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Monday  June 15, 2009

Marking is done, and British politicians continue to entertain me with their weird and wacky ways. MPs are now licking their wounds: <http://tinyurl.com/nq9twr  > <http://tinyurl.com/kpad68>. The early specialisation in UK education suggests that almost everyone will have weaknesses--some of the more widespread being mathematics, science, economics, and management. Almost everyone without management training here (including most politicians and academics) tends to use the bullying they learned in school as a standard leadership technique. Brown is not an exception in this.

 Reform??? <http://tinyurl.com/nl5ftl>. Even Labour analysts don't believe it will happen.

  Labour third in the next election? <http://tinyurl.com/na5c4s>

 You received my note about the crack down on home schooling in the UK. 

Follow-on story. <http://tinyurl.com/mnw7ty>

 The universities and colleges are now the responsibility of the minister of business, and student issues are now the responsibility of the minister for the Post Office (who is currently dealing with a strike threat--I couldn't make this up!). <http://tinyurl.com/l5mwzg> <http://tinyurl.com/l57gyx  > <http://tinyurl.com/nqt6jb> < http://tinyurl.com/nswwlq> <http://tinyurl.com/m8xnm7  >

 You ask how the Republicans got this low. Every political party in power seems to run out of good ideas fairly quickly. So the Republicans are in the same hole as the Labour Party. Hopefully, they'll stop digging soon.

 Harry Erwin, PhD

See <http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=974>


Home Schooling and Nazis

Harry Erwin wrote:

> As an aside, the German law against home schooling was passed by the Nazis, > but the post-war governments found it convenient.

This is a very popular allegation but none the less wrong. In 1939 compulsory basic schooling stayed at 8 years following the Prussian standard ( legislation from 1717 and 1763, see Wikipedia ).

Added was schooling accompanying "learning a trade" i.e. tradeschools for 3 years teaching general and trade specific topics. .


Yes. I should have noted that. Germany was a highly regulated state from its inception. Hayek's Road to Serfdom shows much of this and its effects. Of course no one reads that book now.


Rush Limbaugh & A STEP FARTHER OUT

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I read your comments about Rush Limbaugh and political movements and parties with great interest. I too have only dismay and distrust for the disastrous policies of Obama and the "ravenous wolves" in Congress who are doing their best to ruin us.

A few months ago, I reread your fascinating book A STEP FARTHER OUT with admiration and frustration. Admiration because so much of what you collected in that book is still relevant. Frustration because so LITTLE has been done about many of the things you advocated in that book. Things like space travel, off Earth colonization, and nuclear power.

Finally, I decided to actually DO something. I obtained a copy of A STEP FARTHER OUT and sent it as a gift to Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. I did this because I liked what I read of him in magazines such as NATIONAL REVIEW, and the comments of people from that state who have talked to me about Mr. Jindal. He SEEMS to be both a sound conservative and far more imaginative than too many other GOP pols.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that Governor Jindal will be so inspired by A STEP FARTHER he will actually try to ACT on some of your proposals if he is ever in a position to do so.


Sean M. Brooks

Thanks. I can hope he reads it.


Basic principles of conservatism.

As a resident of this country for the last 17 years and a citizen for the last 18 months, I'd have to agree with you that "conservative" principles appear to be hiding somewhere.

From my observations, those people who call themselves republicans/conservatives seem to be..

1. Religious extremists. The baby bush and his brother both seemed to feel that it was their right to inflict laws and regulations on the country (or Florida) based on their religious beliefs. I'll use the restrictions on stem cell research and the "don't stop feeding Amy Schiavo" laws as examples..

The republicans don't seem to acknowledge the 20% of the country who is atheist/agnostic.

2. Warmongering - Iraq is a good example of a pointless war that has accomplished nothing but the burning of a trillion dollars. It seems like the republican governments always seem to give the military more and more money.

3. Pandering to business - see #2. As far as I can see, the only people who benefited from the Iraq war are Cheney's buddies at Halliburton, and whatever companies manufacture the ammunition and machinery that wars destroy.

In short, "conservatives" seem to be religious extremists who love wars when the wars help their military industrial complex buddies.

Or ... ?


You have, I think, the wrong picture.

Stem cell research: no one forbade such research; there was a restriction on tax money being used in particular ways. Regarding Schiavo, no one was forced to feed Schiavo; her parents wanted the option of feeding her. A state policemen forbade her mother from giving her an ice cube. The only people using force were those who were preventing a woman's parents from giving her food and water (and they were willing to pay the bills, too.) Perhaps the right thing was done -- death by starvation (actually thirst) and perhaps that was a kindness, but surely there is room for debate? And it's hardly a matter of liberal and conservative here, but what we seem to have is the state forbidding a mother from feeding her child. For the child's own good, of course. This on the testimony of a man whom she almost certainly would have divorced on the grounds of infidelity had she the competence to manage her own affairs. I do not think that a crucial case regarding principles.

Most religious "extremists" tend to want to be left alone to do things many consider odd. The real principle here is jurisdiction and legislative power. What powers should local governments have, and how far should they extend. That is worth discussion. The fact that some jurisdictions will use local powers to enact regulations and laws that other jurisdictions consider odious (and vice verse) may be taken as a given.

The neoconservatives were all for the Iraqi war. I was not and did not consider that an act of conservatives; for which the egregious Frum thought I should be read out of the movement. It may surprise you to note that through the Kennedy administration the Democrats were known as the war party.

Ah well.


Political space  and von Brunn


This quote (from James Taranto of opinionjournal.com) in discussing the von Brunn attack on the Holocaust museum on Wednesday, was interesting:


Yes, there is a sense in which von Brunn appears to be a man of the "right." But as we've noted, political space is non-Euclidean, so that the extremes on one side tend to converge with the extremes on the other side. Linking von Brunn to mainstream conservatives--even to comparatively truculent ones--is a real stretch.

Might one apply this to the Pournelle axes in rationality r vs statism s, (or alternatively the Nolan axes or other parameterization, not necessarily two dimensional), to infer that political space is described by a metric of the form

g(r,s) is proportional to log (exp [-(r-R)^2/2(dr)^2 ]* exp [-(s-S)^2/2(ds)^2)],

where R, S are respectively the centrist position, and dr, ds are respectively the dispersions associated with extremism?

von Brunn is hardly representative of any political movement or party. I doubt he has a consistent position on statism; he's off the scale on irrationality. To the extent that he would employ government to carry out his agenda one supposes he is a "right" winger, i.e. statist. But my chart is intended to map actual political movements, not random positions of irrational individuals.


re: One wonders: has he [von Brunn] made a living will? Does he have a "Do Not Resuscitate" order on file? If so, will it be honored? Should it?

The question is: is the death penalty a punishment, or a way to dispose of those who are an irremediable danger to others?

In the first case, he should be resuscitated and then executed, in the other, he shouldn't.

For the record, I can understand the second position, would even support it IF law/justice were an exact science. As things stand, it emphatically isn't.

Jean-Louis Beaufils, Paris

PS:  I have never subscribed because, well, times haven't been friendly for a too long lately. On the other hand, well, I've been reading Chaos Manor for years, and between this and the previous line, I've sent my subscription. I do not agree with you on everything, strongly disagree on religion, but you're such a rare voice of sanity.

best regards,

most states call their prisons "correctional institutions: and have Departments of Corrections. Execution is a severe correction; one hopes someone will profit from the lesson. That is, it's a deterrent.

In France when they still had the death penalty it was rarely applied in cases of crimes of passion; murder is usually not a repetitive crime (or wasn't thought to be before we knew more about serial killers); but of course hit men have been around for a while. They are executed to protect the rest of us.

It's easy to ramble on about this.


Swine Vaccine, 


Novartis says it has swine flu vaccine


June 12, 2009 - 4:42PM

Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis says it has successfully produced a first batch of swine flu vaccine weeks ahead of expectations. The vaccine was made in cells, rather than grown in eggs as is usually the case with vaccines, the company said.

The announcement comes a day after the World Health Organization declared swine flu, also known as A(H1N1), a pandemic. The move indicates that a global outbreak is under way. WHO says drug makers will likely have vaccines approved and ready for sale after September.


Subject: Stimulus Package and Government Jobs

The Iron Law continues. See this story from The Washington Post. The Federal Government has to spend a lot of money to hire employees to spend the Stimulus money.


Predictably, these hired government employees will not go away after the Stimulus is spent. They are hired for a career and their retirement benefits will be paid for life.

See my further thoughts on this type of thing from months ago http://dwaynephillips.net/workingup/

-- Dwayne Phillips



On the other hand...


May 2009 saw another drop in the global average temperature anomaly, from +0.09 deg. C in April to +0.04 deg. C in May, originating mostly from the Northern Hemisphere and the tropics.

shows hard data


See also http://www.solarcycle24.com/ . The Sun remains quiet.


"One in seven scientists say colleagues fake data"

Dr. Pournelle --

A disturbing report but in line with other studies.


"One in seven scientists say colleagues fake data" http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/

"One in seven scientists says that they are aware of colleagues having seriously breached acceptable conduct by inventing results. And around 46 per cent say that they have observed fellow scientists engage in “questionable practices”, such as presenting data selectively or changing the conclusions of a study in response to pressure from a funding source."

"The study included scientists from a range of disciplines. Misconduct was far more frequently admitted by medical or pharmacological researchers than others, supporting fears that the field of medical research is being biased by commercial interests."

one of Pournelle's Laws is "You can prove anything if you can make up your data." An obvious corollary is that you can prove almost anything if you can ignore some of your data. Of course no climate scientist would ever do any such thing.


Good ideas never die:

Orion Will Rise!

"According to calculations performed by AS&T, this type of propulsion system can produce the same thrust as the Space Shuttle Main Engine, with 50 times more efficiency.

Due to the magnetic compression thrust technology, spacecraft could be smaller and lighter. The spacecraft itself will only have to carry a relatively small amount of fissionable material as fuel and will be able to reach speeds of approximately 10% of the speed of light."





FYI developments in the missile defense budget next year:

Baseline budget apparently assumes ground-based midcourse missile defense (GMD) will be rolled back to an enhanced testbed with limited operational capability, and the operational improvements being slowly rolled out on top of the original Clinton-era authorized testbed (greatly enhanced by the Bush Administration) are being halted. Interceptors and support systems "in the pipeline" will be completed but all new production ceased -- which will require a significant delay for restart if future manufacturing is required. Baseline program calls for the remaining systems to be stockpiled with older interceptors being cycled out of silos and refurbished for tests, which will continue at a rate of about two per year.

Aegis and THAAD, defenses against SRBMs and IRBMs, are seeing substantial enhancement in production. The argument against GMD is that no third-world opponent yet has a true ICBM capability. Apparently there remains a belief in Congress that they can talk Kim (or his successor) and the Mullah's into stopping nuclear and ICBM development, and that defending ourselves against their development of that capability is an unacceptable provocation to Russia (and possibly China). I strongly suspect that the pendulum will swing HARD by 2012.

European Capability is funded at 10% of last year's levels. Some design activities remain. Full funding is limited in Congress pending flight test of the interceptor modifications for installation in Europe and final negotiations with the host nations, which is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself.

Contractors are bracing for budget cuts and layoffs.

If one truly believes that we are in a budget crisis, some of this makes sense. But with the total government growing by $1 trillion next year, most of it borrowed money, the dislocation associated with shaving $1B from missile defense (plus another couple of billion from Army Future Combat Systems, and shutdown of F22 production) is hard to defend by any objective measure. (Or as one friend says, "The government is spending $70 billion to buy GM. And they can't afford $1B for a constitutional function of government?")


Meanwhile North Korea and Iran continue to develop atomic weapons and delivery systems. And the campaign continues.


Other factors in the disturbances in Iran

Dr Pournelle,

Last year UG99 a wheat fungus was detected by the UN, in Iran. Estimates have as much a 80 percent of all wheat varieties in Asia and Africa are susceptible.

Wheat killer detected in Iran <http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/

2008/1000805/index.html>  In addition, Iran's government receives 85% of it's income from oil production. However, since 2006 oil production in Iran has dropped about 10% per year.

Closing Iran’s Oil Spigot — The American, A Magazine of Ideas <http://www.american.com/

closing-iran2019s-oil-spigot/article_print>  Yes, Iran's government is beginning to run out of money and is being hit hard on food production side. Yet Iran is still pushing for a nuke warhead. (not just a nuclear bomb), for all it's worth. They must know that they are running out of time.

If China were to help Iran, it would be very expensive help, indeed, for the Iranians. Russia doesn't really have any incentive to help Iran out. (As Iranian oil production falls, the better it is for Russia) Russia will also have problems with UG99, itself. And President Obama has been tying up the US's oil industry, so our oil industry can't help out, even if they wanted to.

I can see how making a nuclear warhead has it's attraction to the people of Iran.

What do you think?


Ken Uecker

The wheat rust is a very serious thing. It hasn't hit the US yet, but it will. We don't seem to have an answer for it, either.


Flash Cookies

Jerry: Are you familiar with flash cookies. They're persistent cookies that could be used for "evil purposes". They can be managed (on the web) using these two links.



You might be interested to find out how many sites (some 3rd party) are tracking/spying on your web browsing. The 07 (2nd) link actually queries your computer and generates a list of the flash cookies you have. Do note that you can't delete flash cookies using the browsers normal cookie purge function.

I found out about this from a Carla Schroder article:  <http://www.linuxplanet.com/
linuxplanet/reports/6711/1/>  Which is linux centric. So, this issue affects any computer with flash installed, regardless of OS.

Bob Thompson comments

"In Linux, it's easy enough to address. You can just delete the .macromedia directory, which clears all Flash cookies. In Windows, I'm not sure where they reside.




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Tuesday,  June 16, 2009

Western Misconceptions Meet Iranian Reality


Iran: according to Stratfor, the polls essentially was able to reach people with telephones. Sound like 1948?

Ahmedinejad has tremendous support outside the cities.

Iran "leaves the West with its worst-case scenario: a democratically elected anti-liberal" government:


It's a complicated world.


Complicated indeed, and we don't have much in the way of sources.




It appears to me that the person who questioned "basic principles of conservatism" set up three straw-men of the extreme left and forms the fallacy of composition. It is true that certain Christians tend to be conservative, and that most conservatives favor a strong national defense. (The Haliburton situation is a pure calumny, and has always been, as near as I can tell).

I would generally classify "conservatives" as traditional conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and conservative-leaning Libertarians -- and I would note that while the Bush Administration was certainly more conservative than the Obama Administration, many "movement-setting" conservatives (to use your analogy) such as Limbaugh often criticized the President for being too conciliatory towards the Democrats when they were in the minority. In other words, these straw-men are hardly representative of all conservative thought.

Conservative religious values: The Republican party encompasses evangelical Christians, and many Christians who honor traditional values more in word than in deed. Thus a majority of Republicans oppose abortion as policy, as well as opposing federal funding for stem cell research. However, there are also numerous Christians who oppose abortion as deed but are comfortable with Clinton's dictum (not often honored in the breach) that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," and who typically support Democratic politics; the last time I looked at the numbers, a majority of American Catholics tended to vote Democratic despite the Church's strong opposition to abortion. Stem cell research is a related issue primarily because of the argument that we're aborting our children for material gain if we permit the harvesting of stem cells from aborted human fetuses. I think that the only sane solution would be to overturn Roe v. Wade and give the decision back to the states; the blue states would tend to allow abortion to continue, the red states to place greater limits on the practice. And the conservative principle of "no government funding for abortions or stem cell research" is in keeping of "no government funding for extravagances of any type" (see below).

I also think that a (slight) majority would be comfortable with concept of civil unions which offer defined legal benefits to same-sex partners, but reject the concept that such unions should be called or compared marriage, and many would argue against allowing participants in such unions to be permitted to adopt. Conversely, many evangelicals -- and I dare say a much larger proportion of conservative Jews devout Moslems than of practicing Christians -- consider any such practice unacceptable. I respectfully submit that the proper conservative principle is that it is nobody's business what happens behind closed doors, and that the populace as a whole has an equivalent right to not be dragged into the debate.

Support for the military. The defining difference between Republicans and Democrats since Vietnam has been support for the military. This does not always translate into support for every war. Nobody questions Afghanistan.

I maintain my position that the invasion of Iraq was: (a) An arguable necessity based on what was known after 9-11; (b) mishandled from the beginning; (c) prolonged and made more dangerous because the insurgent forces played to the domestic "loyal" opposition; (d) that the greater regrets come not from the mismanagement, but from the loyal opposition and from the compromises the Administration made to ensure continued funding for the war (including support of the Democratic Congress in permitting some of the practices and legislation which lead to the current financial crisis); (e) in retrospect, should not have been pursued without a greater commitment to bringing it to an early conclusion; and, (f) that the world is a more dangerous place now not because Iraq is safer, but because the national will has been so eroded by the Democratic attack machine (which is as real as the 'Republican attack machine" and which controls a much larger fraction of media resources despite recent shrinkage) that we cannot do it again without a "nuclear" 9-11 for values of nuclear, and that our will to support Israel and Taiwan (and possibly South Korea and Japan) against the nuclear threats they face has been weakened by the process.

It greatly distresses me that the present Administration seems willing not only to prevent Iran from gaining the means to attack Israel, but appears set to inhibit Israel from defending itself from such attack, or from even fully implementing the means to defend ourselves.

Setting the war spending at $1 trillion over six years means that about 7% of the federal budget has gone to the conflict in Iraq. Part of that was repairing of damage done to our defense capabilities under Clinton (a capability that will not be maintained under the current Administration). But singling this funding out and blaming all of the deficits under Bush to the war (when he also entered office in mild depression due to the dotcom bust, was a "compassionate conservative" who passed massive new entitlements such as "No Child Left Behind" and the Medicare drug benefit, and who inherited a massive entitlements and federal retiree apparatus that has been passed on to his successor) is disingenuous.

That's about all the soap box I have time for tonight, but as a starting point (not one I agree with 100%) I recommend the Conservative Manifesto in Mark Levin's book Liberty and Tyranny.


Regarding the Iraq war: it seemed to me inevitable that it would not be well pursued after the initial victory over the organized Iraqi Army, and that we had no notion of how to get out of Iraq once we got in; hence my opposition to the invasion in the first place. If we have invested the $300 billion they said it would cost -- let alone the trillion it has cost -- in energy production, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in.

As to being forced to make compromises with the liberals in order to get the wherewithal for the war, I went through the Cold War, and the entire Cold War was a series of having to make compromises with the liberals in order to get the wherewithal to pursue the war. The Cold War was necessary: for Containment to work we had to contain. The Soviet Union fed on expansion, and so long as expansionism was rewarding it would be continued. By not allowing war to feed war we allowed the Iron Law and other social factors to work on the USSR. That was the strategy, it worked; but much of the history of the Cold War was the history of having to give the liberal what they wanted in order to get the resources required to continue Containment.

Compassionate Big Government Conservatism was, to some extent, part of the compromise system; an attempt to get credit for what was demanded as tribute for supporting the war. I agree that in the end that was worse than the war itself.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

papa joe abujinadad

Dr. Pournelle,

You wrote

 <snip>I would be ecstatic if there were a burning desire for freedom in the Iranian people, but I find it unlikely that much will come of all this. I still have some confidence in the western cultural weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps I insufficiently appreciate the impact of the Internet including twitter and texting and the rest of it to impact this regime. I hope I'm wrong, but the example of Cuba is not encouraging.</snip>

China provides an example of why you may not be off the mark in your appreciation of the twitter and Google ("twigle?") effect, this past week being the anniversary of the quashed Tiananmen revolution. They have effectively, but not completely stifled the use of the internet as a means of communicating dissent, while allowing enough access so that the people can blow off steam. In Iran, there may be as much a burning desire for freedom, or at least the fruits of Western society, as there was in the USSR under Stalin, but any movements toward same may be as effectively repressed in Iran by the troika formed by the religious leadership, the political leadership, and the military.

I had one influential teacher who escaped Iran back in the early 60's. He regarded himself as Persian, and apparently held as poor opinion of the Shah's regime as he did of the current one. I believe he still teaches college in your state.


China was one data point that came to mind.


Fire Protection as a civil service?

Jerry, where I am the fire departments are all privately run, not government entities, a few cities have fire departments, but most of them contract the work to one of several private contractors. There is certainly no need for fire protection to be a civil service job. We have a private water company as well.

Trash pickup is private of course, and I can pick from 3-4 companies that service my part of town. I've never understood why California thought that every single service ought to be run by the government.

Mark E. Horning, Physicist, Mesa Arizona

I was part of a volunteer fire department in Eastern Washington a very long time ago. It's a good tradition. I have no great quarrel with the LA Fire Department. It works, and quite well, and I wouldn't change a thing here. Other places, perhaps; but I live here. I am glad to leave the job to professionals, and LAFD is very professional.

The notion of civil service was that it would take many of the positions out of politics. In exchange, the civil servants got protection amounting to tenure, but were not allowed to participate in politics. Of course the result was unionization and heavy politicization top the point that public employees unions are among the most powerful political groups in the country.

That transformation has never been openly debated, and it should be. The result of civil service has been to remove a great block of people from political responsibility. When it was a spoils system, you got rid of the government employees when you elected a new slate. If the local alderman hired his brother in law, and the brother in law didn't fill the pot hole in front of your store, you had a remedy. Now it's a bit problematical, depending on where you are. In Los Angeles we have over a hundred teachers who have been fired, but not removed from the payroll; they "work" at home watching TV and reading newspapers (or in some cases report to what amounts to a warehouse where they clock in and read newspapers). No one defends this as rational.

I make no secret of believing that government is too large, we have too many government employees, and we ought to return to the old civil service rules which forbid public servants from unionizing and lobbying. I understand that can be abused, and that unions are sometimes the remedy for abuses. I've read Dos Pasos MidCentury and I would recommend it to anyone; it gives a good picture of the conditions under which unions were built, and why they were needed.

Transparency and subsidiarity. Have the people who get the services pay for them and control them. Some communities may need subsidies from other communities, but each ought to be considered separately. But that's a picture of a republic we once had, and probably will not have again.


Mandatory Swine Flu Vaccinations?


Seems Heinlein's character Lazarus Long was discovered by a [DNA] sample taken during a required vaccination in "Time Enough for Love".

Could mandatory vaccinations for swine flu (or whatever) be a method by which the feds acquire their much-sought DNA registration?

Charles Brumbelow

P.S. Even the paranoid can have enemies...


IQ and success 

I read this blog quite a bit. Good articles on Econ and notions of liberty and economic outcomes.


This cites some ideas from a recent paper on IQ and various personality traits and their effect on life outcomes. IQ is key, you will not be surprised to hear.

 Jay R. Larsen


How to grow your own oxygen 

Dr Pournelle

Have you seen this? http://www.ted.com/talks/

I find most interesting the fact that the mother-in-law's tongue exhales O2 at night.

Live long and prosper h lynn keith

That really is interesting. Spider plants do a good job of air cleaning too but I don't know how large the plant has to be.


The end of blogger anonymity in Britain?


Thousands of bloggers who operate behind the cloak of anonymity have no right to keep their identities secret, the High Court ruled yesterday.

In a landmark decision, Mr Justice Eady refused to grant an order to protect the anonymity of a police officer who is the author of the NightJack blog. The officer, Richard Horton, 45, a detective constable with Lancashire Constabulary, had sought an injunction to stop The Times from revealing his name.<snip>



UK Police Carrying Out Searches to Ensure Racial Balance in Stop and Search Statistics buffy willow

See <http://tinyurl.com/lqvfdx

-- Harry Erwin, PhD


Subject: Human Affairs


On Monday’s view <http://www.jerrypournelle.com/
view/2009/Q2/view575.html>  , you said:

Freedom is never free, and is always the enemy of structured bureaucracies. Free people are not equal and equal people are not free. Equality can be a weapon in the hands of the bureaucracy. All one needs is to insist on equality of outcomes.

In logic, a false statement implies the universe class. In human affairs, authority to accomplish the impossible implies absolute power.

This reminded me of a very brilliant friend of mine, who does a lot of business consulting. He has told me many times that when you distill all these things down to the simplest terms, it all comes down to Authority and Relationships.

I believe he’s right.

Tracy Walters, CISSP


Sunspots, sunspots - where are they?? 

Jerry -

Here is a link to to an article released today that hopes to explain the lack of sunspots. The dynamics of the sun are quite fascinating.


An excerpt:

At an American Astronomical Society press conference today in Boulder, Colorado, researchers announced that a jet stream deep inside the sun is migrating slower than usual through the star's interior, giving rise to the current lack of sunspots.

All the best to you and your family -

Frank Hughes

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves." Abraham Lincoln

(but see below)



It looks like we're not heading to another Maunder Minimum:


Data from research: who could have imagined that such a thing might be useful?



Microbes May Be More Networked Than You Are, 


Bacteria seem to be communicating via a wired network:


Bugnet, using nanowires.



Lincoln quotation


While attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Frank Hughes’ contribution on Wednesday is a fake;


Summary of the eRumor:

Alleged quotes from Abraham Lincoln about the poor, the weak, prosperity, workers, class hatred, and character.

The Truth: These words are often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but according to the book They Never Said it: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions, they are not from Lincoln.

The quotes were published in 1942 by William J. H. Boetcker, a Presbyterian minister. He released a pamphlet titled Lincoln On Limitations, which did include a Lincoln quote, but also added 10 statements written by Boetcker himself.

Lawrence T, May

Thank you.


"This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars."


-- Roland Dobbins


'Tarrell had failed English two times before, but Dennis thought he was doing better.'


-- Roland Dobbins



"The way it was handled was totally inappropriate, and at least as wrong as what they're accused of doing."


--- Roland Dobbins

I have always thought that absent strong reasons to the contrary, federal agents should be required to work through the local sheriff when making arrests.




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Everyone Guessed Wrong...."

Dear Oregonian,

Well, finally, we get an official explanation of why the Obama Administration's massive spending (the so-called stimulus package) and intrusive Social Engineering isn't helping an economic recovery, isn't creating jobs, and a confession that things are not getting better. Joe Biden tells us "everyone guessed wrong."

Wow. Well, thanks, Joe, that makes me feel much better. Everyone guessed wrong, and, poof, there went something North of $800 Billion of the taxpayers' money.

Aside from being a preposterous explanation and a testimonial to total lack of accountability and fiscal responsibility, what Joe says simply isn't true. With the exception of three in the Senate, all the Republicans voted against the 1,000 page "stimulus bill" that was rushed through on an emergency basis, hugely expensive legislation that no one was even given time to read. Most of Congress didn't "guess wrong," it was simply flattened by a steamroller.

The bulk of letters to Congress, perhaps 90%, opposed giving any money to the auto companies or UAW, but the action taken was to nationalize the auto industry. Citizens didn't guess wrong: they were ignored. Recent polls say 45% now trust the Republicans more on Economic Matters, versus 39% trusting Democrats. The polls are similar for Taxes. Most know that raising taxes (Cap and Trade is the largest tax bill in history, and the Administration also proposes taxing and socializing health care!!!) in a Recession is a proven way of turning it into a Depression. 80% of the public opposes giving expensive health care to illegals, but that's what's proposed. 81% say that the Economy is their top concern, and 53% say that more Government spending hurts the economy.

Whoever "guessed wrong" it wasn't the Republicans or American Citizens. Perhaps it's time for Washington to start listening, stop making excuses, and CHANGE. Obama's approval ratings are still high, but falling. 32% "strongly disapprove" of what President Obama is doing, and only 47% give him good or excellent marks on how he is handling the Economy.


John D. Trudel


Student vs College


Here is a good article about a computer science students fight with his professor over posting code online.




"If they can barely pass something like that, how are they going to tackle teacher quality?"


--- Roland Dobbins

It is not likely that they will.


Ballet and Douglas Bader 

Dear Jerry,

I watched the youtube ballet link, and it immediately put me in mind of this book (which I read when I was young, and could never forget):

Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill

I suspect you have read it, or know much of its story. If not, I highly recommend it. Many of your readers would no doubt find worthwhile also.

Best Regards,

A. Chris Barker


Your middle name could be trouble

This story was sent to you by: David K. M. Klaus

Your Middle Name Could Be Trouble

This is going too godsdamned far. If your middle name is on your ticket, but not your I.D., or or on your credit card but not your ticket, or any other combination

 -- Your middle name could be trouble --- 

By Ed Perkins Tribune Media Services

May 24 2009

If your passport or driver's license includes a full middle name that you don't normally use, you will have to include that name on your ticket the next time you fly within the United States and by December if you fly overseas. That new requirement seems to be sneaking up on a lot of travelers and apparently on airlines as well.

The complete article can be viewed at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/

Feeling safer already.




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  June 19, 2009

The War Nerd: 'It’s hard for a Western news crew to relax with a huge crowd of agitated lower-class Shia.'

I concur with his analysis, FWIW. Tempest in a teapot.


Roland Dobbins

I really don't know. Tehran is certainly at a boil, but it's been that way before. I read stories of how the government has imported Arab Hezbollah enthusiasts to augment the Revolutionary Guard. That seems an extraordinarily silly thing for them to do, and I suspect the story is distorted. We don't know what's happening in there, and we do not have resources in place to take much advantage of it to begin with.


A sea of people

Jerry Some thoughts from someone living right by Teheran University in the last days of 1978.

A sea of people.

It was November 1979. The road past Teheran University was filled from one side to the other with people and the solid mass reached back down towards the British Embassy some miles away down Shah Avenue. The meeting place was then called ‘Shahyad monument’ it had been built by the Shah and commemorated 2500 years of monarchy. Today it is Azad –Square and at the end of Revolution Avenue it commemorates the end of his reign. Azadi means ‘Freedom’ A French website translates it as ‘Place de la Revolution’. Back in1979 there was almost universal agreement- the time had come to rid the country of the King and of corruption, Secret Police and arbitrary imprisonment. My landlady’s seventeen-year-old daughter (I’ll call her) Maryam had never worn a veil, she went out with her brothers and shouted with the crowd. ‘Death to the Shah ‘ was the cry then. The revolution they got was not the one they sought. Now she must be forty seven years old, whenever she has gone out on the streets it will have been with head covered. Maybe she has been daring and allowed wisps of hair to escape from her scarf. In any case this will have been a life under corruption, Secret Police and arbitrary imprisonment- only not that of the Shah but of the Islamic Republic which seized this revolution just as the Bolsheviks took the freedom won by Russian people and turned it into a new tyranny.

We have come to expect of sea of black-clad women in any Iranian demonstration. One fist raised, perhaps holding a gun and shouting condemnation of the West. Today on television and on websites a new sea of people moves through the streets of that city. Green banners rather than black chadors. It is the sheer mass of mankind, filling the street, stretching past the shops and banks, the bookstalls outside the University, past the Embassies and the hotels, it is formed of the people whose hopes were stolen in 1979. Perhaps the children of Maryam are there among the students. We can take the image, the metaphor of a sea of people, to any lengths, will they just wash over the resistance from Revolutionary guard and Basij Militia? Is the leadership like Canute, powerless against the force of the governed? Or will a new set of controls and walls leave the demonstrators powerless and frustrated? From here we can simply watch.

Tim C-

My sentiments exactly.


Mac Users are Satanists 

I can't make this up:
creation/propaganda.html >

. Go down the page a little.

-- Harry Erwin

It is a strange mixture of beliefs. Many of the criticisms of the film are valid enough, making one wonder why it was made; then they get to Mac users being Satanists, on what evidence I wasn't able to discern, but then I didn't read all of it.

Niven's Law: There is no cause so noble that it will not attract fuggheads.

On Evolution: Darwin's theory was on "The Origin of Species". Few have ever doubted the evolution of traits within species, and animal breeders are quite certain that it is true. Moreover, there are species whose diversity is so broad that those at the ends of a particular spectrum cannot interbreed although all can interbreed with others closer along the spectrum. These extremes are not quite new species, but that's getting close. Even so, I know of no case in which we can prove the evolution of a new species from an older one (although DNA evidence, not available to Darwin or his critics or to anyone else until a few decades ago provides pretty strong evidence that monkeys are indeed our uncles). In other words, it's true enough that Darwinian Evolution remains a "theory" but it's a theory that has a very great deal of evidence in its support and has not been falsified in any crucial experiment I am aware of.

The mechanisms of Evolution, particularly of new species, are not so well established. Until not long ago there was a strong consensus that evolution required long long periods of tranquility, and anyone who postulated catastrophes in Earth's history was ridden out of the science hall on a rail with at least as much religious fervor as the anti-Darwinists display. I have seen the consensus change over my lifetime; but those not familiar with the Velikovsky Incident in which the prominent astronomer Harlow Shapely took the role of Grand Inquisitor would be amazed at the lengths to which Big Science went in defense of its "consensus." Indeed, reading over my disjointed and unorganized account of the affair reminds me again of the dangers of scientific consensus in a time of grant control by peer review, and has eerie overtones of the current climate change debates. Velikovsky was dead wrong in the specifics of his views; more than dead wrong, he was plain silly in some of them; but that wasn't what aroused the ire of the scientific consensus. What riled everyone was his archeological evidence for great catastrophes. At the time that seemed to be a challenge to evolution, for the received wisdom on Darwin at that time was that evolution required long periods of calm in order for gradual evolution to take place.

There is no cause so noble that it will not attract fuggheads. (Nor is there one so ignoble ...)

(But this turns out to be a spoof site.)


Subscriptions and honor 

Dear Jerry,

In a recent discussion (over at Tor Books wonderful site) of the classic Robert A. Heinlein novel "Citizen of the Galaxy", the point came up that one major message of the novel is on the relationships between freedom and responsibility. As freedom increases, so does responsibility.

The example from the novel that struck me was the "obligation" of the Free Traders to take in and shelter young Thorby after Baslim was killed. Baslim had once rescued a number of Free Traders from slavery, and had told Thorby to go to the Free Traders if anything ever happened to him. The Free traders recognized this request as one that was a matter of honor, based on an obligation to Baslim for his actions in saving their enslaved compatriots. The Free Traders approached by Thorby had no gun held to their heads. They could have turned Thorby away, he was but a suppliant with no power to command or compel. No one would ever have known if they had turned Thorby away. There was little gain in accepting him, a not inconsiderable danger if they accepted him, and no compelling force in Thorby's favor.

So they took him in, honoring their debt of obligation to Baslim because it was RIGHT to honor their responsibility in an act of honorable free choice..

When no one is watching, when you choose the honorable thing because it is honorable and right, that is true responsibility in the light of true freedom.

My point: Your recent bellyaching correspondent that pulled a "dog in the manger" on you, seeking to spite and "shame" you for having hurt her feelings over her pension and service as a teacher (I understand her being in a snit, for all the obviousness of her having to first misunderstand your very clear statements on the matter of government employees and pensions. You were clear, despite your apologies for being unclear, which are to your credit and honor), and then to take those misunderstandings in the very worst light possible in order the better to self-justify the venting of her spleen in such a silly, bullying manner. Frankly, if this is an example of her approach to rational argument, ethics and honor, I would not want her teaching my son, other than as a bad example to be avoided.

That correspondent referred to her allegedly paltry./pitiful/poor-poor-pitiful-me pension of $26,000 dollars per annum, received as reward after thirty five years of service as a teacher.

Excuse my less than sympathetic attitude, but I worked over thirty-give years, but not for one employer, and excepting my three years in the United States Army at the princely annual rate of $6,000 per annum, plus "three hots and a cot", I never worked for the secure hand of government, it was all in the private sector, and a good decade or more for myself, depending on naught but the sweat of my own brow.

My reward? As being now unofficially "disabled", I receive $9600 per annum, and with some help from resources piled up in the fat years, I get by. I even subscribe to Chaos Manor. I won't freeload. If you read here regularly, and don't subscribe, that is what you are doing, Freeloading. If you don't like it, then exercise some responsibility with that freedom of yours. Subscribe.

Anyway, since I just hate to see anyone get away with freeloading, I will from here on out, when in future I send you my annual subscription payment, pay twice. I will pony up for the bellyaching subscriber who can't seem to get her nose out of joint long enough to allow any of her soi disant "dirty money" to depart her palms in return for what she gets of value from you. Sorry, "sister", but I will pay some of mine own "dirty money", and yes, I confess: Mainly just to spite your petty and vindictive attitude.

It's my own responsible choice, freely chosen. Further, deponent sayeth not (though I have a bellyful I wish I -could- depose in her general direction!)

Kim Owen Smith AKA Petronius

You have a far more harsh view of my correspondent than I do. I quite understand her ire, because I wasn't as clear as I might have been. One does need to distinguish between those who are doing needful work and those who are merely looking for ways to make more money at no risk and use the tax system to pay for it.

The problem is that civil service can and does evolve into an aristocracy whose pay and retirement is the entire purpose of government. The Iron Law assured that it will trend that way, and unionization of public service employees coupled with the older rules designed to protect them from political pressure makes that easier. The cure to the Iron Law is, of course, the involvement of those who understand it in the affairs of the bureaucracy. That seldom happens, for a number of reasons, some obvious, some not so obvious. I suspect that my correspondent could, if she would, come up with many examples of her own. Most conscientious government workers can.


Lower Standards for the Naval Academy


Cheers to your continued good health and productivity.

The writer is an English professor at the Naval Academy.

Guest Column: The cost of a diverse Naval Academy

"The Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced in Annapolis recently that "diversity is the number one priority" at the Naval Academy . . .

Midshipmen are admitted by two tracks. White applicants out of high school who are not also athletic recruits typically need grades of A and B and minimum SAT scores of 600 on each part for the Board to vote them "qualified." Athletics and leadership also count.

A vote of "qualified" for a white applicant doesn't mean s/he's coming, only that he or she can compete to win the "slate" of up to 10 nominations that (most typically) a Congress(wo)man draws up. That means that nine "qualified" white applicants are rejected. SAT scores below 600 or C grades almost always produce a vote of "not qualified" for white applicants.

Not so for an applicant who self-identifies as one of the minorities who are our "number one priority." For them, another set of rules apply. Their cases are briefed separately to the board, and SAT scores to the mid-500s with quite a few Cs in classes (and no visible athletics or leadership) typically produce a vote of "qualified" for them, with direct admission to Annapolis. They're in, and are given a pro forma nomination to make it legit."


"If this goes on--"








This week:


read book now


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Meme 184: All societies are multicultural

Multi-culturalism is celebrated by certain people as something desirable. The grounds for this celebration are quite plausible, namely that having diverse perspectives can be of greater help in understanding the world and solving its problems than having just one perspective. Its advocates seem to think optimum = maximum and that there can never be too many perspectives.

The fact is that, bar possibly small, utterly isolated societies of long ago (and just maybe even today in certain jungles), all societies are the result of mixtures of earlier societies. In Great Britain, we have English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, and earlier Celts, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Normans, and before that Picts, Manx, and whatever. We don't know who the first inhabitants of these isles were nor how long they remained the only inhabitants.

In Europe, there was the Corded Ware culture, the Bell Beaker culture, Alans, Varangians, Goths, Huns, and before them Basques, as well at the more familiar Franks, Germans, and Celts. I intend no definitive lists. The Goths themselves were multi-cultural, namely the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. And yet again, the Ostrogoths were made up of Tervingi and Greuthungi, though there is some confusion on that point.

So if multi-culturalism is a fact, just what is being celebrated? What, exactly, do the diverse viewpoints that are presumably so helpful and desirable consist of? Like most people, I dare say, I am inclined to think that there are several ways to approach problems: MY WAY and any number of wrong ways. Yet, I bring to problems any number of perspectives, that of an economist trying to specify the exact cost and choice situation, that of a mathematician trying to locate the given problem as part of a more general problem, that of a federalist trying to find the proper level at which to address the problem, that of a lawyer making fine distinctions, that of a sociologist trying to discern how the larger group shapes the perception of the problem, that of a sociobiologist trying to situate the problem within our evolved human nature, that of a biologist looking for gene-cultural co-evolution, that of a minister looking to better fill the collection plate, and on and on, including most emphatically what Mr. Mencken would have thought.

Multi-culturalism is, in practice, a term celebrating the blessings of *racial* diversity. I most definitely think that race and culture have co-evolved and that characteristic patterns of thought will differ among racial and sub-racial groups. But I have had a hard time characterizing them, and the celebrants of multi-racism have not been of any help above the most superficial level. When pressed, the celebrate ethnic dancing and cooking. I am dubious about the dancing. I doubt that if, at the annual Folklife Festivals on the National Mall around Independence Day every year, if the dancers from two countries performed each other's dances, anyone would ever notice. For the cooking, there is no need at all to urge Americans to go to ethnic restaurants. They do that on their own.

Besides, if the United States were as genetically and culturally homogeneous at it was in, well 1776, there would still be YOUTH CULTURE, which is the subject of the current issue of the University of Virignia's _The Hedgehog Review_.

Once again, a slogan does not mean something so bland as its literal name would suggest. Those advocating "limited government" have no great number of opponents in favor of unlimited government. They mean that they want much less of it than exists now. Those who want a just distribution of income are not opposed by advocates of an unjust distribution. They mean that they want much more redistribution than exists.

And so it is with multiculturalism.

[I am sending forth these memes, not because I agree wholeheartedly with all of them, but to impregnate females of both sexes. Ponder them and spread them.]\



On Education:

I had two good teachers from first grade through high school graduation. The first was my second grade teacher (who had already been warned by my first grade teacher that I would read ahead in the text books in spite of being told not to). My older brother (by 18 months) had taught me how to read before I started school, because he didn't want to have a "dumb little brother". My second grade teacher tried to keep me challenged, allowed me to read ahead, even brought me more books to read. I was not disruptive in class; I liked to draw, and had plenty of time to enjoy it. Whenever she thought I wasn't paying attention, she would ask me a question about the lesson at hand. I saw her a couple of years ago at her son's funeral (one of my best friends thoughout my school years and beyond; we always stayed in touch), and she remembered trying to trip me up with surprise questions. She said I always had the right answer.

The other good teacher was my high school math teacher. She taught me from Algebra to Trig (as she had my older brother). She would not allow me to skip homework. She went out of her way to place herself in the position of my guidance counselor, and set my class schedule every year. My study hall was always in a period after her class period. If I didn't turn in my homework, she would come to study hall and take me back to her classroom, sit me at a desk in her cloakroom/office, and calmly demand that I complete my homework assignment. I graduated from high school in '63. I enlisted in the Air Force before the end of my senior year to get a jump on the draft, and ten days after graduation I was at the Induction Center. After basic training, I was assigned to the USAFSS and further training, and served a tour in the mideast.

All my other teachers throughout school taught by rote from last year's lesson plan (which had been used who knows how many years). Extremely boring. I believe a good teacher will continue to teach in the worst of circumstances, and a poor teacher won't teach to the potential of students in the best of circumstances. I have 3 children, 31, 23, and 15. I have been involved in my children's education since 1983. It has been my observation that teachers, by and large, have somehow forgotten what it means to be a student. Without that perspective, I don't think it possible for one to be an excellent teacher.

My 15 year old son, by virtue of nature or nurture or some combination, is not intimidated by person or position. He's been in magnet schools (class size limits, enhanced opportunities, etc.) since kindergarten. In a parent-teacher-student conference with one of his 7th grade teachers and the principal of the middle school (PhD in Education and the recipient of many awards and other accolades), my son respectfully debated the principal to a standstill regarding the quality and challenge (the lack thereof) of his classes in general and that of the teacher participating in the conference in particular. I saw it coming, but the principal was late to realize that he had been matched, and called a halt to further discussion. That my son had done the same with the teacher was the reason for our conference with the principal. The issue of quality and challenge remained unresolved.

I've dealt with systems of all types since my military service; communications, organizational, electrical, mechanical, control, network, etc. In troubleshooting, I have the same starting point for any and all systems. Is it plugged in? If the anwer to that question is yes, then the second question is this: Is it getting sufficient and reliable power through the power cable? I can't recall how many problems I've corrected by replacing a power cable or surge protector, but it's a substantial number. I worked in phosphate mining for over 31 years. Many years ago I shut down an entire beneficiation complex because of phase imbalance in the incoming 65KVA from the power company (from whom the initial response was that what I described could not be happening). In the public school system, the equivalent first level toubleshooting question refers to the teachers. Does their education and preparation provide them with the ability to be plugged into the needs of the students? Does it provide them the means and aptitude to supply sufficient quality and challenge to their students? Those who don't possess the ability to be "plugged in" need to be replaced with those who have that ability. Any improvement in public education must start with that initial troubleshooting technique. And it may go all the way back to "the power company".



You may have noticed the strange story of the two "Japanese" found carrying $134 Billion in US Bonds.


My informant and were discussing this and noting that it doesn't make sense. Japanese don't usually get involved in stuff like this, and the Japanese Gov wouldn't either.

Then we realized, "North Korea!" The "Japanese" must be either North Koreans posing as Japanese, or Koreans born in Japan working for North Korea.

You read it here first.



An exuberant SF fan speaks:

I cannot believe what I just saw and heard. I am hallucinating. I must be.

The body of Robert E. Howard is a veritable whirligig in its grave. If there were an afterlife inhabited by the spirit of Humanist Gene Roddenberry, his grin would be stretched from ear to ear. Frank Herbert would be smiling quietly, through that improbable beard of his. John W. Campbell, Jr., would be dumbfounded, and then declaim, "It's about time!"

On a dais with the Seal of the President of the United States upon it, I saw John Hodgman mention Conan of Cimmeria's god Crom, the Kwisatz Haderach, the Bene_Gesserit, Jor-El of Krypton, show an Alex_Schomburg painting of a Sandworm of Arrakis from a cover of ANALOG, and then quote Spock of Vulcan to James T. Kirk in THE WRATH OF KHAN while making the Vulcan salute to the President -- and get it back in return.

I have crossed over into another universe. I must have.

A universe where science fiction fans are respected? Quoted? Honored at the highest levels of government?

This cannot be. I am hallucinating.

Tomorrow this will be gone. It will not have happened.

But tonight I am crying. Tonight, all the bullies are silenced. Tonight, I can feel proud.

For at least tonight.



TSA "mission creep"

Herein lies the danger of Bush's policy on Homeland Security.



Indeed. And add the Iron Law...


Healthy people should be able to take the anti-hyperactivity drug Ritalin to boost brain power, a UK ethicist says




Dr. Pournelle,

I suppose that it is lucky that the author of Objective: Ministries cited by a contributor today didn't spot the link between MacOS X and FreeBSD, the latter's logo http://www.freebsd.org/  (and UNIX's longstanding commitment to daemonism) would have really nailed the connection. Open Source as communism is also an interesting assertion. The visual connection between his description of the Apple company founders as "long-haired" hippies and the stylized depiction of Christ on the same web page wasn't apparent to the author, either.

Reading your Velikovsky discussion and links from same has given me a new perspective of Dr. Sagan's appearance in Escape From Hell, as well as some possibly unintended references to follow that will help me with the back story on Tran.

Thanks, -d


[Reason] The Invisible Hand of Population Control

The tragedy of the commons meets economic freedom


I said in A Step Farther Out way back in the 1970's that the most effective way to limit population growth was wealth; it always lowered fertility rates. Education of women has much the same effect. A stable population results from a wealthy society.

David Riesman in The Lonely Crowd called western societies countries of "incipient population decline". His book is still owrth your reading.


Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber - the longer kids are in school, the more they get behind




Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber


The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international comparison of 15-year-olds conducted by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that measures applied learning and problem-solving ability. In 2006, U.S. students ranked 25th of 30 advanced nations in math and 24th in science. McKinsey & Company, in releasing its report "The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools" (April 2009) said, "Several other facts paint a worrisome picture. First, the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers. In recent cross-country comparisons of fourth grade reading, math, and science, US students scored in the top quarter or top half of advanced nations. By age 15 these rankings drop to the bottom half. In other words, American students are farthest behind just as they are about to enter higher education or the workforce." That's a sobering thought. The longer kids are in school and the more money we spend on them, the further behind they get. <snip>

[Emphasis added]

This despite rising expenditures on education. The remedy, we are told, is to spend even more, even if that requires raises in taxes. The longer kids are in school...


Letter from South Africa

Data is difficult to get as the government only produces data to suit its purposes. Whites at the moment do not find it difficult to become Engineers or accountants, as the limited number of bright blacks tend to choose the glamour professions which are Lawyers and Doctors... we get lots of American programs on TV and the people who run Hollywood dont seem to have engineers or accountants in the family but make lots of stories about lawyers and doctors. The road to become a doctor is particularly difficult for white males who have to get marks in the 90's for matric as opposed to lower 70's for blacks.

What is more difficult for white youth is to get jobs in the semi professions where the state controls entrance. To become a policeman or detective is very difficult as the government can fully force their policies there. What is happening because the whites are being forced out of leadership postions is that the instutional knowledge is being lost and each succeeding group of new entrants are becoming more and more incompetent.

Private schools help with the general education but are forced to adopt government standards. SA has introduced OBE under guidance from american educators and we have had a general downgrading of education. As far as I can see the purpose of OBE is to make students lazy, self obsessed and non racist ,not to give decent education.

The majority of whites in SA are not particularly rich and apart from the Openheimers and can't afford to send their children for private education overseas or university.

The rate of emigration is probably at this time slowing, more because the world economic situation. However it is difficult to say. The official stats are totally inaccurate. A lot of particularly younger people leave without officially emigrating.

the possibility of a white homeland is extremely remote. Firstly there is no area where whites are in a majority. Secondly it has to be self sustaining otherwise it is a puppet state Thirdly it has to have defensible borders. latly you would have to get the whites to move there en masse. None of these exist or would be given by a black government. The only time they could come about is if there were an organised genocide of whites leading to an organised resistance. Not likely at this present stage. (Unless you believe in Siener van Rensburg a south african nostradamus who in 1922 predicted black rule for SA)

You can still live very comfortably in South Africa particularly if you live in a nice suburb. The sun always shines and Joburg has nicer weather than California (maar dis lekker by die see). There are always beer, braaivles (barbecue) and rugby to distract you.


As it happens, one of our fellow passengers an a DC/3 to Kruger Park was an Openheimer matron. This was during our trip to South Africa in the 1970's, where Roberta was sad to see that the schools were more and more adopting US "whole word" methods of teaching reading, and the literacy rate was falling even then. (RSA was still under apartheid and white rule.)


South African rape survey

Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/


South African rape survey shock One in four South African men questioned in a survey said they had raped someone, and nearly half admitted having attacked more than one victim.

The study, by the country's Medical Research Council, also found three out of four who admitted rape had attacked for the first time during their teens.

It said practices such as gang rape were common because they were considered a form of male bonding.

The MRC spoke to 1,738 men in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.

The research was conducted in both rural and urban areas and included all racial groups.

Using an electronic device to keep the results anonymous, the study found that 73% of respondents said they had carried out their first assault before the age of 20.

Almost half who said they had carried out a rape admitted they had done so more than once.

One in 20 men surveyed said they had raped a woman or girl in the last year.

Professor Rachel Jewkes of the MRC, who carried out the research, told the BBC's World Today programme: "The absolute imperative is we have to change the underlying social attitudes that in a way have created a norm that coercing women into sex is on some level acceptable.

"We know that we have a higher prevalence of rape in South Africa than there is in other countries.

"And it's partly rooted in our incredibly disturbed past and the way that South African men over the centuries have been socialised into forms of masculinity that are predicated on the idea of being strong and tough and the use of force to assert dominance and control over women, as well as other men." <snip>

Apparently the police are overwhelmed.


From another conference:

The notion of multiple intelligences is uplifting and politically satisfying. Unfortunately, evidence suggests it's wrong. While there are many other personality traits and talents, there's only one kind of intelligence, and not everyone has it, writes Christopher J. Ferguson


A number of scholars, including L.L. Thurstone and more recently Robert J. Sternberg, have argued that intelligence has been defined too narrowly. But Gardner, a professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who won a prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius award" in 1981, has had enormous influence, particularly in our schools.

Briefly, he has posited that our intellectual abilities are divided among at least eight abilities: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The appealing elements of the theory are numerous.

It's "cool," to start with: The list-like format has great attraction for introductory psychology and education classes. It also seems to jibe well with the common observation that individuals have particular talents. More important, especially for education, it implicitly (although perhaps unintentionally on Gardner's part) promises that each child has strengths as well as weaknesses. With eight separate intelligences, the odds seem good that every child will be intelligent in one of those realms. After all, it's not called the theory of multiple stupidities.

Multiple intelligences put every child on an equal footing, granting the hope of identical value in an ostensible meritocracy. The theory fits well with a number of the assumptions that have dominated educational philosophy for years. The movements that took flower in the mid-20th century have argued for the essential sameness of all healthy human beings and for a policy of social justice that treats all people the same. Above all, many educators have adhered to the social construction of reality — the idea that redefining the way we treat children will redefine their abilities and future successes. (Perhaps that's what leads some parents to put their faith in "Baby Einstein" videos: the hope that a little nurturing television will send their kids to Harvard.) It would be difficult to overestimate the influence of Gardner's work, both in repudiating that elitist, unfair concept of "g" and in guiding thought in psychology as it applies to education.

The only problem, with all respect to Gardner: There probably is just a single intelligence or capacity to learn, not multiple ones devoted to independent tasks. To varying degrees, some individuals have this capacity, and others do not. To be sure, there is much debate about Gardner's theory in the literature, with contenders for and against. Nonetheless, empirical evidence has not been robust. While the theory sounds nice (perhaps because it sounds nice), it is more intuitive than empirical. In other words, the eight intelligences are based more on philosophy than on data. <snip>

The original Spearman studies were designed to factor out every talent. What remained was "g" which is the basis of IQ. That is, if you give people a battery of tests of abilities -- all kinds of abilities -- they will all be correlated, some more correlated than others. But underneath it all there will be a single variable, "g", which isn't obvious at all -- not like the ability to throw a ball, or run a race, or play a tune from memory, or win the class presidency.


I went back and read Waterhouse's two articles In Ed Psychologist 41(4) 2006.


She looks at the empirical evidence for Multiple Intelligences, The Mozart Effect (listening to Mozart makes you smarter), and Emotional Intelligence (EQ). She concludes all three lack supporting evidence. The victims respond in the same issue. Waterhouse responds and concludes: "In the absence of adequate validating empirical support, and in the absence of concord with neuroscience findings, these three theories are not validated technical accounts. Therefore, at present, despite their appeal, they should not be applied in education."

She is especially good at skewering Gardner: He claimed that MI theory is still young and that, like Darwin's theory, it will take time to accrue evidence. She points out that 23 years after Darwin released "Origin" there was plenty of supporting evidence.

Her writing style is short and to the point.


We know there are multiple talents. Calling them multiple intelligences may or may not be a good idea.


Warming, acid, fusion


Finally getting caught up on your Current Mail, so this will be a pot-pourri.

Acidification: most of the species in the ocean, including corals, survived or even arose during MUCH higher CO2 regimes and "acid" environments than now exist. Try 2,000 - 4,000 ppm CO2 atmospheres, instead of the measly 350 ppm we are now so fearstruck by.

It cannot be repeated often enough that warm episodes in human history were boom times; cold periods were agricultural and cultural disasters.

Models (Google this, don't have it handy) of the full feedback mechanisms involving CO2 and dihydrogen monoxide [water vapor ed.] in the atmosphere, plus cloud albedo etc. etc., suggest that the greenhouse effect is and always is at max, adding 33-35°C to the base temperature of the planet. I.e., there is NO "runaway" risk, as the negative feedback loops are firmly in control. No positive feedback present (or future).

There are HUGE swings between Hot House and Ice Box conditions, on top of that, which may be caused by motion in the galactic plane, or some other multi-hundred-million year cycles. The two conditions have base temps of 25°C and 12°C, respectively, with minor variations within. We are in a mild interglacial warming period within a 12°C Ice Box condition now, with the end of the interglacial somewhat overdue (1,000-2,000 yrs. or so beyond the normal 10,000 yr. duration, by some estimates).

NONE of the above has any statistical correlation with CO2 levels. The only way CO2 is a "forcing variable", is that it is plugged into the "scenario" models concocted by the video-game programmers at IPCC. I.e., the result (~0.1°C/decade increase) is pre-entered by hand. Purely for illustrative purposes, don'cha know. If you read the fine print.

As for the magnetic containment comment about fusion, this is true -- for steady-state reactors. The Focus Fusion approach, however, is one of microsecond pulses, with the collapsing microscopic plasmoid fields tuned to persist just long enough, exploiting a known quantum gap in the X-ray cooling effect, to permit a burst of p-B fusion. The details, as it happens, matter a lot.

As far as space access goes, I haven't noted any mention here of SpaceX, which has the inside track to take over ISS resupply, and probably crew rotation. http://spacex.com/cotsd.php  At under half the cost of the Soyuz Shuttle-replacement option.

The technology appears to be flexible enough for considerable expansion beyond access up to geosynch, as currently contemplated.

Brian H.




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

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Sunday, June 21, 2009      

'Warrior Gene' Responsible for Gang Membership, Weapon Use


9.6.5 (PhysOrg.com)--Boys who carry a particular variation of the gene Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), sometimes called the warrior gene, are more likely not only to join gangs but also to be among the most violent members and to use weapons, according to a new study from The Florida State University that is the first to confirm an MAOA link specifically to gangs and guns.

Findings apply only to males. Girls with the same variant of the MAOA gene seem resistant to its potentially violent effects on gang membership and weapon use.

Led by noted biosocial criminologist Kevin M. Beaver at FSUs College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the study sheds new light on the interplay of genetics and environment that produces some of society's most serious violent offenders. <snip>








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