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Monday, December 12, 2005

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Monday  September 8, 2003

Concerning Iraqi oil, I think that the “produced cost” of the oil is low enough to support lots of re-investment. The reserves are immense, particularly in the north.

It seems very clear that the southern fields are coming up to about 1MM BPD, and will actually support a volume of 500,000+ BPD for export (after domestic refining needs).

The northern fields seem bogged down two ways; there are Tikriti triangle dissidents that will probably continue to interdict the pipeline running to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey; and the northern fields were in poorer infrastructural shape than expected as well.

As others have noted, it is never wise to ramp up production until there is reasonable assurance that the producing rate can be held constant or increased. This condition alone demands that security be increased.

Solve the Tikriti triangle problem, and the oil volume will grow enough to suggest that a bond issue will have the support it requires.

Allan Smalley

I don't know enough about the situation to have a sensible comment, but I would be astonished if the US could not secure enclaves, oil fields, and oil transport at a lot less cost than we are paying now.


The following asks a serious question that deserves a long answer than I have time for:

The problem with stopping the "export of jobs" (and similar interference in free markets) is that it tends to require government intrusion. Is that a road down which we really want to go?

===== Tiomoid M. of Angle JD MBA ----------------------------------------------------------- For forms of government, let fools contest; That which is best administered is best. -- Alexander Pope

The short answer is that we have almost no chance of stopping the intrusion of government into the market. We probably don't even want to. I find the Americans with Disabilities Act costs us far more than it gains those it helps, but it's nearly impossible to organize any movement to repeal it. Yet it costs us jobs and lots of them since countries that don't have to accommodate deaf computer programmers by hiring signers fluent in computer languages have a clear competitive advantage.

Similarly for many other regulations including health and safety, not to mention minimum wages. These are all popular measures; we are not going to repeal them any time soon.

I have said before, libertarianism is a vector. In general one ought to opt for fewer regulations. That is one reason why I favor a flat tariff on imports. We had tariffs for a long time. It's the kind of "interference" in the free market that we've had a lot of experience with, and we know something about side effects, including the bad effects of high tariff. I prefer something around 10 to 15%; this should be enough to allow us to comply with at least some of the regulations and still compete.

The alternative, to insist on doing everything right, on getting rid of regulations which are not going to go away until we have a real train wreck, is to invite disaster in hopes that the disaster will make us reform. 

In the long run we are all dead. It's what we do this afternoon that affects people still alive. And exporting jobs has a long term effect.





Niven was right again!

This headline appeared August 19, 2003 in the New York Times:

Downside to Fewer Violent Deaths: Transplant Organ Shortage Grows

The abstract is at:

(The full article has to be purchased.)


He often is...

"Wonder about Thunder-Thize"

The dimensions given for the "Thor" flying spear seem excessive to me. 15 cubic feet of tungsten will mass over 9 tons, which would do in a tank if dropped from rooftop height - much less from orbit. Perhaps somebody made a conversion error and read "centimeters" for "millimeters". A 2-foot rod with 1.2 inch diameter would mass only 9 kg, and still would send any tank crew to Valhalla.

Even busting bunkers shouldn't take that kind of mass, should it?

-- Bill Kilner

Agreed we don't need that heavy a lance except for deep bunkers. The Thor concept was worked in some detail, but I confess that in my popularizations I used to say "an 18-foot tungsten telephone pole" to make it easier to visualize. As you say, that's needlessly heavy for most targets.

You build them for a range of targets. Getting them up is the expensive part: with operations-driven space transportation to LEO they become quite cost effective. There are no ships, and few land structures, that can stand the impact of the 18 foot model...

I haven't run the numbers, but I'm prepared to believe that some significant portion of a telephone-pole size tungsten rod would in fact impact the ground. It seems to me, though, that smaller tungsten rods, say tank-killer size, would vaporize entirely or nearly so before impact. In fact, I wonder if they wouldn't conflagrate as they reached the oxygen-rich lower few miles of atmosphere.

Perhaps ceramic, metal-impregnated ceramic, or ceramic-coated tungsten would be a better choice, particularly for the smaller rods? I realize you want the highest possible sectional density, but I suspect you might have to compromise that somewhat to allow projectiles, particularly smaller ones, to survive the heat of re-entry.

I also wonder about high-level winds and their effect on an unguided projectile. Certainly the rods would have relatively low surface areas, but I wouldn't think it'd take a whole lot of delta-vee from the jetstream to alter the impact point significantly and unpredictably, not to mention the effects of even a small imbalanced wind load on even on a very well-designed aerodynamic projectile.

Then there's the question of availability of tungsten. I haven't checked prices or supplies, but it seems to me that tungsten is a relatively rare element. Do we really have stocks large enough to put thousands of tungsten rods in orbit?

I'm sure you and others have thought about and addressed all of these issues and many others, but I guess I'm just surprised they all turned out to be resolvable.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

At this point discussion without running the numbers and doing some tests is probably futile. The concept is easy enough to understand, and while the devil is in the details, we have enough data to know that the concept it sound.

Moreover, they don't have to reenter at all: boosters to send these things sub-orbital with lower reentry temperatures can also be used. I designed a whole series of "smart" weapons back in the early 60's; most depended on a ground observer sending data to the bird while observing the target (and able to observe the location of the bird relative to the target), and that component isn't needed any longer. GPS can do much of that, as can other means.

Thor and Thoth and some other systems I designed in concept were once rather popular concepts for study in the war colleges. 

Using tungsten keeps the bird smaller. Steel works pretty well too depending on energies. As I said, without "doing the numbers" the discussion becomes arm waving, and I don't have time to dig up my old calculations, done in those days with slide rules and log tables and a Monroe Calculator. In those days doing the numbers, even with FORTRAN and the best digital computer around, was very difficult and we often tried to design models to minimize the calculation needed.

I am told that the military has much better models now. I sure had better ones in 1962, but I couldn't solve the equations in them, so I had to simplify.




Subject: Deepcold - The War in Space - 1959-1969

Sent to me from a college classmate

------------------------------------------------ Bill Newkirk Amateur Radio Station WB9IVR Melbourne, FL - Birthplace of Jim Morrison The web site says you like pizza.

Quite interesting. Thanks


From: Chris Morton To: Dr. Jerry Pournelle Subject: Nigerian Scam Goes Korean!

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I just got the lastest twist on the Nigerian scam:

*** Subject: true situation Date: Mon, 08 Sep 2003 14:48:14 +0200 From: jang doo <> Reply-To: To:

Dear friend,

My name is JANG DOO-HWAN, The brother of Mr. CHUN DOO-HWAN, the former

President of South Korea who seized power in a military coup in 1979 and who ruled from 1979 to 1987. ***

There's just one tiny problem... the genius who wrote this seems not to realize that in Korean names, the family comes FIRST. He apparently thinks that former President Chun's family name is really "Doo-Hwan". Maybe he thinks that Washington George and Bush George are "brothers" too, along with McKinley William and Henry Harrison William.

And he types with a faint Nigerian accent too! : )


Falkenburg's legions are forming

Ed Hume

Something like that...

First we hang the lawyers.


This court in this case -- -- is brilliant! They found the attorneys committed a crime by writing an overbroad subpoena. Think of it: LAWYERS get bit on the bum for bum work. It's about time somebody held them responsible for there trespasses -- now literal and no longer figurative. A great decision!

I doubt the extensions the author fears will come to pass; but if they do, they will cause the DMCA to be found unconstitutional for being overbroad. That would be another positive outcome. Huzzah!


Remember that all judges are lawyers. Much of government consists of two tax paid lawyers arguing in front of a third tax paid lawyer. It's the American way.

Continued below.





This week:


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Tuesday, September 9, 2003 

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Refernece the article; Subject: We're all computer criminals, now. 

I see Moore's law works for things other than computer hardware. It took the United States over 200 years to get where you could not get through a day without breaking some law. How long has the computer industry been around to get here?

Patrick A. Hoage



Having been an enthusiastic supporter of "renewable" energy resources, and, unfortunately also being an engineer (sort of like a hooker with a degree in theology), I have to admit that most of the touted benefits aren't there.

I have yet to see anything that convinces me that anyone's figured out a way to create an affordable hydrogen supply and the means for effective storage and transport. Having dealt with the difficulty of keeping unruly hydrogen atoms under control, the losses alone from large containers and extensive pipelines would be more than double natural gas leakage and drive the price upward (not to mention the possible effects on the atmosphere mentioned in the article). The sources of hydrogen are either the same fossil fuels it will ostensibly replace, or the result of massive electrolysis (which I assume will be driven by electricity produced by solar or wind farms, neither of which is cheap).

After years of study, I have to conclude that the only way to avoid air pollution (including greenhouse gases, if you believe in global warming) is to build lots of nuclear powerplants and install induction lines in the highways for electric-powered vehicles. Not that super-efficient fuel cells aren't interesting technology, but the savior of mankind they ain't.


Well, nuclear is certainly the cheapest way to generate enough electricity to replace fossil fuels. On the other hand, for the $80 billion going to Iraq I could build you a Moon Colony and plenty of space solar power satellites.




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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Dr. Pournelle,

This article just came out analyzing the economy. An interesting point:

"Since February 2001, the United States has lost about 15% of all jobs in the manufacturing sector. Those job losses haven't been limited to old-economy, metal-bending industries. About 25% of jobs in the computer and electronics manufacturing sector are gone, too.

Some of those will return along with demand for networking equipment, machine tools and PCs. But the vast majority of the 2.7 million jobs lost since the 2001 recession began are the result of permanent changes in the U.S. economy, a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concludes."

This links in to the discussion on outsourcing and the Economy. Surely a sad tale and this leakage/flood/disaster will inevitably get worse..<sigh>..

See .


-- Awaiting more on Capt. Galloway -- -- Gary --

But the metal bending ones are important too. The question remains, what will citizens do? One possibility of course is to pay them a dole. They will then be bored -- idle hands and all that -- and have an entitlement mentality. We have historical examples of the effect of that on a republic.


On gasoline prices

Jerry :

Back from a short vacation in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico, and I find a copy of a recent Rand report on refining in the United States to read...

"Boutique fuel specifications have been a principal cause of some acute regional supply imbalances in recent years, it was noted. Localized product specifications add cost and complexity to refinery operations and distribution channels. They tend to reduce competition and add rigidity to markets because fuel supplies are less easily moved to deficit regions if manufacturing operations or distribution channels are disrupted. Imports also are deterred. Again, when a refinery, pipeline, or other component of the supply chain does go off-line for maintenance or overhaul, or because of an accident, local supply and price impacts are potentially greater than in the past."

Even more to the point of capacity and availability within the United States is the note, "Between 1985 and 2000, average refinery utilization increased from 78 percent to over 92 percent. This rate is expected to hold for the foreseeable future."

That's a pretty important point, and it doesn't reflect local conditions for markets like California (addressed elsewhere in the report). It's important, even critical, as a 92% utilitisation rate leaves very little room for major outages at a refinery (see the California market this last three years for examples) or the loss of pipeline capacity to a region (the recent loss of the product pipeline to Phoenix). If there's a major outage, basic supply and demand equations guarantee that the region affected will see rapid and sharp price increases and localised shortages - for the less micro- and macro-economics gifted folks of the world, that means high gasoline prices and lines at the pumps for the local station.

It's no conspiracy, as so many would like to allege. It's a simple concept - the number of refineries in the United States has dropped for decades, although the remaining refineries have become far more efficient in their operations. The potential for supply disruptions has increased with larger, more complex refineries producing more product for given regions, which are subject to failure. Where a larger number of smaller refineries, running with more potential individual percentage capacity cushion provided some cushion in the past, today's more efficient larger refineries have a reduced headroom to handle industry outages and supply shocks.

Anyone who has even a passing interest in the gasoline supply, indeed, the entire petroleum refining industry within the United States should look at this report, including explanations of many issues of the refining process and marketing of refinery products. It's a fairly good window on the industry.

There's also a fairly well-balanced discussion of the effect of environmental regulations, especially with respect to "boutique fuels", as well as looking at some of the coming challenges for the industry. While I'm sure some there's some industry boffin or environmental activist who will take issue with the report's findings, it's nonetheless compelling reading for the rest of us.

It's available online at : 

Those people who can't bear to read all the facts and just want the barest summary can read the press release at : 


John P.

Indeed. Thanks!


Two from Tracy Walters:

Subject: Extremely Stupid Award

This guy should receive the “Extremely Stupid” award … and of course now Homeland Insecurity will create more barriers. 


Subject: Giant sucking sound…


I just called my MicroWarehouse rep to place an order, and found out that CDW has purchased them. My rep, of course, is no longer there.

Another one bites the dust to CDW. My choices for purchases are getting limited. I still buy quite a bit from Insight and, I wonder which of them will fall next.



An inquiry about D-Link Routers:

Do you know if D-link fixed the problem where the admin password resets on power failure? It seemed like a security hole you could drive a truck through.

I am unaware of any such problem. My D-Link routers are routinely powered down as part of the operation. That does not change the administrator passwords. It does cause a kind of "reset" of the registers that contain the address of the modem the router is talking to. It doesn't "reset" the passwords or rules.

There is a reset button that will reset the router to its shipping defaults. That changes the password and also the base address as well as deletes any special rules you may have installed. Clearly anyone with physical access to the router could use that, but that's entirely a different problem. I never heard of problems of reset on power down.


I just switched from an SMC Barricade router to a Netgear router (I needed to get a WAP). It may be coincidence, but I'm not getting the lag times before pageloads that I used to get. I knew the lags were network related because the throughput tester told me I had nearly 90% of promised capacity. We'll see later, but I suspect the old router was getting addled.


We have been using D-Link for some time. Our Hawking router seemed a bit slower, but it's not a fair test.

Following is self explanatory:

For your information, an open letter from Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens, co-founders of the Open Source movement.

You may contact the authors at "Eric S. Raymond" <> and "Bruce Perens" <>.

Best regards,



Response to SCO's Open Letter

From: "Eric S. Raymond" <esr@> 

 Subject: Response to SCO's Open Letter Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2003 18:05:55 -0400

(For general publication.)

Mr. McBride, in your "Open Letter to the Open Source Community" your offer to negotiate with us comes at the end of a farrago of falsehoods, half-truths, evasions, slanders, and misrepresentations. You must do better than this. We will not attempt to erect a compromise with you on a foundation of dishonesty.

Your statement that Eric Raymond was "contacted by the perpetrator" of the DDoS attack on SCO begins the falsehoods. Mr. Raymond made very clear when volunteering his information and calling for the attack to cease that he was contacted by a third-party associate of the perpetrator and does not have the perpetrator's identity to reveal. The DDoS attack ceased, and has not resumed. Mr. Raymond subsequently received emailed thanks for his action from Blake Stowell of SCO.

Your implication that the attacks are a continuing threat, and that the President of the Open Source Initiative is continuing to shield their perpetrator, is therefore not merely both false and slanderous, but contradictory with SCO's own previous behavior. In all three respects it is what we in the open-source community have come to expect from SCO. If you are serious about negotiating with anyone, rather than simply posturing for the media, such behavior must cease.

In fact, leaders of the open-source community have acted responsibly and swiftly to end the DDoS attacks -- just as we continue to act swiftly to address IP-contamination issues when they are aired in a clear and responsible manner. This history is open to public inspection in the linux-kernel archives and elsewhere, with numerous instances on record of Linus Torvalds and others refusing code in circumstances where there is reason to believe it might be compromised by third-party IP claims.

As software developers, intellectual property is our stock in trade. Whether we elect to trade our effort for money or rewards of a subtler and more enduring nature, we are instinctively respectful of concerns about IP, credit, and provenance. Our licenses (the GPL and others) work with copyright law, not against it. We reject your attempt to portray our community as a howling wilderness of IP thieves as a baseless and destructive smear.

We in the open-source community are accountable. Our source code is public, exposed to scrutiny by anyone who wishes to contest its ownership. Can SCO or any other closed-source vendor say the same? Who knows what IP violations, what stripped copyrights, what stolen techniques lurk in the depths of closed-source code? Indeed, not only SCO's past representations that it was merging GPLed Linux technology into SCO Unix but Judge Debevoise's rulings in the last big lawsuit on Unix IP rights suggest strongly that SCO should clean up its own act before daring to accuse others of theft.

SCO taxes IBM and others with failing to provide warranties or indemnify users against third-party IP claims, conveniently neglecting to mention that the warranties and indemnities offered by SCO and others such as Microsoft are carefully worded so that the vendor's liability is limited to the software purchase price, They thus offer no actual shield against liability claims or damages. They are, in a word, shams designed to lull users into a false sense of security -- a form of sham which we believe you press on us solely as posturing, rather than out of any genuine concern for users. We in the open-source community, and our corporate allies, refuse to play that dishonest game.

You invite us to negotiate, but you have persistently refused to state a negotiable claim. You have made allegations of a million lines of copied code which are mathematically impossible given the known, publicly accessible history of Linux development. You have uttered vast conspiracy theories which fail to be vague only where they are slanderous and insulting. You have already been compelled to abandon major claims -- such as the ownership of SMP technology alleged in your original complaint against IBM -- on showings that they were false, and that you knew or should have known them to be false,

Accordingly, we of the open-source community do not concede that there is anything to negotiate. Linux is our work and our lawful property, the distillation of twelve years of hard work, idealism, creativity, tears, joy, and sweat by hundreds of thousands of cooperating hackers all over the world. It is not yours, has never been yours, and will never be yours.

If you wish to make a respectable case for contamination, show us the code. Disclose the overlaps. Specify file by file and line by line which code you believe to be infringing, and on what grounds. We will swiftly meet our responsibilities under law, either removing the allegedly infringing code or establishing that it entered Linux by routes which foreclose proprietary claims.

Yours truly, Eric Raymond Bruce Perens


Subject: All I know about satellites my dad taught me

Now I know why you kept drumming into us the notion to ask before borrowing something. 

The mishap was caused because 24 bolts were missing from a fixture in the "turn over cart". Two errors occurred. First, technicians from another satellite program that uses the same type of "turn over cart" removed the 24 bolts from the NOAA cart on September 4 without proper documentation. Second, the NOAA team working today failed to follow the procedure to verify the configuration of the NOAA "turn over cart" since they had used it a few days earlier.

Rich Pournelle

Hmm. And see below.


Subj: Iraq: grounds for hope, but not celebration,filter./news_detail.asp 

What Iraqis Really Think By Karl Zinsmeister

"...Working with Zogby International survey researchers, The American Enterprise magazine has conducted the first scientific poll of the Iraqi public...."

They claim to have used methods developed by Eastern European pollsters, to get people to answer honestly, despite their history of police-state conditioning.

70% expect things to be better five years from now.

50% think democracy cannot work in Iraq, 40% think it can, 10% unsure.

In a forced-choice question about what country to use as a model, choosing amongst the US, Syria, Saidi Arabia, Iran and Egypt: US: 37%, Saudi Arabia: 28%, the others lower.

Want Islamic government? Yes: 33%, No: 60% (Shiites: Yes: 27%, No: 66%)


Indeed. But Bush doesn't have to win an election in Iraq. He does need to win in the United States.

I know you've been interested in micropayments since forever. Thought you might enjoy the following article in Technology Review:


Hope that all is well.


Stephen --

I do miss Millicent...  Click here, pay a dime, all's well...

On that new critical update:

Subject: Botched.,39020381,39116180,00.htm

Roland Dobbins


Subject: Atmospheric Hydrogen

Have you seen this: 

 It says that hydrogen released into the upper atmosphere will be absorbed by OH radicals.

Neil Craig

Given there are plenty of hydrogen sources and so little hydrogen it's clear there are mechanisms for cleaning up the stuff. But of course we need to spend a lot of money to study the problem. The Center for Absorption of Federal Funds ("As long as you're up, get me a grant.") is needy, you see.

Now I am all for funding a fair number of science projects but when the scientists get both silly and politically correct it's time to hand the money to someone else.


I thought I had paid a lot of attention in my science classes, but I can't figure out sound waves in space....EM waves yes, but sound waves?

What happened to 'In space no one can hear you scream?".


-- John Harlow, President BravePoint 

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

Clearly there has to be some medium, and I can only guess at what that is. Someone here will know, surely?

<snip> I thought I had paid a lot of attention in my science classes, but I can't figure out sound waves in space....EM waves yes, but sound waves?

As I read that article, it refered to acoustic resonances which involved the entire accretion disk/nebula surrounding the subject compact stellar object. The resonances probably DO have to be very low amplitude and low frequency due to the low density of the media. But "il se muovo."

Jim Woosley


Right there in the article:

A long standing mystery has been why hot gas in the central regions of the Perseus cluster has not cooled off over the past 10 billion years to bring a drop in pressure that would draw gas in towards the galaxy to form trillions of stars.

The researchers suggest that as the sound waves move through gas, they are eventually absorbed and their energy converted to heat. This means that sound waves from the black hole in Perseus A may keep the cluster gas hot.

The black hole is in a gas cluster, it seems. That's the medium for sound waves. The gas pressure might be close to zero, but it isn't zero, and I guess it's enough for sound waves. Not all parts of space are equally empty. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

Sure. Now how is that 'sound' to us since the medium doesn't extend to here? Clearly we are dealing with compression and rarefaction in gas, but using the language of sound on this seems bizarre.




<snip> "Since February 2001, the United States has lost about 15% of all jobs in the manufacturing sector. Those job losses haven't been limited to old-economy, metal-bending industries. About 25% of jobs in the computer and electronics manufacturing sector are gone, too.

The factors missing from that analysis is (a) the effects of the vast overbuying of capacity under Clinton which helped stimulate the dotcom explosion (another consequence of the "fever economy" that stimulated the Clinton surpluses, that we're still paying for), and (b) the saturation of the home computer market with "good enough" machines.

Jim Woosley

True enough.  The jobs I hate to see gone are the old metal bending and woodworking jobs; manual trades that allowed a generation of working class to be middle class.

It may be impossible to get that back and we will have the employed rich and the rest; which may be a good thing and may not.


On the NOAA accident:

Nasa's biggest problem (along with the contractors involved) comes from the fact it has far too many people for far too long. No ageing bureaucracy of that size is functional, and people _do_ become compartmentalized to the point where they maintain sanity only by religiously _not_ caring about the big picture.

I had some hope that "better, faster, cheaper" would result in smaller crews, less paperwork, and more decision-making on the floor, but it seems to have been another bureaucratic catch-phrase whose time has passed anyway.

In my industry, one thing you could be sure of after an accident like that is the department head being handed an empty box by the security guard...

Eric Baumgartner

It was a concept by the Administrator. Dan was a good man. NASA defeated him utterly. That culture will defeat anyone. 

In my industry, one thing you could be sure of after an accident like that is the department head being handed an empty box by the security guard...

That utterly depends. This is undoubtedly cost plus accounting with effective indemnification. From the point of view of the company, there is a better than even chance that this could be a long-term windfall rather than a liability.

In cases where I've heard of the executive being handed the empty box, it was for a pattern of failures which had ultimately lead to a SERIES (not just one) of financial setbacks for the company (or, after the cheesy head cheese had left, some of his trusted associates, not all of whom deserved the same fate). And was usually also marked by a celebratory crowd of rank and file employees to line the path from the executive's office to the nearest door, despite the lack of notification. (For one company in particular, the symbol of the senior executive meeting the more junior executive in his office at the start of the business day, unannounced, came to be equivalent of the old Russian symbol of the loaded revolver.)


And see below


The Ten Commandments display was removed Wednesday from the Alabama Supreme Court building. There was a good reason for the move.

You can't post "Thou Shalt Not Steal" in a building full of lawyers and Politicians without creating a hostile work environment.







This week:


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Thursday, September 11, 2003

On Peer to Peer and its problems:


Subject: Peer-to-peer file-sharing - how it works.

works precisely as you describe, with the caveat that it's horribly insecure, you can end up sharing your whole hard-drive, and with closed-source P2P programs like KazAa/Morpheus, etc., you can end up with your box trojanized and being controlled by someone else as a DoS zombie or spam-engine or what-have-you.

Most of the P2P services rely on central directories hosted on the Internet which act as rendezvous points; upon startup, thee P2P client will go sign into the central directory, using TCP over port 80 (like http, the protocol you use to browser the Web, thus allowing bypass of common firewall settings) or some other port and then you're on the P2P 'logical network' which is overlaid over the physical network of your LAN, your ISP, other ISPs, etc. There's also generally a centralized index service which can be searched.

I hate all this because it's a huge security risk.

Roland Dobbins


You asked: "I don't even know how those things work. How can a part of your computer be available to everyone out there, and the rest of your network be fenced off? I'd imagine that if people have access to part of your hard drive it can't be that hard to get at the other parts."

TCP/IP networking has two basic components for directing communications: The address and the port. The address is the set of four dotted numbers often looking like this:

The port number is a second identifier that is used to tell what service is being contacted. Email (SMTP) is port 23, a Web server (HTTP) is port 80 and so on. To share files using a peer-to-peer network you first all agree on what port you will listen on. Then each machine keeps a list of other machines that it has talked with. When you start your peer it connects to some well known server and gets a list of addresses (while registering its own) and starts making connections to other peers. The peers then share the addresses of all the other machines on the file sharing network.

Your firewall must be configured to allow inbound connects whose destination is the agreed upon port. If that port is not open on the firewall you can call out, but others cannot call in. Some peer-to-peer software will allow you to "push" files across the outbound connection you started, but users will not be able to initiate direct connection to your computer. Some (most?) of the cable modem router/firewalls will allow a configuration that permits an inbound connection to a given port to be directed to a specific address on the private network. When the inbound connection is started the packets are passed through the NAT and sent to the protected computer.

It is then the responsibility of the file sharing software to limit access to only that portion of your file system that you wish to make public. Any defects in that software and your system will be open to files being manipulated in ways you may not like. In early Unix systems it was often trivial to use the FTP process to fetch a copy of the /etc/passwd file. Of course leaving a Trojan horse file on your system is always an option.

------ Al Lipscomb

Which is about what I surmised. Thanks. Joe Zeff points out that email SMTP is Port 25, not Port 23. Thanks


On the NOAA Incident:

Subject: NOAA satellite


We're in the satellite industry and  the folks here at my company were only mildly amused by the NOAA incident. In case you didn't know, the commercial satellite market is at an all-time major low. There were only a handful of contracts handed out last year. and the same situation is expected to exist for the next few years at least. This has led to considerable layoffs of experienced, skilled, and talented people. And a general feeling amongst those of us in the industry that its time to seek employment elsewhere. The level of depression is staggering. The satellite manufacturers have for the most part been swallowed up into only 3 or 4 companies where the satellite business isn't their primary source of income, the idea being to leverage all of the technical expertise into other related areas. Companies have also turned towards government contracts (including NASA) to sustain them during this market downturn. Those of us that are "sticking it out" are underpaid, severely overworked, and fed up. We're being asked to design, manufacture and test satellites in record time, usually only a couple of years.. sometimes less. And not simple satellites either, but bigger, more powerful ones with new technology that is only barely proven, if that, and certainly not flight tested.

The Lockheed Martin incident is tragic, in that there are probably a lot of good people working really really hard to perform that contract, on-time, and on-budget. but they're being asked to do it with fewer people, less money, and yes, fewer bolts. It seems trivial and ridiculous but if you think we were doing risky, dangerous things during the eary days of space exploration and rockets.. You should see what we are doing now, even though we know better.

Marv Shelton

There may be good people involved but they needed adult supervision. Taking the bolts out of a test stand to put them into another one is simpleminded. Not putting up a big sign saying "We crippled this test stand, sincerely, the idiots on Team Ptah" is even dumber. You can be sure pyramid builder crews, who were just as enthusiastic, knew that much.


Dr. P:

From another list of which I am a member, and with permission, here is a heads-up:


Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 16:16:21 -0700 From: Michael Strainic <mjs@INTERGATE.CA> Subject: Mal-ware alert

Dear Lists,

I recently did a favour for a friend who was attempting to use a program (from a commonly-appearing email-ad) called "Hotbar." This sucker attaches to Outlook/Outlook Express and inserts animated icons into email.

Fortunately, my security settings wouldn't allow it to install. Well, according to Ad-Aware 6 (free at, this entire package -- every single component and file -- is tainted severely: a few tracking cookies and lots of data miners. In total, it's snagged 37 files; some look to be quite dangerous, at least potentially, but I'll leave that to the more informed for comment.

What I have yet to figure out is how it managed to resurrect itself, at least in part, twice in 3 days....

Looks like a very good one to avoid.




Also, Mike says, "thanks for some excellent SF reading over the years!"






Just read the mail about hotbar - the author is exactly right, it's a nasty piece of work, and if you don't get it all, it comes back (and of course, if the user keeps clicking 'yes' when asked to download something, it'll come back too). It's almost as bad as Xupiter, and much worse than Gator.

SpyBot S&D cleans the whole thing right off - but you have to manually check 'yes' to some of the pieces. 



P.S. Regarding the RIAA and the MP3''s only a crime if you keep them (i.e. receiving stolen property).

Doug Lhotka

PGP Sig: C2F9 EB96 127A D4DD 02C7 ABE0 13A0 4C30 9C93 9D6F

"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

AdAware will get it too. Roberta got bit by this thing but we cleaned it out.





> Thanks to all those who have sent me an mp3 of the song Georgy Girl

Jesus, Jerry. You just put yourself square in the sights of the RIAA. If they're looking for a high-profile lawsuit against a music "pirate" they couldn't do much better than to sue you.

Or was that your intention?

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

Be a bit hard to do. I don't keep the mail so I don't know where it's from, I have unsolicited mail with an enclosure, and I haven't said whether I kept the enclosure. If we are now all in danger from receiving mail, we're all in trouble. 

I read your posting and thought, "Well, it was either Petulia Clark, or Andy Williams." But my memories of 1966 am radio are limited by the fact that I was born in 1963.

The Seekers' version was used in the film _Georgy Girl_ starring Lynn Redgrave released in the US on October 17, 1966.


"Georgy Girl" Written by Tom Springfield and Jim Dale Performed by The Seekers

gracenote had

Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops Orchestra / Motion Picture Classics Volume Two Georgy Girl


The Best of the Baja Marimba Band

and a version by 101 Strings.

possibly a disc called Super Psychedelics by The Ventures.

I don't know anything about the Ventures.

I *DID* find this by They Might Be Giants. (but i REALLY doubt that this is the version you're looking for.)


Described as: Georgy Girl Originally recorded by The Seekers, performed on 4/16/98 at Toad's Place in New Haven, CT.

Are you sure it wasn't the recall election that got you thinking of this song? 

She doesn't have an "E-Mail Blimp" but she *IS* selling Georgy for Governor thongs. 

Thanks for your site.

Mark Hartwell

God grief! I have now learned more about this than I really wanted to know...


John McCarthy on Iraq

In another discussion about the Iraqi War JMC made one of his usual clear and cogent summaries. I didn't want us in Iraq, and I'd be a lot happier if we could find a way out; but John's points need consideration.

1. Iraq had been pursuing WMD. Most likely Saddam had backed of because of the threat of US attack. Had the US backed off after getting an army in place, Saddam would have been free to resume his WMD efforts, confident that the US would not find it politically possible to put the army back on his border. On the other hand Saddam was at least as deterrable as the Soviet Union had been from actually using his WMD.

Still knocking off Saddam was a good deed accomplished at modest cost.

2. I don't regard either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia as "terrorist harbouring states" simpliciter. Both have done something against terrorism but don't give it highest priority. Battling India has higher priority for Pakistan. Spreading the Wahabbi form of Islam has high priority for Saudi Arabia even though the madrassahs foster terrorist mindedness along with Islamic fundamentalism. I don't think it is politically possible to attack either militarily.

3. I see no evidence that Kim Jong Il's desire for nuclear weapons is a response to US action in the Middle East. Indeed victory in Afghanistan and Iraq has made a military solution of the North Korean problem politically more feasible. Moreover, we no longer need to keep carriers in the Persian Gulf. What is saving Kim Jong Il is the irrational South Korean opposition to attacking him.

4. France, Germany and Russia are not our allies. It was Germany that harbored the 9-11 terrorists. None of them care about anti-Israel terrorism.

5. What big fish are lurking and breeding? Surely you aren't afraid of Madrassah graduates. They don't even have a grade school education, let alone the high school diploma the US Army considers needed to be a soldier. 3,000 went to Afghanistan to fight us; only 40 came back. The 9-11 terrorists were educated in the West.



Subject: Redmond man slams spammers for $250,000

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

The fight against spam continues. 

Randy Storms

More! More!


I got this and sent it along to associates: read through to the end before commenting.

And we got this:

-----Original Message-----

Return-Path: <>

From: Autumn []
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2003 4:44 PM
To: [ Roberta Pournelle ]
Subject: *URGENT
Importance: High


If you were dumb enough to open this email then you will find a WORM has executed itself through your mailbox 
and by the time you read this into your hard-drive. This is PAYBACK for the Virus you disguised in the email you sent 
to us recently which destroyed our hard-drive and back-up system. This costs us thousands of dollars and we lost a lot 
of irreplac eable files on our system .

Now it's your t urn t o have your c omputer infec ted. Th is W ORM it i s undetec table by AntiVirus sof tware a nd i t will  drive your compute r crazy be cause it' s alw ays hid ing a nd c ausing hav oc i n your system . Using your com puter r ecovery di sks w ill not remo ve the pro blem c ause it stil l stays o n your comp uters Motherboard. This will proabably cost you a new computer and I sincerely hope this teaches you a lesson not to send people 
nas ty viruses ag ain.

Evocas h Administration In c.
Ph one: +1 767 4 499922
Fax : +1 76 7 44 99922

- ---^+Start^=Auto^Execute+^WORM^-------------

I have no idea who these people are, where the phone numbers are, or why we received this.

The above went to various Chaos Manor associates. We have determined that the phone number is phoney. and Dan says:

Go ahead and post it, however this email looks like a hoax to me. As soon as it started talking about laying resident on your motherboard I had pretty much tossed the threat of this into the trashcan status. This sounds like it was written to scare someone who knew nothing about how computers and virii work.

In fact, after checking the Virus Hoax section of Symantec's site I see it definitely is a hoax:

This however is a good opportunity to inform people about the security/virii hoax database at Symantec here: 

Dan Spisak

So: it's a hoax (one I hadn't seen before) but I knew that; why Roberta got it is something else again. Apparently I have got copies too but my spam filters got rid of it before I ever saw it.


Ahhh, more BS. I know a way to get a good goals in space document: go to any third grade class and ask the children what they want to do when they grow up. "Go to the Moon! Go to Mars! I want to be an astronaut."

There are the goals: now allow American industry to provide the means. Or, as John Galt so famously said, "Get the hell out of my way."


Or dust off the 1983 report of the Citizens Advisory Committee, "America, a space-faring nation".  Build more rocket ships. Fly more rocket ships.


Dan Duncan on jobs and such:


As the Silicon Valley unemployment moves into the 30% range and families are living under tarps spread over shopping carts on Division Street under a freeway extension soon to be torn down....

What can I say, it doesn't scan, I know, but the moment of, well call it absurd humor came to me last week when the voice calling to ask for last month's American Express payment sounded, well, such that I asked him where in India he was calling from.

He responded brightly, "Bombay."

I guess I got a chuckle from him when I suggested that they should perhaps change their name to "Indian Express." He even had a chuckle when I asked him to pass the suggestion along and if it was adopted to arrange to give me a finders fee.

I wished him well and commented without rancor that while the Indian middle class was being strengthened, the American middle class was being undermined, one job at a time. Oh well.

Now when other creditors call, I tell them the story and wish them well. They could be next....

And then this:

which I picked up from Slashdot.

I guess there is no quid in the NAFTA or WTO pro quo....

It is beyond anger for me. The fact that we are sending another 58 billion to Vietnam, er Iraq, is almost humorous. I can't help but wonder who is scripting this? Is this the handiwork of Condoleeza and Co? My dad used to say, "It's illegal to smoke that kinda stuff...."

Of course the clincher for me was in an interview with Rumsfeld where he spoke of a 3 to 4 billion dollar weekly "burn rate" in prosecution of the "guerilla action," it kinda makes me wonder.

The last time anyone used the term "burn rate" with such confidence was at the height of the bubble. And used it as a measure of progress....

We know how that wound up. We're living with the ashes now. Or as one of my bosses as Stacey's Technical books in the 60s used to say, "Feathers today, turkey yesterday." So from the Rumsfeld "burn rate" rhetoric, can we really expect anything different?

Or is it as simple as getting get a different thesaurus?


P.S. Arianna has a good twist on the 3 strikes law: that it be applied to sentencing of corporate felons, not just Les Miserables as it is now.

Oh yeah, I'm going in to get my defibrillator replaced tomorrow morning, 36 hours past the full moon. Wish me luck.

All the luck there is, and go with God my friend.


Subject: Nuts.



And see below.










This week:


read book now


Friday, September 12, 2003

I'm glad to see that the recall election hasn't distracted everyone in California government from productive work.


-- 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....



Jerry Pournelle wrote: > > All energy storage systems and delivery systems are inefficient

Some (e.g. H2/air PEM fuel cells plus EV motors) more than others (e.g. automotive diesel engines).

Hence the evasiveness on the matter of FCEV fuel economy and range accurately described by electric car proponent and maker Alec N. Brooks, starting p. 1 paragraph 5, .

--- Graham Cowan -- how cars gain nuclear cachet

I fear I wasn't clear. There are all kinds of efficiencies. In the physical science sense efficiency may or may not be important. If there's enough input energy and that's cheap enough, it's better to use 30% of it than to use 75% of something that costs 10 times as much.

Independence from Middle East oil would save a lot of money on armies and overseas adventures, even if the result was lower efficiency of power use.


Subject: Ordung!



Subject: Now how is that 'sound' to us since the medium doesn't extend to here?--> Answer

Now how is that 'sound' to us since the medium doesn't extend to here? --> Answer

[ A long standing mystery has been why hot gas in the central regions of the Perseus cluster has not cooled off over the past 10 billion years to bring a drop in pressure that would draw gas in towards the galaxy to form trillions of stars.

The researchers suggest that as the sound waves move through gas, they are eventually absorbed and their energy converted to heat. This means that sound waves from the black hole in Perseus A may keep the cluster gas hot.]

No, sound waves do not contain that much power, particularly sound waves propagating in a low density medium. I'd suggest that the presence of this large gas cloud itself has insulating properties that the astronomers have not heretofore appreciated. They robably only realized the gas cloud was there when their telescope(s) perceived sound waves.

[The black hole is in a gas cluster, it seems. That's the medium for sound waves. The gas pressure might be close to zero, but it isn't zero, and I guess it's enough for sound waves. Not all parts of space are equally empty. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"]


[ Sure. Now how is that 'sound' to us since the medium doesn't extend to here? Clearly we are dealing with compression and rarefaction in gas, but using the language of sound on this seems bizarre.]

No, Jerry, "sound" is not bizarre in this context. A basic definition of "sound" is: periodic, linear compression waves propagating through a compressible medium. ( Yes, water is somewhat compresible. ) One doesn't have to hear sound for the sound to be there. Sound waves on a vibrating membrane such as a drumhead or the surface of the ocean can be perceived by a sensitive Doppler-measuring microwave radar or laser radar device. After all, how does a microphone work? How does a radio transmit sound? Think about it.

The sound waves around the black hole are probably perceived by optically noting periodic regions of more and less dense gas emanating concentrically from the black hole. The frequency of these sound waves may be extremely low, maybe one cycle per hundred earth years, or something like that. That may not sound like sound to you, but it fits the definition.

-- David Davenport

W. David Davenport

Thank you for the enlightenment.

Dear Jerry:

A 20 second search (I'm on dial up) via iTunes at Apple's Music Store turned up "Georgy Girl" by the Ray Conniff Singers from their THIS IS MY SONG AND OTHER GREAT HITS album.

They would be happy to sell it to you for 99 cents if you would PLEASE join the 21st century and buy a Mac. You could listen free to the first 30 seconds to make sure it's the right version... if you had iTunes.

All the best--

Tim Loeb

Seems to me I've heard that song before...


Greetings Perhaps you could explain something to me. I am working towards a degree in Political Science, and answered a question the other day that produced a surprising reaction in discussion from both my fellow students and the instructor.

The subject was the rising problems between the N. Korean government and the outside world, and possible courses of action that the world might take. There were the expected negotiate, appease, and UN sponsored solutions from my peers. I suggested that we (the United States) raise a full crop (instead of paying ADM & Co. to *not* grow grain) for a year, and then air-drop a few kilotons of food over North Korea.

My reasoning went: It is a given that the current government is short of everything, and dependent on outside sources for food, fuel, etc. Since control over the food supply is a/the primary means by which the central government controls the populace, the U.S. feeding that populace would disrupt, possibly in a permanent manner, that control. Throw into these food shipment radios that are not restricted to the N. Korean government's propaganda channels (and that are pre-tuned to our own propaganda,) coupled with a little encouragement on other fronts, and the communist government could very well collapse with little 'blood and treasure' expended by the United States.

The aftermath would be problematic: refugee flows to the South, and possibly into China as well; Chinese incursion into Northern territory in a land-grab; and so forth. But, these are possible outcomes regardless of the methodology employed, if indeed they are not pre-existing conditions. (Certainly, China already has a hard time keeping up with illegal immigrants from North Korea.)

This was by no means presented as a perfect solution, but as an alternative to the usual way the Great Game is played. The cause of the genuine hostility it generated from all corners is unclear (and surprising) to me. Do you have any thoughts on the subject?

Thank you for your time.

KC Deines

And why, precisely, is it our business as opposed to that of China, Japan, and South Korea? Particularly since South Korea seems determined to keep us from doing anything. Fine: we need those troops elsewhere, and if South Korea can't defend itself given its wealth and NK's poverty, perhaps democracy doesn't work in Asia?  We are the friends of liberty else where but do we really need to go looking for evil giants, or dwarves, to slay?


Iraqi Oil Production Limitations

Jerry, In case you haven't heard from anyone else in response to your question on increasing Iraqi oil production, here's a very quick summary of the issues:

1. Increasing production from current fields requires: a. repairs to oilfield infrastructure damage (both from looting and due to years of neglect and spit-and-bailing-wire fixes, necessitated by sanctions.) b. repair, maintenance and security of the entire export infrastructure, including particularly pipelines and the pumping stations along them. c. deciding whether to increase production from existing fields above sustainable levels, in order to maximize short-term production instead of life-of-field recovery rates. This was apparently done in the Kirkuk field in the North under Saddam. Hard for an outsider to say how much damage was done to the reservoirs this way.

If we can keep the infrastructure safe, and make sure that things that are fixed stay fixed, then there is no reason the country couldn't be back to full pre-war production next year, assuming enough civilian contractors (firms and individuals) can be brought in and kept alive.

2. Increasing production by bringing new fields onto production (needed to get above the pre-war level of 2.5-3 million barrels per day and keep it there): a. Much exploration has been done and a number of giant and near-Supergiant fields already identified, including Majnoon in the south, which I believe the French were set to begin working on once sanctions were lifted. b. Developing new fields will require huge capital injections, either by outside firms or through "retained earnings" from export. It may also require new infrastructure, depending on the location of the new fields. In any case, we're talking several billion $ investment, and at least 3 years before first production.

Regards, Geoff Styles

Of course we can bring in the UN and all the money will then go to UN bureaucrats and expensive offices, and bribes to prevent French vetoes. That will solve all the problems.


On the ATI 9800:

Dr. Pournelle,

I'm having the same problem with my 9800... it didn't occur in my 1200 GHz system... only after I upgraded the mobo and dropped in a 2600. Enough triangles on the screen and whammo! Reset/lockup and windows blames it on the 9800 driver.

I'm running 2 internal squirrel cage fans blowing directly on the heat sinks of the card and mobo. Apparently it may be a thermal issue, since many of the google articles report success after positioning a house fan to blow into the case at full throttle! My new mobo is an Asus a7n8x-x with 1 gig of ddr 3200 RAM. CPU is an Athlon 2600. I'm using a PC Power and Cooling 450 Watt supply. Thank you for that recommendation by the way! Sometime I'll regale you with the story of how those supplies solved an intermittent lockup problem we were having. I've checked google and apparently 9800s are either rock-solid or flaky as a mangy cat!

Please post on your site any info you find out on resolving these problems. I like the performance of the card, but if it can't be made more stable... back to CDW it will go!

BTW, if you haven't tried the new Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG you should. It's much better than ever-crack (in my opinion) and the game is well balanced. My wife was particularly displeased when I trained her chef character as an exotic dancer and left her nearly naked in the cantina!

Many of the elements that were appealing about the original Wing Commander: Privateer are incorporated and you can progress in a non-combat character as effectively as a combat character. There is an active and vibrant economy in the game and watching the market set prices for various resources and equipment is educational in itself. This game could teach basic economics much more effectively than "educationalists".

I'm progressing slowly with my multiclass character and soon I'll have to decide if I want to maintain all the skills I've learned or discard them to advance further in others. Overall the game is really well done. It's not quite 100% yet, but it's a very well done 95%. The graphics with a decent Athlon and the 9800 are the best I've yet seen on this type of game engine but they can be downgraded by the player to allow older systems to function well.

I won't even begin to describe the character generation system since it's got to be experienced firsthand.

Robbie Walker Atlantic Printing Apahloe Kried on RADIANT server in SWG

So far I have used 2 systems and 2 different 9800 boards and if you get enough complexity on the screen they lock. I have downloaded the newest drivers.

ATI has always been the "driver of the week club" and continues to be. Good hardware. They need to find better driver writers.

On the other hand, ATI boards produce the best looking text for actual work.



I find the problems reported with the ATI Radeon 9800 video card to be quite curious. My previous ATI card (Radeon 9700 Pro) was a product straight from the Devil's own workshop and subject to all you report with the 9800 and more, but since I replaced it with a 9800Pro the machine has been stable as stone.

FWIW, if you are using the 9800 in an Intel P865/P875 motherboard it's a good idea to ensure both the latest BIOS and Intel Chipset Drivers (used to be called the .INF) are installed. Both have been updated recently and are available from your motherboard's support page on Intel's web site.

Regards. Hug the puppy.

Ron Morse

Which may be the explanation. I may not have downloaded the proper board drivers. I can't test that hypothesis until I get back up to Chaos Manor in a day or so.


But Joanne Dow says:

Subject: On the ATI 9800

 ATI admits the "too many triangles" issue now in their latest driver code.




Dear Jerry,

Both the article linked to in mail from 9/11/2003 and the response require comment.

Subject: Nuts.


Ordnung. Rather than being excessive and Nazi-like (as Ordnung implies), the behavior of the school in this case was exemplary. Anaphylaxis to peanuts is well-accepted to be one of the most dangerous allergies there is, accounting for the majority of the estimated 30,000 annual emergency room visits caused by food-related anaphylaxis. Hundreds of these patients die each year despite all possible medical efforts.

See, for example

Peanut allergy is seen in about 2% of children and 0.5% of adults (totalling a few million people in the US) and is the allergy most likely to cause severe allergic reaction and death. The best treatment for peanut allergy is avoidance. Unlike many other food allergies, peanut allergy is rarely outgrown. Peanuts and peanut products are among the most commonly used food additives and foods containing trace amounts of peanuts are often not labeled. Therefore, avoidance is not always possible. Parents of children allergic to peanuts live in eternal fear that the next new thing going into the child's mouth might provoke such an anaphylactic reaction despite diligent efforts at prevention.

Intuitively, one might expect that notifying parents that a classmate of their child is anaphylactic to peanuts and asking said parents to avoid sending peanut products to school would be sufficient to prevent peanut products from coming to school. Sadly, you would be mistaken.

My daughter has been diagnosed with anaphylaxis to peanuts (severe peanut allergy) and the parents of the five other children in her kindergarten class were asked to please not send peanut products to school. On a class trip last spring, my wife was horrified to discover that two of the children were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ALONG WITH ONE OF THE TEACHERS. On another occasion, my wife discovered the teacher having the students use peanut butter in a class project to decorate cookies. How did the school respond? "We are doing the best we can." Clearly the reasonable assumption that parents and teachers would cooperate to reduce the risk of causing injury to a child was mistaken.

In conclusion, while it might seem extreme to search children's backpacks for peanuts or peanut products, one cannot ensure that parents will comply otherwise. We take it as our responsibility to educate our daughter about how dangerous peanuts are for her and ask only reasonable help in preventing her from making a possibly fatal error while she is perhaps too young to fully grasp the danger. Only a small number of children die each year from peanut anaphylaxis so one might argue (and some do argue) that banning peanuts from school is extreme and unwarranted. However, is it reasonable that someone's right to eat peanuts threatens someone else's right to live? I think not. Happily school districts are beginning to agree.



ps. I am very happy for Ms. Stewart that she is able to live her life completely unconcerned about her son's peanut allergy. Perhaps he will be lucky and never experience an anaphylactic reaction or if he does, will receive appropriate, rapid, and successful treatment. I have never met another parent of an allergic child who shared her callous and dismissive attitude toward this life threatening condition.

____________________________________________ Bruce Blumberg, PhD. Assistant Professor Dept of Developmental and Cell Biology 5205 BioScience II University of California Irvine, CA 92697-2300

Clearly one remedy would be to plow under all the peanuts and make it a felony to possess peanuts or peanut butter. I doubt anyone would agree to that, or that it would have much more effect than the war on drugs.

I am sorry: but I do not think that giving the state the power to search lunchboxes is the right answer here. It's the likely one, until someone maliciously introduces peanuts to the allergic kid out of sheer frustration.

>>However, is it reasonable that someone's right to eat peanuts threatens someone else's right to live? I think not. Happily school districts are beginning to agree.

Perhaps. I do not myself think this a happy choice. I suspect far more children are killed by cars: should we ban them?  But surely the point is clear. Many things threaten people: must we ban them all?

And I do not find it callous to insist that people have some responsibilities, rather than calling on the state to solve all their problems. This insistence that everyone regardless of handicap shall have "normal" experiences produces some basic distortions in the nature of a republic.

And a reader comments:

It seems to me that there is something clearly wrong with your correspondents statement, "Peanut allergy is seen in about 2% of children and 0.5% of adults (totalling a few million people in the US) and is the allergy most likely to cause severe allergic reaction and death. The best treatment for peanut allergy is avoidance. Unlike many other food allergies, peanut allergy is rarely outgrown. "

Does this mean that the prevalence of peanut allergy is increasing in the population? If not, then 75% of people outgrow the allergy. "Rarely" is hardly the word to use. Second, 2% seems a high number. It would be nice if claimed numbers could be substantiated with references to primary sources.

Now of course we are dealing with a serious situation, and when it comes to the safety of one's children, judgments are likely to be focused on the safety aspects. Clearly there is a balance between public inconvenience and private safety. Moreover, I would myself consent to a number of safety measures: but consent to and accept imposition of are not quite the same things.

And see below





Subject: Sound

Dr. Pournelle,

From David Davenport's e-mail (emphasis added):

"No, Jerry, "sound" is not bizarre in this context. A basic definition of "sound" is: periodic, linear compression waves propagating through a compressible medium. ( Yes, water is somewhat compresible. ) One doesn't have to hear sound for the sound to be there. Sound waves on a vibrating membrane such as a drumhead or the surface of the ocean can be perceived by a sensitive Doppler-measuring microwave radar or laser radar device. After all, how does a microphone work? How does a radio transmit sound? Think about it. "

Radio transmitters actually don't deal with "sound" at all, at least not beyond the microphone. The microphone responds to the changes in air pressure (the compressible medium), and converts it into an AC voltage or current. The modulator stage of the transmitter then uses the AC signal to modify the carrier wave in some manner (usually either the amplitude or the frequency). The modulated RF is then amplified further, and finally sent to an antenna, which converts the electrical signal into the electro-magnetic wave which is radiated to the world ("into the ether!").

The modulating signal only becomes "sound" again when a receiver demodulates the RF, and drives a speaker.


Dave Ballentine KQ3T

[Am I picking at too small a nit here? My point is that sound is essentially mechanical, whereas a radio transmitter is electrical, and a radio signal is electro-magnetic.]


Subject: Lampson's Bill 

Good morning, Jerry.

You may wish to check out Lampson's bill called "Space Exploration Act." 

Best regards - Bob Griswold

They will do anything except put up prizes and get out of the way. The purpose of government is not to accomplish goals but to pay government employees.


Dr. Pournelle,

After digging around, and finding that once again, as you often repeat, Windows Help is useless, I found how one gets the old security features back into Windows XP Pro. In Windows Explorer, selecting Tools -> Folder Options -> View and then scrolling the "Advanced" list down to the bottom reveals an option called "Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended)". Unchecking this option restores Windows XP Pro file sharing in a WorkGroup environment to the same way that Win 2K works. Apparently, when connected to a domain, standard file sharing is used regardless of the setting of this configuration parameter.

I still haven't found out how to turn on "Lock Computer" when not in a domain, however.

Thanks so much, and sorry for the semi-false alarm regarding drive/folder security.

Dan Wilson.



And this is worth thinking about

It seems to be of pretty good fidelity. Since it's labeled as being by The Seekers, that probably provides an avenue for you to reimburse them.

My personal opinion is that, all these years later, paying the artist directly is the way to go.

Best Regards,


p.s. I used Kazaa Lite (K++), through both hardware & software routers and a firewall.


It accompanied a copy of Georgy Girl in MP3. I agree that I owe the Seekers a buck if I keep it, Now how do I pay?









This week:


read book now


Saturday, September 13, 2003

From Ed Hume, M.D.


In the school my daughter was to have attended, she would have been under a no-peanut-butter sandwich edict.

Two things bothered me:

1. Peanut butter, unlike dry peanuts, suspends its allergenic particles in oil. Unlike cat danders, I don't expect peanut butter to produce the same airborne allergy problem that airlines are trying to avoid when they ban dry peanut snacks in airplanes. It seems to me that elementary handwashing would greatly reduce oil-borne peanut particles, and - - heavens! - - someone would have to clean up surfaces every day after school. But, really, banning peanut butter for everyone seems unnecessary. Simply ban dry peanut snacks.

2. Peanut butter is a proteinaceous food that children can eat and most people can afford. Even here in prestigious Princeton there are people who can't afford more expensive lunches for their children. Since appropriate cleaning would likely remove almost all hazard from peanut butter, denying other children their lunches would appear to be overkill.


Thanks. For the record, I added Dr. Hume's degree, not him; Ed is a psychiatrist not a pediatrician.

I have been thinking about this situation and I too think peanuts an important food; indeed at one time when we were thinking about the welfare situation, there was a serious proposal to give bulgur wheat and peanut butter away to anyone wanting them in order to end hunger. It's still not a terrible idea.

There are also matters of freedom. We try to keep people from growing castor bean trees, but not rhodendrums. Various poisons grow wild in the hills, and if kids ate them they'd all be in bad shape. At what point do dangers come to the point of attention of the state?

I don't know; but I do know that these are matters weighty enough for a legislative body, not for some officials to impose by regulation. I concede the right of legislative bodies to ban peanut butter; I wouldn't vote for such a measure, but it's within the public health regulatory powers. I do not concede any administrative body whatever that power.

Jerry; A definitive account of the risk of a child dying of an anaphylactic reaction (in the UK) can be found here;;86/4/236 .

To quote from the authors' abstract: "The UK under 16 population is 13 million. Over the past 10 years, eight children died (incidence of 0.006 deaths per 100 000 children 0–15 years per year). Milk caused four of the deaths. No child under 13 died from peanut allergy. Two children died despite receiving early epinephrine before admission to hospital; one child with a mild food allergic reaction died from epinephrine overdose.

Over the past two years, there were six near fatal reactions (none caused by peanut) and 49 severe ones (10 caused by peanut), yielding incidences of 0.02 and 0.19 per 100 000 children 0–15 years per year respectively. Coexisting asthma is more strongly associated with a severe reaction than the severity of previous reactions".

Res ipse loquitor. Is there a technical term for a morbid fear of litigation?

Robert Forrest, Sheffield UK








Regarding the discussion this week of the sound waves from the black hole in Perseus and the nature of sound, etc.

This reminds me of an incident when I was in 8th grade. In a chapter covering the growth of technology and invention during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our social studies textbook described radio as a means of "sending sound waves through the air." One of my fellow students, who was studying for a ham radio license, objected that this was a description of a loud speaker, that radio used radio waves, a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Several of us joined in to support his contention. The teacher immediately ended the discussion by announcing that the book said "sound waves" and the book could not be wrong.

The next day one of the students (the polite and well-mannered son of German immigrants, he would go on to be our high school class valedictorian) brought in some science books to show the teacher that radio really did make use of the electromagnetic spectrum and not sound waves. He was straight-A student who truly thought the teacher would be pleased by this research. Much to his shock, her response was throw him out of class, sending him to the office on a charge of insubordination, demanding his suspension from school. The textbook had said sound waves and the textbook could not be wrong. The matter was resolved by reducing the penalty to a week's detention. We all learned a valuable lesson in the nature of authority.

Perhaps this was the kind of education that led to motion picture spaceships that make swooshing noises in the vacuum of outer space?


Jim Lawrence



Edward Teller, RIP

Dear Jerry, As I may have mentioned, my father's last duty assignment was with the Joint Chiefs' Nuclear Warfare Status Division, one of the folks who kept track of where all the warheads were supposed to go, and in the event of war, where they in fact had gone. He told me a story about attending a SIOP briefing where Dr. Teller was in attendance:

A young major was going through the SIOP and ended by recapping the amount of damage that would be inflicted on the USSR: X percent of the electrical grid destroyed, Y percent of the steel foundries destroyed, Z percent of the petroleum production & storage, et cetera. At some point during this litany Dr. Teller stood up and asked "Major, enough of these industrial statistics. How many people are we going to kill?"

When I first heard this story, I was a dumb teenager who didn't really know much about Dr. Teller except that he'd invented the fusion bomb, and I thought it was funny in a Dr. Strangelove sort of way. My father gave me a disgusted look and went back to drinking his beer. It was only some years later that I figured out the true point of the story. Teller wasn't acting like a mad scientist. He was trying to get the major to understand that the true costs of nuclear war had nothing to do with economics. Sometimes you need the perspective of age and experience to understand that not all jokes are funny. Some of them have very sharp and painful points.

Best regards. Kevin

That very much sound like Dr. Teller. He and Possony taught me: the best way to survive a nuclear war is not to have one. Deterrence and Defense.


Subject: I need one of these ...

Tracy Walters



Interesting and long article in the Washington Post about Steven Hatfill. Having done some work on this story with a New York Times reporter, I am beginning to think that Hatfill's biggest crime is having an abrasive personality.


=Good article. Whenever the government asks for more power under the Patriot Act I remember the Olympics, Waco, and then this case.

But it is the price of empire.

See next below and my comment.





This week:


read book now


Sunday, September 14, 2003

Dear Jerry:

Read the Hatfill article. I think I was one of the few reporters in the country who thought Richard Jewell was innocent from the beginning and said so. Good reporting is rare. Most reporters don't ask the hard questions they should when the government tries this tactic. Instead they end of quoting each other because of deadlines and competitive pressures from above.

As for the G, this is far from the first time they've done something like this to justify abuses of the Bill of Rights. I did a column once where I said that the biggest threat to your business could be an over-zealous Federal prosecutor. It was mostly about what happened to Steve Jackson Games when one of their employees was caught up in Operation Sundevil. The Patriot Act has certain technical and administrative improvements, but I suspect some of what's been going on lately would pass muster even under that. The whole thing needs to be trimmed, not expanded.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

The problem is, it's not that simple. If we are to continue imperial actions abroad, we may expect more domestic attacks, meaning that we must have more domestic security. That will be done by government people, who will be the kinds of people who want to work in security operations for the Federal government.

There is no escaping this. We cannot be an Empire abroad and remain a republic at home. It can't be done and it leaves us vulnerable to attacks that will cause us to REALLY tighten things up. Most people today think the TSA is necessary.

Continue with our campaigns abroad and there will be dozens of actions here justifying more provisions to the Patriot Acts, and you and I will be forced to support some of them, hating every moment of it.

And there will be dozens of Hatfill cases, and more Waco operations. It is the price of empire.



Subject: Space Access Elevator via buckytubes!,2763,1041360,00.html 

We aren't there yet, but The Dream Is Alive!




Subject: NASA talks of building Arthur C ClarkeXs dream,00040005.htm 

Wouldn't it be great?

Braxton Cook


Which reminds me of John McCarthy's thought for the day yesterday:

"The introduction of new inventions seemeth to be the very chief of all human actions. The benefits of new inventlons may extend to all mankind universally, but the good of political achievements can respect but some particular cantons of men; these latter do not endure above a few ages, the former for ever. Inventions make all men happy without either injury or damage to any one single person. Furthermore, new inventions are, as it were, new erections and imitations of God's own works.''

- Francis Bacon, as quoted in Jevons's Coal Question, p. 458

=We may all be grateful to Buckminster Fuller

I have my doubts about NASA's capabilities to do this but not that it can be done.


And on that note


it seems to me that to insure the fastest and most vigorous expansion of space would be simply for the government to repeal the 1967 space treaty. In it, "space should be for the use of all mankind" (paraphrase)

hell with that,

what you really need is a guarantee to anybody who lays a foot,Plants a flag, and stays put on the moon,, asteroids, rockball,etc the right to keep it,and paint it green

with the rush to rename Stadiums, Parks and other "public" property (after all, who really paid for Staples Centre, if not the taxpayers?) it seems to me that the rush would be on, and anybody with Estes rocket motors and a wheelbarrow would be in on it...

I envision, instead of the sea of tranquility, "Microsoft Crater", Instead of the Straight wall rift, "the great wall of IBM", and who could miss, instad of Mons Olympus, "Mount Hooters bar and grill" with white and orange blinking lights, visible from anywhere on earth.......

Sam Gueydan

It makes for a good story, one I might write, but then physics gets in the way... But I do agree that such "common property" agreements are wrong.


Dear Sir

The following quote comes from a FAQ at 

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry... As the formost advocate for space exploration/exploitation that I know of, I thought I'd send this to you.

Forgive the intrusion Sincerely, Floyd D. Clark

[quote] Why don't we build a solar plant on the moon and beam the energy back to Earth?

We don't do this for the same reason we don't cover North Dakota with wind turbines to supply the whole country with electricity; transmission costs. Disregarding the insanely expensive cost of building a solar plant on the moon, transmitting this energy back would be technically impossible. In addition, with the rotation of the moon and the earth as they are, the transmission cables would quickly become terribly tangled.

"Beaming" electricity is not quite the same as beaming Scotty up to the Enterprise. Electricity travels along transmission cables that are inefficient and very expensive: high voltage cables can cost thousands of dollars per mile. [42] If we could devise a way to efficiently "beam" electricity without transmission cables, we would be utilizing this technology first to connect earthbound power plants with various earthbound consumers.

Perhaps a better idea would be to build solar plants on the earth and then just keep the energy here. It is true that the sunlight on the moon's surface can be more intense than on the earth's surface, due to its lack of atmosphere, but this greater intensity does not justify the R&D effort that would be required to pursue extra-terrestrial capture of solar energy for use on earth. Furthermore since most industrialized countries experience power losses of about 10% between the generating plant and the customer, which is only at most in the hundreds of kilometers, there is no way the energy would be still coursing through the transmission cables after the 384,400 kilometers it would have to travel from the moon to the earth. [43] [44] [/quote]

The interesting part is the mixture of truth and idiocy that seem to be twisted through the whole thing, not just that question. Which shows that just because something is called a FAQ doesn't mean the answers are true and unbiassed. Ah well.

It's the efficiency issue again. If I have 90% losses in transmission but I start with 10 times what I need and it's free, what do I care about efficiency? (Understand, Lunar based solar plants do have some difficulties but they are not only not impossible, they may well be built in future. For some odd reason this FAQ doesn't seem to notice the problems of day/night cycles at all.)

On spam techniques:

Hello, Jerry.

It's been a long time since I've written in, but since I've seen the same spam you posted (again, and again, and again...) I thought I'd comment on it for you.

This group always uses the same M.O. of sending through open relays, not from their own mail servers. They create disposable domain names and use them for a few months only. This is so that the antispammers who use keyword filters have to start over again each time they change domain names.

SlashMonthly... was created on June 25, 2003.

A WHOIS query to find out who registered the domain gives what looks like a valid address in Boca Raton, Florida. Florida seems to have a lot of spammer physical addresses.

This e-mail came to your Earthlink account via an open relay in Japan, and was initially sent from an account in the UK, possibly a dial-up or home user broadband account.

They have used at least 3 different web servers for www.sla... although as of this writing there is no address for it. Also part of their M.O. is to put that web host at one of the "bulletproof" hosting providers in Korea or Brazil, as these hosting providers are happy to take the spammers money for the bandwidth used while ignoring complaints.

Part of their M.O. is to use visual obfuscation on the message, more to fool the human reader than antispam tools. For example, the odd from: and subject: lines. Did you notice that they hide white text in the same e-mail? That provides spacing for them while also embedding junk text designed to counter Bayesian filtering (I've no idea how successful it is; they probably don't know either).

The last part of their M.O. that is worth noting is that they rely on volume, volume, volume. They really don't care that they've sent you the same message 20 times in two days. They seem to be focussed on pumping lots of messages out, rather than getting the messages read.

All of this information can be gotten from or through: 

particularly helpful is doing a Google News search by putting this in the search field: group:*abuse* 

Yours in shared annoyance,

Andrew Colbeck


I've been reading & listening to Colonel Hackworth's commentary, and most particularly his predictions and analysis, since the late 1980's. His actual predictive and analytical ability (based on follow-up after-action reports, facts & observations) seem to be quite weak. He appears to have been a good soldier during his active duty phase, or at least good at earning citations. However, being a good soldier does not necessarily make you a good analyst, person, or even citizen. The facts of the Lynch story are so garbled that the whole truth will never be known (especially since the principle was unconscious during much of the story). I suspect that the Colonel may be exaggerating for effect about receiving "thousands of angry e-mails from vets". I also suspect it's true that Pvt. Lynch would not be receiving a Bronze Star under other circumstances, and that the PC-gender issues are also a factor. The role of gadfly is important, but there's an unhelpful (if we really are fighting a war here) slant to his report.

"'I'm going to send all my awards back to the president and tell him where he can shove them,' says a genuine war hero, Jack Speed, a former Army Raider." (from Col. Hackworth's story)

I've heard similar stories since I was a kid, and I bet that every week in the history of this country some Vet finally got so pissed off at the government/Army/Navy/world that he turned in his medals. There's just no balancing 'on the other hand' component.

The entire SFTT site seems dedicated to morale-busting. You can be a damn liar while telling the truth, and nothing but the truth, but leaving out the whole truth part. You're known by the company you keep, and in this case it looks like Hack is keeping bad company.

Greg A. L. Hemsath









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