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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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Monday  October 18, 2010

Geert Wilders: the trial continues 

Dr. Pournelle,

As Christa has pointed out, Dutch law and US law are different. While the Dutch prosecutors have asked to dismiss all counts, the trial is still moving forward.

Dutch prosecutors asked judges Friday to acquit anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders on all charges of inciting hate and discrimination against Muslims, in a case seen as testing the limits of free speech versus religious freedom.

The move by prosecutors signaled their belief the case against Wilders was weak, although judges could still disagree and convict him. The defense begins its case next week and a verdict is scheduled for next month.

More curious facts for those used to US jurisprudence.

Prosecutors had initially declined to press charges against Wilders at all, but were ordered to do so by an appeals court that ruled there was significant evidence against him.

So we have what in the US would be considered a case fit for the Red Queen, where prosecutors have no case, but the defendant may still be found guilty.


I urge your readers to stay abreast of this case. I believe it will have important implications for free speech issues in the West.

Steve Chu

A serious matter. In old Monarchies the Crown often has traditional powers; in the US  the power of government was supposedly restricted to enumerated powers, although the power to forbid the sale of hemp is a bit hard to find. Emanations and penumbras seem to have filled the lack.


Letter from England

A report was released and a memo was leaked. The UK Government is getting out of the business of subsidising university educations (and of paying for university research). The problem is that the full economic cost of a university education is $11,000/year, so if you charge that in fees--and add the opportunity costs of foregoing full-time employment--few students come out ahead. Society comes out ahead, which is why a university education is subsidised in most of the world, but students do better if they enter the workforce at 18. See: <http://tinyurl.com/34krlwu> <http://tinyurl.com/3y2hr9e> <http://tinyurl.com/35zh2ws>

 I mentioned that the Government is also getting out of the business of paying for university research. The level during the Labour years was originally set by the Thatcher Government at about 1/3 the per-capita funding level in North America. The UK Government is pulling back from that, initially by about 35%. Currently the approval rate for research grant proposals is about 9%. That will reduce it to about 5-6%.

 Long over-due health and safety shake-up. <http://tinyurl.com/2ey2dbu>

 Prime Minister intervenes to protect defence spending. <http://tinyurl.com/2uj9p5f> <http://tinyurl.com/366m5t2> <http://tinyurl.com/35k2jae>

 "Police will soon be able to use a person's race as a basis to carry out a stop and search under draft guidance which threatens a row with civil liberties groups." <http://tinyurl.com/27g397t>

 Cancer as a modern disease: <http://www.nature.com/nrc/journal/v10/n10/full/nrc2914.html> <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/204809.php> <http://tinyurl.com/3yacdq8> <http://tinyurl.com/2u5a8d5>


Harry Erwin, PhD

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)


Taxes and business

Hello Jerry,

One of your readers, Joshua Jordan, provided this:

"I hear so many "talking heads" braying about how nobody will leave if taxes get too high. Nobody decides to make a business or not make a business based on taxes."

Well, the 'talking heads' may in fact be right about this. It is not taxes, per se, that prevents people from making a business. It is the nature of the taxes. If taxes were simply sales taxes or some such that applied to all citizens equally and did not require mountains of paperwork to determine what they were, the talking heads would be correct. Taxes would be taxes and business would be business. You could start your business, make your profit, and bitch about the taxes on an equal footing with everyone else.

The real problem is not taxes, but GOVERNMENT, which goes out of its way to punish the very thought of starting a business, with its reams of regulations, requirements, restrictions, paperwork, arcane tax laws that can only be understood, and even partly at best, by trained professionals, and so on. Look at articles advising people who are contemplating starting a business. Page one, paragraph one, line one is always: "Consult with an accountant and get yourself a lawyer". The accountant is NOT to teach you how to manage your cash flow but to make sure that you follow all the tax laws. The lawyer is NOT to protect you from irate customers but from the government, which is poised to destroy you if you make the slightest slip up. Or, for large businesses with large piles of cash available to loot, contribute to the wrong, or no, political party. See Bill Gates and his adventure with Internet Explorer, followed by his conversion to a staunch supporter of Democratic causes and the evaporation of his legal problems.

I can provide my own example. I built my house with the idea that upon retirement, I could convert it into s 2-3 room B&B. It is ideally situated in the Virginia 'Wine Country', has a great view, and renting a couple of rooms could provide a small income and allow me to meet interesting people. Not gonna happen. I'm simply not willing to put up with all the government hassle that is required to run a business in exchange for the small income that I could expect from renting out a couple of rooms on a nightly basis. If all I had to do would be rent and maintain the rooms, pay my expenses, spend the profit at Wally World, and let Wally send in my taxes based on my cash register receipt, I'd go with it. And taxes would not be an issue in the go/no go decision. When I contemplate the mountain of government required paperwork that I would have to do to establish and run the business and hire maybe one person as a gofer to keep things going, I execute an unconditional jump to 'Never Mind'. I am probably not unique.

Bob Ludwick

But your guests have to be protected from you. They are, after all, not considered competent. The liberal view is sheer terror over the prospect that someone, somewhere, is doing something without permission and without supervision.


Do Higher Taxes Cause People to Leave

Britain recently increased the higher rate income tax from 40% to 50%.

"So far only a handful of hedge fund partnerships have moved their headquarters offshore but a far greater number of individual employees than previously acknowledged have moved to subsidiary offices abroad.

One in four hedge fund employees have left London to move to Switzerland, where the tax regime is considered more stable, according to the consultancy Kinetic partners"


There may well be other reasons, specifically increased financial regulation affecting this & since Switzerland is only a short flight from Britain the US may not suffer as great an effect (though the Bahamas is not an uncomfortable place to live).

Neil C


Futuristic Judge Dredd smartguns issued to 101st Airborne

Also: Target-seeking sniper bullets move to Phase II

Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/15/xm25_and_exacto/ 

Tracy Walters, CISSP



The "Iron Law"

Hello Jerry,

Should the occasion arise, the the Air Force policy on UAV's as described in the link provided by Colonel Couvillon


could be used as a textbook example of the 'Iron Law' in action.

Bob Ludwick


With a sneeze

People often comment that the world will end with a bang or a whimper.

I have long contended that it's more likely to end with a great epidemic of sneezes. The "Gilbert Gene Splicing Kit" image I always used in discussing this potentiality is real today if a tad pricey for a child. But older people with money and a sense of whimsy are creating glow in the dark yogurt and other wonderful gene spliced goodies.

Garage biotech: Life hackers http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101006/full/467650a.html 

Typical labs cost from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

I hope everybody sleeps well tonight after learning this.


(For lack of a suitable evil leer BIXie.)



The Night I Met Einstein - by Jerome Weidman | Derek Sivers



I found this a strangely touching story. Thanks.


Subj: Benoit Mandelbrot, RIP


>>His seminal book, "The Fractal Geometry of Nature," published in 1982, argued that irregular mathematical objects once dismissed as "pathological" were a reflection of nature.<<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com


June Cleaver, RIP.


- Roland Dobbins

"I speak Jive..."


“I told them, he’s either a terrorist, or he’s working for you. Indirectly, they told me to get lost.”


--- Roland Dobbins

By Executive Agreement establishing the CIA, the FBI has all the jurisdiction in the US and Caribbean. Wide Awake Police Department. Car 42, Car 42, someone is stealing your tires...


: UFOs


Well, the plot thickens on the UFOs.. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/

I'd like to say that this would make an excellent psyop as well -- assuming there aren't really aliens visiting the Earth.


BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

You have caused me to dredge up my Preface to Carl Pflock's definitive book on the Roswell matter. In it I tell a real UFO story about real events seen by thousands but officially denied. I also discuss my views on the subject. They haven't changed since I wrote that.


Blotting Out Sun May Soon Be Banned : Discovery News


  Which universe am I living in?


It would probably ban solar power satellites, too. The Iron Law at work. Viva UN!


Subject: Beltway Adventure



















. . .



I suppose there are some who will recall the old Adventure game. I once wrote a version playable on early S-100 bus systems, and a "build your own Adventure" kit. Long gone of course. The link shows a travel through the Adventure


Providing food for elections 


One of your contributors mentioned:

‘You mentioned the ground game, and -- as if you are some kind of prophet -- here it is. http://www.argusleader.com/article/20101014/NEWS/10140308  The Dems are providing food -- in addition to a ride to the polls. ‘

Mind you, I’m a conservative, and agree with a lot of the things the Tea Party stands for, but providing ‘feeds’ at any event on an Indian Reservation is a very traditional thing, and you can hardly do ANYTHING without having a ‘feed.’ My wife is Crow Indian, and I’ve been in the environment for nearly 40 years now, it’s not necessarily an overt attempt at bribing them, I think they really ‘get’ the traditional Indian way, much as it pains me to admit it.


Tracy Walters, CISSP

Providing coffee and doughnuts as well as a ride to the poll is pretty traditional ground game political tactics.




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Tuesday,  October 19, 2010

"I don't care if they try to kick me out for what I'm saying -- war is war and this is no war. I don't know what this is."


-- Roland Dobbins

Beware the fury of the Legions.


U.S. Military Plan: Get Off Oil By 2040


"Maybe the most important lesson to be gleaned is that if the Department of Defense is concerned about the future of oil, then maybe the rest of us should be too?"

This was linked in our daily news. I started hearing this, in whispers, when I worked aviation some 15 years ago. Now it has been said loudly and firmly for a couple years now. Maybe we will get to the point where the Middle East can be left to "drink their oil?"

R, Rose

If the country had followed my plan either in the First Gulf War Crisis under Bush I or the 9/11 Second Gulf War Crisis under Bush II, the US wouldn't be so dependent on oil, and we could tell the Arab sovereign funds to drink their oil. We'd have over 100 1000 megawatt nuclear generators, as well as a lot more domestic oil and oil refineries, paid for by funds that were poured into desert sands. Ah well.


Perhaps I should call this a Letter from Puerto Rico

Voting & absentee ballots

I too have some concerns about voting in the upper 50 states. I live in the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and have voted in every election here since 1976.

1) I do not like the idea of absentee ballots. Seems to me that absentee ballots evade the concept of everyone voting at the same time. Some people have voted more than a month before the election. Here in PR absentee ballots are very hard to come by. Basically students and military get them but not too many others.

2) Registration scares me. When I registered here originally, I had to show birth certificate, proof of residency for 2(?) years, proof of current residency. I got a very high quality voter ID card. 5-6 years ago they came out with an even better one with barcodes, holograms and other anti-counterfeit stuff. I cannot vote without this. If I lose it, I can vote but my ballot will be set aside for later adjudication.

3) Voting is by paper ballot. We get three: One for statewide, district and municipal offices. Mark them with a pencil and put them in sealed ballot boxes.

4) Counting is initially done at the polling place by the poll watchers and the totals sent to election central in San Juan. Physical ballots are then transported to San Juan for a second count. We have always had a pretty final count by about 6-7PM on election day, based on the counts at the polls. I say pretty final because there will be some absentee and adjudicated to be counted. Very seldom are these enough to change the initial outcome.

We have very high voter registration rates. I think it is 85% or so of all adults. We also have very high turnout, usually in the 80%+ range of all registered voters.

We have never had any charges of election fraud. People may not like the election results but we can have a high degree of confidence that they are honest.

If I lived in the upper 50, I am not sure I would even bother registering. it just seems like way too much hanky panky going on. Electronic voting machines particularly scare the bejeezus out of me. Registration seems very lax. We have NBP members in paramilitary uniforms with clubs keeping people out of th epolls and nobody seems to want to do anything. We have military in at least 2 states (IL and NY) completely disenfranchised this year. Jokes about the dead voting are common in many districts. "Vote early, vote often" is another frequent joke.

It is no laughing matter. If we cannot have confidence in elections, we do not have a democracy.


John R Henry CPP



V for Victory

Hello Jerry,

Got this from a local friend. You may have already seen it, as it is one of those things that can go 'viral' pretty quickly. If not, it is a video, about 45 sec.

Bob Ludwick

This is very uplifting (no pun intended)!!!

Watch this fly-over! Less than a minute to watch. Nice, tight formation!

Who says God does not have a sense of humor?? Heaven does not have a "restricted air space."

Pretty amazing! Glenn Beck had been trying for weeks to get a military fly-over with fighter jets to start the Restoring Honor event, but the White House blocked it saying it was "restricted airspace". The rally started at 10:00 am, but at precisely 9:59am, God gave us His fly-over that could not have been better. I still get Goose bumps (!) when I watch this.


Well, now, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Almighty intervenes in these matters, but this was impressive.


An Inconvenient Truth


Apparently rock hyrax crystallized urine over time can serve as a tool for understanding climate change in arid regions, per this article on the National Geographic website. Alas, it fails to support some aspects of current climate models. See:



Rachel Kaufman

for National Geographic News

Published October 15, 2010

A guinea-pig-like mammal's prehistoric urine may be one of the best tools for understanding climate change in arid regions, scientists announced Tuesday. Already, analysis of crystallized rock hyrax pee appears to contradict some results of current climate models.


some middens are essentially unbroken, 28,000-year-old records of changes in regional vegetation, said study leader Brian Chase of the Institute of Science and Evolution at the University of Montpellier 2 in France.


For example, current climate models suggest that, as the Northern Hemisphere became drier about 5,500 years ago, the Southern Hemisphere got wetter. But traces in the hyrax-urine samples suggest that the southern part of Africa also dried out during this period, according to a paper by the team published in the July 2010 issue of Quaternary Research.

"If the model can't simulate the past. ... how much trust do we have in its ability to predict the future?" study leader Chase said.


I believe you said something to the effect of:

All models are false. Some models are useful.

I wonder what this says about the utility of current climate models?

Best regards,

Rodger Morris

 Adjunct Professor, Oxnard College, Department of Engineering Technology

Thanks! One does wonder if these models need some corrections.


You asked about determining CO2 ratios and how much is from manmade sources

You expressed a question about whether the increase in atmospheric CO2 could have any plausible source other than human activity.


The very fast and loose summary:

While we don't have accurate carbon isotope ratios in the Earth's atmosphere from earlier than the early 20th century, we can determine that the ratio of Carbon 12 to Carbon 13 to Carbon 14 has changed within that measurement span with increases in carbon 13 and carbon 14. Carbon 13 is 'archeological' carbon. The major source of it is burning things that used to be underground.

When the carbon-13 is subtracted from the CO2 mix, we go back to about 310 ppm from 390 ppm.

(This isn't exactly a smoking gun, but it is how the AGW side states that the rise in CO2 is human caused; I've not found any explanation that fits the facts as well as this one does.)

Of greater interest is the thermodynamic effects of CO2 in the atmosphere. The very very short answer is "Anyone who says they know what the changes in CO2 are doing to the climate is probably expressing greater certainty than is merited."

My general take on global warming is this: I'm willing to take sensible, reasonable and sane measures - more nuclear power, aggressive funding of solar power satellites or distributed solar, including industrial expansion of algal biofuels. I'd rather NOT run experiments on the only biosphere planet we've got access to. I'm rather fond of this planet, and would prefer to keep it in the control group for that study.

Nothing would appease my sense of irony quite so firmly has having solar power in such quantities that we're shipping synthesized methane as LNG to the Saudis to run their cars on because we can do so more cheaply than they can get oil out of the ground.


One does what one can. Short of war -- which would become nuclear -- there is nothing the US can do to prevent China and India from burning oil and coal. If the US decivilizes and becomes a hunter gatherer society it will make little difference in the coming CO2 production.

Better would be development of engineering methods to remove excess CO2 once it is determined that the levels are truly getting too high -- which they are not yet. One would like to be able to do this quickly. You also need a way to turn off the CO2 removal machinery since CO2 is a necessary atmospheric component for sustaining plant life. At the moment it's a good bet that the increased CO2 is beneficial, but we need to be sure of that, too.

But as we saw above, our models for predicting the future are not very good.

One thing is certain, beggaring the United States will not save the Earth.


For Devotees of Credentialism

Today's mot juste:

The great majority of the universities -- founded since the Second World War to bureaucratically process and credentialize a large part of the general population, as a matter of "right" and regardless of their intellectual capacities -- are in effect "community colleges" or trade schools.
-- David Warren http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/index.php?id=1197



Father & Son launch balloon to 100,000 ft

Dr. Pournelle --

Somebody is reaching far:

Father-Son Team Launch Balloon With HD Camera, iPhone Into Space http://newsfeed.time.com/

"In one of the coolest amateur science experiments NewsFeed has come across, a father-and-son team, and others from the “Brooklyn Space Program,” launched a weather balloon into the stratosphere along with an HD video camera that captured virtually the entire flight. The team placed some hand-warmers inside a specially built insulated capsule that held the camera and an iPhone, which, through its GPS capabilities, allowed the team to track it down once it landed."

The spirit lives.



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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jobs' State of Apple address.


--- Roland Dobbins

There is a lot of meat in here, about iPhone and open vs. closed systems. Well worth reading if you have any interest in the subject. For one implication of this, see below.


White roofs in NY

Dr. Pournelle,

Haven't you been preaching this for years?


I have standard brown shingles, but I put in a radiant foil barrier a few years back which is supposed to have a similar effect.


Ryan Brown

But of course...


Soros Update


<snip> Media Matters <http://mediamatters.org/>  , the liberal activist group that wages a rhetorical war against Fox News Channel <http://www.foxnews.com/>  and others in the conservative press, will announce on Wednesday the receipt of a $1 million donation from the philanthropist George Soros. </snip>



BDAB, Joshua Jordan,
KSC Percussa Resurgo

Not astonishing...


President's Visit to Cost 100k +



President Obama's visit to Seattle this week may be a boon for Sen. Patty Murray and Democrats, but it could prove costly for city taxpayers.

Mayor Mike McGinn recently estimated Obama's stop could cost the city $100,000 to $150,000 in extra police security for the president and his motorcade.

"It's expensive," McGinn said on the Seattle Channel's "Ask the Mayor" show last week. But McGinn said such costs are to be expected for a presidential visit in a big city.

"We're talking about the leader of the free world here, and we're talking about people that have had real threats against them. And I think that we want to make sure when the president comes to Seattle, he's safe. I think that's our responsibility here," McGinn said.



I think I would just tell him not to show up. I would say, unless he can foot the bill, but that bill would ultimately be passed on to me anyway. Besides, I have fundamental issues with Presidents who campaign for their buddies and cronies in lieu of doing their jobs.


Joshua Jordan,
 KSC Percussa Resurgo


"We really didn't expect to find a hot spot with such a large offset."


-- Roland Dobbins


The Rent is Too Damn High Party 

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I'm taking a vacation from Gloom & Doom, so I thought you would appreciate this 1 minute 17 second clip of Jimmy Mcmillen, NY candidate for governor from the 'Rent is Too Damn High' party.


I'd never vote for the guy, because he seems to believe it's government's job to pay people's bills. I don't see any way a company could charge Buffalo-level rent while paying Manhattan-level prices for everything else. But he's still a kick. People like him make this country great -- or at least great fun.


Brian P.



Just in case you didn't know: OPM Says FEHBP Does Not Cover Pets

archive/2010/10/FD101910.htm?s=fd_102010#a  Money quote: "The Office of Personnel Management on Oct. 15 issued a statement emphasizing that the federal government does not offer pet insurance to federal employees as part of its Federal Employee Health Benefits Program."

The back story's actually pretty entertaining too!


Wow. I didn't know that!


You might find this amusing


-- Tim of Angle




"GM's new electric car depends on coal-belching power plants to charge its batteries. What's the point?"


Charles Brumbelow

But of course. It will always be unless you have nuclear power.


Erasmus’ Latin Grammar School Book List

Erasmus’ Latin Grammar School Book List Your link to Latin and Greek Classics some time back and reading Baldwin’s book inspired me to write to you about the authors and books Latin Grammar School students studied. It can be hard to find that list of books young scholars used to read and memorize but thanks to interest in the education of our Founding Fathers and William Shakespeare’s "Small Latin and Less Greek," we still have a pretty good idea who and what was studied after Petty School’s Horn Book ABCs:

1st Form: Short Introduction to Latin Grammar; the shorter catechism, Golden Rule, Ten Commandments, etc.; Cato’s Distichs; Old Testament Book of Proverbs

2nd Form: The 8 parts of Grammar; Aesop’s Fables; Lucian’s Selected Dialogues, in Latin; Psalm 119

3rd Form: Nouns; Terence Comedies; Plautus Selected Comedies; the rest of the Psalms 4th Form: Verbs; Virgil’s Bucolics and Georgics; Ovid’s De Tristibus; Ecclesiastes and Ecclestucus

5th Form: Cicero’s Topica; Erasmus’ book on writing episltes; Cicero’s Familiar Epistles; The Gospel of Mark; sometimes Greek Grammar; Aesop and Lucian in Greek*

6th Form: Latin summary; Cicero’s Essays; Caesar’s Gallic Commentaries; Sullust; Livy’s Histories especially the orations; The Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles; sometimes Xenophon's Anabasis and Cyropaedia*

7th Form: Ovid’s Metamorphosis; Horace Odes and Epistles; Virgil’s Aeneid; Juvenal Selected Satires; shorter New Testament Epistles; sometimes Homer’s Iliad*

8th Form: Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory; Rhetorica Ad Herennium; Demosthenes’ Olynthiac and Philippic Orations; Isocrates’ Panhellenic Orations; Cicero’s In Verrem, Catiline and Pro Milone Orations; longer New Testament Epistles

*Greek was not always taught in Latin Grammar School being sometimes reserved for the college or university. Most of the above drawn from Baldwin’s William Shakespere’s Small Latine & Lesse Greeke, 2 Volumes available online at the University of Illinois Press website, just Google the title and Prof. Ziobro’s Latin in Early America: An Anthology of Readings in 17th and 18th Century Latin for Post-Intermediate Level Latin Students sadly no longer available at College of the Holy Cross’ web site. Wikipedia has details on the various authors.

Thanks for keeping us all so informed,

Paul Evans.

We need a school system that has room in it for ambitious programs; but the belief that everyone deserves a university prep education makes that impossible. The costs to the Republic are enormous.

Our level of education for those who should be getting university prep education is ludicrous. Few schools manage to achieve levels of education in college prep grads that Memphis Tennessee had with Central High School in 1949. It's getting worse.



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Thursday, September 21, 2010

Mac Apps

Jobs announced the app store would be extended to macs. I.E., that you could buy apps for your Mac on the app store just like you do for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Developers get the same 70% of sale price they do on the other platforms. Users purchase and download (and re-download if they want) off the app store application just like they do on the other platforms. You also get a license for all of your personal Macs in one purchase price, again just like the other platforms. He did not mention price for these apps, at least it was not mentioned in any of the synopsis I read, but I would suspect we will see the 1.00 range app go to the Mac. After all, the existing developers that are successful on the other Apple platforms are already making money at that price point. Like anyone, they will want more, but, they are coming from the bottom up verses the traditional app folks who are coming from the other direction. Cheaper usually wins.

The app store could have enormous consequences for the application space.


Fascinating. I need to think on this. It certainly seems like a game changer. How long will it be before Google and Microsoft must follow suit?  And with increasing computer power...


Subject: FW: We didn't start the fire

Most excellent! And educational : )

This is really cool. Loved the song, but never understood the words. Now it is all so clear (and I remember all the clips).

This song & its title was answer to a recent Final Jeopardy -- only one person got it right -- question was (paraphrased) "What 1980's song do history teachers praise for its educational value." Never could understand all the references on Billy Joel's song -- fortunately, with this VIDEO, given the picture(s), now can "see" what our "ears" couldn't. Anyway, checked to see purpose behind the song. Apparently, it's Joel's homage to the 40-years of historical headlines since his birth (1949). Wish we could have appreciated the depths of this song when it was released. Twenty years later, it's amazing what Joel was able to put into music and lyrics lasting only a few minutes.

Here it is, set to pictures... . It's a neat flashback through the past half century. Turn up volume, sit back and enjoy a review of 50 years of history in less than 3 minutes! Thanks to Billy Joel and some guy from the University of Chicago with a lot of spare time and Google <http://www.google.com/> . Top left gives you full screen....top right lets you pause. Bottom left shows the year. The older you are, the more pictures you will recognize. Anyone over age 65 should remember over 90% of what they see. But it's great at any age.

Click Here: We Didn't Start The Fire <http://yeli.us/Flash/Fire.html>

He went to a lot of work to do this. Interesting picture selections.  Lots of memories.


Psi Machine?

Breakthrough? or BS? 

Found the link to this over at Backwoods Home. If true, it would be pretty amazing.


I would have to see a well designed experiment before believing in this, but we can have hopes. My late friend G Harry Stine was a firm believer in dowsing and some other psi-machines, but I never saw any crucial experiments. By crucial I mean designed to rule out thaumaturgy, not necessarily set up so that the experiment cannot possibly have any but random results, which is apparently the only thing that will satisfy some skeptics -- that is, if there are ESP results, the experiement was obviously a fraud set up by someone smarter than the observer.

I have participated in enough PSI investigations to be very skeptical. My friend Rolf Sinclair insists that the Eotvos Experiment limits the possible strength of psi effects to about 10 ^-5 dyne. I understand his point but I am not quite persuaded. Quantum effects are creepy, and not well understood, as Richard Feynman insisted. But I have yet to see any repeatable and reliable evidence, despite the continued interest of Captain Mitchell and his Noetic Sciences group.

I'd be interested in any followups to this. [see below for a discussion of psi, science, and miracles]


All Natural: Why Breasts Are the Key to the Future of Regenerative Medicine, 


Stem cells from fat - reconstruct breasts, fix other problems. Too big to summarize, but it's very important:




First All-Digital Science Textbook Will Be Free, 


The Home schooler's delight - a free all-digital science textbook:


Chapters coming our way soon.


Possibly a very significant harbinger.


Education and the Army, 


It's not just academics who are beginning to look at the "culture of poverty" and the other cultural delights of American urban living. Recruiters have a more practical handle on urban culture:


"Recruiters have the hardest time in urban areas. Five years ago, the Department of Defense concluded that urban high schools were the source of most problems. Not because leftist teachers in some of those schools trying to keep recruiters out, but because so many potential recruits have to be turned down because of the poor education they have received in those schools. While only a fifth of Americans live outside cities and suburbs, nearly half of the qualified recruits come from these rural areas. What's strange about all this is that the rural areas spend much less, per pupil, on education, but get much better results. Part of this can be attributed to differences in cost of living, but a lot of it has to do with simply getting more done with less." <snip>

Note that the quality of education seems to be better when less money is spent.

But perhaps the problem is just living in cities: "The rural recruits are also a lot easier to train, and generally make better soldiers. The urban recruits often have a bad attitude, as well as a difficult time getting along with others, and following instructions. The urban schools deserve some of the blame for this, while rural schools tend to be far more orderly, and put more emphasis on civic responsibility. Many of the urban recruits are aware of these problems, and joined the service to learn useful (for getting a job) social skills. Those skills are more often found among rural recruits because out in the boondocks, people are more involved with local government, and more involved in general. This has been noted in urban neighborhoods, and for decades, many urban parents have sought to send their kids, to live with kin in the country to get the child away from the bad influences of urban life."

Does the term "cesspool" come to mind?


One thing the Army does well: its on base schools for dependents work. But of course the NEA would never let you know that. Soon enough the Army will bring up its own recruits. The Roman Empire did that, and well.


Pilot Refuses TSA Body Scan and Pat Down


Here we go: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/10/20/

 I hope we see more of this. This jobs program is a waste of time and money. The unskilled labor pool needs to be sent elsewhere.


Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

I am no great fan of encouraging civil disobedience. The same effort and time put into politics is usually more effective.



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Friday,  October 22, 2010

Doomsday Postponed: Mayan Calendar May Be Wrong


"It looks like those preparing for the end of the world on December 21, 2012 may have some more time to get ready. According to a new report <http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20101019/
sc_livescience/endoftheearthpostponed>  , the conversion from the Mayan calendar to the Gregorian calendar may have been conducted improperly, leading to a potential multi-decade miscalculation..."

"The evidence to support the inaccuracies of the date, however, is disputed by other researches."

Charles Brumbelow

Hurrah. We have a little longer... Indeed, the world may already have ended and we just don't know it. Who says calendar reconciliations are not important?


Have You Seen This?

Václav Klaus can say a lot in a few word. He takes on AGW here.



President Vaclav has good reason to distrust ideology. Well said.


 PSI machine

Hello Jerry,

Embedded in your comments about the 'Psi Machine' was this: "But I have yet to see any repeatable and reliable evidence, despite the continued interest of Captain Mitchell and his Noetic Sciences group."

I am with you on this "....... experiment before believing in this, but we can have hopes.". Sorta.

I guess that my question is this: Something unexpected happens. My previous (imaginary) example from a couple of years ago was Elvis appearing in my living room, doing a stirring rendition of 'Blue Suede Shoes', and disappearing in a puff of smoke. The entire scientific community, working overtime and weekends, is unable to summon Elvis for a repeat. Does that mean that it did not happen at all?

It seems to me that the entire range of psi phenomena is treated like my Elvis sighting. Thousands of people report that stuff happens that is not explainable by known scientific principles. We have precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, telepathy, real events appearing in dreams, ghosts, spontaneous healing, out of body experiences, near death experiences, etc., each phenomenon with thousands of instances reported, for the most part by people with nothing to gain by reporting it and often with something to lose. I. e., "Joe just told me that last night he was sitting at the dining room table, reached toward his beer, and the bottle slid right across the table into his hand." "Really, I didn't know that Joe was one of those whackjobs. What happened to him? Did he find out that his wife was cheating?" Joe was unable to demonstrate his capacity to summon the beer bottle mentally. Does that mean that last night, under the influence of whatever unexplained phenomenon, that the beer bottle did NOT slide across the table into Joe's hand?

No one has successfully devised an experiment that demonstrates, under controlled and repeatable conditions, that psi phenomena exist. Any of them. Does that mean that they do not? Has it been determined that EVERYTHING that happens in the universe can be made to happen repeatedly under controlled, scientific conditions? By us? At our current level of scientific knowledge?

Experimentally debunking psi phenomena is a bit like scientifically debunking reports of UFO's. Science can address UFO's in two ways: take the reports and see if they can be correlated with known, physical phenomena, thereby becoming IFO's, or collect a sample UFO and try to figure out how it works, scientifically. Science cannot 'debunk' UFO's by saying that we don't understand how such a thing could work and therefore there IS no such thing and anyone who reports one is either a fraud or an idiot.

As for the psi machine, I too am skeptical. Maybe that just means that it won't work for me. But of course if I had heads AND tails, it would stand on edge.

Bob Ludwick

By definition miracles are not reliable and repeatable. By definition there can be no "science of miracles" because by definition miracles are a suspension of the normal laws of nature, an intervention by the Unmoved Mover in the day-to-day regularity of the universe; and by definition they are rare. That does not mean they do not exist, and the Lourdes people have a fairly strict procedure for determining if a cure attributed to Lourdes is likely to be miraculous. Of course none of this is proof of miracles. Some of the "miraculous" cures at Lourdes as well as many well known but less scrupulously investigated "miracles" may be, rather than an intervention in nature by a higher power, the manifestation of laws we do not yet understand -- or even of the limits of law and regularity and a demonstration of chaos. This is where philosophy and religion take over because science can't really get far in that game. For the most part science discovers the regularity of the universe and the laws that govern it. Its tools are such things as falsifiable hypotheses: precise statements that if you do certain things, certain other things will happen. Or that on a certain date at a certain time the Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, and cause an eclipse.

Science deals with the repeatable. It can show you that a "miracle" wasn't one, but was merely the application of knowledge. Your child's pneumonia was most likely cured by penicillin, not by prayer. The nuclear weapon exploded because Einstein was right about the conversion of matter to energy, not by an arrow of Shiva. We know this because we can do it again, reliably.

Most psi events are not reliably repeatable. Explanations for why they don't work -- there was an unbeliever with negative thoughts -- tend to be ad hoc. There are no laws of psi, no reliable way to demonstrate distance viewing or mental message transmission or telekinesis. That is not to say that there has never been any successful distance viewing, or mental image transmission, or levitations; but until there are repeatable experiments with predictable results, we can only investigate, and those who want psi to be true can only hope. That doesn't mean they should give up.

The late Karl Pflock was a UFO believer. He died a believer, because of his personal experiences. I know others whose personal experiences make them believe in the possibility of psi powers. I know some of them well enough to have good reason to believe they are not liars, and that they witnessed the phenomena that has convinced them -- or sincerely believe they witnessed it and that they had ruled out all the possible "conventional" explanations. That doesn't mean that they didn't miss observing something important and there really is a conventional explanation. It doesn't even rule out the possibility of undiscovered physical laws that will one day be conventional. It does mean that they have no scientific evidence, because science deals with transparency, regularity, and repeatability.

When I was in graduate school in psychology I went through a period of near obsession with epistemology: how can we know what we know, and how can we be sure that what we know corresponds with reality, when there may be a different reality for you than for me. Wendell Johnson was one of my advisors, and I recall him telling me "If three psychiatrists and the nurse tell you that you are not covered with roaches, you may as well stop trying to pick them off your shirt."

Oddly enough that ended my obsession. It's not a final answer, but it will have to do.


: RSA: Changing education paradigms. [VIDEO] - 


Interesting short talk on education paradigms.

I will note that a paradigm exists that is quite opposite that of the industrial education model he assails – home schooling. And they seem to be quite successful.


Jim Riticher



Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Today I present exhibit A in the 'just how far have we departed from our federalist principles?' discussion.


Potatoes? POTATOES? Normally I'm pretty calm about this sort of thing, but I strongly doubt that determining the content of individual school kids lunches was ever the intent of the Constitution's framers. Somebody better head up to Monticello and install seat belts in Thomas Jefferson's coffin, less it spin so fast the body gets thrown out.


Brian P.

The Nanny State knows no end. Do you recall "Lipidleggin'", a story in my Survival of Freedom Anthology?


Geert Wilders: the drama continues


Steve Chu

This seems odd indeed. I do not understand the rules there. Is this Code Napoleon or what?



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Saturday, October 23, 2010

I took the day off.


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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

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Sunday, October 24, 2010      

Ban on Trick-or-Treating???


This is completely unacceptable to me. Teenagers, in certain cities, cannot trick or treat or they face fines and jail. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wirestory?id=11949660&page=1  This, "it's a different world" excuse is really wearing thin. It's not a different world, the plebeians have a different mindset and are asking for the Nanny State(s) to protect them from the bogeymen under the several beds. Their policies of exclusion and fear breed more problems the fearful did not expect, and they never seem to know how to deal with these consequences.

Most importantly, we are running out of money, space, and time to deal with all of the social bogeymen out there. People are going to brace themselves and learn how to live with it.



Teenagers who trick-or-treat in some cities could face something more threatening than any costumed zombie or ghost — like the long arm of the law.

Some cities across the country have adopted age limits — usually around 12 — for those who can travel door-to-door for candy and other Halloween fare. But while teen violators could face jail or fines up to $100, such laws are rarely strictly enforced.

Take Mayor Mark Eckert of Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. He led a push in 2008 to ban trick or treating by high school-aged teens in that community of about 35,000 people.

Surely not my business, and unless you live there, hardly yours. Silly in my judgment, but I see no requirement to use time, space, or money to combat a decision by the local mayor of a St. Louis suburb. The local concern seems to be teen age hoodlums, perhaps gangsters, intimidating single women who open their doors. I can think of remedies other than police, but it's simply not a Federal problem. What would you do, send in US Marshals to enforce the right of teenagers to trick or treat?


A Few Thoughts About NPR

One thing I never see mentioned in any of these debates about NPR funding is the sheer number of NPR outlets, and their monetary value. There are a limited number of broadcast channels available, yet an NPR station is always within listening distance. Even in desolate places such as rural Oregon there are easily three or four, when nothing else is in range.

Large cities tend to have several, both AM and FM. Many of these are located in prime slots, near the center of the dial. Experiment: Wait until slightly after 4:00 PM on any weekday and tune through the FM and AM band. Note how many different times you hear that All Things Considered music in your area. (God forbid you should actually listen to this drivel)

The point I'm building up to is this: In a dense urban environment all the available broadcast channels, as doled out by the FCC (that's FEDERAL Communications commission ie our government), are fully occupied. Each NPR venue would be worth upwards of several hundred million, even possibly a billion if put up for auction, yet they are provided completely free and clear by the FCC. Hundreds of them. I've never seen this included in the accounting of supposed government funding. I wonder why?

Next, if what they call government funding is really such a small portion of their budget, the rest supplied by listeners and foundations, why do they not just give it up, and so claim complete independence?

And, why do they always claim to be advertising-free when they so clearly are not? "This next program is brought to by a grant from Geek and Freak's Ice Cream, when you want the best in liberal sweeties, get stuck into some G&S. This week's special is Stalin Crunch" And so on.

OK, sometimes they do manage to play some decent jazz or classical music. I fail to see why the market could not supply the same or better absent the free competition.

(Hats off the WBGO in Newark which is a nominal NPR station that plays excellent jazz, but which does not broadcast All Things Cringeworthy)


I like Sesame Street, too. And The Count. I once suggested that The Count go through arithmetic to algebra, and possibly even to "See this mysterious symbol. It is called an integral" in the spooky voice. The producers loved the idea, but nothing came of it. But then I suspect Sesame Street would have no problem getting voluntary financing.


More on AR4

Those who want to read AR4 should read Levine's list of 'highlights' to watch for.

Guest post by Robert E. Levine, PhD

The full set of climate model deficiency statements is presented in the table below. Each statement appears in the referenced IPCC document at the indicated location. I selected these particular statements from the detailed chapters of the PSB because they show deficiencies in climate modeling, conflict with the confidently alarming statements of the SPM, and can easily be understood by those who lack expertise in climatology. No special scientific expertise of any kind is required to see the deception in treating climate models as trustworthy, presenting confident statements of climate alarm derived from models in the Summary, and leaving the disclosure of climate model deficiencies hidden away in the detailed chapters of the definitive work on climate change. Climategate gave us the phrase “Hide the decline.” For questionable and untrustworthy climate models, we may need another phrase. I suggest “Conceal the flaws.”



In fact the people who build the models have less confidence in their predictive values than the AGW Believers.


China Quietly Looks to Strangle U.S., Japanese EV Production, buffy willow


Lest you ever though that a world dominated by the Chinese would be "fair" or evenhanded, we have this - China Quietly Looks to Strangle U.S., Japanese EV Production, by shutting off the supply of rare earth minerals:


Mercantilism lives, eh?

"God bless the child that's got his own."


Hostile Trade. RAND did a good study of that in the 1960's. Possibly as early as the 50's.


an eastern NATO? 


There's no end to history. For example, it's getting ominous for us over in China:


"While China prominently proclaims the peaceful intentions behind its growing military buildup, within the military the rhetoric is far more aggressive. The United States is the main foe among officers, and they continue to churn out books and articles about how America can be defeated. Lesser foes include Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea. But it's understood, among Chinese officers, that if the mighty Americans can be brought to heel, all other local powers will become much easier to handle." <snip>

"What alarms the Americans is how the U.S. is being demonized by the Chinese military leadership. Chinese politicians speak in more friendly terms, while tolerating the bellicose attitudes of their generals and admirals. The politicians refrain from reining in the aggressive attitudes of their military commanders. China experts counsel that the rants from the military are mainly to build morale within the ranks, . . . But to outsiders, it looks like the Chinese are preparing for something ominous. This is reinforced by the increasingly aggressive Chinese attitudes towards disputes with its neighbors over uninhabited islands (often just rock outcroppings only visible at low tide). Outright possession of these islets gives the owner possession of nearby oil or natural gas deposits. Something worth fighting for, and that's what worries neighbors when it comes to China's growing naval strength." <snip>

"China now has military alliances that allow it to fly combat aircraft all the way to Europe. A joint air force training exercise in Turkey last month had Chinese jet fighters flying through the air space of two allies, Pakistan and Iran, to new ally Turkey." <snip>

"While Vietnam has been deferential to China, most other neighbors of China (including India) are increasingly cooperating in efforts to form a de facto military and political alliance against China. If this ever becomes a formal alliance (an eastern NATO, against the eastern superpower), China will not be pleased." <snip>

Empires and the boys who build them. Guess some things never change.



On the college education contretemps


Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I spotted the above link in a GIZMODO article. I sent the link to spare you the imbecilic comments. The original article seems to support what you've been saying for some time.

Regards, Tim Scott


Not fixing the roads 

In re: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/

No, Jerry, they didn't fix the roads. Not only that, but if this bill passes, they still won't fix the roads.

In the U.S., "fixing the roads" is a fraud. Bills are passed, ostensibly to fix bad roads and bridges, but the actual funding is for other things. That's the way it is, and has been for decades, and will continue to be until any bill that provides money to fix roads and bridges is unconstitutional, and a capital offense for those proposing or voting in favor of it, if it has a single penny for anything except fixing the roads -- in other words, until the end of the U.S.

I'm surprised I have to point these things out.

Stephen M. St. Onge

I replied

And the interstate highway system is an illusion?

No, Jerry, the Interstate Highway System is not an illusion. Nor are the state and local roads an illusion.

But when a bill is passed to fix them up, it's a fraud. The money really goes mostly to building new roads, bridges, or other things, and the damaged roads are mostly left damaged.

The politicians lie, routinely and egregiously, about where the money will go.

Stephen M. St. Onge

So I said

And yet streets do get fixed, freeways are often repaired, the California Earthquakes destroyed much of the Freeway system and they were fixed in record time.

I expect you are right that much road repair money goes somewhere else, but it is manifest that roads do get repaired. You see it happen. Not often enough, and the roads get rougher all the time, but this isn't Baja.

OK, I exaggerated, but when I've looked at typical "repair the decaying infrastructure bills," maybe a third of the spending goes to repairing infrastructure, with the rest going for other things. A few years later, there's another scare about "our decaying roads and bridges," and the cycle repeats.

As much as a non-fan of the Confederacy as I am, I long for one of the reforms in the Confederate Constitution, namely that every bill introduced into Congress must deal with one subject, said subject to be described in the bill's title.


I can hardly disagree with that.


re: earmarks and pork 

It seems to me that the best way to get rid of pork is to do away with the mega omnibus bills. Pork gets hidden in those bills to get everyone to vote for it. If you chop the bills down to size so each bill deals with a specific issue and only things that have to do with that issue are included in the bill, then that will take care of most pork.


It would certainly be a start. A Tea Party idea...









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