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Mail 267 July 21 - 27, 2003






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Monday  July 21, 2003

As usual, there was a lot of good mail over the weekend. You may also want to know why, despite being the Apollo anniversary, yesterday may have been a Black Letter Day.


Begin with minor good news:


Thought you might enjoy this piece
   on how the targets of frivolous lawsuits are starting to fight back. It mentions the attorney in your area who was targeting immigrant nail salons.


John DeVries

It's a start.

Hello Dr. Pournelle: 

Well, it seems that you called this one correctly. we now have the proconsul calling for the formation of auxiliary legions. Still, this seems like probably the best step that could be taken, but what does this hold for the future? Will these people be the nucleus of an army for a client state? Perhaps they will be offered some sort of citizenship (as happened with the Philippinos). I wonder if wars of proxy might be fought at some future date, or a foreign legion formed. Time will tell.

It has been said, many times by you, that a nation which despises it's army, ends up with a despicable army. Perhaps the same thing might be applied to the police force. For years we have had lawyers and activists preventing the police from doing their job, and making it a very dangerous profession. Now we have:  I love the quote by the board member in charge of granting pensions, and disability. This is spoken like a true bureaucrat: "We have no authority, we're just administrative," he said, adding that the board follows doctors' orders. Of course, the doctor is not responsible either, after all, he is just doing his job, rendering a medical decision. The only hopeful sign is that, because the victim was black, something might be done about this. Once in a great great while, political correctness actually causes correct action to be taken. The horrible thing about these types of incidents, is that they destroy all faith in the rule of law. One interesting note on this is that the man assaulted is serving a nine month prison sentence for "assaulting an officer" while he was in handcuffs, defending himself. Apparently the officer was not responsible either, as the chairman of the fire and police commission is quoted in the article as saying: "He had to have control of the prisoner, and (the videotape) reflected what he was taught at the academy," If police officers are trained at the academy to be hired thugs with badges, why would any citizen consider them as anything but adversaries? Think of any other profession being allowed this kind of discretion. At one time, you were taught to think of the police as the thin blue line, which protected us from bad guys, and could generally be trusted to do the right thing. It seems that the police unions and boards are doing the same thing to law enforcement that the teachers unions and boards are doing to education.

 Neal Pritchett

Well it depends on the city: most places things are not as bad as all that. But it is certainly the case that if you treat the police with contempt you will get a contemptible police force. And regret that.

Dear Jerry:

I saw the piece from Creative Loafing about the FBNI interviewing the student/bookstore worker myself earlier in the week. My initial reaction was "I want my country back!". Alas, when there is a perceived threat to the security of the nation there is always a minority which goes overboard in trying to suppress views that they don't like. This intellectual bullying has been part of our history since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. The recent research I've done about the early Civil War period showed me that it's as American as Apple Pie. I think the first political event I recall was the Army-McCarthy Hearings which were watched in my home quite carefully since my father was an Army officer. I was eight at the time.

But you are quite right to question the reasoning behind sending two FBI agents to inquire into someone's reading habits...and you'll be dismayed to learn that they are permitted to do so under the so-called "Patriot Act" which not only allows them to go to your local library and check on what you've been reading, but to also warn the librarian not to tell you that this has been done, under penalty of law.

And that is why, despite the fact that I disagree with much of what they do, I continue to be a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. To use a well worn phrase, someone has to "speak truth to power".

Yes what the two FBI agents did is a tremendous waste of resources, but before you call for their heads, remember that they are minions working on orders and that the action had to be originated and approved by someone higher up in the chain of command. In the wake of 9/11 there was a lot of panicked responses at all levels, seeking convenient villains. Interestingly enough actual security was not much improved then or now, because that requires lots of effort and not a little bit of cash. We made the usual mistake we always make -- going after obvious dissent rather than getting down to the hard work of actually detecting and finding the real causes of the problem.

Iraq is not Vietnam, but as a Vietnam Veteran I see a lot of parallels in terms of the politics. The only reason that we have no "red squads" this time is that we're fresh out of reds, except for those we maintain in a kind of political nature preserve at our university campuses. They're quaint but not dangerous.

But, while the scenery has changed with Iraq, not much else has: We still have porous borders where weapons and people can pass easily, uncertain allies who may or may not be corrupt, and as for the technology and the weapons I have to go back to Brian Jenkins' original definition of terrorism as warfare by the weak upon the strong. They don't need high tech. In a guerilla war, as we learned in Vietnam, they just need people who are committed to their cause. I submit that the opposition is very well financed. It is also very sophisticated in its methods. In the end, like Vietnam, it does come down to political will and the current campaign of inflicting small amounts of daily casualties is designed to weaken ours. No, we don't have draftees, but we do have all those home-town folks from the Guard and Reserve. Those are our friends and neighbors, our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, and every loss will be felt keenly by ordinary people -- who vote.

The degree of political will depends on how much we can remain convinced that we are doing the right thing. Americans always want to do the right thing. If the only response to the many questions that are being raised now about the reasons for this war are "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" then our political will for this fight will disappear even faster than it did during the Vietnam War. Especially if the agents of the government seem more interested in bullying people out of reading material that might cause them to thoughtfully oppose the policy of the administration. That way lies not greater security but less.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

But with those crackerjack FBI agents on the job, don't you feel safer?

Serious guerilla warfare requires external financing and sanctuaries, neither of which the Iraqis have. All the Shiite resistance in the world didn't work against the Turks, or against the Sunni successors to the Turks. True, the occupation army has to act like Turks and Baathists, and that may be a bit difficult for an American army, but needs must when the devil drives...

Subject: Consensus of Empire

Well, I guess that's that, then . . .

------ Roland Dobbins

Indeed. Shoulder that burden. Send forth the best ye breed.

But then there are other things to worry about:

18 USC 2339(A).

This is delicious. "We had to destroy the internet to save it."

July 14, 2003, 8:45 a.m. WWW.J I H A D.COM E-Groups abused by jihadists.

By Rita Katz & Josh Devon


It's no secret that al Qaeda and terrorist groups like it have availed themselves of the Internet to spread their propaganda, plan attacks, and recruit new members. The Internet is perhaps al Qaeda's most effective way of communicating and continuing their jihad given the world's increased vigilance on their activities. They continue to use the Internet increasingly, despite all the success we have had as we attempt to chip away at the amorphous terrorist network, not unlike the Internet itself — disjointed yet connected. Ironically, a company that virtually represents the Internet (and the United States) has been hijacked by radical Islamic fundamentalists, seeking to suffuse their tentacles of hatred throughout cyberspace from a home base in Sunnyvale, California.

Yahoo! has become one of al Qaeda's most significant ideological bases of operation. Utilizing several facets of Yahoo!'s service, including chat functions, e-mail, and most importantly, Yahoo! Groups, al Qaeda and its supporters have inserted themselves like a cancer into a company that screams, "American pop culture," and made it as much their own as a training camp in Khost. 


Tom Holsinger

And a Colorado attorney on the Bryant case

Subject: Colorado case

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with Rich Pournelle about the Kobe Bryant case not going to trial.

It will go to trial, for two main reasons, neither of which have anything to do with his guilt or innocence: 1) This is a case of alleged sexual assault, and no District Attorney or Sheriff will back down off of a sex crime charge, because they won't get re-elected if they do; 2) This is a case involving a celebrity, so even if the District Attorney is convinced of his innocence, he will go ahead and prosecute the case, to show that he doesn't give celebrities any special

treatment (because if he did, he wouldn't get re-elected).


Tim Pleasant Attorney Colorado Springs

I have no expertise in any of this. Nor have I heard the young lady's story, or why she went to a celebrity's hotel room at midnight after getting off work. Or why she didn't call the police or hotel security or both the instant this happened.

On another topic

Subject: It Ain't Necessarily So. [Army Spec Ops letter from Iraq - a must read!] 

This was posted earlier today on It seems to be from a field grade officer Green Beret type, and feels real to me, but then my bona fides aren't much - Army brat and lifelong avocational student of military history and realpolitik. Well worth the read.

It Ain't Necessarily So. [Army Spec Ops letter from Iraq - a must read!]: 

Jim Riticher


Subject: they have time for this?

Apparently the black-letter days may be coming one after another now... Secret Service Investigates Political Cartoon

Regards, Leander Kalpaxis

In Rome the major crime that would get you killed and your estates confiscated was maiestas, which in England was lese majeste... The Praetorians take that sort of thing quite seriously you know.

Subject: oil from offal redux 

and isn't that what I said the risk was?

Jim Woosley









This week:


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Tuesday,  July 22, 2003

On Mozilla

Hi Jerry - you write "People whose views I respect think highly of Mozilla, but if I ever had a comprehensive but brief account of why I should prefer it to Explorer other than "it's not Microsoft" I have lost it."

Well, this is not a comprehensive answer, but it certainly is brief.

"Tabbed browsing and bookmarked tab sets."

That probably requires some explanation, which will, sadly, be less brief.

I set tabbed browsing prefs to open links in new tabs in the background when I click with my scroll wheel button. Then when I am surfing, I merrilly click on any interesting links I find and keep reading the page I'm on. When I finish that page, I close it, and right behind it are all the links I've clicked, no waiting for them to load. In IE I don't seem to be able to open a new page in a window without having it come to the foreground, which means I need to click again to get back to the page I was reading. To summarize, Mozilla's tabbed browsing (same goes for Safari) makes my web browsing experience more pleasant because 1. I don't often watch pages loading anymore; they load in the background. 2. I don't have to click and watch my screen redraw to get back to the page I'm currently on after clicking a link. 3. I don't finish reading a page, then scroll back up to find the link I was interested in following, then click that link, wait for the page to load, click back, find the next link, lather, rinse, repeat.

This is particularly helpful when investigating google or other search results.

Bookmarked tab sets - once you have a selection of webpages open in tabs, you can bookmark them all as a tab set. When you select this tab set from your bookmarks, all the pages open in their own tabs and load simultaneously. I have tab sets grouping together various sites I like to hit. Again, net result is I spend less time staring at blank browser windows waiting for pages to load.

So, I suggest trying out Mozilla Firebird (the browser-only piece of Mozilla). Current version is 0.6 but I greatly prefer it to IE. Available from, download link halfway down the left side of the page. It's a 7mb download. Everyone with Mac OS X 10.2 has surely tried out Safari by now and fallen in love with the same two features. I suspect some of the other linux web browsers have the same features but I haven't tried them.

I don't know what to tell you re taking over your defaults. I don't do web authoring on my Win2k/XP machines. Haven't really had a default browser war on those platforms, certainly nothing like what I used to run into with Netscape 4.x vs IE 5.

I doubt MS will add tabbed browsing to IE before IE7, which as you know won't be arriving until Longhorn.

Sincerely, Dan Becker

All right. Thanks.

Subject: "Battle-Scarred Author Takes On Web Pirates" WSJ p.1

Say what one will about Harlan Ellison, he's always entertaining.

===== Tiomoid M. of Angle JD MBA

 ---- "Been there. Done that. Don't remember most of it."

Well, Harlan has always been tilting at windmills, and sometimes he wins. I suspect short story writers are far more threatened than novelists -- this year. But the nature of publishing is changing, and I don't know what will come of it.

Hi Jerry, 

You mentioned in your Byte column that peoples reading habits will change when a small portable reader is here... I think it already is! Check out the Palm Zire 71 - it's small, cheap (relatively) and has a superb display. It has become my new bedside and train journey companion and it even plays MP3s as I read. It's big brother (the Tungsten-T) even has the wireless connectivity but is a bit too expensive for a PDA.

Regards, Alex

BTW it's been a few years since I read it but I loved the Moties!

=================================== Conqueror Design and Engineering Ltd., 68 Meyrick Avenue, Luton, Beds. LU1 5JR, UK Tel. 01582 412701 Fax. 0870 7062460 WWW:

And if that one doesn't float your boat, inevitably there will be one that will; and I don't think technology can protect us for long. It's just too easy to scan in books.

Not that I have a clue as to what to do about it.

Nor do others:

Subject: Intestinal fortitude.

--- Roland Dobbins




Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Referring to the investigation of the cartoon in the LA Times; The journalist has a Constitutional right to publish his beliefs, and the Secret Service (SS) has a regulatory obligation to investigate threats to the president. Regulatory obligation supercedes Consitutional right; theres a regulation that says so. It was in the Congrssional Record. What? you don't read the entire Congrssional record every day for notices of prposed rule making?

About the lawyers getting nailed for rivilous suits, the article says in part: " With class action lawyers under attack by defendants, judges and attorney generals, some lawyers have jumped on the bandwagon and are chasing other lawyers. Dubbed as "professional" or "serial" objectors, some lawyers are making their money by threatening to hold up class-action settlements by raising objections in what some describe as extortion-like threats. Why does this remind me of a feeding frenzy of sharks?

Patrick A. Hoage



The story about the British contingency plan to bury nuclear land mines in Germany to head off a Russian invasion was a prime example of cold war stupidity. Anyone who has read DOE's "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" would immediately realize that using a subsurface burst actually minimizes the blast and heat effects that would have the most impact on an invading army. However, the intent here seems to have been to blanket the invasion corridor with radioactive fallout which would presumably deter the invaders. While this might work against infantry, troops in tanks and IFVs would be well shielded from the Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation emitted by the radioactive fallout. The German civilians would be dead unless they had effective fallout shelters which they'd have to stay in for weeks. Your mention of Sam Cohen's reaction suggests that you've read his book "The Truth About the Neutron Bomb." As Cohen so eloquently explains, the neutrons released from an enhanced radiation device would be devastating against tanks because the neutrons would easily penetrate several inches of tank armor. Providing enough shielding to stop neutrons would severely compromise the mobility of any armored fighting vehicle with the possible exception of a Battleship. As has been demonstrated in a number of above ground nuclear tests, as well as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, high altitude airbursts do not produce large amounts of fallout. While some elements in the soil will absorb neutrons and become radioactive, these isotopes have very short half-lives and most of the radioactivity is deep enough in the soil that it is already shielded. Of course it is impossible to explain any of this to the average citizen, much less the anti-nuke crowd. Some of them are still painting "shadows" on sidewalks to commemorate the people who were allegedly vaporized at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Anyone who has done the calculations will find that while lots of people received massive, third degree burns, none were subjected to enough thermal flux to actually vaporize their bodies.

As story that you would find interesting appeared on the front page of the July 20 issue of GunWeek. It seems that in its ongoing investigation into the as yet unsolved murder of Thom Wales, who was a Federal Prosecutor, the FBI has been rounding up any Makarov pistols whose owners have purchased replacement barrels from Federal Arms Incorporated. What is appalling to me is that rather than demonstrate probable cause to obtain a warrant for these searches and seizures, the FBI is merely obtaining subpoenas. This case is almost as blatant an infringement of the right against unreasonable search and seizure as the tactics recently used by New Orleans's police to solve a series of rapes. Rather than go to the trouble of identifying suspects and obtaining search or arrest warrants, they simply began to coerce every, African American male of a certain age who happened to fit the very vague description they had to submit to the taking of a blood sample for genetic fingerprinting. There was once a time when I could use such a scenario as an analogy to demonstrate the dangers of gun registration, but now it seems to have become acceptable to the public. While I have a bit less sympathy for convicted toe suckers than you do, I agree that our civil liberties are very much in peril.

One final comment. After watching the press conference with Kobi Bryant and his wife, I have to conclude that he wasn't thinking with either head during that incident in Colorado. You'd think that any man who had a wife who looked that good so soon after giving birth wouldn't be so eager to cheat on her that he'd have an encounter with some hotel employee within an hour after checking in. 

James Crawford

Well, I have heard that it's possible that the nuclear "mines" wouldn't have gone off in place and underground, but I make no comment whatever of my own knowledge nor I think will Sam. Sam and Possony were friends for decades.

As to Kobe, well of course he wasn't thinking, and in one sense he'll get a life sentence out of it: I doubt his wife will let him forget. 

On the New World Economy:

A little reporting and some opinion too, but surely what the 'New World Economy is' bringing. Dave Krecklow


But Free Trade will set you free! Won't it? If you work in this industry, worry.


On The XP Firewall: (Note: see below before you do anything. Roland Dobbins says it is not safe, and provides links.)

Hi Jerry!!


I was reading (as every week) your column in Byte online. This time it was the Column named “Technology That Changes Lives” dated July 21, 2003.


I’m so glad to read about you finally having high speed internet connection. Being spoiled by ADSL 2.5 MB since two years I know how wonderful it is to finally use Internet the way it was supposed to be – quick and accessible.


You are so right about reminding people to protect themselves from the hazards of Internet with a decent firewall. A lot of my friends ask me for advice as I work with Security issues in my professional daytime job. I usually also recommend people to get a decent router with firewall functionality, BUT I always emphasize on the need for UPnP (Universal Plug and Play). Because as more and more software get UPnP aware that means that all those non-techie friends doesn’t need to set up port-holes in their Firewall to be able to use the games and other software that regularly want to connect though a port that is closed by usual firewalls. UPnP makes all that techie mumbo jumbo about port numbers to disappear and just work. Yes I know a professional business should not use this technology because a professional company usually wants documentation on which ports are open and why. But for normal people this is a godsend invention that makes their lives (and mine) so much easier. So when you write and recommend routers, don’t forget to mention the ever so important feature named UPnP.


For people that just use a single computer connected to Internet and run Windows XP there is just one advice: use the built in firewall!


When I first read about the built in Firewall in Windows XP I (like so many others) was a little bit skeptical. Microsoft and security were not the two things you used in the same sentence. But I thought, give it a year and if the security flaws in the built in firewall keeps to single digit numbers it would be ok. Now XP has been out for over one year and I have realized that if you just run Windows update (as XP does by default) then your built in firewall will be up to date. So far I haven’t seen any news articles screaming out about the bad security in the built in Firewall. By now some hacker would have hacked this you would believe. But not one flaw has appeared. It just works and it works excellent. I have my home machine connected to internet and are always updating all recommended fixes from Microsoft. So I tried the shields up utility on my machine. Here are the results:


Shields UP! is checking YOUR computer's Internet connection security . . . currently located at IP:

Please Stand By. . .


Attempting connection to your computer. . . Shields UP! is now attempting to contact the Hidden Internet Server within your PC. It is likely that no one has told you that your own personal computer may now be functioning as an Internet Server with neither your knowledge nor your permission. And that it may be serving up all or many of your personal files for reading, writing, modification and even deletion by anyone, anywhere, on the Internet!


Your Internet port 139 does not appear to exist! One or more ports on this system are operating in FULL STEALTH MODE! Standard Internet behavior requires port connection attempts to be answered with a success or refusal response. Therefore, only an attempt to connect to a nonexistent computer results in no response of either kind. But YOUR computer has DELIBERATELY CHOSEN NOT TO RESPOND (that's very cool!) which represents advanced computer and port stealthing capabilities. A machine configured in this fashion is well hardened to Internet NetBIOS attack and intrusion.


Unable to connect with NetBIOS to your computer. All attempts to get any information from your computer have FAILED. (This is very uncommon for a Windows networking-based PC.) Relative to vulnerabilities from Windows networking, this computer appears to be VERY SECURE since it is NOT exposing ANY of its internal NetBIOS networking protocol over the Internet


Quickly Check for Connectable Listening Internet Ports

This Internet Port Probe attempts to establish standard TCP Internet connections with a handful of standard, well-known, and often vulnerable Internet service ports on YOUR computer. Since this is being done from our server, successful connections demonstrate which of your ports are "open" or visible and soliciting connections from passing Internet port scanners.

Your computer at IP:

Is being 'NanoProbed'. Please stand by. . .

Total elapsed testing time: 10.258 seconds (See "NanoProbe" box below.)



Status Security Implications




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!




Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!



Stealth! There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that a port (or even any computer) exists at this IP address!


As you can see this site believes that I have some very good and cool Firewall that keeps my machine so very shielded. But I am only running the standard vanilla Firewall built into Windows XP. Good work Microsoft, I would say. So after these results and not even one security flaw heard of about the firewall in Windows XP I would confidently recommend it to anyone running just one computer against the internet ore sharing internet through a Windows XP computer.

By the way I do have one port open on my machine… and that is the Terminal Server port, to be able to use my home computer when away from home. Looks like Shields up doesn’t test that port. That’s the only evidence that there is a machine on my IP address.

So what do you think, don’t you agree?

Sincerely, from one of your greatest fans

(both of the columns and of your books, keep up the good work)

Bruno Horvat

E-mail: bhorvat

Thanks for the kind words, and also for the tests. I am sure we will hear from others on the XP firewall.

NOW SEE BELOW for Roland's warning.

And from Ed Hume:

>From the Washington Post: So now prisoners have web access too???

Serving Life, a Pen Pal Crashes the Servers

Sunday, July 20, 2003; Page A02

Looking for a new friend?

Here's a possibility. She's 31, likes waterfalls and working puzzles. She also likes Mickey Mouse, and she loves rainbows.

Oh, and there's just one other thing: Awhile back, she strapped her 3-year-old son, Michael, and her 14-month-old, Alexander, into a car and drowned them in a South Carolina lake. Then she blamed their disappearance on a fictitious black man, prompting a huge manhunt.

Her name, of course, is Susan Smith. She's looking for pen pals and new friends.

The ad Smith placed on doesn't specifically mention what she did to Michael or Alexander. But it does say she "has matured a lot" since beginning a life sentence almost eight years ago. The ad also doesn't say anything about the scandal she was embroiled in after having sex with two prison guards or how that might have fit into her maturation process.


Smith's quest to expand her social circle has been a smashing success so far. Three servers crashed at the pen pal site as it tried to handle all the traffic. Her ad has gotten 800,000 hits, according to WriteAPrisoner's Jason Roberts, and 3,000 have sent e-mails to her. The messages include dozens of marriage proposals.

I am speechless.

And another letter from Iraq, courtesy of Colonel William Haynes, USAF Ret.

Once again there is a leak of truth that escapes the unremitting bad news flood we get from the regular news sources. Where would we be without the Internet and e-mail? In the same fix the domestic scene wound up in when I was in Vietnam and wondering which war the media were reporting on? Surely not the one my pilots and I were fighting! 



Subject: Fwd: GREAT -- A Special Ops view from Iraq

Begin forwarded message:

Forwarded from a Special Ops guy who gives his perspective.

Date:Tue, 01 Jul 2003,11:09:09 GMT

Hey Guys, sorry it's been so long since I've sent anything but a quick note to you individually. However things have been pretty hectic since the end of hostilities and the start of the real war. Despite what the assholes in the press like to say over and over:

1) We did expect some armed resistance from the Ba'ath Party and Feydaheen;

2) It isn't any worse than expected;

3) Things are getting better each day, and

4) The morale of the troops is A-1, except for the normal bitching and griping.

My brief love affair with the press, especially the guys who had the cajones to be embedded with the troops during the fighting, is probably over, especially since we are back being criticized by the same Roland Headly types that used to hang around the Palestine Hotel drinking Baghdad Bob's whiskey and parroting his ridiculous B.S.

I'm in Baghdad now, since SpOpComm 5 relocated here from Qatar. It looks, sounds and smells about the same but at least you can get Maker's Mark at the local OC. We came up in mid-June to help set up operation Scorpion and Sidewinder. It represents a major (and long overdue) shift in tactics. Instead of being sitting ducks for the ragheads we now are going after the worthless pieces of fecal matter.

I'm no longer baby-sitting the pukes from CNN and the canned hams from the networks, but have a combat mission coordinating a bunch of A teams, seeking, finding and rooting out the mostly non-Iraqis that are well-armed, well-paid (in U.S. dollars) and always waiting to wail for the press and then shoot some GI in the back in the midst of a crowd.

The only reason the GIs are pissed (not demoralized) is that they cannot touch, must less waste, those taunting bags of gas that scream in their faces and riot on cue when they spot a camera man from ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN or NBC. If they did, then they know the next nightly news will be about how chaotic things are and how much the Iraqi people hate us.

Some do. But the vast majority don't and more and more see that the GIs don't start anything, are by-and-large friendly, and very compassionate, especially to kids and old people. I saw a bunch of 19 year-olds from the 82nd Airborne not return fire coming from a mosque until they got a group of elderly civilians out of harm's way. So did the Iraqis.

A bunch of bad guys used a group of women and children as human shields. The GIs surrounded them and negotiated their surrender fifteen hours later and when they discovered a three year-old girl had been injured by the big tough guys throwing her down a flight of stairs, the GIs called in a MedVac helicopter to take her and her mother to the nearest field hospital. The Iraqis watched it all, and there hasn't been a problem in that neighborhood since. How many such stories, and there are hundreds of them, ever get reported in the fair and balanced press? You know, nada.

The civilians who have figured it out faster than anyone are the local teenagers. They watch the GIs and try to talk to them and ask questions about America and Now wear wrap-around sunglasses, GAP T-shirts, Dockers (or even better Levis with the red tags) and Nikes (or Egyptian knock-offs, but with the "swoosh") and love to listen to AFN when the GIs play it on their radios.

They participate less and less in the demonstrations and help keep us informed when a wannabe bad-ass shows up in the neighborhood.

The younger kids are going back to school again, don't have to listen to some mullah rant about the Koran ten hours a day, and they get a hot meal.

They see the same GIs who man the corner checkpoint, helping clear the playground, install new swingsets and create soccer fields. I watched a bunch of kids playing baseball in one playground, under the supervision of a couple of GIs from Oklahoma. They weren't very good but were having fun, probably more than most Little Leaguers The place is still a mess but most of it has been for years. But the Hospitals are open and are in the process of being brought into the 21st Century. The MOs and visiting surgeons from home are teaching their docs new techniques and One American pharmaceutical company (you know, the kind that all the hippies like to scream about as greedy) donated enough medicine to stock 45 hospital pharmacies for a year.

Safe water is more available. Electricity has been restored to pre-war levels but saboteurs keep cutting the lines. And The old Ba'ath big shots are upset because they can't get fuel for their private generators. One actually complained to General McKeirnan, who told him it was a rough world.

The MPs are screening the 80,000 Iraqi police force and rehabbing the ones that weren't goons, shake-down artists or torturers like they did in East Berlin, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

There are dual patrols of Iraqi cops and U.S./U.K./Polish MPs now in most of the larger cities. Basrahas 3.5 million inhabitants. Mosul is a city of 2 million. Kirkuk has 1 million. How many and hundreds of other small towns have not had riots or shootings? The vast majority.

The six U.K. cops were killed in a small Shiite town by the ex-cops they were re-habbing. According to a Royal Marine colonel I talked to, the town now has about twenty permanent vacancies in its police force. Mick, he's a big potato eater from Belfast named Huggins and knows how to handle terrorists after twenty years fighting with the IRA. He sends his regards and says he'd love to have you here. Thinks you'd make a great police chief, even though the cops would be more frightened of you than the local hoods (then he laughed)

I heard one doofus on MSNBC the other night talk about how "nearly 60" GIs have been killed since 01 May. The truth is that 21 GIs have been killed in combat, mostly from ambush, from 01 May through 30 June, Another 29 have been killed by accidents or other causes (two drowned while swimming in the Tigris).

The MSNBC idiot is the same jerk who reported on the air that "dozens of GIs" were badly burned when two RPGs hit a truck belonging to an Engineer Battalion that was parked by a construction site. The truck was hit and burned, three GIs received minor injuries (including the driver who burnt his hand) and three warriors of Allah were promptly sent to enjoy their 72 slave girls in Paradise. Hell of a way to get laid.

A mosque in that shithole Fallujah blew up this morning while the local imam, a creep named Fahlil (who was one of the biggest local loudmouths that frequently appeared on CNN) was helping a Syrian Hamas member teach eight teenagers how to make belt bombs. Right away the local Feyhadeen propaganda group started wailing that the Americans hit it with a TOW missile (If they had there wouldn't have been any mosque left!) and the usual suspects took to the streets for CNN and BBC. One fool was dragging around a piece of tin with blood on it, claiming it was part of the missile.

The cameras rolled and the idiot started repeating his story, then one of my guys asked him in Arabic where he had left the rag he usually wore around his face that made him look like a girl. He was a local leader of the Feyhadeen. We took the clown in custody and were asked rather indignantly by the twit from BBC if we were trying to shut up "the poor man who had seen his mosque and friends blown up." I told the airy-fairy who the raghead was and if he knew Arabic (which he obviously didn't) he'd know he was a Palestinian. I suggested we take him down to the local jail and we'd lock him and his cameraman in a cell with the "poor man" and they could interview him until we took him to headquarters. They declined the invitation. Guess what played on the Bullshit Broadcasting System that evening? Did the Americans blow up a mosque? See the poor man who is still in a state of shock over losing his mosque and relatives? Yep. Our friend the Palestinian.

Our search and destroy missions are largely at night, free of reporters and generally terrifying to those brave warriors of Allah.

The only thing that frightens them more is hearing the word "Gitmo". The word is out that a trip to Guantanimo Bay is not a Caribbean vacation and they usually start squealing like the little mice they are, when an interrogator mentions "Gitmo".

No wonder the International Red Cross, the National Council of Churches and the French keep protesting about the place. They know it has proven to be very effective in keeping several hundred real fanatical psychopaths in check and very frankly would rather see them cut loose to go kill some more GIs or innocent Americans, just to make W. look bad.

We have about 200 really bad guys in custody now and probably will park them in the desert behind a triple roll of razor wire, backed up by a couple of Bradleys pointed their way, if they decide to riot. Maybe a few will get to Gitmo but most are human garbage that wouldn't take on your five-year old grandson face-to-face. The more we go after them and not vice-versa I think we will see the sniper attacks go down. Yeah, they'll get lucky now and then, but it's showtime, fellows.

Our first objective is to get the die-hards off the street (or make them too scared to come out in them) and destroy their caches of weapons (we have collected more than 227,000 A-47s and that is only the tip of the iceberg; Curly bought nearly a million of them from our pal Vladimir), then cut off their money supply, mostly from Syria and Lebanon. We must continue to get public services up and running, so the local families can get water, sewage and garbage service; electricity, public transportation; oil fields and refineries working and a dinar that won't halve in value every month.

It's going to be a long haul (remember it took 10-15 years in Japan and West Germany) but if we don't stick with it, nobody else will, and we'll have some other looney running the place again.

This place has greater potential than Saudi Arabia (bunch of goat-herders who struck black gold) or Iran (weird dudes who can't run a rug bazaar much less a major country).

I keep telling myself even the Democrats can't be that self-destructive. But then I look at the current line-up. The cream of the crap. If that lying bitch ever gets elected we're really in trouble. By we, I mean the whole world. She'll slide just plain Bill in as the Secretary-General of the U.N. and then the whole world will be trying to take our great country ... the greatest ever (and that's coming from an ex-Canuck) ... down and civilization with it.

Armageddon, here we come. Remember, it's located on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Enough of that cheery speculation. The good news is that General Schoonmaker is going to appointed ChiefArmy and the old man is coming to Tampa to run the SpOps desk at CentComm. He's tops and will be getting his second star.

To me it means that SpOps will be more predominant in future operations and after 18 years as a GB maybe I'll have a shot at a bird-level combat command.

The old man asked me to come to MacDill and be his ACS but I told him after I spent four months changing the diapers of the media types, I wanted to go back to action. Hence, my current gig.

As the movie quoted old General Patton, "God help me, I love it." I do. Nothing more satisfying than working with the BEST damn soldiers in the world, flushing real human poop down the drain and giving some folks a chance at trying freedom for a change.

They may learn to like it and then my great-great-grandson won't have to worry about some maniac trying to destroy the planet.

My tour is over at the end of August, and I plan to return to Tampa, brief the old man, then head to San Rafael and see my two sweethearts. I'd like to visit my parents in Toronto and my brother in London, before taking on a trip across the country. Just like any other family. It will charge my batteries before I end up back in some other interesting and challenging location. I hope to see most of you and ask for some advice, not support. I know I've had that all along. Thanks.

Now about that Maker's Mark.

God Bless America  

P.S. A couple of you asked me about Curly and his two sons, Dumb and Dumber. I still think we got him and one son, but the slugs may have gotten away. If they are alive, I can't believe they are hanging around here. Even Curly isn't that stupid ... then again. He might be in Syria or Lebanon. If he is, he's too moronic to keep quiet, then we'll get him. I promise.


Forwarded by William E. Haynes

I will comment another time. Tell your friends to read this. 

But also this:








This week:


read book now


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A reader recommended the Windows XP firewall and showed a lengthy report from Gibson. Roland has this to say:

Subject: Yes, enjoy that Windows XP firewall, indeed . . . 

Windows simply cannot be secured, sir. Not against 'exotic' threats, not against 'reasonable' threats. It is fundamentally broken.

Also see: 

Roland Dobbins

As I have said in the past, you are far safer with a router; any software firewalls running on the system they are intended to protect are subject to tunneling attacks of various sophistication. A router, or a Linux box, upstream of your desktop or network is going to be a lot safer. Nothing is absolutely safe. Some of the Cisco and other security routers are safe against almost everything, but it's a moving target, and if someone smart enough and determined enough is out to get you, you'll probably be got.

On the other hand:


I have reed the story about the test of the firewall in XP. I get the same results without running a firewall. What is the case. I am connected to the Internet with a ADSL Ethermodem. This means I have a internal network with 10.0.0.x adresses. Which are invisible from the outside. This is the best you can get with no trouble at all.

Also this means that a lot of people are better protected then they think. I was using ZoneAlarm until recently and I bugged me more than that it helped. Since I am having the ADSL Ethermodem there where no alerts for months so I decided to remove the firewall. I don't need it any more.



From Shields Up Private Networks: The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) demonstrated their amazing foresight by setting aside several "chunks" of the 32-bit Internet Protocol (IP) address space. They understood that there would be situations where organizations might want to create an "off the Internet" private network without needing to get official allocations of "public" IP space. Since these addresses would be disjoint and disconnected from the rest of the Internet, they could be freely used and reused without concern of "collision". In other words, two different machines located in different companies might have identical IP addresses. This would cause no problem because neither machine could be reachable from the Internet nor to each other.

Four regions of IP addresses were defined, creating four "sub-networks" of differing sizes and routing complexity:

10 . 0 . 0 . 0 – 10 . 255 . 255 . 255

169 . 254 . 0 . 0 – 169 . 254 . 255 . 255

172 . 16 . 0 . 0 – 172 . 31 . 255 . 255

192 . 168 . 0 . 0 – 192 . 168 . 255 . 255

This yields networks containing in excess of sixteen million, sixty-five thousand, one million, and sixty-five thousand uniquely identified machines respectively. Plenty for just about any purpose.

All this is significant to you and the security of your machine having the IP address shown above because all such addresses are, by design, "unreachable" from the external "public" internet. IP Agent has notified the server that it's residing in a machine with this address, but there is no way for the server — or anyone outside of your own network — to reach you. Those addresses are simply "undefined" within the Internet's routing tables.

In other words: Your computer is very secure against typical threats and discovery from passing Internet scanners.

Well, I wouldn't go quite that far. Roland is professionally paranoid (he's supposed to be) but his concerns are based on real world events.


And note well, nothing at all is safe if you open unexpected mail attachments even though you are just SURE you know who they came from...

And see below

Could it be?


Can't stand the problems you are having with the cable modem. I had modem problems when I first started with ATT. Odds are either your modem is bad, remember they use the cheapest, or they have made a mistake entering the info in their database.

I finally broke down and bought my own cable modem. When I contacted them to change the MAC number I found they had a web page which automated the process - something they did NOT advertise. It worked great and I haven't had any modems problems since buying my own.

It has been my experience that first level support knows very little and it only authorized to quote the party line. In your case, reset the modem. Second level is usually somewhat more knowlegable and are generally given more latitude in dealing with problems. Insist on being passed to the second level!

G Hastings

Well, I have thought about getting a different modem just to see. It could be the unit of course. I'll have to try it. I do these silly things so you don't have to... Needs must when the devil drives.

Richard on finance

Subject: Venture Capital

There are a lot of Limited Partners (LPs) who are asking VCs what they did with their money. When you average it out, investing in private companies versus public ones is a wash. One factor that really does drive innovation is the willingness to take risks for the potential of being one of the few who can get much larger returns.  "a quarter of all funds had IRRs of 3 percent of less, while another quarter had IRRs in excess of 22 percent. Second, after making adjustments for fund risk, the payoff to the LPs was not significantly different from the returns generated by the public equity markets."  France, Germany, Japan--we would join you in economic purgatory but for the saving grace of startups. Because of startups and fast-growing young companies known as "gazelles," America's unemployment is only 6.1%. Not bad for a punk economy. Here's a little-known fact: Startups and gazelles have added 1.2 million jobs this year. Subtract these jobs, and America would slide closer to a Gallic unemployment rate.

Rich Pournelle

There's a lot to think about here, and "creative destruction" is needed for economic efficiency.


And on another subject:

Subject: Secret Nazi Bunkers of the Luftwaffe.

Roland Dobbins

Which is interesting in showing what a government can do if it wants to...

And see below


Why the US is discarding the rules of war.

 Douglas M. Colbary

Interesting. Of course Pipes is right, bin Laden, Saddam, and Arafat are much better at destruction than building, able to destroy civilizations they could never have built.






This week:


read book now


Thursday, July 24, 2003

Dan Spisak sent a note on CAFTA, and before I could post it sent some more. He has put together an interesting view of job exports. I'll put all of it up before I comment.


I just was reading over on The Inquirer and saw this story about CAFTA and about the potentially dangerous implications it could have for the abilities of American's to retain their ability to be employed in the face of cheap immigrant visa labor. The relevant parts are here: 

Most interesting are these facts:

" addition to the 5,400 visas Singapore will get under the deal, it will be able to send "unlimited" numbers of workers to the US. The free trade agreement means that US employers no longer have to prove that jobs cannot be performed by an American citizen."

now combine this with the fact:

"...George W. Bush says on his web site that Singapore is working on free trade agreements with Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico and India."

As the article on The Inquirer states, they feel that this would make Singapore act as a waypoint for all these other countries Singaport is working on FTA with whose immigrants would then have the ability to come into the US in unrestricted numbers. This would effectively give the CEO's of American corporations access to cheap workers without having to deal with all the "mess" of a H1-B or L-1 visa.

Even though I find her to be a bought hack for Hollywood, Senator Dianne Feinstein even is against the CAFTA and has posted her arguments and reasons here: 

Free trade is good, right? Then how come unemployment is at a high level here in California, in some places/categories almost as high as 10% according to Feinstein. Why is it that we keep exporting our capabilities outside the country because its considered "cheaper" yet we run up huge trade and budget deficits?

Why not bring back some of these exported jobs? It would increase the number of taxpaying productive members of American society and industry. Part of me even thinks in the long run it would be cheaper, but not in the traditional ways your average cost-cutting CEO/CFO seems to think in these days. The argument against bringing back in the jobs always seems to be "American's want too high a living wage and this would force our short term financials to look bad ergo we would piss off our stockholders (who the board of directors has a controlling stake in I'd bet) who want profits NOW and dividends NOW so they can make money NOW."

Why can't American companies think for the long term? Around what time did this extreme short term mindset come into dominance in corporate America?

Why do I feel like there is a massive stratification of class in America, where there are fewer and fewer true middle class American families and more lower class and upper class? It feels like we are going from a bell curve distribution of class to an inverse bell curve where everyone is either poor or very rich. What can one person do to do his part to help make things better for America for himself and his fellow citizens?

Is this just a dawning of too much competition for limited resources and a data point showing that we really need to be out there in space mining the asteroids for raw mineral wealth and other useful riches for maintaining a health growth of the GDP?

-Dan S.


I've got an idea, lets just move the whole damn industry into India! Indian CEO's, Indian programmers, Indian accountants, the whole shebang! While we are at it lets move our entire distribution channel to India too! What's next, a company whose CEO is in America but the rest of the company resides in India? Of course if he sold too much of his stock in said fictional company then the stockholders would just oust him with a cheaper Indian CEO to "cut costs and improve shareholder value". When the heck will this insanity stop? We are rapidly going to find ourselves working in a country of wealthy CEO's, politicians, and PACs and millions of lower class wage slaves and the middle class will be virtually unheard of.

See, even IBM is doing the off-shoring thing now: 

"...two senior I.B.M. officials told their corporate colleagues around the world in a recorded conference call that I.B.M. needed to accelerate its efforts to move white-collar, often high-paying, jobs overseas even though that might create a backlash among politicians and its own employees."

I want my country back! I want our sense or corporate morality back! Can't these people in management realize they are only destroying the pool of people domestically who will be able to afford their products and services? How are these people planning on maintain these cost-cutting measures ad infinitum? Eventually you will have so many jobs from the US off-shored in India that the Indians are going to demand higher wages.

Want to get that multi-trillion dollar federal deficit down? Just export the federal jobs to India! That is what these CEO's would be doing if they were running our government which they nearly are in some cases (RIAA, MPAA).

It just makes me sick!

-Dan S.


 I'm just extremely frustrated the more I read up on the H1-B and L-1 visa situations as it would seem that this industry is going to consider me old at the age of 35 and they don't value education of its employees. It's been proven that getting a Masters or Ph.D in CS reduces your lifetime earnings potential due to time lost in getting the advanced degrees. Then there are other problems within the industry where hiring managers in HR look for ultra-specific keywords only and never wish to let people get hired on and trained on the job. Programming is programming, if you know C or C++ well you can learn Java in just a few weeks along with other languages. Programming is about logical thinking and structure and syntax, the rest is specifics to each system of programming. But hiring people in HR just see someone with C experience and no Java and don't even bother to read the resume. Then you have the fallacy of retraining, this one gets my goat even more. Going back to our example of a competent C or C++ programmer lets say he decides to go to school or some other institution and get trained/learn Java by way of a series of courses, will HR accept his Java skills then? No! HR will ask the person, "Did you work on Java in a work environment?" and he will say "No, but I've just recently finished a course on it at my local college and passed with exceptional grades". If the experience with the skill is not in a work environment HR people don't even consider it a useable skill when they try to weed down the number of resumes to even call back. If HR people only accept skills based on job experience then how on Earth is anyone supposed to ever "retrain" when they find their segment of the market is blowing their jobs out to India or other off-shore countries and getting additional education is ignored or treated as useless?

By the by the article at the New York Times that talks about the IBM tape is here: 

And I just noticed these numbers that I think should give everyone some idea as to how much worse this trend is getting:

"Forrester Research , a high-technology consulting group, estimates that the number of service sector jobs newly located overseas, many of them tied to the information technology industry, will climb to 3.3 million in 2015 from about 400,000 this year. This shift of 3 million jobs represents about 2 percent of all American jobs"

2% of all American jobs! Imagine what percentage of white collar tech sector jobs that must mean. It boggles the mind just how desolate the job market for technology is going to get in California alone. This is the kind of catastrophe that will have to happen to force tech workers to unionize and protect themselves since their voted for, yet bought out political representatives are too busy getting donations from the large corporations this off-shoring is benefitting the most.

What is the point of knowledge when those that have the power to hire people are not willing to pay fair wages for it?

Perhaps I should just become a plumber, they have a union and can make good money and you can't off-shore their jobs unless you want things to get real stinky.

-Dan S.

I rather like your idea of exporting the Federal Government. Actually, empires do that: The successors to Marcus Aurelius (his no good sons, then the 4 Emperors in one year, the last one having got the post by auction from the Praetorian Guard) were the last Roman emperors. All the rest were provincials, starting with Septimius Severus who overthrew the reign of the Praetorians and disbanded the Guard. From then on, Roman was an ambiguous word.

A country that considers the interests of a small elite more important than the interests of the citizens will soon find itself in difficulties. But then I have been saying that for years.

Comments invited.

And quite relevant:

Hi, Jerry.

 This fits in so closely with some things you talk about that I imagine you'll be receiving multiple copies of this link, but on the chance I'm early, this link 

talks about the societal ramifications of continued automation moving through the food chain, displacing more and more humans out of jobs.

Nothing new about that, of course, but is it actually conceivable we might see a situation in which there isn't a scarcity of labor for a market to work on at all?

----------- Jonathan Abbey Austin, TX GPG Key: 50D3B73B at keyserver,

Well, a long time ago science fiction writers were concerned about such things of course. And there was TOMORROW IS ALREADY HERE, and Sorokin's works...

And see below

Subject: For your threads on education...

No further comment. I think I'll have a stiff drink when I get home from the office: 



Dean Riddlebarger The Other One Consulting


Subject: How to turn good news into bad news. 

 Newsweek couldn't find anything positive to say about the deaths of Uday and Qusay. So they wrote this piece instead:

 Excessive Force -- The U.S. military is celebrating the deaths of Saddam’s sons. But some are questioning whether Uday and Qusay could—and should—have been taken alive

 First we're told that not enough troops were sent to Iraq, then they say too many were used in this operation. Can't they make up their minds? Personally, if I was the commander in the field, I'd rather have 200 troops, plus helicopters backing me up.

I can easily imagine a different scenario, where a smaller squad of troops tries to take the targets alive - only to be attacked from outside the building by Saddam Fedeyen who got called in by the Hussein brothers. That would have a different headline.


Charles Milner

==== And repeated from elsewhere:

Subject: [h-bd] Uday and Qusay

It seems to me that it would be much better to have them as prisoners than to have their bodies. It seemed to me that cutting off the utilities, keeping the place surrounded and not letting them sleep might have made them readily capturabable in less than a week.

However, I saw pictures of an anti-American demonstration near the house, and this made me suspect that killing them right away might have been the right thing to do. I suppose the house is in an Arabic speaking section of Mosul, perhaps a section where Saddam drove out the Kurds and replaced them by Arabic speakers, who are now in fear of having to move.

Maybe a prolonged siege would have incited a rescue attempt whose suppression would have required killing tens or even hundreds of Iraqi civilians.

Does this seem likely?

John McCarthy


And on another topic:

As a friend of mine once put it, I feel a bit like a frog in a pan watching the bubbles start to rise. (btw, if anyone EVER can draw a good cartoon of that and put it on a T-shirt, I'll buy a dozen.) 

If even a tenth of this article is factually correct, it is monstrous. Whether we are, in fact, an Empire or a Republic, it seems the cops who comprise much of the American Nomenklatura are already issuing edicts in Imperial fashion, under color of the law _du jour_.

All that's missing is a non-threating spokesperson smilingly saying "Do not concern yourselves, citizens. This could NEVER happen to _you_."

I've got a Ziggy cartoon in my archives. Ziggy, with a bewildered look on his face, is reading a letter that says: "This is to inform you that we at the Internal Revenue Service have lost your file. If we do not find your file in 30 days, you may be subject to fines up to $50,000 and imprisonment up to one year. Please advise."

I read that the Eastern Europeans are considering building a theme park of the old style Soviet society. "Gulagland" if you will. In America we already have something similar. Every airport in America is now a theme park. "Banana Republic Land: Learn how peons live in a third-world dictatorship." We get charged admission and are demeaned like peasants by faceless lower-class turned Nomenklatura. Maybe if the TSA screeners dressed up like Disneyland characters . . . ? (Wow, now THERE'S a sketch for Saturday Night Live that practically writes itself!)

I opine that much of our national problem descends from the knee-jerk support by modern conservatives of _anything_ labeled "law-enforcement". Too much Paul Harvey and too many cop shows during the formative years I'd guess. Like something out of "Brave New World."

When I run into a knee-jerk Homeland-Security-uber-alles supporter, I can usually shut them up by asking "How would you like the Clinton white house with attorney general Janet Reno to have these powers?" Sometimes it makes them think. Usually just makes them mad. Either way they shut up.

Boiled down, it would seem to come to: "He will have no liberty, who would not shoot a cop." The quote itself is almost a complete Rorschach test on the subject of freedom.

Bonhomie and rumination, 

John Nichols

And I know nothing of the case whatever. Note that it starts well before 9-11 and before Ashcroft.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

About the article in the Scotsman; my last duty station in Germany (1988-91) was in Goeppingen. During WW II, it had been a Luftwaffe airfield providing protection on the east side of Stuttgart. The airfield was still there but was only used for a few helecopters. The airfield had never been bombed during the war because, according to the story, when a raid was reported, they would flood the field with water from underground tanks and it looked like a small lake from the air.

Also according to the story, at the end of the war, large amounts of weapons and equipment had been placed in a large bunker buried under the airfield. The americans had tried to investigate this but had quit after several people were lost to bobby traps. They had sealed the entrances and not been in since.

In fact, there was a door in the basement of the headquarters building that was sealed, and looked to me as if it had not been opened in a very long time. Also, there had been a plan to build a new, larger school for the American dependants and the only place on the base that had the room was the old air field, beneath which the bunker is rumored to be. When the ground was tested prior to construction, it was found to be not stable enough for the building, so overflow students were sent to the American school in Stuttgart. From all the hidden weapons bunker stories I had heard when over there, I wonder how it is we ever beat the Germans during the war.

Concerning the article on the US and the laws of war, you had an article several month ago that said the same thing. It also pointed out that the average age of many Islamic countries that are causing us problems is late teens and early twenties; and that their response to the many world issues that surround them is reminiscent of a teenage tantrum.

Patrick A. Hoage

Subject: Fantastic Airshow Images 

Hi all: If you have a cable modem connection and are interested, the above URL will get you the most fabulous air show pictures I've seen

William E. Haynes 


It's hard to go wrong with the Astronomy Picture of the Day site 

Hi Jerry,


- Paul


Firewalls and security continued.

Subject: Secure computing at home

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I spoke with Chris Cox, Vice President and ranking wizard of the North Texas Linux User Group, about security some time ago. I was using the personal firewall provided with SuSE at the time. He was most upset, and told me that a firewall had to be on a machine other than the protected machine to be truly effective. Although using the SuSE firewall on my only computer might be helpful, there were too many bad guys that could work around it for me to be comfortable. Advice from Chris, a security professional, has been helpful in the past. I set up an ancient Pentium 100 as a firewall, then connected two other computers through a cheap Linksys switch. The firewall was connected to my ISP, the addresses translated by the firewall to 192.x.x.x for the downstream computers, and life has been good. I did review the logs later, and found several thousand attempts to access my computers. They all failed.

The SuSE personal firewall is programmed by SuSE, and does what I want. SuSE also provides a sophisticated firewall program that I can configure to suit my needs. I also run Red Hat, which has similar capabilities, but have not used them yet. Other effective firewalls, some fitting on a single floppy disk and meant to be run as the sole program on the computer, are available on the Internet. I do not know of a bad one, just some that I could not install on my much-abused computers for mysterious reasons.

My previous Windows computer was well protected by the Linux firewall, and I never used Windows for email anyway. Combining a simple firewall with your good advice about attachments (delete before looking) protects me from everything but spam. A retired great-grandfather, I can speedily delete offers to enhance my organs, carry on lascivious affairs, and increase my wealth without effort or limits. The latest one, from Holland, informs me that I am the winner in a lottery for which I never bought a ticket. I am trying to have these people put on the list of varmints by the Texas Parks and Wildlife people. Then I could hunt them at any time, and with no bag limit.


William L. Jones

Varmint hunting is fun. I used to do it with a 30/06 which is I agree the wrong rifle; a .270 or .223 would be better. But that 30/06 has an amazing effect on a 13-stripe ground squirrel at 200 yards...

These folks  can crack the administrator's password (or the password of any other user) on 99.9 % of Windows NT/2000/XP machines in an average of less than five seconds using a password 'hash' table prepared in advance, using only one 2.5gHz PC.

I recommend that folks who have privacy concerns regarding data on their Windows machine(s): a) change all Windows passwords immediately to include either non-alphanumeric (e.g., ` ) or non-printing characters (e.g., [{Alt}-230] ), as the hash table used was not prepared for this in mind. This should give Windows users a breathing space of a week to a month, until someone else prepares hash tables which _do_ include those characters.

b) Assure total and complete physical security for the PC. If a cracker has physical access to the PC and the hard drives are not removed after shutdown, boot floppies or CDs will permit the extraction of the data needed for this crack.

c) Start planning migration of that data to a secure operating system, excluding all versions of Windows.

-- John Bartley, K7AAY, telcom admin, USBC/DO, Portland OR - Views are mine. Wireless FAQ for PalmOS(r) Handheld Cellular Data FAQ

Before you panic, read:

Regarding the "Windows Password Cracker" link (   ) : the FAQ says "How to dump hashes from my computer ? First you have to have administrator rights on your computer..." If you don't have admin access, you can't get the hashes, and the hashes can't be cracked. If you are careful, you can prevent administrator access to your computer.

You can do this in several ways: firewalls, routers, good anti-virus practices (repeat after me: "never open attachments, keep your anti-virus up to date), not logging in as the administrator-level user, etc. Now it is true that many users may not have all of that expertise, but simple precautions (see "never open ..") will protect you.

I have not read their paper, but their extract says that they "reduces the time of cryptanalysis by using precalculated data stored in memory", and they use "1.4GB of [precalculated] data" to crack the passwords.

I would guess that if you took a dictionary list of common passwords (there are lots of them), then used the Microsoft algorithyms to create a database of 'hashes', then you too could crack hashes quite fast with simple lookups.

Although they might be using an interesting technique to seach the 1.4GB of data, I am not worried about their password cracking. Because I "never open...." (see: what I tell you three times is true).

Rick Hellewell Information Security Dweeb

Never open unexpected mail attachments!

The esteemed Mr. Hellewell noted in Thursday afternoon's Mail:

<snip> > Regarding the "Windows Password Cracker" link (   ) : > the FAQ says "How to dump hashes from my computer ? First you have to have administrator > rights on your computer..." If you don't have admin access, you can't get the hashes, and the > hashes can't be cracked. If you are careful, you can prevent administrator access to your computer. <snip>

and then he continues to list several methods, but neglects the most important; the physical security of the machine, as I noted in item b) of yesterrday's posting.

If I have access to your machine, I can boot with a floppy or a CD-ROM, load another OS and capture the data to a USB-attached drive. Crack the data, and then I have the Windows password for the top-level user of your machine. Power off, remove the boot disk, reboot into Windows, and I have _all_ your data and total control of your PC.

It should also be noted, if someone travels with a notebook, and it is lost, then all the passwords for all the Windows networks it attaches to are now compromised, and everything on that hard drive is compromised.

-- John Bartley, K7AAY, telcom admin, Portland OR - Views are mine. Wireless FAQ for PalmOS(r) Handheld Cellular Data FAQ

Obviously if you let someone have unsupervised access to your machine it isn't yours any more. And see below.






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Friday, July 25, 2003

Continuing on Firewalls and safety. I may pull all this together onto one reports page.

The Windows XP firewall is a "must use" feature for anyone who connects to the Internet, even if you are using one of the hardware router/firewalls. While these firewalls offer protection, they run code and could have exploitable defects in their software. Having a second layer of protection turned on is well worth the efforts. This strategy employs strength in depth and is always a recommended approach to security.

This technique also provides protection in the event you are testing a connection and bypass your router. Even a few minutes can result in a scan and intrusion attempt. It also protects you when someone brings an infected machine onto your network. I have heard of many corporate networks attacked from the inside due to an infected laptop walking in the door.

And finally this gives you protection if you use a dial up connection from the machine. While a lot slower, a dial up connection can result in your machine being scanned and attacked.

I have been running a Windows XP box connected directly to a cable modem for over a year with no problem (professional driver on a closed course, do not attempt). I also run an Exchange 2000 server directly connected to the Internet via a DSL line and am pretty happy with the results.

---------------------------------------------- Al Lipscomb

But Roland says:

Yes, let's get that XP firewall going, indeed!

Yes, that XP firewall will be grand!,aid,111732,00.asp 

Roland Dobbins


Hi Jerry,

John Bartley states: "It should also be noted, if someone travels with a notebook, and it is lost, then all the passwords for all the Windows networks it attaches to are now compromised, and everything on that hard drive is compromised."

This simply isn't true. Much depends on the kind of network that the machine is attached to. Yes, by default Windows does some password caching on machines, but this can be eliminated through Security Policies (common in a corporate environment). And, further, it only stores (based on my recall) the last three logons. Also, the only passwords that MIGHT be compromised would be the ones for people who have logged onto the machine.

I don't think that enough is made of the fact that if you have physical access to the machine, than ANY password scheme is almost worthless. The only case where the password scheme still provides a line of defense is if you use an encrypted file system.

.............................................. Glenn Hunt Hunt Data Services Inc. +1 (416) 410-9812

I think "simply isn't true" is a bit strong. It depends; but then that's the answer to everything, isn't it? One really ought to know what one is doing; if you don't, find people who do. But rules for those who don't know what they are doing will always be ultra-conservative, or should be.

On thinking ahead:

It seems to me that corporations started to get short sighted at about the same time they stopped paying dividends. Too many corporations simply want you to believe that the increasing value of their stock is ample reward for investing in their enterprise. This has many flaws, the biggest being that shareholders must divest themselves of the successful company if they wish to see gain from their investment. Instead of corporate profits going to the shareholders, executives take huge salaries and bonuses.

This model seems to give wealth to the corporate executives, but leaves the shareholders involved in what I can only see as a Ponzi scheme as they wait for someone to purchase their shares for more than they paid. Why some people will actually pay more for a share of a company that has no plans of ever paying a dividend is a mystery to me.

Al Lipscomb


One of your correspondents wrote:

>Why can't American companies think for the long term? Around what time did this extreme short term mindset >come into dominance in corporate America?

Back when I worked for Earthlink, I was astonished to learn that the then Director of Tech Support had an MBA. I asked him one day why so many MBA's only looked at the short-term bottom line, and didn't care about long-term consequences of their acts.

He told me that what most MBA's were doing was trying to give the short-term bottom-line a big boost, then use that as "proof" of how good they were for the company in their constant search for a new job at a higher salary. Their idea is to jump ship before the long-term damage becomes apparent, so they don't care, as they're not the ones to deal with it.

IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, a chain of coffee shops, is an excellent example of this. For many years, they featured a "bottomless coffee pot;" a carafe of coffee on the table, allowing you to refill your cups as often as you wish. If you emptied it, they replaced it at no charge. Then, the MBA's came in. They decided that this was wasteful and ended the practice. Yes, having servers giving refills saved money, but customers hated it and stayed away in droves. The chain almost went bankrupt, even after they'd gone back to having carafes on the table because it took years to recover their customer base. Did the MBA's care? Of course not, because they'd gone on to other jobs at other companies.

As long as MBA's do this, and the people doing the hiring only look at short-term changes, the trend will continue and businesses will go down the drain.

Joe Zeff

I'll answer that shortly. First, we need to look at this on Offshoring Jobs:

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I was in a unique position concerning offshoring employment: I worked for a group at a large Midwestern company that offshored its internal software application support work to an Indian company. The goal was to offshore a large majority of its work and get nearly all of the Indian support people back offshore [where it was cheaper] once they were trained.

Soon after that I was transferred to a group to studying wide-spread company offshoring -- excuse me, the politically-correct term is now Strategic Global Sourcing -- within the institution. After several months of study, we reached the conclusion that the company could save $240 million over about 5 years by offshoring.

When I first joined the new group, I was ambivalent about its goal of exporting jobs. While I'm still opposed to sending jobs overseas, I came to realize that such a significant savings is in the best interests of the stock holders. As a publicly-held corporation in a competitive business, the company has to find way to improve efficiency in order to remain financially healthy.

After the study was completed we presented our findings to executive management where the proposal was put on hold, not because of any respect for its employees. The offshoring wasn't implemented because the executives feared public and political repercussions of being a pioneer in this area.

How is offshoring any different - categorically speaking - from the move, years ago, of companies from the Rustbelt to the Sunbelt in search of cheaper labor? Companies will always seek to lower labor costs. We've already seen business migrate from Mexico to lower-cost locations like the Philippines. I see this eventually spiraling down until we have Cargo Cult programmers working for 18 cents a week.

The push to cut company costs has made offshoring a bottom-up project at my company. Divisions constantly being told to cut costs are seeking offshoring on their own as a means of savings. Instead of a coordinated effort, it's being done piecemeal, under the public's radar.

Until we in the US willingly start paying higher prices for US-made goods [or US-provided services], offshoring will always be attractive to companies seeking to cut the cost of their products. Would most people pay $350 for a US-made VCR [if they could find one], or $65 for a Korean model?

Oddly enough, it's prosperity [better education, improved health-care] in "developing" nations that's one of the driving factors in offshoring. An Indian with a B.S. degree will gladly take the work of US high school grad and do it for 20 percent of the pay. That 20 percent puts them comfortably in the middle class in India.

Personally, I'm still ambivalent over it all.

P.S. How about someday publishing a "key" to the people and institutions in The Burning City? Or, at least a full libretto of the "opera" described in it?

And this gets to the heart of the problem.

Industries can't do strategic planning if they don't survive. If your competitors can take advantage of job exports, you may have no choice but to do that too. Is this good?

Offshoring jobs saves money and is an efficient allocation of resources -- so long as the costs of doing it are born by the general public, or society, or anyone but the firm that is exporting the jobs. 

When you can save money and put the costs of doing it onto someone else, economic sense dictates that you must do that. Indeed, there are both ethical and legal obligations to stockholders.

Which is why laissez faire Free Trade has never worked and never will work over the long term. There are plenty of incentives to send the jobs off shore, and few to keep them. Meanwhile, the public pays those costs. After a while the workers who have been laid off -- but whose tax payments made much of the job export possible, and who are expected to pay taxes to keep the Navy and other armed services in shape to protect the commercial lanes from predators and pirates -- wonder what the heck they get out of all this? Cheaper goods they can't afford to buy? The chance to retrain at age 45 for a job that, after 4 years training, may be exported at any time?

If your competitors can take advantage of job exports and you don't, you will lose your business; which is where the general social order comes in.

The usual remedy is called "tariff", which applies to everyone. The problem with protective tariff is that the tendency is toward too much protection. Too much protection makes for highly inefficient industries, and shoddy products -- particularly if the industry is also protected from new DOMESTIC competition by inspections and regulations and other means of discouraging startups. The automobile industry is so hedges with regulations that no one but a foreign power could start a car company to compete with the established big firms.

Big tariff walls make for this kind of inefficiency becasue, as Adam Smith observed, the first thing successful capitalists do is conspire to get government to close down entry to their part of the market. They can compete with each other. It's those upstarts that bother them. They then lobby for, or don't resist, inefficient allocations of resources such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and various Workman's Compensation schemes, which have the effect of coming down hard on startups while being bearable by established industries. 

Once again, this is where protective tariff comes in: by protecting domestic industries from overseas competition, it's possible to keep your own standard of living higher than that of the overseas shops -- IF you have absence of regulations and make it easy for domestic competition to thrive, you can get away from the shoddy goods that a protected oligarchy inevitably leads to.

It is ALWAYS a dynamic balancing act. But at the moment we have far too little protection, and far too much regulation -- and we are dangerously dependent on overseas sources for vital defense products that we can't make any more. ( ) The result is grim and will be more so.

One simple solution would be a 15% across the board tariff on ALL imported goods. ALL. Anything imported. If you couple that with deregulation and lower taxes you would see a renaissance of manufacturing, and explosion of new jobs for people who actually MAKE things, and a new economic boom based on production, not on paper and Ponzi.

This has generated mail, although less than I expected.

Won't work. Apart from driving a coach and horses through GATT (or whatever they call it now) and therefore being illegal, the real-world effect would be to ensure a barrage of retaliatory tarriffs going up around the world against US goods and services, thus recreating the very circumstances that delivered the Great Depression of the 1920/30s.

Far from there being a renaissance of manufacturing and explosion of jobs, the exact opposite would happen. We know this. We tried it before. It took WWII to get out of the hole then.

Jim Mangles


This is the standard answer to any tariff proposal: that without Free Trade you get the Great Depression. There follow ritual denunciations of Smoot-Hawley.

Since I propose we denounce the various trade agreements and get out of them, I fail to see the relevance of the argument that we can't have across the board tariffs because we have made agreements we hadn't thought through.

As to Smoot-Hawley, that was far above any rate proposed here:

Table 1
Tariffs Rates under Fordney-McCumber vs. Smoot-Hawley


Equivalent ad valorem rates







Earthenware, and Glass















Agricultural Products



Spirits and Wines



Cotton Manufactures



Flax, Hemp, and Jute



Wool and Manufactures



Silk Manufactures



Rayon Manufactures



Paper and Books









Source: U.S. Tariff Commission, The Tariff Review, July 1930, Table II, p. 196.

By this measure, Smoot-Hawley raised average tariff rates by about 2 ½ percentage points from the already high rates prevailing under the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922.

High tariff certainly encourages inefficiencies; but then anything that interferes with simple market economics does. The problem is that once a worker has lost his job, you can't just drown him. A man who has spent 30 years at a job, and thinks he is middle class, and is suddenly told to go find something else, doesn't just vanish; and the costs of taking care of him are not allocated to the industry which exported all the manufacturing jobs.

Loss of manufacturing jobs can be critical. One obvious criticality is national defense: if you don't have a skilled work force, tooling up to create one is much harder; while keeping the sea lanes open and insuring that you can import the goods whose manufacture you have exported once again is a cost that isn't subtracted from the "savings" of exporting the jobs. Those who repeat the standard arguments about tariffs never take account of this, or if they do, I haven't seen them do it.

Now clearly the US can make memory chips, and TV sets, and cars, and radios, and other such items. We did for a long time. Clearly the US can make clothes, and display cases for stores, and shoes including high technology basketball shoes. We can't make them as cheaply as they can be made in Indonesia; the question is, what tariff rate would keep US goods competitive with overseas?

Clearly keeping at least some of this manufacturing at home would cost money; but how much, and how much of that do we actually spend on police, welfare, subsidies, and the like? And what is the cost of telling formerly productive workers that they are now useless, and should "retrain"; while keeping life uncertain for many citizens?

Uncertainty an be quite cruel: why should it not be mitigated by government? Note that government intervenes with "safety nets" for the impoverished; why is an intervention that keeps one employed without poverty, and reduces uncertainty, something we should not do?

A fair day's work for a fair day's pay is one view of life. 

You are useful only until we find someone cheaper, at which point you are out on the street. Have a nice day.  That is another view of life.

For a man to love his country, his country ought to be lovely; to ask a man to defend his country, or to send his sons to defend it, should imply some obligations of that country to the citizens.

A tariff is a tax on imports. Taxes have to be imposed on something anyway; why should they not fall on goods that cause expenses, both direct and indirect? What is magic about cheap basketball shoes from Indonesia that they must be exempt from import tax?

Continued next week



The Beauty Queen vs. The Cad

RE: Ms. Vermont drops suit

Tucker Max has come out on top in the first round. Ms. Johnson has dropped her suit against him, and of course he's posted all the sordid details again. He lawyer has made it clear that this was ust the first round though, and the war isn't over. They plan to align with groups that fight defamation on the 'net, and with other celebrities who've shared similar experiences.

The ACLU submitted a brief in support of a motion to dissolve the prior restraint order, and summarized the case under a heading of "Beauty Queen v. The Cad". The brief called the prohibition of links from Max's site to Johnson's site "particularly disturbing" in a footnote on page 4. It's good to see the issue of whether permission is needed to link to a site raised; there are certainly many sites out there that wish to control links. The idea that one can publish information and then suggest that others never reference it without permission contradicts the whole notion of "the web" is.

Here's where the prior restraint discussion started: .








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Saturday, July 26, 2003

Dear Jerry:

I woke this morning with an epiphany: The Iraqi Army never surrendered! Oh, there was that one brigade down in the southern part of the country, but the Iraqi military as a whole has not surrendered and acknowledged defeat. Therefore the announcement on May 1st that the war was over was, shall we say, grossly premature.

Strategically this kind of acknowledgment is very important. The event that prevented a continuing guerilla war in the South at the end of our own Civil War was Lee's surrender at Appomattox. It was brilliantly stage-managed by (by then) Major General Joshua Chamberlain who had the Confederate Army march in and the Union Army render them a full military salute as they did so. Jefferson Davis's plan to continue to fight after that became impossible, not just because everyone was sick and tired of the whole thing but because veterans on both sides took that symbolic act as proof that the matter had been settled. The remaining Confederate Army units either surrendered or disbanded shortly thereafter. Mosby, who was a lawyer in civilian life, put it best when one of his troopers urged him to attack a small Union Army unit. "Before it was an act or war, " he said, "Now it's robbery and murder."

It's a bit late to have a proper ceremony in Iraq. They were overwhelmed too quickly and the entire government went on the run. Terms of surrender were not agreed to but rather imposed. Even in an unconditional surrenders like WW II, the representatives of the enemy government had to sign off on the deal. And in those instances we had planned for the occupation long before we knew the war would be won.

Haste makes waste, eh? We may think we beat them, but I suspect a large number of them don't share that opinion. And we will continue to lose people until we change that.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

You know, I think you have a point there. A very good one.

Now, who can sign for Iraq?

Subj: Iraq: who declared the war over?

Francis Hamit, in a contribution you posted at wrote about "the announcement on May 1st that the war was over".

Hope I'm not picking nits, but I don't recall President Bush claiming the war was over.

What President Bush announced 1 May was the end of "major combat operations".

Now, it's true that even the webmaster didn't quite get it - the archive title for 1 May 2003 at says "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended".

And it's also true that you can get just as dead from non-major combat operations as from major ones.

But exactly what he said was, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

Maybe the Talking Heads in the news media thought he was saying all the fighting was over.

But what I heard him say, and what is written in the statement, was this:

"We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated."

Now, maybe it was a Good Thing to go into Iraq, and maybe it was a Bad Thing.

But the people who accuse President Bush of declaring that the war was over were not listening to what the man said.

Rod Montgomery ==

I didn't think it was an accusation; more an observation, and Francis is right. There never was a symbolic defeat and surrender. We should have found whoever was left in charge and made him surrender, as we did with Japan (about 2500 officers committed suicide to avoid having to do that).

And Roland observes, rightly:

Subject: Surrender.

It's sort of hard to arrange a surrender when you haven't been formally at war . . . Iraq didn't surrender in '91, either, and that wasn't a war . . .

Roland Dobbins

Which is exactly on target, and one reason we should not go to war without a formal declaration: so we can know when it ENDS.



“The successors to Marcus Aurelius (his no good sons, then the 4 Emperors in one year, the last one having got the post by auction from the Praetorian Guard) were the last Roman emperors.”

Dr Pournelle,

I was under the distinct impression that the Year of the Four Emperors followed Nero.

Nero committed suicide in 68AD. It was slave-assisted, but still suicide.

He was succeeded by Galba, who was murdered and replaced by Otho. Soon he was dead too and replaced by Vitellius. Vitellius was killed and replaced by Vespasian. All this happened within a year of Neros death, so 69AD is known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

By all accounts, Vespasian was rather a good emperor, who ruled for some ten years.

Marcus Aurelius was succeeded in 180AD by his son Commodus, who ruled alone for twelve years.

Jim Mangles

You are of course correct, and "The Year of The Four Emperors" is the term usually applied to the year after Nero. And this will teach me to write from what seems to be an increasingly unreliable memory.

Aurelius had only one son. He wasn't any good. 

After Commodus, son of Aurelius,  was murdered in his bath Pertinax took command. He tried to curb the Praetorian Guard. The Guard revolted and murdered Pertinax, after which the dread secret was discovered: Emperors could be made in places other than Rome. Septimius Severus, a provincial from Africa was proclaimed. Eventually he disarmed the Praetorian Guard and created a new Guard.

My point was that Commodus was the last "Roman" emperor. Severus wasn't Roman, and while he came from an equestrian family it was a provincial family.

Severus had two sons. Neither of them was much use either. To raise money Severus imposed a tax on the public urinals. When one of his sons complained about the indignity, Severus said "Money doesn't stink." When it became clear that the old man was going to die, the sons asked what they should do since they had no real skills at ruling. "Get along with each other, pay the soldiers, and take no heed for the rest."

Of course they didn't get along, and one murdered the other, and things went downhill from there.

Various scams involving faked messages from Paypals, your Internet Service Provider, Ebay, and other legitimate businesses have become numerous and recently I sent a mailing to subscribers about that.

At 1:24 PM -0700 7/25/03, Jerry Pournelle wrote:

>I know I have sent you warnings before, but this scam is heating up. > >In general if you get ANY message like this, from your ISP provider, >or Paypals, or Passport, or Ebay, or anyone else, it is a scam. It >may look very legitimate. It may look as if you are being connected >to the actual web site of your service provider. You are not, and DO >NOT DO IT!!! > --snip--


I just got a PayPal one at work address, which was obvious because my account is on a personal address.

This one asks you to fill in all the info on form in the e-mail and then click login. The source code shows it will log you in to real PayPal site since you supply account and password but also sends the info to a site in China.


Ingenious. Thanks.


You wrote:

"A country that considers the interests of a small elite more important than the interests of the citizens will soon find itself in difficulties. But then I have been saying that for years.

Comments invited."

My commentary concerns a measure of the extent of the elite and its degree of separation from the citizenry; that is the ease or difficulty of the citizen acquiring and carrying a concealed weapon.

Just look around you, it is not difficult to see where the elites (you can identify them by their armed bodyguards) have entrenched their rule. We could have no end of "cheap and cheerful" homeland security from armed citizens.

LCDR Jim Dodd, USN (Ret.) San Diego

Yet when citizens do undertake voluntary activity to enforce the laws, they are labeled "vigilantes". See the Oregon Ranger situation; the Sheriff is concerned...

Hi Jerry, In one of today's letters about exporting jobs, the writer expressed the lowest tier on the wage scale as being the Cargo Cult. To refresh my memory on Cargo Cults, I did a Google search and found this wonderful Feynman piece on the ethics of the Scientific Method-it should be read by every High School science student, and reviewed annually.

< >

Also, while I'm here, today I read Jonah Goldberg's gut-busting assessment of a Jerry Springer spokesman's comments:

"The scrotal-torsion-inducing spin of this nonsense could sterilize an elephant." 

Still ROFL,

 Rod Schaffter

 -- "We do not live by rule of law, because no one can possibly go a day without breaking one or another of the goofy laws that have been imposed on us over the years. No one even KNOWS all the laws that apply to almost anything we do now. We live in a time of selective enforcement of law." --Dr. J. E. Pournelle

Feynman's piece ought to be read more widely, and certainly by everyone involved in science, as well as in science funding. Thanks for reminding me.

Subject: Dangerous 

Why the US is discarding the rules of war. 

 Douglas M. Colbary

Interesting. Of course Pipes is right, bin Laden, Saddam, and Arafat are much better at destruction than building, able to destroy civilizations they could never have built.

I have to agree, to have our hands tied like we have been in the past is frustrating, but once the restraint is discarded, it might be kind of hard to pick it up again.

Like Waco.

Brice Yokem

--------------- This message (including attachments) may contain information that is privileged, confidential or protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that dissemination, disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this message or any information contained in it is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately notify the sender by reply e-mail and delete this message from your computer. Although we have taken steps to ensure that this e-mail and attachments are free from any virus, we advise that in keeping with good computing practice the recipient should ensure they are actually virus free. ---------------

Agreed. But I have been saying that all my life. But then soldiers are not police, and shouldn't be used as police.

Sable doesn't like to be brushed, but Siberians shed enough hair to make two other dogs, so if she's going to get near the house or even the pool, she has to be brushed daily or more. So, since she hates that, she has done something about it. She has hidden the Teflon rake.

Now that thing is one solid chunk of metal coated in Teflon, nearly indestructible -- and it is simply gone. We can't find it. If she buried it she managed to conceal the spot. It's not under any furniture or bushes. I bought another, but I have to say her ingenuity is impressive.

I think it has already been demonstrated how hard it is to find WMD (Weapons of Mass Depilation) without the cooperation of those who hid them.

Tom Brosz

The funny part of that is she actually led me to where she had hidden it. We came home from a walk. That's when she usually gets brushed. I kept her on the leash and led her around the yard, talking about brushing her. After a while she led me right to the brush, which meant I could do a quick brushing and let her go. That kind of contingent thinking seems a bit beyond canine intelligence, but I put nothing beyond this dog's capabilities.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I'm so glad to have people like this to watch out for me and mine! 

The nanny state...






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Sunday, July 27, 2003

A reader sends:

REASON * March 2000

Thought Reform 101 The Orwellian implications of today's college orientation 

By Alan Charles Kors

At Wake Forest University last fall, one of the few events designated as "mandatory" for freshman orientation was attendance at Blue Eyed, a filmed racism awareness workshop in which whites are abused, ridiculed, made to fail, and taught helpless passivity so that they can identify with "a person of color for a day." In Swarthmore College's dormitories, in the fall of 1998, first-year students were asked to line up by skin color, from lightest to darkest, and to step forward and talk about how they felt concerning their place in that line. Indeed, at almost all of our campuses, some form of moral and political re-education has been built into freshman orientation and residential programming. These exercises have become so commonplace that most students do not even think of the issues of privacy, rights, and dignity involved.


Repeat after me: Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide. (James Burnham )

Dr Pournelle, By a happy coincidence, this article on executive compensation appeared in today's Atlanta Journal/Constitution. 

What is especially interesting is that at least two of the top five companies (BellSouth and Delta) in CEO compensation list have just completed major layoffs, outsourcing large segments of their employees and have initiatives under way to ship jobs over seas.

I would imagine that while there are no obvious negative consequences for such activity, we will continue to see it. I'm starting to hear a lot of talk locally about an IT union, something that I never thought that I would see. Phillip Walker

And they never catch wise...

Subject: "Multicultural" Center

<,2933,91206,00.html >

Robert Ransom


Subject: SCO 'Unix'

Comparing Server OSes: Why SCO UNIX Is A Bad Idea

Roland Dobbins


Dr. Pournelle

While I am sympathetic to the idea of preserving American jobs by tarriff or other governmentally imposed barriers, I just don't think that it is going to work any better than raising the minimum wage does at bringing everybody into the middle class.

For the near term, I think that a lot of American jobs are going to be exported. That leaves us with two important considerations: how do we create new jobs in this country and can we steer the exported jobs in a way that benefits the national interests of the United States.

If jobs were being exported to Mexico as Ross Perot predicted some years ago, that would not be as bad as the current situation. A growing economy and an expanding middle class would help stabilize the political uncertainty of our nearby neighbor and provide a market for a lot of the things and services that we continue to make. The problem is that all the manufacturing in the world is moving to China. The formerly communist and now nationalist/fascist oligarchy depends on the continual expansion of their economy to deflect social unrest, keep the country united and finance the current qualitative upgrading of their armed forces. Considering the fact that the Chinese military refers to the United States as their number one enemy, I am not at all enthusiastic about the way things are going there.

A number of your correspondents have complained about the export of software jobs to India. One of the reasons that such outsourcing is so attractive is the enormous pay differential between the United States and India. Rather than see our standard of living go down, I would much rather see theirs come up. Back in 1991, the Indian government eliminated a lot of the regulations of the industrial raj that had retarded investment and development of that country since independence. Since then, the Indian GDP has expanded ~7% every year over the previous year's number. As Albert Einstein said, compound interest is one of the most powerful forces on earth. It seems that it ought to be possible to work out some kind of bilateral arrangement with India that steers some of our fleeing manufacturing jobs to India instead of China in return for them loosening up some more of their regulations with the goal of increasing India's annual GDP growth by another percent or two, bringing a group of people aproximately equal to the population of the United States out of poverty and into the Indian middle class.

Mark Kelly Deer Park, TX [Emphasis added by JEP]

I'd like to see theirs come up too, but I would have thought the primary obligation of an American government would be to Americans.

We expect the American worker to contribute his children to the Army...

As to manufacturing moving to China, well, yes: do we really believe that is a reliable place to keep our industrial base?

RE: The Patriot Act


Dr. Pournelle,


An article I found on The Register. It fits with the discussions you have been having here.


The House of Representatives this past week made two interesting overtures towards the interests of the Little Guy and away from the Bush Administration's new federal/corporate imperium.



I enjoyed it immensely. It’s a pretty good read. Second, do you have an opinion on The Register? Some of the people I work with swear by it. Others think it’s a web rag. I like it and think it takes good, tongue in cheek look at IT news.



Douglas Knapp


My readers seem to point to a lot of Register articles; I post many of those; that should answer your question...

Subject: Killing of Saddam's Sons

I suspect that the obvious failure of the Milosevic prosecutors to come up with any meaningful evidence against him may be a reason for the non-arrest of Saddam's sons. Certainly interrogating them would have been potentially very useful.

I have no doubt that a prosecution on the charge of crimes against humanity could have been made, though I suspect there are some people the CIA cut a deal with who would have to be airbrushed out. However on charges of war crimes, assuming no WMDs turn up, it would be difficult to bring any charge. Bit tough on the 14 year old grandson but then war is tough on 14 year olds.

Neil Craig

At 14 a Roman boy was expected to go off to the Army, and became a full citizen...

I suspect that the battle took hours precisely because the Army really did want to take one of more of the people in that house alive.

Hi Jerry,

A second note from me --- I really have a great deal of respect for Feynman, but the article on Cargo Cult Science referred to in this week's mail got me to thinking. I read this article some time ago, and Feynman had a thing about pseudoscience, but what would he have said about acupuncture? It is used today in the West to treat certain things, and nobody knows why it works (when it does). Just a lot of speculation. But there is something there, and to dismiss THAT as cargo-cult is to miss something possibly important in human physiology. Or psychology.

Mike Clark

Read it again: Feynman was talking about scientific method and the philosophy of science. There can be many sources for scientific data; it's repeatable results that count. If blue bread mold keeps you livin' than it's a data point.


I regularly read this guy, and it's usually quite interesting, but you have to see THIS one. 

A way to destroy RIAA? Perhaps. The idea seems quite bulletproof.

Mike Clark Olympia, WA

Well he has no concept of what "fair use" really is, but then few journalists seem to. Otherwise I will withhold comment and see what the readers think.

Dear Jerry:

If ignorance of the law is no excuse, what then is arrogant ignorance such as displayed in the slash/dot post questions to Mr. O'Leary and the Robert Cringley scheme to misapply fair use to get free stuff? Since the Tasini decision I've studied copyright law the way a Rabbi might study the Talmud and the level of willful ignorance and wish fulfillment out there never fails to amaze me. Never mind what the law says or that there is a political process in place for amending it, we're just going to go on breaking it because it's uncool and we don't like it.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the RIAA and the DOJ are not the same and, despite what Mr. O'Leary said, it is very hard to get a criminal case for copyright infringement prosecuted. Yeah, it's easy to beat up on large corporations but the fact is that they provide a distribution system that pays the artists who write and perform the stuff and if people steal it, then these folks won't be able to make a living and the amount of new music on the market will be much, much, less.

As for Cringely's little scheme, I refer all to a case called "American Geophysical Union V. Texaco" which was about making copies of magazine articles for research archives. Texaco presented a fair use defense and got shot down because they were a profit making company who could damn well afford to pay. That case would apply here. Fair use applies usually to one copy made by a private individual and only for personal use when the market for the work is not damaged.. Libraries can make up to three copies of a work for archival purposes but only if the work is not otherwise available at a reasonable price.

A copyright is, as one court put it, "proof against the world" of ownership. It is property. There are five rights under copyright and the first is the right to make copies. The fair use exception keeps people from going to court over trifles and is not per se infringement. It is "Fair Use". It stops being fair use when the copyright holder is deprived of significant revenues that would otherwise be earned from the use of the work.

So, you see, it doesn't matter if a copy is the same as the original. The copy, like the original, is the property of the copyright holder. Making a copy, fair use aside, is theft.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

That didn't take long...







Subject: 30,000BC 

Subject: Cui bono? 

Subject: Questionable, indeed.

Subject: Unto the third generation.

Roland Dobbins

And particularly

Subject: DoJ on copyright law

Roland Dobbins

And more stories on China, from a long time reader who prefers not to be named. See also John Derbyshire on China.

Hi Jerry,

Just some additional stories regarding China - I would appreciate it if you would leave my name off this one this time



One  chap had a manufacturing facility in Gongzhou (old Canton for those who know it by the original name). To do business, they had to have a bank account with the local bank. Opening an account was no problem but the catch was that you could only withdraw no more than 500 RMB per day (say about 60 USD).

While 500 RMB in China can go a lot farther than 60 USD in the US, it was not enough for running a factory. So, you had to meet with the Bank Manager.

Now here is a guy who is essentially a government employee with a salary of about 300 RMB. Oh, and he drives a Mercedes Benz. Oh, and his Armani suit is very nice. Oh, and his Gold and Diamond Rolex keeps pretty good time. It doesn't take long to figure out what is required.

My client wined and dined him. Brought gifts for his family (he was too principled to take them directly, of course). He was entertained by ladies who were well impressed with his job as a bank manager and let him know in terms that no man could misunderstand.

After enough of this, the limit was raised from 500 to 5000 for their account.


A close acquaintance of mine used to do a lot of trading into China from Hong Kong. He would source stuff from wherever and then arrange to have it "shipped" into China where he would take a cut of the proceeds.

He explained to me that there were two ways to do the business:

1/ You could do it the government legal way, pay all the taxes, documentation fees, appropriate bribes to ensure that your stuff went through unharmed. When the process was complete you might only lose a little bit of money

2/ You could do it the "under-way" (as he translated it). You made contact with the right government officials and/or army officers. Paid the appropriate bribes to the appropriate individuals along the way and Profit!

He liked taking me along with him during these deals as he felt that having a white man along as "partner" made the other side trust him more as he explained that "Chinese people don't trust Chinese people".

I was younger then, and I didn't mind the free trips into interesting places, or the night life, or even watching the process of handling the "gifts and favors".


In 1997, I met up with my friend after having not seen him about a year

"How's business", I asked.

"Oh, not very good right now", he said rather dejectedly.

"Why's that?"

"Oh, most of my contacts have been executed for corruption in the latest anti-corruption drive by the Communist party, and the rest are too afraid right now to do any business..."


There was the time I had to bribe my friend out of custody of the border police because he was "caught" carrying "too much" money into China. In short, it took about a week and 100,000 RMB. In exchange, he got his life back. Cheap at any price!


... and these are just some of my direct experiences. I have many, many more stories, both personal and second hand of a similar nature.

I love this place.

- P



And I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the following:

Dear Sir,

I am an Uruk of Mordor, charged with the discovery of a number of valuable treasures within Moria. It has come to my notice that the mithril hoard previously owned by Ori of the land of Moria has been found by one of our cave-trolls. Under our laws, the hoard will be shared between our lord Sauron and the local Balrog, but so far neither knows the extent of the treasure.

Sir, I come to you as a respectful businessperson in order that we may derive some profit ourselves from this venture, I would wish that I could arrange for the transfer of half of the find to yourself, costing roughly 20,000 silver pennies. From this amount, I will then arrange for a further such that 25% remains your own, 5% goes for sundry costs (including hire of strong Rohan horses for use in transportation), 5% is given in bribe to the cave troll to ensure the quantity reported to our respective Lords is adjusted, 65% belongs to myself and my fellow Orcs.

In order that this be accomplished, I ask only that you provide details of:

Your willingness to participate in this venture,

Confirmation that you will not speak of this venture to anyone else, or wear any magic rings,

Your race and land of residence,

The location of your local Palantir or identity of your preferred message-carrying bird or beast,

Your given name, and any name you are known by in the Western lands,

The number of ponies you possess.

I look forward to your returning correspondence, which can be whispered to any passing magpie. I trust that you will ensure that no other dark feathered birds come to hear of this transaction.







Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

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