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Mail590 September 28 - October 4, 2009
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|This week:||Monday September
We begin with a correction to the FPRI history essay posted yesterday.
Your excerpt from "THE U.S. AND IRAN IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE"
You quote "The involvement of the CIA and British intelligence in a coup that overthrew a properly elected and very popular PM has remained seared into the Iranian historical imagination and has colored the relationship U.S.-Iranian relationship".
Just one point: Mossadegh wasn't properly elected, by then. He had been, previously, but then he was properly dismissed when he lost the support of the Parliament (Majlis), only he refused to go, unconstitutionally dismissed the Majlis, started to rule dictatorially, and set about procuring plebiscites to change the constitution after the fact and so on after the fashion of Napoleon III to bolster his position - greatly dividing Iran and quite unconstitutional although he was still popular, particularly in the cities. The coup was the only option he left his opponents once he had thwarted proper processes, and was arguably justified even though what they did afterwards was not. This is a story that has no good guys.
It's also worth mentioning that Iran had accepted a split of oil revenues of about 1/6 in the early 20th century which was high by the corporate tax standards of the day, particularly since the oil companies bore the risk of failure (which almost happened - the first group effectively had to sell out most of their interest), a time limited split that would have been renegotiated long before now anyway.
You are correct, and I did not mention that in my comments yesterday. I should have. I had no part in the matter, but I knew people who had been, including friends who told me that the Tehran mob was for sale: for 50 cents each per day students and drifters would turn out to shout Death to Mossadegh or Death to the Shah depending on whose operatives were paying them. Mossadegh was more popular in the cities. The Shah in Shah was popular in tribal areas.
One effect of the Mossadegh attempted coup was the Shah's White Revolution which sought to build a middle class that would be loyal to the monarchy. Carter withdrew most of the US support for the monarchy, and it accordingly fell. This should be kept in mind while reading the FPRI introductory history.
Obviously applies to so-called 'global warming', et. al.:
--- Roland Dobbins
A college education is supposed to teach one to think, and while a liberal education doesn't include science it is supposed to get you thinking properly about scientific method and evaluation. Supposed to.
"They kept the climate from changing."
What's amazing to me that it only takes two words - 'ice ages'- to refute all the bosh about so-called 'global warming', and yet, nobody seems to realize this.
-- Roland Dobbins
Would we be better off without that human interference in the return of the ice? For more on this hypothesis see Fallen Angels by Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn.
Re: TSA Efficiency
If you want to fix TSA, require all Federal Employees and Congressmen/Senators to pass through the checkpoints, in order to set a good example to the rest of us.
I do not believe Our Masters care to be subject to the laws they pass. And of course the TSA operatives at Washington National and Dulles would soon learn to recognize the new barons and earls. Still, it might set the rest of us a good example, as would their being subject to various other laws on health care, retirement, and the like that they make for us. There is little chance of any of that. The Iron Law prevails.
Lots of smaller stories.
Preparing for an asteroid strike (New Scientist) <http://tinyurl.com/yafp832 >
"School seeks dinner lady. Humans need not apply": Jennie Russell in the Guardian <http://tinyurl.com/yctjolm>
"With Brown, Labour is toast": Martin Kettle in the Guardian <http://tinyurl.com/y9arahm > Brown's response: <http://tinyurl.com/ybxrj6x> <http://tinyurl.com/ydt8bgz > <http://tinyurl.com/ycruso6> As usual, the financing involves robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Concern with number of veterans in prison or probation: Guardian editorial <http://tinyurl.com/yc34mrr>
Terror bombers now carrying bombs internally <http://tinyurl.com/
New tipping rules--about time! <http://tinyurl.com/ydtpcb5>. In the UK, I have always tipped in cash because of this.
Adults must register with the Government to look after friends'
Retirement age challenge fails based on the law, but the judge notes that the law is an ass. <http://tinyurl.com/y8zz784> <http://tinyurl.com/yeflem9 >
New Government guidance eliminates privacy rights for those with inherited diseases <http://tinyurl.com/y9nbvba>
Criticism of the proposed mansion tax <http://tinyurl.com/yegg9bt>
Cyclists are not welcome visitors to public offices in the UK <http://tinyurl.com/ybp4a94 >.
Students who had their exams remarked lost their university places <http://tinyurl.com/yc8rcem >. (This sort of punishing students for challenging official errors is unfortunately quite common.)
Universities face fines for accepting too many students <http://tinyurl.com/yexzcvk >
It's not the overhead; it's the underfoot. <http://tinyurl.com/yblnu73>
Wind farms and rare birds <http://tinyurl.com/ydz6kgm> <http://tinyurl.com/ybs4wvl > (The Durham Bat Group--which I belong to--is conducting a study on their effect on bat populations.)
Harry Erwin, PhD
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." (Benjamin Franklin, 1755)
September 29, 2009
I thought you'd like to read this article from TechNewsWorld: "Who's Watching You Browse?" http://www.technewsworld.com/story/68226.htmlw
Which means that anyone visiting pornography sites as an undergraduate may confront a dossier containing all that when running for office twenty years later. We live in interesting times.
Looks like your prediction of problems arising from a lack of US math and science majors is already happening: Raytheon hired a high school math teacher on summer break to help out with Navy missile tests.
'In Washington, the House and Senate amended their defense budget authorization bills to require the Defense Department to review the military’s almost complete dependence on Chinese supplies of rare- earth minerals.'
- Roland Dobbins
Since we do not know what the US grand strategy will be in future, we can't really determine the technology strategy we need. Are we the world policeman and peace keeper? Do we have any reason for alliances with Poland and the Czech Republic? Do such alliances increase the security of the people of the United States? Do we require a military establishment more expensive than the rest of the world combined, and if so, should we levy tribute on those we protect with it? All questions that need answers, but there seems to be no debate on the subject at all.
It may be undesirable to the end users that a connection provider might throttle Skype to make it's own VOIP service more desirable, but like AOL in the WSJ article, so far as I know, Skype isn't contributing to the cost of building network infrastructure.
I suppose one approach is to not allow connection providers to bundle value added services with the price of a connection. I have difficulty seeing this turning out well for customers. It sounds like a return to the bad old days when Grandma had to hide her 3rd party manufactured phones from Bell. If we make Skype pay the broadband providers, then we have a handy barrier to entry for the next innovative service.
On the other hand, if I buy an 'unlimited' broadband account, it ought to be able to run all of the time at some reasonable fraction of the claimed bandwidth. If it can't then it should be called something else. This isn't a problem of technology so much as advertising and perception.
The broadband providers should offer the option of some kind of quality of service guaranty for consumer service.
The AT&T Uverse service does offer a fee schedule for varying levels of connection speed. I haven't read the fine print of what the limitation might be if one does buy one of the higher performance options.
-- Mike Johns
I have no objection to enforcement of truth in advertising.
-- Roland Dobbins
As in China, so in the US. Central planning is back...
The Last Days of the Polymath.
-- Roland Dobbins
I am an attorney and a supporter of capital punishment. I worked for a brief time as a criminal prosecutor. I would like to respond to jomath's message. He wrote:
I fear I would have a really hard time voting to convict if the crime carried a sentence of death--even if I were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt I would have enough /unreasonable/ doubt that I might vote to acquit simply to avoid being in some sense a killer myself, just on the gazillions to 1 chance that the guy was framed. How many guilty people have walked free because real jurors came to similar conclusions?
I have never worked on a capital case but I am familiar with the process. The US Supreme Court requires that the issue of guilt or innocence be tried separately from the issue of whether the death penalty should be imposed. A trial is held on the issue of guilt or innocence. Once found guilty by a unanimous vote, the trial enters the "penalty phase." This is a separate trial. Additional evidence can be presented on the issue of whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or to a less severe penalty. After the evidence is presented , the jury votes again. The vote must be unanimous in order for the defendant to be sentenced to death.
So, in answer to jomath's question, the number should be zero. The sad thing is that many guilty people walk free because some people are unable to find a person guilty no matter how compelling or complete the evidence is. These people are not facing a choice of letting a killer go free or becoming a killer themselves...they could vote for guilt but preclude the death penalty by voting for a less serious penalty. These people are "unreasonable jurors."
Voting for "innocence" even where there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt is known as "jury nullification." Sometimes it happens because the jury feels that the prosecution is wrong. Sometimes it happens because the jury feels that the defendant was justified in what he or she did. Sometimes it happens because you have an unreasonable juror (there are stories of jurors in some major cities who refuse to find any defendant guilty, no matter what the evidence is). The voir dire process (when jurors are questioned before being put on the panel) is supposed to weed out unreasonable jurors, but frequently people like this lie about their beliefs.
I feel great scorn for unreasonable jurors. If they would be honest during voir dire, they would never be put on the panel. For whatever reason, they lied so they could be on the jury. Then, they refuse to do the job they volunteered to do. If one juror is a hold out, you end up with a hung jury; a mistrial is declared; and the case has to be retried. This is boon for the defendant who has the benefit of seeing the prosecution's complete case. It is a nightmare for the prosecutor. Preparing for a criminal trial is the most stressful thing I ever did...and the most serious crimes I ever took to trial were shoplifting and minor drug possession cases. The thought of having to prepare a major case for trial twice makes me sick.
Thanks for this website Jerry. And thank you for a memorable night at the New Orleans Worldcon back in 1988. I was sitting in the lobby listening to Greg Bear talk to a group; he invited me to join them for dinner. You joined the crowd and I had the thrilling experience of sitting between you and Greg at the restaurant.
Long life and happiness,
Hugh A. Greentree
Jury nullification originated as a response to the Norman Conquest, and had its place in English Constitutional history. Of course no jury system will work if the citizens are determined to circumvent it: apparently the District of Columbia has reached that point. I am told that it is nearly impossible to get drug convictions there, and there are other problems so that the whole criminal justice system is breaking down.
Re: TSA Efficiency
I’m about as Federal as an employee can get (commissioned military officer) and I still have to go through security, and have been singled out for special attention when flying one-way. In my case however, I am happy to report that when I sarcastically commented that I probably am the least likely to be a threat based upon my profession, the inspector (Denver Airport) agreed with me politely, and apologized that he had rules to follow. I wish I’d dropped a comment card recommending him for a promotion.
RONALD W. HAMANN, JR., Capt, USAF
Now apply the rules to people who can affect the rules...
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
September 30, 2009
"Just following orders."
You can be prosecuted for buying cold medicine. The government knows what's best.
I bought Sudafed the other day, and had to give my driver's license over to be scanned. I didn't have any problems voting without doing that.
I am still looking for which Article of Amendment gives Congress this authority, or indeed the authority to outlaw any drug whatever. We know they can't outlaw liquor, because they had to get the Eighteenth Amendment passed in order to implement the Volstead Act and implement Prohibition, and that Amendment was repealed. I once asked Speaker Gingrich which Article let them outlaw marijuana (federal prohibition; no one doubts that the States have that power). He couldn't tell me, but "It's all different now."
It's that "It's all different now" that bothers me. The courts have amended the Constitution without bothering to go through the amendment process. This needs to be undone: and that will take a lot of concerted action to turn the rascals out.
From Mike Johns’ email –
but like AOL in the WSJ article, so far as I know, Skype isn't contributing to the cost of building network infrastructure.
Doesn’t Skype pay their provider for bandwidth? Don’t the Skype users pay their providers for bandwidth? Is not some of that allocated by the provider to support infrastructure? I think comments like the above are red herrings – they sound so profound and reasonable, but belie the obvious – we are paying. When I go to Best Buy to purchase a set of speakers, I’m not charged an extra fee to help them build new buildings, nor is Polk Audio asked to pony up dollars to Best Buy for the same reason.
(not of course, speaking on behalf of the government, just as a private citizen)
RONALD W. HAMANN, JR., Capt, USAF
Which I pointed out about four years ago when this first began to get discussed. The question here is how much I pay as a user, and who else has to pay. Google doesn't want to pay for its use of bandwidth; it says the users have already paid. Once again, I can analyze a specific rule, but the concept "net neutrality" means so many things to so many people that discussion of the "concept" is useless.
one more technical input on net neutraility
Like you, I think fewer regulations are better. On the technical side, I think there may be some misunderstanding.
All cable modems are cable of high bandwidth. The older ones, pre- DOCSIS 3.0, could use an entire cable channel for bandwidth. This worked out to about 24MBS/sec (bits). Think of it as a cable based, old style Ethernet, and you will get the idea.
In the early days of @home, they all did use this much. Pretty quickly, the cable operators figured out this would not work. Cable Labs, the industry (non-government!) standards facility, came up with the DOCSIS certificate. Every cable modem downloads one of these at startup or on command from the cable headend. The certificate tells the modem how fast to run, and of course, this is based on what you are paying to the cable company. In the beginning, this was pretty easy to defeat. It involved a TFTP server, a linux box, and a free ware utility that generated DOCSIS certificates. Of course, the cable companies caught on, and required all cable modems to receive a firmware update that limited the TFTP of the DOCSIS certificate to the CATV (the coax) port. Now, the certificate can still be spoofed, but it requires a great deal more equipment and considerably more technical knowledge. The headends now have meters as well. Effectively, cable modem now run at subscribed speeds - no bandwidth hogging.
DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems have arrived on the scene, and can operate over more than one cable channel at once, and deliver bandwidth in excess of 100MBS/sec. If you want to pay for it, you can have it. The bay area currently offers 50MBS/down 10MBS/up and is going higher over the next year or so. All of those analog TV channels went away...
My point here, is that there are no bandwidth hogs, only congestion, if the cable companies allow it by oversubscribing.
Like you, I believe the free market can handle this. Do note, that most cable companies are monopolies in a given city. There is the very big and expensive issue of who owns the cable plant. Recall, that the FCC decided when cell phone service was authorized, to setup at least 2 competing companies in every area and expanded this when other bands were opened up. The result was at least 4 or 5 choices for most people in most areas. We do not currently have that in the cable TV world. From a technical point of view, cable modems are still the fastest service out there for reasonable dollars. Wireless may very well be a practical substitute and allow significant competition, however, it has not happened yet. The few that have tried have gone out of business pretty quickly.
As you say, wireless has the technical capability to settle this with competition. The city monopolies on cable TV have been the greatest source of problems -- well, that and latency from satellite connections so satellites aren't really competitive with cable in solving the last 100 feet problem -- and that's caused by regulation, government, lobbying, and the rest of it.
I lived nicely with wireless back when wireless Internet capability was an option (before the wireless company went out of business and never came back). Wireless is coming again, and the only arguments for monopolies there are political.
We have the technology. Adding permanent bureaucracies and regulators will tend to freeze matters -- as the cable monopolies have tended to freeze matters. What we need is to be careful not to build permanent regulatory agencies which will stay around long after there is no need for them. Recall the Interstate Commerce Commission.
How does the Federal Government Negatively Impact Our Lives?
It might be interesting and worthwhile to start a discussion of how the Federal Government negatively impacts our lives. Many of the things that our government does have rather dramatic unintended consequences that affect our Freedoms, Pocket Books and Health.
I would like to nominate Sugar Import Quotas as one of the worst offenders so far as unintended consequences are concerned.
The obvious purpose of these quotas is to "protect" the domestic sugar industry and it does do that, but at what cost?
The most apparent cost is higher Sugar prices. OK, maybe protecting the Domestic Sugar Industry is worth higher sugar prices. What other effects do these higher prices have?
More jobs have probably been lost in the candy industry than have been saved in the sugar industry. Some of these jobs may have been regained by the increase in demand for High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), but additional costs are caused by the production and use of HFCS.
Doing a Google search on HFCS vs Sugar yields many articles pointing out the potential health hazards associated with the ingestion of HFCS instead of sugar.
Production of HFCS also appears to require more energy than the production of sugar. This is particularly true when looking at the full cycle costs starting at the crop field and including fertilizer and insecticide.
One logical conclusion is that the ending of sugar import quotas would be a good first step in reducing energy usage and improving the over all health of Americans.
Lets tell our Congress Critters to start battling the "Health Care and Energy Crises" in an easy and budget neutral way.
End the Sugar Import Quotas!
Is government the solution or the problem? Clearly both. Let the debate begin. Do understand that as Metternich noted, Das Buros steht immer; they never (or almost never) go away even when the need for them vanishes, and they not only cease to be useful but become a pure hindrance. Some of the marketing boards of the Depression era AAA remain to this day and set prices at artificial levels.
Let the debates begin.
Let's not overlook that China's "One Child" policy has unintentionally had the effect of being the largest program of eugenics in human history, while, with 50% of births in America being paid for by Medicaid and the mother+child going directly onto the supplemental-to-Food-Stamps Women/Infants/Children (WIC) feeding program for poor women, the United States has to be in the middle of the biggest program of *dis*genics in human history.
The specific "Writing on the Wall" that will be the most potent is the phrase "Demographics Are Destiny".
Of course no one can say that in public. Racism is the least of the terms to be applied. We all know what we can't say and who we can't say it about.
'Black inner-city boys particularly have to wrestle with the question of whether it is O.K. to be smart.'
-- Roland Dobbins
Unbelievable. Please publicize this outrage. (Below is a clip from Ed Koch's newsletter. Presumably he refers to the New York Times as his source.)
I agree with Mr. Koch, but he doesn't go far nearly enough. ACORN SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION. Given ACORN's deep ties to the Obama Administration, this is a HUGE scandal. I think this is much larger than Clinton's Blue Dress or Nixon's Watergate.
John D. Trudel
ACORN and Obama certainly were a community organizing team. Nixon should have been aware of what his "plumbers" were doing, and Obama should have been aware of at least the general temper of his ACORN community organizing allies were doing.
The iPhone And The Lost Cause
Is what they really want Microsoft Origami with Skype and a fuel cell?
Jerry: Good coverage and explanation of the Yamal scandal. This is science?
The Royal Society's motto from the enlightenment era is Nullius in verba <http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=1020> . "On nobody's authority" or colloquially, "take nobody's word for it". In 2007, the Society's then president suggested this be changed to "respect the facts".
I've been expecting this for some time. It likely means the end of air travel, at least as far as I'm concerned. Already I can envision watching the TSA employee slipping on the latex gloves. Frankly, I'd rather walk.
October 1, 2009
The problem with using mobile phones under combat conditions
is that they rely upon the existence and functioning of the local mobile phone infrastructure, as well as upon the (pretty much nonexistent) security of said mobile phone infrastructure.
What's needed is a device which can make use of mobile phone infrastructure if it's available (with end-to-end encryption, of course), but which is actually a *digital radio system*; seeding the area with airdropped base-stations, using heliostats, et. al. can help supplement direct node-to-node comms.
-- Roland Dobbins
Das Buros Steht Immer
As recently as 1995, the government was spending $120,000 on the Federal Tea-taster.
I don't know if there's a Navy hemp hawser factory in Boston now, but the move to kill its financing was stopped by the Kennedy's back in their heyday.
Subject: First blog
You've discussed a few times the question of who was the first blogger. You feel that your journals on various systems, even before the web, count.
One of the blogs I read just claimed that Pliny the Younger was the first blogger based on a book whose title he translates as Letters in Praise of Great Friends
Well, I can hardly compete with the old Admiral, so I suppose it depends on your definition of blog ...
Oops. It says Pliny the Younger. The Admiral, who died of exhaustion while trying to rescue refugees from the Vesuvius eruption that buried Pompeii, was Pliny the Elder. The younger Pliny declined to go on the rescue/study expedition. He wrote the only existing contemporary account of the Vesuvius eruption of 24,25 August 0079. Pliny the Elder was apparently the only casualty of the fleet mission, so it is likely he died of exhaustion rather than any volcanic activity.
ACORN, A Criminal Enterprise
Looking at the record it appears that ACORN qualifies as a "Criminal Enterprise."
Is it time to file a RICO suit?
Merits of Home Schooling...
"Deferred gratification is perhaps the most important life lesson ever learned by a child. This lesson in maturity is easily imparted in the context of a home school. Understanding future time references and the ability to plan and importantly to see the consequences of chosen paths or decisions are beneficial as this is an essential life problem-solving skill. (Mature adults use it all the time. Why then do governments invariably fail to do so?)"
Perfect Congressional Sense
In Washington, the House and Senate amended their defense budget authorization bills to require the Defense Department to review the military’s almost complete dependence on Chinese supplies of rare- earth minerals.'
Of course they did. It's natural they would do this now. The US Government is almost finished liquidating the huge stockpiles of strategic minerals from locales outside North America that it once held for military-industrial purposes. This disposal was directed by Congresses back in the early 1990s when it became obvious another war to end all wars had been victoriously concluded. And that henceforth an unfettered global free market would reign in perpetuity.
One cuts the cloak to the measure of the cloth: our military needs depend on our strategic goals. But the security of the US ought never to be at the discretion of anyone. I don't recall the debate over liquidating our stockpiles, nor which politicians stood to make a lot of money from doing so, but I make no doubt some of the ravenous wolves in the Congress did very well out of it.
October 2, 2009
Army training video – clearing a room
Clearing a room, ARMY STYLE!
I’ll sleep better tonight having seen this one.
Making Sense of the Missile Shield Bait and Switch Guest Commentary September 2009
by: Rebeccah Heinrichs
Commentary is the primary spokes organ for the neo-conservatives, and during the Cold War was one of the most important intellectual magazines in the nation. Massively Pro-Israel, of course, but during the Cold War the US and Israeli interests were very much entwined.
Clearly I am in favor of US missile defenses and continued development of both technology and capability.
The case of missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic is not so clear cut and affair to me as many seem to believe. I distrust Obama both in motive and competence -- this based on performance -- but I can't say I am unhappy with the prospect of disentangling us from the entangling alliances of the Cold War. I do not believe that Russia has the capability to be a world threat. Imperialist the KGB may be but they have tended to be realistic: restoring the old Soviet Empire is not only impossible, but do the Russians even want hegemony over Chinese and Russian Turkestan? They no longer have Communism as a counter to Islam and Islamic fanaticism. Russia certainly would like to bring Belarus and the Ukraine back into the Empire, but even that may be well beyond their capabilities.
I don't know Russian ambitions, but I can look at their capabilities. Europe has the potential to raise and maintain far more powerful armies than the current Russia can manage. Why should the US pay for European defense? During the Cold War it made sense: if containment were going to work, there had to be containment. The US strategy was not to let war feed war in the classic manner.
But I am still of the opinion that the US is better off without entangling alliances and involvement in the territorial affairs of Europe -- or of the Middle East, for that matter. I would rather subsidize US domestic industries than keep US soldiers in Frankfurt and Seoul. I would rather invest in US domestic energy generation than spend trillions on war. Iraq at least exports something we want. Afghanistan exports only poppies. What we want from Afghanistan is that it vanish from our view -- not harbor our enemies and otherwise we don't much care. As to Afghan unity, the only thing that historically unites Afghanistan is an outsider trying to unite Afghanistan, either as a protectorate or as subordinate to Kabul.
The only way the various movements to restore the Caliphate can get their soldiers onto US soil is to buy them tickets on airplanes we allow to land here. They can't invade us, and I can't see what use the NATO alliance would be against that threat. Britain and France no longer have much influence East of Suez. What is NATO to Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, New Delhi?
Which is to say I am very much opposed to ringing the Russia with a cordon sanitaire. I do not believe the US is more secure from a military alliance with Georgia or Chechnya, or Poland, or the Czech Republic, or Luxemburg, or France, or Germany. And while I am no longer familiar with the technical details of the missile defenses proposed to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic, I don't see how they much improve the security of the United States itself. I would think Scotland would be as good a place for mid-range birds as Poland if the notion is ICBM defense of the US. Iran does not so far as I know have any ICBM capabilities, but if they get them, why not Scotland? We get along with Britain, and putting bases there would not seem a threat to Russia.
I can also make a fairly long list of threats against the security of the US before I get to Iranian ICBM's with nuclear warheads, and if Iran has any such weapons I think I know at least one target they would choose if they were mad enough to fire a nuclear tipped missile. Or have I missed something?
When France chides you for appeasement, you know you're scraping bottom. <snip>
(While chairing the Security Council last week, and) (u)nknown to the world, Obama had in his pocket explosive revelations about an illegal uranium enrichment facility that the Iranians had been hiding near Qom. The French and the British were urging him to use this most dramatic of settings to stun the world with the revelation and to call for immediate action.
Obama refused. Not only did he say nothing about it, but, reports Le Monde, Sarkozy was forced to scrap the Qom section of his speech. Obama held the news until a day later ... <snip> Why forgo the opportunity? Because Obama wanted the Security Council meeting to be about his own dream of a nuclear-free world. The president, reports The New York Times citing "White House officials," did not want to "dilute" his disarmament resolution "by diverting to Iran."
Diversion? It's the most serious security issue in the world. A diversion from what? From a worthless U.N. disarmament resolution? <snip> ...in addressing the General Assembly, Obama actually said, "No one nation can ... dominate another nation." That adolescent mindlessness was followed with the declaration that "alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War" in fact "make no sense in an interconnected world." NATO, our alliances with Japan and South Korea, our umbrella over Taiwan, are senseless? What do our allies think when they hear such nonsense? <snip>
I would hope that our allies hear that the US can no longer afford to be their unpaid mercenary defense force, and the US will look to US interests.
Khadafi aside, is any dictatorship, despoty, republic, democracy, plutocracy, or other polity likely to give up its last nuclear weapons? If so, why? Is persuasion sufficient?
The powerlessness of doctors in Britain:
Kerrie Wooltorton (26), of Norwich in eastern England, is believed to be the first person to use a living will to commit suicide, The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/oct/01/living-will-suicide-legal> newspaper reported Thursday. She wrote the document on Sept. 15, 2007, three days before she poisoned herself. She called an ambulance, which took her to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. There, she gave doctors a letter addressed to "To whom this may concern."
"If I come into hospital regarding an overdose or any
attempt of my life, I would like for NO life saving treatment to be given,"
she wrote in the letter ...<snip> Doctors said they feared they would be
charged with assault if they treated her because she had made her wishes
clear, The Telegraph <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
Well, her intent was clear. Does society have a right to keep her alive against her wishes? On what basis? Is the assumption that she is not in her right mind?
There wasn't much debate. I only recall a general claim that owning huge outdoor piles of chrome, vanadium, manganese, tin and other ores at government-owned depots imposed unendurable expense on the government. Surfing the US Geological Survey commodity reports (r.e. refractory minerals) reminded me of this stupid decision again.
This announces US stockpiles will be exhausted by FY2011 (ore) and 2014 (metal). And that "Chromium has no substitute in stainless steel, the leading end use, or in superalloys, the major strategic end use."
I can see Congress' logic from one direction. They see no point in maintaining industries in the USA, so why maintain raw materials for industries that will disappear?
This publication confirms that China indeed effectively controls rare earth oxide mineral production. It does not however control - yet - all the economic reserves:
"World Resources: Rare earths are relatively abundant in the Earth’s crust, but discovered minable concentrations are less common than for most other ores...Bastnäsite deposits in China and the United States constitute the largest percentage of the world’s rare-earth economic resources."
Chinese production of rare earth oxides in 2008 was 120,000 tons. The USA, with the world's second largest economically recoverable reserve base, produced -0-.
The "problem" is not in what Beijing is doing, but in what Washington is and isn't doing.
Gone to his reward.
-- Roland Dobbins
October 3, 2009
OK. At the start I have a question. What is "Free Trade"? I ask this because unregulated trade with a one-party dictatorship following mercantilist trade and monetary policies doesn't appear particularly "free" to me.
Public policy still opposes the creation of huge private domestic monopolies. And when they are deemed unavoidable (as with water and gas utilities) they're closely regulated.
So why shouldn't this same approach be applied to trade with China so long as that regime continues in its present form?
The Free Trade Industrial Warfare State
Isn't this where these so-called "free trade" policies have already taken us? On one side the government is oblivious to the continual destruction of consumer industries and jobs demonstrably caused by off-shoring to a regime like China. On the other side we suffer anxiety attacks about industrial self-sufficiency for DoD articles.
This has created a situation where the most profitable industrial enterprises are government contractors like General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop-Grumman. Here at least we can still find leading edge Made In USA quality. Pratt & Whitney still sponsors the best single crystal metal castings around. For jet turbine blades. Hardinge and Haas still produce world-class machine tools for other companies inside DoD's keiretsu. Small companies in Texas still lead the way in precision EDM machining the hardest metal alloys on Earth into dies and other parts. You can still buy high quality Made In USA consumer clothing and footwear. As long your taste runs to desert cammies and boots.
After this profit flows to and through China's salesman in the USA: Wal-Mart. The situation here is different with Wal-Mart's army of low paid no-health insurance employees and increasingly impoverished consumer base. Quality is also demonstrably lower.
I have never been a strong believer in Free Trade; and in any event you will never HAVE actual free trade in a political society. Lobbyists will always manage to find support for sneaking in exceptions.
Lincoln that if he bought a shirt made in England, he got the shirt but the money went to England. If he bought a shirt made in New England, he got the shirt, and the money stayed in the United States where it could be invested or taxed. (Or better, invested, then the resulting business taxed). Large protectic tariffs lead to disaster: the history of the automobile industry shows that pretty well. Set the tariff high enough, make it hard to enter into an industry so that a few companies dominate it, let the buy each other, and development slows while overseas competitors build better that they can sell for less. But with free trade, any attempt to regulate the industry: health and safety, minimum wages, etc. -- will result in competitive disadvantages and transfer of jobs overseas. Every time.
Better would be an across the board tariff in the 10 - 20% range. This would offset a number of regulations but require the US industries to be more competitive. Do note that regulations always do cost more; also note that I am not advocating unregulated laissez faire capitalism, which will lead to human flesh being sold in the market place. Tariff setting is a complex job and requires sensitivity and political compromise; it always leads to selective tariffs. I much more favor across the board.
Forty years ago RAND corporation published several studies on "Hostile Trade", based on studies of Japanese-Chinese trade relationships over the centuries. Hostile trade is a difficult concept to understand, but it's quite real. I suspect those studies still exist somewhere but I doubt that any of our policy makers have read them or paid any attention to the concept, and I suspect that none of them have ever heard of it.
Some key defense industries need special protection but again it's tricky: the usual result of heavy protection is deterioration. It doesn't always happen, but it usually does. I suppose I ought to put together a coherent and reasoned essay on optimum trade policies. We know the objectives: preserve manufacturing jobs in the US while not so over protecting industries that they became fat and lazy. The tradeoff is efficiency vs. employment, and the tradeoff is real. But Lincoln's common sense observation holds up pretty well as a starting point.
Now you can have a "stealth" wirelessi home network!
“I think it’s kind of pointless. I mean, why can’t we have bake sales?”
--- Roland Dobbins
If anyone is curious, this is the DoD entity that manages the strategic materials stockpile program: <https://www.dnsc.dla.mil/> This program was established after hard experience in WWII.
A blurb annouces that in the "early 1990s" DoD suddenly determined 99% of its material stockpiles were excess to its needs. Upon which authority Congress authorized their sale. DoD states it presently has over three million employees of all kinds. A downsized 83 of these now work in the stockpile program. We are invited to believe that keeping 1,000 employees dedicated to this in the early 1990s was too onerous for DoD to support.
Discussion of why Germany lost WWII is endless and I don't propose to resolve it here. But it's worth noting that shortage of aluminum was constraining the Luftwaffe's aircraft production program from before the war started in 1939. And a critical shortage of chrome was a key factor retarding earlier development and deployment of German jet aircraft engines, and in severely limiting their service life afterwards.
Das Buros steht immer
'Das Buros steht immer' is not grammatically correct. In the singular case, correct is 'Das Buro steht immer'. In the plural case, correct is 'Die Buros stehen immer'. From the evidence in the incorrect sentence, I infer you mean the former.
I think Buro has an umlaut over the 'u' and in die Neuerechtschreibung (new orthography; literally, new right writing) should be written Buero, but I am not sure of this, am too lazy to look it up, and believe die Neuerechtschreibung is ugly anyway and so, like many Germans do, ignore it. Die Neuerechtschreidbung is a glaring and notorious example of a govt force-feeding all its subjects something only a small minority asked for. The majority took it as well as one might expect. (Imagine force-feeding Sable a pill she did not want.)
Live long and prosper
h lynn keith
The phrase is Metternich's and from memory of a history of Germany written by a Swiss historian (Burkhardt? Can't recall) back when I was in graduate school. You are of course correct that Die Buros stehen immer would be the proper form, and Metternich was certainly speaking of "bureaus" as in bureaucracy. For some reason I recall the steht immer, which is incorrect, and I don't have the source to hand. Thank you for the correction.
I suppose I can find a way to add an umlaut in Front Page, but frankly it's too much trouble. And it remains true, Die Buros immer steht...
Re: Kiester bombs.
I wrote "Fly Naked Airlines. Our handcuffs and leg irons have built-in biosensors, for easy, in-flight polygraph tests" in 2002.
I fear that I may have become an accurate prophet. "It's time for your prostate exam." "Doctor, I flew home yesterday." "Oh, then we can skip that . . ."
Organlegging: Setting the Stage
The editors of Nature (the magazine, not the world) are concerned that we may not get to harvest all the organs we need because doctors don't declare people dead quickly enough. The fools! They sometimes wait to make sure.
We Are Making Progress
Obviously, we need only spend a little bit more money per pupil on education, and those test scores will start to climb.
The other day, my granddaughter had to take a make-up Advanced Placement (AP) test in history and to do so, sat in one of the College Placement (CP) classes while she wrote the essay. Just as "Large" is the smallest legal size of olive according to the government-industry classification scheme, CP is the lowest track in this high school. They are sometimes called "on-level" though what level they are on is unclear. "Pop-pop," the gdaughter said, "they're so =stupid!"= This may have been rash judgment but, she said, they couldn't even read. One kid took the entire period to get through a single reading of about a page or two. It is not clear into which college he hoped to be placed.
But we may be certain that he will graduate, possibly with honors. Such is the modern university system.
|This week:||Sunday, October
Who exactly, did America elect to it's highest office? Who is Barry Soetoro/Barack Hussein Obama, really? Interesting question, with a few aspects now starting to show through a glass darkly.
And -- Oh, Yes -- where is the media?
John D. Trudel
I would not be astonished to find that a ghost writer had done much of the work on Obama's book, but I do not know if that was Ayers. That would be a bit surprising. When I was an undergraduate we used type/token ratios, verb/adjective ratios, and other indicators to find who wrote what; they were fairly indicative, but the work for assembling them was onerous in the days before computers. I would be astonished if there were not some new developments in the art of literary detective work, and if there were not techniques that could be used to determine if Ayers were the principal author of Obama's book; but having said that I also have to say that I have not followed developments in this field and I know nothing of them.
John Kennedy was not the author of Profiles in Courage; it's pretty well proven that Ted Sorenson was. Many Presidents have had ghost writers, but few have denied knowing them with the vigor that Obama denied Ayers. If it's true then we will not have heard the end of this story. It eventually will become common knowledge.
'I couldn’t help but think that while China has made great material progress over the last 30 years, Mao is still clearly the patriarch of the Communist Party.'
--- Roland Dobbins
---- Roland Dobbins
Did the dinosaur killer kill the dinosaurs?
Will: 'Actually, what makes skeptics skeptical is the accumulating evidence that theories predicting catastrophe from man-made climate change are impervious to evidence.'
--- Roland Dobbins
impervious or immune?
Sugar and Alcohol in our Gasoline
Re 9-30 mail from Bob Holmes, we have been doing that subsidy/barrier for a long time; and cane sugar acreage has been going down for a long time anyway.
The most recent subsidy is for alcohol for gasoline at a payment of $0.51 per gallon (or $21.42 per barrel) and a barrier to imports from cane sugar supplied alcohol from Brazil. See Pew Center environment website for complete economics for all sugar-based fuels
G. Allan Smalley, Jr. P E
"It's just a little cross in the middle of nowhere."
--- Roland Dobbins
Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
Controversy about Number of UK Veterans in Prison
"The owner of one of England's three major exam boards is to introduce artificial intelligence-based automated marking of English exam essays in the UK from next month." Comment: "A disaster waiting to happen": http://tinyurl.com/y89e8ae
-- Harry Erwin
An absolute minimum. General Dynamics and Raytheon should be added to this list.
In the case of Northrop it shouldn't be difficult to compel it to disgorge the naval shipyards (New Orleans, Biloxi-Pascagoula & Newport News) it swallowed earlier this decade. The first achievement of this consolidation of shipbuilding under a former aerospace company was to deliver a milspec'd car ferry (USS San Antonio) that took about three more years to get truly ready for sea.
Probably I'm dense but I can't see the efficiency advantages in terms of better technology and lower costs in combining shipbuilding and overhaul with:
--- KC-10 and B-2 support
--- computer battle training simulations at the U.S. Army's Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth
--- technical support of US Postal Service depot maintenance of mail sorting machines.
--- Microgravity research, development and operations in Cleveland, Ohio.
--- Linguist support for the Army in Europe and Iraq.
--- Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program - (Walsh Visa Program) for the US Department of State
It is impossible to make this up. Many more examples are available by surfing: http://www.ts.northropgrumman.com/a-z/l.html
plus General Dynamics and the rest.
Is it possible that management's attention being spread so thin had an teensy weensy little bit to do with the USS San Antonio fiasco?
Ender's Air Force.
- Roland Dobbins
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