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Mail 207 May 27 - June 2, 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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Monday  May 27, 2002

MEMORIAL DAY        Lest We Forget

First to set your minds at rest we may have more than a few million years:

Hello, Regarding the supernova article...

 This was posted to Slashdot (yes, yes, I know, it's just Slashdot)  in response to this story:  


>> I'm Karin, the one quoted in this article as having discovered  the supernova progenitor. I just wanted to let you all know to  pay very little attention to the article. The reporter has taken  one fact: that this might be a good candidate for a Type Ia  supernova, and constructed a big mess out of it. I am very  embarassed by this so I just wanted to clear up a few things. 

  First, I did NOTHING in the discovery process. I was just writing  my senior thesis on white dwarfs and happened to study this system.  It was discovered in 1993 by two separate groups of scientists  (Landsman et al 1993, and Wonnacott et al 1993) They found the  mass to be 1.15 solar masses, which is relatively large for a  white dwarf star, but not the "just shy" of the Chandrasekhar  limit that the reporter says. It is 0.3 times the mass of the  sun shy of the limit, and that is a lot of mass. Lots and lots  of people have studied this system since then, and many have  commented on its possibilities for a supernova. All that I did  in this story is to mention the system to a scientist here at  Harvard who happens to simulate the evolution of a binary system  towards a supernova and then mention in in a public talk about my  thesis when a New Scientist reporter happened to be in the audience. 

 The reporter got very excited and wrote this article, and left out  the actual work that is being done on the evolutionary scenarios  to sensationalize the possibility of a near earth supernova.   Second, what we have found, if anything, is that by the time that  the white dwarf star has accreted enough mass from its companion  to exceed the Chandrasekhar limit of 1.4 solar masses, it will be  at least 10 kiloparsecs from earth, which is well on its way to  the other side of the galaxy. The star will not pose any threat  at all to earth. This is also hundreds of millions to billions  of years in the future.  

 I think the interesting part of this story is the terrible  state of scientific news reporting in some popular journals.  We discussed these problems extensively with the reporter and  they were completely disregarded in the final version. Be on  the lookout for our letter to the editor if you are interested. 

 If anyone would like to know more about this, I'd be happy to  explain what we really think is going on...unless you are a  reporter, in which case don't bother...I'm done with them.   Thanks,  Karin Sandstrom  -------------------------    ---

Best regards,

Lee Plaisted Skeptical Maine-iac ---

"...religions are a democracy of beliefs while science is a dictatorship of facts." --Ludwig Krippahl

Which relieves our minds something wonderful and reassures us that the usual state of reporting is where it has been for a while.

Roland says Greg Bear is just going to love this one: 

And on reflection I agree.

And we have

Hi Jerry, One of the most convincing paralell universe stories I ever read:

"Aug. 8, 2001, Posted: 10:59 AM EDT

Congress seeks to oust Bush after racial-profiling fiasco, police-state maneuvers

WASHINGTON (XYZ Wire Service) -- Congressional leaders are scrambling to begin impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush following several unprecedented federal security measures that critics say constitute an unconscionable assault on American civil liberties. Wall Street, meanwhile, is reeling from a seismic downturn while the airline industry is predicted to topple.

The Bush administration's sudden imposition of several new -- some say "terrifying" -- policies came on the heels of an alleged FBI warning that radical Muslim terrorists were planning to hijack U.S. commercial airliners. In the past 36 hours, Bush has taken several steps that have sent American citizens and institutions into shock..."


Perfect satire-the last sentence rings so true!

Cheers, Rod Schaffter

"Americans tend to decide things in terms of ideas and arguments. Europeans are more concerned with charm." --George W. Bush

Which is about what would have happened of course. Meanwhile the FBI shows that it is good at the kinds of things it did at Waco, but unable to make any logical inferences: and terribly afraid of being accused of racial profiling. But WOW is it good at covering up. From Waco on. Including the Minneapolis Memo which was changed before going to HQ.

With the Keystone Cops in charge of Homeland Security we should be afraid. The only good thing is that it isn't worse. The bad thing is we thought it would get better.






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Tuesday,  May 28, 2002

JoAnne Dow sends this:

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold.

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" 

The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

-- James Henry Leigh Hunt, "Abou Ben Adhem"

I'm ashamed to admit this is a poem I had forgotten over the years. Surely our people commemorated on Memorial Day are among those so blessed for they have loved their fellow man enough to give up their lives to defend their peers from dangers. {^_^}

Which reminds me that we had to memorize and recite that poem in 6th grade at Capleville middle school in rural Tennessee. I doubt 6th graders today learn and recite anything. Ah well.

And Roland sends:

Subject: Ordnung!


Subject: A man for all seasons:,,60-309507,00.html 

Subject: The Smoking gun,8599,249997,00.html 

Thanks! I still don't see how Roland gets time to read all this stuff.

And as if all airport "security" hooplah wasn't bad enough, it turns out, as I originally thought, that the guardsmen were patrolling airports with empty guns! 


Ken Mitchell Citrus Heights, CA 916-275-3610 (voicemail) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

"Australia also passed severe gun restrictions in 1996, banning most guns and making it a crime to use a gun defensively. In the subsequent four years, armed robberies rose by 51%, unarmed robberies by 37%, assaults by 24%, and kidnappings by 43%. While murders fell by 3%, manslaughter rose by 16%." "Gun Control Misfires in Europe" by John Lott Wall Street Journal April 30, 2002 -------------------------------------------------------------------------

I wondered about that. Sigh.

And this is one of dozens I have received on this subject:


There is water on Mars! Lots of water. 

--Erich Schwarz

To which I can only say, see my novel BIRTH OF FIRE in which I said as much. I thought it pretty obvious after Mariner.

And a comment on today's column ( )

I predict from experience that Microsoft's "rights management language" will do nothing to allow you to share "Just Like A Book". The publishers, given the option to disallow sharing, will consistently do so.

As an avid reader of ebooks on my Palm Pilot, I purchased a Compaq iPaq when they came out. This was because of the far better screen, and the promise of MS Reader combined with a big release of ebooks in Reader format from Barnes & Noble later that summer.

There were three levels of ebook security. Between the release of the Pocket PC and the Barnes & Noble ebook rollout, an extra level of security was added that didn't allow *any* copying - a level that the Pocket PC Reader didn't support.

When the rollout came, nearly all books had this higher security level. No warning was given - many Pocket PC owners found out only after purchasing ebooks.

M$ and B&N's response: "No problem! You can still read them on your desktop PC!" A Pocket PC allows you to read in bed, on the bus, at the cabin or while waiting in line. Imagine Ford selling you a car and only afterward telling you that it won't work beyond your driveway.

Weeks later, B&N labeled the books that would work with a Pocket PC (nothing you could call a best-seller). To "make up" for the lack of working books, they released some already free public domain books in Reader format, along with some out-of-print Trek books (apparently, the L. Ron Hubbard collection wasn't available).

An updated version of Reader was promised within weeks, then year-end, then the first half of the next year. Finally it was scrapped.

Conclusion: Any published work worth having, which has digital rights management, will be set to the highest level of digital rights denial for the user.

P.S. I also ripped my music collection into Windows Media format, which unknown to me had digital rights management. Among other DRM problems, I finally lost the whole library when I installed an HP scanner driver. I didn't lose any files; I'm simply told that I'm not the licensed owner anymore.

Roger Strong Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

Which may well be true; it will certainly be try if we don't do some protesting.

And if that wasn't enough to worry about:

Tons of Cyanide are missing. 

More details are at:




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Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Many of you found the Spammer for me. Here's how:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

The way to find out who is associated with a certain Internet domain is using the "whois" tool. It gives you information about who registered a domain with one of the the internet domain registrars. See the whois output below. The "tech name" is usually innocent, it's more likely than not an ISP where the organisation buys their hosting. The administrative contact is usually what you want. It still is not completely sure that these are the jokers that harass you; but it is certainly likely that they are or at least know them.

PS: you can also use the Internic's web-based whois client:
  but this gives you the registrar where the domain is registered, you'd have to search further, using the "Whois server" info you got from Internic:
  to get what you want.

Stay well,


$ whois

Whois Server Version 1.3

Domain names in the .com, .net, and .org domains can now be registered with many different competing registrars. Go to for detailed information.

 Whois Server: 
Referral URL: 
Name Server: NS1.IAD.QWEST.NET
 Name Server: NS1.JSV.QWEST.NET 
Name Server: NS1.BUR.QWEST.NET 
Name Server: NS1.EWR.QWEST.NET Updated Date: 06-may-2002

>>> Last update of whois database: Tue, 28 May 2002 16:51:10 EDT <<<

The Registry database contains ONLY .COM, .NET, .ORG, .EDU domains and Registrars.

Found InterNIC referral to

Domain Name..........
 Creation Date........ 2001-09-18 
Registration Date.... 2001-09-18 
Expiry Date.......... 2003-09-18 
Organisation Name.... Legacy For Life 
Organisation Address. 2725 Center Place 
Organisation Address. 
Organisation Address. Melbourne 
Organisation Address. 32940-7130 
Organisation Address. FL O
rganisation Address. UNITED STATES

Admin Name........... David Lumpkin 
Admin Address........ 2725 Center Place 
Admin Address........ 
Admin Address........ Melbourne 
Admin Address........ 32940-7130 
Admin Address........ FL 
Admin Address........ UNITED STATES 
Admin Email.......... 
Admin Phone.......... (321)951-8815 
Admin Fax............ (321)733-7087

Tech Name............ Qwest 
Hostmaster Tech Address......... 1200 Harbor Blvd, 8th Floor Tech 
Tech Address......... Weehawken 
Tech Address......... 07087 
Tech Address......... NJ 
Tech Address......... UNITED STATES 
Tech Email........... hostmaster@QIS.QWEST.NET 
Tech Phone........... 888-663-6648 
Tech Fax............. 888-663-6655 
Name Server.......... 
Name Server.......... 
Name Server.......... 
Name Server..........

-- Jan-Pascal 

Not sure what I can or should do about this. I have sent them mail suggesting they check for virus and stop sending out viruses with my return address.  Naturally they have not answered, but I suspect I am getting even more spam as a result.

Thanks to ALL of you who sent me instructions and information on this.

Ebooks Done Right

Most of the vendors of ebooks seem to be selling books shackled with digital rights management (DRM) junk, and charging full price for the book. Let's see. For $8 I can have a paperback, or for $8 I can have a book that will only play on a single reader?

So I didn't buy any ebooks.

Recently I have started buying ebooks from Baen! They are charging less than the price of a paperback, the books have no DRM, and they say that they pay the authors double the usual royalties.

You can buy one book at a time, or you can buy a selection of books for one price. There is a new selection each month. The newest month, October 2002, includes 7 books for $15. (One of the books is _Fallen Angels_!)

Anyone who doesn't like DRM in ebooks, vote with your dollars by buying from Baen.

-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

Of course Baen is the publisher of many of my books including the forthcoming THE PRINCE (all the Falkenberg material).

On Abou Ben Adem

Mr. Pournelle--

In "Opus 100," Asimov wrote about his experience with the "Abou Ben Adhem" poem. His English teacher asked the class "Why did Abou Ben Adhem's name lead the list?" Asimov responded "Because it was alphabetical?" As usual, he was sent directly to the principal's office. :-)

-- David Schachter

I can believe it of Isaac. He worked at appearing cynical.

Dr. Pournelle,

I'm sure we can all take a lesson from our elders. It's faintly amusing that it took an 83 year old woman in a wheelchair to successfully stand up to the mindless "security" harassment going on at our airports, but this woman deserves a medal. 

Of course, the story is on the internet and I haven't been able to verify it's truthfulness, but maybe we'll see something on the news.

Sean Long

Someone needs to tell these clowns how to do their job. Ah well. And indeed:

The Granny was named Ruth Gordon. The Witness was named Bud Cort.

Heck of a coincidence that people with the same names as the stars of the movie "Harold and Maude" were involved in this.

By the way, the full title of the article is: "Grandma beats up airport security guards: Bob Wallace on a traveler's daydream".

Obviously a joke, spoof, satire, what have you.

John Murphy


Dr. Pournelle,

I apologize for not clearly marking the granny article I sent you as a spoof article. No excuse, I simply shouldn't have forwarded it to you with comments until I had time to do more than speedread through it. I'm imagining myself next time forwarding you the script of a Simpsons show as documentary proof of something equally silly...

Sean Long

Which is a pity: it should be real. 

One thing about this place, it never takes long for someone to tell me these things, and I usually get them corrected fast. Pity it wasn't true, though.


 But then we have:

Hi Jerry,

Another article to read on deliberate malice (or pure incompetence?) on the part of some US government officials. Don't read it if you are in a good mood as this story will spoil that. 

- Paul

One does wonder at the effort spent on this man compared to the effort spent on covering up intelligence failures. But then we are to reorganize the FBI so this time everything will be right, and we can promote all those people with seniority who were covering things up, since they did so well at protecting us.

And Roland calls this The Smoking Gun:,8599,249997,00.html 







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Thursday, May 30, 2001


Thought you might enjoy this interesting perspective on the FBI:

"After cleverly castigating himself for the bureaucratic bungling which caused warnings from the Phoenix field office about foreigners taking pilot training last Summer to go unanswered...Mueller slickly concluded that the Bureau has got to go about things in a more direct manner, which is of course a scheme he's been rigging for some time."

"...the FBI has granted itself permission to work more closely with the CIA."

"The specifics of the new federal regime will be laid out Thursday by Lord Protector Ashcroft." 

Keith Douglas

There are a number of considerations here, and conflicts of rights. The fundamental right is to stay alive, of course. That has served as an excuse for trampling all other rights, sometimes by well-meaning people, sometimes by would be tyrants, often by the one becoming the other. One needs to be careful.

My first thought is that we ought to be very clear about the distinction between citizen and non-citizen, and much of the "probable cause" restrictions on surveillance does not apply to non-citizens. Why should it? 

That latter is a serious question, and not rhetorical, and I am aware of many reasons why we should give rights to non-citizens. The question is, how many, and by rights do we mean the full panoply of Warren Court rights which were not part of the Constitution?  But these are serious questions, and deserve more time than I have just now.

Intelligence services have always had the problem of coordination and control. This is hardly new. But had Minneapolis been more in control of its own office, and less concerned about the rights of non-citizens, we might not today have been celebrating the end of the World Trade Center cleanup.

A warning from Roland about Exchange and DoS attacks:

And also from Roland

If You Build It...

A real survivor:

Scapegoating Carnivore

The Goldilocks Zone


And perhaps that is enough for the day...

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I don't know how much you pay attention to MSN with all you have to do, but Slate had these comments about THE SUM OF ALL FEARS: 

Seems that Hollywood doesn't want to offend to poor, innocent, victim Muslims and Arabs, so they make the terrorists "Neo Fascists." Neo Fascists in this case seem to be anyone who is pale of complexion and who does not toe the Hollywood PC line. Sigh.

Yours truly, Frank Luxem


This from Ed Hume

It took me about half an hour to solve. My memory not being what it was, I had to use pencil and paper to keep track of the deductions; I'd have got it much sooner if I had started with pencil and paper instead of trying to do it in my head. I don't find it difficult, but tedious: no great insights are needed.



Einstein's Intelligence Quiz Einstein wrote this quiz last century. He said that 98% of the people in the world cannot solve the quiz.

There are 5 houses in 5 different colors 
In each house lives a person with a different nationality
 These 5 owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar, and keep a certain pet 
No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar or drink the same drink.

 Here's the question: 

Who owns the fish?

 The Brit lives in a red house 
The Swede keeps dogs as pets
 The Dane drinks tea
 The green house is on the left of the white house 
The green house owner drinks coffee 
The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds
 The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill
 The man living in the house right in the middle drinks milk
 The Norwegian lives in the first house 
The man who smokes Blend lives next door to the one who keeps cats.
 The man who keeps horses lives next door to the man who smokes Dunhill
 The owner who smokes Blue Master drinks beer 
The German smokes Prince 
The Norwegian lives next to the blue house 
The man who smokes Blend has a neighbor who drinks water 

With these 15 clues the problem is solvable.

It isn't obvious until near the end, but eventually you can find out who lives where, who drinks what, who smokes what, and who keeps what as pets. The entire matrix can be filled out. There is probably a shorter solution but I didn't look for one once it became obvious that you can simply fill the matrix and be done with it. Note that a linear arrangement of houses is implied by "the first house" and "the middle house".








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Friday, May 31, 2002

Several from Roland

Justice for once:

Line of Control: 

Courtney gets her date:

This has some important implications for intellectual property rights. Courtney Love has been at the forefront in protecting artist rights, and while I don't always agree with her, I can admire her energy.

The Usual Suspects: 

Which should give you enough links to follow for a while.

Dr. Pournelle, Christopher Hitchens writes, in The Nation, about the government's actions prior to, and after, 9/11. He says ( ) "The FAA has made sure of one thing. The next suicide-murderer who manages to get on a plane will find that his victims have been thoroughly and efficiently disarmed. No improvised resistance will be possible, unless experts in unarmed combat happen to be among the passengers. And I hesitate to mention even that, in case some bright spark in authority decides to disqualify such people from flying at all in their "weaponized" condition."

One of the oddities resulting from Sept 11. I have found myself quoting Chris Hitchens' writings in The Nation. Weird, considering that he's often somewhere to the left of the rest of their editorial staff.

Kit Case

I find Hitchens more interesting that most. See View for comments.

And proof that we have indeed gone insane:

Dave Doss sent you this MSNBC News Link:

Message: re: Restricted Lunar Development


I know that you have more pressing issues at hand. Please take a few minutes to review this article. In it there is a green movement to restrict the moon for peaceful scientific purposes. The issue, if it passes the UN, will halt commercial development of the moon.

Dave Doss

** Should the moon be developed? ** A dispute over prohibiting development on the moon is causing rising tides of controversy on earth. 

Then there is

Dear Jerry:

There's a tool I use and heartily recommend for tracking down 'net slowdowns, stoppages and random weirdness. VisualRoute is traceroute on steroids.

I use it to answer questions such as yours and have used it to help my ISP and my hosting provider solve problems for me. It's also useful for discovering where your site's visitors come from and, presuming the headers aren't forged, for tracing spam back to the source.

I've been using it for four years and three versions. Highly recommended. 

I don't know why I hadn't thought of recommending this before, but I'm thinking of it now.

Yours, Bruce Wilbur 

"When in danger, or in doubt, Run in circles, scream and shout!"

For which thanks but alas, it doesn't work. When I try it I get a message to the effect that no nodes are responding, am I sure my internet connection is up. Since it clearly is up -- how could I have downloaded their program if it were not? -- it wants something I don't have. Possibly this is due to the satellite and NATTING, but in any event I do not think I will be buying the registered version...

Thanks. It looks neat, and I'd like to have it working.

And indeed it works fine and looks great with the dialup system through the Linux box; it's the satellite and NAT that just natcherly roont it. Interesting.









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Saturday, June 1, 2002

This is repeated from View:
The other day I got a long piece from J Neil Schulman on the Israeli situation. I have known Neil for a very long time. He is both Libertarian and a C S Lewis scholar, which isn't usual. About a year ago we both went to the same conference in Las Vegas, and I enjoyed driving up with him as much as the conference itself. I thought very much worth posting, but it was a bit long for mail, so you can find his report, The Unholy Lands,  on its own reports page.

From Roland:

Hail The Conquering Heroes,2933,54163,00.html

For which thanks.

I have always been impressed by the TI "tiny mirrors" technology; BYTE gave it a Best technology Award some years ago when I was the one presenting the technology awards at COMDEX and PC EXPO. In those days BYTE had 15 to 20 editors plus foreign BYTE edition editors determining those awards and the technology and product discussions, often going 10 to 12 hours as we wrangled over those show awards, were the best education on computer technology anyone ever could have. Every one of those BYTE editors knew his -- or her, and I don't add this to be politically correct -- subject and knew it very well, and could argue for and defend a point of view. When we finally agreed on something that agreement was worth something. I sure miss those days.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Cringely has an article on MEMS (Micro Electrical Mechanical Systems) at the PBS site,  which might interest you. It is an application of the Texas Instruments micromirror technology used to show _Attack of the Clones_ in selected theaters (those that could afford the projectors). I was impressed by the clear and stable movie, a distinct improvement over the slightly out of focus film presentation of Episode I at the same theater complex. Today's price and the projected price for future consumers should get your attention. Disclosure: I "volunteered for retirement" from Texas Instruments several years ago, and still have less than eight shares of TI stock.


William L. Jones


And on a grimmer note

Good Morning Dr Pournelle,

In light of your recent hassles with spam, I thought this article might be of interest.

A local "alleged" spammer is suing someone for saying he is a spammer. Wonder what the spammers' next steps would be if they win this case? making it illegal to filter spam?


Gary Powers

On the other hand, it is libel per se falsely to impute to someone a loathsome disease; surely falsely alleging that someone is a spammer is a similar insult? 

JoAnne Dow says "They can't do ballots either.",2933,54057,00.html 

Palm Beach has made 23 out of 100 the passing grade for the school system wide history exam.


Ah well.

And Dr. Ed Hume reminds us

Smallpox immunity is long gone


19:00 29 May 02 Andy Coghlan

If you had a smallpox vaccination as a child and think you are still protected, think again - almost everyone vaccinated before smallpox was eradicated in the mid-1970s has now lost their immunity.

The bad news comes from a study of 621 microbiologists in Maryland who received fresh vaccinations between 1994 and 2001 to protect them in their work. Only about 40, or just six per cent, were still immune from their earlier vaccinations.

"The study is, to the best of my knowledge, the only one since eradication which tries to look at the durability of immunity," says lead author Michael Sauri, director of the Occupational Medicine Clinic in Maryland. "It's showing us that after 20 years immunity is not going to be there."

Which isn't comforting to those of us who had our vaccinations in grade school and had them renewed when we went into the Army, but haven't had them since.

On another note, Ed Hume says

Fukuyama believes that the triumph of liberal democracy ends history. As I began reading the Fonte article on transnational progressivism, I was reminded of How Democracies Perish, by Jean-Francois Revel. As I recall his main point, it was this: when democracies satisfy the needs of their citizens, then citizens and groups of citizens begin to tear their democracies apart to get more of resources for their desires (of course, those engaged in those acquisitive struggles have redefined their desires as needs).

That rending of the body politic had already been occurring when Ravel wrote then (it was published in 1985, when the fate of the West hung in the balance), and it is certainly more advanced now. And it explains transnational progressivism, I think.


I made Revel's book my book of the month back in paper BYTE days. It is still worth reading.  Democracies DO perish as the ancients well knew. Our Republic has lasted longer than most.

On Transnational progressivism, see the FPRI report. Ed also comments

This is about transnational progressivism. A comment on it can be found at . I wonder how much the development of this has been speeded by the system of proportional representation in the election of most European parliaments?


And that ought to be enough light reading for the weekend....





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Sunday, June 2, 2002

>From Alan E Brain, Canberra, Australia. Publication permitted.

While having my usual squizz at , I came across a most impressive (but long) article. 

This consists of excerpts from "Unrestricted Warfare", by two Chinese colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui.

Despite a few minor omissions (e.g. use of the US legal system against itself, and undesirable effects of collateral damage in economic warfare), I'd put this one up with both Sun-Tzu's classic "Art of War" and Clausewitz' "Vom Krieg".

Anyone interested in Homeland Defence should read this. Because the opposition certainly has.


Subj: Unholy Lands

Neil Schulman, alas!, is infected with Liberalism. With part of it, anyway.

Specifically, he confuses _evil_ with _illness_.

To get the worst devil, you start with the best angel. So too, to get the evil of the Muslims-vs-Jews -- with a lot of Christians getting trampled by the way, as those two elephants fight -- in Palestine/Israel, you start with love of ancestral homeland. Just like Horatius at the Gate. On both sides.

Rod Montgomery ==

Indeed. Good point. Neil replies below.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

You asked:

But where does one go for an education now? By education I mean a systematic introduction to the essentials of Western Civilization, what makes it tick, why the West is what it is, and we are who we are; why the imbecilities that have become political correctness are exaggerations of Western trends, and when they collapse from inner absurdity there will be little to inspire a recovery.

I am not personally acquainted with Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California beyond what I have read about them in various publications, such as the LA Times; but from what I have read, plus their self-description on their website ( I am guessing they may fit the criteria that you are looking for.

The institution with which I'm associated (Quartz Hill School of Theology) is strictly a Bible School and seminary, designed to teach pastors and lay people for ministry in local congregations; of course, we do require a western civilization course and a course in logic, but our emphasis is more on biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic), Bible, and theology, with some courses in ethics and the like. But I doubt we exactly fit what you're talking about. Of course, we're not attempting to be a liberal arts institution. Thomas Aquinas College is, and it sounds to me like they are doing a good job.

Again, I have no connection to them.


R.P. Nettelhorst Academic Vice President Quartz Hill School of Theology

I knew and worked with the founders of Aquinas, and yes, that school does the kind of thing I mean. There are a few. The problem is there are not many, and many of the most prestigious colleges in the nation no longer require -- and some do not allow -- what we would have called an "ordinary" liberal education when I was a young man. 

And one suspects this is how democracies commit suicide. It was one of H. Beam Piper's scenarios. People who do not know their roots and their history have trouble defending them. I do not mean that every soldier at Normandy understood the Constitution or knew Western history, but many did, and the others trusted their comrades -- not just their officers -- knew what was worth fighting for.

Today we have professional soldiers and they are very good indeed. But they are soldiers first and citizens second, it seems to me. And Rome had good soldiers right down to the time that the Emperor cut off his right hand with his left...

Your question,

"But where does one go for an education now?"

...really does have an answer, but it's a real tough one.

Unless parents and other people who are concerned not only for the future of present students but our nation take our primary and secondary education back from government-fed and post-modern relativistic know-nothing academics, then so-called "higher education" will continue to become ever more meaningless, because there will be fewer and fewer students attending our colleges and universities who can even see that the emperor has no clothes.

Here are some folks who, though I do not agree with them on particulars, have an approach that seems to take your question seriously. Maybe even more seriously than you do. :-)

and their "parent" organization, the provocative *Credenda Agenda* at

The folks at Veritas Press, along with many other small-time publishers, are also attempting a modern sort of "counter reformation" of education with their offerings of materials for a classical education which include such things as primary grade Latin courses (including, of course, classical texts).

But in the end, it's up to the education "consumer" to demand --and to pay the more than merely monetary price!-- an educational atmosphere that teaches students whence we came. The greatest "expense" would be the one likliest NOT to be paid: the discipline necessary to attain a decent liberal education. And the discipline would have to begin with the people least likely to embrace it: the parents. Then of course, lazy, poorly prepared teachers would likely balk at the disciple necessary to actually read and teach real history, read and teach real literature, etc.

And, of course, communities at large would have to find the backbone to stand up to the fedgov tyrants and Western Civilization hating "academics" and refuse to water down the backbone of primary and secondary education with "politically correct" culturally relativistic junk. And, of course again, that would mean firing nearly all the administrators and letting their secretaries do the necessary work (all the real and useful administrative work at public schools is done at that level anyway).

When things start to change at that level, then students who do attend colleges and universities will be prepared to teach current academia a thing or two about a classic liberal education.

David W Needham

Reform from the bottom up is needed, but where do the teachers come from when the universities are rapidly becoming lost? Ortega y Gasset said that for philosophy to prevail it is not required that philosophers be kings or that kings be philosophers, but it is necessary that philosophers be philosophers. We do not seem to have that now.

But perhaps I am merely being a pessimist. I hope so.


Just saw your comments on the value of a college education.

You raise a good set of points. But, speaking as a finance weenie, what's struck me most about trends in college education is not the value of what's taught, per se, but the cost of obtaining it. Costs keep rising (faster than inflation, I think), but the value of the product doesn't go up (and may even be going down).

If that perception is true...why is it? I would generally associate such a pattern with a lack of significant competition. Does that mean we don't have enough colleges? Or that there is de facto collusion among them to prop up prices? - Mark

And "equal opportunity" breeds credentialism, which makes this overpriced "education" necessary since you need to have credentials to show you should be hired.  You can't really win. And education costs as much as the traffic will bear.

More below





Does anyone else have experience with:

After getting as fed up with SPAM as you are, I began a search for a solution and found a program on Freashmeat ( ) which may significantly reduce the SPAM I get called ASK (Active Spam Killer). See for more information.

ASK works by having a "whitelist" of approved email senders. You can manually add names to the "whitelist", which is used mainly for mailing lists. The beauty of ASK is that it allows a sender to automatically add his name to your "whitelist". The first time a sender not on your "whitelist" sends you an email, his mail is queued and he gets an automated reply explaining that he must reply to the message to release the email he sent you. Once the reply is sent, the sender is added to your "whitelist" and his message is released. Since virtually all spammers use fake addresses, their mail is never delivered to your mailbox. ASK also has an "ignorelist" which ignores any email from a sender on the list and a "blacklist" which sends a nastygram to the sender.

I have installed ASK on my mail server. I put your email address in my "whitelist", so any email you send me will get through. If you want to see how it works. send my an email from another email address, like Roberta's.

Since most spam is sent from phony email addresses and it takes manual intervention to release a message from a legitimate sender, I expect my spam will be reduced significantly.

Rick Samuels in Portland

The name does not inspire confidence but the notion is probably a good one. And do let me know the results.


To reach the conclusion he did about my article, Mr. Montgomery could not have read it thoroughly. My point was that obsessive attachment to "ancestral homelands" is the core problem -- and that is a discussion of values, not of illness.

As I said, I have no problem with people wanting to defend their homes. But I have no sympathy for turf wars because one is deluded into thinking it holy. Argument by analogy is often, as Mr. Heinlein pointed out, slippery; but I fail to see any fundamental difference between the Israelis and Palestinians, on the one hand, and the Crips and the Bloods on the other.

Best regards,


Whatever else one may accuse Monty of, not reading closely is unlikely. I suspect you are talking past each other. This discussion continues next week.

Dr. Pournelle:


Reading the material on this site probably provides your readership with more actual worthwhile knowledge than any equivalent time spent in modern academia.

Two comments about the effects of modern education:

1. Minnesota's governor, Jesse Ventura, vetoed legislation mandating the weekly recitation of "The Pledge of Allegiance."

It occurred to me that many of the legislators debating the bill could not themselves paraphrase the language-- that is, a legislator could recite the pledge from memory, but he would have had great difficulty stating the pledge in his own words. [Red Skelton had a memorable short monologue which did paraphrase and explain The Pledge.]

Apparently not one of the legislators debating the bill ever conceived the thought that "THE Pledge of Allegiance" is simply A pledge of allegiance and that other, more personal, re-statements of the sentiments expressed in The Pledge might be more useful, and more compelling, to many individuals.

Years ago, in a methods class, my instructor criticized my performance as a teacher because, among other things, I used the word 'anomaly'--high school students wouldn't know what it meant[!], so I would not be surprised to hear of a school that refused to recite The Pledge not because of any free-speech constraints but because children can't understand it.

2. In the late presidential campaign, Al Gore, on national television, referred to Benjamin Franklin's comment about the form of the new government. Gore said that Franklin had said, "A democracy, Madam, if you can keep it."

What bothered me most about that misquote was not that Gore made it--mistaken quotes happen in politics--but that apparently no journalist of any stripe knew enough about Ben Franklin or the Founders to notice the error, let alone comment.

So we have legislators, many of whom are lawyers, desiring to require children to recite words the legislators themselves would have to work hard to explain, and we have journalists, strong defenders of the First Amendment, who apparently can't spot a notable error in a quote from one of the members of the Constitutional Convention, and a candidate for President who certainly ought to have known better. All of the people involved have college educations.

Strange times.

name withheld






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