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Mail 528 July 21-27, 2008
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July 20, 2008
This is a repeat from yesterday:
I have created single file HTML and then Mobipocket (Palm, Kindle, Cybook etc. compatible) versions of all of Rudyard Kipling's prose that was available at the University of Newcastle (Australia)'s whitewolf site, a site which has fallen off the internet in the last 6 months or so.
You can download some or all of them from here
The HTML format versions are merely the intermediate
format to the .mobi and not necessarily the easiest to use/read. If you want
to read Kipling in HTML may I recommend Ghostwolf (
There are a few volumes that still need work. 1) the Non-fiction Irish Guards in the Great War, The, Vol.1 and Irish Guards in the Great War, The, Vol.2 are missing their maps and photos 2) The Just So Stories likewise (this is more important IMO) 3) I need to recreate my "Full Stalky" volume with all the Stalky stories in it.
Share, Enjoy and please give feedback
PS One problem - I note that my version of FBReader (a linux ebook reader program) doesn't seem to do the word wrap right on these files. Since I don't use FBReader for much except testing I'm not sure if this is a bug in my conversion of in FBReader.
-- Francis Turner
dingus at @di2.nu
My parents just came back from a planet where the dominant life form had no bilateral symmetry, and all I got was this stupid FShirt.
I do not know of an eBook source for the poetry. Perhaps a reader has one?
The negative response to nuclear power that always kills me is the statement: But you haven't proven that you can store it safely for 100,000 years!
But that's the wrong (and quite asinine) question. I CAN prove that, as you suggest, we toss it into the middle of the desert and keep it safe for 100 years. Then 80 years from now we ask the next question....
Hoping for a smooth recovery,
As I said Saturday, nuclear waste is a non-problem, with many solutions, including disposing of it forever by putting it (as glass) in a subduction zone. And after about 600 years spent fuel rods are about as radioactive as the ores from which the uranium was refined. They're quite dangerous for the first hundred years or so, but no more so than the highly toxic wastes from Eastern coal fired plants -- and chemical toxicity lasts forever, and unlike radiation can't be detected from a distance. Those who prattle about the problems of nuclear waste are mendacious or simply have never paid much attention to what it known about the problem.
RE: Ethanol and Brazil, there seems to have been a little confusion in the discussion with your correspondent "Charlie" in Mail for July 19, 2008. "Charlie" wrote:
"Re Venezuela: they have a population of about 26 million, in an area roughly twice the size of California. According to the US Census bureau, California has a population of roughly 36 million people; so, very roughly, Venezuela has about 1/3rd the population density of California."
Your reply correctly identified Brazil as the country that has switched most of it's automobile and truck transportation to ethanol fuel. "Charlie's" numbers may be correct of Venezuela, but they are not the numbers for Brazil.The actual numbers for Brazil, from the CIA World Factbook:
gives Brazil's population as about 192 million. The land area of Brazil is roughly equal to that of the USA. Their economy is about 2 trillion dollars, and their "motorization" rate is about 200 cars per thousand population. Their labor force is 99 million, or about half of the total population. Unemployment is about 9 per cent. The United States numbers respectively are about 14 Trillion dollars and 800 cars per thousand population. USA employment is roughly proportionally equal to that of Brazil, though with about half the rate of unemployment in the USA as compared to Brazil.
Based on a population of 192 million. these numbers give Brazil about 40 million automobiles and trucks. America, population about 300 million, has about 240 million cars and trucks; six times as many as Brazil.
Three-quarters of the fuel used by those Brazilian vehicles is ethanol, produced almost exclusively by fermentation of sugar produced in Brazil from Brazilian sugar cane.
With a thriving domestic oil industry, Brazil is a net exporter of petroleum.
So Brazil, with an economy about one-sixth of the USA. and also one-sixth the number of cars and trucks in the USA, runs those cars and trucks without imported oil. One-sixth as large of an economy for Brazil as the USA, and one-sixth as many cars as the USA. So it seems that if the USA scales up the Brazilian effort by a factor of six, and "Voila!" the USA is free of OPEC. No?
You need a semi-tropical to tropical climate to grow sugar cane effectively. This rules out all but the southernmost states and Hawaii as candidates for sugar cane production.. Most USA cane is groan in Hawaii, Louisiana and Floria, about 3.7 million aces. Brazil uses about 35 million acres for cane production. To match their effort, you'd need about 220 million acres in cane. There's probably not enough good land with proper climate for sugar cane in the USA.
So we can use corn? You need to use twice as many acres in corn to get the same amount of ethanol as sugar cane gets you per acre.(You get about300 gallons of Ethanol per corn acre, about 600 gallons per acre of sugar cane.) So you'll need twelve times the Brazilian acreage devoted to sugar cane production to equal their effort by using corn. That works out to about 440 million acres. Thats roughly 670,000 square miles. Imagine a million farms, each of 500 acres (that's a fair piece of land for a family to farm), and each one covered with corn (leaving 60 or so acres for a house, outbuildings and roads). A million such farms, just for ethanol.
By the way, growing corn is hard, dirty work, even with air-conditioned tractors and combines. My family did it for generations, and I have personal experience. It's tough. If you own 500 acres of good corn land, you can sell it for about half a million dollars, move to town, buy a house for a hundred thousand, and retire. So you really need to make a good living or really love hot, hard and dirty work if you decide to grow corn.
In Brazil they pay workers 200 dollars a month to harvest sugar cane by hand. Each worker must manually cut with a machete seven to eight TONS per workday to earn that 200 dollars.
Try finding ANYone in the USA to do that sort of work at even ten times that pay. I would not grow corn for $2000.00 a month, much less harvest sugar cane.
You can read about all this at:
Also, before you harvest sugar cane by hand, you first burn the cane to soften the plants for cutting. This releases so much smoke and flying cinders that the workers must wear special wire mesh goggles to protect their eyes. I can imagine what OSHA and EPA would make of that practice.. The process at American cane plantations is likely mechanized and thus avoids all this, but of course THAT costs money and fuel.
Oh, and when you burn the cane fields, you release Carbon Dioxide. A lot. How's that gonna fly with the Greens?
It gets worse. it was a military dictatorship in the seventies and eighties that decreed Brazil's switch to ethanol from gasoline. That's decree as in "Do this or you go to jail without trial, and ho Habeas Corpus."
Then again, increasingly, our Congress acts much like a junta, only with less efficiency and accountability. Who knows?
Bottom line: Brazil is indeed a special case. In spades. The USA could throw out environmental regulations, worker safety, import cheap labor from countries to the south (well, at least we have that part of the infrastructure set up and "working"!) and then scale up what Brazil has done by a factor of six. I's technically feasible. It's not gonna happen.
As you pointed out, given enough energy, we can do anything the laws of physics don't forbid. Give me enough electricity, and I can make ethanol or anything else that is physically possible. It's all just physics. (Do remember that Chemistry is a special case of Physics, and Biology in turn a special case of chemistry. EVERYthing is Physics.) This means nuclear power plants CAN indeed provide fuel for nonautomotive, trucks, ships and aircraft. With enough energy you can sling molecules of every variety into any combination possible.
With enough "cheap" energy you can use "inefficient" reactions to produce fuel or anything else you need. Wealth is energy, energy is wealth,:they're one and the same thing.
Sorry to go on at such length about this, but you know how important all of this is, and clarity is vital to rational discussion.
Many thanks, and thrive!
The August book tour for "The Shenandoah Spy" is locked down. It will be at eight Hastings Entertainment stores in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The book signings are not the primary reason for the trip, but rather added once we had our route figured out for Leigh's family reunion, the World Science Fiction Convention and another science fiction convention in Albuquerque. While in Albuquerque I am also getting a short video clip produced for further book promotion and working more on the travel article that may appear on Amazon Shorts some day. This is not multi-tasking so much as doing all of this one day at a time and taking the time to do it properly. The Arizona book signings are on the way home. The Book Managers at Hastings have autonomy and control their individual venues, so you have to deal with them one at a time, and set things up in chronological order. But they are quick to make a decision and enthusiastic about this book. Nice people to work with.
In the week before we leave I have to do some prep work for local media, not just making contacts, but creating more PR materials and sending copies of the book when they request them. Calendar announcements can usually be inputed directly to the local newspaper's (or other media) website. See my post on Bakersfield.com about the book signing at Russo's books next Saturday for an example. There were other stores that might have been included, but they declined the opportunity as not right for their audience. There is no point in trying to sell your way past that kind of resistance. It's their store and their audience and you have to take their word for it. You also have to pace yourself. I always say "it's not the years, but the mileage" but the hard truth is that I can't do this kind of thing without taking frequent breaks for rest and reflection. I'm 63, not 23. In setting up a book signing I don't demand and I don't beg and I will call only a few times before moving on. If they don't call back, neither do I. There are too many possibilities out there to obsess about one particular store.
The details of the tour are on my page at BookTour.com, a resource now used by hundreds of writers and one which I recommend. Of course, the tour itself will produce further material for promotion -- we'll take pictures. Some will go on the web site. We'll be checking for orders while we're away and have mailing envelopes with us . We carry two or three boxes of the book along to cover excess demand at the signings. You don't want customers to go away unsatisfied. They might not come back.
We will have another, shorter tour to the Bay Area in September. That one is along with my 45th High School Reunion.
There is a certain class of people that has a deep-felt need to believe that "Hitler was a Christian." They maintain web sites, post the same propaganda pictures and quote the same snip from Mein Kampf. None of them can specify which church he attended. Nor can they explain why no historian of the period has reached that conclusion. They do seem to assume that Hitler was the only politician in history ever to tell the plain truth in his writings prior to the Seizure of Power.
At best, Hitler seems to have believed in a vague sort of Providence, something more akin to the pagan Fate than to the Christian God. Not that he held much brief for paganism, either.
They also seem to have a magical notion of what even a dictator can accomplish. That the Party had to deal with public opinion at all may startle them; as would the complex and multi-faceted response of that public to the New Order. Hitler made a conscious and deliberate decision to postpone any confrontation with the Churches until after the war, but there was never any mistake where the lines were drawn. Certainly, the secret police were not confused on the issue.
Useful sources: John Lukacs, The Hitler of History John Lukacs, The Last European War Richard Evans, The Third Reich in Power.
We are the jolly Hitler Youth We don't need any Christian truth For Adolf Hitler, our Leader, Always is our interceder.
Whatever the Papist priests may try, We're Hitler's children until we die; We follow not Christ but Horst Wessel, Away with incense and holy water vessel!
As sons of our forebearers from times gone by We march as we sing with banners held high. I'm not a Christian, nor a Catholic, I go with the SA through thin and thick. -- song of the Hitler Youth, Nuremburg Rally, 1934
I'm back in England now.
English university degree classifications considered daft: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7511601.stm >
English school testing suggest educators have taken
leave of their senses: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7511922.stm>
UK taxes have gone over the top: <http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>
Beer Cans Of Death
http://tinyurl.com/5srhl8 (tinyurl because the original is about six lines long)
A new method of handling medium-caliber cannon ammunition: encase the entire thing in a cylindrical housing.
-- Mike T. Powers
Subject: Shameful outsourcing
Dr. J: A number of years ago, I attended a Confederate Airforce fly-in, which brought some living members of the Dolittle raid, and some B25s to a local airport here in Minnesota. When they brought a B25 out of the hangar, it was being towed by a small Kubota crawler. Until now, I've always thought of that as the ultimate irony.
UK facing problems with nuclear power
Well it *seemed* cheaper to get out of the business of educating engineers and instead rely on immigrants...
-- Harry Erwin, PhD
It seemed like a good idea at the time...
July 22, 2008
This is probably enough on this subject:
Hitler religion quote
Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, noted:
"The Fuhrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race... Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed."
Of course this is only from the horse's assistants' mouth. but I suspect, insofar as he had a coherent continuous opinion over his period in power it is about right, though he (& the pope) went to some lengths to keep up appearances. Which is, after all, what many politicians do.
Subject: Orwell would be happy!
Jerry: American physicists warned not to debate global warming:
Groupthink propaganda in action!
I think we mentioned this yesterday. Certainly worth reading.
419ers crank up the menaces | The Register
Go to the URL below and see the 'Tilted Twister'.
It's a robot built from a Lego NXT robotics kit that has one purpose. It solves randomly scrambled Rubik's Cubes.
Fascinating to watch it in action on the embedded Youtube video.
It reminds me of the black cube that had a switch on top. Flip the switch to 'ON', the top would open, a hand would come out, and push the switch to 'OFF'. The hand would then retract and the top would close.
The mind boggles.
Hope this lightens your day a bit.
Regards, Brian Claypool
I saw this movie on Sunday. There were a few families with children present, a bad plan. This is a movie intended for actual adults.
I enjoyed Batman Begins, but it was flawed, in my opinion. In the Batman mythology, Henri Ducard was a French manhunter who was a strong influence on young Bruce Wayne. After Bruce decided to do something, he knew he needed skill and training. Ducard was one of the men he sought out for that training. Ducard is very good at finding people who don't want to be found, and has no compunction against killing them once they are found, if that is what he's being paid to do. Bruce wanted that skill, but does not and never did approve of Ducard. Ras Al Ghul is an immortal leader who has a beautiful daughter named Talia who is hoplessly in love with Batman. Ras and Batman have real respect for each other, and Ras intends Batman to be his successor, as his imortality fades. Batman is not thrilled at the thought of becoming leader of a centuries old crime organization. The Secret Society of Assassins was originally a group opposed to Ras, old foes, but in the comic books, he has been able to seize control and integrate it into his own organization. i understand folding the two groups together, I doubt most realize they were two groups decades ago in real time. I see no good purpose in combining Ducard and Ras though. It strained credulity and hurt the story.
I thought the actual plan, involving a microwave water based aerosol nerve agent was way too laughable, and it hurt my suspension of disbelief. Surely they could come up with something less stupid sounding and more technically defensible.
I think Rachel Dawes, the love interest, was a horrible idea and badly bungled in execution. Bruce is basically obsessed and insane, attempts to humanize him with a woman are usually an error, and I'd not have had them try to deal with that for at least three movies, and then I'd want a love interest for Batman, not Bruce Wayne. One of the conceits of the comics is that Bruce Wayne isn't the real person. Batman sees Bruce Wayne as a mask he wears in order to accomplish his crusade, not vice versa.
I thought the way they used Lucious was weak, but understandible. It allowed them to short-curcuit lots of questions about how Bruce can do these things.
On the plus side, I thought the principal leads, except for the female lead, did fine jobs with what they were given, and I was pleased to hear the Batman voice for the first time, as he tried to make Batman speak distinctly different than Bruce Wayne. I was also pleased to see Batman fighting as he should, leaping from the shadows, clobbering a bad guy, hiding, bad guys spray gunfire in all directions, Batman leaps from the shadows, clobbers a bad guy, bad guys panic and fire in all directions...
I wished they had simply dropped their script and shot Batman: Year One, the miniseries that recreated the origin story and showed Bruce Wayne struggling to create Batman and figure out how to clean up Gotham.
So, on to the Dark Knight. Like Batman: Year One, this movie sees Batman struggling against organized crime, while Gordon struggles to clean up the notoriously corrupt Gotham police. Enter a new factor. Joker makes a move early, splashily attracting attention and becoming a power to be reckonned with. Gotham's new White Knight, the District Attorney Harvey Dent, is working to help fix the city and attracting much positive press, along with Rachel Dawes.
Joker dominates the movie. Whether in a manic moment of utter insanity, or a quieter moment of eery creepiness, Heath Ledger's Joker is the star no matter who is onscreen. Always in command of the situation, always ahead of the game, always playing several moves ahead, and yes, fixated on Batman as his audience, this easily blows away Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero. Joker is an enigma and I bitterly regret we won't be able to see what they'd be able to do with this Joker and Harley Quinn in a sequal.
Looking for things to dislike, there is a decision made at the climax of the movie which is pure movie logic, rather than real logic. I understand they did it in order to play off of Batman: Year One, but it is a bit out of place. It is also totally in character, if you accept movie logic. I thought the Batcycle was cheesy, and is clearly intended only as a source of revenue, as they sell toys based on it. There were things which were not realistic, but it wasn't nearly as comic-booky as Mission Impossible, and at no point did I groan at the stuntwork. There were a couple of jump scenes, where somthing leaps out at you. I forgive those if they serve the plot, and these were gratuitous. There was some tech that would, in reality, require God's own desktop computer to work, but it did serve the plot.
I was surprised and pleased with how they were able to salvage the disaster that was Rachel Dawes, and make her work for the movie. On the other hand, the new actress has looked better. I don't know if they were doing it deliberately, but when she was onscreen I spent much of my time worrying about the cracking makeup around her eyes. It made her look easily a decade older than she is.
I won't touch on the themes, or actual events of the movie. It is two and a half hours long, and I was not bored. There are moments when the movie seems to speak to man's inhumanity to man, and scenes where it appears to refute that point of view. These are the least well crafted parts of the story. Joker's pursuit of his actual goal is far better crafted and effective.
This movie is a must see, and deserves the big screen.
I don't know how you'd feel in the audience for that long, but if there is a relatively painless matinee available, it is worth a viewing.
I missed Batman begins -- probably ought to have seen it but it came out at a time when I wasn't getting out much -- but we intend to see Dark Knight. Thanks.
Borrowers Betrayed - The Miami Herald
"A review of thousands of pages of court documents, state industry reports, internal e-mails and police reports shows that from 2000 to 2007: 5,306 people with criminal histories became loan originators -- a rate of nearly two a day. Worse, those include 2,201 who had committed financial crimes, such as fraud, money laundering and grand theft."
It's surely not possible that millions in weekly real estate and mortgage loan advertising revenues prevented this kind of article from running earlier, say in 2002-2003?
Spengler now looks at Turkey, which he thinks may be in the throes of Islamic revolution:
He provides a short historical background, and looks at the current "democratic"/"moderate" Islamic political movement. Interesting quotes:
"It should be no surprise that the State Department looks favorably on Turkey's Islamist drift: that is precisely how Foggy Bottom viewed Iran in 1979, when it sped the overthrow of the shah." <snip>
"The Sorcerer's Apprentices of the State Department do not understand the sort of objects that they are animating. Political Islam will not merely change coloration of the country, but transform its character from the grassroots upward. For all the crudeness of the Kemalists, American diplomats will regret their failure as much as the fall of the shah."
This is of a piece with today's essay on Turkey.
Flexfuels, Biofuels etc.
Firstly I think I should point out that I'm all in favour of Nuclear (and as I live in France that's a good thing seeing as it's where my electrons come from anyway). However in the long term I think that, unless we get to Heinleinian Shipstone levels of battery capacity, we will continue to use engines powered by some hydrocarbon fuel for much transportation as hydrocarbons, whether they be oils or alcohols, offer a convenient way to transport the energy required.
It is true that drilling for oil won't hurt but it seems likely that we will need to at the very least supplement, if not replace, the fossil hydrocarbons with biofuels.
There seem to be two obvious approaches to this. One is conversion of specially grown simple stuff like algae (or duckweed). The other is to convert waste product from current industry. The latter requires turning the tough molecules cellulose and lignins into oil or alcohol. This is not an easy task however according to this (http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn14360-chemical-breakthrough-turns-sawdust-into-biofuel.html ) some Chinese researchers seem to have come up with a fairly straightforward pressurized hot water + catalyst method that produces a mixture of short chain alkanes and alcohols. It is quite possible that you could take the output of this and pour it straight into the tank of a flexfuel car. But if not it is a (relatively) trivial task to convert from one alcohol/alkane to another.
As for the algae approach. It has occured to me that algae grows just fine in oceans (all those troublesome algal blooms) so what should be done is to develop a way to harvest the blooms and then deliberately cultivate them. I did a basic back of the envelope calculation that indicated that an algal bloom 1 ft thick and the area of the Mediterranean would probably produce more oil than all current production combined. I'm not going to publish that sum because I'm not sure that it doesn't have some serious holes in it but I'm convinced I'm correct in an order of magnitude sense - that is to say a relatively small amount of the ocean (the Med is some 2.5 million sq km out of the global total of 361 million) would be sufficient
Best regards and wishes for improvements in health
PS I'm glad you liked the Kipling books
-- Francis Turner
Of course drilling now does no more than affect prices for a while; but it buys time (and saves money) for other solutions including nuclear. As I said 30 years ago, we need (1) electricity, and (2) considerable development in ways to use electricity for transportation. Had we done that in 1990 we wouldn't be in the trouble we are in now.
- Roland Dobbins
I suspect this will reopen the discussion.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
For platinum subscription:
Platinum subscribers enable me to work on what I think is important without worrying about economics. My thanks to all of you.
July 23, 2008
Regarding the free Tor Books:
FYI, the .mobi format also works on iPhone using Stanza. So your Kindle-encrypted books are probably locked to that device, but you can download other .mobi books and use them on both Kindle and iPhone.
-- Stephen Fleming
Actually, once you have the .mobi copy, you merely email it to yourself (firstname.lastname@example.org) and it appears on your Kindle; and you still have the .mobi copy to use as you see fit. Thanks. I'll have to set this up so I can read on my iPhone.
Everything old is new again.
-- Roland Dobbins
I read your View piece, Spengler's Asia Times piece and Rubin's NRO column. Spengler left out one major oil state where Turkish companies currently do lots of contracting.
I submit the strategic repercussions of an Islamist Turkey will be at least as profound in the North and West as in the South and East. The strategic imperatives this would create for Putin will leave him with one viable option. This is to secure an intimate alliance, bordering on a merger, with a state that can fill Russia's present gaps in demographics, industry and technology. There is precisely one state that can both fill these needs and with which Putin possesses sufficient leverage.
There is also Pakistan to worry about.
Might as well throw Pakistan into the stew of trouble that is bubbling away: http://www.newsweek.com/id/148024
"A host of recent troubles, however, has brought Pakistan to the brink of collapse. Vast segments of Pakistan's western borderlands are all but ungovernable, the Taliban has started to reconstitute itself in these areas and suicide bombers have struck in the hearts of major cities. These problems, coupled with a global economic downturn and food inflation, has turned this country of 165 million people into a powderkeg of popular disaffection, as last week's attack on the Karachi stock exchange shows."
Indeed. But I was writing a short essay, not a book! Much of Pakistan is not governed at all, and the US hasn't the resources to conquer and subdue it.
Our problem is that while Athens could pretty well count on democracies being friendly with Athens vis a vis Sparta, the US can't rely on democracies, whether established by us or not, to be friendly to us. It just isn't true that democracies are automatically all friends. Islamic republics are friendly only with other Islamic republics -- if those. Government by the votes of illiterate and uneducated people isn't guaranteed to be good government or even rational government.
Gone, and Being Forgotten - ChronicleReview.com
This seems to tie in with some of what you've been saying about education.
An interesting essay. I don't agree with all of it, but it does get me thinking. Thanks!
The Lyons Tablet
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I’ve just spent two weeks in Lyons, France, a city I didn’t know at all. Highly recommended: Next time you come here in Europe, forget Lutetia, go to Lugdunum!
They have an absolute treasure in their museum: the Lyons Tablet.
It’s the transcript of a speech by Claudius, the Emperor. And as far as we can tell it’s a *stenographic* transcript of his speech. - English: <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/48claudius.html> - Latin: <http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/claud.inscr.html>
Tacitus gave his own version, shortened and embellished: - English: <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/tacitus-ann11a.html> - Latin: <http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/tacitus/tac.ann11.shtml>
Claudius was born in Lugdunum, being the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italia. He made this speech before the Roman Senate in 48 AD. At that time he was 58 and the Emperor since seven years (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudius> ).
The topic was a very sensitive one: "It was a proposal to allow monied, landed citizens from further Gaul to enter the Senatorial class, and thus the Senate itself, once they had reached the necessary level of wealth." (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyons_Tablet> )
We only have the lower half of the tablet - and of the speech.
The text is so confused (and I can tell you it really is: my wife reads Latin as you read English) that a young tourist from Winchester asked me if the English translation was reliable, looking in his worn-out pocket dictionary for the word "clumsy".
(Everything is in both French and English in this wonderful museum except, alas! their Web site: <http://www.musee-gallo-romain.com/fourviere/accueil/index.html> .)
I think that Claudius did it on purpose: It was an almost impossible proposition even for the Emperor to do. The Senate conceded what he wanted only for the Aedui people and even that was a big success. So, knowing very well his audience - the Senators -, he exploited his known weaknesses: head shaking, stammering, confused speech... He was 58; I’m 57 - I almost think I could do it!
That’s my little theory. But what’s not a theory - except in the etymological sense of the word - is the perfect beauty of the writing of the "Tables claudiennes"!
From the guide of the museum: "Esthetically, the exceptional quality of the engraving leads us to believe the Renaissance engravers of Lyon drew inspiration from the tablet for their own beautiful sixteenth century typography".
You’ll find an example here: <http://jfbradu.free.fr/celtes/lyon/table-claudienne-detail.jpg>
And my best whishes recovery-wise!
If we go back to France, I will plan a trip just to see that. Thanks!
A dash of lime -- a new twist that may cut CO2 levels back to pre-industrial levels
Lime in the ocean...*imagine* that? <grinning madly>
Maybe it's NOT true that prophets are without honor only in their own countries. One may hope, at least...
Best Regards and Wishes for your swift recuperation,
Re: the B-25 being towed by a Kubota tractor...
My father served on CVE-76, the USS Kadashan Bay, and was aboard when she was hit by a kamikaze off Luzon in 1944. The Katy B survived, was repaired and survived the war, but the Japanese didn't give up. They purchased her in 1956 and dismantled her for scrap!
Recently I have been using Windows Maps Live and Google maps to look at places I and my family have recently traveled through. Craters of the moon park got me interested in finding a large volcano that might be near that area. We also went through Yellowstone on our return journey, and plan on going to Northern Idaho next. As I was tinkering with Maps Live in 3d, I noticed that, zoomed quite far out there was a very clear circular pattern. Looking to the center for a large volcano, I found instead the Wallowa Mountains. From what I could find they don't seem to be volcanic mountains. They do have a very interesting shape though, and sit nicely in the center of the large circle, approximately from Portland OR to Bozeman MT in width, and nearly the Canadian line to Nevada. I started to look at rivers in the circle too. The Columbia River Basin seems to have an affinity for the Wallowa range. It seems to me this has to be a massive impact crater. I have tried to search for any information about that possibility, surely someone else has to have noticed this also? I so far have found nothing mentioned about the possibility of this happening.
At any rate I thought you might find this interesting. I have included a .jpg attachment of what seems to me the largest meteor crater on the face of this planet. It looks as if the ejecta blanket from the impact is the major feature of Nevada. The picture in black and white is a Martian crater that just happed to look similar to my assumption. Yellowstone park sits on the craters wall from what I can tell.
Hopefully, if I am wrong this post will at least be amusing. If I am right, I doubt I am the only one to notice this. I just wish I could find some disscusion about it using google. The picture I sent is not a very high quality one, so using Google Maps or Maps Live ought to be a better way to see it.
Maybe this has been missed since it is so large?
Best wishes to you and all you love
Subject: The Autism "racket"
I saw that bit about the 99% of autism being a racket, and my reaction was much the same as yours, although with one key difference. That difference is that my 2-year-old son has been recently diagnosed with “moderate” autism, so I am experiencing it all from the inside.
Stuart is a clever, well-developed, highly coordinated child who has yet to speak, and exhibits some typical autistic traits like hand flapping, toe walking, not making eye contact, etc. He is very well behaved (for a two-year-old, certainly) and this is in large part because, some odd traits or no, we won’t tolerate just plain bad behavior from any of our kids. As mentioned above, he’s a smart kid with a highly practical sort of intelligence at this point. We are in the process of starting his speech therapy (very necessary) and some other therapy geared towards getting him communicating. He already understands “no”, something I’m willing to bet a lot of those rich “autistic” kids you were describing do not.
There is an entire industry based around autism and the treatment thereof, even in the socialized medicine paradise of Canada. It would take us at least 2 years (worse in some other provinces) to get him into government funded programs, so the first part is private and correspondingly expensive. There is therefore great capitalist incentive to propagate autism as something requiring extensive treatment and in two or three years I will be in a position to tell you how that works out. I’m already keeping a wary eye on the process, because I want Stuart to get the best treatment we can provide, and that means effective, not just “more”. We caught him young, and I personally am convinced that by the time he’s to go to school he’ll be ready to do so. That is, as long as we pick the eyes out of the available treatment options and don’t allow ourselves to be sucked into (expensive) treatments that don’t help him...
I have no expertise in this matter. I can say that this sounds a lot like the case of my LASFS friend and his son, and his dedication and unremitting devotion managed to take care of the problem; but it took years.
I think you have picked the right course, but again I have no claim to expertise in this. When I took my graduate work in psychology there wasn't anything at all about autism or ADHD at all. Whether this was due to the rarity of the conditions at that time, or failure to diagnose, or just what I don't know. I was not a specialist in young children, and it's possible that those who took pediatric abnormal psychology were taught something about the subject; my focus was 12 years old to adult.
There is no question about it: something seems to have changed since the 1950's. I find it hard to believe that 25% of the young men in this society suddenly developed some kind of syndrome requiring expensive drugs, and I know for a fact that some diagnoses of autism are just plain wrong (and probably self-serving on the part of the physician). I also know for a fact that some cases of autism are frighteningly real.
I have also read learned treatises on how Bill Gates exhibits symptoms of autism. Having known Gates since he was 17, I can say this is pretty silly. Gates is capable of simply going away inside his head when the conversation gets sufficiently boring, and he does that. He can also focus on some detail of a dinner conversation and again seem to vanish. And yes, he does have some repetitive gestures. We should all have his problem....
I repeat I am no expert; but the shock jock who put the rate at 99% fraud was wrong on his percentage, but not entirely; there certainly are fraudulent diagnoses. How many I don't know and I have never seen a study, nor do I expect to see one for obvious reasons.
Subject: The Dark Knight
I have to say I agree with some of the comments about this Batman Film, but not all.
Heath L. was a great Joker, although based upon how he died, maybe not all of it
was acting... he had better lines than Jack N. I think. But both were stellar
depictions of the Clown of Crime. Ceasar R. was never a serious performance.
The variant time line was OK, although I agree the microwave emitter in the prior
film was pretty hard to believe.
The Rachel Dawes twist was OK, but it should have been Vikki Vale... or Catwoman.
Two-Face is gone... Too bad, that would have been a great recurring villain...
I have not seen the picture yet, but I intend to.
Some buildings still say NACA
Had a trip this morning to NASA Ames. Some of the buildings still say NACA. Worden is trying to rebuild his center along the NACA model. Feel free to use the picture.
Having just recently read Spengler’s piece on Turkey, I followed the Instapundit link to your post. It has been added to my stack of stuff to read real soon now.
Skimming to tweak formatting (attached) after processing in my home magazine generator, I was surprised that a writer of your stature would not go out of your way to credit Spengler as the author of the Asia Times piece. I have been reading his work for many years and find it a rewarding, sometimes shocking and often hilarious singular point of view on many things.
Some of your readers might be similarly rewarded by the discovery.
There was attached a pdf of my essay on the crisis in Turkey. I have no idea how a pdf came about, as I certainly have never published one. I gave the URL for the Spengler article on Turkey in my essay. What more was I supposed to have done?
Apparently I never get anything right now, and that bothers me. Have I lost my mind?
From another discussion group:
I predicted the Chinese takeover of Sub-Saharan Africa at least fifteen years ago, but it is happening sooner than I thought.
I remember that about thirty years ago, I and several friends used to speculate that India would eventually colonize Africa, given its much higher population growth and much greater geographical proximity. Looks like we were wrong and you were right...
And Galton was prophetic, as JD told us quite a few years ago. Go to http://www.galton.org/ and under Eugenics look for "Africa for the Chinese", a letter to The Times of 5 June 1873 (or maybe a slightly different date). From memory Galton also discounts the capacity of the Indians to do it, and there is a letter from someone else who is pro black and anti-Chinese based on his colonial experience.
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July 24, 2008
God's Thunderbolt by Carol Buchanan
More evidence that self-publishing is not just an ego trip. I've just finished reading "God's Thunderbolt" by Carol Buchanan, which is a terrific novel about Vigilantes in Montana during the Civil War. It is , by turns, a Western, a legal thriller, a mystery and a love story with very well drawn characters and a tightly constructed plot. She had it printed by BookSurge, so the best place to find it is Amazon.com ($18.99) trade paper. Buchanan and I have been part of a couple of long conversations by posting on the Amazon Shorts boards. She has previous non fiction book credits but could not get it read by an agent. I recommended that she think beyond her native state of Montana as a market. It's a story with universal appeal and well done.
Amazon is obviously using its POD facilities to try and capture a list of authors for their publishing operation. Booksurge, it seems, now sells to the brick and mortar stores, but I am not sure how that works, or if it works, since those stores almost always want to order from Ingram just for the convenience. (Better a devil you know....??) .
There is something deeply wrong with mainstream publishing when they let a book like this get by them. It's one of the best novels I've read lately and her first. There are factors that will keep it from getting reviewed in the few venues still left for book reviews. Self published, older author, odd subject matter and it's paperback rather than hardbound. All of those are negatives in the review screening process and none of them have anything to do with the quality of the work.
I think you are on to something: you seem to be tracking the future of publishing. Precisely how long it will take for this sort of thing to become common I don't know, but we do seem to be in a new era in which the major publishers are no longer dominant.
Some will adjust. Some will not.
Subject: Interesting e-book news
From AP this morning
Fascinating; I prefer the Kindle to the Sony reader (I have both) but one reason for my preference is the ease of acquiring Kindle books. (Any unprotected pdf, word, or .mobi file can be sent to email@example.com and it will appear on my Kindle within minutes at a cost of a dime). It does appear that eBooks are gaining in economic importance.
The New York Times seems to have finally caught up with you, after ~30 years:
"There is, however, one potential future energy source that is environmentally friendly, has essentially unlimited potential and can be cost competitive with any renewable source: space solar power. Science fiction? Actually, no -- the technology already exists."
Cow power could generate electricity for millions
Converting livestock manure into a domestic renewable fuel source could generate enough electricity to meet up to three per cent of North America's entire consumption needs and lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), according to US research published today, Thursday, 24 July, in the Institute of Physics' Environmental Research Letters.
Yes but like all these low density distributed systems the devil is in the details. This can safely be left to the market. Nuclear requires federal action (in liability and regulatory reform) and the sooner we get at that the sooner oil prices will fall. Increasing domestic production of oil, oil shale, and coal liquefaction (useful at about $75/bbl) will have immediate effects.
-- Roland Dobbins
I have not spoken with Dr. Mitchell in a decade or more. When last I did he was involved with "noetic science" and distance viewing and other paranormal phenomena, but he was not saying that we have had ET contacts or that NASA was covering things up.
I doubt seriously that NASA or the government is capable of keeping secrets of this magnitude. After all, the Manhattan Project was betrayed to the Russian no less than four times we know of, all well before Trinity. The government is not very good at keeping deep dark secrets.
The article also says that Mitchell now says that Roswell is real. When the late Karl Pflock asked me to write the Preface to his book on Roswell
I didn't think I had any qualifications for doing that, but after reading the book I did. (Amazon incorrectly lists me as co-author; I was not). I did say that I have personal reasons for not believing that USAF had any technological secrets in 1964 that I was unaware of. (That's all explained in the preface.) I think Pflock, who began as a Roswell believer, has considered all the evidence and shows that what happened at Roswell wasn't all that bizarre, but the story has grown and grown. And whatever happened, I am still convinced that as of 1964 the US had no ET technology.
The article does not say what Dr. Mitchell believes happened at Roswell, so I can't comment further. I will repeat that I don't think anything of an ET nature happened, and I am certain that we did not learn anything of technological significance no matter what happened.
It's a pity: I really would like to believe in X Files...
July 25, 2008
Subj: Cultural WMD: Wireless phones: Swedish-Indian cheap low-power base station
>>[A] Swedish-Indian start-up has developed an innovative piece of equipment: a build-it-yourself radio tower that consumes about as much energy as a light bulb. ... The equipment comes with a pictorial instruction manual similar to those for Ikea’s do-it-yourself furniture. It has just one button, used to turn it on.<<
Jerry: Among many "nuggets", this diatribe responding to a newspaper article about the collapse of home values and the fall of disposable income"
"OK, as is frequently proclaimed, some of it is down to the activities of cowboy bankers, but the pachydermatous cliché in the room that is never mentioned is that most of this is precisely the intended outcome of green policies. These policies have two main themes – the return of mankind to the Stone Age and the imposition of authoritarian socialist rule. Greens attack the Western economies on a broad front, but they also brandish a trident of three sharp prongs:"
Promotion of taxes Promotion of generous tax-funded subsidies for impractical energy sources Prevention of the development of local realistic energy sources
From the numberwatch site, which has many things to say about politics in the UK, and europe in general.
All very depressing, but what do your Turkish army contacts think will happen if the military do intervene?
If the world economy is heading for recession, then the military government will carry the can for the resulting misery, while the AKP, given a perfect alibi through having been ousted, are left smelling of roses. When new elections are eventually held, they or whatever replaces them will be more popular than ever. Of course, if elections are just postponed indefinitely, then anyone who objects to indefiinite military rule has nowhere to go other than into alliance with the Islamists.
Sounds like the AKP, long term, are in a win-win situation.
Mike Stone - Peterborough, England
I would not presume to advise the Kemalists and the Constitutional Council in Turkey; but if Turkey is to remain a secular nation, they are going to have to act. They have done so before, and the results have generally been good.
I suspect that time is on the side of the West: the Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction generate secularist societies, in both East and West, Christian and Moslem nations. This upsurge of Muslim fundamentalism is, in my judgment, a last gasp before the global village becomes reality, and blue jeans, iPods, and text messaging are universal.
Global Warming in Anchorage
The coldest summer ever? You might be looking at it, weather folks say. Right now the so-called summer of '08 is on pace to produce the fewest days ever recorded in which the temperature in Anchorage managed to reach 65 degrees. That unhappy record was set in 1970, when we only made it to the 65-degree mark, which many Alaskans consider a nice temperature, 16 days out of 365.
This year, however -- with the summer more than half over -- there have been only seven 65-degree days so far. And that's with just a month of potential "balmy" days remaining and the forecast looking gloomy. National Weather Service meteorologist Sam Albanese, a storm warning coordinator for Alaska, says the outlook is for Anchorage to remain cool and cloudy through the rest of July.
"There's no real warm feature moving in," Albanese said. "And that's just been the pattern we've been stuck in for a couple weeks now.
A long time ago my parents owned KBYR in Anchorage, and I spent a few weeks there. I don't recall it being that cold, but it sure wasn't warm.
Subject: The future of Classical Music?
The Gamer Symphony Orchestra
Why Congress hasn't created an Energy Policy?]
This may explain why many of the crucial tasks facing the Congress have not been done:
Publishers Weekly - LA Times to Fold Standalone Book Review
Francis Hamit has sent you an article.
This has been a long time coming. Book reviews and coverage are at an all time low, but this began back when I was a reviewers for the Los Angeles Daily News. Even then the coverage was being cut back in the name of economy. Writing book reviews is a valuable training ground for writers and a way of making them think about the books they might eventually write, so the lack of a formal section in any Los Angeles paper is a severe limitation for all authors. It was hard enough before to get a new book noticed. Now such reviews that appear will either be online in very limited venues or syndicated coverage that benefits only the mainstream publishing industry.
LA Times to Fold Standalone Book Review Read the full article at: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6580103.html?desc=topstory)&
China and Russia's Geographic Divide,
A very interesting review of Russo-Chinese relations, in light of Russia's recent handing of two islands in the Amur River back to China. Yup. Those islands - the ones they fought over in 1969:
"Yet while Moscow is known for many, many things, sacrificing territory - especially territory over which blood has been shed - is not on that list. Swallowing some pride to raise the prospect of a Chinese-Russian alliance is something that should not pass unnoticed. Burying the hatchet in the islands of the Amur is the first step on the improbable road to a warmer bilateral relationship, and raises the possibility of a coalition of forces with the geographic foundation necessary to challenge the United States at its very core."
Telepathy and Distance Viewing
Of the examples I've read about when such things have been properly tested the results have been utterly unambiguous. It doesn't work. One of the unfortunate shortcomings of most scientists when trying to test such things is that while they may be well trained in the proper methods of accumulating data they are rarely experienced in ways to foil trickery and deception. Which is why when such things are studied it would pay to have a professional magician helping with the test protocols. Simply being intelligent isn't enough. For that matter intelligent people untrained in the art of illusion are often easier to fool. In addition if the researcher in question wants to believe then they will often allow test protocols to be more lax then they might otherwise be.
Well, now, I wouldn't say that. If I had to bet, I'd bet your way; but I wouldn't bet the farm except at gunpoint. While it's likely that much of what poses as data in paranormal investigations, there is still an act of faith on the part of those like Randi who, when they haven't seen the "experiment" are still utterly convinced that it was a fake.
I don't have quite that much faith that we know all the forces and data transmission vectors.
I have seen some of Mitchell's Stanford distance viewing data, and while it doesn't convince me, some of the results are a bit disturbingly improbable. Not impossible. As to the professional distance viewers, I have yet to see (actually hear because my only data comes from listening to Noory at night while I am doing administrative stuff that doesn't require my full attention)-- I have yet to hear any of them make the kind of startling find (such as Fossett's crashed airplane, or the body of the girl in the Antilles that would make their fortune. Nor was I ever privy to any of the intelligence information they are supposed to have given the Pentagon. They are all very convincing, but they don't tell me anything unambiguous.
At one time there was a big craze for J. B. Rhine at Duke whose telepathy experiments seemed to defy statistical probability -- which they did, unless you realized that it was a really big craze, and there were a very great many people conducting the experiments, and if you do enough repetitions the improbable becomes inevitable -- only then, somehow, the really good telepaths lost their talents. As one would predict from pure statistical analysis.
So if I must bet, I'll bet that all this is nonsense, fraud, or chance events; but once again I won't bet the farm. Too many people I have some regard for think they have found evidence of "noetic" events. Alas, none of them are able to marshal real proof.
And incidentally, at age 6 I was given Jean Hugard's Modern Magic Manual and I have been interested in stage magic ever since. I've seen Randi at work.
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July 26, 2008
This day was devoured by locusts.
|This week:||Sunday, July
Locusts got this one too.
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