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Mail 200 April 8 - 14, 2002 






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Highlights this week:

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).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted.

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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If you want to PAY FOR THIS PLACE I keep the latest information HERE.  MY THANKS to all of you who sent money.  Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods. I am preparing a special (electronic) mailing to all those who paid: there will be a couple of these. I have thought about a subscriber section of the page. LET ME KNOW your thoughts.

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Monday  April 8, 2002

Coming Home from New Jersey





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Tuesday,  April 9, 2002

I will try to get some mail in here but there's a lot to do; and the satellite seems VERY slow in connecting me to web sites, so I have to try about 4 times before I can see anything. Sigh.

Hi, Jerry...

Welcome back from JerseyDevilCon.

Here's an interesting link to a law firm fighting the good fight against SPAM. 

Curious, a British News Site reporting on a San Francisco story.

--Jerry Wright

I will try to look at it shortly. It's BUSY here...

Roland sends this with the subject "Another of your predictions come true:

A bit late, but nobody's perfect!




if you read the article, I think it comprehensively puts Lomberg's case to rest as a narrow failure to appreciate the greater truth of the world than just that which bare statistics can tell us. E.g., the use of cost/benefit analysis to decide if something is getting better or not. Yet as Socrates, (don't quote me on this, it could be another Famous Ancient Greek), once asked, what is a birds song worth?

Of concern also is just the basic credibility of the man. A journalist in Australia, (I cannot provide a link the article, since it is available by subrscription only online, but as in the Australian Financial Review, a conservative and respected journal), checked the basic background that Lomberg was a member of Greenpeace, as has often been cited. Greenpeace has no record of Lomberg ever being a member. He may have contributed money to them, and received mailouts, but he was never a member.

I was glad to see that the article you referred to also made the same points that I have arrived at myself. Kyoto is not a cure all, merely an attempt to get going in the right direction. We are working with a problem that has no definite, provable outcomes, yet does that mean we should ignore it.

Human thought in the west is too often bound up in the undeniable power of science and mathematics, yet it too often ignores those things that cannot be addressed by this. As a coffee cup quote once said, 'If you can't measure it, I'm not interested'. While the world has had always the chicken littles, it has also had a long history of ostriches with their head in the ground too. Can we get into a more advanced train of thought than just true/false, right/wrong?

The idea that money can only be spent once, is not quite correct. Money spent on Kyoto will still generate jobs, and advance our technology. WWII started off with biplanes flying still, and finished with the jet fighter. Many people estimate that industry, if it concentrates on new technology, can create massive reductions in resource use and demand. This in turn will mean less need to create high tech 'solutions' to problems that can be more easily solved via prevention.

A final point is the claim that we should be spending the billions that Kyoto will use on clean water for people. This is an absurd claim, that we can only have one or the other. With the amount of wealth in the world, it is mre than possible to achive both. It is just a matter of having the will.

Stephen Tarrant

I don't believe any of this. And I haven't claimed that we ought to spend the Kyoto billions on anything. Leave the money in the hands of those who earned it. Taking money at gunpoint in the form of taxes to spend it on useless matters which usually translate into high salaries for regulators and bureaucrats is morally wrong. 

It makes sense to use tax money to find out what is going on: more sensors, more data; and once we actually know if we are headed for ice or some kind of warming, then we can look at what ought to be done. But simply to spend money for the sake of paying a bunch of international aristocrats is insane.

It's fascinating: if Lomberg is wrong anywhere he's wrong everywhere but if the enviros are right anywhere they are right everywhere. Feh.



I have to admit that I really like the new optical mouse design. Itís a nice, clean, smooth, mostly trouble-free design (although on some mice the back and forward buttons are distressingly easy to hitÖ). I have encountered a problem, lately, which is strangely reminiscent of the old clogged mouse problem, where a buildup occurs as the ball picks up grease and other stuff from the surface. Iíve had a strange behaviour the last month or so, where the mouse seemed to have trouble with some of the tracking. I finally turned the mouse over for a look, and a hair or fiber had gotten into the little well and was over top of the lens. My guess is that the hair would vibrate from the air from time to time and the mouse would detect that as movement! I cleaned that out with a bit of tissue and itís working good as new, again!


-= Scott =-


The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of oneís soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive- you are leaking.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1951), U.S. journalist. Metropolitan Life, "Manners" (1978).

Thanks for the tip. I mostly use only optical mice now. Logitech and Microsoft both make good ones, but I prefer the Microsoft.

Dear Jerry,

I'm reading your latest column from the email newsletter.

On the matter of ebook copy protection:

I recently bought a Palm m105, and I find it quite nifty for reading ebooks. I very much like the ability to upload and download texts from and to the device, and to maintain backup copies on my PC and archive disks. That ability is not negotiable.

Still, of course, I honor your wish to be compensated for your work. So, instead of a copy protection scheme that will cause honest people no end of frustration, what about embedding in legitimately purchased files an encrypted identification of the purchaser? If I buy an ebook copy of one of your novels, my identity will be encoded into it. If that copy finds its way onto the Web, I am at risk, both legally and socially. I would not want to be known online as someone who shafted Pournelle.

Well, OK, what about resales? They could be coordinated through the original publisher, or perhaps the author. It would be but a moment's work over the Web.

Probably this is an old idea, but I want to put my little chip on the pile nonetheless.

Warm Regards,

William ("Bill") Dooley Reno, NV

I pretty well owe the world an essay on this, but it's a complex issue. I also think the Microsoft Tablet Computer is going to change the publishing world forever when it finally comes out, so we need to think about it NOW.




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Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Tax time, ax time, wolf time.  Short shrift time.

As a long time reader of yours, I have often benefited from your trying things. In the area of checking internet speeds I would suggest you try  and look at their Your Speed stats. Hope you find this helpful.

Doug Troup - email



While not a writer myself (and with no such aspirations), I enjoy *reading* good solid prose, and your definition of how to produce it truly resonated with my experience in another field, computer programming.

It took a while to become proficient with thinking clearly, and expressing such thoughts grammatically, to the point where a language compiler wouldn't complain. However, I reached a point at which I could analyze a process, formulate a solution to imitate that process, and write the code with nothing more than a reliable writing instrument and a sheaf of paper. It didn't reach that point until I could simulate the compiler, though.

As you said, and it's painfully true, breaking the rules is a bad idea until they're memorized and 'internalized', to the point of near-reflex. I've seen proof that Escher could make a lithograph that was as good as a photograph, and there's rumor that Picasso was able to do the same thing before he decided to chuck the rules and have fun.

It was a pleasure reading some eloquent, unvarnished truth on a tough career. I look forward to enjoying your prose for many years to come.

Best Regards,

Doug Hayden

Thanks for the kind words.

Stephen V. Cole writes in StrategyPage (

The Air Force has released a new study calling for a radical change in the way it does business. Previously, the focus of the Air Force was on gaining air supremacy (which would allow it to do anything else it wanted), and the "best and brightest" went into the fighter cockpits to conduct this fight. Now, due to technological and training superiority, gaining air supremacy over anyone (except, maybe, Israel) would be relatively easy. Moreover, unmanned drones will be taking over many of the most dangerous duties, such as destroying enemy air defenses. The study calls for reassigning the "best and brightest" to the Tactical Air Control Parties, and small staff and command groups that plan attacks on enemy targets and air defenses and then dynamically coordinate those strikes as they are made.

Fascinating if true.

Well, now you've had a sample of what we're doing to ourselves, having presumably arrived back from New Jersey. I just got back from Rhode Island myself, from my youngest sister's wedding - and a fine wedding it was; she's married a Scotsman - we don't sing in pubs in this country anymore, and it's a shame.

What I saw was annoying but moderately efficient; I was through the checks at both ends in ten minutes. Stay away from major city airports in general, at rush times in particular, is what I'm starting to conclude. The real nightmare problems I see reported do seem to happen mainly in major cities run by long-time Democrat machines, for what it's worth. I believe (hope, perhaps) that repeated hours-delay screwups are going to become an election issue - the fact that the passengers on the spot reportedly take it like good sheep says little about what they're actually thinking, I suspect.

Once through the alleged security, I did the now-standard look around my flights for who might seem like a desperate terrorist, and in both cases found, from the looks *I* was getting, I was the most suspicious looking fellow on board - I realized later that with my hair loose, I'm a lookalike for one of the second-tier euroterrorists in "Die Hard". Oh well, if I'm the most dangerous person on the plane, it'll be a quiet flight; in between not using the forward restroom and not fiddling with my shoes (I'm long past the age where making people gratuitously nervous strikes me as amusing), I got caught up on sleep.

As for your question, are we more secure in our persons and property now than in 1990, I'd say yes. It's not so much that the government has actually reformed itself much, but rather now that the new media report thuggish government excesses with alacrity and the old media gets dragged along despite their statist leanings, word has quietly come down within the myriad branches of feds-with-guns "behave, dammit - the taxpayers are watching!"

It's not near as good as a properly limited government that doesn't have the physical ability to abuse the taxpayers (much) in the first place, but it's a start.

Henry Vanderbilt

Well I hope you are right. I didn't experience anything extraordinary in the flight I took. Another next week I can't avoid.









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Thursday, April 11, 2002

The mailing I sent last night was:


I received the following from Robert Bruce Thompson:


Several new IIS vulnerabilities were reported today, including some that are critical. For complete information about them and links to other resources, see . The official Microsoft document is located at

Note that there are some reports that the Microsoft patches don't function correctly

= = =

This seemed important enough to send a new mailing. It wonít affect most of you, but those who need to know this ought to know it fast.

  Now for something different. It began with this letter:

THE MIDDLE EAST DISCUSSION has been moved to its own page:


Space Access Society's Space Access '02 Conference

April 25-27, 2002, in Phoenix Arizona

(Updated 4/10/02)

Space Access '02 gets underway two weeks from this Thursday. The program is 90% confirmed and it looks like another good one - book your flights and rooms NOW, and save.

There are still bargains on flights to Phoenix for our dates. In particular, Southwest has extended their "Friends Fly Free" two-for- one promotion - especially in combination with some of their $59 regional discount fares, it can be stunningly cheap to get here. Book sooner rather than later, the low-cost seats are limited.

As for hotel rooms, we are serious: Do NOT put off reserving a room till the last second. Our hotel is currently over two-thirds booked for our weekend, and our reserved room block is filling up fast. Once our room block is either full, or is released for general rental after Sunday April 21st, the hotel will be entirely within their rights to raise prices for the remaining rooms, and if the place is near-full (as seems likely) they probably will.

So, make your arrangements ASAP to attend our tenth annual conference on the business, politics, and technology of radically cheaper space transportation, Space Access '02, Thursday evening April 25th through Saturday night April 27th 2002, at the Quality Inn South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, ten minutes from the Phoenix airport.

Our conference will once again be a cross-section of the emerging low- cost launch industry, presenting an informal snapshot of just how interesting times are this spring of 2002. (Be there or miss out - part of our relaxed atmosphere and up-to-the-second inside information is that we don't ask for formal papers and we don't do proceedings.)

Confirmed Speakers

- Armadillo Aerospace - John Carmack - Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society - Randall Clague, Dave Masten, Michael Wallis - FAA AST - Joe Hawkins (regs panel) - Interorbital Systems/Translunar Research - Roderick & Randa Milliron - JP Aerospace - John Powell - Jordin Kare, on Recent Advances In Solid-State Lasers, Mockingbird, and an extremely high-energy laser-kinetic propulsion concept - Nielsen Engineering & Research, on Computer Analysis Capabilities And Some Recent Applications - Pioneer Rocketplane - Mitchell Burnside Clapp - Richard Pournelle, XCOR, on Potential Fast-Developing Markets - Dave Salt, on Assessing Reusable Launcher Concepts, and on European Space Developments - Dr Gerald A Smith, Synergistic Technologies, on near-term antimatter propulsion progress - Space Frontier Foundation - Rick Tumlinson - Henry Spencer, on Orbits And Approaches - Test & Evaluation Department, MSFC, on Test Capabilities Availability - TGV Rockets - Pat Bahn - XCOR Aerospace - Dan DeLong, Aleta Jackson - XRocket LLC - Ed Wright - Panel, Low-Cost Reusable Launch Regulatory Issues - John Carmack, Randall Clague, Mitch Clapp, Joe Hawkins - Panel, Potential New Markets - Mitch Clapp, Rich Pournelle, TBD - Panel, The Investment Environment - Stephen Fleming, Paul Hans, Joe Pistritto, TBD - Panel, The Political Environment - Rick Tumlinson, Henry Vanderbilt, TBD

(Watch for the last few additions.)

Our hotel is the Quality Inn South Mountain, ten minutes from the Phoenix airport by cab or call the hotel for their shuttle van, 5121 E LaPuente Ave, (take I-10 east from the airport, exit at Elliot Rd, turn right on Elliot, take your first right at 51st st, take your first right at LaPuente, you're there) right next to a quiet suburban restaurant and shopping district. Our conference hotel room rate is $65.00 per night, single or double, plus tax, mention "space access" for the rate when you reserve your room. For reservations call (800) 562-3332 or (480) 893-3900.

Space Access '02 hospitality and registration will open around 6 pm Thursday, April 25th, 2002. Thursday evening sessions will begin around 7:30 pm in the main ballroom. Main sessions will run 9 am to 10 pm Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27th, with breaks midmorning and midafternoon plus longer breaks for (on your own) lunch and dinner. (We don't do rubber-chicken meal functions; we pick our conference hotel for a variety of nearby restaurants and run our snacks-and-refreshments hospitality suite till late to encourage people getting together, trading information, and making deals.)

Registration (opposite the main ballroom) and our reknowned Space Access Hospitality suite (room 234, across the pool courtyard) will be open by 8 am Friday and Saturday.

Space Access '02 registration is $100 in advance, $120 at the door, $10 off for SAS members. Day rates and $30 Student rate at the door only. One year's SAS membership is $30 (please include your email address for Updates). Mail checks to:

Space Access Society, 4855 E Warner Rd #24-150, Phoenix AZ 85044.







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Friday, April 12, 2002

I have mildly expanded the Middle East discussion above.

Roland has found yet another reason to dislike Windows XP: 


spotted the following about XP Search Assistant phoning home to get new files every time you use it. 

Have you noticed your systems doing this?

Just re-reading Footfall after seeing the Lightning quote on your web site, I'd forgotten just how much I enjoyed it.


Ian Crowe

As you see he wasn't alone in spotting it. 

And A Special Report from Ground Zero:

Jerry I thought you might be interested in what I encountered in New York.

I went to work as a volunteer chaplain at Ground Zero today.

After getting my credentials I went down to work at the Medical Examiner's Office dealing with staff there. So far they've processed 800 bodies and 1800 body parts. All were treated with the utmost respect.

I moved down to the Pit in the afternoon. If you can wrap your mind around an 16 acre hole surrounded by buildings that look like they have been slashed by a Samurai Sword you're nearly on target. After all these months you can still smell death. All that is left now is a section of the North Tower. They brought up a fireman while I was there. I sensed that the only complete corpses left are the ones held together by their Turn-Out Gear.

The most amazing stop was at the end of the day at St. Paul's Chapel. Here is the church where George Washington worshiped turned into a 24/7 respite site for workers at ground Zero. Picture every square inch of wall surface covered with letters of love and condolence from around the world. Off in one corner someone was playing a piano. Up near the altar a Chiropractor was giving massages to tired construction workers. In the back they were serving soup and solace. I have never been in a sanctuary that showed such a testimony to life and its endurance.

And in the end that is what the Pit turned out to represent for me. Yes, it was a scene of tragedy and death. A place of great conflagration. But what I finally saw was the hard work of hundreds of men and women working together to bury the dead, clean up the mess, and preparing to build a new tomorrow. Seen in this light you know that in the long run we're all going to be okay... we're even going to be a whole lot better than we were before.



Specialization is for insects! LAZARUS LONG

Good on you.  Thanks.

And now this:

Just wanted to warn folks who have ebay accounts that they might want to doublecheck them. This week, I got a message that my password had been changed, and I discovered that someone had used my id to bid on items. Ebay told me how to change it all back, and I did, but I asked them about my credit card, and was never got a satisfactory answer as to whether or not my credit was compromised.

Well, within a few hours, I learned that someone had indeed stolen my credit info off ebay and was using my credit to make a purchase. I got a call from a very alert clerk at a business who noticed some things were not matching. I nipped all that in the bud, killed the credit card, and proceeded to follow the clues, which have led me to two individuals. This information is being passed over to the FBI.

So if you have an ebay account, check on it. The vendor who called me to ask if I had allowed my credit to be used (they noticed some oddities) informed me that they had seen a 25 % increase in credit fraud this week alone, so I suspect I am not the only ebay user whose credit information was compromised.


Be warned.





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Saturday, April 14, 2002

I have moved the Israel discussion and added mail from Joel Rosenberg. This subject now has its own page.


Just read that you are (again :-) ) getting ready to do a reorg on your site.

I have been hesitant to keep up we a day notes or web log site due more to the organizational aspects than keeping journal entries up to day. I finally took the time to install PHP, mySQL, and geeklog ( ). It was a bit of a pain to set up on Solaris, my main server and only server allowing inbound connections. (This software is much easier to set up on Linux since so much of it has received wide Linux support.) However, what it does give is content management that does lend itself well to sites where written content is important. You might want to give it a try. (If one of your Linux buddies does not have time to set it up, I could do the initial setup for you. I would offer to host it for you, but I'm afraid with the number of users you get it might bring my DSL to its knees.)

What it seems to be lacking with geeklog, but I could be wrong since I've not gone through it completely is:

Direct image support. I'm currently linking to images within my directory structure. Spell Checker. Sites tend to look very similar. (There are templates...I've got to figure that out.)

But the database storage of entries, web management (when you are on the road), user administration, and stability of PHP, mySQL and Apache make it very useful from a content management perspective. It would also allow your readers to directly post content / messages should you choose.

I've just started, but you can see the results at  and follow the daynotes link or directly at 

Good luck.


Well I won't be doing anything for a while. I really want to get high speed connections and the Extensions running before I do much else.

And a Disturbing Note from JoAnne:  Magnetic pole flip?

"The anomalies have already reduced the overall strength of the planet's magnetic field by about 10 per cent. If they continue to grow at the same rate, the Earth's dipole will disappear within just two millennia."

If the magnetic field is decreasing that dramatically I'd certainly expect differences in energetic particles hitting the upper atmosphere where the ozone depletion is happening. I don't know it this should make more O3 or less. But I do expect that it has a serious effect.


I would have to think hard about that one. Of course Kyoto will fix it. It won't? Good heavens...

And the kind of letter I get far to many of:

Dear sir, I am thinking of writing a novel or perhaps a short srory. I have been a sci-fi fan for as long as I can remember, and I think I have a good idea for a plot. I am not sure where to look for research, though. What I am interested in is orbits and planatary stability. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. My e-mail is "". I have to add that I have enjoyed Lucifers Hammer many times. Thanks for your time.


My advice: first, read the "How To Get My Job" essay here on this web site.

Then get Habitable Planets for Man by Dole and read that. Those will be a start, anyway.






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Sunday, April 14, 2002

An Important Warning from Bob Thompson:

As the old saw has it, I learn something new every day. Today I learned that Dell has been using non-standard motherboards and power supplies, apparently since September 1998. Although recent Dell power supplies and motherboards use what looks like a standard ATX power connector, the pinouts are different.

Replacing a Dell power supply with a standard ATX power supply destroys the motherboard and/or power supply as soon as you apply power to the system. Similarly, upgrading the motherboard in a Dell system with a standard ATX motherboard while continuing to use the standard Dell power supply destroys the motherboard and/or power supply as soon as you apply power to the system.

This situation is particularly insidious because Dell uses what appear to be standard components. For example, they buy Intel motherboards by the million, and those "Dell-version" motherboards resemble standard Intel motherboards in all respects *except* that the power supply connector is wired differently.

Why has Dell done this? There is no technical reason for doing so. The only reason I can think of is that Dell wants to force people to buy upgrade and replacement components from Dell.

I recommend that you avoid buying Dell products. If you have a recent Dell system, be very careful about upgrading it or replacing the motherboard or power supply. If you need a replacement power supply and are certain that your Dell system uses the hacked version of the ATX power connector, you can buy a replacement Dell-specific power supply from PC Power & Cooling. Rather than do that, though, I recommend that you replace the power supply and motherboard together, using industry-standard components.

I can't think why this problem hasn't been common knowledge, except that these non-standard Dell systems are new enough that few people will have upgraded or replaced the motherboards and/or power supplies in them. Obviously, with the oldest of them now passing two years in age, this will become a much more common problem.

Although I don't usually plug the competition, I confess that Scott Mueller (Upgrading and Repairing PCs) caught this one before I did. You can read his take on it at 

-- Robert Bruce Thompson 

Which is tragically interesting. I cannot understand why anyone would use non-standard pinouts. I haven't had a Dell computer here for years, not for any serous reason but just because I never got one after Dell himself caused one of his earliest machines to be sent to me a very long time ago. I did "adopt" Gateway as a good standard provider for some years, but I haven't seen any of their systems for a while either. Mostly now I build my own. I do have some high end COMPAQ dual professional workstations, and I can recommend them, as well as the COMPAQ Legacy Free as a simple desktop for general tasks, but mostly it's cheaper and simpler to build my own systems (often with advice from Thompson but that's another story).

From Roland, The Return of CALEA

Roland also asks, "Who Needs Terrorists?"

Dan Spisak finds us this one:

I thought you all would like to see this, sadly I don't think it will surprise any of us however.

-Dan S.


From John Bartley on the Nigerian Scam

>From the Phineas T. Barnum department: 

And from Rod Montgomery

Subj: Switzerland: Ethnic Cleansing Continues

Inspired by your recent essay on the Middle East, I tried to find out more about Swiss history.

A very interesting item is a scholarly paper from McGill University in Canada, concerning what lessons (if any) Canada might learn from the Swiss example: 

Within that paper, one passage especially caught my eye:

"Switzerland's youngest canton, Jura, was created in 1978 to separate two linguistic groups. Both the Jura problem and the manner of its resolution will sound familiar to Quebecers. After decades of tension between the canton of Bern's germanophone majority and a francophone minority in its Jura districts, the issue was decided by referendum. In this case, however, there was not one referendum but half a dozen spread over a decade: first, the Bernese voted on whether there should be a referendum; then the Jurasians voted to create a new canton; then the Jurasians voted again (several times) to establish the borders of this canton; then the Swiss voted to confirm the entry of a new canton into the Confederation. And we complain about referendum fatigue in Quebec?"

There's also this passage, from the recently-published biography, _Wilhelm_Roepke:_Swiss_Localist,_Global_Economist_, by John Zmirak (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2001, ISBN 1-882926-67-6), p. 2, concerning the Swiss half-cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden:

"The one bitter source of conflict in Appenzell's history has been religion ... . It did not shatter Appenzell; after some serious quarrels over creed, the Protestant and Catholic halves of the canton agreed simply to split. At some places where an agreement could not be reached, the canton lines were drawn (and up to the nineteenth century incessantly redrawn) according to the faith of each family home. When a Catholic obtained a house that had once belonged to Protestants, that little piece of Appenzell Innerrhoden was transferred to Ausserrhoden, and contrariwise if a Protestant gained a formerly Catholic home."

But I still have not figured out how the Swiss -- who apparently live in the Land of Perpetual Ethnic Cleansing -- decided to stop killing each other over it, much less how to transplant their model into other troubled areas of the world. It seems unlikely that any outside power could _impose_ the Swiss model on an unwilling population.

I'm still looking for a good book on Swiss history, especially their religious civil warfare and how it ended. Either the Princeton University Library is curiously deficient in such, or I have not yet figured out the proper chant to recite to their Catalog, to get it to excrete the proper entries.

This is _not_ I say again _not_ to be construed as an invitation to you, Dr. Pournelle, to serve as my research assistant. But if any of your readers, perhaps, is Swiss, and could point me to a good political history -- in German would be ok; in French would not work for me -- it would be helpful.

Rod Montgomery == 

It is my understanding that the "agreement to split" was helped along considerably by the Confederation army; but I also confess I got most of my meager knowledge about the division of Appenzell from John McPhee's New Yorker articles that later appeared as a book.

I had earlier forwarded information to you regarding the error rates of medicine, and you did not have time to follow up with it then. Here are two more tidbits for your file, against a slow news day when you can explore this further.

-- John Bartley, telcom admin, USBC/DO, Portland OR - Views are mine. Wireless FAQ for PalmOS(r) Handheld Cellular Data FAQ

It is arguable that until 1938 physicians did at least as much harm as good, and sometimes a lot more. It's almost certain they did more harm than good prior to Pasteur. They certainly killed Lord Byron. Soldiers preferred the Salve of War to the ministrations of the field hospitals. And of course Ignatz Semmelweiss is a well known instance. On the other hand, see Doc Mellhorn and the Pearl Gates by Stephen Vincent Benet.  And after 1938 physicians began to acquire the tools to do some real cures. Now they can do miracles. Some miracles, anyway...

Many "mental illnesses" in the past were iatrogenic. I am not certain that some of that doesn't remain, particularly in the world of education disorders.

Dear Jerry

I do realize that tax and bill time reinforces the necessity of doing work that pays. I am sure you have many projects from which to choose that would generate revenue. Hence my writing to you with the following request is rather guilt ridden.

There is nothing I would rather read than your analysis of what we have learned from DC/X and "Venture Star".

I know that you make far more charitable donations of your time for the betterment of humanity than most, more than I to be sure. It's just that what you say reaches so many people, often people who are in a position to do something other than just write letters and make the occasional donation. You have a great deal of influence Jerry, I suspect far more than you realize. The crux of your analysis will reach the White House and the nether regions of the Pentagon where black projects get funded. SDI cannot work with the shuttle and there are no other viable options to deploy a system, the Air Force knows this well.

Tell us again what is possible Jerry. Maybe this time...

Peter Cohen

Sigh. I am dancing as fast as I can. But I suppose I had better do that. DC/X vs. Venture Star... Lessons Learned. I think a Council Report on that might be useful.

And from Joel Rosenberg (this will be move to the Reports page in a day or so):

A few more random thoughts just because, well, just because...


Absolutely some of them -- how many is an interesting question -- are for religious reasons only, and make little strategic sense except in giving the Arabs an ongoing reason to believe that making peace now (and surely any peace treaty would involve no future settlements) is more in their interest than in continuing the war that started more than fifty years ago. That hasn't worked, at least not yet, and it may not. The Palestinians are clearly of the opinion that if they continue the "armed struggle", the interim deal will only get better, and surely the offers have gotten better, to the point of the Clinton plan. The problem, of course, is that the Palestinian concensus is that they're discussing an interim deal, and not a final settlement -- understandable, given that the best deal they could possibly get doesn't address the underlying fundamentals.

(It gets complicated, of course -- some of the most strategically important settlements are Gush Emunim. From a strategic POV, it probably shouldn't matter much to secular Israelis who is populating the chain along the Jordan, and it doesn't.)

And that said, while I think that you've got a point about the resupply problem of the settlements deep in Palestinian territory, the other side of that coin is that armed outposts on hilltops have some definite strategic benefits, as well as the liabilities that you point out.

It's hard to argue that the settlements are really as much of a problem for the Arabs as they claim -- after all, the PLO was formed as an alliance of terrorist groups several years before 1967, when there were zero Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and Palestinian Arabs were free to walk down Jerusalem roads paved with headstones from the Jewish cemetary on the Mount of Olives. But it does resonate well in the West, and that may have more to do with the prominence that they're given than anything else.

Given the sufficient and necessary other conditions for a viable Palestinian state, the isolated settlements are probably disposable, from the Israeli POV (although not without a lot of internal problems; the closing of the Sinai settlements was a very difficult concession) -- but we're nowhere near that point, have no medium-term path to that point, and "peace activists" wishing otherwise doesn't make it so.

"Maybe the horse will learn how to sing" is good fiction and honest desperation, but it's not the basis for sound policy. The tale of the camel and the scorpion is more on point, I think.

The Art of the Deal:

As you've gathered, I'm much more in line with Rumsfeld's thinking than Powell's. The US military is much better at making changes on the ground than State is, and Powell, like most Secretaries of State, is kind of a Donald Trump, in love with the art of the deal, rather than looking at the results.

A fair-sounding deal -- like the one that Kissinger won his Nobel Peace Prize for -- is meaningless unless it's enforced, as the North Vietnamese demonstrated. (Regardless of what one thinks the US *should* have done in Vietnam, what the "peace deal" did was indistinguishable in practice from simply withdrawing US troops and support, and everybody knew it at the time. I accept your analysis that the South could well have repulsed the Northern invasion if they were given the tools to do so, but that was, I believe, never on the table, except on paper. The North had no more intention of keeping the Paris deal than Arafat did of adhering to Oslo.)

I've got some quibbles with the SALT and the ABM treaties, but, by and large (with some cheating, like Krasnoyarsk), they were bargains that worked because each side saw that keeping the bargain was in its own interest, rather than simply as the basis for further concessions from the other side.

There won't be a viable deal until either:

a: enough death and destruction is visited upon the Arabs, over a long enough period of time, to collectively persuade them that the "armed struggle"/terrorism has been a strategic failure (you point to several historical examples of that sort of thing happening), and/or

b: a sufficiently powerful Palestinian dictator emerges who can and will impose a non-terrorism policy on his own people, albeit perhaps imperfectly.

(Neither addresses the underlying economic fundamentals. Well, maybe the horse *will* learn how to sing). I think it's hard to argue against the proposition that Arafat *must* go, and be replaced by a brutal, efficient dictator who doesn't think himself immortal or essential, and who will stomp on Hamas/PIJ -- and not try an Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade maskirovka -- for his own survival. For that, he won't need mortars and Semtex and heavy machine guns; he'll need lots of thugs with light weapons, the will to use them, and the understanding that the payoff is for results, not words.

How much would a: take? I dunno. Your guess of some tens of thousands is lower than mine, but not by an order of magnitude, and we're more than an order of magnitude away from your guess of what's sufficient right now.

The present operation, while it's done huge damage to the terrorist infrastructure -- which is, to be blunt, the PA infrastructure -- hasn't dealt with the major issue: Terrorism is believed to work, because, in the long run, it does.

A couple of weeks of knocking down a buildings and killing a few hundred combatants (as well as, unquestionably, some innocent civilians caught in the crossfire) doesn't demonstrate otherwise, and the new flood of "humanitarian aid" (some of which will, no doubt, actually feed hungry people and build buildings and sewers, as well as fatten Swiss bank accounts) will act as a counterweight to the proposition that the "armed struggle" has been a failure.

On the other hand, ask the Afghanis how smart a move it was to harbor terrorists who intend to attack the US -- despite the influx of US and other aid. What's the difference? The totality of the destruction of the Taliban state, I think, combined with the low US casualties, which said, quite clearly, "we can hurt you as badly as we feel we need to, and you can't hurt us while we're doing that."

(Digression: George Bush's dismemberment of the Taliban, as long as it's only a start and goes on to Iraq, is a good start in demonstrating that terrorism against the US doesn't work, and so far, it's been successful, on a day-to-day basis, although I'm still waiting for the next shoe to drop, now that Saddam thinks he's got a couple of years, at least, before Iraq II [I think he's wrong, mind, but I think that's what he thinks].

(In the long run, though, we're going to have to deal with the Mecca of terrorism, which is, well, Mecca, and the Wahabbis in control there. As Deep Throat used to say, "follow the money.")

Random thoughts:

>From the late Faisel al-Husseini last March, long credited in the West as a moderate:

"In the first Intifada [December '87] we succeeded in breaking many Israeli taboos. Golda Meir said that there are no Palestinian people, but we earned our recognition. In the past they said 'no' to a Palestinian state, but we broke that taboo. In the past they refused to recognize the PLO, but today they recognize it as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In the current Intifada as well, we have broken the Israeli taboos regarding Jerusalem and the refugees."

Interestingly enough, all of the suicide bombers of late have come from the Jenin area, and not Gaza -- I think it may have a lot to do with the fence, and with the defensible border there, and with the blockade of Gaza from Judea and Samaria. Gaza is full of shaheed candidates, but as long as they can't get into the rest of the PA and from their across the Green Line, they're not a factor.

But, just as when the Palestinians use ambulances as APCs and bomb delivery vehicles and find that ambulances aren't given their usual privileges, when they start using supposedly pregnant women as suicide bombers, you can expect that there's going to be a lot of actually pregnant Arab women forced to disrobe humiliatingly, increasing the collective rage.

The present action is, of course, a short-term fix, at best, but just judging on the numbers, it's worked pretty well as a short-term fix. The number of suicide bombers has dropped, and a fair number of the terrorist leadership folks are dead or in Israeli hands -- and save for those holed up with the priests in Bethlehem or with Arafat in his compound, the rest are apparently too busy running for cover.

Medium term:

The Israelis are going to have to build a wall/fence, probably roughly along the Allon Plus boundaries; consistently use artillery/air strikes against military targets, of which there is no lack; and either expel Arafat, or wait for him to die. The real problem will be the Palestinian non-Israelis incorporated inside the Allon Plus lines, as absent a final settlement, they can no more be given Israeli citizenship than the Jerusalemite Palestinians can -- anybody who takes the offer will be killed by their loving Palestinian brethren.

In the long term?

Talk of partition is premature, at best, not until there's a complete victory. Arab writing on the matter -- I don't read Arabic, but the folks at  do -- is awfully clear, when it's Palestinians speaking to their own people.

One sample, from a speech by Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi last September, broadcast on the PA state TV. (Just in passing, nothing gets broadcast on the PA state TV unless it's acceptable to Arafat's quasi-government.) "Our belief is that this war, between us and the Jews, will continue to escalate until we vanquish the Jews and enter Jerusalem as conquerors, [and] enter Jaffa as conquerors. We are not merely expecting a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital; we are heralding [the creation of] an Islamic caliphate with Jerusalem as its capital."

Again, from the late Faisel al-Husseini: See
  "... our eyes will continue to aspire to the strategic goal, namely, to Palestine from the river to the sea. Whatever we get now cannot make us forget this supreme truth."

Two points. First, I used to say during the Cold War that the USSR had to be taught that actions have consequences. My solution to Viet Nam and the Accords was to announce that violation of these agreements would begin a new war, in which the objective of the United States would be the reunification of Viet Nam under  government acceptable to us. In other words, we threaten not merely an escalation of means, but of objectives.

I think Israel should do that now. "The deals offered under Clinton are off the table. At this point we intend to incorporate Bethlehem and all territories between there and Jerusalem into the new Israel. We will keep the Jordan Valley, possibly resettleing it with our own people (no one lives there now, it's a mine field). We will keep all of Jerusalem and we can discuss the management of the parts of Temple Mount you desire. 

"The next uprising will cause us to include everything in a line from Settlement to Settlement into our territory. The one after that will cause us to claim all of Judea and Samaria. We will continue to deport people who hate us from our side of the border to yours. Have a nice day."

My suspicion is that blunt statement of objectives would do more good than the open-ended wars that are going on now. Someone has to win this war, or it will not end. Realistically only one side can win, and it can win only if it sets its objectives high enough that the other really understands that they must surrender. Whether that will happen I don't know.

The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem endured from 1099 to 1187 centered in Jerusalem, and a re-established Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem endured from Acre until 1291. If 90% of success is showing up, 9o% of conquest is sticking to your guns over a long enough period of time...


I would like to recommend "The Lessons of Terror" by Caleb Carr (Random House, 2002 ISBN 0-375-50843-0).

It's a clear, well-written review of the historical practice of terrorism, concluding with some thoughts on the post-September Attack situation and what our country should, and should not do.

Ralph Moss

Haven't seen that. As Joel says, it can be made to work, and has done.








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