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Mail 192  February 11 - 17, 2002






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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

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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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Monday  February 11, 2002

It is late and Niven has sent me a lot of stuff, so this is short shrift again I fear.

Dr. pournelle: Please be so kind as to post where you found the Battle Hymn - I have heard much about the event at our National Cathedral but have never seen/heard it.

Thanks James - another Enron Refugee

 -- Roland Dobbins <

Dr Pournelle,

You mentioned on your website that you had been searching for a recording of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" performed at the National Cathedral memorial service. If you don't need that exact performance, you can certainly find any number of recordings of that *arrangement*, since it's the single most-performed arrangement I'm aware of. It's by PETER J. WILHOUSKY (1902-1978), and Carl Fischer has it in print.

As performed at the service after 9/11, it did have a few changes to the Wilhousky score (omissions, not actual changes in the parts sung), so an alternative recording might not suit your needs. I, naturally, prefer it as performed "whole."

David W Needham

Breaking news from Robert Racansky: (Tuesday: the morning paper makes this nugatory or apparently so...)

Glenn Reynolds was blogging about the trouble in Venezela since December 2, 2001 on his website (his posts are reproduced below the following news story). Now the Venezuelan national guard is predicting a coup "within a matter of hours."

Keep an eye on this.

If I remember correctly, Venezuela was one of our largest suppliers of foreign oil in the mid 1980s... 

National guard captain says Venezuela rebellion "a matter of hours"

Jacques Thomet, AFP - 2/11/2002

CARACAS - A National Guard captain said in a newspaper interview published Sunday that Venezuelan military officers were prepared to rebel against President Hugo Chavez "in a matter of hours."

Asked about a possible revolt by the more dissatisfied members of the military, Captain Pedro Flores told the El Universal daily that "we expect one in a matter of hours."

Chavez brushed off the possibility that members of the military would call for his resignation after Thursday's march of thousands of civilians to the presidential palace, led by an air force colonel who openly called for Chavez's resignation.  <snip>

Posted 12/2/2001 10:56:55 AM by Glenn Reynolds VENEZUELA'S PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ has been denouncing the United States and, essentially, supporting the September 11 attacks. Nor is he alone. His vice president said this:

"[There is] terrorism of the oppressed," she declared, "because there is also terrorism of the oppressors." "[Terrorism] is a perverse sub-product of WASP [White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant] domination," she added, explaining that such domination "becomes intolerable to the more radical and violent of the oppressed and leads them to desperate, destructive and murderous outbursts." Leaving aside the question of why Western intellectuals haven't denounced this obvious racism (compare the silence on this with the response to Silvio Berlusconi's remarks about Western cultural superiority), the United States needs to make clear that people who say this sort of thing will pay a price, and we need to find subtle ways of putting the squeeze on the Venezuelan government.

This is a war. If you're against us, you shouldn't expect to get off scot-free. Ordinarily, America-bashing is a political freebie for Third World leaders. That has to stop. The sooner that people realize we're serious, the fewer problems we'll have.

None of which I know much about. Thanks. Today's Times has a small inner page story on changes in the Venezuelan armed services.

And we were born free, weren't we?

Dear Dr. Pournelle: The following is of interest: 

I've attached the text below. I have two comments:

1. The security Nazis are more of a problem than the terrorists. Bin Laden's boys may be murderous, but they aren't prone to hysteria.

2. Bush needs to get off his duff and correct the situation. Replacing the FAA administrator, Secretary of Transportation, and DOT security head is indicated. And Bush himself should forfeit a month's pay for appointing these imbeciles.

V/R: Mike McDaniel

Text is: Arrest Made Under New Flight Rule

The Associated Press Monday, February 11, 2002; 2:14 PM

SALT LAKE CITY -- An airline passenger who allegedly got up to go the bathroom less than 30 minutes before landing became the first person arrested under a new federal flight regulation adopted for the Olympics.

Richard Bizarro, 59, could get up to 20 years in prison on charges of interfering with a flight crew.

Bizarro was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles on Saturday when he allegedly left his seat 25 minutes before landing, despite two warnings from the captain to the 90 passengers to stay put as required under the 30-minute rule adopted for Salt Lake City by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Because of the incident, air marshals aboard the plane ordered all passengers to put their hands on their heads for the rest of the flight.

Bizarro? It does make one wonder. But then we live in odd times.

So put your hands on your head or be shot or face 20 years in prison because someone tried to go to the bathroom.

Of course the special arrangements were because the Chief of State was going to Salt Lake at the time. But let's everyone go buy an airline ticket.

I think the technical name for this is "tyranny".  Is Bush working at becoming a tyrant?

Ah, but if only the Little Father knew, then Russia would not be ruled so. Oops.

Dear Dr. Pournelle, I know you must have a lot of mail on the subject, but I felt compelled to add my observations about air travel in the New Empire. I am a very frequent traveler, typically logging over 10,000 miles per month. This means at least 30-40 boardings and concomitant security screens per month in about 10 different cities. I typically fly on one of three large US airlines and feel qualified to speak on the subject.

First, the actual flying itself is pretty much the same as usual. There are some exceptions such as the strange fact that the silverware provided in first class contains a heavy stainless fork (a good weapon) and spoon but a plastic knife. Flight attendants seem somewhat less friendly (although I fear this was a trend before the tragedy). On United, there is an obsession about the area forward of the first class bulkhead. One can no longer stand in or across from the galley while waiting for the toilet to become available. You must wait in your seat and have the good reflexes to beat the other passengers to the door.

And while things are not as bad as John-Eric’s experience would suggest, security screenings are completely broken. There is a horrible lack of consistency. Some airports require the removal of shoes as a matter of course, some only if you are a hand wand victim. Other airports only wave the wand at your shoes if you are the ‘randomly selected’ passenger at the boarding area. By the way, being culled out in the boarding area is to be avoided at all costs. By the time the ‘randomly selected’ sap is boarded, all the overhead space is completely gone. This used to happen to me about once in every 10 flights, but I have now discovered how to avoid being selected. There are different strategies for different airports and airlines but it is pretty easy once you figure it out.

I have forgotten about my manicure set in my carry on several times, it contains a menacing 6-inch nail file and a dangerous cuticle remover. It has never been confiscated, even when my bag has been hand searched. The hand searches are so cursory as to be completely useless. I could easily get a real weapon on board with just a bit of effort and planning.

All that said, I have no choice but flying or finding a new profession. I will continue to fly even with the inconvenience. That is all it is, because the next real organized acts of terror will use some other modus operandi. After all, the cockpit doors are beefed up and the crews and passengers will subdue anyone trying a 9-11 type attack. No, we will next see a propane tank explosion, a car bomb in a crowded downtown, perhaps an oil tanker full of fuel oil and fertilizer in San Francisco Bay.

Jerry, get back on a plane. It’s the patriotic thing to do.


Even Andy Rooney was upset on 60 Minutes last night. When the Designated National Curmudgeon starts in, perhaps someone will listen. Perhaps.

Hi Jerry

Ive noticed you bemoan the state of affairs in the US on occasion. I thought it may be educational to your readers to see that it's not just the US govt that acts in an asinine manner. This story speaks for itself.,7890,646236,00.html 

Regards Liam Walsh


Joel Rosenberg on The Crazy Years file:

Well, not that there's not enough to raise my -- thankfully low -- blood pressure, but:

When Ben was in eighth grade at Blue Ridge Middle School in Loudoun County in 1999, he was suspended for four months because he took a knife away from a schoolmate who told him she was considering suicide. The school board called Ben's action "noble" and "admirable." Then they threw him out of school. Zero tolerance, kid; you had the knife.

Ben's family sued to reverse the insanity -- and lost.

I guess that'll teach him.

Ordnung! The Rules Must Be Obeyed!  Your papers, please.


We also have this:

Dear Friends,

In a stunning political development, the senior educational appointees of Gov. Gray Davis's Administration have moved to restore California's system of bilingual education by nullifying crucial provisions of Proposition 227.

During the 1998 initiative campaign, Democratic Gov. Davis had been a leading opponent of Proposition 227, intended to dismantle failed bilingual programs and replace them with intensive English immersion. However, following the measure's landslide victory, he had repeatedly pledged to comply with the letter and spirit of the law, and support it against legislative attacks.

Then late last week, Gov. Davis's appointees to the California State Board of Education voted overwhelmingly to support newly proposed regulations allowing bilingual education teachers rather than parents to make the decision on whether children should be placed into bilingual education programs, thereby nullifying a core provision of Proposition 227.

Furthermore, these new regulations also eliminate the Proposition 227 requirement that English learners be taught English for at least the first thirty days of every school year. The combination of these two changes would essentially reestablish California's system of bilingual education for 1.5 million immigrant students.

Former Inglewood Principal Nancy Ichinaga, one of California's strongest opponents of bilingual education, was the sole dissenting vote on the State Board.

Most recent polls show Gov. Davis trailing his likely Republican challenger, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. In recent months, California's highly-organized bilingual education advocates have apparently taken advantage of Gov. Davis's political weakness to mount a quiet but intense lobbying campaign on this issue.

Documents obtained from the State Board of Education indicate that the new regulations were developed at a series of secret meetings held between Davis administration appointees and bilingual advocates at the office of State Sen. Richard Polanco, chairman of the Latino Caucus. John Mockler, the veteran Sacramento educational lobbyist who currently serves as the Executive Director of the State Board, had previously served as Secretary of Education in Gray Davis's Cabinet. Information on the State Board and its members can be found on their official web site: 

Gov. Davis has stressed that all his political appointees are expected to conform to his policy positions or immediately resign their positions.

Ironically, this dramatic apparent reversal in the educational policies of the Davis Administration comes just as the California Department of Education has released new official statistics indicating that limited-English students who avoid bilingual programs perform far better academically than do their bilingual peers.

For example, in 2001, limited-English 2nd graders not in bilingual programs were 170% more likely to be reading at or above grade level than their counter-parts in bilingual programs. This data can be found on the official web site of the California State Department of Education, and is summarized in the following PDF link: 

This extraordinary U-turn in the educational policies of the Davis Administration was quickly condemned by Michael Barone, the influential long- time editor of the authoritative Almanac of American Politics. Barone is also the recent author of The New Americans, a critically-acclaimed book on current immigration issues:


Just eighteen months ago, Barone had published a laudatory column praising Gov. Davis for his promise to fully enforce Proposition 227. In television appearances, Barone has frequently denounced bilingual education programs for their disastrous role in preventing immigrant children from learning English, and has gone so far as to characterize them as "evil."

As the column indicates, Barone is currently giving Gov. Davis the benefit of the doubt, speculating that the effort to reestablish bilingual education in California represents a rogue political operation, taking advantage of the Governor's preoccupation with energy policy and other pressing state matters.

Now that the facts have been uncovered, Davis's response will quickly indicate whether or not Barone's charitable interpretation is correct.

Any recipients of this column are obviously welcome to contact the Gray Davis Administration and help clarify its official position on reestablishing bilingual education in California by nullifying crucial provisions of Proposition 227.


Ron Unz, Chairman English for the Children 


"Debating bilingual education" The California State Board of Education is on the verge of undoing Proposition 227 Michael Barone, US News Friday, February 8, 2002

A set of regulations proposed by an obscure administrative agency in Sacramento threatens to undo one of the most successful and momentous reforms of public policy in the United States over the past 10 years.

That reform was Proposition 227, passed by a wide margin by California voters in June 1998, which limited foreign language instruction in public schools to one year, unless parents requested a waiver. For nearly three decades, California's "bilingual education" programs kept children in Spanish language instruction for three, five, or even seven years. As a result, Latino students too often never fully mastered English, scored poorly on tests, and were not fully able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the bounteous economies of California and America. This was no trivial matter: Millions of young people were affected. California in 2000 had 4 million Latinos under age 18, 1 out of 3 young Latinos in America.

Proposition 227 has been a resounding success. From 1998 to 2001, Latino test scores have shot upward in California. The percentage of Latinos with reading test scores above the 50th percentile increased from 21 percent in 1998 to 35 percent in 2001. The percentage of Latinos with math test scores above the 50th percentile increased from 27 percent in 1998 to 46 percent in 2001. These are cold figures. But think for a minute of their effects on individual lives. Opportunities are being opened up for hundreds of thousands of young Americans. The effects on millions of lives-and on the quality of life in the nation as a whole-are incalculable.

But these gains are now jeopardized by regulations proposed by the California State Board of Education. These regulations would eliminate the requirement that all limited-English students under 10 spend the first 30 days of every school year in an English-language program before a waiver allowing them into Spanish-language instruction could be obtained. Perhaps even more important, they would give teachers rather than parents the right to apply for waivers to place students in bilingual programs.

Giving teachers the right to request waivers undermines the whole program. Until 1998, California Spanish-language teachers were typically paid a premium over ordinary teachers' salaries; they and their unions tried to keep people in Spanish-language instruction to maximize the number of such teaching positions. In addition, administrators also strove to keep children in Spanish-language instruction, for ideological reasons or simply, in the quaint phrase, to keep more money coming into the building. The State Board of Education's regulations would give greedy teachers and administrators and those determined to frustrate the will of the voters the ability to overturn Proposition 227.

These regulations would also overturn the policy of Gov. Gray Davis. Davis opposed Proposition 227 in 1998 (as did his Republican opponent, Dan Lungren). But Davis has also adopted a policy of conscientiously carrying out the letter and intent of referendum measures passed by the voters, even if he opposed the measures initially. He has done so at some political cost. He has vetoed measures passed by the heavily Democratic legislature to undercut or overturn Proposition 227. He has come forward with his own measures to help Spanish- language children and parents master English, including a proposal based on Hebrew language instruction in Israel. Davis learned from his experience as chief of staff to Gov. Jerry Brown in the 1970s that a governor can pay a political price for undercutting the will of the voters as expressed in referendum and that a governor who does so also produces less-than-optimum policy results. He has acted on this insight. Gray Davis deserves much of the credit for the sharp rise in test scores by California's Latino children-a trend of national significance.

So it is surprising that the members of the State Board of Education, all of them appointees of the governor, are on the verge of acting to undercut the will of the voters, which Davis himself has been scrupulous to observe. Davis has said on several occasions that he expects his appointees- indeed, even his appointees to judgeships-to keep the promises he made to the voters in his campaign. One of those promises was to carry out policies established by the voters in referendum even when he took the opposite position. Perhaps he is just not aware that his appointees on the State Board of Education are breaking his promises. A governor has to keep track of many things, and Davis's record entitles him to a presumption of good faith. But isn't it about time that he get the word to the State Board of Education and tell them not to overturn a policy that was passed by the voters and whose happy results are one of the important successes of his administration.


"In plain English" Bilingual education flunks out of schools in California Michael Barone, US News, Monday, May 29, 2000

The character of American life 50 years hence will be determined not only by decisions in the White House or speeches on the campaign trail but by what happens in elementary school classrooms where immigrants' children are learning-or not learning- English. So leave the campaign behind and visit Suni Fernandez's second graders in Laurel Elementary School in Oceanside, Calif., a modest- income town just south of Camp Pendleton and 35 miles north of San Diego. Sixteen of the 18 pupils there have parents who are immigrants from Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America; two arrived from rural Mexico during the school year; in most of their homes the only language spoken is Spanish. But these second graders are reading and writing in English.

It was not always so: Two years ago most of the instruction would have been in Spanish. As one boy reads from an unfamiliar text with the fluency and comprehension one would expect in an upscale suburb, Fernandez says he could not have done as well until sixth grade under the old system. At the end of the school year, 13 of her 18 kids are rated as fluent by the state LAS test. "Up to two years ago," she says, "only one student would have been rated as fluent." Many families hand down stories of how immigrant grandparents learned English in school and then moved on to success. The same thing is happening today in schools like Oceanside's.

But for many years, Latino kids failed to learn enough English to score well on tests and qualify for good jobs, thanks to "bilingual education," which in most cases was neither bilingual nor education. Latino politicians and foundation- funded activist groups gave loud public support to it while often admitting privately that it wasn't working. Education schools spun theories of how kids would learn English better by learning in Spanish, and teachers' unions pocketed dues from "bilingual" teachers who got $5,000 bonuses. Democrats reflexively voted for it, and Republicans paid it no heed: It wasn't their kids.

Test scores up. Then Palo Alto entrepreneur Ron Unz sponsored Proposition 227, which limited Spanish-language instruction to one year in most cases. It passed by a wide margin in June 1998. Oceanside Unified School Superintendent Ken Noonan, who is of Mexican descent and was once a bilingual teacher, opposed 227. But when it passed, "we decided to implement the law as written," despite a protest march and candlelight vigil. Oceanside went from more than 150 to zero bilingual classes and also moved to phonics and basic math. Many teachers were very skeptical. "The first one or two months are the hardest," Noonan says. But then "immersion seemed to work. When parents saw the progress the kids were making, they were overjoyed." Test scores show Oceanside's immersion is working: The May 1999 state-required Stanford 9 test showed scores for the early grades-those most affected by the switch from bilingual-rose from the 35th percentile to the 45th in just one year. The San Jose Mercury News found similar sharp rises in test scores for Latino children in immersion all over California.

Not all the news is good. At least 12 percent of California Latinos are still in bilingual instruction, and the Los Angeles Unified district, the nation's second largest, has tens of thousands in its "Model B" program, which, a grand jury ruled last year, does not comply with 227. And Alice Callahan, a longtime activist who runs Las Familias Del Pueblo community center in L.A.'s garment district, says that older students who went through bilingual programs lack the language facility needed for standardized tests. "Kids go to high school and get A's and B's and get visions of college in their heads. Then they get a 350 on the verbal SAT, and for the first time they learn they aren't on the playing field," she says.

Callahan criticizes "professionals who say these kids can't learn" and praises Gov. Gray Davis, who opposed 227 but has insisted that the law be carried out and has vetoed bills passed by the Democratic legislature to undermine it. He has called for extending 227's adult English-learning classes from $50 million to $400 million, with an 8-to-12-week immersion program modeled on one in Israel. The glaring contrast between California's high-tech success and its near-bottom-level student test scores jarred Davis when he learned in 1995 that most Cal State University students needed remedial reading or math. "My No. 1 concern is improving student achievement, and I will not run again if test scores don't go up," he says. He appointed to the state school board Nancy Ichinaga, a 26-year elementary school principal, who never allowed bilingual programs and whose tightly structured immersion and phonics programs have produced near-top test scores in modest- income, heavily black and Latino Inglewood. Ichinaga, Davis, Noonan, Fernandez, Callahan, Unz, for different reasons, all believe that, as Davis puts it, "every kid can learn, can do better." After a lost generation, Latino kids in California are finally learning, in plain English, like immigrant children did a century ago. Will other states follow?

Ron Unz

Ron has been a champion of English instruction. Bilingualism doesn't work for many republics. In California, Spanish Only is a key to a dead end career. But being a bi-lingual teacher makes the teacher more money. So guess who has the strong lobbies? Not bright kids in Spanish households...

For more see below

And a voice from the past:

Hi Jerry,

Great to see you on the web, ha, where have I been? I love your writing!

You probably don't remember me. How many thousands of products have your reviewed? I made a very non-memorable, except by me, memory expansion unit called "the SideCar" for the NEC-8201 Laptop computer about 20 years ago, in my garage, in California. I remember we sent one to Wayne Green, or two or three, because he could not get it to work, no way no how and so he blasted it in one of his many magazines, Pico I think, or maybe another one, and when we got old Wayne to send me his 8201 to look at, and I discovered the cartridge connector ( hand soldered to the bottom of his 8201 by someone in Japan) had a bad solder joint, he didn't un-blast it. I re-soldered the joint, all the problems went away and it worked great, but when I asked for a mention in his mag, he said something like: "Well, it doesn't matter now because the 8201 is obsolete." It was 1986. We made memory for it and the Model-100/102's for the next 10 years! Funny, the things I remember.

I remember you. You're the one that was kind to me and my new product. Thanks for that. It had problems, but we sure did our best to do right by every customer, and did.

Back in '83 I made the first non-Tandy memory module for the Tandy Model-100, a 3 pound instant -on laptop that operated for 20 hours on 4 AA batteries and had a built-in modem. I took out a 1/2 page purple ad in a very new magazine called Portable-100. My memory product was based on a 8k static RAM chip and sold for one third the price of Tandys. It was a hit, people got a real kick trusting a company named Purple Computing and saving over $150! We sold enough by 1988 that we (me and my girlfriend) could semi-retire to the woods of Oregon next to a river. I tried to find you at a Comdex once in the '80's but didn't. Still almost in a garage, but still here, and still having fun, everyday, learning, growing, and still trying to make good memories -- not just the RAM type.

mybest, larry,

Lawrence Henry Berg, Purple Computing, 2048 Southside Rd, Box 100, Murphy, OR 97533 USA Voice: 541-479-8087, Fax: -8089 

Purple's memory expansion and Traveling Software's "Ultimate ROM" made the NEC PC 8201 the best laptop for writers in existence. I loved that little box.

And for fun

Dear Dr Pournelle,

As you might imagine, The Lord of the Rings had some notoriety here. One thing we had found a little disconcerting was that a large part of the scenery reminded us badly of home, that is the parks and countryside around New Zealand, especially Wellington. It was harder to suspend belief in the real world when "Hey, isn't that the river near Castlepoint" is succeeded by "That's Milford Sound, but what on Earth have they done to Mitre Peak!?" I guess this problem is acute for Hollywood denizens.

Even so, I can't wait for the next one. Reviews are uniformly positive, but I wasn't expecting the man whose filmography included "Brain Dead" to do the trilogy justice. Boy was I surprised. We went there as a family: even my preteen girls thought it was supercool (a new adjective?). Though not completely familiar with the book, I knew a few liberties had been taken when I remembered Arwen was not responsible for drowning the black riders, but rather another elf; so I seized on Aaron Pressman's link to Rateliff's three-part review of the Lord of the Rings. The subject header grabbed me: " (i) The Road to Kiwi-Land" - which led to an interesting point:

"Best of all, Jackson found a way to include "the walking bits" -- those scenes Tolkien had so feared would be cut from any film adaptation. Instead of fast-forwarding through the journey to the destination, Jackson has used these parts of the film to show off spectacular New Zealand scenery and drive home what every reader of the book knows: Middle-earth itself is one of the major appeals of the story, and downplaying the setting in favor of more action scenes would be a sad mistake. "

A major reason for shooting here would have been cost and convenience rather than scenery. Labour and materials here are a lot cheaper, there's no question about political stability, and murders are still front-page news. Still, one can't help thinking that he might have been better off shooting in the US or Canada. NZ is indeed a lovely collection of islands, but all of them put together are only around the size of the UK; rather more than a hundred thousand square miles. I've seen the Rockies and parts of California which could have stood in for Middle Earth, and photos of Washington State and B.C. suggest those areas too would be even closer to ideal. I hear the actor's unions in L.A. are grumbling about the tendency for US-financed movies to shoot overseas, and can't help but sympathize.

Regards, TC

-- Terry Cole System AdministratorDept. of Maths and Stats, Otago UniversityPO. Box 56, Dunedin NEW ZEALAND fax:64-3-4798427

Niven and I hike in the old Santa Susanna Hills: you can see the locations of scenes from Destry Rides Again, Stagecoach, and dozens and dozens of other movies wherever we walk. "Just up there is the pass they'll head them off at..."

Agreed about "the walking bits."




This week:


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Tuesday,  February 12, 2002

Microsoft yesterday released the "11 February 2002 Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer". This comprehensive patch covers Internet Explorer versions 5.01 (SP2 running on Windows 2000 only), 5.5 and 6.0. This patch addresses all currently known vulnerabilities, including six recently discovered ones.

You can read more about the patch at

You can download the patch from

I have downloaded and installed the version for IE 5.01/SP2. After an exhaustive five minutes of testing, it appears to work properly as far as I can tell. YMMV, of course, but if you're running an affected version of IE, it's probably a good idea to download and install the patch.

Best regards.

Bob -- Robert Bruce Thompson 


And from Roland two more on the Vulnerability of the Day 

and   Roland Dobbins <> 

Be advised and act accordingly...  And don't open unexpected attachments to email.

So-called "bilingual education" is dishonestly named.

The so-called "bilingual education" in California is Transitional Bilingual Education, or TBE. It is TBE that is evil and must be stopped at all costs.

There is a great article about this that ran in Reason magazine, and you can read it from the Reason web site:

The whole article is long, albeit worth reading, but here is the part where they explain TBE.

Stephen Hastings

-- quote -- quote -- quote -- quote -- quote -- quote --

Some years ago, a newspaper sent me to interview S.I. Hayakawa, by then a retired senator from California. Hayakawa was legendarily combative: Asked once during a campaign stop what he thought about a local referendum on legalizing greyhound tracks, he snapped: "I'm running for the U.S. Senate. I don't give a good goddamn about dog racing." When I spoke with him, he had recently lashed out at bilingual education. It seemed paradoxical, to say the very least: Hayakawa was a native of Canada whose parents were born in Japan; he grew up speaking Japanese. He had authored a widely used book on linguistics. "Senator," I began the interview, "why are you against people learning to speak two languages?" He looked at me as though I were daft. "Who said anything about that?" he demanded. "Only an idiot would be against speaking two languages. I'm against bilingual education."

That's still the biggest misconception among people who've never had a personal brush with bilingual education. It is not a program where two sets of children learn one another's language at the same time. That's called dual, or two-way, immersion. Only a few well-heeled school districts can afford to offer it, always as an elective, and the only complaint about it is that there usually aren't enough slots to go around. Another thing bilingual education is not is a program conducted mostly in English, where the teacher occasionally translates a particularly difficult concept, or offers extra language help to children with limited English skills. Known variously as English as a Second Language, sheltered English, or structured English immersion, these are all wrinkles in a technique that educators call immersion, because the students are expected to wade into English quickly.

As Hayakawa explained to me that day, when educators use the term bilingual education, it's shorthand for "transitional bilingual education," which is the other major technique for teaching languages. TBE, as it is often called, was originally structured around the idea that students would take the main curriculum in their native language while they learned English, so that they wouldn't fall behind in other subjects. But over the past two decades or so, most school districts have reshaped their TBE programs to reflect the ideas of the so-called "facilitation" theorists of language education. The facilitation theorists believe that children cannot effectively learn a second language until they are fully literate in the first one, a process that can take four to seven years. (A new study from TBE advocates at the University of California at Riverside ups the ante to 10 years.)


This says it about as well as any. Hayakawa saved me from the horrors: the Trustees, or a majority faction of them, had determined to send me to be President of SF State if Hayakawa didn't manage to straighten the place out. He was very successful, and ended up as a US Senator as a result. I doubt I could have done anything like as well, and I almost certainly am not electable to public office...

The "bilinugual" issue is one of economics and qui bono, not a genuine education matter.

And we have this:

Hi Jerry...

I was on Paul Lutus' site  looking at his latest update of Arachnophilia, a great free html editor/creator (prompted by your Byte article on Allaire Homesite) when I saw this Splash... Boycott Microsoft! So why does Paul Lutus (who wrote Applewriter and made a ton of money) want to boycott Microsoft? Windows XP activation! A quote from his site:

"The XP series (Windows and Office) has a new feature — 'product activation' — that perverts the relationship that normally exists between seller and buyer — when you purchase an XP product, you don't own it, instead Microsoft owns you. <snip> In a breaking news story, some Microsoft customers have discovered this new passage in the Microsoft XP EULA (End User License Agreement, the binding contract that every Microsoft XP customer agrees to): 'You acknowledge and agree that Microsoft may automatically check the version of the Product and/or its components that you are utilizing and may provide upgrades or fixes to the Product that will be automatically downloaded to your Workstation Computer.'

This passage says, in essence, that Microsoft has the right to examine your computer's hard drive and download software onto your computer automatically, without your knowledge or explicit consent. "

The quoted story comes from Infoworld: 

So... More reasons to avoid XP. I wonder if Microsoft has any clue as to can of worms it is opening??

(By the bye... Try Arachnophilia... You just might love it.


Well I may not be quite up to a boycott but I certainly think Microsoft needs to be told that enough is enough. Note that they have used "Activation" and "updates" to unilaterally change license agreements and user conditions on some software. This is ungood. Double Plus Ungood.



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Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Ash Wednesday

re Mail post Monday Feb 11th (good Mail BTW):

"First, the actual flying itself is pretty much the same as usual. There are some exceptions such as the strange fact that the silverware provided in first class contains a heavy stainless fork (a good weapon) and spoon but a plastic knife."

------------ A few comments and some sarcasm directed toward the idiocy in "security";

I still like what George Carlin said in his Airline Security spoof some years back (prophetic, wasn't it?) Partial quote: "You could kill a pilot with a table knife....or what if you had big hands? Or you could strangle two stewardesses, one with each hand?" Or what about the estimated million or so people in this country with belts in one martial art or another? Don't tell me that one so trained couldn't disarm one, or even several Air Marshals if it was planned right (whups, better watch those orientals, more stereotyping - made for order, eh?). I wonder how they're faring? I'd bet with the new databases on people's backgrounds coming soon, they won't fare well, even if they can prove "loyalty" (the retired & decorated Marine story comes to mind)

I am just having to laugh, hard, along with the fear of the Stalinist idiocy that seems to be overtaking our government's responses to 9/11. Having a black belt in Tai Kwan Do makes me wonder whether I should ever even try to get on an airplane. I might get arrested for being a "lethal weapon"...and I did want to take a vacation this year, but one can't drive to Hawaii. I don't put up with foolishness all that well either.

Next they'll start giving everyone on the airplane their own (padded) cell. Or should it be the enforcers in the cells? They'd be safer that way...maybe with a little knockout gas injectors for the rest of the plane....oops, better make the cockpit doors airtight, too, with their own air feed, lest we have unconscious pilots. Heh.

I'm not really sure whether to laugh, cry or do both. Empire, I could tolerate - maybe. Incompetent that is a different story.

-- On another subject ( and you've probably already heard from many people on this) someone wrote in late last week recommending an Abit NV7M ( ) board solution; you wrote that you cannot recommend Via chipset solutions, but the board the email poster was recommending was a Nvidia Crush chipset based board, not a Via chipset based board. I will comment tho that where I work we have built more than 500 Via chipset based Athlon boards in the last two years, and as long as one pays attention to the reviews ( in other words, don't just go buy a cheap board from Fry's, do some research first, particularly if you're going to use it in vital work!) and researches and loads the updates, they can work extraordinarily well. I would recommend the Chaintech boards, as they have served us very well and except for some problems regarding Creative's SBlive sound cards (and their lack of PCI bus mastering support) we have had no problems. If you'd like more info email me, we keep good logs of service work here. So far we have seen none of the USB problems you spoke of; some bus corruption problems, but the Via 432+ driver sets solved nearly all of them. The SBlive in particular suffers many problems but they are not related to the Via chipset - rather to Creative's seeming inability to fix hardware and driver issues note how seldom they update their drivers (at least before Windows XP!) - and I have two Athlons running Via chipsets here at home that are extraordinarily stable and well performing, particularly under Linux but also under windows.


Thank you. I am trying to collect some boards. I do get my Intel boards from Frys.

From: Chris Morton To: Jerry Pournelle Subject: Movie Locations

Dear Dr. Pournell:

On the subject of movie locations, I’ve made the acquaintance of a noteworthy one.

While stationed in Korea in ’81, I visited the Korean Folk Village south of Seoul. It’s a sort of museum of traditional Korean culture and handicrafts. For whatever reason, the makers of the ‘60s film “The Sand Pebbles” thought it a good stand-in for a Chinese village on the Yangtze river. I’m sure that an afficionado of Korean architecture would find that hilarious. When I saw the film as a grade schooler, I couldn’t tell the difference.

I've been to that village. It is near the Olympic Village, in an area the US Army learned more about than was wanted in 1951. Thank you. Although I saw and liked The Sand Pebbles, I never recognized the set...

Link below shows fix to eliminate XP sending your documents with a bug report.

Tony Lociero


Dear Jerry:

I have read your column for many years and have found it a very useful source of information. I'm glad that Byte wasn't allowed to die when its magazine format ended a few years ago.

I wanted to add my two cents about MS Word, since you have been discussing it lately.

I work in an environment where Word has become the de facto standard for all document preparation, including technical reports. While it works pretty well as a "formatting engine" for large blocks of plain text, it is an absolute nightmare for complex technical typesetting, such as figure insertion, equation editing, etc. The gyrations one has to go through in order to insert, anchor, and properly caption a figure are incredible. Once a person learns these gyrations, the results are acceptable. But I couldn't find the necesary information in the documentation. All of the useful tricks for technical report generation I found in various places on the web. So you aren't alone when you talk about not being able to find features that you are sure must exist somewhere in the program.

Frankly, I still prefer Donald Knuth's TeX package and its variants. It is still best of breed for technical report writing.

Thanks for the good advice over the years.


Tim Davis

Well if I want to publish a document with an exact format I use Pagemaker or even Microsoft Publisher. TeX is still hard to learn, or was last time I looked at it. Certainly worked well in the early days, and those who know it can use it forever.

But I don't DO much publishing. FrontPage handles most of what I do. I leave formatting my books to my publishers while I try to write them.






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Thursday, February 14, 2002

Note well:

From: Nathan Einwechter  To: Subject: Re: New MSN Messenger Worm Date: 13 Feb 2002 21:47:00 -0500

Update: The worm is now also sending the message

"URGENT - Go to"

-- Nathan Einwechter

----- Original Message ----- From: Drew Smith To: <>; <> Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2002 8:09 AM Subject: New MSN Messenger Worm

> > Heya folks, > > Ok, let's try this again, with a little more time spent on my side. ;) > Tried to submit this earlier today, but got bounced for attaching the > worm source to the message. So, this time, I'm attaching a URL instead, > where you can go get the source if you want to see it. > > This worm *ripped* through our office today - it's one part flaw in > Microsoft's security model and one part social engineering; it is a > NON-MALICIOUS worm, but it effectively proves the concept, and I don't > foresee more than a week or two before there's a nasty version. > > We've been calling it the "cool worm", after the original filename, > "cool.html". > > I said *ripped*. I meant it. 40 people affected/infected in under 30 > seconds. That's the dangerous part, I didn't even have time to go to > the other room to let coworkers know what was up. > > The worm shows up as an MSN Messenger message that says "Go To > NoW !!!". The user, obviously, > clicks the URL, which takes them to the site, where the malicious code > sits. The code opens the MSN Contacts list, then messages every contact > with the message "Go To NoW > !!!". > > Think about that for a second. > > Anyhow - the worm does nothing nasty, but the source to the (now down) > site also mails the hostname and user agent of the > connecting host to "". > > Looks to me like an experiment that got loose from the lab, but it > demonstrates a *dangerous* flaw. Why can a webpage open the contacts > list in the first place? What other hooks does MSN Messenger provide? > Can you harvest email addresses from a contact list? > > Too many scary implications. > > Worm source (with a few important lines removed, so that it doesn't > start popping up *everywhere*), available at: > > (( REMOVED BY JEP)) > > Cheers, > - Drew. > > > > > -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

-- > This list is provided by the SecurityFocus ARIS analyzer service. > For more information on this free incident handling, management > and tracking system please see: >

The formatting is a mess but I don't have time to fix it. Pay attention to what's going on here.

I have not had a chance to look at the following. I will get to it as quickly as I can.

Hi Jerry,

Just ran across this great freeware utility, BgInfo, from the sysinternals guys. The utility puts text on your background screen of such things like last boot time, network adapter card type, OS version, CPU type and speed, ram, TCP/IP address, DHCP server address, etc...

I have installed it on all of my PCs in my network. It is great to be able to get a status just by clearing the desktop of a PC.

Thanks, Lynn McGuire

Thank you.

Dr. Pournelle,

I just noticed my ISP has been filtering SPAM for me. I was wondering why some spammers were being so nice as to put "SPAM: " at the start of their subject lines. My goodness, I can configure the filters, too!

Mayhaps your ISP has filters you don't know about?

There have also been several "virus was stripped" messages, too. Turns out they also do basic virus checking by default.

I've been getting a great deal at $10/month deal for almost three years now from my ISP. If in Texas, I heartily recommend EV1.NET.

Robin K. Juhl, Captain, USAF (Retired)

Earthlink has spaminator which works well but only with mail that goes to an Earthlink post address. Mail to me at jerryp @ does go through that filter and the amount of spam on that account has been greatly reduced.

Mail to me at my jerrypournelle . com address is subject to other filters but none at the ISP level. When I get a fixed IP address I will run my own filtrations here. Until then I have to rely on RULES.


Dear Dr Pournelle,

This is going round the internet at the moment.

I expect you may have seen it before, but I was impressed. It only takes a minute to do.


Craig Arnold

I hadn't seen it, and I have put it on its own page so it can be experienced properly.


In a twisted way, you have confirmed that Microsoft's predatory business practices really do benefit consumers: There no longer being any point in doing comparisons of word processors, there are no more feature matrices for Microsoft to play to. This in turn slows the galloping featuritis to a creep which is a benefit to anybody using Word. It does tend to confirm that Microsoft's business is marketing, not innovation (or usability, or security, or reliability, etc.).

I still think InfoWorld should have kept you.


Steve T. Jones

Actually BYTE paid me to go exclusive with them. But that was quite a while ago. Your observation is interesting.


I enjoyed your article on Word*, and thank-you for the excellent tips. I have had some additional problems with XP to those you mentioned - perhaps other readers may have contacted you with them? I haven't found a way of fixing them. 

When I open XP for the first time, and then do a File|Open, the Open dialogue window hides behind my document window, and the icon in the Task Bar flashes. If I minimize the document window and close the Open dialogue window, this bug doesn't repeat when I use File|Open again. Recently I discovered another isssue. I scanned in a form as a TIF file, then I inserted the file into a Word document. The image was about 60% corrupted, but when I opened the TIF file in an image viewer, and copied and pasted it to Word, the complete uncorrupted image appeared (I tried this several times, with the same result). There seems to be something wrong with how XP handles memory for these images. 

I am a scientist and often need to copy graphs from an excellent program I use called Origin (Microcal) into Powerpoint presentations. If I copy directly into Powerpoint, the system hangs and hangs. If I copy first into word, then copy the image from the Word document and paste that into Powerpoint there is no problem. This may be a hardware/memory issue, but I doubt it since I am using an IBM ZPro workstation (still Windows NT4.0, unfortunately) with dual Xeon processors and 750 Mb of RAM.

Look forward to reading your future articles.

Oliver Flint

*Staying With What Works By Jerry Pournelle, Byte, February 11, 2002

Interesting problems. I have not encountered them but I'll look into them. Thanks.

I don't need TeX, but if I did, I would probably use LyX instead of coding TeX by hand.

LyX is a sort of word processor that does TeX for you. If you prepare technical documentation, you probably want it. (My understanding is that you fiddle less with LyX/TeX than with Word to get serious documents done.)

Screenshots and other info on the official site:

-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"


Jerry -- You mentioned the National Curmudgeon's 60 Minutes commentary, but not that his preferred solution seems to be ID tattoos or implanted microchips.

[quote] We need some system for permanently identifying safe people. Most of us are never going to blow anything up and there's got to be something better than one of these photo IDs - a tattoo somewhere maybe. The Saudis used an American devise to scan the eyes of travelers. I wouldn't mind having something planted permanently in my arm that would identify me. [/quote]

Full text of the commentary at,1597,328752-412,00.shtml

[This might be subtle satire -- if so, I'm not getting it.]

-- Jim

I think it was satire. It isn't going to happen anyway. But a positive ID for citizens is probably in the cards, like it or not.

At least Rooney is getting some attention to the silliness of MacDonald's rejects being arrogant at the airport. A servant when he is master...

Mr. Pournelle

It’s good to see you focusing on Linux as an alternative to Windows. I agree that Linux is still too complex for the average user, but some serious attention from those (like Tron) who fight for the users might sway this in our direction. While killing a few months at a friend’s lakeside cottage last summer, I bought a reconditioned used computer system ($230), partitioned the drive and installed Red Hat Linux as a combination toy and learning experience. I found it fun, but like your colleague and his family I found myself working on the Linux side of the computer and spending much more time “playing” on the Windows side. For things like Internet access and MP3 files, it was just not worth the time for us to wade through the Linux procedure (and I’m a retired journalist, with a lot of time on my hands). After coming back from living in Spain for a few months, we’ve set up a pied a terre in Chicago and I’m in the process of building a huge computer center in the den and a network for our two desktops and two laptops. The more we learn, the more we migrate toward Linux. My next project is testing the new Lindows release on one machine.

Fred Pratt fpratt

I'm working on it. Fiction is eating my Linux time...











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Friday, February 15, 2002

I gave you the day off.






This week:


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Saturday, February 16, 2002

The following is an important announcement:

From the Space Activity Society concerning the annual conference:

We have a hotel, repeat, we have a hotel. We just got back from finally inking contracts for Space Access '02 to be at the Quality Inn South Mountain (same place as SA '99 three years ago) in Ahwatukee, an affluent suburban southeastern corner of Phoenix, eight miles from the main Phoenix airport. Nice area, lots of restaurants and shopping within walking distance, and a clean comfortable hotel.

That's Space Access '02, Thursday evening April 25th 2002, all day and evening Friday the 26th, all day and evening Saturday the 27th. Our conference hotel room rate is $65 single or double, plus ~12% local tax, book your rooms now, call (800) 562-3332 or (480) 893-3900 and ask for the "Space Access" rate. Also, we've noticed that Southwest currently has some pretty good internet-only fares bookable through February 28th - that's at

SA'02 conference registration is $100 in advance, $120 at the door, student rate $30 at the door only. Mail checks to:

Space Access Society (SA'02) 4855 E Warner Rd #24-150 Phoenix AZ 85044.

In other news, NASA SLI seems currently determined to spend all their billions on advanced technologies and none on flight vehicles - moreover, the lion's share is going to technologies that fit into their vision of a massive one-size-fits-all direct Shuttle replacement. It has been said of SLI that they are setting capacity for a river bridge by counting the number of people currently swimming across...

USAF, meanwhile, has decided that radically cheaper short-leadtime space access is a Good Thing - but alas, their current main effort to chart a path, the joint USAF-NASA "One Team" 120-day study, shows every sign of buying into NASA's preferred approach.

The good news is, a year into this new White House and a month into the new NASA Administrator's tenure, many of the preconditions are falling into place for fundamental reform of the hidebound NASA and DOD space-launch bureaucracies.

The bad news is, said bureaucracies for the moment lumber on largely unchanged. We're hoping to see some significant changes in direction, but it may take a while before the new top leadership gets past their more immediate priorities.

Meanwhile, over in the startup commercial reusable launch sector (the established aerospace majors seem content to follow NASA's lead to nowhere as long as NASA keeps paying) a consensus has grown up over the last year that keeping the time and money required to reach revenue operations down to practical levels - on the very rough order of five to fifteen million dollars and two to three years - means going first for various suborbital launch markets, not least of these the potential large new tourism market. Dennis Tito's flight last spring helped hugely - now there's both a space-tourism market existance-proof and an established initial price-point.

In further good news, at least one of the startups, XCOR Aerospace, has been generating significant positive publicity (Time Magazine, CNN) with the reusable relightable rocket engines they've developed on their initial shoestring funding. They've done this by installing the engines in a light aircraft (The "EZ-Rocket", based on a "Long-EZ" airframe) and doing extensive ongoing flight operations testing.

The bad news is that, as far as we know (things are moving fast), none of the startup reusable launch companies have yet connected with sufficient funding to carry them through to suborbital revenue operations. But the good news is, you can come to Space Access '02 a bit over two months from now (April 25th-27th) and hear directly from a cross-section of the startups what they're up to and how they're doing.

All for now...

Henry Vanderbilt Executive Director Space Access Society 

This is a good annual conference on what's going on in private space. Better than good.

From Trent Telenko

This is another European 'the American train is leaving the station' op-ed. This time in a German english-language paper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The key passage:

"What enrages many Europeans, who are in fact not as united as they like to think, is perhaps not so much the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Iraq as the realization of their own powerlessness on the questions that really count. Their reflexive indignation is directed at an America that has already licked its wounds and gotten back to business, and is now refusing to let anyone constrain it, least of all those who are unwilling or unable to act on their own."

It is clipped in full at this link:  ----------- Simplistic Criticism of U.S. Overlooks Complex Realities

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | 2/16/02 | Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger

FRANKFURT. It took only a few months for the old transatlantic routine doldrums to return. There is now little prospect that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will splice America and Europe together again or that the tightly knit relationship which bound them together in the face of the Soviet threat will be restored.

On this side of the Atlantic, people have vented so much displeasure in recent days regarding U.S. world policy in general, and Washington's policy toward crisis areas in particular, that to speak of a mere difference of opinion is a massive understatement.

Those who do speak up are no longer hiding behind the standard diplomatic idiom: Their language is so alarmingly direct and unambiguous that no one could think they were talking about simple misunderstandings. And, not least, Europeans and Americans have shown that they do not speak the same language at all in areas where they were already moving apart prior to the epoch-making events of five months ago. These issues include policy in the Middle East, and ways to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


I think Europe is working at becoming irrelevant to US decision processes. The Empire may pretend to consult, but in fact it will do as it likes. Republics have allies. Empires have clients.

And on MO3 and Linux:

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

In the mail corresponding to Feb 14th, Mr. Fred Pratt said:

> For things like Internet access and MP3 files, it was just not worth the > time for us to wade through the Linux procedure

While I can't comment on how to access Internet through Linux -it is too hardware and ISP-specific for just a few comments- let me say that making MP3s on Linux is fairly easy. You need three components:

1. A CD Ripper -Cdparanoia ( ) is perhaps the best ripper around. It is not the fastest one, but it has some very powerful error correction code. It is installed by default by Red Hat and it is available as a RPM from it.

2. A MP3 encoder Lame ( is the best MP3 encoder I know of in any platform. It is not bundled with many Linux distributions because of patent/licensing issues, but you can get an RPM at these two places: 

3. A frontend to both If you use KDE, then you're all set already. There is an Audio CD IOslave that acts as a frontend to the ripper and encoder. To use it, type:


in the Konqueror address bar and press Enter. You will be presented with options for playing the CD, ripping it, or ecoding it to both MP3 and Ogg Vorbis. You can configure the parameters through the KDE Control Panel. Here is a screenshot (146k) of my laptop showing Konqueror with the Audio CD IOslave in the (now ancient) KDE 2.2: 

However, this is not the only option. There is a graphical mp3 creation tool, Grip, that is very user-friendly and intuitive. You can get a RPM of it here: 

Neverthless, in my opinion the best of these tools is Devon Jones' The One Ripper, available here: 

This is a small Perl utility totally menu-driven that has many useful options and is very user friendly. And for control freaks that find the options not comprehensive enough, there is the option of passing command line flags to the encoder. Really recommended.

There are many other tools but I think with these will suffice.

Best regards,

Eduardo Sánchez

Best regards,


Roland on Free DOS:

and the giant water scorpion

I have no idea how Roland finds time to see all these things and still know more about Internet security than anyone else I know.

And from Bruce Yokem

I have found the part of your web site on evolution to be fascinating.

My head is not quite large enough to hold it all in, but I will continue to plug away at it.

It is unfortunate Dr. Asimov is not available any more to put forward his views, I would be very interested to read what he would say on it, as he was able to explain this stuff in terms an amateur scientist like me could fathom.

Ah well, I guess I will have to settle for Dr Pournelle.... ;->

There are few like Isaac. He genuinely liked to write, one of the few people I know who did. He would rather be writing than doing anything else including talking to people about writing. I used to have breakfast with Isaac and Janet at SF conventions: it was really breakfast with Janet as Isaac ended up being accosted by everyone in the room, all of whom would come to the table, interrupt any conversation going on whether with Janet, Roberta, and me, or with another table hopper, and demand Isaac's attention. He was unfailingly polite to such people, and never remarked on them afterwards; but I think it is one reason he would rather be writing.

When I was introduced to Isaac it was by someone who ought to have known better who told me to call him "Ike." He hated that name, and afterwards told me so in a letter. He got some things terribly wrong, including buying Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb hypothesis in its entirety and probably had as much to do with Ehrlich's underserved popularity as anyone else. 

But boy could he explain complicated science. We discussed some of this on the air on the David Susskind show once. Susskind asked Isaac the secret of his popularity. "Because I'm clear," Isaac said; a lesson I never forgot.

And my son Richard found this about accounting:

From Bethany Mclean who broke the Enron story:

She also had an epiphany about accounting and its potential for abuse. "When you come out of a liberal arts background," she said, "you want to know why something is the way it is." In accounting, "there is no reason why. There is no fundamental truth underlying it. It's just based on rules." "These rules create an incentive to get around rules," she said. "This means getting away from any accounting portraying the fundamental economic reality of a company." 

It is a situation that has to change. Accounting was developed in order to explain complex concepts in simple terms. It has evolved into something else.





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Sunday, February 17, 2002

I have the following email:

<< Apparently, a group of Afghan passengers became sufficiently annoyed at their long flight delays that they underscored their displeasure by beating to death the country's Transportation Minister... >>

As my correspondent says, it sure makes me want to visit the country. Incidentally the chap was also Minister of Tourism. On the other hand, do you think Minetta will ever go to an airport nowadays?


And from the Onion


US Ambassador to Bulungi Suspected of Making Country Up.










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