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Frozen Canals of Amsterdam

Dr. Pournelle --

It seems the cold spell has people skating on some of the canals of Amsterdam.

"Ice-skaters take advantage of Amsterdam's frozen canals"


Interestingly, this last happened only ten years ago. But weather is not the climate, and it's all our fault, whatever happens.



DAVID ROSE: The mini ice age starts here 

Shades of Fallen Angels... <g>


--Ken Ken Uecker


"The mini ice age starts here"

Dr. Pournelle --

A bit of the counter-consensus argument:


"The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013."

As Frost said: "Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. ..."


Ice is nice and will suffice...


Dr. Pournelle, I'm sure you knew, but I was surprised to learn that there were 4 Blackbird aircraft. http://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/  The reason I was looking at the SR71, is this piece at http://www.strategypage.com
/htmw/htairfo/articles/20100110.aspx  about U-2's and Global Hawk. I want to know why the U-2 is still in service, while it's replacement the SR71 was mothballed a decade ago. I am also curious as to why a faster and/or higher flying aircraft hasn't been developed in the intervening years. Why am I asking you? I just figure you or one of your friends will know.

Lee Rose

Anyone want to comment on this?


Wow! Terra Images Great Britain with Snow


A nice picture of Great Britain showing the extent of AGW.


Another one of the snow in China



Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE


Re: Telegraph Article: America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels


Unfortunately relevant. BTW, a few days ago I heard a snippet on a televised report that the National Association of Realtors said that in November potential home-buyers did not walk away from the market, they ran away from it.


Regards, George

Change you can believe in.


genuine scanner images?

Hi Jerry

Regarding the sample body-scanner pictures: this set me off on an extended Internet search, out of curiousity. Two interesting results:

First: there are virtually no sample scanner images available, from the manufacturers or anywhere else. So: we really do not know just how much the pictures reveal. It seems obvious that the proponents of scanners do not want the public to know just how revealing the images can be.

Second: the pictures posted seem to have originated with the German publication "Bild"
world-news/2009/12/31/pregnancy-body-piercings-genitals/what-can-naked-scanners-really-see.html  ) . "Bild" is a reputable German publication, but even they apparently could not come up with genuine images. So they photoshopped an image from the set "Body in 360 degrees" from the photography agency "f1online.de". Search for "PhotoAltoF1online" - the first link leads to the set, and you will recognize the original image immediately. This also explains why the reversed image is in full-color, when x-ray images are normally black-and-white.

If anyone can find a source of genuine scanner images that demonstrate the full capabilities of the scanners, it would be a public service to reveal it.






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Tuesday,  January 12, 2010


This is nothing short of amazing if it really works. Reminds me of Heinlein's 'Waldo' story.



I live about 4 linear miles from a 50KW AM radio transmitter tower. Is there some reason to prefer the output of Wi-Fi transceivers over other sources of radiated RF?


I have considerably more discussion of this in my advisors conference, but I thought this might be of general interest as well.


Concerning the retirement of the SR-71 and the continued use of the U-2: it comes down to money. I once read that the prep and support for an SR-71 mission more closely resembled a rocket launch than an aircraft mission. The Blackbird uses a specially-prepared fuel with an extremely high vapor pressure because the aircraft is a "wet-wing" type that leaks profusely until all of the components undergo aerodynamic heating and the joints expand.

Typically, the aircraft takes off and comes up to heat, then has to be refueled for the mission.

Once the mission is completed, the aircraft stays hot for hours.

Also, because of the titanium construction, ground-crews must use special-alloy tools.

It just got too expensive for the Air Force to operate while there were other recon alternatives available. Or, so said the Air Force at the time of the aircraft's retirement.

On the other hand, the U-2 operates much more like a normal aircraft, although at speed and height, it takes special piloting skills because the U-2's stall speed approaches the speed of sound at the height at which it flies.

On the gripping hand, rumors were floating about around the time of the "Aurora" gossip that the Air Force had retired the SR-71 because it had a better replacement.

Pete Nofel


 Letter from England

Although the degree of support for the family and marriage does show some variation along the liberal/conservative axis, most American liberals know better than to make it a political issue. Not so over here--the UK left has a long tradition of being actively hostile to the family and marriage: <http://tinyurl.com/yehg9nm>.

 Many UK academics are now considering emigration: <http://tinyurl.com/y8e8dpl> <http://tinyurl.com/ybargqv> <http://tinyurl.com/yhgmegg>

 The UK is having trouble with the snow: <http://tinyurl.com/ylhrff6>. As an emergency measure, salt is being imported from America to grit UK roads <http://tinyurl.com/ydcyfq2> <http://tinyurl.com/ycg68tu>

 Not thinking through the consequences of wind power <http://tinyurl.com/yzjxljo> <http://tinyurl.com/ycl8da5>

 Dumbing down: <http://tinyurl.com/y8bqbjq> "It is dispiriting to recall that it was not so long ago that working-class culture was ... about self-education and improvement,...." (Working class friends have suggested to me that it was a Government policy to suppress these self-help programmes.) "Quality assurance is only needed when you don't have quality" (Unless what you're doing is keeping the quality from getting too high...)

 Labour admits it will be cutting spending drastically if it wins the election: <http://tinyurl.com/y8l8m46> <http://tinyurl.com/y9owmlp>. Effects of cutbacks in university places: <http://tinyurl.com/yaovpte>.


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? (Albert Einstein)

Harry Erwin PhD


See <http://tinyurl.com/yzp4sn3>.  Note how the UK Met Office decides on the classification of how cold a winter is.

-- Harry Erwin


'Climate change' you can believe in.




-- Roland Dobbins

And see

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=42172 and http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=42237


: U.S. writers’ groups team up to protest Google settlement | Quill & Quire


Francis Hamit


Please FTC - Stay away from technology.


So now, this is interesting! First, the article is unclear. It talks about an Intel Compiler in one breath and then sub-optimal code in another with a somewhat vague link between the two. I assume the compiler generates code for ALL CPU types, with various execution path options for different processors. So we have one binary that can execute on different CPU architectures and can take advantage of particular features of each, when it recognizes that they are present.

Or maybe there are a selection of libraries and the loader selects a run-time library to match the CPU at load-time. But that's not the compiler, it's the result of it, and it may be code that is targeted at a specific CPU! Perhaps it is a combination of both, optimize code performance and code size - I would expect that it is.

But now, here's the point: It is an INTEL compiler, built by INTEL. Seems fair that it should target optimization for known CPUs of their own manufacture, i.e. Intel CPUs, after all, they are paying for it. Code for unrecognized CPUs would be "safe," and so sub-optimal. Is Intel expected to support all AMD CPU features in Intel compilers? And then what about other potential entries into the CPU market, should Intel compilers support all features of all CPU manufacturers?

And then what about other compiler writers, does every compiler have to optimize code for every CPU vendor?

Seems to me that if I decide to use CPU brand-x, I would look for a compiler and run-time library set that is optimized for my selection, and I would expect the manufacturer of the CPU to be the best bet for finding such!

If folks are to decide which CPU mounted on which mother-board provides the best performance, they should use a vendor agnostic compiler to build the code they wish to test with. Let AMD go build its own compilers and generate sub-optimal code for Intel products.

Stands to reason!

We are regulating ourselves to death here, and the end result will be sub-optimal everything.

Regards - Lawrence


Why must I write your compiler?


“...but there is no danger of people participating in a democracy”

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

[Subject: Felons and voting rights]

After reading your works for so many years, I have learned to scratch my head when I see how society acts – I am more skeptical. I read this in the daily news and found myself wondering if any of the players of this legal wrangling ever stopped to ask themselves a skeptical question….

Apparently how a person might have been incarcerated is more important than the fact that a person managed to act in ways to become incarcerated in the first place.

“Washington state felons should have voting rights, federal court rules” http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/

<snip>Ryan Haygood of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund said such cases are "very hard to win." But he described voting by incarcerated felons as the "best tool to re-integrate them into society."

"There is this view that there is reason to be fearful, but there is no danger of people participating in a democracy," said Haygood, who worked as co-counsel with Weiser on the case. "You don't lose when people participate in a democracy. That's especially true of people who are incarcerated."</snip>

I am skeptical that voting has been scientifically validated as the best means of integrating a felon into society. I would venture there are more effective re-socialization methods than allowing people demonstrably socially-shunned a way to vote change in the society that shuns them. Not everyone deserves the privilege to vote themselves back on the island.

If the means of incarceration are suspect, address this directly. The State declared rights to protect its own social stability. Indirectly addressing a law enforcement process of possible wrong-doing does not protect the underlying principles being altered. It neither protects the social contract the State was given to enforce nor does it address the rights of prisoners who may be improperly incarcerated.

Maybe I am missing something, but I at least think it is worth asking if I am.

Thank you and happy New Year,

Terry Losansky

I suspect that it depends on what the felony was for. Do most unconvicted burglars vote? Do those convicted and pardoned vote? It seems a good matter for discussion in state legislature when there is nothing of more importance to take up -- and when that happens, the voters of that state should vote for a less active legislature which meets less often and gets paid less. Some non-problems do not need solutions. Perhaps I am merely being bilious.


AP IMPACT: Road projects don't help unemployment - Yahoo! News


Dear Jerry:

This article ignores the fact that we need to fix the infrastructure. Bad roads have a direct impact on everyone's pocketbook. They damage vehicles and delay commerce. And, if you are out of work, any job is better than none at all.


Francis Hamit

I do not understand why California, which gets back far less in subsidies than it sends to Washingon, ought to be paying for fixing North Dakota's roads. The Interstate Highway System was created when the Army thought it needed a way to get divisions across country fast; it was also sold as a civil defense measure. We can say it was a good investment -- so far as I know it was -- and there may be some federal necessity to contribute to its maintenance, but I do not believe Congress should be involved in fixing potholes on Ventura Boulevard.

Actually, as a "stimulus" it was all a bust anyway. And most of the money hasn't been spent and won't be until just before the election.


My Way News - China becomes biggest exporter, edging out Germany, 



Capitalism works.


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

“Unless they turn themselves into a Chinese company, Google could not win.”


-- Roland Dobbins


'The airline told Eyewitness News it is up to the TSA to enforce the "no board list," but a TSA spokesperson says it is the airlines' responsibility.'


-- Roland Dobbins


This site has a list of all SR-71 crashes but also details how many of each model were built.


Keep up the good work.

Oliver Richter

I have deliberately refrained from commentary on the uses of reconnaissance from SR-71 and U2 craft.


UK University Funding Row Erupts 

The universities have been doing the numbers, and their response is "It has taken more than 800 years to create one of the world's greatest education systems and it looks like it will take just six months to bring it to its knees". It now looks like a 30% reduction in funding over three years. The most efficient way of doing that would be to close 30% of the universities--attempting to keep all of them open will result in 40-50% cuts in enrolment, taking the UK back to the 1970s (with 20-25% of the population attending college). The Government proposal to reduce the English bachelors degree to two years runs up against the fact that the current three year degree is already criticised as too short.

Guardian comment: <http://tinyurl.com/yz4qh6u>  story: <http://tinyurl.com/yg83rhu

BBC coverage: <http://tinyurl.com/y8bpklg

Weather causes exam chaos: <http://tinyurl.com/yap82bd>  <http://tinyurl.com/yb3nbf6

-- Harry Erwin 



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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age


"The earth is now on the brink of entering another Ice Age, according to a large and compelling body of evidence from within the field of climate science. Many sources of data which provide our knowledge base of long-term climate change indicate that the warm, twelve thousand year-long Holocene period will rather soon be coming to an end, and then the earth will return to Ice Age conditions for the next 100,000 years.

"Ice cores, ocean sediment cores, the geologic record, and studies of ancient plant and animal populations all demonstrate a regular cyclic pattern of Ice Age glacial maximums which each last about 100,000 years, separated by intervening warm interglacials, each lasting about 12,000 years.

"Most of the long-term climate data collected from various sources also shows a strong correlation with the three astronomical cycles which are together known as the Milankovich cycles. The three Milankovich cycles include the tilt of the earth, which varies over a 41,000 year period; the shape of the earth’s orbit, which changes over a period of 100,000 years; and the Precession of the Equinoxes, also known as the earth’s "wobble," which gradually rotates the direction of the earth’s axis over a period of 26,000 years. According to the Milankovich theory of Ice Age causation, these three astronomical cycles, each of which effects the amount of solar radiation which reaches the earth, act together to produce the cycle of cold Ice Age maximums and warm interglacials."

Ice will suffice...

Charles Brumbelow

Perhaps. I have to say that I'm nowhere near as confident that we know what's going on. The Milankovich theory is no more useful for explaining the climate changes of the past few hundred years than any other. that doesn't mean that it's not correct; it does mean that a lot more is going on. There are many feedback loops -- warming produces water vapor which produces more "greenhouse" effect, but also causes more clouds, more precipitation which at high altitudes and high latitudes produces glaciers which change reflectivity -- those are merely the loops I think of off the top of my head. The Milankovich cycle may well cause changes in insolation. Whether that's the entire story of the Ice/Warm cycle isn't clear to me.

Changes in albedo -- planetary reflectivity -- obviously have an effect on the overall temperature of the earth. The Moon, which is a pure black body without an atmosphere and with no volcanic heat sources, is quite a bit colder than Earth. Atmospheres have an effect. Earth was once a snowball, nearly entirely covered with ice. In the last Ice Age the ice didn't get so far south (or north in the southern hemisphere). Given the amount of water on the planet, and the black body temperature of the Earth at our solar radius and what we think has been the solar output, I believe the prediction using just those factors is for Snowball Earth.

Snowball Earth is a far more dismal prospect than Tropicana Earth.

I don't think we understand the climate cycle, and I think it behooves us to learn more before we bet our economic prosperity on carbon taxes. Cap and trade and carbon taxes will greatly increase the disparity between the incomes of the rich and the poor, and its effect on climate are at best small and more probably will be negligible. Our public policy ought to be one of learning more about climate, while developing the engineering techniques required to be sure that Ice will not suffice.


The "Google Grab"

Happy New Year, Jerry.

Something you said in your latest column really made a light bulb go on in my head. You said "It's a breathtaking goal, and some would call it noble. The problem is that it ignores copyrights.". That really does highlight the problem. Copyrights were invented for the good of society, to encourage the creation of (initially) books. If copyrights get in the way of a noble goal (such as preserving works that have been created) that's good for society, then the way copyright is formulated today is a problem. It's copyright that really needs to be fixed.

(For the record, my personal feeling is that copyright would work much better today if it went back not regulating reproduction, but focussed instead on publication and distribution. Making a copy is no longer the good indication of "intent to publish or distribute" that it was when reproduction was added as an exclusive right granted to copyright holders).


That was in fact my point: something needs to happen that protects creators and encourages the useful arts and sciences, but which also rewards the public for extending that protection. I have ideas on the subject and at some point I'll write on that.


Subj: Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission: Vice-Chairman Thomas tries cloud-sourcing

I don't think it made it into the news reports, but on the first day of fcic.gov hearings, Vice-Chairman Thomas basically invited the public watching the hearings to send him any questions the public wants asked, and said he'd consolidate them and ask them, in writing and in the Commission's name, of the witnesses appearing before the Commission, and then publish their written responses.

I wonder whether he has the staff and infotech to handle what he's asked for? Or is he just indulging in Populist Kabuki?

Are there open-source software and associated rituals "on the shelf" to handle that sort of thing?

Should there be? (I say "yes".)

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Of course Obama promised eight times in the campaign that the health care debates would be open. In fact the Republican Senators aren't permitted to be in the discussions.


Navy for rent

Dr. P,

I thought you might find this interesting:

The next time you read a report on the Yemen Navy disrupting a Somali pirate attack, it could just be that's there's a little more to the story than meets the eye.

The Yemen military, it seems, is available for hire to protect vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. Its franchisee is U.K. based Gulf of Aden Group Transits (GoAGT)...

GoAGT recommends its armed escort services for vessels transiting below 14 knots, or with a low freeboard, or unaccustomed to the Gulf of Aden, transporting hazardous cargo, or simply looking for safe and professional armed protection...

GoAGT will supply the customer's vessel with a dedicated escort by what it describes as a "heavily armored 37.5 meter Yemen Navy Austal patrol boat" transiting 500 m from the escorted vessel throughout the entire journey


Being the irrepressible cynic that I am, I confess to whimsically wondering what fun Gilbert and Sullivan could have made out of the hired sailors communicating with the pirates in local language.

Regards, Bill Clardy

p.s. I hope Sable does well with whatever course you decide on. We had to euthanize our dog last October when he irreversibly slipped into severe renal failure. While Sable's problem is far less severe, you do face the similar question of weighing fiscal pragmatics against our sense of duty to faithful companions.

Thanks. I can hear the refrains now. Sable is quite happy as things are, and while she favors one leg she does not appear to be in any pain whatever. We climbed the hill today and she was happily hunting gophers.


The trees of Mars.


--- Roland Dobbins


INTEL Compiler and the FTC

Dear Jerry,

I suspect objecting to the FTC wrapping yet another tentacle around the computer industry is in most cases probably a wise idea, given that their previous efforts have more often than not done more harm than good. But in this instance I'm not so sure.

Possibly due to the slightly arcane technicalities involved there seems to be a misconception among many commenting on this issue that the problem here is Intel's compilers not supporting features specific to non-Intel processors. Intel would be (and is) entirely justified in doing that; nobody reasonable expects them to spend money making AMD's products look better. But that's not what's happening.

X86 processors have a standard mechanism usually referred to as 'capability bits' that indicates what types of code the chip can cope with. If the CPU can run SSE code safely, it will have an SSE capability bit. Applications can check that and run the appropriate code. The same goes for MMX, SSE2, SSE3, and various other extensions that improve performance or functionality.

What the Intel compiler is doing is completely ignoring this system. All it does is examine the Vendor ID of the chip and if it isn't 'GenuineIntel' then the capability bits are never checked and it uses the dumbest, slowest code possible. There are no compatibility problems between Intel and AMD chips; remove the Vendor ID check (as some enterprising hackers have done) and the 'optimal' code runs fine on AMD chips. Intel knows this full well, but has consistently refused to remove the vendor check. When compiling 64-bit binaries we get the positively Kafka-esq situation of an Intel compiler generating code for an AMD-designed instruction set (AMD64) that treats AMD processors as potentially incompatible!

Imagine if other vendors adopted this attitude. If Windows disabled the mouse control panel when you plug in a non-Microsoft mouse, or if the many NVidia-sponsored games on the market locked into a minimum-detail 'safe mode' upon detecting the presence of an ATI graphics card. Artificial interoperability barriers like this help nobody.

I read that Intel has agreed to stop this madness as part of their legal settlement with AMD. I suspect that may have something to do with Intel's efforts to get into the graphics business on a serious basis and the realization that will make them dependent on software designed with AMD and NVidia hardware in mind. They wouldn't like their own tactics used against them!



I understand that it might be better business tactics to negotiate an agreement, and I am very much for competition in the CPU business, but I do wonder why Intel needs to be compliant with a rival's features, and what it would cost to keep their compiler's code generator compliant with other companies' features. This may well be due to my unfamiliarity with the subject.


Intel Compilers and AMD Chips 

Hi Jerry

The situation is slightly more complex.

If I develop a commercial application, I need to know that it will run on a reasonable cross-section of computers. Generally this is no problem, as the AMD chips are highly compatible with the Intel chips. If you optimise the code for Intel chips, it will run fine on an AMD chip.

Now the compiler will often generate multiple versions of some subroutines, so that a high-end chips can take advantage of optimisations while lower end chips can still run, even though they don't have the optimisations. The compiler generates startup code that identifies the processor and chooses the best version of the subroutines.

Now it seems that the Intel compiler detects an AMD chip and always runs the slowest version, even though the AMD chip is capable of running faster versions. It is easy to tell if the AMD chip is compatible as modern chips can be queried to see if they support particular optimisations.

It is further alleged (though I don't think proven) that in some cases, the compiler builds in deliberate delays in the AMD subroutines to slow it further.

Now Intel doesn't like AMD and I'm sure it is mutual. However the big loser is the third party software developer who has built a product and now finds his customers (with AMD machines) complaining how slow his application runs.

That is the point where the regulator is needed.


Michael J Smith

I understand the problem, but surely Intel isn't required to solve it for AMD?


Subj: Climate Modeling: "It's Clouds' Illusions I recall / I really don't know Clouds ... At all!"


>>What we will find is evidence consistent with natural cloud variations being the dominant source of climate variability since 2000.<<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


Al Qaeda playbook, 


I think someone in Al Qaeda must have read this:


Eric Frank Russell's best. I once read that it's what he wanted to do to the Japanese, since he was in Allied intelligence in WW2.

Dirac Angestun Gesept, indeed. Too bad they're doing it to us.





In response to Paul's plan to put up satellites to measure atmospheric temperature:





This country is doomed


"The park service decision came in response to a request from two Massachusetts Indian tribes, who said the 130 proposed wind turbines would thwart their spiritual ritual of greeting the sunrise, which requires unobstructed views across the sound"


Here's a rendering of what this sacrilegious monstrosity looks like from the shore.

I like electricity enough to put up with the "eyesore".



'During the Cold War, Soviet officials declared that they would use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack. But when Soviet archives were opened, it became clear that "there were scenarios where they would have contemplated first use," said Charles Ferguson, a former State Department official who now heads the Federation of American Scientists.'


-- Roland Dobbins


: Muslim Science Fiction?


If climate change isn't controversial enough, we have another scientific debate with "experts" ...


January 4, 2010

Egyptian Medical Doctor Criticizes the Phenomenon of Accepting Unscientific Islamic Beliefs, like the Notion that a Woman's Pregnancy Can Last Up to Four Years

In an article on the liberal website Elaph, Dr. Khaled Montasser, a liberal Egyptian physician, criticizes the phenomenon of endorsing traditional ideas that have been disproven by science, such as the Muslim belief that a woman can be pregnant for up to four years. He points out that this notion is believed even by some Muslim doctors, and is acknowledged in the laws of some Arab countries, including those that are not theocracies. He calls on the Muslims not to accept outdated and unscientific ideas just because they were proposed by important clerics, stressing that contesting the opinions of religious scholars is not tantamount to attacking or disparaging the religion itself.

From the Four Corners of the Earth...


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Friday,  January 15, 2010

The knack

Fun video on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmYDgncMhXw 

only about 45 seconds long.

John Harlow

Some of this may find this quite familiar,,,


Intel Complier


My old boss at Intel started the Intel compiler group based on a bunch of ex Prime Computer guys. The whole purpose of the group was to build compliers that generated optimized code for Intel processors. This was in the days of the 486. The 486 had a pipelined instruction decoder that worked best when instructions were sequenced a certain way. Microsoft was unwilling to produce a compiler that generated the proper sequence opting instead for a "blended" approach that was not optimal for the 486, but was OK. The 80860 had even more exacting requirements.

Over the last 20 years, the Intel compiler team has continued to support code generation for the latest Intel CPU's. The latest Intel processors have extremely sophisticated schedulers and the Intel compiler team does their best to support them. In fact, support starts when a CPU is in the simulation phase, before any silicon has even been built. In fact, many CPU's are prototyped at the simulation phase, a compiler built, overall system effectiveness analyzed, and many times, the CPU and associated compiler are thrown into the bit bucket.

The compiler group has grown into the Intel software group and is about 2000 people. Among other things, they did a lot of the heavy lifting getting Apple over to the X86 architecture, with device driver and other systems software development.

This 20 year history represents a very large investment on Intel's part in several different vectors but all coming down to a large amount of money. I don't see why Intel has any responsibility to support any other company's CPU's. It is an Intel compiler, not an AMD compiler. If AMD wants to have a compiler group, so be it. I suspect they could not afford it.

One last thing. For most, if not all of it's life, the Intel compiler group was an overhead charge only. Not a profit center. Again, why should Intel be nice to AMD. I remind everyone that the AMD K5 CPU stood for Kill Intel CPU 5.

Phil Tharp


: Inconvenient Reefers?

It seems to me that we might well end up looking at "An Inconvenient Truth" as the "Reefer Madness" of the early 2000s. Yes, we understand that drugs are bad for you, and that using drugs heavily can really mess you up, but it's not as though one toke turns you into a mind-blasted thievish prostitute. There's no International Doobie Conspiracy working o destroy American society.

Same thing with global warming. Pollution is bad and we all agree that there should be less of it, but the Earth is not going to explode if I buy a big car and drive it around.

-- Mike T. Powers


Could someone please explain "irony" to Crazy Uncle Joe?

LA Times January 14, 2010:

"Joe Biden update: He meets on transparency today. But the meeting is closed" <http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/

Plus ça change…

David Needham


Happy New Year

I just had an idea. Let's start a rumor that, due to a flaw in their color processing, American UAV's cannot see the color orange.


I thought that information was classified.


On Being A Cast Member 

Dear Doctor Pournelle,

In View for January 14, 2010 JEP wrote:

"As I write this a mean spirited talk show host is making fun of Disneyland where everyone is clean and good looking, and people call themselves cast members. "But you're not a cast member, you're a janitor. You're a fry cook. That's what you are!" Somehow that seems appropriate. We wouldn't want Haiti to look like Disney World."

We must listen to the same radio station. For what it is worth, the two highlights of my working life were my six years as a soldier in the US Army and my twelve years as a Disney Cast member. No quotes around those two words. That talk show host doesn't understand that attitude is everything. Walt Disney knew that. A mouse lives in your garret studio when you are a struggling (i.e. broke) animator? You Can spend your last dime on a mouse trap, or you can use it as inspiration.

If you view yourself as part of the cast of a show, you carry yourself with a whole different attitude. You have a certain pride in what you do. Anyone can try to poke holes in that. It's easy to be mean spirited. That talk show host just feels threatened that a mere "janitor" or "fry cook" might actually take pride in their work. Not everyone can, or wants, to be a talk show host, or celebrity, or whatever. Let them celebrate themselves, and take pride in their work. It's a sign of a healthy person. A sign of a healthy society.

Would that Haiti were a bit more like Disney World. A country just an hours flight from the real Disney World, and they literally eat dirt. Google "dirt cookies Haiti" to see what I mean.

When I was a kid I saw the plans for the REAL EPCOT, and determined I was someday going to live and work there. I've yet to forgive Walt's successors for dumping the wonderful idea and building Just Another Theme Park.

Ah well, they didn't want the hassles of dealing with Real World People 24/7. But it could have been wonderful.



The Global Climate Debate 

Hi Jerry,

I thought you might be interested in this. Maybe this is the tide beginning to turn back towards the reasonable.


Glenn Hunt

A good introduction. Four 12 minute segments. From what I had time to watch he is more certain than I am.


Unexpected Patterns of Duplication Found in the CODIS Database 

New Scientist report: <http://tinyurl.com/yjy6qqn

It looks like I'll have to revise my lectures on this...

-- If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? (Albert Einstein)

Harry Erwin PhD


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This week:


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Saturday, January 16, 2010

I took the day off.




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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday,  January 17, 2010     

: More global warming follies

Dr. Pournelle,

The science is unsettling.


Steve Chu


World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown


"In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Related Internet Links

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change. "

Loss of the Himalaya Glaciers by 2035 was officially assessed at 90% or greater odds. Three powerful states rely on that water, making this an extremely dangerous event, if it were true.

Wonder what made them so credulous?



Google and Copyright.


I was once reduced to getting the only available copy of a book of of the London Library and then photocopying it. This cost me far more than the book would have done, so I write with feeling. Clearly it is socially desirable that all books however obscure should be available at a reasonable cost. Equally, it is socially desirable that both author and publisher should be rewarded for their work. I suggest that if an entity like Google has the desire, the capital, and the computing capacity to scan and store all existing books they should not be prevented from doing so. With the advent of low cost print on demand, all the books ever published would then be available at a reasonable cost. Later an added benefit would be to offer translations of foreign works. The technology to do this is under development and it is fair to assume that it will one day be as good as a human translator. This is the broad social good case.

To protect the author and publisher no book that was still in print would be available as print on demand without the express agreement of the rights owner. It might well be that the writer and publisher would be pleased to earn a royalty by releasing print on demand copies of an expensive hardback as these represent additional sales that would otherwise be lost. Out of print books might be freely republished on demand with a statutory percentage of the sale cost being paid to the rights owner. Orphan works would automatically be freely available since the copyright holder is unknown. The rights holder's share would be put in a separate fund and invested in Government stock against the day that they were found.

The devil as always is in the detail. To keep this suggestion at a reasonable length I have avoided answering the more obvious objections, but I believe that they could be overcome. Anyway a move in this direction would be an improvement over the present situation where one party says "try and stop us, sucker," and the other party shouts "ya boo, will so".

The important thing to remember is that if the present situation were to be resolved all the parties could have an additional revenue. In these circumstances it should not be impossible for an equitable and mutually advantageous arrangement to be negotiated.

John Edwards


This is closer to the Google Agreement that so many hate than you might think.


the rich get poorer

Was discussing the super-rich with some friends and found this.




: Bargain

Hurry! Hurry! Sale on space shuttles for only $28.8 million. Only two left! Free motors!



'A warning that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.'


---- Roland Dobbins


"Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years?"


--- Roland Dobbins


"I've never seen anything like this before in my life. They need to man up and get back in there."


He said the Belgian doctors did not want to leave their patients behind but were ordered out by the United Nations, which sent buses to transport them.

"There is concern about riots not far from here -- and this is part of the problem," Gupta said.


- Roland Dobbins









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