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Mail 672 April 25 - May 1, 2011
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April 25, 2011
Saw your comments and the link to the article on gold and silver prices; wasn't sure if you had seen this:
"April 16 (Bloomberg) -- The University of Texas Investment Management Co., the second-largest U.S. academic endowment, took delivery of almost $1 billion in gold bullion and is storing the bars in a New York vault, according to the fund’s board."
There's a sobering vote of no-confidence in US monetary policy (not to mention other investment instruments).
-- Bruce F. Webster (http://bfwa.com
Whereas President Obama's financial advisor lost about half the endowment of Harvard when he was President (even as he had but missed a chance to invest in Facebook...)
As part of my ongoing effort to offer pleasant news:
It could become law that we go into space! I'd like to be part of the mechanism that enforces that. "Yes, sir, investigation revealed the subject had no intention of creating the new fuel necessary for us to begin cost effective mining operations on the moon. However, further investigation led us to someone who could; we forwarded that information to the proper channels and mining will commence next month. As for the subject, his negligence cost the United States 20 billion dollars..." It could happen. :)
Joshua Jordan, KSC
And I just re-issued A Step Farther Out...
http://tinyurl.com/3v3gmwv (link to Aviation Week story about Shuttle follow-on studies)
Breakup of the year-long political logjam over funding for NASA this month cleared the way for the agency to announce the next phase of its Commercial Crew Development effort (CCDev-2) and gave Lockheed Martin a clear path to shift its old Orion crew exploration vehicle prime contract over to the new Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle effort ordained in the three-year NASA authorization bill President Barack Obama signed last year.
"We're committed to safely transporting U.S. astronauts on American-made spacecraft and ending the outsourcing of this work to foreign governments," states NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "These agreements are significant milestones in NASA's plans to take advantage of American ingenuity to get to low Earth orbit, so we can concentrate our resources on deep space exploration."
Bolden's statement refers to the CCDev-2 awards, which went to Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Inc. (SpaceX).
Blue Origin says it will mature its seven-seat "Space Vehicle" through system requirements review, ground- and flight-test the pusher escape system it started under CCDev-1, and begin testing the 100,000-lb.-thrust liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine for its "Reusable Booster System" (RBS).
"Each one-time use of current expendable booster technology represents a prime opportunity for cost reduction," the company states. "Blue Origin's RBS employs deep-throttling, restartable engines to perform vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing [VTVL] maneuvers for booster recovery and reuse."
The company plans to launch its Space Vehicle initially on a human-rated Atlas V and transition later to the reusable booster. The vehicle apparently will use VTVL technology tested on an unpiloted vehicle dubbed New Shepard, which traces its heritage to the Air Force and NASA DC-X and -XA testbeds flown in the 1990s. It will return to Earth on dry land "to minimize the costs of recovery and reuse."
Hurrah. I keep hoping something will come of my SSX-DC/X.
Antihelium and Ozone hole links
Anti-helium particles created at Berkeley: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/04/24/antihelium/
Tally of Asimov-Gore connections: Asimov only wrote about robots. Both were wrong about the weather. Its a conspiracy, I tell you!
Subject: The official definition of unemployed
Jerry, the official definition of unemployed hasn't changed in decades and probably won't. That definition is very simple: you are considered to be unemployed if and only if you are receiving Unemployment Compensation from the government. Once your benefits run out, you're reclassified as having left the workforce, even if you're still aggressively looking for work. Thus, as the Obama Recession continues, the official count of unemployed workers will start falling as more and more people fall off of the unemployment rolls and, in some cases, end up on Welfare or Food Stamps.
That is not in fact correct. The official definition of unemployed is a bit more complex but it means someone looking for work who didn't find any; it includes people whose unemployment has run out, as well as many who came into the work force for the first time.
The definitions of 'employed' are not actually symmetrical. You can lack a job and have given up looking for one, and you will be neither employed nor unemployed...
Hound of Heaven
We are probably about the same age, and I confess I've read many, but not all of your books (with Larry Niven). The Mote in God's Eye and Lucifer's Hammer are my favorites.
The reason for this email is that I came across your post of Francis Thompson's Hound of Heaven, where you state that the poem has haunted you since high school. Strange, but it is the same with me. In 9th grade, in 1956, a Dominican nun at St. Ann High School in West Palm Beach Florida assigned me to memorize the poem and recite it to my English class. I had about three weeks to prepare. I did a fair job, but like you I am still haunted by it. The line that goes "For ah, we know not what each other says, these things and I; in sound I speak, their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences" has stayed with me for a really long time, and I think is one of the best lines in English poetry.
It's just good to know of someone who is also affected by Thompson's work.
I also used it in Escape from Hell. Thanks.
Jerry, When I mentioned in a prior e-mail that you may or may not have read that I find discussion of technology mundane, I wasn't referring to military technology. The US Army has now fielded the successor to the OICW, the XM-25, in actual combat in Afghanistan. As of February, it reportedly fired 55 25mm programmable explosive rounds, at $1000 each, and scored two kills. The sample is admittedly small enough to be almost worthless, but to me it sounds like an incredible accomplishment. I don't know the price per kill of the average bit of US ordnance, but I suspect that compared to cruise missiles, and anything that requires an aircraft sortie, that $27500 per kill is pretty good. That price would also obviously decline steeply with mass production. I've heard extremely large numbers cited for the number of 5.56 rounds that are fired per kill (as high as 20,000 per kill with early, full auto M-16's in Vietnam). I may be misremembering, and in any case improvements in training and the fact that modern weapons aren't full auto, mean that the current number is much lower. But even using this extreme estimate, at .30 per round, which I think is the low end of the commercial price for 5.56, the price per kill for 5.56 is only around $6000. Also, insofar as modern American wars are no longer limited by the production capabilities of a mobilized workforce, I don't think that the price per kill should be a very important factor in considering the value of this weapon. The ability to achieve one kill every 28 rounds from a squad level asset operated by one man strikes me as a game changer. Even adjusting for the reduced number of rounds that an XM-25 operator could carry due to weight, they are still more effective (at least outside of their safe arming range, when the proximity of civilians isn't a problem) than an otherwise similar rifleman. It seems logical that the more enemies a friendly can kill, the fewer friendlies the enemy can kill. Furthermore, my understanding of combat (which is so far purely academic) is that engagements tend to end when one side utilizes a weapon of substantially higher firepower than the other side has available. Tank rounds can end firefights pretty quick, even without particularly good effects on target. Likewise for ATGM rounds. The after action reports from Afghanistan seem to indicate similar results with the XM-25.
Subj: Why Manufacture? Dow Chemical CEO preaches a jeremiad at the Wharton School
April 26, 2011
Sex and the College Dean
The "Treason of the Clerks" reap.
Current Chaos Manor mail
So this person knows more about nuclear engineering than you and your sources?
General Manager AquariumFish.net The World's Most Popular Web Site for People Who Love Pet Fish !
Co-Host of Pet Fish Talk The World's Largest Exclusively Internet-Radio Talk Show. "
That's why I read your site, there's always something for the brain AND something for the funny bone!
I'm still chuckling...
Cops raid man whose Wi-Fi was used to download child porn . The Register's take on it,
We know that the cops raided a man whose Wi-Fi was used to download child porn. Here’s The Register's take on it:
Excellent point, that. Someone should fire those idiots. They’re too naďve about computers to be trusted not to kill somebody.
Disturbing. I have problems with the whole censorship issue: it's one thing to have local censorship laws, it's quite another to make it a felony to have something on your hard drive you may not be aware of. And they have even forbidden cartoons of child pornography, which seems odd given that the justification of the laws has to do with protection of children (just as possession of ivory is for the protection of elephants against poachers).
But it is nearly impossible to have a rational debate on this subject.
'Suddenly, officials had recognized the dearth of faces of color in AP classes and the drive to augment the AP minority population went into high gear.'
-- Roland Dobbins
Advancement of students into classes they do not belong in is one of the worst forms of racial persecution. My favorite example is a black student who would have been a good B+ A- student at UCLA but was sent to Cal Tech on some kind of minorities program. The student flunked out, of course. Cal Tech is no place for a UCLA B= or even A- student. The student lost a good education and was humiliated.
When I was a lad I thought the law ought to be color blind. I still think so. But that means truly color blind.
University of Texas and gold
Notice that the total endowment is about 20 billion: a 5% position in gold isn't all that remarkable. I agree that Obama's economic advisors are spectacularly incompetent, with the exception of Volcker who was only there for show.
San Onofre safety issues
It seems to me the biggest safety issue at San Onofre is the same as at any other US power plant, nuclear or otherwise:
They let pompous boobs in to pester the engineers while they're working.
Matthew Joseph Harrington
I thought you would be interested in this report of a new study on IQ testing:
I'd have to read the originals. It doesn't astonish me that motivation can have an effect on tested IQ: clearly if one doesn't bother to read the test questions, one isn't going to get a high score. If one doesn't try hard, one doesn't get a high score. And so forth. Of course test designers are aware of this.
Getting valid and reliable IQ scores is not easy, and given the hostility of the courts to using those scores, there's not a lot of effort going into their development now. Which, in my judgment, is a shame: the most important resource of a nation is its brightest students, and finding them and nurturing them is more important than all the special needs schools put together -- indeed, if we do not develop our intellectual capital, we will not be able to afford schools for special needs students. Only the wealthy can afford to put aside resources for special opportunities for the lower end of the bell curve. When a nation wastes its intellectual capital it will not be wealthy. Then the crunch comes sentiments about allocations of resources change.
Is political satire still possible?
Comment is hardly needed...
'People at the meeting already know what they are going to hear: all of them are oppressed.'
- Roland Dobbins
Nor here, either.
Matt Drudge as National Media
Something to consider: Drudge changed the way many of us do news. I now check the Drudge Report daily, as part of my collections. Incidentally, I would like to know what you read everyday Jerry.. Do you think you could do a view on that someday?
In any case, I saw this and thought it is something we might consider in our community. I went to a local news site in Missouri about a story on the tornado that slammed into the airport out there and I linked there from the Drudge Report. When I arrived, I saw this message:
If you're visiting us from THE DRUDGE REPORT, be sure to check out our related content. AND DON'T MISS THE SECURITY VIDEO FROM INSIDE LAMBERT AIRPORT AS THE TORNADO HIT.
This local news station took the time to check Drudge and go back to its own content and add that message. Drudge makes people move and Drudge doesn't have to move for anyone. Drudge is an example of the shift I wrote about before. I mentioned how Kings played the game of thrones and then merchants took over soon after the Battle of Waterloo. Now the traffickers of information will take over. You are already there, Jerry, and Drudge is an example for my generation and generations to come. I realize he does not appear this way now, but in time I believe people will recognize him as I do. In 2011, Drudge moves for no one and people move for him. Even Big Sis commented when Drudge gave her that nickname. Even a hack like Michael Moore caught the eye of Bush II, and that was in the film -- Bush II recognized and heckled Moore in Fahrenheit 911.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Actually, I spend a good part of my time looking at things recommended by my readers. Much of that ends up either in mail or as inspiration for my essays. I have a very large and very intelligent search net, and I make use of it. Unlike Drudge, I am not trying for breaking news; but I am looking for background on the news. It's not always easy to find.
Is Our Civilization a Bubble?
See this essay, in two parts.
Although in two parts it is modest in length and well worth reading. The author:
"Stephen H. Balch was the founding president and is currently the chairman of the National Association of Scholars, America's largest and most active membership organization of professors and academic administrators"
Balch poses the question of whether our free society - a society based upon free exchange rather than extraction by force or threat of force - has become a bubble, ala the real estate and Internet bubbles, and so many others in human history.
"Conventional bubble imagery captures the stance of an outsider who watches it swell, vent, and collapse. But to genuinely appreciate bubble dynamics the insider’s perspective is better. The bubble experience, from within, is more like that of being in a closed universe, wherein lines of sight curve back upon themselves, and recycled expectations reinforce one another until surrounding realities are eclipsed. Realties, of course, cannot forever be obscured, however hyped hopes or blinkered perspectives become. When their force proves irresistible, bubbles break, revealing the true dispensation, all the grimmer for its long denial."
He describes the generic dynamics of bubbles, summarized in ""bubble-talk" as 1) "the difference between the “social pressure” inside and outside the bubble becomes too great." and 2) "the distance between the bubble’s point of origin and its circumference becomes too great." 3) "the bubble’s surface becomes too insubstantial."
In part two, Balch relates the general phenomena to our society and makes a credible case that we are, in essence, forgetting too much of great importance and removing our awareness too far from the reality of the human condition.
Civilization is always a bubble. Civilization is always fragile. Gibbons thought that at long last cannon and technology had ensured that Western Civilization would survive, and not fall as had the Roman Empire. The scores are not in on that.
Dark Ages are always possible, and sometimes closer than you might think.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
April 27, 2011
I had the best time this morning watching Donald Trump take credit for having forced President Obama to publish his long form birth certificate. Let's give the Devil his due; it was a dead issue until Trump revived it and shouted down anyone who had the nerve to disagree with his lies. And it was The Big Lie, right out of the Nazi playbook used in Germany in the 1930s by Hitler and Goebbles. Now Trump is asking about college transcripts, implying that Obama is not smart enough to hold his office and had some sort of affirmative action free ride to Harvard Law? The man was Magna Cum Laude and Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
What Trump forgot or ignored is that Obama is a graduate of another school; Chicago Politics, where they play very rough indeed and what counts is results that the voters can see. I lived in that town for eight years and this was more of a reason for me to vote for him than him being the first African American President. (That's rather irrelevant in my mind.) Obama played him like a fiddle and while The Donald can bluster all he wants, his credibility just went in the toliet.
Because President Obama is right about another thing; we don't have time for this BS. There are serious issues to be resolved and Trump isn't about those. He's about getting himself more attention and making money from that. He's a brand.
He's also a danger because this kind of shouting and rhetoric was used in the Ante-Bellum period in the South to promote the idea of Secession and Civil War. Trump may not be a racist but he;s playing one on TV.
By me, its Donald Trump who isn't smart enough to be President and the Republicans have no hope in 2012 the longer they let him drive their agenda. He's the Democrat's secret weapon.
Not my reading, but this is a coherent statement of another view.
By me it all ought to have ended when Clinton asked for the damn document back in nomination days. I also suspect there are some adolescents in the White House advisory staff who are having fun with this. Perhaps so.
As to what we have time for, are you seriously contending that the time of 'debates' on this would be devoted to more rational discussion on the major media outlets? I do agree we would be better off thinking about what the hell we are doing with our Legions than worrying about a moot point like this, but I have said that for a long time without much noticeable effect. Apparently there are those who find this amusing or important or both.
This is why the President chose to release the birth certificate now...
"...in the USA TODAY poll, only 38% of Americans say Obama definitely was born in the USA, and 18% say he probably was. Fifteen percent say he probably was born in another country, and 9% say he definitely was born elsewhere...."
This article was the headline on Drudge yesterday.
-- "I was born in a free country, but now it is a democracy." --David Warren
Re: Obama's Birth Certificate
I have long wondered if the decision to keep Obama's birth certificate obscure for so long was a purposeful political maneuver designed to lure some politically significant foe into looking like an ass. As it happens there were no such fish biting. Instead it came down to Trumpty-Dumpty having the fall. As for the electronic formatting with multiple layers, just imagine if some prominent opposition figure makes an assertion of fraud and then the trap springs shut...
Of course that's one of the first things to come to mind. Do serious public servants, members of the White House staff, actually think that way? Perhaps so. It would all be simply resolved: just allow someone we all trust to have access to the original document, not a digitized copy. Perhaps that has been done. I don't have a lot of confidence in the new media any longer.
As to candidates we can spare, I suppose Donald Trump is well among them; he hasn't been all that conspicuously dedicated to the public cause in the past.
I recently got an email for a friend that likes to pursue conspiracy theorists. This was about oil reserves. Once all the conspiracy stuff and large type was stripped away, one fact claimed in the text (and supposedly back for US Geological Survey data) was the the US has larger oil reserves that any other country in the world. The email was primarily focused on reserves that were in the lower 48 and not off shore. Here are the links that this focused on:
I suppose the question really is, how much of this is true and how much will it matter in the end?
I would think it obvious that if Obama were to announce a major effort to increase domestic oil supply, oil future prices would fall immediately, and that would ripple down to spot market prices. The US has large oil reserves both on shore and off shore. If the word went out that the US policy is Drill Here, Drill Now, gasoline prices would stabilize fast as futures prices began to fall.
Of course that isn't likely to happen.
Here's what is more likely:
Paper Industry Receiving Billions in Tax Subsidies - BioFuels
The paper industry has burned something called "black liquor" to generate energy for 80 years. This is a byproduct of the wood-pulping process. Somehow it qualifies as a biofuel under a 2005 law. Hence, billions of dollars are flowing through several channels from the Federal government to paper makers. The Democratic-controlled Congress tried to stop this several times, but failed to close the loop holes in the law. Incompetence reigns in Washington. Good for the industry for showing how silly our government can be.
-- Dwayne Phillips - - -
Obama is a (space) alien!
As they say, the truth is out there. Now it is out in the open. Barrack Obama has revealed himself as not only not born in America, but not born of this world.
No serious person on earth would claim to be "leading from behind". This is an alien concept. Surely your collaborator Larry Niven must have noticed that Obama is obviously a bioengineered Pierson's Puppeteer! For those unfamiliar with the Ringworld books, Puppeteers are both very intelligent and very risk-averse. It has been awhile since I have read the books, but I believe the title of the Puppeteer leader roughly translates as "the one who leads from the rear" or "Hindmost", the one farthest away from danger.
It all makes sense now.
But I guess it really isn't so funny. We bomb civilian installations in Tripoli in aid of saving the civilian population of Libya from the government in Tripoli. I am still trying to make sense of that, and how bombing the Tripoli TV station is an act of defense when NATO does it, but would be an act of terrorism if Libyan agents did the same to NPR or VOA headquarters,
I'd not be inclined to dismiss criticisms of "safety culture" out of hand.
Was not safety culture one of Admiral Rickover's contributions to nuclear safety, though not under that name?
According to this document
>>The term safety culture was actually introduced by the International Nuclear Safety Analysis Group in their report on the Chernobyl accident in 1986. A couple of years later, they actually devoted a publication to safety culture, and in that publication, they define it as shown here: safety culture is that assembly of characteristics and attitudes in organizations and individuals which establishes that as an overriding priority, nuclear plant safety issues receive the attention warranted by their significance.<<
You can't just play whack-a-mole on individual problems as they pop up. You need to look for patterns of institutional behavior that lead to whole classes of problems being overlooked and to hazards being either ignored or covered up until, eventually, one of them hatches a catastrophe.
The Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disaster investigations included voluminous criticisms of, in effect, the absence of a safety culture at NASA. The NASA managers' attitude of "prove to me it's *not* safe to fly", that led them to dismiss engineers' misgivings about how the O-rings had been eroding during previous launches in cold weather, was one indication of a profound lack of a safety culture. Contrast that with Teller's insisting that it be written into the rules that no positive-void-coefficient nuclear reactor ever be licensed. The Coast Guard co-chairman of the Deepwater Horizon accident investigation, Captain Hung Nguyen, probed the lack of safety culture on the rig -- a rig that was getting awards for its excellent safety _record_ right up until the day it exploded and sank.
None of what I've just said is an argument one way or another about the validity, or not, of Meshkati's criticisms of the safety culture at San Onofre. To judge those, I'd want to dig into the NRC inspection reports themselves, rather than rely on second- or third-hand hearsay from Meshkati, who apparently has an axe to grind.
The notion of a safety culture is fine, but what I see in this "report" is charges without specifications, and I am always suspicious of charges without specifications.
: Military adventure
I have noted your references to things done during the Cold War that are not appropriate for the U.S. today. I have always paid attention to your comments about the Cold War as I was at Hoenfels Training area the day the wall came down and so have a vested interest.
I began wondering... In 1956 Khrushchev said in a speech "We will bury you." I wonder if he was not being an Oracle at Moscow (as opposed to Delphi). Remember how the oracles were seldom obvious until long after they had been found true.
So we need to oppose Communism. To do so we need certain strategies. To get implemented requires (temporary) compromises of traditional American policies to gain a majority which includes liberals. In the process, over a period of more than 2 generations, America changes so that the compromises are now traditional norm and when our enemy suddenly (almost overnight it seemed at the time) goes away, we are left looking for a way to continue our "traditional" policies and end up burying ourselves.
Maybe Nikita is laughing mournfully in his Communist afterworld at his (unintended I'm sure) foresight.
This kind of case really gets me mad:
“That new wireless router. He'd gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection . . .” to download child pornography. OK. Point taken. But here’s what our Federal employees did:
“Lying on his family room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of "pedophile!" and "pornographer!" stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn't need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents.
That new wireless router. He'd gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.
"We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night," the man's lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, "Doldrum."
"No, I didn't," he insisted. "Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that."
"You're a creep ... just admit it," they said. <snip>
“It was 6:20 a.m. March 7 when he and his wife were awakened by the sound of someone breaking down their rear door. He threw a robe on and walked to the top of the stairs, looking down to see seven armed people with jackets bearing the initials I-C-E, which he didn't immediately know stood for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"They are screaming at him, 'Get down! Get down on the ground!' He's saying, 'Who are you? Who are you?'" Covert said.
"One of the agents runs up and basically throws him down the stairs, and he's got the cuts and bruises to show for it," said Covert, who said the homeowner plans no lawsuit. When he was allowed to get up, agents escorted him and watched as he used the bathroom and dressed.
“The homeowner later got an apology from U.S. Attorney William Hochul and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak.” <snip>
No comments on how badly the Feds treated this man, who had not been proven guilty of anything. Guilty until proven innocent. Deserving of abuse until explicitly absolved. That’s us, subjects of a police state, though not it seems run from the top down . . . yet.
In any case, it tells us that if the software accompanying a router is too complex to use, it’s grounds to return that equipment and get a different brand.
I presume that these government agents have decided there are insufficient numbers of free people who hate them, and are trying to recruit more terrorists. I can't imagine any other reason for acting like that.
An apology from the attorney general. Thrilling.
One moral of the story is to make sure you use full encryption and security when setting up wireless routers, and make certain that the password is good. Otherwise dn't turn the darned thing on.
In order for a man to love his country, his country ought to be lovely. The US deserves a President who understands this.
The story continues:
The government agents have not been charged with anything, and probably will get merit promotions in due time. After all, they are patriots working for the Department of Homeland Security. Just how kiddie porn falls under the Patriot Act is not so clear, but surely it is. (See Thursday's VIEW for more 0n this subject.)
April 28, 2011
On the Birth Certificate:
Just who should they make Obama's birth certificate available to?
The game is being played by the birthers.
There is only one true original. They can't give it to everyone who wants to see it. Given the sort of wackos who keep insisting that it's fake, or doesn't exist, they can't let any Tom, Dick, or Harry who wanders in off the street have a look at it. If they did that, the actual document wouldn't survive a day before someone tried to rip it up, set it on fire, or whatever. If they put the sort of protection on it necessary to prevent something like that happening, while still letting people see it, then no one would be able to get close enough to tell if it was real or not.
If they handed the original over to a some sort of expert panel for examination, there will still be people who will not believe the panel's conclusions when they declare it genuine.
In 2008, President Obama released a copy of the document that *anyone* born in Hawaii gets, if they ask for a copy of their birth certificate. If he had been a white man named Smith, that would have been the end of it, but elements of the lunatic fringe weren't satisfied, and then Donald Trump jumped on the bandwagon to help pump up ratings for his TV show. President Obama then went to the extraordinary step of applying to the State of Hawaii for an exemption to Hawaiian state law, and getting an actual certified photocopy of the original document released (since under Hawaiian law, confidential medical records, are supposed to stay confidential.) Naturally this didn't satisfy any of the real loonies. Nothing will. They will just keep on believing that Obama is a secret Muslim Kenyan, the moon landings were faked, and Area 51 has warehouses full of crashed alien spaceships.
That is a reasonable position. It is also reasonable that the President make the damn thing available to someone with national stature so that there is a provenance. The question has been moot from the moment that he took the oath of office, but it is still important to some. The officer who went to jail because he wouldn't be deployed given his belief that Obama is not a qualified President is one curious case: the simplest thing in that case would have been for the President to make the damn thing available. Of course I question the competence of an officer who goes that route, but that's another story.
It all depends on your goals. If the goal is political, then there is one course of action. If there's an actual concern for national unity, and even for the "feelings" of those who think the President is pulling a fast one (as we are perpetually encouraged to consider the feelings of various minorities without regard to their legal rights, or the feelings of those who are offended by the sight of a Menorah or a manger in the public square, or the feelings of those who think themselves offended by a veteran's memorial cross way out toward Zzyzx in the Mojave visible only to those who go looking for it, one might take the minor trouble to make the damn document available early on, and spare the feelings of those thus satisfied. The fact that there will remain some who will never be satisfied -- just as there are some whose feelings will be hurt by the existence of a single Christian left on the face of the Earth -- is not all that relevant.
Reasonable people might wonder about the existence of the document, or what information it might contain, without being insane or incompetent, and the longer the document remains hidden, and the more trouble is taken to deny access to it, the more curiosity. All of which could easily have been avoided when the Clintons -- whom one presumes are neither insane nor incompetent -- asked to see a copy. Heck, I'd have been happy had former President Clinton been allowed to examine it back during the primary. (Actually, I confess I never worried about it at all, and only got interested when Trump got in the act, when I wondered what in the world was in that document, but that's another story.)
Let Katie Couric and Britt Hume examine the damn thing, That should satisfy all but those determined not to be satisfied. The only mystery left is why there is any objection to that. Of course there is the political explanation, but surely that is beneath a sitting President of the United States? Nixon had more dignitas than that.
Obama and company should not have bothered releasing the birth certificate. No matter what he does, the birthers will not accept it or come up with another spurious claim. It looks like Trump already has, demanding that Obama release his academic record. If he does that, then they will come up with something else.
Obama, like his predecessors, has followed disastrous policies. The birther claims are just a sideshow distracting from the real issues.
Rick in Portland
I guess I don't understand why it's a bother. Had I been President I would have taken the trouble to make the phone call releasing the damn thing when that army officer was charged because he challenged the Obama's legitimacy as commander in chief. No, of course Obama didn't have to be "bothered" and no, of course I am not defending the officer's stance, but it wouldn't have been much bother compared to what was happening to the officer (a physician as I understand it). If the goal was to taunt the "birthers" I suppose it was successful, but I am not sure I'd be proud of the result were I he. How much "bother" could it be? The call could be made on the way to a golf game, or from Air Force One for that matter. Or from a fund raising trip; surely he could have found a couple of minutes to do all that? Most would have been handled by staff.
Your statement is not correct. Some birthers will never be satisfied. So be it. And had it been a big deal, a lot of bother, one might understand; but in fact it was hardly a bother at all, nor would it be much bother to tell the hospital to let Britt Hume and Katie Couric go have a look at the damn thing. It would certainly be a courteous thing to do.
I have heard you say several times that all you are competing for is beer money.
This is the earliest reference I can find in Chaos Manor.
So we tell stories. Some tell better stories than others. Some sell pretty well, although none of us come close to J K Rowlings, and suddenly Tolkein is getting up there in numbers too. Deservedly in his case: if this genre produced an epic that will be around a while, Lord Of The Rings is likely to be it, and Tolkein was happy enough to be an honorary member of SFWA and later to join and pay dues when he was eligible. (Stanislaw Lem on the other hand resigned his honorary membership because we weren't worthy of him; he read Heinlein's dictum about "what we are after is Joe's Beer Money" and took it very seriously and decided we aren't literary and never will be and wished a plague on us.)
Today I was reading Heinlein's James Forrestal Memorial Lecture at the Naval Academy from 1973 [printed in Analog, 1973] and bumped into Heinlein's "beer money:"
"What he [a writer] has for sale is a luxury; no one has to buy it.
I think of it as competing for beer money; this keeps me steady on course. My purpose is to make what I write entertaining enough to compete with beer. Not to be as great as Shakespeare or as immortal as Homer, but simply to write well enough to persuade the cash customer to spend money on one of my paperback reprints when he could spend it on beer."
I don't think going after beer money is such a bad thing. I find that a good story can teaches me at a visceral level rather than just having an intellectual knowledge from book learning.
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
Superman to renounce citizenship?
Sign of the times, perhaps.
"Goyer’s installment, with tense art from Miguel Sepulveda, steals the spotlight in Action Comics No. 900. When Superman drops in on an Iranian protest to stand with demonstrators in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, the U.S. government takes him to task for acting as an instrument of national policy. Superman responds by renouncing his American citizenship and proclaiming himself a citizen of the universe."
There was a time when the Americans were the good guys, and so was superman. Is the time rapidly approaching when we will have to choose between the ideology the authors of superman promote and our own country? I will choose the second, thank you very much.
I knew Kirk Alyn for a while. He spoke at a LASFS meeting and we later met for drinks. For a couple of years we'd go the the Bob Burns Halloween extravaganza; not sure I remember how we ended up going there together. He was the first movie (serial) superman, and he had to carry Lois and Jimmie and make it look as if he wasn't having problems doing that... I can't imagine him doing such a thing. On the other hand, I don't quite know how Superman got American citizenship in the first place. I do recall that he mostly stayed out of the war on the grounds that Americans had to win it for themselves or something like that. Nuclear war threats were always a problem for the Superman writers -- why did he let the USSR have any of the nasty things? But I'm sure it's a different crowd writing the strip now.
The Domino Project
I picked up Steven Pressfield's book, "Do the Work." It is part of the Domino Project founded by Seth Godin using Amazon.com
<http://www.thedominoproject.com/about> I don't know if it has merit for you.
Regards, Charles Adams
Haven't had time to look into it. Thanks/
This guy really dug his own grave and pulled the dirt in after him:
Calif. gangster's tattoo of crime scene helps solve murder
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Few go broke underestimating the intelligence of the average crook.
Subject: Royalty Chicanery
Perhaps you have already heard about this. If not, I suggest you check out Kathryn Rusch's recent post about royalty discrepancies. It appears that some publishers are vastly under-counting ebook sales. http://kriswrites.com/2011/04/20/the-business-rusch-royalty-statements-update/
Napoleon said, "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence." Perhaps that applies in this case. Perhaps not.
Cheers, Clyde Wisham
***"Government policy can impoverish people by keeping them from actively improving their lot." -- Harry Erwin***
Publishers have always underestimated sales and over estimated reserves for returns. Amazon is now reporting actual sales as they happen. This will change the publishing world....
April 29, 2011
I'm coming down with something
April 30, 2011
I took the day off
|This week:||Sunday, May
I have come down with something. Mail Monday.
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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).
Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.
I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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