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Mail 221 September 2 - 8, 2002






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

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

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

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Monday  September 2, 2002  Labor Day USA

Roland sends this, which continues a discussion from last week:

Subject: More good travel news.


We cannot entirely insure safety. We particularly cannot insure the safety of each airplane and traveler. Someone sufficiently determined and resigned to certain death will be able to get a bomb capable of destroying an airplane aboard that airplane, and set it off. But then that's true of airport waiting lines, busses, very likely speeding trains. The means to kill a dozen to a hundred people is easily obtained, and nothing we can do will change that.

We can prevent airplanes from being hijacked and used as cruise missiles, but that's pretty simple too.  Secure the cabin, and arm the pilots, and make certain that no threat will cause the pilot to surrender control of the airplane. 

We endure 50,000 and more automobile fatalities each year. This Labor Day weekend could easily  see half as many people dead on the highways as were killed on 9-11 in the Arab attack on the United States. We could prevent all that by shutting down the highways, but we don't do it. We can prevent all air casualties by shutting down the airlines -- and that we seem to be working toward.

Dear dr. Pournelle,

I know the asteroid hype is pretty well over, but after reading an item about using a sort of airbag to change an asteroids path the following thought occured to me: "It may miss Earth, but what if it hits the moon?" An asteroid hitting the moon and maybe changing its orbit should at least have some effect on tides I think...

Patrick de Haan

You'd think so, but if you run the numbers you'll find that anything that would have a significant effect on the Moon's mass or orbital distance would REALLY mess things up. Of course the Moon has been hit with some BIG stuff, as you can see by looking at it with good binoculars...

On languages:

I haven't been bothering you about APL for more than a decade, and I think it's time again. Ken Iverson's latest language, called j, does not require the funny APL characters, but is even more powerful than APLs. You can download it for free from Windows, Mac, and Unix versions are available. The package includes an extensive tutorial and numerous examples, including the game of Pousse. Iverson's team won the Judges' Prize in a programming contest with their 111-line program. It wasn't the best player in the tournament, but it was by far the most elegant entry.

This version can do graphics, UIs, and all sorts of other things that APLs didn't do when they were text-only math languages. -- Edward Cherlin Generalist "A knot! Oh, do let me help to undo it!" --Alice in Wonderland

I know a lot of people who purport to be APL enthusiasts, but I never saw them do much with it. The exception was Marvin Minsky who could use it to do miracles. He'd look blank, then suddenly type a line of incomprehensible code at a furious pace, and Voila! there would be the answer.  But he is a rare exception...


I have the following from someone for whom I have some respect. I do not endorse what is said here: I have not looked into the matter at all. Ordinarily I wouldn't post something without looking into it, but if I don't do it now I never will. If anyone is impelled to go look, I would appreciate a report.

URL - 

A People Have Been Slandered JUDGMENT!

[ Order information below ]

In 1992 the world was shocked by pictures of a supposed Bosnian Serb death camp.

The photos were distributed to newspapers and TV by ITN, the British news station. The pictures were a fraud. This is proved in the movie, 'JUDGMENT!'

The most famous picture showed an emaciated man, naked to the waist. It looked as if he were imprisoned behind a barbed wire fence. As it turns out, the fence was almost all chicken wire and the man was part of a group on the outside, talking to ITN reporters inside an enclosure.

On August 6th, 1992, twenty minutes after the doctored photos were shown on TV, George Bush, Sr., held a press conference. With the world horrified by what they thought they had seen, Bush demanded:

"tighten[ing] economic sanctions on Serbia so that all understand that there is a real price to be paid for the Serbian government's continued aggression."

On the day the ITN people filmed in Bosnia, a crew from Serbian Television (RTS) accompanied them. They filmed right beside the ITN people, sometimes even mistakenly filming them. Using this almost identical footage, 'JUDGMENT!' shows, step by step, how a humanitarian refugee center (at Trnopolje) and a humanely run detention center (at Omarska) were made to look like cruel concentration camps. The film includes interviews with Muslims and the Serb commander at Omarska. These interviews suggest that, absent outside interference, there never would have been a war in Bosnia. ITN never broadcast the interviews.

It is ironic that by slandering the Serbian people and their moderate Muslim allies, British ITN aided the Islamist Bosnian government. For that government was based on fanaticism. It worked closely with Islamist terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

If after viewing 'JUDGMENT!' you feel we are not telling the truth, we will refund your payment.

As I said above, I do not endorse this, and I have not examined it; I did get the email from someone for whom I have some respect. And as invited, there is a comment below from a reader who looked into it.

And PDA Information from Dr. Mark Huth:


I've mentioned this before and it had some excellent press several years ago. I use a program called Zoot which is written and supported by one man, Tom Davis. It is stunningly good at gathering organizing, and synthesizing information. Tom has made, by my count, about 200 major improvements in the product in the last 4 years. One reviewer says that calling Zoot a personal information manager is like calling the QE2 a boat. I'll say that you can do almost anything in it. It is sensational software. Bit of a learning curve, but I can't imagine that you wouldn't rave about it, too. In my view it is all that is good in computer software.

James Fallows writes about it: Zoot is designed to solve two problems: how to take in data randomly and rapidly from many sources - the Web, e-mail, your own documents - and get it into a usable form; and how to manage the increase in sheer volume of data, which raises questions about archives, portability, search speed and so on. He deals with the first problem through a combination of clever ad-hoc search routines and a powerful toolkit for building artificial-intelligence rules, so the data comes back to you organized. His solution to the second issue is to break large data chunks (think of a gargantuan Outlook PST file) into small, independent components, tied together with a browser-like viewer that can address an unlimited number of data sources simultaneously. Although Zoot handles data from virtually any program or source, several features are designed to complement Outlook, so e-mail and "task" items will be far easier to search, organize, archive and to generally make sense of. 

a few reviews at: 

I have heard of this, and I have neglected to look into it, and I hope to remedy that. Thanks!

And we have this imbecility:

Subject: Bridge Player Is Stripped Of Medal For Refusing Drug  Pubdate: Mon, 02 Sep 2002 BRIDGE PLAYER IS STRIPPED OF MEDAL FOR REFUSING DRUG TEST Author: Patrick Jourdain, Bridge Correspondent, in Montreal The world of bridge was in uproar yesterday after a drug scandal at the world open championships in Montreal. Disa Eythorsdottir, an American professional, was stripped of her silver medal for refusing to take a drug test. The World Bridge Federation was forced to hold an unprecedented emergency meeting to determine how to discipline her. Random drug testing for bridge players at world championships was introduced in January 2000 as part of the WBF campaign for bridge to become an Olympic sport. Four US team members were chosen for the tests but Eythorsdottir, who is orginally from Iceland, refused. Close to tears, she said "They have taken everything, my medal, my name. I am on a diet drug connected with a back condition. I asked the authorities whether the drug was on the banned list and they did not know." She added: "The drug is on prescription but I did not obtain a certificate to cover it." There are no prohibited performance-enhancing drugs for bridge, so the WBF relies on the list of banned substances supplied by the International Olympic Committee. Jose Damiani, WBF president, said: "Since we introduced random testing two players have failed, but both so narrowly that we did not publish the names, informing only the player and their federation of the problem. He added: "However, she [Eythorsdottir] refused the test. She is deemed to have failed the test. Her medal has been removed and her name has been referred to her federation." Eythorsdottir, who is well-known in the bridge world, is from Iceland but married an American, Curtis Cheek, and is eligible to represent the US. She had to stand aside as her five team-mates received their medals. The WBF suffered another blow when Mr Damiani said that the IOC programme commission was advising against accepting bridge. Copyright: 2002 Telegraph Group Limited

After all, rules are rules, and rules must be obeyed.

What the classical Greeks would have thought of Olympic Bridge I don't know. The Olympiads were a celebration and not heavy on team sports at all. If we must have team sports I have always thought we ought to have practical events, like two men carrying to 4 x 8 sheets of plywood through a construction site with narrow turns; hockey and baseball aren't what I think of as Olympic events. And bridge certainly isn't.  But what in the world is to be made of this?

But we were born free. So were Icelanders.

And on another front:


Turkish Generals Threaten Islamic Fundamentalists

August 28, 2002; Pay attention to this, because they mean it. The Turkish Army issued a statement vowing to keep true to its Kemalist roots. The Turkish Army intends to fight Islamism. It will also continue to oppose Kurdish separatism. An AFP report included this quote from retiring Chief of Staff General Huseyin Kivrikoglu: "Everybody must know that the Turkish armed forces will not tolerate the use of the opportunities of democracy by the enemies of the system as a means to dynamite the basic principles of our state...Even though significant progress has been achieved in this field, the separatist and reactionary threat is potentially continuing. All measures should be taken against the continuation of the separatist and reactionary threats under the masks of politicization." Note the vocabulary. The Turkish military prefers to refer to Islamism as "reactionary," which it is. Is this a "coup threat" if an Islamist party were to take power in Ankara (even in a democratic election) and begin to dismantle Turkey's secular institutions? Yes, it most certainly is. (Austin Bay)

Periodically there is an attempt to restore Islamic government in Turkey. Periodically the Army comes out of barracks and hangs those who try it. Then it goes back to barracks: a form of military rule unlike any I know of in history, where the army rules but does not reign; and doesn't govern either.

We have a web page on the discussion of new Infantry weapons and tactics. This letter arrived, and has been posted there, with my reply. I expect it to reopen the discussion.

I don't know how old the articles you have on "Queen of War" are, so I may be replying to a long dead topic. I have to voice my concern though.

First off, The man who spoke about China having the right idea:

China has the wrong Idea, they've had the wrong Idea for a long time. I'm only fifteen years old, and I know about the battle for Chosin. After the engagement, I think about six Chinese DIVISIONS were completely destroyed, with about another five with terrible losses. All of this done by ONE MARINE Division, surrounded, using the problematic M1 Carbine (Which was prone to jamming or misfiring in cold weather, mind you). At some points the Marines were reduced to throwing Rocks. They also carried out a manuever called "Final Protective Fire". That alone killed tons of Chinese, and sometimes had some American Fratricide, but the Chinese paid for every inch they gained, even though they ended up losing.


Computers on the battlefield, at least for the time being is a bad idea. They are, for one, too cumbersome (Eg. Land Warrior), and require to much power. The last thing you need is Delta Force or Navy SEALS fifty miles behind enemy territory trying to carry out some high-stakes, classified mission, and get cut to ribbons because thier batteries run out...

The Weapons that have been developed by companies such as HK, and Colt as a compromise are flops. The G11? The gun shoots a cartridge as wide as a BB or Pellet. No matter how fast it goes, like we learned with the M16, it's going to take more than one shot to knock them down, and in some times you don't have the time or ammo to plug everyone five to ten times.

The G36 has the right idea, use a proven (though not the most capable) cartridge in a streamlined package, with a integrated scope. Allows the basic rifleman, if using the rifle correctly, to become a marksman or even expert with his weapon. The lightweight contruction, and pure ergonomics give it a rather nice appeal to it as well.

I wonder what ever happened to the 7.62mm Cartridge as a mainstay. It would be much simpler if you could make a GPMG, much like the M249 SAW, which would have the ability to use magazines from rifles of the same caliber. You can't do that now because the GPMG and the M16 don't fire the same cartridge. That would be cheaper, and more useful. The 7.62mm Cartridge is also very hard to stop, even by today's standards. The only thing that will stop it is a SPECTRASHEILD (R) Plate, which weighs a good 5-7 pounds, on top of a ballistic vest. The entire thing would be around 20 Pounds.


Gallmeier has it wrong as well. Twenty Millimeter fragmentation from an OICW grenade would be more than enough to be effective in combat. The goal is to wound someone, not kill them. Why? If you take Enemy #1's legs off, Enemy #2 and in most cases, an Enemy #3 will come to his aid, and try to drag him off to thier Aid Station, if such a thing exists (Obviously Somolia would not have such a facility), regardless, his freinds would carry them off. THEN you do the same to them, aiming for shots that will take the out of the battle, but keep thier little hearts-a-thumping. I'm not saying it's not wise to kill them, it is, but it would be adventageous to incapacitate all the men you can with the least trouble.

They had no problem hosing them down with Machine guns and chainguns at hamburger hill. It was a mess, but look who was fighting...

And I WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU FIRE A .50 Caliber Rifle! Unless you alter the cartridge, or have really good recoil mitigation, it's going to beat the hell out of you. Ammunition will be heavy as a damned mule, and It will be HEAVY overall, because the gun will have to be pretty big. I think your nuts. .50 Caliber? I wouldn't want to hump that on a ten mile march.

Stealth Gliders? Are you sure you're in the right universe, pal?

1.5 Pound Shaped Charge Warhead being Small? C4, Comp B, etc, etc are all high yeild explosives. If you were even close, Which the engagements of tomorrow will be, we're not fighting in open desert with ten miles of nothing in any direction. Close Combat, Close Contact. 1.5 Pounds of HE would be suicide.

*Ahem*, Fragmentation more penetrative than 7.62 NATO Ball? You're refering to the fact they'd have nifty Ballistic Vests. Here are the areas, VITAL Areas, that are still vunerable:

Face! Neck! Brachial Artery Femoral Artery Groin Legs Knees Etc. Etc.

Wounding either of those Arteries can bleed you out real quick-like, about two minutes...

My Final point:

High Tech Weapons are dreamy at best. Scientists and military men alike want to slap gizmos and gadgets onto guns, forgetting that the gun will be thrown, tossed, dropped, sometimes hit with gunfire, be dropped in mud, have to operate in adverse conditions: wet, dry, hot, cold, and everything inbetween. LCD screens can fog up, break, run out of batteries. Batteries run out! When it comes down to close combat, which is the combat of tomorrow, it doesn't matter how many microchips your sighting system has, how how far off you can shoot targets with precision...

What matters is that your gun is light, accurate at close and intermediate ranges, easy to weild and maneuver at close ranges (Which points more towards "Bullpup" Style Weapons, which are Ambedextrious, EG F2000) and are SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. Why do you think half the world uses old AK-47's and AK-47 Knock-offs? They are HORRIBLY reliable! They can be counted on in any situation. You can throw them in dirt and mud, they will fire whether it be hot, cold, or wet. High Tech Weapons can't, or would fail or break...

I am fortunate enough to have taken apart the M14, and Simonov SKS-45 Carbine. Two reliable weapons, though they are aging, they break down into seven and five parts, respectively for the average feild stripping. High tech guns would break down into nine or higher. It would be a shame to have your gun jam in the middle of a firefight (EG M-16) and have to take a complicated gun with multiple peices apart, and clean them.

Final Word: Simple = Better. High-Tech = Fiction, and CRAP on the battlefield.

Lupton Daniel (who calls himself, perhaps significantly, thanatos in his mail address)


If you are in fact only 15 years old, you are a living refutation to the charge that no one gets a decent education or learns to write in the United States. I'll reserve comments for later. Discussion continues below.





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Tuesday,  September 3, 2002

My view of the Balkan situation is well known: we had no business being involved there. If there were any good guys that wasn't obvious.  That's a preamble to this:

JEP said: > I have the following from someone for whom I have some respect.

Are they Serbian? I assume they aren't communists.

> I do not endorse what is said here: I have not looked into the matter > at all. Ordinarily I wouldn't post something without looking into it, > but if I don't do it now I never will. If anyone is impelled to go > look, I would appreciate a report.

Short version: essentially this is a pro-Serbian-Communist (socialist/leftist, whatever) propaganda site.

When the bombing of Serbia started, way back when, ethnic Serbians popped up all over the net denouncing the action in the strongest terms. That's fine so far as it goes, but they would then start in with the litany of things the US had done, which would often sound like a cross between apocalyptic evangelical Christian preachers and X-files-type conspiracy nuts.

The litany generally went something like this: Bill Clinton was a pawn of the evil capitalist empire, the US was trying to surround and destroy Russia by destroying Serbia, the US was trying to resurrect Nazism, the US wanted oil from Serbia, Yugoslavia was a peace-loving state besieged by evil terrorist separatists, the evil Croats had sided with the Nazis in WWII, the Bosnians Muslims were evil infidels, the Albanians were trying to destroy the Serbian race, and so on and so on.

I heard all that stuff back in '98 and of course, here it is again. I say Serbian, because they produce headlines like this:

"Meet The Nazis The CIA Married: The Croatian Ustashi

by Petar Makara and Jared Israel"

Of course, the Croats WERE very not nice during WWII. What almost all the reportage tends to neglect is that in the aftermath of WWI and the creation of Yugoslavia, the Serbians were not nice to just about everybody else in Yugoslavia. But of course, ethnic wars are not pretty, and certainly aren't rational. (I have no ethnic ax to grind here, other than an abiding interest in Balkan cuisine and history. I have but the one great-great-great ancestor from Eastern Europe, and he came from the German areas of the Czech Republic. Whether he was Czech or German I do not know. Also, I am neither Eastern Orthodox or Catholic.)

There is, of course, the entire Nationalist/South Slav issue, which we last heard of just before WWI, wherein the favorite daydream was of Russia moving to seize Constantinople (and the Dardenelles) from the Turks, and uniting the slavs in the Balkan penisula (at the expense of the Austro-Hungarians) with Russia, which would form a giant Eastern Orthodox/Slav Empire. That particular mess kicked off WWI. So that produces charming headlines like this:

"Emperor's Clothes Now in Russian! ???????

We are very proud to announce that Emperor's Clothes articles can now be read in Russian. We hope to post Russian-language articles at least twice a week. If you speak Russian, check it out. If you know anyone who does, please let them know. Also we are about to launch an English-language section of Emperor's Clothes with daily news reports on NATO's attempted drive to the East..."



And of course, they're communists, too. This story which is a reprint from the NYPress: 

concludes with:

"Washington now has 13 bases in nine countries ringing Afghanistan and in the Gulf. Agreements are in place to use airfields in Tajikistan. An air base is being built in Kyrgyzstan to hold 3000 troops. Gen. Tommy Franks vows to crush the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones promises $160 million in aid. Some 1500 U.S. servicemen are already stationed there; 3000 American troops are in Kyrgyzstan. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the bases will serve to facilitate cooperation and training with the local military. In other words, the U.S. will, as in the Balkans, play the Islamists and anti-Islamists off against each other and reduce the countries to abject dependence. If the fates of Kosovo and Macedonia are anything to go by, the Soviet Union era will soon seem like a glorious one. "

Woo. Hoo.

I am not in favor of the United States acting like an Empire, and to be honest, while I am certainly NOT a Democrat, I am not a Bush fan either. But sites like these have a nasty habit of simply Making S*** Up. Here's the headline about 911 (all of these are from the front page at or ):

"ARTICLES EXPOSING THE LIES ABOUT 9-11 (1) Evidence of high-level complicity in the actual events of 9-11 (2) Osama Bin Laden's involvement in Western attacks on Afghanistan and the Balkans. Evidence he never severed his ties with CIA. (3) US/West European links to Islamic Fundamentalism (4) Interviews related to 9-11 & Afghanistan (5) What does the Modus Operandi of the US/Euro Empire tell us about its nature? *This entire section, dealing with "strategic racism," is newly added!* (6) What is the US/Euro Strategy in Central Asia? Is it based on oil profits or on the remaking of the world to preemptively crush potential resistance & guarantee hegemony? *This section reorganized with new material!*"

But the site's dedication to the truth is really on display here:  and

in this picture: 

You would think that both pictures in the story were from the 'riot'. But in fact, 'Mr. Israel' says the one the left is from the AP Wire (plagiarized!), and merely says "The picture on the right shows what "rubber" bullets do. "

Looking at bullet.jpg, I am reasonably sure the picture is a fake. I don't think a rubber bullet would leave a simple round hole as a wound, I don't think such a hole would appear round when shot from the side, but more important, I know such a hole would not stay round when the person with the wound extended their leg as in the picture. Furthermore, I don't think anyone with a hole in the back of their knee (at the point where the connective tissue of the thigh muscles are connected to the leg itself) would be able to bend their leg like that. You can raise you heel off the ground easily by simply bending your knee forward. But to keep one heel on the ground while raising the other heel requires that you clamp the rear thigh muscles of the leg. With a hole like that, using your thigh muscles in that way would HURT. A LOT.

Of course, if you just save the picture to disk, and use a picture editing program to magnify it, you can see the artifact line where the guy pasted the hole picture onto the picture of the leg. (I was just tooling around the site and found that first off. It was just SO blatantly bogus...and it IS relevant to site that sells documentaries proving to demonstrate doctored photography.)

As for the stuff you quoted:

"On the day the ITN people filmed in Bosnia, a crew from Serbian Television (RTS) accompanied them."

Translation: the camera crew from the communist-state-owned-press followed the camera crew that works for the non-state-owned-press around to shoot some propaganda film.

"They filmed right beside the ITN people, sometimes even mistakenly filming them."

Translation: the state-owned-press carefully edited their film.

"Using this almost identical footage, 'JUDGMENT!' shows, step by step, how a humanitarian refugee center (at Trnopolje) and a humanely run detention center (at Omarska) were made to look like cruel concentration camps. "

Translation: we show the bits from the propaganda film that carefully avoid showing anything incriminating and cherrypick innocuous bits from the ITN film, mix them up with the unpleasant parts parts of the ITN film, and then claim it proves the other guys doctered THEIR film.

"The film includes interviews with Muslims and the Serb commander at Omarska."

Translation: We paid some people to say they were muslims and we interviewed the guy doing the killing. He said he didn't do it.

"These interviews suggest that, absent outside interference, there never would have been a war in Bosnia. ITN never broadcast the interviews."

Translation: if the West had left us alone, we would have eliminated these troublemakers by now and there wouldn't BE a problem.

"It is ironic that by slandering the Serbian people and their moderate Muslim allies, "

Translation: those nasty British imperialists told the truth about the local communist party and their puppet Bosnians.

"British ITN aided the Islamist Bosnian government. For that government was based on fanaticism. It worked closely with Islamist terrorists like Osama bin Laden."

Translation: nobody likes bin laden and his pals so we'll just stick him in here as eye candy. We're already lying about everything else anyways, we might as well go for it.

The best bit, tho, is where they say:

"The most famous picture showed an emaciated man, naked to the waist. It looked as if he were imprisoned behind a barbed wire fence. As it turns out, the fence was almost all chicken wire and the man was part of a group on the outside, talking to ITN reporters inside an enclosure. "

Oh. Of course. The camera crew was inside the fence, and they deliberately filmed THROUGH the fence. Cameras crews are always careful to wait INSIDE any enclosure they find for the local emaciated people to show up, lest they be contaminated. And it was just chicken wire anyways.

(The way *I* remember it, barbed wire is actually easier to handle than chicken wire. Chicken wire can easily shred your hands with little effort, particularly where it's been cut. Of course, I guess there aren't many farmers left, or people with farm experience left, particularly in Boston, where Mr. Jered Israel writes from.)

Conclusion: This guy is a crude propagandist who supports the Pan-Slavic nationalist communists. (I am not sure what else to call them. I don't think they're actually communist per se, merely that they are nostalgic for the days when real men were Party Members and Chechnens (Ukrainians/Georgians/etc) were serfs^H^H^H^H^H part of the proletariat.) (Didn't the post-Napoleonic French have that problem?)

This kind of crap really pisses me off, and I am not going to send someone who doctors photos 26USD just to demonstrate what I can already figure out from his web page.

If you wants some really wacky stuff ("Same GREAT insanity but NOW with 50% MORE hilarity!") try  :

"If you were to siphon all the water off of Earth's surface, you would see a large gapping hole where the ocean has filled in this tremendous missing part of the Earth. Where did it go? Why is Earth only half a planet? The diagrams shown here are descriptions from the Sumerians explaining how our Earth came to be... They state that the satellites of Planet X (Nibiru) as they called it, collided with our primitive Earth in the past. Creating the asteroid belt and forever becoming another member of our solar system in a comet like 3,600 year orbit around the sun. "

I really like the diagram where the giant planets just flies along and just kinda gives the earth a cosmic liposuction.



Thank you. My conclusion is that I have none; I have never claimed expertise about the Balkans. I do know that Kossovo was predominately Serbian under the monarchy, and Albanian in recent years; something had changed drastically after Tito. I also know that the area has been unstable since at least the time of Alexander the Great who was sent by his father with a punitive expedition into that exact region. None of this changes my conviction that we had and have no business being involved in a region about which I know more than our officials (and I don't know much) and where there are no vital American interests.

We managed to ruin the economy of the lower Danube. Perhaps the result was a good thing. Perhaps it was not. Good or bad, it was not a vital American interest, and unless we simply want to hire out the Imperial Army for combat practice, what is a Republic doing breaking things and killing people and dropping bridges in Europe when there is no declared war? At the least we should leave these matters to Congress unless there is an urgent threat to a vital interest. That is what Republics do. That is what the Framers thought they had put into the Constitution.

Regarding the Earth and the Pacific basin and the Moon, theories involving collisions have been respectable in the past, but clearly nothing would have survived such; it would have happened billions of years ago. The Acadians in ancient Greece said they had inhabited their lands since before the time when Earth had a Moon, and Velikovsky used that "legend" as the basis of one of his more weird speculations. 

Another reply:

There is little substance at the site beyond what you have quoted. FWIW, it is old, old news that Peggy Marshall and her ITN crew shot that newsreel clip from inside a compound, of unincarcerated people outside, while deliberately giving the opposite impression. IIRC, the emaciated people shown are actually Serbs. Just as it is old news that the following conflict was justified in part by deliberately exaggerated and misattributed Kosovian Muslim body counts. If that is the only "revelation" in the film, I think I'll hang on to my $25...

Scott Miller




This from another forum:

The Zimbabwe pogroms reveal the Achilles heel of multiracial South Africa - you can have sensible majority rule for years, but when a powerful politician sees his grip on office threatened, his natural response is to play the race card. One year of violence cancels out nineteen years of peace. If you are a South African white, does it make sense to invest in your property when it's increasingly clear that at some point in the future, a demagogue will send mobs to your home to seize your land and abuse your loved ones? Are you smart enough to sell out just before the Zimbabwe-style crisis hits and the market crashes? Not bloody likely. So, if you are white, why wait for the coming day of doom? Get out now, while the getting is still good. And without white and Indian human capital, what is South Africa but just another mineral rich sub-Saharan country like, at best Botswana, at worst the Congo?

The wise Nelson Mandela initiated a strategy for the black ruling class in South Africa of transferring wealth from the non-blacks to themselves at a rate that would not scare off the white and Indian wealth creators. (Of course, this doesn't leave much left over for tens of millions of impoverished blacks. And, there's always the temptation to tolerate enough criminal violence to scare a steady flow of whites into selling out cheap to the black elite and skedaddlng abroad.) This cozy arrangement could go on for many decades before South Africa's economy is destroyed (South African whites are awfully wealthy), except that South Africa is not at present a secure oligarchy. It's supposed to be a democracy. And that means that some day a politician will try to outbid his rivals by appealing to the masses through large-scale property seizures, as in Zimbabwe, precipitating a crisis that will leave South Africa virtually all black.

If anybody believes in a more optimistic future for South Africa, can you please explain why?

I post this without comment, but I can't answer the question.


And then we have this, about electronic filtering. This is from another discussion group:

Anyone know of some easy-to-configure software for mirroring sites and translating all page references on each site that points to that site on-the-fly?

With such software it would be pretty cheap to set up a mirror on a different URL and periodically move the mirror to a different domain when the surfing police got wise to the mirror.

On Tue, 3 Sep 2002 14:09:15 EDT, [xxx]  wrote:

>> Poor [YYY], maybe he should submit his site for review. I note that >> Peter Brimelow's  also scores as evil [on] 

> >I suspect Stanford is blocking - I recently received an email from >Stanford's L.L. Cavalli-Sforza saying that he tried to call up  "It's All >Relative: Putting Race in Its Proper Perspective" article on VDARE, but >couldn't get it. 

> >Thank God the Stanford administration is preventing the octogenarian dean of >population geneticists from reading whatever he wants to read! Who knows what >could ensue? > >

I haven't time to give the whole thread and discussion, but I think it's clear what this is about: there are programs and sites that enforce political correctness now, and block people who access through certain systems from being able to access "hate sites" and the like. I don't have to agree with what is said on a site to argue that it ought not be blocked from access.

My criterion is whether the site owners give a damn about truth. It's one thing to post errors -- that will happen all the time, and there is little you can do about it. -- but it's another not to care when there is a correction, or when it is argued that there are corrections. This place is not a perfect model because I haven't the time to do everything I should do; but I do try to give a spectrum of views and pointers to more details -- and to show that just because something seems plausible it may not be true, and because it seems implausible it may yet be true.  

 I am often characterized as some kind of arch conservative, but I don't think that's so. Whitaker Chambers in his death struggle with communism called himself "a man of the right" (this when he thought he was leaving winning side, communism, for the losing, Western Civilization). That may be closer to my views. I am as appalled as anyone that in the 1990's (now THAT was an era of GREED) the ratio of the payment to a CEO to payment of the lowest paid employee in a company went from around 90 to around 500, while corporate profits only rose about 100%.  Clearly if corporate profits had gained in proportion to what was being paid to managers (Burnham's Managerial Revolution, anyone?) then this might make sense; but in fact what it did was create the Bubble. I am not for free trade when it destroys the lives of citizens, and globalization isn't my favorite trend.  So what does that make me?  Mostly it makes me someone who tries to look at the DATA.

Novelists need plausibility. We can make up our own data so long as we can get you to believe it. That may generate some useful hypotheses about the way people's heads work, but you can prove anything if you can make up your data. Freud made up his, and changed the world: but it was all hogwash.

Lawyers want evidence. They are supposed to stick to the truth, but they can present only that part of the truth that helps their cause.

Science needs DATA, and a scientist is charged with explaining it ALL, not just the parts that fit his case. Now true, scientists often fudge that; but it is what makes science work.

John Adams said famously that facts are stubborn things, and when dealing with the affairs of men we have to keep the facts in mind.  I suppose that's as good a description of my attitude as I know of.

And I can't think that blocking access to the facts is a very good idea. And see below.









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Wednesday, September 4, 2002

This day was devoured by locusts.








This week:


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Thursday, September 5, 2002

Windows Media Summit today.

First a sad announcement:

From a pop-up on the A&E site:


A&E has been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such dedicated and talented professionals as actor/director Tim Hutton, and writer/executive producer Michael Jaffe, the team whose passion and creative vision for NERO WOLFE have made it such a truly distinctive drama series. Mr. Hutton and Mr. Jaffe, along with (Maury Chaykin, Bill Smitrovich, Colin Fox) and the rest of this hardworking and talented cast and crew, were responsible for bringing to life this classic mystery series, each week, to devoted viewers in the U.S. and in Canada.

We at A&E remain extremely proud of NERO WOLFE. It is a high quality, beautifully produced and entertaining show, unlike anything else currently on the television landscape. Although it performed moderately well amongst tough competition for two seasons, it simply did not do well enough for us to be able to go on making it, given the current television climate.

A&E will continue to air encore presentations of the first and second season of NERO WOLFE in the coming weeks and months.

We certainly appreciate your support for the series and for the network. We appreciate the time and the care you have taken in sending us your letters, cards, and emails to let us know how strongly you support this wonderful show.

We hope that since you love NERO, you will continue to enjoy the encores, and that you will tune in to enjoy some of the other specials coming up, including Lathe Of Heaven, starring James Caan, Lukas Haas, airing in September, The Lost World, starring Bob Hoskins and Peter Falk, and our documentary special Old Friends, hosted by Academy Award winner Julia Roberts. As well as a number of our weekly documentary series including Biography, City Confidential, Minute By Minute and American Justice.

Thanks again. We appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

This is awful. Just awful.

Anyone up for a write-in campaign?

Sad Regards,

David Mazzotta

And indeed it is just awful but I doubt that any campaign can help. The last episode was very badly done. Wolfe was just a bit too savage in some of the other episodes. But Archie was perfect, as was Cramer, and it was an excellent series. Ah well.


This article ( is by far the most interesting (and the most believable approach, since it evolves with the spam and accordign to the pattern of decisions of the recipient) I have seen about spam filtering yet. Well written - and I hope some of the email client vendors will give us a "delete" and "delete as spam" option.

Apparently, this approach has been encoded in a program called "bogofilter" at Eric Raymond's site at, but it seems to me to be a Linux-based program, as you would expect.

Anyway, thought you'd be interested, since you would understand the statistics....


-- Espen Andersen ( Associate Professor, Norwegian School of Management ( Phone: +47 6755 7177 Fax: +47 6755 7250 European Research Director, The Concours Group,

Indeed interesting. And one of these days I'll set up something of the sort here. But first I need a non-satellite high speed connection. Some day. Some day.

While reading a biography of Winston Churchill, I keep being struck by the similarities between some members of the media and Congress today and the Chamberlain government circa 1938.

But I did come up with a new version of an old quote:

"Those who CAN remember the past are condemned to live among idiots repeating it."

Steve Setzer


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Paul Craig Roberts brings us up to date on the FBI's anthrax investigation: 


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

Roberts is even more paranoid than I am. Which doesn't mean he isn't right. Our Masters have yet to hold anyone accountable for notorious "mistakes" (if you can call shooting a woman dead and burning others alive as 'mistakes'); why do we suppose they will get any of this right?









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Friday, September 6, 2002

Column Time: Very Short Shrift

Political Correctness 

Campus Reverses Decision Not to Distribute Patriotic Ribbons on Sept. 11

Dissenters Feel Red, White and Blue Will Lead to Conflict



Contributing Writers

Friday, September 6, 2002

Red, white and blue are at the center of controversy on the UC Berkeley campus.

While the university has planned numerous events to commemorate the first anniversary of Sept. 11, Chancellor Robert Berdahl overruled a decision by student leaders to distribute white ribbons to students during the memorial.

At a press conference last night, Chancellor Berdahl said he had informed ASUC President Jesse Gabriel that red, white and blue ribbons-not white-would be distributed.

He added the student leaders had initially chosen white ribbons because multicolored ribbons were too costly.

But student leaders said the decision was not based on financial concerns.

"It's true that (white ribbons) are cheaper," said Graduate Assembly President Jessica Quindel. "But I was at the meetings, and the decisions had nothing to do with the prices."

Quindel said she was not informed of the change in ribbon colors prior to the press conference.

Berdahl said the decision to have multicolored ribbons was not up to students.

"Jessica does not speak for the university. I speak for the university," Berdahl said. "(Red, white and blue) ribbons don't offend anyone."



"Brian Valentine, senior vice-president in charge of Microsoft's Windows development, has made a grim admission to the Microsoft Windows Server .net developer conference in Seattle, USA.

"I'm not proud," he told delegates yesterday (5 September). "We really haven't done everything we could to protect our customers. Our products just aren't engineered for security," admitted Valentine, who since 1998 has headed Microsoft's Windows division."

-- Robert Bruce Thompson


I would think people would be in an uproar about this. But, you were born free...


We don't get in an uproar any more. Why should we? But see below:
  tells how Florida courts are trying to prove Alex and Derek King killed their father, Terry, even though Ricky Chavez has already been tried for the same crime. The Chavez verdict is sealed until the other verdict comes in, making it possible that all three defendants can be found guilty under contradictory theories. Why, I ask, am I not surprised to find out this is happening in Florida?


Well not just Florida. That one disturbed me when I read it, too. It  has happened before in other states.

On replacing WinProxy, first, I am told the easy way to do it is to upgrade Mercury to Windows XP and use the net sharing built into XP with its firewall. I may try that shortly. We also have:

When I had occasion to use a software proxy, I purchased a product called Nat32 (the website is  )

It was a snap to set up and install and works beautifully for such a low price!

There are a couple of versions - perhaps depending on platform etc. I ran it on a Win98 machine with 2 nics and it performed admirably. I think it can do what you need if I understand your requirements from the descriptions on your web site.

Best of luck.

Kerry M. Liles 


I use the Sygate Home Network.  I have had it running for over a year now, along with the Sygate personal firewall. It has worked well. Very easy to set up. I recommend it.


Christopher Mazuk Market Project Management - Sprint PCS & Affiliates Nortel Networks Global Customer Care Services ESN 444-0821 Outside 972-684-0821 Mobile 972-365-9245

We have enough youth; how about a Fountain of Smart?

I know nothing about either of these. I am grateful for the suggestions.

Hi Jerry I just saw this on the web at It says it is a replacement for winproxy and its freeware.  Regards Kirk Patchett 

Once again I know nothing (Ignoramus, as the old Grand Jury reports went: we know nothing of this). Has anyone tried it?



Dr. Pournelle, The Atlantic Monthly has an interview, , with Nick Cook, a reporter for Janes. He's claims to have found evidence that the US is developing, or perhaps already has, antigravity technology. Possibly captured from the Nazis at the end of World War II. Secret Nazi programs, UFOs, black projects, and antigravity? Sounds like something from the Tinfoil Hat Brigade. But he is an experienced reporter for a highly respected magazine. I dunno. It's an interesting read, anyway. Kit Case

Well, as I understand physics, for anti-gravity to exist we would need a heck of a lot of new theory; most everything we know would be wrong. And I am pretty sure that we didn't have any such stuff anywhere near deployable in the dark days of the Cold War for the same reason I am sure we didn't have any secret technology developed from aliens captured in crashed UFO's: we would have USED it back then instead of building Minuteman and the like.

He makes an interesting case, but again: when we were desperate back in the Cold War days (Kennedy won the Presidency by accusing Eisenhower of allowing a "missile gap"; that turned out not to be true, but it was a strong accusation) why did we not USE any of this?  I was deeply involved in weapons decisions, and I was the editor of Project 75 written in 1964: a ten year projection of weapons technology. Colonel Kane, my sometime collaborator, was editor of Forecast, a similar 10-year projection. Neither of us had any inkling of serious research on anti-gravity.

I Disagree.

You said "for anti-gravity to exist we would need a heck of a lot of new theory". This is not true. Anti-gravity can exist without any new theories just as flight existed long before there were theories.

Greg Brewer

Well,  I'd welcome some explication of this. It is my understanding that anti-gravity simply can't happen if Relativity is true. That view seems to be shared with many others I know. Flight didn't need a new theory, just as travel faster than sound didn't need any new theory. Both heavier than air and lighter than air flight are easily explained under normal Newtonian physics without problems.

If you would care to explain?

And in answer to that I got:

Check out . These things were flying long before there were any theories about anything.


which is true but I must be missing something because I don't see the relevance. Ah well. Contuines below




And Eric says:

Subject: Gasoline engine can be nearly pollution free 

Three cheers for refining an existing technology rather using legal coercion to force a potential but unproven and undeliverable technology into existence.



And we have:


The Brain's Trust satirical website has "published" a special "September 11 Disaster Anniversary Wallow" edition.

It's all in extremely poor taste and funny enough to make you squirt coffee out your ears if you should neglect to finish your drink before going to the site. 

I'm particularly fond of the Griefometer. (For reference Jill Dando was a famous TV presenter in the UK who was murdered.)


Craig Arnold

Thanks I think.

Above I put up without comment a letter from a reader who found an article disturbing. 

You link this story. Though coming under the Associated Press title, without attribution to author, it is more editorial than story.

"* FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigation.

* FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests.

* FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation.

* RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.

* FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans' papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror investigation.

* RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.

* RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them."

The article seems to be typical left-wing fear mongering more than actual facts or analysis. Three examples should suffice.

Freedom of Association:

The change listed amounts to the ability of the FBI to keep tabs on Islamic fundamentalists. Until recently the FBI wasn't allowed to keep track of religious organizations without first showing probable cause of a crime having already been committed. This was to the extent of not being able to clip newspaper stories. Realistically this meant that the FBI didn't keep track of them at all. Islamic fundamentalists, knowing this, did much of their planning in mosques.

The upshot is that the FBI is now allowed to clip newspapers and isn't quite as leery of keeping track of religiously based terrorist organizations.

Right to Liberty:

Though the commentator doesn't say, this sounds like the complaint that "enemy combatants" can and are held without trial. Though as far as I am aware, the courts have not stopped habeas corpus writs for citizens.

Though it is not generally acknowledged, this is not new. In WW2 captured Americans (German-Americans) who had been fighting for Germany were held as POW's. This was counter intuitively somewhat of an advantage for those held. The allies couldn't allow them to be set free to rejoin the enemy. But they could still hold them without convicting them of a crime, so that they were later freed at the end of the war. Something Johnny Walker Lindh does not now have.

A third example: the silent barking dog.

The author doesn't seem to mind the one clear example of loss of freedom that impinges on almost everyone, for no clear security reason. That is the harassment in airports that happens everyday in the name of security. Somehow I suspect that the writer of the article laments the inmates at Guantanimo far more than the daily outrages in our airports. I also suspect the authors aren't too worried about the loss of Steven Hatfill's rights.

Though I am with you on lamenting the loss of liberties (I too was born free), the hyper-attention to loss of rights that never existed or aren't really lost does not help.

From UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, 

"But of course the Constitution, after 9/11 and before, has a dual role: Its role is both to constrain the government in order to protect our liberties and to empower the government to protect our liberties."

Another quote (or mis-quote), "The constitution is not a suicide pact".

Dennis Clay dennisclay -at- "Live free or die."

I feel much safer now.







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Saturday, September 7, 2002

Continuing some discussions.


In answer to my question as to what pterodactyls had to do with anti-gravity:

Nothing. Your statement was that there had to be new theories before anti-gravity could exist as an observable phenomenon. I was giving an example where observable phenomenon existed long before the theories about it existed. A better example might be the photoelectric effect. That was observed long before Plank found a mathematical formula that described it and that preceeded Einstein's theory that explained it. It usually works like this: a phenomenon is observed, someone develops a theory to explain it, the theory predicts new phenomenon not yet observed, someone figures out a why to observe the predicted phenomenon. It is rare for the theory to come first.

The trick is always research funding. Without an observed phenomenon or a theory that something specific is possible, the people with the money are reluctant to invest in the research looking for it. That is why the Super Collider was going to be built. Not so that we could test current theories but so that we could observe things we have no theories for. It was cancelled because noone can tell in advance exactly what will come of it. For that reason and because the big supporter, Ann Richards, argued against cancelling it based on the jobs and economic loss that cancellation would have on Texas. But she is whole other topic.

If an extraterrestrial spacecraft where to hover over Washington using anti-gravity, say "hi" and leave then we would know that anti-gravity does exist and a whole lot of money would become available to do the research to come up with the theories that would explain how. Unfortunately, it usually happens like that cold fusion phenomenon. Someone thinks they have observed something, a lot of research is performed and no one is able to make an independent observation so research stops.


Now this at least is something that can be replied to. First, note that I didn't say there had to be new theories for it to be possible. I said that if anti-gravity exists we have to throw out most of our current theories. Now that happens sometimes. I have a whole discussion on that in my Dean Drive discussion pages. It's the way science works: it's has to explain ALL the data, not just the convenient parts. The recession of the perihelion of Mercury was one such troublesome data bit: it led to Relativity, and Relativity has done a pretty good job, and if there are repeatable data points in contradiction they are a bit beyond me.

As an aside, I may not be expert in the philosophy of science, but I have been responsible for teaching courses in the subject, and I was exposed to Gustav Bergmann, Wendell Johnson, and several others who are considered experts; I sort of know how science works.

But the point is that we don't throw the theory out UNTIL there is a data point in contradiction to them, and all I have seen so far is the claim that people are working on this; there isn't data. And current theoretical physics has no place in it for "anti-gravity". That doesn't mean there can't BE anti-gravity, just as there remains the possibility of a reactionless drive like the Dean Drive; it does mean, as Bob Forward put it in my conference on the Dean Drive, that absent a working demonstration the way to bet is that it won't work. There comes a point where the burden of proof is on the inventor to show us a data point: show us a working reactionless drive no matter how feeble, or show us an anti-gravity device, no matter how weak.

If an extra-terrestrial craft were to put in an unambiguous appearance we would have no choice but to throw out most of our theories. John W. Campbell Jr. used to have the theory that levitation was possible and the only reason we don't discover it is that scientists never look for it because they know it is impossible. He commissioned many stories in illustration of this belief, which is in fact understandable and does explain why some data have been ignored. I am always in favor of allocating some money to Wild Guesses from Bright People. But at the moment we don't spend enough on R&D -- Judge Green destroyed Bell Labs, the advanced planning and R&D department for the Human Race, and NOTHING has replaced it -- so what we do spend generally has to go to promising lines. Pity. I'd like to double the NSF budget and tell them to spend 10% on Wild Ideas from Bright People.

And we have:

Dear Jerry,

 There are very few "new" theories. Mostly there are just refinements of existing theory. Relativity didn't replace Newtonian physics, but includes it as a sub set at low velocity. Borrowing an example from Mr. Asimov (I don't remember the numbers exactly); flat Earth to round was a correction of one inch in 35 miles, accounting for the equitorial bulge is 0.0x inches per mile, and Southern Hemishere being a little larger than Northern is a 0.00x inches per mile correction. I believe Relativity has room for adjustment and addition. It seems odd to me that gravity is unipolar. If there is anti-gravity it doesn't seem to express itself in our dimension. One mental picture has relative space as a rubber sheet or tight blanket. Mass makes depessions in the sheet. From the under side of the sheet the depressions look like raised bumps. An opposite effect from mass depending on your point of view. Of course I don't have "The Answer". If I did, I would be running as fast as I could to the patent office, not sending e-mail. (Assuming I wasn't intercepted by a non-visionary government official!) :-)

Dale Yarker

Well yes: but once again, the way science works is that you must explain ALL the data. For the moment there isn't a lot of data. There are the odd reports of a "gravity screen" caused by rotating superconductors. Those may or may not be repeatable, and if so, there may or may not be a way to accommodate those results in current theory. We'll see. It's certain I have no useful ideas here.

And a final note on Black Research and anti-gravity and the like: If we had been doing that sort of thing since World War II, why did none of it surface during the Cold War?  I was general editor of Project 75, a 1964 highly classified survey of missile technology and projection of both our and USSR missile capability. It was a very serious study, and had heavy procurement implications. If there was any secret anti-gravity work, I learned of none of it: yet Project 75 was precisely the place such ought to have been since the missile force was structured around its conclusions.

At the same time Col. Kane was head of Project Forecast, another survey and forecast of weapons technologies, and he was never informed of any such possibilities. Given that the US Air Force built its air and missile weapons systems around those two studies, it's inconceivable to me that the Air Force kept a significant technology secret and never used it even during the darkest days of the Cold War.

And that, I think, is enough on Anti-Gravity.

On Infantry and the Queen of Battles. This from a career serving officer:

Hello. A few thoughts inspired by our youngster. I'm reminded of an old sergeant of mine who was hysterical when we realized that he had been in the Army longer than I had been alive, and I was in charge. Now I'm the grizzled old geezer. Then again, I know exactly when I got old... Just a few comments and expansions on things.

China knows full well that their forces can't take on the US in a fight. They also know they are at least decades away from that capability even under the most optimistic point of view. Not being stupid, they've been leaders in the asymmetrical combat movement, which is based around non-traditional methods of opposing the US. They've made some very insightful decisions about how to fight the US, along with some interesting observations about what the US accomplished. The Chinese view is that for the past 50 years the US has managed to get everyone to fight towards our strengths, and they are full of admiration for this feat. Now the Chinese desire to emulate it, which means we need to do it again. Puts the high tech revolution into a different context. What comes of it remains to be seen.

Computers on the battlefield is a more complex subject than you'd first think. Batteries are heavy. Nobody is thrilled about troops carrying them around, least of all the troops. But computers will mainly appear in headquarters units. For instance, when I was battalion staff, we did things on paper and acetate. Indeed, when you started to work on a plan it was called dreaming on acetate. Now, computers are appearing at that level. laptops make the creation of orders much easier since much of that is manipulation of text. It doesn't work as well when you consider using them for graphics for a number of reasons, not least the need to reproduce the product for distribution. The big risk is the fact that some commanders and staffs will begin to go for more ambitious solutions to the mission because the computers will make things go faster, or much worse, time and effort will be put into prettification rather than product.

Certainly the digitilization should produce good things. When I tackled those problems, one big one was staff sections at different levels of command with different views of what was actually happening. If the data can be accessed at each level, and each level can look at the data the others have in real time, they should be able to operate much closer to the same sheet of music than before. Of course anything can be screwed up, but I well recall a period when I worked for a higher level unit that will remain nameless that had some key leadership failures in my specialty. I typically threw out the products they gave me and started over from the raw data. They knew they were in over their heads and occasionally I was able to help. If we had been digitilized, it would have been much easier for them to work with me.

I remember a force on force with another US unit at Hood. During the fight, our TOC was set up on the edge of the military reservation. We literally had our backs to the wall. As the other unit conducted the attack, I watched out the tent flaps and saw a platoon of tanks working along the flank. So I grabbed my marker and placed it on the situation map. Real time intel. If I could have presented that digitally to higher with the same speed I might have been able to do something about it other than hope our side took them out before they reached me.

Weapons are another complex matter. When you shoot, you need to consider the target. If you are shooting a hard target, like an APC, you consider penetration and after-armor effects. When you shoot at a soft target, like a person, you still have to worry about bone or flesh. If you hit the bone, what matters is the energy in the round. If you hit flesh, what matters is momentum transfer. This is why the old Army .45 had knock-down, while it typically takes a few of the more energetic 9mm to put someone down with authority. Now, if your target is wearing a ballistic vest, the 9mm is a better choice. So to use a real world example, the 5.56mm NATO round from an M-16 will in fact put somebody down reasonably well. But the 5.56mm AP round occasionally issued won't. It wastes too much energy punching through and not enough affects a soft target. Small rounds, BTW, are a good thing because they allow you to carry more kills per mass than larger, provided you don't get too small. Lots of people don't understand the physics of the matter. I've seen learned studies by professional scientists that have wonderful theories as to how this stuff works, that fails to explain empirical data from ammunition types other than plain vanilla. I think what I've presented here answers those questions, though I'm open to exceptions.

BTW, I predate the SAW, but the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon can accept the same magazines as the M-16 if the belts aren't handy.

The theory behind the smaller grenades is that improvements in explosives can make up for the loss in the round's payload, while giving grenade launchers to everyone means that compromises had to be made because you won't be able to trade out with fresh people when you get tired. Now the theory that everyone will get the advanced weapons is in doubt. I personally would prefer that only some people got the grenade launchers and keep the larger rounds for the burst effect. Combined Arms is nice... This is also behind my sorrow that the SAW has replaced so many of the GPMG's of my era. Now I'm not that fond of the 60, but there are good weapons of that type, and having the range advantage was a good thing.

.50 rifles aren't unusual nowadays. Lots of sniper units use them for anti-materiel rifles, for sniping at things like generators. Larger are on the market as well. Heck, I've seen a pistol firing the same round as a Ma Deuce...

Stealth gliders are reasonable from a tech point of view, even if I don't think I would spend the money on them or be in them. I have seen sillier ideas tried though.

Remember, simple and reliable are not the same thing. They are related, but Kalishnikovs made by the wrong people are horribly dangerous to the user and break very quickly.

Just wanted to provide more ammo for the discussion.

And yet more from the same officer, this time on blocking data:

My favorite example of blocking data was while I was in Bosnia. The only access I had to the 'net was through Army systems. The Army was rather paranoid about some things. Not the security issues, those systems were physically isolated from the ones with the neat stuff. No, they were afraid we users would misuse the stuff. They had a particularly stupid nannybot on the machines. Their settings were the most restrictive possible, so for instance I demonstrated to one of the higher ranks that you couldn't go to because it was blocked because of the presence of "nude" in the title. But my favorite example was when the operations in Afghanistan were ongoing and some reporters were killed. I decided to see if I could find anything out about them to see if there was anything I should be aware of in their backgrounds. They worked, IIRC, for an Italian newspaper. This organization had an English language site, so I tried to visit. I was blocked. The newspaper had violent content. I was also unable to access sites run by extremist groups in Bosnia because Hate sites were blocked. Oh well, it's not like the intel people should know about the enemy...







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Sunday, September 8, 2002

Column Day


A friend of mine referred me to your current column where you talk about the lack of good search programs available for Windows. I am a shareware author and have a utility available called Super Text Search, as well as a text edit called Power Edit that has powerful search features. You might find either or both of them useful and interesting. They're available at my web site < >. Try them and let me know what you think. Thanks.

Glenn Alcott

I should have a look at those. I still use the old DOS program GOPHER: it works pretty well, actually. But I will have a look and thanks.






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