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Mail 234 December 2 - 8, 2002






BOOK Reviews

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Highlights this week:

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

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

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

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Monday  December 2, 2002

Dr. Pournelle:

A couple months ago you had promised to share your perspective on Visual Studio .NET as a development environment. Anyway, here is mine.

I teach a software-oriented electrical engineering course in digital signal processing. While an application-specific tool like LabView offers rapid development and is popular with engineering types whose last programming experience was with FORTRAN in college, I want my students, who will end up developing cell phone algorithms for Motorola, to know how to program in a more general purpose procedural/object oriented language such as Object Pascal, C++, Java or C#.

I have developed a collection of Delphi controls that I have ported over to ActiveX, and I thought I would use C# this coming semester with those ActiveX controls.

While tomes line the bookstore shelves on how to use C# with ActiveX, it is quite simple: you simply register the ActiveX .ocx file and then add the controls appearing on a list dialog to the "Toolbox" in Visual Studio .NET, and those ActiveX controls drag and drop on to the form and have methods and properties as any native .NET control. You would think!

It turns out that the Engineering College of the major Midwestern research university at which I work has a Novell network running Windows, and student accounts are disk space allocations that get mapped to virtual drives when they log in. As it also turns out, when you add ActiveX controls to your .NET form, it automagically generates "interop assembly" DLLs in the project directory. If these DLLs are on a network drive, any application referencing them bombs with a "Security Exception." So, .NET won't operate over a network.

By the way, that computing center still has Visual J++ installed, and if you haven't seen it, it is really C# .NET Version 1.0. It uses ActiveX controls even more slickly than Visual Basic (VB, however, has fewer bugs). Of course, Visual J++ has disappeared down Winston Smith's memory hole -- we can't get it on the Visual Studio 6 CD-ROMs that students can buy for cheap.

Using Delphi-coded ActiveX controls to do all the heavy lifting of FFT computation and spectrogram blits, C# and J++ apps seem to run just as fast as native. The pure Java signal analysis apps I have seen are real slugs. Visual Studio .NET I am told is coded in C#/CLR (eating one's own dog food), and it is a slug. My favorite development tool is still Delphi 2.0 -- it loads fast, the IDE just snaps, and it will compile 50,000 lines faster than a sneeze. Later Delphi versions have more features, but the IDE is ugly-cluttered and each Delphi version keeps getting slower and slower.

Paul Milenkovic Madison, Wisconsin

Thanks for the report!

Subject: Salman Rushdie on 'this week in Islam'

An nice article in the NY Times.

The Miss World contestants have been holed up in a hotel just a few miles from my house. It's one of the things I love about London - it's always been home to all sorts of unlikely refugees and makes for a very interesting town.

I've always found the Miss World competition to be a most curious phenomenon.


Craig Arnold

Curious indeed...

And things to look forward to:

Gift Wrapping with a Puppy & Dog :

1. Gather presents, boxes, paper, middle of living room floor.

2. Get tape back from puppy.

3. Remove scissors (plastic, paper-cutting-only scissors) from older dog's mouth.

4. Open box.

5. Take puppy out of box.

6. Remove tape from older dog's mouth.

7. Take scissors away from puppy.

8. Put present in box.

9. Remove present from puppy's mouth.

10. Put back in box after removing puppy from box.

11. Take scissors from older dog & sit on them.

12. Remove puppy from box & put on lid.

13. Take tape away from older dog.

14. Unroll paper.

15. Take puppy OFF box.

16. Cut paper being careful not to cut puppy's foot or nose that is getting the way as she "helps".

17. Let puppy tear paper remaining to be cut.

18. Take puppy off box.

19. Wrap paper around box.

20. Remove puppy from box & take wrapping paper from her mouth.

21. Tell older dog to hold tape so he will stop stealing it.

22. Take scissors away from puppy.

23. Take tape older dog is holding.

24. Quickly tape one spot before taking scissors from older dog & sitting on them again.

25. Fend off puppy trying to steal tape & tape another spot.

26. Take bow from older dog.

27. Go get roll of wrapping paper puppy ran off with.

28. Take scissors from older dog who took them when you got up.

29. Give pen to older dog to hold so he stops licking your face.

30. Take now soggy bow from puppy & tape on since the sticky stuff no longer sticks.

31. Take now soggy bow from puppy & tape on since the sticky stuff no longer sticks.

32. Grab present before puppy opens it & put away.

33. Clean up mess puppy & older dog made playing tug-of-war with roll of wrapping paper.

34. Put away rest of wrapping supplies & tell dogs what good helpers they are.

Gaynour Slatten

Indeed. Thanks!

And a rather serious problem few are addressing:

Some reservists, if they are called up to fight, might face some unpleasant consequences.

(I hope someone rattles some cages to good effect.)

Mary Catelli

The story tells of a man imprisoned by Iraq then arrested on return from the Gulf War because the Bradley amendment makes war on "deadbeat dads" and has "zero tolerance". Being a POW is no excuse...




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Tuesday,  December 3, 2002

This on Mozilla:

Dr. Pournelle,

I found in a message on Slashdot that my Mozilla startup problems are due to not clearing out old (incompatible) themes ("skins") from the Application Data\Profiles\Mozilla branch of my file system. Phoenix works because it creates its own branch on the tree, and doesn't rely on the Mozilla profiles.

[Speculation] It seems that Add/Remove Programs in Windows only removes the Mozilla files in Program Files, plus such niceties as the icons on the Desktop and in the QuickLaunch Bar. It doesn't clear the Application Data\Profiles branch, probably because users want to retain bookmarks, etc., from version to version.

Mozilla puts themes into a directory called chrome. By searching for directories called chrome, and deleting those in the Mozilla branch (but not the Phoenix branch), and then reinstalling Mozilla 1.2.1, I now can launch Phoenix 0.4, Mozilla 1.2.1, and IE6. I would probably have avoided these problems if I had not decided to install 3rd-party themes for earlier Mozilla versions; I currently can run all three browsers (Phoenix, Mozilla, and IE6) simultaneously.

Apropos your new puppy: our Lab is now a year old, and he was recently joined by a homeless cat, that we decided to take in when some heartless person left her out along our country lane. I'll send links along to my puppy and kitty pictures later.


Dave Ballentine KQ3T Export PA

And  this

Mozilla 1.2 is released and available for download at: 

I've grabbed the Win32 full installer and the Linux tarball, although I haven't installed either yet. If you want them, grab them now, while the grabbing is good.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

There seem to be considerable bug fixes.

I recommend:

If you haven’t seen this yet…

Tracy Walters

Which is fairly interesting.









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Wednesday, December 4, 2002

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Date: Dec. 4, 2002

subject: The Pournelle Policy

Dear Jerry:

On Monday, you wrote: "But whatever we do about Iraq, it is criminal that we are not pouring out the funds needed to reduce our dependence on that part of the world. We have the technology for energy independence over, if not my lifetime, certainly over yours. Why don't we start?"

And how do we get energy independence? "I would develop and deploy light water nuclear reactors . . .

"Given costs of that magnitude, solar power satellites become quite cost efficient. . . Space industries including mining and fabrication on the Moon become feasible given airline levels of costs to orbit."

On the same day, our local excuse for a newspaper had an editorial on this topic ( ). Their prescription is slightly different.

"The Bush administration has called for diversification of oil sources, with diminished reliance on the Middle East. . . .

"Americans must start seeing energy security not only as a question of diversifying our suppliers, but also as an imperative to reduce oil imports through aggressive investment in conservation, efficiency and renewable domestic energy sources."

In other words, nukes and 'crazy science fiction ideas' need not apply.

And that is why we aren't starting your energy program (which, btw, I agree with) -- because the public can't agree on what to start. Until we have a political consensus, it ain't gonna happen.

Regarding the foreign policy portion of your program, I won't comment. I've made my differences known, and I have nothing new to say. But I do have a question.

You write "My foreign policy would be to make it very clear to the ruling class of every nation on Earth: ‘If you harbor the enemies of the people of the United States and allow them to use your nation to plan and stage attacks on the American people, you will be replaced; your protests that those who follow you will be worse are uninteresting. We have the same message for them, too.’ "

In recent months Isioma Daniel of Nigeria, Taslima Nasrin of Bangladesh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Netherlands (née Sudan), and Kola Boof (also Sudanese) have all been threatened with death for 'insulting' Islam. I don't think any are US American citizens, but Ms. Boof is in hiding in California. If the Islamofacists kill her, does your policy call for offing the present Sudanese govt.? If not, what if she applies for citizenship?

And what would you do about Bonnie Penner, murdered in Sidon, Lebanon? Ignore it? Just the shooter dies? Or would you go after the Sidon area clerics preaching hatred of the clinic she worked at? And considering that Lebanon is a wholly owned subsidiary of Syria, what about Assad?

Best, Stephen


By God! We have all this power! We must use it to right wrongs, and take to the world the benefits of Truth, Justice, and The American Way! If one innocent person is killed anywhere in this world, we must go out and Burn! Slay! Kill! Avenge the innocent! 

Go! Bind your sons to exile! God Wills It!

If that's not what you were saying, I fear I don't know why the mess in the Sudan is our business. Of course I don't know why it was our business to ease the Brits out of Egypt and the Sudan, leaving those areas of the world to the tender mercies of their home-grown tyrants, but doubtless it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I have no remedy for the ills of Nigeria or the Sudan, though I have great sympathy for the Ibos of Nigeria (perhaps more than you know), and the lost Christians of the Sudan. And I make no doubt at all that those peoples would be better for occupation and government by an American proconsul served by American GI's. At least for a generation, and perhaps more.

Your remedy is a new American experiment in World Order. I suspect you are about to get your wish. I hope when the experiment is ended that we remain America, but I doubt we will. We may not be able to preserve America without such adventures.

Imposing a New World Order on all the bad guys of the world carries a high price. 

On Mozilla:

A Dynamic HTML bug crept into Mozilla 1.2. The developers figured it was serious enough to warrant an immediate fix (although I never noticed it). So, 1.2.1 is out already. Same location: 

Pete Flugstad

Take heed!

And Roland says

Run, Do not Walk,

and get a copy of Andrew Bacevich's _American Empire_. It's the most important book of the last two years, at least.

Or at

The only real flaw I found in it is that the person who selected the cover photo picked one of a Blue Angles F-18/A, which isn't precisely a warbird, heh.

-------------------------- Roland Dobbins 

I know Bacevich as a Beard scholar. Beard had his own views of American history. His widow wrote a thin and excellent book on America and Rome, Rome In The Late Republic, which is long out of print. I'll get this book and see...

More on the lawsuit and what is to come...

From: Stephen M. St. Onge

Date: Dec. 4th, 2002

subject: Possibly interesting

Dear Jerry:

An article on Sun, Microsoft, Java, and how Gates won again at
  is, I think, worth one's attention.

I must say, it is damned unfair of Mr. Bill to be a better businessman than any of his competitors.

Best, Stephen


I confess a morbid interest in these matters; and yes, that is a very interesting article. If you hate Gates you hate Gates all the way from the dark of the night to the dawn of the day, if you hate Gates....

And thank you for calling that to my attention. It is a pretty good summary, and anyone interested in these matters should see it.

has everyone forgotten?  "In 1989 I went to all the applications publishers and asked them to write applications for Microsoft Windows. And they wouldn't do it. So I went to the Microsoft Applications Group, and they didn't have that option..."  Bill Gates, in the mid-90's.


And this:

Subject: Tom Clancy writes obit for Ned Beach (RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP)

Wall Street Journal | Leisure & Arts BY TOM CLANCY In memoriam: Ned Beach, warrior and novelist. 

===== -- John E. Bartley, III - K7AAY telcom admin, Portland OR, USA - Views mine. Wireless FAQ for PalmOS(R) This post is quad-ROT13 encrypted. Reading it violates the DMCA. winter into spring, brightly anticipated, like Habeas SWEb"








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Thursday, December 5, 2002

Subject: Know Anything About This?

< > -- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland.

No and it is shocking. I am off to Lord of the Rings. Perhaps a reader will know more.

But I might have known:


Waiting in the checkout line, I like to glance at the tabloids. Every few months, I see the billowing smoke coming out of a volcano, or oil well fire, or World Trade Center - but it's always the same cloud with the Devil's face in it.

Every few months, this 3-year-old bullspoor about the "NSA backdoor" gets dug up and carried proudly around the house. The story of ADVAPI.DLL is covered in, which has a couple good further links in it. A few passes with Google yield a few dozen more clumps of the same information.

No smoking gun, just more smoke with Bill's face in it. Must be time for another Two Minutes of Hate.

-- Bill Kilner



We heard about this several years ago, but I don't think it was ever substantiated. See: 


David P.

And more:


This looks dodgy to say the least.

1. The story is a couple of years old and was covered on The Register at the time (I'll try to find a link for you). There was some sort of more-or-less innocent explanation as I remember.

2. It refers to the "latest service pack for Windows NT" being SP5 which confirms (1) above, SP6 and SP6a have been available for years now.

3. Duncan Campbell is a notorious conspiracy theorist who has been stirring up spurious rubbish of one sort and another for more than twenty years. He isn't a computer specialist in any shape or form.

I suspect on checking this will turn out to be "small earthquake in China, not many hurt".


Andrew Duffin


Thanks. I should have known.

And a rather interesting take:

I don't know five percent of what I would have to to comment effectively on this technology, but if this is true, and it becomes wide knowledge, I give it about five days before about 400 computer wizards come up with some kind of shareware to seriously cramp its style. Or to at least warn us when someone is fishing in our computer. Kind of like a superpowered Ad Aware.

Tom Brosz

Which, on reflection, is the right attitude. It was a hoax, or a non-starter, but even if it were, there are ways to deal with it. This community, like the market, is a lot smarter than anyone of us, and has enormous resources.




Changing the subject:

I’m not a big fan of Slate, and war is nothing to laugh at, but… 

Tracy Walters









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Friday, December 6, 2002

Sometimes things work out...

Dear Mr. Pournelle,

I seriously doubt you'll remember me, but you and Mr. Niven handed me an award in 1999 at Writers of the Future. The reason I'm writing is to share with you something I think you'll find amusing. 1999 was my last year at Michigan State, working on an M.A. During that year, I met a professor from Yale, one Wai Chee Dimock, who was teaching classes on Dante's Inferno. Having read yours and Larry's rewrite of this piece, I recommended it to her, if she was interested in modern perspectives on Dante.

Three years later, just a month ago, I get a mail from her, out of the blue, thanking me for pointing her in the direction of your novel, and telling me that she's teaching the book this semester!

So that's how Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle showed up as a required text at Yale this year... I never knew academia worked like that.

All the best,

Scott Huggins

-- Shakespeare's Philosophy: I write, therefore iamb. G. Scott Huggins

"I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls."

--Job 30:29

I love it. Thanks! They also teach our book in an English Literature class in Florence, I am told. 

Subject: Operations of empire.

 ---------- Roland Dobbins

Disturbing but not surprising. This kind of thing we can deal with if allowed to.

And see below.


From Ed Hume:

South Korean Hackers


December 5, 2002; There is considerable popular unrest in South Korea over the recent acquittal of two American soldiers who were involved in a traffic accident that left two Korean teenagers dead. As a result of this, some South Korean hackers sought to attack the White House web page. Per capita, South Korea has the highest use of high speed Internet links. South Korean hackers are among the most skilled, and numerous, in the world. A disproportionate amount of Internet hacking can be traced back to South Korea because of this. But the attack on the White House servers failed. The South Korean attackers noted that the While House cyber defenses were quite advanced and effective. This will no doubt spur other South Korean hackers to find a way to breach the White House defenses. On the bright side, these attacks are being done openly, for publicity purposes, by hackers who, if war came, would largely be on our side. Think of it as a realistic training exercise with the attackers being very skilled and motivated.

The proper take, I think...

And on absurdities:

RE: "I read in the LA Times this morning that a gangster in Federal Prison seems to have smuggled..." 

More detailed article:

I suppose it's a classic case of someone wielding whatever tools are available to them (conspiracy laws) to get the results they want, regardless of the harm done to the child, the mother, and the integrity of the relevant laws' supposed intent.

Chris Pierik

The more I read of this, the more it looks to be petty tyranny, the kind of thing that only a small person -- a servant when he is master -- could have thought up. Everyone in "law enforcement" involved in this idiocy ought to be fired; why should we be paying people to do this?

Then we have the Opera Wars, and another instance of the bureaucratic mind. 

A Fight at the Opera.

Roland Dobbins

Which, although resolved, causes me to rethink the donations I let my wife persuade me to make to the Met. Why must people be this way? Is it that the very existence of lawyers today poisons all civility and common sense? I would hate to think so. But we seem now to be more and more driven by law, and less by ordinary decency and civility.

Score one for the good guys:

Dear Mr. Pournelle, You might find this article amusing:

 Seems  that man who proclaims himself "one of the world's largest bulk e-mailers" is a little less happy when the tables are turned.

Steven Healey

I love it. We had his address here too. I hope he enjoys our exercising our rights as he exercises his. Now a Sending Of Cats would be illegal (Catherine de Camp used to tell of how a local Scientology group became unhappy with her and took out ads in the newspapers saying she represented a medical research group and wanted cats, giving her address. I never got many details or what the police did about that). But surely signing this chap up for research materials for his business is different?

Of course the real remedy is to give some thought to restricting spam, but the Direct Mail Association has powerful lobbies to prevent that.

I am told that this

Alan M Ralsky

6747 Minnow Pond Dr

West Bloowfield Township, MI 48322-2663

is a valid address. But I wouldn't know...

Oh the irony is so delicious I can taste it. If you remember the story about the Spam King who had built his new $740,000 house off of the spam he sent 

Well apparently a bunch of people on Slashdot organized to send this guy a MAJOR amount of spam be it snail mail or electronic kind. Apparently he doesn't like it as seen here: 

If anything, the fact that this guy paid for a $740,000 house just proves to me that spam laws are not taken seriously and the only thing that is noticed is vigilantism by the masses.

-Dan S.


Then, does there seem to be a message in this next one?

Subject: Instructive link, re terrorism detection
  E-mail Disclaimer: Any personal information in this e-mail must be handled in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 [Cth]. The information contained in the e-mail may be confidential and if the person receiving the e-mail is not the intended recipient they should immediately advise ARCBS by e-mail response to the ARCBS sender and then deal with the e-mail as directed by ARCBS. The views expressed in the e-mail are those of the individual sender unless otherwise stated to be the views of ARCBS. No warranties are provided that the e-mail is computer virus or other defect free.

Or am I just not seeing things clearly? Of course the story it points to is interesting too...

Subject: Reverse this, and you have a Klingon sonic disruptor. 

---------- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Refrigerator breaks the sound barrier Scientists develop method for chilling food with non-polluting sound waves (USA Today)

This was announced YEARS ago...and air pressure fed cooling aperture tech has been around for decades...I guess the news thawed... Rick

Home News

Refrigerator breaks the sound barrier Scientists develop method for chilling food with non-polluting sound waves

By Dan Vergano USA TODAY

A fridge chilled by sound waves could be headed for the ice cream parlor and your kitchen, researchers report.

Today's refrigerators use refrigerants linked to ozone depletion and global warming, raising interest in ''green'' alternatives such as the ''thermoacoustic'' fridge. Unveiled Wednesday at an acoustics meeting in Mexico, the sound-chilled prototype uses air as a refrigerant.

Led by Penn State University's Steven Garrett, the researchers see the technology leading to environmentally benign refrigerators, air conditioners and home electricity generators fueled by natural gas. Partly funded by ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's, the team hopes to turn its prototype into a line of ice cream cabinets the size of current ones, Garrett says.

Thermoacoustic refrigeration takes advantage of the natural heating a gas undergoes when compressed and the cooling it undergoes when it expands, like all refrigerators.

Within the 15-inch-tall, 9-inch-wide prototype, pressurized air is blasted with a high-pitched 173-decibel sound wave. (By comparison, the noise level standing 80 feet from a jet taking off is 140 decibels.) The sound waves alternately squeeze and expand the gas, removing heat from the refrigerator side of a heat exchanger and dumping it into the hot side. No sound can be heard outside the sealed heat exchanger, and temperatures on the cold side drop as low as 8 degrees below zero.

''We're not at the finish line yet, but this is exciting stuff,'' says acoustic scientist Greg Swift of the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory. Advances in thermoacoustic devices to power small-scale refrigerators, air conditioners and heat pumps have been growing for the past two decades, he says.

In terms of energy efficiency, the technology still lags behind conventional devices, but improvements have come in the past two years.

The technology has limits. For example, ''cryogenic'' temperatures near absolute zero, about minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit, are too difficult to achieve for this technology.

But it also offers unique advantages, Garrett says. Simply upping the frequency of the thermoacoustic sound waves can lead to smaller-sized refrigerators. And sound-driven air conditioners can be made to turn their output up or down gradually, unlike conventional ones that operate at maximum power for a time and then turn off until the heat bumps up again.


------ Richard F. Doherty, Director The Envisioneering Group

Love it.

Dr. Jerry;

I have been using Alpha software products for about 10 years now. I first got it when it first came out as a DOS program. It was fairly easy to use then. No command line. Everything was done from menu options and pick lists. I built several data bases that I still use today. And I have upgraded to Alpha 5 for Windows, v 1.0.2. I have had to reinstall it a couple of times due to having had disk crashes and replacing hard drives, but it has always installed with the code they sent me. If you ever get it installed and start to use it, you might like it. It does have a pretty steep learning curve though.

Roger D. & Lorrie J. Shorney

That was sort of my suspicion: it is FoxBase file compatible, and apparently does a lot of things I want done: but ye gods the paranoia! Activations! Authorizations! Passwords! And I am not yet sure if I can move it from one machine to another, without all that activation stuff.

I will plug away, but you apparently have to be determined to use this.

Dear Jerry, I think they would be far better off giving you the $2.4 Bills-I'm sure you could ditch the non-recoverable rocket:

"NASA announced a major change in direction today for its human space flight program, saying it would delay development of a replacement for the space shuttle and instead start work on a new, smaller orbiting space plane — a sort of minishuttle — to take people to and from the International Space Station....The agency would spend $2.4 billion over the next five years to design the orbital space plane, a vehicle that would be launched into space atop a conventional, nonrecoverable rocket and return to Earth to land on a conventional airport runway."


Where is an X-project when we need one? Cheers, Rod Schaffter 

-- "It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag." --Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, Sergeant, USMC

Well, I think they'd do better to let me have the money for an X project too, but I doubt anyone will DO that...

Subject: Ecology of the Buffyverse

Ecological study of human vs. vampire populations in Sunnydale, CA, home of The Slayer.

Eric Pobirs

Wonderful! I mean, really wonderful!




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There were two anniversaries of historical events today. Not as much said of Pearl Harbor as there used to be. Hardly anything reported about the other.

Jim Watson

Astronauts Recall Last Moon Mission

Saturday December 7, 2002 7:10 PM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Thirty years have passed, but no amount of time could dim the vivid memory Eugene Cernan has of being the last person to leave footprints on the moon.

``It's like you would want to freeze that moment and take it home with you. But you can't,'' Cernan recalled as he joined fellow Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt and other aviation pioneers to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the last manned mission to the moon.

As he made his way up the ladder to his spacecraft for the trip back to Earth, Cernan struggled for words to leave behind. He said he realized they wouldn't be as memorable as Neil Armstrong's comment when he became the first person to set foot on the moon: ``That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.''

Cernan's parting remark: ``We now leave as we once came, and God willing we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.''

Cernan said at Friday's gathering it never occurred to him that 30 years later he'd still be the last man on the moon.

``We knew Apollo 17 was going to be the final (Apollo) flight,'' he said. ``And I knew that I would take the last steps on the moon. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would be the last time for a generation or so.''

Other astronauts at the Friday night dinner at the estate of entrepreneur and space enthusiast Robert H. Lorsch included Edwin ``Buzz'' Aldrin of Apollo 11, T.R. Mattingly of Apollo 16, and James Lovell of Apollo 13.

The dinner was a benefit for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which supports advanced education for college students of science and technology.

Mainly, it gave the astronauts a chance to share memories of the most exciting time of their lives.

The 1970 voyage of Apollo 13, which Lovell commanded, also was to have included a moon landing, but it had to be aborted after an oxygen tank ruptured aboard the moon-bound spacecraft. Lovell was portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie ``Apollo 13,'' about the near-fatal mission.

Lovell noted that Apollo 18 and 19 were also planned as moon missions but that NASA canceled them, perhaps because of his mission's near-disaster.

``I think (canceling) was a grave mistake,'' he said Friday night. ``We had only touched a couple of places (on the moon); there were other places we could have gone to. The scientific community was very dissatisfied.''

Cernan hopes to see that situation corrected.

``I came back from the mission and got on my soapbox,'' he said. ``The press continued to ask me, `How does it feel to be the tail of the dog, the last one over the fence.' I said, `Apollo 17 is not the end; it's the beginning of a whole new era in the history of mankind. Not only will we go to the moon, but we'll be on our way to Mars by the turn of the century.'''










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Sunday, December 8, 2002

It's always wise to view anything Robert Fisk says with skepticism.

Reference Rolands link .....


PIPING HOT FROM THE OVEN?....You know, there's something a little odd about Robert Fisk's latest column. He interviews an anonymous "American intelligence officer just back from Afghanistan" who not only has nothing very original to say but also has an odd way of saying it. Here are three sentences from the first paragraph:


"We didn't catch whom we were supposed to catch." Does that sound like someone actually speaking? It doesn't to me.


"Al-Qa'ida are very smart." No American would say "Al-Qa'ida are." It would be "Al-Qa'ida is."


"Our intelligence is high-tech - they went back to primitive methods that the Americans cannot adapt to." Again, an American wouldn't say "the Americans." He'd say "we" (as he did in other sentences).

Something seems a little odd about this interview. Maybe it's just sloppy note-taking, but it might be something worse.

UPDATE: A couple of people have emailed to add the phrase "Adidas suits and runners" to my list: we call them "sweats" and "sneakers" on this side of the Atlantic. This could be just a case of Fisk translating American terms for his British readers, but most journalists don't do that in direct quotes.


Gary R. Utter

Thanks. I didn't find the article particularly interesting so I didn't spend much time looking at it. Minor details of such operations aren't important except to story tellers (which I am with another hat but not this time).

I wonder if Fisk noted the irony of the last paragraph in his own story, which essentially says that the military makes a habit of stringing reporters along to keep them out of the way. Like Fisk. 

Tom Brosz

Unlikely. Most reporters don't know when they are being shined.

Intelligence agencies like to be thought incompetent; it's only the really incompetent ones that fight the image and go try to impress people with how good they are. Of course this makes it harder to determine what's real incompetence and what's laid on, particularly since most political leaders haven't many clues as to what the intelligence business is about.

You can judge by results. The most spectacular case everyone knows about but most paid little attention to was the collapse of communism in Indonesia. That was a Company operation, and done splendidly, and I suspect to this day almost no one in the US realizes just how near a thing it was, and how close the timing had to be to bring it off. Indonesia very nearly went Communist at a time when we really couldn't afford to have that astride our shipping lines. Instead, darned near every communist in Indonesia (plus, one supposes, a lot of sympathizers and a fair number of innocents) was killed in a two week purge following a failed communist coup attempt. It failed because of the Agency.

There have been other little publicized Company triumphs. And do note that Afghanistan is no longer run by the Taliban...

On the other hand, the Bureau seems to have collapsed prior to 911. Kissinger is good at obscuring things and can be counted on to do that again, but the fact is that there are emerging clues that many US resident Arabs knew something was about to happen to the Twin Towers in early September. How much the Agency knew about this, and what happened to the knowledge, isn't clear; neither is the Agency/Bureau turf war that certainly contributed to the fog.

But anyone who looks at the ratio of Put to Call options for the first week September, 2001, as opposed to any other week of that year, may well be puzzled.

I doubt anything will come of the Kissinger investigation. If I were still in the investigative reporting business I know where I'd start; I suspect it will take private action to uncover the truth. On the other hand, the people who could do it may not want to, once they see just how great a role political correctness played in keeping things hidden until too late...



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