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Mail 534 September 1 - 7, 2008







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Monday September 1, 2008

Francis Hamit on self-publishing:

Dear Jerry:



The book tour went very well. The average sale of copies to people I talked to about the book was six. (At least three and the most seven). The Book Managers would then have me sign four or five more (the remainder of their order of ten copies from Ingram. In two instances Ingram did not deliver in time and the store ordered directly from Pathway Book Service, my distributor or bought them directly from me for cash at the usual 40% discount.)

What worked well for in store promotion was the idea of Trudy, the Book Manager at Hastings Canon City, Colorado store. She asked for posters. Working through FedEx Kinkos we were able to get 11 by 17 inch copies of the cover made up for her and sent over from their local affiliate. This didn't cost much and really drew a crowd...or at least people who wanted to buy the book and meet the author. It worked so well (Trudy put the posters on the glass doors in front as well as up in the store ) that we had more made up and delivered them to the stores in Albuquerque before the signing and mailed them to Flagstaff and Kingman. The book managers there were able to put the time and date of the events on the blank space next to the revolver.

Doing a book signing is performance art. Twenty years ago I had a day job as a part time factory rep for the Hoover Company, demonstrating and selling vacuum cleaners in department stores. This is the same skill set. You have to engage those people walking by the table, and sometime just a simple greeting will get their attention and let the book cover pull them in. Then you can have a conversation about the book. This is very low key selling, reiterating the features and benefits (It's new, based on fact, and very entertaining.)

It was a lot of fun, but you really don't want to do three in three days if you can avoid it or even two back to back. You're not "on" or being phony or anything like that. (As Han Solo said the key is Sincerity. Once you can fake that you can do anything. Actually if you really believe in what you have written you don't have to fake anything. A lot of people are just thrilled to meet someone who has actually written a book. Any book. Your signature is a value-added for the sale. You will get a lot of requests for advice about writing and publishing.) This kind of book draws as many buyers in a small town as in a big city.

Anyway, book tours are worth doing. We had a lot of fun but were careful to pace ourselves. Figure you need one or two days to rest and recover for every event you do. We always stay at Comfort Inns for the consistency. The breakfast is pretty good , too.

We arrange our tours around other trips. Next is the Sonoma County Book Fair in Santa Rosa where we are part of the Military Writers Society of America booth and then doing a book signing or two at local independents.

Guidelines <http://www.amazon.com/gp/forum/content/db-guidelines.html/ref=cm_cd_et_d_gl>


I learned from electronic publishing that retailers can set any price they like and there is no pricer on my book for that reason. The price at the English outlet comes to more that $25, US. Quite a mark up unless you know they have to pay the VAT on top of the wholesale price and then the retail price as well. This does not matter to me. I still get my profit. I'm not greedy.

In retailing there is a thing called Zipf's Principle of Least Effort and it works very well in electronic publishing. People buy a desired item the first place they find it. Amazon takes quite a bit of advantage of this phenomenon by throwing in free shipping. The brick and mortar space still has the big advantage. You have the book right there, in your hand and can take it to the cash register and pay for it. No waiting for UPS or USPS to deliver it days later. Instant gratification. I saw this again and again during the book tour. The cover is designed to catch the eye, elicit interest, make the customer pick up the book, turn it over and read the reviews on the back and then maybe a few pages inside. This sampling usually produces a sale, especially if they get the value added features of having it signed by the author and having him say a few words about it. I never had a crowd where I was doing a formal talk or a reading. Maybe at one of the table events or a larger signing later. But I still sold books, because they were IN THE STORE. You can't sell it if you don't have it. The chances of closing the sale on a special order basis is much, much, less. That's real effort, not "least effort".



Francis Hamit



>>I do not agree that 90% of college students should not be there; but I do believe that half those in college would probably benefit from an entirely different kind of education -- and would have benefited from an entirely different kind of high school education.<<

It's less obvious to me every day that 90% of freshmen and sophomores should even be in their current geographic locations, no matter what they're studying or their ultimate career goal. At least based on the present curriculums. The MIT Vest Test of "interactivity" defining "quality education" is precisely the standard that's being failed.

Student interactivity opportunities with their professors went down as re$ource allocations went up. The daily business headlines make it clear that further resources can't be provided. The people, parents, student debt loads and the general economy are all tapped out. And even if more money were provided, there's no empirical reason to think "interactivity" won't follow its well established trend and decline further.


I wouldn't presume to dictate for an entire nation; but if I were in control of a state's education policies, I would make radical changes. Of course the educationist mafia would insist that I was destroying all hope for the future.


Nuclear decay rates, and algae

Jerry: You said: "Your guess is as good as mine; I would have thought we'd have discovered it in one of the various reactors either stationary or aboard ships." Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't reactors controlled by simple feedback mechanisms, and wouldn't they 'automatically' compensate for any small change in nuclear decay rate?

As far as algae goes, I think it is extremely promising, particularly if you spike your algae ponds with CO2 from coal burning power plants, which should greatly accelerate growth. I'm surprised coal burning power plant operators aren't developing algae ponds, as it would seem to be a significant income stream, as well as being a way to (at least partially) sequester carbon. There is an article from UNH (revised 2004!) that goes into some detail on oil from algae: http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html  --


Right now the Republicans and Democrats in Washington seem, from the outside, to be an elite colluding against the voter. Peggy Noonan

I wrote about the synergy of coal fired plants and algae (and stickleback fish) farms about 30 years ago. It ought to work. The water is kept warm, much of the CO2 is removed....  There may be problems with details that I don't know about. There usually are. I do hope someone is working on those.


Harry Erwin's Letter From England

Last weekend was the late August bank holiday in the UK, but my wife gets US holidays. We will be spending this weekend exploring Yorkshire.

Cold War: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?

> <http://tinyurl.com/6965c8>

Debate on academic rigour of university degrees: <http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

> <http://tinyurl.com/5lrcev>

$130 fines for putting the wrong waste into trash bins: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

> <http://tinyurl.com/5ak5u8>

Flight of multinational companies from the UK: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

> <http://tinyurl.com/638jhp>

Economic downturn underway: <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/

> <http://tinyurl.com/5gtcwg>

Gordon Brown doomed: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/

> <http://tinyurl.com/6qljt9>

Huge variation in health and health care in the UK. Life expectancy for males in working class Glasgow is less than that in India: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7586147.stm

> <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/

> <http://tinyurl.com/5wrmea> <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/

> <http://tinyurl.com/6nx7td> <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/

> <http://tinyurl.com/6h4xns> <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

> <http://tinyurl.com/6ywbdf>


Beware Outside Context Problems--Harry Erwin, PhD


The Nanny State...



An Alternate Explanation of the Psychic Powers of Jet Jockeys

Jerry, I hope this finds you well. The following link goes to a discussion of 40 Second Boyd and the OODA loop. I think this provides an alternate explanation for the psychic powers of Jet Aces suggested by a prior commentator. Itís an interesting read.



ďBoyd would say, ďheís inside Redís decision loop.Ē

Think about that for a second! Inside his decision loop. To Red, Blue appears psychic, magical, demonic: able to read his mind, anticipate his every move. Blue owns the initiative, and he will never give it back. The more this goes on the more rattled, confused and demoralized Red becomes. This slows his ability to orient, it clouds his decisions with fear, it paralyzes his actions with second-guessing and ultimately reduces Red from being a deadly man in a deadly machine to a floating tumbleweed with no SA: out of airspeed, out of altitude and out of ideas. ď

Louis D. Nettles


Bell Labs Kills Fundamental Physics Research.


- Roland Dobbins

Thank you, Judge Green. May you reap what you sowed.


The Jacquard Incident

Sad news from Istanbul. The city quarter devoted to looms and weaving (Valide Han) is all but deserted. Once the biggest and most bustling part of town. You guessed it: China. I did find and old man with his Jacquard loom, so enjoyed seeing one up close. Neat piece of machinery!

The first computer program


An old man and his loom


A longer, and long unused program


The happy hookers in action




Spaceships to Dubai

From bkd's letter:

After a couple dozen barnstorming celebrity space tourist shakedown flights, the next step, and the one that takes us 90% of the way to orbit, is three hour flight service from Mojave to Dubai.

This is not as easy as it sounds. I don't have exact numbers handy, but the delta-V required for a space vehicle to travel to the other side of the world is very close to that required to make orbit. The SpaceshipOne concept, or even an extension of the design, is not going to be able to handle that in its current form. Something new, with a much larger carrier aircraft, would be needed.

I've been working with Gary Hudson on several orbital spacecraft designs in recent years, including some air-launched ones, and know what's involved.

Tom Brosz




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TuesdaySeptember 2, 2008

WSJ article


This is pretty good and follows your principles:


Hope you hang out at the beach for a while. Enjoy the salt air.

Phil Tharp

Actually we're headed home, which is why the mail this morning gets short shrift. Thanks!


Subject: And another




Phil Tharp


Here it comes

via Greg:

> > http://www.genesisbiolabs.com/ruthlessness.php

 > > Genesis Biolabs offers the first genetic screen for marital success!*


Comparing an X-Prize & the Titian paintings

Letter in the Herald today. I have previously said why going to space by paying for X-Prizes is economically sensible & except from full blooded libertarians who think ANY government economic action is wrong in principle & full blooded members of the "LibDems" who think ANY economically useful government action is wrong in principle.

That argument is therefore won/ignored & this letter is about the cultural reasons for space development. We are told that we live in a "2 cultures" society where people are concerned either about art or about science & I went to some length not to criticise spending on art but to make this letter about how anybody who wants a united culture must wish to see spending not monopolised by either. The Herald have edited out bits marked < >. These were a comparison with the £1 billion annually spent on windmillery, which I regard as the opposite of progress & an economic justification for the project.


What we spend money on as a society shows what we value. If the "great & good" say we must spend £100 million for paintings because they are indeed magnificent achievements so be it. [I do begrudge the hundreds of billions we waste on Ludditism, windmillery & the theory that "nature" must trump mere human achievement.]

But I think we should spend at least comparable amounts on progress. Just as 2 centuries ago a government prize of £20,000 led to the development of a way to measure longitude, making ocean travel far easier, & an X-Prize of $10 million was enough to stimulate development of Spaceship One & Virgin Galactic, experts say that an X-Prize of £ £280 million ($500 million) would be enough to produce a private enterprise reusable shuttle able to fly us to orbit at a price comparable to flying to Australia.

[If it cannot be done then the prize will not be won. This is a bet where, if you lose you get your stake back. Ignore the unlimited economic impact of developing the resources in space & of having our country play a major part in it.] Surely the value to the human spirit alone of becoming a spacegoing civilisation is far more than a couple of paintings.

"Reaching for the Moon" once meant seeking an unattainable goal. Have we declined so far that now, when it is attainable for the price of government's pocket change, we are so fearful of innovation that we turn away from it? <http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/l

Neil Craig


Pandora Radio Music Genome Project 

Doctor P,


Go to this site, type in the name of ANY piece of music you like, and it creates a "Radio Station" that plays only music similar to that piece. Endlessly fascinating, not to mention great music. You can have different radio stations saved, and change them as your mood varies. Hate any song they play, just click on it and tell the "station" not to play it again.

Now I want this in my car. This is what the future was SUPPOSED to be like, finally.

I tried "Some Velvet Morning" and got interesting results!


Interesting. I'll have to try that when I get home. Thanks


For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:



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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Subject: Co2 and Algae

Jerry P:

Problems develop if you take a utility and expect them to operate algae farms etc. without someone telling them they have to do that. But if you tell them to do that, then they will tell you how much it will cost. As many power stations are located where land is valuable, then you have to find the land to use for the algae farms etc. Not insoluble but it takes a legislative push to make that happen. A regulated utility can be instructed, but at some point in a deregulated system it becomes necessary to evaluate exactly what deregulation means. If you want to sequester their CO2, then they will tell you to build a plant next door and pipe in all you want of their exhaust.



Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog

Not sure if youíve seen or heard about this. A little experiment by Joss Whedon thatís pretty good.

Direct to video link:


Official Site:



We've mentioned this before but it does no harm to repeat. Thanks


pandora internet radio

 Pandora internet radio has been around for a few years now. Itís a neat project. Unfortunately itís at risk from pending legislation that would charge a per-performance fee for songs. A radio station pays a nominal fee for each song it plays. The new legislation would require internet radio stations to pay that same fee every time the song was played for an individual user. So if 100,000 users were listening to the same song at the same time, the internet radio would pay the fee 100,000 times even though a traditional radio station would pay only the one fee no matter how many listeners were tuned in.

So you ought to experiment with Pandora while you can, because it might not survive if the MafIAA has its usual success getting congresscritters to pass bills they have never read. One tip Ė keep creating new radio stations and experimenting with the inputs you give it. Iíve been working on 2 stations myself, one that I seeded with just a few songs and only reject ones I donít like, and another one that I keep adding songs I like in addition to rejecting ones I do not like. After a few years of use, the jury is still out which one is more successful but both ďstationsĒ routinely play songs I enjoy.



google chrome new web browser 

Dr. Pournelle,

Run, do not walk, to www.google.com/chrome  and check out the Google chrome browser (beta). If you want to see *why* this is important, check out the comic book Google created to announce the productís features http://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome/  (yea, it really is a comic bookÖ) For me at least it has one single indispensable feature Ė each tab is itís own process, not just a unique thread. This means that the java applet I use to check the weather should no longer hang my computer when it stalls. There are other features, some unique and some that will be familiar to anyone who has used a browser other than internet explorer, but this one directly addresses a problem I already have. The other features are appealing enough that I will want to experiment with this thing, but not having the poorly behaved java applet I use daily continue to hang my computer is reason enough to try it out.

Itís in beta so expect some issues but it loads your pages up quite nicely and I havenít had any real problems yet. The installer is FAST and it imports favorites so itís really quite usable within a minute or two of hitting the chrome homepage.


I have not had a chance to try this but I intend to. Report will be in the column. First I have other work to do. It's a full life.


Inside Obama's OODA loop


Clearly, by picking Palin, McCain has shown he is inside the Obama campaigns OODA loop. The Democrats are flailing about and attempting to do anything to get back airspeed and altitude. And everything they do just makes things worse.

Meanwhile the Republican's Social and Fiscal Conservative base is doing the happy dance. At last weekend's CopperCon Leslie Fish was positively bouncy about Palin. McCain-Palin brought in $10 million in donations over the weekend. I also note that Palin-Jindal 2012 already garners more than 25,000 Google hits.

Mark E. Horning


RE: The Bear and the Eagle


You have said that the containment of the Soviet Union was the correct strategy for the U.S. to pursue. Logically, then, if the Russia of today desires to extend power like the old Soviet Union, it seems reasonable at least to consider that strategy. Clearly you do not think Russia has that desire, however. What would it take for you to change your estimation of Russia's intentions? If Russia effectively annexed most of the old Soviet "republics", would that be enough?

By the way, I'm not defending the Bosnia adventure; I simply see no real comparison between that and the invasion of Georgia. In stark contrast to the nature of the Bear, it is not the nature of the Eagle to conquer, pillage, and subjugate, even if we have been given every provocation to do so, as the Japanese and Germans well know.


I have yet to see any good reason why Europe should not have taken care of Bosnia if that needed intervention; of Kosovo if that needed intervention; or of Georgia. The USSR was a threat to the world. A renewed Russian Empire is a threat to Georgia and Ukraine; and those territorial disputes in Europe can be resolved by the Europeans. Yes, the French want us to sit on Fritz and commit American blood and treasure to defense of French interests. I see no reason to comply with their wished.

The US has legitimate interests, but they are mostly maritime.

We are the friends of liberty everywhere. We are the guardians only of our own. We ought to get at that guardianship; it is solely neglected, but I do not think adventures in the Middle East and the Caucuses will do much to restore it.


U.S. Hands Back a Quieter Anbar, 


100,000 Iraqis on the American payroll, and Anbar is quiet:


And then there is this:

"Paul Bremer disbanded the army, the government, the police. . . . We had nothing left. We no choice but to resist."

Thought you would find it interesting.


I continue to take a morbid interest. As to Bremer, has there ever been a worse procunsul in the history of Western Civilization? Even Gessler?


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CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Thursday, September 4, 2008

'Their analysis revealed that by 1840, there were more than 65,000 dams between South Carolina and Maine.'

< http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/

-- Roland Dobbins

Before you try to restore a land to its "natural conditions" you must first learn what those natural conditions were...


Pournelle's Iron Law and _The Wire_.


-- Roland Dobbins


Kindle edition of _Inferno_ reissue out.


Roland Dobbins



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Friday,  September 5, 2008

I have much work to do, so much of this will be short shrift; on the other hand, much doesn't need comment from me. Incidentally, failure to comment is not necessarily approval. If I really hate something I won't post it without comment, but if I disagree but think the view ought to be considered I often do not comment. So it goes.

Subj: Community Organizing - More than just the dole


Community Organizers have objectives far broader than getting people on the dole. They're into getting pretty much anyone with grievances to work together to pressure both governments and private organizations -- businesses, but also churches and other not-for-profits. They don't just organize to get governments to act, they also organize boycotts and demonstrations to apply pressure directly to businesses. Rev. Jesse Jackson's and Rev. Al Sharpton's extortion campaigns are examples of community action directed at businesses.

The modern, Alinsky-inspired version -- particularly his "Industrial Areas Foundation" -- tries to pull all the resources that used to be devoted to Tocqueville's "Associations" from directly serving people in need into political activism. The idea seems to be that private money can never be enough to Solve All The Problems, so private money is best used to gain leverage over public money.


>>IAF leaders and organizers offer training opportunities for those with the patience and vision to create new political realities and the passion and discipline needed to generate sustained social change.<<


Thus, we find the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sponsoring, not only the Saint Vincent de Paul society, that helps poor people directly, but also the Campaign for Human Development:



>>123 living wage ordinances have been passed, generating $750,000,000 in new annual wages (employees of cities, counties, school districts). CCHD funded projects were involved in 11 of the new ordinances. ...<<

It's not in Obama's campaign-web-site biography, but it seems at least some of Obama's community-organizing work in Chicago was funded by the CCHD:


>>Catholic Democrats is expressing surprise and shock that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's acceptance speech tonight mocked work that her opponent had done in the 1980s for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.<<

Hmm... Actually, using the search facility on the USCCB web site, I found no indication that USCCB sponsors the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

And even the SVDPS seems to be into political activism, alongside its direct services:


We also find the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supporting "advocacy" programs (though advocacy seems to be a much smaller fraction of Gates Foundation activity than I had thought it would be, based on a video I saw of a talk given by a Gates Foundation official):


Government-funded community organizing is of relatively recent provenance, going back to Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" in the 1960s. Before that, community organizers were generally self-funded -- by spouses or "day jobs" -- or paid by universities (Alinsky started out as an academic criminologist), private foundations, churches or unions. I can't find my copy, but I think Daniel Patrick Moynihan's _Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding_ tells the story of how Johnson sent Federally-funded organizers into the big cities to destabilize the very political machines that had engineered his own election.

I never really thought of it quite this way before, but isn't privately-funded community organizing a sort of mirror-image of government-funded prizes? Instead of using government money to stimulate the spending of private money, use private money to stimulate the spending of public money.

I wonder whether McCain&Palin can explicate that difference, with emphasis on which way is more effective in actually getting worthwhile things done, and less wasteful?

And, of course, once we're spending public money to stimulate the spending of more public money, ...

But I supposed few Community Organizers have enough training in engineering to appreciate the dangers of systems with positive feedback? I don't suppose any of them know, for example, *why* the design of the reactor at Chernobyl was inherently unsafe? Do any of them understand where "feedback howl" in a public address system comes from?

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


community organizer

Dr. Pournelle,

With respect to community organizer, I wonder when we dropped that fine, old, useful description: ward-heeler? The connotations to those who've studied or know from Chicago experience are much more accurate, I'd think.

Best, Kip



You are not incorrect in your description of community organizers. We have a lot of them in San Diego, and many of those are "organizing" immigrant groups. The most recent are East African, and the organizers help the immigrants access various social service programs. All of this seems to be government funded, although there are some faith-based groups too.

I notice the organizations employing the organizers are themselves recipients of government grants. I was already wondering if Mr. Obama was himself employed by such a group with federal funds.

Jim Dodd
 San Diego

It is public knowledge that my wife's father was a union organizer (as well as coal and silver miner in Idaho) and that at one time their (company owned) house was dynamited by the Pinkertons as retaliation for his union activity. I am a member in good standing of AGVA. I have mixed emotions on unions, but I find MIDCENTURY an excellent novel that recounts those times, good and bad, pretty well as I remember them. No one reads Dos Pasos now; which is a pity.

The problem with unions and all large organizations is that they become bureaucracies and the Iron Law always applies. Always.  ==========

Colonel Couvillon on Gustav

Since there is no report on Gustave, I figured I'd give one. After all, I finally have power and internet again today. I was young for Betsy and experienced Andrew first hand. Of course, I was intimately involved in Katrina and Rita. I live, and grew up, across the River from Baton Rouge, Betsy and Andrew really smacked the area. Gustave was worse.

Louisiana (and FEMA!) was much better prepared this go round. Governor Jindal and the Office of Emergency Preparedness have done an excellent job. (Oops, my wife just called - power is out at home again). National news (what I've seen of it) has almost exclusively focused on New Orleans. New Orleans survived (of course people forget that New Orleans survived Katrina, but not the levees breaking after the storm had passed). Houma, Thibodeaux, and Baton Rouge were hit by Gustave much harder than New Orleans. No reports from the coast line of the state yet (loss of coast line is a critical concern here in Louisiana).

Power is slowly being restored (I'm back at work today), but fuel and food lines are still long at the few open businesses. (My wife and I have actually found it easier to drive to Lafayette for fuel and necessities.) The power companies in the area estimate anywhere from 3 more days to 8 weeks for some areas to have power restored. That's just fantastic, considering that Ike seems to be headed this way (I have a buddy at NOWW who says their model predicts a LA landfall after it his southern FL).

Tempers are being frayed in the lines, but law enforcement seems to have a real handle on control in the area. Curfews are still in place, mostly from 8pm to 6am. I've got two people who work for me that have totally lost their homes, and I know a number of other people who have some significant wind/tree damage to their homes. All in all, things are going fairly well. However, today is the first day of 90+ degree/65% humidity heat, with the next several days predicted that or hotter.

Alas, I'm off to Newport, RI Sunday for a class at the Naval War College and in time to catch Hannah.

-- David Couvillon

Colonel of Marines; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Collector of Hot Sauce; Avoider of Yard Work

Good luck, Couv.


Next: Endangered Glaciers?

Looks like the prehistoric hunters of Switzerland thought the global warming of their day was a plus. Not so today's UN, now anxious about "deglaciation."

--Mike Glyer



BERN (AFP) - Some 5,000 years ago, on a day with weather much like today's, a prehistoric person tread high up in what is now the Swiss Alps, wearing goat leather pants, leather shoes and armed with a bow and arrows.


The unremarkable journey through the Schnidejoch pass, a lofty trail 2,756 metres (9,000 feet) above sea level, has been a boon to scientists. But it would never have emerged if climate change were not melting the nearby glacier....

"We know that people were only able to walk on this site when it was relatively warm," said Martin Grosjean, executive director of a national network called Swiss Climate Research. "When it was too cold, the glacier advanced and it was not a passable route."

Scientists have long known there were periods of warmer weather in the region but the artefacts allowed them to identify the exact years, when the site would have been passable on foot....

A recent UN Environment Programme report said by the end of the century, swathes of mountain ranges worldwide risk losing their glaciers if global warming continues at its projected rate.

"The ongoing trend of worldwide and rapid, if not accelerating, glacier shrinkage ... may lead to the deglaciation of large parts of many mountain ranges by the end of the 21st century," the report warned.

Mike Glyer


Curating the Dark Data in the Long Tail of Science.


-- Roland Dobbins


Ice age now

 Jerry:  Are you familiar with "Ice Age Now?"   www.iceagenow.com <file://www.iceagenow.com>  



SOME say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice.
 From what Iíve tasted of desire
 I hold with those who favor fire.
 But if it had to perish twice, 
 I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice 
 Is also great
And would suffice.  

    Robert Frost


"Eureka!" vs "That's funny..."


A low-powered green diode laser shines down into the still. The laser is roughly the same strength as an off-the-shelf laser pointer. Very little energy is needed in the microdistilling process thanks to the heat-dissipating properties of the gold nanoparticles.

Professor Boyd, the lead researcher on the project, reveals that this process was largely discovered by accident. "We had this problem with [an] air bubble, so we started hitting it with a laser. Instead of getting rid of it, we saw that we were actually causing the distillation process to occur, which was completely unexpected," Boyd explains.



Subj: Algae and coal-fired powerplants: perfect together?

From your lips to God's ears:


Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


Writer Barbara Curtis calls the spinners to account.

--Mike Glyer


Suddenly motherhood Ė well, at least too much motherhood or too-complicated motherhood Ė is incompatible with executive responsibility. Fathers with little children or complex family issues Ė even some who cheated on their wives Ė have held office without having to justify their continuing careers. Yet women once again face a very different standard.

Who knew that beyond the glass ceiling feminists vowed to shatter there existed another barrier, imposed by feminists themselves? What happened to choice? To having it all? Have we had a paradigm shift since Aug. 29? What's to stop Governor Palin from doing it all?

One presumes that First Dude will do his part...





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Subj: Community organizing - why did Obama quit?


>>[T]he most important thing to know about Barack Obama's time as a community organizer in Chicago may not be what he gained from the experience--but rather why, in late 1987, he decided to quit.<<

This piece describes Alinsky's teachings on community organizing as being somewhat different from what I gathered elsewhere:

>>Alinsky felt that organizers should draw a clear line between their work and the political world. An organization should forge "no permanent political ties," declared a guide put out by the Industrial Areas Foundation, which Alinsky created. When I asked former community organizer John Kretzmann--who teaches at Northwestern and writes about organizing--whether organizers saw all politicians as "whores," he replied, "Even if you found one that wasn't, it makes no sense to get close to them."<<

Or maybe not so different after all: on first reading, I missed the subtle distinction between (a) making political action the primary mode of action (as distinct from directly providing services to the poor) and (b) having permanent alliances with particular political parties or politicians.

But the thing I found most interesting in the piece is its description of how Obama, quite deliberately, became the very kind of charismatic political leader Alinsky and his disciples deemed suspicious -- "a politician of vision, not issues--one who appealed to voters' values rather than their immediate self-interest."

Interesting, but maybe not really important. Since I'm a conservative, my critique of Obama diverges from that of the author of the piece. For me, the important thing is the invariant in Obama's attitude, not the change. That invariant is the relentless politicization of everything -- as if government was better at serving the poor than private charity; as if it was government, rather than private enterprise, that created wealth. Such rampant politicization will, carried to its natural conclusion, destroy America.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

For me there is a fundamental distinction between organizers who got out and do things, and get people to do things for themselves -- like the butcher shop assistant who is also a churchwarden who gets his neighbors together with a bag of asphalt and fixes the damned pot hole and picks up the trash, and the paid organizer who gets people to write city hall and complain about the pot hole and the trash. And yes, I have seen both in action. When I was deputy mayor of LA (well, the position was officially Executive Assistant then, but that position is now called Deputy Mayor) I did community organizing of both kinds. In one case it was to get people to vote for the Mayor. In the other it was to get the damned pot hole filled because the semi-independent Streets Department couldn't get to it for months.


Symptoms of the End of the Republic?


Found this note on wsj.com this morning:


The authorís thesis is that the crumbling of a strong party system has contributed to the factionalization of US politics. I took a couple of poly sci classes in undergrad. But I donít have the theoretical background to analyze this properly.

It seems to me that both parties have been hijacked by leadership that do not reflect their constituencies. For example, Democrats are led by those farther politically left than most democratic leaning people I know. Republicans are led by those more moderate than the republicans I know. Both are further to the left than the people they claim to represent? Why does that happen? Why do both parties seem to be trying to pull the country to social, economic, and military liberalism. That seems a recipe for disaster on all fronts, especially in this new emerging world order of a rising China and resurgent Russia.

Separately, I found the article below on newsmax.com. As China diversifies its capital base, it could spell economic disaster in the USA. I donít see the Chinese have any choice. They must diversify into the Euro, and with all dispatch:


Doug Roberts

Senior Curriculum Developer


The relationship between party responsibility, fundraising, and republican forms of government is complex, and it's an essay I need to write. Without strong parties the candidates have to raise money and lots of it. With them there's the question of who governs the parties? I said a good bit of this in my intro to Heinlein's Take Back Your Government

I ought to revise that intro and notes and see if Baen will put it back out in eBook form. Another thing to add to the list of stuff I have to get done.  But not this morning.

I will try to give you a better answer later. You raise a very important question.


I have heard from Toni Weiskopf, Baen Publisher. They will start work on an eBook issue of Take Back Your Government. I will do some immediate revision of my notes, then take a more liesurely pass next spring. It may be out before the election.









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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday,  September 7, 2008     

I have heard from Toni Weiskopf, Baen Publisher. They will start work on an eBook issue of Take Back Your Government. I will do some immediate revision of my notes, then take a more liesurely pass next spring. It may be out before the election.

The rest of this day went to family affairs and getting the column out.





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