Chaos Manor Home Page> Mail Home Page > View Home Page > Current View > Chaos Manor Reviews Home Page
CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 651 November 29 - December 4, 2010
FOR THE CURRENT VIEW PAGE CLICK HERE
This page looks better if you set the default text to Georgia.
November 29, 2010
Climate articles: <http://tinyurl.com/3y4m2q9> <http://tinyurl.com/39j395j> "A model is an abstract representation of a system that provides useful estimates for parameter values of interest. Not all non-linear systems can be modelled; some have behaviour that cannot be predicted by any model." Global climate is such a system. Both sides in the debate on global warming are assuming a valid model exists and are arguing about its behaviour--I think both are likely to be unpleasantly surprised.
The universities are beginning to respond to the Government's funding changes with plans to raise their fees to £9000 ($14400) a year. The Government is now warning them not to <http://tinyurl.com/34poo9a>, suggesting they'll experience intense competition from 'new providers'--supposedly American for-profit institutions and others moving into the niche. I suspect it won't work that way--the UK doesn't have a surplus of PhDs that the American institutions can use to staff their programs, and the new immigration rules will restrict hiring to people already here.
Although the UK Government is opening a new visa route for eminent scientists, it is restricted to 1000 a year and doesn't cover post-docs and other young researchers in their most productive years. <http://tinyurl.com/37ph5km> Universities are finding that no more than half their foreign staff are getting visa renewals, which is already causing serious problems, particularly in fields dominated by non-UK people.
UK police want authority to shut down websites without the need to go to the courts <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11845961>.
NHS is in 'meltdown' at the local level. <http://tinyurl.com/3aghdpf>
"If they do that with marks and grades, should they be trusted with experimental data?"
Harry Erwin, PhD
-- Harry Erwin
Review of the TSA X-ray backscatter body scanner safety report
backscatter body scanner
Thought you might find this an interesting read.
Notable portions: * Skin radiation exposure may be 3 orders or magnitude higher than specified because the bulk of the radiation doesn't penetrate. * A number of the safety studies were done with one of the two radiation sources turned off.
More on X-ray back-scattering
More data - which you may have seen. However, how can one not feel worried? Ah - for those halcyon days of flying which I recall so well, and which my beloved children have never known...
TSA X-Ray Exposure
Your point about the relative exposure from the TSA
X-Ray Scanners compared to that experienced in the flight is well taken from
an academic argument point of view. However, I purposely bear in mind stores
like this (there are more):
In this story and others, patients were exposed to more than the expected radiation dose because of faulty calibration. In many such cases and it looks to be much the same in this story, the machine was delivered with the faulty settings, and despite subsequent calibration runs, the operators kept the initial settings. There is often great reluctance to believe one's own calibration data and insist on changing the settings to the proper ones when the manufacturer has provided the initial settings. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't considerable bureaucratic hostility to changing the settings. I expect that you and others can give examples of this mindset in a variety of fields; I don't believe that it is that uncommon.
In the TSA case I have no idea of the methods and procedures they are employing to ensure that the exposure is no more than the 0.1 mrem. I don't even know who performs the calibrations and how often. I don't even know if calibrations are done. As a result, I attach a great deal of uncertainty to the dose estimate supplied by the TSA and/or the machine's manufacturer.
In addition, these are not benign machines where a faulty calibration causes just a false alarm. An improperly calibrated metal detector might result in a delay and even a missed flight, but it would not expected to be life threatening. Devices that purposely emit ionizing radiation can be very dangerous when misunderstood and misused. I would put them under careful expert supervision with frequent calibration checks.
What was it that Teller said about the fool being bigger than the proof? -
---------- Clay Booker
"Not all parts of the government are accountable to the public, especially the TSA."
-- Roland Dobbins
How much does the TSA cost citizens?
This was about the costs of economic productivity rather than personl timewasting but I would expect it is within a factor of 2, either way & should be the default assumption.
"An OECD study found that over-regulation is the major cause of the slower rate of growth of the European Union compared to that of the USA. But what are the benefits of regulation? The study found ‘no quality benefits’. We all know that government is costly, but a 75-country study found that regulations usually cost a country twenty times more than they cost the government" p58
So that would be on the order of $140 bn
You know the Army of North Korea shelled an island held by South Korea yesterday. At last report, there were two dead and seventeen wounded in South Korea. How many NoKos dead and wounded? I don't know, and they ain't sayin'. If the SoKos have anti-battery radar, it could be many.
My wife spent all day yesterday glued to the TV. I watched the report long enough to understand what had happened and went away to think it over.
Kim Jong-il (KJI) and his son, Kim Jong-eun (KJE), are complete nut jobs. The things KJI has done would have embarrassed the KGB. KJI's actions are nuts if analyzed in the context of international relations, but they make some sense if viewed through a traditional Korean world view and in the context of power within NoKo. Therefore, my best guess as to what will happen next is . . .
. . . nothing.
The shelling was done to prove to the powers in the military that KJE has balls and for no other reason. I got money that says he ordered the shelling.
NoKo is not going to escalate this action. The NoKo generals know that if they invade the US will get in the fight (and, no, it doesn't make a tiny rat's ass that Obama is the president). The last time the NoKos fought was 1953. The last time the Americans fought was yesterday. The NoKos have old equipment and most of it needs fuel. The Americans have new, combat-proven equipment and fuel is not a problem.
What about the SoKos? They are trained conscripts -- kinda like the French Armee except for the Legion -- with good equipment. They did have some experience in Vietnam, but that was about 40 years ago. No one in their current forces has combat experience. Toe to toe against the NoKos, they would likely win on their own. If they be led by American officers, I will make book on them against the NoKos and give long odds.
What about China (PRC)? China is SoKo's number one trading partner. China spends money (in subsidies) to keep NoKo afloat. I don't see that China will care if NoKo goes down the drain. Relieves them of the burden of supporting the NoKos. But right after Korea unites, the Chinese will lay a lot of pressure on Korea to lose the American military bases. I don't know which way the Koreans will go on that issue, because there is a 100+ year-old adage in Korea: Trade with Japan, stay close to China, ally with the United States.
However, fear is contagious. The won is falling 'cause investors have less courage than chickens. A friend of mine sent his wife to the bank today to convert all their won to yen -- like the Japanese would not get involved if the ball goes up. All the foreigners in Korea are making contingency plans to get out. Canadians are talking about walking to American Army camps, showing their Canadian passports, and asking for asylum. Good luck, eh?
The old Chinese curse runs like this: May you live in interesting times. Well, these are strange days indeed.
I long for the complacency of the Cold War.
Resident in Korea
I read the Sunday Chaos Manor View.
strategypage.com reported the NoKos shelled SoKo with 170mm artillery. I find that a strange caliber. Likely that is wrong. 175mm maybe.
The SoKos did not respond until half an hour had passed, so whatever counter battery fire they managed was ineffective. The SoKo Minister of Defense resigned in shame at the lack of a timely response.
SoKo held a state funeral for their two dead Marines. (The island, Yeongpyeong-do, was manned by SoKo Marines.) I saw a 3-star SoKo Marine general deliver a eulogy. SoKo has only two brigades of Marines. He must be the top SoKo Marine general. From the look of it, at least a battalion of SoKo Marines attended the funeral. Many close-ups of the grieving mothers. On the island, Marines held a head-bowed, silent vigil during the funeral. The SoKo government is treating this as a big deal.
Latest reports say that Kim Jong-il and his son, Piglet, visited the NoKo battery just hours before it fired. I kinda think I was right: Piglet ordered the shelling, and daddy nodded his approval. The whole dance was choreographed beforehand. (I kinda find the NoKo statement that the joint US-SoKo naval exercise is taking us "to the brink of war" absurd even from the NoKo perspective. SoKo and NoKo are at war. All they have is a cease-fire, and NoKo just breached that. But NoKo says SoKo breached it first, so this is just tit for tat.)
All NoKo actions look crazy to the world at large, but they make sense if seen from the NoKo perspective. Imagine -- if you can -- an isolated community of paranoid schizophrenics. Their world view will necessarily be different from that of someone not afflicted, and their world view will shape their actions. But from their stance, paranoid schizophrenia is normal, and their actions are justified.
Resident in Korea
The real question is age: will the North Korean army professionals take orders from a young man with no experience. The YOUNG part is key given Korean psychology.
Thanks for your observations.
"We need to give our people a win, and right now, [net neutrality] is the only win we will probably be able to give them for at least the next six to eight months."
--- Roland Dobbins
Tell me again: Whose religious freedom are we defending?
There is something disturbingly ironic about a woman being sentenced to death on a charge of religious defamation because her co-workers declared a bucket of water unclean because a Christian had touched it.
Pakistan president urged not to pardon Christian woman
Two prominent Pakistani Muslim leaders threatened Wednesday to call for nationwide protests if the president pardons a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed...
Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, a leading cleric in Lahore, said pardoning the woman would be "criminal negligence" and would cause inter-religious tension.
Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer told CNN Tuesday that President Asif Ali Zardari would pardon Bibi if the High Court did not grant her request for mercy.
Bibi, who has been jailed for nearly 15 months, was convicted in a Pakistani court earlier this month of breaking the country's controversial blasphemy law by insulting Islam's Prophet Mohammed, a crime punishable with death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan's penal code. She was sentenced to death...
Prosecutors say Bibi, a 45-year-old field worker, insulted the Prophet Mohammed after she got into a heated argument with Muslim co-workers who refused to drink from a bucket of water she had touched because she is not Muslim...
I especially liked the parts about ensuring that "Asia Bibi is neither incarcerated or harmed" after she's already spent 15 months in jail and Pakistan's continued commitment to "protecting religious minorities".
The only good thing about this is that it forces our self-identified enemies to work harder to distinguish themselves from our allies.
Great article called "DIsband the TSA" at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/11/23/disband-the-tsa
"It is the TSA's premise that the 89-year old great-grandmother in a walker, the soccer team comprised of 11-year old girls, the two-year old toddler on the family vacation, the airline crewmember and the soldier traveling home from Iraq pose the same potential threat to airline safety as the Middle Eastern man traveling alone, without luggage, on a one-way First Class ticket that was purchased with cash. The TSA is fueled by political correctness run amuck. Its sole accomplishments to date have been establishing a sizable airport presence and humiliating passengers."
John Harlow, President BravePoint
“Why fund this huge intelligence operation if we are going to treat everyone like terrorists?”
-- Roland Dobbins
'When corporations subvert public representation and harness government force for their own benefit, then they act like a part of the government.'
- Roland Dobbins
November 30, 2010
The debt that sucks them dry for life
See this analysis <http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/
-- Harry Erwin, PhD "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)
Now let's talk about student loans which cannot be escaped by bankruptcy. At one time state universities were supposed to be frugal, and free. Now they are a means of converting all educated people into bondsmen.
Subject: You may find this report of interest
-- Harry Erwin, PhD,
Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her
Coldest winter in 100 years in Sweden...records broken in November
And this is what climate change is all about...controlling your life. I knew it right away. How did I know? Two words: "carbon tax" and I thought "gee, I'm a carbon based life form" and a nanosecond later "carbon tax = life tax". Ah, but that is an oversimplification -- insert social idealist nonsense here.
Well, here it comes, rationing in the developed world
to save the Earth.
Look at this doublespeak:
>Prof Anderson insisted that halting growth in the rich world does not necessarily mean a recession or a worse >lifestyle, it just means making adjustments in everyday life such as using public transport and wearing a sweater >rather than turning on the heating.
And amid all this nonsense, I still here voices calling for a technocracy. Yeah, that's a great idea, guess who will be running it? It seems like more misguided idealism to me.
Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo
: MyHelicalTryst and X-Rays
The writer admits flat-out that he hasn't got any experience with X-Ray machines or X-Ray activity. He knows about genetics, and he's read the user manual.
In context, this would be like *me* telling *him* that he ought not to do that DNA research stuff because I saw the movie "Species" and it didn't turn out well.
What's happening here is that a lot of people very badly want to believe that the X-Ray machines are SCARY BAD WRONG EVIL, and it's for the same reasons that they're all terrified of nuclear reactors. They see an article like this and they immediately jump to the Argument From Authority: "Here's a guy who is a scientist. Scientists are smart and know lots of stuff. Therefore he's right about everything he says, and I know this because he agrees with me."
-- Mike T. Powers
Blame the courts for TSA
With all the hoopla about TSA, it is surprising to me that no one is talking about the real reason we cannot have sensible airline (or any other kind for that matter) security. It is because everyone knows that the second you single out a Muslim/Arab/whoever for extra screening the lawyers will be on you like a pack of rabid dogs.
You have to screen 89 year old grandmothers and soldiers and 11 year old soccer teams so you can get at any real potential threats without getting sued.
Perhaps we should look at it from another standpoint. We're gonna get sued anyway, so maybe we should just go ahead and profile? Build a large legal defense fund into the TSA budget and just go for it. At least then we might actually get some airline security. I for one would feel as though I am finally getting something for my tax dollars.
It's a silly idea though.
"It seems with each passing year the madness on Black Friday gets even worse. This year, there were reports of fights and rioting from coast to coast. It was estimated that over 180 million U.S. shoppers headed for the stores on Friday, and whenever you get that many people together there are going to be problems. But just how crazed ordinary Americans are getting over saving a little bit of money is deeply disturbing when you really start thinking about it. If people will go this wild just to save 40 percent on a television set, then what in the world are they going to do when they have been without food for a couple of days? If Americans will act like psychotic animals just to save 50 bucks, then what in the world will they do when they have lost everything and are desperate to survive?"
Events on Yeongpyeong Island explained,
Events on Yeongpyeong Island explained, with some backstory:
Apparently the NK's planned a little strategic surprise: instead of shooting at the island with 130mm coastal artillery, they slammed the island with 170 122mm rockets in rapid succession:
"The credibility problem arose from the fact that North Korea had fired towards Yeongpyeong Island last January, but the shells from their coastal artillery landed north of the island. It gave everyone a fright, but there was no damage or casualties. The problems arose when the South Korean generals were called before parliament and asked what would happen if the North Koreans actually fired on Yeongpyeong Island. The reply was that South Korea guns on the island would promptly fire three or four times as many shells right back. That was a reasonable statement, if the North Koreans used their 130mm coast artillery weapons. These have a low rate of fire, and there aren't that many of them in the vicinity of the island. But the North Koreans moved up several 122mm rocket launchers, and let the island have it, and then quickly moved before the return fire arrived 13 minutes later. The South Korean generals had told parliament that return fire would begin within minutes, and the K-9s were prepared to do that. But first they had orders to call headquarters and ask permission to commence firing. That took most of the 13 minutes, as alarmed officers and officials at defense headquarters debated what to do. Firing artillery into North Korea could start another war, and no one wanted to be responsible for that."
That answers a few of the questions.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
December 1, 2010
TSA X-ray Machines versus Terrorists
Dear Dr Pournelle:
I work in a hospital Quality Department and one of the courses I took toward my Masters was dealt with risk management, abatement, and ethics. Injuries caused by medical equipment radiation accidents were one of the topics covered. The point that stuck out to me was that injuries and deaths caused by malfunctioning or improperly operated imaging or therapeutic radiation emitters was far greater than the number of people killed or injured each year by terrorists (attacks on or with transportation hubs and vehicles).
Now medical radiation equipment is supposed to be operated by highly trained and certified technicians. Maintenance intervals are short, calibrations frequent, maintenance only by highly trained repair people (usually by the manufacturer), and lockout-tagout always used at the slightest discrepancy. Such quality controls are unlikely in the use of airport X-ray scanners. Which makes the chance for a malfunction or improper operation of an airport x-ray scanner much more likely to occur than in a medical setting.
Medical x-ray machines do a high volume to pay for themselves. But the number of people who are, and will be, scanned at airports (and like other transportation hubs and government facilities) are an entire magnitude greater. Which means any malfunction of an airport machine will likely effect a magnitude greater number of people than a medical machine.
Terrorists will get past the screeners no matter what, and they will continue to cause problems, injuries, deaths, and horrific damage. But the number of people who will eventually be injured or killed by malfunctioning or misused airport x-ray scanners will likely dwarf any terror problems we ever encounter.
The cons outweight the pros, the risks are far greater than the benefits. The only reasons why they are being used is for "security theater", the psychological "rush" that TSA gets from forcing people to use it or endure groping, and the great wealth being gobbled down by the machine's company's stockholders.
Michael Houst Exeter, NH
Comparison of Back scatter X-rays to radiation dose of flight
He suggests that the comparison to radiation received from chest X-rays as well as radiation received during the flight may not be an apples to apples comparison because the lower energies of the TSA machines result in a much higher radiation density in the affected tissue near the surface, and that the way the beam is rastered could result in longer dwell times at certain spots. He also asks if a software fault could cause the beam to stop rastering at a specific point, creating a much higher dose in a small area.
Re "Resident in Korea's" letter on Monday, North Korea has a locally produced 170mm SP gun, the Koksan. There is very little about it in open sources, but some info is in the following Wikipedia article.
-- Bryan "Very sad life. Probably have very sad death. But at least there is symmetry" - Zathrus
Korean artillery duel details
You ask why the South Koreans didn't do better at
counterbattery fire against the North the other day. If Strategypage is to
be believed, the NK's fired a barrage of 122mm artillery rockets off several
multiple launchers, then scooted from the firing site before the SK's could
get (mandatory) permission from higher up to return fire.
South Korean paper has some confirmation, with photos of spent 122mm rocket
I understand the naval exercises are being held a ways south from the border, in the waters off somewhere well down South Korea's west coast. We have four Aegis AA missile ships in the carrier escort instead of the usual one or two, and I'd expect the ASW capability around the carrier to also be out of the ordinary. We don't seem to be taking foolish chances with the carrier, fwiw.
I can see the temptation to kick back, hard, but I think the actual restraint being shown is probably wise. The NK's are living in a house of cards and know it and play lunatic brinksmanship games despite; anything that might initiate an uncontrolled collapse could be a really bad idea. I'd say we need a deal in place with the Chinese and the South on who picks up which pieces, plus a real good line on where the North's nukes are and a good plan to get them, before we do much more than we already are doing.
NK shells SK
Finally found a report that looks like it has the details right -- http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htlead/20101129.aspx
Says the report:
The NoKos have 130mm artillery in place at that point, but the 130s have a slow rate of fire. So they brought in a battery of 122mm rocket launchers and barraged Yeongpyeong-do with 170 missiles in a matter of minutes.
The SoKos had a battery of 155mm SPAs in place with standing orders to return fire on the NoKo 130s. The missile barrage was outside their standing orders, so the SoKo commander on scene -- who did not want to be the guy who turned a cold war hot -- call up the chain of command for orders. He got them and, according to the report, returned fire 13 minutes later. (SoKo news reported they returned fire 30 minutes later; it is easy to confuse the sound of thirteen with thirty in English; not so much in Korean.)
Assuming this is factual (that is, objectively and verifiably true), Kim Jong-il and son planned this for some time. The rocket battery did not just conveniently happen to move there.
SoKo President Yee Myeong-bak made statements that cause me to believe that the standing orders to units along the DMZ have been changed.
As for the vulnerability of the US carrier in the Yellow (West) Sea, I do not believe the NoKos will try anything against any American combat ship. They are crazy, not stupid.
Resident in Korea
Subject: Senator Says Senate is Rigged
The Federal Reserve Act passed in a climate like this. In fact, most draconian legislation seems to pass in this fashion.
BDAB, Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo
I'm shocked, shocked...
At risk of consignment to its Sixth Circle, a good artist and some work on the caption could transform this bad cartoon into a great illustration
-- Russell Seitz Fellow of the Department of Physics Harvard University
The year that Inferno came out, Russell brought a case of an Italian red wine named "Inferno" to the World SF Convention. It was -- I guess "interesting" is a good word for it... (and see bekow)
The Day the Dollar Died - Sensationalized potential
Overly sensationalized, but an interesting description of potential events.
How it All Began
"In "Once Before Time" he [Martin Bojowald] charts the development of loop quantum gravity, one potential mechanism for a bridge to unite physics. Opposed by a more popular contender in string theory, and with alternative formulations arising all the time, loop quantum gravity faces an uphill struggle if it is to become the dominant theory."
Re: Rock throwing numbers wrong -
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
Upon inspection, it looks like Paul Hayward is right, and my data point for the mass of Ayers rock is way off. I got my 4 million tonnes number from the following website;
I didn't go through the effort to sanity-check the number. It is easy to forget that there's no guarantee that information found on the internet is actually *correct*...
I was about to start doing my own calculation of the weight of the thing by looking up its approximate volume and composition of the rock, but then who says any of those numbers are right, either? Ahh, well. I'll classify this as a useful reminder to *actually go to the library* when looking for data while doing something important (which fortunately this wasn't), and leave it at that.
Bombshell Data Dump
I've said it before, the government -- meaning the less than a thousand elected personnel who are supposed to serve our society -- will become quite disturbed when this wikileaks information gets released. Well, the information came out. Here is what we have -- I will use > for quoted material as typing "snip" is too time consuming:
>WASHINGTON — A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented >look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
>The 251,287 cables, first acquired by WikiLeaks, were provided to The Times by an intermediary on the condition of anonymity. Many are unclassified, and >none are marked “top secret,” the government’s most secure communications status. But some 11,000 are classified “secret,” 9,000 are labeled “noforn,” >shorthand for material considered too delicate to be shared with any foreign government, and 4,000 are designated both secret and noforn.
>The Times has withheld from articles and removed from documents it is posting online the names of some people who spoke privately to diplomats and >might be at risk if they were publicly identified. The Times is also withholding some passages or entire cables whose disclosure could compromise American >intelligence efforts.
The entire New York Times article is worth reading. I will not repost it here, but I strenuously suggest people read it. The matters raised in the article are most interesting. Of great interest should be the Chinese admission of hacking Western systems and google -- which the Chinese admit doing. Also of interest should be the "let's make a deal" concerning Getmo terrorists. It also looks like Italy is changing sides again, but what should we expect of a nation that changed sides during two world wars?
Saudi Arabia seems to want the United States to strike Iran. I guess the would prefer the status of regional hegemon?
Hillary Clinton ordered diplomats to spy on allies. Well, this insight has been known for a long time to certain people. However, there has been evidence recently that U.S. Embassies exist -- for the most part -- to undertake spying. Anyone who has lived overseas recently know that embassies do not do what they allegedly used to. Everyone I know who lived overseas in the 60's and 70's seems to think there are hospitals, shops, and activity centers for Americans. I never saw any of this. I knew some people who worked in some of the embassies, so I got invited to certain functions and had access to a shopette, but this was not available to any American who came in off the street. So, what is the embassy doing? Well, apparently, they are doing a lot of spying. It's too bad that had to become public information, this will make intelligence collection efforts much more problematic.
The PR people are at work:
>“By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information,” wrote Gibbs. “It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy >decisions. Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is >printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only U.S. foreign policy interests but those of our allies and friends around the world.”
Apparently, this all goes back to PFC Datadump. I guess, maybe, information sharing was not such a good idea? I wonder what will happen to the Wikileaks boss and to PFC Datadump -- I am not talking about judicial action.
Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo
Perhaps bombshell is an overly strong word. Little I have seen so far is news, although making it public is embarrassing. What will change now is the distribution list for that fire hose of data.
As to what will happen with Pfc Datadump, I would suppose he is about to enter an exciting new career doing log drill at Fort Leavenworth. Regarding the Wikileak boss, do you believe one man can rape two young women simultaneously? Perhaps it is already happening.
December 2, 2010
Korean artillery duel details
I saw this AM that the naval exercise is over as of yesterday anyway. Without any incident major enough to make the news, which is good.
I also saw a news item today that claims the NK artillery corps is a political faction allied with the Kims in support of the new young heir-designee. They went on to say that they thought another NK provocation, probably again artillery-based, is likely in the next few days.
The best model I've found for the current NK government is the Japanese regime in the thirties, with its extreme insularity, its core cultural doctrine of inherent superiority over barbarous foreigners, and its military tail wagging the overall government dog in all sorts of ways. In that context the NK artillery corps being a major internal political player makes sense, given their leading role in national strategy and the amount of national resources they get. (One wonders who controls the NK rockets and presumed handful of nukes. The artillery corps?)
Whether this adds up to another shelling soon... If the internal political process the first shelling (and the SK frigate sinking 8 months before?) was intended to affect doesn't stay affected, could be. In a deteriorating internal situation, the effective interval would likely shorten each time. So, my guesses would be, a repeat in the next few days if the island shelling didn't produce sufficient internal political effect at all, or in the next few months if the shelling worked but the effect decays over time.
Sort of makes the old Kremlinology look like a practice sport. It didn't get that complicated in the decadent days of the Roman Empire following Commodus. Elagabulus comes to mind. Whether the rest of the NK army will defer to someone this young is not clear.
Subject: Top Industries giving money to Congress
I thought this was a pretty interesting table:
Tracy Walters, CISSP
Neuroskeptic's Neo-Dantean cartoon
cries out for improvement. My effort at illumination is attached
-- Russell Seitz Fellow of the Department of Physics Harvard University
: The TSA Menagerie
The Iron Law of Bureaucracy suggests passengers should brace for cavity searches by the voracious tongues of TSA trained aardvarks.
How else will TSA react when the plane-crashing classes begin infesting themselves with vermin of mass destruction in response to the discovery that high-tech scanners can’t detect plague infected ants or fleas?
The newly recruited anteaters will of course increase inspection delays, which given an average human lifespan of 613,600 hours already amount to six US deaths from old age daily. Two million passengers at two hours per diem adds up to twenty thousand infidel lifetimes lost since 9-11, which given the 23 hijackers and underwear bombers detected to date suggests 100,000 innocent American passengers may expire in waiting lines before the first Al Qaeda death by tedium occurs in 2052.
-- Russell Seitz Fellow of the Department of Physics Harvard
Harman Kahn famously said that the most important fact of the 20th Century was that England and the United States shared a common language. The most important fact of the 21st Century would be that the United States and Russia were white nations. He was probably wrong, but it remains an interesting thought.
Apple I goes for twice the price of an Enigma
I passed up a chance to buy an Apple I for $50 in 1982… I feel somewhat of an idiot now.
And as a long time Cryptologic Tech, I’m absolutely amazed that it went for more than an Enigma…but certainly most of the public doesn’t understand what a revolution the Enigma was, or the role it and it’s siblings played in WWII. The US was using a modern version of the Enigma very late into the last century…still had rotors and such….and internal wiring that was periodically changed. Really amazing technology.
Tracy Walters, CISSP
I never had an Apple I, and my Apple II is long lost. Ah well.
“It’s fair to say that this is a failure on Google’s part.”
-- Roland Dobbins
My sympathy over the lingering bug; it might be the one I've been fighting. Getting this year's flu shot didn't prevent it. Flu symptoms, then feeling better after a week, then try to do a normal work schedule for a day or two, then relapse, rinse, repeat. I've been on that cycle most of this month. I forced myself to take it easy for a few extra days after the third round, despite way too much pay-the-bills work piled up. Then I put in eight hours yesterday, and I'm a limp dishrag today. I'm hoping that the bug's finally gone and it's now just that I'm really out of shape. I've pretty much lost November; I can't afford to lose December too.
I have no useful thoughts on fighting this thing, just
the mildly paranoid speculation that if someone wanted to tailor a virus to
hit our productivity noticeably without arousing real alarm, it'd probably
look a lot like this one. I had one drag on like it last spring too, I
recall. Sort of the "Stuxnet" of flus. BTW, via Instapundit there's a good
story on Stuxnet with a lot of fascinating-if-true specifics at
The bug sure hangs in there...
Support: Why The First Mission Is Not A New Experience,
A new update on how the Army is adapting video game technology to prepare our troops for combat. The title, appropriately enough, is "Why The First Mission Is Not A New Experience:"
I learned a new word: machinima. Very interesting.
“A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”
Of course, the real issue here is our toxic modern admixture of permissive, non-assertive parents with school officials who'd rather be 'cool' than act as authority figures.
That being said, encouraging aspiring young writers to read Vonnegut is of questionable utility, except as a negative example.
----- Roland Dobbins
I once assigned Vonnegut's Player Piano in a seminar on futurism. That was long ago. Of course that was written when Vonnegut was a science fiction writer, and hadn't decided to go literary. In any event, I consider Harrison Bergeron a very large redemption for Vonnegut's later turn to the literati.
Democracy and Marxism
I am reading some articles for a project I am doing. One of the articles is from a 1993 edition of Foreign Affairs -- the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, of which I've been a regular reader for a number of years -- and it is called Clash of Civilizations? by Huntington. I read a selection that really grabbed my attention:
"The conflict between liberal democracy and Marxism-Leninism was between ideologies which, despite their major differences, ostensibly shared ultimate goals of freedom, equality and prosperity. A traditional, authoritarian, nationalist Russia could have quite different goals. A Western democrat could carry on an intellectual debate with a Soviet Marxist. It would be virtually impossible for him to do that with a Russian traditionalist."
Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo
Well that's the liberal conventional interpretation. It may even be "true' in the sense of ideologies. In the real world no Marxist state of that kind ever existed. They all become command economies and edge to totalitarianism. It may be that sufficiently productive technology would allow the Marxist dream of people able to be hunter gatherers in a society of plenty, so one could be a musician in the morning and a teacher in the afternoon, and so forth, or not work at all and be valuable even so; but that has never happened. Are we headed there and would that be a good place to be?
People now forget the realities of all the communist societies. The Spanish "Republic" is described well by Orwell. Chavez is becoming obvious. Cuba is there to see. And we have the record in The Gulag Archipelago. The real societies that claimed to be based on Marx were not so pleasant as those Marx describes. And of course Mussolini was a socialist and remained so all his life. But you can't rule without a ruling party, and the Iron Law takes over from there.
I don't think we are headed there. It might be a good place to be, but I don't see that it is plausible considering human nature. Of course, there is also the Iron Law. We are our own Handicapper Generals, and there seems to be no escape...
That is of course the essence of the conservative position. The pursuit of the millennium, the search for Utopia, the end of history, perfection of the state are the essence of ideologies, particularly the Liberal/Progressive ideologies. The very idea of Progress is easily distorted into an ideology. When the Soviet Union fell there was briefly a neo-conservative notion that we had reached the end of history. That was a sure indication that neo-conservatives are not conservatives; no conservative of the Burke tradition would ever believe we had reached the end of history just because an empire with a chiliastic ideology had fallen. When I was teaching political philosophy, a favorite shirt of conservative students was "Don't let them immanentize the eschaton." The phrase is derived from the works of Eric Vogelin http://www.lsu.edu/artsci/groups/voegelin/ . Vogelin demonstrates the similarities between modern Liberal/Progressive ideologies and various gnostic heresies.
December 3, 2010
Cancun Agenda -- "Rationing" and "Halt Growth" Importance: High
The Radical Left "watermelons" (Green outside, Red inside) are getting more explicit: It's not about Global Warming, it's about money, power, and Global Governance. BTW, I'm advised that Cancun means "den of snakes" in the local native dialect.
Hey, at least they didn't hold their extravaganza in Europe this year -- now under record-setting cold -- so we could all giggle at pictures of Warming Alarmists freezing their tails off. <grin>
**** Cancun Climatologists: Americans Should Impose "Rationing System" and "Halt Economic Growth"
On this very week in 1942, coffee was added to the list of rationed items in the United States, joining butter, sugar, milk and approximately one-third of consumer food items. Gasoline purchases were limited to just three gallons per car per week. Those who lived through it can confirm that it wasn't enjoyable.
Today, climatologists meeting in Cancun, Mexico contend we must return to those same austere methods to address the supposed "crisis" of climate change. Not for four years this time. For twenty years.
Is the divine presence a Republican? Or is He/She/It running an inter-galactic fossil fuel conglomerate? Whatever the explanation may be, God appears to be determined to prevent a successful conclusion to the "climate alarmism" talks.
How do I know? Because every time anyone gets together
to try to prevent global climate breakdown <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment
John D. Trudel
This is a great interview with Ron Paul. I would challenge any liberal to try to shoot any holes in what he says in this interview:
'It's not clear why the FCC thinks it needs to intervene in a situation with obvious market solutions.'
- Roland Dobbins
December 4, 2010
1) There is a standard instrument set used by NOAA and the NWS in the US; there is a different standard used by Europe and yet another used by Russia.
2) There are published guidelines for how those weather monitoring stations are to be set up - they can't be within a specified distance of the hot end of an air conditioner, or be out without shade on a blacktop surface. A surprising number of the ones in the US are not in compliance with that standard - see http:\\www.surfacestations.org
3) Anthony Watts of Watt's Up With That got started in the climate debate in the 1970s by asking a very simple question: When you change the composition (and albedo) of the white paint that goes on the weather monitoring station, what happens to the data? (It turns out that the difference in paint color altered average temperatures by a bit.)
4) Ships at sea take regular temperature logs every hour by dipping a thermometer into the ocean and noting depth, latitude, longitude and speed. The problem is that there are almost no regulations for how this is done; for example if the thermometer is dropped past a heat source, such as an engine - or is pulled up past a heat source, such as a transmitter (or a radar emitter), they're going to get different results.
This strongly appears to be a case where the observational side of the science says "I'm really not sure you're taking the data correctly" and the modeling side is saying "data in, graphs out".
The climate modelling community says that everything is corrected for. Read up at http:\\www.surfacestations.org to see the stunning ways in which this is done, including the lack of transparency in how these adjustments are made.
In the end, there are three 'standard metric' temperatures that are used: GISSTEMP from NASA, the UAH temperature set from University of Alabama-Huntsville and the data set that's used by East Anglia. The leak from East Anglia a year ago demonstrates how that set gets 'adjusted'.
It should be noted that there are three horses (so far) in this race:
The observational community - most of whom are meteorologists, and don't have a modeling background (many of them don't even have a statistics background). There are a handful of people in the observational community who also do satellite based temperature monitoring; this has proven to be unusually contentious.
The paleoclimate community - the reputable ones in this community are amazingly cautious about linking paleo-climate data to observed data. One data point the paleoclimate people have made is that the carbon-14/Carbon-13/Carbon-12 ratios in CO2 indicate that the rise in CO2 levels from 270 ppm to 370 ppm in the last century firmly put the finger on fossil fuel use.
The climate modeling community - these are the ones at NRAL in Colorado and NASA predicting severe climate change. Not all of them predict such - nearly all of them are saying some variety of 'proceed with caution'. It's those models that make the bulk of the IPCC briefings. Those models are also demonstrably not falsifiable. For example, and as a very basic test, they all input a constant for solar input. What happens when the solar constant is halved? Do they still predict warming trends? If you put inputs for the first thirty years of the 20th century, and let them run forward, do they come within two standard deviations of the actual climate shown in 1970?
Back in 1999, Reid Bryson (the founding father of climatology) was kind enough to lend me his time; I was a features reporter covering science back in those halcyon days when newspapers thought that spending 4 cents a word to a freelancer was a worthwhile investment. (Now they don't bother).
We used the then extant models and tried both of those tests. One of them had the oceans boiling off in the mid 1950s from inputting the data set to 1930 and letting it run from there. Another dramatically failed the "halve the solar constant" test - halving the solar constant resulted in temperatures continuing to rise at an abated rate.
Perfect climate modeling is not possible. And any climate model that accurately went from 1900 to 2000 without discrepancies would be suspect...but if you cannot make very simple changes in the the model in the hopes of making an easy to predict change in the output, what methods do you have for ascertaining the model's validity?
None of this, I suspect, is news to you.
Actually I think it's even more complicated than this. And note what happens to Deniers and Skeptics, even those with the credentials of Freeman Dyson. It's a vicious world out there.
Henry said, "The best model I've found for the current NK government is the Japanese regime in the thirties. . . ." http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2010/Q4/mail651.html#Thursday
I see the similarities, but the best analog I know of to the current NoKo situation is 19th century Paraguay. Three years after Paraguay became independent from Spain, Jose Gaspar Rodriguez Francia made himself President for Life and closed the borders: nobody in, nobody out. Paraguayans made it themselves or did without. That parallels the 'juche' (self-sufficient) policy of NoKo.
Francia established the Paraguayan norm of dictatorship that they have largely continued until the present day. When he died in 1840, the country suffered a year of unrest.
Carlos Antonio Lopez took control of the country in 1841. He opened the borders, but 30 years of non-communicative habit made the Paraguayans suspicious of outsiders.
When Carlos died in 1862, power passed to his son, Francisco Solano Lopez. Solano increased the size of the military to 60,000 soldiers. For a country of less than 500,000 inhabitants, this is extraordinary -- more than 10% of the population. By comparison, at the height of WW2, the US military forces portion of the population was 8.8%.
Solano took the country to war against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. At the beginning, he had the advantage. His army outnumbered their combined regular forces. Unfortunately for him, his soldiers were ill-trained and ill-supplied. After 5 years, A-B-U had each created sizable, professional armies and defeated Solano. While doing so, they killed half the inhabitants of Paraguay, including 90% of the male population. (After the war, polygany was obligatory in Paraguay.)
All the online histories of Paraguay I found were sparse on the 19th century, but they did refresh my memory of the names. I read this history many years ago, and I cannot remember if I read it in English or Spanish or Portuguese. I kinda think it was in Portuguese, because it painted an unflattering picture of Solano, but it admitted that he is still regarded as a hero in Paraguay.
I see I am indulging my tendency to pedantry.
The analogies to NoKo are many: attempted self-sufficiency, paranoia, secretiveness, and dictatorship. But like all analogies, they are at once instructive and misleading.
Anyone who says anything about what is happening or what will happen in NoKo is speculating -- including me. Think about it. Three months ago nobody outside Pyongyang knew what Kim Jong-eun looked like. There are members of the National Defense Commission (NDC) -- the real governing body in NoKo -- whose faces are unknown to us. All the positions on the NDC are appointed. To make mattes worse, it is hard to trace who is who in foreign-language literature, because there are at least three systems of Romanization of Korean names in use; Jang Seong-taek is also written as Jang Song Taek, Jang Song Thaek, and Chang Sung-taek.
So what do we know?
For its population, NoKo keeps an inordinately large army: 1,000,000+. Two-thirds of that force is deployed in forward positions near the DMZ. The rest is scattered about the country. My money says Kim Jong-il keeps his favorites near the capital, Pyongyang.
KJI has been busy changing the composition of the NDC. He named his brother-in-law, Jang Seong-taek, a vice-chairman in June 2010. He dismissed a senior admiral from the NDC earlier this year. And he gave his son a vice-chair on the Central Military Committee. (On examination, one finds among the membership of the NDC and CMC numerous kin and family retainers of KJI's father, Kim Il-seong. NoKo operates less like a nation-state than a crime syndicate.)
The question is this: Have these changes been in place long enough for the troops to feel loyalty to their new bosses?
I don't see a popular uprising happening against Piglet. If he falls, he will fall in a coup. The way for him to stay in the high seat is to just keep the title and let his uncle, Jang Seong-taek, run the country. Jang Seong-taek has no sons. I don't know how close he is to his nephew.
The big problem is that KJI -- dead man walking -- won't let go. He is jealous of his own son. He ordered celebrations around the country when he named Piglet to the vice-chair but later canceled them when the earliest celebrations were 'too enthusiastic.'
The key to power in NoKo is the army in Pyongyang. To whom are they loyal? When KJI dies -- and that will happen soon -- they hold the power to make the king.
A Grand Chaco War in Korea would be a disaster, of course.
|This week:||Sunday, December
I took the day off.
FOR THE CURRENT VIEW PAGE CLICK HERE
If you are not paying for this place, click here...
IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).
Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
or the freefind search
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
Search: type in string and press return.
For platinum subscription:
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
= = = = = = = = = =
For a Regular Subscription click here:
= = = = = = = =
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
To order the nose pump I recommend, click on the banner below:
Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.