop the quality of the record-keeping has also dropped dramatically because we are seeing a corresponding rise in estimated annual temperatures and/or insufficient data to calculate an annual temperature. Using this data, GISS is showing that the temperature anomaly in recent years is the highest recorded in the historical record.”
If this is the sort of information that the consensus on global warming backers are relying on, they need to take refresher courses in statistics. Certainly we can all agree that we need better information on what is really happening before we decide to eviscerate the economies of the developed world, and sentence the peoples of the third world to a backward existence, in return for conscience-saving carbon offset credits pocketed by despotic leaders and paid for by guilt-ridden would-be “environmentalists”?
Here’s hoping that both your health and your leaky shower are put right quickly and for a very long time to come.
All the best,
Flight 93 Memorial controversy
It's been going on for a few years now, Jerry. Michelle Malkin turned up the heat on this when it first surfaced. The Architect and others involved felt the kind of discomfort that has decended on Berkeley city council this week. His first response was that he wasn't aware of the Islamic symbolism. Well, if he wasn't, he dosen't deserve to call himself an architect. Symbolism is the biggest tool in our bag of tricks.
He went back to the drawing board and performed some lip service redesign, all superficial. I understand that red maples won't be planted on the crescent berm as in the original design. I'm glad I got to visit the makeshift memorial last summer on a roadtrip in my old pickup truck. It is more meaningful and American in nature than the permanent one will be.
Here's a link to a short webpage from the roadtrip log of that day. The memorial is about half way down. Two thumbnail pics link to larger photos.
February 12, 2008
A day devoured by locusts.
February 13, 2008
Obama on energy
He does not have a copyright notice on the page but claims Digital Millennium protections, so I will summarize as follows:
"tax traditional business to spend money on 'green' business, including food-to-fuel"
Note also that the welcome page at barackobama.com invites you to register for his newsletter before allowing access, and the second page asks for campaign donations though you can click through it to the real website.
So the choice is between:
The respectable but too-center-of-the-road-for-Reagan-conservatives maverick; and either
The most hated woman in America, or The most liberal man in the Senate.
So choose your handbasket, hope that the paving isn't as spectacular as it currently appears to be, enjoy the downhill drop of the roller coaster, and hope that there isn't a sudden stop at the deepest, hottest point... But then, I guess you know about that.
Continued prayers for your health and family,
I do not believe that McCain will be the disaster that Obama would be. If Madame Clinton governs as her husband did, she will be rather cautious. I have no reason to believe Obama will have any reason to be cautious.
There may be one barrister with sense in Britain:
But don't we have to DO SOMETHING!?!
"People were promoted on the spot after a softball game at the drunken party to high positions in the department because they were able to hit a softball out of the park a couple times."
- Roland Dobbins
There is no mention of the Solar Minimum phase that has been here for 3 years and should end in another year or two. I've been warning my family and friends of harsh winters and droughts in the U.S for a couple of years.
The old term, El Nino/La Nina, predated the knowledge in South America of the solar cycles when named. They happen at Solar Minimum, but it depends on whether the South Pacific Ocean's prevailing current is flowing west, which isn't normal, or east at Minimum. I was reading in the 1980s about NOAA following this cycle for decades when someone correlated it with the South American terms El Nino/La Nina.
BTW, IMO it should follow our English naming convention of adding a "y" to the word Ninyo (Niño), the way it was added to make the word Canyon (Cañon). Just because we have computers to create foreign language characters shouldn't mean that it should cause us to start adding letters to English.
'Global warming' strikes again.
-- Roland Dobbins
February 14, 2008
Big Climate's strange 'science'.
-- Roland Dobbins
The Silk Rope and the Golden Cage.
-- Roland Dobbins
An interesting disquisition on Turkish history, and how the Terrible Turks became the Sick Man of Europe. Fletcher Pratt traces the decline in the Ottoman Empire to Suleiman the Magnificent having succumbed to the charms of Roxanne, and sending the seven mutes with their bowstrings to attend to Mustapha, the putative heir who was the last of the line to have inherited its competence. Mustapha was killed, and Roxanne's son Selim the Sot became Sultan. Lepanto followed.
bussing kids as fascism
Holy Crap Jerry, I think you are right!
When I was a kid, bussing was stared for the best of intentions, but you are right, it does fit the definition of fascism and it was a big deal and it did involve the most precious of commodities, kids.
Fascism is another of the secular chiliastic religions that claims to be able to perfect society through state action. It often relies on irrational symbolism and mechanisms to generate emotional attachments, but at top it is a form of Progressivism. The New Deal owed a great deal to Italian Fascism for its policies. The notion that a top down system dominated by smart people is very attractive to intellectuals. Why wouldn't it be?
Bussing children for their own good -- well for the good of the society -- is a perfect example of liberalism in action. We meant well!!!
Bigelow to purchase 50 Atlas Vs?!
- Roland Dobbins
I'll have to ask him about this assuming I go to Space Access this year.
I've noticed something at garage sales. If you offer hardback books for 25c each, they don't sell unless the shopper is interested in the book. However, if the shopper is interested in the book, they'll pay $5 for a paperback.
So which books should Amazon bundle with the Kindle?
I'm thinking that they should reformat the entire Gutenberg Project to Kindle format, and offer free downloads. It wouldn't be cheap, but you could make it affordable. There are always people wanting work-at-home opportunities, so you hire some of these people on a piecework basis. Run the Gutenberg titles through a mechanical reformatting process, then the work-at-home people could fix the glitches the mechanical reformatting process left behind.
The other thing would be to offer a Kindle Emulator for PCs. The money is in the razor blades, not in the razor, right? I'd be buying Kindle books if I could read them on the PC, without another piece of electronics to carry around.
An interesting proposal.
And on that score:
- Roland Dobbins
The end of the vanity press? And beginning of something else? I described this process in A Step Farther Out in the 1980's. And here we are.
Subject: Virtual worlds as terrorist havens,
US intelligence officials are growing increasingly wary of Second Life and other virtual worlds, which they say could soon become havens for terrorists, money-launderers and criminals engaged in corporate espionage:
I'm glad they're thinking about this.
Biofuels - Experiment Completed
We have experimented with biofuels or burning food for energy. It is inefficient and pollutes more than fossil fuels. Experiment completed, data in, time to move on.
Why is it that we do things we know won't work?
-- Dwayne Phillips
Have you no heard of ADM? Who would not want the price of corn to rise?
A moi, la legion
Let's hope those radiation treatments don't damage your Bump of Prescience.
Tim of Angle
If we are not going to restore the Old Republic, then we will need a foreign legion. If so, do it right. Enlistment is for 4 years, then 8, then 8 more. At the end of that time you get citizenship. And the Legion never sets foot on US soil, although it can be stationed in Samoa or Puerto Rico, as well as deployed.
Subject: On your format
I've gathered that you've gotten a lot of suggestions on the format of your webpage. I'd like to add my two cents worth.
Thank God for your simple format.
Surfing the web has become almost painful in some areas. I try to get at a blog or a news site, and some pages take almost a full minute or so to completely load. I get movies, I get ads, I get ads that ARE movies, I get sidebars and formats and bells and whistles of all kinds. People have taken to putting their stuff on internet audio programs or YouTube films when all I want to do is read it. I can read dozens of times faster than I can listen.
My poor old Pentium III audibly moans trying to load a blog like this one:
Major pages like CNN and other news sites are worse.
I open your page, and it quietly flips onto the screen with blessed and neatly-laid-out information in text form. I scroll down, and it scrolls. There is a small bow to fashion with a nice parchment background.
Now that most people have broadband, I think we're seeing the same phenomenon we saw when the Macs first came out, and suddenly graphics were easy. You couldn't get a memo or newsletter that didn't have five pieces of clip art and at least twelve different fonts. Most of which looked like they belonged on a circus poster. I'm hoping people will settle down eventually.
Meanwhile, don't change something that works, and works well.
Best wishes on your heath.
Thanks for the kind words. Apparently my 19th Century web site isn't too awful...
Let this next one stand for about a hundred like it:
The diagnoses that is, or the lack of “real bad news.”
Here’s to hoping I “have” to pay up on my subscription for many more years.
Virtual Worlds as havens for terrorists etc.
Subj: Virtual Worlds as havens for terrorists etc.
Time to re-read Vernor Vinge's _True Names_?
"Truth in advertising."
"Truth in advertising. Why is the government so much more concerned about medicines and drugs than about stock brokers who put on advertisements featuring a grocery clerk who tells you he put in a put play and make a real quick $1700, and who is now making his living doing stock market trades? Ah well."
Simple answer -- for both questions: Money. (The *love* of which being the root of all evil. [keyword highlighted due to it inevitably being dropped while misquoting the axiom, thereby destroying all meaning])
Big drug company executives "retire" from the private sector, and land in top slots at the FDA, where they "regulate" the industry in a manner that "does not scale" (the regulations are a small weight for big companies, and an onerous burden to small, innovative companies that might give "big pharma" a run for its money).
Likewise with the stock market, the regulators come from the industry they regulate -- and what ends up being protected are the sharks that feed on the minnows. (We have been trying in vain to get our account at a "big name electronic trade company closed for the past couple of months. They have been using an entry worth about FIFTEEN CENTS (that's not "per share"!) as the fly in the ointment. When confronted with the numerous lies they have told us, they told us - this is verbatim -- "everyone lies.")
Look at the obscenity known as "naked shorting" (the practice of selling non-existant shares, NOT "covering" them, and, eventually, so diluting the value of the *real* shares (by the proliferation of counterfeit shares) that companies are brought to their knees, providing a neat exit for the naked shorters.
The SEC eventually did "regulate" the practice -- after a major spotlight was shined on it. However, they "grandfathered" in the Big Boys, so that they would never need to cover for the incredible amount of *bogus* "shares" they had sold, but never purchased.
When corruption has no real penalty, it flourishes, to the eventual detriment of the society. "Everybody does it."
About three decades ago, I served as a state HMO Commissioner, appointed by the governor to two terms. I resigned in the middle of my second term. Couldn't take the... let's call them "absurdities" (rather than invoking any bovine-related imagery). We had "veto power" over proposed regulations -- but, the regulatory agencies managed to get them in anyway, using every stinkin' trick in the book. When you realize that the game is rigged, you stop playing.
'Twas ever thus. Yet in order for evil to triumph, etc.
'Aesop's fables have been so frequently published that it is widely assumed that in Europe only the Bible has more editions.'
-- Roland Dobbins
A very interesting article. I encountered Aesop when I was about 6 years old; there was a copy of a book, in English, called Aesop's Fables. It had a blue cover, and this would have been about 1939. It had perhaps 100 -- perhaps as many as 200 fables, each with a moral to the story at the end of the fable. I recall the Fox and the Grapes, the Fox and the Hare ("I was running for my dinner. The hare was running for his life.") I recall the Mountain in Labor, and the Frog King (King Log and King Stork). There were many more, and the book made an early impression on me.
I have not seen a good copy of Aesop, and I regret there was no copy in my house as my boys were growing; I was remiss in that. For those with small children, get an Aesop and leave it about.
Of course the most important book I encountered at age 6 or so was A Child's History of the World by Hillyer.
Funny, someone discovered how to make glaciers in the 1100's or 1300's
The following article fits right in with global warming, er cooling, er whatever is happening:
As Glaciers Melt, Can Artificial Ones Fill the Gap?
"Can artificial glaciers help compensate for the
disappearance of naturally forming ones? Scientists and aid agencies are
studying communities in mountainous regions of India and Pakistan that have
a long tradition of assembling glaciers by grafting together ice and snow
According to legends, villagers in the Hindu Kush and Karakorum mountain ranges that span the India-Pakistan border areas have been building artificial glaciers for centuries – even using one to stop the advance of Genghis Khan in the 13th century. The artificial versions are far smaller than regular glaciers, but can reach 800 feet in length. Usually, the glaciers are built in rocky areas 14,800 feet above sea level. Villagers pack ice and snow in the shadows of boulders. When winter arrives, snow bridges the areas between the ice and, over a few years, forms into a self-sustaining glacier. "
New scientist article here:
I find this absolutely hilarious since the Eco-nuts have been bemoaning the loss of the glaciers. Just maybe we can build them ourselves. Just maybe someone has already been building them and has been, for what hundreds of years, a millenia even?
On the gripping hand, if we are heading into a dimming period of the sun, then we may need to find ways to melt snow mass before it can form into glaciers.
was mentioned on Instapundit.com today, in the context of global warming or really cooling with CO2 just staving off an Ice Age. He wanted to say that he was not the originator of this idea, since it was already in Fallen Angels. (He pointed to the amazon.com entry.)
I am completing a read of Oath of Fealty, which I bought over Christmas; http://www.amazon.com/Oath-Fealty-Larry-Niven/dp/1416555161/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201899417&sr=8-1 Wow, how prescient! Some of this certainly is coming into being.
Keep up the good work! We appreciate it!
Oath of Fealty with a new preface is also available as an ebook from Baen.
Thanks for the kind words. And Larry and Michael and I remain proud of Fallen Angels.
February 16, 2008
Subject: FDA eases-up on overly strict regulations --
Laugh, Cry, Vomit: Select three.
You expected something different? Unrestricted capitalism leads to horrors. Unbridled bureaucracy leads to a permit raj. These United States used to have limited government, limited in part by States Rights: states had to compete for a balance between regulation and bureaucracy, legislation and freedom, and if one state went too far another could attract industrious people. Then Earl Warren wiped out the states. California used to have a one year residency requirement before you could have welfare benefits and other state subsidies. New York sued, and the Supreme Court found an emanation from a penumbra... And so forth.
States rights allowed states to be oppressive, sure, but they also allowed escape; the one right states did not have was to close the borders. And if one state tries socialism and goes broke, there were 47 other did did something else. The state of Washington went broke on the Townsend Plan, but had Alaska to exploit. (One reason I went to the University of Washington after a couple of years at Iowa was that my parents were legal residents of Alaska and Alaskans were legal residents of Washington for tuition purposes; one of the benefits Alaska got for being an economic colony of Seattle. In those days the GI Bill paid a fixed amount, not like the WW II Bill that paid tuition and books and a stipend. But I wander.
I thought you might enjoy this.
Drunken Soldiers, Always High
The last verse is incorrect, of course. During the Vietnam War, 34 ASA soldiers were KIA, including James T. Davis, the first official casualty of the war. We did have the lowest re-enlistment rate in the Army. And we did drink. My barracks in Frankfurt had a bar in the basement and we were authorized to have bottles of liquor in our lockers in Vietnam. On the other hand we saved thousands
of lives with our Intel.
I was artillery, myself...
Subject: New Yourk Times misses point
As usual, the New York Times misunderstands and misses the point…
February 16, 2008
I don’t want to make my criticisms of this politically-driven statement explicit, but….
Subject: Big Pharma and the FDA
I suppose "Ron" was exaggerating for effect, but I still think his comments are mistaken.
The Hi Heid Yins of the FDA are not, by and large, retired Big Pharma Execs, but Career Public "Servants", which is even worse.
And if Ron thinks FDA regs are a small weight for big companies, he hasn't been paying attention. Let him go and ask those who've had consent decrees dumped on them for violations, or even any factory manager who's had to deal with a bad 483.
Onerous it is, for everyone.
As to whether it serves any purpose, I offer no opinion.
Andrew Duffin (semi-retired Big Pharma non-Exec, but with some inside knowledge)
I make no secret of my gratitude to Big Pharma for the wonder drugs that keep me going.
|This week:||Sunday, February
Actually, the end of affirmative action and other similar things might indeed follow as a direct consequence of an Obama presidency, but probably not in the way you were suggesting.
Consider a few numbers. In the most recent round of voting, Obama's black support was generally over 90%, in some cases closer to 95%. And remember that this was coming against not David Duke or even just a conservative Republican, but against the wife of "America's first black President," who had herself started the campaign with 80-90% black approval and also with the endorsements of most of America's leading black political figures. And also remember that Obama isn't even a "real" American black, either by culture, ancestry, or appearance. This degree of racial/ethnic solidarity is quite interesting, and might now be matching that in e.g. today's Kenya. Similarly, the degree of fanaticism exhibited by pro-Obama activists---many of them black---on liberal blogsites is also quite remarkable.
One obvious consequence might be that Republicans/conservative might finally decide to reconsider their totally hopeless pursuit of significant black voting support. After all, if Bill and Hillary Clinton end up losing 90% of the black vote, what exactly are the prospects for any sort of Republican candidate?
Now assume that Obama becomes president. Given the unbelievably horrible economic, military, and social catastrophe Bush has made of so many things, I'd guess the poor Barack will have an extremely difficult time of things. I also tend to doubt he'll actually pull our army out of Iraq, and if we still have 100K troops in that hopeless occupation in Summer 2010, I suspect his approval numbers will be down around those of Bush's and the Democrats will be annihilated in the Congressional elections that year. The one exception will obviously be America's substantial number of black districts, which will therefore afterwards represent an even larger share of Democratic officeholders, while the party completely hemorrhages support among non-blacks. Any racially-oriented policies of President Obama---which may or may not be proposed---would further magnify this result.
Under this scenario, I could easily envision the rapid appearance of an American third party. It would be smallish, overwhelmingly black, and called "the Democrats". Political parties can eventually "tip" just like neighborhoods do.
Now under a parliamentary system of government, smallish, ethnically-based third parties can often achieve enormous political influence relative to their voting strength. But this is exactly the opposite for America's first-past-the-post system of presidential and congressional elections. A political party containing the overwhelming majority of American blacks together with those small slices of non-blacks who are of most similar ideological orientation would probably have negligible political influence. In effect, its voters would have been effectively removed from participation in American elections. This would obviously have an extremely significant impact on the American ideological landscape and the nature and dynamics of American politics.
As I've said before, we may be living in "very interesting times."
I am still contemplating this idea. Discussion invited.
And another post from that conference, this speculating about Obama
I can give you a WAG as to what he would say.
Based on his handling of the health insurance debate, his response would be "some people believe that but I don't."
I'm referring to Obama's position on the data that show very clearly that people lack health insurance for a variety of reasons. Among these are being too uninterested to sign up for free programs for which they are eligible and preferring to use the money for other things, like a BMW. Plenty of people w/o health insurance make a good living but choose not to participate in their employer's plan. (There is an h-bd issue here; absence of the personality trait known as future orientation.)
Despite the evidence, Obama says he just doesn't believe that lack of health insurance is voluntary. He believes people are uninsured due to the cost of insurance, and that once it is affordable everyone will use it.
If he can tune out all the evidence that this is nonsense, I would imagine he will have no trouble tuning out scientific evidence that does not conform to his insistence that he can change the world.
Well, I clearly heard him say in a speech 4-5 wks ago that "we need to put more money into our schools" (with that trademark Obama-speech vagueness about the referent of "us").
Nobody should let THAT go by without asking him: "What about the Kansas City experiment?"
When a theory has been thoroughly tested and found false, it ought to be discarded, oughtn't it?
Not by American politicians, who find truth in campaign support. The NEA and AF of T say that more money is all the schools need. They need no evidence to say that, and evidence to the contrary can safely be discarded. This is the Voodoo Science of the 21st Century. See Man Caused Global Warming for another example.
But the myth that money can improve education survives all research. The studies have consistently shown that more money not only does not improve schools but often causes deterioration; and especially the state pays for attendance payment system. No one cares. Hillary hasn't a much different view from Obama. I don't know if either knows better, but it hardly matters. They will never say different.
How, exactly, would a US President --- or anybody --- give Palestinians a "strong helping hand"? Shovel yet more money into the Swiss bank accounts of their leaders? Equip them with nukes? How?
Which Palestinians, anyway --- the puritan religious nuts of Hamas, or the cynical gangsters of Fatah? If you gave anything to the one, the other would fight him for it.
Subject: A Report From Iraq,
This update on Iraq by a former Marine who is now a journalist, underscores that a bottom-up approach would work far better than the current method of establishing a national government first:
IMO, the way to go would be to establish safe neighborhoods, which would contribute to prefectural governments, which would then contribute to provincial governments, which would lead in the end to a national government. Now, we have local government - informal and varied to suit the local population - who have no connection with the national or even the provincial governments. Are we surprised?
I said all that before we went in, but no one listened. Then they sent Bremer, perhaps the stupidest proconsul in the history of the US. Inexperience, arrogant, and jealous. Injelitis, fourth stage. A worthy companion to the egregious Frum.
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