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Monday  July 19, 2010

NYT Column: The Roots of White Anxiety

Its here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/19/opinion/

A couple of things that are interesting from the article:

Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-lengthstudy of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus,which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.

At one time, those working-class whites were the heart of the Democratic party. They elected Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, etc.... Have they been left behind by their party's values and just don't realize it?

A decade later, the note of white grievance that Buchanan struck that night is part of the conservative melody. ... It was sounded last year during the backlash against Sonia Sotomayor’s suggestion that a “wise Latina” jurist might have advantages over a white male judge ... To liberals, these grievances seem at once noxious and ridiculous.

I'd be interested in the reaction of those same liberals if someone intimated that a wise white, male Supreme Court Nominee of European ethnicity might have the advantage of thinking more like the framers of the Constitution did, since they were wise, white males of European ethnicity. The left's reaction would be immediate, vitriolic and over-the-top to such an occurrence.

Yet, such as statement would be in the same vein as and just as insulting and just as racially prejudiced as Sotomayor's statement.

There's apparently no place left for rational thought in our political processes anymore.

John Harlow, President BravePoint


I've quoted a paragraph below and highlighted the statement that caught my attention. Of course, it isn't any surprise to anyone here, but that the liberals are starting to realize it - wow!

It's amazing that they do not see this as a self fulfilling prophecy If you select for the brightest folks who are both white and Christian, then put their performance against folks selected for other characteristics, which group is going to perform better?




"Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-lengthstudy <http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9072.html>  of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week <http://www.mindingthecampus.com
/originals/2010/07/how_diversity_punishes_asians.html>  on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class."

It is always better to have clients than equals. By bringing in people dependent on the ruling class who will remain dependent on the system, the perpetuation of the existing arrangements are assured. If you're running things, you don't want rivals, you want compliant clients dependent on you.

That's one reason for the destruction of the public school system. But then we've been seeing that coming for a long time. There's a bit about this in today's View.

As to your observation, of course it's true. Actually it is worse: to take a student who would have done well at UCLA -- i.e. someone quite bright -- and send that student to Cal Tech because of minority status makes for disaster. It has happened before and is happening even as I write this. It's the ruin of the student, and the loss of a good UCLA graduate to political correctness.


Hello Dr. Pournelle:

Once upon a time, in Great Britain and some other places, you would buy a military commission, and then attempt to profit from it by spoils or some other means.

What this did was fill the officer corps with gentlemen, who considered it their right and privilege to be there, and who saw themselves as apart and superior to those who worked under them. Often they were incompetent, usually they were arrogant, always they were not as good as they would have been, had the process been more competitive. The army was, of course, run by the sergeants, who would probably have made much better officers, but who had not the money or the connections to get a commission.

Today, you pay a school to issue you a credential. Now you might be required to attend some training, and put in your four years or two years of orientation, but you have paid to enter a certain career path and to make of it what you will. Those who are unable or unwilling to pay, or who can not arrange a loan or get a grant are essentially eliminated from the market and the competition.

Today, the lines are so well drawn that you could invent a faster than light drive, and still not get a position as an engineer or scientist without the appropriate degree. Exempt, non-exempt; management, labor; professional, unskilled; white collar, blue collar; however you want to define it, the class without merit system is being put back into place.

This is largely being done by our business schools, who are training all of the hiring managers that this is the proper way to do things. These are the same schools that are teaching that layoffs and off shoring are appropriate cost cutting measures. To this way of thinking, the employees are a commodity (a human resource), not worthy of too much consideration. So once again we have people running things who consider it their right and privilege to be there, and who see themselves as apart and superior to those who working under them. Multiply this by a factor of four, if these people work in the government and are dealing with "ordinary" citizens.

Incidentally, regarding our wonderful school systems. A fourteen year old boy is going to trial in a couple of weeks because he took some sauce in a cafeteria line, for some chicken nuggets that a friend had given him. He was charged with theft, handcuffed and cited. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=132587310110953  <http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=132587310110953>  . It’s a good thing he didn’t grab any napkins or ketchup – he might have been charged with grand theft.

You can’t make up stuff this stupid, because it is hard to imagine people in positions of responsibility being so careless and ignorant. If I were this boy’s father, I would be in jail right now, and at least two alleged adults would be in the hospital. On the bright side, after hearing the facts, I wonder if any jury would convict me.

While the case will certainly be dismissed or found in the boys favor, we are paying for this trial, we paid the idiot cop, and the back up squad that was sent, and we are paying this sad excuse for an assistant principal and allowing him authority over our children. We also taught a boy the most important lesson that the schools are teaching these days - that you are always at the whim of even the lowest level governmetn employee.

Not all of the child molesters in our schools are sexual.

Neal Pritchett

The ruling class is not competent except in preserving its power. On that it is united.



"I know no more about it than this, but I did find it interesting that they kept counting until Franken won."

There's the key. No need to fret about hypothetically ineligible votes cast by felons. A way would have been found with or without them.



Rejoice Dr. Pournelle - There is Solid Progress on Fusion

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

To expand on my earlier submission*. The Polywell concept does not use heat, or pressure or momentum to encourage the nuclei to fuse. So Polywell is not thermo-nuclear fusion. The large thermo-nuclear fusion projects of the last forty plus years have mostly being thermo-nuclear or inertial confinement. Polywell is best described as electro-dynamic confinement.

The idea is to use magnetic fields to circulate electrons around and into a central "well." The attractive force of the electron is sufficient guide positively-charge nuclei into multiple passes through the well for collisions and fusion.

The United States Navy is funding most of the current research for power at sea. EMC2 is being quiet about their results and the Navy has recently refused a Freedom of Information Act request from the enthusiasts to release the results of EMC2's work. Nevertheless, the Navy keeps funding successive stages of EMC2's work...but the Millenium is not yet upon us.

Although the secondary indicators we (the enthusiasts) get from EMC2 and the Navy are positive; no raw data, non-peer-reviewed or peer-reviewed data has been released for public consumption. Since Dr. Bussard's death, EMC2's work is lead by a Dr. Richard Nebel most recently of one of the National Laboratories (Los Alamos, I think).

The near-term hope is for the Polywell reactor to allow fusion where the reactor is a source of neutrons for "steam" power. The very attractive farther-term hope is for boron fusion which will allow direct conversion of alpha particle products into electric charge.

About once a week, I include the EMC2 folks in my nightly prayers.

Best Regards,

R. Peters

*All of this is much better explained at: http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/index.php  The Polywell concept first came to my attention in an Analog article written by Tom Ligon who was also a colleague of Dr. Bussard's.

We can all cheer them on. I still have not seen the data, but if the Navy's happy then I certainly am. As to electro-magnetic confinement, the concept has been around a long time, and since the EMF is a whale of a lot stronger than gravity, would seem to be on the right track vs. inertial confinement: at least for anything continuous, we can hope; but again I haven't seen data and results. Doesn't mean they aren't out there, but I haven't seen them and I'd think making neutrons without muss would be headline news in some publications.


Letter from Catalonia 

I'm in Barcelona for a conference. It's a modern Mediterranean city, a lot cleaner than Naples or Rome. Worth visiting!

I've sent you some links earlier in the week. We've learned that Labour was no friend of civil rights and the rights of its citizens. Then we've learned that Labour built up a loan burden of about $100,000 per person that has to be paid out of taxes. The Tory-Liberal coalition has come up with some proposals about the universities--first to reduce the baccalaureate to two years, and second to replace the current system of loans with a graduate tax. My reaction to the latter is that it will reduce social mobility even below the low levels of the Labour years. I'll be glad to return to America in a few years...

-- Harry Erwin


"Antenna design when you can't have an external antenna is a black art, and everyone has problems."

I'm not an electrical engineer, but I do remember moving the 'rabbit ears' on the TV and enhancing the reception with tin foil affixed... Am I being to simple to suggest that an antenna be designed that includes using the human body?

David Couvillon Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Collector of Hot Sauce; Avoider of Yard Work  

The problem is that human bodies come in many sizes and coupling is not standard...


About those Vikings in Greenland 


Steve Chu


Climate Change


Please see Dr. Spencer's "Global Warming for Dummies" post. It's an excellent summary of the situation on global warming studies.


I'll also note that the previous post is the June global temperature data from NASA satellite observation. while the temperature is in excess, June shows clear cooling as the current El Nino ends, and comparison with the 1997-8 El Nino shows that the current El Nino has NOT been warmer than that event.


The relevant entry is for July 17, 2010. It's not bookmarked so far as I can tell [but see below], so you need to scroll down to it. I think we have discussed all his major points here, but this is an excellent summary of what's going on, including a defense of using climate models. He does not discuss policy in this exposition.




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Tuesday,  July 20, 2010

Wal-Mart Strikes Back


"It's quite a role reversal: The feds are complaining about getting dragged into court, having to file time-consuming paperwork, and generally being treated like any taxpayer who get crosswise with the IRS."

Charles Brumbelow


What would Kipling Say?

In Re: the President's popularity,
It may take some time, but eventually the electorate (or at least some
of them) see through the shiny slogans and realize that the Sons of Mary
do not actually produce anything.  The key to capitalize on this is for
the Republicans to actually set forth a written plan to systematically
solve the issues facing the nation, not simply a bunch of slogans and
platitudes of their own.  Maybe Newt can save the party from themselves,
but I am not terribly hopeful.
Yes I know despair is a sin.
What Would Kipling Say?
Oh I read the paper this morning, and I've seen it again and again, 
As the oil spreads to the beaches, where the sea-walls fail to retain.
And the sons of Mary still dither, while Martha's sons still toil, 
And ignore the bureaucrat mandates, and strive to recover the oil.
    And hist'ry repeats before us, as we struggle with the past in vain,
    The lesson still stands before us, and Kipling he saw it plain.
The Treasury's printing out paper, our gold and silver replaced 
But it cannot appease the builders, nor the Gods of the Marketplace 
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, have told us down through time, 
That you first have to slaughter the meat-beast, before you intend to
    And hist'ry repeats before us, as we struggle with the past in vain,
    The lesson still stands before us, and Kipling he saw it plain.
Our troops are set forth to conquer, in Iraq and Afghanistan 
While our leaders refuse them their honor, or even a vic'try plan 
And invaders trouble our borders, seeking our wealth to pay, 
A rich lazy nation's yielding, and that danger will not go away. 
    And hist'ry repeats before us, as we struggle with the past in vain,
    The lesson still stands before us, and Kipling he saw it plain.
The chattering classes bicker, and struggle for the power's reigns 
The recession widens and deepens, while more succumb to the strain.
And the Old Issue stands before us, dwarfing our hearts and brains, 
Hear the reeds of Runnymede weeping, as we bow down to take up our
    And hist'ry repeats before us, as we struggle again and again,
    The lesson still stands before us; Kipling he saw it plain.
As you say, despair is a sin, but I seem to be in a funk this morning.
Your friend as always,
Mark E. Horning, Physicist,

Funk or no, that's pretty good.


A question for you and your readers 

Is the United States, in fact, a tyranny?

It seems that Congress and the President want to legislate and regulate literally everything. I submit that it is, in fact, an impossible task. What actually happens is that those in power choose which laws and regulations to enforce, and which to ignore. It is easy to point out examples.

Border security is an obvious example. It is one of the most basic functions of a nation-state. Without defended borders, I do not understand how a nation can even be defined. Our federal government has utterly failed (again) at this task. Trying not to quibble about the numbers, on the order of ten million people are illegally in this country. The clearly stated goal of the controversial Arizona law is to enforce existing federal immigration laws within the state. It is hard for me to imagine any other rational alternative. Yet rather than trying to cooperate with Arizona, the federal government has filed a lawsuit against the state. On the other hand, so-called "sanctuary cities" which operate in open defiance of federal law are unmolested.

In his latest address to the nation, President Obama blasted Republican legislators for blocking an extension of unemployment benefits. The Republicans have had the temerity to point out that financing this expenditure with deficit spending violates the PAYGO bill that the same President Obama signed into law with much fanfare in February of this year.

One of the most basic functions of Congress is to pass an annual budget. In accordance with the Congressional Budget Act of 1974


There is no chance whatsoever that there will be a federal budget in place before the November election.

These are issues that go beyond the "Obama/Democrats bad" meme. No one seriously expects the federal government to even attempt to uniformly enforce all its own laws and regulations. And they keep piling more on top.

I call this a "structural tyranny". I submit that the problem is not lawlessness, but that we are drowning in laws. According to Dictionary.com, tyranny is "(an) arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power". If a government can arbitrarily choose not to enforce its own laws, is it a tyranny?

I confess I have no idea how to get out of this predicament. Perhaps I am overly pessimistic, or lacking some crucial insight. I would be happy to be persuaded that is the case.

Steve Chu

I think de Tocqueville would have called the present situation "democratic despotism" rather than tyranny. As confidence in the ruling class collapses it may move toward something else. We are not quite in a Constitutional Crisis, but that could happen: one scenario is that the majority changes in the November election but the lame duck session then rams through a great number of laws intended to make fundamental changes.

The Constitution is established by "We the People" and is intended to construct a government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. That was a radical idea at the time. For a long time it was possible to pretend that various measures taken were by consent of the governed or were the will of the people; given present poll numbers it is hard to pretend that Obamacare, which is unconstitutional under all interpretations of the constitution until fairly recently, is nevertheless valid as it is the will of the people. I could give other examples.

In the Supreme Court Crisis during The Great Depression, it could be argued that many of the New Deal measures were in fact the consent of the governed, the will of the people, necessary and proper, and so forth; it is difficult to pretend that with many of the modern measures. Depriving the secured bond holders of General Motors in the favor of the unions is not constitutional and there is little evidence that it is the will of the people or by consent of the governed.

The current aristocracy sows the wind.


Nullification - A Review

Thomas Woods' "Nullification" has recently been published. Here is a link to a review which might be of interest:


'The Nation <http://www.thenation.com/blog/states-rights-our-participatory-democracy>  , known for its far left politics, accepts that:

“…states’ rights is a constitutional, not political, issue, and the idea of a balance of power between the federal and state governments is neither conservative nor liberal at heart. It pertains to the theoretical process and function of government, not to the substantive, individual acts of governance themselves.”'

Charles Brumbelow

We used to teach nullification in 5th grade government when I was growing up in Tennessee, but any such discussion would now be forbidden as racist.

Power cannot in general be destroyed. It can be dispersed and limited in jurisdiction. Federalism almost by definition insures that there will be states with laws that people in other states will hate and try to get the Federal government to overthrow. It was that way prior to the Civil War, and it has been that way ever since.

"Abortion rights" were inferred as a penumbra from privacy which was a penumbra from search and seizure in the Bill of Rights, which is applied against the States as a penumbra from the Civil War Amendments. And so it goes. =====================

Subsidy versus Tax

"...if you want more of something subsidize it. If you want less of something, fine people for doing it."

This is a mathematical statement. And part of the modern intellectual style is to affect an inability to understand mathematics...

-- Mike T. Powers



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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Subject: Job creation and rising unemployment


In view yesterday you mentioned:

'...But maybe employers are afraid to hire because they don't know what costs government will impose on them next....'

I would go so far as to say a big factor for employers regarding job creation is the uncertainty of what is going to happen with Health Care in this country. Providing Health Insurance is already an enormous expense for employers and can cost hundreds of dollars per month per employee. If that were to double under the new paradigm (which is quite possible) imagine what that would do to a small business that employs 50 people. If they are currently paying $400 per month per employee, that is about $20K per month or nearly a quarter of a million dollars per year. If it doubled to $800 per month, now they are paying $40K per month or nearly a half a million dollars per year which is a serious impact to the bottom line. And that does not take into account businesses that currently absorb some of the cost of the employee's family medical insurance.

That additional $240K per year could be the salaries for several employees.

Tracy Walters

Uncertainty is the enemy of the entrepreneur. The more uncertainty in the business plan, the less likely it will be funded. Clearly.


: Beltway Elites vs the Rest of the Country - 


It looks like Fred Reed hit it pretty close when he said the beltway was out of touch with the rest of the country.


E.C. "Stan" Field

The Ruling Class...


Polywell Fusion

The physics is promising, but the psychology is fasinating; I would really like to know what the confidence levels were over the course of the research, among the researchers, the Navy, and the CongressCritters who reviewed the funding, as to the probability of producing a practical powerplant; It seems possible to me that the project succeeded because it was expected to fail, and that _if_ it proves practical, there will be an attempt to prevent commercial development by reclassifying the results, which in this case will not increase national security - quite the opposite. \


Dunno. I wanna see some neutrons...


"The majority doesn't need to remind the minority that it is in fact a minority all the time."


--- Roland Dobbins


I just wanted to comment on today’s letter from Kit Case, which said:

Dr. Pournelle, You wrote "the iPhone 4 is a major step toward the Pocket Computer Niven and I described in 1974 in The Mote in God's Eye (alas not yet available in Kindle edition; we're working on it)." Mote and Gripping Hand are both available, along with much of your other work, in epub format from Baen, which works excellently on the Barnes and Noble Nook. Read both of them on the beach last month. I also read "Mission to Minerva", by the late James Hogan, this past weekend on my Nook on the beach. I'm pretty sure that the Calibre e-book management software will convert epub to Kindle format.

Kit Case

Any book you buy from Baen Books (through the Webscriptions web site) is available in multiple formats, including MOBI/PRC. This format is the format used by the Kindle. You don’t need to buy books for your Kindle from Amazon. You don’t need to use Calibre to convert it since it’s available directly. It can even be sent wirelessly to your Kindle. No wires, no usb plugs.

How do I know?

Because right now (OK, 30 minutes ago), I was reading “The Prince” on my Kindle, which was sent directly to my Kindle from Baen/Webscriptions wirelessly.

I’m not going to say that Calibre is a waste of time. I used it to convert pdf files (like Paul Ryan’s Roadmap) into something that was easier to read on my Kindle. PDF files can be difficult to read on a Kindle due to the small screen size.



Cool Roofs Can Offset Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Mitigate Global Warming 

It’s always good to be right…

 “The idea has been around for years, but now, a new study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that is the first to use a global model to study the question has found that implementing cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can not only help cities stay cooler, they can also cool the world, with the potential of canceling the heating effect of up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.”


Time is that quality of nature which keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn't seem to be working.



I'm suspect that 100s of folks are going to send this to you.

Whitening the world's roofs would offset the emissions of the world's cars for 20 years, according to a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory...


What a concept. Sounds like something a Science Fiction writer would come up with.


I preen. But it has been obvious for a long time; indeed in the days of fear of global cooling I talked about painting roofs black... It was an easy inference to say white for cool. All this was decades ago.


Rating Agencies - Do Not Use Our Ratings!

It must be the week for your predictions to come true.

Amazing, isn't it? Ratings agencies do not not want to be held accountable for their ratings! -Paul


"Under the new law, ratings agencies can be sued for making bad ratings decisions, if the ratings are included in formal documents that companies file with the SEC when they issue bonds. That's making the agencies nervous. As a result, they're telling the issuers not to include their ratings in the formal documents filed with the SEC, according to the WSJ."


We'll see. Laws seldom do what they are intended to do. I don't know if the new law privileges certain ratings companies, but I'd be astonished if it did not.



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Thursday, July 22, 2010

On the sons of Martha and Mary


The account of Martha and Mary is not about working versus not working, but about worrying versus not worrying. Martha -tried- to make it about work, but Jesus pointed out the worry in her. Martha was worrying that the work wouldn't be done, while Mary was learning how not to worry.

Lest any should say that Jesus was condoning idleness, his teachings on that matter remain to this day in our use of the word "talent". (It was, of course, the wicked servant who did not properly use his talents.)

It is also interesting that Martha tried to impose her view of goodness on Mary. Worrying people who impose goodness on others don't sound conservative or productive to me. They sound a lot more like bureaucracy and the Iron Law.



Subject: "Global Warming for Dummies" -- Permanent Link

In Monday Mail you referenced Dr. Spencer's "Global Warming for Dummies" post. Unfortunately, the link was to the home page of the site, so the referenced post will soon be buried by more recent posts.

Here is a permanent link to that post. Some may find it more useful.

Keep up the good work.


Clyde Wisham

***"The only real power comes out of a long rifle." -- Joseph Stalin***


Stratety of technology - References 


References pursuant to issues of technology strategy.

Defense Science Board 2008 Summer Study on "Capability Surprise." First link is Vol 1 (2009), 2nd link is Vol 2 (2010, supporting papers)




Our chapter on Surprise in Strategy of Technology is still highly relevant. So is the rest of the book, although much of it was directed toward the Cold War and most of the examples are from that conflict; but the surprise chapter is particularly relevant since it is on principles, not specifics.

I would hope that those involved in the joint strike fighter would also read the book. If we are to have a multi-service multi-purpose airplane, there are a lot of variables to consider. There are no prizes for being the second best air superiority fighter; to give recce/strike capability to a fighter requires that it be such a good fighter that it can perform the mission even though encumbered with design features intended to make it a better recce/strike aircraft.

We went through all that with TFX which became the FB-111. Deja vu all over again...

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Strategy of Technology in pdf format:


: White roofs

Dr. Pournelle:

I must be missing something obvious. Where does the solar energy go that is reflected off a white roof instead of absorbed? I can see where the building itself would use less energy in air conditioning (although it would use more heating during the winter), but if the energy isn't absorbed by the roof, isn't it going to be bounced back into the atmosphere and just warm the surrounding air some more? I have difficulty believing that solar energy reflected into the sky at ground level makes its way all the way back into space.

Tom Brosz

Some of the reflected light is absorbed, of course, but it is reflected; dark surfaces absorb the energy, become warmer themselves, and heat their surroundings including the local air by more direct means. The reflected light energy may be intercepted by the atmosphere, or re-reflected by clouds, but much of it simply vanishes into outer space.

For a lot on that subject, look up "albedo". The Wiki entry will tell you more than you really want to know...


Fred on Feminism


well said as always. No wonder Fred has to live in Mexico.


"When I was a young stud—well, young anyway—in high school, girls were still oppressed, which meant that a guy knew he probably wasn’t going to get laid, so he might as well find a girl he really enjoyed being with. The idea slowly leaked into his hormonally disabled psyche that girls were kind of special. You could actually like one. Sure, a guy made pawing motions because he was expected to, and she went along to a minor extent. But that was it.

"So she didn’t feel used or hooked up with because she hadn’t been, and he thought he was damned lucky to have her. It was a concept of sorts."

When I was young there were girls you could sleep with and girls you might marry. It was very hard to find the first kind.


Briefly in the news was that maybe illegal voters for Algore minus those for Bush 53 was greater than any of Algore partisan tallies. But the Republicans thought it best not to bring it up and MSN dropped the issue.

Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Finds http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/12/

--July 12, 2010

Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Finds

The six-month election recount that turned former Saturday Night Live comedian Al Franken into a U.S. senator may have been decided by convicted felons who voted illegally in Minnesota's Twin Cities, according to an 18-month study conducted by a conservative watchdog group.<snip>



Left Creationism is the doctrine that culture replaced biology with the emergence of man.

I sent a meme about Left Creationsim last September. I wish my memes would be spread, not forgotton.

I place it below. Now spread it.

Left Creationists are not above selectively using evolutionary arguments when it serves their power interests in running things.



NS 2769: Die young, live fast: The evolution of an underclass
the-evolution-of-an-underclass.html  * 14 July 2010 by Mairi Macleod 

FROM feckless fathers and teenaged mothers to so-called feral kids, the media seems to take a voyeuristic pleasure in documenting the lives of the "underclass". Whether they are inclined to condemn or sympathise, commentators regularly ask how society got to be this way. There is seldom agreement, but one explanation you are unlikely to hear is that this kind of "delinquent" behaviour is a sensible response to the circumstances of a life constrained by poverty. Yet that is exactly what some evolutionary biologists are now proposing.

There is no reason to view the poor as stupid or in any way different from anyone else, says Daniel Nettle of the University of Newcastle in the UK. All of us are simply human beings, making the best of the hand life has dealt us. If we understand this, it won't just change the way we view the lives of the poorest in society, it will also show how misguided many current efforts to tackle society's problems are--and it will suggest better solutions.

Evolutionary theory predicts that if you are a mammal growing up in a harsh, unpredictable environment where you are susceptible to disease and might die young, then you should follow a "fast" reproductive strategy--grow up quickly, and have offspring early and close together so you can ensure leaving some viable progeny before you become ill or die. For a range of animal species there is evidence that this does happen. Now research suggests that humans are no exception.<snip>



"no amount of money poured into sex education and parenting classes will change the situation if young people don't see a decent future for themselves . . ."

That sounds about right.

-- Luke


With This Rinse, Performance Improves 



Exercise scientists say they have stumbled on an amazing discovery. Athletes can improve their performance in intense bouts of exercise, lasting an hour or so, if they merely rinse their mouths with a carbohydrate solution. They don't even have to swallow it.

It has to be real carbohydrates, though; the scientists used a solution of water and a flavorless starch derivative called maltodextrin. Artificial sweeteners have no effect.

And the scientists think they have figured out why it works. It appears that the brain can sense carbohydrates in the mouth, even tasteless ones. The sensors are different from the ones for sweetness, and they prompt the brain to respond, spurring on the athlete.

Many athletes depend on sugary beverages to keep them going. But often, when blood is diverted from the stomach to working muscles during intense exercise, drinks or foods cause stomach cramps. So a carbohydrate rinse can be a way to get the same effect.<snip>



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Friday,  July 23, 2010

Think of this as open lines Friday, where I have a mixed bag and wide interests...


Polywell Fusion: "I haven't seen data and results." - Precisely

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Only a select few have seen the data and they are _not_ talking. It is more frustrating than normal because the two camps of people in-the-know cite different reasons for their reticence.

The author of the FOIA request has appealed the disapproval, so who knows.

Dr. Nebel has promised an absence of male bovine excrement when the data are released, so we will _know_ whether this variety of Polywell works.

Depending on how one counts, the data should be available for (at least U.S. Navy) review in the fall or late Spring next year.


R. Peters

I confess that I am always suspicious of claims of extraordinary scientific or engineering breakthroughs accompanied by reasons for not releasing data. Making neutrons is not trivial. There are usually side effects. It's also something to crow about. I wish them well, I would like to believe it's all true, but I still haven't seen any data and results. I presume the Navy gets to see results.


White Roofs

The enviro rule makes may not have thought what white roofs would do in cold snowy regions.

We need dark roofs to get the sun to melt winter snow. Otherwise it builds up to the point of forming ice dams which can cause leakage. Plus a large snow load can collapse a building.

Bruce Kebbekus, Colorado

Actually the trick is to spray dark powder on the snow to get it to melt, then have a dark roof in winter in day time and turn it light at night when the air is clear.  When there's clouds you need --

In other words, the real solution is variable reflectivity roofs. Those are likely to be expensive.

One thing that generally does work is to use rooftop heaters for water. Of course water is heavy, so you need heavier construction. Everything is connected to everything else...


Experts Ask Why BP Delayed Cap


As expected, experts had the solution, but a committee was formed, which made bad choices. That is how our government operates in any case. The place is full of rabbits.



The Baen eBooks of your works (and the works of others, of course) may be read on the iPhone/iPad via the Bookshelf reader app:


-- Roland Dobbins


SUBJECT: The secrecy of Norman Dean, the secrecy of Michael Mann

Dr. Pournelle,

I'm a long-time reader (especially from back in the "A Step Further Out" days), and the recent ClimateGate shenanigans made me think of your writings about Norman Dean and his reactionless drive.

I've written a post about this, comparing his secrecy with that of Mann, Jones, Caspar Annan et al. I'm not sure that you'd be interested, but you write frequently about the problems in Climate Science, and so I thought this might be of interest.


On a personal note, you might remember me from around 1994, when I installed a Firewall at Chaos Manor. Alas, the company wasn't able to succeed in the market, but I've always appreciated the kindness that you and Mrs. Pournelle showed to me.

-- - Ted


Nuclear explosions, more...

Sir: Thanks much to Cecil Rose and Kevin Crisp, and the link to the animation of historical nuclear detonations around the world. http://www.ctbto.org/specials/1945-1998-by-isao-hashimoto/  The number (1032) listed for US detonations of nuclear devices is correct, in that it's is the same as the official publication DOE-NV--209-REV 15 of December 2000, which lists as "Total US Tests as 1030 -- the two devices used in wartime in Japan are not listed as tests, which brings the total to 1032. which lists all US nuclear tests from July 1945 through Sept.1992. This publication lists all these shots, together with their official Series and Shot name, type, purpose, publicly-released yield, and GMT time, latitude and longitude. For geographical location and visual info, I've uploaded this information into a public-accessible Google map, at http://maps.google.com/maps/

This lists in alphabetical order, all the 1030 US tests with their data, as well as the Google Map marker for the latitude and longitude listed in the DOE publication. Note that the map marker often does not correspond with the center of the subsidence crater of the explosion, and that there are a number of subsidence craters on the Nevada Test site which do not correspond with any entries in this publication. As the DOE and the Department of Defense is understandably reticent about talking about any of these issues, we're left to our own conclusions here. As to the first issue, it's known that subsidence craters can occur anytime from seconds to months after a detonation, any may occur not immediately overhead of what is considered 'ground zero', but at some other point often connected to the complex underground tunnel structures linking the shot location, the instrumentation, etc. The unknown craters are just that -- unknown. Most appear to be quite old and may likely have been the result of non-nuclear, conventional explosive tests.

-- Bill Krog


Subject: "Volcano Worshipers"

I found this irresistibly apt:

The Democrats in Washington are beginning to look like a tribe of volcano worshipers, living in the ever-present shadow of Mount Obama, which has been spewing federal spending into the American atmosphere nonstop for nearly two years. Its ash covers everything.

This ancient Democratic tribe, whose number is 255, live in a rambling, run-down temple called the House of Representatives. They share the House with a sporadically hostile tribe called the Republicans, whose population has dwindled to 178. Every few years the tribes engage in an arcane martial-arts contest known as "the elections." Some of the members do not survive.

--Daniel Henninger, WSJ.com


And instead of virgins they throw in Department of Agriculture middle management executives...


Britain's public debt

A correspondent wrote,

‘A much lower standard of living, inflation, higher taxes, rationing and currency devaluation will ultimately be the way to get out of such levels of debt. Who's up for that?’

--Canada and NZ during the 1990’s. However the pain is temporary and the benefits are a decade of debt reduction, an eventual higher standard of living and continual growth during recessionary times of GDP.


And what are the choices when you run out of other people's money?


Kids Send Camera to Edge of Space

Nice little photo essay. Amazingly these kids weren't home schooled.


Adam Smith


Subject: Regarding those protective sand berms

"A dramatic series of of aerial images show that plans to build artificial islands to block oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from reaching Louisiana's sensitive marshland appear to be crumbling. Literally."


Maybe it wasn't such a good idea....


I don't know. I do know we ought to know -- that is, we ought not be learning this sort of thing during a crisis. But then I told Governor Reagan that in 1969 or threabouts. If we are going to drill deep we need to know more about cleanup technology because there are always spills.


Subject: so...


We got our money’s worth.

Spider (Robinson)











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Saturday, July 24, 2010

78 billion light years in 13.7 billion years? 

Dear Jerry,

Spider Robinson sent in that link to a very interesting video on the Hubble Deep Field Image.

Just one problem with that video: They go on and on about it being an image of 78 billion light years of space. Someone didn't check the math.

The universe is (so the cosmologists tell us) 13.7 billion years old. You can't have light from 78 billion light years away in just 13.7 billion years. I suppose the "Inflationary" models of the Big Bang allow a universe of 78 million light years diameter in just 13.7 billion years, but nevertheless, you cannot get light to cross that distance at superluminal speed.

But Spider is right, we got our money's worth from Hubble. Just wait until, in two years, the larger Webb telescope goes into orbit around the sun. It's going to return picures of terrestrial sized, rocky worlds circling other suns. If one of those worlds is in the Alpha/Beta Centauri system, there will be a move to start planning our first interstellar probe.


As you say. Someone muddled the text, but the pictures are worth a lot.


Hubble made a lot of pretty pictures. Of course, by modern standards, Hubble was a miserable failure. Not only was it broken out of the box (mirror issues), but it has required repeated refurbishment and servicing at enormous public expense over its service life. A *proper* mission wouldn't have had *any* of those problems, right?

Or, at least, this is The Aerospace Corporation's attitude towards space missions, which is why everything takes three times as long and costs twice as much as it ought to do, and why we're rebuilding a computer factory from 1997 to build the processor for a military communications satellite that will be launched in 2019 (AEHF flight 4.) We could use modern technology, but that isn't "flight proven" yet.

-- Mike Powers


Charles Rowley: United States Ranks Mostly Free in 2010 Index of Economic Freedom http://charlesrowley.wordpress.com/

A Classical Liberal Political Economy Perspective

Each year, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal jointly publish a carefully researched Index of Economic Freedom that ranks 179 nations in terms of ten components of economic freedom: business, freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption, and labor freedom. Each of these components is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 represents the maximum freedom. The ten component scores are then averaged to provide an overall economic freedom score for each country.

Countries that score between 100 and 80 are characterized as Free, those that score between 79.9 and 70 are characterized as Mostly Free, those between 69.9 and 60 as Moderately Free, those between 59.9 and 50 as Mostly Unfree, and those between 49.9 and 0 as Repressed.

The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom was published on January 20, 2010. The United States economic score was 78.0, with its economy ranked Number 8 in the total Index (falling from Number 6 in 2009), and characterized now as only Mostly Free. Its score was 2.7 points lower than in 2009, reflecting the most precipitous drop in economic freedom among the world’s top 20 countries (measured in terms of gross domestic product). Canada, with an overall score of 80.4, is the only country in North America now ranked as Free.

For reference, the top ten ranked nations are: 1. Hong Kong (89.7), 2. Singapore (86.1), 3. Australia (82.6), 4. New Zealand (82.1), 5. Ireland (81.3), 6. Switzerland (81.1), 7. Canada (80.4), 8. United States (78.0), 9. Denmark (77.9) and 10. Chile (77.2). The United States is now bracketed with such nations as the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Georgia, Botswana and South Korea, nations that are not usually highly regarded as bastions of economic freedom. Well, at least there is still some distance from North Korea (1.0)!<snip>




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Sunday, July 25, 2010      

SUBJECT: The Hubble Deep Field

Hi Jerry.

Regarding the link you posted today ( http://wimp.com/hubblespace ), a related story for you.

At the time the Hubble Deep Field came out I was a graduate student working on my M.Sc. in Astronomy. One night a bunch of us grad students decided to download the image, as it had just been released, and none of us had yet to see it. It was slow going - if you were lucky, you got a download speed of several kB/s on the "high-speed" university internet connection. Well, we were astonished at what was slowly being displayed in our web browser; the detail and variety and number of galaxies were mind blowing. Keep in mind we were astronomers and *knew* what we were looking at, could identify the various types and sizes of the objects in the field without need for explanation, and still it was hard to grasp the scope of what we were seeing.

And then the funny part: we were bamboozled by the slow download speed and size of the image. After several minutes we suddenly realized we were only looking at a *fraction* of the image - maybe one tenth of it - and that it scrolled waaaay off the screeen! Astonishing and humbling beyond belief!

Anyway, the Hubble Deep Field resulted in many papers and thesis just based upon that field alone, and was the catalyst for many more studies. The amount of data contained within it is enormous: it's a series of images in different broad-band light filters, and what the public usually sees is the false-colour reconstructed image. What the scientists work with look like this:


and lots of analysis is/was based upon comparing the results in the various filters to one another, and in taking note of the colour, shape and luminosity of each object in the field. An excellent show overall, and despite the high ticket price, the cost of admission was definitely worth it!


Mike Casey


Copyright ;lawsuits as a business plan

Dear Jerry:

You may recall that in 2006 I settled two copyright infringement lawsuits on exactly this issue; the practice of aggregators simply taking material without permission and distributing it to a wide range of customers. One of my sub-infringers sold huge databases of articles to libraries and claimed to have 60,000 customers in sixty nations. That's the number of libraries subscribing, not the number of patrons actually accessing the database. So this is a very interesting approach to the problem. My lawyer and I had four other cases against other publishers that we walked away from because they weren't big enough for us to make money on. We would have prevailed; the first two cases proved tat. We would have not recovered enough money to pay for our time and effort. I would have been delighted to sell those cases off to someone else. The copyright system in thsi country is broken and needs a major overhaul. Perhaps when endusers who take without asking first begin to feel a little pain, reform will happen.


Francis Hamit


The Baen eBooks of your works (and the works of others, of course) may be read on the iPhone/iPad via the Bookshelf reader app:


-- Roland Dobbins

A more convient choice is Stanza, which lets you download the .epub format books from Webscription.net via mobile Safari. No PC/Mac/iTunes required.



State Dept. planning to field a small army in Iraq

In little more than a year, State Department contractors in Iraq could be driving armored vehicles, flying aircraft, operating surveillance systems, even retrieving casualties if there are violent incidents and disposing of unexploded ordnance.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/


Who do you think they should hire? Either Hammer's Slammers or Falkenberg's Legion should be able to do the job.

Michael Janis


Who would have thought in our lifetime




Tank Ballet, Paratroopers and Combat Dogs: Live Video from the Russian Arms Expo


"At the Russian Arms Expo in Zhukovsky, the opening day ceremony belies its military focus and mass-market entertainment value with a full choreographed tank ballet, paratroopers, weapons, fires, and attack dogs. Check out the videos below for more."

I've lived in Jackson Mississippi, a town with some connection to ballet. I've spent years in an armored brigade. It never, ever would have occurred to me to connect the two.







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