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Mail 545 November 17 - 24, 2008
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November 17, 2008
The UK Government has a very large number of goals and targets, two of interest here being that 50% of the students in secondary education go on to college/university and that Labour remain popular with the youth of the country by facilitating behaviour that most of us wish weren't facilitated. Laurie Taylor has been monitoring this for thirty years <http://tinyurl.com/5mmj4b > on the back page of the Time Higher Education (THE) <http://tinyurl.com/4jtx6b >. Be aware that many of Laurie Taylor's satirical columns are on things English universities actually do.
Traditional subjects disappearing from the secondary curriculum
Newcastle University excludes 50 students with forged English language qualifications (Telegraph) <http://tinyurl.com/67bf57>. This is an long-standing problem in courses with high numbers of foreign students. What do you do when a university student needs to talk to you but cannot speak or write English?
The traditional English three-year university degree may finally be overhauled. (Telegraph) <http://tinyurl.com/64qu5c>
Risk of collapse of sterling:
al-Qaeda threat during transition <http://tinyurl.com/6e3rwy>
Contraception shots to cut teen pregnancy <http://tinyurl.com/6rvotm>
"If they do that with marks and grades, should they be trusted with experimental data?"
Harry Erwin, PhD
(Nods: Drudge) "...such freezing heat"
The world has never seen such freezing heat
By Christopher Booker
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.<snip> ...when expert readers of the two leading warming-skeptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.
The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs ... GISS began hastily revising its figures. (To) compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.<snip>
(Dr. John Hansen of GSFC) was recently in the news (in Britain) for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.<snip>
[[NOTE on the above: consider in context of President-elect Obama's "bankrupt coal" comments. There is more, equally appalling, but this clipping is at the limits of fair use...]]]]
I also urge that everyone read:
The Great Global Warming Swindle.
--- Roland Dobbins
It appears that Obama in convinced of the Global Warming hypothesis, and is willing to destroy the coal economy in aid of keeping Global Temperature about half a degree lower in 2099.
I guess it wasn't the hottest October after all:
Dr. Hansen's shop caught lying again . . .
Are we astonished?
How can Hansen have any credibility using such obviously shoddy methodology? He is either remarkably sloppy or remarkably dishonest. I suppose the two are not mutually exclusive.
When did he ever have any credibility?
Greenhouse gasses cold hold off Ice Age'
I'm probably one of dozens submitting this, but here you go:
: Global Warming as National Security Threat
U.S. military worries about climate change (Washington Times, 13 Nov 2008) As a new administration committed to addressing climate change takes office, intelligence and defense officials are laying plans to address the national security implications of a warmer planet. In recent months, U.S. military planners have discussed the impact on personnel, equipment and installations of extreme weather events, rising ocean temperatures, shifts in rainfall patterns and stresses on natural resources. Among the concerns: 63 U.S. coastal military facilities and several nuclear reactors are in danger of flooding from storm surges, said Tom Fingar, the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.
-- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Teacher's Union Kicked out of D.C?
Here is an interesting story from the Washington Post. The D.C. government wants to essentially start a new school system without the teacher's union. What will the newly elected Democratic President and Congress have to say about this? Are they in favor of education or in favor of the teacher's union?
-- Dwayne Phillips
I doubt it will get anywhere, but perhaps it is a first blast of the trumpet?
another pirate seizure off Somalia
Well, this problem sure isn't going away. Yet another case where having a couple of rifles onboard could have put a stop to the incident almost before it began. Sometimes it is difficult not to despair.
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy
Good morning Dr. Pournelle,
I am a Deputy Sheriff here in Los Angeles. We're having a crazy set of wildfires that are tearing apart northern LA county, as well as the border with Orange County, and two devestating wildfires in Orange County itself.
As would any man in uniform, I volunteered to do whatever was needed to save some lives. Only that didn't happen. As one of the readers of my blog informed me, the brass didn't want me to go because of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.
If you get a chance (and are looking for a laugh) read about it here: http://www.drumwaster.com/index.php/weblog/cp_code_1/
I just wanted to send you an e-mail to tell you that I got a real kick out of the theory behind Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy. In fact, it's safe to say that I was laughing out loud as I agreed with every word of it.
Thank you very much.
November 18, 2008
Exile and Glory
I received “Exile and Glory” yesterday, Thanks. I just finished “War World: The Battle of Sauron” which is written by “John F.Carr” and “Don Hawthorne”. I don’t understand how that works. Do they ask permission to write in your world?
Curtis Owens, PE
John Carr worked for me as Senior Editor for years while I was doing anthologies. He did an excellent job of finding reprint stories and commissioning new stories, and he was able to help a number of new authors break into the business; he had time to work with them, and I was glad to have him do that. When the anthology market began to dry up I closed off the War World and There Will Be War series, and there was nothing left for John to do. When Carr left I gave him the right to work in the War World areas. Don Hawthorne created the major Sauron characters (with Carr's help). I have reviewed and recommended the book. They offered to have me as a co-author. That would mean my doing a rewrite (I don't do ghost written books) and I couldn't do that in time (and I am not at all sure I'd have added much to it).
So, yes, John Carr has permission to write in the War World, and to commission stories in it. Indeed, one reason I created the War World was to give John Carr something as a reward for long faithful service.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
November 19, 2008
I need to catch up on mail. I also need to catch up on fiction. Vista is driving me nuts, and I don't have time to keep poking at it. This is going to be rather short shrift on mail.
Good news about the Mosse Lectures
The University of Wisconsin has reorganized the George Mosse lectures and you can now download them in mp3 format. It is not necessary to listen to them real time to capture them.
Thank you for pointing us there in the first place.
It took a bit of fooling around with the web site to find things but it works, and the lectures are there. THANKS!. These are not the wonderful Western Civ lectures Mosse gave at Iowa -- I guess they were never recorded, alas, alas -- but they give great insight into our modern world and what happened to it.
Ford's Most Modern Auto Plant In The World...
It's located in rural Brazil.
The narrator states the UAW is blocking the adoption in the USA of the integrated manufacturing practices used at this plant. It's clear we can't simply let our domestic auto industry collapse. It's equally clear the UAW's brand of Luddite industrial sabotage has to be ended now.
It becomes clearer all the time the Solution Set requires leadership that neither existing party is offering. Neither Democratic protectionism of politically connected interest groups, or Republican "free trade" outsourcing & offshoring to brutal dictatorships, are the answers. Both methods have been tried to exhaustion and both have demonstrably failed.
Indeed. Indeed. the Big Three auto makers have to pay about $71 and hour for a worker. Honda in the US pays about $41. The bailout subsidizes UAW and keeps its officials going. There are also about 10,000 auto employees who report for work, go into a room, and do crossword puzzles all day; a "labor bank". This is due to a union agreement. Bailouts will keep them "employed" too but I am not sure the guys who work at Honda in Indiana should have to pay people in Detroit to do crossword puzzles, but then I have never quite understood spreading the wealth around. If the Big Three went bankrupt would they then keep the labor bank employees?
Constant Question For Obama, The Democrats & The Mass Media
How do they seriously plan to "save" what's left of American industry when they're promising to adopt policies they publicly stated will bankrupt half the electric grid and drive kilowatt per hour rates through the roof?
This question is far more easily put now that "Me Too" McCain has been removed from the picture.
This morning Obama made some pledges about Carbon Reduction. He sounds serious. And if he follows through we will be headed for a new Great Depression.
Steve McIntyre and the Mann MBH 98 study were a signal event in just how little qualified peer review there had been of global warming climatology.
Was anyone qualified critically reviewing the Hansen/GISS products until the last few years? There are over 20 years of studies of all kinds emanating from GISS, many of which became baselines for further studies. How many more errors are contained in that foundation?
The great climate change hoax is serious and apparently Obama takes that seriously.
New honeycomb tire is "bulletproof"
The University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Wausau, WI company have come up with a 37 inch, bullet and a bomb proof Humvee tire based on a polymeric web so cool looking there's no need for hub caps.
I've had Mr. Niven's type of memory almost all my life. Sometimes it's annoying, e.g., watching re-runs (a habit when I'm too tired to read something new) and I find that I remember an incident from an episode 40 years in the past accurately, but the character I remember wasn't the one in the incident.
What you retain is what I certainly wish I had. You have the ability to explain things with a rare clarity, and that ability has persisted despite radiation and recuperation. I suspect that the ability to recall things in greater detail will return with further recovery.
I do practice one thing that may be of value. At least once a year I try to memorize something new, usually a poem, and I periodically try to recall it with accuracy. I have so far succeeded retaining the poems, but I sometimes forget the author's name.
My continued prayers for a complete and lasting recovery.
Evolution's new wrinkle: Proteins with cruise control,
A team of Princeton University scientists has discovered that chains of proteins found in most living organisms act like adaptive machines, possessing the ability to control their own evolution:
So it isn't epigenetics, really; in fact, I don't buy it as evolution per se. I see this "self-correcting behavior" as more of a capacity for homeostasis.
However, it does give one pause. These protein matrices seem to resist change. In such systems, a lot of little changes would have to add up - and probably in the same direction - to move the organism off its normative position and cause it to undergo feature change. Or this adaptive system might hide latent feature changes that would only emerge if the environment of the organism underwent substantial change, thus providing a mechanism for punctuate evolutionary changes.
But we need more data.
Soros-Funded Democratic Idea Factory Becomes Obama Policy Font
By Edwin Chen
Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Three blocks from the White House, on the 10th floor of a sleek glass building, young workers pound at computers, with giant flat-screen TVs overhead. It has the look and feel of a high-tech startup.
In many ways it is. The product is ideas.
Thanks in part to funding from benefactors such as billionaire George Soros, the Center for American Progress has become in just five years an intellectual wellspring for Democratic policy proposals, including many that are shaping the agenda of the new Obama administration. <cut>
A thought on piracy
Dear Dr Pournelle:
NPR today said that over $50,000,000 had been paid to the Somali pirates in the last year. And that piracy in that area of the world was up massively .
I have been in the oil business and the (growing) popcorn business. When the price of oil or popcorn went up I produced more product. I wonder how much piracy $50,000,000 is going to produce next year?
Your Corny Friend in Indiana
I do not think it will take long before insurance companies begin to think of ways to induce shipping lines to add armed master at arms trained crewmen, and nations to think of how to deploy Q ships. The Indian Navy just sank a pirate. I note some pirates are in custody (I don't know why; legally they can be swinging from a yardarm as the frigate demonstrates off their home coast). The problem is getting serious enough that I suspect a number of outfits will bid on solving it. There's money in piracy suppression, and the Law of the Sea gives lots of legal rights to both ship-owners and warship commanders.
About Damn time. Indian Navy sinks pirate mothership during bold stand-off in Gulf of Aden
'The credit card company now has access to financing from the Fed and the ability to grow a large deposit base.'
-- Roland Dobbins
One should never be astonished when Capitalists act like Capitalists. Unregulated Capitalism doesn't produce The Good Society. Neither does Socialism or Communism. We have run most of those experiments. But then few pay much attention to history.
Discussion of "backyard" nuclear reactors
I know little about these, and I have mixed accounts from physicist friends.
I am usually skeptical about "soft path" local power generation, but it would be great if we had means to get past dependence on foreign energy. Alas, I suspect it's just going to take hard work.
November 20, 2008
t's like WoW for the iPhone, apparently - only, it will play for you when you're doing other things.
-- Roland Dobbins
Wow. Such fun. As if I had time...
Subject: Pournelle’s Law, for supercomputers?
Jerry, You’ll get a kick out of this: http://www.nvidia.com/object/personal_computing.html
If you count CPU cores as bona-fide CPUs (I think that’s fair), then this desktop computer exceeds your minimum criteria by nearly 1000X! And, a bullet in the middle of the page reads: “One Researcher, One Supercomputer”. I wonder who they are quoting? It’s kinda catchy , don’t you think? ;-)
>Indian navy sinks suspected pirate "mother" ship >By SAM DOLNICK, Associated Press Writer
>NEW DELHI – An Indian naval vessel sank a suspected pirate "mother ship" in the Gulf of Aden and chased two attack boats >into the night, officials said Wednesday, yet more violence in the lawless seas where brigands are becoming bolder and more >violent.
So that's another way to tell we're in the 21st century -- when it's the Indians instead of the cavalry who come riding to the rescue.
And just why should we spend a dime to help foreign flagged vessels?
I will leave this for others to make the full case, but recall the Barbary Pirates? Oil prices affect us all. When the costs of shipping goes up --
I am not a fan of the US as world policeman, but we are very much a maritime nation.
Deflector shield to protect astronauts against solar wind may be practical.
Solar wind is one thing: a full flare is quite another.
Obama Week Two
The Clinton Administration retread factory keeps adding shifts and production lines.
They don't know what to do and wouldn't know how to do it even if they did. They never did anything before beyond beltway patronage peddling. Following the Gay DoD, HillaryCare, Waco and Blackhawk Down fiascoes in his first six months, Slick Willie miniaturized his Presidency in the interests of personal political survival.
From then on the only policy initiatives he allowed to his Admininstration were ones he knew the Congress would block. This became easier after 1994. He didn't spend one penny of political capital on Kyoto, for instance. Hillary's sandpaper abrasiveness and Slick's zipper problems effectively disguised a remarkably laissez faire era. It was politics according to Dick Morris.
The economy was dominated by the end of the Cold War, falling oil prices and the maturing of the PC revolution. No major decisions were required so Bill didn't make any. Except with reference to emerging Al Qaida, where he also avoided all decisions requiring action.
The problem for BO is twofold. First, I don't think he has any core economic beliefs. He certainly has no experience and his Ivy League lawyer background didn't expose him to serious economic thought. I'm not sure he has any fixed belief beyond getting reelected. Second, the only "experienced" Democratic advisors available are people whose own ideas were never adopted and carried out, with the exception of Robert Rubin.
Indications now are that BO will spend some period spinning his wheels trying to mediate irreconciliable intra-Democratic conflicts over a shrinking pie. "Bailout" of the UAW's upper tier of older workers is a case in point. The UAW itself already conceded greatly reduced benefits for new hires two years ago.
Drudge Report One Of The Best-Designed Sites On The Web?
"A couple weeks ago on Twitter I said: 'I still maintain the Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web. Has been for years.' A few people agreed, but most didn't. Some thought it was a joke. I wasn't kidding.
To clarify, my definition of design goes beyond aesthetic qualities and into areas of maintenance, cost, profitability, speed, and purpose. However, I still think that the Drudge Report is an aesthetic masterpiece even though I also consider it ugly. Can good design also be ugly? I think Drudge proves it can."
(I'm reminded of a Louis Kahn quote: "Design is not making beauty; beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.")
-- Mike T. Powers
Well, I am in no danger of winning such an award...
Bigger Banks Aren't Always Better
I won't excerpt it here, except to quote one line: "Banking regulations prevented [smaller banks] from taking on the kind of debt ratios assumed by their competitors..."
And to me, this is kind of the key to the whole article; the rest is, basically, free advertising for (insert your local bank's name here). I'm pretty sure that if the regulations were relaxed for small banks as well as large ones, then those small banks would have been perfectly happy to write terrible loans and then sell them to unsuspecting Norwegians!
As you say, a pure-capitalist unrestricted market eventually leads to terrible exploitation. I'd say that the real role of a government is to decide how much exploitation is considered acceptable--and to ensure that there's a clear line drawn, and a firm hand keeping it. The failure here is not in the disgusting behavior of the banks; as the old story goes, we knew they were snakes when we picked 'em up. The failure is in the government refusing to do its regulatory duty.
Of course, none of this is actually a solution to the problem we're in now. But rarely have the causes of a catastrophe been so clear so soon.
-- Mike T. Powers
It is probably irrelevant given the election results, but my remedy is simple: any company that is too large to be allowed to fail is too large, and ought to be subject to anti-trust regulation.
Of course more is needed but that is a good start.
The TSA ... incompetent nincompoops
This blog post is really funny, except that it is true and the TSA is creating a great inconvenience for everyone at the airport. Are they trying to drive the airlines into a bailout? The stupid part is that the TSA is trying to push what it is doing as a science.
-- Dwayne Phillips
Security theater. The article says Schmeier coined the phrase. Perhaps so, but I have been using it for years, and so far as I know I didn't see it elsewhere first. No matter. Tomorrow we'll have Francis Hamit and a defense of security theater...
Indeed. Indeed. the Big Three auto makers have to pay about $71 and hour for a worker. Honda in the US pays about $41.
I'm not against factory workers making $71/hr in wages and 100% health bennies. I'm just against it when it comes with work rules that stifle productivity improvements. Raising workers' real incomes seems a very moral goal to me. Is there any reason to assume Honda has the last word on productivity?
Take Steel Dynamics again. Their average salary for their mill shift workers is about $79k per year, plus bennies. They just have very few of them, about 6-8 per shift. SD is a non-union shop, too.
In my dark period (stock analysis and options trading) between retiring and finding a productive second life, sales per employee was a key metric for me.
I think this is where the GOP failed miserably. Their collective solution was to enter a corrupt bargain with undemocratic foreigners to restore 19th Century labor conditions in factories, rather than tackling this domestic problem head on. Their other bright idea was to cease enforcing the immigration laws to pressure wages on the supply side.
otoh most lawyers, non-profit based activists and bricks n mortar academics can't be reduced to minimum wage too soon.
And if he follows through (carbon) we will be headed for a new Great Depression.
I think this is coming no matter what. We'll plumb new depths and not recover at all if the Democrats follow through. And/or experience a political breakup ala the USSR.
As far as I can tell energy prices were falling throughout the Great Depression. The transition from coal trains and local horses & wagons to ic engines continued throughout. The hydroelectric projects started in the 1920s came online. Hoover Dam is an example. Roosevelt added more and expanded the geographic scope via TVA. The first x-country natural gas pipelines were laid in the 1930s following sufficient development of electric welding. This yielded much lower costs per million btus compared to the existing local coal gas plants.
Notice how we never hear about energy developments during the 1930s?
Stuff like that requires lots of engineering, sweat, shivering in cold rain and muddy boots. Todd Palin's game, and mine. It therefore repels all these academic endomorph "economists". Playing the Beltway game indoors is much more appealing.
Everyone should read Amity Schlaes The Forgotten Man (available as Kindle book). Yes: energy investment brought cheap energy to the South, and brought about industrialization in ways no one expected. Public or private is important but nowhere near as important as HAVING POWER. I can live with US Government owned nuclear plants. The Nuclear Power Authority would not terrify me. Or let TVA build more nuclear plants. What we need is energy.
We live in a hyper reactionary age
A depressing but true statement. Best illustrated by re-reading RAH's 40 y/o nonfiction commentaries. Sometime in the late 60s early 70s he called for as much factory level fabrication as possible of modular housing sections, and minimal onsite assembly work.
Pure common sense to anyone who's spent one day on a muddy construction site in 45 degree drizzle.
Our methods are no more advanced in fundamental concept than in the late 19th Century. Manufactured door and window units were available well before 1900. We've hardly moved past this except with mobile homes. Substituting electric skillsaws for manual carpenter's saws and pneumatic nailers for hammers almost exhausts the innovations.
Surely here is another vast field for the application of CNC robotics.
There's no reason even a very large house should take longer than 40 days to build from the time lot clearing begins, with 28 of them being concrete drying time to reach the 28 day yield strength. What we had were the most irresponsible lending practices supporting the most archaic technological approaches.
Even people talking about housing recovery are focused on resuscitating the expensive labor intensive mathods. What we need are Ford Camaceri scale plants dedicated to producing modular industrial robots .
I haven't time for a detailed reply here, but it's worth doing. I'll try another time.
Productivity doesn't harm people: having a larger pie to divide is always easier than trying to divide a tiny pie.
November 21, 2008
Successors to the USS Swift,
Although the USN has been building half-billion-dollar Littoral Combat Ships, they have apparently not given up on Hobart cats:
Actually it was the USNS Swift, because only ships built in the US can be called USS; but the concept certainly proved itself. The ship was useful in a variety of situations, and I make no doubt that ships like that would be highly effective in piracy suppression. Indeed, Blackwater could lease one, if they could get government to cooperate with a surveillance airplane. I am a bit out of date on what surveillance and battlefield management aircraft we have now, but surely both USAF and the Navy have such aircraft.
All security measures are a form of theatre. It works best when people are dissuaded from even trying to violate it. This is the "Don't even think about it!" effect. I spent over 20 years in the industry and seven of those writing a column for Security Technology & Design magazine called "Security Counterpoint". Because of 9/11, TSA operates on Murphy's Law. (If anything can go wrong, it will -- with horrible consequences.)
Let me point out the true dynamics of the kind of industrial security I was part of. 1), the basic job is "firewatch"; making sure the building does not burn down. A human presence is considered superior to the most sophisticated alarm systems and the discounts on insurance more than pay for the security service. Everything else is extra. 2). Intruder prevention depends on appearances. My basic job as a Guard Captain was to inspect posts and make sure that the guards had clean, well-fitted uniforms and shined shoes. Second to that was making sure they knew the patrol routes, which meant I had to know all of them (there were 24 installations in my area).
When I taught in a security school, the course included weapons training, even though 95% of all posts are unarmed, and First Aid and something called Verbal Judo which might have really been called "Crazy People 101". You need a psychological edge when dealing with the Public. These are extras for marketing purposes mostly, but guards have been known to save lives with these skills. It is one of the most boring jobs in the world, because there is so little to do, but it also demands constant attention.
The TSA people actually have it much better than the average security officer. The new uniforms look good, they have lots to do, and they get regular training and a career path. And unlike the bad old days when the Marketing departments at the airlines ran a pretend airport security, they are actually effective. Yeah, I try not to fly either. But, when I do, I grit my teeth and smile , remembering what Gilbert and Sullivan said "A policeman's lot is not a happy one." Remember Richard Jewell.
Do you really think those clowns are effective?
They are about 1,200 percent better than what was there before, which was minimum wage, untrained, often criminal people who had an annual turnover rate of about 900 per cent. The bright ones always quit because they could get a better job at the fast food place down the concourse. Argenbright bid so low that we elected not even to bid against them. It would have been a waste of time. Customer convenience came first and always, which is how the 9/11 hijackers got past the gate. The psychological profiling stuff works, by the way. Doesn't require extensive training, just the same skill set needed to play good poker.
Security professionals predicted 9/11. No one listened. For at least ten years, no one listened.
The 9/11 crew would have got nowhere if passengers had not been ordered to cooperate, and pilots not to open cabin doors.
You will never be able to stop someone from blowing up an airplane if they don't mind dying when they do it. The best way to stop hijacking is to require every male passenger to pick up a framing hammer when the board the airplane.
And you think the security people recommended that? Security is a "Rodney Dangerfield" profession. It gets no respect. I used to do consulting jobs for $200 per hour, only to see my recommendations ignored. That's a bit discouraging and you feel like a whore for taking the money. My advice to my clients was always "if you're not going to do this because you think it's too expensive, then burn this report so I'm not called to testify against you. Forget civil suits --I'm talking criminal actions for negligence." Why do you think I got out of the business? 9/11 changed nothing, and every once in awhile someone wants to go back to the status quo ante to save money on security and not annoy the passengers. The current system is not perfect -- far from it, but at least it's a system and not a fraud on the public. As for your idea, the hammers do no good if no one is willing to use them. And most people are not willing, and have no idea how anyway. The passengers on Flight 94 had over two hours to access the situation and see that they had no choice but to do what they did. They also had leadership. On the other flights they had much less time and did not have any idea of what was going to happen. On Flight 94, the hijackers made the fatal error of letting the passengers communicate with the outside. Rookie mistake. They lost control of their hostages. Time was their enemy.
An analysis of 9/11, in the cold light of day, shows that there were vulnerabilities exploited that security experts had warned about for years. The airliner into a building scenario was sold widely known that Tom Clancy used it in a novel! Rick Rescorla, the Security Director at Morgan Stanley at WTC did a top to bottom security analysis of WTC after the 93 bombing, which was ignored. He drilled the employees there twice a year on evacuation and all but four of them made it out. He was one of the four. 16 contract security guards died there that day, trying to get people out. Security, with the proper pay, sense of mission, training , and defined career path, saves lives in the long run. The Potemkin Village approach does not; it creates disasters.
Security is the theatre of intimidation. There is no way to change to current system now, and we just have to live with it. The measures are formulated on Murphy's Law and he was, as the joke goes, an optimist. Grin and bear it, and don't take it personally.
I will say again that the real damage from 9/11 was the creation of TSA, is the expense that keeps on spending; and the the major effect of TSA is to convince Americans that we are subjects and not citizens. I understand your position, and for the most part I agree; but sometimes the best solution to a problem is to accept the fact that you're not going to be secure and you are going to take damage, then look to see how that can be minimized.
(From mail 545, Thurs Nov 20 2008)
Mark, talking about modular housing, says --
Actually, Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) technology is available and has been for some time. See:
One impediment to widespread adoption is that it's difficult for smaller firms to construct buildings and profit unless they also make the SIPs themselves; i.e. logistics. It's not a lack of man's knowledge. Another is the lack of "open source" thinking, for want of a better term; it's not like you can buy Brand X wall panels and Brand Y roof systems. In the world of "standard" construction you can go to any lumber yard and be assured of getting standard sizes (e.g. 2x6x20.)
If SIP mfg's were to agree on standards including panel part numbering where a builder might spec a panel #ABCD1234 and any given supplier could provide it, SIPs would be a lot more common.
Thus the underlying impediment to widespread SIP adoption has more in common with a version of Pournelle's Iron Law than the technology itself. Fix that, and we're already there.
Freeman Dyson @ Princeton. Low priority, but amusing
In the absence of audience interruptions, Mr. Dyson had an argument anyway with the scores of people (like Al Gore) who weren’t present to defend their belief in the dire consequences of global warming. (“There’s no accounting for human folly,” Mr. Dyson said when asked about Mr. Gore’s Nobel Prize.)
I have always regarded Freeman as one of the sanest people on the planet. I haven't always agreed with him, but he's always rational.
allow the crews to arm themselves
Lots of interesting discussion on the pirate issue. So far I have heard no suggestion that is either as practical or as cost effective as simply arming the crews.
Navies cannot protect every vessel and political correctness prevents them from taking putative action. Putting armed military personnel on commercial vessels could work, I suppose, but how long can anyone sustain that? My prediction is that it would become unpopular with the troops and peter out after a short time.
Hiring private security is prohibitively expensive. Security companies charge upwards of $1000/day/man to put armed security on board (and that is the low end stuff, not former western military).
Arming the crews, on the other hand, requires the cost of weapons, ammunition, and training. They wouldn't even need machine guns or heavy weapons. Just rifles and pistols would do. All they need is something that can outrange an RPG, which is practically any rifle in 7.62x51mm, such as the M14, G3, FN FAL (there are civilian versions of all these weapons) etc etc. There are literally dozens of outfits that a shipping company could hire to send experienced men out to train crews. They would only have to do that a couple of times and then it would become institutional. In purely monetary terms it would be a bargain. It would also provide the most comprehensive security.
Most governments do not allow weapons on ships in their ports. That is the stumbling block to arming the crews (allowing the crews to arm themselves I should say). If we could push for some sort of international treaty allowing commercial ships to keep small arms on board, that would solve the problem. It won't happen of course. We will probably just muddle along the way we are. Too many people are making too much money off it. It's nice to dream though.
Curse you, Jerry Pournelle [with apologies to Snoopy.]
You just cost me another $20 [not that it wasn't worth it.] Baen Webscriptions just put up "The Jupiter Collection" < http://www.webscription.net/p-956-the-jupiter-novels.aspx > and since I only had a few of them in dead-tree form, and only one of which I can currently put my hands on, I was forced to buy the set. At least I can find the ebooks when I want them.
Can you say if Baen will also be selling the Burning... novels, the rest of the War World novels, or the Janissaries series? I really prefer the ebooks, as I said, at least I can find them when I want to. This place makes Chaos Manor seem well organized.
Steve Bragg E7 USAF Retired
The UN wants to solve the problem without bloodshed?
The only way to solve the problem without bloodshed is to surrender every time, which seems to be the current policy.
Which irresistibly brings to mind:
November 22, 2008
I'll probably post the letter Monday. I preen
I vaguely recall reading something like this a long time ago and I think it was from one of your books.
I hope this works out.
R, Rose Krueger
I described Ocean Thermal Systems in A Step Farther Out, and there is a story in Exile -- and Glory! that makes use of OTS. There was a trial out by Hawaii, but I am not familiar with the results.
Subject: My experience selling a draft novel on the Amazon Kindle
Aaron Ross Powell
|This week:||Sunday, November
I took the day off. There is a mailbag at Chaos Manor Reviews
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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).
Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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