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Monday  November 16, 2009

I am doing this Sunday night. I will try to do an update Monday PM. There was mail yesterday.

Letter From England

Guardian story about a high rate of birth defects in Falluja, Iraq <http://tinyurl.com/yholpyj>

Washington Post story about high BPA levels affecting male sexual problems <http://tinyurl.com/yj8223h>

Australia apologises for treatment of children involved in a child migration scheme from the UK during 1947-67. "The (UK) children were separated from their families (by the Government) and told they were orphans, while the parents were told that they had gone to a better life. But most were brought up in institutions, or by farmers, and many were treated as child slave labour." <http://tinyurl.com/yzpnntl> <http://tinyurl.com/yzclqeg>

UK proposal to ration carbon usage on an individual basis. <http://tinyurl.com/ygvd46d>

US rejects UK proposal to tax financial transactions. <http://tinyurl.com/yc5s5ts> I'm glad someone in the discussion has some sense. This is the sort of tax proposal I've come to expect from UK politicians. One of my hobbies is trading in biotech, a less efficient sector of the stock market. My activity--since I base it on a knowledge of the technology and the industry--helps stabilise that market, as well as making me money. If I were taxed *specifically* for doing this, it would make the market less efficient, the global economy less productive, and everyone, on the average, poorer.

This report is the sort of thing that makes UK ministers leery of listening to scientists and engineers <http://tinyurl.com/yf9x6tg>


"The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is." (Tom Vogl)

Harry Erwin


The Union and the Boy Scout

Dr. Pournelle --

There's something seriously wrong with this situation. (emphasis mine)

Union troubled by Eagle Scout project in Allentown http://www.mcall.com/news

"In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson, 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours hours [sic] over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park."

"Nick Balzano, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told Allentown City Council Tuesday that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing Anderson to clear a 1,000-foot walking and biking path at Kimmets Lock Park.

"We'll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails," Balzano told the council."

So much for the associations that de Tocqueville spoke of.


No comment is needed.


Actually, the surfaces are painted with radar-reflective material, and only USS Alexander Hamilton and USS Aaron Burr have duel masts

From Popular Mechanics: "All these surfaces are also painted with radar-reflective material. The duel masts are enclosed in a composite material that allows antennas to transmissions to travel <http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4336537.html#>  through."

I find it interesting that we have two ships with those names.




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Tuesday,  November 17, 2009

On airplanes and at PDC all day.


For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:



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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Magnetic Monopoles?


I'll bet at least a couple of your readers will be interested in this.


In 1931, physicist Paul Dirac hypothesized that on the quantum level, magnetic charge must exist in discrete packets, or quanta, in the same way that electric energy exists in a photon. This implies the existence of magnetic monopoles: particles that have a single magnetic charge, or polar identity -- north or south.

For 78 years, Dirac's speculation interested only hardcore theorists, because the conjecture failed to find any expression in observed phenomena. All magnets had two poles, one north and one south, inextricably attached to each other.

That all changed in September, when physicists discovered the identity-carrying particle <http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-09/
have-scientists-finally-found-elusive-monopole>  Dirac predicted, as well as the one-poled magnets the particle creates. These magnets, called monopoles, exist only in special crystals called "spin ice," which can't form regular magnets due to the forces generated by the unique geometry in their crystal bonding structure.

Now, English scientists have discovered how to make magnetic poles flow through those crystals like an electric current, transforming parts of the crystals into monopoles in waves. This advance takes this field out of theory and into the real world of computer engineering.

In a regular computer, chips store information as an electric charge. Positive and negative charges represent the ones and zeroes of programming code.

This new discovery opens up the possibility that magnetic monopoles could be used for computer storage. If magnetic polar identity can flow through crystals of spin ice, then the current of identity could replace positive and negative charges with positive and negative monopoles as the information storage medium. And since controlling the magnetic identity of electrons underlies quantum computing, this ability to alter that identity with a current positions spin ice as the new, leading candidate for quantum computing chips.

And if you aren't excited about the future of quantum computing, you're probably reading the wrong website.


I need to think about this one. Not sure what it all means.


Water on the moon

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I will be fascinated to hear what you learned at your conference. If you are able and not TOO angry I'd also be interested in hearing how bad the flight was.

I'm sure you saw this: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/

Finding 25 gallons of water where most scientists have long believed there was none is like shaking a haystack and having 25 needles fall at your feet. What I thought was interesting was NASA playing coy about seeing the spectra of "volatiles," and "hints other intriguing substances." We can hope they are talking about carbon and ammonia.

Sincerely, Frank Luxem

It is very exciting and has profound implications.


'Basically, the regolith absorbs electrically charged particles given out by the Sun. These electrically charged particles interact with molecules of oxygen that are already present in lunar dust, and voila, you have H2O.'


--- Roland Dobbins


: Biofuels Breakthrough: Making Fuel From Air With Engineered Microbes : Gas 2.0



This is another one I need to find out more about before I let my blood pressure rise.


"I came away thinking, if the 20th century was the American century . . . you have to believe that the 21st century will be the Chinese century."


- Roland Dobbins


British Navy was within 50 feet of Somali Pirates as they Kidnapped British Citizens

Their poltroonery in letting the pirates do this may be related to the advice that no pirate should be taken on a British ship in case he applies for political asylum. Words cannot express how far this is from the Nelson tradition.


Neil Craig



You wrote "There seems to be a tizzy about President Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan.

I can't think why. "

It is not the act of bowing that irks. As you noted there is precedent for adhering to protocols in foreign courts.

What irked me was the depth of the bow. I have only a passing familiarity with 'bowing in Japan' but the little I do know informs me that a deep bow such as that is from an inferior to a superior. A person of my acquaintance familiar with Asia wrote it was the kind of bow you'd see from a bathroom attendant to the Emperor, not from a head of state to the Emperor.

-- Brian Dunbar Geidus

"Display some adaptability"

I find my time limited, and I haven't time properly to consider all the more serious matters I can identify. There are many things going on at State that I don't like much.


: Electronics Interference redux...

Hi -

You're probably tired of hearing yet another opinion, but here it goes: for many years I was a member of the IEEE and received, of course, their excellent Spectrum magazine. Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s there was an article discussing exactly this problem. Unfortunately, their online archives only go back so far, and work led me astray from continuing the IEEE membership (and space constraints led to the lack of archive: I had to choose between SF novels and the IEEE, and the IEEE lost).

That article pointed out several things:

1) it's not so much the direct RF output, but much more the combined output from multiple devices echoing around that tube of steel and aluminum that represents the danger, leading to problems with harmonics and reinforced waves from multiple devices;

2) it's not that individual instruments go bonkers and cease to work, but much more that the mixture of harmonics and sources of RF can lead to drift in readings from sensors and electronics that are unknown and uncontrollable;

3) it's not that each individual device represents the entirety of the danger, but rather the use, especially during landing and takeoff which one commentor has properly pointed out tends to make recoverable problems non-recoverable, of many different devices leading to an unknown RF environment with many possibilities of creating problems that are not immediately noticeable;

4) testing for this - to allow the use of consumer electronics of any kind - during phases of operation of aircraft is not even remotely feasible, given the enormous spectrum (pun intended) of RF radiation from such devices in varying states of repair;

5) given that we're talking about flying, with little or no survival rates from crashes, the responsibilties and duties of the aircraft manufacturer and the airline take precedence over the inconvenience of consumers;


6) while not mentioned in the article, let us do remember that there has been a case where an aircraft veered off course for reasons not clearly understood and was then shot down by the Soviets: Korean Air Flight 007 (at least Wikipedia doesn't point to clear reasons why that flight went off course so dramatically (besides the usual conspiracy theories)).

It's the undetermined probability of RF harmonics messing with sensor inputs that makes turning them off sensible to me: there is no way to test for this. Inflight, after the autopilots are on and control has been turned over to the computers, the pilots are there to monitor their performance and any problems can be identified, caught and solved before they turn into life-endangering problems.

If' I'm entrusting my life to a pressurized tube powered by high temperature, high speed rotating fans and carried by pressure differentials operated by humans dependent on inputs from electronic devices in term dependent upon sensor inputs for operating parameters, then I want those operating parameters to be reported cleanly. For that purpose, I'm more than happy to turn off my computer or cell during those time periods.

Others not wanting to do so are placing their inconvenience over what appears to me to be legitimate and proper safety considerations.

I'd love to have the original article, but as I said, the online archives only go back 10 years...

Best regards

John F. Opie

And that, I think should end the matter. I don't much mind turning off my phone and computer before takeoff and before landing.


Guardian story about a high rate of birth defects in Falluja, Iraq   <http://tinyurl.com/yholpyj>  >

Neurologists and obstetricians in the city interviewed by the Guardian say the rise in birth defects – which include a baby born with two heads, babies with multiple tumours, and others with nervous system problems - are unprecedented and at present unexplainable. ... areas that have in the past also been intense battle zones where modern munitions have been heavily used.


Ahhhhhh yes... That depleted Uranium sabot ammunition...

These are a people who stole barrels used to store yellowcake and use it to store drinking water. Sad and pathetic, true, but will Political Correctness overshadow the truth?


Kindle Sales explode for Random House – $2.9 to $22.6 million.


- Roland Dobbins


'So far, swine flu is not a medical emergency, though no one says that very clearly.'

I'll go even further and state that the whole thing is a grossly-exaggerated near-hoax genned up by health bureaucrats who're seeking larger shares of their respective budgets and greater powers over the citizenry:


-- Roland Dobbins

Well now, I wouldn't say that... Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Napoleon Bonaparte



Some of these look to be knitted; I do recall that some guy involved in Mandelbrot sets learned how to knit. Enjoy.




Climate, clouds, and cosmic rays


Here's a piece from the Register, a UK paper that seems skeptical enough about climate catastrophe to have a topic called "Thermogeddon". http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/

Essentially, over the recent past and over deep time, global temperatures have correlated much better with cosmic ray bombardment than with carbon dioxide levels.

...........Karl Lembke








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Thursday, November 19, 2009


If you go to this web site, www.LetsSayThanks.com <http://www.letssaythanks.com/>  you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who get s it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them. This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's. Thanks for taking to time to support our military!


intellectual property


Dear Jerry,

Have you seen this poorly written socialist tract masquerading as "libertarian thought"?

As you pointed out once, if intellectual property is so worthless and inconsequential, why are they so eager to get their hands on it?

-- Recent novels from Michael Z. Williamson CONTACT WITH CHAOS, Apr 09 from Baen Books

Intellectual property is what I make my living on. I am not an absolutist -- the Constitution sets definite conditions for my temporary monopoly -- but I have no other real source of income.


Maersk Alabama repels 2nd pirate attack with guns - Yahoo! News


Dear Jerry:

Piracy, like all forms of terrorism , is an insurable risk. I wonder if this is like guarding factory and other buildings where the reductions in premiums pays for the added security. If so, we'll see more stories like this.


Francis Hamit

Indeed. Or escalation?


"The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant."


-- Roland Dobbins

No longer a castle. No longer an England. Or a Scotland.


Survivalists Alert

macKenzie's 10,000 receipts


I was reading your column on Chaos Manor Special Reports - notes from a survival sage. Just wanted to note that you can read Mackenzie's 10,000 receipts on Google Books and download the PDF for free !

Here's the link:



Ron Perrella


Hasan attack and Purple Hearts 

Dr Pournelle, when Puerto Rican terrorists attacked the bus carrying watch standers to the NSGA site on that island, the wounded were given Purple Hearts. So the statement "The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite..." didn't hold true in that case.

I believe those wounded and dead deserve the Purple Heart. They were attacked not because of who they were but of what they were. If a soldier is attacked on a street corner, simply because he has volunteered to serve his country, I think he too should be awarded the Purple Heart.

Wasn't the original intent of the award to give it to someone wounded in defense of their country?


Heiskell Christmas


: Nidal Hasan - not quite sure what to make of this..

He was a participant of the Homeland Security Policy Institute Presidential Transition Task Force.

See document page 29, pdf page 32.


Best, -jim


Copyright Time Bomb Set to Disrupt Music, Publishing Industries.


--- Roland Dobbins


Intel brass sued over antitrust wrangle, 


Here's an interesting new wrinkle in antitrust litigation:

"Intel CEO Paul Otellni and a host of other top Intel brass past and present have been fingered by a shareholder lawsuit, accused of ignoring and pandering to antitrust misconduct that resulted in record fines for the company:"


I'm still digesting this, myself. Private enforcement of antitrust law. Hmm.



Dr. Pournelle,

Here's what we need as reported by The Wall Street Journal:

"The Edsel of Education Reform The Ford Foundation finds a needy cause: teachers unions."



Pete Nofel

Just what we need! Now there's a use for tax exempt money.


The show trials in Manhattan

Hello Jerry,

Forgetting for a moment the 'bait for more terrorism' aspect of bringing the poor abused victims back to NY so that they can have a 'fair trial' (for what?), think about what is going to happen when these folks get into court with the best multi-million dollar defense team that can be rounded up by the ACLU and funded by your tax dollars and are able spend a year or two forcing every intelligence agency in the country to testify under oath how they acquired said victims, what made them think that they were terrorists in the first place, where their information came from, how reliable it was, what was done to the victims while they were AT Gitmo, ad nauseum. And think who will be blamed for the unwarranted persecution of these poor innocent folks when they are predictably exonerated and released to resume killing Americans.

Then think who the folks are who came up with this 'plan', their background, and whether they are too stupid to be aware of the implications of a trial.

Then, considering how the whole process is likely to play out, decide if the actual objective of the whole farce is to try, convict, and punish 'criminals', or to use the process to damage the United States to the maximum extent possible.

You continue to give our current rulers the benefit of the doubt (although I am recently seeing signs of wavering) as well intentioned, but misguided people who have only love and respect for our country and are doing their inept best to 'support and defend' it and its Constitution.

I think that the evidence has become overwhelming that they are neither well intentioned nor misguided. It is simply that the principles which guide them call for the destruction of the United States as a Democratic Republic and replacing it with a Marxist Tyranny. And they are proceeding, very competently and thoroughly, apace.

Bob Ludwick


Benefits of outsourcing.


-- Roland Dobbins

Free Enterprise...


"Each vehicle will be equipped with a GPS device that tracks how many kilometres are driven and when and where. This data will be then be sent to a collection agency that will send out the bill."


--- Roland Dobbins


"We have had huge climate change in the past and to think the very slight variations we measure today are the result of our life - we really have to put ice blocks in our drinks."


-- Roland Dobbins

The evidence pours in, but of course evidence is irrelevant. What's important is consensus.



l <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/






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Friday,  November 20, 2009

: health?

This was on the BBC World News Thursday:

"A drug that could prolong the lives of patients with advanced liver cancer has been rejected for use in the NHS in England and Wales. The assessment body ... says [it] is too expensive."

I heard this won't happen in the US. I heard there was a bridge sale.




Brain Cancer in NYT

A New York Time article you may find of interest:

Breaching a Barrier to Fight Brain Cancer Getting drugs into the brain has always been a major challenge in treating tumors <http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/tumor/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier>  and other neurological diseases, because the blood-brain barrier, a natural defense system, keeps many drugs out. The study that Mr. Sugrue is in, at <http://nyp.org/> NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell
/index.html?inline=nyt-org>  , combines old technologies in a new way to open the barrier and deliver extraordinarily high doses of Avastin straight to these deadly tumors — without soaking the rest of the brain in the drug and exposing it to side effects.



Which is very much worth following.


Dobbins' Assertion and Bonaparte's Axiom reconciled by Pournelle's Iron Law?

In answer to Roland Dobbins' assertion that the swine flu kerfuffle is, "...a grossly-exaggerated near-hoax genned up by health bureaucrats who're seeking larger shares of their respective budgets and greater powers over the citizenry," you replied,

"Well now, I wouldn't say that... Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. Napoleon Bonaparte"

To which I counter:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureacracy. It seems to me that your own Iron Law could easily encompass both Roland Dobbins' assertion and your own citation of Napoleon's Axiom. Short-sighted (indeed, stupid and incompetent, no matter how intelligent they may be) "bureaucraps" (my own formulation for the worst of "type 2" bureaucrats noted in Pournelle's Iron Law) seeking to expand their fiefdoms' power and finances are likely to do any number of things that sober reflection would reveal as stupid and incompetent.

David W Needham


Buchanan: 'Is it possible we have done an injustice to this man by keeping him locked up all these years without trial? For that is what this trial implies – that he may not be guilty.'


- Roland Dobbins

Holden made it clear that even if he were found innocent he would not be let go. That is hardly a monument to our liberty. Give him a fair trial, then hang him. Maybe shot while attempting to escape would be better?


What's worse than organlegging?


Gang 'killed victims to extract their fat'

Peruvian police arrest suspects who allegedly drained their victims and sold liquid as an anti-wrinkle treatment <snip>Three suspects have confessed to killing five people for their fat, said Colonel Jorge Mejia, chief of Peru <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/peru>  's anti-kidnapping police, but the number of victims was believed to be much higher and to date back decades. Two of the suspects were arrested at a bus station in the capital, Lima, carrying bottles of liquid fat which they claimed were worth up to £36,000 a gallon. <snip>


Perhaps they can be farmers and breed people for the purpose? Of course none of this can happen in these enlightened times. Certainly not anywhere in North America.


: Nigerian


Apparently the latest version of the Nigerian Email (I didn't open to find out more):

E-mail subject (paraphrased - caps in original):


I didn't open it either. I keep a sterile machine for doing that, but I haven't had time to fire it up lately.


a subscriber responds to your assertions about public education

Dear Jerry -

I would not agree with your assertion that we are getting worse results in public education, despite the increased costs.

I would ask whether the children given to the teachers have anywhere near the same set of shared experiences before they ever set foot inside of a classroom. With the degradation of the family (working moms, divorce, parental recreational drugs, lack of punishment, etc.), most students are at a severe disadvantage before teachers and administrators do their thing. Also, many children acquire knowledge through siblings, and multiple-child families (say, three children or more) are becoming rare. I'd also look at decreased social interaction (fear-inducing media, fewer church/civic events) and families who don't demand English from their children.

It may be true that the progress is the same, but the starting line was moved way back; as a result, it looks like a decline. Incompetent teachers and administrators (and let's not forget school boards) certainly don't help the situation, but it's not the root of the problem. For all we know, teachers are doing better than the teachers of old, if one grades them on technique, preparation, knowledge of teaching styles to fit kids who learn differently, inclusion of mainstreamed handicapped or unruly children, etc. Little consolation, I'd agree.

The problem is, and always will be, the parents. I think we both know why this simple truth is not uttered. I especially blame those who think their parents were so mean to them, and now (that they know better) attempt a "kinder, gentler" approach. You know, for the child's self-esteem. How much self-esteem does a child retain when they learn life's lessons later on in life, to even greater embarrassment? Who's self esteem are these wishy-washy parents protecting, the child's or their own?

withhold name please

The purpose of the education system ought to be to take those who can be educated and teach them. If the reason they can't be educated is that they are poor protoplasm, or have bad parents, or bad families, or they are poor, then we may have both a moral obligation and financial incentive to try to remedy that, but it doesn't make it less important to do what you can.

When a paratrooper jumps out of an airplane and sees it is a bad landing area, the smartest thing he could do is climb back into the airplane and find another place. That doesn't work well as a strategy. We have the schools and teachers and children we have; what shall we do? I would argue that subsidiarity and transparency are about the only means we have to change the system.

No child left behind took effort dedicated to the top half of the class and applied it to raising the scores of the lower half. This may be fair but it is not productive.

The Gates F0undation has found that exceptional teachers can overcome all kinds of difficulties, including parenting, being poor, and so forth: I call to your attention Jaime Escalante as an example we knew of long before the Gates Foundation. But teachers unions do not want us to discover and encourage great teachers, and they adamantly oppose merit pay, elimination of the worst teachers, and so forth. So long as we use a national command system to control education, or even statewide, this will continue. It is the Iron Law in spades with big casino.

And we are certainly getting worse results. My country school (4 through 8 ) in Capleville, Tennessee during World War 2 had 4 classrooms; two grades per class, about 25-30 pupils per grade. These were local farmer kids. I was the anomaly (and when I got on the Whiz Kids radio program very much so). But we studied many things. Everyone read Scott's Lady of the Lake, as an example. We got the basics of education, yes, some by rote, but we knew stuff when we came out of there. Yes, I knew more because I read damned near everything in the library and besides I had the Encyclopedia at home, but we learned. Including self discipline, which I desperately needed to learn.

But I've said all that before. It's astounding how much the average kid can learn if he knows he is expected to. Of course ALL the kids in our school could read. Even the dummies could read the history book. But I have said all that before too.

We have to work with what we have, or the education system is pointless.


Pournelle mentioned in CRU's hacked e-mails 

Alleged CRU Emails - 1109021312.txt

The below is one of a series of alleged emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, released on 20 November 2009.

From: Phil Jones To: mann@virginia.edu Subject: Fwd: CCNet: PRESSURE GROWING ON CONTROVERSIAL RESEARCHER TO DISCLOSE SECRET DATA Date: Mon Feb 21 16:28:32 2005 Cc: "raymond s. bradley" , "Malcolm Hughes"

Mike, Ray and Malcolm,

The skeptics seem to be building up a head of steam here ! Maybe we can use

this to our advantage to get the series updated !

Odd idea to update the proxies with satellite estimates of the lower troposphere

rather than surface data !. Odder still that they don't realise that Moberg et al used the

Jones and Moberg updated series !

Francis Zwiers is till onside. He said that PC1s produce hockey sticks. He stressed

that the late 20th century is the warmest of the millennium, but Regaldo didn't bother

with that. Also ignored Francis' comment about all the other series looking similar

to MBH.

The IPCC comes in for a lot of stick.

Leave it to you to delete as appropriate !



PS I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data.

Don't any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !

X-Sender: f023@pop.uea.ac.uk

X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 15:40:05 +0000

To: p.jones@uea.ac.uk

From: Keith Briffa




Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 15:02:37 -0000



Thread-Topic: pressure grows on climate modellers to relase secret data

Thread-Index: AcUXiV64e/f3Ii8uQSa0X88pndSQgQAl2O1w

From: "Peiser, Benny"

To: "cambridge-conference"

X-UEA-MailScanner-Information: Please contact the ISP for more information

X-UEA-MailScanner: Found to be clean

CCNet 22/2005 - 21 February 2005



This should have produced a healthy scientific debate. Instead, Mr. Mann tried

to shut down debate by refusing to disclose the mathematical algorithm by which

he arrived at his conclusions. All the same, Mr. Mann was forced to publish a

retraction of some of his initial data, and doubts about his statistical methods

have since grown.

--The Wall Street Journal, 18 February 2005

But maybe we are in that much trouble. The WSJ highlights what Regaldo and McIntyre

says is Mann's resistance or outright refusal to provide to inquiring minds his

data, all details of his statistical analysis, and his code. So this is what I

say to Dr. Mann and others expressing deep concern over peer review: give up your

data, methods and code freely and with a smile on your face.

--Kevin Vranes, Science Policy, 18 February 2005

Mann's work doesn't meet that definition [of science], and those who use Mann's

curve in their arguments are not making a scientific argument. One of Pournelle's

Laws states "You can prove anything if you can make up your data." I will now add

another Pournelle's Law: "You can prove anything if you can keep your algorithms


--Jerry Pournelle, 18 February 2005

The time has come to question the IPCC's status as the near-monopoly source of

information and advice for its member governments. It is probably futile to propose

reform of the present IPCC process. Like most bureaucracies, it has too much momentum

and its institutional interests are too strong for anyone realistically to suppose

that it can assimilate more diverse points of view, even if more scientists and

economists were keen to join up. The rectitude and credibility of the IPCC could be

best improved not through reform, but through competition.

--Steven F. Hayward, The American Enterprise Institute, 15 February 2005 <snip>

I have no idea of the significance of this.


Union blocks teacher bonuses

Hi Jerry,

I thought you might be interested in this story about how the teachers union in Boston is blocking bonus money from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

- Al

Union blocks teacher bonuses

By Edward Mason | Wednesday, November 18, 2009  Local Coverage <http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/

Grinchlike union bosses are blocking at least 200 of Boston’s best teachers from pocketing bonuses for their classroom heroics in a puzzling move that gets a failing grade from education experts.

The Boston Teachers Union staunchly opposes a performance bonus plan for top teachers - launched at the John D. O’Bryant School in 2008 and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Exxon Mobil foundations - insisting the dough be divvied up among all of a school’s teachers, good and bad.

“It’s insanity,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of the nonpartisan Pioneer Institute. “They’re less concerned about promoting the interest of individual members than maintaining control over their members.”

The incentive program pays Advanced Placement teachers $100 bonuses for each student who passes the test, and up to $3,000 a year for meeting other goals. Students also can also receive $100 for passing.

“(The union) is standing in the way of innovation,” school Superintendent Carol R. Johnson told the Herald. “I think we have to realize we can’t do business as usual. . . . We have to be willing to make changes and give kids the opportunities they need.”

The program also pays for after-school study sessions for AP classes, which can count toward college credit and which some universities use to evaluate applicants.

The incentive program - part of a series of innovations Boston Public Schools wants to roll out - includes drawing outside money to the city’s cash-strapped schools to boost academic performance.

Union head Richard Stutman bristled at criticism he doesn’t have his members’ interest at heart. “We’re not taking money away from teachers,” Stutman claimed.

He also objected to the suggestions his union is a foe of school reform, insisting he backs the incentive program - so long as the bonus goes to all teachers, not just AP instructors.

“There’s no one solely responsible for the development of these students,” Stutman said. “They should all share in the money.”

But by thwarting performance bonuses, the union is hurting students, argued Morton Orlov, president of the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative at MassINSIGHT, the business-backed group that administers the bonuses.

Orlov said the 10 state schools that accept the bonuses saw a 39 percent increase in students who passed the AP exam.

“You can think of this as smart money,” Orlov said.

Ligia Noriega, headmaster at the Excel High in South Boston, wants the bonus program at her school.

“These incentives push people to work a little bit harder,” Noriega said. “We have to start thinking outside the box.”

Article URL: <http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1212771

The Iron Law in action. Predictable, of course.







This week:


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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Read All About it! Climate Depot Exclusive - Continuously Updated 'ClimateGate' News Round Up

The Obama Administration and the Warming Alarmists are using the "ACORN defense" -- trying to shift media focus and legal action off to the recent (huge news!!!) hacking of the CRU info, and away from FRAUD and long-term, systematic collusion on the part of Global Warming Alarmists. Many all over the world are making copies of the files to prevent this from being suppressed. This will be very hard to cover up.

Here's a good source for news on ClimateGate. The saga continues. Obama continues to press for Copenhagen.

According to Ramussen Polls Obama's approval ratings (strongly disapprove - strongly approve) are now minus 13-14%, new lows. He's in trouble with health care as well, with only one out of three Americans supporting ObamaCare.



John D. Trudel


From: "Marc Morano-ClimateDepot.com"

 Subject: Read All About it! Climate Depot Exclusive - Continuously Updated 'ClimateGate' News Round Up Date: Sat, 21 Nov 2009 00:48:12 -0500

Please keep checking back for updates.



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11/21/2009 11:43 M EST

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<title>&ldquo;My belief today is that it&rsquo;s better to have the Americans as...</title>

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That's a rendering error in IE 8. It happens sometimes with characters sent by Macs. All's well, actually.


Subject: The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery


Fascinating look at a high volume heart surgery clinic in India: > http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12587589

Does make you wonder about the high costs of health care here. How much of that is the result of policies and practices that effectively shield the health care industry from competition, and maximize their profits.

CP, Connecticut

We have cardiologists among the readers here, and perhaps one can comment; I don't know enough about the subject to have anything to say. Reducing health care costs while raising the number of people entitled to it seems a very difficult task; the programs we have are experiencing rising costs and deficits.


This American Life two-part podcast on the health care debate.

Definitely worth a listen, IMHO:



-- Roland Dobbins

See next week's mail for proper links.


SFWA Statement on Harlequin’s self-publishing imprint

November, 2009, Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd. announced the launch of a new imprint, Harlequin Horizons, for aspiring romance authors. Under normal circumstances, the addition of a new imprint by a major house would be cause for celebration in the professional writing community. Unfortunately, these are not normal circumstances. Harlequin Horizons is a joint venture with Author Solutions, and it is a vanity/subsidy press that relies upon payments and income from aspiring writers to earn profit, rather than sales of books to actual readers.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) finds it extremely disappointing that Harlequin has chosen to launch an imprint whose sole purpose appears to be the enrichment of the corporate coffers at the expense of aspiring writers. According to their website, “Now with Harlequin Horizons, more writers have the opportunity to enter the market, hone their skills and achieve the goals that burn in their hearts.”

SFWA calls on Harlequin to openly acknowledge that Harlequin Horizon titles will not be distributed to brick-and-mortar bookstores, thus ensuring that the titles will not be breaking into the real fiction market. SFWA also asks that Harlequin acknowledge that the imprint does not represent a genuine opportunity for aspiring authors to hone their skills, as no editor will be vetting or working on the manuscripts. Further, SFWA believes that work published with Harlequin Horizons may injure writing careers by associating authors’ names with small sales levels reflected by the imprint’s lack of distribution, as well as its emphasis upon income received from writers and not readers. SFWA supports the fundamental principle that writers should be paid for their work, and even those who aspire to professional status and payment ought not to be charged for the privilege of having those aspirations.

Until such time as Harlequin changes course, and returns to a model of legitimately working with authors instead of charging authors for publishing services, SFWA has no choice but to be absolutely clear that NO titles from ANY Harlequin imprint will be counted as qualifying for membership in SFWA. Further, Harlequin should be on notice that while the rules of our annual Nebula Award do not expressly prohibit self-published titles from winning, it is highly unlikely that our membership would ever nominate or vote for a work that was published in this manner.

Already the world’s largest romance publisher, Harlequin should know better than anyone else in the industry the importance of treating authors professionally and with the respect due the craft; Harlequin should have the internal fortitude to resist the lure of easy money taken from aspiring authors who want only to see their work professionally published and may be tempted to believe that this is a legitimate avenue towards those goals.

SFWA does not believe that changing the name of the imprint, or in some other way attempting to disguise the relationship to Harlequin, changes the intention, and calls on Harlequin to do the right thing by immediately discontinuing this imprint and returning to doing business as an advance and royalty paying publisher.

For the Board of Directors, Russell Davis President SFWA, Inc.

My experience with Harlequin was long ago, in the days of Laser Books, when Harlequin acted both honorably and generously when the Laser line failed to generate the income expected and was terminated. I had three books at Laser, Birth of Fire, West of Honor, and Exile to Glory. The former two were published, the third had been accepted and the acceptance payment made; Harlequin released all three to me (as it did for all authors in Laser). Birth of Fire and West of Honor were subsequently published by Simon and Schuster/Pocket, and Exile to Glory by Baen, and all three are still in print in one way or another (West of Honor is incorporated into The Prince, Exile to Glory into Exile -- and Glory!!).

I have seen Harlequin romances indistinguishable from science fiction, and of course authors are paid for those; I presume they still are. I am not part of the membership committee, but I cannot believe that because Harlequin has a vanity press SFWA will reject any Harlequin imprint as a basis for qualification; again my experience has been limited, but the last time I had any professional relationship with Harlequin I thought their editorial staff was highly competent (if in those days a bit overly zealous to remove offensive words and phrases; a practice that apparently doesn't happen any longer). Their attention to plot detail was quite good, and they were eager to find novels in which women had untraditional roles. I don't much read romance novels, although Roberta and I at one time thought seriously of collaborating on several for Harlequin -- the advances and royalties offered were more than competitive with what was offered by major publishers for science fiction -- and we did look into their editorial practices and Roberta read a number of their romances to see what they were buying. We didn't do that because some of my works with Niven hit the best seller list and that was a more reasonable use of my time, but it easily could have happened.

I don't know where Harlequin stands in the romance publishing industry now, but surely they continue to have traditional advances and royalties? But that's a discussion for another time. I haven't thought enough about the proposition that a company that has a vanity press subsidiary should be shunned. I know a long time ago there were proposals to shun agencies that had a fee reading subsidiary, but I think little came of that.







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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday,  November 22, 2009     


MWA on the Harlequin Enterprises:

Click to view this email in a browser <http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/


Dear MWA Members:

click here <http://cts.vresp.com/c/?
0/9d86972a5d/21e6f9bc8f>  Recently, Harlequin Enterprises launched two new business ventures aimed at aspiring writers, the Harlequin Horizons self-publishing program and the eHarlequin Manuscript Critique service (aka "Learn to Write"), both of which are widely promoted on its website and embedded in the manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints.

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is deeply concerned about the troubling conflict-of-interest issues created by these ventures, particularly the potentially misleading way they are marketed to aspiring writers on the Harlequin website.

It is common for disreputable publishers to try to profit from aspiring writers by steering them to their own for-pay editorial, marketing, and publishing services. The implication is that by paying for those services, the writer is more likely to sell his manuscript to the publisher. Harlequin recommends the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service" in the text of its manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints and include a link to "Harlequin Horizons," its new self-publishing arm, without any indication that these are advertisements.

That, coupled with the fact that these businesses share the Harlequin name, may mislead writers into believing they can enhance their chances of being published by Harlequin by paying for these services. Offering these services violates long-standing MWA rules for inclusion on our Approved Publishers List.

On November 9, Mystery Writers of America sent a letter to Harlequin about the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service," notifying Harlequin that it is in violation of our rules and suggesting steps that Harlequin could take to remain on our Approved Publishers list. The steps outlined at that time included removing mention of this for-pay service entirely from its manuscript submission guidelines, clearly identifying any mention of this program as paid advertisement, and, adding prominent disclaimers that this venture was totally unaffiliated with the editorial side of Harlequin, and that paying for this service is not a factor in the consideration of manuscripts. Since that letter went out, Harlequin has launched "Harlequin Horizons," a self-publishing program.

MWA's November 9 letter asks that Harlequin respond to our concerns and recommendations by December 15. We look forward to receiving their response and working with them to protect the interests of aspiring writers. If MWA and Harlequin are unable to reach an agreement, MWA will take appropriate action which may include removing Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, declining future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin and declaring that books published by Harlequin will not be eligible for the Edgar Awards.

We are taking this action because we believe it is vitally important to alert our members of unethical and predatory publishing practices that take advantage of their desire to be published. We respect Harlequin and its authors and hope the company will take the appropriate corrective measures.

This e-bulletin was prepared by Margery Flax on behalf of MWA's National Board of Directors.



Re: A Response to Colonel Couvillon on UAV by S

There is one significant difference between aerial and other types of crewed weapon platforms (tanks, ships, etc). Current technology can produce aerial platforms capable of withstanding maneuvering stresses beyond that tolerable by the human body. Smart missiles are a type of UAV which take advantage of this fact, since they can turn faster in a smaller radius than piloted aircraft. So we already have a mix of piloted/unpiloted in the air. There are obvious combat advantages to making your entire flying weapons platform (machine guns, cannon, missile launchers) able to withstand high G stresses... disadvantages too, and the nature of both will change with changes in technology.

Most arguments I'm reading are qualitative--Piloted is Good vs. Unpiloted is Good--rather than advocating finding out through trial and test which is best (or in what mix) for various missions now, and in future mission scenarios.

The limits to ground and naval machine design are not the physical acceleration limits of their crews. Until one can build or even design a tank which can pull 100 Gs, I think that this particular comparison is not valid.

Greg Hemsath


UAV debate 

Your correspondent "S" seems to have a bit of a raw nerve on the subject. His point about the vulnerability of satellites is well taken, but that is an issue of tactics that does little to dilute the potential value of UAVs. He assumes that the current operational model, where the operators remain stateside with satellite communications to the UAVs in-theater, is the only possible model. In fact, it's probably not even the optimal model.

Put that same control room either in-theater or very near it. Loft either an SR-71 or a UAV designed for the purpose to an altitude of 80,000 feet (or perhaps higher, with the proper UAV design.) This aircraft, manned or unmanned, serves solely as a radio repeater. At 80,000 feet your horizon is 348 statute (302 nautical) miles. Mind you, that's the line of sight to a *ground* station. An aircraft in flight will be within line of sight even farther away. If you need more distance, loft a second one and create a chain of repeaters. Satellites are a nice way to do this, but not a necessary way. In fact, given the current cost to launch, the chain of high altitude drone repeaters should be very cost effective, as well as easily replaced. An aircraft carrier would make a perfect base for such a UAV system and coincidentally, that's our primary forward air defense unit already.

As to his comments about replacing tank commanders with remote control, I suspect that too will come. The only piece that can't reliably be remote controlled is the PBI.

Jim Keech

Figures taken from here http://showcase.netins.net/web/wallio/FOOTPRINT.html


Solar power generation around the clock

"... which holds 4.4 million gallons of molten salt. When the heliostats focus the sunlight onto the receiver the salt is heated to over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it is needed, such as at night or at peak times, the heat is released by passing the molten salt through a steam generator that drives a turbine to produce electricity."


Bill Shields


Climate emails

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I disagree with you on what the internal emails of the East Anglia University show. I have not read all the emails, it being a rather large archive. But in the ones I did look at, I do not see angry men determined to suppress their opponents' views; I see scientists who believe that their opponents' argument is very bad, and are determined to show where it fails. The phrases that stick out in my mind are "they do not understand", "they have no idea how this works", "did they read our paper?" They plan how to best respond in the limited space available in a journal article; so-and-so to address this argument, the other to say a few words about that one, ignore the ones that have been responded to previously. This is no conspiracy, it is how journal articles are made. As with laws and sausage, perhaps it is better for one's peace of mind not to examine the process too closely, but the product should not be criticised on these grounds.

I also note that the emails refer to arguments in articles and at scientific conferences, not in the press. This does not match the view that the mainstream climatologists are suppressing their opponents. To argue loudly for one's opinion is no suppression!

That is my view from looking at a random sample of the emails; what's being bandied about in the press is by no means random, of course, it is selected for maximum damage, and I must admit that the phrase "hide the decline" is vastly unfortunate. I would hesitate to indict anyone of fraud over a single phrase in an email, however, because I'm well aware that I too use a lot of very specific jargon - specific, that is, to single analyses and even to single plots, not to the field of particle physics - in talking to my colleagues, and I am not prepared to swear that none of it would be damaging if thus taken out of context. There is an art as well as a science to presenting data clearly, and in that context "hide the decline" might be quite innocuous. As for "trick", I see no problem at all; this is just how a scientist refers to anything but a bog-standard linear plot with circular markers. "Suppose you make the right-hand axis logarithmic?" "Ah yes, Mike's old trick."


Rolf Andreassen.


More damning quotes from the CRU emails.


- Roland Dobbins

The attitude shown seems plain.


Collusion, Corruption, Manipulation and Obstruction.


--- Roland Dobbins


'I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline.'


- Roland Dobbins

Passionate defense of an opinion is required of lawyers who assemble evidence and cases; that is not science.



Hello Jerry,

You provided this today: "But for the moment the Consensus begins to look more and more like a Conspiracy."

Given the people who are the high priests of the 'Church of Global Warming' and the actions that they propose to combat 'Global Warming', it has been obvious from the beginning that 'Anthropogenic Global Warming' was a problem that was invented (and continues to be defended to the death in the face of actual, contradictory data) to justify the imposition of the 'solutions' that were already in hand.

It appears now that, even though data falsifying 'Global Warming Theology' is beginning to reach the public and stories are appearing in the press noting that the actual climate does not match the climate models and that the climateers have no idea why, the 'solutions' WILL be implemented.

We can hope not, but hoping against the imposition of an idiotic government program, which program dramatically increases the power of government over its citizens, has always been a long shot. In this case???

Bob Ludwick


Subject: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water


Perhaps the Great Recession can still slide into the Second Great Depression:


Société Générale tells clients how to prepare for potential 'global collapse'

Société Générale has advised clients to be ready for a possible "global economic collapse" over the next two years, mapping a strategy of defensive investments to avoid wealth destruction.

In a report entitled "Worst-case debt scenario", the bank's asset team said state rescue packages over the last year have merely transferred private liabilities onto sagging sovereign shoulders, creating a fresh set of problems.

Overall debt is still far too high in almost all rich economies as a share of GDP (350pc in the US), whether public or private. It must be reduced by the hard slog of "deleveraging", for years.

'Debt levels risk another crisis'

"As yet, nobody can say with any certainty whether we have in fact escaped the prospect of a global economic collapse," said the 68-page report, headed by asset chief Daniel Fermon. It is an exploration of the dangers, not a forecast.

Under the French bank's "Bear Case" scenario (the gloomiest of three possible outcomes), the dollar would slide further and global equities would retest the March lows. Property prices would tumble again. Oil would fall back to $50 in 2010.

Governments have already shot their fiscal bolts. Even without fresh spending, public debt would explode within two years to 105pc of GDP in the UK, 125pc in the US and the eurozone, and 270pc in Japan. Worldwide state debt would reach $45 trillion, up two-and-a-half times in a decade.

The underlying debt burden is greater than it was after the Second World War, when nominal levels looked similar. Ageing populations will make it harder to erode debt through growth. "High public debt looks entirely unsustainable in the long run. We have almost reached a point of no return for government debt," it said.

Inflating debt away might be seen by some governments as a lesser of evils.

If so, gold would go "up, and up, and up" as the only safe haven from fiat paper money. Private debt is also crippling. Even if the US savings rate stabilises at 7pc, and all of it is used to pay down debt, it will still take nine years for households to reduce debt/income ratios to the safe levels of the 1980s.

The bank said the current crisis displays "compelling similarities" with Japan during its Lost Decade (or two), with a big difference: Japan was able to stay afloat by exporting into a robust global economy and by letting the yen fall. It is not possible for half the world to pursue this strategy at the same time.


CP, Connecticut


Washington Examiner:: Stimulus boondoggle filled with fraud, abuse

Does this go into the Business-as-usual department? My thesis is that, after a time lag, changing demographics makes corruption worse and worse, and that the significance of the last election is that the catch-up between demography and polity is doubling even that of the Clinton and second Bush administrations.

If so, it's business-worse-than-usual.

Which is right?

Stimulus boondoggle filled with fraud, abuse http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/
8474970-68748502.htm l et seq.

By: Susan Ferrechio Chief Congressional Correspondent November 3, 2009

Fraud and abuse weigh down stimulus package

* After a flurry of stimulus spending, questionable projects pile up

* Fraudsters made the most of homebuyer tax credits

* Was the stimulus worth the cost?

* White House moves to control waste and fraud

As Congress and the White House weigh another round of stimulus spending, they do so in the face of questions about whether the hundreds of billions of dollars spent so far have been worth it, not to mention mounting evidence that the programs have been subjected to rampant waste and fraud.

Only a fraction of the $757 billion stimulus has been spent since the bill was signed into law more than eight month ago, and it has yielded few jobs for the money, with even the most optimistic figure provided by the White House giving each job saved or created a $92,000 taxpayer price tag. Other estimates of per-job expenditures are much higher.

The $10 billion, first-time homebuyer tax credit, which the Senate last week voted to extend until May, is riddled with fraud, according to an audit, in part because the Internal Revenue Service does not want to require homebuyers to provide verification showing that they are qualified for the $8,000 credit.

Voters are starting to question the worth of these expensive initiatives. A Rasmussen Reports poll last month found just 29 percent of U.S. voters wanted a second stimulus, while 62 percent were opposed to it.


Call it what you like--it deserves a complete investigation. (afp) Any reporter worth their salt knows that when government decides to investigate itself, exonerations tend...--Julie Mason Rich people need FHA loans, too

So let me get this straight, the government created the housing market crash by insuring a lot of really expensive, little-to-no money down mortgages for people that couldn't...--Mark Hemingway ACORN got sub-grants from DOJ <snip>


The Alliance for Code Excellence | CodeOffsets.com


 Introducing the Bad Code Offset



In answer to your question

Hello Jerry,

You asked this: "Sad and pathetic, true, but will Political Correctness overshadow the truth?"

The specific PURPOSE of 'Political Correctness' is to overshadow the truth.

Therefore, the short answer: In this specific case, as always: Yes!

Bob Ludwick


Right now, we are approaching the point, especially in the political arena, but creeping into science, where the rational is becoming not only unacceptable but criminal. Hate speech laws and threats to prosecute 'Global Warming Deniers' provide examples. Of course, in the long run, you are correct: those who compel irrational behavior through force cannot succeed indefinitely (see the Soviet Union, for example), but for those of us nearing the end of our lives, the triumph of Mother Nature (and she WILL, as always, triumph) may come a little late.

On another note, the vote to debate the 'Health Care' bill just passed, with the help of a $100M slush fund made available to the good senator from Louisiana. And who knows how much to other senators. I notice that the Republicans are in an imaginary snit about details such as whether abortion should be funded under the bill, whether it is fair for illegal aliens to escape prosecution for failure to purchase insurance, and a few similar nits, but I don't hear ANYONE (other than you and I and about 11 other equally powerful voices) questioning just how the federal government obtained the power to (citing one example) fine you and me and/or throw us in jail if we choose not to buy a government-anointed health insurance policy. Nor do I understand how my health records have suddenly become public documents, making me, and my doctor, subject to prosecution if we attempt to conceal them from the government.

But, there is a fair number of other activities engaged in by the federal government whose connection to the the authority granted to it by the Constitution appears a bit nebulous to me, since I am not a 'constitutional scholar' like our Great Leader.

Bob Ludwick


The Reality of a Times Bestseller.


---- Roland Dobbins


'A novel on the New York Times bestseller list does not bring financial security.'




On the health care debate

'Staffers on Capitol Hill were calling it the Louisiana Purchase.'


--- Roland Dobbins


'But the real new Great Game is being played in the swamps of the Niger Delta, on the borders of Colombia-Venezuela, in the metal mines of the DRC and now in the rare earth mines of the world.'


-- Roland Dobbins

The US may not be able to avoid playing that game.


The fate of charity hospitals

'Officials at Grady, which will provide more than $300 million in uncompensated care this year, estimate that as many as a fifth of its uninsured patients are illegal immigrants.'


-- Roland Dobbins

Of course this is not part of the health care debate.





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