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Mail 182 December 3 - 9, 2001

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This week:



Monday  December 3, 2001

Order Windows Version Reading TLC Now

There's a ton of mail and I haven't time to do anything with it. Tomorrow.

But Roland sends me this wonder: 

And that ought to be story enough for anyone! And a whole bunch of stuff about keyboards:

Enjoyed your writeup last week on keyboards. I'm jealously guarding the big heavy clicky Northgate omnikey keyboards I've been using for years.

Don't know how much you operate under X and linux, but...

xmodmap -e "remove Lock = Caps_Lock"

(turns off your caps lock key.)

xmodmap -e "add Lock = Caps_Lock"

(turns it back on I've been told. I've never actually wanted to go back)

This tidbit has (IMHO) improved my life, especially when I am working on the keyboard of my Tecra notebook.


-- John Harlow, 

If you are on the Windows platform, look no further than freeware AntiCapsLock LITE 1.0 []

Hi Jerry,

Being in Holland I've only started reading your columns when Byte appeared online, but I've never skipped one since!

Here's my contribution for Chaos Manor:

I'm very picky about keyboards too and finally settled for a rugged Dell keyboard, model number AT101W. It's not programmable, it's got all the keys in the usual places, but it's got a very satisfying click, feels very solid and has yet to lose any of the lettering after all the abuse I've given it.

And the best thing is that it should cost you something like 60 or 70 dollars. I suppose Dell USA carries the keyboard too, I of course ordered it here in Holland.

In my case it took Dell 4 tries to finally deliver the correct keyboard. They kept sending me various incarnations of those mushy keyboards, but finally got it right and I haven't looked back since.

If you have one of those days that you _don't_ feel like doing anything silly for your readers, go and order one of these Dell keyboards and hopefully you'll be surprised :)



-- Frank Schaap Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR) University of Amsterdam Kloveniersburgwal 48 1012 CX Amsterdam The Netherlands

e: w: 


Evidentally, you don't agree with me about the Microsoft shaped keyboard--the one Microsoft calls "natural," but that is in fact UNnatural.

I'm appalled. I'm appalled that Microsoft has gotten away with foisting a bad keyboard on a gullible public--including most of the other keyboard manufacturers, who have meekly gone along with Microsoft's high-handed mistake--and I'm appalled that hardly anyone seems to know how to type properly and so accepts that board as if it's something really cool.

See, as I mentioned to you, Microsoft has placed one of the keys in the wrong position on that keyboard--the top-row "6" key should be on the RIGHT side of the board, NOT on the left.

Incredibly, I've found only one review of that board that mentions that--it was at an Asian PC Magazine site; the reviewer warned that touch-typists would find the Microsoft Natural Keyboard impossible to type on correctly because of that misplaced key.

With that board, you have to either stretch way over with your right index finger to hit the 6, or else be content with hitting it with your left index, in which case that finger has to take care of an extra key--not only the 4 and 5, but the 6 too. Besides being awkward and contrary to how you're supposed to type, that results in unequal work distribution. A small matter for many, I suppose, but I notice it, as besides writing, I do CAD work and use that top row of number keys a lot.

Microsoft no doubt did studies to determine where to put that key, but apparently they didn't use people who knew how to type in those studies. And now that the mistake has been made, it's probably regarded as too expensive to correct. It reminds me of the story of the Spanish king who had a lisp and so caused everyone in his kingdom to speak that way too, hence the creation of Castilian Spanish.

It also reminds me of the lies we constantly get through our media. It seems that in our "soft totalitarian" culture, truth is just barely respected. The Microsoft "Natural" keyboard is one of the little elements that helps throw people off of what actually is natural and gets them instead to do things the way someone dictates they should do them.

John McCracken

Since I don't like those melted keyboards to begin with, I never used one enough to notice its problems. But Niven loves his.

(If you post this to your Web page, please attribute it to: Paul S R Chisholm <> i 

'Goner' Worm Hitting Corporations, Individual PCs

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A new computer worm named ``Goner'' was spreading quickly through corporate and personal e-mail inboxes on Tuesday, deleting system files and clogging networks in what could be the biggest outbreak since last year's ``Love Letter'' virus, security software vendors said.

The worm, a virus that propagates itself to other computers through the Internet or other networks, is affecting users of Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq:MSFT - news) Outlook and Outlook Express, said Ian Hameroff, business manager of security solutions at Computer Associates International Inc. (NYSE:CA - news)

People using ICQ instant messenger and Internet Relay Chat also are susceptible to the worm because files can be transferred across those networks, Hameroff said.

Researchers estimated thousands of computers had been infected by the worm, which is believed to have originated in France, according to April Goostree, virus research manager at

``This is at outbreak status, which is very rare,'' Goostree said. ``The last outbreak we had was 'Love Letter' in May 2000.''

A virus is given outbreak status by if it is determined to be spreading quickly and affecting large corporate networks as well as individual computer users, Goostree said.

The Goner worm arrives in an attachment masquerading as a screensaver, with an e-mail subject line of ``Hi'' and text that says: ``How are you? When I saw this screen saver, I immediately thought about you I am in a harry (sic), I promise you will love it!''

Once the user clicks on the attachment, the worm sends itself to everyone in the user's e-mail address book, tries to close programs that are running and deletes certain system files, including firewall and antivirus software, said Hameroff.


On a different and perhaps more permanently interesting topic:

Dr. Pournelle, 

Niall Ferguson, a professor of political and financial history at the University of Oxford, writing in the New York Times (, proposes that there are four important trends that will shape the early 21st century:
 1. The globalization of terrorism. 
2. The approach of a second energy crisis. 
3. The formalization of American imperialism. 
4. The fragmentation of the multicultural polity. (Civil wars, breakup of countries on ethnic and racial lines, as happened in Kosovo and Rwanda)

I'm not sure I agree with (2). On (3), he seems to have been reading He also discusses how globalization isn't really global. It's an interesting read.

Kit Case

Thanks. Deadlines prevent me from reading it now, but I'll get over there when I can.

A Fresh Look at a Quick Fix for Heroin Addiction NYT December 4, 2001 By MARY DUENWALD

The patient strapped to the hospital gurney, breathing through a respirator, is James, a 40-year-old man addicted to heroin. The anesthesiologist loads a syringe with 20 milligrams of naloxone and slowly injects it into the IV in James's right arm. During the next 10 minutes, the drug will enter his system, pry off the billions of opiate molecules that have been clinging to his brain cells and wash them away.

< snip >

Over the course of the next four hours, as the opiates are flushed out through his liver and kidneys, his heart rate, breathing and temperature fall back to normal, his pupils readjust and his goose bumps recede. When he is awakened, his body is fully detoxified from heroin - a process that can normally take days or even weeks.


This is rapid detox, a practice invented in Austria at the University of Vienna in the late 1980's. In the world of addiction medicine, no technique for treating heroin users has ever been more controversial.


James said it would not have worked without the support he had received from his family and from daily attendance at Narcotics Anonymous. "It put me in the right direction," he said, "but it's not a magic cure."









This week:




Working. Sorry







This week:




At work







This week:


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Thursday, December 6, 2001


On the War, from Trent Telenko:

It looks like the US military has tricked out it's B-52s with both GPS and laser guided bombs to loiter and provide battlefield fire support to special forces teams with special weapon guidance gear.

This is Thoth in all but name and over the horizon weapons launch.

Now if they could only get the digital datalink and bandwidth problems corrected....

------------------- Wall Street Journal December 6, 2001

Accidental Bombing Of Friendly Forces May Be Avoidable With Minor Fixes

By Greg Jaffe, Chip Cummins and Anne Marie Squeo, Staff Reporters of The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan has been so impressive that some think it presages a revolution in the way wars will be fought.

But two recent "friendly fire" incidents in which bombs have gone astray and hit U.S. soldiers -- including one misfire Wednesday -- show some problems remain in the high-tech approach, particularly with the wireless network that ties the bombing operations together. The incidents actually suggest that by making some relatively small changes, such as improving communications gear and adding more sensors to the battlefield, the U.S. campaign could become far more precise and effective.

But Thoth didn't contemplate really big weapons, and had a more positive guidance. Me, I don't want to do laser designation for 2000 pound bombs...

Nice to see overseas reporters stating the obvious.

I particularly like the quotes attributed to the 'senior US officials.'

The French foreign minister's comments about NATO reinforcing multilateralism are unintentionally funny in context.

It seems the French are finally embracing the military side of NATO as a tool to restrict American power, just in time to see America defacto abandon it.


International Herald Tribune December 6, 2001 Pg. 1

News Analysis

Is NATO 'Relevant' In Era Of U.S. Power?

By John Vinocur

PARIS--A few mornings ago, George Robertson, NATO's secretary-general, was asked on television in Britain how the alliance was holding up through the Afghanistan campaign. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, he replied, was still relevant. Relevant, he said, using the word a second time. Not vital, irreplaceable, or the cornerstone of world peace.

This was a curiously circumscribed, subdued description coming from a man usually unafraid of enthusiasm. Perhaps sensing he sounded too downbeat, Lord Robertson added that NATO was just as meaningful now as it was "in 1949, when it was created to protect the Western world."

In fact, there is almost no argument anywhere these days with the idea that NATO has lost the cosmic importance it knew when it was holding off the Soviet threat. Indeed, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 raids, and the almost single-handed American management of the Afghan war, analysis of NATO has sharpened and harshened to focus on what is left of it, and what NATO can provide in the future.


I am picking my jaw up off the ground.

Putan has sealed our new alliance in blood.

Jerry Pournelle's Co-Dominium has been given birth.

Now we know the reason that we have been keeping the British and other NATO ally troops out of Afghanistan and why they are so antsy to get in.

It wasn't just that we wanted to fight the war first, before peace keeping. It was to keep the Western Europeans from stepping on the Russian's toes while they did the bloody work of 'developing sources.'

------------------- Russian raids provide U.S. intelligence Source: UPI Published: December 4, 2001 Author: RICHARD SALE, UPI Terrorism Correspondent

Russian troops serving with the Northern Alliance have conducted raids on Taliban compounds in order to collect documents and other intelligence that have helped narrow the search for accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, U.S. intelligence officials told United Press International. "The Russians have given the United States the best intelligence we've had on the Taliban and bin Laden since military operations began on Oct. 7," an administration official said. "They have provided the most comprehensive intelligence picture."

Another result of the Russian raids has been improvements in targeting Taliban strongholds by the U.S. air strikes, this source said.

In conjunction with the air strikes, the secret insertion of Russian troops and military experts into the tank and other ground forces of the Northern Alliance played a major role in the swift pace of its victories over the Tailban last month, administration officials said.

Other targets of Russian raids have been Chechen groups with links to bin Laden, U.S. officials said. Bin Laden-trained Chechen fighters have been part of a surge of Islamic militancy in Central Asia and the Caucasus which has alarmed Russia, they said.

And more on that theme:

"The challenge is how to create consulting mechanisms capable of dealing jointly with the new common realities without giving Europe the sense that it is facing a Russo-American condominium".

Excerpted from:

Henry Kissinger; SHAPING A NEW WORLD ORDER; The San Diego Union - Tribune; San Diego, Calif.; Dec 2, 2001

Link to full text:

William Healy 


I have cut all those stories: they're all worth reading, but I don't want to be part of intellectual piracy.


And finally, from Telenko again

This ought to be of interest.

LTC Peters hammers the 'apostles of stability' in the foreign policy establishment. 

After you are through with that, read this article by Kaplan profiling the career of foreign policy maven Samuel Phillips Huntington as a counter point, at this link: 

Thanks for all of those.

From Robert Racansky:

Your tax dollars at work?

At a conference on "Boy Talk" (whatever the hell that is) sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, Christina Hoff Sommers -- a longtime critic of the feminist movement -- was told to "shut the f*ck up, bitch" by Jay Wade. Professor Wade is an expert on "listening skills."

At the time, Sommers had been ordered to end her speech (which she was invited to give), and was being heckled by the crowd.

Sommers' crime? Arguing that evidence was needed to evaluate the effectiveness of a government program known as "Girl Power" (whatever the hell that is), which was started during the Clinton administration.

source: Stanley Kurtz. National Review Online. 05 Dec. 2001. 

Why am I not surprised?

Glenn Reynolds observes that the attack listed below have all been "cheered by the Palestinians in large numbers....if the Arabs can't get this under control, the U.S. should just take a hands-off policy to Israeli self-defense. What's funny is, so many people in that part of the world blame the United States for Israel's actions, when really the main role of the United States has been to hold the Israelis back. Maybe we should stop, and let them appreciate the difference" [  12/5/2001 09:39:50 AM ]",2933,39896,00.html 

"Major Bomb Attacks Since 1993 Peace Accord"

Sunday, December 02, 2001 Associated Press

April 6, 1994 Palestinian parks car rigged with explosives next to bus in Afula, in northern Israel. Nine Israelis killed. Militant Muslim group Hamas claims responsibility.

Oct. 19, 1994 Palestinian suicide bomber kills 22 Israelis in bus explosion in Tel Aviv. Hamas claims responsibility.

Jan. 22, 1995 Two Palestinians blow themselves up at the Beit Lid junction in central Israel, killing 21 Israelis. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility.

April 9, 1995 Two Palestinians blow themselves up outside two Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, killing seven Israeli soldiers and an American. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim responsibility.

Feb. 25, 1996 Palestinian suicide bombers blow up bus in Jerusalem and soldiers' hitchhiking post in coastal city of Ashkelon, killing 24 Israelis, two Americans and a Palestinian. Hamas claims responsibility.

March 3, 1996 Bus bomb in Jerusalem kills at least 18 people, including six Romanians and two Palestinians. Hamas claimed responsibility.

March 4, 1996 Suicide bomber blows himself up outside a Tel Aviv shopping center, killing at least 14 people.

July 30, 1997 Two bombers kill themselves and 15 others in an outdoor Jerusalem market. Leaflet signed by Hamas' military wing claims responsibility.

June 1, 2001 Suicide bomber blows himself up outside Tel Aviv nightclub, killing himself and 21 others.

Aug. 9, 2001 A suicide bomber kills 15 people in Jerusalem pizza restaurant.

Sept. 9, 2001 The first Israeli-Arab suicide bomber blows himself up at a railroad station in northern Israel, killing three others.

Nov. 29, 2001 A suicide bomber blows himself up on board a bus on a main highway in Israel's north, killing three passengers. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for the attack.

Dec. 1, 2001 Two suicide bombers blow themselves up in back-to-back explosions at a downtown Jerusalem pedestrian mall, killing at least eight bystanders.

The incident list leaves out the booby trap bomb Israelis -- whether private wickedness or government action I don't know -- planted near an Israeli settlement but on the path used by Palestinian school children. The booby trap got 5 kids.  For some reason this infuriated the Palestinians.

I have not yet seen the Israeli investigation of that incident, but I sure hope there will be one and someone will be prosecuted. I gather from the NYT that at least one of the above was in retaliation for the Israeli booby trap.

I would say that planting booby traps near school yards is neither a civilized nor an effective means of waging civil war. 

Jim Chapin tells me:

I think the soldiers who planted the trap weren't thinking about the schoolkids but about the snipers who were shooting at them from that location. I rather doubt that it was a decision of "the government."

But all kinds of societies commit atrocities in war. The difference is in how they react to them. In Israel, there was a firestorm of controversy, and the start of an investigation. Just as there would be in America.

I had not heard of that firestorm and investigation: I would be pleased to hear more. I completely agree, no society is perfect: it's what it condones and approves that is the measure of a civilization.

I have since been sent this:

Link to the article: (Copyright Baltimore Sun)


And now a number of items from Roland Dobbins: 

You can also see more on this on the SFWA web site. This ebook division had very bad contracts, but the main reason it went under was no sales.

On "permissive parenting" 

On the Windowless Office (a subject I have to do more on) 

Subject: Fools Mate 

How Roland manages to read everything to cull out this much I do not know. Thanks!

On finding Bastiat: 

Bastiat is always very readable, and makes a great deal of sense. I used to use a couple of his thin works as required reading texts when I taught political theory.

With the subject: Blombos:

And Joe Zeff tells us

See the Cosmic Finger of Friendliness at 

It is not to be missed...

From Jim Warren:

"[I]t is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy.

All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

--Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering

(And ... if you don't know who Goering was ... well ... that's a big part of our nation's current danger!)

Indeed. Of course sometimes the people ARE being attacked.


The Following will eventually be consolidated into its own page.

Regarding friendly fire and USAF policies:

> I have put this as strongly as I can: I wait for counter arguments.

I don't see how there can be any counter-argument. In my admittedly lay opinion, we have (or had) the ideal platform for close air support in the A-10 Warthog, which we should have in inventory by the thousands. How many do we have now? Any? If so, they're probably scheduled for decommissioning in the real near future. My guess is that any we have left are being flown by National Guard pilots, because I doubt any career AF guy is going to be caught flying one unless he really tripped over his own equipment.

You can't really blame the tactical guys for not wanting to put a $50+ million unarmored fast mover down in the mud where it might easily be lost to a golden BB. But I never cease to be amazed that people who freely admit that the Sturmovik was the best tactical close-support aircraft of WWII turn around and spit on the Warthog, which amounts to a modern version of the Sturmovik flying tank. I suppose they'd argue that different times call for different weapons, but it seems to me that what hasn't changed is that guys on the ground need flying tanks supporting them, and the Warthog is the only flying tank we have or are likely to have.

 -- Robert Bruce Thompson

I can't fault USAF for not wanting the close air support mission, but I think the generals who refused to allow the Army to develop aircraft for that mission ought to be broken to the ranks and sent in as ground pounders. As you say, what the Army needs is flying tanks. The Air Force doesn't want the Army to have them, but won't develop any themselves. The consequences of that could be and were foreseen at the time: I made a friendly fire argument against USAF keeping the close support mission myself; I was speaking to the Air Council at the time.  That was long ago, though...

Yes, we need a mix. "Model airplane", with 10 pounds bang, in formed wood pulp "Hush-a-Bomb" casing, its own TV camera, and SatNav ability. Use SatNav re-transmitter, in control console (rebuilt Game-Boy), for better accuracy, in close quarters. Squad carries one. Platoon gets 25 pound model. Company gets a mule, and 4X50 pound model. Regiment gets 4 Harriers, and four hovercraft, to keep up supplies, of Harrier bangs, and shootings, plus 10, 25, 50 pound models, and mule food, and mule treats. Doubt mule will be happy with MRE's. Oh, yes, might as well keep Game-Boy's game-playing ability, handy for training (Game-Boy designers get to be politically incorrect) and relaxation (everybody carries an extra battery, no whining). 

New subject: It is possible to send bogus SatNav signals, from a ground transmitter, which do not have to be very strong, to seduce a SatNav navigating bomb, away from your position. I wonder . . . 

It is an annoying thought, I bet the radio guys are checking their intercepts now. A new antenna, and a new set of chips, to Home on Signal from below?

 And for Division, 20 or 40 modern versions of the 20mm equipped, round-engined classic from Douglas? That's it, the USAF can stick to it's knitting, while the close support pilots rotate through front-line close support direction, and have to re-new their rifleman's eye every quarter. It works for the Marines, it will work for the Army. And, the law of unexpected consequences, will work for us, because there are many ways of doing close support, you get two sets of motivated people on a problem, you will get at least two sets of methods, that work. 

I am aged 62, a retired seismic surveyor, and I had ex-Vietnam helicopter pilots flying me above the High Artic ice, surveying for seismic exploration. 


Good Points all. Thanks!

I think that most people who are aware of the Sturmovik think of it as a dedicated anti-tank platform, and indeed that's the way the History Channel and others portray it. I thought the same, based on published accounts, until I got to college back in the early 1970's, when I struck up an acquaintance with a guy who'd been in the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front during the long retreat back to Germany.

We got talking one day about the Sturmovik and I mentioned something about how it'd been death on Panzers. He said that had been the least of it, because the Soviets had so many of the damned things that when tanks got to be thin on the ground they turned the Sturmoviks loose on the German infantry. He said everyone was terrified of the Sturmovik because it appeared to be invulnerable. They'd spot one coming in on an attack run and start hosing it down with MG42's (at 20 rounds a second of 7.92mm AP). He said they'd see sparkles coming off the plane where the bullets were hitting it, but nothing appeared to happen. When they infrequently did shoot one down, they considered it more a matter of luck than anything else. Even the hard cases, he said, would freely admit that Sturmoviks scared the hell out of them.

It seems to me that this demoralizing effect applies equally to something like a Warthog, rolling in on an attack pass with that big 30mm rotary cannon chewing up the landscape and bombs dropping from it (or, better still, napalm). We both know that neither the Sturmovik nor the Warthog is really invulnerable, but I can see how it might seem that way to guys on the ground who were getting pounded by one (or several). And I can see where having scads of Warthogs over a modern battlefield would tend to make enemy soldiers seriously consider running rather than fighting. So you'd get a double benefit from deploying the A-10 in large numbers. A lot of the enemy would run or cower in their holes. Those that didn't, the A-10 would kill. 

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

The purpose of an army is mostly to take and hold territory. The Army needs an Air Corps to help it do that. USAF doesn't want to, but it doesn't want the Army to have it either.









This week:



Friday,  December 7, 2001

Lots of Mail on USAF and Close Support. Here is one:

In the discussions on close-air support, I haven't seen any mention of the AC-130; I'm certainly no expert, but it seems relevent. Big, slow-moving, some armor (a kevlar lining inside the skin), and many, many guns. It's not clear to me if these are more or less suitable for close support than the A-10, or for that matter the tradeoffs between large/small platforms and between guns/bombs.

We only have a relative handful of these, but development seems to be ongoing. Interesting to me is that they appear to be attached to Special Forces command, which from what little I know looks (if you squint) like a small combined-arms force. Perhaps the solution to the organizational impasse in the armed services will be to build the structure we need off to one side in Special Forces, then gradually 'upgrade' all the military to 'special force' status.

Mike Earl

Why must we fool our own services? Can't we just do the rational right thing for once and give USAF the air supremacy mission and the Army Air Corps the close support and battlefield interdiction missions, and be done with it?

Two letters on this, both interesting:

Subject: Mars Getting Hotter?

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

This looks interesting: 

Wonder if the enviromentalists will blame *that* on human activity, too . . .

- Kevin Cheek



The following suggests that global warming on Earth may in fact be a real phenomenon. On the other hand, the cause may not be quite what some have been assuming.

Ed Hume

Thursday December 6 6:36 PM ET

Study Suggests Mars Ice Caps Eroding (from  )

By PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vast fields of carbon dioxide ice are eroding from the poles of Mars, suggesting that the climate of the Red Planet is warming and the atmosphere is becoming slightly more dense.

Experts say that over time such changes could allow water to return to the Martian surface and turn the frigid planet into a ``shirt-sleeve environment.''

Michael A. Caplinger, a scientist with Malin Space Science Systems, said that if the rate of carbon dioxide erosion from the Mars poles continues for thousands of years, ``then it could profoundly amend the climate of Mars.''

``You would go from having to wear a spacesuit to just wearing a coat and an oxygen atmosphere,'' said Caplinger.

Caplinger is co-author of a study appearing in the journal Science that analyzes photos of Mars taken by an orbiting spacecraft. The photos were taken in 1999 and in 2001, a period of time that represents one Martian year. Mars is farther from the sun than the Earth and it takes the Red Planet about 23 months to complete one year, a single solar orbit.

Observers have long known that in the Martian winter there is a snow of carbon dioxide caused as temperatures plunge and the gas freezes out of Mars' thin atmosphere.

But the new study suggests that a dense cap of frozen carbon dioxide thought to be permanent at each of the Mars poles may not be all that permanent, said Caplinger.


Well, we have long known the Sun is a variable star. And that at one time in Viking Era Greenland was inhabitable by dairy farmers.

A bunch of tips from Roland:

Were the Pillars of Hercules this far south? 

Zilog goes bust (my original Zeke was a Z-80) 

Hoist with his own petard: 

And that ought to be enough for you to look at while I finish my deadlines...





This week:



Saturday, December 8, 2001

With everything else to worry about:


This is from I know a lot of what they say gets put down by others, but I have been following them since mid-September. So far, much of what they have reported has been confirmed by other sources later. My suspicion is that they are a mouthpiece for Israel (some of what they "report" is clearly aimed at persuading US decisionmakers; that stuff is easy to pick out). What is here is reasonably disturbing, and fits in with the increasing concern we have been hearing since 4 December, hence I am sending it to you. It's all just so lovely.


New US Terror Alert Linked to Nuke Fear

4 December: One factor in the third general terror alert raised in the United States since September 11 relates, according to US media, to intelligence information indicating that the former Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden has gained possession of a so-called dirty or radiological bomb. The target date referred to in electronic intercepts is mid-December. It has also been suggested that such weapons may have been smuggled into the United States.

On October 12, DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported from its intelligence sources that Bin Laden had almost certainly procured a supply of uranium-235 six months before the September 11 suicide attacks. The uranium was believed to have reached him in a multimillion deal with a Ukrainian-born mobster called Semion Mogilevich.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly came back to the subject more recently on November 30, in another exclusive report:

Radiation Poisoning Betrays Mule

In the first week of October, a Pakistani arrested on immigration charges in the course of the FBI investigation into the September 11 suicide attacks, complained of bleeding gums and pain, symptoms of gingivitis. He was treated with antibiotics, but was found dead in his cell in Hudson Count jail in Kearny, New Jersey, three weeks later.

The cause of death was not released, any more than the dead man's identity.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly's medical experts note that the bleeding gums the anonymous Pakistani was treated for are a symptom of radiation poisoning, suggesting he might have been a "mule" transporting nuclear materials or devices into America. (A subsequent investigation revealed that he had contracted gingivitis as a result of radiation-induced leukemia.)

This explanation would imply that more than one such carrier is employed by al Qaeda to smuggle nuclear materials or devices into the United States, Western Europe and the Middle East, their mission being to plant their deadly burdens in pre-arranged secret locations, ready for activation.

At roughly the same time, another Pakistani was detained at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan to Israel. According to initial published reports, he was caught trying to smuggle in a "dirty" nuclear device (a conventional explosive mixed with nuclear materials that spreads radiation).

Then came the news blackout.

An exhaustive DEBKA-Net-Weekly investigation revealed that the arrested intruder carried no nuclear device. However, he suffered the same symptoms as the man who died in Hudson Jail, New Jersey, indicating he had been exposed to dangerous doses of radiation. DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence sources reveal that Israel has recently installed hidden Geiger counters in the battery of detectors at its international border crossings. The counter pointed border officials to the suspected "mule", who most probably reached Jordan from Abu Dhabi.

Israel handed him over to the United States, but was left asking itself: What exactly was the Pakistani's mission? And have other members of the mule pack managed to gain entry?

I am not sure I know what one ought to do, other than worry. Don't panic, know where your towel is, and be careful...

The next one gets short shrift, which is less than it deserves, but I am really on deadlines now

Dr. Pournelle,

As a former Army helicopter pilot with more than 2,000 hours flying in the RVN (IV Corps--south of the Mekong) conflict, I have to say that we did well using our organic Company and Battalion close-support assets. Each Assault Helicopter Company had a gun platoon and two utility transport platoons. Further, as soon (c. 1968-1969) as they were trained staffed and deployed, support was available from a Battalion-level Gun Company, in our case, using Cobras.

Generally, in limited short-term search-and-destroy or interdiction engagement activities, where the troops would be inserted, supported and extracted either the same day or the next, this form of Aviation support was highly effective. Admittedly, the flat, paddy-land terrain in the agriculturally developed tidal areas --most of the Delta-- led itself to developing an optimized set of tactics.

Further refinement included the formation of Air Cavalry-- Aviation units deployed with Scout, Gun, and Transport components operating as individual entities with organic troop attachments, or as forward and ancillary support for Armor units.

In other venues --such as Europe-- The relative mission of these Army Aviation components would vary, tactics were modified and the approach to the contingent problems led to a focus on Firing-platform emphasis for anti-tank work, and more large body movement support. Most focus was on Armor and Division support.

In either case, while appreciated, I can't see where the USAF could have been more effective than we were within our mission and deployment exigencies. In my view, the closer and more numerous the eyeballs with firepower, the more dependable and effective. However, if memory serves, Wart Hogs were in-country, but they were never deployed for us.

In most of my actual experience, the USAF had a primary strategic mission: unit base re-supply, Psy-ops, or planned pre-attack bombing with occasional preplanned fighter deployment for bomb and napalm support of troops in heavy contact against relatively massed opposition. Usually the VNAF played a more tactical role for fire support, and occasional USAF fighter assets were deployed on an ad-hoc basis (subject to proximate availability) on discovery of targets of opportunity. But in most cases, while your mileage may vary, deployment of USAF close support was a situation of "Better than nothing.". Chief drawbacks were slow turnaround, rapid ammunition expenditure, and short loiter ability.

However, our exposure to deployed Anti-aircraft-specific fire was relatively rare... no Stingers, no quad--fifties, no heavy AA --although all were found in VC weapons caches, they were not deployed to my knowledge. --Possibly too difficult to transport, arm and man.

It would seem that some of the RVN Army Aviation tactics developed around and above the III Corps area would apply to the current probable areas of interest, with reinforced anti-Antiaircraft technology elements.



And Joe Zeff points out:

I followed the link from your site to the news about the sunken city. After reading it, I followed some more links, ending at . It states that this mummy is the first x-rayed at the excavation site. I find this interesting, as Tutahnkamen was xrayed on site decades ago.

BTW, did you know that if you were able to open the sarcophogus in that tomb you'd find the mummy inside? As the only royal mummy found in its proper location, it was decided that this was the best resting place.


The following from Jim Warren contains offensive language:

It was the first day of school and a new student named Suzuki, the son of a Japanese businessman, entered the fourth grade. The teacher said, "Let's begin by reviewing some American history. Who said "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death?"

She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Suzuki, who had his hand up. "Patrick Henry, 1775." he said.

"Very good! Who said 'Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth'"? Again, no response except from Suzuki: "Abraham Lincoln, 1863."

The teacher snapped at the class, "Class, you should be ashamed. Suzuki, who is new to our country, knows more about its history than you do."

She heard a loud whisper: "Fuck the Japanese."

"Who said that?" she demanded. Suzuki put his hand up. "Lee Iacocca, 1982."

At that point, a student in the back said, "I'm gonna puke."

The teacher glares and asks "All right! Now, who said that?"

Again, Suzuki says, "George Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991."

Now furious, another student yells, "Oh yeah? Suck this!" And this time Suzuki jumps out of his chair waving his hand and shouts to the teacher, "Bill Clinton, to Monica Lewinsky, 1997!"

Now with almost a mob hysteria someone said, "You little shit. If you ever say anything else I will have you killed."

Suzuki frantically yells at the top of his voice, "Gary Condit to Chandra Levy 2001."

The teacher fainted.

I warned you.




This week:


read book now


Sunday, December 9, 2001

This came from Frank, known in Footfall as Harry Redd:

Hi Jerry;

The URL is: 

When you couple THAT withTHIS:  (Science at NASA and many others have this story) One can not ignore a relationship.

Harry Reddington AKA Frank G.

He had originally sent the co2science story, and I asked for the URL. It is getting clearer and clearer that solar variation has as much to do with global warming as anything else.

This does NOT mean that I approve of running an uncontrolled experiment to see how much CO2 we can put into the atmosphere before causing real problems. It does mean we have a bit more time than might have been originally thought.

As to remedies, I don't want get poor quick as the Club of Rome once suggested. I want alternative energy sources. Specifically, I want cheap access to space and space solar power. Even LUNAR based solar power can be beamed to the Earth (although the collection mechanisms are far more complex for obvious reasons). We can build renewable energy sources, and for less than we're spending on protecting Arab oil...

Jerry: NY Times article (science section) quotes a scientist who suggests that a 4 degree temperature rise, and a 1 foot sealevel rise will result in a positive economic benefit of $20 billion. I live in Minnesota, bring it on!

Chris C 

Well we do know that Europe thrived during the Medieval Warm, then came the Little Ice Age and things got bad. Earth has certainly survived warmer eras.

Hi Jerry;

There is a lot of mail on your site about the Sturmoviks as close support during WW II.

As part of Lend Lease, we sent almost all the P-39 Aircobras we had to the USSR in 1943. Originally designed by Bell Aircraft as a High Altitude interceptor, it was armed with 4 .30 cal Machine guns, 2 .50 cal Machine guns and a 37 mm Cannon fireing through the propeller hub. This AC was foisted on the army by Congress with the usual results. It was under Powered and with the engine mounted BEHIND the pilot, somewhat unreliable in it's manoeuvrability. They were tried in combat in the South West Pacific and were considered death traps (Did I mention that the cockpit was entered through an automotive style door on the right side?). They were quickly withdrawn from combat and replaced with the P-38 (where available), P-40 and P-47.

The Russians quickly found they were only good against unescorted slow german bombers (the He-111 and Ju-88) and then only marginally. So they changed the role to Ground attack. After wiring all the guns to fire from a single switch and setting a convergence point 300 meters ahead of the aircraft, the resulting weight of fire would burn it's way through the frontal armor of most tanks. You can see them listed as YAK-9 in most sites but YAK never made them. the Sturmoviks were a Russian take on the P-39 with many of it's flaws cured.

Hairy Redd AKA Frank Gasperik


Jerry, wrote in "New subject: It is possible to send bogus SatNav signals, from a ground transmitter, which do not have to be very strong, to seduce a SatNav navigating bomb, away from your position. I wonder . . . "

The answer is: No, it's not possible. The U.S. military uses a special, more accurate, encrypted band of GPS for position, which is why they can theoretically hit targets within X mm, even though the civilian band is only good to 50 feet or so without differential GPS ground stations (and even less than that when the Pentagon activates "selective availability," which degrades the signal so that civilian GPS is only good within a mile or so). So even with the right radio transmitter, you wouldn't be able to spoof military GPS without breaking some serious (and frequently changed) military encryption first. It might be possible to jam it with a strong enough signal, but probably not to spoof it.

Cheers! --

Lawrence Person

Nova Express Web Site: Lame Excuse Books inventory now online: New Catalog Coming Soon!


Some interesting thoughts on Linux, and how to get it more accepted/acceptable by Grandma.  There is also a interesting interview of Bill Gates by a well read (prepped) and intelligent young lady. 

Don Scherer


Interesting piece in the Register suggesting that it's the Linux gurus, dedicated to the cult of the command line, who frighten away new users. >From the article "Could the biggest problem with Linux usability be that most of the people teaching newbies to use Linux are too smart and know too much?" 

David A. Patterson

 --- A random thought for the day:

Go the extra mile. It makes your boss look like an incompetent slacker.







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