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Mail 179 November 12 - 18, 2001 

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This week:



Monday  November 12, 2001

AT COMDEX: It is Short Shrift time...

Subject: Thoughts on the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif

First note that this is entirely speculation on my part, along the lines of thinking out loud (or rather thinking online).

The taking of Mazar-I-Sharif is, I think, an important milestone in that it gives us a working airfield close to the action. And, depending on how "cooperative" the Northern Alliance is being or can be induced to be, one effectively under our control. Staging our air results from there would shorten flight times to targets increasing the number of sorties we can fly as well as reducing our response time in responding to intelligence we may obtain on targets. If it were me, I'd put a significant number of our remaining in service A-10's (StrategyPage says there are 210 remaining in service) there soonest.

The potential problem, as I see it, is support. Providing logistic support entirely by air is possible, but poses its own problems. As I recall, supplying the base by air was one of the things which the French were overoptimistic about at Dien Ben Phu. Supplying directly from the US, Japan, and/or Europe would provide a lot of problems. Moving large amounts of men and materials long distances usually calls for sealift. Do we have any transport planes that can operate from carriers? That way we could sealift to the Arabian sea then use relatively short hops to move things to Mazar-I-Sharif. If that's not an option, then where's the nearest port where we have both the ability to offload supplies and personnel and access to an airfield capable of handling our larger transport planes.

With a logistic pipeline in place, it should then be possible to build up the force necessary to do whatever we deem necessary to do in Afghanistan.

That, however, is the other problem. I'm not sure if it's actually been decided just what we're trying to accomplish, let alone the best way to get there. If official policy has established specific goals as opposed to vague generalities, they haven't told me. Still, I would think that whatever the goals, if they're other than just caving in, would require a secure base from which to build a sufficient force to carry them out.

As I said, this is just some thinking. I'm not at all sure that I have enough understanding of the issues to come to any kind of valuable insights. This is just what I think at my current level of understanding or lack thereof.

David L. Burkhead "May I be just half the person my dog thinks I am." Science Fiction -- Judo -- Space -- Science -- Cars



Dr. Pournelle:

What's all this about warning the Northern Alliance not to enter Kabul? From all appearances, our commando war was off to a rocky start so we decided to support the Northern Alliance, and now that the Northern Alliance appears to have the Taliban on the run, our people are issuing all kinds of mealy-mouthed pronouncements ranging from warning the Northern Alliance to wishing for multi-ethnic participation. Looks like we are searching for ways to lose this war.

The greatest stain on American honor is the manner in which we have encouraged various peoples and causes over the years -- Nationalist China, Hungarian uprising, Tibetan freedom fighters, Diem in Viet Nam, Bay of Pigs Cuban fighters, Southern Iraq uprising -- and then cut them loose. As we watch people protest against us, we worry in public about what the World will think of us for the way we treat our enemies, but the assumption is that any power, great or small, will inflict harm on its enemies, and we will not make those who sympathize with our enemies to think differently of us for being gentle.

The way we treat our friends is what has me so concerned.

Paul Milenkovic, Madison, Wisconsin

I am not running the war, but it seems to me that you'll need some kind of government, and better to get the king into the place early on, else we end up in charge. The Taliban will be finished soon or late, and a few days don't matter.

I am outraged at the Times story, if true, that the FBI and the CIA are hiring "Remote Viewers" a.k.a. fortune tellers, tea leaf readers or séance masters, to assist in predictions of other potential terror targets and/or to locate Bin Laden, etc.

If you need imaginative, out of the box thinkers, I suggest you convoke science fiction writers and other honest practitioners of imagination who do not, with the possible exception of L. Ron Hubbard, believe their constructs are real.

The thought that there was a previous program, Stargate, funded by the DOD, should lead to the exhumation and banishment of those idiots who authorized this Voodoo.

I suggest that any payment to these charlatans be in the form of rewards for performance demonstrated by actual beneficial intelligence rather than spoon bending or other theatric gestures.

I also think someone should check the brownies being served in the FBI and CIA cafeterias.

Yours disgustedly; Walter E. Wallis Palo Alto, CA

I have heard nothing about this, except from people on the Art Bell show who claim to have been part of secret USAF and CIA "Remote Viewing" operations, and I figure I can believe as much of that as I want to.

Incidentally, thanks to Karl Lembke, LASFS Scribe, for this wonderful Kitten line...



I just thought you might like to know that there is a web browser out there that allows you to disable popup ads. It is the Free Software version of everyone's old friend Netscape: Mozilla. Here is how you do it:

1) Download Mozilla 0.9.5 from .

(9.4 MB) Don't let the version number fool you. This is a product that is more stable and less garbage-ridden than Netscape 6.2. It is only missing two features: AOL Instant Messenger and a spell checker for the mail program.

2) Install it. :)

3) Here's the tricky part. I think they made it tricky deliberately; otherwise web site owners who like their popup ads would complain. Navigate your way to the directory storing your preferences. Here is a list of them:

Windows 95/98/ME: C:\Windows\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\<profile name>\<*.slt>

Windows NT 4: C:\Winnt\Profiles\<user name>\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\<profile_name>\*.slt

Windows 2000: C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\<profile_name>\

4) Add this line to the file prefs.js:

user_pref("dom.disable_open_during_load", true);

5) Launch mozilla and surf in peace. The load up time is a little slow, but that can be fixed by enabling Quick Launch, which is left as an exercise for the reader.

A word of warning: this disables all popup windows that load automatically when the site is loaded. About once every month, I get one of these that is marginally interesting: a free shipping offer from when I actually visit (or something of that nature). But it is rather nice not to have to deal with the other 99 percent of the time, when they are trying to sell you spy cameras to place in women's showers.

Happy browsing!

Jeremy Manson

Thanks. Not something I am likely to get around to on the road. But those popup things are maddening particularly if you don't have much bandwidth.

And for Star Office users Roland suggests this conversion program 

>-----Original Message----- >From: Jerry Pournelle [] >Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2001 3:49 PM >To: Jerry E. Pournelle >Subject: Chaos Manor Security Warning (Gp 1-1 > > >The only fix is to turn off Active Scripting. You do this by going to tools >Internet Options Security in Explorer, then go to the customize level and >look at your options. Incidentally, if you have upgraded Explorer recently >it may have changed the settings. That has happened to me. > >Note this from Microsoft: > >----- > >Frequently asked questions > >Why isn't there a patch available for this issue? > >The person who discovered this vulnerability has chosen to handle it >irresponsibly , and has deliberately made this issue public only a few >days after reporting it to Microsoft. It is simply not possible to >build, test and release a patch within this timeframe and still meet >reasonable quality standards.

At least that's the Microsoft view. On the other hand, MS has a rep, whether deserved or not, for ignoring or going slow on security problems. Security by obscurity is not an acceptable policy for most security engineers. (And I made my living while doing my PhD as a security engineer. I still supervise research in the field.) -- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. <>

The quote is from a warning I sent to subscribers. 

Well, I didn't say I agreed with Microsoft's view. I figure readers can draw their own conclusions here.

And Roland found this on Ritalin: 

Which isn't terribly surprising.





This week:



Tuesday,  November 13, 2001

There is a lot of mail. I am at COMDEX so it is still Short Shrift Time.

Nov. 13

Dear Jerry:

Every once in a while I have to ask "What the HECK are you talking about???"

What do you mean, the Afghan campaign is "over"? The Northern Alliance may or may not be in permanent control of just 40% of the country. We have NOT found and killed Osama Bin Laden. We have NOT found & destroyed the rest of his network in Afghanistan.

This campaign is just getting started, and if not President Bush is not the leader I hope and believe him to be.

All the best--

Tim Loeb

The military campaign is done. The Taliban is no longer in charge, and their Algerian and Arab mercenaries are being slaughtered. What remains is a job for bounty hunters, and there are plenty in Afghanistan.

That's Afghanistan. Now we have a tougher job. Afghanistan was easy. Now the real military challenge.



Hi Jerry:

Thought you might find this interesting...vr x x Military Order on Detention, Treatment of Non-Citizens U.S. Newswire 13 Nov 19:13

White House Military Order On Detention, Treatment and Trial Of Certain Non-Citizens In The War Against Terrorism To: National Desk Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2580

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released today by the White House:


By the authority vested in me as President and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Authorization for Use of Military Force Joint Resolution (Public Law 107-40, 115 Stat. 224) and sections 821 and 836 of title 10, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Findings.

(a) International terrorists, including members of al Qaida, have carried out attacks on United States diplomatic and military personnel and facilities abroad and on citizens and property within the United States on a scale that has created a state of armed conflict that requires the use of the United States Armed Forces.

(b) In light of grave acts of terrorism and threats of terrorism, including the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, on the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense in the national capital region, on the World Trade Center in New York, and on civilian aircraft such as in Pennsylvania, I proclaimed a national emergency on September 14, 2001 (Proc. 7463, Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks).

(c) Individuals acting alone and in concert involved in international terrorism possess both the capability and the intention to undertake further terrorist attacks against the United States that, if not detected and prevented, will cause mass deaths, mass injuries, and massive destruction of property, and may place at risk the continuity of the operations of the United States Government.

(d) The ability of the United States to protect the United States and its citizens, and to help its allies and other cooperating nations protect their nations and their citizens, from such further terrorist attacks depends in significant part upon using the United States Armed Forces to identify terrorists and those who support them, to disrupt their activities, and to eliminate their ability to conduct or support such attacks.

(e) To protect the United States and its citizens, and for the effective conduct of military operations and prevention of terrorist attacks, it is necessary for individuals subject to this order pursuant to section 2 hereof to be detained, and, when tried, to be tried for violations of the laws of war and other applicable laws by military tribunals.

(f) Given the danger to the safety of the United States and the nature of international terrorism, and to the extent provided by and under this order, I find consistent with section 836 of title 10, United States Code, that it is not practicable to apply in military commissions under this order the principles of law and the rules of evidence generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United States district courts.

(g) Having fully considered the magnitude of the potential deaths, injuries, and property destruction that would result from potential acts of terrorism against the United States, and the probability that such acts will occur, I have determined that an extraordinary emergency exists for national defense purposes, that this emergency constitutes an urgent and compelling govern-ment interest, and that issuance of this order is necessary to meet the emergency.

Sec. 2. Definition and Policy.

(a) The term "individual subject to this order" shall mean any individual who is not a United States citizen with respect to whom I determine from time to time in writing that:

(1) there is reason to believe that such individual, at the relevant times,

(i) is or was a member of the organization known as al Qaida;

(ii) has engaged in, aided or abetted, or conspired to commit, acts of international terrorism, or acts in preparation therefor, that have caused, threaten to cause, or have as their aim to cause, injury to or adverse effects on the United States, its citizens, national security, foreign policy, or economy; or

(iii) has knowingly harbored one or more individuals described in subparagraphs (i) or (ii) of subsection 2(a)(1) of this order; and

(2) it is in the interest of the United States that such individual be subject to this order.

(b) It is the policy of the United States that the Secretary of Defense shall take all necessary measures to ensure that any individual subject to this order is detained in accordance with section 3, and, if the individual is to be tried, that such individual is tried only in accordance with section 4.

(c) It is further the policy of the United States that any individual subject to this order who is not already under the control of the Secretary of Defense but who is under the control of any other officer or agent of the United States or any State shall, upon delivery of a copy of such written determination to such officer or agent, forthwith be placed under the control of the Secretary of Defense.

Sec. 3. Detention Authority of the Secretary of Defense. Any individual subject to this order shall be --

(a) detained at an appropriate location designated by the Secretary of Defense outside or within the United States;

(b) treated humanely, without any adverse distinction based on race, color, religion, gender, birth, wealth, or any similar criteria;

(c) afforded adequate food, drinking water, shelter, clothing, and medical treatment;

(d) allowed the free exercise of religion consistent with the requirements of such detention; and

(e) detained in accordance with such other conditions as the Secretary of Defense may prescribe.

Sec. 4. Authority of the Secretary of Defense Regarding Trials of Individuals Subject to this Order.

(a) Any individual subject to this order shall, when tried, be tried by military commission for any and all offenses triable by military commission that such individual is alleged to have committed, and may be punished in accordance with the penalties provided under applicable law, including life imprisonment or death.

(b) As a military function and in light of the findings in section 1, including subsection (f) thereof, the Secretary of Defense shall issue such orders and regulations, including orders for the appointment of one or more military commissions, as may be necessary to carry out subsection (a) of this section.

(c) Orders and regulations issued under subsection (b) of this section shall include, but not be limited to, rules for the conduct of the proceedings of military commissions, including pretrial, trial, and post-trial procedures, modes of proof, issuance of process, and qualifications of attorneys, which shall at a minimum provide for --

(1) military commissions to sit at any time and any place, consistent with such guidance regarding time and place as the Secretary of Defense may provide;

(2) a full and fair trial, with the military commission sitting as the triers of both fact and law;

(3) admission of such evidence as would, in the opinion of the presiding officer of the military commission (or instead, if any other member of the commission so requests at the time the presiding officer renders that opinion, the opinion of the commission rendered at that time by a majority of the commission), have probative value to a reasonable person;

(4) in a manner consistent with the protection of information classified or classifiable under Executive Order 12958 of April 17, 1995, as amended, or any successor Executive Order, protected by statute or rule from unauthorized disclosure, or otherwise protected by law, (A) the handling of, admission into evidence of, and access to materials and information, and (B) the conduct, closure of, and access to proceedings;

(5) conduct of the prosecution by one or more attorneys designated by the Secretary of Defense and conduct of the defense by attorneys for the individual subject to this order;

(6) conviction only upon the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the commission present at the time of the vote, a majority being present;

(7) sentencing only upon the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the commission present at the time of the vote, a majority being present; and

(8) submission of the record of the trial, including any conviction or sentence, for review and final decision by me or by the Secretary of Defense if so designated by me for that purpose.

Sec. 5. Obligation of Other Agencies to Assist the Secretary of Defense.

Departments, agencies, entities, and officers of the United States shall, to the maximum extent permitted by law, provide to the Secretary of Defense such assistance as he may request to implement this order.

Sec. 6. Additional Authorities of the Secretary of Defense.

(a) As a military function and in light of the findings in section 1, the Secretary of Defense shall issue such orders and regulations as may be necessary to carry out any of the provisions of this order.

(b) The Secretary of Defense may perform any of his functions or duties, and may exercise any of the powers provided to him under this order (other than under section 4(c)(8) hereof) in accordance with section 113(d) of title 10, United States Code.

Sec. 7. Relationship to Other Law and Forums.

(a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to --

(1) authorize the disclosure of state secrets to any person not otherwise authorized to have access to them;

(2) limit the authority of the President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces or the power of the President to grant reprieves and pardons; or

(3) limit the lawful authority of the Secretary of Defense, any military commander, or any other officer or agent of the United States or of any State to detain or try any person who is not an individual subject to this order.

(b) With respect to any individual subject to this order --

(1) military tribunals shall have exclusive jurisdiction with respect to offenses by the individual; and

(2) the individual shall not be privileged to seek any remedy or maintain any proceeding, directly or indirectly, or to have any such remedy or proceeding sought on the individuals behalf, in (i) any court of the United States, or any State thereof, (ii) any court of any foreign nation, or (iii) any international tribunal.

(c) This order is not intended to and does not create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by any party, against the United States, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

(d) For purposes of this order, the term "State" includes any State, district, territory, or possession of the United States.

(e) I reserve the authority to direct the Secretary of Defense, at any time hereafter, to transfer to a governmental authority control of any individual subject to this order. Nothing in this order shall be construed to limit the authority of any such governmental authority to prosecute any individual for whom control is transferred.

Sec. 8. Publication.

This order shall be published in the Federal Register.


THE WHITE HOUSE, November 13, 2001.


GOVERNMENT, WHITE HOUSE -0- /U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/ 11/13 19:13

Copyright 2001, U.S. Newswire

Note that it does NOT apply to US Citizens, and that it is exactly the kind of thing you would expect given a Declaration of War. I worry that it can be issued without a Declaration of War.

Bruce Schneier weighs in on full disclosure vs secrecy of security vulnerabilities:,5859,2824251,00.html

Gordon Runkle

-- It doesn't get any easier, you just go faster. -- Greg LeMond


I was surprised that, in your Monday November 5th View, you didn't more strongly adress the possibility of an intacontinental energy plan that would assure Canada, the United States and Mexico energy for the next 200 years.

Little understood in the United States is the vast potential of the Athabaska tar sand of Northern Alberta. Current proven and recoverable reserves exceed those of Saudi Arabia. As more research is done more and more of the stuff is found with current discovered sands at 1,700 to 2,500 Gb (billions of barrels). Saudi Arabia's current reserves are estimated at 240 Gb.

When President Bush was here he was shocked to learn that that much oil exists in the world much less on the North American Continent.

Some problems do arise however, this is manufactured oil and current cost of production has fallen from $20 per barrel to $8 with current technology. At this rate only 280 Gb are available. Factories have to be built but these are relatively easy, though costly, but to reach the greater levels of extraction new technologies would have to be developed but, given that the sands hold enough petroleum to feed all of North America for some 200 years gaining independence from the Middle East economic blackmailers should be eminently possible

For more info look up Athabaska Tar Sands or go to

Allan Mason BA MpA Financial Analyst

I know little of tar sand oil technology.


I've been sifting through Chaos Manor back columns looking for guidance on backup solutions.

I am installing a new APC UPS (I live in the blackout-prone Boston area) and have an older Sony SDT-5000 DAT deck (which will not work with NT Backup). I'm not sure what the capacity of the Sony is and can't seem to find information regarding that (Sony doesn't have it).

Now I'm upgrading to XP Pro (from NT 4 Workstation) and would like to put a comprehensive solution in place. I've already considered installing a second hard drive for imaging, but won't be able to image the entire primary XP drive (I'll probably have a 40GB drive for XP and related and a 13 GB drive for DOS and Linux).

That probably means some good software to create backups to tape. But what's good? I see that Veritas has a refreshed its old Backup Exec with "Backup MyPC" or some such. Good product? What about Symantec Ghost (I dislike Symantec products generally) or Novastor?

What do you *you* use? Is there a resource you could point me to regarding these issues?

Suggestions and ideas appreciated!

Thanks for your time.

I don't back up to tape any longer. I build a box of drives machine and back up to that. But I am sure there are better solutions.

I also make use of DVD=RAM




This week:



Wednesday, November 15, 2001

Busy at Comdex







This week:


read book now


Thursday, November 15, 2001

On the way home. Short Shrift again.

From John Ringo:

A-10s have been deployed to Tajikistan and will probably be forward deployed soon. This is a forward of a forward.

"Make no mistake about it... this war is gonna be a Hawgdriver's more of this sending GPS guided bombs from the ionosphere... I want to camp out on the enemy's border... I want to yell across the border, in the immortal words of Wyatt Earp (as portrayed by Kurt Russell), "You tell 'em I'm coming! AND HELL'S COMING WITH ME!!" I wanna punch Bin Laden in the face and say, 'You gonna do something? Or just stand there and bleed?' And then, I wanna laugh maniacally, as my 30mm shells decimate his camps.

I ain't talking about the Armor Piercing shells this time, although the thought of poisoning their lungs (if, in the unlikely event, they survived my attack) with the dirty dust of spent uranium is quite refreshing... that would make the cloud over New York seem like pure Oxygen. I want High Explosive Incendiary (HEI) rounds...1150 of them, fired 2 or 3 hundred at a time... like 3 hundred grenades exploding all at once... and that's just my jet... the three coming with me brings that total to 16 cans of CBU-87...that's 3,232 individual submunitions for them...that's what I want. I want 4 Maverick missiles per jet...that's 16 of those things...and if we run outta trucks and other small things to hit with those missiles, I wanna find out what a maverick will do when it locks onto a terrorist and hits him at just over 1000 feet per second...there might not be enough deceleration from the impact with his body to detonate the thing but at that speed... I don't think it would be necessary.

And I want 2 pods of rockets, hanging from my wings. Seven white phosphorous and seven HEI... I want the 'Willie Petes' to put a cloud of smoke, to climb into the sky, to let everyone following know...that's where the gettin' is good... And the HEI... well, I just want FRAG in the air, tearing apart their greasy, scumbag bodies the same way they tore into our nation... and then we'll start cleaning up with the almighty General Electric GAU-8/A Avenger cannon... what a perfect name... AVENGER CANNON!!! If that's all I had, that's all I'd want... four hawgs, with 4600 of our little friends... lock and load, hammer down!!!!!

But that's just my personal end... here's what else I want...I want John Madden, Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long, to take over CNN, NBC, ABC and every other news network, to provide coverage of this war... I want Madden, with his electronic chalkboard, out there describing what's going on... "You see here, across the top of the screen, that ridge line is exactly where the attack is gonna come from... you'll see the Warthawgs come popping over them and unleash a fury that we haven't seen since Lawrence Taylor was on the prowl...Speaking of that, here they come and BAM!!! These guys are great!... they remind me of linemen... they don't get much press coverage, but when they hit you, man do you know it!"

I want Hank Williams, Jr. and Lee Greenwood belting out, "I'M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN," as the intro to "Monday Night Air Strikes" ... "Fight Night" would have a whole new meaning now...

I want to see Sports Center air the "HIT OF THE DAY":..."Today's strike comes from a flight of two A-10 Warthogs. You'll see here that some terrorist got the wild idea that he could shoot at these can see the missile come up and totally miss the two jets... and here, you see, as they roll in and unleash that awesome gun on the point of origin,...nothing left there now! And that's our "PLAY OF THE DAY!!" I want Mills Lane, in the field, giving play by play descriptions.

I want "Flight of the Valkaries" playing at full bore, from every mountainside, as we run in at 100 feet.... I want "WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE," playing after the first bomb hits, and when I'm out of WINCHESTER ammunition, I wanna land on Bin Laden's personal airstrip, grab him by his twisted, dead neck and poke him in the eyes and say, "YOU JUST GOT KNOCKED OUT!" I want the NFL cheerleaders to send us off to war, and the XFL cheerleaders to welcome us home.

And while we're at it I don't just want to beat the crap outta these scumbags, I want to humiliate them, too. I want to see Schwartzkopf come outta retirement, to start kicking some butt... I want a cure for Alzheimer's - right now - to get Reagan back in working order, and like Dennis Leary says, I want a cure for cancer, to thaw out John Wayne and see just how pissed off he is right now. I want STUKA terror sirens, mounted to the wings of my Hawg...although the unique whine of our engines is about all the terror siren we'll need right now... All right, Zero... slow down... breathe... in... out....ok... I think the coffee has worn off a bit now, and I should get back to work. You just picked the wrong people to mess with...not such a good day to be a bad guy."

There was no attribution.

Where the heck is John Wayne when you need him!

It looks like that Rambo in Afghanistan movie with the Afghan cavalry charge was closer to the truth than anyone wants to admit.

(G, D & R-L-H!)

---------- November 15, 2001

U.S. Special Forces Joined Charge On Horseback Against Taliban

By Tony Capaccio

Washington -- U.S. special forces working with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan have ridden in cavalry charges against Taliban militia positions, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.

Trent Telenko


In your Comdex review, you mentioned high speed access in hotels. In fact, there appears to be a disturbing, expensive trend in the hotel industry. It seems properties are disabling modem access through their pbx' and forcing residents to use the high speed service.

In the midwest, a reasonable hotel room goes for $79-129. Add another $10.99 for high speed access and the cost of travel goes up appreciably.

When I or my associates are on the road, all we need is an average speed modem connection for email.

Please don't encourage these bastards.

John Ranalletta Bob Wilson & Associates, Inc. Predictive Index Tel: 317-475-1070 Fax: 317-844-6267

Use a cell phone? I sure like my high speed connection and it saves me a LOT of time at $10 a day.


Through trying to read too much, too quickly, I mistook MS' reply to the IE

Active Scripting bug for your own. Mea culpa, I should have known better.

Best Regards,

Scott Miller

You were not the only one, so it was clearly my fault for not making myself clear.

The Sony SDT-5000 was a DDS-2 DAT tape drive. 2 Gb (4 Gb with hardware compression). SCSI interface (SCSI 2 I believe).

I got one to backup the Banyan network server years ago after we outgrew the full-size QIC drive (6250 tapes I think). I'll have to send e-mail to my former colleagues at my former employer to see if the unit and it's documentation is still around. We decommissioned the Banyan server when we moved Rockwell Collins engineering offices from Rodes Blvd. to Hibiscus Blvd. Was as good a time as any to implement the switch to NT-based networking.

Sony's site is a bear to search when you're not wanting the latest and greatest stuff they want to push. However, it's possible the information is still there somewhere.

------------------------------------------------ Bill Newkirk Amateur Radio Station WB9IVR Melbourne, FL - Birthplace of Jim Morrison


And from another conference:

 >You may think that McGovern and O'Neill were traitors; I don't. <

I think that McGovern would have been unhappy if South Vietnam had ended up like, say, South Korea. He wanted us to lose - he said so. Want the quote? More importantly, every policy choice he favored was likely to lead to that end. He was consistent as anything. Not a traitor? OK, _you_ tell me what was going on his head. As far as exterior acts ever tell us anything, he was feathered, had webbed toes and a big beak

I assume that to a certain extent people mean what they say and desire the obvious short-term consequences of their actions. And, of course, there is a lot sheer silliness and bravery and hatred mixed in with that. But surely, a lot of people here wanted us to lose, and it wasn't because of their concern for the fate of the people of Southeast Asia, which of course they never showed a scintilla of interest in afterwards. Call them anything you want.


The discussion was treason, and it may not be irrelevant to today's situation. And do not assume that I agree with everything I post. Or that I don't.

AND from Joel Rosenberg:

I finally got tired of it all. Crashes of the usual sorts; worries every time I browsed to a web page or opened an email -- you know.

So I got rid of it. The combination of Mandrake and StarOffice makes the most important thing I do possible without Windows, and I've spent the past week --

-- working under Mandrake, without Windows on the main box. (My wife and daughters still have Windows on their machines; for kids playing, there's no obvious substitute for Windows, and Felicia is, err, resistant to changing over.)

All in all, it's been a win. No need to reboot constantly; no constant irritations with software demanding to be upgraded . . . well, you know.

The only real problems are in interconnecting with the Windows boxes over the net, and I've been too busy to spend the time necessary to make it possible to let the Windows machines print to my printer, although I've no trouble printing to the Windows-machines' printers, or in saving my work to a share on the W2Kpro boxes. There's certainly enough apps for my needs, with the sole exception of voice dictation software; I'm going to have to look into ViaVoice for Linux. For the moment, I'm just running a long microphone line to the kids' machine, and accessing it via VNC when my hands are sore.

On to politics . . .

Yup: the hard part is about to start. Trying to turn Afghanistan into a democracy is going to be a real bitch, and probably futile. It's also unnecessary -- it's not the US's job to make everybody democratic, which is just as well, because it's probably not even vaguely possible.

Still, the lesson has been inflicted on the people of Afghanistan, although what the lesson is, I dunno.


Joel Rosenberg

------------------------------------- There's a widow in sleepy Chester Who weeps for her only son; There's a grave on the Pabeng River, A grave that the Burmans shun, And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri Who tells how the work was done. -------------------------------------

On my agenda when I get home: put together an Athlon box with nothing of Microsoft, networked in with the rest of the system, and just see what happens. Thanks for the report!

The lesson is, Do Not throw Crap at an armed man. Do not stand next to someone who is throwing crap at an armed man. Do not have house guests who throw crap at an armed man.


You were right about XP: I upgraded from an ever more shaky installation of Win ME to Win XP. It was flat out the easiest upgrade ever. And the darned thing works well.

As for the interface, you're right about that too: back to the old way that evolved over time.

One problem, though: I like to shift screen resolutions so I can play games without my glasses. Win Tidy did a great job in Win 9x of putting all my desktop icons back in their places whenever I returned to my normal resolution. Win Tidy won't work in Win XP. Is there something that does that in Win 2000?

A caution: Microsoft has just put out a cumulative IE 6 patch. It's a nice concept, but it broke AVG (the free antivirus program from Grisoft). I was able to use System Restore to roll back to before I installed the patch. I'm glad that feature made it to XP.

Ed Hume

Here is a story you should check out. 

Your fan, Tom

Thanks. I need to look into this. And now I am packing for home...

Well there is this one more thing:

Ignorant fascist american old git! Your hatred will destroy you.

Richard Henry

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Not sure what all that means, but it seems to come from a long way off.

Dear sir

found your site from a review in the british magazine Bizarre the Review is Noted sci-fi writer Jerry Pournelle's response to WTC attack in essence,'lets's kill us some Arabs, and worry about whether they were the right ones later." I found your views interesting and reasoned

 yours sincerely Tim Woodhead portsmouth uk

But it may have to do with this. I never heard of that publication, and I certainly never said any such thing. Are there not fairly heft libel laws in  Britain?  I have an English agent; should I have him make contact with a solicitor? Clearly Mr. Woodhead took the trouble to find what I had said; but apparently the magazine didn't.

I don't know how to find this magazine. Does anyone know of it?



I think I can explain the hate mail from 'Richard Henry'. In the December 2001 issue of Bizarre magazine in the UK, you had the dubious honour of making number 2 in their 'Top 10 Weird WTC Disaster Sites'. Apparently '   Noted sci-fi writer Jerry Pournelle's response to the WTC attack - in essence, "let's kill us some ayrabs, and worry about whether they were the right ones later"'. Oh how funny it all must seem to them to put you in the company of lunatics such as David Icke.

Keep up the good work and remember there is some sanity on this side of the pond,

Steve Gifford

But I did not say that, and I think I had best get my agent to hire a solicitor.







This week:



Friday, November 16, 2001

I am home but there is work piled up, so it is still officially Short Chrift time...


Is there a news blackout on Sklyarov? Certainly he has dropped into the background, given our recent focus.

I had to resort to search engine to find a lead to his new legal counsel and the trial postponed to 11/26/01.

Joe O'Laughlin

Excellent question, to which I have no answer whatever; I have been remiss in not following up the story. Anyone out there know more?

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I’m sure a number of other avid readers of your website have dropped this information off; in the event they haven’t, here goes.

Casual inspection/searching seems to suggest:

- Bizarre Magazine, stated what it stated about you here …, it is reachable at, its contact information at

- Further, the magazine appears to be owned in part or whole “I Feel Good PLC” or “I Feel Good Ltd” (PLC = Public Limited Company in UK) or “I Feel Good (Holdings) plc”, home page here and contact info 9 Dallington Street, London EC1V 0BQ, Tel 020 7687 7000, CEO and founder a Mr James Brown. Managing Director (analogous to a COO in North American terms) is Tom Gleeson.

- They appear to be traded on the London Stock Exchange as IFG.

- It is possible IFG exercises its ownership/control of Bizarre via “JBP Holdings Ltd.”

- As of 31 Dec 2000, they (IFG) were losing about GBP 1.8m/year, and had GBP 2m cash. They appeared to be attempting an 8 million pound offering this past spring.

Good luck.


Chris Riordon

Interestingly, I can find nothing about me, sci-fi, ayrabs, or anything else in their search engine, which I think may not be a very good one. There isn't even a hit for WTC although there is a link to a WTC page on the home page. I hope my search engine is better than theirs.

In any event they do have a link to what I actually said, so I suppose most of the hate mail generated by Bizarre comes from people who did not bother to look at my actual page. Ah well.

Hi Jerry,

As you no doubt have lots of time to look at the software, I thought I would give you another data point on the Star Office beta.

I have started using it exclusively instead of MS Office 2000 in order to get an idea of how it feels.

The short of it is, is that I like it a lot. It has the features I need, and it (so far) works very well.

My largest "complaint" so far is that the text rendering under Star Office is not as clean as under Office 2000. The kerning of fonts is not near as good as it us under MS Office. I work with 8 point type faces and under Star Office, the results are not very pleasant as compared to MS Office.

Star Office does come with (yet more) fonts that display nicely at 10 point sizes.

I will have no problem recommending it to companies that need a good office suite in the future.

- Paul

PS: I was given a copy of "High Justice" to read by a friend. I was rather surprised to discover that after 25 years, just how many things appear to have come true in our world that were described in yours.

Thanks for the data point and the kind words.

Sony SDT-5000

Actually, as a DDS-2 drive, it can store 4 GB uncompressed, more compressed, with 120M tapes. With the DDS-90 tapes usable on DDS-1, it can only store 2GB uncompressed.

I bought one of these drives used on Ebay, and I too found that Windows 2000 didn't work with it. At least my Linux box does.

I do wish that the builtin backup program supported compression when saving to a file, and could handle splitting the backup file automatically. Then, I could do a system backup to a set of CD-R or CD-RW disks.

Kevin Krieser 

I haven't used tape in a long time. I probably should look into it, but a box of drives backed up with DVD-RAM seems to work very well for me.

I just read your Comdex report for Tuesday, Nov 13.

Re: Windows XP and piracy - there's a simple way for Microsoft to prove there's lots of piracy: Use the activation code - but allow unlimited (not just 2) activations. Then just keep count. Microsoft could easily see if a particular product code was being re-activated again and again - presumably it knows where a CD with a certain product code was sold.

The most annoying thing to me about installing WindowsXP (Home Edition - I got the same problems copying files as you, and in the end I just kept clicking retry until it worked) is not the activation code system - it's having to enter a 25-digit product code - especially when a "B" looks like an "8".

Re: .NET - okay you saw a lot of .NET stuff - but what exactly?

-- Charles Milner - Harts Systems Ltd T --


Seems there's a potential problem with some older software on XP, especially games. If they're geared for a 9x type OS, and you install it for a subsidiary user under XP, they probably won't show up for the rest of the users. You either have to install as admin for all users, or run it as an admin ID, which lets you get to all users' profiles.

The other gotcha is that apparently new users in XP are set up as admin users: this from The Register:

As regards those admin account issues, we can report after a brief excursion into IE5 that there are currently 200 articles in the XP knowledge base containing the word administrator. One cracker is Q293834, "User Accounts That You Create During Setup Are Administrator Account Types". It applies to Home and Pro editions, and (hold onto the strap before you read this, Unix geeks) is summarized as "After you install Windows XP, you have the option to create user accounts. If you create user accounts, by default, they will have an account type of Administrator with no password."

Great, my grade-schooler gets admin rights to foul up the machine by default; thanks, Redmond.

Bob Halloran Jax FL

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Stay tuned for the column...

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

One rant from your mail rings bells. The writer preferred his slow modem to paying extra for high speed access. The parsimonius traveler is urged to be most careful before trying this. First, the lodgings may have analog (the ordinary style) or digital (newer, and all too common) telephone service. Hooking up a modem to a digital line without protective circuit attachments is supposed to fry your modem. In any event, it will not work, and will ruin the traveler's day. Analog lines may work, but the circuitry in the lodging's telephone switchboard may defeat the effort. Finally, there are several ingenious ways to hook into the telephone lines, and a great many managers that call the police if they see any of them in use. Best to do it whatever way the manager has in mind, or just not connect in the lodgings. None of this information is new, but maybe some of your readers could use a gentle reminder.


William L. Jones

All true: and local calls are $1.00 per call so it doesn't take all that many dialup connections to cost what the hotel's high speed costs.

I believe that we may have a declaration of Empire from George W. Bush's address at the UN last Saturday - text here:

In some local discussions, the conclusion that a parallel between the Carthaginian model of supporting local troops with naval (and air, in our case) superiority and our current situation seems clear. Since there's no Rome for us to break ourselves against, this doesn't seem like a BAD thing....

Jonathan Choy

I wish I had a lot more time to comment on this. But it did sound ominous, didn't it?

re: Modeming in a hotel at a buck a shot.

My wife was living in a hotel room for more than a month in May/June. Her primary recreation activities are internet based. Since the phone calls are a dollar each, she got around that by never hanging up.

At the end of the second day, they called her (the room had two phone lines, one for modem and one for voice) and offered to waive the per-call charges if she would just hang up when she wasn't using it.

Greg Goss ( )

I do the same thing in New York -- the New Yorker doesn't have high speed and does have two lines to the room -- but I never got any such request. If there are two lines to the room then keeping one nailed up makes sense.

Incidentally I carry one of those KONNEX conditioners that protects my modem from the phone, and if I accidentally plug into a digital phone it does not harm with that in the line.






This week:



Saturday, November 17, 2001


You mentioned high speed access from hotels, specifically in regards to Comdex. It truly is a wonderful thing, but occasionally, even today, you run into a major hotel that does not yet have it. Such was the case for my company’s trip to Comdex this year. We stayed at the MGM Grand to be close to some of the conferences, and because we hadn’t stayed there before. Turned out to be a mistake relative to Internet access. When we are on the road, we all carry AirCard 300 PCMCIA CDPD modem cards to access the Internet and our mail servers. Very convenient as you can check you mail in the airport, car, in a meeting (and keep Instant Messaging running during the meeting, which allows back channel communication with your team, very beneficial), or in your hotel. Now, it isn’t fast, but it’s good enough for most purposes. The card (if you get the right one) can be used in both your notebook and handheld computers, which is very convenient.

We use the

Sierra Wireless AirCard® 300 Wireless Network Card for Notebooks & Handhelds 

And we use service from GoAmerica – very reliable, 24x7 tech support 


I’ve used it with Win98SE, Win2K and WinXP, although there’s a bit of trick with drivers sometimes necessary with XP depending on which notebook you are using. I suspect it will be corrected with time.


Back to the hotel, unfortunately, when I checked in I found there was no high speed access to the Internet. Okay, I thought, I’ll just use my Aircard. When I got to my room, I logged on and read my mail. It was a bit slow due to a poor (-90db or higher) signal, but workable.


When we go on trips like this, we try to maximize our time. The CEO, the COO, myself (CIO), and Chief Software Architect all went, so we did strategic planning meetings at night after the show and conferences. We ended up congregating in my room, and I had carried along a portable projector so we could communicate more efficiently (the MGM charges $20 a day for a screen). When we all were in the room, we found, due to a quirk in the building and location of the cell towers, the only place the Aircard would work was at the desk in my room, so I was the only one who could use it. Being resourceful guys, we also brought along a wireless dial-up access point. This we built ourselves and consists of an Orinoco access point and a US Robotics modem pre-programmed to dial an ISP on an 800 number. This means all we had to do in our room was pop in our 802.11b wireless PCMCIA cards, and we shared the modem line, which worked fine.


The problem came when I checked out. It turns out that the MGM charges a premium for local or 800 calls. For our four nights of meetings (about 3-4 hours a night), I got nicked a little more than $80 for the local connection.

Give me T-1 service at $10 a day anytime.

Tracy Walters

I certainly found the Marriot's high speed service useful. George Gilder speaks of infinite bandwidth, but it hasn't happened yet. When it does -- and Microsoft is betting the company on it with .NET and with all the Internet features in XP -- it may be wonderful. But it ain't there yet.

We used GoAmerica with our RIM Blackberries at PC Expo and I found it very reliable. It isn't cheap.

Dr. Pournelle:

Re your mail that bad MS code costs $170 Billion per year: Please, is it not time to ask how this number (and all sorts of other similar numbers) is/are calculated? In my small firm we use lots of MS software and curse all of the MS shortcomings (we seem to have fewer problems than a lot of others). What are the options? Should we go back to pencil and paper along with hand crank adding machines? Linux etc. sounds good, if only there were apps in wide spread use. It would be nice, though, if MS software were less buggy

According to my sources any other solution would cost the economy at least $500 Billion. So, we are Billions ahead.

Rollie Hill

Please do not assume that I agree with all the mail I post. Or that I disagree either, for that matter. Sometimes I put things up to get people thinking about something.

On which score, this from an old friend:


I am forwarding the following message in response to your asking for a declaration of war and all that that means to the preservation of our constitutionally-mandated obligations as citizens.

I say obligations rather than rights, hearkening after Simone Weil, whose "Need For Roots" begins by declaring that the notion of obligations precedes the notion of rights. Like your own notion of declaring war, I didn't get it for a long time, but when I did, it made a bunch of sense. Do you know her stuff, especially "The Iliad, or Poem of Force"?

Bob Gelman who sent this to me is one of the good guys, like yourself, someone I have frequently debated, interestingly enough, since he tends to be about as "left" as you are "right" which is not very, really, any more than I am "center." You know me: I'm all over the map.

Also, Gelman is one of the originators of the CyberArts conferences from ten years ago, which were a real nexus of cyber and arts, so to say. Like he had Mort Heilig, Dave Warner, M.D., and Col. Rick Satava, M.D. out there building new neuronal connections in people's brains about VR (which many have abandoned or surrendered to mere "3D Graphics").

Anyhow, here's Gelman's appeal. Prolly not for posting on your pages, but it underscores your own concerns. I suspect that you may have a better handle on the legal issues than Gelman.

But then again, who to write to? who to influence? who to speak for the Constitution? If you have a better strategy, I truly would like to hear it, as the ACLU tends to get dismissed by both right AND left (unless it is one's own horse that it is defending, so to say).

Quick fixes tend to be counterproductive, but what do YOU think we can do?

be well,


I fear I always considered the ACLU mostly "useful idiots"; certainly the hard core left always did. When Salmon Rushdie was threatened with death for writing The Satanic Verses, I gulped hard and sent money to P.E.N., which is an outfit with which I have little agreement, but they were up front in defending him and in castigating publishers and book store chains which were caving right and left.

Had the ACLU been in the forefront at Ruby Ridge and Waco I'd be a member today despite my distaste for many of their activities: but they were not. Waco was a danger to life and liberty in a big way and not one Federal Employee lost his job although they lied to the Army (to get helicopters), lied to the Attorney General (to convince her that children were in danger, as if anything were more dangerous than the Hostage Rescue Team) -- and nothing. The Texas Rangers found evidence that the Federal Employees lied to the Congress and all the investigating commissions. The ACLU did -- nothing.

As to military commissions to try non-citizens, that is both Constitutional and not without precedent. I am not sure it is legal without a Declaration of War, and that is what I would be bombarding my Congresscritter with: demands for a Congressional Hearing on the War, and a formal Declaration -- the President has no say in that. Congress alone declares war through a joint resolution: it is not a Bill and is not subject to veto.

But Congress has become a focus group. 

I have mail on the Afghan Situation that I thought worth putting over in the War section. 

And there is this from another place:

Interesting "vignette" from Robert Albach (ex-Vignette employee):

A little anecdote about Vignette's foray into India....

We set up a porting, testing, and support group in India as well hiring approximately @30-40 people right out of the box with plans to grow to 100. Unfortunately it opened @ 5 weeks before Vignette had its first layoff. As the Feb layoffs were determined by a mainly LIFO and performance criteria the new India hires were sadly turned out. The individual charged with bring the news was beaten pretty badly and the company had to write off some damages to equipment as well.

Best of luck to Mr. Engstrom and his computing commune.


At 1:09 AM -0600 11/14/01, Jim wrote: In spite of the current tech downturn (in the sense that the last 17 seconds of the flight of AA 587 was a "downturn" <sigh>), really *great* programmers are very rare. Thus, if Eric Engstrom's new city attracts some, it will be worth the money it cost to build.

That said, it is *very* hard to run a software development project remotely. I would not use Indian programmers for anything but porting (take this Windows program and produce a Linux version), testing (find bugs in this application by running it on all possible combinations of hardware and software levels), and conversions (make this piece of COBOL code Y2K compliant). "Creative" projects don't seem to succeed over there, in spite of the low cost per person-year. 

And then this was sent by a reader:

The New York Times Missed the Wrong Missed Story  by William L. Anderson

In a recent edition celebrating 150 years in business, the New York Times also engaged in a bit of self-flagellation, calling attention to its meager coverage of Adolph Hitlers slaughter of the Jews during World War II. Saying that it "missed" the Holocaust, the Times decided to point out its alleged malfeasance on page one.


However, the higher ups at the Times tossed aside all of those reasons as they groveled before their readers. The only problem with their new position that the Holocaust was the Big Story that the Times Missed is that it is not true. A decade before the Holocaust, the Soviet Union was undergoing its own series of state-sponsored terror and massacres. It seems that not only did the Times "miss" that story, the newspaper aided and abetted Joseph Stalins murderous regime. It was a con job from start to finish, and even today the Times leadership refuses to admit the obvious. In fact, the newspaper continues to celebrate the fact that it deliberately and maliciously misled its readers.


Worth reading about "the Newspaper of Record" which gives "All the news that's fit to print." I have no idea who the author of this critique is, but it's certainly true that the Times seems more ashamed of its remissions regarding Hitler than its help to Stalin. Which is unfortunate.

While we are examining ourselves we might wonder how an entire generation of intellectuals could be seduced by something as evil as Stalin's USSR. Of the journalists who went there during the artificial famine in the Ukraine, most said nothing. Malcolm Muggeridge tried to alert the world and was disdained. Bernard Shaw, knowing better, knowing better, made jests about not seeing starving people. Some still alive were guilty of hiding the obvious. Lincoln Steffans had gone over into the future and found that it worked, and no one wanted to contradict him.

It is not our business to undo all the wrongs of this world, but surely we ought to be told about them? But the shame of the American Intellectual Establishment is that we were not told, and they have yet to tell us the reasons why.

Incidentally, Harvard is ecstatic about its new acquisition. This from the New York Times:

At Harvard University, the acquisition of Homi K. Bhabha from the University of Chicago this fall is regarded as a major coup, as if Sammy Sosa had defected to the Boston Red Sox.


Yet at the same time, Mr. Bhabha is dogged by critics who say his followers have been bewitched by his indecipherable jargon. In 1998, Mr. Bhabha won second place (Judith Butler, a gender theorist at Berkeley, took the top prize) in the annual Bad Writing Contest sponsored by the journal Philosophy and Literature for this passage from an essay on mimicry: "If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to `normalize' formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality." Such convolution is not unusual for Mr. Bhabha.


Which makes me doubt my sanity...

RADIO ADDRESS BY LAURA BUSH TO THE NATION Crawford, Texas Sat Nov 17 2001 10:08:16 ET

Laura Bush: Good morning.

I'm Laura Bush, and I'm delivering this week's radio address to kick off a world-wide effort to focus on the brutality against women and children by the al-Qaida terrorist network and the regime it supports in Afghanistan, the Tablian. That regime is now in retreat across much of the country, and the people of Afghanistan -- especially women -- are rejoicing. Afghan women know, through hard experience, what the rest of the world is discovering: The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists. Long before the current war began, the Taliban and its terrorist allies were making the lives of children and women in Afghanistan miserable. Seventy percent of the Afghan people are malnourished. One in every four children won't live past the age of five because health care is not available. Women have been denied access to doctors when they're sick.

Life under the Taliban is so hard and repressive, even small displays of joy are outlawed -- children aren't allowed to fly kites; their mothers face beatings for laughing out loud. Women cannot work outside the home, or even leave their homes by themselves.

The severe repression and brutality against women in Afghanistan is not a matter of legitimate religious practice. Muslims around the world have condemned the brutal degradation of women and children by the Taliban regime. The poverty, poor health, and illiteracy that the terrorists and the Taliban have imposed on women in Afghanistan do not conform with the treatment of women in most of the Islamic world, where women make important contributions in their societies. Only the terrorists and the Taliban forbid education to women. Only the terrorists and the Taliban threaten to pull out women's fingernails for wearing nail polish. The plight of women and children in Afghanistan is a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control.

Civilized people throughout the world are speaking out in horror - not only because our hearts break for the women and children in Afghanistan, but also because in Afghanistan, we see the world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us.

All of us have an obligation to speak out. We may come from different backgrounds and faiths -- but parents the world over love our children. We respect our mothers, our sisters and daughters. Fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a specific culture; it is the acceptance of our common humanity -- a commitment shared by people of good will on every continent.

Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment. Yet the terrorists who helped rule that country now plot and plan in many countries. And they must be stopped. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.

In America, next week brings Thanksgiving. After the events of the last few months, we'll be holding our families even closer. And we will be especially thankful for all the blessings of American life. I hope Americans will join our family in working to insure that dignity and opportunity will be secured for all the women and children of Afghanistan. Have a wonderful holiday, and thank you for listening.

Not precisely a letter, but not everyone heard it.






This week:


read book now


Sunday, November 18, 2001

Dear Dr Pournelle, 

May I proffer another insult to sanity? Bhabha's prolixity is always worth a good laugh, but at least he's on the right side. Others put forward propositions which really deserve the decent obscurity of ponderous circumlocution.

Try for size the letter in the January 1999 issue of "Physics Today" from Ted Lawry quoting

"...the work of a leading postmodernist, Sandra Harding. I claim it gives a much fairer picture of the postmodernist attitude toward, and understanding of, science... Here's the sentence: "Is it not as illuminating and honest to refer to Newton's laws as 'Newton's Rape Manual' as it is to call them 'Newton's Mechanics"?" [S.G. Harding, The Science Question in Feminism, Cornell U.P., Cornell, N.Y. (1986) p.113].

Mr Lawry goes on: "If any readers think Harding is an isolated extremist, I encourage them to consult [P.R. Gross, N. Levett, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science, Johns Hopkins U.P., Baltimore (1994)]". Since even our distant university has this book in the library (and I'm going to get it at lunchtime!) it must be widely available.

Regards, TC

PS This refers to your reader's note on Homi Bhabha, which made my day: "In 1998, Mr. Bhabha won second place (Judith Butler, a gender theorist at Berkeley, took the top prize) in the annual Bad Writing Contest sponsored by the journal Philosophy and Literature for this passage from an essay on mimicry: "If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to `normalize' formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality." Such convolution is not unusual for Mr. Bhabha."

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

Ah well


I saw the note on your website about Homi K. Bhabha and the piece in the Times. I read the piece yesterday.

Dr. Bhabha would fail my freshman comp class for lack of clarity in his prose. I fear the professor has no clothes, but the emperors at Harvard are intrigued by his nudity.



Yes. Isn't it wonderful how families bankrupt themselves to send their children for instruction at the feet of such masters?

Hi, Jerry.

In your Byte Comdex Column, you said:

"ATI has grown a lot, with its biggest Comdex presence yet. ATI and nVIDIA are the Big Two in video boards. ATI makes its own boards, while nVIDIA has reduced much of its video processing to a single chip. ATI has one board that lets you watch TV in background (either in a small window or even literally in background with your work sort of transparently in front of it) as you write and do other work. I think I would pay money not to have that capability, but then I wonder, since as I write this I have the TV on behind me to find out the latest about the war, and I have to keep turning around to see it. "

I just bought one of these boards, the ATI All-in-Wonder RADEON, and it's quite neat. I can watch TV on my monitor full screen or in small windows that let me keep an eye on something while I'm working on something else. Picture quality is better than a standard TV (no scan lines) and you can record to your hard drive (though you'd better have a fast processor and a BIG hard drive). You can also record the closed caption information to a text file.

It's also a pretty good board for games, about equal to a GetForce 2 but with better multimedia capabilites. Visual quality on games like Quake 3 and Serious Sam is superb.

Overall I'm quite happy with it, although I wish I'd known about the new 64MB version before I'd bought the 32 MB one.

Regards Keith

-- Keith Soltys Host of Internet Resources for Technical Writers since 1994


At the risk of telling you what you already know, broadly speaking, there are two types of market letters.

The ones from brokerage houses are simply tout sheets, always bullish. Those responsible are compensated on their ability to get and hold client assets. Accuracy/forecasting prowess is irrelevant.

Stand-alone newsletters DO suffer when they fail at forecasting, because folks cancel their subscriptions. Bob Prechter's "Elliot Wave" newsletter suffered enormous subscription cancellations/run-offs after blowing the market call on the 1987 stock crash.

Given that anyone who *can* forecast the markets is going to put that knowledge to work multiplying their own bank account rather than playng the newsletter game, quality indy market services are rare. Ned Davis and Lazlo Birinyi come to mind.

The formulae showing equities undervalued suffer from GIGO. Stocks are undervalued if you make seemingly heroic assumptions about earnings, against the current background of fed ease and Congressional largesse. Not a bet *I* personally am making now, in the interest of full disclosure.

Unless you are in the trading trenches daily, or have detailed specific "inside" info, the individual stock picking game is very tough. If you want to play stocks as an asset class, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) like SPY, DIA or iShares is the best way to get "exposure" to a broad range of stocks without getting hosed by high management fees.

I trade futures contracts for a living, and that's how I do it.

gz ----------------------------------------- George R. Zachar Greensward Capital 555 5 Av NYC 10017 ----------------------------------------- If I can survive eight years of Giuliani, I can survive four years of Bloomberg. --Al Sharpton -----------------------------------------

Actually I did rather well forecasting the market but the rules didn't allow me to do anything about it. Had I simply bought Microsoft and Intel back in the early 80's I would have made more money than I made from all my BYTE columns, and I am actually pretty well paid. And I knew that was the right thing to do at the time. Oracle I would have missed, but not Intel and Microsoft. Ah well. 

And I certainly do not advocate that anyone trade futures contracts unless they pretty well do it for a living.

We will not soon see PE ratios of 80 again, but Moore's Law remains Moore's Law... Which is all I meant to say.






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