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Monday  October 20, 2008

Microsoft Certifications

Dr. Pournelle,

I am a mainframe programmer attempting to transition to the PC platform.

I want to get Microsoft Certified, but, as you probably know, Microsoft is transitioning to new certifications. I am not sure where to focus my efforts, so I wonder if any of your readers can tell me what certifications carry the most weight (or respect) with hiring managers. I know that MCAD has had great respect in the past, but Microsoft is switching to MCTS (Microsoft Cert Tech Specialist) and MCPD (Microsoft Cert Pro Developer). Do managers give these the same or more weight than the older MCAD?

Of course, I know that it also depends on the area of expertise. I am aiming at Windows applications as a starter then plan to transition to Web development. I was told that there is more demand for web developers and less competition there, but I have less experience and knowledge there than windows apps. I need a certification as soon as possible, so that is why I am shooting for win based apps first.

Glad to see you getting up to speed, sir!

Marty Stephens

I used to get this question all the time in the early days at BYTE, and I had 31 editors and a number of research staffers to help keep my answers up to date. Alas, I am way behind now. I do know that credentialism prevails in modern times: personnel department, excuse me, human resources people, have to prove that they conform to equal opportunity laws, and since they aren't able simply to say that someone didn't seem able to do the job while someone else did, they have to have degrees and certificates to prove it. The people who sell those certificates are quite aware that they have a vitally valuable product, and they generally price it accordingly. The bottom line is that any advice I might have is likely to be long out of date; but perhaps the readers will be better prepared. I have also passed this along to my advisors.


Change you can believe in


This is one change I believe in...


Uncredited editorial from 2008 Oct 19.

Obama's Carbon Ultimatum

The coming offer you won't be able to refuse.


Jason Grumet is currently executive director of an outfit called the National Commission on Energy Policy and one of Mr. Obama's key policy aides. In an interview last week with Bloomberg, Mr. Grumet said that come January the Environmental Protection Agency "would initiate those rulemakings" that classify carbon as a dangerous pollutant under current clean air laws. That move would impose new regulation and taxes across the entire economy, something that is usually the purview of Congress. Mr. Grumet warned that "in the absence of Congressional action" 18 months after Mr. Obama's inauguration, the EPA would move ahead with its own unilateral carbon crackdown anyway.<snip>

Thus Messrs. Obama and Grumet want to invoke a political deus ex machina driven by a faulty interpretation of the Clean Air Act to force Congress's hand.<snip>Normally a democracy reaches consensus through political debate and persuasion, but apparently for Mr. Obama that option is merely a nuisance<snip>

I don't know that Obama is any more afflicted with Green Disorder (Symptoms include inability to appreciate reality) than McCain, and the consequences of acting in this way during a recession/depression are probably self-protecting. I suspect either would need the Legions to impose anything of this sort.

One of our problems in Afghanistan is that we are confronting veterans of the resistance to the Soviets, some of whom think we have no more business there than the Russians did. That may or may not have an analogy in the United States if Mr. Grumet actually tries to impose his rules by force.


The next note is actually related to the above, but I haven't time to explain the connection:

Orch OR 


Orchestrated Objective Reality (Orch OR); assessing size of grain of salt necessary to take with this.

Orch-OR - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orch_OR>

Key underlying references:

Penrose, R. (1994), Shadows of the Mind. Oxford University Press Hameroff, S. (1987), Ultimate Computing. Elsevier

Orchestrated Objective Reality (Orch OR) is a theory of consciousness jointly developed (from independent underpinnings) by Sir Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist/neurologist Sturart Hameroff.

To summarize, the core theory states that consciousness arises from quantum mechanical effects in the transmission and operation of nervous tissue, probably in connection with quantum coherence in spin states of solvated electrons trapped within microtubules embedded in the connective proteins of nerve cells, which they argue following Penrose allows collapses of formative quantum events into a final objective quantum state associated with completion ("orchestration") of the thought process in the higher structures of nerve cells on the time scales which have been neurologically associated with consciousness.

In other words, the human mind is a biological quantum computer and as such is capable of leaping past inductive and deductive logic into what Penrose described as computable and non-computable insights.

Needless to say, the core theory is itself controversial (see the wiki above for details). The friend who introduced me makes the further claim (which does not appear in the wiki, but may appear in some of the ancillary references) that, due to entanglement, it is thus possible that thought processes affect, and are affected by, events in the broader spacetime in the vicinity (and NOT in the vicinity) of the person thinking. Thus, the further postulate he espoused is that "the power of positive thinking" thus has a quantum mechanical underpinning in terms of entanglement of certain thought processes with the external universe to directly effect events. This ranges from variations of "the placebo effect", self-healing, and faith healing up to the viability of the so-called "Jedi philosophy."

Chesterton famously said that when a man ceases to believe in God, he will believe in anything.


Harry Erwin's Letter from England

By now, most readers have heard that the rumour that Colin Powell will be endorsing Barack Obama. Here are a couple of UK versions of the


Guardian (liberal) story <http://tinyurl.com/6c4q23> Telegraph (conservative) story <http://tinyurl.com/6ptrn7>


Jerry and I have been arguing heatedly about Obama for quite a while. 

When I learned privately last November that Powell was supporting him, I decided to take a look at Obama as possibly not just another Chicago pol. That then led to my decision to support him. Jerry is concerned that Obama is just another Carter, but I think not--I certainly hope not. No leader is so great that he can solve every problem by himself. 

If he tries, he's a fool. At best, all he'll do is solve part of the problem, mess up the rest, and end up worse off than if he had done nothing. Carter wouldn't delegate anything--he supposedly insisted on doing the schedule for the White House tennis courts--so every problem bigger than he was ate him alive. He also managed to lose the respect of the Washington bureaucracy fairly early--it was amazing how little regard they had for him by the end of his first year in office--so even if he had repented, it wouldn't have helped. Unfortunately, he was a man in a position that demanded far more than his level of competence, and his mistakes had serious consequences. Jerry can cite chapter and verse. I pray Obama will avoid those mistakes.


I think being a great President is about 20% vision, 40% management, and 40% leadership. His political positions are part of that 20% vision, so they won't save or destroy him; what will do that is his ability to manage the executive branch and lead the country. What I've appreciated about this election is having a choice between two people who have a clue about this. I wouldn't be surprised to see a number of Republicans in Obama's cabinet. (See <http://tinyurl.com/5bzy7b>.) It's about time we had a broad coalition government to address some of the current hang-fires.


Other stories


The UK Government is getting paranoid about people having any sort of secret identity. <http://tinyurl.com/5pppod>. Related comment <http://tinyurl.com/6g442l  >


This couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of tea-leaves. <http://tinyurl.com/6z5zeo  >


"Metric martyrs" finally win. Shopkeepers can use pounds and ounces without being taken to court.

<http://tinyurl.com/6grv9s> <http://tinyurl.com/59do3v> <http://tinyurl.com/6z4hrd  >


Retired MI5 chief--"Response to 9/11 was 'huge overreaction'" <http://tinyurl.com/6bg866  >


Immigration to be curbed to bring population growth to heel. (NB students studying in the UK count as immigrants, and the UK already has to import expertise in a number of key areas, like nuclear engineering and computer security.) <http://tinyurl.com/6hpnrj> <http://tinyurl.com/5pbkss  >


The UK Government just raised their commitment to cutting greenhouse gases to 80%. Meanwhile the targets can't be met. See <http://tinyurl.com/6fcy4f  >.


UK Government to spend its way out of the recession. <http://tinyurl.com/6562s6  >



Harry Erwin, PhD

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." (Benjamin Franklin, 1755)


I am mostly concerned that Obama is exactly who he appears to be. I suspect we'll find out soon enough.


Jane Jacobs was right...again

In re-reading _Dark Age Ahead_, I found another place where Jane Jacobs was right. In chapter two, she diagnosed the housing bubble and predicted its collapse. In 2004!

Steve Setzer

She was right about many things including local control. I reviewed that book when it first came out and recommended it.


One last kick at understanding the financial crisis

Dr. P,

Well worth reading:

The Engine of Mayhem

There Are Dangers in Deleveraging Too Fast

By Robert J. Samuelson

It's easy to explain the continuing financial chaos -- and the failure of governments to control it -- as the triumph of psychology. Fear reigns, and panic follows. Everyone dumps stocks because everyone believes that everyone else will sell. Only rapidly falling prices attract sufficient buyers. All this is true. But it ignores the real engine of mayhem: "deleveraging." That's economic shorthand for purging the financial system of too much debt.

Just how this deleveraging proceeds will largely determine the fate, for good or ill, of the crisis. The turmoil has already moved beyond "subprime mortgages," which (it now seems) merely exposed widespread financial failings. These were global, not just American, and their pervasiveness explains why leaders of the major economies have struggled, so far unsuccessfully, to fashion a common response.

Alone, American subprime mortgages should not have triggered a global crisis. Losses are smaller than they seem. Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com estimates that all U.S. mortgage losses will ultimately reach $650 billion. But that hefty amount pales against the value of all financial assets -- stocks, bonds, bank loans. For the United States, these totaled almost $60 trillion at the end of 2007; for the world, the comparable figure exceeded $250 trillion...


Regards, Bill Clardy






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Platinum subscribers enable me to work on what I think is important without worrying about economics. My thanks to all of you.



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Tuesday,  October 21, 2008

Amazon has shut down Amazon Shorts. I asked Francis Hamit to comment. Here is his reply:

Dear Jerry:

The short answer is that their heart just wasn't in it. They only had two guys running the whole thing at best (they probably had other tasking put upon them as well). Sergio Zyman, who formerly ran Marketing for the Coca Cola company, points out in his book "The End of Marketing As we Know It" that most marketing initiatives fail due to low staffing. Moreover they did almost no promotion, even within the Amazon.com domain. Very seldom did you find an ad or even a button on the main page for people to click on. The most basic ideas about outside promotion were steadfastly ignored because they assumed that the Internet was the territory rather than the map. They didn't even put out t-shirts.

And Zipf's Principle of Least Effort was also a factor. To get an Amazon Short one must download it and then, if it is any length at all, print it out to read it. Compare that with simply picking up a copy of your favorite magazine and reading it. The price of 49 cents each may have also sent an unintended message of low value. All of my e-book titles (old magazine articles repurposed for electronic media) now sell for $4.95. That's because I found, through experimentation, that this kind of material is not price sensitive. If they don't want it, you can't give it away. If they do, they will pay premium prices.

The theory of electronic publishing has been "if you build it, they will come", but that is manifestly not so. Amazon compounded the problem by poor communication with vendors. They got some big names going in, through their agents, and then accepted a very wide variety of material, some of which was not of the best quality, but the way the page is arranged tended to keep best selling titles at the top and bury even the best of the rest. Reviews, when posted, were almost always five star, which made the entire review process useless for most writers. (I used mine to advantage when I went to a print edition.)

There was no attempt at building a community among the vendors by Amazon staff. Rather the operative theory seemed to be the same as used with mushrooms. (Keep them in the dark and cover them with manure.) Now that they've fessed up, there are several hundred writers who have learned that Amazon is not a reliable partner and does not keep its word. Business relationships are built on trust, but Amazon is a very top-down communicator. They've also become a bit of a bully with the print on demand market.

Understand, I was happy to be in the program and it worked for me. "Sunday in the Park with George", at 24,000 words, was just too long for a print magazine. Serializing the novel worked out, but only after I got printed galleys made up for reviewers. I'm also happy with the way Amazon is promoting "The Shenandoah Spy" even taking out click through ads. On the other hand, they make a pretty fair percentage on those sales. More than I do.

I've been experimenting with electronic publishing since 2004. The market is simply not there yet and you cannot force these things. You have to have products that people want to buy. This is a small niche and IMO, always will be. Paper rules. It just easier to use and ease of use is always an issue.


Francis Hamit

I got this the same day that I got notice of The Pournelle Continuum, an ebook collection of a great number of my former works. It seems like you get an awful lot for the money, but Baen has more experience with ebooks than anyone else, and seems to make good profits on them. They paid quite decent advances for the ebook rights to some of those books.

I completely agree with Francis that the key is to have products that people want to buy. Alas, that's often not enough. I am fortunate enough to have many readers here and at Chaos Manor Reviews. That has helped a lot. I still don't know what will happen in future, but it's fairly clear that while some best sellers still get large advances for paperback rights, those have been cut drastically over the past few years as paperback distribution collapses.

We live in interesting times.


Government covers up embarrassing climate research in the UK!

Dr. Pournelle,

There are two things wrong with this story:


First, that the government in the UK hushed up the report because it contained potentially embarrassing findings. Second is that the UK government commissioned a report on diapers.


Ryan Brown


Subj: Buckypaper a.k.a. thin films of carbon nanotubes


At Florida State, they've figured out how to line the tubes up better, which increases the strength of the film, and how to create a few surface defects on the tubes, which improves bonding. They expect to get to the strength of the best existing composite, IM7, but at 35% of IM7's density, by the end of 2009.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

I have a number of messages on this topic. It looks as if Nemourlon may be coming soon.




--- Roland Dobbins

Interesting. Thanks


Astronauts Could Mix DIY Concrete for Cheap Moon Base.


-- Roland Dobbins

I am on record as favoring Lunar Colonies as the first step to space.


This might be useful...


Need to know when next October 19 falls on a Sunday? Try the "Day-of-Week Calculator" button near the bottom of this page.

Charles Brumbelow


Somali Pirates

Dr. Pournelle,

Apparently they've paid quite a bit of ransom money to these guys.


The thing that never ceases to amaze me is that a couple of guys with rifles on a ship could easily deter most if not all of these attacks. You don't even have to pay security guys. Just train and arm the crew. I find it impossible to believe that governments do not know this.

Why are we not doing it then? Who benefits? Insurance companies maybe? Governments not wanting their subjects to realize that they can defend themselves? In my book this is the same as the TSA and gun laws. You have to make sure that people understand that they cannot do for themselves. Their government must do it for them.

We could put piracy and a portion of the insurance industry out of business with a couple guys with bolt-action rifles. Of course, we won't do this. Better to spend billions keeping warships on station to combat yahoos in dinghies with AKs and RPGs (unsuccessfully, I might add).

Sorry, this just gets to me every time I read about it.

Matt Kirchner Houston, TX

P.S. While we're on the subject, I cannot think of a better task for the United States Marine Corp than to find these people and dig them out of their holes. Don't we already know from where they operate? Eyre or some such named town? Leave the remains on display as an example. MK

Most sailors didn't sign on to be Marines. Of course they didn't sign on to be victims, either.





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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?


"This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay."

There is a reason why, for years now, I've been telling people that if you see something on the news, don't believe it unless you have independent verification. I've been on the ground of too many news stories and not recognized them when they showed up in print or on television.


I have a number of letters recommending Orson Scott Card's essay.


Baen Books Pournelle Mega Deal

Hi Dr. Pournelle,

First, I'm delighted to see your ongoing recovery. I opened up my Chaos Manor link this morning and immediately saw the Baen Books deal for the bundle of your works. Couldn't pass that up, since I'm ready to reread Footfall and Lucifer's Hammer anyway, besides having a new Kindle to feed.

The download, unzip and transfer onto the Kindle worked flawlessly. It took me more time to hunt up the USB cable than to do the file transfer. Kudos to you and Baen for putting this together and to them particularly for having the online purchase and transfer sequence work so well. Marvelous!

John Witt

Your report is echoed by many others. I'll have to ask them to send ME a copy.


A bunch of mail on pirates and piracy

Somali pirates hijack ship carrying 33 T-72 main battle tanks, demand $35M USD ransom.


- Roland Dobbins


Problems with piracy

Dear Jerry:

Most ocean going freight vessels are not US Flag, and therefore beyond our control. Putting Marines on board requires a new international treaty. Private contractors are probably the answer, but the cost, added to charter rates, is probably the big barrier. Just now shippers are not making any money, anyway. There is an International Piracy Center in Malaysia, but that's a long, long way from the Horn of Africa. Something will have to be done. But the Devil, as always, is in the details. The operative treaty on this was signed sometime in the 1850s, as I recall. Time for an update.


Francis Hamit


Modern High Seas Piracy


This is a great presentation about modern piracy. Answers the armed crew question, among others.


Francis Hamit



Hi Jerry, I don't think that arming sailors, will do much to stop the Somalian pirates. Most sailors are not trained, nor want to fight. I have heard that during the cold war, Soviet merchant ships had armed guards, which routinely shot pirates and thieves attempting to board their ships. But the Soviet merchant fleet was also seen at least as part of the military, and was probably staffed with military personal.

The main problem today, is not using naval resources to combat the pirates, but asking military forces to do the work as a police mission.

It has resulted in various ridiculous situations. As Denmark has provided the lead ship (with the "Absalon" command and support ship) in the NATO anti-pirate task force, it has been covered extensively in the local news. It seems like that the fleet is under orders not shoot to kill, but just try to block hijackings. The mission has become a farce.

When the "Absalon" command and support ship came to Somalia, they stopped a suspected pirate mothership, and found weapons and equipment robbed from captured ships. But what to do with the captured pirates?

Take them to Denmark to imprison? - no we don't want them to here, they will probably seek asylum after served sentence....

Deliver them to Kenya, Ethiopia or Yemen (the closest states)? They will probably be executed after due trial (Denmark do not accept death penalty).

The result was that they was released on a beach in Somalia....

Now the fleet is under order not to take any prisoners, but also not to kill or harm anybody not sentenced in a court of law.....

Yesterday they found another mother ship. As the pirates know they won't be harmed, they no longer care about warning shots. The only action the Absalon could take was to sink the pirates towed fast attack boats and follow and watch the pirate mothership - hoping they will tire of the attention and return to port.

This is absolutely crazy. The pirates should be classified as an illegal enemy force (not uniformed troops attacking civilian targets), and sunk upon detection - no warnings nor quarter given.

If we send military forces, they should not be under orders to act as police, trying to apprehend and sentence criminals. The military is for war - not policing.


Bo Andersen

Under the International Treaty that governs piracy, pirates taken on the high seas may be hanged instantly by the master of the vessel that takes them. Of course nations issue instructions and rules of engagement that restrict that permission. The problem of pirates isn't one that can't be solved; it's neither complex nor very expensive compared to wars. It does take some determination and will power.


Sailors defending ships from pirates, the Navy takes care of its own..

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Military Sealift Command ships, which carry the designation United States Naval Ships (USNS) rather than United States Ship (USS), are either manned by Civil Service Mariners (CivMar) or are operated and manned by Merchant Mariners employed by Shipping Companies under contract to the MSC. All are armed, trained in the use of the weapons carried, and conduct repel boarders drills regularly.

Depending on the evaluation of the local threat, the crews may be augmented by a security firm or embark Naval Armed Guard Detachments made up of USN sailors drawn from the Master at Arms (MAA) rating. The MAA's bring additional (heavy) crew served weapons. At least one security firm employs recently retired Ghurka soldiers.

The result is that a ship with an American Ensign at the gaff, gray hull, and a white number on the bow is generally unmolested. From time to time, when USN warships are not nearby and/or pirates are stupid, unscheduled mutual training opportunities arise from chance encounters. When ROE's are satisfied, the Armed Guard get to exercise their weapons, the ship continues on its voyage, and the pirates improve their first aid and ship recognition skills. Messages are sent, staffs are a-twitter, press releases are emitted, and a few page six newspaper articles are printed.

Absent a USN warship in the area (the cop on the beat), ordinary non - U. S. flag maritime commerce is pretty much on its own, like an elderly lady in a rough neighborhood.

Cutting out parties against pirate bases could come from surface warships, presumably augmented with Seals or Marines (both have rather full dance cards at the moment). Thinking about such things is outside the box, and I doubt the average flag officer or political appointee in DoD has much stomach for them.

Not much has changed since David Porter.

Blood remains the price of Admiralty, but it's best not to discuss it in front of the law school graduates.

Stay well.


/name withheld by senders request
/ just call me "A Retired Officer"

If blood be the price of Admiralty
Lord God we ha' paid it in full


The American system of costly education

Julie sends this:

OPINION America's Most Overrated Product: the Bachelor's Degree


Related data: Results of The Chronicle Survey of Undergraduate Admissions Officers

Related articles: View all of the articles from this special issue on Admissions & Student Aid

Professors, college administrators, and other educators have donated more than eight times as much to Barack Obama as they have to John McCain. Election Enlivens Political-Science Classes

Professors of American politics are having the time of their lives during this presidential campaign.

Colleges Face Hefty Costs in Fighting Online Piracy

Proponents of Online Education Plan Peer-to-Peer University

* Video: Building P2P U.


Steve Street: Don't Be Kind to Adjuncts


Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."

I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later. That figure is from a study cited by Clifford Adelman, a former research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and now a senior research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Yet four-year colleges admit and take money from hundreds of thousands of such students each year!<snip>

The problem is credentialism. If we made it possible to get credentials by passing tests or some other inexpensive form of certification, the credentials wouldn't sell for so much; as it is, particularly in education, the institutions can force their clients to take out lifetime-crippling loans. "Non-profit" doesn't mean much given the salaries these outfits pay. We have  created those oligopolies; why are we astonished that they act this way? Much of our nation is now devoted to creating institutions to prey on those who just want to work, by preventing people from working until they can submit the proper credentials. Some of this is caused by what purports to be equal opportunity law; some is pure monopoly. a holdover from the days when Guilds set the conditions for employment in their trade.

Most colleges aren't worth anything like what they charge. Most of the useful education available in those institutions is now available on line, or on DVD. The lectures are better (and comprehensible, as opposed to classes taught by non-English speaking graduate assistants), and often there's better interaction with the instructor. The problem is credentialism.


Incidentally I have not found any answers to the question posed by the reader who wanted to know the best way to Microsoft competency certification. The Microsoft Professional Developers Conference is next week; I will ask there.







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Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is part of an exchange that took place a couple of months ago when I was not at my best. It began with a warning against allowing and large number of Muslims to beco0me established in a liberal democratic society, because the result would be disaster. I replied that this might be so, but the Constitution made it difficult to do otherwise.

He replied

Category error

Yes, Jerry, the Constitution is very clear on religion. Specifically: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It is equally clear on the freedom of speech and press and there is your (our) problem. The free exercise of the Muslim religion calls for the extermination of those who exercise THEIR freedom of speech or press by criticizing the Muslim religion or any specific Muslim. Unfortunately, the government has chosen to back the Muslims in the exercise of THEIR religion by prosecuting critics under 'hate speech' laws (abridging the 'freedom of speech??), establishing public facilities for their worship rituals, modifying school lunches to accommodate Muslim dietary restrictions, teaching the precepts of the religion in public schools, modifying the practices of facilities such as pools to conform to their restrictions on associating with the opposite gender in public, supported their demands to keep their jobs as grocery checkers while refusing to handle 'unclean' food products, and a host of other instances of using it's power to make 'dhimmis' (at best) of non-Muslims when the behavior of the non-Muslims conflicts with the demands of the Muslims. All the while, incidentally, using it's full force and majesty to expunge all aspects of Christianity (nominally the religion of around 80% of it's citizens) from the public forum.

The right to exercise a religion ends when that exercising requires violence against those who choose not to participate.

(The Constitution is also crystal clear on several other issues that have been blithely ignored by government at all levels for years. I'm sure that a few hundred examples will pop to mind any time you feel the need to depress yourself. But that is another subject.)

Here is a short time traveller story (~5 min) that illustrates the results of 'category error' when applied to the Muslim problem. It MAY be a trifle pessimistic. Or not. But it does illustrate the problem.


Bob Ludwick

I reminded him of the equal protection clause.


Re: Category error

Hi again Jerry,

I won't flog this horse again, at least for awhile, but serendipity provided this from 'Human Events' on how the threat of violence from Muslims is preventing the publication of material deemed 'possibly' offensive to them. And of course, preventing the authors from profiting from their labors by making the sale of their works impossible. You will note three things about the incident: a. The publishing house in question does not have the slightest qualms about publishing material violently offensive to Christians, Jews, or other non-Muslim religions, b. The civil rights 'industry', which is adamant that your children have a perfect right (enforced by the government) to view pornography on computers in public libraries, has no problem with prior restraint against publishing material deemed potentially offensive to Muslims, and c. The government doesn't make a peep when an organized gang (religion??) uses the threat of physical violence to force society at large to adhere to their lifestyle. Quite the contrary.

Here is the link: http://www.crossactionnews.com/articles/view/ muslims-learn-again-that-violent-intimidation-works-  

The category error consists of simply being unwilling to define the problem: Once Muslims reach a certain percentage of the population in any society (much less than 50%, by the way), they WILL murder their way into power unless forcibly prevented from doing so.

Bob Ludwick

What is raised here is a very sticky problem indeed. At one time the United States had Communists, and some of those were Stalinists. While all Communists were sympathetic to the Soviet Union, some of them were completely loyal to the USSR as opposed to the USA. (For those who dispute this, I haven't time for the argument; there are plenty of sources, including files from the Russian Communist Party archives. Inform yourselves.)

The United States had no real way of dealing with these people. John Adams attempted much the same thing with the Alien and Sedition Act, which turned out to be a disaster and cost Adams reelection. Jefferson then found he had to deal with revolutionaries who considered the US Constitution no better than any other regime, and wanted to overthrow it. We got through that era. Then came actual Civil War; it was followed by domestic terrorism against the Freedmen (I don't intend to discuss that; I was brought up to sing Bonnie Blue Flag and Good Old Rebel, but also to read the speeches of Daniel Webster.)

We had the Red Scares. Wilson was particularly harsh on those who opposed World War I, and the treatment given Debs led to his early death. We had riots. Agents of Stalin passed the secrets of nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union. (Julius Rosenberg bragged of being Stalin's Soldier, and one of Oppenheimer's graduate students, a Communist, was an assistant at Los Alamos where the only telephone was on General Graves's desk, was given two weeks of unsupervised leave; the next day he took a train to New York City and went into the Soviet Trade Mission where he gave them every detail he knew of the Manhattan Project.

Communism was never a very popular ideology, even during the Great Depression. It tried to claim leadership of some of the populist movements during the Depression, and through various fronts like the Popular Front Against Fascism had more influence than its numbers warranted; and there was a time when reasonable people might see American Communism as an actual threat to the US Constitution. Over time, the domestic threat of Communism faded, but at the same time the USSR became more powerful, until at one point there were some 26,000 deliverable nuclear warheads aimed at the United States. This was the height of the Cold War.

We got through that with compromises. The Smith Act of 1940 made it a federal offense  to teach or advocate the violent overthrow of the United States or any State. It was primarily applied to Nazi sympathizers. It also required all adult aliens to register. After WW II it was applied to Communists and some Socialists. It was called a witch hunt, and certainly disrupted lives, although in many cases those whose lives were disrupted worked pretty hard at being prosecuted after being given a number of ways out. (I saw a good bit of this myself.)

The point here is that the US has acted to prosecute beliefs, but has always been reluctant to do so.

On the other hand, Mr. Ludwick may well be correct, as witness events in the Netherlands and England. Given numbers any group with sufficient zeal can, through terrorism, force fundamental changes in any republic. Sometimes the result is not quite what was intended: in some cases kicking an aged lion causes the lion to awaken and discover he is not quite as aged as the enemy thought. Sometimes repeated charges of  "Racism!" eventually evo0ke the response of "Well, yes, I guess I am. So now what should I do about it? I kind of like not groveling any more."

Usually the first acts of terrorism are against the non-violent members of the revolutionary sect, just as gangs try to force all those ethnically qualified to join the gang.

The problem of Muslim minorities is of a piece with the whole immigration issue. The Melting Pot works; but it won't work if it is overloaded. Given a couple of generations, Muslim youth in America find blue jeans and iPods more attractive than the Koran, and increasingly more force is required to keep them down in the madras. The question to be decided is, how critical is the threat? By the time it is obvious it will likely be a bit late; but acting too early will raise a hue and cry against witch hunters.

There's a pretty good novel in this. Maybe I'll write it one day.

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Friday,  October 24, 2008

Countries must learn how to capitalize on their citizens' cognitive resources if they are to prosper, both economically and socially. Early interventions will be key.




Piracy: Colonel Couvillon gives a not unexpected answer:

"When the "Absalon" command and support ship came to Somalia, they stopped a suspected pirate mothership, and found weapons and equipment robbed from captured ships. But what to do with the captured pirates? "

Answer - They came from the sea. Return them to the sea.

-- 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 

There is plenty of precedent in Admiralty Law.


PC strikes again, weakening the British military


"When my mother was liberated from concentration camp in Indonesia at the end of WWII, she found herself facing another threat: the native Indonesians were rising up against the colonial Dutch. For them, killing the sick, starved Dutch ex-POWs, all still clustered in the camps pending repatriation, was like shooting fish in a barrel. Relief came in the form of the Gurkhas. My mom still remembers these fearless fighters hiding in bug/reptile infested ditches outside the camps, armed (literally) to the teeth with knives and other weapons. Within days, the Indonesian attacks against those pathetic ex-prisoners stopped.

Don't expect the Gurkhas to be able to help out much longer, though. PC has struck the Gurkhas and the British government, as a preemptive strike, has demanded that Gurkha women be allowed to join the regiments, despite the fact that they cannot meet the standards <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1080104/
Hiring-Gurkha-girls-weaken-British-army-warns-brass.html>  :" 

Well, it isn't like one of the world's most storied military forces might actually have to fight someday. Much more important to be the right sort of people.


Don't you know...


Islam - Terror Attack Counter

This site has a lot of material on the danger from Islam, but the one that jumps out is the counter tracking the number of deadly Islamic terror attacks around the world since 9/11, 12103 at the moment.




Hang on to your wallet

The Democrats are coming for your 401K.



House Democrats Contemplate Abolishing 401(k) Tax Breaks

Powerful House Democrats are eyeing proposals to overhaul the nation’s $3 trillion 401(k) system, including the elimination of most of the $80 billion in annual tax breaks that 401(k) investors receive.


Looks like it is time for a massive paper write-in to Congress again to remind them they work for us.


Come now, the Iron Law applies there as elsewhere. And how might we do that? Oh, cease to worry. Change you can believe in is on its way.


The world has gone mad 

Japanese Woman Arrested for Virtual-World 'Murder'



A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.

The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.


Ye flipping gods! The guy freely gave up his user name and password but she's accused of hacking? Isn't that like me giving you the keys to my car then arresting you for stealing it? The world has truly gone mad.

Braxton S. Cook

Perhaps her avatar will be imprisoned?


Judge John M. Walker wrote in 1989

"Males have outscored females on the verbal portion of the SAT since 1972, with an average score differential of at least 10 points since 1981. Males have also consistently outscored females on the mathematics portion, with an average differential of at least 40 points since 1967.  In 1988, for example, girls scored 56 points lower than boys on the test.The probability that these score differentials happened by chance is approximately about one in a billion and the probability that the result could consistently be so different is essentially zero." http://www.faculty.piercelaw.edu/redfield/library/case-sharif.htm  709 F.Supp. 345, 57 USLW 2491, 53 Ed. Law Rep. 1144 (1989)

United States District Court,

S.D. New York.

Khadijah SHARIF, by her mother and next friend, Amida SALAHUDDIN, et al.,individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,


NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT;? and Thomas Sobol, Commissioner of Education, in his official capacity, Defendants.

Someone should tell the former president of Harvard?

One needs to keep in mind both averages and dispersions when interpreting statistics. Not that anyone does.


All I want for Christmas is lots of x-rays...

Dr. P,

How's this for truly geekish science:

Sticky tape generates X-rays

How weird is that?

Katharine Sanderson

Christmas could bring with it a new hazard as you wrap your gifts – X-ray-emitting sticky tape.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have shown that simply peeling ordinary sticky tape in a vacuum can generate enough X-rays to take an image — of one of the scientists' own fingers (see videos <http://www.nature.com/nature/videoarchive/x-rays>  ).

"At some point we were a little bit scared," says Juan Escobar, a member of the research team. But he and his co-workers soon realized that the X-rays were only emitted when the kit was used in a vacuum. "We don't want to scare people from using Scotch tape in everyday life," Escobar adds.

This kind of energy release — known as triboluminescence and seen in the form of light — occurs whenever a solid (often a crystal) is crushed, rubbed or scratched. It is a long-known, if somewhat mysterious, phenomenon, seen by Francis Bacon in 1605. He noticed that scratching a lump of sugar caused it to give off light...


If you watch the video (http://www.nature.com/nature/videoarchive/x-rays), they discuss (with truly geekish enthusiasm) using this as a potential source for x-rays in places where there is no power grid. On the other hand, the article's conjecture about using scotch tape as a source for fusion does seems to be a bit of a reach. On the gripping hand, the contrast between how casually they treat the radiation emissions (pegging the meter on their Geiger counter!) and the care exercised by dental x-ray technicians is a tad alarming.

Regards, Bill Clardy

After 50,000 rad this Spring I think I don't need any more X-rays. But it does raise some thoughts about people who work in packaging stores and such. There's probably a good public health thesis in there... Fusion by manual smashing of sugar lumps?


The Pournelle Continuum Price: $20.00 - 

So with this bundle, the last Baen bundle, and other bits I've picked up here and there, I now have 24 Pournelle titles on my iPhone. Who needs a Kindle? :-)


-- Stephen Fleming | Chief Commercialization Officer | Georgia Tech

I can read books on my iPhone too, but I find the Kindle easier to read if not quite as easy to carry.


In http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2008/
Q4/mail541.html#certification  another reader asked about Microsoft Certification choices. Well, I, too, had to make that decision, after cancer smashed me flat a few years ago, and the recovery process cost me my grip on my federal career (which, in hindsight, was a good thing).

I consulted with friends all over the industry, included a few in the belly of the best in Redmond, and found the classes I wanted for the current generation of certifications just did not exist in Portland (!) or in Seattle (!!). Then, I had an inspiration; I searched the job postings on line for objective evidence of what was being screened for.

What I saw was MCSE... MCSE.... MCSE... CCNA... MCSE... Personnel droids don't know certifications, so I decided the challenge rating of trying to explain to them what I had was superior, newer and shinier than what was on the shopping list handed to them by the decision makers would be on the order of cleaning the Augean Stables.

So I set my course for the soon-to-be-obsolete MCSE. I'm now working in a much nicer place, doing a job I am much better suited for, and although I have no idea if the MCSE helped, I am glad I did not try to get the new certifications. .

FYI, below kindly find documentary proof that I will be useless for the next week, nose stuck in e-book when not sleeping, working or driving. It's all your fault....


See also my comments on credentialism


Forward or publish as you wish. A reader said "I am a mainframe programmer attempting to transition to the PC platform.". I have worked in the field for 30+ years (I think a mutual friend looked after your home at one time) and I am one of the few who has programmed using assemble on the 8086 and OS370 platforms. Anyways, a mainframe programmer should be using LINUX at home (Z/os is way cool running database stuff, way better than Windows) and he should studying networking. Certs should be for CISCO. Microsoft certs don't work for older people, and they aren't respected anyways by people who know computers.

Myself, I run WoW under Linux and amaze co-workers that I know how to do that. If EQ2 intersts me enough, I may it under Linux again.

A lot of offices use Microsoft networking and software and hire a lot of people; I would not let prejudices be my guide.





FW: Awesome awesome science experiment


That's just amazing


armed merchant sailors

Dr. Pournelle,

Very interesting discussion on the Piracy question. I was particularly interested in a couple comments by Francis Hamit.

"Just now shippers are not making any money, anyway. "

I wonder why this is. I would bet that high insurance rates have at least something to do with it. If we could eliminate the threat of piracy in the worlds most traveled waters this might change somewhat.

Further, I have to say that the brief he posted does not, in fact, answer the question of armed crew members. I stand by my assertion that armed and trained crew members could eliminate the threat of Piracy in short order, initially by force and then by deterence once the pirates learn their lesson.

The dangers sited by that brief are just plain silly. Tankers are in no danger from small arms fire. They are built to resist far worse threats than this (and most of the ships threatened are not even tankers). What they would really be in danger from is an RPG. Training competent sailors on how to repel borders and keep such attackers at arms reach should be a high priority. I have no doubt what-so-ever that I could train any crew to do so in a few days. Mostly it would just involve teaching them to shoot. The rest they could figure out themselves. As you pointed out yourself, they did not sign on to be victims. Sailors are a hardy, self-reliant breed of men. I would bet that most, if not all would be happy to be able to defend themselves if allowed to.

And far from turning the seas into "the Wild West" as the brief asserts (which never really existed by the way), it would put an end to what is, at present, a particularly "wild" situation. These pirates are going after merchant ships because they know they are easy prey. They know that we all forbid merchant sailors from arming themselves and thus they can take them at will. If they knew that the crew was armed and would fight, they wouldn't bother.

By far my favorite part of that brief was when they talk about fighting pirates with loud speakers and fire hoses. I'm still laughing over that one. It may work the first couple times, but after that, no chance. Truly laughable.

No, the only way we are going to solve this problem is to allow the crews to arm themselves. Didn't that once come with the territory of being a merchant sailor? I remember reading that Benedict Arnold learned so much about naval warfare from being a merchant sea captain that he was able to defeat the British Navy on Lake Champlain at the outset of the Revolutionary War. If he could do that, why can't we allow sailors to carry pistols and rifles? I hardly think that poses a threat to a modern navy. It has the added benefit of being cost effective.

We won't do that of course. Can't allow the rubes to come to depend upon themselves for God's sake. That could lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.

Matt Kirchner

Houston, TX

P.S. "A Retired Officer" had the right idea. If we would just allow everyone else to do what our USNS boys do we'd have it licked.


This just in:

Somali Pirates



I cant see the Russians spending 3 weeks driving the Intrepid down from Riga to just say hello.

My guess they got a Spetnatz team on the chopper, the ship carries.

The Somali's say they are willing to fight to the death, I guess the Russians are going to give them a chance.

Perhaps the ship can do some shore bombardment while its in the area.

David March


More News in this.

The Russians ask for permission to shoot at the pirates.


David March





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Saturday, October 25, 2008

At the beach. I took the day off.






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Sunday, October 26, 2008      

Spending Stalls and Businesses Slash U.S. Jobs - NYTimes.com 

Dear Jerry,

1. Domestic


"The steel mills, big suppliers to many sectors of the economy, are shutting 17 of the nation’s 29 blast furnaces — a startling indicator of how quickly output is declining as corporate America struggles to adjust to the spreading crisis."

Roughly 50% of the 100 million annual tons of US domestic steel capacity is through these 29 blast furnaces. The other 50% is scrap steel remelted in electric arc furnaces. Therefore somewhere between from 15 to 20 million tons capacity is being taken off line. And this optimistic estimate assumes the smallest blast furnaces are being idled, not the largest ones.

We are therefore looking at a current 20% decline in domestic manufacturing activity.

2. International


"Europe on the brink of currency crisis meltdown by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard" (The Telegraph)

"The latest data from the Bank for International Settlements shows that Western European banks hold almost all the exposure to the emerging market bubble, now busting with spectacular effect. They account for three-quarters of the total $4.7 trillion £2.96 trillion) in cross-border bank loans to Eastern Europe, Latin America and emerging Asia extended during the global credit boom – a sum that vastly exceeds the scale of both the US sub-prime and Alt-A debacles."

If any part of that paragraph is true it's not possible to assign limits to what will happen. One revelation at the time of the AIG collapse is that European commercial banks use much more leverage than American commercial banks. In terms of capital ratios they were more similar to the now failed Wall Street investment banks.

"Austria’s bank exposure to emerging markets is equal to 85pc of GDP – with a heavy concentration in Hungary, Ukraine, and Serbia – all now queuing up (with Belarus) for rescue packages from the International Monetary Fund. Exposure is 50pc of GDP for Switzerland, 25pc for Sweden, 24pc for the UK, and 23pc for Spain. The US figure is just 4pc. America is the staid old lady in this drama. Amazingly, Spanish banks alone have lent $316bn to Latin America, almost twice the lending by all US banks combined ($172bn) to what was once the US backyard."

That "staid old lady" US 4% refers to percentage of annual GDP. That means 4% of a $13 trillion GDP, or $500 billion. Losses presumably won't be 100%, so only a large fraction of $500 billion needs to be added to US financial institutions' other current capital losses.

Best Wishes,



After doing away with guns they will have to do away with hands

South Africa in grip of strangulation spate

Murder of women by strangulation is a serious problem in South Africa. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Public Health compared four South African cities for the period 2001 to 2005, and report information about the prevalence and timing of attacks, and give details about the victims.

Most cases of strangulation are committed by men against women, as it requires a large disparity in strength between attacker and victim. According to the authors of the study, Shahnaaz Suffla, Ashley van Niekerk and Najuwa Arendse of the South African Medical Research Council and University of South Africa, "Gender-based violence persists as a global problem. In the year 2000, there were an estimated 119,000 female homicides worldwide and South Africa is estimated to have the highest rate of intimate female homicide in the world, despite its democratic transformation, strong emerging economy and widespread structural and social improvements".

The authors found that most cases of strangulation occurred early in the morning and that, while most victims had drunk no alcohol, drinking more than the legal limit was associated with a higher occurrence than drinking in moderation. In all of the cities studied, most strangulations occurred in the home. The authors said, "The strangulation rates we found are likely to be high relative to those of other African countries, where the overall homicide rate is up to 30% lower than in South Africa".

While strangulation rates declined over the five years studied in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban, they increased in Cape Town. The Western Cape Province, of which Cape Town is the capital and largest metropolitan centre, also reported the highest number of reported cases of rape during this period. According to Suffla and her co-authors, "This supports the proposed link between sexual violence and female strangulation".

Citation: Female homicidal strangulation in urban South Africa, Shahnaaz Suffla, Ashley Van Niekerk and Najuwa Arendse, BMC Public Health (in press) http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/ 

Source: BioMed Central http://www.physorg.com/news143787118.html


We need brick and knife control, too.


One-third of Swedes want to live in gated communities: study

Two stories of note from Sweden.


 One-third of Swedes want to live in gated communities: study One in three Swedes wants to live in a gated community which prohibits unauthorized people from entering, a new study shows.

Most interested in the security provided by such living situations are young singles, of which 41 percent reported wanting to live someplace surrounded by fences or requiring a door code for entry.

Meanwhile, only 26 percent of families with small children said they desired the additional security measures.

The study also reported that less than one fourth of the survey’s respondents – 23 percent – want to live in areas which feature cultural, ethnic, and social diversity.

The results come from a report entitled BoTrender 08 (‘Living Tends ’08’) carried out by the Tyréns Temaplan consulting company and based on responses gathered in August from 5,000 Swedes aged 18- to 70-years-old who live in apartments or are considering living in apartments in the future.

“I don’t think that those who answered the study were thinking of barbed wire, high walls, and guards, but rather a more secluded area with checks on who enters,” said Tyréns Temaplan’s Mia Wahlström to the Svenska Dadbladet newspaper.

Göran Cars, a professor of urban studies at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), said the study shows people place a high value on safety and security when it comes to where they live, but expresses his reservations about what a proliferation of gated communities might mean for Sweden.

“I would consider it deeply tragic of there was a propagation of gated communities. That would mean my city would lose some of its appeal; its diversity of people and activities. The city’s services would become impoverished and it would lose its international competitiveness,” he told SvD.

Pointing to trends in the United States, a country in which gated communities have become increasingly popular, Cars added that the trend can actually result in public places becoming less safe.

He believes that society has a choice to make when it comes to dealing with rising rates of crime and violence.

“On the one hand, we can accept the increase violence and insecurity. Then everyone who can afford to will choose to live in protected area. On the other hand, we can vigorously combat the violence and abuse which damages our security and safety by giving police and social services more resources,” he said.

: http://www.thelocal.se/15200/20081024/ 

= = = = =

Swedes cool towards ethnic diversity Greater numbers of Swedes are expressing hostility towards ethnic diversity, according to a new study.

According to the annual diversity barometer carried out by researchers at Uppsala University, the percentage of the Swedish population with extremely negative attitudes toward ethnic diversity has increased by 50 percent since 2005.

“The extremely negative attitudes are increasing, and we believe it’s in line with what’s happening in Europe. It’s not only older, but also younger who are negative,” said Orlando Mella, a sociology professor from Uppsala University, to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

However, Mella added that in comparison to the rest of Europe, Sweden is generally quite positive toward diversity.

Overall, 5.7 percent of the population in Sweden indicated they have extremely negative attitudes toward diversity, up from 3.8 percent in 2005.

Among men, the instance of negative attitudes has increased from 5.3 to 7.5 percent since 2005.

Unexpectedly, however, the prevalence of negative attitudes toward ethnic diversity among Swedish women has nearly doubled from 2.3 percent to 4.1 percent.

“It’s surprising for us that there are more women in the group [expressing negative attitudes]; that’s not something we expected. Swedish women tend to be quite positive toward diversity,” said Mella.

Despite the growth of unfavourable views towards diversity in Sweden, Mella believes the country is better equipped to integrate immigrant groups than other European countries and that public perceptions of social exclusion among immigrants in Sweden is exaggerated.

“The large number of immigrants are on the way to or currently are being integrated,” she said.

Nevertheless, Mella said that continued growth in the number of Swedes expressing hostility toward ethnic diversity has the potential to affect Swedes’ attitudes more widely, noting that rising unemployment presents a challenge for politicians.

“But we should remember that there aren’t deep ethnic conflicts in Sweden like there are in France or Great Britain,” she said.


= = = =


A generation ago no one in Sweden wanted to live in a gated community, and even the Prime Minister lived in an apartment downtown. The Royal Family was somewhat protected but not excessively so.


Kindle on Oprah 

Maybe this will give the Kindle the boost is needs to get into the mainstream! My wife is talking about wanting a Kindle for Christmas. You have to understand that my wife is very much a paper person. We have bookshelves all over the house that are full of books. she has an entire 6 foot high bookshelf that is full of books she hasn't read yet. And yet, she is feeling that she would enjoy a Kindle.

Some articles:



Glenn Hunt


The Commissars Of Climate Change 

"It's not just income taxes that might trash the dreams of Joe the Plumber."




your reply to Mr. Ludwick Thursday October 23rd

This subject is not new, by any means. If you have not yet found the meaning of the words “Three Conjectures” in this context then I recommend that you do a search for that phrase.

By the way, good luck getting that novel published.

I can see three possible outcomes to this problem, none of them good. The first is that the West continues to sleep until the followers of Mohammed (hellfire and eternal damnation be upon him) win – either by violence or simply out-breeding the free peoples of the world. This way lies the end of civilisation, with no way back, and the possible extinction of humanity. Why? Because we NEED the resources of space, and the global Caliphate will not have the physical or intellectual resources to go and get them.

Second path; we wake up while there is still time, and do the things necessary; which include expelling and/or banning the practice of Islam and all its adherents from any Western country, particularly the USA, and also making a real effort to get independent of the Arab Middle East so as to avoid giving money to those who want to kill us. In other words, starve the SOBs to death.

The third way is almost as bad as the first. It depends to some extent on the actions of the enemy, and involves us continuing to sleep until some jihadi lunatic obtains and uses a WMD, possibly nuclear, somewhere in the West – and us invoking the logic of the Three Conjectures and finishing the job started by Charles Martel. This involves approximately a billion deaths, several tens of megatons at the very least and quite a lot of fallout; and at the end of it Islam will be an unpleasant memory and the Middle East will be a graveyard dotted with a couple of dozen circles of glass that glow in the dark. And it also involves irreparable harm to the concept and the soul of the free West; unlike the enemy, we have a conscience.

I prefer the second alternative, but would settle for the third. Anything is better than the first.


Ian Campbell








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