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Mail 170  September 10 - 16, 2001

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 Mourn the Republic.

Dr. Pournelle 

Yes, Virginia, there are evil men in the world. And, yes, we are at war. This is our generation's Pearl Harbor.

It's not a law enforcement matter; this is a military matter and should be dealt with by military force. There is no such thing as an over- reaction to these attacks. Too many Americans have died and we must respond accordingly.

We know there are several terrorist groups who wish to do this to us. We know which countries harbor and support them. We are at war with those countries. Let us begin with Libya, Sudan and Afghanistan, and go on from there.

Congress should immediately issue an ultimatum to those countries that we know harbor terrorists immediately deliver these named terrorists into U.S. custody. Failure to comply with this ultimatum should result in a Congressional Declaration of War. Then, the offending countries should face the full brunt of the might of the U.S. Military enforcing our ultimatum and securing those terrorists for interrogation, trial, and punishment.

War -- brutal, ugly, and deadly -- has been made upon our citizens. It is time to respond in kind. Congress should do it right.

Respectfully Submitted,

Robin K. Juhl, Captain , USAF (retired)

Let this stand for many copies of this signed by many people that I have received in the past hour.

The Empire will strike back. It is war, and republics are not good at waging war other than in defense of their homelands against invasions. Other wars require other forms. We are in another kind of war. Waging it requires that we become a different kind of nation. One cannot have open borders during war. Many other liberties must be suspended. Some have been suspended since 1941. A few since 1917. 

The Seventy Years war pushed us to the edge. We might have recovered and restored republican institutions. Now I doubt we will.

The above list leaves out Iraq and Palestine. I doubt the National Security Council will.

Dr. Pournelle, I live in DC and, at Noon today, all hell is breaking loose here. The only violence was at the Pentagon (I have friends who work there), but the only airplanes flying are F-16's. I had no idea there were so many around here. Gotta be over a wing aloft. All the schools are closing. All access to the city is closed. The cell phone system has collapsed under the load, and the long lines are working intermittently. All local airports not just closed, but evacuated. The trains shut down.

Now comes the report that the US/Mexico border has been sealed, Canadian as well(?). And the National Guard, locally, is being activated. Canada has shut down their air travel system.

If it was a foriegn group, then there's gonna be a war. If it was a Palestinian group, the Marines will be landing on the Gaza and Suez and I doubt any country in the area will even think about getting in the way. If Bin Laden, Afghanistan will be given a list of names, and 24 hours to give them up. If they don't comply, the B-52's will visit Kabul. I imagine the Libyans, Syrians and Iranians will be getting phone calls from us.

The one thing to remember here is that it was originally thought that the Oklahoma City bombing was the result of "Islamic" terrorists. After all, no American could do such a thing. Right?

Whoever did this, well, you've gotta admire the operational art, even as we decry the effects. Simultaneous attacks on DC and NYC. Thousands of wounded, hundreds dead, the towers collapsing on international TV. "The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize" (V.I. Lenin, I think). They've certainly achieved their immediate goal of attracting attention. Will probably achieve their goal of affecting our future actions (maybe in ways they didn't anticipate). A well planned and executed operation. Our military is capable of the same, and the gloves are gonna come off.

Kit Case

We don't know who is responsible for this. Agents provocateur are not uncommon in wars in the shadows. But this was too well coordinated to be anything but an act of what is effectively a national government. No agent provocateur would have gone this far or have been able to marshal these resources.

This was an act of state.

Hi Jerry,

No doubt that there will be a lot of mail on this...

The mind staggers under the horror of what just happened a few hours ago. How can people comprehend the scale of the tragedy that has just occurred?

No doubt that these next questions will seem incredibly insensitive in light of this act of unparalleled terrorism in the U.S., but I have to ask it anyway. Your insights may help to guide in this time of darkness.

What will be the implications on the freedom of US citizens in the future? What will the citizens be willing to give up in order to "secure freedom" from terrorism? Will too much be given up as the US slips into a police state? If the terrorists do nothing else, they will have succeeded in turning parts of the US against itself which could possibly be an even more devastating event than the one that just occurred. What about non-whites? Will we see the return of the World War II internment camps for groups that are Arab? Chinese? Foreign? You can never be too sure with these foreigners, right? Perhaps it's for the best. Who needs freedom when you can have safety.

What things will be swept under the rug in the aftermath of the even? Will bills like the SSSCA get passed unchallenged ( for the good of our people and our children, we know best ) while the attention of the US ( and perhaps, the world ) is focused elsewhere? There are those with their own selfish financial interests that would see this as an unparalleled opportunity for getting "favourable" laws passed. That there are people who would take advantage of this fills me with such utter... ? hate? contempt? sickening of my very soul?

What about the retaliation that must occur by the US. Will they get the right group? Will they get them all? God help the American citizens if the retaliation attempts fail. The next plane, or boat, or car that drives in could be carrying a nuclear device. How long will it be before this happens? Can the US afford not to retaliate? Of course with terrorists such as these, nothing makes a difference except complete utter and total annihilation. Does the US have the stomach for that? I sure they do now, but they have not yet been given the final bill. Does the US have the capability to find these guys? Somehow I think that the US may have lost its low tech intelligence ability ( remember Somalia? ).

All these questions with implications that go far beyond this single act of terrorism. I think that is perhaps the true terror.

...but I'm too numb to feel it.

- Paul

All matters to worry about.

Hello Dr. Pournelle

 I am ashamed to hear myself ranting like this, but this is the way that I truly feel, perhaps I will calm down, once all of the facts are in: Nuke these clowns until the desert is one large sheet of black glass. Kill all of the survivors, if any. Demand that any countries harboring these creatures turn them over, or risk similar treatment. It's time to clean house. As with the carrier pigeon, the dodo, and the Tasmanian Devil, the only place where future generations should be able to see these creatures, is as stuffed exhibits at museums. This should not be business as usual; we have been criminally violated, and should consider ourselves at war with any who would give succor to these criminals. If this is the product of a government, than we should make certain that the government in question, and the nation which it governs should cease to exist. This is emotionalism speaking, of course, but I suspect that I am not exactly alone in my feelings.

No. You are not alone.

Dear Jerry ; I have been a reader for a long time. One of your books I believe it was Prince of Sparta had a line in it to the effect of a low intensity war can not win you can beat it if you have the nerve to stay the path. (This is a paraphrase).

An attack has been carried out it was anticipated in type but not in this particular case. They got away with it . Now comes the hard work. Save the living in New York and Washington, give some closure to the families of the dead. Find out who did this and kill them.

You do not talk or negotiate with terrorists, it will not work beyond opening the door for them to walk in and make them selves at home the next time.

Get some use out of the billions that the CIA swallows every year. Tell the countries that harbour, hide or support these people that you want them delivered to United States custody for trial. Give them a time limit and then start to make your points.

Drop smart bombs where they will do the most good. Explain to the recipient that a smart bomb is preferable to a Marine or Army grunt with a really bad attitude.

If this does not work it may be time for certain establishments to reopen under new management.

Glen Shevlin Markham Ontario Canada

The great thing is not to lose your nerve.

Dr. Pournelle:

This is, of course, largely speculation on my part.

I can see no way you could force a civilian pilot to drive a plane full of people into a building. If these were civilian airliners, the terrorists' procedure would have required the terrorists to kill or incapacitate the flight crew and take over the piloting.

Corollary based on the crash of a 747 in an uninhabited area of Pennsylvania: the very brave crew of a civilian aircraft probably saved thousands of lives by preventing their plane from being hijacked and turned into a weapon of war. Unfortunately, it ended by crashing into a field. Who knows what their target would have been?

Then, there was the actual attack method, which was sophisticated and showed a great understanding of the World Trade Center building design.

>From an article on the architect of the WTC:

"The structural system, deriving from the I.B.M. Building in Seattle, is impressively simple. The 208-foot wide facade is, in effect, a prefabricated steel lattice, with columns on 39-inch centers acting as wind bracing to resist all overturning forces; the central core takes only the gravity loads of the building. A very light, economical structure results by keeping the wind bracing in the most efficient place, the outside surface of the building, thus not transferring the forces through the floor membrane to the core, as in most curtain-wall structures. Office spaces will have no interior columns. In the upper floors there is as much as 40,000 square feet of office space per floor. The floor construction is of prefabricated trussed steel, only 33 inches in depth, that spans the full 60 feet to the core, and also acts as a diaphragm to stiffen the outside wall against lateral buckling forces from wind-load pressures."

The aircraft I saw hit the building literally punched through the center of the structure, with flame and debris coming out the opposite side. I can only assume the first attack was similar.

This accomplished what no fire alone could have done: physically stripping the structural integrity from a large section of the upper levels of the building. The remaining steel in these areas, despite fireproofing, was weakened by the fire until the top sections of the buildings collapsed onto the floors below, which were unable to stand the massive shock and collapsed themselves.

There were pilots and engineers involved in this. These weren't teenage kids with dynamite strapped around them. As you have realized already, there was major organization behind this.

And on another subject:

There were any number of firefighters and rescue workers at the WTC when the first tower collapsed.

There were still rescuers there when the second tower collapsed.

Rescuers who had seen the first tower go.

Remember them.

Tom Brosz

Note that there are no pilots who would crash their plane into the WTC. These planes were flown by fanatics who know how to fly planes.

That one bears thinking about.

From Richard Pournelle: 

Hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 bound for Los Angeles were heard by air-traffic controllers instructing the pilots in English from inside the cockpit, according to a flight controller in the regional air-traffic-control facility handling the flight. "One of the pilots keyed their mike so the conversation between the pilot and the person in the cockpit could be heard," the controller says. "The person in the cockpit was speaking in English. He was saying something like, don't do anything foolish. You're not going to get hurt." Also overheard was a request for a flight path to Kennedy – but the controller, who was not controlling the plane himself, is unsure whether the pilot or hijacker made the request. Shortly afterward, as aircraft was making its turn toward New York City, the plane's transponder was turned off. With its transponder off, its altitude became a matter of guesswork for the controllers, although the plane was still visible on radar, he says. Ominously, but not understood by controllers at the air-traffic-control facility at the time, he says, was a statement by the person in the cockpit to the pilot in which the individual said: "We have more planes, we have other planes."


So far:

Claiming responsibility:

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Japanese Red Army

( o.shtml  )

So far as I am concerned anyone who claims responsibility is an accessory after the faft. So are all those dancing in the streets in joy. Let them have the responsibility they claim. They won't be much missed.


Since your mailbox is no doubt packed with opinions of various stripes, I had intended to refrain from adding to the confusion by attempting to put forth my own opinion. However, some of these emails I have seen (including ones that I have received directly) have raised issues which I feel a need to speak out on.

First of all, I am deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred today. I am also saddened by the steps that we as a nation will need to take in the future to prevent their recurrence.

While I deeply sympathize with the "shoot 'em all and let God sort 'em out" sentiment, I have to say that this is not a sentiment that I share.

Personally, I don't want to hurt Bin Laden or whoever is behind these attacks. I simply want them to STOP. If force is required to achieve this, then I will accept that. But I refuse to act out of anger or the desire for my enemies to suffer.

I fully realize that these people would kill me, personally, given a chance. But for me, that's not a reason to hate them. I fully support the "protective use of force", and I support (with some obvious reservations) the use of force as a deterrent. But I don't support revenge.

To quote Joseph Campbell: "Christ said 'love your enemies'. He didn't say 'don't have enemies.'" (Hey, if the devil can quote scripture to his purpose, then why can't I?)

To my mind, its important for me is to hold onto my principles, to not let them become distorted and corrupted by the tragedies that test them. Which is not to say that my principles are immutable - like a scientific theory, they must adapt to a changing environment and an expanded perception of the world. But I regard it as imprudent to change my principles based only on the pain of my personal experience, on the point-samples of disaster as distinct from the rest of my life.

-- Talin "I am life's flame, respect my name, Explorati, Inc. my fire is red, my heart is gold. Thy dreams can be, believe in me, if you will let my wings unfold!" -- Heather Alexander

If they are dead they will stop.

Steve Stirling says:

Well, the Palestinians (and many other Arabs, and other Muslims) have been dancing in the streets, shouting with joy, clapping their hands and handing out candy.

Meanwhile, Israel has ordered a day of national mourning and ordered rescue teams put on alert to be flown to NYC if needed.

Events like this at least teach you who your real friends are, and who are your enemies.

Time to teach the wogs a lesson; one that will ring down the centuries in a memory of terror and horror.

Deus lo vult, as the Crusaders put it. And no mercy.

Or as Hulagu Khan said just before giving Baghdad what it deserved: "I am the Sword of God, come to give you judgement."

Of course, they're not all bad.

The papal legate had the right answer for that, in an analagous situation: "Slay them all anyway. God will know his own."


The Israelis put plain-clothes armed guards on every aircraft; and their orders are to shoot at the first sign of a hijacking, regardless of hostage situations.

It has been a long time since anyone hijacked an Israeli aircraft.

I am listening now to someone who thinks we must fight prejudice and hatred. Not precisely the same view that Stirling has.

My own concern is that a handful of men with box cutters and knives were able to subdue planes with a hundred Americans aboard.


I've been following your comments on the way the U.S. seems to headed from "republic" to "empire".

Today's tragedies reminded me of Earth's actions toward Sparta in "Prince of Mercenaries", and Lysander's reaction to those acts.

I suspect our move to "empire" just got a big boost.


Calvin Dodge


An eyewitness acccount:

Dear Jerry,

Following is a message which my one of my best friends passed along with permission to distribute to those who might be interested. It fills in the details that I missed in my original conversation with him and attempted to relate to you.

Tom has given me permission to distribute the message - please feel free to post it if you deem it appropriate.


Art Russell, Major, US Army (Retired)

Message Follows:

Today was a tragedy for all of America and to my family, a very personal one. Lynn and my Niece Liz's husband, Jeremy Glick was on United flight 93 this morning. When the Hijackers took control of flight 93. Jeremy called my niece who in-turn conferenced him to 911. Jeremy relayed to the police what was happening as the hijacking unfolded. As our niece Liz listened, Jeremy told the police there were three Arab terrorists with knives and a large red box that they claimed contained a bomb. Jeremy tracked the second by second details and relayed them to the police by phone. After several minutes of describing the scene, Jeremy and several other passengers decided there was nothing to lose by rushing the hijackers. Although United Flight 93 crashed outside of Pittsburgh, with the loss of all souls. Jeremy and the other patriotic heroes saved the lives of many people on the ground that would have died if the Arab terrorists had been able to complete their heinous mission.

Please offer your prayers for all of those who perished or were injured in this tragic of all days and to our niece Liz Glick and her 2-month-old child, Emerson, who are left without their loving Husband and Father.

May we remember Jeremy and the other brave souls as heroes, soldiers and Americans' on United flight 93 whom so gallantry gave their lives to save many others.

Lynn, our four adult children and I are headed to New York to be with our family during this time of great sadness

All of my best,


We find heroism in many places.




This week:



Wednesday, September 12, 2001

We find silliness in many places too. I received many polite inquiries for ways to make contact with Major Russell and forwarded them on to him. Then I got this:

Am checking out report/message you posted on Jeremy Glick, passenger on flight 93. Who is Tom? Who is Art Russell Major? Do you know how to get hold of either? Can you confirm accuracy of the info in message? DO you know where the victim lived, what he did? Anything? THanks much. You can reach me by email or at number below. Thanks.

Maria Puente USA TODAY/LIFE Features/Arts/Culture 703-276-6521

"Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space."

Rebecca West

I don't think this needs much comment, or that you need to be given a copy of my less than enthusiastic response. Having been a reporter with deadlines and pressure I can understand stress, but I think I always managed to remain polite and to at least pretend respect for potential sources. Apparently USA TODAY does not operate that way.

Sorry to be so petty but I confess I was more than mildly irritated. Now we can get to serious mail.

Subject: Becoming the enemy

Someone, somewhere told Muslim fundamentalists that it was ok to kill civilians for a cause that they clearly saw/see as righteous. Today, we tell ourselves that it is ok to kill civilians for a cause that is clearly righteous. Terrorism needs to be stopped, but we can not succumb to their level and kill Muslim/Arab/innocent civilians who are in the way. If we do that, we have learned our lessons well and the people who have done this have won. They've destroyed America and the tolerance and freedom for which it is supposed to stand.

Sarah Chapman 

This is a common and sensible sentiment. At the same time something must be done.

One possibility is no longer possible: if this morning Kabul and Baghdad were smoking ruins and a new flight was coming to bounce the rubble, it would have been irrational horror: but it would have made it very clear that it is in the interests of every state to suppress the enemies of the United States. Machiavelli said it is better to be feared than to be admired or loved, and there is much to that.

It is too late for that. What we must not do is NOTHING. We cannot drag this on for years while we carefully investigate. Clinton muddied the waters enormously with his precipitate attacks on silly targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. If you are going to make it painful for those who harbor our nations enemies it must be painful. We did more to the Serbian people than so far has been done to those who shelter bin Laden.

Was it bin Laden? Literally who cares? He wanted to do it. He tried before. He did the embassies. He is certainly a credible suspect, he is certainly an enemy of the United States, he certainly considers himself in a war with us.

From The President of the United States to the Council of Afghanistan, 


You are known to be host to bin Laden. Within 24 hours you will deliver him and all those in his compound to the US Embassy in Khaboul.  They will be bound and in chains. We expect at least 24 persons. 

If this is not done we expect you to provide safe passage for all US citizens in Afghanistan to the border. Fortyeight hours later I will ask the Congress for a declaration of war.

Dealing with the Palestinian authorities ought to be similar regarding accessories before and after the fact.


We met long ago in Phoenix and I doubt you would remember me. We are both veterans who have seen something of war and we need to make sure our fellow countrymen understand what war is about.

My personal feelings are to destroy any who even sympathize with the terrorists, but that is the wrong thing to do. I have seen and heard people trying to use the terrorist acts to justify curtailing American liberties and freedoms, and That is the wrong thing to do. If we curtail one freedom or liberty in deference to "security" the terrorists have won.

We must locate those responsible, those who provided active support, and those who provided monetary support and bring them to the bar of justice. Since this was an undeclared act of war, the protection of the Constitution does not apply to those who participated in such an act. This include the drug cartels which supply most of the money to the terrorists. All governments in the world should be advised that any support, active or passive, to terrorists, terrorist organizations, and terrorist monetary interests constitute an undeclared act of war against the United States of America and will be dealt with accordingly. No participant must be allowed to go unpunished.

We need to determine who, what , when, and how; then we need to act. Let us remember that the Constitution of the United States is our most precious promise to our children.

In the words of a mutual acquaintance, now passed away: You can do nothing to a Free man except kill him.

Freedom and Right:

Tom Williams, Jr.

And truly free men die hard.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Obviously we are not all just a bunch of fans of your computer suavy, but of your writing in general. Truly, as we have gone through the last 24 hours I have found it extremely hard to not lash out in anger.

I commented yesterday that it is a good thing that these terrorists have not been able to crash the internet structure. I suspect the "damage" to our infrastructure is going to take a long time to correct. Clearly we need to take a much more proactive steps in our security. Although it is somewhat comforting to see a list of thwarted bin Laden sponsored actions before, we missed this one. As Skilly says "we only need to win once". How do we maintain the economic engine in place while changing our security? Can we keep the fundamental system we have in place, or do we have to change? Who are are Jefferson's, Franklin's, Washington's et al in this day and age to have a vision of what we can become while maintaining the best of what we have?

On a more pragmatic note. How do we shut down bin Laden and other terrorist groups financing? Although there will always be fanatics they will have a much harder time being effective if they don't have access to $25,000 cash to pay for flight lessons, or millions to buy AK-47's, or to train, equip, provide 3C to multiple cells across the world. Do we have an Bury's out there who can ferret out the flow of money and shut down the supply?

"The truly great thing is not to lose your nerve".

God bless us all,

Doug Lewis

Whether we wish to be Republic or Empire we must inform Afghanistan that they have about 24 hours to deliver bin Laden bound and chained or we will do what it takes to make them much regret not doing it.  

Then we have to decide if we want to be feared or admired.

Here's a link you should see, is the CoDominium coming to pass? 

Here's the interesting quote, section "Putin, Bush Come Out In Favor Of Expanding Joint Anti-Terrorist Activities"

Today in a telephone conversation, the Russian and US Presidents stressed the necessity to expand global cooperation aimed at fighting international terrorism. According to the Russian presidential press service, George Bush also thanked Vladimir Putin, who had been the first to react to the tragedy in the USA. Additionally, the leaders of the two countries came to the conclusion that yesterday's terrorist attack was one more event pushing Russia and the USA closer to each other.

-Jon Nials jnials@




The people investigating the WTC/Pentagon assaults are using "intercepted conversations" as leads. One casualty of this event will be any possibility of limiting or eliminating the NSA's Echelon program.

Now, I'm not necessarily a rabid opponent of Echelon anyway. I would like to see it have Congressional oversight and specific guidelines like no spying on calls where one or both parties are in the US. But the people who want to shut down Echelon completely have now lost the battle.

As the American people realize that "intercepts" generate information leading to the killers, there will be little public support for giving up or limiting Echelon. Is this a good thing? Probably not.

Steve Setzer

I want to think on this. Thanks.

Dr. Pournelle,

I agree this was a sophisticated attack.

Here is my reasoning:

1. 3 people per plane (we know this was the case on at least 2 of the 4 planes) = 12

2. 10-20 support people for each one (about) = 200 people

3. cost to support 200 people to infiltrate and set up safe houses and pre-spot equipment such as cars, to train pilots, plan, move people around the world, hire engineers to discuss best method to destruct buildings, get papers (SSNs, passports, visas, pilot licenses, drivers licenses, credit cards, credit histories, for the infitrators of course - to cover their true identities, etc.) over time (5 to 10 years to set this up) = $500m.

This is a sum of money and effort that only a very large company/organization or a very wealthy person or a nation-state can support over time.

I base this loosely on sort-of (vaguely remembered from Business 1A) rules-of-thumb for large projects, whether military or corporate. I have probably under-rated the costs since these efforts must have been carried out clandestinely, which I would believe are much more expensive than normal above-board corporate costs.

Did I leave anything out? Need I say more?


Oliver Richter

Well thought out.

Dear Friends:

This morning, on the radio, I heard a report from Keith Olbermann on KFWB radio. He was standing on or near the Western Expressway in Manhattan, reporting that there was a spontaneous crowd of 50 or so New Yorkers who were APPLAUDING every time an EMS, Fire, or Police vehicle went by. Proof, I hope, that even New Yorkers, whatever their reputation, are at root human, and respond well in a crisis.

Last night, it was eerily quiet in Glendale, where I live. The silence was never as heavy as when the sound of a lone jet-powered aircraft made slow turns overhead--I realized, then, just how profoundly things had changed, not from someTHING but the lack, the lack of the undercurrent of commerce and transit which accompanies everyday life, under normal circumstances. I wondered if the jets were fighters, or if there was an emergency flight going somewhere.

This morning, the radio confirmed: The jets I heard were F-15s and -16s. In a day of first times, this was another first: The first Combat Air Patrol (CAP) I've ever heard over our city, at least that I can recall.

Here, now, the PA from the gas station across the street is yammering, the construction on the Pasadena Blue Line has resumed, cars and trucks pass my window. Within the hour I'm sure I'll hear Station 31 screaming toward an emergency--a "regular" emergency--and I suspect the firemen will be saying a silent prayer that they do not face a hundred million pounds of rubble, strewn with bodies. Something like normality has returned.

I'm going out on my porch, here at work, and lose myself in writing for a few hours. The idea of blissful productivity again appeals, particularly compared to the constant repetition of nothing new which has overtaken the news media. I suggest you do the same, if you have not yet. No one can forget what has happened--it will be a cast across the nation, for as callously preoccupied as we often are, we are compassionate, when we remember to be--but everyone should let it slip their minds, for an hour, here and there.

* * *

Attached you will find a note from my father's website, after a few thoughts of mine. (Wall Street Journal called him this morning to talk about it. Actually, they called me, and I passed on the message.) See for more, possibly the WSJ tomorrow.

I can think of no more of a comment than:

--Heroes come in all places, sizes, and ages. --This tactic will never work again, because people will realize their lives are probably forfeit anyway, and this method will be known. --We are in debt to these people, just as we are to the many emergency personnel who gave of their lives so freely.

--Alex Pournelle, alexp

(Forwarded message follows.

It may not be over.

Doug Lewis said >it is a good thing that these terrorists have not been able to crash the internet structure

There may be additional damage that we haven't seen yet. My wife got called into work (at her minor branch office of a Canadian subsidiary of a fortune 100 company) at 5AM this morning. All communication between the Toronto or Montreal offices and the Tulsa office who is their main information supplier fell off the air suddenly early Wednesday morning. The Vancouver and Calgary offices still had a connection, but are vastly smaller than the two other offices.

The lines from Montreal and Toronto pass thru lower Manhattan on their way to Tulsa. When that area went dark, the switching equipment fell cleanly over to battery power. So cleanly that nobody realized that they were involved in the disaster. Most of a day later, when nobody was coping with the beeping of batteries getting low, that switching station fell out of the circuit. There is no ETA yet for when they will be able to route around the dead zone.

Don't assume that there aren't other vital links still running on batteries in some abandoned basement.

Greg Goss ( mailto:gossg@ )

At 1:41 p.m. Pacific Time CNN finally broke the 'exclusive' story of Jeremy Glick, essentially as related by Tom in your mail yesterday. A demonstration of why and how the self-styled 'experts' demanding that we need to know everything RIGHT NOW are full of it. Things take time to develop and coordinate.

Greg Hemsath

I love that exclusive. Actually I have forwarded about 40 requests now. It was not my story to give out. My thanks to Major Russell for sending it to me.


This is said well, and describes one possible -- even probable -- course of action. It may be the right way to go. Certainly it will resonate with the feelings of many here.

I thought about this last night quite a bit, as I'm sure every American has, and after the initial emotional reaction as a former United States Marine and U.S. Army Ranger, I decided that I don't advocate immediate attack on Kabul-- tempting though it may be. The problem is that there are more terrorists than just those working under Bin-Laden, so simply tracking him down, if he is indeed behind this as our intelligence would seem to indicate, will really not solve the long-term problem. In fact, it will probably just trigger more terrorist attacks if we kill or capture him. I have a better idea...

The President of the United States of America issues the following statement to the world press: "Henceforth, any terrorist attack on any U.N. or NATO member nation will trigger the immediate and simultaneous punitive bombing of the capital cities of every nation known to the U.N. to harbor terrorists and their supporting infrastructures. This will include, but not be limited to: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Libya. Any attempt at retaliation by the terrorists or the nations harboring them will result in the immediate and complete destruction of the entire military and industrial infrastructure of the originating country, as well as possible land invasion and enforced occupation by U.N. and/or NATO forces. From this date forward, any further loss of life on the scale of the New York attack inside the borders of any U.N. or NATO member nation due to terrorist activity, will result in massive retaliation on the civilian population centers of the country or countries from which the terrorists originated. Potential use of nuclear weapons in the execution of this mandate will not be excluded. Furthermore, the city of Kabul will come under immediate, round-the-clock bombarment. This bombardment will continue until such a time as the Taliban government either chooses to turn over the party or parties responsible for the attack of 11 September 2001, or they are exterminated."

Note that any group or nation caught taking advantage of such a policy in order to cause us to attack their enemies will be summarily exterminated.

The problem is that we ARE at war, and we'd better pull our collective heads out of our collective pampered asses and realize it. As has been stated by several of the pundits and politicians, this is not a mere criminal act, and hauling a couple of dozen people into court and convicting them of 15,000 counts of murder-1 is not going to solve the problem. The fact that these people operate from multiple countries, instead of being neatly packaged in one nation like Germany or Japan, ready for demonization and digestion, is irrelevant. Unless we make it very clear that this kind of act will be met with immediate and overwhelming force, and make it too dangerous for nations and governments to harbor terrorists, it *will* happen again. And again. And again.

We are an empire--THE empire of the modern world, in fact--and we'd better start acting like it or everything we value will come down around our ears. These terrorists are an infestation; they are rebels against order and progress. The only way to deal with rebels is to burn them out with fire, to purge them utterly, completely, and without any twinge of mercy. This means the adoption of extreme and harsh measures. It means wiping them from the face of the earth, and removing any future potential threat. Their wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, and pet dogs must all die with them. It must be made crystal clear to even the most dense of potential terrorists that the price you pay for terrorist attacks against the United States is far, far too high. The other option is to let them kill more American civilians. American civilians who are grandparents, mothers, fathers, wives, and children... How many have to die before we will do what is necessary, however distasteful "civilized" people may find it? I'm sure that Churchill and Roosevelt found it distasteful to order the mass firebombings of German and Japanese population centers. No less so did Truman find it distasteful to order the nuclear death of a quarter of a million people. But they did what they knew had to be done. Now, it is our generation's turn to make those harsh decisions. Yes, it may sound brutal to attack and wipe out population centers just to get at a few terrorists and their supporters, but is the alternative more palatable? Is it acceptable to see Americans die by the thousands, but unacceptable for those harboring our enemies?

We have played word games and tried to reason with unreasonable people long enough. These people are no different from the Nazis of 60 years ago; they will not see reason, because they are not committing reasonable acts. The only option is to bomb them back to the Stone Age, march into their headquarters killing everything that opposes us, and hang the ringleaders in the public square. Anything less will NOT get the message across, as WWII proved to us. We have become weak, have forgotten the law of the jungle, and we'd best address this for what it is, before it's too late: "a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States of America." The barbarians are charging over the Seventh Hill. We can either fight them, or die.

I am a citizen and a former soldier of the most powerful nation-state--indeed, the most powerful empire--that has ever existed on the face of the planet Earth. I WILL NOT LIVE IN FEAR. The strength is ours. We must be feared before we can be respected.

I just hope that the President has come to the same conclusion.


Do note that there are consequences to these actions. To begin with, we will trade liberty for security. That is a consequence of our desire to make everyone in the world Friends Of The American People, a title that Rome explicitly gave -- or imposed -- when the Republic adopted the policy of "to protect the weak and make humble the proud" and to extend friendship through the known world. 

Hamilcar Barca made his son Hannibal swear never to be a Friend of Rome. I would expect similar actions.

I do not say we must do nothing. Far from it. I would go so far as to humiliate those dancing in the streets over this. I wouldn't kill them, but I would see they wished they had not done it. And I have nothing against an ultimatum to Kabul: bin Laden, alive and bound, or else.

But understand, if we want to mind other people's business all over the world, we WILL make enemies, and we WILL have to trade liberty for security. This isn't speculation. It's what will happen.

I mourn the republic, which I think is finished. If we are to be an empire then we should BE an empire. Do your enemies no SMALL injuries. Do not WOUND the king. That is, I suspect the future.

It is a better future than doing nothing. But I think there is no compromise and that attempts at compromise will be fatal. 

Note that empires always end with emperor worship: even when much of it is cynical. Note also that empire and Christianity are not incompatible.

On Heroes:


To view the entire article, go to 

Passengers' Actions May Have Helped Curb Tragedy

By Charles Lane

As United Airlines Flight 93 entered its last desperate moments aloft, there was terror and violence on board – but also heroism.

Minutes before the giant airliner smashed into a field southeast of Pittsburgh, passenger Jeremy Glick used a cell phone to call his wife at home in New Jersey and told her that he and several other people on board had come up with a plan to resist the terrorists who had hijacked the plane, according to Glick's brother-in-law, Douglas B. Hurwitt.

"They were going to stop whoever it was from doing whatever it was they'd planned," Hurwitt said. "He knew that stopping them was going to end all of their lives. But that was my brother-in-law. He was a take-charge guy."

Anticipating his own death, Glick, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Sept. 3, told his wife, Lyzbeth, that he hoped she would have a good life and would take care of their 3-month old baby girl, Hurwitt said.

Glick explained to his wife that the plane had been taken over by three Middle Eastern men wearing red headbands. The terrorists, wielding knives and brandishing a red box they claimed contained a bomb, ordered the passengers, pilots and flight attendants toward the rear of the plane, then took over the cockpit.

The story of Glick's words adds to the account of passenger resistance already given by another passenger's mother on NBC's "Today" show this morning. Alice Hoglan of California says her son, Mark Bingham, also spoke of a plan to tackle the hijackers in a last-minute cell phone call to her.

Flight 93 was the only one of four hijacked planes that did not smash into a major target on the ground, and some officials are already saying that the actions of people on board may have prevented an even greater tragedy.

Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the Congressional Defense Appropriations Committee, said at the crash site that he believes a struggle took place in the plane's cockpit and that the plane was headed for a significant target in Washington, D.C.

"There had to have been a struggle and someone heroically kept the plane from heading to Washington," he said.

They sold their lives. And we have the White House.

Dr. Pournelle,

One aspect of the attacks which has not received due attention is that our airport security measures worked perfectly. The mutants boarded the planes with tickets, valid ID and no weapons worth the name. Their plan was based entirely on the premise that Americans have, collectively, been brainwashed to believe that criminal action, no matter how violent, disgusting, or outrageous, should never be opposed. Jeremy Glick and some other brave souls provided a counter-example. Is it possible for our population to learn from it?

James Utt

Amen, amen, amen. I have said for years that at the least every off duty policeman and every combat branch military officer should carry sidearms at all times. Let the terrorist understand that there may be an armed citizen aboard.


Politicians in Ireland are proposing a National Register of knives, and "strict licensing of knives capable of inflicting serious harm." [full story below] 


Tuesday. August 7, 2001.

"Knife control laws to be tightened"

THE Government is to review the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act in light of the alarming spiral in violent crime.

Justice Minister John O'Donoghue is to order the review following submissions on a National Register of Weapons by a group of backbench TDs.


And, sigh,

Dear Jerry,

Clearly you have a lot to say. Trouble is you’re saying it in a terribly unorganized and unattractive format. As a writer, surely you appreciate the importance of quality presentation in addition to quality content. In short, your website look & feel is in dire need of help. A minimal investment in a more professional website layout would work wonders on the accessibility of the content housed therein.


-Norman Esq. 

Does this mean you will not be subscribing?

And here is another view:

The Thousand Year War

Steve Stirling

>but we can not succumb to their level and kill Muslim/Arab/innocent civilians who are in the way. If we do that, we have learned our lessons well and the people who have done this have won. They've destroyed America and the tolerance and freedom for which it is supposed to stand.

Sarah Chapman

-- this is a profoundly silly statement, and I can scarcely imagine Curtis LeMay's response. What on earth does Ms. Chapman think happened at Hiroshima, or the firebomb raids on the Japanese and German cities, where the fires turned into hurricanes and hundreds of thousands burned?

To paraphrase a Chinese leader, war is not a tea party. It is not so mild, so reasonable, so civilized as that.

The proximate enemy is organizations like Bin Laden's, and governments such as those of Afghanistan and Iraq; but this is simply a battle in a war 1400 years old, against a civilization, and against many of its peoples. (Not all; the Turks are on our side, for instance; but most.)

Earlier battles include Charles Martel's victory at Tours, the Reconquista -- Sant'Iago and at 'em! -- the Crusades (including the Norman-led one which retook Sicily and southern Italy for the West) Lepanto, the sieges of Vienna, Prince Eugene's campaigns down the Danube, Catherine the great's crushing of the Crimean Khanate, the Middle Eastern campaigns of WWI, and the Israeli War of Independence.

The same enemy that struck New York is at work slaughtering Hindu civilians in Kashmir and blowing up apartment buildings in Moscow.

To win this war, we must break them to our will. That is going to require a lot of blood, and not only of combatants. It means dealing heavy blows and being ready to endure heavy blows.

Deus lo Vult.

Deus lo Vult! God Wills It! was the battle cry of the First Crusade. William of Normandy, son of the Conqueror. And The Douglas flung the heart of Robert the Bruce into the fray, shouting "Lead on, Brave Heart!"

They were interesting times, those. And some great tales. Lepanto. Don John of Austria has set his people free!

But does that war continue now?

And along those lines


One aspect not, to my knowledge, discussed thus far: the source of the funding required to pull off this sort of garbage.

I think that we've all seen the following: a low-brow dope wins the lottery, invests in hundreds of polyester pants-suits, pinky rings and pimpmobiles. This gent is then deeply offended because people don't take him "serious."

Most wealthy nations have earned their money through hard work in research, manufacturing, value-added intellectual property, etc. Some, peopled mostly by retrograde morons, make their dough by sitting on a site of valuable natural resources. These people have not earned their money, and they have no idea of the responsibilities of great wealth. These folks, FKA "natives," are now funding terrorist acts, the idiot third-worlder's vision of a new gold neck chain or X-TRA D-LUX wide motor home.

A simple solution would be as follows: all natural resources, world-wide, should be taken over by the civilized nations. I'd imagine that we'd see no more filthy-sheet wearing jackasses slitting the throats of sheep in the halls of the Ritz hotel and setting fires to cook them.

More importantly, these same folks would have barely adequate (if any) resources on which to feed themselves, much less funds to support the sort of actions we've just seen--financed 100% by our cowardice in paying whatever prices stupes demand for our civilization's lifeblood, rather than just taking the goods.

It may be also helpful to bring to mind France's longstanding policy of encouraging, supporting, and harboring terrorists--the good Ayatollah K. being one prime example. We Americans saved their lives, people, society, and country during the last major war. The pay back and thank you is the Frenchmen's fervent encouragement of the obvious enemies of civilization.

David M. Rose drose@

NATO invades. Suez again. I doubt it...

And on a different subject, from an old friend:

Dear Jerry Pournelle,

My husband Barry Gold [Cal Tech graduate; JEP] always volunteers for the safety committee. He's currently working at Sun Microsystems, in a 7 story office building. Before that, it was at Platinum (another software firm), at a building over twice as tall.

He says Los Angeles Fire Dept guidelines call for clearing a private commercial building in half an hour because it takes an hour to burn through a fire-resistant door. A floor should be cleared in 2 minutes (including checking all known handicapped people) and verifying all offices and bathrooms are clear. Fire drills are held once a month.

Our friend Rita Prince Winston says she's never seen similar drills conducted at the LA bus company's software division where she works. She also reports hearing a WTC refugee saying it took 45 minutes to walk down from the 78th floor.

If the WTC towers could have been cleared within half an hour, then virtually everyone would have gotten out before the towers collapsed -- except for those caught in the immediate impact & fire.

I've read (on that an evacuation test of the WTC following the 1993 bombing attempt cleared HALF the people there in THREE HOURS. I think one lesson we can learn from this is to require more stringent safety standards. If we don't have the technology to safely evacuate buildings over a certain height, then they shouldn't be allowed to operate.

--Lee Gold

I have not thought about this before. I will have to. Thank you.

And another point of some importance:

Hi Jerry,

No doubt you and the readers are hearing that the hit to the casualty insurance companies will amount to some 20 billion dollars. I wish to point out that this might be a case where Congress should in fact treat the insurance as an Act of War so that the insurer here becomes the USA. I think that it is now a bit unreasonable to expect shareholders to foot the bill for terror which results from our mostly-correct foreign policy. Insurers have a War Clause, but so far, this one may hit them privately due to the fine print.

One problem here is there is just so much capital available, and if tall buildings are to become targets, we will exhaust that risk-money pool. Getting insurance from the remaining companies, if indeed some fail after this, will be quite expensive or impossible for major office building owners. Disclaimer: While I worked in the 1970's to design pension guarantees for one company, I have no connection at all to the industry, and am retired.

Lastly, who will want to build a "Statement - Skyscraper" ever again? I think we will see many more rural offices surrounded by really tall trees. Do you recall the big move during the 1980's for Wall Street firms to go to New Jersey, and how New York gave them incentives to stay put?

Bruce Kebbekus

Also one I have not considered. Thank you.

And close the day with these:


 From: Ken Burnside 

 Subject: Nature of the Conflict

I am firmly of the opinion that we will want and need every willing back, every strong hand in friendship, every erg and dyne of support we can get.

This is not a conflict that calls for a measured, careful response.

This is a conflict that calls for an overwhelming, careful response, and an continued commitment.

The enemy has billed this as a war of cultural annihilation. Either they remove us, or we will remove them.

They have defined the goals of the conflict. The enemy is just as vulnerable to these objectives as we are. More so, in fact. The enemy builds his force on ignorance, on the Big Lie.

The enemy's greatest fear is that the prosperity of the West will seduce the generation after this one. That the memories of old blood feuds will fade when presented with McDonald's and computers and cheap cell phones. Every call they make to recruit is against the decadence of the West destroying their way of life.

After we punish the enemy with bombs, with bullets, we must salt the soil that the twisted tree of intolerance and fanaticism takes root in. We must change the hearts and minds of the young.

We salt them with small computers. With internet access. With a telephone in every village. With juvenile novels and encyclopedias translated into Arabic. With teachers who speak their language, and who teach them to use these tools to answer questions for themselves. Yes, some of those teachers will be killed. They are soldiers in this war as much as anyone who takes on a beret or a gun, and we can make martyrs of them for the world.

No tyrant can long survive with an informed and educated populace.

The organizations they declaim as the mouthpieces of the US shall be USED as the mouthpieces of the west. We tell their children that there is a life beyond substistence farming and blood feuds. We tell their wives and daughters that there is a life where they are valued as individuals and people in their own right, not as chattel.

We give them the tools of bilateral communication, rather than unilateral indoctrination. We give them the internet. We declare a great work, of making sure that every corner of this globe has access to fast internet access. Not just the US. Not just Europe. The world.

They will see pornography sites. They will also see sites discussing engineering, and simple improvements to agriculture. The curiousity of children will be piqued, and their questions answered. With each question asked, and each answer given, we slowly wean them away from the culture of intolerance.

They'll be able to ask questions without censure or censoring, and get answers they might not otherwise have.

I would sooner carpet bomb with game boys and Pokemon, and an Arabic translation of Monopoly, than FAEs and nuclear explosives. The adults are beyond our reach. The young MUST be reached so that 20 years from now, the thought of piloting a captured airliner into an office building full if innocent bystanders meets with universal horror.

I fear, in the haste for vengeance, that the nature of this conflict will be forgotten. Make no bones about it -- this is a culture war. It can only end with a declaration on the order of Cartago Delendo Est.

We cannot win this war with bombs or bullets, although we can accelerate its prosecution by those means. We can only win this war through a generational conflict; we must win the war in the hearts and minds of the children growing up in the Middle East now.

Winning that longer war will be costlier and less immediately gratifying than cluster bombs and Fuel Air Explosives, and "killing the bastards and everyone that helped them."

It can, however, be a profitable war.

If you are an author, or someone who creates media, contact your publisher about translating your works into Arabic. Someone in the DoD is in charge of outbound propaganda; we should find who that person is, and give them the munitions to win this war.

Bin-Ladin has declared this a culture war.

Let's show him what a culture war TRULY looks like. Let's send in Shakespeare. And Heinlein. And Harlequin Romances, Pokemon and The Simpsons.

Ken Burnside, Game Designer | "Give a man a relativistic rock and he will burnside@ | shatter a planet today. Teach him to do the | math himself, and he will shatter planets AOL IM: AdAstraGames | for the rest of his life." - M. Llaneza





This was sent to me by my boss. Probably his way of reminding us of just what kind of Country we have....

This, from a Canadian newspaper, is worth sharing. 

America: The Good Neighbor.

Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian television commentator. What follows is the full text of his trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record: "This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.

Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.

When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.

The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.

I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon?

You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon - not once, but several times - and safely home again.

You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.

I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those."

"Stand proud, America!"



Origin of this below.





This week:


read book now


Thursday, September 13, 2001

Begin with this:


Excellent piece by Gordon Sinclair, here is a link with the details regarding the origin -- perhaps you could include it. Although this sounds like a piece written since the current attack, many readers may not realize that it was penned more than 25 years ago. 

with the entire piece available here: 

Thank you for your continuing insight in all things. I enjoy reading your works.

-- rad



First - my sincere thanks for helping get out the word about Jeremy Glick. He and the other heroes of Flight 93 won't be forgotten.

I'd also like to second Ken Burnside's perspective, "Nature of the Conflict." At a knee-jerk, emotional level, I must confess being tempted to respond with carpet bombing. Unfortunately, given the willingness of the present generation to readily sacrifice themselves, the best we can do is blunt or intercept their immediate efforts. Regrettably, for every foot soldier we remove from the scene, there is at least one replacement. But don't misunderstand me, the present enemy must be stopped where ever and whenever possible.

However, as Mr. Burnside suggests, the struggle is not with this generation, but rather with the next and those that follow. This is a culture war that to a large degree does pit enlightenment against ignorance. Granted, there are innumerable problems with our culture, but we are working on them, hence the struggles seen everyday in the West as we negotiate the needs and aspirations of our many peoples. But unlike many who suggest these struggles indicate the "Decline of the West" (with apologies to Oswald Spengler), I suggest this tumult brings strength, not weakness, as steel is only forged in the fires of conflict. Moreover, although the conflict will last beyond our lifetimes, I'd like to suggest the result is inevitable; the West will succeed. The costs will be high, although just how high remains to be seen. Rather than bombs and napalm, the weapons of this war will be technology and education, which when embraced by the opposing camp brings with it human rights and the other values held by the West. In so doing, I agree that we'll "win the war in the hearts and minds of the children growing up in the Middle East" and elsewhere.

Once again, my thanks for your help in the events of these recent days, but also for providing your forum for these and other larger issues.

-- Sincerely,

Art Russell


There are still heroes in America.

Much of this material will be moved to special pages devoted to this new war. For now we'll continue with Mail.

Hi Jerry,

Browsing the web, I come across your web site.

I read some of your readers comments for 20 minutes.

And I feel obliged to say hi.

I am an ex SAS British soldier. I understand the pain when loss of life is sanctioned but the only difference here is ones beliefs.

Should we bomb them all flat into obscurity? Yeah dam right.

Can we? maybe!

Will we? why not.

Don't be flippant upon the "taking of life" motion I say. Believe it, and do it!!! They need to feel far more pain than we have.

The enemies of the USA need to fear her. Be afraid. Be very very afraid.

Intelligence is key to maximising the damage within any strike/s. You need to start with understanding the culture that is against you. From the early age of awareness, these fundamentalists truly believe that what they are doing within their 'right and just' holy crusade is rewarding, etc., etc.

Once we have established that, each strike should be brutal and unweilding in its severity.

We say, "hey, drag yourself into the 21st Century stupid", but to them, its a whole way of life, and death that's worth participating in.

To think that one day, your surviving relatives will have your picture framed and taking pride of place on the fireplace. (We all shout "in it")

To be a Martyr. Oh the joy.

Back here in the UK, there is a tremendous feeling of loss. Even a ceremonial duty at Buckingham Palace was changed to play the US national anthem. A military tradition that has not been altered in over 200 years.

So feel good that we will stand beside you, shoulder to shoulder against these infidels and may God, not Allah have mercy on their blackened souls.

The US and UK have something in common. We want the right to walk down the street wherever and whenever we want without fear or prejudice. That will never change.

To hear of the bravery of men such as those on flight 93 assures that freedom will always prevail.

Keep the Stars & Stripes flying high and visible.


My own remedy involves Marines, bulldozers, and salt. A lot of salt. And I agree, it is better to inconvenience our enemies than our citizens. I doubt that our leaders will feel that way. 

I have not heard a request for a Declaration of War.

What good is a glass dagger?

(title of one of Larry Niven's stories)

Answer: you can probably get one on an airplane. A Corelle platter, a Dremel tool, and a few hour's work will give you a weapon undetectable even by the new "enhanced" airport screening. Sew it into the lining of your jacket and stroll right through the metal detector.

If I can think of this, so can a terrorist. (Although perhaps you shouldn't publish this, just in case.)

The solution is not enhanced screening procedures, but active defense. Let the heroes of Flight 93 be models for us all. If your plane is hijacked, you've got to assume you're dead unless you can take it back. It's a safe assumption: after this week, the Air Force has a clear duty to shoot down any hijacked plane before it reaches a populated area.

A terrorist attack -- hijacking, or anything else -- is, tactically, an ambush. The attackers have the advantage of planning, preparation and surprise. The defenders -- the rest of us -- have to react by disrupting their plans as rapidly and decisively as possible. It's hardly an instinctive reaction to charge an armed man, but cold logic tells us it's the correct reaction. Any plan that takes longer than a few seconds to unfold can be altered, even aborted, by the intended victims. As Flight 93 shows us, that can make the difference between a mere tragedy and a catastrophe.

Terrorists are almost always outnumbered by their intended victims who are close enough to stop them. That ambush reaction needs to become instinctive among the able-bodied portion of our populace. Perhaps it can replace the "innocence" that so many commentators have been wailing that we've "lost."

Take care. --Stu

They have already thought of it. You tell them nothing they don't know. It does not take genius to improvise weapons including sharpened pencils.

Our security worked perfectly. The hijackers could be sure there were no armed citizens aboard. We are more afraid of our own citizens than of terrorists.

Mourn the republic.

The Brady Camaign (formerly Handgun Control Inc) is letting us know that, in spite of this week's terrorist attack, "we remain committed to our mission to reduce gun violence in America." [from  home page, full message reproduced below to provide context]

Too bad nobody was able to inflict some "gun violence" on the knife-wielding terrorists.

In 1981, Handgun Control Inc. offered this advice to people on how to react when confronted by a criminal:

As police officers have said for years, the best defense is to put up no defense -- give them what they want, or run.

[Nelson "Pete" Sheilds, then-chairman of Handgun Control Inc. GUNS DON'T DIE - PEOPLE DO. Priam Books, 1981. p. 125]

I don't know if they have ever have changed their stance on self-defense, but I doubt it.

Maybe the victim disarmament lobby is right; maybe putting up a defense would have escalated the violence, and the victims should have just run away.

Interestingly, Brady's animated movie of Charlton Heston hijacking an airplane is no longer available on the Brady website (although a link still exists at  , see below).

Fortunately, the good folks at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) archived it at  before the Brady Campaign removed it from their web site the first time back in July. It was back on the Brady web site a few days later, and I don't know when it was pulled again (although I think it was before this week's attack).

It would be foolish for anyone to believe that this movie was the inspiration for any hijacking. But recall how the victim disarmament lobby -- which includes the mainstream media -- exploited the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing to advance their agenda and smear their opponents.

So. Indeed.



Reading a bit further through today's mail, I ran upon a couple of interesting posts. The first addressed the need for better safety standards. The second, cultural warfare.

As for the first, I expect that a side effect of this will be, for lack of a better term, a greatly enhanced civil defense infrastructure. The Red Cross, for example, is probably going to have a hard time keeping up with the demand for CPR/first responder training. Companys will, most probably, be updating their CD/disaster response capabilities. A concrete example of this: I work with a volunteer security group that does concerts, SF (and other) conventions, and other, similar volunteer events. Yesterday, I asked the question of whether we as a group were willing to step up a notch, and be a semi-professional-grade asset to our area. This would involve putting together first aid training for our folks, FCC certification, and learning/training on federal disaster management procedures. The first responses I received were so positive I was damn near ready to cry. I expect there are a more people out there who feel the same way.

Second, cultural warfare. As your writer points out, this is a war of cultures. We've done this before, and we won. The last time was against the USSR. If you stop and look at them, the Helsinki Accords are basically a structure for waging cultural warfare. Every pair of jeans sold in Moscow in the 1980s was a bullet fired succsefully. Every tape, every album, an artillery shell in the war of cultures. Pop concerts? McDonalds/Burger King? The battlefields and fortifications of our cultural fight. We must continue this fight, finding better ways to extend it. Schools, remote-power systems, and blockage-free internet access are good weapons. For ~ $100,000, we could permanently equip a town with a good school, with free internet access, and a phone, and with the power to run the whole thing. Solar power systems, load-balanced satellite internet access, IP-based phone systems - it's all easy to do. Existing technology, with the money and a little engineering talent. Depending on needs, desires, and budget, it would be relatively easy to implement.

Charles Prael [cprael]

I think we should pave all the areas that rejoiced: send in Marines and bulldozers, and flatten the areas. Entirely. And sow salt where those places stood and make it understood that these are monuments, and will never again be inhabited. Nablus. Gaza. Baghdad. There are other places.

You chose the wrong friends.

Then implement your suggestions.









This week:



Friday, September 14, 2001

MUCH OF TODAY'S MAIL has been posted to a new page.

Bought Belkin Omniview SE 4-port with combination of 3 PS2 cable sets and 1 AT set, with WIN/98, WIN/2000, OS/2 (not tried yet) and Red Hat Linux 7.1 and (knock knock) ALL IS WELL. I HAVE occasionally NOT had the right CPU active on the Belkin box during the CPU's boot sequence and had the boots fail for lack of a keyboard or mouse, but THAT's my fault. Otherwise 'transparent' as they advertise. Linux activity / usage has been pretty minimal, as I am still in a steep learning curve on that OS, but the KVM switch is fine there too.

Thanks for the info you had...

Be well, be happy, and (these days especially) be SAFE...

Larry O'Neal Computer Associates Software Engineer tel: +1 507 280 4108 fax: +1 507 252 8378 Larry.O'

This was in response to his request for information on Belkin and Red Hat.

Last night at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society meeting (LASFS) a member read a response to a person who had suggested that the WTC was destroyed by US Intelligence agents to justify our making war on the arabs.

What was read was the paragraph below:

I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid, so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are Trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Stupid gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid. Your writing has to be a troll. Nothing in our universe can really be this stupid. Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of stupid. Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be beyond the laws of physics that we know. I'm sorry. I can't go on.

This is an epiphany of stupid for me. After this, you may not hear from me again for a while. I don't have enough strength left to deride your ignorant questions and half-baked comments about unimportant trivia, or any of the rest of this drivel.

When I heard that read I accused Niven of writing it. He grinned, in admiration, but he had not done it. Today I received the whole thing:

Jerry: Here, in its entirety, is the letter from which Mike Stern read the "Stupidity" paragraph last night. Whether it sees print on your site or not, I think you will enjoy it. This person vents most eloquently, with no recourse to four-letter Anglo-Saxonisms.

One has to admire such skill.


-----Original Message----- From: Karl Lembke [] -----Original Message----- From: Mike Stern [] Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2001 11:58 PM To: Subject: Response to troll

Karl, I'm sending this as plain text in the body of the letter. If you prefer it in a different format, let me know.

---Mike Stern---

This was posted to the alt.comedy.firegn-thtre newsgroup in response to a nasty troll insinuating that the US had perpetrated this atrocity itself as an excuse to bomb the mideast.

This is not posted to create a flame war or even mild disagreement! I am in awe and think this should hereafter be the spell to drive away trolls on this newsgroup! <big grin>

----------- You swine. You vulgar little maggot. You worthless bag of filth. I'll bet you couldn't pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel. You are a canker. A sore that won't go away. I would rather kiss a lawyer than be seen with you. You're a putrescent mass, a walking vomit. You are a spineless little worm deserving nothing but the profoundest contempt. You are a jerk, a cad, and a weasel. Your life is a monument to stupidity. You are a stench, a revulsion, and a big suck on a sour lemon. You are a bleating foal, a curdled staggering mutant dwarf smeared richly with the effluvia and offal accompanying your alleged birth into this world. Insensate, blinking calves, meaningful to nobody, abandoned by the puke-drooling, giggling beasts that sired you and then killed themselves in recognition of what they had done.

I will never get over the embarrassment of belonging to the same species as you. You are a monster, an ogre, and a malformity. I barf at the very thought of you. You have all the appeal of a paper cut. Lepers avoid you. You are vile, worthless, less than nothing. You are a weed, a fungus, the dregs of this earth. And did I mention you smell? Try to edit your responses of unnecessary material before attempting to impress us with your insight. The evidence that you are a nincompoop will still be available to readers, but they will be able to access it more rapidly.

You snail-skulled little rabbit. Would that a hawk pick you up, drive its beak into your brain, and upon finding it rancid set you loose to fly briefly before spattering the ocean rocks with the frothy pink shame of your ignoble blood. May you choke on the queasy, convulsing nausea of your own trite, foolish beliefs. You are weary, stale, flat and unprofitable. You are grimy, squalid, nasty and profane.

You are foul and disgusting. You're a fool, an ignoramus. Monkeys look down on you. Even sheep won't have sex with you. You are unreservedly pathetic, starved for attention, and lost in a land that reality forgot.

And what meaning do you expect your delusional self-important statements of unknowing, inexperienced opinion to have with us? What fantasy do you hold that you would believe that your tiny-fisted tantrums would have more weight than that of a leprous desert rat, spinning rabidly in a circle, waiting for the bite of the snake?

You are a waste of flesh. You have no rhythm. You are ridiculous and obnoxious. You are the moral equivalent of a leech. You are a living emptiness, a meaningless void. You are sour and senile. You are a disease, you puerile one-handed slack-jawed drooling meatslapper. On a good day you're a half-wit. You remind me of drool. You are deficient in all that lends character. You have the personality of wallpaper. You are dank and filthy. You are asinine and benighted. You are the source of all unpleasantness. You spread misery and sorrow wherever you go.

You smarmy lagerlout git. You bloody woofter sod. Bugger off, pillock. You grotty wanking oik artless base-court apple-john. You clouted boggish foot-licking twit. You dankish clack-dish plonker. You gormless crook-pated tosser. You churlish boil-brained clotpole ponce. You cockered bum-bailey poofter. You craven dewberry pisshead cockup pratting naff. You gob-kissing gleeking flap-mouthed coxcomb. You dread-bolted fobbing beef-witted clapper-clawed flirt-gill. You are a fiend and a coward, and you have bad breath. You are degenerate, noxious and depraved. I feel debased just for knowing you exist. I despise everything about you, and I wish you would go away.

I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid, so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are Trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Stupid gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid. Your writing has to be a troll. Nothing in our universe can really be this stupid. Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of stupid. Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be beyond the laws of physics that we know. I'm sorry. I can't go on.

This is an epiphany of stupid for me. After this, you may not hear from me again for a while. I don't have enough strength left to deride your ignorant questions and half-baked comments about unimportant trivia, or any of the rest of this drivel.

The only thing worse than your logic is your manners. I have snipped away all of what you wrote, because, well... it didn't really say anything. Your attempt at constructing a coherent statement was pitiful. I mean, really, stringing together a patch of paranoia among a load of babbling was hardly effective...

Maybe later in life, after you have learned to read, write, spell, and count, you will have more success. True, these are rudimentary skills that many of us "normal" people take for granted that everyone has an easy time of mastering. But we sometime forget that there are "challenged" persons in this world who find these things more difficult. If I had known that this was your case then I would have never read your post. It just wouldn't have been "right". Sort of like parking in a handicap space. I wish you the best of luck in the emotional and social struggles that seem to be placing such a demand on you.

Hope this finds you in good health


I am in awe. And there is no lack of places to apply such spells...

[I now have the origin story and more on this. It has its own page.]

Dear Jerry

You said :

"The foolishness also begins. See  for stupidity of a primordial nature."

Here is stupidity of a criminal nature: 

"Meehan, Neal raise doubts on leadership of president"

"Two prominent Bay State Democrats questioned President Bush's leadership style yesterday, cracking the veneer of bipartisan unity Congress has shown in the wake of the twin terrorist attacks...."

If one of these guys was my congressman I would personally go and kick him in the butt. My congressman might agree with them, but at least he has had the good sense to keep his mouth shut (no, I voted for the Republican-they are an endangered species here in the Commonwealth!).

I guess rallying behind the flag is not progressive.

Cheers, Rod Schaffter --

"Powder and artillery are the most efficacious, sure and infallible conciliatory measures we can adopt." - John Adams

Liberty or safety?:

How easy it is to obtain approval for Carnivore, and for who knows how many other things, in the face of disaster.

Jay Luther

Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 16:14:37 -0400 From: Declan McCullagh <> To: Subject: FC: Senate votes to permit warrantless Net-wiretaps, Carnivore use User-Agent: Mutt/1.2.2i X-URL: Sender: Reply-To: X-URL: Politech is at X-Author: Declan McCullagh is at X-News-Site: Cluebot is at 

Text of the Hatch-Feinstein "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001": 

Muddled debate over the amendment: 



Senate OKs FBI Net Spying By Declan McCullagh ( 12:55 p.m. Sep. 14, 2001 PDT

WASHINGTON -- FBI agents soon may be able to spy on Internet users legally without a court order.

On Thursday evening, two days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, the Senate approved the "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001," which enhances police wiretap powers and permits monitoring in more situations.

The measure, proposed by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California), says any U.S. attorney or state attorney general can order the installation of the FBI's Carnivore surveillance system. Previously, there were stiffer restrictions on Carnivore and other Internet surveillance techniques.

Its bipartisan sponsors argue that such laws are necessary to thwart terrorism. "It is essential that we give our law enforcement authorities every possible tool to search out and bring to justice those individuals who have brought such indiscriminate death into our backyard," Hatch said during the debate on the Senate floor.


------------------------------------------------------------------------- POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice. Declan McCullagh's photographs are at To subscribe to Politech: This message is archived at ------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jay W. Luther

No comments needed.

Mr Pournelle,

I popped down to , not believing the sniggers about you.

After the initial knee-jerk responses, most people have had two days to allow a little rationality into their lives. You, however, have spent two days festering. You want to flatten any islamic country you think has ever slighted you. In the same way most people are innocent of most things in the US, so are most people in most other countries.

While you're waiting for the factories to be built for your iron bombs, why don't you pop down to the local mosque and spit on people? Might make you feel better.

You, Sir, are a wanker.

Paul Hardy.

Paul Hardy []

I had suspected but not known what a "wanker" is. Thanks to about 1100 of you at last count I not only know, but know in more detail than I ever imagined I wanted. Thanks, I think.

 I presume Mr. Hardy can read, but perhaps his comprehension leaves something to be desired, since I do not see where I advocated flattening any Islamic country. Although those that actually believe in the perpetual war against the unbelievers may become candidates.

As to iron bombs, the alternative are nuclear, chemical, and biological; so perhaps a wanker is one who doesn't want to use nukes? I fear I still don't know.

From Tom Brown concerning my proposal for monuments:

That is the funniest thing I have read in ages. Long live black comedy.

Which is closer to the truth if for no other reason than that of course what I suggested, only partly tongue in cheek, will not be done.

What we will do is harder to fathom. Nothing? That seems unsatisfactory. Detectives and intelligence agents and the courts and endless appeals? That will end the judicial system as we know it, as the people demand that something be done. Nuclear destruction? I don't know what a wanker is, but nuclear weapons are not toys. Fortunately we won't do that.

Fire cruise missiles at anything we like? We DID that. It did not have desirable results except possibly to distract the population from Monica Lewinsky. Occupy Kabul, Nablus, Damascus, Baghdad, Gaza, and all the places that harbor terrorism? Really? The cost in blood, ours and theirs, will be far higher than my wankerish monuments.

So what do we do? Probably not what I suggested; but better that than many of the alternatives I have heard. Certainly something must be done. I prefer that the goals be defined in advance so that when it is done it is done. If it were done, it were best it be done quickly -- and finally -- and definitively.

Else we have nothing but an endless curtailment of liberties.

Wanker indeed.




This week:




Re: the Troll Spell

Dr. Pournelle:

That delightful string of insults you published today should immediately be placed permanently on its very own web page, in beautiful type, with all appropriate copyrights and author credits.

Then, whenever I have to deal with a REAL wanker on a BBS I can just put the address down as a quick reply, or put a link in the message. Saves a lot of time and typing.

Tom Brosz

Indeed. Until then I have bookmarked it.

From Roland and others a practical suggestion:

I have actually received this from many sources, not all being identical suggestions.


From earlier postings: >> ... have all instrumentation output, voice and even possibly video >> (flight deck and cabin) continuosly downlinked to ground stations >> or uplinked to satellites enroute.

> 1) In addition to traditional "black boxes" there would be > transmitters in planes that would transmit flight data to a network of > ground stations > 3) Since the transmitters don't have to survive an impact they > wouldn't have to be terribly expensive so you'd be able to intall them > even on relatively small aircraft. > 6) Overseas flights might need to switch to some sort of satellite > system. This would probably be more expensive so would probably be > limited to larger aircraft.

This capability has existed since the early 1980s. It is called ACARS, which stands for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System. I developed firmware for the Bendix system purchased by Delta, Piedmont and Northwest Orient in 1985. Those same systems (which sold for, if I recall correctly, about US$18,000) are in use today. Little, if any, of my other career work has had similar longevity: it is a (sobering) reminder of how long it takes to make improvements in commercial aviation.

You can learn more about modernization efforts, including satellite, overseas, and encryption capabilities, by surfing over to and searching on the keyword ACARS.

I do not know whether the airlines are interested in using this to augment the cockpit voice recorder but it would make sense. Twenty years ago, the system was limited to 2400 baud and it was essentially used as a "time clock" for automating the process of tracking hourly air crew wages. The other two primary uses were to provide rapid turnaround on jet engine performance parameters (which reduced service costs), and to expedite bi-directional weather reporting (pilots could retrieve or file weather reports into an automated system).

The aviation industry was fun to work in back then but more recently it has been no joy at all (the last project that I participated in was ETMS, which is a USA radar tracking network whose control room is in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA): too much bureaucracy and too much money to get far too little done. It just doesn't seem hard to me to come up with a snazzy database system to keep track of 10,000 airplanes in real-time with data, audio, and video feeds. A dot-com could've done the equivalent task on a few tens of millions of VC money in the space of 3 years, whereas the US government manages to plunder $billions and waste decades.

Pardon me for venting. But if someone wants to give it a try, perhaps for some country other than the USA, then I'll come join you on building a "real" aviation network.


And here is why transponders can be turned off

Transponders are made to be turned off so that they don't generate a signal while the plane is on the ground. They generally have 4 positions for the power knob: Off, Standby (receive only - allow you to see when a radar signal hits you), On (replies when a radar signal hits you with your 4 digit code - Octal code, btw), and Mode C (which replies with your code and altitude). Regs call for transponders to be off or standby until as late as possible in your takeoff roll, and to be turned as soon as possible after you land. The code that is input is assigned by ATC if you are on an instrument flight plan. Some codes and blocks of codes are reserved - 1200 is for Visual Flight Rules planes such as small Cessnas and the like, 7500 is "I'm being hijacked", a block is for military use, a block is for air ambulance and lifesaving use, etc.

You have to be able to turn it off when on the ground to keep from overwhelming the system with returns from a bunch of signals in a small area. Yes, you might be able to design a system that tries to figure out if the plane is in the air, but that adds complexity and gives more to go wrong - what if it thinks it is on the ground while in the air? Remember, better is the enemy of good enough.

Edmund Hack

Thank you. I suspected it was something as simple as that. Another thing we must change now.


While Martin Peretz can never be described as an impartial journalist, his points here, especially his excerpts from Al hayat al Jadida, seem worth seeing. 

ISRAEL, THE UNITED STATES, AND EVIL. Counting by Martin Peretz

A good piece. His critique of the Clinton failures is on target.

I have put this in another place but it is worth repeating:

Subject: A view from Afghanistan

A sobering essay forwarded by a UC Berkeley professor:

Dear Friends,

The following was sent to me by my friend Tamim Ansary. Tamim is an Afghani-American writer. He is also one of the most brilliant people I know in this life. When he writes, I read. When he talks, I listen. Here is his take on Afghanistan and the whole mess we are in. -Gary T.

Dear Gary and whoever else is on this email thread:

I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time

So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.

And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?

Tamim Ansary

One wants to think hard about this. Then read Churchill's accounts of going in to Afghanistan. We must be smart, not merely ruthless. 

I think of strategies that would work. They are not easy, and they require alliances with people we don't like.

You might find this reference/page interesting:

Pay particular attention to the "Enemy Within" article. Yikes.

I have not seen this web page before--it seems to be generated with particular interest toward Israeli affairs (it is also available in Hebrew.) Don't know how reliable it is, but I may stick it in my bookmarks next to the Drudge Report. Do you know anything about it?

Tom Brosz

I do not know that page at all. As i said, fascinating. But some of what I see is odd, and some is dubious, and until I know more about the "sources" they claim I think I will be a bit skeptical.

Maybe a lot skeptical.

Then we have a reply:

Jerry Pournelle wrote:

 > > good day to you 

Ditto. (mumblemumbleassholemumblemumble) -- - Nobody moves very much in a Hanna Barbera cartoon! - Zorak - "After all this shit is over.. Maybe then it's time to cry." - Prschmitt at home dot com

Thank you for your thoughtful and enlightening reply.

And a way to make transponders work as they should

Transponders: connect the power to the aircraft's "weight on the wheels" switch. A lot of stuff - like engine thrust reversers - is already tied into it. That keep the transponder ON (and Thrust Reversers OFF) in the air, and OFF on the ground. That would be simplest way; I can think of others, like tying it into the radar altimeter.

Kenneth Mitchell

That seems a good suggestion to me. Anyone know why it would not work?

Dr. Pournelle:

That delightful string of insults you published today should immediately be placed permanently on its very own web page, in beautiful type, with all appropriate copyrights and author credits.

Then, whenever I have to deal with a REAL wanker on a BBS I can just put the address down as a quick reply, or put a link in the message. Saves a lot of time and typing.

Tom Brosz





This week:


read book now


Sunday, September 16, 2001

There are two separate mail pages concerning the Black September War: War Mail, which is indexed and replied, and Reactions, which is still selected -- I can't possibly publish everything I receive -- but is somewhat representative and much of it uncommented. We hope to bring this mail page back to something like normal.

Roland on the need for Courts Martial: 

On Palestinian police cofiscating news tapes: 

And the question we all need an answer to but we suspect we know:

Why Did They Open The Door?

Dittos on your years of Byte and SF publications from a subscriber to your site. Keep on.

One question that I have been unable to find an answer to, and I am hoping you can, is this:

Why did they open the door? Are airline pilots not under orders to keep the cabin door closed and locked? And look through the peephole before opening it to anyone? Sad as it may be, dead stewardesses and passengers are much preferable to the carnage we witnessed last Tuesday. Why, oh why, did they ever open the door no matter what the provocation?

Jim Shoemaker

I suspect they saw bleeding crew members, and thought it would be better to -- to what?

We will never know, I guess.

On asbestos:

On Fri, 14 Sep 2001, Jerry Pournelle wrote:

> Everyone who thought about the subject knew that >


It was one of those things that was so obvious that I was emberassed for not thinking of it earlier.

Having been born in the late 1960s, I grew up in the era of "asbestos is dangerous" warnings, the next ice age is imminent unless we do something, Communism is the wave of the future, guns cause crime, a good defense escalates violence, etc. Fortunately, I'm too young to remember most things about the 1970s. I suspect that people who are old enough to remember the 1970s don't, for other reasons.

Even having learned better later on in life, it's still scary to realize how effective some of that indocrtrination was.

Keep up the good word...

Robert Racansky

Asbestos as a fine dust is dangerous but it is a mechanical not a chemical irritant, and there is little evidence that casual exposure to it has any lasting effect. There are two kinds of asbestos; the usual kind has long fibers and I know of no study showing it to be dangerous at all. During WW II we ran short of that kind and imported short fiber asbestos largely from Canada (the sea lanes being closed) and much was used in ships, and also in buildings of that era. This variety does have a lasting mechanical effect.

It is particularly devastating to smokers. The combination of smoke and asbestos damage raises the probabilities of cancer greatly.

But in general, asbestos is not a terrible danger, and contained in walls and used to protect columns and girders isn't dangerous at all. Certainly not as dangerous as jet fuel. 









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