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Mail 106 June 19 - 25, 2000


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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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This week:



Monday  June 19, 2000

I put up a lot of mail last night, so be sure to check last week, Sunday.


Regarding moving rules in Outlook. It can be done. Just had to this last weekend in fact, since I moved to a 40GB drive and was forced to reinstall my OS's for no good reason.

Look for a directory called "outlook" -- the path below is where W2K puts mine, but W98 will differ. This directory contains several files, including Rules, Junk Senders (which is 33K in my case), Adult Content list, Exception list, and even the color rules if you've defined any (which I like to use to color-code my Inbox).

h:\documents and settings\administrator\application data\microsoft\outlook

When you do a new install, just install Office 2000 and run Outlook to establish the default settings. Then close it and copy the contents of your old directory containing the old files into the newly created directory, overwriting the few files that are there. When you run Outlook next, it will be very much as you remember it, with all the above items intact.

I didn't explain the trick above about getting OL2000 to point to your old PST file, since I know you've done that before. I do it by simply deleting the new PST file, and when Outlook runs next it will realize that and ask you for the path to a PST file -- at which point you simply point it to your real one.

Rick Seiler

Thanks. As it happens I recreated the rules, most of them, although I seem to have a problem with their order since some messages now show up in more than one place. I shoulda done it your way..






This week:



Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Subject: Request for the collective Brain/Searching for a Work Macro

>From Dan Smith (


I was hoping to get your help in search the collective brain of your readers. I am helping out G. Harry Stine's widow, Barb. She is doing medical transcription using Word and wants a macro that will count the number of lines in a word document that have text on them. Word has a function that will count the number of lines but it includes blank lines and Barb doesn't get paid for those.

There is a program out there that will do this, but $120 dollars for the macro seems a little excessive to me and her. I was hoping that one of your readers would know of such a macro or could whip one up quick. It doesn't seem hard, but my current Visual Basic (VB) skills are non-exsistant so I could be wrong.

Thanks in advance for the help

Dan Smith

My old editor, WRITE, used to have word, line, and paragraph counts and display them in a small table that gave them before the cursor, after the cursor, and total. When Symantec tried to wean me away from WRITE to Q&;A Write, I insisted they put that function into the editor, and they did. I forget why I never inveigled Chris Peters to put it into WORD while I had the chance. But surely a simple  blank line counter would not be hard to make? Since WORD counts lines, but as you say, counts blanks ones as well, that's all that's needed. Alas, I haven't time this morning to figure out how to make one, but tell Barb once we get Phil's ship off to the Gulf and get back home I'll figure it out if someone here hasn't come up with one first.

When G. Harry Stine died he had more than enough intimate personal friends with professional talents to write his appreciation for SFWA and the other places such miniature essays go, so I didn't do one then. I marked it down as a future project at the time, but that got lost in a flurry of deadlines and a change from one PIM to another, and I never did. I still haven't time to do it right. Some people you can dash off a few words and be done with it. Harry was too important for that.

Harry Stine was a few years older than me; I forget whether I was in high school or college when I read "Galactic Gadgeteers", which like all his science fiction was written under the pen name Lee Correy. Amazon shows none of his fiction still in print but a lively auction for a few of his books. Harry never was as good at the business of writing as he was at just turning it out. When I first started we had the same agent, Lurton Blassingame: I was lucky enough to get on with Lurton courtesy of Robert Heinlein who recommended me, and I've been with that agency ever since. I was astonished (perhaps I ought to say astounded?) a few years later to find Harry had a different agent, and then another, but since Lurton and later his successors were my close friends as well as business associates, I never discussed any of that with Harry. Perhaps I should have, because he was as important a writer in the science fiction field as any of us. Like me, he was a rather straightforward writer -- neither of us go in for the kind of metaphors and images that get writing prizes -- but he picked important subjects and he wrote clearly about them. I consider his The Third Industrial Revolution an essential for understanding the future of space development. I am stupefied that an important work like that is out of print. 

Harry was not only a member of the Citizen's Advisory Council that I ended up chairing, but a founder. There was a spacecraft encounter at JPL in 1980, just after the election I think. Harry suggested He conceived the group more as a policy shop with popular influence than I did. After we convened this meeting but before it met, Duke Kane was tasked to do the transition team papers on space for Reagan, and the meeting was expanded into a bunch of policy people. Otherwise, it might have become a new space advocacy outfit, the way Harry wanted it, in which case he'd probably have been chairman rather than me.

Harry stayed on with Phil Chapman in trying to keep the L5 Society alive after a coup that transformed it into a wonk shop and a career ladder for certain people. I wished him well and got on with other things. I wish he'd succeeded.

He woke me up with the news of the Challenger disaster. That wasn't the most pleasant phone call I ever got. As usual, Harry was focused: what do we do now to keep space from looking like a disaster? At the time it wasn't as clear as later that the remedy was simple. Don't fly when it's too blooking cold...

All of which shows why it's not easy to dash off a few lines about someone who was a genuine pioneer in space development. More another time. Any help for Barb appreciated.

> Word has a function that will count the number of lines but it includes blank lines and Barb doesn't get paid for those.

Okay, assuming that a hard Enter ends a line and that a blank line is simply the result of pressing hard Enter twice, here's a workaround that's kind of kludgy, but it's free and easy enough to do:

1. Complete the document and save it. 

2. Use Word's count feature (Tools->Word Count) to get the count of total lines, which includes blank lines. Write down that count. 

3. Place the cursor at the very top of the document and choose Edit->Replace to bring up the Search-and-Replace dialog. 

4. If necessary, expand the dialog (More) to show the Special button. 

5. Tell Word to search for Special->Paragraph Mark occuring twice in a row (^p^p) and replace it with any character (I use ~). 

6. Word returns the total number of replacements. Subtract that number from the total number of lines from step 2. above to get the total number of non-blank lines. 

7. Exit the document without saving. -- Robert Bruce Thompson

Actually, you can replace ^p^p with ^p^p and get the count. And it wouldn't be hard to build a macro that got the line count, the blank line count, and subtracted one from the other. But that will certainly count blank lines, assuming there are no triple blanks in the document. Substitution: find ^p^p^p and replace with ^p^p and keep doing that until there are no more, then ^p^p with ^p^p will certainly get a blank line count...

There are probably more elegant ways, but that will sure do it.

See also below. 





Subject: Answers to Reader Problems in Mail 105

1. "Mobile rack" AKA "Drive sleds", removable mounting systems for IDE and SCSI HDs, cited at  I know I've seen them cheaper than here but can't recall where. 

2. What every NT consultant must have (cited at )

(shown here in no particular order) 

A. Booting DOS from Win9x so you can read FAT and FAT32 drives. 

B. The FAT32 drivers from NT from Systems Internals as well as their BlueSave (BSOD recorder), ERD Commander (improved Emergency Recovery), NT Recover, NT Locksmith, NTFS DOS Pro (to read/write to NTFS from DOS), NTFS for Win9x, Remote Recovery, SDelete. 

C. The eight diskette set to install Windows for Workgroups 3.11: Seems strange, but if you need to get on an M$ LAN to find \i386 and run NT Setup from another PC on the LAN, WFWG 3.11 can be much better at sleuthing mystery NICs. 

D. DriveImagePro 3.02 and PartitionMagic 5.01 from PowerQuest .

E. NT workstation and NT server install directories (i.e., \i386 &; below, drvlib &; below) and service packs 3, 4, 5 and 6a on a CD-R. 

F. 3C905B and 3C509 NICs with drivers on floppy, in case you get stuck with a mystery NIC that WFWG can't sleuth. 

G. EasyCleaner from  plus M$ RegClean and RegMaid for registry cleanup. 

H. EnZip , Win32 ZIP archive freeware, plus PKZIP25 and PKZIP/PKUNZIP shareware from  If all you can do is a floppy backup to get data out of a dying system, PKZIP for DOS is your best tool for data recovery. 

I. The M$ NT Server System Resource Kit. 

J. "CD-ROM GOD"  which allows you to try and try again from a single DOS boot to sleuth out the CD drive and the proper drivers for it. K. Portable parallel-port-attached CD-RW drive with DOS and NT drivers.

= John Bartley, PC syadmin, Portland OR Views expressed herein are mine own. "We should call this Day One of Year One." RAH to Uncle Walter, 1969-07-20. See  for a comprehensive review of NT defragmentation.


Jerry, As you know, Harry and I were friends. I met him in the late '70s, around 77 or 78 (don't remember when) and we were immediate friends. That was years before I got involved with the L5 Society.

I came to lean on Harry for advice and knowledge. He'd been a lot of places and done a bunch of stuff I would have liked to do: worked at White Sands on V2s, for instance, and wrote a bunch of books I admired: Third Industrial Revolution, The Hopeful Future, Confrontation in Space, Handbook of Model Rocketry. When I was tapped to be editor of the Journal of Practical Applications in Space, he was one of the people I could call just about any time for a quick reality-check. I came to lean on his depth of experience -- and his Rolodex. (Jerry Pournelle and Dr. Yoji Kondo were also a tremendous help to me then.)

When I moved from DC to Arizona, Harry put me on the Arizona Space Commission as an unofficial but very enthusiastic member. When I moved from Arizona to California to work for Rotary Rocket, Harry continued to provide technical background, moral support and excellent advice. Alas that he passed away before I could secure for him a ride on a private rocketship into space. I really wanted to give him that gift, my way of saying "Thank you" for supporting me and believing in me and being my friend. I miss Harry very much.

At XCOR Aerospace we have a portrait of Harry Stine hanging in our test facility; it's a print of the painting by Alan Gutierrez. He'll keep us honest and on track: commercial rockets for commercial markets: safe, reliable, affordable, so we can open the frontier for everyone.

Thanks for reminding me that I need to keep "paying forward," as Harry used to urge me to do. Harry needs to be remembered so that we don't neglect the future.

Aleta Jackson

A linecount Macro Thanks to Milton Pope. And more to follow. See also below.






This week:



Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Dear Jerry,

Noted your mention of WS_FTP. I also use that, and I'm delighted with it. No muss, no fuss, no bother. "It Just Works." Why do you use FP's synchronization, rather than WS_FTP's sync module? (I have never used it, due to stern warnings about sync hazards) Is FP's sync module somehow better than WS_FTP's, at least for your purposes?


JHR -- [JHR, for The Warlock] Dawn is nature's way of saying it's bedtime.

I confess I never tried that mode. FrontPage is just peculiar enough that I haven't dared.  But perhaps I should.

Jerry, a search on Northern Light turned up this:

This board is for MTs to discuss line-measuring methods by which to judge amount of transcription work fairly.  <>

Tracy Walters, Networking Rocky Mountain Technology Group 

Great. Thanks! Then there's this

Hi Jerry,

Re: the line count, a much simpler way in "Word" is to go to extras/ word count and then sum:

Words, Characters (without empty spaces) Paragraphs

then divide this sum by 55 and you have the number of lines. This is the standard method of counting lines used in the translating business here in Europe. (If you can negotiate less than 55, so much the better!)

Stay well and thanks for all the info.

Regards Tony Brown

I would think number of lines depends on the line length and that's variable. I always tried to do 60 character lines when I was writing on a typewriter. But you can set any line length..

The average English word is 5 characters and a space, or 6 total.

Some mail you just like to get. I missed this on Father's Day being at the beach, and just spotted it. It was entitled "Father's Day"

Dr. Pournelle, I send you this getting in remembrance of the good times. When I was a teenager with no father of my own, you were there to give me and many other boys your experience, motivation and guidance. With your help I have become a military veteran, nature and technology conscious, and a Doctorate holder myself. I would like to thank you for being involved in scouting. I am one or just the many boys that you have guided to manhood through your dedication, tolerance, and kindness. With men and fathers like you out there the world can only get better. You might not remember me, I was in scouts when your sons Frank and Philip were I also went to the 1981National Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill Thank you again and Happy Father's day.

James ---, D.C.

I have got a number of letters from my former Scouts recently. Good to hear from them.








This week:


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Thursday, June 22, 2000

Home and cleaning up to get ready to go to New York. Sigh. I am weary of travel. Anyway, here are some items in my "to be posted" stack.

Here's an interesting one from Roland that I missed last week. It's an interesting link to the economics of record publishing: 

I am no fan of Salon, but sometimes they sneak in some interesting information.

Out of print they may be, but I find almost 200 copies of books by G. Harry Stine (including _The Third Industrial Revolution_) available at the web site.


But then there is this:

> Out of print they may be, but I find almost 200 copies of books by G. Harry Stine (including _The Third Industrial Revolution_) available at the web site.

I suggest avoiding Alibris. They are basically a broker. When you find an out-of-print book there and order it, they simply turn around and order it from the bookstore that actually has it. That bookstore ships it to Alibris, who then ships it to you. In addition to paying more to fund Alibris's cut, you pay twice for shipping (directly or indirectly), and the book takes longer to arrive. Alibris wants to make sure, you see, that you don't know who the bookseller is and that the bookseller doesn't know who you are.

A much better source for used and OOP books is They offer you the option to do it either way. If you'd rather not trust a book dealer that you don't know, you can order the book directly from ABEbooks and they'll have it drop-shipped to you. If you prefer to deal directly with the bookseller, you can order it directly from the bookstore which actually has the book you want. ABEbooks provides contact information, including the web URL when available, for the folks who actually have the book you want.

Back before they changed their name and ownership, Alibris was a pretty good outfit. But I wouldn't order anything from them now. ABEbooks is the way to go.


-- Robert Bruce Thompson

In my case I generally deal with book stores, but I HAVE most out of print books it turns out I want. Including all of Harry's, most of them signed.




On Web Servers:

Building the server is the easy part. Designing a good site is the hard part. You are familiar with our company site (I am making search changes to make it easier to find stuff at the moment). We have a dual PIII 650 with 256 MB ECC SDRAM, and a 26 GB striped set of SCSI drives to serve up the data, running WindowsNT 4.0 and IIS 4. Many people also forget the other needs besides a web server. You need a decent name server and mail server as well. NT can handle this too, though my recommendation is not to put all your eggs in one basket. So, I built a Pentium 200 with 64 MB RAM and a 4.3 GB ATA HDD, running RedHat Linux 6.0 to be the name server and mail server. Building that was easy. The hard part was site design. Eventually, we chose Homesite as our editor, and also use Photoshop for images and mapedit for the few image maps I have done. I am a little graphics challenged, but for the most part, site coding isn't hard, it's the "killer design" that eludes me.

My recommendation (as a professional in this field, which just means I get paid for it): if you have lots of free time, no deadlines, and your time isn't too valuable to you- go ahead and build your own. However, if you'd rather just have it done, or don't have the time, on a deadline, etc., pay somebody to do it. One cannot swing a cat anymore without hitting a "web designer", and even some of the smallest communities have hosting services nearby.

George Laiacona III <> ICQ 37042478/ 28885038 "It's OK to abandon your principles, if you're doing right." "If you have enough ammo, it doesn't matter how badly you aim." -Axly Suregrip

Incidentally, that last little humorous blurb is good thinking: one the answers to decoys in defense against ICBM: have enough ammunition to waste them all, decoys, warheads, booster bus, anything up there. With a laser have enough power to raster the threat tube. Use directed debris (junk fired by a nuclear weapon) to sterilize threat tubes (ICBM's have to travel through a quite predictable area if they are to get from launch site to target).

If you have enough ammo, target discrimination isn't very important. The software is simple, too: Over this area, if it's there, burn it.

I seem to have got a lot of mail on this. I suppose I should be flattered that an off hand comment to an addendum to a letter generates that much comment, but it also means I don't get to make off-hand comments.

If you have enough ammo: This can carry over into other combats as well. Obviously I'd rather have troops who can shoot straight and hit what they are aiming at, but in WW II only about 20% of the troops in the front lines ever fired their weapons at all. Better to have them spray and pray than do nothing.  Better yet of course is training to have troops who both fire and hit what they are aiming at. In any event, I hadn't intended to start a philosophical discussion about all forms of combat.  When the goal is to take out something that might cost 8 million lives, and the alternatives are to raster the target area or do nothing, I know which I would do -- especially if I am in the end target area.

For God's sake, it was a CONDITIONAL.  I*F* YOU HAVE ENOUGH ammo.  Is there anyone in this world who thinks I am so blooking dumb that I don't know there are logistics problems involved? Or that any reader is that dumb? Fine.

Most of this mail quotes Jeff Cooper, on "you can't miss fast enough." Well, for individuals in combat, that is certainly true. Old gunfighters understood that the first aimed shot was the one that won the fight. Usually. Unless you carried a shotgun at close range. Carried to its conclusion the "don't fire for effect" rule would preclude shotguns, no? The fact is that infantry combat is quite different from individual or police combat and gunfighting. Different tactics apply, and what is best depends on a lot of stuff.

Sure, the simple way to win is to take out all the other guy's officers and non-coms and the few remaining heroes.  In war everything is very simple. Unfortunately, the simplest things are very difficult...

The Army's problem has been for a long time that getting a troop to the lines, keeping him there, feeding him, etc., is expensive in logistics. If he doesn't fight at all, he's costing a lot. That is the dilemma that led to some of the modern ammunition-expensive tactics.  I have about 200 books on the subject, and reams of data on effectiveness, and that wasn't the discussion I wanted to comment on.

IF.  IF YOU HAVE.  IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH.  If you don't, you need different tactics. Gollies.

Duelling Macros:

I looked at the line count macro you put up. Very interesting! He and I solved the problem two totally different ways.

Mine is probably more efficient (although I suspect no one will ever notice or care). Mine also has the feature that it warns you if you selected text, so you won't think it is counting the selection.

But his could, with a little work, be made to count the selected text, which is the way I think the macro should work: if there is a selection, count lines in it; otherwise do the whole document. My approach doesn't lend itself to that (hence the warning instead of a count). -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

I did put up a page for them, and I'll add to them as time goes on. There were others, but these two ought to be Good Enough.

Due to a family tragedy Jim Baen, my sometimes publisher and very long time friend, did a lot of research on the "fountain of middle age". It wasn't what he started looking for, but it is one of the things he found. I'm older than Jim but we are both about the same physiological age which is perhaps 20 years younger than I am. Here is one of his notes on the subject. Do understand you read this as an adult, we give no medical advice, and if you kill yourself fooling around with vitamins don't blame us: our official word is that if you do this you will kill yourself. How long it takes may vary.

Sigh. Why does it take so long for the simplest things to be got straight? I mean, it isn't really _the_ simplest thing, but it's a long way from rocket (fuel) science.

For those who just tuned in, Homocysteine [HC] is one chemical step in a four-step pathway leading to S-adenosylmethionine, the absolutely required ingredient in over 40 vital (in the technical sense of required for continued life) body chemical reactions. These include proper RNA duplication (failure equals cancer) and myelin maintenance and growth (failure equals paraplegia followed by death).

On the OTHER hand, while homo-cysteine is absolutely required for the "SAMe Salvage Pathway," a super-abundance of HC (superabundance equals more than is used by the SAMe pathway) acts as a poison, burning into blood-vessel walls, among other things. One result of HC poisoning is arterial plaque, which protects sore spots from more HC. Sometime the bits of plaque come lose and cause heart attacks &;c. Another common result of too much HC is that the blood-vessel walls get eaten away until they are to weak to hold against interior pressure and they blow out. That's called a stroke when it happens in the brain. I don't know what it is called elsewhere in the bod.

So to oversimplify the dilemma: heart attacks &; strokes vs neurological collapse and cancer. What to do, what to do. Simple.

Hype up the SAMe Salvage Pathway so that you use as much HC as possible making SAM (Can't have to much SAM. Note also that the pathway becomes less efficient with age, so if you are over 50 LISTEN UP!) The way to do this is also really, really simple: take a minimum of one mg. of vit. B12 (the "regular" n-methyl-cobalamin, not the new sports type, cobalamin-sylmethionine, which is nifty in other ways but IS NOT USED in the SAM Salvage Pathway!), 1.6 mg folic acid, and (also important) 1.5 grams (sic) of Trimethylglycine, also known as the digestive aid, betaine.

Ok, got that? The rough and ready answer is to take daily 1 mg B12, one mg folic acid, and one and a half grams of betaine, aka trimethylglycine and forget about it. (Believe me, I have only touched on the benefits of hyping the SAM levels in your system.)

Anybody who is feeling like a public benefactor, I request that both before and after starting this regime that you have your HC levels checked and report back. The reason for this is that I SUPECT BUT DO NOT KNOW that the above is all you need to do to control HC, and I would like more data. If it turns out that you do the above and still have an HC overage, you should take progressively larger amounts of B6 and vit C. This chemical duo acts to catabolize HC by turning it into cystathionine, which after further processing crosses the mitochondrial barriers and in the process is burned as food.

But NOTE: overdoses of B6 have been associated with "mysterious" neurological symptoms, which you and I can easily guess result from "stealing" HC that would otherwise be used in SAM production. (Perfect Murder: overdose old person on B6 while eliminating B12 &; folate from the diet. The medical fraternity wouldn't even know it was a crime.)

See? I said it was simple. But seriously, down on the bottom line it IS simple:

Take SAMe, folic acid and betaine (aka TMG) and you turn homocysteine into an angelic substance that will not cause heart attacks but instead will keep you sane and prevent cancer. Simple as that. :)

Hey! Who pushed my button??

 Subject: Homocysteine in the News


There was an article in todays Star Tribune (MN) by NY Times reporter Jane Brody about Homocysteine causing the same problems cholesterol has been blamed for. Stuff discussed here years ago.

They're still getting it slightly wrong though. They are blaming it on a high protein (meat) diet. Suggest cutting down sources of Methionine. Duh...

They do mention using Folic B6 and B12 to hold it in control. They also mention that the diets that are used to control cholesterol tend to be very low in Folate.

Amounts of Folic are also increasing up to about 5 times the 400 ugs the government tells us is RDA.


To reply: To start new topic: To login:

June 22

Dear Jerry:

I'm experiencing a problem on my Dell desktop machine that is identical to one you had years ago, I think; this goes back so far into the mists of time BYTE was a print journal at the time!

I added 128MB of Crucial memory to my Dell Dimension last summer, and started to get VERY occasional "Memory Parity Error Detected - System Halted" errors. I'd reboot, and the problem would go away for another few days or weeks. I never experienced a problem or a system lockup once the machine fully booted into Windows, so basically I didn't worry about it, until yesterday. Now I have to try three maybe four times to boot my machine successfully - the Parity Error strikes more often than not. I've run Norton's memory check - no problems reported, same with SiSoft Sandra's memory benchmark. The machine still operates normally if I can coax it through the boot process.

I seem to remember you had the exact same thing happen quite a while back, but it's so long ago I wouldn't know where to begin to search the archives. Can you remember what you did that solved the problem? Was it a case of Tweak to the rescue, or did you clean the memory chip pins somehow? I just can't remember, any help much appreciated,

All the best--

Tim Loeb

I may have had that problem, but if so it's lost to me; I don't recall what I did about it. It NEVER hurts to try Stabilant 22.  Often that fixes such problems. Beyond that we'll have to defer to the collective mind...

Tim Loeb writes:

> [...] I added 128MB of Crucial memory to my Dell Dimension last summer, and started to get VERY occasional "Memory Parity Error Detected - System Halted" errors. ...

I'd be very surprised if the Crucial memory were at fault. It may well be that Mr. Loeb has an overloaded or failing power supply, which often causes such problems. In particular, the power supply is more heavily loaded at boot-time, with the need to spin up drives and so on. Even though the drives are on the +12V rail, in a mediocre power supply a sudden load on one voltage rail can cause another voltage rail (e.g. the +3.3V used by memory) to drop under spec voltage. Dell doesn't use bad power supplies, but they're certainly not industrial-strength ones like PC Power &; Cooling sells.


Robert Bruce Thompson

Thanks. That would be my guess: if Stabilant 22 doesn't fix it, then it's probably power. Pournelle's Laws: It's a cable. If that doesn't do it, it's a bad connection. If that isn't it, look to something else. 

I haven't added "It's probably power" because I have used PC Power and Cooling power supplies for nigh onto 20 years (and big Godbout linears before that!) so I never HAD a power problem. But from my mail many do. Me, I pay the extra for PC Cool and it's one less darned thing to worry about.




One problem with this place is that we get off on tangents.

Subject: "If you have enough ammo" From: Karl Lembke Date: June 22, 2000

You note that:

" WW II only about 20% of the troops in the front lines ever fired their weapons at all."

I seem to recall reading that somewhere else. I think it was in one of David Friedman's writings? There were two classes of infantryman in WW II. One class had standard-issue weapons, which would sometimes hit a target at a reasonable distance. If you were equipped with one of those, firing one of those weapons was far more likely to make the user a target than it was to damage the user's target. Better to remain as unobtrusive as possible.

Some people had higher-quality weapons, and could actually hit something at a decent remove. In this case, firing your weapon would improve one's chance of survival, since this actually decreased the number of people taking shots in one's direction.

As a result, the higher-quality weapons were far more likely to be used.


That turns out not to be the case. SLAM Marshal did extensive interviews with troops in the European campaign from Normandy to the Bulge, as well as in Korea. Infantry front line units, with troops armed with identical weapons, had very different patterns. A few units actually got most of their troops engaged. Most didn't. Some of the most decisive battles of WW II turn out to be won by a few hundred men who actually fought and moved forward. The others were there. They weren't cowards. They moved forward. They lent some moral support to the warriors. But they didn't actually fight, and it had nothing to do with the weapon they had.

In Viet Nam our troops carried that miserable little Colt rifle (I am sure some people got rich out of that thing), probably the worst infantry weapon ever given to US riflemen, and spent more time in combat than many of the elite WW II units despite being pipeline casuals undertrained for the job; yet most of them actually fought and fired weapons. Perhaps not accurately, but then it takes an enormous expenditure of ammunition to produce one enemy casualty anyway. The difference was in training methods. 

The old volley-firing infantry understood all this. For a while we got away from it: the US, except in the War of 1812, almost never had "Regulars" of the march into the face of death variety. At Cowpens Morgan told his militia "Give me three volleys, boys, and then you can run."  They did, which was two more than anyone expected militia to give. The charging Brits including Highlanders saw the militia run, and charged forward -- to face Morgans few but stalwart Continentals, who stood and fought and drove the Brits back.

In the Civil War Between The States rifles outranged artillery in effective fire, and we got used to troops who fought from a distance. Grant tried the old fashioned method at Cold Harbor and lost more men per minute than in any US battle ever before or since; Lee had his men in rifle pits, and they did all fight.  The Indian Wars were mostly fought by Legionnaires whatever we wanted to call them.  We had mixed results at WW I.  But in WW II we were still training individual riflemen to fight as riflemen, and Marshal found out later that wasn't working so well.  

It's easier to send up ammunition than food, medicines, and general supplies to keep men going: if all the men fight, even if they are not very effective, they put a hell of a lot of lead out, and troops huddled in foxholes aren't doing too much good. Combined arms doctrine makes use of suppressive fire, mobility -- the cavalry wants their APC's mobile and able to fight mounted as BH Lidell Hart advised, while the infantry wants more armor and less mobility -- all this goes together with artillery that can sweep a position clean of unprotected troops. Churchill (the Duke of Marlborough, not the Prime Minister) understood much of this.

Yes, given my druthers I'd rather have a company of men who hit what they aim at; but given what I'm likely to have, I'd rather have men up on the firing step shooting, whether they hit anything or not, than have them standing there watching.  (Marshal didn't find that most troops hid in the holes; many exposed themselves to enemy fire, they just didn't shoot back.) That is, IF I have enough ammunition. And the US usually does have the advantage in logistics. We're very good at wars of attrition -- and Viet Nam was a Campaign of Attrition in the Seventy Years War, and one we decisively won, and in fact was one of the decisive campaigns of the Seventy Years War although we didn't recognize it at the time. The Viet Nam vets can feel good enough: they were absolutely vital to the end of the Cold War. But that's another story for another time.

This essay by Trent Telenko should go into a special report and probably will; but I'll put it up here now. I think of nothing needed to improve it:

"MISSILE DEFENSE: WHAT ABOUT THE GAPS? Critics of the pending US missile defense system have noted several flaws in the system design that have yet to be addressed:

1) “There are no significant defenses against cruise missiles. An enemy who finds his ballistic missile systems obsolete might build or buy cruise missiles. Shorter-ranged missiles could be launched from a cargo ship."

The reason for the lack of American cruise missile defenses is the lack of a cruise missile threat. Russia is the only U.S. adversary with long-range cruise missiles and the means to position them. The collapse of the Russian submarine fleet is a fact. It is doubtful that even a handful of Russian bombers and aerial tankers will be operational 10 years from now given the state of the Russian economy and the corruption of its government (see below).

There are no intercontinental range cruise missiles, be they subsonic, supersonic or hypersonic. Those have to be created and tested first, as they require guidance systems, which function for from hours rather than minutes. Such testing is difficult to hide from US intelligence unless an adversary is willing to accept a high proportion of operational failures in use, with consequent loss of scarce and expensive nuclear warheads.

The USAF attempted to build a subsonic long-range (possibly intercontinental) cruise missile called the "Snark" in the early 1960's, with comical results. So many failed that the testing staff called the Caribbean Sea, the "Snark infested waters." One of the lost Snarks turned up in a northern Brazilian jungle during a search for a downed light plane in the 1980's.

The only present means of consistently guiding an intercontinental cruise missile, the Global Positioning System (GPS), is controlled by the US military. The need to flight test missiles with an alternative guidance system will warn us in time to develop and deploy defenses for such long-range cruise missiles. Such testing is difficult to hide from US intelligence unless an adversary is willing to accept a high proportion of operational failures in used, with consequent loss of scarce and expensive nuclear warheads. The latter is unlikely.

This leaves short and medium-range cruise missiles launched from planes and ships by other than Russia. First, there are no other nations with bombers able to reach America. Our distance from other nations protects us now as it has in the past.

As for surface warships, the U.S. Navy regularly tracks those near American waters. In times of tension a P-3 Orion patrol plane will be maintain positive contact on such ships. During conflicts they will sink them. Covert cargo ships and possibly conventional submarines armed with short range, WMD armed, cruise missiles are the last possibility, but on closer examination, those are more of a Tom Clancy "techno-romantic fantasy" than practical threat. The concept falls flat in three respects: technical execution, security and nuclear control issues.

Steven Zaloga, a noted defense analyst, pointed out recently that converting an anti-ship cruise missile to a short-range land attack missile costs roughly the same as building a new land attack missile, for an inferior and chancy product given Third World technical personnel. And that is without the problem of "weaponization" of a nuclear device to fit in one.

The most likely land attack cruise missile candidates are converted target drones because of their range and endurance. There are a much smaller number of drone designs and airframes available to modify than fielded anti-ship missiles. However, target drones are not designed for either nuclear delivery or sea launch, let alone launch by covert freighters or submarines.

Typical 3rd world militaries are meant to look good rather than be good. Buying target drones is an indicator they are preparing to fight because they hardly ever, if ever, do so now. Their purchase of drones large enough to carry nuclear warheads would be an intelligence tipoff to the US, especially if those are not expended in practice.

The proliferation of the Russian "Tomahawkski" cruise missile design to China, or a Chinese copy of a Serb or Afghan-captured Tomahawk, is the only possible significant mid-to-long term threat. Those would be so expensive to maintain as to be limited to a few nation-state players, and could be monitored via the usual national-technical means.

Whatever missile is available; the Cuban Missile Crisis exemplifies the biggest risk for such a system - what if American surveillance catches the launch ships before they have achieved launch position? Or before you have made the decision to strike?

And even if American surveillance systems could be evaded, how long, in the information age, could security be maintained on such a covert force? That is a major question for potential adversaries given the human and electronic surveillance systems that the drug trade and illegal immigration have spawned along the American coasts.

Then there is the nuclear control issue. Does anyone think North Korea's "Dear Leader" or Saddam Hussein would trust anyone with a shipload of his nukes not under the guns of regime security forces?

In the final analysis the "covert cruise missile freighter", or a freighter which carries or even is itself a nuclear weapon, are only terrorist weapons, are not instruments of state policy. Terrorism presents different problems.

If you are going to use a terrorist nuke, then you put it in a freighter as a radiological weapon (see both editions of Philip Wylie's _Triumph_), giving the suicide bomber a radio or cell phone to listen to for instructions on when to ignite the trigger. This would be lethal to a small state like Israel, but not to the US because of its vast geographic size. It would only terminally infuriate the American people if used on us.

Missile defenses cannot stop terrorism any more than they can stop abortion or the common cold. People saying that they cannot, therefore missile defenses are useless, are not to be taken seriously.

2) "Any SDI system would rely on satellites for launch detection and target tracking. This may simply encourage potential attackers to find a way to attack the satellites, perhaps with lasers."

Saying that missile defense is hobbled by space dependence is beside the point. It does not matter whether missile defenses exist or not. American opponents are going to attack U.S. space assets, if they can, given American conventional military reliance on space.

In short, the problem of American military space asset vulnerability is _independent_ of missile defense. It exists regardless of other factors. The answer to that weakness is having robust and quickly replaceable space assets. Getting there requires a fleet of high flight rate, reusable, spaceplanes supporting a networked "light satellite" constellation.

What is going on here is "Reality Check 101." For different reasons, the Clinton Administration and USAF senior leadership are as much against a solution to this problem as they are to missile defense. These issues are forcing both Democratic political elites and senior USAF leadership to face a number of unpleasant truths.

Missile defense forces Democratic elites to deal with several phobias simultaneously: its rampant anti-nuclearism, its hate for Ronald Reagan and its 1960's anti-militarism.

The first is due to Ronald Reagan's use of SDI to destroy popular support for the Democrat's 1980 era nuclear-freeze movement. The Democratic nuclear phobia extends to weapons in space. Their systematic and spiteful persecution of first SDI, then the DC-X Delta Clipper, and then the military spaceplane in DOD budgets was an outgrowth of this need to denigrate Reagan's legacy.

Second, deploying missile defenses with proper space support will enable decades more of overwhelming American military power as the nation which controls the high ground of space controls the future destiny of the planet. The cognitive dissonance this causes former 1960's peace activists sends them into irrational hysterics.

As for the USAF, it takes an act of both God and Congress to force senior USAF generals to fund anything that isn't the F-22. (See this URL: They have a pathological attachment to the F-22 that rivals the commitment of US Army's Cavalry Branch to the horse in 1939-41. They view spaceplanes as much of a threat to the F-22 as the tank was for the horse. It is my opinion that an independent military space service will be required to deal with this need as "Fighter Pilot Generals" are the "Battleship Admirals" of the 21st century.

But that still begs the question: who is going to do this? Russia? North Korea and the list of usual suspects? China?

Russia has a fatal corruption problem. Theft and misuse of state property have been its national pastime for generations. Reports from MSNBC and the NY TIMES show the full range of the problem - from the Russian military using Il-76 to fly guns and drugs for Colombian drug lords to local thieves stealing live power lines for their metal content. (See Russia is becoming a kleptocratic state consisting of decaying 20th century city-states surrounded by a 19th century, electrically powerless, countryside.

Russia won't be able to field 1,000 nukes in 10 years, let alone make the major investment in space control technology to threaten American strategic space assets.

None of the "usual suspects" have the means to vie for space control.

This leaves China, for which see below.

3) "The proposed missile bases in Alaska and North Dakota could not protect the U.S. from missiles launched from the Southern Hemisphere. This might encourage a rogue nation to launch an attack from a ship at sea or from a temporary land base in the south."

Trying to hide a clandestine cruise or ballistic missile operation in an area of the world riddled with some of the most numerous and effective U.S. (AKA D.E.A.) human intelligence networks busy tracking the drug trade is a bad idea. Especially as those networks are also supported by much of American signal intelligence apparatus trying to justify their existence.

American or American-lead paramilitary forces routinely raid or board suspicious facilities and ships near American waters to search for illegal drugs. It gets even worse when you factor in the impending arrival of commercial spy satellites being used by major media to track US military forces for news ratings. The kind of furtive, large scale and capital-intensive preparations necessary to establish such a clandestine cruise or ballistic missile operation fits the overall profile of a major drug operation. The differences would stick out, attracting the wrong kind of U.S. intelligence attention.

4) "China has announced plans to build enough missiles to overwhelm the US defense system. That larger arsenal is seriously threatening India and other Asian nations. --Stephen V Cole."

The question here isn't whether the Chinese will want to build such an arsenal. It wants to build one.

The two questions that need answering are (1) does the Chinese central government have enough cohesion to force the various factions to pay for it and, (2) can they get their military procurement system to produce missiles that work.

The answers are "No" and "No."

China, like all Third World States, is a thin veneer of modernity stretched over a sea of abject poverty. It has to apply central government discipline to extract the resources and apply them in the right place. They've had trouble doing this for years.

The PLA has three competing military strategies vying for funds. Strategy one is to compete straight up the USA. Buying and license building ex-Soviet carriers (See, destroyers and jets typifies this approach. My friend Tom Holsinger wants to encourage the Chinese to try this by selling them the nuclear carrier Enterprise (demilitarized) as a technological Trojan Horse. Because he feels the Chinese have no chance of succeeding, while merely trying this strategy will so drain their resources as to marginalize all other potential threats.

PLA Strategy two is "asymmetric attacks', using current technology against American vulnerabilities. Computer viruses, sea mines, cruise or ballistic missiles and the Gerald Bull super-guns make up this approach.

Strategy three is "Leap-ahead", where Chinese researchers try to create military technologies that leapfrog American capabilities, such as ground-based laser weapons to attack American space assets. This assumes the Chinese economy develops to the point where they can afford such toys.

The Chinese are pursuing, and inadequately funding, all three strategies because NO ONE IS IN CHARGE. There is no "Paramount Leader" to enforce the Chinese national interest instead of the various factional interests, so each of the latter is going its own way at cross-purposes.

Even assuming a "Paramount Leader" could arise to control the factions in the near future, the Chinese still couldn't pull off any of these strategies. The PLA Air Force is known as the "Center of Corruption in the PLA," according to James Dunnigan. The independent budget and testing oversight that force test after test of American weapons is lacking in the PLAAF. Tests are expensive and an embarrassing lost of face if they uncover failure. Testing is kept unrealistic, and done as few times as possible, as a result. A good historical analog is the performance of both American torpedoes and the U.S. Naval Ordnance branch early in WW2.

Then there is the final threat to this scenario: the Chinese version of the "DOT COM" brain drain. The foreign joint venture companies are raiding the Chinese military industrial complex for talented engineers and managers.

The brain drain of the "Dot Com" economy is blamed for several recent U.S. space launch failures. Reports are that the same is happening to the Chinese military in a much more threadbare industrial economy, as its technological culture is "one deep." That is a major drag on any Chinese military buildup and ensures what they build cannot be maintained.

"Building missiles" does not mean, "building missiles that work." This is a fact the Chinese are well aware of in light of their reaction to the possibility of American strategic missile defenses.

The wonderful thing about building ballistic missiles rather than a large air force or navy is that you can parade junk and it looks threatening. That is why American ballistic missile defenses are so fundamentally unacceptable to the Chinese. They neutralize the implied political threat those missiles represent, and destroy Chinese illusions of power because they will believe our defenses work while their missiles won't. When you combine the brain drain problem with the rampant corruption loose in the Chinese PLAAF, and lack of direction above, the odds approach certainty that any long-range missile built by the Chinese, and launched by the regular military under combat conditions, will fail.

Remember that even in our checks and balance driven procurement system, the USA did not build reliable SLBM/ICBMs during the Cold War.

The Polaris missile had corroded safety interlocks that rendered its nukes inert until the mid-1960s. A Titan 2 missile blew up because someone dropped a tool on a fully fueled missile in the 1980s. Only 3 of 7 "combat ready" Minuteman were successfully launched from active silos in early 1980s realistic tests ordered by then Defense Secretary Casper Weinburger - realistic compared to the standard phony tests from Vanderberg AFB silos of carefully reworked Minuteman ICBM's. Our MX Peacekeeper ICBM's were rendered unusable for half a decade because of a defense contractor defrauding the government with faulty guidance gyros.

The kicker here was that the Soviets missile serviceability rates were half what American ballistic missiles were.

If we had such problems, and the Soviets' were far worse, how reliable will Chinese ICBM's be? How much of drain on China's economy will an attempt to build lots of land-based ICBM's be?

Overloading of an American SDI system should be considered in light of Chinese capabilities, not Chinese intentions.

My sense of the missile defense issue is this:

Missile defenses can and will protect America from missiles from China and other "rogue" nations, but their most valuable service will not be protecting America. It will be in providing political cover for our allies, like our Patriots did for Israel in the Gulf War, so those allies can't be threatened if America deploys conventional military forces in their jurisdiction.

China's fear is not that America will be protected from Chinese nuclear weapons. It’s that Japan will be. Allowing the U.S. to use it as a forward base for conventional forces to protect Taiwan.

This fear of American conventional military power _undeterred_ is what is really driving opposition to American missile deployment by the Chinese, the Russians and leftist elites in the U.S. and Europe.

An excellent summary of the issues. I have also put it up as a Special Report. I have never thought it an evil thing for America to be able to defend herself. I admit that Clinton's use of the military without Congress is disturbing -- frightening, even -- but my guess is that a new administration will come up with a new and far better War Powers Act to curtail some of that.  








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Friday, June 23, 2000

I am off to PC EXPO. Slim pickings and short shrift....

Hi Jerry,

I wanted to thank you, first for your entertaining column, and second for suggesting that random computer lockups could be the result of a malfunctioning hard drive. Thanks to that suggestion my Windows 2000 machine has been running for over 3 weeks without a crash - previously it was going down daily I tried everything, except (of course) replacing the hard drive.

As far as your currently downed PDC on your NT network, I wonder if you had considered promoting one of your Windows 2000 servers to the primary domain controller. I've just gotten my first Win2K server in and I'm personally thrilled that I didn't have to decide upon OS installation to set it as the PDC. I haven't yet tried what I'm suggesting you might do to get your network running again, but I think running 'dcpromo' may help solve your problem.

Thanks for your time,


All is revealed in next column.  thanks!


I recently created a brand new email address at Mindspring (Earthlink) for use during a recent week-long trip to Canada. This email address did not previously exist and was used solely by colleagues to communicate with me during my travel. Interestingly (and frighteningly!) on the second day after its creation, I received two spam emails at this new address! Although I did not receive any further spam on it during the next four days, I'm at somewhat of a loss to figure out how the spammers got my new email address. The three possibilities I can think of are: 1) Emails from my colleagues to my new email address were intercepted by a spammer (spammer as mail relay to harvest addresses?). 2) Spammers can auto-email all addresses at a domain (e.g. Mindspring) 3) Spammers can query Mindspring for a list of valid email addresses.

Possibilities (2) and (3) might explain your experience of spam showing up to your test email box after you registered it as "no-spam" with the direct marketers, without necessitating the distribution of the opt-out addresses to the spammers.

In any case, all three of the possibilities above seem worrisome; perhaps your website readers might be able to indicate which (if any) is credible.

Thanks, Armand MacMurray

Dunno. SPam has become a VERY serious problem with me.

Dr. Pournelle,

After Action analyses from Vietnam resulted in a change in the M-16 rifle from fully automatic capability to a three-shot-burst mode. It was noted that in full auto mode any rounds after the first three went into the tree tops.

The M-16 was designed to replace the M-14, which was much heavier, firing the truly effective .308 round. Unfortunately, some of our allies hadn't the stature to be toting the M-14, especially in hot weather. Fit in with our decision to saddle women with combat duty, god love 'em.

The M-16 is not such a bad weapon, anyway, line soldiers being in the habit of making do. An army's real problems tend to be administrative, bureaucratic and strategic, not mechanical. And the Law of Unintended Consequences - 25% of battlefield casualties in WWII were psychiatric. In Vietnam, they got that number down to 3%. Of course, that resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the ruination of many a vets' post-military life. But it kept GI Joe on the line, poor sods.

Don McArthur ************************************** "The best years are the forties; after fifty a man begins to deteriorate, but in the forties he is at the maximum of his villany." H.L. Mencken **************************************

I'll talk about that silly "rifle" another time. Thanks!

Dr. Pournelle,

Re. Tim Loeb's memory problems -- sounds a lot like a motherboard failure I experienced which I suspect was due to static electricity or cracking the board when changing memory... I never did figure out which one was wrong, but the motherboard did exactly the same thing and eventually died outright.

Re. the picture of grandma and granddaughter, thanks, it was heartwarming to see.

Incidentally I note your postings are occurring at times around 3 am and 4 am. Hope you aren't burning yourself out.

Best regards,

Pierre Mihok

Sometimes it's all the time I have. Alas.  

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: Heavy Irony Time

Dear Jerry:

Here's a hoot. The Justice Dept. uses Microsoft Windows.

Why did Janet Reno fund this insidious monopoly? It's DoJ policy to "buy the best equipment possible at the lowest price possible to benefit the American taxpayers." 

Well, God and the Supremes willing, I won't have that temptation much longer.

Best, St. Onge

We'll see. Thanks....  NOT a Parody.

Hello Dr. Pournelle: I am just wondering if you or any of your readers know of a wireless system for connecting a computer to a VGA monitor. We have a 15 worstation classroom here, with a VGA projection system, but it has an input for one computer only. This is generally connected to the instructor's computer, but we would like to be able to take a transmitter roving to the other worstations so that individual students could hook up, temporarily to the projector. I have heard that there are bandwidth problems, and some other concerns, but I can't imagine that such a device is not produced by someone. I have seen a number of systems designed to transmit to a standard television, but none for connection to a VGA monitor. Any leads or information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Neal Pritchett

With luck, someone will answer you direct. I am in a tearing rush...










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I am in New York, and mail tends to be neglected when I am on the road...






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