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Mail 620 April 26 - May 2, 2010







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Monday  April 26, 2010

Funding CO2 reduction

Hello Jerry,

You provided this in response to Tom Brosz's follow up to my previous note:

"I want to see some funding of CO2 reduction projects like sowing iron in the ocean, and things I haven't thought of, as well as models that do not assume the consensus assumptions."

On the basis of exactly what SCIENCE do you base your opinion that the need to reduce atmospheric CO2 is so critical that tax dollars should be expended to accomplish it?

Atmospheric CO2 is rising, gradually, as temperatures fall (Yes, I did read the article proclaiming that last year was the warmest in a thousand years. I also am aware that paper is defenseless and subject to all sorts of abuse by anyone with a word processor and a political agenda.). The historic 'Temperature of the Earth', whatever that is and to the extent that you can believe plots of said temperature extending eons into the past and to fractions of a degree no less, is not even strongly correlated with atmospheric CO2. And, to the extent that it is, temperature is a predictor of CO2 rather than a consequence of CO2.

We have unequivocal data proving that plant life (food) thrives in an atmosphere three times or more richer in CO2 than current natural levels. We have no reason to assume that atmospheric CO2 is above the optimum level, because we have no data which could be used to establish the optimum level. Nor have we set any criteria as to how such a level should be determined (Again, I am aware of mobs chanting in the streets proclaiming 'CO2 350' or some such. If that counts as a criterion, then our straits are pretty much maxed out, direwise.). We also have at least one natural mechanism that sequesters millions of tons of CO2-permanently-every year and has done so over geological timeframes. Is it not conceivable, given the enthusiastic response by plants to CO2 enrichment and the fact that CO2 has been extracted from the atmosphere continuously for millions of years, that we are currently near CO2 starvation and that replenishment of CO2 by humans should be encouraged rather than punished?

We have no public record of anyone, individual or organization, publishing an IDEAL Temperature of the Earth, nor do we have any criteria which could be used to establish such a temperature. Like you, given MY choice, I would choose warmer over colder. To the extent, if any, that warmer could be expedited by increasing CO2 I would encourage it.

You are a scientist. You have access to data. ALL of the data (specifically including documented rampant fraud by 'climate scientists' in 'warming the temperature books') available today is persuasive that the sole threat posed by Anthropogenic Global Warming is that it will be used, successfully, to consolidate political power. Catastrophically.

Bob Ludwick

It's simple enough. Someone has to worry about future generations. We need institutional ways of doing that. At the moment it's the National Science Foundation as well as Institutes. They fund research. Some of it is specific, some is basic research. Publicly funded research has paid for itself many times over.

Waiting until the CO2 increases produce unequivocal signs of detrimental effects before we look into ways to reduce it without destruction of the economy is not prudent. And many of the questions you raise would seem to be proper subjects of research. Who shall pay for it? Or do we just wait to see what happens?


Letter from England

Labour third in polls <http://tinyurl.com/3yzgoyy> <http://tinyurl.com/366buqe>. Clegg (Lib-Dem) does not love Brown (Labour) <http://tinyurl.com/2b2qzs9> <http://tinyurl.com/3738lsq>. (It's not accidental that Liberal shares a root with Libertarian. Labour is not a friend of liberty.)

 Tories suggest the public sector here in the north-east is too big. He's correct, but probably because the private sector has become too small. It's even worse in Northern Ireland--I've seen figures indicating the public sector there is about 75% of the economy. <http://tinyurl.com/3x9ptka> <http://tinyurl.com/35ujl99> <http://tinyurl.com/38h5ws3>

 UK limping out of recession <http://tinyurl.com/2a9mx6f> <http://tinyurl.com/39d5cxm>

 Airlines profiting from volcanic ash <http://tinyurl.com/3xwv4z8> <http://tinyurl.com/3xt5wah>. Thousands stranded until late next month? <http://tinyurl.com/2vobn8t> <http://tinyurl.com/252oz76> Zero tolerance in air traffic control: <http://tinyurl.com/3ag2dc8>

 Oh my, the inmates are running the asylum: <http://tinyurl.com/34zppky> <http://tinyurl.com/2e8288m>

 "Truth is the intersection of independent lies." (Richard Levins, 1966)

Harry Erwin, PhD


"Once social services are on to you it's a complete nightmare and no matter what you do you are deemed a bad parent."


-- Roland Dobbins


Enjoyed your books, didn't know you had a website

Jerry: I've enjoyed many of your books over the years, and was pleased to come across your website (from instapundit link). Regarding your recent discussion about Mexican medicine, may I offer some insights that I think many have missed?

Lack of Competition to the AMA's view of Medicine Competition has done many positive things for us. Just look at where we are with cars compared to 50 years ago. But the only view of medicine that is allowed is that held by the American Medical Association. Alternatives that work (I'd suggest three that are pretty well proven - chiropractic, acupuncture and homeopathy) are 'not allowed'. Yet if they were sanction by some credible organization to keep out the inevitable quacks, we'd see every part of the health system improve.

Eventual Rise of Alternative Medicines In Europe and Canada, these alternatives are healthy and thriving because the socialized medicine system isn't working. People are willing to go outside the 'free' system and pay with their own money for something that works. You'll see the same thing happen in the US if this terrible system that Obama has forced on us isn't revoked. (It may come anyway as the 'normal' system becomes more and more expensive).

Government Systems that do Work (more or less) I'm involved in the aviation world, specifically in aircraft certification. One of the reasons the US leads the world in the aviation end of things is due to a very interesting part of the regulations governing aviation. The FAA is permitted only to make the minimum legislation necessary for safety. I believe this is the only US government agency with this mandate. How do you know it's the minimum?? You go underneath it every once in a while. People do pay for it with their lives, sadly. But until enough people pay for a particular problem, the consensus is that the price is worth paying. For example, the level of safety demanded by a type of aircraft changes with the number of people on board - a Cessna 172 has a lower level of safety than a 747. And industry gets to comment on all the proposed legislation and the FAA has to justify their new regulations (unless it's a pressing safety issue). Would that all government departments had the same mandate!

'nuff ranting. Enoyed the website, and I may even subscribe!

 Kind regards
Shawn Coyle
(author of Cyclic and Collective)

I wouldn't say that the AMA holds the power it once held.

I certainly don't think I know the best solution to the health insurance business -- which is why I prefer subsidiarity and transparency. I am not at all sure there is a one size fits all solution in America.

Glad to have you here, hope you do subscribe. I can use more subscriptions. They're  pounding on my roof right now, and I'll have to pay them when the new roof is done...


Apple iBook versus Kindle


Well, it appers to be no contest between Apple iBook and the iPad Kindle app. iBook wins hands down.

Kindle has no search capability that I can find. iBook allows for easy searching and provides a list of all occur aces of the search term.

Kindle shows an arcane set of numbers to represent your position in the book. iBook shows the current page and total number of pages in the book. This is updated when a change in font size causes repagination.

Kindle is monochrome. iBook provides full color.

Kindle has more technical titles, but the lack of search reduces its utility.

Bob Holmes

Sent from my iPad


The Prison Cell of Ludger Sylbaris.


-- Roland Dobbins




As we now know, it is now Islamic doctrine that earthquakes are caused by feminine immodesty.

A genetics student at Purdue has proposed the experiment: http://abcnews.go.com/

(Nods: www.daybydaycartoon.com  for 26Apr for first notification and google for the reference; hyperlink to coverage of the original Islamic mullah statement in the article above)

I see it as the ultimate flash crowd.


We could try it with both boobs and legs and see which gets the biggest earthquake...


Tornado statistics


Reports that we have a deficit on tornados this year:


Note that April data does not yet include Saturday's supercell, but with 54 tornados in that cell (that's what i recall from the news coverage, I haven't rechecked) we're still only at 80% of the minimum year shown.


One of the good effects of global warming/climate change?




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Tuesday,  April 27, 2010

Apple is on the do-not-buy list for being a bunch of thugs

Dr. Pournelle,

It started as a pretty good scoop, a blogger getting ahold of an iphone prototype, writing about it (including great detail on how the “finder” of the item was unable to get apple to take back the item following some phone calls to apple support), and then returning it to its owner upon formal notification.

Then Apple got the police to kick down his door and take all of his computers in a felony investigation.


What the hell is WRONG with Apple? They’re never getting a single cent of my money again unless they man up and apologize for this mess, and make some sort of restitution. It is a shame because I’m coming up on needing 2 new laptops and the new macbook pros are nifty. Instead, I’m wondering if Steve Jobs’ mind was somehow damaged by his recent illnesses. As in he must be mentally imbalanced, to think convincing the police to bust in the blogger’s door and ransack his house was an appropriate response to this whole event.

This puts Apple and Jobs firmly on my “enemies to oppose at all costs” list, right underneath the folks who robbed my house and the jerks at Sony who put the rootkit on my computer when I listened to the Sony music CD on my computer. They’ve turned from being a group of slightly weird geniuses to an inbred bunch of thugs. Getting the cops to ransack a journalist’s house for scooping them is WRONG.

That’s not to mention that in many locations, a “found” item that goes unclaimed after attempts to notify the owner become the property of the finder. Apple has many more dollars to spend on lawyers so they’ll probably get away with this act of brutal intimidation. And the cops will say they were just doing their job since a company who said they had something stolen (and then returned immediately when they said it was theirs?????) should of course be implicitly trusted to know who’s door should be busted down…


I haven't gone public with an opinion on this yet because I am thinking about it. I do not expect to go so far as you have here. I expect to write something on this tomorrow.

One thing should be clear: in 1787 "the press" was understood to include pamphleteers, people who had a small printing press in the basement. Such as Dr. Benjamin Franklin.

See long essay and discussion in VIEW Also see below


Dear Doctor Pournelle,

As I am sure many other people have already pointed out, it is possible to search within a Kindle book (or Mobi book). It is not possible to search a PDF document, and I don’t believe it is possible to do a search across multiple books, or, in fact, to initiate a search except when reading a book.

The other great feature of the Kindle is the ability to be readable in direct sunlight – the brighter the light the better the screen looks. Oh, and I like the long battery life too.

I bought a Kindle because I want to be able to read books on the beach, and it fills that role very nicely. I’m not sure if an iPad would be as good, particularly as iBooks are only available in the US (and I’m in Italy).


Dave Checkley


Jerry: King Ludds kin apparently.


Why does this remind me of Brunner's 'Stand on Zanzibar'? Does our future have to be dystopian?

Chris C

No. It does not. See A STEP FARTHER OUT. I dealt with all that decades ago. Alas, the Prophets of Doom are back...


When the Educrat professors run a school


"EPA Academy students are graded on a five-dimensional rubric, based on (1) Personal Responsibility; (2) Social Responsibility; (3) Communication Skills; (4) Application of Knowledge; and (5) Critical and Creative Thinking.

Only 20 percent of the grade is based on knowledge, notes Michele Kerr, who taught an ACT prep course for disadvantaged students at a nonprofit from 2007-09. Compared to district high school students, East Palo Academy tutees had “the lowest skills and the highest grades,” Kerr recalls. Students with high A averages turned out to have very poor reading and math skills, though their writing was relatively strong."

So, Stanford's education department ran a school according to their latest and best theories. The good news is they were within the top 100% of California schools.


I am all for local control of schools.


You might find this analysis interesting 

See <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/

If Labour represents statism and the Lib-Dems represent classical liberalism, I know which one I would prefer to see as the alternative to the Conservatives.

-- Beware Outside Context Problems--Harry Erwin, PhD



With all the recent talk about Derivatives, hardly anyone puts the matter in perspective. In a world where total GDP is about $50 Trillion, there are approximately $600 Trillion in exchange traded Derivatives which at least have standard contracts and margin requirements. But there are another approximately $600 Trillion in over the counter OTC Derivatives each of which is an individual non-standard contract with no margin requierments. These are essentially bets, the largest portion of which are based on the direction of interest rates. These bets are distributed among our banks, pension funds and other financial entities. The bet winners face certain counterparty risk that the losers will not be able to pay, thus bringing the entire current financial system down. The current regulatory proposals do nothing to address this.

Ron Mullane


Meet the Real Villain of the Financial Crisis

OpEd in the NYT ( http://nyti.ms/aLPN4d )  maintains, correctly I think, that Congress is to blame.

From the piece:

More important, it was Congress that sat by idly as consumer advocates warned that people were getting loans they’d never be able to pay back. It was Congress that refused to regulate derivatives, despite ample evidence dating back to 1994 of the dangers they posed. It was Congress that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment and commercial banking, yet failed to update the fraying regulatory system.

It was Congress that spread the politically convenient gospel of home ownership, despite data and testimony showing that much of what was going on had little to do with putting people in homes. And it’s Congress that has been either unwilling or unable to put in place rules that have a shot at making things better. The financial crisis began almost three years ago and it’s still not clear if we’ll have meaningful new legislation. In fact, Senate Republicans on Monday voted to block floor debate on the latest attempt at a reform bill.

John Harlow



Another discovery of Noah's ark, this time with appropriate photographs



Subj: Solar Power Swindle in Spain

If I recall correctly, Obama has touted Spain as having an exemplary solar power program.


My translation of the bold-type summary at the top:

"The Spanish Ministry of Industry is on the track of a fraud in the Solar Department. The managers are said to have provided diesel power as solar power, to get a lucrative subsidy."

Suspicion arose when someone noticed that the "solar" installation was generating power at night. Any similar fraud, whose operators were smart enough to run their diesels only during the day, would be harder to detect.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

There are places where wind works well, but in general, wind is a very unreliable producer of electricity sine the demand for power doesn't coincide when there is high wind. It's also very expensive.


C02 Rise & Rise in Plants Absorbing It

I do think spending some government money on finding out if CO2 rise is a problem & what options we have to deal with it if it is right. Catastrophic warming would after all be as severe an enemy as most foes domestic & foreign that government exists to handle, However I am reassured by this article & graph. CO2 rise definitely means better plant growth & thus produces a negative feedback. The human component of CO2 is only 3% whereas if we were to reach the prophesied 450ppm that allegedly triggers disaster plant growth would have increased 8%. The arithmetic seems to show that either the CO2 growth is not manmade but natural or it will reach balance at under 400ppm.


Neil C

I'd like to see more analysis of historical events...


re: Shawn Coyle's quote "Alternatives that work (I'd suggest three that are pretty well proven - chiropractic, acupuncture and homeopathy) are 'not allowed'."

This would be a good time to remind people that the JREF million dollar prize is still valid. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html 

He claims 3 therapies are "well proven". Every credible test falsifies that claim. Anyone who disagrees probably shouldn't waste their time arguing this on the internet when they could be collecting a million dollars.

Jay Kusnetz

The final returns aren't in on chiropractic -- I know people who swear by it, and the evidence is mixed. Acupuncture is another. Homeopathy requires a fundamental change in our assumptions about science -- or else requires firm belief in it.

I've no objection to people paying for those treatments, but I'd prefer they didn't use my money to make those payments. If people need homeopathy let them find the money, possibly among their fellow believers; the evidence isn't str0ng enough to justify public payment.

That, of course, opens new cans of worms.


5 Lessons America Can Learn From Asia About Higher Education
sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en  March 7, 2010

By Kishore Mahbubani

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, a former president of the University of Tennessee, recently warned that "As with the auto industry in the 1960s, there are signs of peril within American higher education. In some ways, many colleges and universities are stuck in the past." His warning reminded me of a conversation I had with a Harvard University professor who had visited Japan in the 1980s. He was astonished by how advanced Toyota's manufacturing processes had become. On his return to America, he spoke with a vice president at General Motors and warned him about Toyota's competitiveness. The man replied: "Yes, I know. But if I tell the board of GM that Toyota is getting better, I will lose my job, and GM will not change."

This story explains why GM is in such trouble now. (Paradoxically, 20 years later, Toyota has made the same mistakes as GM.) And it holds lessons for American colleges, even though they are global leaders today.

Unquestionably the great American universities—for example, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale—stand heads and shoulders above the competition around the world. Yet their enrollment makes up only a fraction of total higher-education enrollment in the United States. And while many American universities have been standing still, their Asian counterparts have surged ahead. With more than 20 million students, China has, since 2005, overtaken America as the world's largest higher-education sector.

The time has come for American higher education to think the unthinkable: that it can learn lessons from Asia. In fact, university leaders and policy makers should consider the following five recommendations:

1) Recognize the central role that higher education plays in a country's economic health. A World Bank report has observed, "The success of East Asian economies in building huge stocks of human capital and in utilizing this capital for national development could be explained in terms of a 'national obsession' with education." In China in 1995, only 5 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds had access to higher education, but by 2007 the proportion had increased to 23 percent. That same period saw the continued rapid growth of the Chinese economy. In 1995 China's gross domestic product was $728-billion; by 2007 it had grown to $3.251-trillion.<snip>





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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Was it stolen? (see discussion in view)

With regards to how Gizmodo could have known this will illegal property or not I think we are missing a few points.

1. Apple prototype equipment has shown up on eBay only months, if not years after said product had been released and for sale on the market. Even then, prototypes rarely do show up for sale.

2. If you look at the lengths that Apple went to disguise the prototype phone to look like a regular iPhone it is clear the device is not intended to be noticed at casual glance. Car companies do the same thing with new models when they need to transport the vehicles or do drive tests.

3. Simply looking at the markings on the back of the prototype phone the "XXGB" and X'ed out FCC ID numbers clearly mark the device as a NFR unit.

Forget the names Apple and Gizmodo for a moment. Replace Apple with "Ford Motor Company" and Gizmodo with "Car & Driver Magazine" and iPhone 4 with some new Ford car that hasn't even been teased at a trade show yet.

Someone approaches Car & Driver with this new Ford car. C&D then "buys" the car for some amount of money and proceeds to publish exclusive articles and photos of the car on their magazine and website.

Tell me that C&D is not knowingly in possession of stolen goods. They can tell the car they have is not one that they can go into a store and buy. So it had to come from someone at Ford, or one of Ford's manufacturing partners. Does this mean it is stolen property? No. Does it mean it was the property of the person they purchased it from? Probably not. No matter the case, the property is most obviously not theirs, they have a duty to return it or notify someone.

See the thing that gets me is the person who sold Gizmodo this prototype phone could have RETURNED IT TO APPLES CAMPUS. You'd have to be a bloody idiot to not know what it was, and since the guy sold it to Gizmodo he obviously knew what it was he had. Gizmodo's fault was then not returning the property to its rightful owner. It's not like it was far from where the phone was found.

Of course, instead Gizmodo covered itself in glory with its whole "EXCLUSIVE IPHONE INFO" that they posted on their website and rolled around and rutted in all the page views it garnered them like little pigs while throwing the personal info and name of the Apple engineer that lost the phone out into the public. The very same Gizmodo that months earlier decried Apples DRACONIAN MEASURES that lead to the Chinese worker who lost a iPhone prototype to commit suicide, then releases the name and as much personal info as possible on the Apple engineer that lost this prototype. Gizmodo is run by a bunch of no-talent yellow "journalist" hacks that have no compunctions about doing immoral things and profiting from it.

While I absolutely despise and loathe Gizmodo (their entire domain is routed to in my systems now so they will never again see a single penny of click-through ad revenue from me) the person who is really at fault is the person who sold the prototype. I suspect Gizmodo will manage to weasel their way out of this mess because the EFF is helping them out and its not clear to me the state is competent on this matter. Gizmodo in my mind shares the blame because you would have to be stone-cold stupid to not realize that prototype was not lawful property you purchased. This is equivalent to someone writing a review for a new book or movie and publishing it before anyone could even buy the book or movie. To be in possession of the material nearly implies that theft happened for it to get into your hands it would seem to me.

And you can bet your ass you can publish this up on the web with my name if you like.

-Daniel S.


Climate Theory

This discussion took place in another group. I post a bit of the lead up so that I can post my reply.


> If you want to argue the case, address the evidence, don't denigrate
> perfectly competent people.

I didn't mention any competent people in my message, but thank you for reinforcing my point.

Denialists don't provide or address any evidence for their theory. In fact as far as I know they don't have a theory ("no" is not a theory). However, they have made an industry of denigrating perfectly competent, honest, hardworking people like Phil Jones, Micheal Mann, Ben Santer, Steve Schneider, and many others. Why would anyone want to be associated with a movement that promotes an extraordinary belief system that has no theoretical or observational basis and is seemingly based entirely on smear campaigns against scientists?

I do not care to get into this but I do have a query.  I am a bit concerned about "'No' is not a theory."

The climate change argument largely hinges on the black body temperature of the Earth. Since it's higher than it "should" be under present understanding, there must be another explanation. CO2 is usually put forth as that reason. Certainly CO2 is rising.

So far as I can see, the consensus theory of CO2 warming does not account for the Medieval Warm period. It doesn't really explain how there were Ice Ages and how Earth recovered from those. It doesn't account for Dyson's observation that CO2 isn't going to have much of an effect anywhere but in cold, dry areas, which is not a very large part of the Earth's surface. The consensus theory relies on numbers of far greater accuracy than any observational data I have yet seen.

It asserts trends that are very hard to prove by observations, and sometimes asserts data -- about trends that the data doesn't support. I don't know whether 1938 or 1998 was the warmest year of the 20th Century, and I doubt anyone ever will because the difference is smaller than the probable errors in the measurements.

I don't have to have a theory to say that the consensus theory does not seem to have great predictive merit, certainly not great enough predictive merit to warrant extremely costly policies. I don't have to have a theory to assert that Bayesian analysis of choices under uncertainties overwhelmingly indicates that we ought to be spending a great deal more on reducing uncertainties in our predictions and understanding just what trends we need to counter than we ought to be spending on policies to prepare for predicted tendencies.

As to Schneider I have known him for years. I took the picture of him with Margaret Meade that was published on the cover of his "Genesis Strategy" which, by the way, was about preparing for climate change -- back when the feared change was the return of the Little Ice Age. I recall when the return of the ice was considered a real threat.

I don't need a theory to state that in Viking times it was warmer than it is now -- grapes in Vinland and Scotland -- and in colonial times it was colder than it is now (ice hard enough to walk on on the Hudson river, cannon dragged across the frozen river to Haarlem Height about Christmas 1776. I note that no current theory does explain those data points. Instead I see great concern about changes in fractions of a degree over decades.

I don't have to have a theory. My theory is that we do not understand the mechanisms of climate change.

Jerry Pournelle Chaos Manor


Fake Ark

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

About that Ark story on Fox: http://michaelsheiser.com/PaleoBabble
/2010/04/noahs-ark-paleobabble-update  "To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake." The wood was moved there.

I am not surprised that some Turks tried this fraud, nor that Dr. Price fell for it, nor that Fox News reported it uncritically. But for the sake of your own quality control, I recommend that you soon pass this second report on to your readers.

- Nathaniel Hellerstein

Astonishing! The Ark was a fake! What a surprise!



It turns out there's an 'avalanche' of undiscovered dark asteroids - potential Lucifer's Hammers:


Only visible in infrared, of course.






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Thursday, April 29, 2010

A correction


X-3 was the Stiletto http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-3_Stiletto

X-4 was the Bantam http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-4_Bantam

Greg Bishop

Fixed. Thanks. I've just read it over again.

It's still a good presentation. I forget where I first gave it. I wish it needed revision.


Could you please comment on this on your blog:


I was incensed when I read it. The cowardice advocated in this piece amazes me that it was written by an American male. Since when was safety more important than heroics or glory? We can all lock ourselves in our houses, barricade the doors and hide measuring out our lives by the teaspoon, or we can go out and LIVE. Who would not want glory, if not for yourself, at least for others? Robots never inspired anybody to become a hero.

Thank you sir.

-Greg Bishop

There are those who have vision, and those who do not. I don't have much to say except that it remains true:

"If the human race is to survive, then for all but a brief part of its history the word 'ship' will mean 'space ship.'" Arthur Clarke was correct when he said that, and it remains true. What else is there to say? We're going. I thought we'd have gone by now, but we had a failure of leadership. But the vision remains.


4th Amendment 

You wrote, in regard to the Gizmodo raid: "If you follow the rules you sometimes don't succeed, and a dangerous felon gets away with it. Or something. Gollies, once you see it that way, you can understand we don't need no stinking First Amendment or Fourth Amendment, or any of that stuff. It's really important to see that the bad guys don't win. Given that logic, is anything prohibited to a righteous prosecutor?"

The short answer to that, from my perspective as a criminal defense lawyer, is "Damned little."

It started with the War on Drugs. Of COURSE it would be too much ask the police to stay within the confines of the Constitution. After all these were HORRIBLE people they were after. And of course, knocking on the door to serve a warrant was not to be considered, because they were DRUG dealers and EVERYBODY KNOWS they're all armed to the teeth and just itching to die in a firefight with the police. Not that there was ever much evidence actually proffered for that belief, mind you. Unless of course, you accept what the officer was taught at the Academy as received truth. But judges are reluctant to face down police officers--especially if the judge has to run for office--because the police can make or break a campaign. After all, it just wouldn't do to be considered "soft on crime" and anyway, it was only THOSE PEOPLE that were feeling the effects. And so began the era of technicalities. No, not the ones of popular belief, where the defendant gets off because of a violation of the Constitution. (The Bill of Rights is just one big technicality to cops, prosecutors and courts.) No, I mean cases where the air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror is considered as a basis to stop and question the driver--it was obstructing his vision, don't you know. Or the single crack along the bottom of the windshield..it's SO hard to see over something 12 inches below your line of sight. And besides, they found the drugs, so the person was guilty anyway, right? Of course, the people who didn't have anything illegal in the car never get a day in court. And those SWAT teams? Well, why have one if you aren't going to use it? Got a warrant to serve? Great! Everybody gets to break out the big-boy toys and play soldier--kick the door in, shoot the dogs, cuff everyone in sight, no matter their age or health; then stand around and tell each other how great you are while a few of your buddies wreck the house. What's that you say? Wrong address? Again? Well, it's a small price to pay for making sure the cops get to go home at night.

And since the vast majority of criminal defendants--at a guess, well over 98%--don't have the resources to hire a lawyer they end up with a Public Defender. Public Defenders, like any other group, run the gamut of zeal and competence. Far too many, however, are overloaded, worn down, and convinced that even bringing the motion to argue the seizure is a waste of energy in a lost cause.

Then came the War on Terror, (or as Fred calls it, the "Warn Terr") Now the endless pursuit of bad guys has opened up fresh vistas to law enforcement in terms of computer files, email interception, telephone eavesdropping, secret seizure of banking information (your bank isn't allowed to tell you they gave them the info, btw.). For that matter, they're even allowed to burglarize your house without a warrant and look around when you aren't there. If they find anything, THEN they can use that information to obtain a warrant. Don't believe me? Read the PATRIOT act. Or don't--hell, nobody in Congress did.

But you're perfectly safe. The government promises, scout's honor, that they'll only use these powers for good. Against, you know, THOSE PEOPLE. Not you, they swear. Unless, of course, you support the Constitution, or believe in less government, or advocate a change in our foreign policy, or don't like the Federal Reserve, or have a Ron Paul bumper sticker--or maybe express skepticism about Health Care Reform or Global Warming. You know--anti-social behavior. The kind of incorrect thinking that THOSE PEOPLE indulge in.

You have, from time to time, made remarks which seem to indicate that you believe the criminal justice system favors defendants rights over the search for "truth." Perhaps I have misunderstood, your remarks, but I recall you being a tad upset that it came down to "who had the better lawyer." You have also, quite explicitly, argued against the use of the Exclusionary Rule in state courts and frowned on it even in Federal court. Well, the truth is that the exclusionary rule is notable only in how INfrequently it's applied. And since well over 95% of criminal cases are settled with a plea agreement, the idea that it's all about who has the better lawyer is a bit moot. I can understand how someone might feel that way, if their only view of the criminal justice system was watching the O.J. Simpson trial. I mean, he was obviously guilty. He had to be, he was one of THOSE PEOPLE.

Jim Keech

Come now, let us reason together. Or perhaps not.

The Exclusion Rule was originally applied by the Supreme Court in its supervisory capacity over the Federal Court system. It was not enacted by Congress, and was the USSC's remedy for what it believed was excessive zeal on the part of federal agents. Note that it was not part of the English system of justice. For decades the exclusion rule applied only in State courts. Over time about half the states applied the exclusion rule in their states. about half did not. The Republic did not fall.

Eventually what had been a rule applied to federal courts as a supervisory edict was discovered to have been a fundamental right all along. It is a discover that would have shocked the Framers, who thought, as they did in England, that illegally obtained evidence is still evidence and the evidence along with the way it was obtained should go to the jury. There might also issue a warrant for the arrest of the officers if the method of obtaining the evidence was sufficiently egregious.

I do not have time to consider all your points in detail. I will say that defense of intellectual property rights hardly has the urgency of a threat to national security and the existence of the nation, and equating the gravity of such threats probably doesn't lead to a reasonable analysis of proper procedures to safeguard both liberty and security. I would have thought that fairly complex. As to Mr. Simpson, I fail to see the relevance to this dicussion.

Good day.


I do agree that the REACT raid was a gross over-reaction.

Although my position is that Gizmodo, Chen, and the original 'iFinder' acted criminally, I do agree that the REACT raid itself was a gross over-reaction. It's yet another example of the ongoing paramilitarization of law enforcement in these United States, and all too often at the behest of the rich & powerful against the hoi polloi.

I'm pretty sure that if an independent inventor had alleged a prototype of his forthcoming, supposedly world-changing gadget had been stolen by someone who then sold it to a journalist, REACT wouldn't have reacted (pardon the pun) with a SWAT-style raid upon the home of the journalist in question. I also dispute your conclusion that Apple will regret having set this precedent - from their perspective, the rich & powerful lording it over the proles is pretty much the natural order of things, after all.

- Roland Dobbins

Hard cases make bad law. This wasn't a hard case. There was no urgency.



FW: A sunspo...ooops, I blinked and missed it.


The spotless streak is over. However, the NEXT spotless streak has already begun. (That is, we see a sunspot...ooops, it's gone already)

X-rays barely budged off of continuum.



From another discussion:

A Simple Model for Global Temperature

A linear trend (recovery from Little Ice Age) and a (co)sine wave driven by the PDO (which is driven by the sun???)

GMTA = 0.0059*(Year-1880) – 0.52 + 0.3*Cos(((Year-1880)/60)*2*3.1416)

from Girma Orssengo, B. Tech, MASc, PhD http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/25/

How's that for an alternate view? Readers are invited to forecast global temperatures on their own tick.

I thought I saw a 50/60 year cycle riding aback a linear trend in a Danish chart published lo these many years since that overlaid temperature to the length of the sunspot cycle. I thought at the time it would mean temperatures would level off and start down sometime after about 2000. My off-the-cuff estimate back then seems to have been more accurate than Hansen's. Oh, well. Back then it had not yet become a political thing.

I'm thinking Dr. Orssengo should overlay volcanic eruptions and el Ninos, which create spikes down and up; but they are not always regular actors in this drama and would have to be added after-the-fact.



They can use a few new ideas I think. Especially after this audit. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/

Jeffery D. Kooistra Science Fiction Writer

Model, model, who's got a super computer?

Actually we all have, in that the machines we have now are more powerful than those on which the models were first developed.


Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".

Another question asked in email correspondence and on different forums about this is, if the Russians already had these high performance kerosene engines that make SSTO possible why aren't they doing it? I wondered about that too. I thought their new Angara rocket should be SSTO capable since it will be using these high performance kerosene engines. But then I checked the specifications of the Angara rocket on the SpaceLaunchReport.com site:

Space Launch Report: New Launchers - Angara. http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/angara.html 

I found that the Angara mass ratios are significantly worse than for the SpaceX Falcon launchers. In fact, in general the Russian launchers are not as well mass optimized as the American launchers. This probably is a big part of the reason the Russians have had this great drive to increase the performance of their kerosene engines - out of necessity. Then to get SSTO you use the best features of both the American and Russian designs combined into one.

Bob Clark



By now you have probably seen this article: "WASHINGTON — Gen. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti. “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” http://www.nytimes.com
/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint.html  If not, I wanted to call it to your attention.

Note that the Powerpoint slide in question is intended portray our strategy in Afghanistan. http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/
091202/091203-engel-big-9a.jpg  Obviously someone created this, and hence understands what it is meant to portray. However, I can only guess. "Duration of Operations" relationship to both "Ins. Leadership, Training, Skill & Exp" and "Expectations for Security Services & Emp" show "significant delay".


What I understand is that the only thing that unites the clans of Afghanistan is the sight of armed non-Afghans on Afghan soil. That always works.


"Future generations don't vote, of course."


-- Roland Dobbins


'The threat to your son or daughter from online adult predators is insignificant compared to the damage that children at this age constantly and repeatedly do to one another through social networking sites or through text and picture messaging.'

It's refreshing to see such a nuanced understanding of these issues, and one which explicitly avoid the 'online predator' myth. Unfortunately, my guess is that most parents are so weak-willed and detached, and have been so brainwashed into becoming their children's 'friends' rather than actual parents, that they won't have the intestinal fortitude to follow this principal's entirely reasonable and rational guidance - else they'd already be doing it in the first place.


---- Roland Dobbins


Alternative Medicine and James Randi 

I don't think that chiropractic, acupuncture, or homeopathy count as paranormal abilities for the purposes of claiming James Randi's prize. Proponents tend to claim that these are ordinary medical practices, not manifestations of psychic powers.

Claims vary among chiropractors. Some claim to be able to help with muscular, skeletal and problems with pinched nerves where it doesn't seem so outrageous that a physical manipulation might help, and others seem to claim to be able to treat a much broader array of diseases.

I've also noticed a trend for some herbal remedies to describe themselves as homeopathic when the makers actually claim that their product contains significant quantities of active ingredients. At least genuine homeopathic cures shouldn't be able to hurt you. I'm less confident of the other sort.

-- Mike Johns

That would be my understanding. I was a bit doubtful that Randi would be interested in homeopathy anyway. Martin Gardner dealt reasonably with homeopathy in Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science a good fifty years ago. As to chiropractic, my mother swore by getting an adjustment every now and then, and it certainly seemed to help her. Well worth the money. I've never been attracted to it. But the question isn't whether something ought to be allowed -- I like liberty -- but whether it ought to be paid for by taxes or mandated by law.








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Friday,  April 30, 2010






It's NIMBY for not only nukes

Dr. Pournelle:

Seems the legal and regulatory gauntlet imposed by neo-luddites has spread from nuclear power plants to greenie windpower:

"The Cape Wind company estimates that it has spent more than $45 million in the so-far-endless gauntlet of regulatory reviews, government studies, public hearings and environmental lawsuits. The biggest obstacle has been that Bay State liberals support renewable energy, as long it is produced somewhere else. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a well-funded opposition outfit, has already vowed to file suit against Mr. Salazar's approval, and the legal battle could stretch out for another five years or more."

This is according to the Wall Street Journal "Cape Windbags" -- April 30, 2010 http://online.wsj.com/article/

Pete Nofel

Imagine my astonishment.


Subject: Peak Phosphorus?

From Kansas to China's Sichuan province, farmers treat their fields with phosphorus-rich fertilizer to increase the yield of their crops. What happens next, however, receives relatively little attention. Large amounts of this resource are lost from farm fields, through soil erosion and runoff, and down swirling toilets, through our urine and feces. Although seemingly mundane, this process cannot continue indefinitely. Our dwindling supply of phosphorus, a primary component underlying the growth of global agricultural production, threatens to disrupt food security across the planet during the coming century. This is the gravest natural resource shortage you've never heard of...




Homeopathic bombs


This is from Bruce Schneier's security blog http://www.schneier.com/blog/


This <http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2010/04/20/
new-age-terrorists-develop-homeopathic-bomb/>  is funny:

The world has been placed on a heightened security alert following reports that New Age terrorists have harnessed the power of homeopathy for evil. "Homeopathic weapons represent a major threat to world peace," said President Barack Obama, "they might not cause any actual damage but the placebo effect could be quite devastating."


Homeopathic bombs are comprised of 99.9% water but contain the merest trace element of explosive. The solution is then repeatedly diluted so as to leave only the memory of the explosive in the water molecules. According to the laws of homeopathy, the more that the water is diluted, the more powerful the bomb becomes.


"A homeopathic attack could bring entire cities to a standstill," said BBC Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner. "Large numbers of people could easily become convinced that they have been killed and hospitals would be unable to cope with the massive influx of the 'walking suggestible.'"

It's a little too close to reality, though.

(end quote)


Let me quickly say that the Obama quote is incomplete. The made up -- ie phony, made up, not real, intended to be funny, not actually said by President Obama -- quote continues  ‘Homeopathic weapons are the ultimate Smart Bombs,’ warned President Obama, ‘They are so smart that they only affect the gullible. The only defence is for everyone to remain calm, vigilant and to always wear a magic vibrating crystal.’

There is also ‘A homeopathic attack could bring entire cities to a standstill,’ said BBC Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, ‘Large numbers of people could easily become convinced that they have been killed and hospitals would be unable to cope with the massive influx of the ‘walking suggestible’.’


I Believe the British Still Spend Pounds


Perhaps you have momentarily confused the British adopting the metric system with giving up the Pound Sterling. They haven't. Sweden hasn't joined the Euro either. I suspect neither is likely now.

It never seemed to me that iFinder tried very hard to return the bricked iPrototype to Apple.

Jason Chen's account on gizmodo.com doesn't sound like a no-knock raid. It sounds more like executing a search warrant without the owner present and without a locksmith, either. I'm not sure I ever thought a search warrant required the owner's presence, let alone cooperation.

It seems to me that several somebodies at Apple panicked.

It's too late for me to cancel my iPad 3G order, anyway. It arrived just two hours ago. It won't turn on or let me charge it without connecting it to iTunes first. There's a card that says "Set up, sync, and charge." That'll have to wait until I get home.


Bob Wakefield

Thanks. I have corrected the mistake.

Regarding Chen, my concern is that someone took Apple's panic seriously and raided a journalist's home without a hearing. Issuing warrants without hearings ought to be confined to situations requiring urgency. have seen no evidence of the urgency of the matter.







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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Scrawled in the Margins, Signs of Twain as a Critic

... He was less well-known, but no less talented, as a literary critic. Proof of it has resided, mostly unnoticed, in a small library in Redding, Conn., where hundreds of his personal books have sat in obscurity for 100 years. They are filled with notes in his own cramped, scratchy handwriting. Irrepressible when he spotted something he did not like, but also impatient with good books that he thought could be better, he was often savage in his commentary.


Bill Shields

I found the story very interesting. Thanks.


Here's a video that I think is intriguing: http://vimeo.com/10884852.  It's about 10 minutes long, but it's really pretty remarkable. It's a presentation by Brian Forrest, a physician who runs a successful cash-only practice in North Carolina.



Califiornia's "Zero" Net Energy House

It even won a state award!


(Although technically speaking you do need to redefine “zero” (or “energy”) for the house to qualify…)


Ian Kirk

Yeep. The only "green" houses I know of are down the block, Ed Begley Jr's place, and Bill Nye the Science Guy's place. Nye's isn't really a zero energy place. He doesn't have either the surface area or the storage that Ed has. The capital costs of either would be high, although given the California and Federal tax credits if you pay state and federal income tax you can probably save money by installing solar -- and of course in southern California the biggest energy cost is air conditioning, and when it's hot the sun is generally shining. At least in LA it cools off rapidly as soon as the Sun is down.  And Ed's place is the only one in Studio City with electricity when there's a power failure.



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Sunday, May 2. 2010      

Feds threaten eminent domain grab on Vermont farm - Business- msnbc.com




Subj: The one tax increase we *really* need!


>>[A] penny tax (say) on email would probably generate large amounts of revenue, mitigate an important negative externality, and have minimal inefficient disincentives. ... Even better, if possible, might be to have the recepient set the price! I would happily raise mine to a dime, and let the government use the revenue to fix the long-term fiscal imbalance or cut other more distortionary taxes.<<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Even 1/10 cent email tax would do it, but the mechanism for collection is complex.


Microsoft: 'Prepare for 15 billion more clients,


"Après nous le déluge." It looks as though the deluge is well on its way. Embedded systems, "billions and billions" of them. I'm not sure even spam will be able to keep up:


Will we need a new Internet for all the traffic?



'Returning to paper-based method boosted the cost of the census by about $3 billion that using the handheld computers was supposed to have saved.'


- Roland Dobbins


I juat saw a picture of a Russian Moon rover and it looks exactly like a 19th century SF story gadget.




Nuclear Powered Navy?


A time.com article “The Navy goes in search of a U.S.S. Prius” on Apr 27 has an interesting quote at the end of the article.

“So when might the entire Navy take the next big step and go all nuclear? Currently, about 17% of the fleet — aircraft carriers and submarines — are powered by small nuclear reactors. [Navy Secretary Ray] Mabus noted that the cost of nuclear propulsion goes well beyond the price of the reactors and includes costly infrastructure and training ashore. "To make the economic case" for nuclear-powered ships, he said, "oil has to be $150 a barrel over a sustained period of time."”

I find that to be very interesting, a break-even point of $150/bbl to make nuke powerplants economical, considering both the cost of the powerplants and the support/training infrastructure. I have to assume they’ve thought about this fairly carefully, and the implications for a more cost-effective and efficient civilian nuclear powerplant operation are obvious. This is the first time I’ve seen such an “official” line drawn on the actual cost of these powerplants.



"Kindle DX also lets you search PDF files but this feature is disabled for image based PDFs like scanned documents." - we're up to 2.3.3 version on the base little Kindle and for sure early versions don't support PDF natively current does.

start with a definite maybe not - sorry it's my mother's Kindle not mine more later - she's in a nursing home and the Kindle is both a prestige gift - "my children still care and I'm happy with modern technology" and a real boon given limited space and mobility.

Reading PDFs in Kindle

"When viewing a PDF inside Kindle DX, you can add bookmarks to remember pages but unlike other Kindle formatted books, annotations aren't available for PDF so you can take notes or highlight text while reading. Kindle DX also lets you search PDF files but this feature is disabled for image based PDFs like scanned documents."


Amazon says -

Option to Convert PDF Files to Kindle Format - .

Built-in PDF Reader for Kindle (Global Wireless) and Kindle (U.S. Wireless) devices

Your Kindle can now display PDF documents without losing the formatting of the original file. Send PDF documents directly to your Kindle (via your @Kindle address) or drag and drop PDF files from your computer to your Kindle (when connected via USB). You can also magnify PDFs by viewing them in landscape mode.

Some features are not currently supported, including annotations, Text-to-Speech, and zooming and panning.

Option to Convert PDF Files to Kindle Format

If you prefer to have your personal PDF documents converted to the Kindle format so you can take advantage of Kindle functionality such as variable font size, annotation, Text-to-Speech, etc., type "Convert" in the subject of the e-mail when you submit your personal document to your @kindle.com address.

Image-heavy PDF files are presented in landscape orientation and don't work with devices that have auto-rotation, so those will be delivered in the Kindle format.


financial reform 


Some current musings on financial reform, stimulated by the discussion in today's View.

> I agree that "too big to fail" is an issue (and incidentally also applies to the defense industry post the 1990's mergers; at least in that instance I would require Boeing to divest MacDonnell, Lockheed to divest Martin, and Northrop to divest TRW...). I'm not sure how to apply that to investment banks, but agree that some regulation back to the state level (with state charters but loose restrictions on interstate commerce) might be a good way to start.

> Beyond that, I keep thinking in terms of institutions like the FDIC (which you mention). Some level of protection for the small investor (not the investment firm) and on pension/401K-related investments with sharp limitations on protected value and no coverage of risks. Similarly, mortgage guarantees might be individually insured; such insurance a fairly priced, explicit line item on the mortgage paperwork; it can be waived but if so both the borrower and lender hold their individual risk and must decide accordingly; no more of these collective remedies unsupported by private insurance.

> I keep thinking of "negative feedback" / self-enforcing approaches beyond those minimums. Such as requiring fund managers to have a substantial risk position in their managed funds (both in terms of personal investment of their the managers personal assets, as well as tying bonuses to multi-year performance rather than quarterly or even annual performance, with information on both issues available to brokers and individual and corporate investors in the fund).

> I'm not sure that the negatives of short selling (particularly the ability to manipulate stock prices by timed release of data and by relatively small leveraging transactions) don't outweigh the positives price-stabilizing factor (which hasn't really seemed to work all that well). That said, if the practices is NOT to outlawed, it must become completely transparent (each firm must publicly report its short positions at time of acquiring or divesting such interest) -- and I would go so far to say (based at least on what is being said publicly in the current Goldman-Sachs case) that no individual firm should be permitted both short and long positions on the same investment.

> Similarly, I see no advantages to the whole derivatives market, but if its not to be outlawed it must be completely transparent (including accurate ratings).

> It might be appropriate to consider funding the rating houses by a transaction fee at the buyer/broker level (and making them legally accountable thereto, perhaps again by some "put your personal money where your mouth is" mechanism) rather than having them paid by the investment firm...


There's really too much to comment on here.

I don't worry about the existence of derivatives markets, so long as we don't have public coverage of bad bets. The evil is too big to fail, not that some firms fail. Some should fail. That's the nature of the system.


Dr. Pournelle

Whenever I send out a note, message, or even a forward, I always close with a quote, many of them culled from your website. 4/25 and 4/26 were a windfall for me. I doubt that you are aware just how pithy and profound some of your and your contributres statements are, so I am submitting the jewels I picked up those two days for your review. I will be spreading these profundices far and wide for years to come. Thanx for all your yarns and your site. M.Lee Rose

"When you get into this, you get into the problem of state-funded scientific research. Such research is vulnerable to being co-opted into serving the state, not the science. It's interesting that any science with the remotest funding connection to a private corporation is automatically assumed to be completely in the tank for that corporations's goals, but the same people never make that assumption for state-funded science." Tom Brosz

"I am not against climate research. I want more of it, but not for the consensus. I want to see some funding of CO2 reduction projects like sowing iron in the ocean, and things I haven't thought of, as well as models that do not assume the consensus assumptions." Dr. Jerry Pournelle

"Government will sponsor research, and things like X projects are very much in the interest of the government. I am glad we developed much of our technology before our enemies did. And someone needs to look out for the interests of our grandchildren. In olden times it was the Church (cathedrals that were a hundred years building), great aristocratic families -- forests and olive groves and the like -- but today no capitalist can afford to look a hundred years into the future. Or twenty for that matter, lest he face a hostile takeover." Dr. Jerry Pournelle

"We have unequivocal data proving that plant life (food) thrives in an atmosphere three times or more richer in CO2 than current natural levels. We have no reason to assume that atmospheric CO2 is above the optimum level, because we have no data which could be used to establish the optimum level. Nor have we set any criteria as to how such a level should be determined. We also have at least one natural mechanism that sequesters millions of tons of CO2- (water)permanently-every year and has done so over geological timeframes. Is it not conceivable, given the enthusiastic response by plants to CO2 enrichment and the fact that CO2 has been extracted from the atmosphere continuously for millions of years, that we are currently near CO2 starvation and that replenishment of CO2 by humans should be encouraged rather than punished?" Bob Ludwick

"We have no public record of anyone, individual or organization, publishing an IDEAL Temperature of the Earth, nor do we have any criteria which could be used to establish such a temperature. Given MY choice, I would choose warmer over colder. To the extent, if any, that warmer could be expedited by increasing CO2 I would encourage it." Bob Ludwick

"ALL of the data (specifically including documented rampant fraud by 'climate scientists' in 'warming the temperature books') available today is persuasive that the sole threat posed by Anthropogenic Global Warming is that it will be used, successfully, to consolidate political power. Catastrophically" Bob Ludwick

"Someone has to worry about future generations. We need institutional ways of doing that. At the moment it's the National Science Foundation as well as Institutes. They fund research. Some of it is specific, some is basic research. Publicly funded research has paid for itself many times over." Dr. Jerry Pournelle

This one is mine, though you have said as much many times over.

"It's not that I am opposed to government, I am opposed to big, centralized, overwhelming, national government. Give me the Tyrany of the Mayors, I can change mayors faster then domminos can deliver pizza!"

Martin Lee Rose.



re:Apple is on the do-not-buy list for being a bunch of thugs 

I read the e-mail about the raid on Gizmodo. Let's just say that it is my understanding that Gizmodo is no where as lilly white as your correspondent, Sean portrays them. After the initial Gizmodo story came out, quite a few people were publicly wondering how long it was going to take the police to call on Gizmodo since buying stolen property is a crime in California. Certainly, Gizmodo acted like they knew they were breaking the law. First, they won't name who they bought the iphone from, even though they name the Apple engineer who lost the iphone. If he had simply found the phone and then tried to return it to Apple, one would think that they would have named him. Certainly, the original story from last week said that the "finder" of the iphone made no attempt to contact Apple, but rather shopped the iPhone around to a number of reporters, most of whom declined it.

While one might make an argument that there is a freedom of press issue here, the issue isn't that Gizmodo published pictures of an iphone prototype, the issue is that Gizmodo paid $5000 for a device that they knew for a fact did not belong to the person that they were purchasing it from. If you knowingly buy stolen property, then you really shouldn't be surprised if you get visited from the police. In general, freedom of the press means you can say what you like, it doesn't mean that you can do as you like.

Phillip Walker

I am not concerned with lily white. I am concerned with hearings and trials.

Gizmodo paid for ACCESS to the device, not ownership. They bought a ticket. That is not obviously a crime.


Expect Cooling

Dr. Pournelle --

I saw this today (you have to love (or hate) the Internet):

Russian Scientist: Expect Cooling – Pols Sitting On The Wrong Horse http://pgosselin.wordpress.com/

It links to both the German and English versions of the article quoted. The English version of the article isn't quite as informative and has a slightly different slant to it.

Globale Abkühlung wird Arktis-Rohstoffe unzugänglich machen - Forscher

(Global Cooling Will Make Arctic Raw Materials Inaccessible - Researcher)


Arctic research may be threatened by global cooling - scientist http://en.rian.ru/Environment/20100423/158714403.html 

In brief, Oleg Pokrowski of the State Geophysical Observatory states that since 1998 the climate has been in the cooling, or negative, phase of its sixty year cycle and that we can expect temperatures to drop to the levels seen in the 1950s and 1960s. This will mean that the Northeast Passage will only be passable using icebreakers, hindering the search for resources in the Arctic.

I'm reminded of your link to Mike Flynn's post of April 18, 2009 where he discusses cycles on trends.


Let's see - the 1950s and 1960s would be when we were told to expect another ice age.

But that cooling would do what to crop yields? Perhaps they'll do better in some places that are marginal due to normally high temperatures but I imagine the breadbaskets could see a reduction in yields. And that's never conducive to peace.



Jerry P:

What congress seems to ignore is that for every stock or other equity, including bonds based upon some derivative, there will always, not just some of the time, two sides betting on the value of the offering. So what if Paulson chose the derivatives, the other side always had the option of taking Mr. Paulson to the cleaners if they were so smart. So they lost the bet, that is how the game is played, and it is as much a game as those offered in Las Vegas. Easy money is the lure and there are companies who are paying for the risk right now. Banks are getting squeezed as the value of the property they own or have outstanding loans against drops in value. There bad judgment makes them squeeze the borrowers who are struggling to stay in business or keep their homes. And banks are failing on a regular basis and will be taken over by those who did not make the risky loans.

You are right in that changes need to be made. But I have never seen a law that was well thought out and the legislators never look back to recount their mistakes. The next Congress will have no clear majority and will stall in place. It may be the time where the members start to understand that they will have to work together or they will all lose out. There will be those, hopefully in California, who will have near death experiences at the polls and will understand that they are not in tune with their constituents. Hopefully enough will be defeated to allow new blood into the Beltway. In any case, California is bad enough that we will need to find our own way out of the mess, and Sacramento needs a good hosing to clear out the stables.



Tort Reform - The other side of the coin

Jerry, You've commented a few times on the lack of any mention of tort reform in the recent health care legislation. While I agree that we need serious Tort Reform in this country, (at a minimum some form of loser pays and a review of how we handle Class Actions) I think there's another side to the malpractice issue that receives far too little attention; doctor certification and professional review. Medical certification and continued fitness to practice are largely handled through state boards of review, (the exact terminology varies from state to state) and far too often these boards seem less interested in upholding standards than in protecting their own. If we're going to make it more difficult to try to redress malpractice through the legal system, we should also insist that the medical community to a better job of weeding out those who are unfit to practice.

Chuck Wingo





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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

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