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Mail 215 July 22 - 29, 2002






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Monday  July 22, 2002

Considerable mail on Homeland Security...

There is considerable mail with this message:

Just a quick note. Giving the U.S. military domestic police powers is a very bad idea. I can't see how any patriot, or conservative could be in favor of such a thing. We would be no different than the average banana republic or dictatorship. Similarly, The FBI should have sole domestic surveillance authority. If the CIA traces a terrorist to US territory, then the case should be turned over to the FBI. Civil liberties and our freedom is not the sole domain of the democrats. We should not sacrifice our freedoms, as currently written into law, in favor of a nebulous, perceived increase in security. If we do, then Bin Lauden has started to win.

This from Stanley, but it echoes many others.

It's always a delicate question: the first duty of a state, and some would argue that really the only duty of a state, is to protect its citizens: it's a kind of union with solidarity forever and such.

How far the state must go to do that is always a matter of tension, and involves levels of expertise.

The Constitution puts much of that primary responsibility on the states, and makes the Congress the peculiar instrument for determining what measures are needed. One of the problems in recent years is that Congress has abdicated that responsibility, and has also diluted it by being concerned with things that are none of its business. The Courts have then stepped in to do Civil Rights jobs that the Congress wasn't willing to do, and became themselves a sort of super legislature.

Before we start parceling out responsibilities to agencies we need a longer and harder look at what the Federal Government ought to be doing. We won't get that, and we'll stumble on to empire, eventually looking to a Great Man to save us. I may live to see that.

On computerish matters:


I think this article reinforces my long-standing belief that the popularity of Windows OSs and IIS as targets for hackers is due more to their dominant position in the market than to deliberate disregard for security on Microsoft's part.

Just put matters into perspective...

Edupage, July 15, 2002

STUDY SHOWS INCREASE IN LINUX ATTACKS, DECREASE FOR MICROSOFT A new study from U.K. company Mi2g shows a significant increase in successful attacks on Linux systems for the first half of the year, compared to a 20 percent decline in successful attacks against systems running Microsoft's Internet Information Server. Mi2g's data showed an increase of more than 30 percent, from 5,736 to 7,630, in successful Linux attacks and an overall increase in attacks of 27 percent. The study is based on Mi2g's coverage of more than 600 hacker groups and 60,000 hacking attempts since 1995, including data from the Computer Security Institute and the FBI. The study also shows significant declines in successful attacks against U.K. and U.S. governments, attributing the change in part to increased security efforts since September 11. ZDNet, 15 July 2002 

--John Emmerling

Indeed.  And Eric notes the cost of going it alone: 

The Captain of the USS Clueless discusses some benchmarks that don't bode well for Apple. They especially point to the problem of being your own sole supplier of chipsets instead of letting an open market compete to have the latest technology living under your OS.

Eric Pobirs

And see below

While on the Wintel Licensing Front:

The latest installment of your Byte column made me think of something I had seen earlier in the day in the ACM Risks-Forum Digest. The current digest is archived as 

Towards the end of the digest there is a message titled "Re: EULA" from someone who is in the healthcare industry. His opinion not being a lawyer of the WinXP EULA is that they need to move it from their 'we don't support this' category to the "this is explicitly forbidden" category because the things that the EULA allows Microsoft to do are in conflict with the confidentiality rules that the healthcare industry operates under.

Also in the issue of the Risks digest is a discussion of content-based email filtering sparked by pieces in the last two TidBits columns ( (A very excellent newsletter covering the Macintosh world).


PS: The Outlook XP spell checker wanted to change WinXP to Wimp!

And Monty reminds us of something we already know:

Subj: Gold and programmers

One of your correspondents recently mentioned that Microsoft have $36 billion in cash.

That reminded me of your saying (from Machiavelli?) that "Gold will not get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold."

I wonder whether there is a corresponding truth about programmers and gold? 8-)

Rod Montgomery ==


Advice to Linux. Good advice to Linux:

"The real problem with such diverse issues as gun control, cyber vandalism and "digital rights" enforcement isn't so much that most people agree that there should be limits, but rather the fear that there

are ulterior motives involved. ..."

I agree with you that not only is GNU/Linux still "not there yet" for Aunt Minnie, and that the "cost" (time, effort, learning curve) of switching to Linux is still unacceptably high for most technically advanced users. It seems to me though that the "ulterior motives" issue for digital rights enforcement, Palladium style computer security measures etc. may just be the killer app. that drives Linux into the mainstream.

Virtually all of the objections I've seen to proposals for "securing" computers/intellectual property are based not on what the proposals are supposed to accomplish, but on fear of what the implementation will end up being. I suggest the following terminology.

A "Secure" platform is what Microsoft wants the end users to think Palladium will be like. An extension of the UNIX world's "run at the lowest level of privilege you can get away with. It'll not only minimize the damage that anyone who hacks your account can do, but will also minimize what you can do to yourself if you click on OK before putting your brain in gear" to the device driver and hardware levels.

An "Encumbered" platform is what most people (or at least the most vocal participants in Web discussions) are afraid that Palladium will be like. A system where "protect the data on the user's machines" is a code phrase for "locking the user out of their own hardware" to the benefit of intellectual property owning corporations and the detriment of everyone else.

Although Microsoft's reputation makes it an easy target, from what I've seen, every proposal to improve security on PC's triggers the same sort of concerns. That there is a widespread belief that no company or organization will be able to resist the temptation of "owning" hardware level security on end user systems and that any such product will wind up being (based on the definitions above) Encumbered rather than Secure. The reactions to Microsoft's (very preliminary) proposal also suggest that nothing short of government intervention will keep Encumbered systems from being a complete flop in the marketplace.

Open source development may prove to be the only approach immune to the lure of Encumbered platforms, since every open source developer will insist on having complete control of their environment and design their system accordingly. The side effect of this being that anyone else who uses their work will be able to obtain the same level of control. And of course, if anyone has any doubts, they can review the code, or solicit the opinions of someone qualified to review the code, and find out what's really going on in there.

If you accept this premise, and assuming the IP interests don't manage to stampede the government into doing something spectacularly stupid in the way of IP protection laws, then, not unlike Microsoft in the 80's and early 90's, Linux/Open Source may succeed. Not by being the first, fastest, or best, but simply by staying focused and plugging away while the competition falls victim to self inflicted massacres.

C Jervey,

Don't panic, and always keep track of your towel and spoon...

Hello Jerry, 

Just a thought on Palladium and the "Fritz" system. If implemented, it would just make imported hardware and software the product of choice. I don't see how U.S. laws can dictate non-U.S. made materials. Non-Palladium motherboards might become illegal, (but only in the U.S.) but that would only create a huge black market. In the same way, versions of LINUX, or whatever operating system could be developed outside of the U.S. and not subject to our laws. Most people would download and use such systems. I doubt even "Homeland Security" issues would allow the government to monitor downloads from hundreds of thousands of users, to determine whether or not "illegal" operating software is being downloaded. (Then again, there IS Carnivore... Maybe monitoring everyone?) I hope you are wrong about the "Fritz" system and Palladium. It still scares me. Thanks for hearing me out. Yours truly,

Larry J. Rolewic


Don't panic, but do pay attention.

And reaction to last week's column:

Dear Dr Pournelle,

"I have never thought UNIX could be made user friendly but perhaps they have achieved it."

I have a mortal fear of sending my credit card number over the net. Guess I'll have to find how to send a money order, or perhaps I can talk to my local bank manager and see if she has any ideas.

"I have never thought UNIX could be made user friendly but perhaps they have achieved it."

I'm not sure either. But last month I bought a new G4 Mac for one of our diehard Mac staffers. Of course it came with OS/X. There is no question about the beauty and simplicity of the interface, nor its underlying power, but for long-time Mac or Unix users there are a few "gotchas"- see below; I did it so you don't have to <grin>.

In any event make absolutely sure you download or otherwise procure:

The new XFree86 distribution (because a lot of really useful stuff only runs under that including Linux apps). Get it from here:  . Unlike earlier versions it runs 'rootless', that is without getting in the way of the lovely Aqua interface.

The "Fink" libraries which put up a fairly standard GNU development system and other nice tools, from  .

The Darwin tools. I bought the CDs because included on the second CD was the Darwin port to Intel - more on this below.

[Optional] The "Bochs" Intel emulator, from  . Not the fastest thing in the world but it does permit an Access database to be run.

The staffer in question has a PC which does nothing but run an Access database, since he flatly refuses to consider changing his ways. Apparently it's the job of technology to adapt to humans, not vice versa. Neither of us quite realized just how different OS/X was from earlier versions. Perhaps a few bulleted points on our experiences might help

First thing to do was make his old stuff run. OS/X came with a "Classic Mac" environment pre-installed on a 40GB hard drive. I plonked the contents of his old machine (~2GB) in a subdirectory. It had a three-button mouse for running remote X-windows stuff. First thing I did to the new machine was put the nice but single-button Mac mouse away and attach a conventional generic USB three-button wheel mouse.

Most of his important applications, including Endnote (a Bibliographic database) and Textures v2 (a very user-friendly TeX) didn't work. Upgrading to Endnote 5 fixed the former. Similarly for Microsoft Office (there is a new Office for OS/X). But Blue Sky Inc. advise that an OS/X-ready version of Textures is still under development. This turned out to be true for a significant number of other specialised applications also. Lesson learned:

If you have legacy Mac stuff, be prepared to spend significant amounts upgrading. One way around this is to use the 'Classic' environment, essentially Mac OS 9.1 but running as a shell underneath OS/X. (Or one could install OS9.1 as a stand-alone environment. I tried that and don't recommend it). This started a recursive set of fixes detailed below.

Problem one Classic mode programs had a common problem: they were expecting to find themselves on hard drives labelled either "Macintosh HD" or, say, "Data". Since they were in subdirectories instead, aliases didn't point to the right places. Anything which read a configuration or preferences file couldn't find itself.

The fix was easy, I thought: connect the old hard drives to the new machine either directly or by network and use the "Disk Copy" program to create read/write uncompressed disk images (files with extension .img which are a bit-for-bit copy of a Mac partition). These could then be mounted as 'virtual drives' under Mac OS/X by double-clicking on them.

Well, that worked up to a point. Some things still didn't run. The staffer had taken the manuals home so I had to follow my nose.

Problem two The new Mac's hard drive was also labelled "Macintosh HD", so on the desktop there were now two of them visible. Some programs became very confused. (Most, interestingly, did not, and none of the OS/X tools). Solution: rename the Mac OS/X hard drive from "Macintosh HD" to (say) "MacOSX". This immediately brought me up to -

Problem three I couldn't change the hard drive label even though I was set up as an "Administrative user". The dialog box which the help system directed me to had the relevant entry 'greyed out'. This arises because the authorization scheme of OS/X does not come from Unix. It has its roots (pun) in NextSTEP. Actually it's a very good scheme but takes getting used to. One is expected to use 'sudo' a lot. I did not feel I had time to learn. Perhaps I should have, for this brought me to -

Problem four It is necessary to be the 'root' user to change a hard drive label. By default there was no root user presented in the login window. By using the 'System Preferences' tool I was able to get a simplifed login box which asked for user ID and password, but I still didn't know the root password.

Problem five In the end to change the root password the help system directed me to boot from the installation CD and begin the Mac OS/X setup all over again, at which time I would have the opportunity to reset the password. This worked and was actually fairly painless, but whew.

Once all of the visible mounted disks (one real hard drive and two disk images) had suitable names, things worked swimmingly, though there is surely an easier way to get around the above idiosyncrasies of OS/X.

Even the included Unix materials worked, including SSH which is how we communicate with some of the University's databases. Compiling one's own Unix materials however, so that one would have access to the usual suite of Linux tools, was not that easy. This is important because, for example, the software driving the built-in CD Writer is not multisession capable, but it is possible to compile a Linux equivalent - gtoaster perhaps, or a later version of xcdroast.

The preinstalled factory Mac OS/X that came with our G4 did not have a cc compiler, which all the documentation says it should have had. I was tempted to wipe the system and reinstall from scratch - the materials are on the distribution CDs - haven't been that brave yet. Meanwhile for most purposes the Fink gcc-based tools work well.

To me the most interesting part of the exercise has been playing with the Darwin port to the Intel architecture. It has some restrictive hardware requirements (eg. PIIX4 motherboards, Intel CPUs and network cards only) but its mere existence constitutes a fascinating statement of intent by Apple.

Regards, TC

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

And something else that should have been up last week:


We apparently can now make mice with bigger brains. As a molecular biologist, I'm delighted. At the same time, I'm wondering how people will feel if it turns out the mice are really smarter... 

--Erich Schwarz

And I don't know what to make of that. The dry weather is driving field rats into houses in California. They are cute little guys but to my wife they are rats, RATS, RATS, and must be trapped, driven out, GET THEM OUT OF MY HOUSE. Alas the dog is too old and our cat died years ago. I may have to get another cat and dog., because I am unable to outsmart these cute little grey and white field rats...


You may be cheered to know that you're not the only one who thinks that keeping smallpox vaccines from the public is a Bad Idea: 

I don't know if this will have any effect on the current don't-vaccinate orthodoxy, but at least the case is being made.

--Erich Schwarz

I am always cheered to realize that I am not the only one who can think things through. Alas the news doesn't cheer me as often as I would like.

And St Onge replies to an earlier mail:

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: Jam at LAX

Dear Jerry:

Rick Hellewell refers to the latest airport shutdown story (  ) suggests we " consider it from the 'it's happening right now' perspective: you are a security screener, and you see a suitcase x-ray with an image of several tubes of something, all packed up in neat rows (probably at least two rows of two tubes). And perhaps there are other images in there that look like small wiring."

Well, back in the early eighties, I saw a screener faced with a similar suspicious item on an x-ray. She asked what it was, and was told a set of chop sticks. So she opened the bag, and, it was chop sticks. Inconvenienced us for about thirty seconds.

Or I might mention the time they were suspicious of my anti-sleep apnea machine: they asked me what it was, and made me take it out of the bag and turn it on. Again, no big problem.

Mr. Hellewell's position seems to be that we should ignore experience: despite the fact that very few people have ever attempted to sneak a bomb through the x-ray, we should make the working assumption that anything the screener is unsure of is a bomb. I disagree.

Best, Stephen

No they make the assumption that they can be arrogant as they please and no one including the former Vice President will say or do anything; and that they can in effect destroy the airlines in order to assure themselves of jobs. Does anyone for a moment suppose we are safer for all this?

We also have:

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: The Consitution, may it rest in peace

Dear Jerry:

Concerning the courts creating rights: the judges who proclaim new rules of this type are usually indifferent to procedure in all cases except perhaps trials. Chief Supreme Warren was supposedly known for asking about legal results "Is it right? Is it fair? Is it good?". If it wasn't, then it must be unconstitutional.

Arguments with this kind of person about the duty of judges to respect the Legislature's powers is pointless.

So why do we put up with it? Because we don't take the Constitution seriously. People refuse to allow the state to be run on the basis of "Things we consider necessary and important can be blocked by the words on a piece of parchment." E.g., the Louisiana Purchase.

Further, many people are determined to get their way, regardless of what the Legislature does or doesn't do, and judicial lawmaking gives them another avenue for success.

I think we'd do better to face this seriously, and stop pretending we have constitutional govt.

Best, Stephen

Well sometimes the results are good. Such as Louisiana Purchase. The important thing is to make these great constitutional questions exceptional and rare. Earl Warren made them routine. There is a difference.





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Tuesday,  July 23, 2002

Here's a howdy doo..

With version 1.4 of the Sun Java runtime (the J2SE--Java 2, Standard Edition), Sun has added some new licensing terms that sound eerily similar to the things people are getting upset at Microsoft for.

5. Notice of Automatic Software Updates from Sun. You acknowledge that the Software may automatically download, install, and execute applets, applications, software extensions, and updated versions of the Software from Sun ("Software Updates"), which may require you to accept updated terms and conditions for installation. If additional terms and conditions are not presented on installation, the Software Updates will be considered part of the Software and subject to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.

Sounds like the Windows Media Player fiasco. The J2SE runtime downloads new components so you can do "more stuff." To use those components, you have to accept a new license agreement with potentially different terms. If you don't accept, you can stick with what you've got, but you can't progress.

I'm not completely sold on the idea of open source and free software, but more and more I'm beginning to wonder why not.

I also wonder--if Apple (my vendor of choice) updates their Java runtime to 1.4, does that mean I'm automatically subject to this new clause, simply by getting patches from Apple?

Steve Setzer

I do not think we have heard the end of this.

Hi Jerry,

First I would like to say that I always read and enjoy your column in Byte. Always have, even when I was a subscriber to the original paper edition. While I was reading the DRM Abyss, I was shocked to see an Internet fallacy in your discussion of WinXP. You stated:

"Then, too, XP requires "activation," which gives Microsoft some information about what you're running, and is the first step toward letting them into your system as a "trusted" associate."

This one sentence is not even close to the truth and I was completely surprised to see you print it. The Windows Product Activation takes the serial numbers from a selected number of pieces of hardware on a computer system and combines them with the Product code and generates a multi-digit random hash. This hash stores no information at all that Microsoft can use whatsoever. It's random numbers, that if you try to install the OS on another system will generate a hash that will not match the originally generated hash. Your stature in the computing community will only make more people paranoid when they read something that is not true, but has been perpetuated other places on the Internet and now by you.

I don't completely trust MS myself, but I'm not paranoid about WPA. It might not be the greatest idea, but if the mass end users had followed the software license agreement we really wouldn't be worrying about it now. Lastly, just so you don't think I'm just a mindless clone for MS, on my home network I have 3 Windows systems, 2 systems running different flavors of Linux and 3 Mac's running 3 different version of the Mac OS. I'm an equal opportunity OS user...:-)

Thank you for your time,


Ray Ebersole

I believe that at the moment Activation conveys no real information; I have no assurance that this will be the case tomorrow. Do you? I do not automatically believe the worst about Microsoft. I do have some mistrust of what the bean counters who seem increasingly in charge there will be constrained to do.

On the cost of going it alone,

David Em says 

Tests with render-intensive video post programs like Adobe After Effects reveal the same thing: Megaherz really do count.

and Eric replies

Furthermore, Den Beste doesn't think going to AMD is a realistic option. 

I believe there are some hardware hacks that could accelerate emulation without going to the full expense of having an actual PPC built into the transitional generation of machines (a dedicated bit of silicon to negotiate the endian issues, for instance) but it would still be an ascent up a nearly vertical face

And Ed Hume says


I read the Captain Clueless piece about comparing the Mac with Athlon and P4 systems. Clearly the x86 architecture is advancing rapidly. With Linux and other *nix systems now on x86 chips (Pair networks, for example, runs Free-BSD UNIX on Pentium 3’s and 4’s), why not have Mac on those chips as well?

By now, porting the Mac OS, which is based on Free-BSD, has to be a no-brainer. Running a Mac on an x86 architecture would give it hardware parity. What are they waiting for? (OK, it’s a rhetorical question; I know Mr. Jobs does not confide in you.) (But maybe he should . . .)


I don't even have a Mac. I'll buy one when I have enough spare money. And I haven't thought about porting Mac OS; it's the UI that would have to be done properly, and I have no real feel for how hard that would be to do, although I do know that everything takes longer and costs more...




From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: Palladium

Dear Jerry:

In between pressing concerns, like wondering what will happen next season on BUFFY and ANGEL, I've been trying to figure out this Palladium thing.

Take away the hysteria, what I get out of the controversy this: We'd have Palladium chips on the mother board (and eventually, built into the CPU), and Palladium software on the hard drive; the chips and software do encryption and decryption; Microsoft, or somebody, would have a database of digital signatures and Palladium source chips; if Palladium is turned on (MS swears it will be off by default), and assuming it works reliably, any time we tried to download software, run a program or open an e-mail, the chips on our machine would decrypt the digital signature of the source file, then check with the database to be sure it's registered. Possibly your ISP would check the signature before even passing the message to your machine.

The Advantages: spammers and virus writers are stopped cold. They'd have to buy a new machine, and register it, for each virus or spam they put on the 'net. (Aside, think how weird that last sentence would have sounded back, when Ezekiel was your only system). Software and content piracy ends, because during installation the program learns the identity of the machine or machines it's licensed to run on, and won't run on anything else.

The Disadvantages: somebody, possibly Microsoft, would possess that database, and thereby gain a lot of power over e-commerce, e-mail, programs and content. Do you trust MS with this power over your computer? Do you trust the govt. not to take control of that database and use it for its own purposes? Do you trust software and content providers not to use Palladium against you?

The sixtyfour dollar questions, imao: is this going to be legally mandated, or voluntary? And what do we do if Palladium starts out voluntary, then is made mandatory? I certainly don't trust MS, but they MIGHT be able to change my mind. I'll never trust the govt.

Best, Stephen


And Roland found a grim reminder of what was at stake in the Cold War:





This week:


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Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Regarding the missing C: drive in my Windows XP Home system (see column)


Did you try

1. right click on "My Computer" in the Start menu 
2. "manage" 
3. Storage / Disk Management 
4. Right click on your C:\ partition 
5. "Change Drive Letter and Paths..."




And in fact I had tried that. Do note that this all works, and if you don't know to do that you might try it on your Windows systems rather than drilling down through various programs menus, but the fact is that it did nothing. My C: drive exists, it's just that My Computer doesn't know where it is, nor does My Network Neighborhood. It's a bug in XP Home.  

Also note that I do not recommend XP Home to begin with. In crippling XP Professional they took too much out and they didn't pay attention to what they were doing.


Hello Jerry,


Read your article in


Our company plans to move from Microsoft Office to StarOffice. A lot of us use MS Outlook as our mail clients and have been suggested to move to Outlook Express, using StarOffice for tasks, calendar, documents, spread sheets, etc. I’m so used to working from one application and love to continue to do so. I have years of mails in Microsoft Outlook and love to convert them to StarOffice’s mail format. Do you know of converter that could convert PST or DBX files to StarOffice’s mail format?


Would really appreciate your help.


Best regards,



Anirudh Nadkarni


Samyog Software 

I still don't have a really good converter. Anyone know of one? See below.


On License agreements:

These 'we reserve the right to break your software, sell your organs, and enslave your children' license agreements are turning up all over. As I predicted the other major players in the industry have been dead silent because they are facing the same legal pressures and the same advice from their lawyers.

Recently such a controversy broke out over Roxio's Mac CD burning product, Toast.

With a follow-up here:

In a bizarre twist Roxio says there aren't any elements in Toast that could perform updates without user approval but there are in the PC product, Easy CD Creator. The claim is that the Mac product uses the same EULA apparently out of sheer laziness and that the text in the PC product is contingent on the DRM functions in WMP.

Why WMP's DRM update obligations (if such laws come to pass) directly affect Easy CD Creator is not clear. I mean, regardless of how many zillion copy righted tracks and discs you burn doesn't the ability to play them reside solely within the WMP DRM?

Likewise, I find the claim that this has no bearing on the Mac disingenuous. If Apple wants QuickTime to become a distribution format for commercial media online they would face the same demands from content owners for prevention of massive copying and the same kind of DRM facade would be implemented. It sounds like CYA in advance.

I've come across a couple references to similar EULA statements appearing in the most recent Mac release from Real Networks but I haven't found any site that reproduces the text in question or discusses it in detail. Lacking a current Mac platform I have no means to test for myself.

Eric Pobirs

We'll get a current Mac Real Soon Now. But I have a book to write...

Dear Dr Pournelle,

I wrote to you earlier re patents and the JPEG standard.

ISO has announced that if this patent bushwa continues, they're pulling the JPEG standard. See 

Note that with the current US patent setup, there's no way to be sure that any standard less than 20 years old is safe to use. RS-232C for example should be OK, but lots of things may not. Whether you win or lose in the courts, it will cost $$$.

Alan E Brain, Canberra, Australia

But the lawyers always win.



And if we didn't have enough to worry about, I have more than a dozen letters on this:

Potential Lucifer's Hammer alert! 

An asteroid discovered just weeks ago has become the most threatening object yet detected in space.

A preliminary orbit suggests that 2002 NT7 is on an impact course with Earth on 1 February 2019, although the uncertainties are large.

Astronomers have given the object a rating on the so-called Palermo technical scale of threat of 0.06, making NT7 the first object to be given a positive value.

From its brightness astronomers estimate it is about 2km wide, large enough to cause continent-wide devastation on Earth.

More at the link.

Lessee, 16+ years off, with NASA's current bureausclerosis, we're all goners if it's on a collision course.


Jim Riticher


Thanks to Jim Riticher, Ed Hume, and many others. Don't Panic. But indeed expecting NASA to Do Something is a pretty futile bet. And of course there are other things for an Empire to be concerned about:

Just read an article that makes me nervous.

Joe Farah, owner of WorldNetDaily, and an experienced journalist with a long string of credentials, makes five points in this article. 

1: The U.S. is going to attack Iraq. 
2: Iraq knows this, and is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads. 
3: As soon as an attack begins, Iraq will retaliate in the manner that has become almost routine in the Middle East -- terrorism. 
4: These attacks will not be confined to the Middle East, or to any particular continent. U.S. civilians will be on the front line in more than a rhetorical sense. 
5: Nobody in government is taking any steps to prepare the civilian population.

The case he makes strikes me as plausible. I hope he's wrong. He hopes he's wrong. Maybe someone with better access than I have will be able to show where he's wrong. Shall I hold my breath?

..........Karl Lembke

Fallout shelters anyone?

A while ago an enormous clatter arose from the intelligentsia about anthropology and the rain forest and all that. It died away. I got this today in another discussion group, and it seemed worth repeating. It concerns a new report on the "incident" in which distinguished scientists were charged with deliberately infecting Amazon tribesmen with diseases in the guise of vaccinations:

> So... this inquiry was not intended to decide the truth or falsity of

> claims against Chagnon or Neel, or to investigate allegations made

> against their accusers, or even collect evidence. I can only conclude

> that its sole purpose was to add one more line to the CVs of the

> committee members.

There was, I think, another purpose. It is known, in the English english territories, as "arse-covering." In the American sphere of (linguistic) influence, that first word drops r and e and substitutes a second s.

It was perfectly clear, within a month or two of the original Turner-Sponsel caper with the AAA meeting, that the whole thing was going to be a lead balloon. In the event, it was even worse than that: the international media, starved of hotter stories or of something for themselves to be self-righteous about, seized the story of anthropological righteousness (or lack of it) and ran with it: and after a couple of weeks they had turned on Turner, Sponsel, and the AAA. (How could they do otherwise, even those, such as The Guardian, that would have loved for Tierney and his professorial coaches to have been right?)

This new AAA report will live -- as an example of dishonest purpose and organization, dull writing, academic posturing... It will live as an example (1) of how not to write a report supposed to be based on evidence, with recommendations thereupon, and (2) of the incurable disease of political self-righteousness among what the Russians originally called the "Intelligentsia," a word that in its original context had nothing to do with "intelligence."

What the (excellent) CHE essay suggests is not correct: that Chagnon was charged with murder and was found in the end to be guilty of a parking violation. In fact, he was charged (as was Neel) with mass murder, but seems to have been guilty only of impoliteness to the meter-maids. (He referred, apparently, to some colleagues in cultural anthropology as "left-wingers." Quel domage!)

Which says it all I think.

On Smallpox:

Tom Holsinger discusses the possible aftermath of a smallpox attack, how HIV-positive people are affected (immune-impaired can't be safely vaccinated), and why the Feds won't even think about voluntary vaccination: 

"A major smallpox attack on America would spiral overseas into the greatest catastrophe in history unless we resume preventive vaccinations. The epidemic would probably kill a tenth of the human race.

This is, fortunately, unlikely as the perpetrators would gain nothing. America would suffer among the least, while Muslim countries would suffer among the most. Terrorist states and extremist Islam will be annihilated, and not merely at American hands.

Smallpox is violently contagious with an unvaccinated 30% fatality rate. Survivors are disfigured. We have just enough vaccine for all Americans, Mexicans and Canadians. Perhaps one in a million will die from vaccination, while more will be disabled. Newer vaccines are safer. Rapid production of less effective vaccine using raw cowpox might be possible, but distribution in undeveloped countries during a world epidemic is problematic. "


Casey Tompkins

P.S. I've been meaning to ask: do you have a preference on the format when someone sends you a link to an article or store as above? Should one include just the link, the link plus a one or two paragraphs (as above), or the link plus the full text body? (ok, not a good idea for a long article)

Thanks. And Link plus a couple of paragraphs is just fine.

And From Henry Vanderbilt on the Hammer:

Interesting. On February 1st, 2019, we come within the error band of a 2 kilometer asteroid's orbit, as best it's currently known. 2002 NT7 is the name of the recently spotted rock.

The stories on this emphasize that as orbital projections for 2002 NT7 are refined - and they will be, quickly, now that astronomers know where to look on old photos - the path will almost certainly be pinned down as missing Earth by a comfortable margin.

"Almost" certainly. Interesting times indeed were we to stay inside the area of uncertainty as it narrows down. Not that there's any mystery about what we can and should do at that point, of course - start building the ships and technology it'd take to go out and move it.

But would we do so in any effective way? Suppose the usual suspects get funded and start doing what they do best, cranking out studies and viewgraphs, all aimed at defining the absolute optimum method of dealing with the problem by the end of, say, FY 2015... Oops! We've fallen a bit behind schedule, but not to worry, our top people are studying the problem!

Cynical? Moi?

Henry Vanderbilt

In fact we could mobilize to Do Something, but we probably won't. Max Hunter used to say that if you could just get a herd of American dinosaurs running together in the right direction, it was a tremendous sight to see. We did go to the Moon in that decade, you know. 

But it would take Presidential priority, appointment of the right managers, and no Congressional interference. And no lawyers. And the lawyers would mostly rather be what they are than get out of the way even if the cost was Hammerfall. And the odds are changing...

Regarding the Star Office inquiry, Roland says

StarOffice no longer contains a calendar, nor an email client, so Mr. Nadkarni's question is moot.

Roland Dobbins







This week:


read book now


Thursday, July 25, 2002

You wrote "We'll get a current Mac Real Soon Now."

Wait one month. Apple's next paid upgrade to the OS (10.2) ships in August. Just easier to wait until it's pre-installed on systems, rather than go through the hassle of sending in a receipt and paying $20 for the upgrade disks.

And, this new version apparently has tons of Windows interoperability stuff. I've sworn off testing betas for any operating system company, but 10.2 appears to be much easier to integrate into Windows networking environments.

Steve Setzer


Hi Jerry, I was wondering if you would update your works-in-progression page concerning Mamelukes. If the book that will be coming out later this year is that book and the title changed to "Prince", then please update your page concerning it so that I can be at ease that it will soon be out to read. I have longed for this book back in the mid-80's, after reading the other three and before you probably even thought about making a fourth followup. That's how much I like your Jannisaries series. 

Also, the new Mac OS X is great (vs.10.1.4) and the preview of Jaguar that I saw looks even better. I've never used Linux before, but have been an avid window user before I switched to Mac's (I have the first generation Ti-book). The multi-tasking and threading that this operating system does is tremendous. I've compared it to same-speed and double speed pc's and it beats them to pieces. I am a school teacher and we have 500mhz Dells and Gateways. They can't keep up to my Mac 500mhz laptop. And that's comparing what I run within VPC-5, on my mac. The version of windows I run in VPC-5 is Win98. That's also what we run at school on their computers. I have next to no problems, while we have had constant failures, freeze-ups and no boots from the Dells and Gateways (Dells seem to be doing worse than the Gateways). One day I hope to learn to use Unix, especially since my Mac has that capability built as the basis of the OS. I'm very pleased with the MacIntosh G4's and am looking forward to the G5's when they do come out in a year or two. The only drawback that I am presently experiencing is the lack of scanner usage. But that is finally going to be taken care of within the next two months when I buy one of the new Cannon or Epson scanners that can be used natively by OSX. 

Please let me know what is going on with Mamelukes. I'ld appreciate it. Sincerely, Timothy Kirby

Prince is a collection of all known Falkenberg and Lysander stories plus a couple of new scenes. Mamelukes is still in progress. I have updates the Works In Progress page; thanks for the suggestion.

And Roland points out that when NASA says "flight vehicles only decades away..."

Unintentional irony: 

which tells you why I don't count on NASA to save us from Lucifer's Hammer. Decades away...

On those hidden files:


You might check out  for a Program called Spider which can read these files and its successor Spider Bite which will remove them.


Roger Osborn

Looking at it now. Thanks.

Hammer of God, it's gonna fall, Hammer of God come to punish us all,

Dr Dr. Pournelle I've been trolling through various sites covering asteroid 2002 NT7 and had the unnerving experience of seeing the odds of impact dropping from 1 in 10,000,000 (at,1282,54081,00.html ) to something less than 1 in 100,000 (at the New Scientist website: ). Even in Lucifer's Hammer the odds didn't fall that fast (-: At least it's not landing on a Thrusday.

Cheers James Evans

Hot Fudge Sundae... And see below.

And the Groves of Academe look like Chaos and Old Night...

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Subject: The Groves of Academe

Dear Jerry:

Two stories from our nation's campuses. One, I believe is a parody, one straight news. But I'm begining to wonder if there's a difference anymore.

"CAMBRIDGE, MA—Jon Rosenblatt, 27, a Harvard University English graduate student specializing in modern and postmodern critical theory, deconstructed the take-out menu of a local Mexican restaurant 'out of sheer force of habit' Monday." 

"A disciplinary conference board found Senior Ben Wetmore responsible for theft ... after he videotaped Tipper Gore's April 8 speech in Bender Arena." 

Best, Stephen

The English one has to be a parody. Doesn't it? Please? But why do I have the horrible suspicion that it isn't?








This week:


read book now


Friday, July 26, 2002

The Hammer:

I have a proposal about what to do about what I think of as LH19. Not specifically what to do but how to get things going. The President should borrow a cue from JFK and redo the 'we do these things because they are hard' speech and set forth a deadline for America to produce a package that can rendezvous with this object and alter its orbit.

It doesn't matter if a few years from now the orbit proves to be non-threatening in 2019. It will eventually match up with Earth's passage again so why wait? Also, there are bound to be other threats that make this a prime opportunity to learn how to not only keep bad rocks away but also put them where we want them for exploitation.

The Cold War is over. This time the big space effort should be about realizing a profit.

Eric Pobirs

I can certainly agree with that. I even know how to do it.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Asteroid 2002 NT7 should be classified as a resource and an opportunity (not to be missed). If there be any Caretakers of Planet Earth and The People, they are at present unskilled and unproven and even untested in bringing to reality the ancient philosopher's lever.

It is not too soon to begin the trials and errors (let us hope for none or few errors), and begin to think about collecting all those idle, rusting stockpiles of the world's nuclear warheads, not to dismantle or decommission, but to transform them into those space levers that will be required to change the orbits of certain asteroids of interest or notoriety.

There will be room for lots more years and eons of hope, if practice is begun in prudent time, before Lucifer's cruel Hammer makes all hope futile. Could we be witness to the hand of Providence reaching toward The Children of The Stars, sighing a silent breath of hope, "Wake, Little Ones, Here's a piece of a star. This is your childhood's end. Wait and watch and die, your fossil bones will last awhile. Or reach for stars and bend a planet's tail, your species might live on."

The orbit of Asteroid 2002 NT7 should not be nudged or bent willy-nilly lest future cycles repeat the peril. Instead, consider a landfall on Earth's Moon, or Mars. Someone may want to dig the crash site in 200 years. If energy resources, time, and economics were of no concern, a safe parking orbit might be dreamed of, even a dream of solar wind sail navigation after an initial use of a nuclear nudge.

Belay the dreams. Assemble the corps. Begin the practice. Attain the skills. Earth must be prepared.

Respectfully yours, James Ehman

I would myself think this a better investment of American resources than anything we can do in the Middle East; but I am an old republican, not one of the neoconservative imperialists.

And Roland has found this: 

Which is more relevant than it might at first appear. You will all recall that I was keynote speaker at the last Directed Energy convocation as USAF Phillips Lab...

Dr Pournelle,

I'm sure someone has responded to yesterday's mailbag entry about the grad student deconstructing a Mexican restaurant's menu, but since you posted nothing about it, I'll set you straight: The Onion is a news parody site. A pretty good one, if you are OK with irreverence.

There is a story - the details of which I don't know - of some Chinese state-sponsored journalists who posted as fact an article on The Onion, so you're certainly not the first to be taken in.

Jason Jones

Taken in? The Onion a parody site? Imagine my astonishment. Please forgive my horrible suspicion: the essence of good parody is to skate along the edge of reality so that if you squint hard enough you might imagine it to be true...

Why FBI missed Islamic threat

Thursday, July 25, 2002 

HOMELAND INSECURITY Why FBI missed Islamic threat Agents: Clinton shifted counterterror efforts to fighting 'right-wing' groups _

Posted: July 25, 2002 1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Paul Sperry _

WASHINGTON The Clinton administration "de-emphasized" fighting Arab international terrorism to focus on domestic terrorism namely, white "right-wing" militia groups which led to the FBI ignoring Arab nationals flocking to U.S. flight schools, veteran FBI agents told WorldNetDaily.

They say the shift was so dramatic at the FBI that dozens of boxes of evidence that agents gathered in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case were never analyzed until it was too late. The evidence held valuable clues to al-Qaida's network and operations, they say. <snip>







This week:


read book now


Saturday, July 27, 2002

Jerry, you should look on JPL's site here

to see the current estimates. The really frightening numbers are for 2060-02-01. According to JPL we are in for a direct hit on that date with a miss of .56 earth radii as against 4.47 for 2019. Of course, the likelihood is, that if it near misses in 2019, then its orbit will be modified by the Earth's gravity and anything possible.

Edward Chambers

Well. .56 radii. Well. So if it misses us in 2019, here it comes again...

I was thinking about the problem of stopping a Hammer-like object and remembered some information about the Deep Space 1 probe mission.

What is to stop us from sending a small network of ion drives to NT7 2002 and using them to do a slow burn orbital insertion of the asteroid into a stable orbit and then mine it for materials? An ion drive is ideal for this kind of application I would think, some information about ion drives just to serve as a refresher:

"The ion propulsion system on Deep Space 1 carries about 81.5 kilograms of xenon propellant, and it takes about 20 months of thrusting to use it all. It increases the speed of the spacecraft by about 4.5 kilometers per second, or about 10,000 miles per hour. If we had the same amount of chemical propellant, it would provide only one tenth as much velocity increment. If DS1 carried a larger solar array, it certainly would have a slightly higher acceleration, and if it carried more Xe propellant it could reach a much higher final velocity by simply thrusting longer. But DS1 is testing ion propulsion solely to find out if it works as well as predicted. Future missions that use it likely will carry more propellant to achieve still higher speeds."

Deep Space 4 is slated to use an array of ion drives for propulsion to test higher speeds among other new tech in 2004.

I don't have the numbers on hand but I would be curious to see if it is feasible to use a small network of ion drives on NT7 2002 with a prolonged burn of a 1-2 year duration would be sufficient enough to put it into a stable orbit around the Earth that would lend to having it get mined easily. We have the technology to do all of this now I think, if not would someone please correct me? What have I missed here? I would be greatly interested to work out the math on this with everyone.

-Dan S.

P.S. Last I heard we had a 1 in 100,000 chance between now and 2060 of being hit by NT7 2002. After 2060 data becomes dicey due to the close passes NT7 2002 will make.

If we have access to space we will have little problem diverting this thing. The risk is real, the expected value of doing something about it is probably positive; the only real question is the will.

A Presidential Priority on X concepts by USAF and USN would do it. Whether they'll get it is another matter.

On other matters:

A Linux guy says "take a Mac user to lunch", but the really interesting part is the table of cost breakdowns. Summary: In both real dollars and as a percentage of system cost, the cost of Microsoft operating systems has risen proportionally far more than the hardware cost of small computers has dropped. 

Steve Setzer (carefully donning his flameproof suit)

He has a point. Especially now that Microsoft has made it very difficult to run the same copy of their OS on more than one home machine.

Jerry, long time reader (pre-DOS 8-bit days) of Chaos Manor and your Sci-Fi, but first time writer. I'm also a Mac user since '84 and of DOS/Windows since DOS 1.1, and of Unix since '86.

Definately wait to buy a Mac until 10.2 (Jaguar) is pre-installed, which should be around August/September. In the past, as a letter in Mail indicated, the upgrade would only be $20 or so for the new CDs, but this time apple has said explicitly that it will be full price ($129) to upgrade, even to full retail owners (non-preinstalled) of 10.1 and earlier (which was also the first pre-installed release).

Apple periodically charges full price for significant minor-version-number OS upgrades, it's generally an indication of 1) Large engineering outlays for significant new features and/OR 2) A bad quarter/fiscal year :-)


Raul Gonzalez Tucson, AZ

Thank you.

And Harry Erwin says on buying a Mac now

Yes, you might wait until it comes installed on the Mac. On the other hand, the installation disks may not have the developer's tools. Those are extremely useful, so get the upgrade disks anyway. -- 

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


Roland says I want one of these. He's right: 

Be sure and get the Milky Way Model Data Set, at the bottom of the page.

Roland Dobbins 


Dr. Huth says I want one of these and he's right too:


Don't know if you are interested, but there is a stunning new translation of Beowulf available. Translation is by Seamus Heaney. I last looked at this years ago and don't remember Beowulf being so poetic and so accessible. By far the best translation I've ever read. Strong recommendation!

Thanks again!

Things to worry about:

Politicians are either idiots or corrupt. Probably both.

"Other critics have pointed out that because the proposal applies to any copyright holder, news organizations, photographers, and even the Church of Scientology would be granted new hacking authority." 

Francis G.

Your categories are neither mutually exclusive nor collectively exhaustive.


And this caution:

Hi Jerry!

As a public transporation user, I implore you, please don't even hint that CEOs should seek employment as bus drivers. They are inherently unsuited to the task.

Bus drivers must:

1) Navigate a precise, preplanned course through chaotically changing conditions.

2) Must follow their route even when other bus drivers go in other directions.

3) Must consistently arrive and depart all stops on time.

4) Must obey both the laws of the road and the unwritten rules of the road.

5) Must treat their riders (stockholders) and members of the public with courtesy, dignity and respect.

6) Must put the needs of the riders (stockholders) above their own desires.

No, clearly, CEOs cannot qualify as bus drivers, however, bus drivers may be a better choice for filling vacant CEO slots.

Yours, B

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


And an important letter on migrations:

Dr Pournelle,

Came across this after multiple requests from clients. Thought you might be interested.

Subject: Move AutoCorrect Lists among Word Installations

Word 2002;[LN];Q269006  Word 2000;[LN];Q207748  Word 97;[LN];Q186237 

Now, how to do that *between* versions is the question I'm working on.

Below, the slub. This just makes me sad, and I see it happening with increasing regularity.

What's going to happen to this country when everyone speaks and writes like poor christine?


PS -- "And I need to do some fiction." According to whom? Apparently not according to your dog. Have you asked your wife lately?

-----Original Message-----

From: christine [

Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2002 x:xx PM


Subject: Re: Change order # XX-619xxxx


Dear J____:


Your order is changed and update on line upon your request,

the new grand total is $1543.32, the different amount

of $240.01 is extra charged to your account.

Please review and advised as any changing error

the order status is being processed to our warehouse.

As reminder the tracking will be sent to you via

e-mail after the order had been successful shipped.

Thank you for shopping with us.




Aaaaarrrrggghhhh! But thanks for the migration information

And finally for the day, Roland proves that he has far too much time on his hands, saying

I know not what to make of this: 

And I sure don't.





This week:


read book now



I feel sorry for women who have been panicked by the recent big fuss over a study that allegedly showed HRT to increase the risk of breast cancer. The doctors who publicized that result were just fame-seekers. The connection between taking HRT and breast cancer in their study WAS NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. In other words, the result could easily have emerged by chance alone. The proper scientific conclusion from the study therefore is that there is NO CONNECTION between HRT and cancer. The article below gives further information. Even it however is not totally accurate. What it states to be "statistically significant" was described in the original report only as "approaching statistical significance".

By Ceci Connolly Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, July 28, 2002; Page A01.

When Judy Braslow read that federal researchers had abruptly halted a major study of hormone replacement therapy because of an increased risk of serious health problems, she immediately sat down at her computer and fired off an e-mail to her doctor.

"I'm getting off cold turkey," Braslow wrote to Jay Grodin, the Bethesda endocrinologist who prescribed hormone therapy for early menopause nearly 20 years ago.

Please wait, Grodin typed back. Don't panic. It was the same message he sent to dozens of other anxious women.

Grodin's was just one of the many, varied pieces of advice doctors have offered patients since July 9, when the federally funded Women's Health Initiative took 16,000 postmenopausal women off hormone therapy, citing fears of increased risk of blood clots, gallbladder disease and breast cancer. They also warned that rather than protect against heart attacks, hormones potentially increased the risk of heart disease.

In the three stressful weeks since that announcement, inundated physicians have been frantically trying to translate the scientific data into practical advice for some of the 6 million women nationwide who take a combination of estrogen and progestin.

Many are adopting the go-slow approach advocated by Grodin, arguing that the results of the study were overblown and that each woman must analyze the individual risks and benefits herself. Other doctors have reacted in the extreme -- either rejecting the study or accepting it as gospel -- leaving women in the familiar position of making a difficult decision in the face of conflicting medical opinion.

As a woman from Montgomery Village observed in a online chat: "It's like following a ricocheting ball, and it's making me dizzy." A treatment course once hailed as an energizing wonder with the potential to improve everything from the heart to bone density is, like most medications, not such a clear-cut proposition, the researchers say.

On the market since the mid-1960s, hormone therapy has become increasingly popular as women live longer, more demanding lives. Marketing hype -- with stars such as Lauren Hutton touting the therapy as good for women's moods and skin -- and a hefty body of research helped fuel growing public demand.

Observational research, which is not as sophisticated as the recent study comparing patients on a certain medication with a "control group" taking placebos, suggested that the benefits of hormone replacement therapy extended far beyond the treatment of menopause.

The studies were so impressive that Wyeth, the leading maker of estrogen, asked the Food and Drug Administration in 1990 for permission to label the drug as protective against heart disease. Today, about 17 million women in the United States take hormones.

"By the 1990s, estrogens were thought to prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, colon cancer and Alzheimer's," said Isaac Schiff, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital. "By the '90s, you would think it was almost malpractice if you didn't discuss hormones with your patients." Those earlier studies, said Jennifer Hays, a principal investigator for the Women's Health Initiative, were not wrong, but limited. "Hormone replacement therapy for the past 20 years has been more a belief system than an empirical, fact-based practice," said Hays, director of the Women's Health Center at Baylor College of Medicine.

Yet the reports created a "bandwagon effect" that was difficult for patients or doctors to resist, said investigator Margery Gass, director of the Menopause and Osteoporosis Center at the University of Cincinnati.

For many, the latest twist in hormone replacement therapy is a harsh reminder that medicine is an imprecise, evolving science, and that obtaining more data does not necessarily mean having better information.

"What this study meant to me is we just don't know," said Ruth Shaber, Women's Health Leader for Kaiser Permanente, the large California-based health maintenance organization. "This really reinforces the notion we should do no harm." Kaiser helped physicians draft and send letters in English, Spanish and Chinese to its 100,000 clients on hormone replacement therapy, Shaber said. Harvard Vanguard Medical Association in the Boston area sent new guidelines to its physicians within 48 hours of the study's release, said Maureen Connelly, co-director of the group's Menopause Consultation Service.

"We're trying to get the word out this is not an emergency," she said. "The bottom line is if you were taking hormones strictly to prevent heart disease, you should get off. For everyone else, there may still be legitimate reasons to use these medications." Lost in the recent report was evidence that estrogen coupled with progestin reduced colorectal cancer and hip fractures and made no difference with respect to death rates.

Holly Thacker, head of the women's health center at the Cleveland Clinic, worries that general practitioners will overreact to the frightening headlines.

"It's very disconcerting to hear local doctors say there's too much anxiety and it's too time-consuming" to calculate a woman's individual risk, she said. "They're just telling all women to stop taking hormones." Many doctors also blame the media for misinterpreting confusing statistics. The study found, for instance, that the combination therapy resulted in a 26 percent increase in breast cancer. That number reflects the risk difference between the women taking hormone therapy and those taking a placebo.

Although that is "statistically significant" and cause for concern among public health officials, Grodin said the raw numbers -- eight additional cases out of 10,000 women -- are not nearly as terrifying.

Yet even the most sophisticated consumers were spooked by the bald conclusion of the report: "The study was stopped early because after 5.2 years the therapy's risks outweighed and outnumbered its benefits." Braslow and her husband spent their careers in the health profession and knew it was highly unusual to stop a major study in midstream. After sending Grodin the e-mail, she went on vacation -- without her medication. When she returned, she opened an invitation from Grodin to attend a seminar Thursday night.

The response was overwhelming. More than 300 women streamed into the auditorium of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda with husbands, co-workers and neighbors in tow. A few gripped canes; others clutched notebooks or the patient inserts stuffed inside prescription boxes.

For more than an hour, with charts and slides, Grodin walked the group through the research. He spoke extensively about mitigating factors, such as diet and exercise, that reduce risks, and reminded the women that the researchers paid no attention to the quality-of-life issues they cared about.

By the time Braslow was walking out, she and many other women said they would follow his suggestion to try weaning themselves off the drugs. But like Braslow, many vowed they would not trade in the energy, sex drive and clearheadedness they have now for a return to hot flashes, vaginal dryness and memory loss.

"I'll see how I do," Braslow said. "But after hearing Dr. Grodin, I would go back on.".

I don't know enough to comment.

Jim Warren sends letters that supposedly got to Dear Abbey but weren't published:

Dear Abby: What can I do about all the sex, nudity, language and violence on my VCR?

Dear Abby: My mother is mean and short-tempered. I think she is going through her mental pause.

Dear Abby: I have a man I never could trust. He cheats so much. I'm not even sure this baby I'm carrying is his.

Dear Abby: I suspected that my husband had been fooling around, and when I confronted him with the evidence he denied everything and said it would never happen again.

Dear Abby: Our son writes that he is taking Judo. Why would a boy who was raised in a Good Christian home turn against his own?

Dear Abby: My forty-year-old son has been paying a psychiatrist $60 an hour every week for two-and-a-half years. He must be crazy.

Dear Abby: Do you think it would be all right if I gave my doctor a little gift? I tried for years to get pregnant but couldn't, and he did it.

Dear Abby: You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband lost all interest in sex years ago and he is a doctor.

Dear Abby: I am a twenty-three-year-old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It's getting expensive, and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don't know him well enough to discuss money with him.

Dear Abby: A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid-twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I've never seen a man go into their apartment or come out. Do you think they could be Lebanese?

Oh dear...

War World

Dear Mr. Pournelle,

I am afraid that the title of this email is self-explanatory and hopefully you didn't delete it ouright with a sigh of disgust. I imagine you have been bombarded with questions and/or requests about the potential sequals to the WarWorld sries and probably have long sine given the yea or nay answer. The only exuse I have is that I have only disovered the series fairly recently. The downside of it is that now I am living in a sort of perpetual suspene:) Did Hammer of God Jackson make it home. Did he die forever burdened by his one great lie. Did the tribes turned on Bandari or did the nuke cover the mutlitude of sins, includingthe hammer's lie. Did Sharku's vision for the Race ame true. Did Sigrid's scenario for incorporating ha-bandari into Sauron matrix work.

So, to cut my blathering short and come to the point:) Is there any possibility or tentative plans for further War World books?



At the moment I have neither contributors nor an editor, and not much publisher demand; but I agree, another story in that series would be neat. The best I can say is, not Real Soon.

And if we did not have enough to worry about:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

In case anyone feels there isn't enough to worry about:

Saudi Arabia is teetering on the brink of collapse, fuelling Foreign Office fears of an extremist takeover of one of the West's key allies in the war on terror.

Anti-government demonstrations have swept the desert kingdom in the past months in protest at the pro-American stance of the de facto ruler, Prince Abdullah.

At the same time, Whitehall officials are concerned that Abdullah could face a palace coup from elements within the royal family sympathetic to al-Qaeda.

Saudi sources said the Pentagon had recently sponsored a secret conference to look at options if the royal family fell.,11599,764617,00.html 

This kind of thing always makes my head hurt. Is it on the level or is it a good-cop-bad-cop type of scam. You know the game: "If you don't support the good Prince Abdullah (money, weapons, quit harping on the fact that most of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudis and that the US government helped Saudis out of the country after 9-11), the bad Prince Sultan will sieze power--and you wouldn't want that, would you?

Nice touch linking in Abdullah's so-called "Peace Proposal", as well.

Given that Saudi Arabia is a hotbed of Wahibbism, the story could even be true.

Either way throws a spanner in the works of any attempt to bring some kind of stability to the region, if for no other reason than to protect our access to the oil.

Yes, I agree we should be putting our resources into SPS. No, I don't believe that we will actually do it.

Which puts in mind the question: "Are we doing any R&D on long-term projects any more, or is it all going into ever-flashier disposable consumer trinkets?" I exclude DoD and NASA "R&D" which seems more a quest to create a better capital sink than anything else.


Gordon Runkle

-- "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." -- Theodore Roosevelt

An Empire would have no problems here and a Republic wouldn't be dependent. We seem to be dependent and dithering.





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