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Mail 278 October 6 - 12, 2003






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Monday  October 6, 2003


Subject: Class Action Lawsuit against MS for vulnerabilities,4149,1306813,00.asp 

I'm surprised that this hasn't already happened.

If I were a rabid anti-MS person, I'd be working with my state senator/rep to draft legislation making this easier. Then, the next time a big outage occurs while they are in session, it is easily introduced. 51 million names on the no-call list got the US Congress's attention. A serious outage affecting their constituencies could do the same think at the state level. 

-- 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....

Dr. Pournelle: I guess I have been reading your "Chaos Manor" website for at least three years now, intermittently, as well as being a longtime fan of your fiction. Below is a link to a well-organized essay on WHY it is so vital for the US to intervene in Iraq. I have tried to find fault with the arguments presented here, but have been unable to refute them. 

I'm not sending this along to convert anyone, I just thought this might prove interesting to you and your readers. James Casertano

Thanks. I haven't read it yet. I'll try to. And see below


On Global Warming:

dear mr pournelle

i find this discussion about whether there is man made global warming or whether it is a natural development quite useless. we live in a closed system - it is quite large, but it is closed. if you live in such a system do you try to keep it clean or do you soil it constantly? do you send your dog out of the house to do its business - or do you let it do it inside?

if we mess up this world we live in - are we the ones to bear the consequences or the future generations? when you go hiking you carry your garbage back out - or do you just throw it away?

globalisation? well - one effect is that the world has become my living room!

regards mario gysin this email has been checked for virus on sending

Mario Gysin Fürstensteinhof 1


Which is a good example of piety without useable content I fear: I agree with most of that, but Switzerland has roads and access trails that weren't there in Caesar's time; is that bad? And more people.

I dealt with most of this in A STEP FARTHER OUT. We can disassemble "pollution" into constituent elements given energy. The Kyoto Convention and Greens in general would see that we don't have the energy to deal with such problems.

Whatever the validity of Global Warming, the only thing we can be absolutely certain about is that the world's only hope is a prosperous United States. Cripple us with Kyoto, and we will not have any surplus to aid the rest of the world.

Walter E. Wallis, P.E.



We have just passed through an 11 year sunspot cycle peak. Sunspots are significantly fewer this year then the last two and will be steadily decreasing for the next 5 years. I'll bet by that time there will be pundits expounding about how we're 'winning' the battle against Global Warming and that they have figures to prove it. Five years after that we'll be losing again, per the same pundits.

Cheers John

- Webmaster, Network Admin, Janitor


And, relevant to this:

Hello Dr. Pournelle

You have noted many times that the answer in the near term for energy independence is building nuclear plants. It seems that this has been prevented partialy by NIMBY along with costs that to a large extent have nothing to do with the technical issues of building and running them.

I think the redundent military bases that we can't close due to political reasons might be the answer to part of this problem. Could the President by executive order require each base with a size larger than some set number of acres to host a nuclear plant to be built and owned by private electrical companies? Would this remove the state and local agencies that hold this up from the picture?

The Navy has lots of experience and expertise in oversite and operation of nuclear plants. Perhaps the oversite function at least could be handed over to them. This might help with the non-technical cost issues of building and running them.

The current $87B price tag being handed to the US tax payer clearly reflects on the price of doing nothing to break this log jam.

Thanks Bob Oliver

"Give my children back the lightning!"

=And see below




Subject: Magnetic monopoles found?

--- Roland Dobbins

Now that is news if true.


From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                                  
Date: 10/04/03                                                          subject: Copywrites and File Sharing
Dear Jerry:
        Some interesting thoughts on the 'music pirates' from Orson Scott Card, and singer/songwriter Janis Ian.
        On a web board discussing this recently one comment was:
"What I think is hilarious is when they're talking about lost CD sales when only one or two songs from a CD were ever available from multiple users on Napster, Kazaa, etc.(Greatest Hits albums excepted). The logic therefore is that the rest of the CD was essentially worthless. 'Hey, you band members, 80 percent of your stuff is junk and not even worth copying,' is what they're really saying."
        Is this whole issue really the recording companies crying because they tried to charge people the price of an album, already outrageously too high, for what was essentially a single?

=And see below


Hi Jerry, Perhaps this will be the impetus to get the Air Force into the manned spaceflight game instead of NASA:

October 3, 2003: China's first manned space mission is tentatively scheduled for October 15 with the launch of Shenzhou 5, a domestically manufactured spacecraft based on the Russian Soyuz. Speculation as to what kind of missions the secretive Chinese are planning to fly is increasingly focused on Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). An antenna array on the front of the spacecraft appears to be designed for locating radar emissions, which would allow tracking of Carrier Battle Groups among other things. The additional payload space is dedicated to an optical imaging system which would allow mapping and surveillance with a resolution of 1.6 meters. Government officials claim that the mission will also include an experiment to test the effects of zero gravity on seeds, but after offering to fly some seeds for Taiwan, this seems little more than a gesture. -- Tom Georgianna 

Thanks, Jim Laheta



Dr Pournelle,

Chinese in Space

I'm reluctantly coming round to the view that the only thing that's likely to get the US manned space effort (I hesitate to use the word 'program') moving forward again in short order is competition, specifically competition which is at least perceived to be of the military variety.

Maybe we don't have so very long to wait for a second Sputnik-style shock— maybe we should even be hoping for one.

Maybe we should be asking if the United States could sit idly by while the Chinese established a manned base on the Moon, which is their stated objective?

Jim Mangles

Think on this for a while. I should write more on this; I'll get back to it later. 

With all of the attention on the Chinese Shenzhou it is important to remember that it's heritage includes Soviet designs not only for 'orbital modules' but for opbital Battle Stations which were on the verge of deployment when the USSR collapsed in the late '80s.

The Russians has a wealth of nearly flight-ready hardware and designs that were not deployed for financial reasons. These included orbital ABM platforms and rockets (the Mir Spektr module was 'resuced' from mothballs by US funds and launched to MIR) as well as manned on-demand tracking stations and FOBS platforms. It's known that the Russians 'imaged' and tracked Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984 with a low-power laser system which disrupted on-board systems as well as temporarilly blinding at least one crew member.

We should all be aware that the Russians had these and other technologies in a near-deployment state when the Strategy of Technology simply bankrupted the USSR. The Chinese on the other hand have both the capital resources as well as national willpower to further develop these systems and deploy them as desired.




Dear Dr Pournelle

Interested in building your own Segway scooter? Probably not, but interesting that someone has. 

Warmest regards

Skip Neumayer


Dear Mr. Gysin:

I wish to respond to points made in your e-mail, published by Dr. Jerry Pournelle on his website. Since this follows closely on the heels of the sensible Russian Federation decision to consider Kyoto more carefully, I presume you are reacting to Kyoto and its claims to solve the problem of global warming.

> i find this discussion about whether there is man made global warming or whether it is a natural development quite useless. we live in a closed system - it is quite large, but it is closed.

1. We do have much greater control over the inputs and the intermediate mechanisms than you present here. Spreading several cargo ship's load of fine iron filings upon the ocean could produce a dramatic sequestration of carbon dioxide, and result in a significantly lowered greenhouse effect.

Likewise, we could paint roadways whilte and seed clouds at appropriate altitudes to increase the planetary albedo, and thereby reflect thermal energy back out of the atmosphere.

You have not even mentioned bootstrapping ourselves out of the practice of fossil fuel consumption by replacing coal-fired plants with nuclear electricity generation, replacing internal-combustion-engine vehicles with diesel-electric or gasoline-electric hybrids with smart recharging when not being driven, and with microwave-transmission of electrical power from satellite solar power arrays, as the Japanese are experimenting with.

I've made the investment to replace my truck for commuting with an electric bicycle; have you?

In short, there are solutions, but many of them are unacceptable as they _are_ solutions and not an opportunity to continue with the status quo.

> if you live in such a system do you try to keep it clean or do you soil it constantly? do you send your dog out of the house to do its business - or do you let it do it inside?

2. The analogy begs the question of your state of mind. Why not just stick to the issues of heat and cold, instead of using semantically loaded images such as a dog soiling the house? This is not an objective way to frame an argument.

3. If we do not agree global warming is deleterious, then there will not be consensus for action. Russia would benefit greatly by warmer climate. The United States have benefited to the tune of $14 billion in 2002. Might warmer climate also benefit Switzerland?

4. If economic studies show (and, to date, they have not) that global warming would be on the whole bad, please consider that we do not understand the _cause_ of the situation. Therefore, rushing to judgment on how to apply a draconian solution (e.g., Kyoto Treaty-type dictats and the consequent global negative economic impact, falling largely on the poor if equally applied) is entirely inappropriate.

Until the source of a problem is understood, fixing the problem applies the Law of Unintended Consequences. Would you like us to overshoot and enter a new Ice Age?

> if we mess up this world we live in - are we the ones to bear the consequences or the future generations?

5. I think you know the answer to that one. Why pose it, if not to indulge in rhetoric for its own sake?

> when you go hiking you carry your garbage back out - or do you just throw it away?

6. Again, a semantically loaded red herring.

7. If you had read Dr Pournelle's books, you would know he leaves his campsites at least as clean as he found them.

> globalisation? well - one effect is that the world has become my living room!

8. Again, had you read Dr. Pournelle's books or his writing here, it would be clear that he opposes globalization for its own sake. You seem to object to this. Congratulations for agreeing with Dr. Pournelle.

===== -- John E. Bartley, III - K7AAY telcom admin, Portland OR, USA - Views mine. palmwireless (dot) cjb (dot) net Wireless FAQ for PalmOS(r)

This post is quad-ROT13 encrypted. Reading it violates the DMCA. Dilbert is a documentary.

And see below


Subject: the essay on Arabia

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I read through the posting at  referenced in the Monday, October 6, 2003 Mail. The observations made by the writer about Saudi Arabian attitudes and opinions are accurate to the best of my limited knowledge. His opinions on how we should change them and why are his own, but they do reflect an understanding of the people and their culture. Our US government should be as well versed in the Islamic culture before making decisions. I completely agree with his statement that changing the culture will take time and work. Remember that slavery was outlawed in the USA by the fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution after the Civil War, and not the Emancipation Proclamation, as many believe. Some people in the USA still have not gotten the word that slavery is against the law, and that all races and religions are regarded as equal, even the ones that a person does not like.

The site for the posting is in Niue, a small South Pacific Island that apparently sells anonymity to registrants.


William L. Jones

But see below on the .nu designation.







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Tuesday,  October 7, 2003


Hello Dr. Pournelle, 

Oops, a little typo slipped into you last Byte column "Pretty as a Picture". Konrad Zuse was German, not Russian as implied in the sentence "the Russian Zuse machines". There is lots of biographical information about him on the web, for example:  or 

I studied computer science in Germany and to some of my x-professors those would probably be fightin' words... (haha)

If, on the other hand, you were referring to something else completely then, if you have time, let me know - even a "I was on a different track". I would look it up more extensively than the five minutes google time I invested after reading that line.

I have always enjoyed the column - and used your "I do these stupid things..." line on occasion. Thanks.

-- Best regards, Steve Barlow

AND a burning question:

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Perhaps it's the cynic in me, but having witnessed the marketing of New Coke, Classic Coke, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, Diet Vanilla Coke, Caffeine-free Diet Coke, I have to wonder at Intel's motives for hyperthreading. Soft-drink companies vie for more self-space in supermarkets. A powerhouse like the Coca-Cola company can shove smaller producers off the shelves by segmenting its own share. The goal is to sell more of its product to consumers while limiting competition. Look at the soda shelves in the supermarket: lots of prime shelf-space for Coke and Pepsi products, niches and corners for everyone else.

Perhaps Intel is using a modification such a practice. Here's my rationale: Only a very small percentage of computer users swap-out old processors for new ones. In effect, there is only a tiny after-market for processors. Intel can sell processors in new PCs, but as PCs grow in power, how often are people buying new PCs? I find my 5-year-old PII system more than adequate for e-mail, web surfing, word-processing, and the simple spreadsheeting I do. I may buy a new PC in the next year or so because it is showing its age with the graphics packages I use, but I'd bet that the vast majority of PC purchasers aren't buying new PCs as often as I do.

That leaves Intel with a big, but static, market in processors in new PCs. How to solve this? Put more processors in PCs [the metaphysical equivalent of getting more shelf-space]. Instead of selling one processor per PC, hyperthreading could result in 2, 3, 4, or more processors in a PC. Intel has to figure out the price break-point -- what will people be willing to pay for each additional processor? -- but going back to the soda analogy, there are many households that have Coke, Diet Coke, and Vanilla Coke in the 'fridge.

Getting people to prefer multi-processor PCs either pushes other processor makers into hyperthreading [Pepsi now has a vanilla flavor], or pushes then out of the market.

This isn't to say hyperthreading is a bad thing, but it should be considered as a marketing tool as well.

-- Pete Nofel NCC CleOps 216.257.5739 01-5212

=But it's not multiple chips, I would have said if I didn't have to run before I could answer.  See below


Dr Pournelle,

The warming wolf

You say, so rightly, that…

Measures suggested now are terribly expensive, would have a drastic effect on the world economy, and may do no good at all while soaking up the money that will be needed when and if we find we really have to Do Something and know what that is.

I think it’s worse than that.  The people who drive the global warming scare, or panic, or whatever, are also guilty of squandering  intellectual and goodwill capital. They should go and read, and absorb, Aesop’s fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

One day, long after the global warming scare-bubble is long burst and shown to be a sham, we may face a genuine environmental catastrophe but no-one will believe it because the people doing the warning will no longer be believable.

Others have pointed out here some of the very obvious and rather cheap technical fixes for global warming (if it’s real) but the Kyoto brethren don’t want to know. Why? Because, I suggest, they see this belief of theirs as a substitute for religion; not only is it unfalsifiable (in Karl Popper’s sense) in their eyes but any ‘cure’ that does not require the human race to change its wicked ways and repent would be immoral.

Anyway, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the notion that we have just— coincidentally— developed the supposed means of measuring and predicting the planetary climate at the very same unique moment in all of history that we are, for the first time ever, damaging it by our own efforts. It’s a bit like the 3rd rate SF movies (it was usually movies) where the hero builds his spaceship in his backyard and flies to Mars just in time to forestall the Martians’ one and only invasion of Earth in the last several billion years.

Yeh, right.

Jim Mangles


The legions are getting serious about long-range pipeline security, but they are moving at a snail's pace.

FROM THE Oil and Gas Journal

US deploying airborne snipers to protect northern Iraqi pipelines


By Eric Watkins
Middle East Correspondent
NICOSIA, Oct 6 -- The US soon will begin deploying airborne snipers to prevent further acts of sabotage that already have stopped the flow of oil from Iraq's northern fields to its export terminal at the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

US military commanders in Iraq have opted to revive the elite 327th Tiger Force, consisting of long range reconnaissance patrols originally created for action in Viet Nam.

Helicopter pilots recently have trained to fly snipers along northern pipelines, which run 500 km between Iraq and Turkey. The pilots are expected to fly at night without light and to hover within range of targets. "We can hit a target before it knows we're there," said one sniper.


Allan Smalley


Hyperthreading does not involved multiple processors being purchased from Intel. Rather it allows a single processor to appear to the operating system as more than one logical CPU. One of the big performance enhancements of the Pentium line was out-of-order instruction execution and branch prediction. This was done by having more physical registers than logical registers. Later Intel would use some of the floating point registers to assist in multi-media tasks when not needed for real numbers. The logical next step would be to round up all the extra CPU components not needed by the current program thread and allow another thread to execute in parallel. This is of course a gross oversimplification of the technology but shows the general idea.

--- Al Lipscomb AA4YU


In response to the marketing question posed in your mail for Tuesday, there seem to be a couple of assumptions that are incorrect.

Hyper threading uses a single chip to act like 2 cpu's within a Windows OS, or any other OS for that matter that can take advantage of the extensions. It is not an additional chip.

It also does not vie for additional shelf space as it is included within every chip made after a certain clock frequency. It was added much like MMX to the product line. Intel also does not only market the products to the home user but to businesses which are a large part of the business model and which will particularly benefit from the feature. Intel is trying to make a dual cpu performance boost, cheaper and easier to attain for the average home or business PC.

Given the above, I don't understand what case is being made.


Nor really did I. I was in a hurry to get something up, and then the day began to fall apart. 

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I stand corrected on my "hyperthreading" correspondence. I was responding to your request for comments on the first e-mail in the Friday, Oct. 3, 2003, mail section. In my e-mail comment, I should have used "multi-threading" instead of "hyperthreading." Below is the segment from Mike Plaster's e-mail that prompted my comment. Note that he refers to multi-CPU PCs.

The AMD chip is designed to be a bridge to the future with a vision that the home PC will be pure 64 bit, presumably with one large 64 bit CPU. Intel on the other hand has multi-threading, which could act as a bridge to a future where the home PC has two or even 4 CPUs.

The competition between AMD and Intel is more about the hearts and minds of software developers than it is benchmarks. If the majority of software developers write code that takes advantage of multi-threading, then it would be an easy step to build home PCs with multiple CPUs. If, however, the majority of software developers write code that takes advantage of the AMD 64 bit extensions, then the future if the PC would be a single large 64 bit CPU. On the gripping hand, if the developers do both we could end up with PCs that are multiple 64 bit CPUs.

-- Pete




One thing about this place: it does tend to be self-correcting.




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Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Dear Dr Pournelle,

Subject: Global Warming and Climate Models

You have frequently made the point that until climate models can simulate the past they should not be trusted to predict the future. Have you seen ( )? This is a Distributed Computing experiment (on the lines of SETI@home) set up by a number of UK academic groups. They say:

The aim of is to investigate the approximations that have to be made in state-of-the-art climate models. By running the model thousands of times (a 'large ensemble') we hope to find out how the model responds to slight tweaks to these approximations - slight enough to not make the approximations any less realistic. This will allow us to improve our understanding of how sensitive our models are to small changes and also to things like changes in carbon dioxide and the sulphur cycle.

I only came across this yesterday and I have not taken in all the information on the site but I was interested to see that the second phase of the experiment, after initial testing of the model, is to:

Assess predictive model skill by making a probabilistic hindcast of the past climate by use of the HadCM3 model.


Make an ensemble of seasonal hindcast simulations for the year 1950 by perturbing the initial conditions, and running a range of historical forcings. Compare model outputs with observation to assess how well the model performs.

and only then move on to trying to predict the next fifty years ( ). It seems at least some climatologists understand basic principles.

The model they are using is that used by the UK Met Office to produce the standard UK 5 day weather forecast and it is an interesting example of Moore's Law that the 500,000 line Fortran model designed for a Cray is already running on over 35,000 Windows machines.

Best wishes and keep up the good work,

Alasdair Urquhart

I had not seen that. I am not sure that more computing power is going to do the job, but I suppose it can't hurt. What we really need is scientists willing to look at what's staring them in the face: in historic times the Earth has been both warmer and cooler than it is now, and the Sun is a mildly variable star.

Variations in solar output will swamp most human efforts. We need to be thinking about what we will do as things change. And see below.


On votes and voting

Sir: Here is a website that illustrates why people are concerned about touch screen voting machines.

I have been reading your columns since your "giant" CP/M machine days in Byte magazine. You, of all people, know how unreliable a computer can be and how necessary it is to have a verifiable paper trail and/or a proper electronic record to make tampering close to impossible.

This issue needs your attention and considerable clout applied to it.


Hank Prohm Salem, OR

Indeed. A verifiable paper record of an election is entirely necessary. What I would advocate is a touch screen that prints a ballot; the ballot is given to the voter who must inspect it and determine this is what was intended; only then is the computer vote tallied. The paper ballot then put in the ballot box. The results have been tallied by computer and the paper ballots are not counted unless the precinct results are challenged. Of course this is more expensive than the punch cards, which are fine for most people, although using one does require a bit more intelligence than using a doorknob.

But I doubt anyone is listening.

As I watched the voting results tonight it soon became obvious to me that Gore was correct in stating that people intending to vote for him voted for Buchanan.

I noticed that Schwartzman was right next to Arnold Schwarzenegger on the ballot. Unlike most of the local candidates he stayed at around 0.28% of Arnolds vote as the precincts came in. As I write this he is slowly being overtaken by Mary (Carey) Cook. This is as Arnolds percentage has dropped from 54% to 47%. The next three all have had constant percentages through the night.

I don't know what it means that Larry Flynt can gather so many votes. Mary Carey shows the power of ONE good commercial that draws the attention of the press. She was nowhere until her commercial was shown during the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Talk about knowing your target audience.

Thomas Weaver

Interesting observation. 

Of course those incapable of expressing their true opinions in simple ways may not be those you seek out for advice?


I am told the above statement may be confusing. In simple terms: them what's too stupid to figure out how to vote with punched cards probably shouldn't be voting at all.



And Yet Another Correction:

subject: my mistake

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

A polite message from Steven C. Den Beste called attention to my goof. He is the author of the site _USS Clueless_, located in San Diego. He made the .nu registration through a Massachusetts non-profit, NuNames, because he detested the for-profit US firms handling domain registrations, and has never attempted to cloak anything. My error was caused by the large number of .nu sites unfit for family reading or viewing, and I did apologize. He sent his message from  , and also gave me another URL, which I may forward to you after reading.


William L. Jones

Thank you. I have not been following the .nu designation at all so all this is news to me. I found the essay illuminating.

Subject: Software Fashion 

This article has an a lot of truth in it.




I found this item by Walter Williams to be quite interesting:

Jim Woosley

=I have long said the Rule of Law is the most important tradition in Western Civilization, and the day the Plebians  made the Patricians write down the Twelve Tables and post them in the Forum so that all would know what the law was may have been the most significant day in the history of freedom.

But the lawyers no longer believe in the rule of law.

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide. Remember this useful phrase. You will find you need it again and again.


"China details space plans" 


"A lunar orbiter would be launched by rocket and reach the Moon in eight or nine days, the paper said. It would circle the Moon for a year, gathering information about the lunar geology, soil, environment and natural resources, it added. The BBC's correspondent in Beijing, Louisa Lim, says these comments are a sign that Chinese ambitions in space go far beyond a manned space flight."

Gee, ya think so???

--John R. Strohm

"Take the high ground, boy, or they'll kick hell out of you in the valleys." -- Tactics instructor about 1950; name forgotten. And of course the late General Graham named his strategy advocacy organization "High Frontier."



I recently found an old piece from Forbes Magazine. On August 21, 2000, Tim Ferguson suggests an alternative to Kyoto and other protocols for regulating carbon and other greenhouse gases.

In his article, "Paint the Town White", he suggests increasing the effective albedo of the planet.

"The real problem is Earth's low albedo -- it reflects only a small fraction of the sun's energy because most of its surface is dark compared to a snowfield or a coat of white paint. Such white surfaces reflect three times as much as bare rock or desert soil, and up to ten times as much as deep water or black asphalt paving.

"It is easy to calculate how much it would take to counter the retention of heat by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. ... [The amount trapped] is still only a thousandth of the incoming solar energy. Which is why enhancing the reflectivity of a corresponding fraction of the earth's surface to the brightness of a snowfield would reverse the environmental impact of the industrial revolution. A thousandth of the earth's surface comes to 200,000 square miles. Let's do a little more -- 250,000 square miles -- to allow for the fact that a white surface on the ground is not a perfect mirror into outer space.

"Split 6 billion ways, brightening up 250,000 square miles is not such a formidable task: It comes to about 1,000 square feet apiece."


"It will grieve the green and frugal alike to learn that some things are cheaper than energy conservation. Just saying no to the passive solar heating of the Earth is one of them."

As long as Phil Castora is on the self-appointed Committee to Paint Orange County Some Other Color, maybe he should take care to choose a very reflective color.

................................Karl Lembke


Dear Jerry:

If you haven't gotten your new Mac yet you might as well wait another few weeks and get the new Panther update loaded on the machine. Upgrade cost is $129, but if you wait until it's shipping loaded on the new machines you'll save that $$ as well as not have to go through the hassle of installing the upgrade yourself. Official release is Oct. 28, so it's not far off.

You still ARE going to buy a PowerBook, right???

All the best--

Tim Loeb

I will sort of have to wait anyway, given the expenses we just had...







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Thursday, October 9, 2003

On paint programs:



I am an old user Paint Shop Pro, and I was quite happy up to version 6.0. Recently I upgraded to version 8.0 and suddenly I can’t do any of the things that were so easy before. In a misguided attempt to compete with Adobe Photoshop they have made this wonderfully simple package very hard to use. There are so many line styles it’s hard to draw a simple line, and with all the materials, colors and gradients you have to pick from, doing a simple bucket fill is like launching a rocket. I used to pick the color of my text while keeping the background unchanged. Now I have to set stroke and fill colors, unless I want hollow letters. If I then delete the text, the area is filled with the latest fill color, not the background. Worse, what used to be a rock solid product now regularly comes up with a very ‘helpful’ dialog telling me it made an illegal function call, which then renders the current image un-editable. If you are thinking of “going back”, forget about it. In my opinion, if you are willing to climb the now steep learning curve, you might as well learn to use the market leader. Or do as I did: I went back to version 6.0, which does everything I need.




This is not the first letter I have on this subject but it is the most detailed. Apparently they fixed things that weren't broke. Alas.






This week:


read book now


Friday, October 10, 2003

the hoagland stuff is always a hoot,

im surprised they didnt also report the story of the ufo sighted over chernobyle...

but going to the link I found this page, which is scary to think about: 

if the Kurdish "army" declares war on turkey, who are in the process of moving troops south to "aid" the US in Iraq, we have a all new shootin match...

who do we attack to preserve the peace?

If we back the Kurds, it means a much much wider war, If we allow Turkey to attack the Kurds, you'll be looking at another Armeanian style Genocide. If we attack the Kurds, the moslem press will dfeclare we're no better than Sadam since one of the resons for us to be in Iraq in the first place was to protect the Kurds and other populations...

if we attack Turkish troops, we lose the wedge between Iran and Iraq, and all hell will break loose if I ran starts moving troops in as well... If we attack both, in the process of "peacekeeping" we will ultimately win, just like the romans won the Punic wars...

and the Kurds, like Carthage will cease to exist in any form...


It is always easier to bring in the Turks than to get them to leave...

Feeling Safer:

excerpt: ... [a] review of the Transportation Security Administration's testing procedures found that on a recent final exam given to new screeners at LaGuardia Airport, 22 of the 25 questions were used during the practice quiz, and testing protocol "maximized the likelihood that students would pass." ..... One question asks "why is it important to screen bags for IEDs? (improvised explosive devices)." Multiple-choice answers included "ticking timer could worry other passengers," "batteries could leak and damage other passenger bags," or the wires could "cause a short to the aircraft wires." The correct answer is that "IEDs can cause loss of lives, property and aircraft."

======== Philip Stuntz Agency Systems v 979.260.9702x133 f 979.846.3370

But in fact it hardly matters. The day we changed the rules of engagement the threat of another 911 ended. It's always possible to destroy an airplane but now even with guns you can't convert it into a cruise missile.

Steve Martin sent you this MSNBC News Link:

** Simple brush might fix shuttle damage ** NASA engineers have found that a simple foam paint brush could be used to patch a hole in the spacecrafts protective panels.



That principal with no judgment ability concerning the inhaler incident should be replaced by a computer. It would be less costly, and rules would still be strictly enforced with no human thought whatsoever.



First, this happened:

Then this happened: 

Followed by: 

Does that mean Sunncomm will be suing M$? Guess the legal system can move quickly when it wants to.

Rob Madison


Subject: find out your pirate name 

I'm Captain Jack Vane!

Mark Huth

"In democracy its your vote that counts.; In feudalism its your count that votes." Mogens Jallberg

And I am Bloody Harry Flint.  Ye gods.

[A number of you have sent your pirate names. I fear I did not record them...]



I received a couple of copies of the spam below this morning. It also pops up a dialog box asking for a read receipt.

I wonder how many people provide credit card details so they don't get billed? :(

I agree it is time for extreme measures for these scum.

Jim Dodd San Diego

-------------------------------- Thank you for joining your secret link is below. Your credit card will be billed at $22.95 weekly. To cancel your membership please email full credit card details to Ready to play in the “shadows” and trade all types of underage porn? We have the best selection for every taste! Click the secret link below and have fun… www.shadowcrew .com/ phpBB2/index.php


found on Drudge... NASA   Successfully Flies First Laser-powered Aircraft Dateline Marshall SFC 2003 Oct 9.


Added note -- regarding German's complaint about the old Paint program's upgrades; IMHO the same can be said of almost every "improvement" in MS Office since Office 97....

Jim Woosley

Actually I found Office 2000 Pro to be the right stopping point.


If you want an argument for imperialism:

Subject: Steven C. Den Beste

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I have read the article posted by this man at

It is a discussion of what we should do in Iraq, based on the history of WWI and WWII. I tend to agree with him. You may not, but the article is thoughtful, and has links to more material that you can investigate during your Copius Free Time. He lives in your part of the country, and you might wish to contact him directly.


William L. Jones

this is as good a one as any. It argues that US intervention in WWI was a good thing, marred by the fact that we didn't stay and build entangling alliances. It doesn't look at the possible consequences of not getting in there in the first place ( so that England and France had to respond to the Kaiser's Peace Offensives which terrified England with the threat of return to status quo ante).

It also seems a bit confused about the status of Germany and Japan as defeated powers, and Iraq and Afghanistan as "liberated". But if you want an argument in favor of perpetual war for perpetual peace, this is one.

Query: who, precisely, in authority in Iraq, has proclaimed that the citizens should cooperate with the United States? Who is their Emperor, or successor to the Fuhrer?

Here is an excerpt from the article:

There's a single solution to all of those: benign occupation by a substantial disinterested military force whose only significant goal was keeping the peace, and which was willing and able to fight against anyone who threatened the peace. Such a force bears no resemblance to what are referred to as "peacekeepers", who generally are only capable of keeping the peace when there are no threats to the peace. This is rather a force willing to "fight for peace", and that's what we kept in Germany and Japan.

I will leave the critique here as an exercise for the readers. Note the implication, that such an army exists and has enormous patience while being "disinterested". Whether or not the nation that fields that army needs another isn't examined. Praetorians and Legions...

Lo! All is new again! And we can do anything! And should. And see below.


Subject: Mote in Gods eye 

Hey, I've heard of that! Pournelle and Niven wrote about that years ago!



Subject: More manufacturing bites the dust . . .

The Carrier Corporation was a mainstay in Syracuse, NY. SU has the Carrier Dome-- the campus sports arena. The traffic circle near the plant is called Carrier Circle.

And to think the plant was started during the depression! 



Dr Pournelle,

“Give me Back my Legions!”

A quote from  your quote from Steven C. Den Beste:

    “This is rather a force willing to "fight for peace", and that's what we kept in Germany and Japan.”

No, it was not, at least in the sense here implied.

The US (and in the case of Germany, the UK too) kept forces there for more than, say, a couple of years not to secure German or Japanese ‘peace’ but to stop the Soviet Union’s imperialist ambitions. In Germany, the Berlin Airlift turned the Anglo-Americans from occupying conquerors into friends and allies against the Soviets. In Japan the Korean War required Japanese industry to busy itself again to support US forces in Korea; this did more to create jobs and prosperity in Japan than anything else, and turn the Japanese away from Communism  and/or Socialism and in favour of Capitalism and the US.

I detect no such similar turning-mechanism in the case of Iraq today.

Praetorians and Legions...

Even superpowers have to take care not to squander their military power:

As I am sure you will recall, for years after the annihilation of three Roman legions by the Germans at the Battle of Teutobergerwald in 9AD, Caesar Augustus used to be heard to call out in his sleep at night, “Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!"

Jim Mangles


SCO Follies

SCO announced that all Linux users need to buy a license for all the secret SCO intellectual property inside recent Linux kernel versions.

A guy named M. Drew Streib has been trying to get a license from SCO. He seems to figure it's worth $700 to find out more about these licenses, or else that the licenses are a scam and he's in no danger of actually needing to pay. So far the latter seems to be true: he can't find anyone who will sell him a license.

SCO announced that the license was $700 if you bought right away, and $1400 after that. As far as he could tell, it was not possible to buy one before the price went up, as they told him "that there wasn't a product manager for Linux licenses, and that there wasn't currently a way for salespeople to sell these licenses."

At one point he had someone who was willing to charge him money, but they said there was no procedure to let him read the license before he buys it, and he balked at buying the pig in a poke.

"Sales reps are currently authorized to take your credit card information and sell you a 'license' over the phone, but are apparently unable to actually send you a copy of said license.

"It seems odd that I should be able to 'sign' something over the phone without having actually had theh opportunity to view it. If the license itself is a grant, and not the contract, then shouldn't the terms of the contract itself require that I at least know what I'm getting in return for my hard-earned (sometimes) bucks?"

The latest: he still hasn't managed to buy a license, and it seems that they are just giving him a runaround.

"I have a request of Linux (or really any) news organizations. Find two or three of your best reporters and have them try, in the nicest way possible, to buy a Linux license from SCO. I'm having absolutely terrible luck, despite my most gracious attempts, to throw money at SCO (in return, of course, for the famed license).

"I can't believe that a sales force is this incompetent, or instead of that possibility, that SCO could be so blatantly outright in their lying about license availability."

Personally, I think SCO publicly offered the licenses then privately reconsidered. There's no way to sell the licenses without exposing SCO to lawsuits, and no way to retract the offer without losing huge face publicly (and they might get sued anyway).

-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

Verrry Interesting....








This week:


read book now


Saturday, October 1, 2003

I am under the weather. Mail tomorrow




This week:


read book now


Sunday, October 13, 2003

See urgent bug alert in view.

Subject: Memory Diagnostic software from Microsoft 

I'm a long time fan and I just noticed this and thought you may be interested.

ps. Hope the dog is feeling better
steve mackelprang

Thanks. Puppy is fine. I'm not so good, laid low by some kind of flu. Roberta is recovering. Wish I were.

The best shuttle repair tool turns out to be a foam paint brush from Wal-mart.

the death of western civilization

Hi Jerry,

If I did not believe that western civilization is dying, I believe it now. (ok, Canada at least)

I know for a fact that there were times I needed a little "attitude adjustment" and (in hindsight, of course) realize just how much good it did me. For the Government to tell me how to raise my kids is just completely unacceptable. Sure, protect them if I fail in my duty but to prevent me from instilling discipline on them? Just what kind of creatures do they wish to unleash on society?

Children need to understand that they are responsible for their own actions and that there are potential repercussions.

What's that fable about the thief and his mother?

- Paul

Brave new world, that has such creatures in it!


I think this has real merit 

Mark Huth

"In democracy its your vote that counts.; In feudalism its your count that votes." Mogens Jallberg

I know almost nothing about this. Comments?


a nice bit of public vigilantism


But Wait! There's More! 

- Paul

Great heavens to Murgatroyd!


Subject: Copyrights and File Sharing

Dear Dr Pournelle,

That Orson Scott Card piece about 'music pirates' just about says it all about the way the record companies have manipulated copyrights. There's one more thing though; he refers to the practice of the companies to arrange contracts with musicians so that recordings are made as "work for hire" and the musicians never own the copyright to their performances. What's truly outrageous about it is that the musicians are charged for ALL the costs of making the recording out of their 10% to 15% royalties. Who's exactly doing the hiring here?

And who are the real pirates?

See  for a breakdown of who gets what in the typical record company deal. The musicians are contracted to do whatever the company wants but also to bear all the costs themselves. The system is now so weighted against them that very few recording artists are lucky enough to have sufficiently high sales that they actually see a decent living.

I'd feel guilty about music sharing and downloading if I thought there was any chance of the musicians actually getting any of the royalties from buying a CD.

Regards, Ron Colverson


Law of unintended consequences


In reading this - -  - - it occurred to me that one unintended consequence of the issuance of patents is that people and firms are running away from the technology thus patented, instead of paying royalties as firms might have done in years gone by. They can run away from patented technology because there are lots of ways to accomplish the task other than the patent. It may be that the Patent Office is patenting methods that are not sufficiently novel, nonobvious or uniquely useful to warrant a patent. I don't know for sure. All I know is that this is not what my Patent Law teacher (he later became the Commissioner of Patents) had in mind in 1982.

The truly useful and unique patents - - the ones that add so much value that people cheerfully pay royalties to use them - - are not often the subject of lawsuits.

What causes consternation is submarine patents - - patents in process for a long time that ambushes unsuspecting users (barcode), patents applied more broadly than expected (Eolas) or patents applied after users inferred that the patent-holders would not ask for royalties (Rambus). These situations do not allow users to avoid the patents in advance.

It is clear to me that in high-tech, much more so than in previous industry, there is enormous pressure to avoid the costs of using technologies covered by royalties. In particular, on the Internet information wants to be free, in part because there are so many micro-users who wouldn't do what they are doing if they were paying royalties every time they turn around.

Ed Hume








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