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Mail 144 March 12 - 18, 2001


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This week:



Monday  March 12, 2001


I read your column every week and appreciate the advice you give. It has really helped me when building my own systems-I've got a better view of where I can get away with going cheap and where I should get quality parts.

As for KVMs, I noticed that you haven't reviewed the new Belkin USB KVMs. Instead of a "hydra" connector, they use only a DSUB-15 and usb to go from switch to machine. The switch allows users to use standard PS2 mice and keyboards. The only requirement is that the computer MOBO has a USB on it in some form. I've been using the F1D104-USB for 2 months and I like it except for the following few issues:

1. Unless you have a USB keyboard, you do not have access to the computer boot screen without directly attaching a keyboard to the machine's PS2 slot. The startup screens will display something like "Keyboard not found". This is fine except for when I need to rebuild a machine. 2. Occasionally, when I switch machines the name of the machine switched to will not disappear from the monitor. This problem seems to happen intermittently with no obvious way to reproduce the issue. 3. When switching using the keyboard sequence ([Scroll Lock] [Scroll Lock] [Up Arrow]), sometimes needs to be done fairly quickly. It's also pretty easy to hit [Home] [Home] [Up Arrow] when not looking at the keyboard. Still, I like this over the necessity to keep the switch in the open just to switch machines. This let's me switch boxes without my hands leaving the keyboard.

Overall, I've like using this unit. I can keep my hands on the keyboard and debug client/server apps using multiple machines without sacrificing space on my desk. Space under my desk, well, that's another story. I'd definitely recommend taking a look at this unit if the machines you want on the KVM support USB.

__________ Scott Seely Web Services Guidance 

Don't yet have the new Belkin but I'll probably be getting it. Thanks.

Subject: Intellectual Property

Thanks for your reasoned thoughts on the subject.

While I object strenuously to any industry's efforts that would prevent me from making copies for my own uses of a product I purchase, or which treats customers differently based on regional lockouts--there are too many put-downs of the "evil" publishers or distributors as irrelevant middlemen. I posit that many of these organizations do add value for the product--not only their own share, but also an increased compensation for the originator.

I think one of the flaws in many arguments for the middleman's elimination is that somehow the content creators will end up with all the money that would have gone to the middlemen. In other words, with no publisher or distributor, that a $12 CD would still sell for $12 and the creator would therefore see substantially increased revenue. I seriously doubt that would be the outcome if middlemen were eliminated, and I suspect the creator actually would get less money than the share that some musicians are complaining is too small already.

--Regards, Chuck

Oh, I doubt that too. Publishers and authors need each other if only because of editors; and of course publishers had better understand marketing better than authors. But the record industry publishers have been egregious, hiring the creepy Congressional staffer who inserted changes into the Copyright Act that NO CONGRESSMAN ADMITS BEING AWARE OF was a particularly outrageous act rewarding an action of bad faith, no? If they will do that will they not do anything?

Authors sometimes act as if publishers were the class enemy and sometimes they act that way, but book writers and publishers get along pretty well. Performing artists seem to actively hate their publishers.  But all I really know on that is what I hear.


The Napster case went as far as it did because of the deep pockets of the music industry.

Where are the book publishers? Do they not still hold some rights to much of the material being pirated? They have as much if not more to lose than the authors.

Where are the other stake holders? As an example, if StarTrek books are being pirated, Viacom which owns Paramount which controls StarTrek easily can afford as many lawyers as needed.

And the TV/Movie companies should be in court going after the binary groups that redistribute TV shows and movies while consuming considerable UseNet bandwidth and space on servers of UseNet providers.

It is disgraceful if the big boys are sitting on their rears and forcing Harlan to fight this case when they should be taking the lead.


We will see.


Since you have a bit of experience in the area of home networks I thought I'd address this question to you...

This weekend I used my home network to backup some files in preparation to setting up a new PC. Despite having a 10/100 network and CAT5 cabling, the best throughput I saw was about 2.4MB/sec (according to sysmon). I did some digging around on the net and see that the theoretical maximum for 10/100 is 100 Mbit/sec or about 12.5MB/sec ... figuring maybe 70% of that due to overhead I should be seeing 8.75MB/sec full duplex bandwidth.

With straight TCP/IP transfers I see about 7MB/sec ... so presumably it is MS Networking that is bogging things down but I'm not sure why.

Have you done any testing of MS Networking speeds at 100 Mbits? I wonder if any of your readers have looked into the issue.

-- David replies to:

I think you are getting about as fast as most of us. But yes, Microsoft networking is pretty slow.

Subject: Artificial Memories

Hi Jerry:

I remember you talking about this a few months ago on your site. Now that I have a first hand example, I thought you would find it interesting:

Alice (my wife) and I now have direct first hand proof of the power of suggestion and how you can not rely on a person's memory, perhaps especially a child's. When Rachel (my daughter) was about two years old (she is now 10) she used to be scared of a pot holder I have that looks like a leopard's head where the mouth opens to hold onto a pot - she was really scared of it back then.

We put this pot holder back into use in the last couple years and we enjoyed telling Rachel the story about how she would be scared of it, especially when I used it and made growling sounds! She always marveled at the story and could not believe she was scared of it but agreed that that was how little kids could be.

A couple days ago she saw the pot holder and said, "I remember how I used to be so afraid of that when I was little."

Thus, our telling her of how she used to react to the pot holder has been incorporated into her memory as something she actually believes she recalls. Interesting and disturbing as far as implications go through out the world. I believe that was one of your points when discussing the power of suggestion and false memories!


Bruce W. Edwards e-mail: Web:

If you want to continue the experiment, find some other object from her early childhood and make up a happy story about it, something inane and funny, and tell it to her while showing her the object. Do this a couple of times and she will remember the story.

The grim side of it is that I could convince her that she has a non-existent Uncle Mike who when she was five inappropriately touched her. Actually, given a couple of weeks and being an authority figure -- policeman or psychologist with police department -- and isolation from you and her mother I could get her to "remember" that "Uncle Mike" did an awful lot worse to her than inappropriate touching. Of course the false memory would fade after a while unless reinforced, and probably would not have the long term traumatic effects of the actual experience, but it would be "real" in the sense that a skilled polygraph operator would conclude that "it really happened".  (What he would mean is that she really believed it happened.)

People have been convicted of child molesting from children evidence induced by psychologists. Children in the MacMartin case testified to being taken to Forest Lawn and watching graves being dug up, and "people dressed in robes" standing around chanting, and a whole bunch of things that not only did not happen but could not possibly have happened; why the young lady child psychologist hired by the police thought it had happened (she apparently really believed it all, and that there were devil worshippers in Redondo Beach) isn't clear to me, but she was dating a popular TV news guy at the time and he was getting sensational stories. The upshot is that the school was closed, the family that ran it is broke, and the lawyers have all the proceeds from the sale -- and it's doubtful if anything happened at all. My private speculation is that w 6 year old girl sat in a teen-age boy's lap, he got an involuntary erection, and was so embarrassed he never mentioned the incident. Meanwhile once the police began to ask about "molestation" at the school and the prosecution psychologist began to tell the kids they couldn't get away from her until they told her some "yukky secrets," things got completely out of hand.

It is VERY easy to induce false memories in children. Heck, you can induce them in yourself. It's much easier for a parent to induce them in a child -- children want to believe parents -- but in most cases authority figures will do as well. And if you want to perform an experiment, make up a story of something that happened when your daughter was five. Something in a mall, for example. Tell it to daughter and wife, something about when your wife went to the can leaving you with daughter and you got lost looking for the bathroom and daughter got separated from you for a couple of minutes and wow were you panicked. Think about it until you get the emotions that you would have had when it happened and tell it in an emotional state. I would be small sums that in a week both your daughter and your wife will REMEMBER the incident and if you appear to forget it they will remind you of it.

Ah well.

Dr. Jerry,

I was just about to delete this spam, as I do with all such spam, without reading it, and suddenly it crossed my mind that it actually gives an address at which someone can FIND a spam creator! In fact, not only a spam creator, but also someone who is ENCOURAGING spam!

What can we do with it though? I am up here, and they are down there in Texas...

Just thought I'd pass this along in case you had some ideas.

I won't be doing this on a regular basis, after all forwarded spam is still spam...

-Pierre Mihok

>From: Minor0pa! >Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2001 23:43:03 +0800 (CST) >To: 0! >Subject: 10 Million Addresses for $99.00 > > >10 MILLION HOT E-MAIL ADDRESSES ON CD + FREE BULK E-MAIL >SOFTWARE TO SEND YOUR MAILING FOR JUST $99.00 > >How would you like to receive 10 million e-mail addresses on >CD and the software to send your advertisement to 10 million >potential buyers. All for just $99.00. Interested? then read on! > >We have taken all the E-mail addresses that is being sold >on the internet. We have filtered them thru all the remove >lists. We have taken off all the undeliverables and added >all to our own clean database to come up with the best e-mail >addresses on the internet. > >The hot clean lists of 10 million internet buyers on CD >arranged in the order of Domains for easy delivery. > >Bulk e-mail is the most cost effective form of advertising >to date. That is why you receive them every day. > >Just think. If you have a $10 product and only 1% of these >people buy your product, you will make $1 million. >All for a simple investment of $99.00 + $5.00 for Shipping. > >We will also include in your package free software to do your >mailing - FREE. Sorry, We do not provide technical support >for the software. However, it comes with documentation >and easy to follow guide. > >Please note that these e-mails are seperated by domains. >Hotmail, excite, yahoo,att worldnet, gte, Aol etc.. > >Use these e-mail addresses to sell your product. >These are not rentals, use them over and over again. > >Add $5.00 for regular shipping within USA OR >$15.00 for over-night FEDEX Delivery within USA. > >International orders add $10.00 for regular shipping > >************************************************************* >************************************************************* >Please Print out the following form, fill out and FAX to us at: >972-702-0451 ----24 HRS A DAY >OR SEND YOUR ORDER TO ADDRESS BELOW. > >3 WAYS TO ORDER !!! >CREDIT CARDS: >WE ACCEPT AMERICAN EXPRESS<> VISA <> MasterCard<> >simply fill out the following form with your >credit card info andFAX To: >HOST INTERNET BIZ SERVICES AT: >972-702-0451 **********FAX 24 HRS A DAY >**credit card orders will be sent out in 24 hours. > >CHECKS: Please make your checks payable to: >HOST INTERNET BIZ SERVICES >We accept checks by fax. >Please Fax with filled out form to: >972-702-0451 ******FAX 24 HRS A DAY > > >OR SEND THE FORM WITH YOUR >CHECK OR MONEY ORDER TO: > >H.I.B.S >4310 WILEY POST DR >SUITE 101-B >ADDISON TEXAS 75001-4257 > >Check orders are for USA customers ONLY. >Credit card/Money orders are mailed within >24 hours of receiving your order. > >****check orders will be delivered in 10 days to allow >for Bank clearance >******************************************************** >10 MILLION E-MAIL ADDRESSES: > > *****CHOOSE PAYMENT METHOD******** > >CREDIT CARD ( ) CHECK/MONEY ORDER ( )attach check > > >TYPE OF CARD AMX / VISA / MC _______________ > >CREDIT CARD #________________________________ > >EXPIRATION DATE ___________________________ > >NAME ON CREDIT CARD________________________ > > >$99.00 for E-mail addresses. >****Please add $5.00 for Domestic shipping.******* >****Please add $15.00 for Overnight FEDEX.******* > >***INTERNATIONAL ORDERS ADD $10.00 FOR REGULAR SHIPPING.*** > >$5.00 USA Domestic shipping is >by priority mail 2-3 day delivery. >$15.00 SHIPPING is by FEDEX Overnight. >FEDEX does not deliver to P.O. BOXES. > >YOUR NAME:______________________________________ > >ENTER CD AMOUNT ___$99.00_____ > >ENTER SHIPPING AMOUNT ________ > >ENTER TOTAL AMOUNT ___________ > >BILLING ADDRESS ____________________________ > >CITY_________________________________________ > >STATE________________ZIP/PROVINCE_____________________ > >COUNTRY___________________________________ > >SHIPPING ADDRESS(if different from above) > >ADDRESS_______________________________________ > >CITY_________________________________________ > >STATE________________ZIP/PROVINCE_____________________ > >COUNTRY______________________________________ > > >PHONE INCLUDE AREA CODE___________________ > >EMAIL ADDRESS______________________________ > >YOUR SIGNATURE_______________________________ > > >CD WILL BE SHIPPED OUT TO THE ABOVE ADDRESS WITHIN 24 HRS >OF RECEIVING ORDER WITH CREDIT CARD or MONEY ORDERS. >PLEASE ALLOW 10 DAYS FOR CHECK ORDERS. > > > > > > > >

Well I know what I would like to do with those people, but do wolves actually iprove the species by thinning out the least fit?

Hi Jerry:

If you know anything about this or would be able to post for advice from your readers I would appreciate it. It looks like someone has, at the least, forged my e-mail address into the return address info of their Spam. I believe this is all they have done but am also concerned about the possibility of them breaking into the SMTP server of my web host.

My main question is: Is there any way to prevent people from forging your e-mail address in their header info. Common sense tells me no, there is not. If you have any ideas for preventing or making these people miserable, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

I checked my e-mail this morning and, to my horror, I received well over 100 rejected messages that appear to be Spam. Someone has either broken in and used my SMTP server or they forged my e-mail address into their header information. I am attaching a message below so to get your advice.

By the way, the domain is mine.

Thank you for your help. Below my signature line is one of many example messages including the return information as I received it:


Bruce W. Edwards Web:

> ----- Original Message ----- > From: <> > To: <> > Sent: Monday, March 12, 2001 5:51 AM > > > > We're sorry, but's email system was unable to deliver > > your message to its intended recipient. Please check the email address > > and try again. > > This is an automated reply from's email management > > system. > > > > > > <>: > > address: > > filter: > > (|( > > def-filter: > > (|( > > qldap_get return value: 1 > > LDAP lookup failed > > > > --- Below this line is a copy of the message. > > > > Return-Path: <> > > Received: (qmail 9962 invoked from network); 12 Mar 2001 10:26:49 -0000 > > Received: from unknown (HELO ([]) > > (envelope-sender <>) > > by (qmail-ldap-1.03) with SMTP > > for <>; 12 Mar 2001 10:26:49 -0000 > > Received: (qmail 15213 invoked from network); 12 Mar 2001 07:15:20 -0000 > > Received: from (HELO > > ( > > by with SMTP; 12 Mar 2001 07:15:20 -0000 > > Message-ID: <0000432b79d8$0000453c$> > > To: <Undisclosed Recipients> > > From: > > Subject: TRUE STORY... > > Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001 23:07:44 -0800 > > MIME-Version: 1.0 > > Content-Type: text/plain; > > charset="Windows-1252" > > Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit > > X-Priority: 3 > > X-MSMail-Priority: Normal > > Reply-To: > > > > > > ..More Customers? > > > > ..More Sales? > > > > Direct Email Marketing could be the answer! > > > > Email Marketing could help take your > > business to the next level! > > > > Why wait? > > > > > > Get started TODAY! > > > > > > Click reply with your name, telephone > > number and the best time to reach you! > > Also include the type of product or > > service you wish to market. > > > > A consultant will contact you shortly! > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > Does Your Business Need A Boost? > > > > Would you like to get more leads?

I am not one who can analyse headers well, but I bet there are plenty of readers who can.


Dr. Pournelle,

A breathtaking shot of a space shuttle piggybacked on a jetliner over a Tallahassee stadium. 

Don McArthur ********************************************** "The more he talked of his honor the faster we counted our spoons." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) **********************************************

That Emerson quote is used often by Larry Niven's brother, and we have had reason to apply it to a couple of publishers...

And now this:

Jerry At wired news ( <  > ) they have an amazing story about a kid from Argentina that wrote an app, complete with *helpfiles* to generate unique vbs worms. There is even a helpful link to his website.....

Thanks for the years of columns, Glenn Woodruff


This is an interesting way to protect intellectual property. As a wanna-be author, it is quite intriguing. 

Rick Hellewell (

You have me curious and I will have to have a look. Now for this:

Concerning the Origins of Scientology, see last week for beginning.

Dear Dr Pournelle,

 Jerry Pournelle wrote:

As I say, I never heard any reference to the story until long after Scientology was founded

 Here is what must surely be the definitive weblink on the subject of Mr Hubbard's scientology startup; it mentions (and discounts) the link with Heinlein. ("One form of the rumor is that L. Ron Hubbard made a bar bet with Robert A. Heinlein. This is definitely not true. It's uncharacteristic of Heinlein, and there's no supporting evidence. There is, however, inconclusive evidence that Robert Heinlein suggested some parts of the original Dianetics.") 

The style is compact but very complete, including bibliography, with the following extract being I think particularly relevant;

-- Sam Merwin, then the editor of the Thrilling SF magazines: quoted in Bare Faced Messiah p.133 from 1986 interview. Winter of 1946/47.

"Around this time he was invited to address a science fiction group in Newark hosted by the writer, Sam Moskowitz. `Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous,' he told the meeting. `If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be start his own religion.'

-- Bare Faced Messiah p.148. Reference given to LA Times, 27 Aug 78. Supposed to have happened in spring 1949.

"Science fiction editor and author Sam Moscowitz tells of the occasion when Hubbard spoke before the Eastern Science Fiction Association in Newark, New Jersey in 1947: `Hubbard spoke ... I don't recall his exact words; but in effect, he told us that writing science fiction for about a penny a word was no way to make a living. If you really want to make a million, he said, the quickest way is to start your own religion.'"

-- Messiah or Madman, p.45. No reference given. Yes, the spelling of Sam's name differs: this book got it wrong, it has a "k". I don't know why the two books disagree by two years.

(Oddly, the same misspelling occurs in Eisenberg. From this and other similarities, it seems likely that Corydon is quoting the Eisenberg article, rather than quoting Moskowitz directly.)

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction lists Sam Moskowitz as the first good historian of science fiction [among other things]. In 1994 Moskowitz wrote an affidavit which states:

"After speaking for about an hour at the meeting, Mr. Hubbard answered questions from the audience. He made the following statement in response to a question about making money from writing: `You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.'"

The affidavit states that this was the 7 Nov 1948 meeting of the Eastern Science Fiction Association, of which Moskowitz was the director.

Now, there is a problem with the three Moskowitz reports. Specifically, the Church obtained affidavits in 1993 from David A. Kyle and Jay Kay Klein. Both names are well-known in science fiction, and both say that they went to the 7 Nov 1948 talk by Hubbard. Both say that they didn't hear any such statement. Puzzling.

I believe that these dueling affidavits have met in court. Stern, a German magazine, was sued by the Church, and the suit was thrown out of court after they obtained the Moskowitz affidavit.

On 9apr94, (Mike Jittlov) posted (about a conversation with Theodore Sturgeon):

Back in the 1940's, L. Ron Hubbard was a member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (when its old clubhouse was just north of Wilshire Blvd). Ted vividly recalled being a few yards from Hubbard, when he became testy with someone there and retorted, "Y'know, we're all wasting our time writing this hack science fiction! You wanta make _real_ money, you gotta start a _religion_!

-- Terry Cole System Administrator Dept. of Maths and Stats, Otago University PO. Box 56, Dunedin tel:64-3-4797739 NEW ZEALAND fax:64-3-4798427

This is all silly. First, the notion that founding a religion would make money than writing for penny a word pulps is clearly true, and might have occurred to any well read person of the times. You needn't start a really new one. The Amy Semple MacPherson temple was right here in LA, and she did right well out of it. There were others. It took no great insight to figure that out.

The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society did NOT HAVE A CLUBHOUSE in the 1940's. LASFS was the first SF society to have its own clubhouse. That was in the 70's, and Mr. Heinlein sent a congratulatory letter (I know because I was asked by him to read it aloud) to the club. Hubbard was not much in the habit of being in LASFS meetings to the best I know, nor was Ted Sturgeon. Ray Bradbury used to come but I think not by then. Ted was not above embellishing or making up good stories, and he could tell them wonderfully well.

This story grows and grows, but the fact is that DIANETICS was NOT a "religion" nor was it claimed to be. It was SCIENCE, according to Hubbard; the "Modern Science of Mental Health" to be exact, and was supposed to be based on sound engineering principles and testable propositions. When The AMA got the authorities on Hubbard's case -- after for the first time in his life he had enough money to buy a new car and pay his bills -- he understandably looked for a way to avoid such problems in future. Founding a religion to claim Freedom of Religion protection is pretty obvious -- Lawson and Lawsonomy did exactly that much earlier -- and I can believe that Mr. Heinlein may have advised his friend to do just that although I have no evidence of that. Robert never spoke of Scientology at all. He always spoke well of his friend Ron Hubbard, but he declined to discuss Scientology. We had one discussion of Dianetics in which it became clear to me that Heinlein wasn't a believer.

Dianetics was certainly no more difficult to believe in than Jungian psychology, or Freud for that matter, both of which were perfectly respectable in those days. Dianetics did incorporate some of  Korzybski's General Semantics, but that is no bad thing: Science and Sanity is still a book worth reading once in one's lifetime, preferably at a fairly early age. It is repetitious and in places pedantic, but it has things to say that young people ought to think about, particularly those enamored of Freudian symbolism and the like. The Map is NOT the territory and that is not always a lesson young people know.

Dave Kyle and Jay Kay Klein are good friends whom I don't see often but who are always welcome here, and I have known both since about 1960; and if they say they were at that meeting and it wasn't said, then I would be inclined to take their word over that of Sam Moskowitz. Sam was a decent chap, but he could be wrong. We all can be.

But the real point is that it is TRUE: founding a religion would be more lucrative than science fiction was in those days. And once someone said it, every writer would remember it, and many might well say it themselves. Why not? It was both true and obviously true, and even sounded clever.





This week:



Tuesday, March 13, 2001 


While I understand the popular reaction to horror stories of false child abuse allegations, I can safely say that I have seen hundreds of cases where children have made sexual abuse allegations, and have yet to run into a case where it just wasn't true. I have seen many cases of exaggeration, and even some cases where SOME of the specific allegations weren't true, but none where the basic allegation was false. Objective facts have surfaced to support many of them, confessions have followed many more. Children are certainly susceptible of manipulation, but not generally that much more than adult witnesses.

After having prosecuted these cases for years, and defended them for a couple of years as well, I can usually get to the bottom line with the children in a matter of a few days of meetings. The danger in the use of anecdotes to demonstrate that children lie is that the conclusions extrapolated from those anecdotes can be gross exaggerations. There are web sites and organizations devoted to the extreme theory that MOST of these allegations are false, and helping people attack them. Unfortunately, most of the attacks are not directed at discovering truth, but badgering the child. Child abuse accomodation syndrome explains much of the reason people believe the allegations are generally false: There are enormous pressures brought to bear on a child who makes such allegations. The result is that many children recant to please the non-offending parent or the grandparents, or other authority figures. This is most decidedly not a decision to "stop lying", as in many of the cases there is objective evidence to support the allegation.

I simply ask people to stop and consider this: notice that the "evidence" of false allegations is always one or two stories, told over and over, as the one mentioned on your letters page.

Bryan Broyles

You may have seen none, but the local Los Angeles case, and the Oregon case, were quite real. Moreover, I know of at least three divorce cases in which there was suddenly the threat of child molestation done 15 years before; it was just "remembered" in time to help the mother in a property settlement. 

Secret crimes are hard to prove. I agree. But to "always believe the child" is unjust because it is VERY easy to prove that one can implant false memories. IN one law case the defense managed to get the child to accuse the JUDGE of molesting her, with detailed "memories." You are lucky: a good defense lawyer could manage to get a suggestible child to accuse you, even. 

If you have physical evidence it's one thing.

In the LA case there was no physical evidence of abuse with one exception, and that was neither clear nor certain, nor certain that it involved the school given the mother's friends and habits. It is entirely possible the child had been abused, but not at the school.

 Moreover in this case  the stories were preposterous on their face, all the events supposedly either taking place in a public place, in a classroom, or in "secret rooms" that were never found. The prosecution even excavated the school grounds looking for the corpse of a horse that was supposedly killed to terrify the children. (They found the carcass of a pet turtle. As the defense lawyer said,  "When they find the horse let me know.") 

Once the juries began seeing tapes of the "counseling" in which the state's psychologist kept at the kids until they told a yukky secret, and made it clear they were going to be there hours or days until they did tell yukky secrets, the prosecution had a problem. Even so they continued with this until the accused were ruined or dead.

I have no idea whether "most" of the stories are false. Clearly not all are. There are certainly real cases of real abuse. But generally in such cases there is some physical evidence, and the crimes are not preposterous, involving imaginary trips to Forest Lawn and digging up corpses, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles and robed priests chanting curses. So long as prosecutors take nonsense seriously we will be forced to suspect they are people who are willing to do anything to win. Win. As if there were any winners in the local case. 

As to the 'evidence of false accusations' being 'one or two stories' I have no idea what you are talking about. The local Los Angeles horror may have been one story told over and over again, but then the Leopold-Loeb case is one story told over and over again, but I do not think that makes it untrue. We have quite a few cases in which the accusations turn out to be false or preposterous, and if prosecutors -- whether in order to make headlines or accumulate a record, or in genuine naivety -- had not started with the firm belief that "there had to be something to it, that couldn't all have been made up" the whole mess would have ended right then.

Sure. Child abuse happens. We had one recently here at a day care center, and no one at all doubts it happened. But the children didn't need much coaching on this, the perpetrator had a prior record, and none of the stories were silly involving dead horses and chanting priests in robes. 

A conviction for child molestation is a life sentence, sometimes a death sentence, no matter what formal sentence is imposed. It's one reason why men will settle quickly with their divorcing spouses when that big gun is leveled at them. And one supposes that some of those accusations are true, but in the divorce case I have in mind the man accused may have been a philanderer, but he certainly was no a child molester.

If you genuinely believe that there have been very few cases of false memories then you might want to examine the situation again. The journals are full of evidence of induced false memories. We also have cases of mistake: where an adult is trying to clean the kid from an accident, and the child doesn't want to admit that the accident happened. Now what?

"Did he touch you? Where did he touch you? Did he have any reason to touch you there?"

"He didn't have any reason he just did it!"

"She peed her panties and I was trying to clean it up."

"Did you wet yourself?"

"No, no, no, no, no."

And now what? Absent a pattern? How to find the pattern without suggesting to other children who up to now never complained or reported anything? Or this one who up to now never complained or reported anything? And beyond molestation is physical abuse. "Did your daddy do that to you?" "No, no, no, it was a bad man."  And now what?


The fact is that in young children, memory is very unreliable, and suggestibility is high., and motivations are manipulable. Yes, that can be used to get them to forget as well as remember, or remember things differently; which is to say, in many of those cases, particularly those involving only one incident, we probably will never know what happened. That's the nature of that kind of crime.


Let me clarify a bit: My comment, "notice that the "evidence" of false allegations is always one or two stories, told over and over" is not to suggest that there are no cases of false allegations, quite the contrary. Rather, to point out that, those proponents of the theory that false allegations are rampant always point to the same one or two cases. Certainly there are false allegations.

I do challenge the notion that the majority, or even a large percentage of these cases that go to trial are false allegations. I consider my own experience, combined with the defense counsel I know who have been doing this for 20 + years, and the end result is simply that almost all the cases we've seen have been true. (note, I don't mean that everything the child said was true, as children can exaggerate, and can be lead to add things that never occurred.)

On that same note, much of the evidence to support the suggestibility of children comes from cases with corroborated allegations and uncorroborated allegations. In those cases, the allegations were "false", to some degree, but there were also true allegations.

I must disagree with your statement that there is generally physical evidence to support the allegations in "real" cases of abuse. Many of the current crop of offenders are using the children for nothing more than masturbation or oral sodomy, neither of which leave physical evidence for any length of time. In the military right now, the largest growing crime is internet child pornography. Sometimes the children are used to produce the pornography, sometimes they just view it with the offender. We almost always find the child porn on the computers of those that are molesting their children.

I don't think you and I disagree that much on this issue. It's just that I see far too many people point to one or two cases of a gross injustice and conclude that the entirety of such allegations are false. EVERY criminal allegation must be viewed as if it weren't true. Our system is based on just that premise. But, in the case of child victims, that presumption is being taken too far, with many believing that you can't rely on a child witness. Having seen too many adult victims, and far too many child victims, I can say that the children are not noticeably less reliable.

Bryan Broyles

Across the pale parabola of joy...Ralston McTodd

I can well believe that military cases are different from civil. There's usually less money at stake. In the MacMartin case there was a lot of money and beach city property, all of which ended up with lawyers while the family, eventually exonerated, was impoverished. In the divorces cases I have in mind (involved a friend and political ally of many years standing) once again there was money and property at stake. The Oregon cases I know only from the Wall Street Journal but I read all that was available and it's pretty clear what happened there.

My point here is that sometimes you can't find out the details; but if the story is bizarre and there are no other indications that the accused is really off the wall (Satan worship, that sort of thing) then I would be very skeptical of the evidence of a young child, particularly if there is financial or emotional benefit to the mother. It is just too darned easy to get kids to remember things that never happened. This is particularly true in situations where the alleged crime took place years before and is just now being remembered, as was the situation with the divorce: the "molestations" were supposed to have taken place more than 12 years before and there were elaborate explanations for why there had never been any hint of their existence until the divorce began.

Sure. Kids get molested. They also make up stories. But worse they can be induced to believe things happened that never did happen. It's a bit harder to get them to forget something, but it's not that hard to make them believe it happened a different way from what they thought. And lives are ruined by all this.

There is no rule here. "Always believe the woman," used to be the rule in sexual harassment but now it's "Believe the woman usually but not if Bill Clinton is involved." "Always believe the child" used to be the motto, but I see that some sanity in that maxim is now creeping in. Proof requires proof, and I would hesitate to prosecute someone otherwise thought to be a good person purely on the evidence of a child's testimony without some physical evidence; and I would certainly look into the motives of all concerned.

As I said at the beginning of all this, it wouldn't be hard to make a 10 year old girl "remember" the "bad thing Uncle Mike did to me" at age 5 == even though Uncle Mike never existed.  And if a five year old began to tell me about how the teacher killed a horse and buried it on the school grounds, I don't think I would then go to the other kids in the class and say "Remember when Mr. Buckey killed the horse and buried it?" And prosecute him when they did.




Two San Diego area spammers have been charged with *criminal* spamming, the first such prosecution in California: 

These two could get 9 years in prison, but we will see.

I would also like to mention that I think the one thing AOL has contributed to the online community is their civil suits against spammers. I don't see any of the ISPs who look down their noses at AOL doing anything similar about this problem.

I got a spam this week for HP printer cartridges from an outfit here in San Diego. I am going to try the small claims court remedy (the max judgment is $500).

jim dodd  San Diego

Hurrah for you! Please keep us posted. If several hundred people did that...  But the print cartridge people are less obnoxious than most. It's conceivable that I might actually buy something from them. As opposed to the Viagra people and their allies with sexual corrective surgery offers...

Re your nanotechnology report you say....A pacemaker is about the size of a hockey puck.....

Nah, modern pacemakers are about half the size and thickness of the old Zippo cigarette lighters! I'd estimate that they are about 1/8 the size of a hockey puck...grin!

Mark Huth I'd really like to get into space, but how is that going to happen?

Well, you ought to know. I guess the nanotech lecturer was thinking of old style? But it's mostly batteries even so, no?

OK, here's another interesting link about art made by an earthquake (no joke)... 



Dr. Pournelle, Saw this and started laughing. Hope you find it amusing. From the AP wire, via Salon.

Skydiver lands on beer vendor during coleslaw wrestling event

Kit Case

Why not?

Ars Technica (one of my favorite sites) has an article on InTether software, which appears to be designed to lock you out of your hard drive, as well as doing things like preventing cut-paste, etc. 










This week:



Wednesday, March 14, 2000

Dear Dr. Pournelle, An article in todays Washington post about the sacrifices that the families of soldiers make. 

And a column about springtime in the mountains.   When reading that column I got to thinking about your dog. Hope that he, too, will soon be back on duty guarding the flowerbeds.

Kit Case


Dr. Jerry:

Re: hypnotic regression , recovered memory, etc.

You might be interested in _The Abduction Enigma_ by Kevin Randle, Russ Estes, and Dr. Steven Cone. It goes into great detail into hypnotic regression, recovered memories, Satanic Ritual Abuse, and (of course) alien abductions. Their conclusion: Whatever the researcher believes in, be it friendly aliens, mean aliens, SRA, or whatever, that researcher will find. And there is no other evidence for abductions. What makes this conclusion particularly interesting here is that one author makes his living on UFO books (he does novels, too), another makes UFO documentaries, and the third is a psycologist who believes he may have been abducted!

Re: Heinlien and Scientology

He had some Scientologists in a scene in _Friday._

Re: Sasha

Hope she gets to feeling better. To paraphrase Mr. Heinlein, We give our hearts to creatures we know we will outlive.



Thanks. Sasha is a he: it's diminutive for Alexander in Russian, and being that he's a Siberian Husky...

Just to fan the flames, here's a website ( ) that has information on many cases of this type. May I recommend the link for the "Little Rascals" daycare story. I was living near that area during the original trials, and all I can say is "railroaded".

Can you guess I tend to agree with those who say this sort of thing is oversold?

Or another case in point, and far closer to home. My wife owns a daycare center. Some years ago, she had a young (around 1 year) female child who had a documented medical history of bladder infections. Now, as many will tell you, in a young female child, recurrent bladder infections can be caused by sexual abuse. They can also be caused by poor hygiene (the most usual cause) and by slightly malformed "plumbing".

Being unable to talk, the usual way of noticing a recurrence problem was a few drops of blood in a wet diaper. One of the staff noticed this, and told her mother about the problem when she picked the child up in the afternoon. Mom's basic response was "Oh, no. Not another one!"

She took the child to the local pediatricians, and by luck of the draw, got the newest one. He preceded to not read the child's history, and got his daily exercise jumping to the conclusion that the child had been abused. By law, in North Carolina, he must report these suspicions, and did so.

Shortly thereafter, the social workers descended. They had to have multiple interviews with the staff in that classroom, the rest of the staff in the building and my wife. They even tried to question the children in the class (I would pay to have video of this.)

The father and older brother were forced to move from the family home, and then the child was placed with one set of grandparents. (At least it wasn't foster care.) The mother could only have supervised visits, the father and brother none at all.

The investigation dragged on for weeks. Eventually, the truth won out, and the family was reunited. However, for some time after that they were subjected to unannounced visits from the social workers. My wife isn't sure if the pediatrician is still at that practice.

Another case in point, and more humorous. My daughter, now 8, is convinced she had a "bunny tail" when she was younger. It started out when she was 3 as a joke, but now she is convinced that she had one, but it fell off when she got older. My son, age 5, affectionately known as "Turkey Bird", is rapidly becoming convinced he had feathers when "I was little". I assure you, neither was the case.

The upshot is don't try to tell me that children can't be convinced to remember things that never happened, and don't try to tell me that all allegations of child abuse must be true. As Robin Williams once said, "Not buying the bullsh*t..."

Bill Seward, who is neither reporter, daycare provider, child psychologist nor social worker, but who does believe the evidence of his own experience as a parent

When I was active in politics I got involved in a couple of those overzealous protection cases, where social workers were out to make a reputation finding abuse where the problems were medical. In this land of the free.

May your walking companion recover quickly - for everyone's sake.

Your correspondent says: "After having prosecuted these cases for years, and defended them for a couple of years as well, I can usually get to the bottom line with the children in a matter of a few days of meetings" In my experience nobody can say that honestly.

For my sins I have been involved in a few such cases myself. In particular I remember one custody case where the Court appointed expert said to me privately and unofficially that neither my client nor the other parent was good for the child - I told her I would donate my services if she wanted to foster the child, we left it at that. Given a problem the remedy is yet not obvious. One of many good reasons practicing law was a brief aberration in my life!

I think Mr. Heinlein was showing his age in books like Glory Road where he has Oscar even contemplate law school. My grandfather was practicing law in the area when Mr. Heinlein was growing up and based on his experience the law at least had the possibility of being a fine profession. Today, like Viet Nam, the law is unquestionably a noble cause but perhaps equally a folly.

Talking to a very well indeed qualified national expert in child psychology - (details on request but the best we had access to even talk to, somebody I went to school with) he said he would have to spend a week of mostly full days around one child before even starting to address the issues of abuse let alone details and blame. For myself I have no way of ever getting to a bottom line.

I remember one circumstance involving complex relationships where I have some faith some truth came out as one abuser's actions became much more flagrant over time and he both eventually sought and accepted help but also entered what I think was as full a confession as he could make in court - never the less I don't think any power in the world could have extracted the full truth for all the parties in the circumstances. I do know there was real abuse and yet or perhaps for that very reason some terribly confused memories including even a great deal of confusion in adults. What I think was absolute sincerity in falsehoods - some alcohol abuse involved as well of course. Come to think of it I remember more than one like that.

For another thing I would bet that just about every woman who grew up in the same society I did has in fact been subject to some sexual abuse or molestation in the course of growing up - though perhaps by an older child and not rising to a level that would involve criminal prosecution - not necessarily to involve penetration, perhaps what some would call being taken advantage of but certainly to a point that would constitute legal abuse.


Some cases are obvious. A recent one here where the husband of a day care center owner was pretty well caught in the act, and other stories came out. But many are not at all clear cut. Then there was MacMartin where one drop of sanity would have ended it all. Dead horses, and priests and nuns in robes, and -- indeed. Indeed. 

And from Eric:

I don't know if you've mentioned it, I'm remiss in my recent reading of your site, but there is another important aspect of the McMartin case that should serve as a lesson to all.

The mother who launched the case with her remarkable accusations was taken at her word with complete credulity. She had absolutely no supporting evidence to offer. This same individual was later diagnosed as schizophrenic and no longer manages her own affairs. The diagnosing psychiatrist thought it remarkable that her illness remained unnoticed for so long.

Are professionals in law enforcement and medicine no longer taught that extraordinary claims require extraordinary truth? When after ransacking the preschool and finding nothing remarkable why did no one in authority stop to consider this? "Think of the children!" seems to excuse any irrationality.

Things really got out of control a few years back when self-proclaimed experts began running seminars for police and medical personnel which taught that they should on the lookout for things that cannot be shown to have ever existed outside of horror novel, rather than the plain old garden variety perverts that actually exist. In an article for the Skeptical Enquirer a writer attended one of these seminars and engaged some of the other attendees in conversation. A nurse or psychologist (I forget which) commented that the existence of a vast hidden network of baby sacrificing Satanist cults reaffirmed her faith in God. I guess this is the theory that if there are black hats somewhere there must also be white hats.

The state of Washington seems especially receptive. In Olympia a highly regarded cop had his life destroyed after his daughter was sent to a psychologist who convinced her that all of her problems were rooted in her shrouded memory of molestation by her father. The girls sister's were similarly convinced, and stunningly, the father himself became convinced. Although he had no recollection of committing unspeakable evil against his daughters he was convinced that he too had blocked out the memory! Much damage was done before sanity prevailed. (I consider it to your credit that you chose not to make Psychology your lifelong career. I have little respect for the profession as I've seen it practiced.)

The Wenatchee area was effectively held prisoner by a single police detective on a literal witch hunt. Anybody who dared to speak out immediately joined the list of suspects and their opinion lost all value.

These cases had two things in common: religion. The cop in Olympia was a high ranking figure in his church. My mother resided in Wenatchee for a portion of the Eighties and reported that she had never spent time in another place where almost all social activity seemed to revolve around the church. It is my firmly held belief that a mentality attached most deeply to the supernatural rather than philosophical elements of a religion leaves communities vulnerable to these breakouts of hysteria.

I would have to say that many hysterics are attracted to religion, particularly evangelistic chiliastic religions, but it is certainly not the case that all chiliastic evangelists are hysterics or nuts: As in Wesley, Cardinal Newman, the Oxford Movement, etc.  I tend to the more intellectual sins myself; C S Lewis describes that, too.


Prager wrote this:

> Back in 1991, Microsoft was caught in undeniable > intellectual-property theft, that is, a blatant violation > of Stac's software copyright, when Stac's own copyright > notice for its "Stacker" disk compression software was > found in the DoubleSpace code of MS-DOS 6.

I would like some documentation to support this astounding claim. I worked at Microsoft in 1991, and I think I would have remembered this happening; it would have been huge news and I don't believe I could have missed this.

I also find it hard to believe that, if someone at Microsoft was willing to do this, he would do such a poor job as this.

Here is the way I understand the story. It is true that I mostly know Microsoft's version, so keep that in mind.

Microsoft tried to make a deal with Stac. Both sides wanted different things: Stac wanted royalties on each and every copy of MS-DOS shipped, and Microsoft wanted to pay a single lump sum. If you were Microsoft, and you shipped the vast number of copies of DOS they were shipping, I think you would prefer a lump sum too; I know I would! My understanding was that Microsoft was willing to pay a *large* lump sum, not some trivial amount. Anyway, after the deal didn't work, Microsoft engineers wrote compression code that did something similar. Stac claimed it violated a patent. Microsoft engineers re-wrote the code to avoid the patent. Stac claimed it still infringed. The court case could have gone on for a while, but Microsoft settled out of court. Some will say Microsoft settled because they knew they would lose, but that is far from clear.

Praeger thinks that including GPL code in a Microsoft product would cause the Microsoft product to fall under the GPL. I doubt this. What would happen is that Microsoft would re-write the offending portion to remove the GPL code, and not give anything away, and no court in the country would force Microsoft to do anything else. Now, if Microsoft were to leave the code in and keep shipping, perhaps there would be a test of the GPL in court and perhaps MS would lose. Who can say?

I don't know other than that the settlement turned out to be more profitable for Stac than the company was worth. When 100 megs was a big disk, disk compression was a good idea and worth something; but when disks got to multiple gigabytes, no one was much interested in compression anyway. Certainly the Stac case seems to be the most blatant case, but I am not aware of the details.


Subject: Moore's Third Law

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I read the Byte reports, and am becoming convinced that the computer revolution is starting to fizzle out. We can expect much smaller and faster machines, but the software will be much like what we use today.

Computer hardware is getting smaller and faster, but software is still written the old-fashioned way - by a burned-out schmuck typing on a keyboard, then running and correcting the code until it stops crashing. This takes time, and it seems to me that software development time will be the limiting factor in computer development.

The situation is very reminiscent of the aerospace industry. Anthony Fokker needed a few man-months to design an airplane. Dutch Kindelburger needed man-decades. Modern designers need man-millenia. And it shows. In 1917, new designs popped out in a few months. In 1942, new designs popped out in a few years. Today, a new airplane represents a decade of design work. Not because the engineers are less capable, but because the product has grown so incredibly complex.

The same is true of software. Twenty years ago, completely new programs could be cranked out in weeks. Ten years ago, radically upgraded software took months to write. Today, minor improvements take years. And we expect super-code for super-computers???

I suspect that this will be the trend for the future - faster computers, with more storage capacity, but the same software. The heyday of computer growth is ending.

Where do I think the future lies?

Genetics, to a degree. Although it seems to me that the more we study it, the more those 30,000 genes look like a permutations and combinations problem - have fun!! And patience!!

Nanomechanics. I suspect that this is a field at the stage of electricity atound 1800 - the real uses haven't been discovered yet. And, believe it or not, I have a hunch that physics may come back into play. Given the federal surpluses, and the growing recognition that importing oil is a serious national security problem, we might just be able to break enough cash loose to get a serious fusion program going - and THAT would crack aerospace wide open. Even NASA couldn't stop it then.


Mike McDaniel

I think the software problem is largely a languages problem. It may take a big team to build a new language that the rest of us can use, but it can be done, and will be. After all the machines are powerful enough now...

Re: Recommended USB CD-R / CD-RW


I vaguely recall your discussion of a Recommended USB CD-R or CD-RW, having stated that the USB versions of these devices are more reliable than with the other interfaces. Please reiterate this for me briefly.

Also, any recommendation or statement on the CD-R media? Iíve heard things about media reliability in terms of color: blue, gold silver, etc.

Thanks in advance for your trusted advice.


David J. Pogoff

Director, Information Services 

I had good results with the BACKPACK USB CD-RW, using it right out of the box to burn CD's.  As to media, we've used Maxell 8x CDR at 16x without problems. I don't have any opinions on CD-RW because I don't much use CD-RW.

Re: Tech support hell:

In which you said:

>>Spent some time on the phone with my wife's sister who was foolish enough to sign up with Juno as ISP. They recently charged her $50 for "support" in the course of which they had her uninstall her modem, and didn't tell her how to reinstall; in fact I think they caused her to erase the drivers, since we could not find them in a telephone conversation. And she PAID for this "service"! Juno is supposed to be "free". If you believe that you will believe anything. Fair warning. I have downloaded new drivers for her and I'll send them up. But this is BAD.

>>My two bits are:

Tech support is all to often viewed as an expense by many retailers, oems, etc. and so they short change it. For those in need of a brief education in the industry there is a wonderful FAQ here:

The basic problem is that many companies do not see this as an image (and therefore a marketing thing) They simply look at the economics of a ten or twenty dollar product combined with a one hour phone call (tech salary plus expenses, etc) and see that the numbers do not add up.

This is illustrated is a wonderful short article here: entitled "How much money is your Helpdesk making for your company?"

There is a fundamental dis-connect in the mind of many managers between the expense of Tech Support (salaries, etc) and the PR values of good service. Even big companies work to get the support issue offloaded as an expense to the OEMs, etc.

I suppose we'll have to dig out the proverbial clue-by-four, as the problem is sort of rampant in the industry.

And you are right. They should have know what they were doing in the first place, on top of everything else.

I myself have handled the proverbial phone call of "Hello, I bought my first computer yesterday, and I want to know how to use your software...", and this sort of thing requires a certain expertise and delicate touch that are widely missing.



Jerry, the pollen count in Ohio must have had some sort of seasonal oddity, or maybe there are too many dust mites in my home, but I got something in my eye when reading Horatio. Obscured my vision for a while. It is good to know that my tear ducts are washing away those unwanted mites or pollens or whatever it was they were.

There's no question that intellectual property should be respected. Thus (in my opinion) even if it does have beneficial aspects such as being able to "preview" music, Napster is clearly illegal. But revisions to copyright law extending copyright to, what is it, 50 years, 90 years? after the holder's death are ridiculous. Copyright for 30 years after publication seems reasonable. Sales of classic SF novels like the Lensmen series seem to indicate even a renewal period is legitimate. And questions of the rights of the heirs of an estate are clearly grounds for not ending it at the death of the author.

But the current revised copyright law takes copyright beyond intellectual property and into proprietory "keep forever" status. Sigh.

William Harris

Horatius does that do you...

I was happy with the old 26 years renewable. That's enough for me, let public domain have it after that. And I still get Royalties for works that are that old, too, so it's not a moot point. Life plus many years is silly.

Whoever thought we'd see Ted Nugent, Harlan Ellison, and Jerry Pournelle on the same side of an argument? :)

After reading Harlan's essay on your site yesterday, I was bemused to see the following in the Wall Street Journal this morning. Thought you and other visitors to Chaos Manor might enjoy it too. 

Kevin Trainor "They say that these are not the best of times But they're the only times I've ever known..." -Billy Joel, "Summer, Highland Falls"

Hi Mr. Pournelle,

I read your last column on Celeron processours and heatsinks. I'm wondering about the question: Are there possibilities to have completely quiet computers? Without noisy fans, maybe with a watercooling mechanism? Have you ever heard of this?

With kind regards

Josef Pfeiffer Germany

No, actually my machines are getting noisier. Alas. There ought to be ways, but I don't use or know them.










This week:


read book now


Thursday, March 15, 2001

Dr. Pournelle,

Here's how you build a quiet computer -

Start with a solid case, nothing flimsy to rattle around. Toss out the crappy power supply that came with it, and get a good high quality low-noise replacement. Most major PSU manufacturers have a quiet or whisper option.

Get the fastest rated intel cpu you can, then use either a very large heatsink or a normal heatsink with the quietest fan you can. If you underclock the cpu, you may be able to get away with not using a cpu fan. Don't try this with an Athlon, you'll burn it up within seconds.

Get a reasonably fast video card, and underclock it too, to reduce heat buildup and raise the board's tolerance to heat. Make sure the vid card has no fans on it's heatsink if so equipped.

Get a modern 5400 rpm hard drive and place it in a quiet internal drive enclosure. 5400 rpm drives will generally be quieter and run cooler than 7200 rpm drives. Use a slower (20x should be sufficient) cdrom drive as well.

Instead of using flat ribbon cables for the drives, buy rounded cables. They look nicer, reduce internal clutter, and can dramatically improve air flow inside the case making everything run cooler.

After all this, make sure all openings to the case are as closed as possible. If it's still too noisy, replace the noisy parts with quieter ones or start putting sound deadening stuff inside. There are heavy mats available for car sound deadening that work very well. They're essentially a thin layer of lead laminated between 2 cork or other composite layers with one sticky side. A small square of this stuff will stop nearly all vibration on the surface it's stuck to, so a square for the cdrom drive, a square for the power supply, a square for the hard drive, and a few squares for any large sheet metal case parts will be sufficient.

If you need more cooling, sleeve bearing fans are often quieter than ball bearing fans but they don't last as long. Run them at 5v instead of 12v if you don't need all the airflow, or get one with a built-in thermal sensor and speed control. If you add a second case fan, close up all vent holes except the power supply exhaust and the case fan's intake. Intake at the bottom, exhaust at the top through the power supply is usually best.

Running the cpu and vid card at lower than rated speed can make them more tolerant of heat and as long as there's SOME airflow, they won't cook or melt. Run the memory at 100 mhz cas3 instead of 133mhz cas2 and the memory will also be less affected by higher temperatures.

All in all, the big costs associated with a quiet pc is 10-20% performance loss by not running hot high performance components, $60ish for a good quiet power supply, $20 or so for an insulated hard drive box, possibly $50 or so for a bunch of sound deadening matting (brand name stuff available at any auto sound store, generic stuff can be found anywhere), and whatever you feel like spending while experimenting to find a quiet cpu fan and optional quiet case fans. Add in $5-$20 for round IDE cables if you have a small case and need better airflow. There's no reason to have a howling loud case unless you're pushing the high end performance edge, or running a server with lots of hot hard drives in a non-conditioned environment. Athlon cpus will self-destruct within seconds if you don't have a quality heatsink and fan attached, so some care must be used when quieting down an AMD based system. Intel still makes cpus that can be run with a small and quiet cpu heatsink/fan unit.

Another thing to look at is the rated cpu voltage. Some of the faster intel cpus are simply slower cpus that can handle higher voltages, so they naturally will run hotter. The slower cpu might be cooler at it's default voltage than a faster cpu would be even when running slower than it's rated speed.

I don't know if either intel or AMD make any modern cpus that are ok to run with just a heatsink, but I'd bet one of those new 100 mhz bus celerons would probably run cool enough if put on a slower 66 mhz bus. Sure it would be slower, but I can't see needing blazing speed in a computer that also must be very quiet. I'm currently modifying an older computer to augment my home entertainment center. It currently works as my DVD player and MP3 player amplified through my stereo, and it's also something to play with during TV commercials. Eventually it will be in a quiet slimline case and will have video capture and edit capabilities plus a wireless keyboard and mouse. The cpu is a celeron 300A overclocked to 450mhz (with a very quiet OEM cpu heatsink and fan attached), and that is more power than it needs. If I was willing to spend some money instead of simply using old replaced parts, I'd have an LCD panel running Xwindows attached to my couch that would use a wireless network connection to connect to the main computer hidden in the entertainment center, which would run Linux to get the best response out of slower hardware. That way I'd have complete control over the whole system from a dumb terminal at my fingertips.

Then I'd use it a maximum of 4 hours a week... Guess I won't be spending any money on THAT project.

Sean Long

That will do it all right. Thanks.

From Trent Telenko:

Why I hate public shools, unconditionally:


Mar 15, 2001

Dim Bulbs

Three years ago San Francisco had a problem. One of its elementary schools was doing a poor job, even by the low standards governing public education. The school board voted to let Edison Schools, a for-profit concern, take it over. Since then test scores have risen dramatically: 29 percent of pupils now score in the top half of pupils nationwide, compared with only 8 percent in 1998, and the number scoring in the bottom fourth has fallen 34 percent. Enrollment has risen as well.

So San Francisco is poised to do the only thing one would expect: cancel the Edison contract.

Critics of the Edison Charter Academy, as it is currently called, contend scores have risen because the school's demographics have shifted (a false contention, as the percentage of black students remains roughly the same and the percentage of Hispanics has risen somewhat). The teachers' unions commissioned a couple of critical studies.

But nobody can deny the plain truth about educational improvement. Edison simply has done a better job. The critics concede as much when they admit even if they manage to give Edison the boot, they will continue using the methods Edison imported. "If there are things that are working that we can afford, we should keep them," says the school board president.

So the company's foes are reduced to arguing strictly on the basis of ideology. "I don't think for-profit companies have any place here," says one parent. Of course not. The idea is as alien as the idea of private enterprise making money from children's shoes and entertainment.

The Edison project represents a genuine threat to the government-school monopoly. New York is considering handing over five schools to the company, and if it does so, districts elsewhere might follow suit. Sure, that would raise the possibility of genuine learning, but the credibility of the National Education Association's motto, "We teach the children," might suffer in the process. Heaven knows we can't have that.

This story can be found at : 



A reader said:

The same is true of software. Twenty years ago, completely new programs could be cranked out in weeks. Ten years ago, radically upgraded software took months to write. Today, minor improvements take years.

It can happen that new developments or changes take a long time, but my company's philosophy is that developer groups get too large, and create issues that cause the development process to become unmanageable. I've seen this happen first hand, having been involved with many large projects as a defense contractor.

Defining the problem carefully, and evolving a solution that does not require huge teams of developers that can not possibly work together efficiently is a better path, and we have demonstrated it many times. We continually come up with effective solutions in very short periods of time that befuddle companies with large in-house development teams. There isn't enough time for me to go into the dynamics of this philosopy, but I can assure you, it works.

And on another subject:

I vaguely recall your discussion of a Recommended USB CD-R or CD-RW, having stated that the USB versions of these devices are more reliable than with the other interfaces. Please reiterate this for me briefly.

I have an USB HP 8200 CD-writer connected to the port replicator on my laptop, and while it has been reliable (haven't made a coaster with it yet), it is very slow. For any but very small write jobs, I would rather get up from desk and go to the next room where there is a Plextor CD-writer in a desktop machine and use it. My laptop is an IBM Thinkpad T20, with 750MHZ Pentium III, 256MB of RAM and 18GB Hard Drive, so it's not the machine, the USB connection is just not as fast as IDE or SCSI.


Certainly one would rather use internal IDE than USB. I don't notice that SCSI is much faster than IDE. If any.

And from Jim Warren (Founder of West Coast Computer Faire and Dr. Dobbs'):

First they wanted our finger prints. Then they wanted our photos and social security numbers plus digitized thumbprints -- "essential" for driving a car. Next they demanded mandatory drug and urine testing (presumed guilty; required to prove innocence).

Currently, enforcers are building massive DNA databases on convicts, misdemeanor violators, some suspects and arrestees prior to possible prosecution, much less possible conviction, military enlistees, etc.

And there are already federal proposals that DNA samples be required from *all* citizens, for a federal database. (Note: DNA from any one relative also tells lots of genetic information about *us*.)

But now -- they even want to force folks to install id-chips in their *pets*! Forced by law. Criminal prosecution for noncompliance. Sheesh! <sigh --jim 


INTRODUCED BY Senator O'Connell FEBRUARY 14, 2001

An act to add Section 32005 to the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to animals.


SB 236, as introduced, O'Connell. Dogs and cats: micro-chip: owner's registry. Existing law regulates the ownership of dogs and cats, as specified. The bill would make it a crime for any person to own, harbor, or keep any dog or cat over the age of 4 months, unless that dog or cat has been micro-chipped and the owner's identification has been entered into a national registry approved by the Department of Food and Agriculture. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program upon local governments. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.


SECTION 1. Section 32005 is added to the Food and Agricultural Code, to read: 32005. It is unlawful for any person to own, harbor, or keep any dog or cat over the age of four months, unless that dog or cat has been micro-chipped and the owner's identification has been entered into a national registry approved by the Department of Food and Agriculture. SEC. 2. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution.


The San Diego Union-Tribune March 12, 2001, Monday Pg. A-1


SACRAMENTO -- To some it seems like a sinister, Orwellian plot: The government requires pet owners to imbed microchips in their dogs and cats revealing the owner's name, phone number and address. Those who resist face criminal penalties.

But backers insist the proposal isn't some Big Brother nightmare. Instead, they say, it's a way to use advanced technology to rescue tens of thousands of animals and save millions of taxpayer dollars on animal shelter operations.

The plan is contained in new legislation, Senate Bill 236, by state Sen. Jack O'Connell, D-Santa Barbara, a pet owner and longtime legislative champion of animal rights.

"It will save money and help lost pets be reunited with their loving owners," O'Connell said. "It's just good public policy."

Some opponents argue that the legislation invades the privacy of millions of pet owners. Others say a law requiring microchips is too extreme, especially for cats, which don't even require licenses in most parts of the state.

"It's total overkill," said John Folting, a retired San Diego resident and member of the Cat Fanciers Association. "How can you criminalize something like that?"



The San Diego Union-Tribune January 5, 1989, Thursday

Marketed by Infonet Identification and Recovery System in Los Angeles, the new device consists of a small microchip injected just under the skin of cats, dogs and other pets. Veterinarians say the procedure is painless.

Under the Infonet plan, animal shelters that find stray pets scan them with an instrument resembling a supermarket barcode reader. If the scanner turns up a chip, the finder dials ...

... 40, and the annual service fee to be listed with the registry is $11. According to Infonet, most city and county animal shelters in California will be using the scanning system by this spring.


Dog Bytes Say More Than Bark by Julia Scheeres 2:00 a.m. Mar. 15, 2001 PST

Proposed legislation in California would require microchips to be implanted in cats and dogs to reduce the number of former pets killed in the state's animal shelters each year.

Under Senate Bill 236, introduced by state Sen. Jack O'Connell (D-Santa Barbara), dogs and cats would be "chipped" and the owner's identification entered in a national registry.

The bill is slated for debate in the judiciary committee next month.


"Our position is that anything that helps animals, we support," said Bob Reder, program coordinator for the HSUS. "We don't have hard numbers and statistics on things like backyard breeders and puppy mills. It'll be good to find out who we're targeting."


---- POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list You may redistribute this message freely if it remains intact. To subscribe, visit  This message is archived at  ---

I think no comment is needed.









This week:



Friday, March 16, 2001

If id chips for dogs and cats make sense, they make at least as much sense for kids. Just think of all the missing and exploited children that could be rescued. And once that system proves its worth, we'll want to retrofit all the adults....

Things are really going to be different. 

Michael Juergens 

Great idea.

Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

"I don't think Hubbard was the greatest science fiction writer of all time (although he may have been the most prolific), ..."

I, too, have enjoyed Hubbard's fiction, but I had never considered him to be particularly prolific. Indeed, I think that if one examined the number of fiction books in current print, he would rank behind even J. Pournelle... lists over two hundred entries for Hubbard, but less than two dozen unique sf titles (not counting Writers of the Future).

Too get a better look at Hubbard's output when he was a practicing sf writer, I looked at his entries in the old -- and long out of print -- Day Index of the SF Magazines for 1926-1950. Hubbard (including Rene Lafayette and Kurt von Rachen) had just about one full column of entries. This is more than most of the writers listed, but not more than Jack Williamson or Clifford Simak -- to mention two writers whose names are still remembered. Edmond Hamilton had almost two columns on entries -- without including his pseudonyms!

I know that Hubbard wrote for pulps other than the sf magazines. Were you including this output in your "most prolific" judgement?

Carrington Dixon

Yes, I was just thinking about all the covers they have at the Hubbard museum at Author Services. Impressive in numbers of words. But it wasn't all sf of course.

Dear Mr. Pournelle, I enjoyed your recent article on nanotechnology in One brief comment: the idealized "New University" described in your article already exists--Just visit our country's national laboratories and you will find teams of interdisciplinary scientists and technologists working together to address these fundamental issues. A visiting university professor once commented to me that our environment at the labs is like that of a group of highly motivated post-docs: all focused on producing fantastic science without the distractions of competing for tenure or scraps of funding. Naturally, I am somewhat biased, but I think that it is perhaps less necessary that we restructure our universities than that we maintain the science-focus of our national laboratories.

Best regards, Douglas L. Medlin

> ------------------------------------------------------- > Douglas L. Medlin > Materials and Engineering Sciences Center Email: > > Thin Film and Interface Science Department Phone: 925-294-2825 > Organization 8721 Mail Stop 9161 Fax: 925-294-3231 > Sandia National Laboratories > Livermore, California 94551 > 

Yes, of course. I recall being invited to lecture at Sandia seminars several times over the years.  Best regards.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Your report on nanotechnology from the AAAS meeting was a nice piece of reporting: no blue-sky words of wonder about little mechanical submarines floating through our bloodstreams scavenging cholesterol from our artery walls. From what you describe, something like a built-bacteria mechanism that's powered by sucrose may eventually do the same job. That seems much more reasonable than a nano-Nautilus.

The concept of the grow-your-own computer also held some fascination. How much would computer prices drop if there were no fabrication costs for the provider? Imagine the year 2050: a consumer walks into Fry's and buys a blister-pack containing a tray, a plastic matrix, and a bag of powder. The instructions: Mix the powder with water and put in tray. In 48 hours the powder grows like the "magic rocks" product in toy stores today and produces a motherboard with solid-state memory for both processing and storage. Retail cost is $10. AOL even sends out the kits for free but they only work after a connection and a 1-year commitment to them as your ISP.

Of course, information entry and data transfer devices have to be added, but if the technology comes true, PCs will be sold like calculators. Maybe even marketed like impulse-buy items: New PC kits hanging off of hooks above the candy bars at the grocery check-out.

-- Pete

I expect to see computers at commodity prices in my lifetime.

Jerry :


>> Certainly one would rather use internal IDE than USB. I don't notice that SCSI is much faster than IDE. If any. <<

Well, that's true if you're just managing things with one CD on the system. When I bought a CD-RW several years ago, I found that it was subject to a number of system conflicts for interrupts of various types and stripes. In addition, it was very touchy about being the master on one IDE channel, and that any other CD-ROM needed on another IDE channel. Given that the hard drive needed to be the master on the primary IDE channel, this meant that the CD-RW was the master of the secondary and that the CD-ROM was the slave of the primary.

And still the CD-RW was a touchy device, with crashes and relatively frequent tweaks needed for smooth operation.

I ended up placing a CD-ROM on my SCSI circuit to avoid all the problems, and discovered that separating the two devices from IDE alone led to _much_ higher speeds. This is not surprising given the nature of data transfers between the primary and secondary IDE channels.

I replaced the older CD-RW in the home machine with a faster better device a bit back, and the speed was even better. As an experiment, I timed burning CD's with my office machine where I have the CD-RW and CD-ROM both on IDE against the same CD in the home layout with IDE and SCSI, and found that the IDE/SCSI arrangement was perceptibly faster. It seems that cross-channel IDE transfer has some drawbacks. Of course, I don't have a lab to test the throughput in a more systematic manner, but a watch and the same CD to burn can be used for a more informal comparison.

Note that the CD-RW for the "test" were both HP models, and that I'm not comparing dissimilar systems for CPU or memory, etc.

I'm convinced that, until the enhanced IDE arrangements are more settled or the USB-2 requirements become mainstream, a mixed SCSI and IDE environment is the way to go.


John Palmer


And for more on a serious subject:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Firstly, I hope Sasha is feeling better. There is nothing so heart-breaking as when your beloved canine companion is ill. (Doggy best wishes from Mr Spock, our wire-haired dachs.)

I feel the following brief summary of a historic child abuse case from Norway may be relevant to the discussion. (The quotes by Prof. Andenaes are translated from Aftenposten, 5. april 1998).

Professor of law Dr Johs. Andenaes comments 'The Bjugn case, with all its ramifications, is one of the most unpleasant and tragic chapters in (our) post-war history.'

It began in the early 90's, in a kindergarten in the mid-Norwegian town of Bjugn, with a chance remark by one of the children, which led to the suspicion that a male employee had indecently exposed himself. As more and more of the children were questioned, the case acquired greater and greater dimensions, with the children's accounts of rape, oral sex, acts of violence, bestiality and the slaughter of sheep and lambs, together with threats that they would be killed if they revealed any of this. Altogether, 30 people were suspected, and 61 children examined at the regional hospital. Seven people were eventually arrested, including the kindergarten employee, his wife, two female colleagues and the local police chief. Only the male kindergarten employee was charged, with indecent assault on 10 children, including five alleged counts of intercourse. He was found not guilty on all counts. The accused were all given compensation for the unjustified accusations made against them. However, 33 of the children were later given compensation as the victims of assault .

Later study of the case revealed many faults. The police inspector who initially in charge was later removed from the case, but continued as a contact person for the parents, encouraging them to question their children. The court hearings in the presence of a judge were held months later. As more suspects were named, the police began to believe in the existence of a powerful pedofile network, who were even suspected of bugging the police phones.

In hindsight, it can appear that the police were infected by the local panic, as their arrests came at the point when the children's tales were becoming more grotesque and unbelievable, as were the judges who questioned the children and decided that their testimony was credible. This series of events has been explained by the influence of the experts, psychologists and behavioural scientists, and the legal system's excessive confidence in them. There seems to have been an acceptance in their milieu at that time that sexual abuse of children is common, and that their disclosure is necessary to 'free' them from their 'evil secret'. The court-appointed medical experts, who examined photographs of the children, were not in agreement in their interpretations but believed from this evidence that many had been the victims of assault. Later, other medical experts have interpreted the evidence quite differently. It has also been pointed out that none of the doctors had any normal material to compare with. The parents and other kindergarten staff believed the children, even though their evidence had been given under pressure, and with the encouragement of the investigators and health care workers, even showed around lists of names and photographs of possible offenders, conducting their own private investigation.

The end result: damaged lives and destroyed friendships. The possible injuries to these children, from all the interrogations, the medical examinations, and the psychotherapy for their alleged sexual molestation, are unknown as yet.

Professor Andenaes comments that first and foremost, the case negates the mistaken theory that children always tell the truth about sexual molestation, and adds that an aggressive and suggestive questioning can induce the most absurd fantasies. He mentions similar cases in the US, where suspects have received long sentences, but later been found innocent and released after years in prison.

Regards, Gaynour

Gaynour Sletten

And I think that speaks for itself. Hysteria in any direction is not good. Duh. One should not ignore reports of abuse, but one must be careful how one gathers information. You will always find witches if you look hard enough. And children will always remember abuse if you ask them to often enough.

And now for the last thing I have to say about Scientology. I got into the discussion when asked what Mr. Heinlein had said. I answered that. I don't care to do more.

There is a very great deal of material antagonistic to Scientology, and no one will have any problems finding it. I have friends who delight in picketing Scientology and making nuisances of themselves (striking heroic blows for the truth) on the subject. I have friends who defend Scientology, and at least one who I believe is a member of the church although we do not discuss it, just as I do not discuss anthropology in North America with my Mormon friends.

I have friends who consider the Latter Day Saints distinct threats to the US, and friends who are members. The same is true regarding Scientology. I do not insist that my friends like each other. The following is the last I intend on this, and I make no comment on it, beyond the obvious fact that he's right, you will not cause information to vanish.

Dr. Pournelle,

With the recent discussion on Scientology, it's interesting to note that Slashdot had to remove (for the first time ever) a post containing material copyrighted by the Church of Scientology, due to DMCA legislation.

Here's the link:;mode=flat 

An apparent victory for censors and copyright lawyers everywhere, this has already backfired as Slashdot posted in it's place a dozen or more links to the exact same text stored elsewhere on the net, as well as non-copyrighted material that paraphrases and explains the copyrighted stuff. In addition, there were links to several sites and books that look rather closely at Scientology from various points of view.

The icing on the cake is a few links on how to protest the DMCA itself by emailing or writing to your congressmen. I suppose this may be the first time congress will feel the slashdot effect?

You can't stop digital content, you can just drive it underground and piss people off. It's the printing press all over again, and the government is quite predictably flailing around trying to stop it.

Sean Long

And from Steve Stirling, Barrister and Solicitor (no longer practicing):

Subject: False Memories

Dear Jerry:

Actually, it's not just children, although they are somewhat worse than adults.

While I was at law school, they showed us a videotape of what we were told was a real bank robbery. We were then asked to identify the perp's weapon, and all sorts of answers were given -- Glock, Colt .45, H&;K machine pistol. Many defended their memories as crystal clear, with sincere passion, incredulous that others didn't agree with them.

Nobody got the right answer.

Which was "ripe Chiquita banana".

This was part of our criminal procedure class, the point being to drive home the fact that eyewitness testimony and human memory were inherently, and grossly, unreliable. IIRC, current research has determined that human memories are "disassembled" and rebuilt every time they're accessed. Certainly if you let a group of witnesses talk together about an incident, they'll unconsciously harmonize their stories -- to agree with that of the person with the strongest personality in the group. And they will forget ever having a different recollection. A charismatic individual can get a consensus for everything from the identity of a witness to a visitation by angels/ET's.

On the other hand, in a frustratingly large number of child-abuse cases, memory is all we have to go on.

Back when Freud was in better repute, it was accepted that actual incest/sexual abuse of children was a "one in a million" occurrence; we do now know that this isn't so. More like somewhere between one in ten and one in five.

On an anecdotal level, that's about what the women I know well enough to ask about such things say -- and none of those is anyone who was ever in court about it as a child, or who "recovered" memories. It was something they always remembered, and said nothing about because they didn't see any point to doing so, or were afraid of reprisals, etc..

(One did sue her father much later, successfully.)

The trouble is that while certain behavioral categories include more pedophiles (consumers of child pornography, for instance), most pedophiles are depressingly and distressingly normal -- they have conventional "regular" sex lives in addition to their obesssion, hold respectable jobs and enjoy public profiles, have no police record, etc. There's generally no physical evidence, certainly no unambiguous evidence.

So any system which has enough of a hair trigger to catch a substantial number of 'em is also going to be so hair-triggered that it will also be liable to misuse; it will have to depend on behavior clues in children, and on child testimony -- which, especially in an investigative situation, is extremely unreliable and vulnerable to suggestion. Although as you say, Satanic cults and dead horses are a negative clue of sorts... 8-).

And once accused, it's difficult for the subject of the accusation to clear themselves whatever the formal presumption of innocence. As you point out, it makes a jim-dandy method of pressure in divorce cases, too.(1)

On the other hand, any system set up to make misuse really difficult will probably miss a lot of real predators and leave a lot of helpless children in their clutches.

It's frustrating, but I think we're going to have to accept a choice of evils; perfection, or even a satisfactory system, is just not within our reach. Asi es la vida, as the saying goes.

Yours, Steve

PS: in re: (1) -- family law as a whole is an utter and unholy mess. I did a fair bit of it, and by the time they want to divorce each other, most couples are bitter enemies -- and are "remembering" things about each other creatively.

The problem is that what people expect out of a marriage has changed more than the legal/social structure of the institution.

In particular, what women expect from a marriage has changed drastically, which is why despite the negative economic consequences they suffer, most divorces are initiated by women. The sad fact of the matter is that from a woman's p.o.v., men aren't very satisfactory companions in many respects -- the emotional "styles" and the instinctive reproductive strategies of the genders are, on average, too different to make long-term cohabitation easy in many cases. Meanwhile men have become, if anything, even more resistant to "domestication" than they've always been.

People in general and women in particular used to put up with this dissonance -- usually supressed it below the conscious level, in fact -- because it was so essential for economic security and social respectability, and because general expectations for "happiness" and "emotional fulfillment" (as opposed to moderate contentment) were lower. Men suppressed their restlessness and women their unsatisfied longings for intimacy, or both at least pretended to do so as part of their inescapable social roles.

This longstanding compromise started breaking down some time ago -- according to the statistics, in the 19th century -- and the breakdown has of course accelerated in more recent generations. Given more choices and higher expectations, people stopped putting up with things.

The old answers are no longer available; hell will freeze over and water spontaneously run uphill before the denizens of Western civilization grow less individualistic or inner-directed. That's a trend more than half a millenium in the making, and the whole thrust of market economics and scientific progress amplifies it. For that matter, the basic personality pattern is spreading across the non-Western world too, for all the attempts to ban satellite dishes -- it's an extremely contagious meme.

(And on a narrower front, if you think the current family-law situation is bad, imagine what it's going to be like when DNA paternity testing becomes routine -- that's already causing courts nightmares and overturning some long-standing common law presumptions.)

Under the old Common Law a child born in wedlock was legitimate, and presumed so, even it if looked like the local laird and not like the father at all. It took a lot to disinherit a child on grounds of not being the actual get of the father.

Not a bad presumption. The purpose of law is social harmony, of course.

I am happy getting listed values, commonly 12X CDR (even on no name 8X media), on my Plextor 121032IDE writing as target installed as master on a Promise Ultra100 card using NERO (looking forward to version NERO 5.5 due out 22 March) to do on the fly copies from a source DVD/CD reader only running as IDE secondary master off the motherboard. Perhaps the IDE/SCSI combination owes its speed as much to crossing controllers (or perhaps buffering controllers?) as to the SCSI. Granted that SCSI does have many very real reasons to justify its costs.

I wouldn't mind having a pack of standard suite CD's to check speed to copy and overburn and so on if anybody can suggest such?






This week:



Saturday, St. Patrick's Day.

Ed Hume has sent a long piece about child abuse. Before we get to that grim subject, here are some great truths he sent earlier.


1. No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.

2. When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.

3. If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.

4. Never ask your 3 year old brother to hold a tomato.

5. You can't trust dogs to watch your food.

6. Reading what people write on desks can teach you a lot.

7. Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.

8. Puppies still have bad breath, even after eating a tictac.

9. Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time

10. School lunches stick to the wall.

11. You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

12. Don't wear polkadot underwear under white shorts.

13. The best place to be when you're sad is grandpa's lap.


1. Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.

2. There is always a lot to be thankful for, if you take the time to look. For example, I'm sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.

3. One reason to smile is that every seven minutes of every day, someone in an aerobics class pulls a hamstring.

4. Car sickness is the feeling you get when the monthly payment is due.

5. The way to keep kids at home is to make a pleasant atmosphere and let the air out of their tires.

6. Families arc like fudge...mostly sweet, with a few nuts.

7. Remember the strong oak tree in your backyard is just a nut that held its ground.

8. Laughing helps. It's like jogging on the inside.

9. Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.

10. My mind not only wanders, sometimes it leaves completely.

11. If you can remain calm, you just don't have all the facts.


1. Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.

2. Insanity is my only means of relaxation.

3. You know you' re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you re down there.

4. You're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.

5. Perhaps you know why women over fifty don't have babies. They would put them down somewhere and forget where they put them.

6. One of life's mysteries is how a two ounce bag of candy can make a person gain five pounds.

7. I finally got my head together, and my body fell apart.

8. There cannot be a crisis this week. My schedule is already full.

9. Time may be a great healer, but it's also a lousy beautician.

10. The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends

11. Age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone.

12. Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today.

13. Freedom of the press means no-iron clothes.

14. Inside some of us is thin person struggling to get out, but they can usually be sedated with a few pieces of chocolate cake.

To which little needs to be added. And now for more serious matters.


Say what you will, widespread sexual abuse is occurring around the world, and has occurred for decades at least. The perps are neighbors, cousins, stepbrothers, stepfathers, alcoholic fathers, babysitters, etc. How do I know? I treat the victims.

I'm a shrink. I have been taking care of the bottom of our society for some years now. Many people who fail to make it into middle class lives fail because they cannot control their emotions well enough to keep themselves at a life-track that leads to success. This inability is caused by an unstable-mood disorder that responds to what we psychiatrists are calling "mood stabilizers". I have put a number of people off welfare by getting them onto mood stabilizers.

Yes, some of this unstable-mood disorder is genetically determined. But most of it results from chaotic, hurtful lives in which children's brains cannot grow and develop in stable ways. The biggest culprit is sexual abuse.

I never push my patients to take their abusers to court. By the time I get them, they're adults and it all happened long ago. But it's still real for these victims.

Later I'll dig out a study I saw: the subjects were girls who had been taken to ER's for child abuse. All of the have physical evidence--torn vaginas and the like. Six years later a large percentage had forgotten the events. Another four years after that a large percentage of the forgetters had remembered again. No info on those who had remembered at the six-year point: they might have repressed their memories. Bottom line for this study: memory repression does occur. That's what flashbacks are all about.

Yes there are nuts out there pushing agendas. But we who deal with the victims know what's really out there.

Freud did the world a disservice when he ignored a case involving an allegation of sexual abuse early in his career. Fantasy, he called it. So many victims are not protected, so many ignored.

Freud was brilliant, but he invented many things, danced around the edges. I believe that much of his problem in inventing psychoanalysis lay in his early mistake of missing one of the major etiologies of psychopathology. Had he focused the power of his intellect on that we might have had a far more valuable tool. As it stands, we have EMDR and hypnosis. EMDR is fine, but hypnosis is very much a loose cannon. Only the best practitioners can be trusted with it.

Forget the headlines and the prosecution. Something like 90% of women admitted to psychiatric hospitals have been sexually abused in childhood. Was it causative? Perhaps not. Contributory? Absolutely: whatever else you have going on, the strength--or weakness--of your upbringing contributes to your response.

And I found the same problem in New Zealand, among American Indians who live around here--alcoholism always makes sexual abuse more likely--and among people who have immigrated from Puerto Rico and Europe.

Is there an epidemic or are we simply asking the right questions now? I believe there is more now than a half century ago: the biggest risk to children is genetically-unrelated males in the household--stepfathers, stepbrothers, mother's boyfriends, etc. With the increase in divorces worldwide since WW2 and the rise of unmarried households more recently, the risks rise. So the behavior increases.

I won't paraphrase Galileo here, though I do think of him: It doesn't matter whether you all believe in sexual abuse; as a doctor, I treat what my patients bring to me.

Ed Hume

First, I rather resent the "say what you will" as if I am either blind or making up my data and don't care; and second, I don't recall ever saying there is no such thing as child abuse. I am fortunate to have grown up in a time and place where I was blissfully unaware that such things could and did happen, but I haven't since been packed in cotton wool. I'll pass on going through everything I have said on the subject in the recent exchanges, but I made certain to say early and often that of course it happens.

The question is, is this so great a threat that we can throw out the rules of evidence, and instantly put children into The System upon any hint or possibility that an adult and a child engaged in some kind of sexual practice? When a child goes to the ER with bruises and vaginal tearing and her father's (more likely stepfather's, but say father's) semen all over her we are no longer dealing with suppositions, nor does it require degrees in psychiatry to call this "abuse."

Equally clear are the cases in which there is no hint of child abuse, and no physical evidence, and the stories begin to escalate to include grave robbing, Satanism, and mass orgies in kindergarten classes that never got reported despite going on for weeks in rooms whose ground floor windows don't have window shades. 

What isn't so clear is taking the kid out of the home and into The System and jailing adults as child abusers on the basis of induced memories, particularly memories of events that happened many years ago and are not on-going. 

The important questions for society are the limits of power. The arrogance of power has no limit. "Lend me the sword of state and I shall make the world a much better place." But our ambitions in that regard always and inevitably exceed our abilities. We want to protect children -- the helpless -- not only from obvious horrors, but from all horrors; and in doing it we render others not previously helpless into powerless wretches caught up in The System and send them off to a life of living Hell no less horrendous than that of the children we think we are protecting.

I have no answers; but I am quite certain that the larger and more zealous The System the worse the results will be. And reducing the family to an institution that exists only at the mercy of a level 3 bureaucrat is probably not the way to save civilization.

Jerry, At  there is this:

The latest schemes to protect monied media corporations are starting to really push up against the boundaries of personal freedom... Example #1: On behalf of software developers and movie studios, the manufacturers of hard drives (emphasis: the makers of ALL computer hard drives) have teamed up to institute draconian copy protection on all newly purchased hard drives at the hardware level. This copy protection as planned will disable a person's ability to back up or transfer the contents of their hard drives. Read the story here: 

Example #2: The FCC and Hollywood have teamed up to "require the manufacturers of digital VCRs, high-definition televisions, cable set-top boxes, and related equipment, to implement copy restriction technology into the devices." This is an end-run around the Betamax case, in which the Supreme Court held that the creation of copies for personal use is legal. Hollywood's strategy: ensure that no digital devices allow the creation of copies. Which means that Americans will have the right to make copies, but won't be able to buy any equipment which allows them to excercise that right. The digital nature of the technology, when combined with digital cable or satelite broadcasts, allows the development of technology which can forbid the taping of specific television programs; broadcasters will be able to flip a switch that turns off the digital out on the back of your HDTV. I ain't makin' this up; just another one of the megacorp-protecting technologies which lies ahead.

Further details: 


I worry about this less than many do simply because I have great faith in the ingenuity of our readers. Look at the great success they've had in suppressing DVD unlocking software.

The tension may even do us all some good. Of course we can go overboard in any direction. Roland sends us this:



Harlan Ellison vs. the right to code. Speaking of freedom, those who have not yet seen it may want to have a look at Harlan Ellison's rant against those who post copies of his works on the net. And a rant it is; Mr. Ellison, to our knowledge, never published a story written entirely in upper case. Such restraint is not evident here.

Stylistic issues aside, Mr. Ellison is seeking to protect his rights to his work, as provided by copyright law. We wish him luck in that fight; he owns his work, and he should not have to accept its wide distribution on the net if that is not his wish. As LWN has said before, free software licensing, too, depends on copyright law.

Deep down in the article, however, you'll find this chilling statement:

With the second amended complaint, we were able to add a complaint for vicarious infringement against AOL for the development of the Gnutella file transfer protocol by its Nullsoft division. Gnutella is Napster without a central processing hub. By setting up a 'sting' operation, one of our investigators was able to track the infringement of several works by Harlan and Isaac Asimov using Gnutella. This presents interesting issues regarding the responsibility for the release of software which effectively pollutes the intellectual property environment.

If it becomes a crime to "pollute the intellectual property environment," then the freedom to program our computers is truly lost. Why does Mr. Ellison not go after the makers of scanners, optical character recognition software, ethernet interfaces, modems, disk drives, and other tools of "vicarious infringement"? What makes software special? Should the author of GNU "cp" start looking for a lawyer?

Mr. Ellison has shown himself to be a visionary writer over his career, but he now appears to be at a loss as the world changes around him. Distribution networks like Gnutella may well prove to be an important tool of freedom over the coming years. Nobody should have absolute control over the flow of information, after all. An attack on a creator of this sort of technology in the name of "vicarious infringement" is an attack on freedom. We urge Mr. Ellison to adopt a different set of tactics in this fight.

 Roland Dobbins <> 

After all, the invention of pen and ink "pollutes the intellectual property environment." As does Xerography. 

"There is no cause so noble that it will not attract fuggheads." Niven's Laws. I will add the corollary that there is no crusader so noble that he will not sometimes become overzealous and smite the undeserving allies of the infidel...

Roland also adds, 

If You Can't Beat Them,1367,42426,00.html 

Ah well.




This week:


read book now


Sunday, March 18, 2001

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: General Semantics, or words govern thought

Dear Jerry:

mz is correct about tech support, but it goes much further.

In my previous field of fast food restaurant management, I found that every chain swore up and down how they were committed to training -- and none of them actually trained worth a damn.

The reason, I think, is that the accountants invariably label training an "expense." "Expenses" are bad things, to be cut wherever possible. So, the training invariably gets shortchanged. If it were dubbed "investment," it might be done right. Same with tech support, mz rightly notes should be labeled "marketing."

Other great examples will be found in H. Thomas Johnson's book _Relevance Lost_, which is full of accounts of incredibly dumb business practices that had much to do with our bad economy in the 1970s. For example, "overhead" sometimes constituted 80% (eighty percent) of a manufacturer's costs, while direct labor accounted for 10%. The "overhead" was allocated to the products in proportion to direct labor, leading to situations where companies thought their profitable products were losing money, and their money losers were profitable.

A third example is software user's manuals. They are written by people who already know how to use the product, of course. But the manuals are intended for people who are don't know how to use the software. It never occurs to the companies publishing software to try the instructions on people who don't have any idea how to use a computer, and see if they are useful.

And in politics, we are continually being asked to "invest" in this or that, with no one telling us how to distinguish between "investment" and "spending," much less how we figure the return on the "investments". We also hear a lot about "responsibility," without anyone telling us what the difference was between, say, Janet Reno's taking "responsibility" for the Waco massacre and anyone's lack of "responsibility."

Korzybski fell into the trap of believing that he had the answer to everything, but teaching children that the map is not the territory, and that words can be misused by accident and design might do wonders.

Best, Stephen

Well said. Thanks.

Roland says "Bring back Bligh":,1038,500465050-500710333-503908340-0,00.html 

---- Roland Dobbins <> 

Dear Dr. Pournelle

I know you have little time or patience for doing research for people either to stupid or lazy to do their own but I have one question that has bugged me over the years. Many years ago (30 +) my interest in computers was piqued by a Science Fiction story whose title and author I can't remember. The hero of this story gets his start by using his family's battle computer to capture the market in his planets main cash crop. This central theme of the story has stuck indelibly in my mind but the rest of the book has faded or made little initial impression on me.

The problem with this book and all coverage of computers in early SF was that they were a bit vague on detail as to how the machine was built and programmed. Nevertheless the general concept is greatly intrigued me and I am happy working on such diverse subjects as chaos theory,neural networks ,genetic algorithms and complexity theory.

I am also working on building a Beowulf cluster but fear I will never have enough processors to really create the machine I want.

Still sometime the journey is more important than reaching the destination. Computers are one of the most interesting and versatile toys that mankind has yet come up with and have provided me with a livelihood and almost a purpose for living for many years.


Matt Fairley

The Boy Who Bought the Earth, by Cordwainer Smith

And from Steve Stirling:

Dear Jerry:

As you say, the common law generally assumed that the husband of a married woman was the father of her children, and it took very conclusive evidence to shift the presumption. Our courts, until recently, have followed this precedent closely -- and have extended it in cases of nonmarital paternity where fatherhood was admitted.

This made a good deal of sense; as the old saying went, "motherhood is a fact, paternity is an opinion". That being so, the legal duties had to be assigned to someone, and the father-of-record was the logical choice.

However, this _isn't_ so any more. Technology pays little attention to legal doctrine, and it is now possible to quickly and easily prove actual, physical paternity with a high degree of certainty. There are already commercial services with names like "Who's The Daddy?" which perform the test for a moderate fee.

And the results are... ah... startling. Nearly a third of those who use the service find that the father of record is _not_ the biological father; and this has provoked court challenges in virtually every jurisdiction and legislation in nearly a dozen states. These are cases in which there's already some doubt, but imagine what will happen if it becomes compulsory in _every_ divorce suit -- and if it spreads further, it may well have an impact on the frequency of divorces, come to that.

On a broader front, as the ease and speed of DNA testing increases, and the size of sample required decreases, it bids fair to become the ideal universal fingerprint. It's much more difficult to avoid leaving some miniscule scraps of tissue than it is to avoid leaving a print -- you'd have to encase yourself in an airtight suit to be really secure.

That would have its upside, of course. Paternity suits would become a thing of the past, to refer back to family law, because paternity would be an inescapable fact, like who your mother was.

Yours, Steve

The real question is, now that we can find out, what do we do about it? If you can prove that another man fathered "your" son, can you make the actual father pay support? Should you?

Steve Stirling continues on copyright law:

Dear Jerry:

Personally, I don't find it alarming that various computer types may be put to some inconvenience in order to protect copyright and patent, without which creativity in the arts and sciences would be permanently crippled. I've never had much patience with anarchistic infringement of property rights, particularly my own.

The various schemes to embed copyright protection in the hardware and likewise to make it impossible to hide the identity of a computer seem to me to be no more than sensible regulations which prevent computers from being used as burglars' tools.

The last time I looked, "freedom of speech" did not include either a right to _anonymous_ speech, or "freedom to steal".

If some find the measures intolerable, they're at liberty to not use computers at all; after all, everyone got by without them until quite recently. They can go back to typewriters and Xerox machines -- alternatively, they could simply desist from attempts to steal. And if laws are passed and they break them, they can go to the Big House where I'm sure many of them will be extremely popular.

Yours, Steve Stirling

And regarding my photo essay on Internet World,


Almost like being there. Thanks!

Bill Loard

And from Ed  Hume the pshrink:

The article I was responding to is 

-----Original Message----- From: Edward Hume [] Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2001 9:32 PM To: 

Subject: The Trouble with ADHD

This is in response to the article, "The Trouble with ADHD," by Arthur Allen in the Sunday, March 18, 2001 Washington Post.

The trouble with diagnosing ADHD is that there is more than a single condition that causes the symptoms. Your lead subject, Andrew Fraser, for example, may have bipolar disorder type 2 (not manic-depressive illness) and might benefit from being taken off all stimulants and antidepressants. He might benefit from mood stabilizers. As an emergency psychiatrist I see many cases where the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is missed. Sometimes clinicians miss a bipolar disorder coexisting with the ADHD; sometimes they mistake bipolar symptoms for ADHD symptoms.

Schools use screening checklists that do not discriminate between the two disorders. Confounding this is the problem of confinement: fewer recesses, apartment living and working parents too busy to take apartment-bound kids out to play (it is no longer safe to let them go to parks by themselves to play). All these leave kids with energy to burn off. In marginal cases this effect can be mistaken for ADHD. In cases of bipolar disorder and ADHD, the confinement effect can magnify the medical problem.

Both medical disorders, where they exist, need to be diagnosed accurately and treated appropriately if children are to function in school. The confinement problem needs addressing too.

Edward S. Hume, M.D.

Syracuse, New York



With IrfanView you can extract icon images from .exe, .dll and .icl files. You can take any image you like (say, a picture of your kids) and resize it (e.g.--to 32x32 for standard icons). Then you can save the image as a .ico file.

More coolness: as I was just testing out IrfanView I was using the browse arrow function to step through the images in the Windows directory. When IrfanView came to .wav files, it played them.

The more I use this software the more impressed I am with it. When Irfan figures out a way for us to pay him I am going to send him some money.

BTW--I use 72x72 icons on my 1024x768 desktop. Family pics come out as great icons at 72x72. I'd probably go larger if Windows would let me.


And so it has come at last:

From: Steve Setzer Subject: viable aquaculture in seawater?

Very interesting article about a saltwater farm under development in Eritrea. If half the claims are true this could seriously increase the food supply for Africa. Sorry about the long URL. 

Of course, there's already enough food to feed Africa; it's primarily distribution "mechanisms" (Marxism, warlordism, etc.) that get in the way.

I have been writing about this for years. Hurrah. One of my first stories was about sea farmers. 






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