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Mail 255 April 28 - May 4, 2003






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Dear Dr Pournelle, If this doesn't set a fire under NASA, nothing will. <  >

"NASA concedes that Soyuz is uniquely safe.

"It's the most reliable spacecraft in the world in terms of its safety record. They've been flying Soyuz vehicles for 36 years but they've only had two accidents," NASA spokesman Mr Rob Navias told AFP.

"They've used the same technology for decades, and it works," he added.

On April 24, 1967, the first manned Soyuz to be launched on a test flight exploded on its return to Earth, killing the cosmonaut on board. Then on June 30, 1971, three Russian astronauts died as their Soyuz vessel re-entered the atmosphere. Since then, there have been no accidents involving manned craft."

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

The safe best is that "nothing will."

Dr. P:

This is not very timely, sorry. I seem to have a hard time keeping up since I lost my broadband connection.

In mail 254 you wrote

One of the things we must be able to agree to is to lose an election and not take to the streets.

My understanding is that this is a skill we acquired after the Civil War: a while back, I was astonished to learn (in Alan Nevins' Ordeal of the Union) that Americans exchanged pistol fire over custody of ballot boxes in the elections leading up to the war. In those days, too, the newspapers in the US bore a striking resemblance to those of today in, say, Nicaragua or Pakistan: there was little pretense of the objectivity upon which modern American journalists pride themselves. Many prominent papers were wholly-owned subsidiaries of the political machines in their circulation areas, and blatant about it.

In View 254:

I have my quarrels with the Department of State, and particularly the lame brained scheme whereby Ambassadors are not the personal representatives of the President, but career officials with no political background and often with ideas entirely at odds with the American people and their elected President.

For my part, I wonder why we have so many Ambassadors in the first place. It used to be that Ambassadors were exchanged only between Powers, and lesser nations had to content themselves with ministers or other lesser officials (and these were the career cookie pushers). The fiction that every ethnic group with a flag and an anthem deserves to treat equally with the Powers is responsible for greater mischief, but this is a symptom.

On loot and looting:

Doubtless it is a tragedy for us all that the mobs trashed their own museums (and doubtless you are correct in surmising that at least some of this looting was not precisely spontaneous), and I have wondered that the war plan apparently made no provision for promptly supplying the Iraqis with battalions of MPs, but the part that really caught my attention was the looting and destruction of the hospitals. What kind of people would do that to themselves? Americans have not been notably enthusiastic about "taking up the White Man's burden" in the past: the business with the hospitals suggests to me that "rebuilding Iraq" will be a tough row to hoe, and I don't hear anyone talking in a way that suggests they understand just how tough it will be.

Thanks for reading, if you've gotten this far.

Wade Scholine

Timely enough. The more important you make the outcome of an election, the more the losers will be tempted to go beyond the electoral process.

And I agree about Ambassadors. Actually the US for a long time didn't have any at all, considering that rank (they wore swords too!) to be too much like a monarchy. But today we have the myth of the equality of nations.

But  the ambassadors to places we care about ought to be people with some political clout. 






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Tuesday,  April 29, 2003

An inquiry| 

Dr. P:

If it is not too much trouble, I would like for you to post the following question on your site:

How does one go about cleaning up a PC board that has been damaged by leaking alkaline batteries? My Handsping Visor suffered a battery leak, and now will not start. I have disassembled it, and the leakage appears to be confined to the small board on which the membrane switches are found: I suspect that the battery goop is causing a short. If no one has better advice, I will try flushing the board off with white vinegar, followed by deionized water, and finish up by drying the assembly with a blow dryer. Is any of this likely to damage the membrane switches?

TIA * 10E6.


Well, I would try zero-residue cleaner first. In fact my usual first attempt to fix something of that sort is zero-residue cleaner, air, a drop of Stablant 22 spread about with another shot of zero-residue to help distribute it, then more air. I am not sure I'd try vinegar. I get the zero-residue stuff at Fry's. And see Below.

Over in another discussion group, someone recommended 

which is Fred Reed on France. It's not his best column, and by a lot, and I didn't figure it would be long before someone put up a reply. Many did, but I like this one from an old friend and rather acerbic wit:

1. What's this notorious cowardice?

2. This Fred piece seems like ordinary bad-mouthing of political opponents rather than any kind of analysis.

3. Fred confuses man-in-the-street bad-mouthing of the French with neocon bad-mouthing. The neocons don't say "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", since they normally serve brie after their talks. The man-in-the-street hasn't had much experience criticizing the French; if he has to keep at it he'll come to use more sophisticated language.

4. The evidence is piling up that the French were much closer to Saddam Hussein than they admitted. It seems they transmitted to Iraqi intelligence the contents of Chirac's communications with Bush. Exactly why isn't apparent to me. Maybe they wanted to be sure that paying France for those arms would have the highest priority.

5. I have to admit that the French I have interacted with have been as polite as anyone else.

6. I assume Fred is lying when he says he expected the French to be rude. If they weren't rude the first time he went to the air show, why would he have expected rudeness on subsequent visits.

7. The French lack some commercial courtesies common in America. For example, an American clerk will change a dollar or a five when politely requested by a non-customer. A French clerk is insulted by the request.

8. This Fred fellow seems to have little to say, and this makes him babble about Americans not finding the Atlantic ocean. Did he always have this animus against his fellow citizens?

9. "Our current emperor always gives the impression that he has just finished eating a peanut-butter sandwich." Ah, that's why I don't like Fred; it's shame on my part. You see I still sometimes eat peanut butter, whereas Fred learned young that "paté d'arachide" is not fit for anyone above 7 years of age.

10. I've never been to Texarkana, so I wouldn't hazard a guess about what wins elocution contests there. I'd bet Fred hasn't either.

11. I've always found intelligence respected. In basic training I was in a hut with 5 Illinois farm boys whose names all began with Mc. Maybe I was teased a little, but I wasn't persecuted, and when a bully got after me, they noticed and told him something bad would happen to him if he continued.

12. I notice Fred mentions Hunter Thompson but not Tom Wolfe with whom he would disagree about politics.

13. Fred "craves to bare his soul" and trot out his store of cliches, e.g. "tub-thumping patriots", "I'm not sure that, before we put our own house in order, we are in a position to look down too scornfully ..." [Such a chain of clichés wouldn't pass my 7th grade English teacher], "whereas we are deeply suspicious of it" [Is it only leftist snobs that use "we" to mean "they". I suppose it's a form of cowardice - pretending to take on oneself some of the blame one casts on others].

14. It is a criticism of the French and of Fred that

"they made mock of the uniforms that guard us while we sleep"

Of course Fred is a contrarian, and we can all appreciate that the anti-French sentiments were getting a bit treacly. Which says enough, but then another participant said:

>7. The French lack some commercial courtesies common in America. For >example, an American clerk will change a dollar or a five when >politely requested by a non-customer. A French clerk is insulted by >the request.

Excerpt: April 27, 2003: While Iraq's use of GPS jammers did not succeed in the recent war (the jammers were quickly located and bombed), three years earlier, one of Iraq's allies did make successful use of GPS jamming against U.S. and British troops. In the Summer of 2000, American, British and French tanks were competing for a $1.4 billion contract to equip the Greek army. For some reason, the GPS gear in the American and British tanks never seemed to work correctly during the tests. It was later discovered that the French had brought a small GPS jammer to the tank evaluation area and rigged it so a French officer could turn the jammer on and off remotely whenever the American or British tanks were moving about. Eventually, Greece selected German tanks for its army.

Which says a great deal, but perhaps not all the implications have been brought out. I'll leave those for others.


For reasons I won't go into I found it necessary to re-activate my copy of Windows XP (home) by calling the activation center last night. The process has gone automated.

Still works the same way...when prompted you have to give them a 40 digit number from the activation wizard but now you are talking to a voice recognizer. If it is happy with what you tell it reads a 48 digit number (in groups of six, pausing for confirmation after each group) back to you. Press finish and…Windows!

Works fine but takes longer than Dave, the last human with whom I went through this (on Friday). Hope he didn't lose his job. The entire process can still be completed in less than five minutes. No personal information was requested. It didn't even ask why I needed to reactivate.

I have no idea about how flexible the voice recognizer is. Years in a cockpit taught me how to do numbers and prowords that can be understood under the worst conditions imaginable. The MS system even understands that "niner" means "nine." I'm tempted to dump the system (again) just to see if this works at conversational speeds.

Should I be impressed that voice recognition technology has been nicely implemented in something for which it is perfectly suited, or insulted that MS thinks so little of it's customers it won't even put a real person on the phone to help them use the product they paid for?

Best to the family

Ron Morse

Eric has had to reactivate Windows many times; he's never had a problem with it. If you have no problems, I presume that automating the process is a good idea. The test will come when it refuses...

Subject: angelo codevilla

Based on your questions on the Middle East, I think you'll like him:

Magnificent, But Was it War?,


Postmortem on a Phony War, 

Well worth the read.

Best Regards, Omar Javaid

Angelo Codevilla was one of the early employees at the Pepperdine Research Institute when I was President of PRI. That was a long time ago. He was part of the SDI support group in the 80's. Our paths have not crossed again since the 60's, but I'm aware of his work.

As Wm. Buckley said in a recent disquisition about something Angelo wrote, "One of the deposits of Angelo Codevilla, with almost every one of his essays, is deep, heavy gloom. His analysis is so shrewd, his sense of human nature and its drives so highly developed, he confidently tells us what is going to happen, and it is quite awful."

I don't go quite that far, but let us say that reading Professor Codevilla to find out the downside is a good thing for an analyst to do; but "taking counsel from our fears" is sometimes a mistake.

Subject: Tomb of Gilgamesh found?

Roland Dobbins








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The most likely cause of the failure is not a short but and open circuit caused by chemical reaction between the battery fluids and the tracks on the PCB. The best solution to this is to replace the complete PCB with one from another unit. It may be possible to find one with a cracked display as a donor. I'm sure stranger thing have been requested on the newsgroups.

Repair might be possible but would require access to fine soldering equipment, a good inspection microscope and if possible the circuit diagrams for the unit under repair.

In general I wouldn't recommend using any sort of acid on any modern electronic equipment. Just wash with small amounts of deionised water then remove any excess water with pure alcohol (not methylated spirits, too many impurities) and leave in a warm place for a couple of hours (sorry if this is beginning to sound like a recipe).

Modern high density PCB's are precision made to tight tolerances and are quite vulnerable to damage by chemical leakage.

Sorry this isn't very encouraging.


Ian Crowe

That would have been my guess, too, but it does not harm to try a few heroic measures first. When they fail...

And some good news

Well, this certainly looks promising, and brightens the morning! Let's hope they slam the jail doors on a few, soon, and word gets around. - Virginia threatens spammers with jail time - Apr. 30, 2003:

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- Internet mavens who clog computers with massive volumes of unsolicited e-mail pitches now risk landing in prison and losing their riches under a tough Virginia law signed Tuesday. Although about half the states have anti-spam laws, no other allows authorities to seize the assets earned from spamming while imposing up to five years in prison, said Gov. Mark R. Warner.

Thanks for all you do,

Jim Riticher

But where will they find an impartial jury? 

I have a huge number of links from Roland on many subjects:

Subject: Jacob Buckman, eat your heart out.

Roland Dobbins



Subject: " . . . it's sort of freaking me out."

Surely the basic argument that most issues at the intersection of the public/private spheres ought to be handled by the several states could be made in in such a way as to avoid references to bestiality?

And what's with this 'we' business? Is that the royal 'we'?

Very odd.

Roland Dobbins


Subject: The Testimony of Mindy Kleinberg.

 Roland Dobbins

For Response see below.


Subject: Details of empire.

Roland Dobbins

Subject: Ah, but will they listen?

Roland Dobbins

Very Probably not, of course. Little gets through to the "environmentalists." I dislike the Access to Energy term "enviros" but I find myself more inclined to use it all the time.

Subject: Lewis.

Roland Dobbins

This is Bernard Lewis, not C.S. Lewis. This essay on tolerance deserves reading, but there are parts to disagree with.

Subject: Polar Night.

Roland Dobbins

Subject: Maintenance of empire.

 Roland Dobbins

Roland has sent more -- I can't imagine how he finds the time -- but those ought to be enough for the morning.

On North Korea

To: Dr. Jerry Pournelle From: Chris Morton - Subj: North Korea

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

The North Korea problem is an unpleasant, but not particularly complex one. Kim Jong Il is the equivalent of an aggressive panhandler. You just have to say "no", mean it, and make sure he knows you mean it. After that, he charts his own future.

1. Tell them to build as many nuclear weapons as they want... also tell them to learn to eat plutonium, because they won't be getting any more food assistance from us. Tell them to stick their hands in the casings to keep warm, because fuel assistance is over too.

2. Tell them there will be NO selling, giving or loaning of nuclear weapons or material to anyone else. If they try, they will get a spanking. See Tariq Aziz for details.

3. Remind Kim Jong Il that we've misplaced more nuclear weapons and material than they'll ever have. One of my favorite childhood films was the John Wayne movie "Big Jake". To paraphrase the hero, "Don't go getting any foolish ideas about using any nuclear weapons. If you do, your fault, our fault, nobody's fault at all, North Korea will be in the same zipcode as Carthage."

4. After that Comrade Kim, as we used to say in the 2nd Infantry Division, "Let your conscience be your guide".

Chris Morton

Well it is certainly a more interesting approach than what we seem to be taking. 

On Media Player


Kind of hilarious. Just as a refresher:

"- As of Feb. 14, 2002, the Microsoft privacy policy for WMP version 8 does not disclose that the fact that WMP "phones home" to get DVD title information, what kind of tracking Microsoft does of which movies consumers are watching, and how cookies are used by the WMP software and the Microsoft servers.

- There does not appear to be any option in WMP to stop it from phoning home when a DVD movie is viewed. In addition, there does not appear any easy method of clearing out the DVD movie database on the local hard drive."

For someone who went to all trouble to check things like network packets sent its kind of interesting Mr. Smith missed menu entries. I'm guessing Mr. Smith has never used Windows Media Player.

Windows Media Player 8 File.Work Offline (covered by another of your readers) Tools.Options Player tab page 
[] Download codecs automatically 
[] Allow internet sites to uniquely identify your Player. 
[] Add items to Media Library when played.

Windows Media Player 9 File.Work Offline (covered by another of your readers) Tools.Options Player tab page 
[] Download codecs automatically 
[] Connect to the internet (overrides other commands) 
[] Add items to Media Library when played. Media Library tab page 
[] Update my music files from the internet. Privacy tab page 
[] Retrieve media info for CDs and DVDs off the net. 
[] Update my music files from the internet. 
[] Send unique player ID to content providers 
[] Send usage data to MSFT 
[] Save URL and usage history locally (Clear History) button (Clear CD/DVD) button

WMP 9 also puts up a dialog box on install allowing for the user to change several of these settings.

All this took about five minutes to find.


Interesting. I fear that those who fear Microsoft do not always do all their homework.

I just found your website (Chaos Manor) tonight, and I'm impressed! I actually saw intelligent, reasonable discussions! I'm quite possibly still in a state of shock. I thought I'd share a thought that hadn't been brought up yet as far as I could tell. I've a point to share about the current protests in Iraq, largely blown out of proportion by the media. I think they're missing the big picture.

The practice of viewing nation-states in personal terms is quite an ancient one, albeit a simplistic one I admit. Still, as we know from demonstrations and movements throughout history, masses of people tend to act as small parts of larger organisms. How does the aging of the populations in the Western World relate to the high birthrates (and corresponding lower mean ages) in the Developing World? Think about this from a personal perspective for a moment. According to the CIA World Factbook 2003 (a source I highly recommend for its veracity!), the US and population breaks down by age as follows:

                US           UK           West Bank        Iraq          Iran
0-14           21%         19%             44%               41%        32%
15-64         66%         66%             52%               56%        64%
65+            13%         16%             4%                 3%         5%

See anything unusual? Add the unemployment and lack of secular authority in most of the Developing countries, a familiar scenario asserts itself.

The average resident of Gaza or the West Bank is YOUNG! About half of them are 14 or under. The Median Age as of 1995 in the West Bank was 17. In Gaza, it was 14! 

Young, Unemployed, living with someone else... sounds like most teenagers!

On the other hand, the average American is 41. 

 Who's 41? The Parents! While it's not PC to speak of things in that fashion, is there not a usefulness to looking at actions in the Developing World with these facts in view? How do many teenagers relate to their parents? See any parallels in our relations with Developing Countries? The United States is expected to act responsibly, securing the welfare of so many other countries that cannot or will not support themselves. 

If they don't get what they assume they are entitled to? They throw a tantrum of course. Who says to leave Iraq? The young. Who cautions the US to stay for awhile? The few elders in the country. I'm not claiming that the Third-World folks are not educated. (I DO refuse to believe they are intrinsically more educated than Americans, however, as many of my liberal friends seem to assume) I am saying that the cumulative experience and wisdom of a million 14-year-olds is less than that of a million 41-year-olds. That's nearly TRIPLE the average personal life experience for each American compared to a youth from the Gaza Strip. 

If you doubt the value of this experience, think of who teaches most of what we learn about life. Who historically passes on the real cultural and wisdom, morals, and life skills? No, I'm not talking about Algebra. I'm talking about right and wrong; about work ethic; about what's "normal" and civilized about life. I'm talking about the elderly! With approximately four times the number of grandparents able to advise us, we're damn lucky to have that knowledge in our midst! 

We have veterans who can remember how things were before the current situation. They remember how we got here, regardless the particular situation at hand. The average American can remember as far back as the 1960s from personal experience. The average resident of Gaza can remember as far back as maybe the mid-1990s. They don't remember a world before the Infitada. Few Iranians can remember life before the Shah. Hell, hardly any can remember the 1980-1988 War with Iraq! Perhaps more importantly, they have virtually no one to TELL them either! 

The world right now is all they know. Everything concern is immediate and of paramount importance. On the negative side, they lack relevance and context for the world in which they live. A juvenile backlash against any authority at any opportunity is still likely. We are the ultimate in global authority (like it or not). We are target #1 as long as that is the case. On the positive side, they're young enough to learn new things. There's still time to

One last note: We'll never be "cool" again as long as we're the "World's Parent". We can try all we want, but we'll never "get it." It's inherent in the rebellious juvenile mindset that we never "get it." They need something against which to rebel after all.

While tongue-in-cheek to a point, I do believe there are lessons we need to learn in conducting our foreign policy. Think of how much Iraq (under Saddam) appeared to be a wayward youth, grounded (No Fly Zone) and on an allowance (Oil for Food). Did we find Saddam's stash of Pot he'd hidden in that shoebox in his closet? Nope. We weren't fast enough. It got flushed. But were we right in laying down the law? Of course! We still found the loaded gun under his bed. 

Like many Baby Boomers, we want to be everyone's friend. We're loathe to punish or lay down rules. We want to be our kids' friend, not a disciplinarian. Sometimes the rules must be enforced, however. Look at the results with other countries. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. We need to remember that, provided we keep on the straight course and do right by what IS right, instead of what the talking heads think, we'll be ok. We can't give them everything. They'll grow up spoiled. Likewise, we need to provide them the means with which to learn and grow into their own upstanding members of the community.

Remember: Every teen says "I HATE YOU!" The Parent must reply: "I know.... but I still love you"

Just a thought or three...thanks for your time!

Jim Russell Sodus, NY

We are in agreement, except that I want a Republic that minds its own business, not a nanny state. But I am unlikely to see the Republic again, so perhaps we ought to prepare t0 be the world's nanny...

I got a lot of mail on this, but didn't post it, and it ought to be recorded:

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

I happened to see this brief notice I thought you might find interesting.,1367,58563,00.html 

Sci-Fi Museum Slated for Seattle

“Instead of congregating at conventions, book fairs and on the Internet, science fiction fans will get their own museum dedicated to the art, literature and film of science entertainment, courtesy of billionaire Paul Allen.”

Apparently the facility will be housed in a vacated portion of the Experience Music Project building, which, if anyone who has seen the place might agree, sure looks like something out of science-fiction.

Terry Dee Losansky

I don't know what is, but I sure worked hard (futilely) to save NERVA...

I got this next a long time ago. As you can see I am cleaning up old mail. Sigh.


The article about the TIS-1 personal laser weapon program compels me to comment.

As has been posted to you, a gas dynamic laser presents some serious recoil control problems. My guess is that this could be surmounted without much difficulty with a device akin to the muzzle brake which makes my .50 BMG anti-elk cannon manageable. (I can vividly recall how bitterly my hunting partners complained when I bagged an elk from 950 meters. They argued that my weapon of choice would be more appropriate for Jurassic park and I really can't disagree with them. You can imagine how much I enjoyed your use of the Peltast, 20 mm rifle in "Prince of Sparta." but I digress.)

Aside from issues such as power sources which might be solvable, a fundamental limitation of laser weapons are the relatively inefficient damage modes combined with beam spread that results from diffraction. Because the momentum to energy ratio of a laser is so low (remember our discussion of fusion powered photon drives), any damage to a target would be caused by thermal effects such as vaporizing human tissue or impulse loading. While the venerable .45 ACP can achieve devastating terminal effects by delivering an energy density of only a few hundred joules per square centimeter and battle rifles achieve energy densities of about a kilojoule per square centimeter, a laser weapon would have to deliver hundreds of kilojoues per square centimeter to inflict a comparable wound. Impulse loading effects that induce a hydrodynamic shock in the target might reduce the energy requirements somewhat, but contrary to the propaganda that has been published regarding so called "assault weapons," most tissues are too elastic to be damaged by hydrodynamic shock.

Given the extremely high energy densities that a laser weapon would require to be effective, beam spread would be a critical issue. The same Rayliegh-Jeans (spelling?) criteria which limits the resolution of optical instruments also limits the performance of laser weapons by causing the beam to spread. By common convention, the divergence angle is given as 2.44 x wavelength / aperture diameter. In other words, the smaller the laser optical system is, the more the bean spreads. If we postulate a laser weapon with an aperture diameter of 1 cm, then the beam diameter at 1km will be about a quarter of a meter. Achieving an energy density of 10 kilojoules per square centimter would then require about 5 megajoules per pulse. The energy requirement of such a laser weapon would then be thousands of times greater than a conventional firearm. The only way to reduce the energy requirements of such a laser weapon would be to equip it with a large diameter, adaptive optical system that is smart enough to focus the beam to optimize the beam spread for a given range. A laser weapon with an effective optical diameter of twenty centimeters might require a pulse energy of only 10 kilojoules to achieve a kill.

Please don't misunderstand this discussion to be a criticism of the concept of using laser weapons for strategic defense. The most effective missile defense would require a boost phase intercept and space based lasers are the most effective approach to this task because they are speed of light weapons. While an optical diameter of tens of centimeters would make a personal laser extremely cumbersome for a foot soldier, a space based laser could reasonably utilize an optical system that is several meters in diameter. I recall some of the SDI critics claiming that building optically precise mirrors of such size is beyond our technology. My reply to this argument is to point out that the 200 inch Mt Palomar telescope was built half a century ago. Another approach would be to use large numbers of smaller, laser emmitters that are electronically slaved together in much the same was as the antennae elements in a phased array radar are. Would we call such a system a PHased Array laSER or PHASER? Mayby Star Trek got at least one thing right?

I think that laser technology will become indispensible to the common foot soldier. Hard core gun nuts such as myself already use laser range finders for calculating bullet drop and windage for long range shots. I understand that optical sights that incorporate a laser range finder that automatically adjusts the targeting reticle are already in development. Special operations troops are already using laser designators on the battle field to guide laser guided bombs to their targets. I suspect that in the not to distant future, every artillery and mortar shell will have a combination GPS and laser guidance system. Imagine the reduced logistical requirements that will result from being able to reliably destroy targets using only a single round rather than a barrage. Rather than using aircraft to deliver the projectiles, we could launch large numbers of small, orbital platforms into orbit that could release "smart crow bars" on command. Lasers might also provide a data link for projectiles fired from automatic cannon. This would greatly extend the effective range of relatively small caliber weapons against aircraft, making the demise of aircraft that you presumed for your Falkenberg novels not at all unreasonable.

Finally, someone wrote to you about biodiesel. I seem to recall that you debunked the biomass myth along with other idiocies such as garbage gas in "A Step Further Out." The simple fact is that the earth simply doesn't produce enough biomass to meet the energy needs of the human race without having a drastic impact on the environment. Of course biomass could work if we reduced the earth's population level down to a more manageable level of say, 500 million, but only people as arrogant or inhumane as Saurons or Draka would choose that path.

James Crawford

Richard Pournelle on Reason Magazine:

I am surprised they would allow such blasphemous views in at least their web pages: 

America has slowly (since at least the Spanish-American War) been killing that which was most lovely, unique, and irreplaceable about itself: a limited, representative government dedicated to protecting its citizens' life, liberty, and ability to pursue happiness. It was meant to be a nation where the government's mission was tightly prescribed and the people's liberty and property were theirs, a nation that could successfully live in peace—a coiled snake, yes, as per the Gadsden flag, but one that struck only when stepped on.


From Trent Telenko


We were playing with the lives of millions of Americans endangered by Saddam's WMD in the hands of Al Qaeda. Tom's point was taking more chances with American servicemen's lives at the beginning was the only way to lower the threat to the American people later.

In retrospect, the Turkish option combined with a UN resolution could have been enough to make the Iraqi regime go down at the first blow. Preempting any possibility of a Saddam/Al-Qaeda WMD hand over. We were denied both by France and the muddle headed Turks.

If we take a WMD hit, it will be remembered.


The Mindy Kleinberg affair

As a former controller in the NORAD system, let me make a few comments regarding her testimony. I understand her feelings, though I cannot feel them myself. I have been bombed by terrorists (in 1981 -- there is nothing new under the sun) for wearing an American uniform. How the military and civilian command and control work is not quite what Hollywood has led the public to expect.

1. NORAD has stood ready to assist in civil flight emergencies since at least 1974, when I had to know how as a Ground Controlled Intercept (GCI) controller -- sort of like air traffic control, but we ran fighters toward each other in carefully controlled parameters to optimize the mission, whether identification or weapons engagement. Civil aviation authorities are *busy* handling the emergency, vectoring other aircraft out of the way, readying support on the ground, etc. They never wanted, or really needed, our help, yet we offered it every time, per procedure. Nothing like 9/11 had ever happened before; one of al Qaeda's strengths has been its willingness to do that which has not been thought of by civilized people.

2. The fighters which can respond to an alert (a "scramble") are not every fighter in the air or on the ground. In peacetime, armed aircraft are a rarity, as they should be. They are available only at certain bases, and an hour of their flight time (they fly in pairs, normally) is expensive; when they recover, they must be turned (refueled, maintained, etc.). They are not scrambled lightly, and it takes certain authorizations to do so. The locations where you will find alert aircraft are (pork barrel considerations aside) where they can intercept incoming aircraft, not aircraft which took off inside the US, and which are flying a domestic route.

3. The occurrence during an exercise would not have made it easier to conduct the intercept, but harder. The bulk of the force structure would have been a) looking at a totally different (simulated) radar picture, focused on incoming threats from outside our airspace, b) in the middle of any number of activities which poised the forces elsewhere (like in those scraps of airspace where they will not interfere with civil traffic, often out over the ocean), and c) knowing there was an exercise going on, would have had to revert to reality -- remember in the war movies, the emphasis on "this is not a drill." That does have to be said; in the middle of an exercise, you assume that every input you receive is exercise-related. A small team is kept monitoring the real-world situation, but they are not the focus of command attention.

4. Had the aircraft flown at their maximum speed -- which I will not cite, but we can say is between Mach 1 and Mach 2, *not* Mach 12, they still would not have arrived in time. And what would they have done? Shot down a nearly fully-fueled heavy aircraft over populated areas? That would have caused exactly the kind of horrific nightmare that occurred anyway, and it would have been blamed on the trigger-happy military. Monday morning quarterbacking, when you know the real outcomes, makes dubious alternatives look better than they were when real-time decisions were made on incomplete (and often contradictory) data.

5. The President, SecDef, and Chairman of the JCS are not notified of everything that happens, especially as it happens. Their time is incredibly precious, and furthermore, they are not the people who are current on what capabilities are available to respond *right now* -- those people are the ones manning the NMCC, the various control centers/ops centers, etc. They are senior enlisted and mid-ranking officers, mostly, with some senior officers and a flag officer available, though not necessarily immediately present. Those folks have checklists and authorities, based on current conditions (alert level, etc.) and their actions are practiced. They respond faster than most people can imagine.

6.The USAF says to train the way you will fight (and the other services say much the same thing) -- and we do: witness the results in modern Mesopotamia. Disrupting an attack by terrorists inside the CONUS has not been a military responsibility, but a civil law enforcement one. The armed forces are constrained by law and custom, and it's good that we are. We take great care that the military will not become the oppressors of our people. Ms. Kleinberg may find that unacceptable today, but I stand by it. The time to evaluate whether we want that to change is not during a crisis, but after, when we can think about the implications, since we cede to government almost all of the means of exercising legal violence.

Ms. Kleinberg is right that we were a soft and easy target on 9/11, but not through systematic incompetence, I would say, but rather through our past choices regarding which competencies to have. Those were not in accord with the reality foisted upon us by barbarians; had we chosen others, they would have targeted our other weaknesses. We will always have weaknesses, but I would say the lesson of being in a war with barbarians is to choose which weaknesses to have. And understand why we choose them and not others.

Annlee Hines

Excellent. Thank you.

One of the most valuable reference tools has just been released - CensusCD 2000 Long Form.

Anyone who needs demographic, housing, economic or population Information About the US will want CensusCD 2000 Long Form. It includes such variables as income, housing value, employment, education, poverty, ancestry, commute to work, etc. For a complete list of variables go to
census2000/lf_variables.htm (SEE BELOW FIRST!!!).
 The data is available from the Nation down to Tract, Zip code and the Block Group level. There are 5,500 variables available at the Block Group level, and An additional 11,000 are available at the Tract level and above.

Jerry, it seems the link published on your site yesterday for the census CD should be:  the link published ( seems an Indian Internet service company. Don't know your source, but looks like someone tried to slip in something, or else they got hacked. Thanks for all the recent comments and opinions, but I'm getting really worried might be delaying Burning Tower... Thanks just the same, and keep up the wonderfully appreciated work. Best regards, James Siddall jr

 Thanks for the correction.

And other readers have reported problems with the original link.





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Thursday, May 1, 2003

This just in:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Fox News pulled a fast one in that article. The Belgian court has nothing to do with the International Criminal Court, but in paragraph eight they segued from the Belgian story to a snide description of the ICC. The ICC is in the Netherlands, the next country to the north, and does not enforce Belgium's screwy "universal competence" law.

It's as if Fox ran a story about ridiculous behavior in Mexican courts, then linked them to the United Nations, an international organization operating in the adjacent country. Sheesh.

Andrew Klossner

I need to look into this. Thanks.

Subject: Fwd: Interesting Story

In a message dated 5/1/03 7:13:57 AM Central Daylight Time, Jimwoosley writes:


US Report Says Terror Attacks Declined Sharply Last Year


Regarding the looting of the psychiatric hospital in Baghdad, one of my correspondents says:

People in Manchuria--my wife's home district--will tell you similar things about the Soviet invasion at the end of WW2. I was told personally, for example, that the Manchurian women dirtied their faces and put on men's clothes in the hope of being spared, but: "It was no use--the Russians raped men, too....."

However, this, and Jerry's example, is of undisciplined troops in a foreign country. The Iraqis were doing it TO THEIR OWN PEOPLE. This speaks volumes to the utter absence of national feeling in the Arab world, and the dismal hopes of finding a patriotic elite (as opposed to an opportunistic one bent on further looting) to pull Iraq together.

The blogger Noah Millman  has made a good point about Anwar Sadat being one of the rare examples of a genuine patriot in the Arab world. Not an Arab patriot, but an **Egyptian** patriot. That's what these countries (or "countries") need. Of course, the subsequent fate of Sadat is not encouraging.


And I found this from John Stuart Mill:

Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one.

Leading to the conclusion that a despotic occupation by the US is legitimate, but also to the question, what in the world did we do to deserve that? Why us?

But see Below



I was just pointed at this story from last year, on the KGB museum. I was fascinated about the bit about the staples--said to be how they repeatedly succeeded in quickly unmasking our agents, even though their fake credentials were "perfect." It was the staples in the middle of the passports. Russian staples, made of the cheapest steel imaginable, always showed rust. Ours didn't. 

Mike Juergens

Ugh. I never thought of that.  Ugh.

Subject:  The worm turns?


Apparently, there were survivors (of a sort) from the Columbia tragedy:

Henry Stern Dayton, OH

Weird. Thanks.





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Friday, May 2, 2003

Dear Jerry, I just HAD to share this:

The Japan Times

Photographer's souvenir kills guard

CAIRO (Kyodo) Jordanian authorities took a Japanese journalist into custody Thursday after a metal device he reportedly took from Iraq as a souvenir exploded at Amman's Queen Alia International Airport, killing a security guard and wounding three others.

Three useful bits of information from the article:

The device, described variously as a grenade or a bomb, exploded at around 7 p.m., reportedly in the hands of the airport security guard while checking Gomi's carry-on luggage.”

“Gomi carried the device around in his camera bag for about a month, thinking it was ‘used and nonexplosive,’…”

“…a Japanese government source also said, "It was a grenade in every respect," as the device had a pull-ring.”

My question is the obvious one – “How did the pin come out of the grenade?”


A good question. But this was in a Jordanian airport, not in the US. 

Dear Jerry—

In answer to your query

And your quoting John Stuart Mill, I offer this dialogue on that aspect of human nature from the ever-relevant H. Beam Piper (is there any aspect he doesn’t have a good quote for?) on Aditya in ‘A Slave Is A Slave’.

You said I made mistakes,’ Erskyll mentioned, ready to start learning immediately.

‘Yes. I pointed one of them out to you some time ago: emotional involvement with local groups. You began sympathizing with the servile class here almost immediately. I don’t think either of us learned anything about them that the other didn’t, yet I found them despicable, one and all. Why did you think them worthy of your sympathy?’

‘Why, because…’ For a moment, that was as far as he could get. His motivation had been thalamic rather than cortical and he was having trouble verbalizing it.

‘They were slaves. They were being exploited and oppressed…’

‘And, of course, their exploiters were a lot of heartless villains, so that made the slaves good and virtuous innocents. That was your real, fundamental, mistake. You know, Obray, the downtrodden and long-suffering proletariat aren’t at all good or innocent or virtuous. They are just incompetent; they lack the abilities necessary for overt villainy. You saw, this afternoon, what they were capable of doing when they were given an opportunity. You know, it’s quite all right to give the underdog a hand, but only one hand. Keep the other hand on your pistol—or he’ll try to eat the one you gave him! As you may have noticed, today, when underdogs get up, they tend to act like wolves.’

--Jurgen, Prince Trevannion, to Obray, Count Erskyll, Empire, pp. 125-6

Note that the centuries-later Aditya in ‘Ministry of Disturbance’ (the very next story in Empire) has ‘progressed’ from the slavery of the Space Viking Lords-Master to the slavery of the communistic ‘People’s Manager-in-Chief of and for the Planetary Commonwealth’ (ibid, pg. 136).

Hopefully Iraq will fare a bit better!

--John A. Anderson (Your friendly neighborhood Piper researcher)


 Beam had a keen mind and was well acquainted with history. I thought of him this morning: a new magazine has an article about the harquebus and Gonsalvo de Cordoba. The last letters I had from Beam were about an historical he wanted to do, The Age of The Arquebus, about Gonsalvo. That inspired me at one time to make notes for a book to be called Isabella's Great Captain (Gonsalvo was known as The Great Captain and while he did much of his work for Ferdinand after she died, he was Isabella's soldier, and didn't think much of Ferdinand). I set the project aside because historicals don't have a great financial return for the amount of time you have to invest in them, but I wish Beam had written his book.

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Some many years ago, John W. Campbell Jr. wrote an editorial in which he described tribal/barbarian/citizen classifications. The problem, I think, that we might be encountering in Iraq is that we are dealing with tribes and tribal culture rather than citizens/citizen culture (which I would LIKE to think the US represents). Where we might regard certain behaviors (looting hospitals and raping the female psychological inmates) as "beyond the pale", the tribesman might well regard it as acceptable ("anyone not of my tribe is not really human, so why SHOULDN'T I have a little fun with them?").

-- N. C. Shapero

Campbell was another shrewd observer of human history. As is Scott. See:

Dear Dr Pournelle, Orson Scott Card, has a recent article contemplating some possible consequences of our being successful in bringing democracy to Iraq.  Although he does not explicitely state it, the state of Israel would be in trouble if we manage to set up a real, working democracy, assuming of course that nothing else changes too much. But from the recent news and from some of the references on your site, the prospects of democracy are slim to none. The law of unintended consequences is alive and well.

Don Scherer

As Scott observes, suppose it all goes just right. Will we like the results? Are you sure?

On Iraqi Nuclear Weapons

> "Tons of uranium known as yellow cakes were stored > in barrels. This was a phase in the production of uranium > from crude components.

For a country with no nuclear reactors, what *are* the "peaceful" uses of uranium? I have heard of Cobalt-60 being used to fry cancer in hospitals, but U-238? (Maybe the secret is to enrich it to U-235 before using it in "treatments"?)

Jim Woodhill 

Special Dispatch - Iraq May 1, 2003 No. 497 

Nuclear Scientists in Iraq: Citizens Stole Uranium and Other Dangerous Materials

The Qatari television station Al-Jazeera recently interviewed two Iraqi scientists employed by Iraqís Nuclear Energy Authority - Dr. Hamid Al-Bahali, an expert in nuclear engineering and a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Nuclear Engineering, and Dr. Muhammad Zeidan, a biology expert and a graduate of Damascus and Baghdad Universities. The scientists discussed the looting of the Nuclear Authority after the war. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Dr. Al-Bahli: "I have been working at the Nuclear Authority since 1968, when the doors opened to the use of atomic [energy] for peaceful purposes in Iraq. We activated the first atomic reactor in Iraq in 1968, and within four days we transferred radioactive isotopes to hospitals to treat various illnesses. Since then, and up to 1990, we continued this type of work which was absolutely for peaceful and humanitarian purposes..."

"As for nuclear weapons, Al-Tawitha, the main area that we will be talking about, is free of weapons of mass destruction and as far as I know, nothing was done there in this respect..."

"What happened in Iraq did not happen before anywhere else in the whole world, and I hope will never happen again; there was anarchy. After hearing that radioactive components were stolen, the employees of the Nuclear Authority started informing people that the materials that were stolen were indeed radioactive and should be returned. A person who has dirty radioactive components is in danger. How is he going to behave? He may behave in a way that would harm Iraqís ecology and even [cause harm] outside Iraq..."

"Tons of uranium known as yellow cakes were stored in barrels. This was a phase in the production of uranium from crude components. There were also other by-products from processing these materials. There were tens of tons of radioactive waste. They were stored in barrels and their radioactivity was not high as long as they were under supervision."

"When order was disrupted, simple citizens - sorry to say - did not have containers to store drinking water, so they stole those barrels, each one containing 400 kilos of radioactive uranium. Some of them dumped the powder on the ground in very large quantities, and others took the contaminated barrels to their homes, and the barrels appeared in various areas. They stored water in them, and had every intention of drinking from them or [using] the barrels to sell milk."

"I visited some homes and measured radioactivity; I saw with my own eyes in one of the homes a contaminated barrel used to store tomatoes for eating. In other barrels they stored cooking utensils and other household utensils for everyday use, not knowing that some of them were contaminated. When they realized that these components were radioactive, they dumped some of them in the river or the sewer system. We found radioactive materials in homes, in beds, and in clothing. I saw a ten-year old girl, who had a yellow cake [disc] hanging from the button of her shirt."

"Every day I visited 4-5 houses and tested outdoor contamination. There are outdoor and indoor contamination tests, and I tested outdoor contamination because I did not have the means to check indoor contamination. The level of radioactivity on the walls of one of the houses was 30 billion/hour, while experts know that the allowed level is 0.2 which means that it was 500-600 times more than the allowed level."

"The U.S. and other countries in the world spend hundreds of millions of dollars to store and dispose of radioactive materials, now they are in the homes of simple poor people, and they are dumped in the river..."

"In another room [at the Nuclear Energy Authority] there was a large storage [area] for isotopes and radioactive materials, and there were more than 200 barrels of yellow cakes and uranium oxide. These materials spilled on the ground. It was obvious that they tried to steal [them], because they broke the windows and doors. This powdery substance can disperse in the air. If a strong wind blows, it can carry these quantities to great distances outside the region..."

"I entered the compound of the [Nuclear Energy] Authority with my colleague and saw that all the doors, except in four places, were opened by the invading forces. I understood that the invading forces knew what was [in store] at the Authority, and that was the reason why they did not open these doors, where there were insects [to be used as biological insecticides]."

"I was very concerned, so I went to the Iraqi police... I told them in so many words: I am not interested in the property of the Nuclear Energy Authority. The only thing that interests me is protecting those people from harmful insects, since there are four labs full of those insects. I want you to send four cars to protect the place."

"We contacted the Americans. They came and talked to us... they took us to the American base, they took information from us about these insects and we explained to them everything in details. After that they told us: 'We will do what is necessary...' Nothing was done. He said that he would take the necessary steps immediately... I cannot explain this [American] behavior..."

"I say to the head of the [International] Atomic Energy Agency, Muhammad Al-Baradíi, that the first step that should be taken is to remove the uranium. Why did they remove the radioactive fuel and leave these other materials?!! Second, there should be a coordinated international testing of radioactive levels in the region and the indoor levels in people who were exposed to radioactivity. Third, there should be treatment [for] people who were affected..."

"Dr. Zeidan talked about the expected ecological disaster from releasing thousands of flies known as chrysomya bezziana, nicknamed screw worm, which were bred by the Nuclear Authority to be used as biological farming insecticides. The flies were released by the looters and were expected to harm animals in Iraq and neighboring countries. These flies were to be released after being sterilized. However, the flies that were actually released in large quantities were not sterilized."

"Dr. Zeidan related his efforts to contact the American forces to warn them of the dangers at the Nuclear Energy Authority:"

"'I tried to reach the Authority in order to tell the American soldiers about the dangers. There was strong Marine protection. The tragedy occurred after the Marines retreated and were replaced with other soldiers; the Authority remained without protection. They were aware of the situation because Dr. Al-Baradíi, the director of the [International Atomic energy Agency], called them to come and protect Al-Tawitha area... to avoid radioactive and biological contamination...'"

"'In every country there are weak people and thieves alongside good people. What happened was... that those insects were released before being sterilized, because when the war started, the employees fled and left the insects inside the building... the looters came in, removed the air conditioning units and the doors and released the insects...'"

"Dr. Zeidan said that the Marines, under the command of an officer named Mike, tried to protect the place, and he added: 'I saw a person using a barrel that used to contain radioactive materials to carry milk to the dairy. He bought the plastic barrels from citizens not knowing that they were contaminated, and started to use them to carry milk to the dairy. We told Mike, who escorted us, about that... [and] they brought instruments to measure radioactivity in the area. But on the following day, despite the fact that we set up a time for a meeting - they refused to meet with us...'"

And it is a good question: what were they doing with lots of yellowcake, which is Uranium ore? But I am less worried about the stuff being scattered in the population than I would have been had Saddam continued to have it.

Subject: Nuclear Looting?

This is scary stuff, I hope this is wrong........

Brice Yokem

Not as scary as the existence of the stuff. What was Saddam doing with it?


On more general subjects,

Subject: Making global warming data fit the model?

Dear Jerry,

Not that you needed the aggravation, but at
  there is an article about global warming. The second paragraph sums it up best:

So is it true? Have the satellites been wrong about global temperature trends? The paper it turns out is mostly hot air, adding nothing new to the climate change debate. Evidently, the strategy being used by Santer et al. is that if their models don't agree with the data, then change the data. 

On a different topic, thank you for your Books of the Month. I made a list of history-related books of the month and am enjoying Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hanson very much. I actually received a good education through the Cleveland area Catholic schools, but no one came close to linking all those facts we had to memorize. I now realize that more politically correct stuff was foisted upon me than I suspected. Like all civilizations are equal and valid, etc. Now I see how Western Civilization is different and why. 

Thanks, Jim Laheta

 You can prove anything if you can make up your data. Thanks for the kind words.

Subject: Okay, so it's over my head, but...

saw this article at New Scientist; seems relevant to the Manor: 

Henry Stern

It's relevant but I am not sure how. Worth looking at.

Subject: Founders' Copyright.

 Roland Dobbins

Actually, it is my understanding that the Founder's Copyright (what was enacted by the First Congress) was 14 years, renewable, and it was sometime in the early 20th Century that it was revised to 28 years renewable. But so far as I am concerned, 28 years renewable is plenty enough.

Subject: 10%,12271,947880,00.html

Roland Dobbins

This argues that 10% of the US economy is "black", the vast majority of that 10% being pot, porn, and illegal immigrant labor. 

I have no data they don't have, so I can't quarrel, and indeed I am not really astonished. We have so hedged manufacturing and legal employment about with regulations and requirements and provisions that many of the solid blue collar jobs have been exported and won't return. I need to think about the implications of this.








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Saturday, Mayh 3, 2003
From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                                  
Date: May 3, 2003                                                                            subject: al-Queda
Dear Jerry:
        You ask "Is there any doubt at all about the proposition that if the US were not in the Middle East in force we would never have been attacked by al Qaeda?"  I think there's considerable doubt.
        I just finished Thomas Friedman's book "Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11."  He points out (pp 330-37, and pp 349-363) that many of the hijackers became Islamic radicals in Europe.  They went to the West for education, and apparently they couldn't handle the culture shock.  He notes that much of 'radical Islam' is just Communism and Nazism with the serial numbers filed off, and vaguely Islamic labels slapped on (a point Bernard Lewis has also made).  He recounts repeatedly being asked if (or told that) 'the Jews control all the banks, the media, and the govt.'  He points out that the same people hate the idea of the foreign influences corrupting their culture, AND resent the U.S. for not interfering more in their culture (p. 360: "The more time I spent in Saudi Arabia, the more I realized it was totally normal to find both views being held by the same person.").  They also believe that Osama is a great man for standing up to the U.S., AND that he wasn't responsible for 9/11.
        In short, Friedman describes a people and civilization that has gone insane.  The root problem appears to be that Islam is the one true religion (says so in the Koran, so there can't be any doubt of that), and Islamic civilization is therefore automatically supposed to be richer, stronger and more advanced than all others.  It isn't, and they can't adjust to that fact.  The U.S. must be holding them back somehow.  It's all a plot against Islam!
        This isn't a new or peculiarly Muslim pathology, btw.  In the U.S., the beginings of the change from a predominantly rural economy to an urban one drove us crazy, and resulted in the Civil War Between the States.  We had another severe attack in the 1920s, leading to Prohibition and the demand that Europe pay us three times the world's total stock of gold bullion .  The corresponding European transformation resulted in World Wars I and II.  Now it's the Muslim's turn to move to the cities and go mad.
        So none of the disengagement you want will abate their hostility.  Let them into the West, they can't handle it and turn terrorist.  Keep them out, we're denying them the education they need to advance, we're persecuting them because they're Muslims, and that justifies terrorism in retaliation.
        Support Israel and they'll attack us, but say "Go ahead, fight it out, we're done here" and it will be our fault when the Israelis pound them yet again ('You created Israel, you armed them, you let them get nuclear weapons, then you told them they could use them on us!' is what they'll say).  They'll still attack us.
        If we buy their oil, we're propping up dictatorial govts.  Develop the alternate energy sources you want, they'll see it as a plot to prevent them from modernizing their economies.
        And both the Europeans and the Muslim states have encouraged Islamist rage against the U.S., as a way of dealing with Muslim political tensions.  Nor does it help that one of the things Muslims hate most about us is our popular culture, available via Internet, satellite television, and videotapes.
        In the end, the problem is not what we do, it is what we are, and what they are.  You remember the Thurber cartoon where the psychiatrist tells the patient with an inferiority complex, "The problem is, you really are inferior"?  Present day Muslim civilization is inferior to the West's, and the Muslims lack the courage to change.  Until the day they either develop that courage or disintegrate, we'll just have to wait it out. 

They may be nuts, but do you really believe that those who came here, resisted temptations, took flying lessons, hijacked airplanes, and flew them into the WTC towers really believed they would get 7, or 17, or 77 virgins in an afterlife paradise for doing it?

It's one thing to hate people. Our existence is enough to make many hate us. But they not only hate us, we're in their faces, and our soldiers are in their territories. That provides motivations that our general existence doesn't provide.

It hardly matters. We're there now. If anyone was motivated to kill himself in harming us before, he's doubly motivated now.  Meanwhile our Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction are doing their work. We'll see how many generations will continue this work.







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Sunday, May 4, 2003

Hi Jerry,

This is a big deal here in New England, and another sad demonstration that nothing lasts forever:

"State mourns loss of Old Man

The Old Man is gone.

The loss of the Old Man of the Mountain will be borne by living and still unborn Granite Staters and people around the world for years to come. The venerable granite symbol of New Hampshire slid unseen down a mountain and into the past sometime Friday or early Saturday morning.

A state park trails crew reported around 7:30 Saturday morning the 40-foot tall stony face was gone from the side of Profile Mountain in Franconia Notch. The Old Man was covered by clouds Thursday and Friday, so no one knows when it actually fell..."

The AP story noted a quote from Daniel Webster:

"In the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."

Rod Schaffter -- "I feel the greatest gift we can give to anybody is the gift of our honest self." --Fred Rogers

I mourn your loss. Was that The Great Stone Face of the story?


Dear Sir,

Noting your comment in the mail of 2 May:

>"We have so hedged manufacturing and legal employment about with >regulations and requirements and provisions that many of the solid blue collar jobs have been exported and won't return. I need to think about the implications of this." <

Your observation about the importance of jobs is not new as you've noted before. Interestingly, this concern appears deeply rooted in Western society, at least in so much as reflected in Caesar's concern reported by Anthony Everitt in his "Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician," which you recommended in January, 2003.

Writing of Caesar's actions as he wielded dictatorial power in about 46BC, "Caesar enacted at great speed a number of important and well-judged reforms. ... In order to discourage the replacement of jobs for citizens by slave labor in the countryside, at least one third of the cattlemen on Italy's large ranches had to be freeborn."

I don't know how successful Caesar and his successors were in the effort to protect jobs, nor the reason for Caesar's interest. However, it would be interesting to note how the passing of reasonable employment opportunities from an economy affected its later stability and endurance.



Art Russell

"Failure is no accident" - Dr. Phil

Caesar and Cato were agreed on one thing: No more peasants, no more Legions...





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