[[[ It appears that this will be the last communication with Benny Peiser at CCNET, for reasons shown below. -- rdh ]]]

At 09:39 AM 5/16/01 +0100, CCNET wrote (item 13):


From Duncan Steel

Dear Benny,

Unfortunately the testimony by Richard S. Lindzen to a U.S. Senate committee carried today in CCNet 'Climate Change and Climate Scares' perhaps has the potential to offend a significant fraction of the people inhabiting the British Isles.

>To quote the great 19th Century English scientist, Lord Kelvin, "When you
>can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know
>something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express
>it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind."

Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) was an Ulsterman, born in Belfast (then - in 1824 - part of Ireland, period; now part of Northern Ireland). Although he was a student at Cambridge (that *is* in England) he worked most of his life at the University of Glasgow (that's in Scotland). For more information, see:


Duncan Steel

Dear Duncan Steel,

I am curious as to why you say (below) that the testimony by Richard S. Lindzen to a U.S. Senate committee (also shown below) might be found to be offensive to "a significant fraction" of people in the British Isles. Do you mean because he described Lord Kelvin as "English"? Can't they just laugh at us "dumb" Americans and get on with life without taking offense? Geez!

I must add that it seems a rather poor time to use such an indefinite term as "significant fraction". What portion of "people inhabiting the British Isles" do you think that would be? Lord Kelvin surely would not approve of such unspecific talk! (Unfortunately, such talk seems to fill nearly every article in Benny Peiser's newsletter, nearly every issue.)

I would think if 1 or 2 percent of the "people inhabiting the British Isles" are so easily offended, it's a "significant fraction" -- millions of people. But I wonder what percent you actually had in mind.

I should note that I'm still not sure why it would be an "offense" to call a -- what did you call him -- an Ulsterman (whatever that is!) -- English anyway. When I travel to foreign countries I'm not offended if someone mistakes me for being from somewhere (anywhere) in the British Isles, for example -- though perhaps I should be.

I might be offended if they think I'm (egads) a Republican, or if they think I'm in denial about Global Warming (like so many). But we're all people. Just people.


Russell Hoffman
abhorring imprecise speech and easily-offended weenies everywhere
Carlsbad, CA

At 10:34 AM 5/17/01 +0100, Duncan Steel wrote:

Dear Mr/Dr Hoffman,

I have received your message, which displays not only a remarkable level of ignorance, but also stupidity. If you do not know what an "Ulsterman" is, then you have nothing useful to contribute. If you do want to start to learn a few things, try looking into the history of Ireland, both the Republic and also Northern Ireland (i.e. Ulster). Then perhaps you will start to understand the root of the problem.

There are many millions of people, inhabitants of the British Isles, who are sick and fed up with everything good coming out of the place being described as being "English". This is offensive to many, many Scots, Welsh and Irish (north and south). And I write as someone who was born, and lives, in England.

Similarly, you write about 'us "dumb" Americans'. You should be aware that many of the other inhabitants of the Americas take offense to the glib appropriation by citizens of the United States to the term "Americans". To that extent you are indeed dumb, and display the sensitivity of a moose.

Northern Ireland and Scotland are proud to be associated with Lord Kelvin as one of their fine human products. That pride should not be dashed from their hands by the insensitivity and ignorance of others. Lord Kelvin was many things, but he was not English.

Yours sincerely,

Duncan Steel

[[[ I wonder what Steel thinks would happen if he went to Canada or Mexico and called them "Americans"? They would laugh at him and tell him "Americans" live in the next country over! The sensitivity of a moose? Hah! It's just the way the world is. We aren't "United Statians" for whatever reason. I'm sure no one else in either the Northern or Southern hemisphere on this side of "the pond" gives a rat's ass that "Americans" stole the name. It's more likely the land, the money, the human rights, the lives, etc. etc. that they care about our having stolen, or the French, the Spanish, the Portugese, or some other country having stolen. But when someone wants to pick a fight, they will choose any weapon and attack any percieved opening, regardless of the real logic of those choices. -- rdh ]]]
Dear Duncan Steel,

Rather than assume that an ULSTERMAN is from ULSTER -- an easy enough assumption -- or wherever -- I admitted that we "dumb Americans" -- whatever you want to call us -- wouldn't be likely to know -- or care.

I'm from Connecticut. Do you know what people from Connecticut are called? I bet you don't -- it's Connecticutian, in case you ever need it. Or you can call me a Connecticut Yankee if you like.

But instead of calling me proper names, I'd suggest you just crawl back into your Ivory Tower and be offended, as you clearly so desperately need to be.

We've got a history here too, and my folks that came over on the boat have a history too, and you must live in a pretty closed world to think every American needs or wants to know all the details of how your islands have fought each other and divided your lands and your peoples, over religion, politics, greed and 1000 other power plays throughout your bloody history.

Give Ireland back to the Irish. Give all those other lands back which you've stolen from the Africans, the Orientals, and everyone else, and then we might worry about whether one of you or any of your fellow King's Royal Subjects are from one part of "Merry olde England" or another.

Oh yeah, it's a Queen now. Well, whatever.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 05:50 PM 5/17/01 +0100, Benny Peiser wrote:
Dear Mr Hoffman

You will appreciate that I won't publish your extremist views and inflammatory letters on CCNet. As with similar hot-headed submissions in the past, I have to inform you that such tone and attacks have no place on CCNet.

Benny J Peiser

To: Peiser Benny
From: "Russell D. Hoffman"
Cc: Duncan Steel

Dear Benny Peiser,

Regarding your comments to me (shown below), I'm not sure I understand what you're talking about. Duncan Steel called me stupid, ignorant, offensive, and with nothing useful to contribute.

His original letter, which you published, was lacking in exactitude, the whole of my original complaint.

So my first question is, if you send this letter to me, what did you send to Duncan Steel? And why did you publish his first silly letter in the first place? What exactly did you find offensive in my second letter that was not, as my wife put it, merely "sinking to [his] level"? How else does one explain to someone so clueless about the relative unimportance of calling an "Ulsterman" -- Lord Kelvin (who made him a "Lord", anyway?) -- an Englishman, than to put it in the simplest of terms? Anyway, you'll note that Steel did not answer my question (in my first letter) as to what percentage he actually thinks will be offended. I've tried to get people to put some real numbers on things before, as you might know. Lord Kelvin had it right.

But aside from this immediate matter, your letter to me refers to a more general attitude of yours towards me and my letters. Most of what you don't publish that I send you opposes the use of nuclear materials in space, and compares your concern about natural space debris that might impact Earth with your lackadaisical attitude towards any and all things nuclear. This is exactly my point to Duncan Steel -- language should be as precise as possible, but there are far more important issues at stake than the political tensions in Britain (England? What is the proper term anyway?). I don't care about these fine points and I don't think he or you should either. Certainly, THAT's what didn't belong in CCNET in the first place.

On the other hand, you should be worrying about nukes in space. About Cassini and the fact that it could become, any moment of any day now, the most concentrated mass of dead asteroid circling the sun along with us that there is -- and YOU put it there! You should be worrying about the problem of exponentially increasing amounts of manmade space debris, and the collisions of that debris and the debris already in orbit with radioactive payloads already there or planned. And about our failure to develop WORKABLE anti-Earth-impacting-object technology.

It really is too bad for humanity, that so many of the contrivances proposed for asteroid-busting can also be used as weapons of mass destruction against Earthlings. If you turn these bombs against an asteroid, a city-killer becomes a planet saver, and "glory be to the men who made them". Teller dreams of this opportunity, no doubt, and speaks of it often.

Well, first of all, nudging the asteroids gently rather than exploding them into fragments is a far better plan, but it requires finding them much, much sooner. But there are other problems with the nuclear solution, problems which you always ignore. Terrorists can already get nuclear materials blow up who-knows-where. There are unsolved problems disposing of the 100,000 nuclear weapons that have been built over the years. There are unsolved problems cleaning up the factories that built them. My guess is that of the top 50 polluted places on Earth, all of them are nuclear. These are just some of the serious drawbacks to nuclear solutions.

It is a political decision of yours not to publish what I write, and if it irritates me occasionally and that irritation comes out in my writing, well so be it and I think any reasonable person would not blame me.

Take for example that piece of mine you DID publish part of, that the science editor from TIME magazine responded to so viciously. You did a horrible job of editing my document, indeed taking out what I would call the exactitude of my arguments. And correct me if I'm wrong, but you published ALL of his vicious and unwarranted, and utterly sanctimonious and unscientific, response. You are *not* fair, Dr. Peiser. You are not fair to me, but worse you are not fair to science. Science needs to ask the questions I ask. It needs to consider Sellafield, for example, and all the pollution it causes, when it wonders if nuclear solutions are worth the price. My viewpoints are not extreme, other than sometimes being extremely different from yours. Aside from the fact that we both want better Earth-impacting asteroid detection, our views generally seem to differ. That fact alone seems to be the true reason for your censorship of my views. Calling my views "extremist" is, I dare say, your way of justifying, in your own mind, your censorship of those views.

I remember being in Washington DC in the mid-80's, and hearing two gentlemen from NASA speak about the data they were collecting on Global Warming. They were, as I recall, the two who actually first claimed to HAVE data which appeared to correlate with the phenomena. I recall that they were pretty sure even then that they had significant numbers.

And since then, I've heard a lot of hot air on the subject from both sides. It amazes me when you publish articles about places where cooling is happening, as if that disproves the theory of Global Warming in any way at all. Statistically it does no such thing. In fact, Global Warming, if it's happening, would produce among other effects a greater turbulence of weather patterns large and small, new average paths over the Earth for the Jet Stream -- perhaps it will eliminate it altogether as time goes on, or cause multiple jet streams, or places with large swirling winds -- who really knows? -- but there will be places which were warm which will now be cool, that's for sure. All Global Warming models predict this.

You are not the first to censor the anti-nuclear opinion. That you also have taken the stand that Global Warming is without scientific merit is interesting, but for me a side-show. The nuclear issue is far more important and I've interviewed far more scientists on it.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

P.S.: Not to put to fine a point on it, since I know you and Steel will only tell me that only an OXFORD'S DICTIONARY will do, but the first definition of Kelvin in my WEBSTER'S ENCYCLOPEDIC UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1996, Random House) is as follows: "William Thompson, 1st Baron, 1824-1907, English physicist and mathematician." I'd have to look up exactly what a Baron is, of course. Being American, we don't go much for titles here in the States.

Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 08:50:45 -0700
From: "Russell D. Hoffman"
Subject: censorship
To: Peiser Benny

To whom it may concern,

If anyone wonders whether Benny Peiser is honorable or not, his response to my letter was to remove me from his listserv:

At 09:14 AM 5/19/01 +0100, Benny Peiser wrote:
"You have been removed from the list 'cambridge-conference'"

It must be nice to be judge, jury, and executioner, and high-handed and deaf at the same time.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

[[[ It is interesting to note that there are only two lists (thus far (2001)) I've ever been dropped off of without my asking. FCPJ's is the other one. -- rdh ]]]
To: Benny J Peiser
From: "Russell D. Hoffman"
Subject: References...
Cc: Duncan Steel

Dear Sirs,

New York Public Library Science Desk Reference pg 283 (1995 edition):
"The scale is named after the nineteenth-century British scientist Lord Kelvin (born William Thomson)."

Britain... England -- what's the difference? Is Australia part of Great Britain? India? Ireland? Scotland? Is it important?

Great Feuds in Science -- Hal Hellman, John Wiley & Sons, 1998:
"At Kelvin's death in 1907, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, next to Newton and near his old foe, Darwin."

Forgive me for asking, but isn't Westminster Abbey in London (England)?

"Can you measure it?" asks Lord Kelvin in Great Feuds, continuing: "Can you express it in figures? Can you make a model of it? If not, your theory is apt to be based more upon imagination than upon knowledge." The book states that he became "Lord" for a way to guide the laying of a "...successful transatlantic undersea telegraph cable between England and the United States...". I mention this as it is just these transatlantic communications you have disrupted so inappropriately.

Thomson's debates over the age of the Earth are described thusly, "Although the frustrations of Thomson's opponents may well be imagined, and in spite of what may sound now like some pretty strong language, the disputant somehow managed to co-exist and to maintain reasonably good relations, right up to the end of the century." (my italics.) By then Kelvin seems to have thought his view might be "too limited" (he was right about that).

Censorship and exclusionary tactics are serious transgressions of social norms, not to be soon forgotten, and not the least bit humorous. A disgusting end to what should have been a triviality, other than Duncan Steel owing YH&OS an apology or two.

Gentlemen, I am confident that both your names will be scorned by history for your actions towards me this week, and yours, Dr. Benny Peiser, the more so, for your repetitious exclusionary actions over the years.


Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA



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