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Monday  April 4, 2011

Letter from England

Life in a parliamentary democracy (where those in power need not consult anyone over the wisdom of their decisions): <http://tinyurl.com/3s8rw5l> <http://tinyurl.com/4xdbw8o>

 Deadly consequences. <http://tinyurl.com/3lyzp2m> <http://tinyurl.com/3c82w2y> <http://tinyurl.com/3wh4omm>

 To be a first world country, you need a first world military. <http://tinyurl.com/3f5drn6>

 Growing problems at Fukushima: <http://tinyurl.com/3e9kmh7>

 Rush by the weakest UK universities to charge maximum fees: <http://tinyurl.com/3mkscu9> <http://tinyurl.com/6fh7egh>

 Major SQL injection attack underway: <http://tinyurl.com/3jjpo8q> Makes one consider trying this command: <http://tinyurl.com/yeoopax>

 UK Banks--no change: <http://tinyurl.com/3sg4fdd>

 Government games--no change: <http://tinyurl.com/3uauxul>


Harry Erwin, PhD

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." (Benjamin Franklin, 1755)

To be a first world country you need a first world military. To be a second world country you need...

Over here those in power don't need to consult anyone if they are Democrats. Republicans in Wisconsin have a different problem. Apparently the notion of the sovereignty of street mobs is catching.


UK courts in the pocket of the wealthy 

See this story:


-- Why I use a Macintosh: Eccl 12:3 "those who look through the windows see dimly" (Crossan's translation).

Harry Erwin



Life in a Parliamentary Democracy 

No separation of powers leads to stories like the following:



Harry Erwin


Google Pirated Listings


Your blog posting ( http://www.jerrypournelle.com/
view/2011/Q1/view668.html ) on your daughter's run in with Google's "new" algorithm listing your daughters pirated book above the original / legitimate copies is a part of Google's "new" algorithms, which is being following closely over at Foner Books: http://www.fonerbooks.com/selfpublishing/.  Morris, the site's author (cc'd) has covered the topic extensively with real examples that go beyond just the encouraging of piracy--the whole new algorithm is simply giving no value to authenticity, originality, publication/indexed date.

While I understand Google's need to support the need for social search, their current algorithm appears to me to push them in the opposite direction. They need to allow me to tell the search I want it to take social search into consideration when weighing and it needs to know that I weigh your or Morris opinion heavier because I follow your blogs. Under no circumstances (social search or regular search) should any of my searches return article farms, torrent searches, obviously knocked off web sites, or sites of huge amounts of quoted material hiding behind fair use.

I hope your daughter can address the issue.

--ron Ronald McCarty

The story is not over.


Liberia had a future?

Hi Jerry

You wrote:

At one time Liberia was a nation headed for civilization, with the True Whig Party negotiating pretty good terms from the companies having interests there. In order to operate in Liberia, a company had to provide some health care and an education for all employee children; and they were doing that with fairly decent schools. All that went away when there was a rebellion in the name of equality -- the True Whigs were mostly descended from the freed slaves who founded Liberia -- and since then it has become a typical hell hole. But at one time Liberia had a future.

Your comments here may be a little behind the times. In the aftermath of Taylor, Liberia may now have a future. A medical team our church sent there just got back and today confirmed the following comments.

"Rebuilding after two civil wars is Liberia’s greatest challenge [since the] country was devastated and the people traumatized . . peace and stability seem to have arrived for the longer term. The resignation of Taylor, his exile and trial, and the appointment of Africa’s first elected female leader – combined with the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees and acceleration of Liberia’s reconstruction – generate a forward-looking atmosphere of hope, despite urgent and obvious challenges." (Comments condensed from on the ground observations.)

Tim Cunningham

I am delighted to learn that from someone who has been there. I have always thought that the United States had an obligation to Liberia. It was not our colony but it was our purchased showcase. Jimmy Carter thought otherwise and did nothing when an army enlisted man led "rebels" in a slaughter of the civilized government, We then let Liberia go through years of utter hell, with some of the most barbaric episodes in the history of that sad continent.

Liberia was founded as a place for freedom, and it tried to emulate the United States in many ways. I hope it can succeed and become a place of law, and order with orderly advancement, as it had been under the True Whigs. Yes, they were elitist: they insisted that those who would be citizens become civilized. And yes, there was some corruption and favor in the administrations, as there is in Chicago and Trenton and Memphis and Los Angeles...

This is good news, and I wish the new Liberia well.


Are the Wealthiest Countries the Smartest Countries? 

"The controversial 1994 book “The Bell Curve” advanced the hypothesis that IQ is largely responsible for life outcomes. In a new analysis, researchers in Europe go even further, arguing that the IQs of the smartest citizens are largely responsible for the success of society in general. While the IQ of the average citizen does benefit productivity, the IQs of the top 5 percent are more critical for the development of science, technology, and the institutions that underlie economic freedom, which, in turn, drive economic output. The authors estimate that an increase of one IQ point among this top echelon has over twice as much effect on gross domestic product per capita as an increase of one IQ point for the average person."

Not very PC . . .

Found here:


More here:



I make no attempt to be politically correct, but I do try to pay attention to all the evidence. Note also that the IQ of Chinese in China averages almost 5 points higher than that of Americans in America. Examine the Chinese and American public education systems. Be afraid. Be very afraid. And see below


Stephen Moore

 Jerry P:

I see that someone has seen fit to pass along the article written by Stephen Moore, from the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Moore seems to be happy to carefully select his metrics for proof that government is evil. Now I don’t dispute that a certain amount of what governments do is foolish and wastes our resources, but governments don’t really export jobs in manufacturing. As a matter of fact, corporations, with the assistance of consumers, do ship manufacturing jobs overseas to countries where the products will be manufactured for less money. And that includes with the lower wages, more pollution, safety, and health risk to the workers; but that does not bother Mr. Moore. And we all enjoy these cheap products, which voters enjoy and elect politicians who will promise more and more of these same benefits; benefits - to those who have jobs rather than those whose jobs were shipped overseas. Now our taxes are used to help “American” corporations, whose bailouts were not necessarily used to help domestic manufacturing, but also the export of more jobs by those companies. So are we bailing out companies which are helping create jobs, to return manufacturing to this country, or are we just bailing out companies, no matter who benefits?

If Mr. Moore had ever worked in manufacturing, he would understand that with an increase in efficiency, fewer man hours go into the manufacture of goods and services we all enjoy. While government has grown, like a tumor, and manufacturing has dropped, due to efficiency, there has also been the export of manufacturing jobs on top of all that. And we are blessed with "rust belts" where corporations walked away from the despoiled land, and were allowed to transfer their legacy to the future generations, just like the Congress is transferring their incompetence to future generations. Congress is not the only place where they “kick the can down the road”. It also happens in the board rooms of our corporations and in the voter booths where we elect our government representatives. Maybe Mr. Moore would like to compare jobs exported to jobless Americans and see what conclusions he could reach. But that is probably not something he would understand.


Your views are not quite mine. And I suspect that Moore does understand what he is saying.

If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

This, I thought, was the real point of his article: that we employ a lot of people who make or produce nothing. He also said

The employment trends described here are explained in part by hugely beneficial productivity improvements in such traditional industries as farming, manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications. These produce far more output per worker than in the past. The typical farmer, for example, is today at least three times more productive than in 1950.

Where are the productivity gains in government? Consider a core function of state and local governments: schools. Over the period 1970-2005, school spending per pupil, adjusted for inflation, doubled, while standardized achievement test scores were flat. Over roughly that same time period, public-school employment doubled per student, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington. That is what economists call negative productivity.

I saw little about bailouts or the other issues you raise.

He concluded:

Most reasonable steps to restrain public-sector employment costs are smothered by the unions. Study after study has shown that states and cities could shave 20% to 40% off the cost of many services—fire fighting, public transportation, garbage collection, administrative functions, even prison operations—through competitive contracting to private providers. But unions have blocked many of those efforts. Public employees maintain that they are underpaid relative to equally qualified private-sector workers, yet they are deathly afraid of competitive bidding for government services.

President Obama says we have to retool our economy to "win the future." The only way to do that is to grow the economy that makes things, not the sector that takes things.

It may be that I am particularly dense, but I do not see the relevance of your comments. Moore's article was not about exporting jobs; it was about enormously increasing the number of non-productive jobs without corresponding increases in production.

We may yet end up taking in each other's washing for a living. At the moment we seem to have an economy based on opening containers of cheap goods from China, and paying for them with money borrowed from China. I don't think that can go on forever. And if something cannot go on forever it will stop.




Lucifer's Hammer got it right! 


I have to pat you on the back, young man. In Lucifer’s Hammer, you and Larry had the nuclear power station built with a surrounding berm so no one would see it. Came the floods, and the station still stood. Now David says “> The nuclear plant in Onagawa was built to withstand 30-ft. tsunami waves. (Fukushima, in contrast, was only designed for 18-ft. waves.) After the tsunami destroyed much of the city, some of the people who survived made their way to the power plant, looking for shelter. Weeks later, 240 of them are still living there, according to the Associated Press.”

You should preen.





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Tuesday,  April 5, 2011

A Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft?

Dear Dr Pournelle, I'm sure (well, I hope!) that lots of people have noticed this, but anyway, gere it is:


The final sentence is depressing though.

Regards, Dave Checkley

NERVA would give us the solar system. Well, NERVA with SSX.  But Saturn and NERVA would do it too. We have the technology. We have not the will. We did not take the star road. See today's VIEW on that.


A Crack in the Egg

<snip> Every once in a while, establishment control of the mainstream media cracks for a moment. In an effort to achieve higher ratings, mainstream news programs will invite guests on that promise to be "interesting", but then they will say something that is not part of the script and the entire system will go into a state of chaos for a moment. One example of this happened recently when two CNN "infobabes" interviewed former CIA officer Michael Scheuer about the situation on the ground in Libya. They asked Scheuer some questions regarding the role of the CIA in Libya, but the interview rapidly moved in some directions that the "infobabes" were not anticipating. Instead of sticking to the "Republican" or the "Democrat" script, Scheuer ripped both parties and he detailed many of the reasons why we should have never gone into Libya at all.

The "infobabes" grew increasingly uncomfortable as Scheuer described how large numbers of the resistance fighters in Libya have fought against U.S. troops in the Balkans, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. They did not seem pleased at all when Scheuer declared that the civil war in Libya is "none of our business" and that to the rest of the world this conflict looks like "Americans killing Muslims for oil" all over again.

The funniest part of the interview was when Scheuer accused one of the "infobabes" of "carrying the water for Mr. Obama". After that statement, the female anchor that Scheuer was addressing was visibly flustered and quickly went to a commercial.

Video of this CNN interview with Michael Scheuer is posted below. This is a video that should be shared with everyone you know.. </snip>


I think the article, and all included videos, are worth consideration.


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo

Amusing in any event, but I do not think as portentous as you seem to. But I do agree that everyone thinks we kill Arabs for oil. The ironic part is that yes, we kill Arabs, but we don't get the oil. Look at the Iraqi adventure. Or Kuwait.


Lucifer's Hammer

Dear jerry:

I'm reading Lucifer's Hammer on my Kindle. I'm just past a chapter where one character has just spent some time sealing up a large number of books in plastic zip-lock bags.

One of the books mentioned was "How things work" (or maybe it was "The way things work"). I checked Amazon and found a large number of matches, one by Louis Bloomfield, another by David Macaulay.

I also found this one: http://www.amazon.com/Way-Things-Work

Can you tell me which of these might be the one referred to in Lucifer's Hammer? (None seem to be available in Kindle format, which makes a certain amount of sense.)


Charles Milner

When we wrote Hammer there was no Internet. We seem to have got by anyway. The Way Things Work was a two volume set that looked at everything from faucets to coffemakers to cars to mousetraps to vacuum cleaners and explained in fairly clear language how they worked; a how to manual for restoring civilization...

Glad you are enjoying Hammer. It seems to be selling well as an eBook.


Update: Scientists trashing Richard Muller's work...Muller stands accused of being 'front man for geoengineering org.' -- Muller Responds to Climate Depot

One stop shopping weblink on Muller is here:

[Climate Depot, serving the public interest, continues it's coverage of Richard Muller's of Berkeley's BEST temperature project -- For the latest, go to www.ClimateDepot.com  <http://www.ClimateDepot.com>  -- Muller is copied on this email.]

Scientists Trashing Muller's work: Peter Thorne of NCDC: 'The Berkeley team had been 'seriously compromised' by publicizing its work before publishing any vetted papers'

This is from Climate Depot which opposes most AGW believers.

I will have more on Muller's work when the dust settles. It appears that Muller has found what we all know, yes, there is warming, as there has been since about 1800 or so. The Earth has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. As to How Much, it's not so obvious.


3 Scenarios for Egypt's Future -- The Good, the Bad and Ugly - FoxNews.com


An amazingly insightful article.


My guess is that the result will be a meld between the last paragraph scenario 2 and scenario 3. Even if the Mamaluks remain in charge, this does not preclude them embracing the Islamacists. The casual eagerness with which Obama has turned on Mubarak and Gadaffy precludes a continuation of past policies.


Did a little thinking about the risks of pumping sea water into reactor cores. None of the predominant dissolved salts will act as moderators and I doubt that they 'd precipitate at such high temps. However, I'm concerned about organic matter in the sea water. All the plankton and seaweed will be carbonized, leaving carbon behind. Carbon is an excellent moderator. This would explain the evidence of recriticality. Can you think of a solvent that could be injected to remove it? Bring on the Boron. Do you have any contacts with people who could credibly contact TEPCO?

Jim Crawford

 Yes, I have many friends in Japan, but I do not think I have anything to suggest to TEPCO that they will not have thought of already.

As to Libya, our hopes are with the Mamelukes. We will just have to see.


The Obamaites seem to think that they're promulgating an Arab/Muslim 1848, only this time with close air support and Twitter.

Yet they don't seem to remember the eventual fate of the variegated revolutions of 1848, not to mention the fact that the cultural milieus are rather different.


--- Roland Dobbins

The United States was involved in 1848 in giving Kossuth passage on a US warship in defiance of the Austrian Empire's international warrant for his return for punishment. When the Austrians protested, Secretary of State Daniel Webster made a stirring speech in defiance of Austria (a pretty safe thing to so, of course: the Austrians had not much in the way of a Navy). We incurred no entangling alliances or permanent involvements...


“The party wants to determine historical truth. It worries that if competing versions are allowed, then its legitimacy will be called into question.”


-- Roland Dobbins



Our children could make supercomputers...

An interesting read: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC Percussa Resurgo


23 mm Anti Aircraft guns in Libya 

Hi Jerry,

Jim Crawford and others asked the question

* Why are the rebels deploying AA guns when the only aircraft flying are allies ?

Warsaw pact 23 mm anti aircraft guns (ZSU 23-4 and ZU23-2) were designed to have a secondary role against light to medium armoured ground targets. I assume this is the reason they are still employed in the rebel forces.



 And they mount in pickup trucks, a sort of super-technical. They make great showoff weapons for firing into the air, too.


Why why why?

Dear Doctor Pournelle,

It is time to remind. Not teach. Remind.

Whenever I see someone fall for the old "Why don't you intervene in (fill in the blank with latest international horrorshow), since you did in (fill in blank with latest Foggy Bottom Idiocy).

Folks, governments don't exist to act in a consistent manners. Governments don't really exist at all, but I will leave that particular heresy out for now. They act inconsistently because they represent the interests the actions of the individuals who control these soi disant governments.

Those individuals have motives and passions, and they lead to that most human of acts, the inconsistent.

Also, if it is wrong to do it in Libya, what is the point in yammering about not doing the same mistake elsewhere? We should condemn the Idiots In Charge this Olympiad for not making the same mistake twice in a month?

On the other hand, if it is good to intervene in Libya, and the same people in government decide not to intervene some other place, what do you expect of fallible and self-interested humans? Of the Supremely Vain variety who seek and love to wield power? Getting it half-right is about average for humans of any stripe, most especially on first iteration.

We learn only by repeated applications of 'half-right".

If this time it turns out as a catastrophe? Well, we learn a lesson. Never underestimate the value of painful failure. It always teaches much more about a problem than does any success.

If only politicians were more like engineers. The latter love failure, if it comes before the project is finished. Oh, and if it doesn't kill the engineer!


Hear The Hymn of Breaking Strain http://wn.com/Leslie_Fish



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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

: Obama's Libya Policy Framework 

Stanley Kurtz has a piece in the National Review Online about Obama's NSC advisor Samantha Power, that sketches out a coherent White House conceptual framework for the Libyan intervention, based on her past writings. It's not a framework many of us are going to like, mind, as it ignores the national interest of the US when it's not actively harming it, but at least it's coherent. Briefly, the idea is to establish precedent for do-gooder interventions solely for humanitarian reasons with no intrusion of national interest allowed, while reducing the US's leading international role to that of just one more nation among many. (This capsule doesn't do the concept justice - read the piece.)



If that is the policy, it may well succeed.


Stratfor’s take on our war on Kaddafi: “Immaculate Intervention: The Wars of Humanitarianism:”


Some of the nicer tidbits:

“The expectation of capitulation in the case of Libya is made unlikely by another aspect of humanitarian war fighting, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC). Modeled in principle on the Nuremberg trials and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the ICC is intended to try war criminals. Trying to induce Moammar Gadhafi to leave Libya knowing that what awaits him is trial and the certain equivalent of a life sentence will not work. Others in his regime would not resign for the same reason. When his foreign minister appeared to defect to London, the demand for his trial over Lockerbie and other affairs was immediate. Nothing could have strengthened Gadhafi’s position more. His regime is filled with people guilty of the most heinous crimes. There is no clear mechanism for a plea bargain guaranteeing their immunity. While a logical extension of humanitarian warfare — having intervened against atrocities, the perpetrators ought to be brought to justice — the effect is a prolongation of the war. The example of Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia, who ended the Kosovo War with what he thought was a promise that he would not be prosecuted, undoubtedly is on Gadhafi’s mind.” . . .

“ . . . the virtue of the weaker side may consist only of its weakness. In other words, strengthened by foreign intervention that clears their way to power, they might well turn out just as brutal as the regime they were fighting. It should be remembered that many of Libya’s opposition leaders are former senior officials of the Gadhafi government. They did not survive as long as they did in that regime without having themselves committed crimes, and without being prepared to commit more.

“In that case, the intervention — less and less immaculate — becomes an exercise in nation-building. Having destroyed the Gadhafi government and created a vacuum in Libya and being unwilling to hand power to Gadhafi’s former aides and now enemies, the intervention — now turning into an occupation— must now invent a new government. An invented government is rarely welcome, as the United States discovered in Iraq. At least some of the people resent being occupied regardless of the occupier’s original intentions, leading to insurgency. At some point, the interveners have the choice of walking away and leaving chaos, as the United States did in Somalia, or staying for a long time and fighting, as they did in Iraq.

“Iraq is an interesting example. The United States posed a series of justifications for its invasion of Iraq, including simply that Saddam Hussein was an amoral monster who had killed hundreds of thousands and would kill more. It is difficult to choose between Hussein and Gadhafi. Regardless of the United States’ other motivations in both conflicts, it would seem that those who favor humanitarian intervention would have favored the Iraq war. That they generally opposed the Iraq war from the beginning requires a return to the concept of immaculate intervention.”

. . . and more. Interesting as always.



Re: 23 mm Anti Aircraft guns in Libya

> And they mount in pickup trucks, a sort of super-technical. They make great showoff weapons for firing into the air, too.

During WW2, one of the most effective German anti-tank weapons was the high-velocity 88mm FlaK cannon, which was originally designed as an AA gun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8.8_cm_FlaK_18/36/37/41 

Rommel used it to good effect in, well, Libya, including requisitioning Luftwaffe ones as improvised AT artillery... I doubt Qaddafi's tanks have the reactive armor required to defend against AA shells, even those without formed explosive charges.

-- Fazal Majid

I think you will find that the 23 is not quite up to the tasks of the 88. After Rommel's defeat in Egypt, one 88 in a strategic cave overlooking the coast road held off the British attempted pursuit for nearly a week. The flat trajectory and high velocity gave the 88 a superior performance. The 23 works for anti-personnel, but mounted in a pickup truck it's not really an effective assault weapon, although it may be great for pursuit. Of course pursuit requires a victory.


Subject: The Immaculate Intervention

George Friedman on "humanitarian wars":

I call humanitarian wars immaculate intervention, because most advocates want to see the outcome limited to preventing war crimes, not extended to include regime change or the imposition of alien values. They want a war of immaculate intentions surgically limited to a singular end without other consequences. And this is where the doctrine of humanitarian war unravels.

Regardless of intention, any intervention favors the weaker side. If the side were not weak, it would not be facing mass murder; it could protect itself. Given that the intervention must be military, there must be an enemy. Wars by military forces are fought against enemies, not for abstract concepts. The enemy will always be the stronger side. The question is why that side is stronger. Frequently, this is because a great many people in the country, most likely a majority, support that side. Therefore, a humanitarian war designed to prevent the slaughter of the minority must many times undermine the will of the majority. Thus, the intervention may begin with limited goals but almost immediately becomes an attack on what was, up to that point, the legitimate government of a country.




SUBJ: How to disable geo-location in popular programs 


Pretty good stuff. Amazing how quietly intrusive programs are becoming.



Geolocation is a rather secret feature of some browsers and toolbars. It allows the creator of that program to get a fix on the location of your computer to within a few meters of where you actually live. For the potential dangers read the article from BBC News entitled 'Web attack knows where you live' here.

This may be important.


Subj: Falcon Heavy will soar over your head starting in 2012

EMail from SpaceX today says the first Falcon Heavy demo launch is scheduled for 2012, from Vandenberg.


With the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons (117,000 lb) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Falcon Heavy can lift nearly twice the payload of the next closest vehicle, the US Space Shuttle, and more than twice the payload of the Delta IV Heavy. ...

Falcon Heavy will be the first rocket in history to feature propellant cross-feed from the side boosters to the center core. Propellant cross-feeding leaves the center core still carrying the majority of its propellant after the side boosters separate. This gives Falcon Heavy performance comparable to that of a three-stage rocket, even though only the single Merlin engine on the upper stage requires ignition after lift-off, further improving both reliability and payload performance.<<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

For more information on SpaceX, please visit www.spacex.com <http://www.spacex.com/>           


Subject: Re: IQ and National Wealth

"The controversial 1994 book “The Bell Curve” advanced the hypothesis that IQ is largely responsible for life outcomes. In a new analysis, researchers in Europe go even further, arguing that the IQs of the smartest citizens are largely responsible for the success of society in general."

<http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_2?_encoding=UTF8&sort=relevancerank&search-alias=books&field-author=Tatu%20Vanhanen>  was surprised that the linked article didn't mention "IQ and the Wealth of Nations" by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen. And I wonder how Rindermann and Thompson's analysis will compare to La Griffe du Lion's "Smart Fraction Theory" ( http://lagriffedulion.f2s.com/sft2.htm  ).


I have mentioned IQ and the Wealth of Nations in the past, and I recommend it, but at its price it is hard to come by.


Check out The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us

Click here: The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Gu <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree

New article from Moonbat completing his volte face on nuclear. I would still like to hear him say when he first heard that the radiation at TMI was far to low to hurt anybody, as he admitted in the last article, and if he intends to apologise to the nuclear industry, who have been saying that for 32 years and of whom in his last article he said "I still hate the liars".

Rats and sinking ships and that is why this is a very good thing.

Neil Craig
"a lone wolf howling in despair in the intellectual wilderness of Scots politics" You may be interested in my political blog http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/


"How are you able to change the mind-set that knowledge is more than a stamp?"


- Roland Dobbins


UC Berkeley, Climate Change, contrarian research 

Dr. Pournelle,

This article was passed to me and I believe you will find it interesting. http://www.latimes.com/

"A team of UC Berkeley <http://www.latimes.com/topic/education/
-berkeley-OREDU00000197.topic>  physicists and statisticians that set out to challenge the scientific consensus <http://www.climate.gov/>  on global warming is finding that its data-crunching effort is producing results nearly identical to those underlying the prevailing view.

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project <http://berkeleyearth.org/>  was launched by physics professor Richard Muller, a longtime critic of government-led climate studies, to address what he called "the legitimate concerns" of skeptics who believe that global warming is exaggerated"

I assume you will provide more analysis, but I for one am heartened that at least some people are asking the same questions you are.


Brian P.

To the best I can understand, so far the results are that there is indeed warming and about what the general consensus has found. This is not astonishing, in that it's pretty clear that the Earth has been warming since 1800: we have all kinds of evidence, from growing seasons to ice thickness -- Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates took place in a much colder Holland than now. It is well to establish this warming with some precision. When we know how much warming we can look for causes. Haw much acceleration in warming has there been since the industrial age began? That is the key question.

I welcome this research as I welcome all genuine science research into critical questions. That's how science works. Replication and confirmation, not just blind consensus. I suspect that this will find that CO2 has an effect but it is not anything like what the Believers say it has had; and I doubt that they will find any hockey sticks. It will be well to have some reliable data.



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From another conference. Following is printed with permission but not identification. It opened with a question:

I have a new piece for Fox News on whether corrupt regimes, terror groups, etc. are using US technology. So, for example, we make encryption technology and they use it to hide their plans or block access. Have you heard anything about whether they are using US tech? Do you know of any experts who might be willing to discuss?

It received this answer:

Well, he could use the item we discussed a while back about insurgents using off-the-shelf software to hack video from US UAVs (as reported in http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html  among other places).

There's two groups of people who could answer this in detail. One group are those in intelligence who know but won't talk. The other group are those in businesses whose products are being used, and also won't talk. Back in the 1970s we used to comment about Texas Instruments chips found in Soviet weapons. Just good business, you know, and they signed agreements saying the stuff was for non-military uses.

Realistically, you can't stop it, especially with the off-shoring of US industry (and therefore technology). If the stuff is being manufactured in South Asia, then anyone who wants it can get it either over the counter or under it. I expect any number of Chinese companies manufacturing pirated US tech will sell to anyone, no questions asked. And it is absolutely no secret that items intended for US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq have been found in quantity in the black market there and elsewhere. That happens when you have local contractors/sub-contractors doing the job instead of your own military personnel. I know it has been reported extensively, but I don't know that anyone has done a consolidated look at how that kind of thing (US uniforms freely available for sale in market stalls) has impacted security. I suspect he can find all he needs to know about the problem in open-source reports or by asking soldiers who were out there.

Are we doing anything about enemy use of our tech? That I can't answer.

I thought this of sufficient interest that I asked permission to quote. JEP


Fukushima thank you

Jerry I wanted to write you and thank you for having sane and intelligent comments about the reactors in Japan. You were how I learned about the MIT site and kalzumeus.com. They have been a great help. Getting science instead of panic anti-nuclear headlines has been difficult. Your continued comments have been very welcome.

So again thank you from someone in Tokyo where things are pretty normal, for Tokyo.

Charles Tully

For reference: Lewis Page on The Register has had good reporting on Japan. He does not do breaking news but his analysis is good. NHK internet: www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld   has had pretty calm reporting on the situation. This is not the same programs. The internet one can be recommended for calm reporting.


On-going stories:

Implosion of the fight against superbugs: <http://tinyurl.com/6lewcgt> <http://tinyurl.com/3pnndjo>

 NHS implosion: <http://tinyurl.com/5rlt7x9> <http://tinyurl.com/4yyz8oa> <http://tinyurl.com/66fevxq> <http://tinyurl.com/4xy32vp>

 University fees implosion: <http://tinyurl.com/3pj5uks> <http://tinyurl.com/6fh7egh> <http://tinyurl.com/6bp6apf> <http://tinyurl.com/3zfoe2m>

 Portuguese financial implosion: <http://tinyurl.com/5tdjwhf> <http://tinyurl.com/633am6g> <http://tinyurl.com/6hv9d4z>

 Wind power implodes: <http://tinyurl.com/68w42zs>


Why I use a Macintosh: Eccl 12:3 "those who look through the windows see dimly" (Crossan's translation).

Harry Erwin


Speaking about gathering data for AGW 

Hi Jerry,

I'm in the skeptics corner for AGW & I agree about gathering data, so this story ( http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-03/lost-satellite  ) about the Triana / DSCOVER satellite is stange/disheartening. I would dearly love to see this satellite perform its mission from the L1 spot, and have a sister in the L2 spot. This would go a long ways to answering the questions you've raised about albedo, cloud cover, etc. I would bet that there would be many surprises, on both sides of the debate, once we started getting data.

The probable explanation is NASA incompetence rather than another Cheney conspiracy theory; and Cheney has been out of office for quite some time, and we've had Democrats in control for a while. The story does mention some funding in 2009 to check out the satellite, which is doing fine, but nothing about launching it. A fun alternate theory is that BOTH sides of the debate are afraid the satellite will prove them wrong! And thus no one wants it launched.

Perhaps Mr. Musk will launch it with one of his rockets; or maybe buy the satellite, launch it, then sell the data for a 'nominal' fee...

Any chance that you have heard any rumblings re: this satellite?


Jim L.

I have heard nothing that I think warrants repeating. It is indeed a grievous loss for the truth.


govt shutdown 


It seems that when the govt shuts down tomorrow, military pay halts. I’m not really sure what happens when you quit paying volunteer forces who are in the states, but it’s really going to impact a lot of families of deployed members. I have some savings so I’m ok, but a lot of young troops/airmen here are going to be late paying bills if their paychecks are short or skipped. And since they’re deployed they can’t even work weekends at wal-mart or mcdonalds to cover the gap. At least troops at home can bundle their kids up and head for the soup lines when their grocery money goes to the car loan so it doesn’t trash their credit report.

Stars and Stripes (www.stripes.com) has a few articles, here are two of them:



From the second article:

“Well, first of all, let me say you will be paid,” Gates said, drawing a big Army "Hooah!."

“You know, as a historian, it always occurred to me that the smart thing for government was always to pay the guys with guns first.”

But then Gates turned serious, explaining that based on information he received Thursday morning, if the government shutdown begins on Apr. 8 and lasts for one week, troops would get half a paycheck. If it goes on from April 15-30, however, troops would not get a paycheck.”

Yea you read that right, Sec. Gates said paying the guys with the guns ought to be a priority. Funny stuff except with a volunteer force that was just told that around 12,000 troops are getting fired (whoops I mean “involuntarily separated” during a reduction in force restructuring), I don’t think anyone is laughing. Supposedly back pay would eventually get paid out once a budget or defense funding bill is passed, but nobody knows how long that might take.

I wonder, if a budget isn’t passed, will congress get paychecks this month? Maybe they’ll pass a bill that funds their own paychecks and keeps the lights on in the capitol so they can continue not passing a budget? Pass the hat around boys, Airman Smith is deployed and his wife has a new baby that needs formula, and WIC doesn’t cover it all.

The media seems to be blaming republicans, but even CNN can’t entirely resist pointing out that the fully democrat controlled house and senate could have easily avoided this entire thing by passing the budget last year when it was due and before the newly elected reps took their seats in the House. It’s almost like some people wanted this to happen so they could blame the new republicans, who were voted into office in part because of nonsense like this coming from the democrat controlled congress. Democrat leaders had well-rehearsed speeches and talking points ready to go, kind of creepy really, and the main talking point is the dems blaming new GOP members for daring to hold the line on a fraction of the cuts that were a major part of their campaign platforms. Imagine that, new congressmen elected in a historically game-changing election holding the line on what they were elected to do, and getting slammed for it by the business-as-usual politicians. Interesting times.

Deployed guy

Stay together. Pay the soldiers. Take no heed for the rest. Perhaps what we need is Major Generals.  See Cromwell for details. And who could think it a good idea to generate this kind of crisis for political purposes...

I note the Republicans have generated a bill to make it certain that the troops will be paid, shutdown or not. I note that Barack Hussein Obama has vowed to veto it. That is an interesting development.


Arabic Script

Hi Jerry-

Gaddafi wrote his letter in Arabic. Arabic script is an impure abjad, meaning that while there are means for specifying vowels these are often omitted and only consonants are used. Hence, the variant spelling of Gaddafi and Obama.

Last May, the Republican Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, confirmed during an interview on an New York City public radio station that Barack Obama was born in Kapi’olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. She reported that she had sent her director of Public Health (a physician) to look up the original document in the state archives. So, that would appear to end that particular line of inquiry as far as most reasonable people are concerned. There will always be lunatics. As you quite correctly point out, this is a red herring.


So it's simple. Show the document. Heck, you can see a copy of my birth certificate, from Louisiana. You do understand that what Linda Lingle says that her (unnamed) physician Director says she saw would not be admitted even in Small Claims Court. Why must we take a governor's word that an anonymous physician tells her he has seen a document? If it exists, surely it is not difficult to produce it.  Actually, that makes it all sound worse, as if there is a reason why it hasn't been produced.

Understand, I know there is nothing in this, and I wish the question had never been raised, but it is a bit curious.



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CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


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Friday,  April 8, 1011


Spengler on our economy


Spengler says the failure of the Republican party stems from the ongoing failure of our economy, from missing entrepreneurs to broken immigration policies:


I can’t summarize. It’s a great read.


Indeed it is worth the time. I have been saying much of that for years, but this is very well done.


Old News

I was reading your recent posts to my wife, and she hadn't heard the Biblical reference of sowing the wind. Today I decided to find a few references that I could send her, and ran into the most amazing green article I've read in long time. (I probably need to read more green articles every now and then.)

It's from 2005 in the Huffington Post ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
for-they-that-sow-the-win_b_6396.html ), and the opening paragraph took my breath away:

As Hurricane Katrina dismantles Mississippi's Gulf Coast, it's worth recalling the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush's iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2.

Considering that there is no, none, nada evidence that global warming produces more hurricanes, the audacity of the big lie was impressive.

(No, I couldn't bring myself to read the rest of the article. After I picked my jaw off the floor, I just shut down the computer in amazement.)


Fredrik V Coulter

That's known as rational science in today's scientific communities.


Re: "Courtillot on the solar UV climate connection"


See the linked video, approximately 32 minutes and well worth it. Dr. Vincent Courtillot discusses his team's work investigating correlations between earth's climate and solar variations. Their findings so far are interesting and possibly will prove pivotal to our understanding of the climate variations. Beyond that, his presentation makes several points that are worth seeing by themselves. For one, his presentation of measured temperatures versus charted anomalies really drives home the point.

Here is the link to the (very brief) article and embedded video at Watts Up With That where I found the video: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/05/

In case you prefer it, the direct YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

Anthony Watts' comments introducing the video:

"Dr. Vincent Courtillot is a professor of geophysics at the University Paris-Diderot and Chair of paleomagnetism and geodynamics of the Institut Universitaire de France. In the recent lecture below he explains how solar cycles control the climate by influence on cloud formation (the cosmic ray theory of Svensmark et al) and via influence on ocean oscillations and length of day. Dr. Courtillot notes that IPCC climate computer models do not correlate with observations and that temperature trends vary substantially between North America and Europe (which is contrary to IPCC computer model predictions).

He also notes that while the total solar irradiance (TSI) only varies by about .1% over a solar cycle, the solar UV varies by about 10% and that secondary effects on cloud formation may vary up to 30% over solar cycles. The IPCC computer models dismiss the role of the sun by only considering the small variations of the TSI and ignore the large changes in the most energetic and influential part of the solar spectrum – the ultraviolet."

Regards, George

I have insufficient expertise to comment, but it appears interesting. I'll leave analysis to those with more physics than I have.


Collapse of the EU


I introduced this point years back because a certain analyst illustrated the point to me. The EU is falling: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/
-debt-to-outstrip-u-s-market-svp-says.html  It is starting where we discussed: Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. At the end of this year, the sounds that a mast makes before it breaks will start in the United States--if I am not mistaken. But, thankfully, the EU should collapse first--giving us one last chance to get our act together.


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC
Percussa Resurgo

We continue to sow the wind. We will continue to reap the whirlwind. But if something cannot go on forever, it will stop.


Spengler on Food and Syria's failure, 


Spengler discourses on “Food and Syria's failure:”


Of course, it’s much, much more: the failing culture of the Arabs all over, a bit on the difficulties of Russia after they lost the cold war, just lots of good stuff, as usual.


Not many dare point out just how restrictive the Arab culture is, and has been since the great Persian days of a long time ago. If you do not believe in science -- Imshallah -- then you cannot do science; and if you believe that there is no true cause and effect, then you may truly and sincerely believe in a strategy of miracles.

Of course so do we, as witness our policy on fuel and alcohol. Spengler's observations on the future of food prices are a warning that only the foolish will ignore.


Birth Certificates

My understanding is that President Obama has produced a standard-issue State of Hawaii Certificate of Live Birth. The problem arises because the standard-issue birth certificate is a print-out of a data file, not a copy of a form filled in by the attending physician. Hawaii, like many other states, computerized their vital records years ago. The information from the original documents (microfilm copies, actually) was input into the computers, double-checked, and then the original documents/microfilm were destroyed. I suspect that a great many people would receive the same type of document were they to order a copy of their birth certificate now.

As to WHY the controversy started, I have a strong suspicion. As you may recall, Senator McCain was born in the Canal Zone, where his father was stationed on active duty. At the time of his birth the federal statute on citizenship of children born to U.S. citizens abroad only spoke to areas not under U.S. control. The Canal Zone, at that time, was under U.S. control, but was not formally a territory. The legislation was change some two years later to account for children born in the Canal Zone, but a pettifogging view of the law might hold that Senator McCain was not a citizen at birth, but only became one at the passage of the amendment two years after his birth--thus not a "natural born" citizen. The uproar over Obama's birthplace was, I firmly believe, an attempt to head off any such argument and ensure that the Senator's birth citizenship did not become an issue. Unfortunately, the matter seems to have gotten completely out of hand. As you pointed out, the issue is moot in any event.

Personally, I think those who accuse President Obama of having sweeping malignant agendas are seriously overestimating him. My personal estimation is that he is primarily a stuffed shirt mounted on a weather-vane--responsive to whichever interest group has access at the moment. But I have been wrong before.

Jim Keech

Interesting analysis. Thanks


Earlier I said

I am going to assume that it says Barack Hussein Abu amama and that's why it embarrasses him.

Re: Arabic Script

  Jerry-   Hawaiian State law (Hawaii Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the  release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a  tangible interest in the vital record. Presumably, Obama could get a  copy if he wanted one. But why should he? The  (Republican) governor of Hawa'ii has vouched for him, which will satisfy enough of the electorate to get him re-elected.  

As you point out, the failure to produce the actual document brings out the black helicopter crowd and that plays in Obama's favor.  Those guys aren't gonna vote for Obama anyway! So Obama has no  incentive to obtain and release the original long form birth certificate and he actually jokes about the issue:  http://www.politico.com/politico44/

 Early reports that the original document was destroyed in a fire would  seem to be contradicted by the statement of the (Republican) governor of Hawa'ii.  

As Finley Peter Dunne said, "Politics ain't beanbag."   -Steve


What just happened to Japan - a comparison.

Dr. Pournelle:

I was talking with a coworker about the recent earthquake and tsunami damage in Japan, and made the comparison that Japan just received damage in one afternoon equal to all the damage General Curtis LeMay's bombing campaign did over the course of World War Two.

If you ever change the forward to Lucifer's Hammer, this might be a way to scale what damage the meteor impacts did as the impacted the oceans. Mother Nature is -impressive- when she bestirs herself....

Best of luck;

Richard Molpus


Shuffling off this Mortal Coil -- Jean Bartik, Software Pioneer, Dies at 86


One of the pioneers died, Jean Bartik one of the Eniac programmers.

Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE


"April 7, 2011 Jean Bartik, Software Pioneer, Dies at 86 By STEVE LOHR

Jean Jennings Bartik, one of the first computer programmers and a pioneering forerunner in a technology that came to be known as software, died on March 23 at a nursing home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She was 86.

The cause was congestive heart disease, her son, Timothy Bartik, said.

Ms. Bartik was the last surviving member of the group of women who programmed the Eniac, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, which is credited as the first all-electronic digital computer...."

I never met her and the ENIAC was history by the time I got into computing, but I knew some who had known her.










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This week:


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Saturday, April 9, 2011

A day devoured by ravenous locusts.






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CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday,  April 10, 2010     

I am still catching up.




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