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Mail 271 August 18 - 24, 2003






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Monday  August 18, 2003

On Energy 

I read with interest what you had to say about efficiency and reliability.

A number of libertarian thinkers have discussed individualized gas turbine power generation. That is, each home having their own mini-gas turbine power plant.

What do you have to say about that?

Brice Yokem

I think that "deregulation" in the real world where political monsters dwell can be terribly dangerous, and was so in this case; and that energy is just too important in non-economic ways to be left entirely to markets.

The reason no one builds transmission lines is that there's no guarantee of profit, and historically the profits have been quite small compared to other investments. Why? Why doesn't the market take care of this?

Because, I think, the market really does look at too short a horizon; and the politicians will NEVER allow pure market forces to prevail, so that the prospect of earning "obscene profits" by "gouging" during crunch times is not in the cards. Investing in transmission lines means investing in something that will be allowed to earn a steady but small rate of return, but when there's a chance to make real money the political process will quickly intervene to limit that rate. The result is that it takes little financial expertise to decide not to invest in such things.

When electricity in California was a regulated public utility, there were some real problems, and I wrote about them; but we did have steady supplies of power, and investment in power plants and transmission lines had a steady and predictable rate of return. Southern California Edison was one of the best managed companies in the world, from the snow walkers who went up in the High Sierra in midwinter to estimate the amount of run-off and thus hydropower and thus fuel needs for the summer (so that fuel contracts could be negotiated while the supplier had no knowledge of the company's needs) -- to the nuclear operators to the research facilities in solar and sewage and garbage as power sources, SCE was the very model of a regulated public utility.

Some of the regulations got in the way. At one point SCE wanted to take over the entire garbage and sewage of a small town near one of their larger facilities. The notion was to experiment with ways to use garbage and sewage as fuel sources, and also to determine what the residual cost of getting rid of the stuff might be. The Public Utility Commission was making SCE jump through hoops to justify spending "the rate payers' money" on such stuff; wouldn't lowering the rates be preferable? 

But "deregulation" in California destroyed that company and it's pretty hard to build anything like it again. Now the power companies don't generate power, the "Independent System Operator" wheels and deals the stuff, and all the generating facilities were sold at auction to companies like Enron and other out of state outfits. The SCE stockholders, some of them, got some windfalls, and the legislators who set up this monster -- which put a cap on what consumers could be charged, but not on what power companies had to pay -- got enormous campaign donations.

So the short answer to your question is no, I don't think small decentralized power generation is much of an answer, because who operates the pipelines? How much can they charge? Can they "gouge" when there is an energy shortage? Who'll invest in these things?

We did well under the regulated public utility system. There were problems with it. Some were easily fixed, such as the Federally mandated preference for "publicly owned" companies over private companies when it came to doling out hydro power from Federally built dams like Grand Coulee and Hoover. Some were not so easily fixed. But at least the system had the potential to look ahead a few years and anticipate needs, and to respond to those.

Private systems don't do well when there is a need for long term investment and the profits tend to vary in critical times. Think of a water supplier who charges what the traffic will bear during a crisis. He's lucky not to be shot. The same with power companies.

And cheap power is the key to industrial growth. If the US had lots of cheap energy and fewer regulations we'd get some manufacturing jobs back pronto.  

Incidentally, I ask this question in military matters too: whose job is it to look after your grandchildren?  Not the Church: the days when someone would start a cathedral knowing he'd never see a Mass there in his lifetime are gone. The great aristocratic families planting groves whose fruit and shade the planter wouldn't enjoy are pretty well gone. The discounted value of a dollar in 20 years is very small. Whose job is it to invest in things that won't mature for 20 years? Private investment? And major company that put up really large sums into investments that wouldn't show profits for 20 years would be subject to hostile takeover bids, and many have been.

Regulated public utilities guaranteed a small but predictable rate of return over long periods of time. Blue Chip Stocks. And for a long time that system, plus some big dam projects, did well for us. 

Little distributed gas turbine plants are fine. Not terribly efficient, but there are times when gas distributed by pipeline or even LNG brought in by ship or truck is a cheaper way to bring in electricity than transmission lines, and turbines can be thrown on line quickly to top out power needs when there's a crisis. As baselines to run all the time they are pretty costly, and of course dependent on pipelines. Who invests in the pipeline?

And who will let the topping cycle power be sold at "outrageous" prices "gouging" the people in their hour of great need...

Subject: SCADA, worms, and the power crisis

Hi Jerry - I was entertained by Harry Payne's email that SCADA is widely used in electricity control systems, and that SCADA runs on Windows, thus perhaps the worm was responsible for the meltdown of the Cleveland lines not showing up on the monitoring systems etc etc.

One thing to point out, though - SCADA is a generic acronym (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition). SCADA systems can be (and I'm sure are) written to run on a wide variety of operating systems.

I used to do desktop support at a power company; the only Windows machines they had anywhere near the control rooms were only used for email and were not connected to the same networks as the monitoring systems. Ultimately, I have no idea whether Cleveland or any other utils involved in this have Windows-based SCADA(s).

All the info on SCADA you can shake a stick at - < >

regards, Dan Becker



posted at Baen's Bar

Topic New Topic Next Topic

next post reply Subject: A must read! Author: James Cardwell Date: 16 Aug 2003 03:48 AM If you have ever read or written fanfic this is a *must* read. Brilliant. 


Jim Woosley



Subject: I Took Your Advice re ROUTER

Dear Jerry,

Thank you, thank you.

This gadget answers a vague but nagging fear I've had ever since I got this always-on cable modem Internet connection. As you say, nothing is perfect, but this is surely better.

I was first through the door at CompUSA this morning, and got a D-Link DI-604 4-port router. It's no-frills, but said to have advanced firewall control. It was on sale for a trifling $19.95 after a $20 mail-in rebate, plus the governor's share, of course. To top it off, when I asked the clerk if I there was a copy machine available so I could make a copy of the receipt for the rebate, she made a copy for me, free.

I had no idea these things were so easy and cheap. All I had to do was connect the cables and power supply, and fire the system up. I was online. No fuss. There is a setup routine in the manual, which involves going to a particular IP address with a browser and going through a few simple steps, but it had no apparent effect on operation.

ZoneAlarm Pro detected the router, but a few mouse clicks made it happy, too.

Best of all, now I have a place to plug in the Apple laptop I plan to buy later this year.

Another Satisfied Customer, Bill Dooley Reno, NV

Yep. I had no idea the price was down that low. We are using the DLINK here, and it works well.

Subject:  a free firewall

Subject: free firewall

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I mentioned free firewalls in a previous letter, but did not have an example handy, because I use the one in SuSE Linux. It was part of a purchased set, and not free. It may be available for free, but only an advanced user could pick the way through the SuSE site to the proper download, then figure how to download and install it.

My user group, North Texas Linux Users Group, continues to like the free firewall from . On the home page, find the link for Home Edition 2.0 - Release Information. Take it. Then look for the sidebar labeled Clark Connect. Take the link to Requirements. This will show you the minimum computer requirements, and mentions that the download for network installation is broadband only. I could not make it work on my nonstandard, mixed system, but user group members with better habits really like it, and the price is right for home use. Clark Connect also has offerings for business users, but that is another subject.


William L. Jones

If you have already done the security patch against Frankenworm you are all right: but here is another exploit of the vulnerability that allowed that worm to spread.

I have been asked if this is real. It's real. I didn't reformat it because it's really not urgent: if you are protected from the other worms that exploit this flaw you are protected from this. If you are not, you're just in even more trouble. And I don't have time to reformat everything sent to me.

From AT&T security.


-----Original Message----- From: Colbary, Donna [] Sent: Monday, August 18, 2003 11:10 To: dcr001@EARTHLINK.NET Subject: FW: Network Security 

Virus Flash: W32/Nachi.worm  Importance: High

> -----Original Message----- > From: Antivirus Security Team > Sent: Monday, August 18, 2003 10:57 AM > Subject: Network Security Virus Flash: W32/Nachi.worm - > Importance: High > > Update Virus Advisory: > > > W32/Nachi.worm - > > This new virus is now being called W32/Nachi worm and has the following symptoms: > It is not related to the W32/Lovsan.worm.d variant. > Preliminary Analysis > Initial analysis shows the virus to install within a WINS directory which is created in the Windows System directory: > C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\WINS\DLLHOST.EXE (10,240 bytes) > Strings within the virus suggest it copies the TCP/IP trivial file transfer daemon (TFTPD.EXE) binary from the dllcache on the victim machine to this directory also, renaming it: > C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\WINS\SVCHOST.EXE > The following services are installed: > RpcPatch Set to run the installed copy of the worm (DLLHOST.EXE) > Display name: "WINS Client" > RpcTftpd Set to run the copy of the TFTPD application (SVCHOST.EXE) > Display name: Network Connections Sharing > > We do expect new McAfee DAT files (4.0.4286) soon to detect and clean this virus. > > This message has been sent Bcc to the GNOC, PDS All Associates, Desktop Central, and BU Support Teams GAL distribution lists and to the McAfee Alerts Public Folder (All Public Folders\General Interest\AT&T Mcafee AV Alerts) > > Anti-Virus Team > AT&T Network Security > >


On this one, you're on your own. I warned you already.




This week:


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Tuesday,  August 19, 2003

Here's a wild one:

Subject: Novell to put a red penguin feather in their cap?

One more ' for Darl. 

-- John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....

Will they treat this one better than Word Perfect?

And another: Reveal a security flaw, go to jail?

Subject: Feds put man in jail for revealing security flaw 

While this guy clearly had an axe to grind, what they chose to convict him for is unbelievable.

So much for the 1st amendment.

-- John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....

I am hoping there is more to this story than this. It sounds like naked tyranny. Perhaps there are things we should know?

And see below.


This might be old news by now:

Be on the look out for messages which say nothing but "See the attached file for details"

The subject line is usually something like "Re: Your application" "Re: Details" "Re: Wicked Screensaver"

Do not open the attachment (of course).

I've been sent about 60+ messages like this today, most from the same domain ( Interestingly, most do NOT have any attachment, which suggests the virus is not attaching itself to outgoing messages properly. The one's with attachments are being immediately caught by McAfee on my PC.

-- Charles Milner --

Well it's always wise to be aware of these things. I have got a lot of them today also.

Dear Jerry --

Note below. Isn't politically correct goverment amazing?


John D. Trudel ********************

Lost in Space

Posted Aug. 4, 2003

By John Berlau

A technician painstakingly examines debris collected from the space shuttle Columbia.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, said in July that it had found the "smoking gun" that caused the space shuttle Columbia to break apart as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on Feb. 1: a piece of foam that had peeled off the external fuel tank and struck the shuttle's wing 1 minute and 22 seconds after liftoff.

But many experts looking at the tragedy that killed seven astronauts say there is a deeper cause. They say that the metaphorical smoking gun should be painted green.

Because of demands that the agency help to front for environmentalism, and under pressure from the Clinton-Gore administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led by Carol Browner, NASA had stopped using Freon, a fluorocarbon that greens claim damages the ozone layer, in its thermal-insulating foam. NASA found in 1997 after the first launch with the politically correct substitute that the Freon-free foam had destroyed nearly 11 times as many of the shuttle's ceramic tiles as had the foam containing Freon. The politicized foam was less sticky and more brittle under extreme temperatures. But apparently little or nothing was done to resist the environmentalist politicians.

< snip >

The right stuff!

And now a mixed bag with SHORT SHRIFT:

Subject: 'Educationists.'

Roland Dobbins


Subject: Now THIS is interesting! 

Russia has laid out plans to build a nuclear powerplant on Mars, to support a research station. They are aiming to have it operational by 2030.

My first reaction was something along the lines of "Why not use RTGs?" My second reaction was "For what might this be the maskirovka (cover story)?"

--John R. Strohm


Dr. Pournelle:

None of the 3 machines on my home network got infected (2 Win XP-Pro, one WinME), and the two XP machines are patched. Then again, they're behind a NAT Router, and *ought* to be safe anyway.

I also maintain two systems 1000 miles away for friends, one running XP-Pro and the other XP-Home.

The XP-Pro system, using AOL as an ISP, was not infected before I could notify the user, and lead her thru the patch process.

The XP-Home system, on the other hand, which happened to be a Prodigy customer, became infected, and Saturday afternoon I had to lead her thru the entire process, starting from shutdown /a to kill that countdown to shutdown process, thru downloading over a 28.8kbps connection the patch and installing it.

It seems to have worked, I haven't gotten any panicky phone calls in the last 24 hours.

Here's my important observation. As of Sunday evening August 17, 2003, 7:30pm EDT, when I go to, I'm presented with choices for Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 98, and Windows 95. No Windows XP, either Home or Pro.

Using other ways to get to Windows Update, I've seen patches listed for Windows XP 32-bit and Windows XP 64-bit. How many "ordinary" users have any idea what the difference is?


Dave KQ3T

=They do say "XP-32 bit 'most users'"====

Why haven't you written textbooks?

For my kid, I would want from you a textbook, or at least a reading list that you approved, that covered:

Boolean algebra, logic and truth tables Algebra, trig, calc Sentence diagramming mechanics/statics/dynamics economics history

What would you recommend for your grandkids?


Start with A STEP FARTHER OUT and I'll get back to you later. I'm dancing as fast as I can...

SCO-Nigerian connection 

Ed Hume

Hoo Hah. I suspected it.

And From Joanne Dow:

--8<-- quoted from Fox News "We never anticipated we could have a cascading outage" of this magnitude and speed, said Michehl Gent, chief of the North American Electric Reliability Council (search), the industry-sponsored organization charged with assessing the dependability of the nation's electric grids. --8<--

What part of "It's happened before several times already" do they not understand?

I note that this is the same group of people who declared ham radio operators communicating on a newly proposed band around 136 kHz, yes that's kiloHertz, would interfere with power line control technology while they deny that BPL, Broadband over Power Lines, would cause any interference over the entire HF radio spectrum and the lower part of the VHF spectrum (into channel 2 by the way.) Now, in general antennas are reciprocal. Any configuration that behaves as a receiving antenna is also a broadcasting antenna. The same power in on either side of the configuration leads to the same power out of the other side. I also note that a given configuration that radiates a little at 136kHz will radiate far better in the HF and VHF spectrum.

So these idiots are telling us that we might interfere with them if we use VLF frequencies, yet they will not interfere with the HF spectrum users at HF and VHF. This is a very commercially driven Orwellian double-think.

If these critters are willing to carry commercial double-think to the level of rendering the HF spectrum useless for all existing users then one can safely presume they carry cost cutting to the extremes of letting our power grid be brought down by events with a probability of about once in 5 to 10 years. We can look forward to no change in this policy until it becomes a major cost of doing business to them when they cost their customers billions of dollars in direct lost income and myriads of social woes, such as birth rate surges.

Of course, we must also enable them to install the required redundancy equipment such as power generation and most particularly distribution without quite so much trouble from NIMBY lawsuits.


Well, that's market economics. Who wants to invest in transmission lines?

From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                                  
Date: Aug. 15, 2003                                                               subject: Jobs moving offshore
Dear Jerry:
        "Bob Cringely" has an interesting column on this, here.  He contends that the "cheaper services" aren't.
        More and more, I'm convinced the reason we're losing jobs is largely bad accounting.  During the fifties and sixties, accountants used a model that said that quality was a cost added on to products.  The proper accounting eventually showed that high quality was free, or even profitable.  A lot of companies lost a lot of money before they realized that.

But surely the market will fix it. How many divisions does it take to stop an invasion? None, the market will take care of it.


But that's for another essay. Some things the market doesn't do. That's why we have governments. Of course government wants to do everything and there are many things it doesn't do well either. Including protecting the market sometimes.

And see below

From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                                  
Date: Aug. 15th, 2003                                                                      subject: Turks
Dear Jerry:
        Your mentioning the Turkish Army in Korea reminds me of a story Lt. Col. Anthony Herbert (Ret.)  told about his experience there.
    Herbert was assigned as a liason to a Turkish Infantry unit, which he thought odd, as he spoke no Turkish.  They went out on patrol, and ran into the enemy (I can't remember if they were N. Korean or Chinese).
    Delightful!  The Turks were very pleased at having someone to shoot at  --except, the enemy sorrounded them.
    More Delightful!  Now they had targets to shoot at no matter which direction they fired -- only, they ran out of ammunition.
    Oh Bliss!  Now, they got to make a bayonet charge!  They fixed bayonets, stood up, faced north, and Herbert made his one important contribution to the affair: he yelled, and pointed south.
    The Turks wheeled and charged, and went right through the enemy position.  As he ran along, Herbert decided that the only thing about Korea anyone had done right was to make sure these people were on his side.

I know of incidents like that. The Ethiopian Imperial Guard was another such. But that was long ago.


Dr. Pournelle,

The reason you want both a router and a software firewall - the software firewall protects you from the computers INSIDE your network. >From the colleague who cannot resist opening those e-mail attachments, etc. -- Don McArthur gpg fingerprint: A5CC 3225 C944 7C81 2C5D 6701 F44D F4E6 A69B 1530


Pulse Detonation Engines

The link to the Popular Science article on Pratt & Whitney and GE's pulse detonation engine (PDE) was most interesting and reminded me of a reference you posted in Mail on May 12th to the New Zealander Bruce Simpson's pulse jet engine hobby.  His extensive site, very well done, is devoted to explaining pulse jet engines and showing off the many examples he has built.  He has been developing a pulse jet he calls the X-Jet which sounds like it uses technology similar to that employed by the PDE (maybe a step or two behind, but still much improved over the standard pulse jet engine). You can check it out at


-- Bill Mackintosh


The Register has more information on the case of the man jailed for revealing a security flaw. 

Stanford's Cyberlaw center is helping with the appeal, details at:

David P.

Apparently this outfit, Tornado, is some kind of service provider, and the Register says it operates out of Los Angeles. I don't know the address. 





This week:


read book now


Wednesday, August 20, 2003

This will be short shrift again. I'll be away for a couple of days at least.

This is great! More Air power

----------- "The graveyards are full of indispensable men." deGaulle


Disclaimer: I was born 5 months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.

Here's a story to make you weep:

Humans could be living on the Moon within 20 years, says a leading lunar scientist.

So does that set us in 1949? Twenty years away from a moon landing? It would appear that NASA's Space Shuttle is a time machine -setting us back more than 50 years...

Remember: there's an entire generation that has been raised since the last moon landing - a generation for who the moon landing is ancient history, like the crusades.

David Paterson

(Despite his relative youth, not sanguine about ever slipping the surly bonds of earth)

--- A random thought for the day:

Thought for the day: Advertising (n): the science of arresting the human intelligence for long enough to get money from it. - Stephen Leacock.

Well, I have been saying for years that I can do a Moon Colony for a few billion. The price goes up as time goes on since we are losing some of the critical skills.  But I could build a Moon Colony for $20 billion with certainty, and for $10 billion at very near certainty; the extra costs are in developing the fleet needed to sustain it and supply it.

About 50,000 pounds of consumables a year would sustain a Moon Colony no matter what its recycling efficiency (it will need a small nuclear reactor for power but that can be put in a crater and needs no containment and shielding, being where it is). 

The simplest way is to build reusable space ships. One goes to orbit and never comes back, being the Earth/Moon shuttle. Ten flights of 5,000 pounds payload to the Moon sustains the colony. Note that a Lunar Colony needs skillful people, but not the smartest: the smartest talents are available at a 1.5 second time delay, and for that matter teleoperations from Earth are possible. 

We know how to do all this. We have known it since I did this lecture to then NASA Administrator Frosch in the Carter Administration. Fat lot of good that did.

Internet Security Problems

I've been watching the current internet security problems from my "bastion host" (a Mac PowerBook G4). Observing some of the symptoms, it struck me that the ongoing attack pattern (the massive 135 port attack and the Sobig virus attack at the same time) is a bit sophisticated for an unaided malicious hacker, but very consistent with the reported capabilities of certain infowar organizations in the Far East. So I'm wondering if this is an infowar exercise like the last one.

 -- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Security engineer and analyst. <>

I can't really quarrel with that observation.


Dear Jerry,

You may find the article below of interest - an Australian computer journalist's experience with US security.

I greatly enjoy your columns and writing!

Best wishes

Andrew Colin -------------------------------------------- Professor Andrew Colin BSc PhD Managing Director Statpro Australia Pty Ltd PO Box 228, EUDLO, Queensland 4554 Phone: 07 5445 9852 Fax: 07 5445 9752 Email:

It's all right they'd treat anyone that way. We have these jobs for these intelligence challenged people. And we feel so much safer.


Dear Jerry,

Some anonymous person posted following timeline < > of events as a comment to a slashdot story <
  > about this story.

Then it seems one of the people involved at the company posted his view about Bret McDanel <  > and what happened.

"Bret was not prosecuted for revealing a security vulnerability. He was prosecuted for DOS'ing our server. He sent 14,000 emails to our system, and it overloaded and stopped accepting mail. He did this several times, and knew it overloaded the system when he did it, and knew the FBI had been called after the first time, so nobody needs to feel sorry for him. Holding him up as a martyr or hero is just asinine, but it speaks volumes about how our media works these days.

Of course, there's plenty of culpability to go around...the main server was a Sun Enterprise 4500 with 4x450 CPU and 4Gb RAM. A machine like that should swallow 14,000 emails without a trace. Of course, Tornado's brain-dead custom system implementation meant that every single incoming email spawned off an SQL script to take the message apart and inject it into the database, and a shell process to control the SQL script. The system load went over 100. I had to write a script to kill off all the processes. Since the load was so high, sendmail stopped accepting incoming mail and the rest of the spam piled up on the backup server, where it was rm'd. So, it was Bret's fault for spamming us, but it was Tornado's fault for such a painfully bad email processing method. This actually raises the most interesting question of all, is it a crime to knock down a system that was incompetently implemented? "

< snip >

There are also some comments of other cases of these kinds of persecutions, but there are usually comments attached to the previous ones giving details about those stories that shed more light into things.


- - Free Swiss E-Mails

The timeline is interesting. My thought is that any custom Internet Service Provider that is destroyed by 6500  or even 14,000 emails shouldn't be in business in the first place. Tornado seems to be a place I would not, myself, choose as my ISP.

So Brett is not a nice person, and probably ought to have been fired. But jailed for 16 months?

Whatever else, 16 months in a federal prison seems a bit excessive, both in costs to the taxpayers for keeping him there, and in interrupting his life given the crime. But the Prison Guard Unions are very powerful, and they like having people like this who are no trouble.

Welcome to the new Millennium. If you have Tornado as your service provider, you are well protected, I am sure.

Half seriously, institutions exist that can make the USA competitive in world economy, namely, prisons. Prisoners could earn a global minimum wage. Such labor is suspected to be a core component of Chinese manufacturing. The USA responds with new facilities and mandatory sentencing. As factories are modified to keep terrorists out, they can keep prisoners in.

Barbie dolls could be manufactured at Guantanamo.

Following the bursting of the dot com bubble, professionals are being prosecuted for questionable bookkeeping. Normally these professionals would get off. But if some of these professionals have IT skills, they could provide IT outsourcing that remains within USA borders, if they work for prison wages.

Lloyd Arnold Winterville, North Carolina

Now there's a thought! 




From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                                  
Date: Aug. 15, 2003                                                                         subject: Manufacturing
Dear Jerry:
      I expect you won't agree with the author, but this article on manufacturing and manufacturing employment is worth reading.

Well, it's a perfect example of the mentality I have spoken about. Don't worry about jobs, productivity is high, and we don't care what happens to those whose jobs are exported: efficiency is the important variable. More GDP.  (Note that prison guards have a positive effect on GDP too.)

But we can't export the people! Only their jobs. They are still here, and no one seems to think a lot about what we will do with a 45 year old skilled lathe operator without verbal skills to sell Nigerian Gold Accounts.

This article caught my eye over lunch.


(08-15) 12:17 PDT KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) --

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao offered $20.6 million in job training and health insurance assistance Friday to thousands of North Carolinians put out of a job by the bankruptcy of textile giant Pillowtex Corp.

A grant of $13 million will be used for retraining, basic remedial education, job search help and other services. An additional $7.6 million will pay 65 percent of qualified health insurance premiums for workers, she said.

Pillowtex, a sheet-and-towel maker, filed for bankruptcy July 30, shutting down its 16 plants and announcing the layoff of 7,650 workers nationwide, including 4,800 in North Carolina. It marked the largest mass layoff in state history.

The grants are less than the $37.5 million Gov. Mike Easley requested.

"I'd rather have more," said Easley, who joined Chao for the announcement. "But I'll also be going back to our senators and congressional delegation if we need more."

Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., also noted that the funding was less than was needed for the displaced workers and their families.

He said Chao has yet to act on a request for relief for Pillowtex workers under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which is designed to help workers who lost jobs because of foreign trade.


I cannot understand how politicians and economists can continue to insist that Free Trade is "good for America" when Americans are continuing to lose jobs. I had economics in college, but it obviously never covered this sort of logic. I don't expect you, or anyone else for that matter, to explain it to me, but perhaps a NAFTA supporter would care to go to N.C. and explain it to the former employees of Pillowtex.

Braxton Cook

Any economist can tell them why the country would be better off if they now drowned themselves.




Reading your latest writeup on the efficiency of not having reserve capacity in the power grid was timely, given the current state of affairs in the northeast and eastern Canada. The overstrung grid collapsed on Thursday afternoon, leaving 50 million users without power in the midst of a heat wave. No significant generating capacity or transmission lines have been constructed in this area since the mid-1960's, leaving the system with minimal reserve to cope with any disturbance to the finely tuned grid. Not sure if you wrote that before or after the blackout, but your comments were right-on as usual.

Power in Ontario is spotty at best at the moment, over 24 hr after the initial blackout. We have rotating blackouts and pleas from the politicos not to use air conditioners or other appliances despite the 30 Celsius heat wave.

Wayne Ridley Ontario, Canada

Apparently the economic incentive to construct transmission lines is not high, but deregulation leaves it to the market.

I don't have a big-picture solution for the problem you artfully lay out, but I do have a specific suggestion to at least refocus control of the state to people who don't stand to directly gain.

Automatically disenfranchise any person who derives more than 10% of their gross individual annual income from any governmental source. The military doesn't get to vote. School teachers don't get to vote. State bureaucrats don't get to vote. Social workers on the government nickel don't get to vote. Retirees who didn't buy private pensions or 401(k)s don't get to vote. Congressmen don't get to vote. Automatically disenfranchise any person who does not pay income taxes. Welfare recipients don't get to vote. People on SSI disability don't get to vote. Let there be a two-year waiver for the unemployed; we won't take away your franchise if you hit a rough patch.

The second step would be to reallocate the votes - everybody who is enfranchised gets one base vote. Additional votes are allocated to people logarithmically on the basis of their financial contribution to the government. Bill Gates gets (say) 10,000 votes. Jerry Pournelle gets 10 votes (I'd guess). I'd get one lousy vote, except that as a state employee I'm ineligible. People with children would get an extra 100% bonus of their base votes per child - I'm responsible for them, so I should be the one voting to saddle them with massive debt (or not).

I bet this would at least slow down the rush over the cliff. (You should hear the state employees in my office - decent, intelligent people - bitch and moan that our governor isn't giving us raises. The state economy was imploding, and the main focus here was on how awful it was that we had to go an entire year without a 5% increment.)

Best wishes,

Robert Hayes Admissions & Records University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

And you will first depopulate the area and repopulate with people who will accept those arrangements? Or do you fancy anyone will run for office on that platform.

I am in complete agreement, giving the vote to people who pay no taxes is pretty silly, but now we let them vote in property tax elections as well. The end of that game is known from history, but we seem determined to play it out anyway.

Beware the wrath of the army.

Hi Jerry,

I wonder how long it will be before the army gets sick of those fine people in power? 

Isn't that a bit like poking a stick at a large dog and assuming that they won't bite back?

- Paul

"But if we find we have left our bones to bleach in these desert sands in vain, beware the fury of the Legions." It wasn't long after that was written that Septimius Severus led his African Legions to Rome. "They had discovered the dread secret, that emperors could be made in places other than Rome."

And I leave you with

That's insane! 

Can you imagine doing a trip across the Pacific on a "special" windsurfer?

Incredible. Simply incredible.

- Paul

I am sure glad I don't have to do that...







This week:


read book now


Thursday, August 21, 2003

On the road

Hi Jerry,

Now I've heard of everything...,2933,95241,00.html 

Something about the hedonism of Rome is lurking in the back of my mind.


Doug Lhotka 

"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide." ~ Jim Burnham

"I swear, by my Life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." ~ John Galt, Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Why I am shocked, shocked...

Jerry --

another comment to add to those you've printed.

I caught part of Bill Richardson's interview on Face the Nation Sunday morning. (Believe me, only because Mom leaves the TV on CBS). He was repeating the old environmentalist line about the need for energy conservation.

While I'm no proponent of waste in any form, hasn't ANYBODY taught these people the first thing about economics in the past three decades? We've pretty much done everything we can do with marginal improvements in energy efficiency. The only way we'll see any improvements is as facilities and infrastructure are replaced -- which is a fifty to seventy-five year proposition requiring an investment of -- what, maybe $20 - 50 TRILLION dollars? Phasing in the new high-efficiency systems can be done to replace existing generation capacity is also economically time-phased. The only thing left we can do on the margins is have the "green police" drop out of FALLEN ANGELS and go door to door on Summer afternoons and make sure each thermostat is set on 78 or higher, or balance the summer load by shifting whatever industry that's still operating and not already pulling a graveyard shift from 07:00 - 15:00 to 23:00 - 07:00 (or two shifts 7 - 15, 15- 23 switched to two shifts 6 - 14, 22 - 6). And load balancing is the only one of those options without new transmission infrastructure.

Incidentally, how much has energy conservation been a factor in driving manufacturing offshore? Per capita consumer use should be about flat -- which implies that we're been able to get by without significant new base generation capacity only because of the loss of manufacturing. (Ignoring, e.g. on-site steam boilers).

Intemperate thoughts.

Jim Woosley


Palestinian Child Abuse Slideshow

Several readers requested that I put together a page with all my photos of Palestinian children brainwashed and indoctrinated into a life of hatred and murder. But when I began looking through my collection of Islamic terrorist photographs, I was shocked (and a bit depressed) to discover that there were more than 50 of these pictures. So instead of putting them all on one page, I’ve created (using the PHP slideshow application I wrote) this Palestinian Child Abuse Slideshow, which is now a permanent feature at the top of our right sidebar.

This ongoing atrocity, perhaps more than any other single factor, is what has caused me to lose all sympathy for the Palestinian “cause”—the way they gleefully, willingly, boastfully turn their own children into mindless hatebots.

by Charles at 06:16 PM PST | 178 comments | link

slide show 

Douglas M. Colbary I & C The Electric Plant City of Painesville 440.392.5944 440.392.5938 FAX

"You Can't See Where you stand, From Where You Sit" unknown

I am in a place where it's impossible to view this. I can imagine what it shows. Alas, it would be easy to make a different case in the other direction from what has happened in that area. And I have no asnwers.


Cutting the pay of the troops in Iraq would be unbelievably stupid. Which raises the question of why anyone believes it.

Here is a portion of a news conference held in the Pentagon of Aug 14, the day this thing broke. The speakers are Lawrence Di Rita, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, and Dr. David Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. The gentlemen are doing what they can, but from now on people will be going around wailing about the nasty attempt to cut troop pay, just as they do about the nasty attempt to cut veteran's beneifts, supposedly early this year. It matters not at all that both charges are completely untrue.

excerpt: ------------------------------ Chu: Thank you for the chance to get together. I'd just like very quickly to put to rest what I understand has been a burgeoning rumor that somehow we are going to reduce compensation for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is not true. We are not going to reduce their compensation.

There is an open issue about how we're going to do that which depends on exactly how the conference report in the Congress comes out on some technical allowance issues, but the bottom line is we will at least maintain the compensation of those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're not going to cut their pay or anything like that.

Q: The point was when this extra money provision expires in September, the report was that you were opposed to extending it.

Chu: That's a separate issue. The department has a variety of pay and allowance powers already with which it plans to maintain the compensation of those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan should the current allowance provisions expire. Whether they expire or not is a question which we don't have the answer to. But actually we would prefer, and I think that's how this rumor got started, we would prefer to use those other compensation powers as our way of ensuring that we target these compensation benefits on the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Q: What are these other powers? What do you mean by those?

Chu: We have a variety of other pays. We have hardship duty pay, for example, we have some incentive pay with which we can compensate people in Iraq should these allowances fall back to levels prior to April of this year when Congress enacted new levels with which we can and will -- we haven't chosen which one yet -- maintain compensation in Iraq. Obviously exactly what we do depends on what Congress does also. If they pass some other allowance or extend the existing allowance it will change exactly what we do on this end. But there is no intention of allowing compensation for those serving in Iraq or Afghanistan to fall.

Di Rita: The premise that we would somehow disadvantage U.S. forces in a combat environment --

Chu: Is absolutely wrong.

Di Rita: It's absurd. It's not even wrong, it's absurd.

Chu: That's why I was so startled when this story arose. We are actually looking at the opposite issue. What should we be doing for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as appropriate for their circumstance, especially those who are serving long periods of time. We had discussions underway at this very moment of R&R type powers for the commander, some of which he already has but which we are looking at extending.

Q: So how do you explain the statement that says you hadn't budgeted for these increases and therefore you didn't want the increases?

Chu: What I think you're pointing to is one piece of a very thick technical appeal document that speaks to the question do we want to extend the language Congress used in the Family Separation Allowance and Imminent Danger Pay statutes. And no, we don't think we need to extend that language. That's a different statement from are we going to reduce compensation for those in Iraq and Afghanistan. As I emphasized --

Q: But nobody ever --

Chu: No one ever said we're going to reduce compensation in Iraq and Afghanistan. People have jumped to a conclusion based upon the fact that we have said --

Di Rita: People have said it today, but nobody in this department.

Q: It sounds like it amounts to the same thing. Unless you're going to --

Chu: No, no, no, no. I don't mean to be a technocrat here, but we have plenty of authority that we think is frankly better suited to the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan to maintain that compensation at the level it now stands without this power. And what we're saying in this document is we don't need this authority. What Congress really would do if they extend this is actually pay it to a lot of people who aren't in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So we said look, we're just fine, guys. We have plenty of authority. We have never said we're going to cut -- I couldn't believe this rumor getting started. We have never said we are. We haven't touched this issue. In fact the whole debate inside the department has been the other side. What do we need to do for the people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially those there for long periods of time. --------------------------- See full transcript at 

Mike Juergens

I wish I were able to say that no one does unbelievably stupid things now, but The Stupid Party manages to shoot itself stupidly all the time. Alas. I am glad to hear this particular nonsense is manufactured.


SUBJ: Spam Blocking


Having read about your problems with the volumes of SPAM, I'm wondering if you've availed yourself of the Earthlink Spaminator services. For new accounts its automatic, but for older ones like ours you may have to opt in. Spaminator offers two levels of service "Known Spam" blocking is, in my experience, 100% accurate in what it catches (i.e. no false positives) and screens out perhaps 75% of SPAM. The catches can be viewed through Earthlink's Webmail facility until you're confident that its totally reliable, and then you can just let it delete itself automatically after three weeks.

More recently, EL has offered "Suspect Email" blocking, which blocks anything that got past the first filter unless the sender is in your address book. This takes a little more training, but again the Webmail offers a quick and easy method to take a quick look at the suspect email and both transfer to you inbox and add you your address book anything that you want to with a single clock, and delete the remainder with another single click (with the new Beta version of the Webmail facility - the older version processed these 20 at a time).

Unless your purchase of a personal domain through Earthlink keeps you from using these facilities, I suggest you check it out. My Inbox has been blessedly SPAM free since the second level of blocking became available. (disclaimer - a small number of SPAM somehow manage to slip through the second filter as well, despite not being in my address book - at least some of these manage the trick by making sending my own address as the 'from' address as well as the 'to' - SPAM from myself?)

Say "Hi" to the folks at LASFS for me some Thursday.

-- Cecil Rose Department of the State Treasurer Information Technology Division Albemarle Building, Rm. 558-A 325 N. Salisbury St. Raleigh, NC 27603-1385 <> (919) 715-7519 (919) 218-0929 - cell (919) 733-4322 - fax *"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-*"*-.,.-

The short answer is yes. I have activated the Earthlink spam eliminators. They do some good but not enough. I am still treated to anatomy enlargement ads and other unwanted mail.

In fact I get spam not even addressed to me. If it's addressed to anyone with the name jerry at earthlink I am likely to get it. Roberta has the same problem. People keep telling me how great the Earthlink spam elimination stuff is. I am willing to believe it, but it doesn't seem to work for me.

Visiting the Earthlink site tells me I must download 15 megabytes of software to make use of their new anti=spam system. That will only take 9 hours. I think I pass.

Once again, the Earth Observatory has some interesting pictures to share. This link will take you to a "before blackout" and "during blackou" image of the US East coast.

Always an interesting site.

Rick Hellewell, Information Security Dweeb,


Subject: Economic incentive to construct transmission lines

"Apparently the economic incentive to construct transmission lines is not high, but deregulation leaves it to the market." As I understand it, Transmission remains under the regulated portions of the utilities while production and sales are deregulated (depending on the state). I work for a company which writes software which tracks Transmission (among other things). The rules for determining who is allocated transmission are often Byzantine. And there is a large economic incentive to build transmission. After all, if you can't ship electricity to point B, you can't sell electricity to point B. Since transmission remains regulated, the economic incentives vanish. Charles Butler

You will never deregulate an essential industry, since anyone charging what the market will bear will be destroyed as a hoarder or a gouger when "people are really hurting here"

Since much of the profit will come when there are shortages...

Subject: No 'Infowar'.

Blaster and Nachi are so poorly written, they're certainly not the products of any putative 'Infowar' organization (whatever that may be). The Nachi issues in particular are a side-effect of its misguided author's inept attempts to locate and patch hosts with the Microsoft RPC vulnerability.

Roland Dobbins








This week:


read book now


Friday, August 22, 2003 

On the Road. Short Shrift indeed.


Jim Woosley got some of it right; the marginal improvements have happened, but gross energy use has increased (as for example the armored car-like SUV’s and pickups driven by one lone passenger). There are airshed troubles in places that thought they cleaned up (Denver, etc.) that are almost entirely driven by automobile/truck emission increases that were not anticipated when measuring population growth and/or economic activity increases. Denver is getting in trouble during a recessionary period.

Here in Texas, over half of the auto sales are truck-like vehicles (which have lower efficiency engines and transmissions). Add that to the trend that new homes are being built at about the 3,000-5,000 square feet size. The per capita energy consumption is growing faster than any efficiency program can offset, and the general public seems only sensitive to unit costs (and the impact on disposable income).

However, I predict that the recent natural gas price increases WILL NOT PERSIST for very long this time, and that most of the proposed liquefied natural gas projects WILL NOT BE BUILT for several more years. But in the future, LNG imports will make us dependent upon imports for another energy supply stream.

I see another reason to declare energy supply independence as soon as possible. When independence is achieved, the exported jobs will return to our shores for the abundant and safe energy supply.

Allan Smalley

Energy and education are the two drivers for an economy.

Regarding energy, with energy as with everything else, efficiency is the enemy of reliability.

Author is an IT professional thanking Microsoft for its continued support.

reported in the inquirer:

Martin Dempsey


On that subject:

Microsoft says there are still more critical flaws in Internet Explorer.

See < > for the story, and <
default.asp?url=/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-032.asp > for the patch.

Oh, yeah. Microsoft also says there are critical flaws in Windows. See <
default.asp?url=/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-033.asp >. This is an update on the MS02-040 bulletin from a year or so ago. If I understand things correctly, it turns out the MS02-040 patch didn't work, because Microsoft didn't understand what the real problem was. They've now patched that patch, and say the problem is fixed, This Time For Sure.

Barring extraordinary circumstances, I'm no longer going to post Microsoft-related security warnings or send mail to subscribers about them. Suffice it to say that if you're running Windows, Internet Explorer, or Outlook, you're sitting on a ticking bomb.

When Microsoft announced their security initiative, I sent them several suggestions for slogans for their campaign, including:

"Insecure by Design" "Security: We've heard of it." "Unarmed and Scared Shitless"

For some reason, they decided not to use any of my suggestions, despite the fact that I explicitly GPL'd them to avoid any question of IP concerns.

I don't worry about the Microsoft-security-hole-of-the-week, because my systems are locked down. I suggest you do the same, although I realize that's often not possible if you're working in a corporate environment. Still, if that's the case, it's IT's problem, not yours.

For your personal systems, I strongly recommend that you abandon Internet Explorer and Outlook entirely. Don't just think about it. Do it now. Run parallel if you must, but set yourself a goal to retire Outlook and IE as soon as you possibly can.

I have found Mozilla to be a superior browser, enough so that I wouldn't go back to using IE even if it were completely secure. IE simply doesn't have the convenience features of Mozilla. Microsoft has not really upgraded IE in any significant way since IE 4.0 was released several years ago.

I have been using Mozilla Mail almost exclusively for a year now, and although it lacks a few features present in Outlook, it also has several very nice features that are missing even in the latest version of Outlook. On balance, I consider the two about equal in terms of overall features and usability. One very large advantage of Mozilla Mail is that it stores mail in an industry-standard format rather than the monolithic binary .PST files that Outlook uses. I can't imagine any Outlook user being unhappy with the features and performance of Mozilla Mail, although it may take a while to get used to.

I always hate new software, but that's just human nature. One likes what one knows, and dislikes new things. But, although I hated Mozilla Browser and Mozilla Mail for a few days when I first started using them, I now find that I like them very much. When I sporadically fire up Outlook or IE nowadays, I find that I hate them and can't wait to get back to Mozilla. I think you'll find the same to be true.


-- Robert Bruce Thompson

My own experience has been a little better although trying to suck huge worm files through a thin pipe with a slow laptop using Outlook can be horrible. I admit I was vastly tempted to just go buy an Apple 15" Powerbook this afternoon before I got mail2web working.

Subject: Exporting Jobs


Here's an interesting article by my favorite Economist, Walter E. Williams, on the subject of 'exporting jobs' 


-- --[Inside 79.3F]--[Outside 87.9F]--[Gonzo 79.2F]--[Coaster 47.3F]-- Linux Software Developer

I haven't time to comment on that at the length it deserves but surely you see the flaws in the argument, which is one of ridicule rather than rational discussion?

If this man really believes that no one in North Carolina ever lost a job to a worker in Indonesia I have a bridge for him. As to the remedy, sure:

Reform torts. Bridle the lawyers. Fix the schools. Get rid of all those pesky environmental regulations. Get rid of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And stop worrying about what happens to the person who lost his/her job and was cast from middle class to proletariat in one sudden upheaval. That will fix it.

And you know, it would. So go repeal the ADA. Do it now. I'll wait. Until then, we have some problems. Fix the schools. God knows they need fixing. I'll wait. But meanwhile we have problems this morning, and we have costs associated with job export, and just because this comfortably employed economist doesn't have to pay the costs associated with it and can laugh at the concept of "job export" doesn't really address the problem.

Incidentally, the technique he uses was called "straw man" in high school debate classes. It's fun. Not useful for learning much, but fun.


Mr. Woosely has some other suggested reading that includes that particular bit of silliness. I haven't time to look at them all, but they are apparently all offered in refutation of things I have said here, so the sources belong here.

I don't claim infallibility but I do wonder when someone will address the arguments I have made, such as the social costs of job export, and the fact that the costs are not paid by those who get the benefits.

Today's coffee break reading is from today's edition of the Neal Boortz "blog," Nealznuz, at, click "Nealz Nuz". I particularly call to your attention the Walter Williams column on sending jobs overseas (incorrectly attributed to Thomas Sowell in the list below) and the item on the blackout at the end of the list.


The Wall Street Journal says that yesterday’s bombing shows that Iraq is now the center of the war against terrorism. That’s why we can’t leave. 

Is George Bush more like Ronald Reagan, or Richard Nixon. Bruce Bartlett gives the nod to the Nixon comparison. Here you will find an excellent definition of just what a “neo-conservative” is. 

So, who is to blame for the bombing of the Canal hotel in Baghdad? Terrorists? Iraqi Islamic fanatics? No! George Bush is to blame, at least that’s what Howard Dean and John Kerry say. 

Are you one of those who complain that we’re shipping all of the good jobs overseas? Then you should read this Thomas Sowell column. 

I’m sure you’ve heard leftists and anti-capitalists complaining about U.S. corporations moving overseas to escape taxes. Before you join in the condemnation bandwagon, read this explanation of how U.S. tax laws actually make this a good move! 

Dan Rather makes no attempt whatsoever to hide his absolute contempt for George Bush during his newscasts. Read what happened last week during the Northeast power blackout. 

There’s a call to arms in the Middle East … a call to Islamic Jihadists to join in the fight against the American “occupation” of Iraq. 

Evidently some California voters are just too stupid enough to figure out how to handle a punch-card ballot. Well, they did Elect Gray Davis, didn’t they? 

John Ashcroft is now off on his tour defending the Patriot Act.,2933,95105,00.html 

Hillary Clinton wasted no time last week blaming Bush for the blackout. Why, it’s almost as if she was running for president! So … just what role did Bush play? 


On that last: regulation and deregulation of Transmission Lines is not the problem. The problem is the arbitrary separation of generation, transmission, and delivery into separate businesses and deregulating some of them. SCE used to be the best company in the world, with careful estimates of needed fuel costs, scheduled maintenance of their plants, building new nuclear and hydro plants, and the lot. Then came deregulation and disaster.

Energy isn't a game with generation and delivery entirely separated functions, and transmission lines independent of both.

And efficiency, which is what the market tries to maximize, is the enemy of reliability.


And I am working on a laptop with the wrong glasses, and that's enough for now. If you haven't subscribed, think about it. I have to get a better on the road system iif I am going to maintain this place during travel...

Dear Jerry:

A bit of clarity on the jobs exporting issue. "We" are not exporting jobs anywhere. The exporting is done by large multinational corporations and their smaller domestic cousins who decide to save a buck in the short run. It's part of the MBA psychosis which has gripped American business for the last five decades. Even those who don't think it's a good idea and see the long term problems it causes are forced to , as my designer friend put it, "join the race to the bottom". The only loyalty is to a mythical bottom line which, as anyone who has taken even a rudimentary course in Accounting can tell you, can be manipulated in all sorts of creative ways. But you have only to read your last book royalty statement to know that.

Business people try to dodge the real issues by pointing at various government requirements as something which makes them non-competitive. It's a game that works only if you assume that they are not talking out of both sides of their mouth. Avoiding taxes is a religion with most of these folks. When I was a security guard captain back in 1977, I saw major corporations do all sorts of interesting and probably illegal things to avoid various government levies. One avoided its fair share of local property taxes on inventory by shipping as much of it as they could to other warehouses in other states until the tax man had made his count and then shipping it back. Another used its own railway passenger cars to smuggle in illegal workers from Mexico to a remote plant where the INS would never think to look...and paid them below minimum wage. Other firms simply delay or avoid compliance with safety rules and regulations as long as they can. Someone once said, if all business men were honest there would be no need for labor unions.

I have a personal connection to Pillowtex, which used to be Cannon Mills when my aunt, Myra Sanders, worked there...which she did for about 40 years. She acquired a bad case of "white lung" from all the fluff that floated around the factory and spent the last years of her life on an oxygen tank. She died about ten years ago, way before her time. Her siblings, including her older sister, my mother, are still alive. I am sure that the reason given for not improving working conditions there was cost. It always is. Myra was my favorite aunt. She was smart, if unlettered, and expressed herself by making quilts with beautiful abstract patterns. The quilts she didn't get to make and the rest of us enjoy are part of the indirect cost on Cannon's failure to take proper care of its workers.

The companies that export jobs are saving money, but the cost is poorer service and support for their customers...but they won't have some of those customers much longer because they've lost their jobs and have to cut back. Could this be why Greenspan is worried about a deflation?

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

We don't have deflation. At least he isn't saying he'll cut interest rates even more so people can stop waiting for that shoe to drop and get on with actual investments...

Subject: SCO-Is Darl McBride getting a little paranoid or is everybody out to get SCO? 

Could be both. I, for one, hope that everybody is out to get them.


-- John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....


From Joanne Dow

> You will never deregulate an essential industry, since anyone charging > what the market will bear will be destroyed as a hoarder or a gouger > when "people are really hurting here"

I am musing about recent gasoline price hikes. How do the problems in Phoenix cause the prices to rise in areas not affected by the pipeline problem there? I wonder how long it will be that the electric utilities remain unregulated. I am also wondering how essential materials such as gasoline will fair in this "reregulate" mentality that is likely to come.









This week:


read book now



Well, if I were the head of a putative "infowar" organization, bent on probing for weaknesses in my adversary, wouldn't I be wise to have my people make the initial probes LOOK amateurish and poorly-written, in order to avoid raising warning flags?

After all, when the Japanese scouted Pearl Harbor for their eventual attack in 1941, they did it with a single Imperial Japanese Navy officer wearing a Hawaiian shirt and armed with a Nikon. They didn't sail the Yamato past DIamond Head and up to the harbor and cruise about with a film crew on the taffrail.

Just a thought...

Kim Owen Smith

I need to think about this.

I haven't seen anything about Natural Monopolies (other than Microsoft's) on your pages. The concept was developed early in the 20th century, and led to the development of the Utility Commissions; some Common Weal solutions, such as water, electricity and telephone lines, are too expensive for a private company to provide to everyone (why couldn't you send a UPS package to Montana or Colorado in the 1980s?) so quasi-public operations are necessary. As with most ideas, after 4 or 5 generations the original impetus was forgotten and bread-and-circuses took over, bringing down the empire. The only way to have secure electric lines in Ohio is for NewYawkers and Angeleenos to ante up for them. The Wichita linesman's salary has to come from somewhere.  First time I've seen "Lazy Monopoly" used.

In this one, how can the Post Office have falling average costs? 

Did you know that Montana has 1/2 the population it did in 1900? And that the Buffalo Grass Project is occurring at an accelerated rate since the greeners forgot about it and everybody else but Ted Turner left town? And that the buffalo used to cut communications between the Coasts by scratching their backs on the telephone posts, especially after Western Union put in spikes to stop them from doing that? No, I don't live in Montana but I digress, as usual.

Don Miller scribedm

I say again, reliability is the enemy of efficiency.

If you or any of the other readers ever seriously look at switching to the Apple platform, you will want to bring your Outlook email with you.

There are about three full featured major email clients for the Mac, Apple Mail, Eudora, and Microsoft Entourage X. (Of course there are several other nice ones as well--I'm just talking market share, not necessarily "best").

* Apple Mail has a very nice, productive interface, and is significantly faster than Microsoft Entourage. Great, great handling of multiple accounts. But the interface is also somewhat different from most email programs.

* Entourage is a lot like Outlook Express and a fair amount like Outlook, gussied up for the Mac. Slowest of the three majors. I use it for work because it has nice Exchange-related features.

* Eudora is Eudora; light, fast, with an interface straight out of 1990. All my missives to you are sent via Eudora.

To import your Outlook mailboxes: (1) Apple Mail or Eudora (or Mozilla):  has a series of threads on how to convert Outlook mail to Berkeley "mbox" format and import it into Apple Mail. Since Eudora and Mozilla also use mbox, a bit of fiddling would make these suggestions work for those mailers.

(2) Entourage X. Paul Berkowitz has a series of AppleScripts and instructions for bringing pretty much your whole Outlook life--Calendar, Contacts, Groups, notes etc--into Entourage. 

Steve Setzer



"I do wonder when someone will address the arguments I have made, such as the social costs of job export, and the fact that the costs are not paid by those who get the benefits"
Well, I'm certainly no economic expert - but isn't it true that the "benefit" the corporations and their stockholders are getting by taking work overseas is actually a reduction of the burdens they've been subjected to for years here in the US?   Isn't this like calling a tax cut a "gift"?
And the social costs sustained by the rest of us - loss of income and self-respect by formerly middle-class workers - didn't we earn those costs by saddling businesses with regulations and fines and lawsuits to extort (is that too harsh?) the things our democracy demanded, ultimately driving them away?   Geese and golden eggs come to mind.
The republic provided safety and structure that allowed those businesses to grow - but they paid their taxes.  Do we have a blank check to continue demanding more and more from the owners of a business, or at some point are they morally entitled to flee?   
If we treat the symptom - job loss - won't we just be contributing to the continuance of the underlying problems, by relieving the pain that might motivate us to do something constructive?  
Of course, if we believe that no politician will ever face those problems, it may be better to apply your tariff and keep the nation afloat a while longer - but ultimately this ship of state is doomed.
Tom Craver
Chandler, AZ

I do not really disagree with this. If we can fix the schools and lower regulatory costs we would not need tariffs or protections. I think we have been trying to fix schools for a long time -- the National Commission on Education in 1983 said "If a foreign government had imposed this system on education on the United States we would rightfully consider it an act of war" -- and as to regulation, we are increasing them, and we are proud of the Americans with Disabilities Act and such things. Perhaps we should be, but they are very heavy in cost, and the costs are paid by the people whose jobs are exported.

No one seems to care what happens to people who spent their lives under the stupid belief that a fair day's work for a fair day's pay was a good way to live.

Jerry -
You wrote:
the Road Map is dead with the latest Israeli attacks on Palestinian political leaders
I take great exception to this.  The man attacked and killed was a Hamas political leader; Hamas is an acknowledged terrorist organization and while they might have a "political" wing that does not make them a legimate political organization.  These people are murderers and terrorists just as Osama Bin Laden is, and fully deserve, if they cannot be brought to justice by the Palestinian Authority, to have justice brought to them.
The Road Map was killed by the horrific slaughter of Israeli children and many other innocents 48 hours before.
Get a grip and quit trying to rationalize terror.
Tim Loeb

Please read what I said. I said "with". You want to argue justification. You also want to shoot the messenger.

What you are saying is that any random terrorist can finish off peace in that area. I agree. There are 4 factions each of which has a veto and all of which have diametrically opposite views.

John McCarthy hopes that things can muddle along for a generation and a new generation can make peace. I hope he's right.

You get a grip. And stop make accusations based on projection. There are mistakes and atrocities enough on both sides over there to last at least a generation.

And while we are at it, two blocks of stores chosen pretty well at random were also destroyed; you may argue justification if you like, but the result is likely to make more terrorists.

As to the legitimacy of Hamas, the Communists were not legitimate, nor are many other organizations that one must either exterminate or negotiate with. You can't do both of those actions.

RE: Reactions

Dr. Pournelle,

I read through several of the stories that you posted on your site. Some of them I found quite interesting. Here are some of my gut reactions.

To be blunt, the author of the article on the exporting of jobs, Walter Williams, is an idiot. Not to be too judgmental, mind you, but I worked in one of the fields that is moving, for the most part, to India, Technical Support. Admittedly, I got out before my job was shipped away. I can't tell you the name of the company that I did support for due to non-disclosure agreements that I signed with the outsourcer that handled their support.

That's right, I said outsourcer. Most tech companies contract their support out to alleviate the cost. The outsourcer then hires people to answer the phones and act like they know what you are talking about. Not that the employees actually knew what they were talking about. They just had to be able to read a script. You think you are calling computer professionals, and truthfully, in India you may be, but any American you ended up speaking to stood a good chance of having been a social misfit, or an addict. I worked with an individual, not a tech, but a Level-2 Technician, a person that I was supposed to go to for help, who regularly came to work smelling of urine. I sat next to a man who spent his weekends with a shotgun guarding his friends methamphetamine lab. Among the other misfits was a group of transsexuals. I am not making a judgment on their choice of lifestyle, but they worked the phones because there isn't a company on the face of the earth that would put them face to face with customers.

Back on topic. I know that the one company that I supported moved their support to India and the Philippines because I used to get calls from customers and listen to them get thankful because I spoke English. I would look up their case and find minimal or unreadable notes and have to start from the beginning, adding to their frustration. I had customers with sound problems who had previous techs sending out replacement processors. I would reinstall sound drivers and they were fine. These are the low end tech jobs that are moving to other countries. Also, I’ve read that software companies are hiring Indian coders, also for the lower wage.

Next topic; Hillary Clinton and her lambasting of President Bush over his handling of the blackout crisis. I realize that it was a multi-state issue and that the federal government should have been looking in to it, but why would the President be handling it personally. Even if it had been terrorist activity I don't think that he should have done more than monitor the situation and possibly order a strike on the newly discovered terrorist cells. (There would be newly discovered terrorist cells even if they needed to be manufactured. Need to make the proletariat feel safer don't you know.) We pretty much know she is just trying to bolster her own chances at attaining the presidency. Her primary goal is, and has been, the Oval Office. I do not think she has a chance. I think the first female president is going to be a conservative.

Which brings up another thought altogether. Do we have a conservative government, or are we really seeing the betrayal of conservatism by the government? I realize that those with privilege take steps to retain that privilege. Are the powers that be more interested in lining their own pockets or actually making a safer world for the American people. I point to the controversy over Halliburton being given the contract to put out the oil field fires in Iraq with out the government accepting bids. Halliburton, a company whose former CEO is the current Vice-President Dick Cheney. How will this affect the Vice-President’s bank account. Oh, I know it won’t directly, but there are other forms of compensation. I even believe that the $1,000,000 a year that Cheney is still getting from them is the deferred payment of his ‘leaving payment’ that he says it is. Want to buy a bridge?

In doing the research for this missive, I have found a couple of books to add to the reading list, like Reclaiming the American Right by Justin Raimondo. It has a very interesting foreword by one Patrick J. Buchanan. Darn you, Dr. Pournelle, darn you for not letting me rest in my complacency and wait for your next book.

Last, on your comment about needing a good system for on the road. I recommend Alienware. Yes, they are pricey, but their notebooks are capable of gaming, and they have a good reputation in the industry. They have a reputation for not skimping on the components that they use.

Hopefully, I have not revealed my ignorance or naivte’ in this concatenation of my thoughts. Again, darn you.

Fiat justitia; ruat coelum,


[Name removed by me]

Thanks. Understand I have my differences with Buchanan and Raimondo. I haven't time for details.



 One of the lawyers down the hall in my building asked me a question that I’m hoping one of the mathematicians in your readership can answer. He has a problem with jury selection for a trial (actually, a series of trials).

 There is a pool of 360 potential jurors.

 For the first trial, 45 primary and substitute jurors were selected. The trial was a mistrial.

 For the second trial, 45 primary and substitute jurors were selected again.  They should have been selected from the main pool, but NONE of the first 45 was selected.


What are the odds against that happening?


The second trial was a mistrial.


For the third trial, 45 primary and substitute jurors were again selected. Again, they should have been selected from the main pool of 360, but not one juror from the first OR second set was selected.


What are the odds against this happening?


Got any idea on the numbers here? I’ve been trying to put together the math on this, but haven’t got it right.


Thanks much,



If this is straight selection, modeled with beans drawn from an urn, the odds are easy to calculate, and they are astronomical: sufficiently so that we can conclude with no high certainty that this was not random.

Consider 360 white beans. 45 are drawn and colored brown, then placed into the urn again, so there is a total of 360 beans. We are now to draw 45 more: what are the chances that none of those drawn will be black?

Effectively zero. So low that we can confidently assume that the new drawing excluded any black beans: if a black bean was drawn it was laid aside and the drawing continued until all white ones were drawn. Think about it. This is along the the same lines as the standard bar bet about birthdays, and what are the odds that there won't be two people in the bar with the same birthday? As the number of people in the bar rises the odds that there won't be two with the same birthday shrink to almost zero.

I have appended some other comments below.






This week:


read book now


Sunday, August 24, 2003

On the Probability issue:

The probability in the juror problem should be p = 1.37931E-09 or .00000000137931


The first 45 jurors (Pool A) get picked and the first trial ends without a decision. Then juror # 46 is selected. He has a 315/360 chance of not being from pool A. The next juror has a 314/359 chance of not being in pool A. (314 non-pool A people are left out of 359 total people) The next has a 313/358 chance, and so on until 271/316.

After the second trial ends unsuccessfully, a 91st potential juror is chosen. By now, only 270 "unused" jurors are available from the pool of 360, so the probability of this person being "new" (not from pool A or pool B) is 270/360. The next has a probability of 269/359 followed by 268/358 and so on until 216/316.

The event for which we are seeking the probability for is that ALL of the selected jurors are new to the case and so the final probability is found by multiplying ALL of the 90 individual probabilities together. I used a spreadsheet and a lot of Fill Down commands to get the answer above.

The answer is so small because we are always multiplying the running product by a Positive number less than one. It makes this problem similar to the question about how many people should be in a room before I bet money that at least two share the same birthday. (The odds are in favor of at least one shared birthday when 23 people are together. When 41 people are tested, the odds are over 90% for at least two people sharing a birthday.

Think of it as the evil twin to compound interest to understand the shape of the curve...

Dave Coffland


I'm not a mathematician, but I've learned a few things about random selections.

The reader who sent in the question about making selections from a pool 360 of potential jurors made the usualy "common sense" mistake most people make with regards to random selections - particularly things like state lotteries. Most people think if you flip a coin 50 times, and it comes up "heads" 50 times, then it must be more likely that the next flip will come up "tails". Which isn't true. Each coin flip result is completely independent of the previous flip.

In each case, selecting 45 jurors from the pool, the chances of a single, particular juror being chosen (at random) is 1 in 360. When you select the 2nd juror, it's 1 in 359, etc...

When you do the new selection (and put the original 45 back in the draw), everyone has exactly the same chance of being selected again.

And, of course, the same is true for the 3rd selection.

Like a state lottery, the outcome of the previous draw has no effect on the outcome of subsequent draws.

So how unlikely is it that none of the 1st selection of 45 were selected again in the 2nd selection, or 3rd selection? The answer should be "exactly the same as the chances that any single one of them would be chosen again" - and therefore should be irrelevant to the trial, since no bias in the selection exists.

If you want to prove that the selection process is biased (ie that the original 45 weren't properly returned to the pool for re-selection) you won't find the proof in statistics.

And, if you're foolish enough to waste money on a state lottery (stupidity tax), then why not use the numbers "1-2-3-4-5-6", which have exactly the same chance of winning as any other selection.


A couple of points. The gambler's fallacy is that independent events are not independent: that is, in a truly random series, the next event has the same odds as the last. However, if the wheel seems to favor red, bet red: it may not be a true roulette wheel, and the same with dice. That is events may not actually be truly random or truly independent.

That, however, is not what was happening here.


The problem with having a strong point of view is that you stop analysis; as witness:

From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                               
Date: Aug. 24, 2003                                                                      subject: The Near East
Dear Jerry:
        About the article you link to from the Sidney Morning Herald: firstly, I sometimes read their stuff on the web, and my impression is they are pretty anti-American.
        Certainly they are biased.  Look at some quotes:
        "The Pentagon, the US military and American analysts are reluctant to acknowledge popular support for the Iraqi resistance. But the chaos has tribal sheiks, Baghdad businessmen and many ordinary Iraqis speaking in such harsh anti-American terms that it is hard not to conclude there is a growing body of Palestinian or Belfast-style empathy with the resistance. . . .
        "If the accounts of the resistance given to the Herald in interviews in the past 10 days are accurate, US intelligence is way behind understanding that what is emerging in Iraq is a centrally controlled movement, driven as much by nationalism as the mosque, a movement that has left Saddam and the Baath Party behind and already is getting foreign funds for its bid to drive out the US army."
        Except the article doesn't site much evidence of popular support.  Ordinary Iraqis complain?  When in any country with free speech don't you find people complaining?  As the article I sent you the link for the other day shows, there are plenty of people who report lots of support for us among Iraqis.  In this respect, it's worth noting that "Ahmed" in the SMH article talks of opposition from Muslim  "jihadis," both Iraqi and foreign.  I think the SMH is projecting what they want to see into their reporting.
        It's also worth noting that Arab culture is one of shame & honor.  They routinely lie about their strength, their enemies strength, & what happened in battle, all for the purpose of making themselves look stronger and more successful than they are.  See this story for examples (it may no longer be available, but I'll mail you a copy if it isn't and you want it).  See also Ralph Peter's recent column in the NY Post for an argument that the opposition is losing, badly.
        On Israel, I'm rather puzzled by your statement: "I see Israel has ended the Road Map. Now I am not fixing blame and don't shoot the messenger: but the Road Map is dead with the latest Israeli attacks on Palestinian political leaders. When you kill the people you are negotiating with, soon enough there will be no one willing to step forward and say they are in charge, and if you can't find anyone to talk to it is hard to make peace."  It was the Palestinians that attacked Israel, sending in several kamikaze bombers to kill Israeli civilians.  Are the Jews just supposed to take it?

And that is about as silly as anything I can think of.

Are they just supposed to take it? It depends on what they want. What has what people are "SUPPOSED" to do  with strategy or results? The predictable result of attacking the Palestinian leadership is that the leadership will go to ground, hide, and there will be no one to negotiate with. The Brits can tell you something of that.

It may be the moral thing to do, to go attack the leadership. It may be the moral thing to do, to go in and destroy a whole block of middle class shops and cast formerly middle class Palestinians into utter poverty. Perhaps they deserved it. Perhaps all Palestinians deserve it since they don't stop the attacks. But I would myself find today's Washington Post article a better guide to what to do if the desired result is some kind of compromise and negotiated settlement.

Some results are predictable. They have little to do with morality or "deserts" or what one is "supposed" to do. The US had little choice but to make alliance with the USSR, and England had none at all, back in World War II days; England actually contemplated war with both Germany and the USSR over the invasion of Poland before sanity prevailed.

One defines ones goals, and the price one is willing to pay. Israel hasn't defined a goal, in part because there is a faction that will take nothing less than expulsion of the Palestinians from all of Judea and Samaria, just as there is a faction of Palestinians that will settle for nothing less than the destruction of Israel as a state. The difference here is that the Palestinian goal isn't possible. The extreme views of the settlers is at least in theory possible if they can manage to get enough of the Israeli people behind that view.

What is not possible is any kind of stable peace that leaves an indefensible line between Israel and Palestine. Long term readers will recall that I long ago said if Israel wants peace, unilaterally build a defensible fence, pay compensation to all the Palestinians on the Israeli side of it, and ship them into the fenced off area. Then declare that a state and hold it responsible for the actions of its citizens. But the Fence they are building now encompasses too much or too little: it is not a defensible line.

It may be that all the political leadership of the Palestinians deserves death. It may be that all the political leadership of the USSR deserved death. National strategy cannot always be governed by what people deserve.

Like many, Mr. St Onge believes he KNOWS what must happen, and thus if only he could get everyone to UNDERSTAND his view they would accept it. I am pretty well familiar with the sources he gives, and others as well. I have my own wishes about the Middle East. Wishing doesn't make things so.


Are we looking at this from the wrong perspective?

Looking at the mid-east, or perhaps that should be mud-east, or muddle-east, I'm inclined to wonder if we are putting our eggs in the wrong basket. It is clear that there is never going to be, at least in my lifetime or likely anytime in the next ten generations, anything recognizable as "peace" within a couple hundred miles of Israel.

Part of this problem is Sharom and his compatriots. Who really seem to feel that Hitler had the right basic idea, but simply the wrong target group. A problem which they seem to have have corrected to their satisfaction.

And part of this problem is Arafat, who claims to be popularly elected, but as best I remember was a raghead terrorist in charge of a group that also would have believed that Hitler had the right idea (had they ever heard of him) but again the wrong group. A problem they have corrected to their satisfaction.

As long as either of these people are alive and free in that area, there will not, and can not, be any concept of peace. It would be political death to either of them; and that is a death that is far worse to them then the deaths of any tens of thousands of civilians and/or supporters. So peace Will Not happen.

But, sitting here in America, I have to wonder. What is that to us? I read the Constitution again today. As best I can make out, it seems to imply that neither the People note the Federal Government are responsible for the behaviour of Other States. And it seems to fairly specifically suggest that the Various States themselves are denied this power. So why do we care?

Well, one reason that I care at the moment is the current world situation that seems to exist. For whatever reasons, there seem to be tens of thousands of people that claim the only way they can achieve Heaven is by killing me and anyone else residing in or associated wiht America. One of the reasons these sort of people seem to give for this belief is our support, or at least perceived (by them) support, for Israel.

A support which would seem to buy us very little, morally, financially, or otherwise. Indeed, it is costing me dollars from my pocket, as billions a year in US taxes are donated to Sharom to continue his war. It is potentially going to cost me or my neighbors our lives if someone with a backpack bomb walks up to us in the mall and blows us all up. And if that doesn't happen due to the goodness of Our Government, it will be largely because the final scraps of the Constitution have been burned on the alter of Security.

I also don't see how we gain morally by financing a decades-long war of attrition, which is carefully tailored to be below the birth rate on either side, and can thus be a never-ending war. Of course, we can claim to only be financing one side of the war, and that that side is "defending" itself. As the other side can claim, with at least equal justification.

Where is the benefit to the United States, or to the people of the US, to finance the dessolution of our own Constitution, and the active hatred of several million people (or perhaps it is, or will be, several hundred million people) who believe the only way to heaven is through our deaths? Wouldn't there be better uses for our tax dollars? Building power plants, for instance?

Of course, at this point simply removing funding from Israel would be of little use. It might result in Sharon and friends being pushed into the sea in a couple of decades. Or it might result in them deciding to nuke a ditch around the edge of the country and kill anyone within the borders that can't show German heritage. Which would only half-serve our interests: the taxes might (doubtfully) be slightly lower. But it would only encourage those millions of heaven-seekers to come blow us up; and would encourage the Government to finish eliminating the Constitution For The Duration.

As I see it, our clearest interest as Citizens would be served by finding a way to discourage, or perhaps dis-encourage, those that feel they need to kill us for supporting Israel. This would then in theory remove some of the need for zeal that the Government is seeking in its need to repeal the Constitution. I see both of these results as valuable.

I am personally rather unconcerned with the actual fate of a few million Israelis and Palestinians who seem to have no life ambitions other than death, as their goals are limited to the deaths of themselves and each other. Perhaps some bible school might like to send Missionaries to the heathen and change their goals over time. I do not see that it is the business of the US Government to be those Missionaries.

I wonder what actions we could be taking that might tend more to result in goals that would be useful to ourselves. It seems that our current policies are demonstrably very unuseful to ourselves, and of questionable benefit to much of anyone else.

Loren Wilton

My friend Ron Unz is concerned about the Israelis but would like to have the US bomb what he calls "the crazy settlers" since Sharon won't do it. I suspect he is not serious, but his view is that so long as the crazy settlers have a veto there will never be peace.

My own view is that I really am weary of paying for Israeli socialism through US aid. We are not paying Israeli defense costs: we pay for socialism. I am not sure why we send $2,000 per Israeli citizen per year, and smaller but quite significant amounts to Egypt, at a time when we are running a deficit. I haven't found many willing to explain that to me.







Subject: Montana's population

One of your readers wrote:

"Did you know that Montana has 1/2 the population it did in 1900? And that the Buffalo Grass Project is occurring at an accelerated rate since the greeners forgot about it and everybody else but Ted Turner left town? And that the buffalo used to cut communications between the Coasts by scratching their backs on the telephone posts, especially after Western Union put in spikes to stop them from doing that? No, I don't live in Montana but I digress, as usual."

Well, I do live in Montana, and have since the early sixties, and didn't leave town. The statistic that the population in Montana had decreased by 1/2 since 1900 seemed suspect to me. Below is an excerpt of the stats from the Montana Goverment website....and they indicate the population has tripled, which was more in line with my thinking. Now, I won't argue that during the gold rush, there was a significant undocumented population, but I don't think it was hundreds of thousands, and that was long before 1900, anyway.

Anyway, my point is Montana is very crowded now, having four fifths of a million people in it. If you are from California or New York, you wouldn't like it here. The people are crusty and hard to get along with. You'd be much happy in Colorado or New Mexico. Trust me. :-)


1880 39,159 35,385 90.40% 346 0.90% 1,663 4.20% 1,765 4.50%
1890 142,924 127,690 89.30% 1,490 1.00% 11,206 7.80% 2,538 1.80%
1900 243,329 226,283 93.00% 1,523 0.60% 11,343 4.70% 4,180 1.70%
1910 376,053 360,580 95.90% 1,834 0.50% 10,745 2.90% 2,894 0.80%
1920 548,889 534,260 97.30% 1,658 0.30% 10,956 2.00% 2,015 0.40%
1930 537,606 519,898 96.70% 1,256 0.20% 14,798 2.80% 1,654 0.30%
1940 559,456 540,468 96.60% 1,120 0.20% 16,841 3.00% 1027 0.20%
1950 591,024 572,038 96.80% 1,232 0.20% 16,606 2.80% 1,148 0.20%
1960 674,767 650,738 96.40% 1,467 0.20% 21,181 3.10% 1,381 0.20%
1970 694,409 663,043 95.50% 1,995 0.30% 27,130 3.90% 2,241 0.30%
1980 786,690 740,148 94.10% 1,786 0.20% 37,153 4.70% 7,603 1.00%

799,065 741,111 92.70% 2,381 0.30% 47,679 6.00% 7,894 1.00%



The weather alone is enough to keep me out. My wife inherited a share in a mine on the Montana Idaho border, and she was born in the  Idaho silver mining country. I have visited it once. I see why I met her in Seattle, and we don't go up there much. But to each his own.


Hello Dr. Pournelle:

 I read, with great interest the free market piece ( ), that one of your readers kindly sent in. The piece is correct, as far as it goes, but it does not go nearly far enough. His blinders are clearly shown by the almost humorous statement that "The truth is that manufacturing is doing just fine in every way except employment." Apparently the loss of livelihood is just a minor detail. You have to admire the total lack of even pretended interest in the human side of things that such a remark shows. Here is a man who will go far in business.

He goes even further, by stating "The decline in employment is, in effect, a good thing, because it means that manufacturing productivity is very high." Well what a comfort that is to know. Such statements are sure to help the self esteem and pride of the swelling ranks of unemployed workers. It is interesting to note that the author's entire career has been in government. I suppose this could count as a mitigating circumstance.

 Whatever it is that government produces, it certainly does make it in large amounts. If we are five times more productive, does this mean it is better to have four non-productive people for everyone that produces? Even worse, do we think it is preferable to have four out of five people released from the production workforce, in order that two may become lifetime welfare recipients, while two others become lawyers, government employees, or enter the service industries?

Whatever the situation, if the per capita income stays the same, taxes stay the same, even if the income distribution changes; the government gets just as much revenue. So perhaps to government administrators, and advisors, like the author, it really makes no difference how many people are working, or where the taxes come from, as long as the overall amount is the same or greater. This would seem to reflect the attitude that the only function of the economy is to support the government.

One comment on the free market, and the effects of human greed. We are having the 100th anniversary of the founding of Harley Davidson, this coming weekend, here in Milwaukee. Harley offered tickets for $50 each, for the private events. Hundreds of thousands of people will be coming. I got my tickets months ago; needless to say tickets are sold out now. Ticket vendors are getting about $400 each for these $50 tickets. This might not seem so bad, except that part of the reason there is a shortage, is that months ago, ticket vendors, or their agents, bought up thousands of tickets, and held them. Though I would regret the waste, I truly hope that these people get stuck with these tickets. I suppose that in times past, these people would have been production workers, but our newly efficient productivity has freed them up produce nothing, inconvenience the rest of us, and add to the cost of things. After all, they have to make a living too. Welcome to the brave new world of the "service" economy.

Neal Pritchett

Better to speculate in Harley Tickets than to be making motorcycles, surely?

Best regards

Dr. Pournelle: I agree with you that is very difficult to assess the truth of this article linked below:  that someone sent you on Friday. I could not even find the name of the reporter listed. I have not read many articles form the Sydney Morning Herald previous to this one, but a few quick glances at their web pages convinced me that their editorial slant is definitely to the "left." That does not automatically rule out the accuracy of the story, but it does put doubt in my mind about unverified reports... James Casertano

I'll have my own views when I get back. Meanwhile, I don't believe a lot of what I hear; but I do know that Bush is now down below 50% popularity and if he isn't re=elected our Iraq policy is going to change a LOT.







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