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Mail 183 December 10 - 16, 2001 

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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

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This week:



Monday  December 10, 2001

I just finished columns, have more to do, so it's still Short Shrift time. I'm sorry.


The USAF has improved, Dunnigan and Macedonia in Getting It Right state that to destroy a typical 60 by 100 feet target required 1500 sorties using 9,000 Tons of bombs in 1944, in Vietnam 176 sorties and 176 Tons. Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek 12/3/01 says "During Desert Storm it would take, on average, 10 bombs to hit one target. In the Afghan campaign it took about two bombs to hit a target."

On the other hand, the USAF has moved the A-10's to the reserves and has failed to improve them or give them sensors on a level with the Army's Apache gunships for night and bad weather combat, even though the Gulf War proved its value. But even the Marines don't get everything they need in air support, for example, the death of the Navy's A-12 program which should have replaced the A-6 Medium Bomber. And nobody is doing a good job of recon but UAV's seem to be starting to fill that gap.


Thank you for all your writing, especially your daynotes. Paul Evans

PS: Recently you mentioned pop up ads, Fred Langa's newsletter recommended a freeware Pop-Up Stopper, to prevent them. I have been very happy with it using IE5. The URL for Pop-Up Stopper is . To open another IE window when you want one just hold down the Control or Shift key.

I will have more on the USAF situation. Thanks for the popup pointer. I'll try that.

It would seem that what's going on is a bit more complex than at first apparent.

What we have is a "smart bomb" called JDAM Joint (something) Attack Munition and associated electronics.

Guys on the ground designate coordinates, which are uploaded to the airplane. The computer on board the airplane calculates a flight path which will allow the bomb to reach the designated target. Pilot follows that direction -- I dunno; probably an autopilot function -- and the bomb is released at a point which will allow it to reach the target.

Holes in this are fairly obvious: GPS spoofing (as pointed out by the French in Turkey IIRC), jamming the datalinks, etc. etc. etc. But when it works, it sounds delightful. Calling down fire from the heavens. Vision of a squad making the kid's cowboy gesture -- "bang, you're dead" -- and the opponents rolling over laughing. Until the bomb arrives, and *boom*

Close Air Support that fulfills both requirements, by gum: the grunts on the ground get to decide what gets blown up and when, and the bluesuits get to loiter at 50,000 feet, reading magazines. Pizza delivery seems to be the model. Who cares, as long as it does the job? Note that spoofing GPS and datalink or radio link jamming would bother the Warthogs, too.

As for 2000lb. bombs, that's pretty much what we've got left. The next big interservice rivalry will be trying to get the AF to buy some little bombs, so we don't have to use daisycutters to take out radio masts. Good luck --

The two incidents (sorry, no links) appear to be, in the one case, violation of the First Commandment of Fire Direction: Thou Shalt Not Give Thine Own Coordinates Over Any Radio Link, For the Arty Is Sure To Misunderstand. The second case, as I understand it, was unmodeled winds aloft causing the bomb to be unable to correct sufficiently. Either is an understandable and roughly one-quarter forgivable error in a new system.

Ric Locke The Traveler in Jeans


from Ron Unz:

Dear Friends,

Up through the early morning hours of September 11th, denunciation of the ethnic profiling of suspects by the police looked well on its way to becoming a near-universal component of political stump speeches, on a par with praise for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights revolution of the 1960s. To be sure, the controversy was somewhat muted by the notable fact that almost no one in America, including its erstwhile practitioners, would publicly defend the practice; but after all, denunciations of the indefensible are the stuff of regular political rhetoric.

But in the wondrous tradition of the sudden transformations found in Orwell's 1984, policies which had been indefensible at dawn had become unassailable by dusk, and ethnic profiling, generally under that very same unchanged name, soon became the proposed governmental response of choice for the domestic front of the Terrorism War. Our political leaders thus proved that what they perhaps lacked in courage and political consistency, they more than made up for in ideological agility and sheer audacity, together with their fellow-traveling pundits.

Some of these principled individuals soon suggested that all the millions of individuals of Middle-Eastern Muslim background be banned from flying on planes, and that the hundreds of thousands of non- citizens among them be summarily deported back to their countries of origin. And the august editorial pages of the New York Times gave that notorious defender of all civil liberties, howsoever slight, attorney Alan Dershowitz, a powerful platform to demand the immediate introduction of a national identity card, while also proposing the institutionalization of governmental torture.

Those who had never joined the chorus of blanket opposition to ethnic profiling---myself included---should see little need to become new and unabashed cheerleaders for that policy following September 11th. Instead, all decisions regarding this controversial law enforcement technique should always be made on a case-by-case basis using a standard of reasonableness. For example, while very little special suspicion should attach to a middle-aged Arab-American couple preparing to board a vacation flight with their three small children, much more scrutiny should be given to a group of five young and scruffy-looking Middle-Eastern men wearing "Death to America!" tee-shirts.

But the best means of ensuring that ethnic profiling is not taken too far or used in too extreme or unreasonable a fashion is to apply it broadly and fairly, based on objective standards of threat and probability, rather than selectively, only against politically weak or unpopular groups. Hence the theme of my certainly quite controversial opinion piece below, which was unsurprisingly passed over by several editors, both liberal and conservative, before finding a place last week in the courageously and eclectically liberal


Ron Unz, Chairman English for the Children


Dr. Pournelle

Note: Please withhold my name if you post this.

The Chancelor of the University of Wisconsin is described by the Badger Herald, an independent student-run newspaper, as refusing to cooperate with the FBI in supplying names of persons the FBI wants to question -- foreign students and students of Arab-American heritage -- in the absence of a specific court order.

Both my parents are from what used to be Yugoslavia -- at first refugees, then resident aliens, in time naturalized American citizens. Both my parents had occasion to be questioned by the FBI, not as suspects but to provide whatever information they could, and they both took it as a duty to cooperate. One occasion was the violent death of my aunt in Yugoslavia in a questionable suicide, of interest to the FBI because of her one-time employment at the American embasy in Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia was a Communist police state, a Cold War adversary and at times directly engaging American forces in hostile actions, and as a family we all knew the consequences of that along with having relatives living in that state.

I have and will fight vigorously for Arab, Iranian, Pakastani, Sikh, and other colleagues and students to be treated with the utmost courtesy and respect in these difficult times. On the other hand, immigrants and their relatives from countries engaged in hostile actions or containing organizations hostile to the United States are going to have to get used to the FBI wanting to talk to them. Also, the University of Wisconsin has hundreds of faculty members flying around to scientific conferences and thousands of immigrant students who fly here to study, and has a direct interest in their safety. Can you imagine a physicist-trained engineering professor of a research university (i.e. the UW Chancelor) not cooperating with the Unabomber investigation?

It's not just up there...

Greeting Dr. Pournelle,

Just found your site. Thanks for doing this, and your vast body of superb literature. 

RE: AC-130 as Close Air Support (CAS) platform Generally only operates at night in a benign environment (where we have complete air supremacy). Very accurate, and devastating to soft targets, but biggest bang is 105mm round (about 35# if I remember correctly). A-10 is the finest piece of CAS hardware ever built. If the wings folded the USMC would have traded the Commandant's 1st Born Male Child and every Harrier ever built for them. It will kill anything on a modern battlefield, but limited to day VMC only due to lack of modern avionics and night systems (what few are left are NG/Reserve assets). The USAF does not like the CAS mission because it is not glamorous. The USAF likes aces. The Foss' and Boyingtons spent more time doing CAS than being fighter pilot's so they will never compete in the "kills' category. Give me a Rudel over a Hartman, Krupinski, or Rall any day!

RE: Special Forces as Combined Arms (CA) force. Only in a very limited way. The generally only operate at night where our NVD and other technosuperiorities (Al Haig non word of the month) and their superb training and skill gives them a big advantage to offset their inevitable numerical inferiority and light weapons. Hence why the USMC rescued O'Grady in Bosnia vice the on scene USAF (SF) Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) unit. The mission started at night but ended at dawn, and that was not a benign environment. If you want a combined arms unit, look right at the two Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) [MEUs (SOC)], elements of which are in Afghanistan, and elements of which (different MEU (SOC) different time) executed the CSAR mission on O'Grady.

RE: Napalm Sorry, gone gone out of the inventory. Too inhumane. Thank you Mr. Bill!

RE: CAS with 2000# bombs No problem been there done that. CAS from USAF "smart munitions"... without designating the target... CAS from a B-52... scares the living crap outta me. The B-52 just does not rate as a CAS platform to me. I want some assurance the pilot and I are looking, talking about, and aiming at the right target. Can't be done like that...thank you National Security Act of 1947. B-52s are Strategic bombers not CAS platforms. Using them as a CAS platform is an act of desperation caused by a lack of the proper assets due to budget cuts (thanks again Mr.Bill) and pig headed parochial stupidity.

Soap box back in the pocket (prepared for immediate redeployment).

SemperFi, Jim

Indeed. I like more eyeballs involved when they're tearing up the ground near my position. When troops are advancing if they're not taking come casualties from their own artillery they're not moving fast enough, but when you're dug in you ought not be taking hits from your own...

And here's a thought. Freeze their buns off...

Dear Jerry, While listening to reports of the progress, or lack thereof at Tora Bora, an interesting solution came to me. If we can secure the hilltop and locate the ventilation shafts, we could pump in liquid Nitrogen, and wait a week. Their gas masks would be ineffective, because it would displace the oxygen from the cavern. I cannot imagine that they would have more than a few SCBA, and if they did, a week would probably be enough to exhaust any breathing air supply. Liquid Nitrogen is a routine item of commerce, (skid mounted modular plants are availible that can produce up to 400 tons/day) and a lot of 160L Dewars can fit in a truck. Each Dewar would produce about 123 cubic metres of gas (if my math is right!).

If a week is too long to wait, use liquid Hydrogen. <grin>

Cheers, Rod Schaffter


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

I suppose there's s some prohibition in the Hague and Geneva Conventions, but I don't know...




This week:



Tuesday,  December 11, 2001

From Roland on 3D chips: 

From JoAnne Dow on GPS Spoofing:

As one of the people peripherally involved in the GPS anti-spoofing effort I would like to note that spoofing GPS would require cracking a rather heavy use of crypto on the P channel. I noticed someone else mentioned this fact. I'd like to underscore his mention, because some of your correspondents seem to still be laboring under the impression that GPS is easy to spoof.

As a side note one mentioned "jamming" GPS. If necessity GPS antennas are omni-directional. This kills one of the best defenses against downlink jamming, antenna directivity. None the less GPS has "around" a 50dB anti- jam margin for its data link. And for the positioning a stationary ground receiver could see 70dB or more AJ margin for position once it had managed to acquire the ephemeris data. (I do not know whether the ground receivers in actual use would have implemented longer term position averages.) Jamming the aircraft is very difficult, its antenna points upwards and is well shielded from the ground. That gives another 20dB to 40dB of anti-jam margin. And the distance ratio between any possible al Qaeda jammer and the aircraft will not eat up a whole lot of that total AJ margin. So the hypothetical al Qaeda jammer will have to be developing 10 Watts of power on both the L1 and L2 GPS channels. This is doable. But, that transmitter becomes one hellaciously easy target to hit with an anti-radiation missile. Hence, I believe we can pretty much give up on either spoofing (also a HARM target) or jamming for the GPS signals.

I'd suspect the link to the aircraft's autopilot from the ground receiver glitched or the ground receiver itself glitched or the wind speeds between B-52 altitudes and the ground were "peculiar". (There are radars for sensing that I understand. But that is hearsay.) I'd suspect the uplink to the B-52 since it almost assuredly involved a human operator or two who might have transposed digits somewhere, a very human error.

Whatever it is I'd be exceptionally surprised if the targeting error involved jamming or spoofing GPS. The former is hard to do and detectable. The latter is almost impossible without a severe defense department leak of crypto codes. (Capturing a receiver with the codes inside won't help. They are antitamper protected.)


Which is expert opinion. Thanks!

Mr. Pournelle, an article you may be interested in was published by The Washington Post yesterday (12/10). Describes activities of a Special Operations unit inserted in Taliban territory. The unit was the one involved in the friendly fire incident near Kandahar. URL follows: 


Greg Magruder

Now if I just had time to read it. Thanks!

Now for something completely different:

Jerry, your comment today about the DirecPC satellite service being "better than carrier pigeons" brought to mind one of the lesser-known RFCs, RFC 1149. If you haven't read this one recently, it's well worth reviewing at , and I should point out that, improbable as it may seem, it has actually been implemented -- take a look at  for the gory details. I hope this gives you a much-deserved chuckle, in partial return for the many you've given me over the years in Byte and on the Web. Thanks!

Wally Hinson

I might have known...

The Doctor Writes

Pournelle is in, and staying up too late,
The words he needs are in some darkened well.
He knows the deadline cannot be made to wait,
His mind, it must provide the words to sell.

Computers are his tools in this monk's cell,
They serve him as a lance, and for a horse,
But they cannot provide the words that tell
His readers how the world is getting worse.

His family would help him steer a course,
But they all know the words must be his own.
Disturbing him would only stop the source,
They must all wait, the ending will be shown.

And even he can stop this time of year
To have and share a time of Christmas cheer.


William L. Jones

And thanks...

And on a serious note,

Dr. Pournelle,

You wrote: "If you're in the software-development business and don't subscribe to the MSDN distributions, you're competing with one leg in irons."

I might even argue "two legs in irons." One of the things that I have never complained about is the quality of MSDN distributions. The quantity of information that they provide has almost gotten to the point of being too much. On the other hand, if you are a Linux developer, just try to find an easily accessible copy of the SVR4 ABI, and the processor specific documents and the debug formats (plus archives of past print publications with example source code that use them) all one set of CDs. I don't believe it exists. And don't even get me going on the documentation you can't get for Apple's OS X because it hasn't been written. But, to be fair, Microsoft has had a big head start.

When we did our last Windows release, we tested on 7 different versions of Windows. We tested our last Linux release on 7 different distributions . In my thinking, this puts the "Linux will fragment" issue to bed.

Regards and happy holidays,

Tony Goelz

Thanks! For one who takes exception see below.

And one well prepared 15 year old confronts Bill Gates... 

Then we have :

Dear Sir:

I didn't want to spend much time on this, but I looked for USAF aircraft inventory data. I found the following information on fact sheets at:

I didn't find numbers for the F-16. I seem to remember that USAF has more than a thousand, but I could easily be mistaken. The page dates ranged from June 2000 to October 2001.

USAF does seem to have relatively few A-10s. On the other hand, the F-16 and the F-15E have ground attack capability, while the A-10 might not do so well air-to-air, barring the occasional helicopter.


 Inventory: Active force, A-10, 143 and OA-10, 70; Reserve, A-10, 46 and OA-10, 6; ANG, A-10, 84 and OA-10, 18 


 Inventory: Active duty: AC-130H, 8; AC-130U, 13; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0 B-52 Inventory: Active force, 85; ANG, 0; Reserve, 9 


 (A/B, D/E) Inventory: Active force, 396; Reserve, 0; ANG, 126. F-15E Inventory: Active force, 217; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0 


web site did not display inventory F-117 Inventory: Active force, 54; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0 T-37 Inventory: Active force, 419; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0 


Inventory: Active force, 509; ANG, 0; Reserve 0 

The F-15E is a dual role fighter with air-to-ground capability. The F-16 is also billed as multi-role.

Regards, Bob Wakefield

That's certainly the official line.

As to just how good a really fast airplane is at close support, it depends on who you ask. But every analysis I know of shows that flying high and fast has some problems for support of the field  army. Of course the objections to high and fast support tend to come from the groundpounders, not pilots.

The following url is talking current techniques of close support.  Dunnigan is pretty good on analysis I've found.

I've made Buffy a selection on my Tivo so a getting caught up on all the shows I missed before you mentioned her. I have a cable modem. Much better than 56K phone but it is still affected by the general net slowdowns and Time-of-day slowdowns. But it has gotten better. As a Mac user I read your page mainly for the schadenfreude. Tom Weaver



One reason the AF doesn't want to do close air support is that they are afraid of losing crews to cheap, effective SAMs.

[In separate correspondence it was noted that they were employed successfully in the Gulf War.]

Actually, I believe they lost 5 of the 144 A-10s deployed during the Persian Gulf war. Twenty more were too damaged to return to service in theater. This is despite being used only sparingly in the close air support role. Those numbers are from the Air Force Association magazine.


I seem to recall a Journal of Electronic Defense article with more details, but can't put fingers on it.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Warthog is a great weapon system, just like another personal favorite, the AC-130 Gunship. I don't think I'm entirely wrong, though, in associating AF reluctance to do CAS with the conflicting doctrine of staying out of SAM reach.


James Utt




This week:



Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Microsoft woes:

Seems to be yet another application of Sturgeon's Law and Hanlon's Razor. I doubt there are people sitting in Redmond going "how can we lose more customers today?" :)'s-Law.html's-Razor.html 

As for the whole USAF business, I fully concur. Who said "War is a matter too important to be left to the military"?

--- Marc A. Vezina DP9 Support --> Visit our Web site! -->

I doubt they sit there and count as wasted the days they do not blight a life, but still...

Subject: Passport.

"Microsoft .NET Passport may not be a killer app, but it looks good to kill internet commerce."

Currently Passport cannot talk to me. I have had a particular primary email address for three years. Sometime in those three years, I set up a passport account tied to it, but obviously no longer remember my password. Microsoft cannot reset the account and reissue a new password to that address. They cannot set up a new passport account because they only allow one account tied to a particular email address. Their only suggestion was that I ditch my long-standing email account and create a new hotmail for the purposes of talking to passport. I don't *WANT* a new email address. I've had three email addresses in twelve years and I like to present stability in the internet maelstrom.

Until Passport comes up with a WORKING way to reset a password on an account, or to build a new account at an email address that they've already heard of, I cannot use them for any internet commerce.

It is impossible to ascribe any of this to malice, but can anyone be this incompetent?



Dr. P:

DoD press has just released news that a B1-B "Lancer" Bomber into the Indian Ocean.


By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2001 -- An Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber crashed at about 11:30 a.m. EST into the Indian Ocean 30 miles north of the British base of Diego Garcia, Pentagon officials announced Dec. 12.

The Navy destroyer USS Russell recovered the plane's four crew members. U.S. Central Command officials had said earlier that a KC-10 refueling plane was keeping watch on the ditched crew by circling their location.


Just what justified the use of a high speed, low level, strategic penetration bomber in this operation? (Which we have in very limited numbers.)

I fear we are seeing the same sort of thought that ran up the costs in Panama and Grenada; the desire to include all players and assets, without regard to the need or appropriateness of the asset applied to the task. "We have to allow the "up and comers" to have their combat time for career development" is the view of the Career mentors.

To the great distress of the Combined Arms Generals, who have denigrated the Light forces (Including the Airborne) and Special Ops types all through the "seventy years war", this war belongs to the snake eaters and the grunts. The CIBs and "Combat (Right Shoulder) Patches" are going to them, along with the decorations and career points.

The Air Force version is to push the "Throttle Jocks" in the Intercept fighters and strategic bombers into battles best fought by the A10 and light/medium attack pilots. The use of the BUFF (B-52) may be appropriate, but that bird is a dead end career wise. No officer hoping for stars would seek or accept an assignment there, for love or money.

I fear you may be right, we do need a top down readjustment to the USAF, but giving the Army the CAS assets is only a start. We need to establish a balance for all assets that allows any "leader" to advance, not just those who guessed the "right" path and the "hot assignments" as guided by mentors with their own axe to grind.

We need generals who truly believe that the need exists for assets at all levels of conflict from COIN (Counter-insurgency) through low intensity to General War.

The Job of the military is to apply force in a fashion to cause the opponent to bend to the will of the nation. The reward should go to those who can do so in an efficient and economical manner. So, why are we using the wrong tools? Because, we have to advance the interests of the current general staff's proteges.

Maybe the SecDef needs to put out the word that the General Staff has two years to put the house in order, before a master "housecleaning" begins.


Sorry, just the "sour grapes" of a human source intelligence technician, forced out due to the emergence of CEWI (Electronic Warfare is the master intelligence craft). (Or maybe just crowing in vindication)

Until Next time,

Looking forward to further discourse


No trees were harmed in the transmission of this message. However, a rather large number of electrons were temporarily inconvenienced.

What we need is a competent career path for Warthog pilots...

James Utt mentioned an air force page and implied that the Warthog was less-than-successful, but the page in question gives these stats:

"For instance, the Warthog force was used only sparingly in the CAS role but proved more versatile and better able to survive over enemy territory than many expected. During the forty-day conflict, the A-10 force was credited with destroying 987 tanks, 926 artillery pieces, 1,355 combat vehicles, and a range of other targets-including ten fighters on the ground and two helicopters shot down in air-to-air engagements. The A-10 force, flying more than 8,000 combat sorties, suffered only five A-10s destroyed (a loss rate of .062 percent). Twenty of these aircraft returned with significant battle damage, and forty-five others returned with light damage that was repaired between sorties."

If that's failure (or non-success), I'd really like to know what success looks like.

I would assume that risking dealing with SAMs and AAMs came with the job of doing CAS. And it should be pointed out that while A-10's were flying those 8000 sorties, the B-1's sat at home.

In any event, it seems like our procurements and our strategies are based on the idea that ground wars will go away and all future wars will be fought at sea or from the air. My only problem with that thinking is that almost all of our wars involve troops on the ground, and the ones that don't, don't work out that well.

Actually, to be utterly and/or bluntly honest, it seems to me that our procurements and strategies are based on buying things defense contractors like selling us: very expensive planes, which mandates we avoid actual war at all costs since we don't want those expensive planes damaged. (Of course, a nuclear war will be the end of defense contractors, so they aren't worried about the _real_ utility of any particular piece of equipment in that instance.)

I think 'Keeping the Peace' (or whatever the slogan is) very nicely summarizes Air Force strategy, if you read it ironically.

If we need big bombers that bad, can't we design and build a cheap update of the B-52 and/or steal/borrow/buy the Backfire design (if that was so spiffy)? All the bombing we actually do seems to involve things like fuel air bombs, and cruise missles at short range. So why not a big, moderately fast, long-ranged, well-armed platform? Sorta a flying AEGIS crusier?

On the other hand, why don't we give the close support guys to the the Army and the rest of the Air Force to the Navy? The Navy is doing most of that stuff anyways.

(As for Douhet - the way I understood it, Douhet was right about the effectiveness of what we call strategic bombing - if you use nuclear weapons. As it stands, gosh wow aside, it all comes down to first bombing them [them being the enemy of choice], then invading them. The old fashioned way, as it were, and it behooves us to be prepared for that, since that's what we do.)

Not that I expect actual change. We won't get that until we lose a war.

ash ['The best way to reform any nation's armed forces.']

"I feel like a fugitive from th' law of averages." 


And from Ed Hume:


I feel a bit foolish. When I upgraded to Win XP, the Adaptec CD-burning software (v 4) that had come with my Dell no longer worked. I downloaded a fix, but Windows didn't want to start the EasyCD drivers. Roxio wanted serious money to upgrade to a version that may or may not still be buggy. No thanks.

I tried the built-in CD-burning facility. That didn't seem to work either. Oh, well. Microsoft, eh?

So I sprang for Nero Burning ROM. Bought a boxed version, then downloaded the upgrade that worked with Win XP. Oh, it works all right, but there was a learning curve, and I learned that I couldn't directly copy from my ancient 2X DVD drive (it was $50, so I don't often complain) without a buffer under run. OK. But it takes thought and effort. A learning curve. And all the options give me things to worry about.

Then Windows Update comes out with an applications package that makes a lot of software compatible with XP, including the Adaptec version 4. Then I try the built-in CD-burning software again to copy back-up files. Now, of course, it works. And it works much more simply than Nero. So now I have two systems that work.

Bottom line: I didn't need the Nero.

Ahead software will lose business. MS embraces and extends. And I may go back to the Adaptec: I'm used to the interface, and it seems more intuitive than the Nero (of course, that may simply be because it's, well, simpler).

Feeling chagrined,


I still use Windows 2000, Nero, and PlexWriter...

And Roland says:

I am REALLY glad I don't run Microsoft: 


----------------- Roland Dobbins 

Dear Jerry:

I've learned that you usually know whereof you speak, but two networks Fox (which I trust) and CNN (which I don't) both reported the cost of a B1-B as about $200 million, not a billion. Fox reports that we have 90+ in inventory, about 30 of which were scheduled to be retired in another idiotic Congessional "cost cutting" move, so in effect we didn't lose anything we weren't planning on throwing away anyway. Thank God the crew is safe!

Fox also makes the point that the B1 is a very GOOD weapon for this use: it carries a massive payload, can stay on station for a long time, and is highly accurate. They circle many miles up and wait for the Special Ops folk to feed them a live target opportunity: five minutes later, BLAM!, as John Madden might say. Or is that Emeril?

But dittos on MS Passport. Double dittos, in fact. MS Money encourages you to keep portfolio data on the Net so you can check it from any computer, any time. Theoretically a grand idea, and I used to do it. Trouble was about every 90 days MS would release some "update" which 50% of the time would scramble my online data, and that on my local machine as well, if I let it. Tired of restoring backups from diskettes I stopped letting it, long ago, and haven't looked back.

The idea of "Netcentricity" is fraught with many perils: security, privacy, reliability... all of which can be summed up as Trust. Do you turst some company, any company, to be as careful of your data as you would be yourself?

With the personal computer trust can be a local matter, and that's where I believe it belongs. The corporate world is full on unforeseen events which can lead very quickly to major shakeups and major screwups - witness Enron. Your trusted corporate partner of today could be owned by XYZ Co. of Hong Kong tomorrow, and your most private data and records with it.

That could never happen to Microsoft? If I'd told you 10 years ago Chrysler would actually be Mercedes you wouldn't have believed it, either.

All the best--

Tim Loeb

All right, $200 million. I can buy more than one 707 and Thoth missiles for that. USAF doesn't want the mission. The Army must have it performed. 

And my December column is about who you trust... Thanks

Dear Dr. Pournelle, Sorry about the length of this.

The recent discussion on your site about the composition of US Forces got me thinking of this article I saw in the Washington Post a few days ago.

"Marines' Mission Stirs Army Debate: Junior Officers Say Their Branch Lags In Building Rapid-Deployment Ability" 

The JDAMS (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) is GPS guided and my understanding is that it has a GPS receiver built in. A fairly good civilian receiver is about $100, so I imagine that a military grade receiver that is only used once is not too expensive. I read somewhere (probably the Post) that the JDAMS packages cost ~$17,000 apiece. Moore's Law marches on.

The B-52, with JDAMS and other smart munitions, is a good replacement for artillery, in situations where it doesn't have to worry about SAMS. If the Apache wasn't so damned delicate (as was shown in the Balkans) it'd be excellent for close air support. The Marines are using Cobras for that mission.


Kit Case

Thanks. Once again: the Air Force doesn't WANT the support of the Field Army mission. It has to be performed with whatever the Air Force has but they won't buy planes for that purpose. Take the mission and give it to the Army and Marines and let them buy planes that do the job cheaply, and let USAF continue air supremacy...

Apologia pro USAF:

Dr. Pournelle,

I shouldn't be irritated because I'm reading stuff on your web site that is the result of simple ignorance rather than stupidity, but I find I must add in my two cents. My goal is not to be insulting, but enough is enough. I'll hit only one of many topics that are discussed in your view and mail pages.

The presence of a "low level penetration bomber" in the air war over Afghanistan is the result of several circumstances, two of which I'll address here.

First, Afghanistan is one heck of a long way from any usable airfield, making it extremely difficult for ANY small aircraft to participate in the battle. Transit distances are long enough that of all our USAF fighter or attack assets only the F-15E has the range and payload combination to make the long haul. In the past, only the multi-role fighters and small penetration bombers like the F-111 and F-15E have had the precision capability to carry out effective precision strikes more than a couple of hundred miles from friendly bases, but this is an incomplete answer to one of the USAF's goals - worldwide force projection. Clearly the ability to carry more precision weapons a farther distance is necessary, hence the development and use of new precision weapons for our existing bomber fleet.

Whether or not you or your readers view global power projection as a worthy goal of our Air Force is not the issue, rather we have a conflict in a hard to reach area and we are fortunate to have assets capable of hitting targets there with precision weapons. An A-10 mission in that area would have this "ideal" weapons platform arriving after around 5 hours transit time with only 30-45 minutes of loiter time in which to carry out whatever strikes are necessary, followed by another 5 hours of flight home. That profile is utter stupidity when we have the ability to send in an aircraft designed to fly a long distance and duration outfitted with new technology allowing it to place anywhere from 500 to 40,000 lbs of bombs into a 4 meter circle within 5-15 minutes of getting the coordinates. Even on-call artillery takes time, hence the use of air power.

The second circumstance relates to the dollar cost of those bomber aircraft. Every single aircraft in the USAF inventory from the A-10 to the B-2 was designed and (mostly) funded during the cold war. After the cold war, not only did funding for the expensive designs dry up, but funding was taken away from both old aircraft and new design work. This means that we're stuck using what we have, and we have only a few options. We could scrap our existing fleet to save some operating expenses and pour a few hundred billion dollars into new production of a brand new "cheap" bomber. Or we can, as we've been doing, fund upgrades that stretch the missions of our existing fleet to encompass new technologies that let us do much much more with the current aircraft. CNN recently commented on how the B-1 and B-52 was being used for missions traditionally referred to as Close Air Support. If the target blows up within a few minutes, who cares how it's done? The high cost of the bombers is a done deal, the result of decisions made up to 50 years ago. The best we can do is make damn sure we're using them in the most efficient manner possible.

As a last comment, I'll say that even if the US Army had A-10's or some equivalent battlefield aircraft, they wouldn't be used in Afghanistan anyhow. It's a simple matter of logistics that I'm suprised you seem to have overlooked. The Navy doesn't have a use for an A-10 style aircraft as it's far too specialized, so don't look to the carriers for forward basing. The Marines have Harriers, but how many Harrier attacks have we seen? None. As short sighted as you and some of your readers claim the USAF has been, it's managed to put an enormous number of bombs on target in a short period of time in a region inaccessable except by long range naval aircraft, the USAF's longest range attack fighter (F-15E), and our heavy bomber fleet. Short of nuking the place, I'm not too sure what balance of assets, capabilities, and leadership would do better.

Oh yes, one more thing - Your comments on the A-10 being a career dead end is uninformed. There are career options for any platform out there, the choice to stay or go remains up to the officer himself. As a matter of fact, the A-10 and B-52 being two of the (in general) least desirable initial assignments often make for great career opportunities due to the high level of attrition seen in those communities. You have to look beyond your particular system to make General, everyone knows that, but not as many people in those aircraft stick around long enough to get promoted out of the aircraft and into a desk chair because they can work shorter hours for more money and have more fun doing it out in the civilian world. It's still not a dead end, just not as enjoyable.

Apologies for the length of this rant, but reading the USAF bashing on your site is difficult for someone who's had to deal with these issues from the inside. In training I've flown a little CAS, done the Air Superiority role, played Deep Strike, and dropped PGM's from 500' at night during Flag missions. I've seen friends in all types of aircraft get out, seen commanders who come from all corners of the Air Force. In all that, I've learned that armchair quarterbacking based on dollar signs and on-paper capabilities is no substitute for actually working through the problems in real life. I suggest you find the latest AF doctrine pamphlets to find some insights, or at least point your more vocal readers towards them. Try for some light reading, or take a (virtual) trip to the library at Maxwell AFB and get ahold of some of the latest Airpower Journals. Try the links through Air Education and Training Command - Maxwell AFB. appears to be down or inaccessable, but give it a try as well. The issues you discuss on your site concerning the uses of air power are discussed quite thoroughly in many unclassified documents and you might find an answer to why the USAF won't give up the A-10 among other things.

Sean Long

First, every pilot I know realizes that to be assigned to TAC for Field Army Support is the end: no STARS ever. As to the doctrines. USAF was about to give up the field army support mission but Powers said "NEVER GIVE UP A MISSION!" and made it stick. That was long ago.

A-10 isn't always the right airplane. For this we need the equivalent of a KC-135 and Thoth missiles. I seem to recall submitting a design for that sort of thing in 1960. We were laughed out of USAF of course. The Army loved the notion but the Army couldn't have the mission.

In WW II when Army and Air Force were closer coordinated the Army would in fact secure bases for USAAF to use -- to support the field army. And everyone who studied it understands the role of the P-47 in 1944 - 1945 in interdiction and isolation of the battle area. Those were important missions then. No one seems to design aircraft for that role now.








This week:


read book now


Thursday, December 13, 2001

> to be utterly and/or bluntly honest, it seems to me that our procurements and strategies are based on buying things defense contractors like selling us

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

One of your correspondents makes the above assertion (I assume he is exaggerating for effect). Since I spent 15 years buying guns and bombs for the US Navy, most of that in R&D, I thought I'd throw in a few thoughts.

The US Way of War has always been capital intensive. Like almost every activity we engage in during peacetime, it reflects our predisposition to value lives to a far greater degree than most others in the same situation. This is well-known and hardly controversial: the economic logic underpinning it is left as an exercise. Hence, we tend to do things "the expensive way" as measured in cash dollars. This has a tendency to mean that we lean toward buying stuff for the boys (and nowadays, I suppose, the girls) who fight our wars that will maximize their survival, while getting the job done.

Since we value the lives of our people to a high degree, and therefore buy them better toys, it seems logical that the companies that we do business with will want to sell us expensive toys. Albeit the US defense industry is not very characteristic of the ideal of free-market capitalism, they have absorbed the two most important rules of business: (1) the customer is always right, (2) if the customer appears to be wrong, see rule (1).

As far as losing a B-1B, that's the way things go in wartime. The Navy loses dozens of planes in peacetime just doing routine hops: in WW2, they used to lose planes just forming up over the carriers to go out on a mission. Even in Vietnam, our losses were non-trivial. Since the figures are obscure and hard to parse anyhow, I suspect most people do not realize the enormous increases in reliability and durability of modern-day equipment compared to that of yesteryear: all in the name of survivability.

I wonder how many people remember the F-20. Great little bird, if what you wanted was cheap and relatively low-capability: not so good, if you wanted something that was a little more survivable. Northrop just about went broke developing that thing on their own, so they could sell it offshore. However, since the US military wouldn't touch it (except for a few we bought as adversary aircraft for Top Gun), nobody offshore would buy it either.

Despite all the truly great things that have been said on your web page and elsewhere, survivability was what doomed the A-10 as well. Great CAS bird for a low-tech environment: if you're facing modern air defenses, fuhgeddabahdit. Although it is also true that Air Force pilots would rather loiter at altitude, it's not on account of the fine view: it's survival.

As it happens, I spent a considerable amount of time in the world of missiles and bombs. The great thing about a missile or a bomb (at least a "smart bomb") is that you can send it in from plenty far off and have it do the job, all without putting the pilot (and his expensive airplane) in harm's way. The whole purpose of IAM/JDAM (as per yesterday's discussion) is that it gives you the capability of putting bombs pretty much dead on target from either a considerable distance or altitude, or both. As my test and evaluation boys used to say, "The guy with the longer stick always wins--if he knows how to use it."

Once upon a time, artillery support was for all intents and purposes in the front line (as late as the Civil War anyhow). Starting in WW1 we began to be able to put the arty further and further away from the front lines, to the point where nowadays it is pretty much over the horizon. And of course close air support in its many forms is effectively flying artillery. I assume that as a former artilleryman yourself you respect the fact that it is a good thing, rather than a bad thing, that we can put ordnance on the target with exceptional accuracy without putting the shooter in harm's way.

Very respectfully,

David G.D. Hecht

One presumes the front line troops would like to survive, too.

My point isn't that A10 is the best weapon for all jobs, although it's a pretty good one if the Army uses it from Army forward bases with an Army infra-structure to support it. It's that most USAF effort doesn't go into thinking about the primary task of taking ground.

The Flyboys wanted an "Independent Air Force" all through the 20's and 30's and got one in the 40's.  They rightly contended that Army generals selected targets that were beneficial to the Army and often ignored the problems of air supremacy, and until you had air supremacy it was silly to go about targeting for close support of the Army.

That wasn't strictly true even then: one way to get air supremacy was to overrun the enemy's forward bases, given the aircraft of the day. But it was true enough, and in those times the air arm needed support from strategic thinkers.

But having got their independent status they forgot that the purpose of war is not only to break the enemy's will, but to take ground. Sometimes you can do the former without the latter, and the air warriors are good at that. Sometimes you can't.

There are a number of combat, and even more logistics, missions an air force should accomplish. Of the combat ones, air supremacy is the most important assuming it can be achieved. Given the ranges of modern aircraft that won't usually be done by ground forces: it takes specialists in air warfare. USAF or something like it needs that mission.

There is second the "air superiority" mission, which is to say dogfights and air cover. If the primary air supremacy mission is accomplished you won't have this one: and the best way to get rid of hornets is to take out the nest, not swat them one hornet at a time. But sometimes you can't do that: sanctuary areas are the most important limit. 

In Korea the enemy air bases were in China. Macarthur wanted to bomb them. Truman was afraid of Soviet intervention and wouldn't let him. We had no choice but to fight the MiGs in dogfights, and USAF did that well indeed. They weren't too good at ground support (the Marines were far better) but USAF could boast that the ground troops took no casualties from Chinese aircraft, and I think that's actually a correct statement. A splendid performance

In Viet Nam McNamara wouldn't let us bomb all the air bases in North Viet Nam; had we really tried for air supremacy, it could have been achieved. So we had to play air superiority games. We also had pilots shot down and held captive. It pretty well proved that we have to achieve air supremacy, not only in the sense that we can fly and they can't -- the classical definition -- but also that we can fly and they can't stop us, which is harder to achieve.

These are missions for an Independent Air Force.

Two other two major combat missions are close support and interdiction. The latter fades into strategic bombardment but isn't quite the same.

Interdiction, otherwise known as isolating the battle area, is crucial, and the P-47 "trainbuster" missions in the late stages of WW II in Europe were extremely important in the rapid collapse of German resistance: indeed, you can make the case that these actions were more important than anything else the Army Air Forces did in WW II in Europe. Of course you can't DO that sort of thing with out air superiority or supremacy. AND: the right airplane for air superiority/supremacy is NOT the right airplane for the Interdiction/Isolation "recce/strike" mission. Not at all. 

And of course there is close support of the field army, which again needs a different airplane from the air superiority fighter, and usually different from the interdiction mission.

If I sound glib on all this, I was on the Boeing TFX proposal team and we did mission requirements analysis out the wazoo. McNamara wanted a single airplane to do Air Supremacy, Air Superioity, Recce/Strike Interdiction, and Close Support.  Boeing concluded such an airplane impossible. We said "It's a bad idea, but if you insist we will build you one," and did a design that wasn't optimum for any mission but which we hoped wouldn't be second best in air to air fighting (at least if it had some help from pure air superiority fighters.)

We lost the competition to a Texas company after 11 military boards ruled in favor of the Boeing Design. In the Industry the TFX became known as the LBJ. The story is told in The Strategy of Technology by Possony and Pournelle.

About that time some air war theorists inside USAF decided that the best thing to do was to give up the close support mission entirely, and let the Army have fixed wing aircraft for that purpose; also to let the Army have some strike/recce interdiction/isolation fixed wing aircraft. This wasn't altruism, it was recognition that the Air Force had a fixed budget and the airplanes optimum for the Army support missions were NOT going to be all that good for air superiority/supremacy: and without air supremacy the rest of it was pretty moot. And if they were going to be forced to compromise the primary mission of air supremacy to make "multiple purpose" aircraft, the result would be awful because there is not much prize for second place in a dogfight. Thus give up the mission.

But General Powers thundered NEVER GIVE UP A MISSION, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, and so it was.  But A-10 pilots don't make general. Now what? And I guess this has gone on quite long enough.

Dear Dr Pournelle,

" What we need is a competent career path for Warthog pilots..."

Do you remember the two British Tornado pilots who were shot down during the Gulf war, then paraded, beaten and bloody, before international TV spouting bogus confessions? (Not one of Saddam Hussein's smartest propaganda moves). The pilot was John Nichol, who subsequently left the RAF as part of a redundancy agreement, and he has a website which offers some light on the subject of ground attack at 

Terry Cole

Thanks. I haven't had time to read much there, but it sure looks interesting.

Dr. Pournelle, Several weeks ago you published advice on how to survive a terrorist chemical attack, contained in an e-mail originally from SFC Red Thomas: 

Today the Washington Post has a story about him. He's the Real Deal. 

The war links aren't on the front page, or the current view and mail pages anymore, fortunately the directory ("/war/") isn't hard to remember.

Kit Case





The article you linked to suggested that the problem should be easy to trace, since it has to come from a web server, but I think that the Code-Red style trojan craze we've experienced should give us all the heebie-jeebies, imagining a code-red style trojan that uses this vulnerability in addition.

We'd all be infected right now, and the number of servers that STILL have code-red (some because the patch breaks their mission-critical software) prove that we'd be getting infected again and again and again...

And these folks want us to trust them with security. Go figure.

-- David

It's certainly something to be concerned about. The real question is, do we have a right to send anonymous email as some kind of right of privacy, or do the rest of us have a right to know who is spamming us and sending DDoS attacks?  I think the two are mutually exclusive.


Several readers have got the following, as have I:


Anbei ist das Ergebnis des Antwortformulars. Es wurde versandt von Mike Doe ( am Donnerstag, 6. Dezember 2001 um 18:37:50 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

message: If you are a time traveler or alien disguised as human and or have the technology to travel physically through time I need your help!

My life has been severely tampered with and cursed!! I have suffered tremendously and am now dying!

I need to be able to:

Travel back in time.

Rewind my life including my age.

Be able to remember what I know now so that I can prevent my life from being tampered with again after I go back.

I am in very great danger and need this immediately!

I am aware that there are many types of time travel and that humans do not do well through certain types.

I need as close to temporal reversion as possible, as safely as possible. To be able to rewind the hands of time in such a way that the universe of now will cease to exist. I know that there are some very powerful people out there with alien or government equipment capable of doing just that.

If you can help me I will pay for your teleport or trip down here, Along with hotel stay, food and all expenses. I will pay top dollar for the equipment. Proof must be provided.

Only if you have this technology and can help me please send me a (SEPARATE) email to:



[Message header]:

Status: U Return-Path: <> Received: from ([]) by hummingbird (EarthLink SMTP Server) with ESMTP id u0vbbg.k8i.37tiu3t.1 for <>; Thu, 6 Dec 2001 09:40:00 -0800 (PST) Received: from ([] helo=mx01) by with esmtp (Exim 3.33 #1) id 16C2Vz-0003cx-00 for; Thu, 06 Dec 2001 09:40:55 -0800 Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 18:37:52 +0100 (MET) Message-Id: <> To:,,, Cc: From: (Mike Doe) Subject: Time Tavelers PLEASE HELP! Sender:

I have no idea what this is about. Does anyone:

And looking back into past mail I find

I know you and many of your readers can comment on this far more knowledgeably than a poor seminary student:

NASA Report: Space Travel 'Inherently Hazardous' to Human Health


Is it legitimate, or is this a smoke screen to excuse NASA's failures to achieve long-term missions and habitats in space?

JA John Alexander


I haven't been through that report, but space travel outside the Van Allen belt is certainly hazardous. Radiation and no gravity are not normal conditions humans encounter. This is one reason why I want to build a Lunar colony first: we know how to do that, it has gravity, and we can build radiation protection by shoveling 14.7 pounds per square inch of regolith on top of our structure. Then we can learn about hazards we don't know about, as well as find better ways to deal with the devils we know...

For more on this see below

Dear Jerry,

I have enjoyed reading your column in Byte (it was the reason we had an airmail subscription ) and on the Internet for many years. I have taken great comfort in your habit of trying things so that I would not have to.

It has also been helpful that you have had to connect with dialup.

56K is the real world for most of us (best I ever got was 46K but I have seen 54k at a friends house that must have been nearer the exchange) and for a major columnist to also work the same way has been comforting.

My cable company recently reduced the cost of a cable modem to £25 per month with a one off £25 connect fee (cable modem bundled in). I was already paying £10 for unlimited dialup (no line charges) and the extra £15 seemed like a snip, so I jumped in and now connect at 512k.

I have to say it is fabulous. Pages refresh instantly, downloads take minutes not hours and the third W in WWW stands for Web again, rather than Wait!

While I do not want to deny you the same joy, your eventual success in getting broadband will mean that a powerful voice for the majority of users will be lost.

Interestingly there have been speed issues over the last few days (servers? caches? DOS attacks?) and the speed has dropped to 56k. I do not persevere, I just feel it is unreasonable and do something else. My perception of what is acceptable has changed to the point of not even bothering a dialup speeds!

Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for the "average" user.


Thanks. I do intend to keep the 28.8 (theoretically 53K but I never get that) connection and use it periodically so I can keep my feet in the mud, so to speak...

that's assuming I ever get fast connections anyway. But Ricoshet may be coming back.

And from Eric Pobirs on Dr. Hume's problems:

It isn't surprising the CD burning functionality in XP was fixed at the same time as the Roxio software. It was created by Roxio and licensed to Microsoft. Possibly the same thing was interfering with both. It could be worse. Roxio had a release that would KILL Windows 2000, dead.

In regard to his buffer underrun problem, you cannot expect anything else when the read source is much slower than the write destination. One solution is to burn at a matching speed, which would be painfully slow by today's standards. Certainly worse than replacing the DVD drive with a more up to date unit. A second solution is read the source to your hard drive and burn from there. I don't know about the current Roxio edition but Nero does this quite readily.

And those interested in XP should read: 





This week:



Friday, December 14, 2001

Roland calls this "A test of endurance"  

Also from Roland, DOE Strikes again: 



On that Time Traveler mail:

Dr. Pournelle:

If this guy you quoted gets a bite on his advertisement for a time machine, I'd like to hear about it. Of course, if he were successful, the ad then wouldn't be there in the first place, so it appears to be an exercise in temporal futility...

Tom Brosz

That's for sure!  And more:


Basically looks like someone is pulling a joke, and found a security flaw in AOL Germany, who uses Mediaways as a Service Provider. Or else decided to test out a spam sending system using a comic message instead of a sales message.

BTW, the OPT.COM is a teletext reader company. ( ) Teletext is a european system, using technology similar to the Closed Captioning in the US, to deliver news updates, etc. All you need is the receiver. Fascinating in its own right.

Technical verbiage which details this conclusion follows:


original Message headers

Return-Path: <> Received: from ([]) by hummingbird (EarthLink SMTP Server) with ESMTP id u0vbbg.k8i.37tiu3t.1 for <>; Thu, 6 Dec 2001 09:40:00 -0800 (PST) Received: from ([] helo=mx01) by with esmtp (Exim 3.33 #1) id 16C2Vz-0003cx-00 for; Thu, 6 Dec 2001 09:40:55 -0800 Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 18:37:52 +0100 (MET) Message-Id: <> To:,,, Cc: From: (Mike Doe) Subject: Time Tavelers PLEASE HELP! Sender: Status: U


here is the relevant spam cop analysis


Tracking message source: [show] "nslookup" (getting name) = [show] "nslookup" (checking ip) ip = Paranoid reverse DNS passes = = bounces (10 sent : 6 bounces) (-3) Routing details for [refresh/show] Cached whois for, Using last-resort Whois


Let's see what Sam Spade ( says



inetnum: - netname: AOL-GERMANY-2 descr: mediaWays GmbH descr: An der Autobahn descr: Postfach 185 descr: Guetersloh / Germany country: DE admin-c: PV1653-RIPE tech-c: RF147-RIPE status: ASSIGNED PA mnt-by: MDA-Z changed: 19971021 changed: 20000801 source: RIPE


wraps it up for me.....

Mike Zawistowski


As a long time reader of your column. My first PC was a Zenith thanks to you and a very good machine it was. However I think you are being too easy on Microsoft. I have been doing development on Windows for a few years now and I can say some of the things they do are just wrong. 

1. MSDN is not cheap. I know that it costs money to make those cds.dvds but the information could be on the web for all to see. Every program that works well on Windows makes money for Microsoft. 2. This "intergration" of IE and Windows is a load of hogwash. When we where writing our windows version of our Program we found that to use the "New" Look and feel in our program we had to have all our customers install IE 5. There was no reason that the menu look and feel had to be tied to IE. 3. Who ever thought that allowing scripting in email should be forced to write programs in cobal for the TimexTS1000 for the rest of their life. Outlook should be classified as a virus. 4. C# and .net. Come on folks, use Java. I have written several apps for my company in Java. It works well and is easy to develop in. Compilers could be written for other languages using the JVM. Maybe that would be a fun project to do for gcc at some time in the future. 5. DDE/OLE/ActiveX/DCOM/COM..... What a mess. Go to Cobra or work with the open source community to develop a new standard.

As to using Staroffice with Larry Niven on Word, have you tried converting to RTF to exchange files?

Thanks for 18 or so years of good columns. Part of me still wants a S-100 system like you used to write your books on.

David Siebert

I am not the Java fan I used to be, and .NET promises some pretty interesting development tools. Of course they haven't got it implemented yet. And Visual Basic does make it possible for non-programmers, and Visual Studio looks to carry that further. We will see. Thanks

For more on MSDN availability see below

Dear Dr. Pournelle;

The report about space travel being inherently dangerous is a massive effort to state the obvious -- or maybe not. NASA, and the government, have made a tremendous effort, both in dollars and PR, since Apollo 1 to tell us that space operations are safe, for fear that Americans would rear back on their hind legs and cut off funding because people were killed or injured.

Direct spacecraft deaths by the U.S. effort have resulted in less than a dozen people dying over more than 35 years of operations. That's a better safety record than most other professions. There are statistical death rates associated with large enterprises: skyscraper and bridge construction posit N deaths per floor/foot. When construction workers die in building large structures we don't get congressional investigations. We find out what went wrong and how to prevent it, but we don't stop the construction of a bridge because someone got smacked with a girder.

NASA should emphasize that space operations are at least as dangerous as flight test operations: we'll take every reasonable precaution to prevent harm, but with people sitting on tons of volatile chemicals, traveling 10 times faster than rifle bullets, into an environment that will kill you in seconds or injure you for life, there will be casualties and heroes.

NASA has tried to make space operations appear as safe as taking Amtrak from Boston to Washington for fear of losing funding. With a new director, it's time to let people know that human space operations are a grand adventure in which people are putting their lives and health on the line for advancement of the race. There should be 50-foot statues to our space casualties instead of breast-beating and blame-laying.

The Soviets had far more space operations casualties than we did, but they forged ahead while we proceeded in fits and starts. We should honor our dead, not wring our hands and quiver.

"If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." -Gus Grissom (John Barbour et al., Footprints on the Moon (The Associated Press, 1969), p. 125.)

-- Pete

In my day, when an X-ship augured in, the Chaplain called on the widow, we named a new street at the Base, and flew again the next week. But that was another country, or it seems so. For more see below.

Others had Asheron problems:

The switch to Passport clearly didn't work out as intended. The news surfaced in several places...,,t269-s2100783,00.html 

Interestingly, Google had indexed the links already today, Feb 14.

/ Bo-- Leuf Consultancy LeufCom -- Most recent book: The Wiki Way (Addison-Wesley),


Dear Mr. Pournelle:

Unfortunately I have let my subscription lapse and no longer have acess to their search engine to find the exact article. But several years ago in the Economist there was an article on IIRC defence spending in general and one of their examples was the B1 bomber program.

The actual contract to manufacture them was a "fixed fee + cost" type of setup. The manufacturer was paid a fixed amount each year that was to cover all of their overhead and profits (which was in the billion dollar range) and in exchange they would build as many bombers as the USAF wanted for "cost", which was around US$200-250 million. The original plan was to buy dozens each year, wich would have made this type of deal supply the lowest cost/unit at the anticipated level. The other benefit is that the manufacturer was being paid to keep the infrastructure in place to produce as many as needed. If wartime production was needed they could literally start overnight.

But then the program started getting slashed by Congress, and instead of buying dozens each year only a couple were being produced, driving the cost/unit sky high when looked at from overall expenditures. Of course the exact same political party and reporters that was screaming about the "billion dollar bomber" somehow always seem to forget that the true incremental cost to produce more is only $200-odd million, a relatively reasonable price for this type of aircraft.

But that wouldn't have made as good a headline, would it?

Gene Horr

Agreed. My problem with USAF is not that we have the B1 which we need, but that we have a force structured for wars we won't fight. They do well with what they have.

But see my meta-missions papers.

You wrote:

>The real question is, do we have a right to send anonymous email as >some kind of right of privacy, or do the rest of us have a right to >know who is spamming us and sending DDoS attacks? I think the two >are mutually exclusive

DDoS attacks, in their current "send a bunch of forged packets" form, can be stopped by simply preventing the transmission of forged packets. Except in very few circumstances (clients with routes through multiple ISPs), ISPs should be performing egress filtering on their networks, making sure that clients who send packets have accurate source IP addresses on those packets. Doing this makes tracking down and blocking DDoS attacks relatively easy.

Spam is harder to prevent in an anonymous-capable world, but not impossible. Do you ever see spam come through an anonymous remailer network? Of course not. Spam comes from unauthorized connection to open relays. What do open relays allow that anonymizing remailers do not? Easy bulk mail. It's easy to imagine a remailer network that will make it impossible (short of compromising the majority of hosts in the network) to ascertain the origin of a message, but which will also prevent senders from sending anonymous messages at the enormously high rate spammers do. Legitimate uses of anonymous mail may need to send several emails per day, but are unlikely to be inconvenienced by the inability to send several hundred thousand.

You missed the most important technologically exclusive right, however: copyright. To a computer, a message is a message.. and if I can send someone a whistleblower message, for example, without being traced, I can send them a pirated song or book just as easily. The only difference there is file size... and there are all sorts of legitimate files (megabytes of pictures, or hundreds of camcorder video) that are even bulkier than illegitimate ones (megabytes of books, or dozens of megs of songs).

 --- Roy Stogner

And on the Sklaryov case:


Some important news with Dimitri's case. It sounds good, but some of it doesn't seem all that good to me, then again I Am Not A Lawyer(tm). Info is here on Yahoo: 


It looks like face saving to me. The Empire Wins Again.





This week:



Saturday, December 15, 2001

If you haven't already seen this article, you might find it interesting. It has some interesting points about how we can end up with billion dollar bombers that can't fly in the rain. 

Joel Upchurch

That isn't my major complaint, although the lack of adult supervision in the design and testing is apparent -- but then look at JPL which sent a craft to Mars that, if everything worked just as it was supposed to, would have the landing gear drop and the engines cut of after landing gear drop -- and set that to happen at 50,000 feet. Mind you that's if it all worked as planned.  And no one saw it.

My major complaint is that there is no strategy driving force structure any longer, not in USAF anyway.


With respect to the wisdom of employing the B-1B as part of the Enduring Freedom air campaign, I personally doubt Gen Franks views aircrew career paths as a primary consideration when deciding which weapons systems will be brought to bear against which potential targets. Consider that there may be specific target sets for which the B-1B is best suited, for instance, Tora Bora's canyons, gorges, and other assorted nooks and crannies. As noted, the B-1B is clearly the lowest and fastest of the available "heavy-lift" ordnance platforms. More importantly, however, the B-1B's internal conventional weapons suspension-release system can provide bomb release intervals much shorter than can the B-52's Korean War-era system. I submit, therefore, that if the mission calls for a massive strike on an area target severely confined by natural topography, then the B-1B just might be the ticket. Let the B-52's take care of the ridge tops.


J. Mitchell

I don't know what you've read into what I was saying. I have no objection to using what we have; it's planning what we will have that concerns me. We use the B1 bacause These United States of America, the only superpower, have no more than 100 heavy bombers of any kind whatever in the inventory, and we don't fly close support missions out of Afghanistan because the force isn't structured to allow the Army and Marines to take and hold a base from which USAF can sent in tactical aircraft.  

And we certainly used to have that capability: of building combat airfields near the battle lines, and using them.  But you have to want to be able to do that, and have airplanes useful at that...

Dear Jerry:

I've always liked the A-10; it reminded me of an updated version of the most effective close-support birds of WWII, the IL-2 and the Beaufighter. Traditionally, the only way to give really effective close air support was to get in _close_, low and slow. For that you needed a nimble flying tank, with lots of armor and guns.

However, events in Afghanistan have shaken my faith. From what I've been able to gather, the JDAMS has enabled heavy bombers and high-flying fast movers to give _really accurate_ close ground support, as accurate as something right overhead eyeballing the target.

Apparently, it goes like this (correct me if I'm wrong): a GPS-equipped pair of 'binoculars' is trained on the target the guy on the ground wants to hit. A laser rangefinder gives the position relative to the GPS unit in the binoculars, which then automatically calculate the precise coordinates of the target and display it.

The ground guy then relays it to the aircraft loitering overhead.

The aircraft enters the data in the bomb, which is an old-fashioned iron bomb with a cheap strap-on GPS guidance unit costing about $15K which controls tailfins. If the aircraft is in the right general area, the bomb will go to the place it has been told.

The bomb is released and the GPS unit guides it to the coordinates with an error radius (except for the inevitable screwups) of about 4 meters. With a 2000-lb bomb, 4 meters is close enough to "dead on" for government work.

Plus, of course, there's laser-guided stuff for moving targets.

Judging by the results, as soon as US special-ops types were on the ground with the Northern Alliance, this system just ripped the guts out of any Taliban force that tried to stand and fight. I don't see how anyone who couldn't prevent it from working could stand up to it, not when they're trying to hold ground and fixed positions.

As soon as the enemy were visible -- and the UAV's and other technical intelligence seem to have gotten better, and the speed with which data got passed around was impressive too -- the Green Berets or UAV's pointed their magic wand, and anything they pointed at blew up in a spectacular (and spectacularly demoralizing) fashion.

I don't see how ground support could be done much better than this, always assuming that (a) we have air supremacy, and (b) the people on the receiving end can't turn off our GPS. On the other hand, we're supposed to be good at air supremacy and electronics...

Yours, Steve Stirling

Several points here. First, it is not ALWAYS best to have in close low lying aircraft for close support. Some missions need that. Many do not.

Second, if you have air supremacy, you don't need really expensive aircraft as the delivery system for smart missiles. You can use flying trucks. Yes, that has to be done with intelligence so that you don't lose the trucks too often, but once you have air supremacy -- and that may well need B1B and B2 bombers, and in the opening phase almost certainly will -- once you have air supremacy. you just need to get the missiles in range. The smarts are in the missile.

There were also those gunships in Viet Nam, not the ones you see now, but the ones with a 105 cannon and smarts such that the first shot had a CEP of about 5 feet at a slant range of 10,000 yards. You need air supremacy to use those, but if you can use them they can be devastating.  But you have to have the weapons systems before you can use them, and as I understand it we don't have any more of them. It worked extremely well, but it's not a good career path for a flyboy.

Take the support mission away from USAF and you'll see new close support designs, some operating from airfields near the battle area, some from longer ranges. Or organize a career path within USAF for pilots and support officers who choose to work with the army. Since that isn't likely, and the blue suits will fight it all the way, you can abolish USAF or you can hand off some of those missions to brown suits...

As to doing it "better", this needs more explication than I have time for, but cheaper is often better because simpler; and on call means quick, and on station from a long way away means small payload or aerial refueling, and -- but that gets us into a much more complex discussion. I agree it has been done well: given the tools at hand the job was done. (Continued below.)

Dear Dr Pournelle, 

MS01-058.asp .... New Security Hole. This will tell you where to go to get a fix. It is NOT on Microsoft Update yet. Eric found this also. Thanks.

I get regular updates from AusCERT ( ) on security vulnerabilities and patches (849 in my mailbox this year). In particular, I get updates through them from Microsoft. It's quicker.

My notification for this patch, complete with web link, came Friday 14th. at 7:39pm NZST, ie. 7:39am GMT. Clearly a prompt service. AusCERT is a member of the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST, at  ). I really can't recommend such teams highly enough.

In the US however, the equivalent (CERT at is federally funded and so far as I can tell you can subscribe to their CERT® Advisory Mailing List at . (In the body of the message, type subscribe cert-advisory ).

"Linux sucks for starting up fast. When I shut down the satellite and start up the Netwinder and Linux, it can take FIVE MINUTES before I can ping which is to say attempts to do that time out, and I can't telnet to it, and nothing moves through it. Eventually it manages, but it takes forever."

I suppose I ought to set up a faster machine. Eventually it gets its act together and all works, but what in the world can take that long? It's probably the little Strongarm chip in the Netwinder."

Just a wild shot, but is it doing a file system integrity check every time it starts up? Linux being a server-class OS it's not normally configured for rapid start - though it can be - but for safe start.

Regards, TC

-- Terry Cole BA/BSc/BE/BA(hons) ( System Administrator, Dept. of Maths. & Stats., Otago Uni.

Well I got the alerts from Roland and Eric earlier but they came when I was off writing. I don't always see everything as it comes in here, and I don't have anyone who can watch the screen and do much about that kind of alert anyway. There's only me...

Regarding Linux, you are undoubtedly correct, and I prefer it that way. Just a bit of grousing. The startup time still sucks.

I can't wait until Ricochet comes back, or I get DSL, and I can run a Linux box for communications full time and leave the satellite for emergencies.

I hope I'm not the nth person to bother you with this note today but... David Siebert's rather involved comment (Mail, Dec 14 2001) contained this comment:

"... just wrong. 1. MSDN is not cheap. I know that it costs money to make those cds.dvds but the information could be on the web for all to see."

I'm not sure if the _entire_ MSDN is available, but surely _most_ of it can be found @  , The amount of material available there is simply staggering. If only the organization/navigation made a little more sense.

GL Mike

Indeed, and that's important. Thanks

NASA should emphasize that space operations are at least as dangerous as flight test operations: we'll take every reasonable precaution to prevent harm, but with people sitting on tons of volatile chemicals, traveling 10 times faster than rifle bullets, into an environment that will kill you in seconds or injure you for life, there will be casualties and heroes.

Wolfe said it in The Right Stuff: we should be using test pilots for space flights not HEROES. We expect casulties among test pilots; when they happen, we fix whatever went wrong and go on. J. Random Citizen won't accept having HEROES die; they demand and get investigations and delay. Instead of pandering to this, NASA should make it plain that deaths and injuries are an expected part of any exploration and continue with business as usual. The hysteria after the Challanger accident wasted several years; we can't afford repeats. We can't, by definition, prevent all accidents, but we can prevent them from bringing everything to a grinding halt.

Joe Zeff

Back when there was a chance they would let me put together some X projects, I told Gingrich and Walker that the one thing I would NOT need was Astronauts. I needed Test Pilots, because Astronauts were national treasures, whose loss was irreparable: I needed professional test pilots who knew the risks.

That part was all agreed. Alas, my X program ended up as the X33 shitepoke, but that's another and longer story.

And a long story of High Speed Access from Dr. Huth:


Thought you or your readers might enjoy a brief overview of our efforts to set up a small wide area network.

I live in southern Oregon, which has spotty coverage for any sort of high speed connectivity. Neither Qwest nor Charter Cable seem to be able to install coverage to my home or those of most of my co-workers. Those who have DSL have fairly low speed access to our office and to the net. As you know, I am a cardiologist and would like to have secure access to our office electronic records. Thus began the quest for broadband.

About 8 weeks ago we set forth to see if we could configure and implement an 802.11b wide area network. We wanted to use off the shelf hardware to keep the cost down.

I'm fortunate that my office has a full T1 available and it isn't used at all at night and fairly lightly used during the daytime.

The idea was to connect to our office network and from there to the internet via our T1. We'd hoped to do this at reasonable cost and without having to involve hordes of high end geeks. I'm lucky, in that I've got a very high end geek who works for us, a fella named Ted Weldon. In a previous life, he worked for Litton Industries as a network manager and is a Cisco router wizard. He's also strong in Unix (AIX), and does Windows. He made life much easier, but this could be done without such a wizard.

802.11b needs line of my first step was to climb onto the roof and see if I could see the top of our office building. Turns out I'm 1.9 miles as the crow flies (or the GPS calculates) from the roof of our office. The other potential users can all see my roof, with the most distant about 6.8 miles away. My wizard points out that if I put a 50 foot tower on my roof, I'd extend my coverage area nicely, but my wife is reluctant.

Next step was to figure out what equipment to purchase. We spent a fair amount of time looking at specs for wireless components on a number of sites. These included: ; ; ; 

We used a fair number of other sites, but most can be easily found starting with the listed sites. Much reading and research by Ted.

We decided to purchase the Cisco Aironet 350 series products. We did this in part because of the security provided by the Ciscos, in part because of our wizards comfort with Cisco, and in part because when we tested throughput on three wireless bridges we had available locally, we found that with encryption enabled we averaged 7.8 Mbps using the Cisco's and less than 4 Mbps using several other bridges. Reviews in magazines seemed to substantiate this throughput difference. Note that this is half-duplex, still much faster than a T1.

We used a GPS device to get the latitude and longitude of our sites, and then calculated a bearing and tilt angle. This gave us a rough idea of how to point the antennas.

Ted calculated which antenna's we needed, based on information available on the Seattle Wireless site noted above and we purchased antennas from . Very, very helpful folks.

Lots of pole climbing and cursing later and we have a working wireless network!!

When I hold my head correctly and when there isn't a lot of noise, I'm getting 1.3 megabits/sec. Whew.

Thanks. I might have gone through that -- I may yet have to -- but they keep promising me DSL and Cable Modem both by February. If that doesn't happen, I may be back in the 802.11 business. Which might be fun.

And From Trent Telenko

Any _creditable_ pretention that US foreign policy was 'multilateralist' died with the ABM Treaty.

The the end paragraph from the current Charles Krauthammer op-ed:

"The essence of unilateralism is that we do not allow others, no matter how well-meaning, to deter us from pursuing the fundamental security interests of the United States and the free world. It is the driving motif of the Bush foreign policy. And that is the reason it has been so successful." 

- Unilateral? Yes, Indeed

By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, December 14, 2001; Page A45

Last month's Putin-Bush summit at Crawford was deemed an arms control failure because the rumored deal -- Russia agrees to let us partially test, but not deploy, defenses that violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- never came off.

< snip >

Indeed. Trent Telenko also sends this link:

This is an extremely interesting evaluation of the relative military power of the USA versus everyone else on the planet.


on superpowers in the modern world. Worth reading. We have gone beyond superpower to hyperpower; what is next?

All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. quis custodiet ipsos custodes...  We live in interesting times.

Dear Jerry:

You're quite right; when the smarts are in the bomb and the air environment is low-threat, all you need is something that will shovel it out, not a B-2.

I think there are some other long-term implications of both increasing precision and the increasing ability to get information from various sensors (the Mark One Eyeball and up) and, equally important, share it around quickly.

Eg., take the operation which took out al-Qaeda's military chief and about 250 of his colleagues, guards and assistants.

He was spotted at night by an armed Predator drone, the target was identified and the 'go' given, the building he was in was 'painted', a 2000-lb bomb arrived, two truckloads of survivors trying to escape were destroyed by Hellfire missiles from the Predator, and then an hour later more al-Qaeda digging in the smoldering rubble were killed by another 2000-lb bomb guided in by the Predator... and all this took place without the bad guys ever seeing or hearing anything but the explosions that killed them. Apart from the F-18 pilot tooling around at 30,000 ft., the humans involved were all in Florida; and there's no reason that some sort of high-level bomb-truck couldn't be automated and/or handled by satellite uplink too.

Apart from "UAV's are Very Good and we should have had them earlier and in greater numbers", I think the moral of this story is that the combination of sensing and data linkage has achieved (at least potentially) a breakthrough stage.

And the effects look like increasing exponentially over the next decade or two, to the point where people who can't field comparable systems will be at a disadvantage comparable to spears-vs.-machine-guns. The systems strip away all the fallbacks of the guerilla -- darkness, distance, terrain, dispersal; and they're chipping away at the things that make stuff like urban combat so difficult. For example, the see-around-corners sensors and insect-sized minidrones now in experimental deployment.

If the Land Warrior system works as advertised, or even approaching that level, our soldiers will become the next best thing to invulnerable avenging demigods when faced by low-tech opponents.

(Which raises the interesting question of what countermeasures will be thought up, of course.)

This also has long-term socio-political implications. If very expensive technology makes limited numbers of extremely highly-trained soldiers very effective even at guerilla or urban warfare, it gives a tremendous advantage to the governments which can afford such soldiers. It also makes populations, even restive, armed populations experienced at irregular warfare, easier to control.

Yours, Steve Stirling

Indeed. We do live in interesting times. And I continue to worry a bit: quis custodiet...






This week:


read book now


Sunday, December 16, 2001


Dear Jerry:

Regarding the recent security updates for Internet Explorer 6 when I go to Windows Update the "sniffer" there realizes that I have IE 6 installed and does not offer it to me as an update. When I try to install the security update itself, however, it will not run and returns in the message "Internet Explorer 6 must be installed."

A small and insignificant thing, but this is the company which wants people to embrace its .NET strategy?

All the best--

Tim Loeb

In my case I 'upgraded' one system to IE 5.5 and another to 6. In both cases the security installation went without a hitch. The IE 6 system is running Windows XP home edition. The IE 5.5 system is Windows 2000 and now Microsoft PhotoDraw is broken but whether it worked before I did the update I don't know; I think it did. It's not vital but I can't make it work now. Otherwise the system seems to be running properly.

Considering how effective the A-10 was in Desert Storm, WHY haven't they been employed in Afghanistan? In many ways, that is one of our most DEVASTATING airplanes. Any insights as to why they aren't being used? I would think Afghanistan would be the IDEAL battleground for those planes?

Jaime A. Cruz, Jr.

Well, in fairness, there were fewer vehicles to attack, and the drones seem pretty good at spotting targets; and you do need a local airfield with all the logistics that implies to fly A-10 in a battlefield area. We don't plan on using them so we don't have all the mobile base equipment set up for quickly putting them in a local area.

It's time we looked at systems designed for This Kind Of War...

Dr. Pournelle,

I thought you might be interested in this article from the December 2001
Washington Monthly:

Studs and Duds
In Afghanistan, the Navy has weapons that work. So why don't the Army and
Air Force?
By Eric Umansky 

Michael Baranowski
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Northern Kentucky University

A man's got to know his limitations.
- Dirty Harry

Thank you. That is as good an analysis of some modern procurement and development problems as I have seen. Very worth reading for those interested in these matters.

Now  Reader With A Problem:

A crashed hard drive. If I boot with a Win98 DOS floppy, the pc BIOS and ScanDisk will both see the drive. In fact, ScanDisk will even run a surface scan on it. Although I don't trust it too much. The last time it ran it did not detect a bad cluster that I am pretty sure is still there. If I try to boot with that drive as the primary drive it soulds like a BB inside a tin can. If I boot with that drive as a slave drive neither Win98, ScanDisk in Windows nor defrag in Windows will see the drive. In DOS I can change to it, and CD around it when there. But if I try to do anything but CD it locks up. Even doing a "dir" all I get is a file list of whatever directory I'm in, and then a line that says 0 bytes (free??) and it locks up. I know there is at least 750MB free on that drive because the last time it did work that's how much space I freed up. I tried Fdisk with the MBR switch, but I obviously forgot how it works because I kept getting an error when I used it. I tried /, space, and -.

I really do need to recover some data files if at all possible.

Roger Shorney

If anyone can help, please do. I no longer know anyone in data recovery.

Roland's comment on this is, "Sigh":,2933,40864,00.html 

The story is about the ACLU trying to prevent any blessing said at dinner at VMI. Considering that 7 States had by law established churches at the adoption of the Constitution, and the First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" as much to prevent the Federal Goverment from Disestablishing the State Churches as to prevent Congress from establishing a Federal Church, this is bizarre. And yes, I am familiar with the silly "incorporation" of the first ten amendments (including the Second?) in the Civil War Amendments; it's a doctrine founded on neither logic nor history, and requires real violence to the English language as well as the intentions of those who adopted the Civil War amendments.

The simplest solution to most of these issues is LEAVE IT TO THE STATES, whether we are talking about marijuana or abortion or for that matter minimum wages. Attempts to nationalize everything lead to stupidities. There is no position on prayer in a State run school that will satisfy everyone in These United States -- nor does there need to be one. Leave these matter to the states. Some of them will get it right and some wrong, and which is which can be debated until doomsday, but it's one less thing for the Federal Courts to spend their time on.

Neat tip.


-----Original Message----- From: Tim Leonhardt Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2001 3:32 PM To: Tracy Walters; David A. Schantz; Randy Fallsdown Subject: MS KB article search in IE


You’ve probably already bumped into this, but just in case:


A sharp reader sent me this little tip to help your Microsoft Web site search needs: If you know the Knowledge Base article number, simply enter it into the Internet Explorer (IE) address bar in the format "MSKB Q162928," where the Q number is any valid Knowledge Base article. The browser will search for the article and automatically open it.


(from Win2K Mag)



Hadn't seen that. Thanks

Dear Jerry:

The defragger in XP is a version of Diskeeper from Executive Software which DOES take a long time to defrag the very first go round as it totally reorders the disk; after that it'll be much faster if run regularly. For best results disable Norton AV 2002 Auto-Protect before you run the defrag.

In terms of performance it seems to do a much more thorough job than the old Norton based Windows defragger, and the retail version theoretically works remotely over a network as well as locally (I haven't tried this).

All the best--

Tim Loeb

And JoAnne Dow asks:

Is there anything wrong with "Leave it to the Cities and where the counties?" Back east whole states fit within LA County. I am not convinced that "states" as large as California are really viable for governing this sort of thing. For instance look at the California so called "Power Crisis", really much more of a "management crisis" versus the city of Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power. Even as large as LA is the DWP still faces a sense of responsibility to the citizenry if they mess up. At the state level the sense of responsibility is to themselves and protecting their jobs. Rules governing local behavior should be made locally. Rules governing behavior between local areas should be made at a higher level and should not contain hooks to force any form of compliance for local behavior. (For example, federal aid for highways can and should specify that it be spent on building new highways if that is the intent. It should not require the locals then provide all the highway maintenance funds or that the locals limit speeds to levels below those warranted by local conditions. Of course, the line is gray here. But practice in the US seems to be WAY over the line in the top level bureaucracy direction.)


To which the only answer is of course not, but the Constitution recognizes the States as sovereign entities: leaving things to counties and cities is up to the state.

I point out that prior to Earl Warren making unconstitutional the constitutions of most of the states of the union by saying that both House and Senate in each state had to be elected on a basis of population, you had a lot more local control since state senates tended to represent rural areas, and weren't interested in legislation that reached into city or county government; that effectively left many issues to local control, where it belonged.

Also you and I live in California which is a busybody state, and I actually have more in common with the federal majority than the California voters at least as they have acted lately. But Federalism is still the right principle.

Dear Dr Pournelle

Just a quick note - the "Qui" in "Qui custodiet ipsos custodes" should be "Quis", so "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes".

Regards, TC

PS. { ... audio quid ueteres olim moneatis amici, 'pone seram, cohibe.' sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor.... Juvenal, Satire VI. "... But who shall guard these selfsame guardians? [Your wife] is as smart as you, and begins with them..." }

This must be a popular Latin tag. I saw it a few days ago in a speech by Igor Stroiev to the European Parliament, and he got it wrong differently (Ouis custodiet...) . He was belabouring NATO of course.

-- Terry Cole BA/BSc/BE/BA(hons) ( System Administrator, Dept. of Maths. & Stats., Otago Uni. PO Box 56, Dunedin, NZ.

You are right, of course, although 'qui', singular, would work as well: but would imply an emperor rather than a Senate. Most do use "qui" in modern quotations. I fear my Latin is a bit rusty after 40 years; which is a pity. But then I miss the Latin Mass...

(Boy did I get that wrong. See below.)

And while I am at it a few phrases of wisdom...

Something for every statesman

aegrescit medendo

and for all of us

in pace, ut sapiens, aptarit idonea bello

fortes fortuna iuvat

fortiter in re, suaviter in modo

fabas indulcet fames

There is nothing new...

stultorum calami carbones moenia chartae

And one that peculiarly applies to me,

docendo discimus

And now an illustration of my first Latin phrase above,

hello Jerry, found this

" The FBI is asking for access to a massive database that contains the private communications and passwords of the victims of the Badtrans Internet worm. Badtrans spreads through security flaws in Microsoft mail software and transmits everything the victim types. Since November 24, Badtrans has violated the privacy of millions of Internet users, and now the FBI wants to take part in the spying."




As it was in the beginning...

And from Joye Swain, widow of Dwight Swain, who wrote what is still the best introductory book to making a living from writing I know of,

The Politically Correct Twelve Days

On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival, Significant Other in a consenting adult, monogamous relationship gave to me:

a.. TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming,

b.. ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not be asked to play a note)

c. TEN melanin deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping

d. NINE persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression

e. EIGHT economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products from enslaved Bovine-Americans

f. SEVEN endangered swans swimming on federally protected wetlands

g. SIX enslaved Fowl-Americans producing stolen non-human animal products,

h. FIVE golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration. NOTE: after members of the Animal Liberation Front threatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further Animal-American enslavement, the remaining gift package has been revised.

i. FOUR hours of recorded whale songs

j. THREE deconstructionist poets

k. TWO Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses, and

l. ONE Spotted Owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.

Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Good Kwanzaa. Blessed Yule. Oh, heck! Happy Holidays!!!! *

*Unless, of course, you are suffering from Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD). If this be the case, please substitute this gratuitous call for celebration with suggestion that you have a thoroughly adequate day.

Ah well.

You said (Currentmail, Sunday Dec 16):

> You are right, of course, although 'qui', singular, would work as well: > but would imply an emperor rather than a Senate. Most do use "qui" in > modern quotations. I fear my Latin is a bit rusty after 40 years; which > is a pity. But then I miss the Latin Mass...

Oh dear. Your Latin is indeed a bit rusty.

"Quis" here is the masculine singular nominative pronoun, to agree with the singular verb. "Qui" as subject would be the plural, and the verb would then have to be "custodient".

Take an hour's detention and write out one hundred times "A singular subject agrees with a singular verb, and a plural subject agrees with a plural verb". Best handwriting, and no carbon paper.

It may well be the case that "most" would use "qui". Most people will say "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing", but that doesn't mean it's an accurate quotation.

I too miss the Latin Mass.

.. FB

Ah well. What fifty years will do with your memories...  






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