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View 427 August 14 - 20, 2006

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Monday August 14, 2006

Who Won?

The ceasefire happened. Both sides claim victory. Who won?

Whoever it was, the Lebanese people lost. The Christians and Druze lost.

The IDF demonstrated that it is not invincible, and will not take many casualties to achieve total victory. Hizbollah survived and showed it can fight and fight hard. Yesterday there were hundreds of rockets fired into Israel; today none, showing that Hizbollah has command and control in that region. Neither the soldier captured in Gaza nor the two taken at the Lebanon border have been returned, and there will be negotiations.

Those are the facts. We will be analyzing all that for weeks.

The question remains, how much of this is our business? What is the national interest of the United States in the Middle East, and in particular in Lebanon, Syria, and Mesopotamia?

And two Fox News employees have been kidnapped in Gaza. What will all that mean?

====

Copied from the Sunday View:

Cease fire announced:

Subject: Sometimes, it sucks to be right...

As I'm sure Ralph Peters is thinking. In terms of what the Israelis were doing, it's clear that he was right, and I was wrong. Ditto for your argument that if the Israeli government wasn't willing to do the damn job (I'm abridging and paraphrasing), it didn't make sense to respond seriously.

Wish it were the other way around. And not particularly because I like to be right.

Joel Rosenberg

Alas.

===============

The Media are declaring victory for Hizbollah. Hizbollah is celebrating. Israel is coming home, and will disband much of the army (as they must; the reservists are essential to the Israeli economy).

================

I have mixed emotions about the Great Cell Phone Plot. I see no reason why any terrorist would buy 80 cell phones at a Wal-Mart. And were I planning on a bridge as a terror target, I would want explosives, not cell phones. It looks to me as if we are trumpeting a triumph when in fact it was all a tempest in a teapot (except for the poor chaps who wanted to make a little money on cell phone sales). But, having said that, I can see why the police wanted to find out more about these people. It's just a shame that the media got involved.

=================

Hizbollah is patrolling the southern suburbs of Lebanon, and openly policing the area, directing traffic, and providing security.

===============

What is a state within a state? What must one do to demonstrate that one is in control of a territory?

 Yet as Fehrenback long ago observed, you can fly over the land, you can bomb the land, you can render the land uninhabitable, but you don't own it until you can stand a 17 year old kid with a rifle on top of it.

Hezbollah has its soldiers with rifles on much of Southern Lebanon,

============================

Terror Alert

Morning Jerry,

Here's a great article by Bruce Schneier about the events last week. His point is that the only way to stop terrorists is to target them - not the tools of their trade, because those are easy to change.

http://www.startribune.com/562/story/609687.html 

I note in passing that the same argument applies to gun control, drug control, etc.

Cheers,

Doug

Indeed, and it is pretty well what I have been saying for a long time. And I note that you can buy a lot of intelligence for the cost of a very small war and occupation.

===================

Some NeoCons are now saying that Bush betrayed Israel by allowing a cease fire. I fail to see how this makes any sense at all? If Israel wanted to continue the war they would have continued the war, would they not?

But the skyrockets and fireworks celebrate the Hizbollah victory.

 

 

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006   

  Most of the action yesterday was in Mail, except for my observations about Lebanon.

Today I have considerable mail about the aftermath of the Lebanese War, and I will get that posted shortly.

Meanwhile, I have a question. I have been reading the CNET accounts of the Linux World convention, which I had intended to get to this year before many other events conflicted, and I followed some links to a story about Internet Security:

http://news.com.com/Why+Internet+security+continues+
to+fail/2010-7355_3-6104903.html?tag=nefd.pulse

  I have read that three times now, and I cannot understand what is being said that one would want to publish. I must be missing something, but I don't know what. Am I just getting very dense?

================

And I found this while searching for something else. It's still useful and many of you will never have seen it:

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/alt.mail/infantry.html

===============

Subject: Internet security article

You're not dense, and that's not a technical article. It makes no firm recommendations, it offers no solutions, its complaints are vague yet ominous. Thus, it's an editorial. Of course, it also reads like a DHS pronouncement. Perhaps the gent is bucking for a job there?

Wave at the article as it goes by.

best,

Brian

Oh. Good. I was beginning to think I'd lost something. A week of migraine -- I am beginning to think that's what it is -- will do that to you.

 

 

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Wednesday,  August 16, 2006

Regarding the terrorist shampoo:

Subject: Finally...

...somebody who's actually studying this sort of thing weighs in with at least the start of an analysis:

http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200608/msg00087.html 

(via BoingBoing)

Dean Riddlebarger

Which comes pretty close to my conclusions on first hearing of this.

[Let me break here on Thursday, August 17, to say that you will want to read all of this including Carmack down below before forming conclusions. Please.]

My recollections of liquid monopropellant and miscible two part liquid explosives are from long ago. I recall in High School discussing this stuff with Allan Cleveland, my partner in the founding of the Science Club; we made a number of evil and forbidden chemicals -- I had made nitroglycerine a couple of years before and survived so I was an expert --but we concluded that acetone peroxides were unstable and dangerous and we'd be better off playing with other horrors that would, I make no doubt, have got us locked up forever as Ultramontane terrorists under present regulations and the Patriot Act.

If this be the best that a bunch of England-born Muslim terrorists can come up with even after training in terrorist camps and schools, we can all relax. I make no doubt whatever that 90% of the readers of this web site know how to bring down an airplane provided that we don't plan on living through the event. Whether we would be good enough actors to bring it off given observation of the incoming passengers by competently trained security agents is another matter; but I don't know anyone silly enough to believe he could mix enough acetone peroxide to do real damage to the airplane. It's not that you can't make enough to do it, it's that it wants to explode, and keeping it from going off before you have made enough to do real damage is extremely difficult. It's not just pouring two agents together and shaking...

We seem to have opted for Security Theater, not for real security. I am not sure why. But the Brits are finally beginning to consider some realities, in the face of the enormous blow to the economy that the Great Acetone Peroxide Scare has wreaked.

Next month it will be another rumor, and another, until we shut down our economy.

**  I will let the above stand, but it's wrong.

FOR ACCOUNTS ON PEROXIDES based on experience see John Carmak below. The stuff can be more stable and thus more dangerous than I supposed.

It doesn't change my opinion that we are doing far more damage to ourselves than the terrorists are capable of, and that we'll continue to do that.

 

===================

Byte Refugees take note:

Subject: David Em In Nepal (on TechRevu)

Jerry, et al,

I'm sure you know David Em took off for Nepal with Michele and Griffin, a few weeks back. I got him some gear via TechRevu, and he's writing up the trip for me in return. I just put up his first piece and thought you might like to see it. Pretty interesting trip so far, and its just getting started.

Ernest Lilley

TechRevu (www.techrevu.com)

==================

Regarding your laptop battery: don't panic. The chances that your battery will catch fire are small. If it really worries you, don't recharge your laptop. Use a luggable. Or don't leave home, because acetone peroxide is out there waiting for you. Stay home and use a desktop tower, and be sure the sprinkler system is on in your office.

http://news.com.com/Dell+to+recall+4+million
+batteries/2100-1044_3-6105486.html?tag=nl.e404

but see also

http://news.com.com/Can+anything+tame+the+
battery+flames/2100-11398_3-6105924.html?tag=st.txt.caro
=========================

Subject: C/Net "Security" Article

I too read the article and didnít notice any actual information. This comment would explain it, though:

http://news.com.com/5208-7355-0.html?forumID
=1&threadID=20201&messageID=174427&start=-1 

Gene Horr

Aha, but why did they publish it?

================================

More on Peroxide and explosives:

Subject: peroxide explosives

>but I don't know anyone silly enough to believe he could
>mix enough acetone peroxide to do real
>damage to the airplane

I can't say for sure about acetone peroxides, but I can say for sure about some other organic peroxide mixtures. When we started out working with high concentration peroxide as a rocket fuel, we conducted a number of tests to determine how dangerous it really was, because most accounts that you hear aren't from first hand experience, but instead are a collection of exaggerations of rumors from uncontrolled circumstances.

One of the tests we did involved detonation of 98% peroxide / methanol mixtures. There is no reaction at all to the mixing, and it most certainly is a powerful high explosive. We detonated it with a blasting cap, but we have some reports from the 50's that graph the sensitivity of a few different organic peroxide mixtures that show the experimentally derived breaks between can't-be-detonated, detonated-with-blasting-cap, detonated-with-impact, and detonated-with-spark. Peroxide-acetone was reported as touchier than any of the other mixtures, but you could certainly pour the two chemicals together with the expectation of mixing them before blowing yourself up. Adding sulfuric acid would be pointless.

We made dozens of rocket flights and hundreds of engine tests with a mixed-monopropellant consisting of 50% concentration peroxide and methanol, which many people thought was suicide based on misinformed lore. That particular mixture was just past the can't-detonate-even-with-a-blasting-cap line.

John Carmack

Which is definitive. I didn't comment on all this earlier because my experiences were fifty years old and memories fade. John has done far more recent work on this. And I did wonder a bit about the sulfuric acid, which I hadn't remembered as being needed.

As I have said many times: just about every reader of this site will know of a way to bring down an airplane provided that he doesn't mind going down with it. If one mechanism doesn't do it, another will. And I would think that this knowledge can't be confined; if anyone knows, then potentially every terrorist knows. Security by censorship doesn't generally work for long.

I have never worked with highly concentrated peroxides, so I have no direct knowledge of how easy they are to mix with other liquids; but Carmack has done this. See also MAIL.

And understand that this stuff is dangerous.

=======================

Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50902

=============================

 

 

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

I have many errands today and tomorrow, so updates here will be sporadic at best. My aches and pains have eased off something wonderful.

==========

Death to Caps Lock.

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,71606-0.html 

--- Roland Dobbins

Long time readers will know I have always thought Caps Lock ought to be on a key switch, or up above the function keys, so you will not strike it inadvertently. On my keyboards I take some foam rubber and stuff it under the Caps Lock key. That way I can activate it by pushing hard enough, but an accidental strike leaves it harmless.

=======

 

 

 

 

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Illegally Blonde

For those with any fingers left after checking out your cautionary discourse on peroxide chemistry

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2006/05/30/
things_i_wont_work_with_frisky_perchlorates.php

Russell Seitz

===

Subject: WiFi exploit

Hello.

"...To date, SecureWorks has not shared or demonstrated any code in relation to the Black Hat-demonstrated exploit that is relevant to the hardware and software that we ship."

http://www.varbusiness.com/sections/news/breakingnews.jhtml?articleId=192201898 

No clear answer, just more questions. Is there a a vulnerability in the centrino chipset, the firmware, or in the drivers? Most troubling, is why have they not turned over code and a how to for verification to allow the issue to be fixed?

M.

Which is all I know on the subject.

===============

Apologies to all those who newly subscribed and have not heard from me. I am at the beach place, but caught up in the Writers of the Future awards. I have been told I am to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award tonight. Yesterday I spent much time hanging out with old friends, including Ann McCaffrey and Fred Pohl and Yoji Kondo and Kevin Anderson, and a lot of others. Apologies to those I didn't name. I also did a lecture for the new writers. Part of what Mr. Heinlein called Paying Forward.

Tonight is the award itself. This means being in black tie for dinner, so not a lot will get done today.

==================

Summer schedules and some long overdue thanks:

I'll be sending the Letter from England on August 22. I'll post a short report on an August weekend in London to my blog at about the same time.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw>  Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php

One of the "features" that have grown up since I started this site is the Letter from England. The world is big (duh!) and much goes on; too much to follow. I try to put up "filtered" information: that is, to call attention to important events that haven't made conventional headlines but which are important, often furnishing details that make some sense of the headlines. No one can do all that, but with the assistance of people like Roland Dobbins, Harry Erwin, Peter Glaskowsky, Rick Hellewell, and many other intelligent observers I manage to keep up with my own education -- something I must do. Writing is not a full time job, nor can it be. By the very nature of what we have built here this "intelligence filter" which works to my benefit is available to everyone else who reads this place.

My thanks to all those who contribute regularly or irregularly to this site and thus to my continuing education...

As for instance, coincidentally, some details about Arctic surveying from Neil Frandson, who has been there...

================

Subject: Cheyenne Mountain closing?

 <http://www.syfyportal.com/news.php?id=2821

Jerry:

Are they nuts? Close the best - protected place on the planet? Close Petersen instead. ("Course, nobody asked me.)

Steve

Nor did they consult me. Ah, well.

==========

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

I'll have a bit of a report on the Writers of the Future show, with pictures, for Monday. A good time was had by all. Now that I have a Lifetime Achievement Award, do I have to achieve anything else?

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Last day here. Going home tomorrow. New segment of column at Chaos Manor Reviews tomorrow. Family here. All's well.

 

 

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This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending.  (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If  you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.

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