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Mail 237 December 23 - 29, 2002

 

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Monday  December 23, 2002

And A Merry Christmas To All

A lot happened last weekend: see previous mail. There are discussions of all sorts and conditions of things...

Regarding the Rockwell story

I've spent a bit of time trying to track it down, with no success -- so I just queried snopes.com, which I think of as the gold standard in urban myth debunking. If I hear anything, I'll let you know.

Even if it's not true, it's definitely a useful cautionary tale, and squares with some less outrageous-but-still-outrageous-enough stuff that's been widely reported, and the attitudes I've witnessed myself -- regardless of what should be, too many of the idiots running "security" at the airport seem to think that they're there to intimidate and bully. (Not, by any means, all; the nice little Ethiopian man who felt me up last time I went through was apologetic about it.)

The last-time-but-one I was in an airport, this summer, I did see somebody trying to tape a grope ... err, search, and he was immediately stopped by three of the burger-flipper-dropouts. (I would have held back and watched what happened after, but I had a nephew to pick up.)

My own take: when I go into an airport, I switch from normal-human mode into criminal suspect mode. They're treating you like a criminal suspect, anyway -- get with the program, because that is the program. If you're going to complain then and there -- and despite how bad the situation is, the odds are it's going to make it worse -- be sure that there's *lots* of witnesses, and somebody to call a lawyer for you. As my lawyer friends keep saying, the *only* response, if you've been arrested or are being interrogated by a police office, is "lawyer." ("Think of it as your mantra," one said.)

It's a strong argument for, at a minimum, putting the cameras in control of somebody else, so that these sort of "accidents" don't happen. For some reason or other, when the cops control the tape machines, the tapes either vindicate the cops or just happen not to work. (I put an incident of that in Home Front, my first mainstream murder mystery, which is due out in March. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the original account that I fictionalized, not having been there, but I did get it directly from the fellow who claimed that it happened to him.)

Joel Rosenberg

Don't you feel more secure now? And the Imperium definitely feels more secure, as it citizens become good Imperial subjects, concerned lest they offend the Imperial Services.

Weep for the Republic.

Now I suppose those words are too strong: for now. Think of them as said in a few years, and I won't have to tell you I told you so. 

Of course it's not too late. But who will cause us to turn back? Not the Democrats, with Waco to justify. So who will say, 'turn back, o man, forget thy foolish ways?'

Sometimes it's not quite so bad...

Dr. Pournelle, You seem to be collecting Homeland Security stories. Here's another one.

http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/Northeast/12
/22/offbeat.surfing.santa/index.html
 

--

Semper Fi George A. Laiacona III <george@eisainc.com> "Well, you can just die then." --Excerpt, King's Men Diplomacy Manual

After all, he might be a terrorist...

But there's REAL GOOD NEWS:

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2002 The Transportation Security Administration has signed a 10-year lease for office space located within a block of the Pentagon City Metro stop in Arlington, VA. The space, leased from MCI WorldCom Network Services, Inc., is furnished and information technology-ready, enabling the new federal agency to immediately consolidate under one roof, increase efficiency and improve internal communications.

http://www.tsa.dot.gov/public/display?
theme=44&content=643
 

 

And Mr. St. Onge indulges in levity...

From: Stephen M. St. Onge saintonge@hotmail.com

Date: Dec. 23, 2002

subject amusing animation:

Dear Jerry:

Try http://www.smilepop.com/index.cfm?action=
viewcard&content_id=611&page_id=611

Merry Christmas!

Best, Stephen

DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!


For a long and fairly careful analysis of the Israeli position presented by the Deputy PM of Israel, see:

http://www.aei.org/ee/ee1.htm 

Democracy for Peace

AEI World Forum

Beaver Creek, Colorado

June 20, 2002

By Natan Sharansky

For my views on Israel and US policy see View.

 

 

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Tuesday,  December 24, 2002

This is the wrong day for me to reply to this letter, but it needs posting, so I'll do my best.

December 24, 2002

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

For many years I worked in the Computer Industry, and I have always found your Byte columns to be interesting and informative. The economy being what it is here in Massachusetts right now, I recently accepted a position as a Federal Security Screener at Boston's Logan International Airport.

While I haven't been working as a security screener for very long, I've found that the people I work with take the job seriously; we want to do our job well so that the public will feel confident and secure while traveling. Our training in rigorous, thorough, and on going. The place to learn more about the Transportation Security Administration is www.tsa.gov . The phone number to address concerns or complaints is: (866) 289-9673. E-mail: TSA-ConsumerResponse@tsa.dot.gov .

Like many of you, September 11 hit me very hard. The images from that day continue to haunt me, as I bet they do you. An insidious enemy requires an implacable shield, and I hope to help provide one.

Dr Pournelle, I have been a fan of your books since I was a teenager. I can't tell you how many hours of enjoyment you have provided me. Thank you so much. I look forward to the  forthcoming sequel to The Burning City.

Sincerely Yours,

Rob Evans 

And I make no doubt that you speak for a number of people in your position. 

I used to say that a job not worth doing is not worth doing well. Now of course preventing hijacking of aircraft and their use as cruise missiles is a job worth doing. The problem is that beyond screening out the obvious, it's not a job that can be done by passenger screening and still allow air commerce; and in particular it's not a job that can be done while adhering to political correctness.

If the goal is to prevent airplanes from being hijacked, then what's needed is to keep out guns. Knives, box cutters, garrotes, bastinadoes, Medals of Honor, nail clippers, nail files, small scissors, miniature plastic models of guns, bottles of human milk, dirty baby diapers, diaper pins, or baseball bats are not going to work any more, and anyone attempting to use one on an airplane is going to be pummeled into misery by fellow passengers, even though you have done your best to see that the decent people on board have been thoroughly disarmed. The 911 attacks worked because we had all been taught to be sheep in the expectation that hijackers would be rational. We know better now.

Taking over an airliner and flying it into a target is no longer going to be easily done, and it has become an unlikely form of attack; as anyone knows. 

If the goal is to prevent the airplane from being destroyed by a suicide bomber you have a more difficult task. You can't make it impossible. You can make it pretty difficult, so that the fanatic will find another target more convenient. And to do that, you need not again be overly concerned about the normal appearing passenger, or one who is carrying knives, box cutters, garrotes, bastinadoes, Medals of Honor, nail clippers, nail files, small scissors, miniature plastic models of guns, bottles of human milk, dirty baby diapers, diaper pins, or baseball bats. The number of suicide bombers capable of maintaining utter calm during a brief interview, while carrying explosives not easily detected, is small. Few got through before you started all this; why do you suppose there are so many more now?

The fact is that being hijacked and killed on an airplane is a low probability event. It's not made a lot lower by making air travel so onerous that people hesitate to fly. 

I will never again decide at the last minute to visit friends in San Francisco, or dart over to Las Vegas for a day of Consumer Electronics Show. I am too likely to be openly contemptuous to a contemptible person in authority, and be arrested for, well, contempt. I don't suffer fools gladly, and some of the arrogant fools who have your job clearly love to cause such results: I have seen them in action, both before and after 911.

I realize that there are many in airport security who think they are doing good, and try to be conscientious. You are laboring under rules designed by fools. So long as those who try to get past you are also fools, this may not matter although it has nearly destroyed the airlines; but when those who want to get past you are sufficiently clever and have sufficient resources, you're not likely to stop them anyway. As you well know: I won't discuss details, and doubtless you could tell me of vulnerabilities I am not aware of, but we both know there are large holes in the system and you can't close them all.

And in attempting to close them all we are reducing our citizens to subjects and our people to sheep while destroying our travel system. The costs of 911 include all the expanded "security" positions we now have. And we keep giving Osama bin Laden a higher and higher return on his investment.

We will never make life or air travel risk free. We can reduce the risks. You can keep guns and drunks and armed idiots off the airplanes. To do that you need not subject many people to studied indignities, or give opportunities to contemptible people -- and many contemptible people have your job -- to insult and abuse the citizens. You won't do that, just as you won't steal from baggage, but the nature of the work makes it inevitable that many will. You want to protect the public? Watch the passengers, and by all means question those who seem suspicious. And use some common sense.

Beyond that I can charge you as St. Paul charged the soldiers, to do your job well without insolence or oppression to those you are supposed to protect; which you will do; but you have been given a nearly impossible task, and saddled with rules designed by politically motivated fools, and there isn't a lot you can do about that: or about arrogant coworkers. I wish you well.

And see below.


I just gotta think that there is a story buried someplace in this picture from the Hubble

< http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/2002/22/ >

and, if you have not seen this flash xmas card novelty thingy

< http://web.icq.com/shockwave/0,,4845,00.swf >

merry xmas!

MZ

And a merry Christmas to you and all, everywhere.

 

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Holidays

 

 

 

 

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Holidays, and visit from granddaughter. Happy New Year

 

 

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Friday, December 27, 2002

Continuing an important discussion.

Two good references on using unconventional metrics to determine long-term global temperature patterns:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/
heather.hobden1/GlobalWarming.htm
  (By my Uncle, who did ground-breaking but classified work on Perceptrons in the late 50's - also Robotics at Stanford in the 60's) and http://www.disasterrelief.org/
Disasters/011207solarcycles/
 

Alan Brain, Canberra, Australia mailto:aebrain@webone.com.au

Thanks. I'll try to read and comment later. Following from very cursory look:

Solar cycles are far more likely to influence global climate than any greenhouse effect, and if it is greenhouse, water vapor is going to be more important than CO2. 

We know that Greenland was once inhabitable, and that ice formed on the Hudson River centuries afterward: i.e. that there have been cycles in historical times. And we know there have been Ice Ages and other cyclical phenomena. Why we want to blame CO2 is akin to a belief in magic: we think we can do something about the CO2.

On much the same subject:

 

Subject: Solar and Hydro Power

Dr. Pournelle,

Regarding the note from Greg Goss about using both solar and hydro power, I wonder how many people have considered that new fuel cell technologies may provide a boost to all the "green" power sources.

As you've pointed out, fuel cells are a battery technology. With sufficient infrastructure changes, a "hydrogen economy" could solve the time-and-distance issues for both mobile and fixed power needs. It might lead to a much more distributed system of power plants. A windmill in the backyard might be a practical way to supplement the hydrogen you buy for home and car.

On another subject, have you seen these DVDs of archival NASA footage:

http://www.spacecraftfilms.com ?

Thanks for your time,

Todd Campbell elvis@iastate.edu 

 

 

===

From: Stephen M. St. Onge saintonge@hotmail.com

Date: Dec. 26th, 2002

subject: U. S. energy policy

Dear Mr. Todd:

Your letter to Dr. Pournelle, which you CC'ed to me, arrived when I was too busy to reply to anyone.

Anyway, very thoughtful and interesting letter. I like your distinction between the two energy economies. About saving heating and cooling in the 'stationary economy,' I've long believed that we should encourage on site power production for that. End distribution losses, and use the waste heat rather than throw it away. But everyone seems to feel that as a matter of morality, the only proper power plant is one located far away. I don't get it.

Absent a battery breakthrough, we won't be able to tie the 'stationary' and 'transportation' economies together, but we can work on better efficiency for the mobile power plants.

We could also work on car transporters. Instead of driving a long distance directly from pt. A to pt. B, drive to pt. C, and load your car on a transporter that takes it to pt. D. Then drive to pt. B from there. The train can be powered electrically, by a much higher efficiency engine than almost any vehicle's.

As I type, another thing occurs. A hybrid diesel-electric might be rigged to pick up power directly from a road system. Drive to the freeway, attach to the power lines or rails, go where you want at higher efficiency than your onboard engine.

Of course, if we get good fuel cells for cars, this all changes. The portable power plant would be as efficient as the stationary one.

As for 'mega-milers,' my wife the RN is one. When we bought the house, she worked locally, then the hospital closed and her new job was a long distance away. We didn't and don't want to move there, for a variety of reasons.

Again, thanks for an interesting and thought provoking letter. Feel free to write again!

Best, Stephen

Stephen M. St. Onge Minneapolis, MN

DELENDAM ESSE SAUDI ARABIA!

Also related...

Good morning, Jerry

Found this on Fox News site and it's pretty good:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,73967,00.html 

Regards Mike Detjen

Indeed!


Jerry,

 

I just received and installed my Vonage Internet Phone service. www.vonage.com  I am very impressed.

 

The service requires that you have a Broadband Internet Connection (I have AT&T Broadband). For $39.95, you have unlimited phone calls, no long distance in the U.S., cheap overseas calls, voice mail, call forwarding, caller ID, and you can pick an area code from those they have activated. I chose a Washington DC area code, not for any special reason, just because I thought it would be neat. I live in Montana.

 

I got the Cisco ATA-186 out of the box, plugged it into my home network switch (they will sell you one cheap if you donít have one), plugged in a regular telephone handset, and powered it on. It was DHCPíd an IP from the switch, the light on ATA-186 flashed for a second or two, and it was ready to go. It was that easy. Your Aunt Minnie could do this (if she had the prerequisite connection).

 

I placed several calls, and they were all crystal clear, full duplex. Iíve heard rumors that with a cordless phone, the clarity isnít as good, but I donít have one connected as itís at my computer desk, and I donít want family members walking off with the handset. J I plan on checking several times a day to see how the clarity is, but if stays this good, this is a winner. The interesting time will be when the Internet is under a DDOS attack.

 

I donít know where the Internet-to-Voice phone network interface is, but the servers and switches are excellent so far.

 

Another pretty neat feature is that I can get my voice mail on the Internet at my Vonage Extranet website. I can also get a record of the calls made and received, along with time, numbers, and duration. Those are posted in 5 to 10 minutes from the time the call is completed. Itís a nice record of what transpired.

 

Iíll keep you updated if I have problems, but so far, this is very cool.

 

Tracy Walters

 

"The fate of a nation has often depended upon the good or bad digestion of a prime minister."

Voltaire

Thanks!


And more

Hello Dr. Pournelle: We have all seen incidents like this many times in the last year or so, but I still can't help asking what on Earth is going on in this country. We are turning into a nation of men without minds, and being rewarded for the transformation.

 http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/dec02/105834.asp

 The frightening thing about this is that the victim was apologetic, and seemed to agree with authorities that he was in the wrong and deserved what he got. I suppose it has now become the duty of all good Americans to remain silent, orderly, and free from doubt or question. While I don't consider this to be the most intelligent thing that could have been said, considering the times, I believe that the man did nothing malicious, wrong, or particularly out of line. It's not as if there are no records of any pilots ever being found intoxicated on the job. The real harm was done by silly people who can not resist the allure of following procedures in a situation in which they very well know, they do not apply. I believe there is a perverse side to the bureaucratic mind which revels in the thought that a wrong can be committed, or a stupid act performed, with impunity by the simple expedient of saying "I was just following procedure."

 So while all of these things are happening to regular Americans, just doing what they do, where are the ACLU, and the other self appointed protectors of liberty? They seem to be busy protecting those, who common sense tells us should rate particular attention. According to the ACLU, and most of the other liberal, and politically correct groups, the following people are those whose protection will most benefit the country. It is far more important to see to the best interest of people who may be a real threat, than to worry about regular people being fined, and detained for innocent comments made in jest. Below are a few recent examples of our friends on the left interfering with legitimate police work: http://www.cnn.com/2002/EDUCATION/
12/25/fbi.colleges.reut/index.html
 

 http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/
12/26/afghan.detainees/index.html

 http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?
StoryID=20021224-123107-1546r

 But then, with people like this in charge, why should anyone be surprised: http://chblue.com/home.pl?&&frameurl
=http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?r55455441

Neal Pritchett

Well, in a properly run country, the officer involved, and all those in command, could be sued by the victim: an officer acting beyond his authority is always personally liable under the Common Law. Ultra Vires, and all that. But we don't do that sort of thing any more... And in fact, for fear that someone might sue, they will threaten you with 20 years in prison for "endangering a flight" or "interfering". They know better, but they can so endanger you that you won't sue them. 

But we were born free.

What is the crime in expressing the wish that the pilots be sober? And given the reaction of the pilots, were they? Do sober people react that way to being asked if they are sober?

When I used to drink, I would get pretty abusive to people asking if I were drunk. I wonder ...

But apparently it is "just procedure". Ordnung! Your Papers, Please.

I will not fly if I can possibly avoid it. It wasn't much fun before all this but at least it wasn't dangerous. Now they will put you in jail for 20 years for asking if the pilots are sober.

 

 


Censorship? Or something else?

I just posted the following on my Journal page: < http://www.ttgnet.com/daynotes/
2002/2002-52.html#Thursday
  >

-------------------

"What is going on here? Google censorship? On my Journal page for Saturday, 16 November, I posted a response to a message from a reader. That response included a word I'd just made up, "Heimatsicherheitshauptamt", or "Homeland Security Main Office". Also on 16 November, Jerry Pournelle posted a message from me that included the word Heimatsicherheitshauptamt.

The following Monday, I wondered if I'd actually made up that word, or if someone else had used it first. So I did a Google search for "Heimatsicherheitshauptamt". That search returned only two hits, one my Journal page for 11 November, and the other Jerry's Mail page. I didn't think much more about it until a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to run the search again to see if anyone had picked up on it. This time, Google returned zero hits. Nada. Nothing. Zip.

The subject just came up on the messageboard, and so I checked again. Google returned zero results, although a reader has this to say:

"I've searched high and low, Hotbot on "fast" search found an email you sent to Pournelle on this subject. So did Kartoo and Excite, however Google, Teoma, Inktomi, lycos, Alta Vista, MSN, Looksmart, Ask Jeeves did not. Interesting that you have been censored but he has not."

-------------------

So what is going on? I could understand if the search had returned no results originally. Perhaps the pages in question simply hadn't been spidered yet. But they obviously were spidered, because Google returned two hits a couple days after that word was published on the two sites. The fact that they were there and are no longer means something or someone decided to remove them. Why?

-- Robert Bruce Thompson thompson@ttgnet.com http://www.ttgnet.com/thisweek.html http://forums.ttgnet.com/ikonboard.cgi

I invite comment.

Note I have made up my own word, GeheimSicherheitPolizei which will have the shortened form of Gesipo rather than Gestapo. We will see what happens...

Subject: Here's what I think is going on with Google 

Read the whole thing:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.01/google_pr.html 

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

Interesting. Thanks! 

And I discover that Gesipo is a word. I'll have to try Gestipo. 

That one is also on Google already, but not very many hits. We'll see what happens in a few hours.

Google is very convenient, and I like their ethics; at least they are trying to do the right thing. If they block too many searches, surely someone will set up a competing site with different policies? That's what will save the Internet as a fountain of information. Some of it will be incorrect information, but that's for users to determine: find sites that CARE and try to put up the truth and correct themselves...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, December 28, 2002

What, you didn't get enough yesterday?

 

 

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Sunday, September 29, 2002

Hi Jerry,

On Saturday, December 28, 2002 you wrote;

Of course North Korea -- remember the Axis of Evil, Iraq, Iran, North Korea? -- has decided to heat up the stew, whether as a distraction or in an attempt to get some precedents on record I don't know. The unfortunate lesson many are learning from this is that if you have a nuke or two, you can get away with a lot; if you don't have one, you can be pushed around. It would take a particularly stupid dictator not to learn this lesson

The Imperial answer to this is rather simple. Use a Nuke and we flatten your country. We don't just sow the resulting parking lot with salt, we seed it with long lasting radioactive isotopes so the lesson is not forgotten as long as they emit.

Frank G.

Sure. But the costs are very high. Proving we are not bluffing is hard. The simplest way is to nuke the nuclear facility that worries us, demonstrating resolve as well as possibly solving the problem, but that is pretty drastic. We aren't that imperial yet.

Hello Jerry,

We don't need a distraction in the Far East at this time.

I would send a hand full of cruise missiles into the facility's buildings after dropping warning leaflets about 15 minutes before the arrival of the missiles. Minimal loss of life and maximum gain.

And then a warning that there will be missiles into any facilities and the dictators home with no further warning for any future similar activity.

Bob Sprowl

 

 

 

 

From the Saturday entry on the website:

"Does anyone know off hand how to install a Windows 95 only program on an XP machine? I expect it's simple enough, but as usual the help index is smarter than I am."

---

Try this:

Insert disk, stop Autorun if necessary (hold the left shift key until drive stops)

Right-click the CD drive in My Computer, select Explore.

Locate the installer for your program, right-click it, select Properties - Compatibility, select Windows 95.

After installing the program, do the same task to the program file that initiates the game/ program.

I've successfully used this on the Activision game "BattleZone", which behaves badly under XP natively, but will run properly as a stand-alone game in compatibility mode. Why it crumples to the pavement when I try a networked game is another subject I must investigate.

Thanks. I'll try that.

 

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