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Mail 208 June 3 - 9, 2002 






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Monday  June 3, 2002

Medical Sense from Dr. Huth on Smallpox:


re: Smallpox immunity is long gone

I don't know that the article isn't alarmist...

I've not read the article cited by the New Scientist as it is in Maryland Medicine. Maryland Medicine is not abstracted in the major medical search engines and I can't access the report. However, I'd hope that if it were a well done trial, I'd expect that it would have made a more major peer reviewed journal.

Recent discussions in New England Journal were well done, but don't directly address the question of long term immunity.

A similar statement about the current state of knowledge about long term immunity comes from JAMA.1999;281:2127-2137:

"In addition, the immune status of those who were vaccinated more than 27 years ago is not clear. The duration of immunity, based on the experience of naturally exposed susceptible persons, has never been satisfactorily measured. Neutralizing antibodies are reported to reflect levels of protection, although this has not been validated in the field. These antibodies have been shown to decline substantially during a 5- to 10-year period. [24] Thus, even those who received the recommended single-dose vaccination as children do not have lifelong immunity. However, among a group who had been vaccinated at birth and at ages 8 and 18 years as part of a study, neutralizing antibody levels remained stable during a 30-year period. [31] Because comparatively few persons today have been successfully vaccinated on more than 1 occasion, it must be assumed that the population at large is highly susceptible to infection."

Note that this doesn't say anything about response to an actual infection...while you might contract smallpox, you might well recover nicely from it if you'd been vaccinated even once.

There are other, albeit smaller, studies that are much more reassuring.

Mark Huth

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. fpj

My own view, which is that of a generalist with some experience, is that the immunization protection is likely to vary just as natural immunity varies. Still, it's only reason to assume that immunization wears off. The Army always thought so, one reason they gave vaccinations to people who had smallpox vaccination scars or even proof of vaccination in school (which was nearly universal when I was in grade school).

There are always a few negative consequences to vaccination (other than expense). I would want to do the numbers more carefully than I have, but I suspect that the right course would be to continue vaccination for at least one more generation, not only in the US but world wide. But particularly in the US. It's one less darned thing to worry about. For a data point see below.

And from Tracy Walters

This is pretty cool, Jerry

-----Original Message----- From: Tim Walters [] Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 8:06 PM To: Tracy Walters Subject: here is a find! 

Dr. Tim Walters Department of Music Florida Atlantic University Jazz Rats Big Band

"please put the trumpet down and back away slowly..."

Cool indeed.

And Roland says:

Everything old is new again. 

On Spam

I've been using ASK on an email server at my office for the past 3 weeks, and I gotta say, it works great!

I've gone from dozens of spams a day (on that account) to zero!

Mike Lieman


On Education:

There was an older model of a university education where you met with a tutor for an hour a week. The goal was to develop the ability to think critically. The tutor would point you at books and lectures and assign you essays to write. It didn't work really well for most students, but for the best it worked very, very well. Since the second-raters were hired based on their networking, rather than their ability to think critically, perhaps the weaknesses weren't that important--everyone was happy.

The modern American system (with lecture courses, etc.) is intended to have the same outcome, but more reliably. It doesn't work even as well, because there's now nobody responsible for the student learning to think critically. Still, for the second-raters, the networking matters, not the ability to think critically, and enough of the good people seem to learn to think critically to meet society's needs. The ability to think critically is the _real_ value for society--especially as it leads to professionalism and learning.

My point is that the real value of a university education is learning to think critically, and that should be feasible whatever your course is. Yes, a good fraction of academic work is trash, but you have to deal actively with trash mixed in with the good stuff to learn how to make your own critical judgments.

BTW, the comment about Freud being trash was unwarranted--as you well know. Those who teach at the university level need to know the foundations of their field. Freud was important because he thought critically about the questions of psychology; not because he was right. Ditto for Marx in classical economics, Boas, etc., in cultural anthropology, etc. In academic computer science, we see people who have fallen in love with tools; while forgetting that tools only implement methods, and the methods are what is important to building good software. That doesn't mean their work is unimportant, but it does mean that a lot of what it taught in CS is, again, 'trash'. Useful trash, though. --

 --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. <>

Freud was worse than trash. He made up his data, and his conclusions didn't even follow from the data and case histories he made up. Freud and Hubbard are in much the same league, with Freud by far the more influential. Te teach Freud as if there were scientific or even rational basis for believing his nonsense is to do a compete disservice to the students. As to learning history, one does not spend much time on phlogiston in studying chemistry. To be aware there was such a theory is sufficient. We needn't learn the fine points of alchemy. For a modern education one lecture on Freud and his theories plus one or more on the consequences of his faddish fraud, would be sufficient.

Marx is a different case: he takes a bit of scholarly refutation, some of which is best done from inside as Wittfogel did in Oriental Despotism. Marx and more seriously Leninism had enormous impacts on the world. The question of historical determinism and WHAT determines history is still a fairly vital question. Marx, in my judgment, was wrong, and David McCord Wright The Trouble With Marx has done a fine job of showing how by taking him seriously. Boas, who again made up data, and allowed Margaret Mead to make up her data, is another fraud.

I agree that it is impossible to separate out all the trash from what is important. It is when everything is considered of equal importance so that nothing can be trash that we are in real trouble. Rather like the situation when young women are taught to ignore the "stigmata" of hideous tattoos on men, and then have to be rescued from violent mates. Perhaps not every provocatively tattooed man is likely to be violent, but it's sure the way to bet it, and teaching girls to ignore those signs is a dangerous thing to do.

In this world there are tigers. Some are intellectuals.

For Greg Cochran on this subject see below.


You wrote:

"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. If one does [not] know much about the sources of one's moral beliefs, then how to recover from collapse?"

I was an undergraduate at one of the Ivy League colleges in the early-to-mid 1980s. My experience there was that it was possible to take a set of distribution courses on various aspects of Western civilization (e.g.: the Renaissance; the Enlightenment; the basis of J.S. Bach's music; the history of science; the history of Russia; a survey of major novels in English literature; the philosophical basis of democracy; the art and culture of ancient Rome) while also taking a fairly interdisciplinary set of hard-science courses (physics; inorganic, organic and physical chemistry; advanced topics in genetics). But I don't know how many students at my alma mater, then or now, chose to do take advantage of the opportunity to take that sort of coursework. The problem wasn't availability, but that there wasn't any agreed-upon consensus of what was important, so that the choice to focus on genuinely important ideas was optional.

About the "value" issue: there's no question in my mind that there is substantive value to college education, but I am skeptical about whether it's worth the full costs that private universities are charging. A solid public university with lower fees probably makes far more sense for anybody in the middle class, and for that matter probably has always made more sense. Another caveat is that college education is only valuable to people who actually have a serious idea of something they'd like to learn that is actually of lasting worth outside the academy -- "value" here being a broader term than income but not contradictory with income. I think it's genuinely valuable to have (e.g.) taken a course on the Enlightenment, and that it would be valuable to have done that even if it doesn't raise one's monetary income in any obvious way; but that value comes from the fact that the Enlightenment *isn't* a currently fashionable vogue in academia, and *is* something that shaped the world we live in now. Courses on identity politics aren't likely to be as beneficial, because they are likely to be focused on ideas that are heavily self-referential within the academy alone.

The most fundamental stumbling block, I think, is that many people on all sides of the political spectrum are subconsciously afraid of what would happen if most people were encouraged to be fully educated. Neither the right wing nor the left wing is really happy with the idea of a public that can't be led around by the nose ring.

Have you read Richard Rodriguez's book, _Hunger of Memory_? Rodriguez is one of the most wonderfully sane contemporary writers on this topic that I know of.

Thanks for raising this topic, even though it's a frustrating one.

--Erich Schwarz

I don't think right and left mean much now. The left has lost most of its intellectual stuffing and exists as emotions and little else. The right is no longer a rentier class; there are few with real property in this world. We are mostly proletarians now, with no property sufficient to live on: we need our jobs, we need our government pensions, we need help: we can't stand and say, I opt out, I will live on my little farm and grow my own food and feed my neighbors. We don't even own our shops and stores: the government has a protection racket we have no way to opt out of. It's called regulations to protect the public. And equal opportunity. And Americans with Disabilities Act. And a score of others all of which allow us to exist only at government whim.

Now it is to the advantage of the bureaucracy that we never think about these things, but is that right or left? The entrenched bureaucracy are our masters now, and they want nothing more than to conserve what they have. Is this radical or conservative? Right or left?

The very memory of a self governing republic has faded to almost nothing. We can't want what we can't conceive of.


And Leslie Fish, songmistress extraordinaire, says about The Unholy Lands

Hmm, a couple of points to consider.

First: the reason the Jews started buying up land (and getting swindled for it) in the godforsaken desert was because things were beginning to get hot for them in Europe. Things got hotter still, and the survivors headed for the Jewish lands in Palestine because they figured they'd be safe there. Heh-heh! But then, they DID have a point. There's no country on Earth where Jews can really consider themselves safe -- not even here in the good ol' tolerant USA. Whenever some bunch of American political nuts -- of any color -- starts making noise about how oppressed they are, who do they get around to blaming? The Jews, of course! Neo-Nazis, Hyper-Christian Fundies or Black Activists who adore Jesse Jackson -- they ALL go after the Jews. Jews have good reason to believe they need a bolt-hole.

Second, it wasn't the Jewish settlers who started this mess. Those settlers were happy to live peaceably beside Arabs, and didn't want them to move away. During the 1947 fun and games, when the neighboring Arab armies were running away and a lot of the Palestinian Arabs ran after them, the Jews drove around in sound-trucks begging their neighbors to stay put. The neighbors who didn't listen, and ran, wound up in Palestinian refugee camps in other Arab countries. Did they blame their Arab neighbors for not taking them in? Nope, they blamed the Jews -- who had begged them not to leave.

Not that the Palestinian Arabs made such good neighbors in the first place. Search the old records and you'll find that several times the Jews offered to share their education, technology, wealth, freedom and all with the Arabs -- and the Arabs indignantly refused; they preferred to attack and rob the Jewish settlements instead. Something in their culture made it an offense against their pride to accept "charity" from a Jew -- but not to rob him. In fact, Palestinian Arabs in Israel right now have more rights and better economic standards than Arabs living in most Arab countries. You'd be surprised how many of those good Arab countries don't allow their population to vote. Never mind public schools or health-care or housing or welfare -- and never MIND how the female half of the population is treated.

So, if Palestinian Arabs have it better than Arabs in other countries, why are they bitching so much? Spite, pure and simple. I've studied that culture, and all I can say is -- no matter that "Allah" means "God", or what the Koran says -- it's a nasty decadent culture based on spite. It's a culture where people don't try to just make themselves better off, but to make their neighbors worse off than themselves. If Arab A has a camel and Arab B doesn't, and Arab B can't steal his neighbor's camel, he'll poison Arab A's camel just to make sure his neighbor is no better off than himself. This is why those Jewish settlers were able to make worthless land bloom, but the Arabs who'd held it for centuries didn't; the Arabs were too busy poisoning each other's camels -- and wells, and orchards -- before the Jews came along.

You honestly can't help people with that kind of attitude. Whatever you give them, they'll want more -- and they'll want not to make it themselves but to take it from you. Frankly, I think it would be better to haul all the Palestinian Arabs out of Israel, send them to live in some good all-Moslem all-Arab country with their brethren -- even give them a couple $K apiece to get started -- and let them go back to poisoning other Arabs' camels, just as they used to do.

If you're talking about High Moral Ground, then it's the Arabs who deserve the boot rather than the Jews. Sorry 'bout that.

--Leslie <;)))><

Doubtless this discussion will continue.

On Viruses:

Dear Jerry, This is new to me, but maybe not to others. Along with the usual junk mail (spam) I received one ostensibly from AT&T with the subject something like BONUS online billing.

I should know better, but since I do have AT&T long distance with automatic bill pay, I naively opened (or should say, tried to open) the message. There was no message but somehow just opening the message brought up the "dialer" window. Since I do not store the password in the dial setup, nothing could (I hope) happen. But I had a heck of a time trying to close the dialer. Heavens knows what might have happened if I had still been connected!

My real concern is what additional precautions (other than never opening this junk) should I take? I use Eudora and have set all the options as recommended for safe computing.

Today I received a message "from" Technical Support with the subject "Call me". Needless to say, I didn't open it.

What next?!

Thanks and keep up the great work! Madeline

FIRST you are probably infected NOW. Run an updated anti-virus scan NOW.

Next, I cannot say too strongly: Do Not Open Unexpected Mail Attachments. Do not open unexpected mail attachments. Do not open unexpected mail attachments. What I tell you three times is true. EVEN IF YOU KNOW THE SENDER, do not open unexpected mail attachments.

If you get a mail attachment that you think you should look at, email the sender. Be sure there IS a sender, and that the sender is real and you have that sender's address and that the sender did in fact intend to send you a mail attachment, and that this was in fact the attachment sent. Note that many viruses will find someone who has you in their mail list, fake the message as from your friend, send a message to you with an infected attachment, and hope you bite because the next one will be to someone in your mail list

Now clearly you may have some situations in which you normally mail and receive attachments, and people you know are unlikely to be infected, but even then, BE CAREFUL. In my case Norton scans all mail attachments before I ever see them; even those from my friends and collaborators. I suggest you set yours to do the same.


I hope Rex Stout would be pleased with the way the A&E Network is treating his books. Maury Chaykin is simply brilliant. Last season I thought Tim Hutton's "Archie" a bit off-putting but then I reread some of the books and now give him credit for playing the character as written and doing a creditable job in the process.

I have a question for the people using ASK (Automatic SPAM Killer) does it avoid a race condition between two users if neither is on the others "white list?"

At first glance, it seems that such a circumstance would result in an infinite loop...each machine asking the other to validate itself before sending the message on to the intended recipient...but clearly something is done to prevent that from happening.

As for the rest of it, those of us on Windows (ASK appears to be a Linux product) can do pretty much the same thing in Outlook through Robert Thompson's trickery of having message rules delete all incoming mail and then undeleting messages that meet specified criteria. That alone has brought down the amount of SPAM I see to a manageable level...for now.

Thanks again and regards to all

Ron Morse

Archie is exactly as written, I think, and Rex Stout would be pleased. Wolfe is a bit more acerbic than I picture him from the books, but close enough. Cramer is exactly right as is Stebbins. All told it's masterful.

I can't delete everything not addressed to me because some press releases and some subscribers get things just a little wrong...

I believe that I have special insight into the true thoughts of that engineer/philosopher. The biggest, usually neglected point is that admission to college sorts by ability, and higher achievement among college graduates must to some extent be a product of this sorting, rather than anything that actually happens in college. In the same way, ex-NBA players are taller than average, not because the NBA put them on the rack, but because they were taller than average in the first place - had to be, just to get into the NBA. The small version of this question is whether some colleges are better than others. Graduates of MIT are, on average, probably smarter than graduates of the University of Illinois. Is it because MIT is a better school, or because MIT was pickier in the first place? Looking at GRE scores versus pre-college SAT scores, it appears that all colleges are the same: the one you go to does not influence your GRE score. What about making money? Don't Harvard grads make more than the average college graduate? Yes they do, but apparently only because they were smarter in the first place, not because of anything that happened at Harvard. Harvard networking seems to be no more valuable than State U. networking. The big version of the question is whether college versus non-college makes much difference, after adjusting for this sorting effect. If there is any economic return, it is much smaller than generally claimed. Certainly one would not expect any economic return from the many courses of study that have zero real content; what can a psych major do, really? And most courses of study have no content: I looked at the distribution of majors, and about 80% looked totally useless, to my jaundiced eye. Another important fact is that most people don't seem to remember very much of what they are taught in school. This must always have been the case.

In no way did I imply that these trends are getting worse. Saying that things are bad is not the same as saying that things are getting worse. I think that a college education has always had much lower economic return than generally believed. Nor do I have any reason to think that there is any significant decay in science and engineering courses. On the other hand, it is certainly the case that colleges promulgate a general view of society, and some of those general views are worse than others. Only a general tendency seems to stick, since most people have lousy memories - but that still influences the whole tenor of society. Has this gotten worse? Probably, but it's been ungood for a human lifetime. This seldom has much to do with individual economic payoff. You can be a Commie or an Albigensian and still make money in this country.

Gregory Cochran

Cochran and I have a running argument on this. I am certain that education is deteriorating: as evidence I can only bring up things like my experiences in Capleville school, (rural Tennessee) where we were 2 grades to a classroom and over 30 to a grade. There were only 4 teachers in that school for grades 1-8, and the 7-8 grade teacher was the principal.

We learned Abou ben Adam by heart. We read Scott's Lady of the Lake. We read Evangeline, and the Wonderful One Horse Shay, and Hiawatha, and a bunch of literature, and we had both US and Tennessee history.  The pupils weren't selected they were the local farmer kids. I contend that the best city schools don't today get the education we got then.

Cochran asks for systematic studies to prove my conjecture and I don't have any. Neither does Charles Murray. This is a bit surprising, but I continue to believe as I do.

And there is 

And I think things are getting worse. In part, I think, because prior to selection by IQ and such, students were selected in part by social class: this had the effect of giving a fairly good education to the future leadership which was chosen by many factors other than pure intelligence, while some bright people got mixed in with the elites through scholarships and the like. 

What we have today is "equal opportunity" which in effect means throwing out all admission and graduation standards and going for accumulation of credentials.

It is an old argument. What I wanted to get under discussion is not so much whether things have got worse -- although I think they have, and for good reasons -- but whether it's worth spending the time and money to go to college at all: do you get anything other than networking out of it?


On vaccines, a data point:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

My late father, born 1910, had smallpox as a boy. About 1930 he went to Mexico to seek his fortune. He came across a Mexican family suffering from smallpox. No one in the area would even go close to the house so father, having suffered the disease, stayed and treated them. He caught smallpox a second time. Fortunately, the family recovered and was able to nurse him. I have heard graphic descriptions of his illness. It was not pretty or pleasant. He was required to take many smallpox vaccinations during WWII, when he built submarines and made torpedo tubes. His reaction to every vaccination was severe, and he was under no illusion about being immune.

My own case is different. I was born in 1937 and have a smallpox vaccination scar from preschool days. Since then, the needle for the smallpox vaccination has caused more reaction than the medicine. Other shots are similar, with the first shot for any disease causing a sometimes severe reaction, and future shots being a minor nuisance. There is one exception. I caught the flu variation that killed so many people in 1918 when I was fourteen. All flu shots cause a strong reaction. I have had flu of a few sorts for one to three days, and suffered. I will not willingly expose myself to the 1918 flu to see if I am immune.

This is one set of circumstances involving two family members. Draw conclusions at your own risk.


William L. Jones






This week:


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Tuesday,  June 4, 2002


Money and Madness Posted June 3, 2002 

By Kelly Patricia O'Meara

 A child who doesn't like doing math homework may be diagnosed with the mental illness developmental-arithmetic disorder (No.315.4). A child who argues with her parents may be diagnosed as having a mental illness called oppositional-defiant disorder (No.313.8). And people critical of the legislation now snaking through Congress that purports to "end discrimination against patients seeking treatment for mental illness" may find themselves labeled as being in denial and diagnosed with the mental illness called noncompliance-with-treatment disorder (No.15.81).

 The psychiatric diagnoses suggested above are no joke. They represent a few of the more than 350 "mental disorders" listed in the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the billing bible for mental disorders which commingles neurological diseases with psychiatric diagnoses.

I knew they had gone mad with that DSM nonsense -- it didn't exist when I got my psychology degrees -- but this looks like sheer lunacy.

I am told that some of the citations in the above are incorrect and that the author is guilty of hysteria. I hope that's true. Of course I also hoped that it wasn't true that we were drugging 20% and more of our youth because of ADD and the like, but that hope was in vain.

What we have is a list of things you can collect insurance for. What we don't have is a sane theory of psychology. Most of what I learned in graduate psychology was nonsense, with no more validity than a novelist's observations. Psychiatry has made a number of advances since that time, all in the field of medicine. Psychology has done well with psychometrics. "Clinical psychology" tends to have been left out and seems to have got into an odd business, removed from moral counseling but not engaged in medical treatment either. 

lists the various codes. It's a long and rather depressing list. Interestingly I don't find Korsakow's Psychosis on there; has it disappeared? It used to be easily recognized and simple to treat if the patient didn't die of alcohol poisoning while being weaned away. See Henderson and Gillespie, A Textbook of Psychiatry, Oxford Press 7th Edition (1951) which was my textbook and gives you some idea of how far I am behind things.

I expect Dr. Hume will have some words to say on this soon enough. Clearly this is a magazine article in a magazine that runs toward hysteria and always has. They have, however, had some significant stories over the years despite some nonsense. Alas, I can't think of a magazine that doesn't have some nonsense in it.

And here is Dr. Hume, psychiatrist:


Diagnostic codes have been with us for some what more than fifty years; DSM-I came out around 1952 or so. It was just a list of diagnoses and descriptions. Ditto DSM-II. Then Came DSM-III, around 1980.

DSM-III was the product of work begun at the Washington University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry in St Louis. The work started in the 1950's, and the prime mover was Eli Robbins. The thrust of the approach was to define disorders in a non-subjective fashion. Using so-called "objective" criteria a physician would attempt to classify an illness as falling into one of a number of well-delineated diseases--or not.

Think of a prairie with gentle hills. The prairie represent the field of variables that describe the illnesses of various people. The hilltops would represent the type descriptions under DSM-I and -II (also the International Classification of Disease Codes, ICD-9, etc.). The areas between the hilltops represent illness that doctors treat.

We diagnose cases by how well they match up with known diseases. Using the DSM I and II approach, we diagnose by the hill a particular cases is closest to. Under the DSM approach, it is very different.

Dr. Robbins, with his colleagues, developed an approach where cases that clustered together in their clinical appearances, their courses of illness, the family histories (what illnesses do family members have?), and their responses to treatment. They were searching for valid mental illnesses that could be reliably diagnosed.

Reliability in diagnosis amounts to this: will another doctor, using the same diagnostic approach, diagnose a person the same as I have? When the aggregate answer is mostly yes, you have a reliable diagnosis. Depression and fever can be reliably diagnosed, for example.

On the other hand, malaria and bipolar disorder also have elements of fever and depression, respectively, but different from what we might call unipolar fever and depression. When you follow the course of illness, it is clear that fever is not an illness but a sign of illness that appears in many different diseases. Ditto depression. The Washington University group's approach was to attempt to tease out valid diseases--the psychiatric equivalent of malaria and peptic ulcer disease--from the welter of conflicting descriptions that were flying around mental health.

There were something like twelve "valid" diagnoses in the original 1972 paper that contained the Wash U criteria. Using these criteria, one would diagnose patients as primary depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and the like; all others were "undiagnosed psychiatric disorders." That's how we were trained at Wash U in the mid to late seventies.

Back to that prairie. Think of corrals. Anything inside those corrals was a valid disorder.

Now fast forward to today. A scientific (the Research Diagnostic Criteria) and political (the APA workgroups) process gave use DSM-III and DSM-IV. DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It purports to publish the descriptions of valid psychiatric disorders, but buried in the pages is the caveat that we don't know everything yet; the state of knowledge is still evolving.

The trouble with the criteria is their origin. The set of criteria is in essence a language--I did research on a population of people diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria, so you know what problems I am talking about and you ought to be able to reproduce my results with a population you recruit yourself using the same criteria. IF the criteria describe a valid disorder, this will work. Big "if".

Two problems:

The first is that the diagnoses were expanded faster than the data supported, in my opinion.

The second is that many criteria were chosen not because they are characteristic of an illness, but because they help distinguish one illness from another. This is especially problematic in the personality disorders.

The third problem is that we must treat everyone, whether they fall within one of the defined categories or not. And, because we must pay rent if we are to continue treating people, we must bill someone. When we bill insurance companies, we use a diagnostic code.

Foolish managed care companies require DSM-IV codes. But they typically pay only for certain codes. So most clinicians diagnose in the style of DSM-I and II, while using the code numbers of and paying lip service to DSM-IV.

Because clinicians use the old style, a certain sloppiness in diagnosis ensues.

(The Federal Government, by the way, demands diagnosis by ICD-9-CM (the CM stands for a clinical modification of ICD-9). It is more honest, in that there are no criteria for diagnosis.)

Back to DSM-IV: some diagnoses are really nothing more than descriptions. Oppositional-Defiant Disorder is one. I'm not sure where on the continuum between normal late child / teen-age behavior and really bad ODD the dividing line falls, but you can bet the appellation is applied to many kids that are rebelling against situations that make them unhappy.

Lest you think this is confined to the DSM, there is something some therapists are calling a Reactive Attachment Disorder. It can be real, but I know of one case, so diagnosed, where an older child from a prudish culture was adopted by a pair of people who practiced a lifestyle that was officially not allowed in her country of origin. She hated everything about her new life. Well, rather than rolling her in a carpet and killing her in an attempt to "rebirth" her (this happened in Colorado), the adoptive mother let the child go to another home, where for years she has been healthy and happy, developing well with no sign of any disorder. Note that RAD is not in the DSM.

The bottom line on all of this is that bad practitioners produce bad results more often than good practitioners. Good practitioners produce bad results, but not as often as bad practitioners. Bad practitioners produce good results, but not as often as good practitioners.

Applying a diagnosis carelessly is not good practice. On the other hand, the DSM does represent an attempt to improve diagnosis. I used to think that Freudian diagnosis was no more than sophisticate name-calling. At least today doctors are trying really hard to improve the state of knowledge. In fact, other areas of medicine are sometimes looking downright unscientific in some areas of diagnosis. They've noticed, and they are looking at diagnostic criteria themselves.

A principled application of criteria will allow us to dissect out various illnesses. For example, bipolar disorder has at least two variants: Type 1 is the classic manic-depressive disorder, and Type 2 is something very slippery--there may be a number of illnesses there, and it has an overlapping relationship with ADHD (the diagnosis is rightly much-maligned, but there really are kids and adults who have it bad).

In the mean time, alphabetical listings like are rather misleading. Many of the codes are for various phases of the same illness. Some, V-codes, are not illnesses at all, but conditions which bring someone to clinical attention or complicate a clinical picture.

Not all diagnoses are created equal. One important tidbit: multiple diagnoses are allowed. You can get reimbursed for the major ones, and the rest simply are there to more fully characterize a patient's condition.

Yes, lawyers, bureaucrats and insurers use the DSM, but it really is a reference tool for the clinician. It's like a dictionary that lets us know how to use certain technical terms. It's nothing to get terribly excited about.

HOWEVER, always check the work of anyone who works for you. This is true for anyone you hire, whether she is a plumber or a surgeon or a shrink.

I suspect the bigger problem comes when half-trained people labeled mental health workers are inflicted on people by government agencies. To fight their name-calling, the best weapon is the DSM itself. Virtually none of them fully document their findings. Almost never do the symptoms they list in their reports add up to a full diagnosis of anything, according to a rigorously applied DSM-IV.

I hope this helps.

BTW--Korsakoff's is there, as part of a larger more broadly defined disorder. Korsakoff's is the tip of the iceberg. We try to find and treat less severely ill people before they develop full-blown Korsakoff's which might not be treatable.






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Wednesday, June 5, 2002

I've always felt that the only real significance of a college degree is to prove that you have the persistence to stay with a task until it is complete.

Just as I've always felt that the most difficult part of holding a job is getting up at the same time every morning, going to the same place, and spending 8-10 hrs there every day. Anybody who is not capable of that cannot hold a job. Anybody who is, can.

We all have things we'd rather be doing.

Certainly nobody would need the information learned in my classes to do the job I have done for the past 15 years as an aerospace engineer - I myself have never used anything more advanced than trig (though there are clearly some specialties where much more is used). The value of my BSME was in learning the discipline and methods, not the data itself.

Owen Strawn

Certainly that is what a Ph.D. program tests: stamina and determination. The Ph.D. may not signify that you know much, but it does signify that you once knew nearly all there was to know about some narrow topic, and that you wanted the degree bad enough (or your spouse wanted you to have it bad enough) to put up with enormous roadblocks and much Mickey Mouse designed to discourage you from continuing.

(And learning how to master a subject, even a narrow and trivial one, and defend your mastery, turns out to be the best thing about the program: if you can learn anything, you can learn ANYthing.)

Jerry Pournelle, Ph.D.


I need to chime in to your question, "Is there value in a college education beyond networking", with a resounding "no". At least, "no" in my experience and especially in my field. I have an extremely rewarding career in high-tech management (network and systems operations), and my highest level of education was an AAS degree from a tech school.

When I graduated from public high school in 1983, I had spent three years in high school, roughly 1000 hours/year. Of those 3000 hours, probably 400 or so were interesting and challenging. I started GE classes at community college, found the signal/noise ratio to be worse than high school, quit college, and started my career.

Perhaps 5 percent of the knowledge I use in my work was obtained in various college classes, but I suspect the real number isn't even that high. Boolean logic and binary arithmetic come to mind as useful knowledge learned in college. Procedural programming and Ohm's law, perhaps. Can't really think of much else. Got some good one-liners from instructors: ("The oh-en-oh-eff-eff switch must be in the oh-en position.") A man never knows when he'll need a good one-liner... :)

I did miss a few networking opportunities, but at this stage of my career that's no longer relevant -- I have a solid network from past jobs.

I do suspect that my resume is frequently tossed because it's missing the letters "BS" or "MS". But I only need one job at a time.


==================================== Dave Pierce Earthlink Director, OmniSky Service Operations

2 North Second Street San Jose, CA 95113 

Thanks. Of course I did insist that my sons go to college...

AND WE HAVE a new major hole in Explorer:

Subject: Security Hole found in Explorer

So, instead of fixing the problem, or even proposing a workaround (such as a way to disable Gopher in IE), MS flames the people who found and reported the bug to them TWO WEEKS ago. Who's to say that this isn't being exploited already. Sounds like Microsoft's "new attitude" towards security isn't.

< >

Yet another reason to download (only 11MB) and use Mozilla.

Pete Flugstad

Well it is certainly worth turning off gopher. No one uses that any more anyway, do they?


The Mozilla web browser is now officially version 1.0! I use it, or Galeon (based on Mozilla), for all my web browsing now. 

Stay well. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"


And we have all seen this before, but:

Microsoft Windows XP's secret:

Recently one of my friends, a computer wizard, paid me a visit. As we were talking I mentioned having recently installed Windows XP on my PC and that I am very happy with this operating system. I also showed him the Windows XP CD, to my surprise he threw it into my micro-wave oven and turned on the oven. Instantly I got very upset, because the CD had become precious to me, but he said: 'Do not worry, it is unharmed.' After a few minutes he took the CD out, gave it to me and said: 'Take a close look at it.' To my surprise the CD was quite cold to hold and it seemed to be heavier than before. At first I could not see anything, but then on the inner edge of the central hole I saw an inscription; an inscription finer than anything I have ever seen before. The inscription shone piercingly bright, and yet remote, as if out of a great depth:

4F6E65204F5320746F2072756C65207468656D20616C6C2C204F6E6520 4F5320746 F2066696E64207468656D2CDA4F6E65204F5320746F206 272696E67207468656D20 616C6C20616E6420696E20746865206461726B6E657373


'I cannot understand the fiery letters,' I said.
'No,' he said 'but I can. The letters are Hex, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Microsoft, which I shall not utter here. But in common English this is what it says:

One OS to rule them all, One OS to find them,
One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In Redmond, Where the Shadow Dwells.

Warning: Do not try this at home, less you want to face a Microsoft Foundation Class Balrog

Credits: Thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien and Bill Gates for making this possible.

Fred Collington
Oracle DBA
Naval Air Warfare Center

And from Sue Ferrara

Subject: Funny thing about that Ph.D.

The graduate faculties, in many cases, act like hazers at a frat. They raise the bar, set the bar on fire, cut off your legs, and then yell: Jump!

However, as you point out, in the end, you know you can learn anything, and one learns how to go about gathering information.

Unfortunately, education up until that point is nothing more than memorize and spit. Schools don't foster learning, they advocate for success. And success means good grades.

In the end, too many students think they are "educated" because they have "learned" (read memorized) everything a teacher has asked them to learn and have successfully passed whatever test has been tossed at them.

Unfortunately, we don't teach children what we learn as aspiring PhDs: How to ask questions and find answers.

In the end, I think this discussion thread has helped me realize that where someone goes to college is becoming more important.

Too many institutions of higher education are handing out degrees in return for tuition. I just spent the last year teaching writing at a place like that.

Dr. Sue, not to be confused, of course, with Dr. Suess

Translation for that HEX: 4F6E65204F5320746F2072756C65207468656D206

O n e O S t O r u l e t h e m a l l , O n e O S t o f i n d 7468656D2CDA4F6E65204F5320746F206272696E67207468656D20 616C6C20616E6420696E20 t h e m , **O n e O S t o  b r i n g t h e m a l l a n d i n 746865206461726B6E65737320 t h e d a r k n e s s 62696E64207468656D b i n d t h e m

Obviously he has a forgery. The hex only translates properly if you remove some of the spurious spaces. And then it still has a spurious "DA" character marked in the translation above as "**". Also note that the period is missing as well as the final salutation from Redmond. Obviously a forgery. If he runs it the minions of Hell^H^H^H^HRedmond will get him.

Oh how I pity him when they get to him! They will rend his piteous body limb from very limb and strew them to the corners of the Earth, upper, middle, and lower. He is DOOMED, I say.

Actually I put in the spurious spaces to keep the lines short so they wouldn't mess up people's browsers. I presume that's enough signature for people to realize which wizardess has sent this...




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Thursday, June 6, 2002


The Normandy Invasion was the single most complex operation in the history of the human race. The second most complex was the Apollo 11 Expedition to the Moon.

Dear Dr Pournelle, During a brisk discussion with my wife - a Psychiatric registrar - she made three points similar to those of Ed Hume, but with an epigrammatic twist. 

To paraphrase: (i) Some of the coded conditions were descriptions of a class of behaviour, not necessarily an illness; (ii) quite a few of them were floppy and sloppy; (iii) it didn't matter so much to clinical practitioners where she worked, provided they had the experience, training, and judgement to select the proper catchphrase. The sting in the tail was this; (iv) Psych professionals in NZ don't display the same levels of DSM abuse as in America because the level of training is much more uniform... in other words you have more bureaucrats and others in the US issuing judgements which they have neither the training nor experience to make. 

This was a fairly breathtaking assertion and I'd be love to see Dr Hume's reaction, since I know he spent some time here. Two things did occur to me independently. First, satisfying insurance requirements is apparently a reason in the US for inflicting a DSMIV diagnostic code. Personal health insurance is not outlawed in NZ but few people use it; NZ's "Accident Compensation Corporation" provides no-fault personal insurance cover. If you're incapacitated for whatever reason, you get care. From one point of view no-fault cover is a bit expensive but from another, it put an end to a lot of unproductive argument. (For example, lawyers hate it because generally speaking to sue for health-related damages is banned outright, by statute). And yet Fiona still uses the DSM. Fascinating. 

The other is that from examining the huge great book which constitutes DSM IV on our bookshelf, it seemed to represent a step in the development of a science of the mind similar to Linnaeus' groundbreaking classification of life into species, genus, phylum, etc. and in that sense it is surely a positive thing. Too bad that the fate of individuals can depend on its (ab)use.

Regards, TC

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

Classifications and discriminations are terribly important, and if the DSM were in fact the research tool that it apparently was instituted to be before falling into the hands of the Trial Lawyers Association and it's subsidiary political parties, it might well be a wonderful thing. You can't devise theories without data, and unorganized data are not generally useful.

We await Dr. Hume's comments. (See below)

From Roland:

Subject: Information analysis 


And on a new subject:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Since you "do all these things so we don't have to", as a long-time reader might I suggest a product for you to try in helping transfer system from older PCs to newer ones?

The product is PC Upgrade Commander from V Communications, Inc. You can evidently purchase and download the product on-line. Here is the link:  to the product information. I have no connection to this company, but have used their System Commander OS boot selector.

Since you have to do this upgrade on a regular basis as you upgrade PCs, maybe this automated product might make you life easier. I am sure that many of your other readers would be interested to see if this product does all that it claims.

Thank you,

Don V Wells, Jr.

I really should try that. I have had their stuff around and recommended it for years; alas, they seem to have stopped sending me updates, and I know I do not have one that says it works for XP.

On Spam


I was just chatting with my Internet guru, a former PhD university prof who now has his own computer engineering and communications business. I use him as a subcontractor for the technical side of joint projects, and also pay him and his guys to keep our shop up and running.

He told me today that his servers had logged over 13,000 attempts to forward spam through his computers. He also cited a stat that 40% of the traffic on the net is spam.

He went on to explain that they have the tools to locate and identify spammers, but "vested interests" have enough clout with Congress to stop legislative solutions with teeth (can you say Direct Marketing?).

Maybe we can get AG Ashworth to label the spammers as information terrorists.

Jim Dodd San Diego

I think that is a reasonable assessment. The Direct Mail Association and it's spawn have clout through organization and donations. The mere users of the Internet do not. And Fritz Hollings represents corporate interests, and since the Jennings switch he has been in charge of the relevant committee.

Big interests are at stake here. And will continue to be. Meanwhile, I'd say 40% of the net traffic is spam.

One solution: 1/10 cent per emailing, but the fee is not imposed if you mail fewer than 4,000 per day. The penalties for not paying should be high and should be divided between government and bounty hunters.








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Friday, June 7, 2002

This being column day, it is also a day for SHORT SHRIFT. Apologies.



Hi Jerry.

Reading the CNN headlines and the article on your site on the Unholy Land brings to mind a few thoughts, possibly amusing. Possibly perversely amusing.

It seems Sharon is insisting that "Arafat is irrelevent" and should be replaced by someone who would have "better control" over the Palestinians. Given the fractured nature of the factions on that side of the border, this is a rather disengenious request. It seems to me doubtful that any single person claiming to be Palestinian could excercise more than a small modicum of control over all the do-it-your-self walking bombs and gunmen there.

To be sure, someone might be able to do better than Arafat seems to manage. Possibly someone what didn't openly sport at least one terrorist organization as a part of his government structure might feel somewhat more of a commitment to at least making an attempt for show.

But that really isn't the point. The point, as I'm quite sure Sharon knows, is that there is nobody on that side currently that is likely to be able to manage any better, even if they had the motivation that Arafat lacks. Given that, there is seemingly little benefit in replacing Arafat, if the desired goal is indeed some form of peace in the region.

But on deeper thought, the idea does have some twinkles of merit, at least if applied with some judicious thought. If Arafat, and all his top henchmen, were quickly and permanently relieved of their existance in the local scheme of things, it may possibly throw some small disarray into the local hodge-podge of terrorist groups that constitutes the local government. With some disarray at the top, one might have a chance of actually removing some of the more motivated lower-level manufacturers of walking bombs.

Or it might provide that chance, if it weren't that Isrial's current government is working overtime to insure a strong supply of local patriots on the other side. So, possibly Sharon's idea of decapitating the hydra has some merit after all -- if applied to all the necessary heads. For instance, what if both Arafat *and* Sharon, along with their closest henchmen were removed from the playing field? (Perhaps locked together in an unused cave in eastern Afganistan, to be opened and examined in four weeks time.)

If displacing Arafat would "provide a chance for a more capable leader to emerge", perhaps removing Sharon would have exactly the same effect. Of course, what is needed as "more capable" Israili leadership would be someone more capable of understanding how to not turn every last one of the neighbors into a dedicated weapon against you. A good deal of confusion at the policy levels of both Isrial and Palestine for a couple of months might provide a reasonable chance for more reasonable heads to float to the surface. Of course, it will also allow less reasonable heads to surface. But then, they could be plucked and also sent on a spielunking vacation in Afganistan.

One must half-seriously wonder if there *are* any "moderate" (or even "normal human being") Israilis or Palestinians. Of course, there must be, and probably quite a few of them. But since no such people seem to have positions of power in the leadership of either organization, their opinions don't count for much of anything. There is not likely to be peace in the region when both leaderships are willing to have their minions (but not themselves, of course) killed to the last man, woman, and baby to justify their point.

So maybe the way to peace is not walls, not killng 75% of the people there, not glazing the entire region over to a depth of 90 feet. Maybe all that is required is a simple change in leadership. On *both* sides. At the same time. This certainly won't solve all the tensions by itself. But without the current leadership, new leadership might emerge (indeed, could be strongly "encouraged" to emerge) that would be willing to consider compromises that were an actual compromise, rather than the more traditional form of "give me everything you have and 20% more to boot" that are usually offered.

On a slightly related note, I notice that a previous poster referred to Israil as an intended Utopia. It has been 40 years or so since I was introduced to Utopian Societies in highschool, and I can't for the life of me remember the details of any one of them. What I *can* remember is studing them for about three weeks, as there must have been half a dozen of them. And about half way through those three weeks, it dawned on me that there was one particular characteristic that all of these Utopian societies had in common. The remainder of those three weeks added additional evidence supporting my conclusion.

The one thing all of the Utopian scoieties seemed to have in common, was that they had a basic social philosophy that was inherently unworkable without fundemental changes to pretty basic human nature. All of them failed. For the simple reason that they were based on inherently unrealistic and unjustified beliefs on how humans behaved and interacted.

Thus, I concluded then that the functional definition of a Utopia was "an inherently unworkable structure for a society". I have not seen any instances since of what people have labeled "utopias" that failed to fit that definition.

I think that Israel may very well be a Utopian society.

Loren Wilton



An interesting quote today from Moshe Bar on Slashdot:

"The more you try to negate G-d the more you end up having to believe in something in its stead. Kierkegaard for all his trying to disprove G-d always came back to G-d. Camus' attempt to show that there is no G-d only shows how divine the emptiness is that is left behind once you eliminate G-d. Staunch atheism is ultimately only an active attempt at ignoring the question what is the divine if it is not G-d, not at answering it."

--Moshe Bar

--Erich Schwarz


An English government "job centre" just refused to run an ad because it specified that "friendly" staff was wanted. Said the bureaucrat in charge "'It's discriminatory because some people may perceive that they are friendly even if you don't'."

Higher-ups have called the action "overzealous," but in the meantime the employer's ad has run without the offending qualification.

Now we know where to tell the hopelessly churlish among us to go. 

--Mike Juergens


Mr. Cole's wife is spot on: "(i) Some of the coded conditions were descriptions of a class of behavior, not necessarily an illness; (ii) quite a few of them were floppy and sloppy; (iii) it didn't matter so much to clinical practitioners where she worked, provided they had the experience, training, and judgment to select the proper catchphrase." Exactly

As for her 4th point, training is indeed more uniform in NZ; and that has its good and bad points (it was the diversity in the US that allowed Dr. Robbins to begin to wedge American psychiatry out from under Freud, for example), but mostly good. The knowledge of recently trained psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses was excellent.

The US is comparatively huge, with a number of good and bad programs. Entry into psychiatric training is not competitive, so you can imagine the varying quality of physicians entering such training. Now, add to that the effect of other disciplines making "diagnoses" and you have trouble.

Medical diagnosis is based upon an assumption that something is wrong with the person coming for care (still the patient, after all the PC activism; I don't think you want your doctor viewing you as a "client"). We are doctors, after all.

The assumption that you will not come to us unless there is something wrong breaks down when people are dragged to the examination chamber by the legal system. The entire diagnostic enterprise becomes suspect (I make a partial exception here for examination for purposes of commitment). That's another problem.

Courts and other arms of our governments typically try to pass the buck: they refer people for psychiatric evaluations (say, in a custody dispute). Typically there is no psychiatric illness involved. A psychological assessment would be more productive, but then a judge would actually have to study the results and make a judgment. No time for that. So we get labels that are wildly inappropriate.

And then there is using the existence of psychiatric treatment for something like depression against an estranged spouse. I've seen cases of violent men getting custody because their beaten-upon wives had to get mental health care before they became strong enough to leave their abusive relationships (this happens in NZ, too).

At bottom, the problems with psychiatry mirror the problems we see all over our society: 1 - the overall huge need for knowledge workers sucking people way up past their levels of competence (the Peter Principle in spades); 2 - the vain pursuit of rules that will relieve decisionmakers of the need to make decisions for which they will be held accountable (see 1 above) (this accounts in part for the growth of zero tolerance rules); 3 - the need to complete paperwork frills to satisfy the oversight needs of blind bureaucratic overseers; 4 - increased competition causing slimmer margins; 5 - government price prunings due to increased need for services; 6 - the lack of time to do a thorough job (see 1, 3, 4 & 5 above); 7 - passing the buck (see 2 & 6 above); 8 - small people having great power over unfortunate others (e.g.--see how welfare clerks treat welfare applicants); ad nauseum.

The biggest problem is that there is in fact a growing need for psychiatric services. The unfortunate among us have always suffered, but now they are coming for help. Also, the growing phenomenon of divorce has introduced genetically unrelated males into households with children, producing an elevated level of abuse, causing more illness, and more need for services. Increased need for services drives many of the problems in the preceding paragraph.

It's bad now, and will likely worsen in the short term. But good meds are here (family doctors now prescribe far more antidepressants than psychiatrists do, for example, because new meds make this a safe thing to do), and better ones are in the pipeline. Interactive psychotherapy software is on the horizon (people like it; it's very private). Functional brain scanning, improved computer-administered psychological testing (some in conjunction with brain monitoring) and improved versions of the DSM will improve diagnosis (the categories, criteria and even diagnostic approach are all up for grabs in DSM-V, for example). And maybe we will see our way clear to bribe some people not to have or raise children (psychiatric illness is an amalgam of genetic and experiential causation).

In the interim, interaction with psychiatry is as fraught with peril as interaction with police. It is as satisfactory as a visit to an auto mechanic. Or a visit to your family doctor (a.k.a. Primary Care Physician).

My own contribution is that I try to be a little center of excellence wherever I am, in whatever psychiatric thing I am doing. My advice is to find others who feel the same way, and use their services as much as possible.


Discussion continues next week


And a request for help from readers:

Have a Soyo 7VIA with an AMD Athlon Classic 700mHz in service since Jan '01 with Crucial Tech RAM. I built it for my gamer wife, Lea of the Dancing Hats, and inherited it after she moved on to an Intel 815EEALU2/Pentium III so she could slay demons more efficiently in Baldur's Gate, Diablo II, et al.

Recently, it boots, runs OK for several minutes, and then stops; locks up and blanks the video. CPU temp is as low as 64F at lockup.

If I pull/reinstall the CPU, that fixes it for several more minutes, and then it freezes again. I do make sure the retainer tabs on the CPU cartridge are locked in place after reinserting it. Remove-reinsert of other components does not solve the problem. All the little fans are turning to their heart's content.

The suggestions of Chaos Manor subscribers to keep this from recurring are appreciated.

-- John Bartley, KD7ROH, telcom admin, USBC/DO, Portland OR - Views are mine. Wireless FAQ for PalmOS(r) Handheld Cellular Data FAQ You are granted to store this informationTM in your brain for private, not commercial use. Commercial use of this information whether in your brain or other bodily parts requires the express written consent of its license holders and property owners.

-See below


The most sophisticated computer models in use today are for weather forecasting. They are working from well established short term data and attempting predictions in terms of days and weeks. When was the last time you saw a temperature prediction that was accurate to one or two degrees?

And yet, global warming "environmentalists" take predictions from far less sophisticated models as gospel truth when they predict temperatures within a range of 6 degrees over a century.

Brian Grant

Indeed. And the current flurry is a report of yet another computer model that cannot account for the past, but is entrusted to predict the future. So it goes. And see below.



Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I just read the special report on Operation Anaconda on your site and was deeply moved by the account, especially the section about the attempt to save the serviceman Roberts. It portrays the best of our warriors and of this country.

My objection, however, is that this, and I'm sure other acts of heroism, never make it to the general public. Sadly, it reminds me of how NASA treated our expeditions to the moon: no glory, no honor, no reports of heroism or defeat, just endless boring reports from which bureaucrats sucked all excitement. Their final undoing was making the greatest exploration in history so boring that support dried up and killed planned missions.

The same is happening with war reporting. Correspondents who never set foot outside Kabul send home reports about locus infestations while the defense department downplays the amazing into the mundane. Part of it is laziness [and maybe fear] on reporters' parts and part of it is the defense department's Vietnam-induced camera-shyness.

During WWII, we heard about both the heroism and everyday courage of GIs through people like Ernie Pyle. We have none today and the American public never realizes the bravery and sacrifice of our troops.

-- Pete





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Saturday, June 8, 2002


One probable answer:

Subject: Power Supply. I say again, power supply...

Dear Dr Pournelle, "Have a Soyo 7VIA with an AMD Athlon Classic boots, runs OK for several minutes, and then stops..."

It needs a new power supply rated at not less than 350W.

Regards, TC

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


Jerry :

The lockups your reader mentioned (i.e., the "Soyo 7VIA with an AMD Athlon Classic 700mHz") may be power supply related. I've seen this once or twice on machines where the power supply is starting to fritz out, and the system throws up a hairball, often after running for a (relatively) short period from start-up. It's getting more pronounced as people are updating their motherboards and getting consequently higher power needs. What's not being thought about by some is that the higher power requirements are for _clean_ power. Some of the cheaper supplies seem to get dirty on the upper end of the curve. That's not a big surprise when one thinks about it.

I'd ask your reader to try substituting a good quality power supply, for example, a PC Power & Cooling Silencer supply, and then seeing how that changes the equation. I'd strongly recommend getting an ATX supply if they're looking at P4s in the future. For people who need replacements for Dell supplies, PC Power & Cooling also has a Silencer for that use...

By the by, the Silencer power supply lives up to the company's claims. My spouse doesn't enjoy the noise of computers at all, so using a Silencer power supply along with the Silencer cooling fan created peace and quiet of several types within my home ! These items do cost a bit more than the run of the mill, but I've noticed a substantial difference in the overall noise level of my study at home and my office.

The scary thing, perhaps for you, is that _your_ recommendations over the years for PC Power & Cooling equipment started me down the road to using their supplies exclusively.

BTW, while I don't have a great deal of confidence (little in fact) of the Kyoto Treaty advocates' weather modeling, it's only fair to point out that the weather forecasts noted by another reader and the Kyoto advocates' forecasts are made for entirely different periods, i.e., days/weeks vs. yearly/decade averages. Please note, I'm not defending those who claim the world will melt in 2032, but just commenting on a more appropriate comparison.

There was an excellent article titled, "Climate Research: The Devil Is in the Details", in the New York Times last year on this subject. It discussed the issues relating to accurate climate modeling very fairly, and didn't stand particularly on either side of the debate. While the article is not highly technical, it does discuss the effects of initial assumptions going into climate models nicely for the general audience. 

Working as I do from time to time with predictive models for toxic releases, I can say that the article _understates_ the degree of effects on the assumptions needed for atmospheric models. Atmospheric modeling of any kind, even the simpler ones, is not for the faint of heart or those who don't want to spend a _lot_ of time learning the mathematical underpinning(s) of the models. Anyone who started with the old Pasquill-Gifford dispersion systems will be astounded by the changes in the field. And those models refer to relatively short term (i.e., hours/days) dispersion of materials in the medium field (i.e., hundreds of meters to kilometers). Climatological models need to work with systems of much greater size and immensely larger complexity, far longer timeframes, with correspondingly harder issues to find accurate and precise results from mathematical approximations of complex equations. The differential equations used for the simpler models don't come easily to most engineers and scientists - imagine the needs for global climate models !

The problem we face with the discussions of people on both sides of the debate on global warming is that they seldom want to address the limitations of their models, but only the (often sensational) results. The mathematics, assumptions for solution of the equations, and the sheer volume of materials associated with any decent model don't fit into neat soundbites for the evening news. Heck, the discussions in conferences tend to spin out into some pretty esoteric stuff ! This is not a field where the casual observer can quickly swot up on some important points and have a thorough understanding of the material.

Very obviously, this has long ago ceased to be a scientific debate, and lurched over to the purely political in nature. Any responses at this point in time will be political in nature. We can only hope that some fraction of those responses have a scientific/engineering basis.

Best regards,

John P.

I agree with the consensus on power supplies. It is what I would have said had I not been in short shrift mode when I posted that.

Global Warming: as I have said many times, simple Bayesian analysis would conclude that we ought to be spending a lot more money on sensors and data recording: on ways to find out what is going on. The costs of tooling up to solve the wrong problem are enormous. The potential costs of doing nothing until we have to do it fast are also very high. Common sense would say, and Bayesian analysis pretty well proves, that what we need is to pay significant amounts for information to lower the probability of a wrong prediction and preparing for the wrong events.

We aren't doing that. Instead the money goes for conferences and bureaucracies. Bureaucrats have to live but the Global Warming Mafia absorb the grants and travel funds to the exclusion of getting the information we actually need to make correct decisions. Thus be it ever.

The latest flurry is over a computer model that, if given the initial conditions of 1900, does not model the climate in 2000; but we are invited spend billions on the basis of its predictions from now into the future. As Bullwinkle the Moose says, "This time for sure."

We need information. We aren't getting it.



Dr, Pournelle,

A couple of comments on Pete's remarks about war correspondents:

First, I think we've all seen a decline in "real" journalism in the past 30 years. USA Today is the model today, alas, instead of The New York Times.

Second, I wouldn't call the Army, etc, "camera shy"; rather call them "operational security aware". Vietnam was the exception, not the rule, for how the press covered events. Every other major war in this century (that I'm aware of) saw definite controls imposed on the press in the war zone.

I will say that there is at least one writer that covers the action in Afghanistan, and writes about it well. Check out Bradley Graham's 2-part Article "Ambush at Takur Ghar":

As you say: Recommended.


On Operation Anaconda:

One intersting thing that the washintonpost articles showed was that the US seems to have forgotten how to support ground recon operations that might run into serious opposition.

Compare the single solitary CH-47 used to what SOG used in Vietnam (from Plaster's "SOG, a Photo History of the Secret Wars") for insertions and extractions: "six Hueys, two to four helicopter gunships, four to six kingbees, and two facs, plus a pair of A-1 Skyraiders at their own base. All these aircraft flew on each insertion or extraction, a virtual air armada, yet most teams could come out aboard a single Huey. Was it lavish? Not at all.

"After many lessons learned at considerable human cost, SOG planners concluded that its air assets needed redundancy--the leeway of losing two of anything, yet still continuing--and the ability for self-recovery--the means to retrieve downed aircrews without halting or postponing the team extraction that brought them their in the first place. This means that two helicopters could be shot down, yet the down crewmen would be rescued, plus the RT would be extracted, with everyone making it home for a cold beer in the club. Five minutes wasted, even a minute's hesitation, and the NVA soldiers would rush in enough troops to overrun an encircled team or capture a downed crew."

Kevin Rose

If the job needs a platoon, send a company. Overwhelming force is always cheaper in the long run. This probably originated as the phrase "If the task requires a cohort, send a legion..."

Another reader question.

Subject: Is there a viewer for the Outlook 98 PST-files???

hi there!

is there something like a viewer for the Outlook 98 PST-files? My problem is: I've tried to save space from my restricted serverspace und and put my big PST-file (630 MB) on a cd. Then I wanted to change the place of my personal folder from the server to the cd-rom, but Outlook told me, that I have not the permission to read from the cd-rom-drive. But I have this permission, I can read any cd, except of the one with my PST-file on it. (I'm not sure, but I think, that Outlook maybe tries to write something back in the PST-file and that's of course not possible on a cd...) And now I'm looking for another program to read this PST-file from the cd-rom. thanks for your help,

 cu Bert

I believe the answer to this is "no". But see below: Eric has read more carefully than I did.

On education:


After 28 years in the field, hereís my considered opinion:

For networking jobs up through lower level manager positions, 4 year degrees are not necessary. A person in this field should take classes in Project Management, and basic electronics, as time permits, as theyíll be much better for it.

As you get to higher levels of management, the ability to communicate well in writing and speech become very important, as does the ability to understand financials and use a spreadsheet. A few courses at a local college or trade school can do this nicely. Project Management becomes more important. Skills in personnel management, conflict resolution and relationship management are important.

As you get to higher levels, such as Director or CIO/CTO, clear understanding of how business works is critical. A business degree is a good thing at this point, as long as you worked your way up through the technical background. Again, you can achieve this through a few classes, diligence, and a willingness to learn. Thatís how I did it.

Through all of these stages, it is VERY important to stay current on technology through trade journals, current books, attending trade shows, communicating with peers, and working in an environment that is not stagnant.

I have gotten through all the steps mentioned above on a total of 4 college courses. And, like one of your other readers stated, Iím sure many of my resumes went in the trash because there was no B.S. in it.

But then, from my point of view, thatís a good thing. J

Iíve been successful by working with people who valued the skills I have, regardless of my educational background. Iíd say that it hurt my chances at large, established firms, although I worked for several years as a Systems Engineer at Harris Corporation, a large defense contractor, and received job offers from IBM and Martin Marietta to work in the same capacity.

The best opportunities, however, have come from smaller firms, that are more concerned with work ethic, getting the job done, and with their internal community relationships, rather than filling in blanks on a scorecard.


Tracy Walters

Chief Technology Architect

Rocky Mountain Technology Group

Two things I feel compelled to add:

1. A couple good systems analysis courses by the time you are involved in Project Management.

2. Somewhere early on, one or two software classes. Not because you will ever use it, but because you should understand the needs of developers on your networks. And a very important thing to remember is that this does NOT make you a professional developer. Many times Iíve seen network guys with a couple classes under their belt, and a little playing around with code at home think they are experts. This couldnít be farther from the truth.


It is my considered opinion that a reasonably survey of US history should be a requirement for graduation from high school. If the school system were not so politicized I would be inclined to make graduation from high school, or an equivalent, a requirement for voting, but that is too subject to abuse.

But we do need college educated leaders; and part of that education must be a systematic introduction to the history of the West, and what the West is, and why Western Civilization has been so dominant; and how democracies have fallen, and why the ancients, who were just as smart as we were, considered democracy an unstable form of government. It is not necessary that every citizen knows this; but those they look to for leadership in matters intellectual and political ought to.

And this from John McCarthy on gorilla IQ:

Think of Koko's world.

Imagine yourself as the only human being raised by intellectually super beings who communicated, e.g. telepathically, or by super speed twittering that you could never understand or imitate. When they wanted to communicate with you they would speak in a language they taught you, but the speech you learned wasn't natural to express their thoughts.

Their actions among themselves are incomprehensible to you, and the motivations of the tasks they give you are incomprehensible.

Under their supervision you have occasionally met other huans, but you don't share a language with these others who have also been raised in isolation.

You could formulate no long term goals for yourself, because the changes they occasionally make in your environment are incomprehensible.

All this doesn't put you in the position of a captive animal whose behavior is being studied, because the intelligence of the animals is presumably too low for them to have any definite idea of the situation they are in or what their human masters are trying to accomplish with them.

As far as I have read, no-one has studied what animals think of humans. Even the apes studied in the wild must find humans incomprehensible. Of course, there is literary speculation in which the opinions of animals are invented as a means of human-human social criticism.

John McCarthy, Stanford


Like so many error messages the one received by cu Bert when he tried to read a PST file from CD is confusing because the system hasn't been provided with a more accurate message to display.

To open a PST the system needs a fair chunk of scratchpad space. Naturally it defaults to using the same volume that contains the PST for this purpose. In the case of a CD-ROM this is, of course, impossible and the procedure fails with a confusing attempt at explanation.

The PST must be located on a writable volume and then imported within Outlook (or other program that understands the format) to the desired location. The best bet would be to put it on the same volume on the server and then delete the file after its contents have been imported to the new personal folder.

Eric Pobirs

Thanks, Eric








This week:


read book now


Sunday, June 8, 2002

Opera stuff and Laker's Game. See Monday.






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