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Monday March 3, 2008

Harry Erwin's Letter From England

A couple of weeks ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) put his foot into it by saying that he expected Islamic courts to eventually operate in the UK. That set the cat among the pigeons in the press, but afterwards some people took a look at what Williams actually said in his wooly way and started to get huffy about his position that the Law of God trumps the laws of man. I suspect, based on the reaction, that about 60-70% of the English population believes that the *Church* should treat the laws passed by Parliament as overriding God's Law.

Back when I was doing my first degree (a BS in mathematics at UC Davis), I took some electives in history to help me understand the rise of nazism in Germany. I never did develop a clear understanding of *why* it happened, but I did learn something about personal responsibility and morality. When I became a church-goer, I learned about the fundamental conflict between God's Law and man's law.

Listening to the recent debate, I have become convinced that a majority of the UK public would have supported Hitler or Lenin in their policies if either had become prime minister here. That's a chilly thought.

More huffiness about religion. I doubt there's a deliberate selection


<http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2261435,00.html> <http://tinyurl.com/25p5mc >


International food shortages due to soaring prices:


> <http://tinyurl.com/2dytec>

NHS problems:

<http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/mar/02/nhs.operations> <http://tinyurl.com/ywo6nh >


> <http://tinyurl.com/2ax4g7>

Why terrorist attacks succeed or fail:



Building more institutions to meet the needs of a shrinking population of 18-year olds. Meanwhile, HEFCE is thinking about shutting down four universities. People in the NHS call this 'target terrorism':



> <http://tinyurl.com/29oumg>


> <http://tinyurl.com/ypo885>

Second homes for the English middle class to be drastically curbed:

<http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3466783.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/274p5s >

Primary education trends downwards:




> <http://tinyurl.com/296zfl>

All-day drinking 'a failure':


> <http://tinyurl.com/2psh4r>

On-going non-dom taxation story:


> <http://tinyurl.com/2mmger>


> <http://tinyurl.com/2sxl5f>


Harry Erwin, PhD

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)


Perhaps there still is an England

Dr. P,

From this morning’s Los Angeles Times:

"I was amazed it lasted as long as it did," said Graham Dudman, managing editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun, which normally would rather chew off its own foot than make a deal along with competitors. "This is the most fiercely competitive newspaper market in the world, and there's nothing one paper likes more than getting one over on a rival. But in this case the line held," Dudman said. "And that's because you're dealing with soldiers' lives over there. This isn't a story about some two-bit, here-today, gone-tomorrow celebrity. And it's not just about Prince Harry. It's about all the troops out there risking their lives for Britain every minute of every day. Are we to sacrifice their safety for the sake of a newspaper story? The answer was, we weren't."



Bill Clardy


Subject: On incarceration rates

The original study on that "1 in 100" number can be found here:


This report has little information on offenses, but someone pointed me to another report with more details on that:


At yearend 2004 (the most recent data available for estimating offense distributions by gender and race) more than half (52%) of all sentenced inmates in State prisons were sentenced for a violent offense (table 11) (See Appendix tables 9 and 10). Property offenses were the most serious charge for 21% of State prisoners, and drug offenses, 20%.

...On September 30, 2006, (the latest available data from the Federal Justice Statistics Program on offenses of Federal prisoners) drug, weapons, and immigration offenders made up more than three-quarters (78%) of the 176,268 sentenced Federal prison population (table 12). Drug offenders made up more than half (53%); weapons offenders, 14%; and immigration offenders, 11%.

When you combine this with the raw numbers in the report, in those two tables (176,268 Federal prisoners in 2006, 1,274,600 State prisoners in 2004), the overall number of drug offenses is about 25 percent. While I don't approve of the War On Some Drugs either, the issue may be more complicated than just the drug war.

Tom Brosz


Francis Hamit on self publishing:

 Rules for Self Publishing Your Book

Dear Jerry:

This was written as a response to a question on the Amazon Shorts boards, but I thought I'd pass it along for your readers as well.


Francis Hamit

Dear Carol:

I am in the process of publishing my novel, "The Shenandoah Spy" in both hardbound and trade paperback, There will probably be an Amazon Kindle version as well. My new imprint is called Brass Cannon Books and you can find why if you check my Amazon Connect blog.

I've done a lot of research on this and have the following observations to share:

1. Quality of presentation is key. Most self-published books lack a quality appearance. I have invested a lot of money in getting a new cover made up. That was a two part process. The first was hiring an illustrator to to create a new glamorized image of my heroine, Belle Boyd. The Amazon Shorts cover is based upon a public domain photo of her; the best one available, but it is designed for electronic media, not a book cover. I have also hired a professional designer who is also a publisher of poetry books and a long time friend, to design the final cover(s). Yes, this costs a lot of money, but I have a background in Marketing and know that "The sizzle sells the steak".

2. Most self published books sell about fifty copies. The market is family and friends, and this is well enough if you want just to see your name on a book. If you want to sell a lot of copies, then you have to promote and you have to price to make a gross profit from Copy One. There is a lot of pressure on authors to give away their work; to devalue it to the status of a commodity and to make them unpaid amateurs who can be patronized. Not many people do this well and jealousies, professional and otherwise, abound. A lot of help offered is actually disguised hostility inimical to your career.

3. Like it or not, you are developing a product. Every book is a unique creation and the appeal is dependent upon the strength of the author's brand, developed from previous publications, the subject, the genre and quality of the presentation. My operating principle is "Kaisan", which is a Japanese management term meaning "Continuous improvement". Some parts of "The Shenandoah Spy" will have gone through 15 drafts by the time the final version is issued in May, 2008. I have my own editor since I am dyslexic. You have to be rigorous about copy because punctuation and grammar errors, which are now found even in mainstream publishing, distract the reader. But line editing is simply the start of the process, not the end. You also need to edit for flow, for consistency, and for easy understanding. One way to do this is to read your copy aloud; every word of it. This will detect awkward sentence constructions and bad dialog very quickly. It takes hours to do this for an entire book, but is well worth it.

From a Branding perspective, it is better to create your own imprint than to use the one provided by your printer, even if a free ISBN is attached. It does cost money. The minimum buy on ISBNs is ten, for several hundred dollars. So, if you have just the one book, then you will probably take the deal offered by Amazon CreateSpace. I already have 66 e-books out there (old magazine articles) and bought a thousand. You need separate ISBNs for every version and format. See the R.R. Bowker web site for further details. If you are known as a non-fiction author and are now writing fiction, very little of that brand will carry over. You are essentially starting over.

4. Add value to your book with maps, illustrations, and other material. One of my readers suggested that I add a "Cast of Characters" list because there are so many people besides Belle Boyd in this book. It's a novel, not a history, so I have no footnotes. It's an entertainment rather than an academic text. I am also having a map drawn which shows where the various towns and other geographic features mentioned in the book are, in relation to one another. Another cost. By the way, you may be able to do some of this extra work yourself, but you get into "make or buy" decisions, just like any other business. Time is money, and vice versa. Your goal is to get the book to market. You are already going to be your own typesetter when you create the PDF files (Buy the full Adobe Acrobat package, and Elements if you have interior art to add).

5. Create your own book tour. You will give some copies away to reviewers and other media people, simply to get reviews and other publicity. You should give copies to people who have been readers. Do not give them away to friends and relatives unless they have been helpful and supportive. It is currently very hard to get book reviews any place for any book and most publications have an automatic prejudice against any book that is not hardbound from a a major publisher and an absolute prohibition against reviewing self-published work, because most of it is so badly done. If you have a product which looks like it comes from a regular publisher you stand a much better chance. You can arrange book signings with individual stores. Big chains may not have your book, but if you can bring 20 or 30 copies to a smaller store, cover their costs and give them a profit, while making them look like a friend to new authors, then you have a chance. If you can also call a local drive time radio show producer and get yourself interviewed about the book that should drive traffic to your event. Genre events, such as science fiction conventions are another opportunity to talk about and sell your book, if you can get on the program or get dealer space. If you are traveling on business to a distant city and can do this there as part of your trip, then that's another opportunity to increase your audience and promote your book and your brand. You may also be able to get yourself on local television news programs. The lights are very bright and you will need makeup. Buy and bring your own from a theatrical supply house.

6. If you are self-publishing, you can use multiple channels. You have to price according to the usages of the book trade. Amazon CreateSpace is an option, but so is Lightning Source. The latter will discount your cover price by 55% CreateSpace by 40%. It makes sense to roll out first with CreateSpace, especially if your following is mostly on Amazon.com, but Lightning Source will get you into many more stores and has options for publishing in the UK and the EU, which also includes the other English speaking territories.

7. Price to make a profit. This is essential. Print on demand allows you to closely meet demand and not have large inventories to manage. You can do a certain amount of hand selling yourself. (I sold 238 signed copies of my 1993 book on Virtual Reality through the mail, at full price.) Do not discount what you sell yourself. Get a sales tax license and take the retail profit. The amount you realize over costs per copy will vary depending on the method of distribution and format. Do the numbers and don't be shy. Be realistic. You need big margins to pay for those upfront costs mentioned above. Here's the thing about fiction; if someone wants to read your work, they will pay a fair price. You are not selling a commodity, but a work of art.

8. Be agreeable. Book signings can be very frustrating. Sometimes no one shows up. Consider it a performance. Be prepared to give a speech, answer questions, or just chat with people. A lot of authors consider such activities beneath them. That's the wrong attitude. Self publishing means self-selling as well. Tens of thousands of books are published every year. People are much more likely to buy yours if you are nice to them. Radio interviews and television appearances should be carried off with enthusiasm. If you are unsure, get a video camera and rehearse. All part of the job. Try not to be tired or play "hurt" or sick for any public appearance. That works against you.

9. Spend what you need to spend, but watch what you spend. This goes back to "Make or buy". Spending money to make a better product is simply good business. Spending money to try and force sales in a market which may not exist makes little sense. Resign yourself: Very few books, especially novels, are best sellers and new authors need time to find their markets. There is no need to do everything at once. Start small and use your initial profits to build your business and your brand. And do not wait for your first book to make a profit but get your next one ready for publication.

10. Ignore criticism. Many reviews and comments are deliberately malicious and hurtful, to provoke a response. In the cold light of day you need to consider what is said, but immediate and defensive reactions simply make you look weak and hurt your sales.

Francis Hamit

All good advice. Thank you. And see below.


From another conference

I am writing this from luang prabang, Laos, where all the fashionable people are this season. I first came here 35 years ago when it was a sleepy, peaceful town in a wartorn country, now it is a very pleasant place to visit. The commie government has combined with first world idealists to produce controlled and socially just but fashionable development. The tiny city is crawling with tourists from the usual countries as well as Vietnam and china. Morning and night the street are filled with orderly craft vendors of various ethnic backgrounds which you can determine if you speak a little Lao, which I do.

I would like to tell you more but typing with one finger on an iPod is testing my patience.





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Tuesday,  March 4, 2008

Subject: zap photos

That picture of you about to be zapped shows enough shiny stfnal-looking hardware to be a scene-come-true from Fantastic Voyage.

And I'm very glad that it's helping.

--Mike Glyer

Thanks! Science Fiction keeping me going...


Subject: Welcome to the future 

On inauguration day, will "Our President" raise a fist in honor of Che?

Remember those "It's the economy, stupid" signs on the Democrat campaign office walls?

I guess now they'll read, "It's la revolucion, stupido!"

From the "you just can't make this stuff up" department:


What I can't figure is why the Clintons haven't made an issue of this -- or, of Obama's mere 6.25% African-American provenance, rendering him not only "other than" a "black president" but also in a bit of a sticky wicket vis-a-vis the racial preferences he enjoyed at Harvard and so forth (since by law, one must have a minimum of *twice* that percentage in order to qualify for the racial benefits in this colorblind society of ours).

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world...


We sow the wind.


Subject: Another ice shelf breaks off - is it global warming? 

Dr. Pournelle,

Another ice shelf has broken off, captured this time as it occurred by satellite photographs. Another sign of global warming perhaps?


Oh, it’s on Mars. Nevermind then, let’s not try to correlate Martian polar ice coverage to Earth climate because everyone knows (according to global scientific consensus of course) CO2 from human activity is only hideously destructive here on Earth. Whatever is causing avalanches and polar icecap changes on Mars must be totally unrelated to man-made global warming here on Earth. No possible correlation can be made, and absolutely none should even be attempted.

And to those spouting nonsense about global cooling, ask the people building these houses how cold they feel now!


Ah haahahahaha haha hahahaha haha heh heh haha heh. Ahem.

This message brought to you by concerned citizens for a better climate. “Our way or the *fire* way!”


I am told but have not confirmed that the Ice Is Back in the Arctic. I have asked people who can find out.


Subject: Misdirected emails


Mildenhall is a small town in England that hosts a very large USAF base. To foster tourism the town has a website, now closed, called mildenhall.com. According to the webmaster the site has recieved numerous unencrypted classified messages meant for the USAF airbase. These included the flightpath of Airforce One when President Bush last visited Europe.

It has been remarked that since the Drudge Report thought it worthwhile to publicise the presence of Prince Harry in Afghanistan it is a pity that Mildenhall's webmaster did not see fit to publish a similar scoop about a prominent American.

The security implications of the military mindset that sends sensitive messages without encryption almost beggars belief.

John Edwards


Subject: The power of your blog

Dear Jerry:

After you ran that endorsement from Mike Glyer about my novella, "Sunday in the Park with George" on Amazon Shorts, it shot up the list to number two in sales, fell a little to number six and is now ranked ninth. There over 3,500 titles there and this one was lingering near the bottom. So, that's a very impressive response given that it's probably direct mail percentages (1/2 of 1%) of buyers versus people who just read the blurb. Thank you for the boost.


Francis Hamit

Thanks for the data point.


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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Maxwell's Demon?



Phononics gets hot

by Lei Wang and Baowen Li

Researchers have succeeded in building diodes that manipulate heat ... the emerging field of "phononics"


The most fundamental phononic component is the thermal diode — a device that can conduct heat in only one direction.


One obvious application of the thermal diode is in energy saving. For example, in a tropical country such as Singapore, the outdoor temperature is usually much higher than the indoor temperature, so one would like to prevent heat flowing from outdoors to indoors in order to remain cool inside. During the night, however, the outdoor temperature might be lower than the indoor one, so one would like to allow heat to flow from indoors to outdoors. Currently, air-conditioning is used to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. But if the walls or windows of buildings were made of thermal diodes, which can automatically increase their heat conduction at night and act as an insulator during the day, huge energy savings could be made.


While not actually violating the second law of thermodynamics, the application of this technology certainly seems to produce the same effect. Should we start calling the thermal diodes Maxwell gates?

Braxton S. Cook



Perfect timing --

Vista ain't done if anything runs:


-- Photos: http://www.michi-kogaku.com/picsdir 

Modern "Privacy": "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

Suggestion: Watch "Cabaret!" (It's a documentary, not a musical; a portrait of the end-game of a decadent culture.)


Better yet, read Christopher Isherwood's I Am A Camera. Or see the original stage version only that is long gone. The Movie takes most of the guts out.


Rudy Rucker on the Singularity.

fundamental-limits-to-virtual-reality/ >

-- Roland Dobbins

I always enjoy discussions of this with Vernor Vinge. I just ain't sure about singularities: of course I dodged that bullet in Mote in God's Eye by postulating periodic collapse of civilizations...


Military Power of the People’s Republic of China, 2008.


-- Roland Dobbins

I have not read this but I must. Data points. I await comments.


Your papers!



Just lovely. Another meddlesome government agency.

but we mean well!



Intel to face the music on memory chips

By Chris Nuttall in San Francisco

Published: March 5 2008 01:26 | Last updated: March 5 2008 01:26

Intel, the world¹s biggest chipmaker, faces questions from analysts on Wednesday on whether it has a future in the memory chip business after taking another hit to its financial performance.

Intel shares fell below $20 in afternoon trading in New York on Tuesday, down 1.90 per cent, at $19.63, following its warning that first-quarter gross margins were likely to be about 54 per cent, against its previous forecast of 56 per cent.

It put the blame on ³lower-than-expected prices for Nand flash memory chips².

Intel will hold an analyst day at its Santa Clara headquarters on Wednesday, with some of those attending already suggesting that the company should exit from memory chips.

Citigroup analysts said in a note: ³While Nand will be an overhang in coming quarters, we view an eventual exit from this business as a likely and positive catalyst.<snip>


Apple Goes Corporate With shares down 35%, Jobs & Co. have a union between the consumer-friendly iPhone and Corporate America in mind

by Peter Burrows

Steve Jobs has never been much for suits, wearing them or selling to them. His own fashion taste leans to jeans and mock turtlenecks, and almost all of the products created by Apple since his return to the company a decade ago are aimed at consumers.

But now Jobs wants to go corporate. On Mar. 6, at its Cupertino (Calif.) campus, Apple (AAPL) is expected to announce a strategy to use its Web-browsing iPhone to move into the corporate market. Apple will likely unveil plans to spur development of more software for the phone, to improve security on the device, and to make it compatible with popular e-mail systems such as Microsoft's (MSFT) ubiquitous Outlook. Such steps may make corporations more willing to approve the iPhone for use by their employees. The moves will put Apple into direct competition with Research In Motion (RIMM), whose BlackBerry devices now dominate the wireless e-mail market.

The corporate push comes at a time when Apple badly needs a new source of growth. The company's shares have fallen 35% so far this year because of slowing iPod sales and softening consumer spending. The iPhone may well represent Apple's best chance in years of tapping the corporate market. Not only will employees be more likely to afford the phone's steep $400 price tag with their company's help, but many are already hankering for fashionable, useful alternatives to the BlackBerry and other existing devices. "The next big battleground is the wireless [market for corporations]," says Rich Nespola, chairman and chief executive of Management Network Group, a telecommunications consultancy.<snip>

The entire piece is well worth reading:


I will be experimenting with the iPhone shortly. It's certainly elegant looking. I still wish there were a lanyard cleat, and I am wondering if there's any way to attach one.

I wonder if Apple has the server technology to challenge RIM? I suspect not, but of course they can acquire it. This is addressed in the article as well as other issues.






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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Neat science experiment 

Dr. Pournelle,

I’m sure the fed govt and teacher’s union would attempt to portray this as pyromania or even latent adolescent terrorism, but I am wondering why the heck I had to learn this from youtube instead of in highschool science class?


It’s a neat trick, and I can see how a science teacher would get at least a full hour’s worth of teaching out of this simple demonstration, if not more. And the promise of getting to light something on fire is a sure way to get and keep student’s attention.

But of course, the union would throw a fit, the lawyers would rub their hands with glee, and you can be absolutely certain that one parent in a school of 1000 students would complain and try to sue someone on the school board for personally trying to kill their child with 10 linear ft of hair styling mousse and a match.



Identity Theft 

Hi Jerry,

Since you have a lot of readers in the tech industry, I thought I'd pass this one along.

The e-mail below is fraud - they are fishing for personal information for identity theft. People also do this over the phone posing as recruiters. If you think it's real, get their information, and check with the BBB (www.bbb.org) to find out if it's a legitimate business.

This one was easy to spot - the domain name points to one of those fraudulent search pages, but some are more difficult. One of the techniques is to 'steal' companies identities, either by using a real business with a different phone number, or a slightly misspelled domain name in the respond link in the e-mail.

Bottom line: Don't respond to unsolicited e-mails or phone calls. Period.

There's also a new scam with e-mail or phone calls posing as the IRS 'validating' information for the upcoming rebate.



Begin forwarded message:

From: <deleted> Date: March 5, 2008 4:17:04 PM MST To: "<Deleted> Subject: Doug - Job opps in the bay area

Good Afternoon Doug, how are you?

I came across your resume off of our database and it is a bit outdated and I just wanted to check your availability and interest in new job opportunities. I work with some great companies in the San Francisco/ bay area that are looking for a Software and other types of engineers. I also work in a team environment and as a team we work with close to 100 companies around the Bay area. I have some nontechnical questions here that are very useful for the companies I work with, please take a moment to answer them, if you are interested in new positions.

These positions are for fulltime permanant positions, no contract or part time positions at the moment. Also, could you include a copy of your most current resume.

What type/title position are you looking for?

What are your strengths / skillset / expertise?

What industry would you prefer to work in?

Are you currently open to new opportunities?

Reason you are looking?

When are you available to start?

What is your salary / salary range?

Are you a US citizen / green card holder / H1?

Is San Francisco or San Jose a better location for you?

What city do you reside and what is the furthest you are willing to commute?

Phone Number(s) and time windows you are available for phone interviews?

Also, could you send me an updated resume.

As soon as you respond, I will send you a job description.

Warmest Regards, <deleted> Account Executive

Thanks for the example. My spam filters have got rid of that one at least.


Subject: Waldo's on the way! 


Browsing Slashdot I ran across a link to this article and my first thought was Waldo's! These sound really exciting! Resolution of two micron's and enough resistance to simulate hard surfaces?

Hope your Zaps are going well,

John Mollhoff


New Scientist Tech logo <http://technology.newscientist.com/

Levitating joystick improves computer feedback

Movie Camera<http://technology.newscientist.com/

* 17:52 04 March 2008 * NewScientist.com news service * Jason Palmer

A computer controller levitated by magnets provides a new way to physically experience virtual objects.

The "maglev" system has benefits over more mechanical haptic controllers – computer interfaces that stimulate the user's sense of touch – and its inventors are now working to commercialising the technology.

Haptic technology has uses ranging from remote medical breast checks and exploring distant lands, to recreating the feel of fabrics.

But most haptic interfaces to date rely upon gloves or robotic arms to provide feedback to a user. The complex mechanics involved increases weight and friction that can make it difficult to provide a natural feel.

Super bowl

To solve that, Ralph Hollis <http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/rhollis/www/home.html>  and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, US, developed a haptic device with just one moving part (see video, top right).

A bowl with electromagnets concealed below its base contains a levitating bar that is grasped by a user and can be moved in any direction. The magnets exert forces on the bar to simulate the resistance of a weight, or a surface's resistance or friction. LEDs on the bar's underside feed back its position to light sensors in the bowl.

This approach has "huge potential", says Anthony Steed <http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/A.Steed/>  , a haptics researcher at University College London, UK. "This system gets rid of the mechanical linkages that are a major constraint on most haptic devices."

Six degrees of freedom

The maglev interface can exert enough force to make objects feel reassuringly solid, says Hollis, resisting as much as 40 newtons of force before it shifts even a millimetre.

That's enough to feel the same as a hard surface and better than most existing interfaces, he says. "Current devices feel very mushy, so it's hard to simulate a hard surface."

The device can track movements of the bar as small as two microns, a fiftieth the width of a human hair. "That's important for feeling very subtle effects of friction and texture," says Hollis.

And it can exert and respond to all six degrees of freedom of movement – moving along or rotating about each of the three dimensions of space (forward/backwards, left/right, up/down).

'Totally different'

Stephen Brewster <http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/%7Estephen/aboutme.shtml>  , of the Interactive Systems Group <http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/gist/>  at the University of Glasgow, says the maglev approach is totally different from existing systems.

"It offers things that other devices just can't do – the high forces, low friction, low inertia, and six degrees of freedom."

After working on a series of prototypes since 1997, Hollis has started a company called Butterfly Haptics <http://butterflyhaptics.com/>  to market the technology. The first six second-generation versions of the device will soon be shipped for testing to a consortium of several US and Canadian universities <http://msl.ri.cmu.edu/projects/haptic_consortium/>  .

The system will be showcased at the IEEE Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environments and Teleoperator Systems <http://www.hapticssymposium.org/next_conference.htm>  , which opens on 13 March.


Discussion from View

Subject: Global cooling - caution in order


I would love to see the alarm about global warming tempered, if not discredited entirely. But I think global warming skeptics need to be a little careful about making too much noise about too little data. (Just think about what Rush Limbaugh is likely do with this story.) As Dr. Chapman says, this might just be a blip. If so, an excess of high profile crowing about global warming having been refuted by the data could look foolish in very short order.

Looking at the data sources referenced by the "watts up with that" blog, it appears that the excitement seems to come from a noticeable 3 to 4 month decline toward the end of 2007. Giving a lot of significance to a 4 month trend in fairly noisy data seems unwise. Don't we really need to see a clear multi-year trend before before getting excited (or worried) about this?

CP, Connecticut

It could be a blip; but there is far more reason to fear Ice than "warm".


Global Cooling 

Dear Jerry,

With regard to the possibility of global cooling, and with due respect for Dr. Chapman's analysis, I've examined the data, too, and it falls well short of demonstrating that the long-term warming trend has broken.

It's true that the global mean temperature this January, measured by both satellite- and land-and-ocean-based instruments, was significantly colder than last January's <http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/
rss-satellite-data/>  , which had been significantly warmer than any January in at least a century. From one January to the next we've experienced a fairly dramatic cooling, on the order of 0.7 degrees C. But when you look beyond the Jan. vs. Jan. comparison, 2007 as a whole turns out to have been the second-warmest year on record, behind 2005 and in a statistical tie with 1998. In particular, the temperature data <http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt>  from NASA GISS show that only two months last year were 0.1 C or more colder than the average for that month this decade, which so far has averaged 0.3 C warmer than the 1990s. The mean global temperature in 2007 was a full degree F. warmer than the average for the 1950s through 1970s baseline period, hardly consistent with the notion of a shift to cooling. If the long-term warming trend reflected is this data is going to be broken, it will take a lot more than one cold January--a January that incidentally was still slightly warmer than the same-month average for 1951-1980--to signal that we're in a cooling trend, or no longer warming.

At this point the swing from last year's unusually warm January to this year's cold one--with a warm spring and summer between them--seems better explained by the current La Niña <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080114085128.htm>  episode than by a quiescent sun and the onset of global cooling.

Best regards, Geoff Styles 

My point is that we don't KNOW. Bayesian analysis would say we ought to spend money in FINDING OUT, not on economic ruin through pursuing remedies before we are sure what the problem is. The downside of warming is perhaps serious but also mixed: longer growing seasons in Alberta trade off against warmer weather in Oklahoma. We don't have the foggiest what will happen to rain patterns.

But the downside of cooling is ghastly. See Fallen Angels.


Subject: "a clear multi-year trend" --


"Looking at the data sources referenced by the "watts up with that" blog, it appears that the excitement seems to come from a noticeable 3 to 4 month decline toward the end of 2007. Giving a lot of significance to a 4 month trend in fairly noisy data seems unwise. Don't we really need to see a clear multi-year trend before before getting excited (or worried) about this?"

He must have missed the second chart on the page, which shows that the sun has kinda gone into snooze-mode starting October 2005. That's almost 2 1/2 years, which strikes me as "a clear multi-year trend."

This is from the "Where have all the sunspots gone?" page:


This is the graph:



And again I say: it is time to FIND OUT, not to spend money making Gore a billionaire in carbon offsets. The inconvenient truth is that the science establishment whores after grants and goes along with what they know is nonsense lest they be cast into outer darkness. Fascism in academia has always been a temptation, just as Liberalism grew from war socialism and has always wanted the power of the sword to make the world a better place: again fascism. The very essence of fascism. Whatever I do that works is right, and take your tired old constitutions away...

So in science. This is important so we will not bother with what used to be thought of as scientific method.


Subject: Toshiba to build nuclear plants in the US

Dr. Pournelle,

There's not much information in the article, but apparently Toshiba's looking to build new nuclear power plants here in the US:


I do find it rather ironic that the Japanese will possibly be building the next nuclear for us


Ryan Brown

I can recall when American companies built nuclear power plants in France and Japan. Now we have exported much of our manufacturing. We import stuff and sell off the nation in order to buy it. We have sown the wind.


Subject: Accurate brain model in silicon? 

Can a thinking, remembering, decision-making, biologically accurate brain be built from a supercomputer? That is the tagline for this story in Seed magazine. 2,000 heavy-duty processors just to model one specific section of a brain: a neocortical column in a two-week-old rat. A neocortical column is the basic computational unit of the cortex, a discrete circuit of flesh that's 2 mm long and 0.5 mm in diameter. The gelatinous cortex consists of thousands of these columns—each with a very precise purpose, like processing the color red or detecting pressure on a patch of skin, and a basic structure that remains the same, from mice to men.

I thought we were closer - but HAL will be here by 2020 if you believe these guys.

Read the entire article at:


In the basement of a university in Lausanne, Switzerland sit four black boxes, each about the size of a refrigerator, and filled with 2,000 IBM microchips stacked in repeating rows. Together they form the processing core of a machine that can handle 22.8 trillion operations per second. It contains no moving parts and is eerily silent. When the computer is turned on, the only thing you can hear is the continuous sigh of the massive air conditioner. This is Blue Brain.

-- --Dave

When it can tell jokes let me know...

We are certainly headed for super computers everywhere. Computing power for all.


home schooling


Notice in the quoted article, the whole mess was started by an "appointed Lawyer" for the Children. Who knows what he/she has in mind other than furthering a career. Did the kids want a lawyer?

Phil Tharp

Many  lawyers were well paid to do all this. Is anyone astonished?


The Dark Market Of 'Murderabilia'.

/2008/03/05/AR2008030503640_pf.html >

- Roland Dobbins


Beginnings of a practical H2 economy?

Perhaps a practical means to store hydrogen?

<http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/nalefd/2008/8/i01/html/nl072325k .html>  Link is to full text as well as the abstract.


To determine if carbon-based materials can be used for hydrogen storage, we have studied hydrogen chemisorption in single-walled carbon nanotubes. Using atomic hydrogen as the hydrogenation agent, we demonstrated that maximal degree of nanotube hydrogenation depends on the nanotube diameter, and for the diameter values around 2.0 nm nanotube-hydrogen complexes with close to 100% hydrogenation exist and are stable at room temperature. This means that specific carbon nanotubes can have a hydrogen storage capacity of more than 7 wt % through the formation of reversible C-H bonds."

Also a piece on zdnet. If true, coupled with nuclear plants...

<http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=847>  "Nanotechnology-based clean hydrogen for cars Posted by Roland Piquepaille @ 10:03 am

According to EE Times, a California-based company called QuantumSphere has developed nanoparticles that could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline. The company says its reactive catalytic nanoparticle coatings can boost the efficiency of electrolysis (the technique that generates hydrogen from water) to 85% today, exceeding the Department of Energy's goal for 2010 by 10%. The company says its process could be improved to reach an efficiency of 96% in a few years. The most interesting part of the story is that the existing gas stations would not need to be modified to distribute hydrogen. With these nanoparticle coatings, car owners could to make their own hydrogen, either in their garage or even when driving....."


Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE

Our experience with hydrogen in the DC/X was not encouraging. The stuff really wants to get out, and it really likes to burn. I wrote favorably about the hydrogen economy in American Legion Magazine during the 1970's, and it is an interesting and very clean energy distribution system, but the operational difficulties at DC/X at least were far greater than we had expecrted.

Still, it is another string for the energy bow, and this should be looked into.


Subject: Absence of News


"What was just as interesting to me as the facts above was the way in which my friend chose to present the email. He said "not politics, but good news out of Iraq." I know what he meant, of course: this is not an email about either the elections or specific Congressional or Presidential actions (or attempted actions). Nevertheless, buried in that throwaway line is a deeper truth, which is the fact that the absence of this factual material is actually highly political. The American media's decision to withhold this information isn't just about editorial or business calculations. It comes about, instead, because the media has made the political decision to back the anti-War horse. Since that horse is stumbling, the only way the media can avoid losing the race is to hide the finish line."

I've not checked these claims, but I've known of positive trends in some of these areas for some time. There is a reason I went from structuring my day to ensure I could catch the news broadcasts to never watching them at all. I can simply find better sources of news elsewhere.

Serving Officer


Francis Hamit on Covers (and see above)

Your cover is essential and I'm not sure that buying from those "off the rack" services will help that much.

My cover is finally finished and it took six months. If you look at the Amazon Shorts cover of "The Shenandoah Spy" you will see a portrait of Belle Boyd from the National Archives was the source image. And that works well enough for electronic publishing, which is always a thumbnail. I disagree with the practice of always putting the author's photo up. I'm just not that pretty to begin with.

 If you look at my travel article "Cruising with the World Poker Tour Boot Camp" you see only a shot I took on that trip out a porthole, of the sea. It's lovely, a bit mysterious, and certainly says "Cruising". It is my best selling Amazon Short, but that may be just because Poker is hot right now and it links to the World Poker Tour brand in the title. Those Boot Camps cost several thousand dollars to attend and anyone contemplating going to one can get a very inexpensive inside look from that article, which has pictures and an account of a side trip to the Mayan Ruins.

The book jacket is the "sizzle that sells the steak". You want something that makes someone pick up the book and look at it, and then read the copy, and maybe take a look inside at some of the text and then buy it. I hired a professional illustrator to take that same image and modernize and glamourize it, making Belle look a little more like a modern woman, and to reinforce the action theme of the narrative, we put a Colt Dragoon revolver in her hand. This is not hype. Belle actually carried one during the time this story is set and it is in the National Archives as well. (You'll have to read the book for the full story on that.)

Because she had not yet been commissioned as a Confederate Army Officer, she appears in a style of dress called a Garibaldi, named after the man who'd led the Italian Revolution a few years before. It was a popular style. Posture, attitude, and sexuality all had to be conveyed. Belle was not pretty but she was "hot". Then we got into the background. Originally it was the "Stars and Bars" flag designed by General Beauregard, but that has come to be a politically sensitive issue with racial overtones and I did not want to seem to be advocating for "The Lost Cause". The narrative here is about a part of American history not much written about, and it is historical fiction rather than conventional history, but, at the same time, all of the major characters but one are based on real people and the storyline closely follows actual events. Research is continual, and, as part of the final revision, I was reading Henry Kyd Douglas's memoir "I Rode With Stonewall". (Douglas is one of two eyewitness accounts of Belle's amazing run across the battlefield at the Battle of Front Royal to deliver critical intelligence on May 23, 1862. This is the central event of the novel.)

In there is a reproduction of a map, used during the Valley Campaign, used by Stonewall Jackson himself, with his pencil marks on it. I had this scanned and sent it to my designer, who swapped out the old background and substituted this one. Anything that old is in the Public Domain. Then we got to the typography, and the logos for Brass Cannon Books, my new imprint. The final result is spectacular! David Martin is the illustrator. He is an artist who lives in New Mexico and who we met at the science fiction convention in Albuquerque last year. The designer is George Mattingly, who has his own design firm in Berkeley, California and is someone I've know a very long time; an old friend from my Iowa City days. I guess I acted as Art Director since it was all work for hire. My total cost is about $2,000. That raises my breakeven point for these editions quite a bit, but I'm betting that it will produce enough additional sales to more than make up for the additional investment. I was at a meeting last night where I showed one of the cover cards I had made up yesterday at FedEx Kinkos (you can do this from your home computer). These cost me about $1.50 each, but I ended up signing and giving away two or three of them to promote good will for the book. Found out I can also get a 24 by 36 inch poster made there and mounted on foamcore for $90.00, which will be handy for book signings.

So think very carefully about that cover. What do you want it to say? How will it make potential buyers pick up and look at the book? If you can get them to actually pick up the book, you are halfway to selling the book. Physical actions breed commitment. The cover is as important as the text itself in generating sales.

They did a study on wine labels recently. Those with public domain images of famous paintings outsell those with plain type labels, regardless of price or the quality of the wine. An interesting lesson. You can probably find public domain art that expresses the theme of your book and use that as the basis for your cover.

Francis Hamit


Continuing the Global Cooling discussion

Subject: cooling

Dear Dr. Pournelle, Like many it seems, I've used your site for free too long. I sent in a subscription just now and feel better already about reading your site.

 I'm on a field trip and have had some time to catch up with your site and have noted two things in particular I wished to add: first, I'm glad to hear that the zapping seems to be helping and wish your continued recovery. I think your description of your illness and treatment is both brave and fair (it's amazing how reports of medical care always seem to be either that the docs are miracle workers or that they're evil and ruined the life of the writer; it's nice to see reports that are grateful for the help received but acknowledge that the docs aren't perfect or all powerful).

Second, I'm intrigued by the global cooling discussion. The ground certainly seems to be shifting under the debate, doesn't it? I recall you often saying we need more (and better) data and I agree entirely. I would argue, however, that Dr. Chapman is taking an extreme view of a short trend, much in the way the warming crowd does (perhaps this is intentional, I don't know). Certainly, an ice age with mile thick ice over North America is possible (and will likely happen someday), but it seems much more likely that what we'd be in for would be on the lines of the Maunder Minimum. This would certainly cause a change in lifestyles, but it wouldn't be a disaster of biblical proportion. I could certainly do with snow when I'm at my in-laws for Christmas in upstate New York. And, of course, it could just be a fluctuation in a never ending chaotic variation. Really, that is the point, isn't it? We simply don't understand the climate nearly as well as we'd like (and some think we do).

Again, best wishes on your recovery and thanks for the great site. It's a pleasure to read.



I just re-read Dr. Chapman's note and it's fairly clear he was extrapolating this short trend to a longer trend and then doing a what-if. I'd like to just state that I can see he's not trying to be alarmist, just making some interesting hypothetical observations.

-- Paul Jones
Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry
Wake Forest University

We do know that England went from deciduous trees to a hundred feet of ice in under 100 years back at the last Ice Age. I agree entirely that the likelihood is higher for a Little Ice Age, but if you read the histories of that era you will find that it was no fun: ice and cold and short growing seasons are very hard on everyone.

But as I have said often, the important thing is to find out what is happening. Spend what it takes to find out, not to build a fascist consensus among people pretending to be scientists. What is the solar output doing? That is going to be a far more important driver than CO2, and anyone rational knows this.

Paying tribute to the carbon offset people does nothing for the environment.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Continuing the discussion

Climate Change

I think I've mentioned this to you before. The effect of pumping energy into a non-linear dynamic system is usually to make it more chaotic. This is more than simply shifting the mean, which may actually move in unexpected directions. Agriculture is dependent on reliable weather--which seems to be why human populations were so low and why there was no agriculture during the chaos of the last glacial period. If increased CO2 has the sole effect of increasing the mean temperature, all we will see is a rapid shift of climates towards the poles--which creates problems for ecosystems, granted--and agricultural productivity will probably increase. But that's not the sole or primary effect we're seeing, and I'm worried.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD,
Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland.

Chaos theory is fine, but we do have historical precedents. The Medieval Warm period was certainly more pleasant than the Little Ice Age, and both were better by far than the actual Ice Age.


Global Warming 

Dear Jerry:

Here's something that puts a whole new face on the global warming debate: an allegation that the basic global warming differential equations are invalid.

If this is correct, there is negative feedback in the atmosphere that keeps greenhouse gases from causing runaway warming.|

Best, Stephen M. St. Onge
 Minneapolis, MN

Sure, But what it mostly shows is that we don't have enough data. There are far too many arbitrary parameters -- read fudge factors -- in those models. We do not understand the system and in part that is because we do not have enough data. Much of the data we do have has been sloppily compiled with sensors in questionable places.

It is time to find out what is happening. We can do that for a lot less money than we are wasting on 'remedies' and flying thousands of people to conferences in Rio and Kyoto.


Subject: 100 years from trees to ice - citation?


What is the citation for this??

“We do know that England went from deciduous trees to a hundred feet of ice in under 100 years back at the last Ice Age. I agree entirely that the likelihood is higher for a Little Ice Age, but if you read the histories of that era you will find that it was no fun: ice and cold and short growing seasons are very hard on everyone.”


I answered:

I have lost it. A Belgian climatologist whose first name is Danielle from lake sediments, in about 1978. I'll dig it up one day but I have never heard it questioned in discussions among climatologists. The ice comes FAST when it comes.

Ok, you are on to something:

The event is called "8200 cal. yr cold event" or the Younger Dryas or YD.



There are two maps in this that show the flip from Deciduous to Tundra.

"The sheer speed with which the Scottish Icecap returned during the Younger Dryas may also be evidence of moist conditions during at least the first part of the period (Tyrberg pers. comm.). Note that the map I show here should include a slight ice advance at the southern edge of the Scandinavian ice sheet associated with the Younger Dryas."


Summarization of research on the YD.

For North America:

" The first strong evidence for the YD in North America came from Atlantic Canada in the l980s, when stratigraphic sections and lake records showed shifts in lithology, pollen, and macrofossils, suggesting a summer temperature decline of at least 5°C (13, 14). In some cases, chironomids suggest an air temperature decrease of as large as 6-20°C"



Subject: Where have all the sunspots gone?


Long time passing... 

Sunspots. Underwater volcanism. It would seem to me that these two categories of events, neither anything like entirely predictable, would have more effect on climate than CO2. I do not think there have been many grants and subsidies for studying this as opposed to gasohol subsidies and grants for "consensus science" on Kyoto.

And we never catch wise.


Subject: Grant Seeking "Whores"


To call the global warming grant seekers "Whores" is an insult to the honest women that choose to rent their bodies.

Bob Holmes


Re: Global Warming 

I was listening to this guy on CBC Radio


His idea is that the Medieval Warm Period was great for Europe, but not necessarily so cool for a lot of other people. As the plains dried up, Ghengis Khan comes storming in on China, and 20 year famines broke the Mayans.

Though he doesn’t argue that it didn’t happen, he does say it wasn’t great for everybody.

David March

All of which says that we do not understand what is happening; but I would still prefer warm and longer growing seasons to ice in Seattle. See Fallen Angels.



New Greenhouse Equations for Global Warming


This article and two links in it seem to further another I came across a while back (I don't have that link but I saved the pdf if you would like it).

Link to the current article and cut & paste follow.

Regards, George

Researcher: Basic Greenhouse Equations "Totally Wrong"

New derivation of equations governing the greenhouse effect reveals "runaway warming" impossible

Miklós Zágoni isn't just a physicist and environmental researcher. He is also a global warming activist and Hungary's most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Or was.

That was until he learned the details of a new theory of the greenhouse effect, one that not only gave far more accurate climate predictions here on Earth, but Mars too. The theory was developed by another Hungarian scientist, Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA's Ames Research Center.

After studying it, Zágoni stopped calling global warming a crisis, and has instead focused on presenting the new theory to other climatologists. The data fit extremely well. "I fell in love," he stated at the International Climate Change Conference this week.

"Runaway greenhouse theories contradict energy balance equations," Miskolczi states. Just as the theory of relativity sets an upper limit on velocity, his theory sets an upper limit on the greenhouse effect, a limit which prevents it from warming the Earth more than a certain amount.

How did modern researchers make such a mistake? They relied upon equations derived over 80 years ago, equations which left off one term from the final solution.

Miskolczi's story reads like a book. Looking at a series of differential equations for the greenhouse effect, he noticed the solution -- originally done in 1922 by Arthur Milne, but still used by climate researchers today -- ignored boundary conditions by assuming an "infinitely thick" atmosphere. Similar assumptions are common when solving differential equations; they simplify the calculations and often result in a result that still very closely matches reality. But not always.

So Miskolczi re-derived the solution, this time using the proper boundary conditions for an atmosphere that is not infinite. His result included a new term, which acts as a negative feedback to counter the positive forcing. At low levels, the new term means a small difference ... but as greenhouse gases rise, the negative feedback predominates, forcing values back down.

NASA refused to release the results. Miskolczi believes their motivation is simple. "Money", he tells DailyTech. Research that contradicts the view of an impending crisis jeopardizes funding, not only for his own atmosphere-monitoring project, but all climate-change research. Currently, funding for climate research tops $5 billion per year.

Miskolczi resigned in protest, stating in his resignation letter, "Unfortunately my working relationship with my NASA supervisors eroded to a level that I am not able to tolerate. My idea of the freedom of science cannot coexist with the recent NASA practice of handling new climate change related scientific results."

His theory was eventually published

in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in his home country of Hungary.

The conclusions are supported by research <http://www.ecd.bnl.gov/steve/pubs/HeatCapacity.pdf>  published in the Journal of Geophysical Research last year from Steven Schwartz of Brookhaven National Labs, who gave statistical evidence that the Earth's response to carbon dioxide was grossly overstated. It also helps to explain why current global climate models continually predict more warming than actually measured.

The equations also answer thorny problems raised by current theory, which doesn't explain why "runaway" greenhouse warming hasn't happened in the Earth's past. The new theory predicts that greenhouse gas increases should result in small, but very rapid temperature spikes, followed by much longer, slower periods of cooling -- exactly what the paleoclimatic record demonstrates.

However, not everyone is convinced. Dr. Stephen Garner, with the NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), says such negative feedback effects are "not very plausible". Reto Ruedy of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies says greenhouse theory is "200 year old science" and doubts the possibility of dramatic changes to the basic theory.

Miskowlczi has used his theory to model not only Earth, but the Martian atmosphere as well, showing what he claims is an extremely good fit with observational results. For now, the data for Venus is too limited for similar analysis, but Miskolczi hopes it will one day be possible <http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMMAGK26DF_index_0.html>  .

A graph showing agreement of model predictions with data from both the Earth and Mars

A simplified view of the new equations governing the greenhouse effect



Subject: Transparency


"For more than a decade, Obama was my colleague at the University of Chicago Law School... Transparency and accountability matter greatly to him; they are a defining feature of his proposals. With respect to the mortgage crisis, credit cards and the broader debate over credit markets, Obama rejects heavy-handed regulation and insists above all on disclosure, so that consumers will know exactly what they are getting.

"Expect transparency to be a central theme in any Obama administration, as a check on government and the private sector alike. It is highly revealing that Obama worked with Republican (and arch-conservative) Tom Coburn to produce legislation creating a publicly searchable database of all federal spending."


I would be pleased to see that. Obama is intelligent enough to have read Jane Jacobs; whether or not he has done so I do not know. I am pretty sure Hillary has not. Nor McCain for that matter.


A Google horror story: What Happens When You Are Disappeared?

<http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2008/02/08/a_google_horror.html >

-- Roland Dobbins




-- Roland Dobbins

I knew some of those who worked on this. Getting the energy to put it in orbit was well beyond them.


"It's technology for the sake of technology -- not what works or helps kids learn, but what makes administrators look good, what the public will think is cutting edge."

3271_pf.html >

-- Roland Dobbins

The Iron Law of Bureaucracy


"The Fifth Miracle," by Paul Davies is one of the most important science books I've ever read. If his thesis is correct, we are all closely related.

Norman Epstein




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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Subject: ZFS for MacOSX

Hi Jerry,

I've long considered your columns on Windows problems to be one of the best arguments for converting to Macs. Still, while MacOSX 10.5 is better than Windows XP (or Vista) by a fair measure, Macs have some ugly warts. I'm delighted to have you banging on Macs. You have an unerring eye for shoddy craftsmanship and you certainly hit the nail on the head with your attempt to set up a backup volume. I don't know how you manage it but whatever your blundering magic, you often seem to find the weak spot in an OS and you have got it exactly right on the Mac - the HFS+ file system is fubar. Apple should have invested in a new file system several years ago, as HFS+ is the Achilles Heel of Leopard. For some reason, this gets little attention.

Linus Torvalds has got it right on HFS+:

The obvious fix would be for Apple to move to ZFS and maybe they will. Some pressure from you certainly would provide some encouragement in that direction! I'm planning to get ZFS installed on a server volume and do some torture testing using Mathematica 6.0 (If you want to break Apple OS software, Mathematica is a great tool for doing that).

Here is something on ZFS that might be of interest to you. http://www.techworld.com/storage/

I'd think you would want OS X Extended Journaled OS X Extended. My 2¢.

Keep on banging away on the MacOSX! It would be great if you would get into writing some ruby or python code using XCode as well. XCode is decent but could be much better. The learning curve is way steeper than it needs to be. I hope you will go after XCode next. Reducing the barrier to entry for programmers new to MacOSX would do a lot of good…given the steep learning curve, TextMate has some advantages over XCode for programming on MacOSX.

Check out Scrivener, too. Great program for writers. And Visual Thesaurus. Fun, useful. For organizers, the GTD type program OmniFocus is excellent. And KeyNote beats PowerPoint hands down. I now use Keynote exclusively for lectures to medical students.

My thoughts are with you as you deal with your acoustic neuroma or whatever the beast is. Be well.




Busing to suburbs didn't boost test scores Students who stayed in Minneapolis Public Schools rather than choosing a suburban school fared as well or better.

By TERRY COLLINS, Star Tribune

Last update: March 3, 2008 - 10:28 PM For the second straight year, low-income students in the Minneapolis Public Schools fared better than the ones who were bused to suburban schools under the Choice is Yours, a voluntary desegregation program.

Minneapolis students in the district nearly doubled their test scores in reading and finished practically even in math compared with their suburban counterparts last year, according to results released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Education.

State education officials reasoned that the difference may be because the suburban choice students tested each year are not the same students; only half of the suburban choice students were enrolled in their schools the previous year.

However, Minneapolis officials say their students' results are significant enough to start urging parents to think twice about sending their kids to suburban schools.

"We're just saying if the number one reason parents sent their kids to suburban schools was academics, they need to look closely and carefully at the results," said Dave Heistad, the district's research and testing director. "Just choice by itself doesn't seem to be the answer."<snip>


Subject: Steve Jobs Made Me Miss My Flight

Hi Dr. P.,

Thought you might get a chuckle out of this humorous account of a road warrior. Yet another reason to avoid the bleeding edge of technology.



Security Theater. Remember that the purpose of TSA is to convince Americans that we are subjects, not citizens, and that Ornung! is the order of the day here. Your papers, please. Most of the TSA agents do not begin as petty tyrants, but they learn fast. And of course some sought the job for exactly that reason.




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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

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