jp.jpg (13389 bytes)


Mail 283 November 10 - 16, 2003






BOOK Reviews

read book now

emailblimp.gif (23130 bytes)

CLICK ON THE BLIMP TO SEND MAIL TO ME. Mail sent to me may be published.


Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Highlights this week:

LAST WEEK                 Current Mail                  NEXT WEEK

  The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.


If you are not paying for this place, click here...

IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

 Search engine:


or the freefind search

   Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search

read book now

Boiler Plate:

If you want to PAY FOR THIS PLACE I keep the latest information HERE.  MY THANKS to all of you who sent money.  Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods. I am preparing a special (electronic) mailing to all those who paid: there will be a couple of these. I have thought about a subscriber section of the page. LET ME KNOW your thoughts.

If you subscribed:

atom.gif (1053 bytes) CLICK HERE for a Special Request.

If you didn't and haven't, why not?

If this seems a lot about paying think of it as the Subscription Drive Nag. You'll see more.

Search: type in string and press return.


line6.gif (917 bytes)

read book now If you contemplate sending me mail, see the INSTRUCTIONS here and here.



This week:


read book now


Monday  November 10, 2003 

The column is done, but cleanup isn't. We are still in short shrift mode. Begin with an interesting analysis by Francis Hamit

Subject: Circles of Influence and Circles of Concern

Dear Jerry:

I first heard the term "Circles of Influence and Circles of Concern" from a young man in North Hollywood who made a great deal of money making teeth for people who wanted to play at being vampires. Funny where you find wisdom sometimes. He was convinced that he himself had vampire blood, by the way, and magical powers. His confidence was very attractive to a certain kind of young woman; many of whom were ready to be seduced. And were.

I think that a similar kind of seduction took place when we got into the current war in Iraq. The idea that we could repeat our experience in Europe, right down to the cheering crowds that greeted us as liberators, was a seductive one and the seduction worked at first, even with a lot of our leaders who should have known better. The circles of influence were the neocons and their notion that we are somehow, by default, in charge of the rest of the world. If our own history teaches us anything it is that might does not make right. The seduction here was one of power, or brute strength layered with the mistaken idea (disproved in Vietnam) that superior technology will overcome any third rate military opposition. That idea unravels pretty quickly when you can take out a two million dollar helicopter with a 300 dollar rocket propelled grenade.

Our own military and diplomatic professionals know better and tried to impress this upon the amateurs imposed upon them by the Bush Administration. One thing that got lost in the rush to this war is that we do better when exercising power slowly and subtly. Watching C-SPAN a while back I saw a speech by the Commanding General of Southern Command. The Army used to have the School of the Americas which was a war college for military officers from Latin America, an area always within our "circle of concern". The ultra-liberals succeeded in getting this closed a few years back, claiming that it taught these officers bad things like torture. That wasn't true of course. Nobody had to teach those guys things like that. They already knew because such things were a part of their native culture. This general pointed out that the school, which never went away and was immediately opened under another name, was really teaching these officers the benefits of being a military in an open democratic society where they were subject to and supportive of civilian rule. It has taken several decades and numerous failures like Manual Noriega to accomplish this, but, as he pointed out, there are more stable democracies in Latin America than ever before. He gave the impression that, maybe, in another few decades, we will have influenced enough military officers that democracy will be pervasive in that part of the world.

In other words, if we really feel we must rule the world, we have other methods than brute force available to us. The more democracies the lesser the threat. But you cannot impose such a massive change in culture overnight from outside. Once again, as in Vietnam, our superior strength and blind "we know best" arrogance has been used against us. When you play chess you are supposed to look at the whole board.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit


Dear Jerry:

 Just watched the Jessica Lynch TV movie on NBC. Shaky on the fine details, as these things always are, but they tried to get the military parts right. The real hero of this particular story is the Iraqi lawyer who told them where she was...and it was an act of heroism. Given the short time for production and the limited budget, it was as good as it could be. Sixty Minutes did a segment that finally gave PFC Miller his due...and there will be more interviews with Lynch, since there is now a book to promote.

It takes time, but sooner or later the truth comes out.

Best, Francis

First thing I noticed about Miller was the red and blue ribbon. With V. That may not mean as much to some as a big book contract, but at least the Army did the right thing.


From Joanne Dow

It seems the Iraq invasion might have some beneficial fallout.,2933,102574,00.html

Saudi Arabia is the ultimate viper's nest. Since the attack by terrorists on May 12th the Saudis paid close attention to the Iraqi example. They are toast if they let al Qaeda run free in their nation. Either al Qaeda removes them from power or the United States removes them from power to go after al Qaeda sources.

They found a third way, round up al Qaeda anyway. They've been soft on al Qaeda because of the Wahabi support for al Qaeda and the royal family deriving what puny legitimacy they have from the Wahabis. Since they see they are out almost anything they do they decided to appease the US by rounding up terrorists.

It seems to be working. The terrorists struck where they did because they cannot get at the Royals in their compound or the hated Americans in the American compound. It appears al Qaeda is reduced to sowing random terror and discord as the Saudis round up the al Qaeda cells without our having to invade.

If course if we did invade Saudi Arabia the world could kiss Saudi oil good bye. So as it is we are gaining most of the benefits of invading Saudi Arabia without risking the oil supplies for Europe and much of Asia. Had we no concern for Europe we'd have gone after Saudi Arabia and muttered "Screw you" to the complaining Europeans.

It was about the oil. It was about the European's oil. So we get damned by trying to find leverage that protects the European oil supplies and then applying it. Sadly the Europeans don't realize they owe us a big one.


Interesting analysis.


The nice thing about your novel Footfall is that there was obviously some thought into the problem of a credible military conflict from an alien species that is advanced enough to get here. For almost all plausible scenarios the invaders win unconditionally the first day or the first hour. Movie Idea - at noon on Thursday every person on Earth falls over dead. An advanced species should be able to do that although I'll admit its not a very exciting plot line. You and Larry Niven found a way to answer that problem.

Why are the Wachowski brothers and George Lucas so blind to the simplest military ideas? Is it their leftist politics?

In The Matrix Revolutions the humans fight the Machines with the cargo loaders from Aliens. Their frail human bodies are strapped on the fronts of cargo loaders without any armor. Has humanity fallen so low it had lost Kevlar? Fortunately the Machines seem to have fore sworn nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Indeed they don't even use ordinary explosives or projectile weapons. They want to exterminate humans by stepping on them.

This is the goofiest war scene since The Empire Strikes back showed us future tanks (Imperial Walkers) as tall and willowy devices prone to falling over with little provocation.

Patrick Boyle

The big problem with an alien invasion novel is having a story: what do they want, and why is it they can get here but can't just will us out of existence? Most of the craft in Footfall was designing an alien civilization that was credible, powerful, motivated -- and not invincible. I like to think we achieved that.




This week:


read book now


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Veteran's Day.  Lest We Forget.


Problem asked and solved:

From:Chris Muraya

 Subject:Sony DRU-500AX DVD Writer

Hallo Sir,

I have been using the SONY DRU-500AX DVD writer for the last 1year now. Recently I bought HP DVD+RW 4.7GB 1x/2.4x speed media. On the other hand I am having a problem writing to the media. The writer rejects the media no matter what I try. What should I do? Is there any burning software I can use or any upgrades I can do to my PC. My PC runs Win XP SP1 with all the required updates.

Thank you in advance.


Chris Muraya,

Exchange & Web Administrator,


cmuraya at usiu dot ac dot ke

I sent this off to the associates, and got:

He needs to make sure his unit has the latest firmware update as it contains additional blank media types that are now recognized by the unit.

-Dan S.



Our local newspaper computer guy (Dwight Silverman) has reviewed the new Office 2003; he found a Publisher 2003 web page option simpler and easier to use than Front Page. Interesting!

ďThe Small Business Edition of Office 2003 comes with Publisher 2003, which has grown from being a humble desktop publishing program to one that can do everything from create greeting cards to building fairly sophisticated Web pages. In fact, the Web-page capabilities are very robust and will replace the more sophisticated (and harder to learn) Front Page for most Office users.Ē

Allan Smalley


Now that is interesting and I will have to try it.

Subject: The Big Lie.


Pot meet kettle...

Dr. Pournelle,

More 'good news' regarding Microsoft security woes:

"If you run on a Windows platform you no doubt have heard about NTFS. Its a fast, stable and secure file system that has worked great since the old NT 3.51 days.

This morning I read an excellent article on NTFS Alternate Data streams [ADs], and how they can be used as an attack vector to hide malicious code...

...If you were to write out a malicious code segment into an ADs, the presentation layer of the operating system won't see it. Don't believe me? Watch this:

c:> echo Alice knows Bob's secret > foo.txt c:> dir foo.txt 10/11/2003 08:25 AM 28 foo.txt

Ok, so we know its 28 bytes. Now watch this.

c:> echo Alice know's Bob's secret > foo2.txt:hidden c:> dir foo2.txt 10/11/2003 08:26 AM 0 foo2.txt

That's right you read that correctly. 0 bytes. The system doesn't see it. Can you see the possibilities here? You can easily hide an attack script in the ADs and execute arbitrarily later. The article shows a few examples where using the built in WSH scripting engine [on by default in XP BTW -shudder-] to do just that..."

Data sources: 

- -- Don **************************** "Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book." Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) **************************** Don McArthur

This was actually shown at PDC. After SP2 for XP all the default settings will be toward security; meanwhile you have to do some of them yourself. Heads to the storm and all that...


On Manufacturing Jobs:


Though I'm not a fan of any Clintonians, I'm not sure what to make of this.

Charles Krug

Several points here all important.  First, Reich isn't stupid. Second, it's true: productivity increases eliminate jobs.

That does not change the fundamental picture of job export. Job is exported to Japan, thence to China, thence elsewhere: it is still lost to us. The notion of course is to get past the capital investment requirement of building the productivity here and having done with it; by playing Tinkers to Evers to Chance with the job, some investment is postponed. These are economic decisions, and in general ought to be made by the market.

But there remain the social costs of job export, and I continue to try to point out, when you export a job, the benefits of doing that generally do not go to those who pay the costs. It would be great if it all averaged out, and sometimes it does, but sometimes it does not, and my point has been that a low but significant tariff would help smooth out the transition.

I am not in favor of very large protective tariffs, even for key industries. If it is important enough to keep an industrial capacity here that a 10% tariff won't protect, a subsidy is a better idea (and keeping some capabilities here is definitely worth a subsidy). I am aware that subsidies are subject to abuse (everything government does will always be abused).

Yes: the world is getting productive, and it takes fewer workers to produce the goods, just as farming is getting efficient. But while it happens the transitions are painful (read The Deserted Village for some of the flavor) and one thing governments can and should do is make transitions a bit less painful for the citizens. Or so say I.

And see next week


Subject: Thanx: Navy Hymn always makes my eyes wet.

Playing "Solid Men to the Front" by J.P. Sousa on the stereo good and loud right now with the windows open! Aargh! Feel me hook, ye slack-arsed lubbers! (I will continue to talk like a pirate until conditions improve.) Hope you're feeling better.




Dr. Pournelle,

The slashdotters have discovered Dr. Criswell's article at (Mail, 6 November) and while there are the usual Sim City disaster jokes, there are some fairly insightful comments, such as:

"Do you really need any weapon more powerful than offering the whole world power at less than a tenth of current prices and then be the one that can pull the plug?"

Anyone else wishing to sort out the wheat from the chaff can look up 

Regards, -- Harry Payne "Maybe we're blowing Tarantino's image but I'm sure some nights Quentin must go home, make a mug of Horlicks, put his slippers on and watch a Miyazaki film." - Helen McCarthy

Well I have been trying to say that for about 30 years...

Subject: I hate ICANN, but I hate the UN more.


I think you will not find much disagreement...

The notion of the UN taking over the World Wide Web is bizarre. That anyone in the US would seriously think that a good idea is a monumental indictment of our education system.


I notice that that web site, , has an opt-out link at . The address at the end of the link is one I invented and put in their form. I expect that the opt-out addresses are harvested for future emailings. I wonder what 10,000 randomly generated addresses sent to that host would do to their database? Just wondering.

All the best to you, Michael Walters

Interesting speculation but I have no answer...


Subject: Better living through chemistry.



I thought the following might interest you.

 Reasons Not to Invade Iraq,by George Bush Sr. 


Thank you. This news comes late for the son...

On Synchronizing Outlook


One of Outlooks failings has been the inability to synch desktops and portables automatically without exchange server. (I presume that you aren't running exchange server.) Most of us have done it manually or using utilities. I did it for a while using the windows briefcase which is fairly painless.

One can do this manually by exporting the personal folder .pst including all sub folders from one machine and importing it to the other machine. Cumbersome and not automated. Briefcase makes it easier. Just put the files you want to save (for example the mailbox.pst and mailbox.pab) files into the briefcase and move them across the network onto the briefcase on the laptop.

I've also used Outlook plus  to do this. It is much faster and easier to setup. I still use Outlook Plus to backup my outlook pst's on a daily basis. There is a free trial of the software.

There are also a group of utilities to do this kind of thing at:  I've no experience with any of these other than outlook plus.

Finally, you could put up exchange server (grin) which is what we run or you could give something like this a try: . My IT guy says that he doubts it will handle public folders. Another version is at: . I've no experience with either of the latter two.

The exchange server route really is very nice. I keep my home machine and office machines (both PC's) as well as my portable running OS X (powerbook) all synched. Cell phone, too. Portable finds the network wirelessly. Slick, if a tad overgeeky.

Mark Huth

"Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards." Fred Hoyle

Thanks. I need to look into Outlook Plus.

From: Stephen M. St. Onge                                                  
Date: Sept. 11, 2003  

  subject: The New York Times Reforms

Dear Jerry:
        The Old Gray Lady has gotten much better.  It no longer employs so-called reporters who make up quotes from people they've never met.
        Now, they meet the people, then make up the quote.

Much better technique

Do we miss the soviet union?


Do we miss the soviet union? Would we have done the things we've done in the middle east if there was a counterbalance to our power?

Read a quote today (repeated by Christopher Lydon at  ) from the Emperor of Rome Hadrian written between AD 117 and 138: "Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt." Few of our elected officials seem to be forthright in public.

Lydon writes about Wesley Clark and writes well, but his article makes me think we've a deep cultural problem in our lawmakers. The disconnect between "us" and "them" is broader than I can ever remember it being. When the Soviets were there, I don't recall this large a misunderstanding of what "we, the people" want. Perhaps I'm mis-remembering.

Mark Huth

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

Imperialists miss empire. I was an old Cold Warrior but I do not miss the Cold War.


I find the following hard to believe without case citations:

It had to happen.  The Darwin's, the IgNobel's, and now. . .
 It's once again time to review the winners of the annual Stella awards:


The Stella's are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds . That case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States. Unfortunately the most recent lawsuit implicating McDonalds, the teens who allege that eating at McDonalds has made  them fat, was filed after the 2002 award voting was closed. This suit will top the 2003 awards list without question.


5th place (Tied).


Kathleen Robertson of Austin Texas was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving toddler was Ms. Robertson's Son.


5th place (Tied).


19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently did not notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal the hubcaps.


5th place (Tied).


Terrence Dickson of Bristol Pennsylvania was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He could not reenter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family were on vacation and Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for 8 days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the house owner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The Jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.


4th place.


Jerry Williams of Little Rock Arkansas was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's Beagle dog. The Beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been a little provoked at the time as Mr. Williams who had climbed over the fence into the yard was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.


3rd place.


A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx (tailbone) The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.


2nd place.


Kara Walton of Claymont Delaware sued the owner of a Night Club in a

neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two of her front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton was trying to sneak out of the window in the Ladies Room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.


1st Place.


This year's runaway winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City

Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new Winnebago Motor Home.  On his trip home from an OU football game, having driven onto the Freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly the RV left the Freeway, crashed and overturned.  Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him that in the owner's manual that he could not actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago Motor Home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreation vehicles.






As I said above, I find it hard to believe that juries actually did this. I cannot think of anyone I know who would have voted for such an award.

Are there any case citations that can be looked up?

Sorry Jerry,

The Stella Awards are merely part of the vast number of urban legends and other fluff circulating on the internet. Snopes has the details at . They also shoot down the Japanese see-through skirt legend 

I almost believed the skirts, but the lawsuits were, as you noted, suspicious.

Greg French

I'm not sorry to find that we have not gone quite that far down. But years ago there was a large award to a burglar who fell through a painted-over skylight while seeking to break into a place.

Me, in the case above, I'd have made the guy pay for the dogfood he ate.

In the unlikely event you have not already been advised: there really is a web site for this  but it also specifically disclaims the stories that you were sent, ref 

The bad part is that it is hard to tell the true stories from the bogus ones. Worse yet, and unquantifiable probably, are the business decisions and life decisions that take these accounts, real or not, into account. "The power to tax is the power to destroy" was certainly an accurate observation. But sustituting the word "sue" for "tax" is no less accurate. I once worked as an engineer for a firm of machine designers and builders. One of our constant fears, and a reason the firm no longer exists, is the demonstrated possibility that some 20 years after a machine went out our doors, outside of our custody and control, and perhaps heavily modified, we could be successfully sued . I know full well that our experience was not unique. And as a result, some of that work has now move off-shore, out of the reach of avaricious shyster lawyers.

Regards, and thanks for over 20 years of good work.

T Martin

Indeed. That's what's frightening: you can't tell what's real and what's not now...







SUBJECT: Rape or old-fashioned yellow journalism?

Dr. P,

With all due respect, I think that your indignance at the idea that PFC Lynch was raped after her capture is clouding your judgement. As a retired Army officer, I understand your feelings, but looking closely at the actual allegations makes them seem less than credible.

To start with, the charge is made not by Lynch herself (who states she has no memory of any rape) but by Lynch's biographer, in what can best be described as melodramatic language:

"Jessi lost three hours. She lost them in the snapping bones, in the crash of the Humvee, in the torment her enemies inflicted on her after she was pulled from it...

"The records do not tell whether her captors assaulted her almost lifeless, broken body after she was lifted from the wreckage, or if they assaulted her and then broke her bones into splinters until she was almost dead."

In post-war broadcast television interviews with the other 507th soldiers who were captured, SGT Riley and PV2 Miller confirmed that Lynch appeared lifeless or dieing immediately after the first sergeant's HMMWV slammed into a jack-knifed tractor-trailer. It is clear that PFC Lynch was severely injured by the impact, and the doctors who treated her (both American and Iraqi) have indicated that all the fractures and spinal injuries were consistent with the sort of collision she survived. In short, Rick Bragg's implicit allegation that the Iraqis might have captured her relatively uninjured and then smashed her bones appears to be discredited by eyewitness accounts from 2 American soldiers.

According to Brig. Gen. Jamal al-Saeidi, the first doctor to see Lynch and the head of the orthopedic department at the military hospital where Lynch was initially treated, Lynch was fully clothed ("Her clothes were not torn, buttons had not come off, her pants were zipped up.") when she was brought to the military hospital within an hour of the accident (an hour during which members of the 507th continued holding a defensive position near the accident site). Gen. al-Saeidi has told several reporters that he found no indication of rape, although he concedes he didn't explicitly look for such indicators (he was apparently more concerned with treating her injuries).

The orhopedic surgeon who operated to repair Lynch's right femur put it even more bluntly: "If she had been raped there is no way she could have survived it. She was fighting for her life - her body was broken. What sort of an animal would even think of that?"

In other words, there doesn't really seem to be a window of time where a rape could have taken place (making a bold presumption that the Iraqi doctors struggling to save her life did not allow Lynch to be raped at either hospital).

Moving closer to the original source, I found tha tTime Magazine quotes one of the doctors who treated her in Landstuhl as saying that Lynch's "injuries were consistent with possible anal sexual assault." Lynch was reportedly riding in a supine position in the center rear of the first sergeant's HMMWV while SGT Buggs and PFC Anguiano returned fire from beside her. Given that position in a moderately high-speed crash, it takes almost no imagination to envision any number of objects or obstacles which could have caused injuries consistent with anal sexual assault as PFC Lynch's body flew forward within the vehicle.

I apologize for taking so much tiime disputing the allegation that PFC Lynch was raped, but the soldier within me compels me to dispel what seem to be ill-founded and easily discredited reports which distract from the valiance displayed that day. It would be a sad thing for the true tales of heroism to be discreditted by proximity to what appears to be a blatant attempt at needlessly sensationalizing a horrific experience.

It would be even more tragic should such ill-founded allegations provoke or be used to vindicate otherwise senseless bloodshed, such as the suffocation of an unarmed prisoner.


William Clardy

Me, I hope you're right. It would be one bit of good news in a not so great week.


Subject: So, we're 'hyper-safe' when it comes to
 batteries, just not with people . . .










This week:


read book now


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

See the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which the US is a signatory. < >. For example, the US Government is apparently prohibited from seizing Iraqi oil revenues for its own use. It is also apparently prohibited from removing judges and suspending domestic laws. It is required to maintain civil order and humanitarian necessities, to protect private property, public assets, and individual rights. Any private companies that come in as contract agents for the Coalition Provisional Authority are also apparently liable under international law. (article by William Greider in the Nation, 11/17/2003)

You seem to have a background in this area. Do you have a clue on whether this is real? -- Harry Erwin, PhD "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)

I think the Empire will take care of its own, and the US has never surrendered sovereignty to any organization or body, nor ever will.

RE: Microsoft and Security

Dr. Pournelle, I was having the pleasure of perusing your page, as I like to do daily, when I ran across the email from Don McArthur. This particular missive made me wonder if you have looked at Longhorn.

I have done a little reading, but Iím given to understand that M$ is planning to build in Digital Rights Management technology and that they are working hand in hand with groups like the RIAA and MPAA. From some of the things Iíve read on the web, The Register and Slashdot, they are even moving to make media unplayable by machines that do not have certain unlock codes built in. I am also given to understand that they are trying to make it so Linux boxes wonít be numbered among those machines.

Here is a register article on the matter: 

Your thoughts on the matter are appreciated.

Thanks, Douglas Knapp

We were just at the Microsoft PDC, and no one actually knows what's going where. Microsoft is quite aware that crippling "upgrades" is a great way to get people not to buy them...





This week:


read book now


Thursday, November 13, 2003

Open with a warning:

Dr. Pournelle:

The Network Associates sites are having problems....which means that nobody is getting their regular Wednesday virus updates. It seems to be just the sites ( and ); this site  will work to get your updates manually.

I'd hope they are aware of it .... but thought your readers should know. But we are all smart enough to never open up attachments, right?

Rick Hellewell, Security Dweeb,

You have been warned


Subject: Bob Walker on Chinese Space Program 

The Chinese moon program appears to be a go whether we get back in the game or not. Space dominance is a 21st-century challenge we dare not refuse.


I just hope the Administration understands this. The Air Force doesn't. They are too dominated by fighter pilots. The Navy doesn't. It's busy doing something but it isn't looking at space. The Army is frozen out.

A new Service? but not NASA, anything but NASA. 

One can make the argument that NASA has had a compelling vision only once in its 45-year history, and that vision was born of desperation.


Well they had von Braun, and General Phillips.

Of course you may do it yourself:

Richard Nakka is a senior project engineer in the aerospace division of Bombardier, and has a massive interest in amateur rocketry. As such, he constructs and launches rockets on a regular basis. He builds everything himself: mixes his own fuel formulations, designs and constructs his own motors, fabricates his own electronics... everything. And he details everything on his web site. Tons of information: photographs, how tos, mathematics, graphs, its all here. The site is huge: hundreds of pages, all documented with the meticulous precision you would expect of a senior engineer.

If you ever felt a pressing need to build a very serious rocket of your very own, this is a decent place to start. 

or his alternate site (same site, to be used in case the first one is down)

Charlie Worton   


Dr Pournelle,

Interplanetary parking ticket

It had to happen. And $20 per century isn't so bad.

Jim Mangles




Reasons of State:

White House Fights POWs for Iraq Fund NY Times via SL Tribune


But you do not see the big picture.

Dear Jerry:

Jessica Lynch is a very well grounded young woman with a lot of heart and a lot of integrity. That really came across in the 90 minute Diane Sawyer interview on ABC, less so with Katie Couric, who seemed to be working from someone else's notes this morning. Lynch has debunked all of the stories originally put out about her and defines herself as a survivor, not a hero. The book, actually written by Rick Bragg, who left the NY Times recently under a cloud, is dedicated to the eleven soldiers who died in the ambush.

So the question is, who put out the BS about her in the first place? I have a hard time believing that this was something official from the Army command, but I could be easily persuaded that some civilian twit political appointee in the DOD thought it was a good idea at the time and tried to manage the news. One of the issues is why the Spec Ops guys who rescued Lynch carried along their own cameras? One possible answer is that a video satellite link may now be S.O.P. for such operations. It risks a repeat of the "eye of God" syndrome where as many as four helicopters circled over a battlefield, each with a nervous commander from the chain of command radioing down "advice". On the other hand, if you simply observe, you have a very good way to analyze and improve operational art. Lynch said she didn't really care about this. They got her out and that was enough for her.

Lynch has gaps in her memory. I have no doubt that she will suffer the pangs of PTSD for the rest of her life as well. Everyone realizes that there is something unfair about her getting the brass ring that leaves her with a half million dollar payday, but also that its not her fault. She's a cute blonde and we live in a lowest-common-denominator culture. She mentioned that she is using some of the money to set up a foundation for military children.

The media remaining in Iraq are beginning to have problems with low level officers who disregard the regulations for dealing with them. One or two have been shot after being mistaken for the enemy. Again, this is a cultural problem. I'd be willing to bet that this problem happens most often with the Guard and Reserve units. Not up to speed on all the regulations at any time. When I was running a Public Information Office in the Army, I had a lot of problems with people who wanted to ignore the regulations because they didn't understand them, or didn't agree with them. It's far from a perfect system in the best of times. These are not those. Of course, if everyone hadn't bailed out of the "Embed" program six months ago when they start it was all over, the soldiers would know who they were, and with a few notable exceptions (Hello, Geraldo!) would not shoot at them.

So, we were seriously misled about Pfc. Lynch. Not her fault and certainly not her doing and I doubt that anyone will own up to it. I am encouraged, however, that the media, which jumped on the story a little too eagerly, stuck around to make the necessary corrections. Like I said, I smell a civilian behind it all. The US Military is a lot smarter than to try and pull something as raw as this.

In fact the media seem to be back in their old barracuda mode; a story on NBC tonight revealed that 94% of the Guard and Reserve soldiers serving overseas (not just Iraq) are having serious problems getting properly paid. Yet further evidence that someone still thinks the military can be run like a business corporation.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

There will be more problems. I am working on Competent Empire, to go in my book on Republic and Empire that I guess I'll be doing for TOR.

On just what happened:

Jessica Lynch "propaganda"


People are still arguing about Jessica Lynch, saying the government lied about her actions in combat. The best explanation I have seen is that another blonde person did the things she initially got credit for. See this link: 


And I expect you are right.



Greg Cochran says:

I think today's CIA report on Iraq is interesting.  Gloomy. The CIA now has lots of people in Iraq ( finally) and they don't like what they're seeing. According to other accounts I have read, Bremer agrees with their evaluation. He's evidently quite pessimistic and according to some accounts has asked to be allowed to resign. I guess he too has been bamboozled by the press, which is busily filtering out the good news in Iraq. The council we appointed has problems: they can't agree on anything, which I suppose shows they really are representative of Iraq. Few of them show up for council meetings: about a third. Almost all are are exiles and have families and business interests elsewhere. And who wouldn't avoid Iraq? Only one has been assassinated, but there was a close call yesterday - _we_ shot up one member's car, but he's OK and his driver is only wounded. And of course we managed to accidentally kill the guy we appointed to head the big Shiite suburb of Baghdad (pop 2 million) yesterday. Personally think we should to let our enemies eliminate our friends in Iraq; they'll get them soon enough, there's no point in rushing the process.

Then there are all those exploding Italians in . Car bomber got 16 or so this morning in Nasiriyah.

As for the upshot of the surprise trip home by Bremer, it looks as if the generals are going to get to try their solutions. First step is blowing up the houses of people thought to be involved in attacks on US forces. Now that didn't work in the West Bank and I sincerely doubt if it will in this case. I think we're aren't prepared to be rough enough to do the job - nor would it be worthwhile in any event. Too much TV coverage, too many Geneva conventions signed, etc. So that will fail, and then we''ll try something else: I'm guessing a big punishing raid on Syria (probably an air raid, not an occupation) and of course that won't help a bit.

This is all happening about as I expected. I don't think it's going to get better. In predicting outcomes, one must take into account the talents of our leadership: anyone dumb enough to get us into this is dumb enough to screw it up further.

Gregory Cochran

As you say, the tactics have not worked in Israel: why would they work here? "Let me win your hearts and minds, or I'll burn your goddam village down!"





Um, sorry to rain on your parade, but 4 of 170+ nominations blocked is NOT a record to complain about.

Also, unfortunately, the Republicans are just reaping the whirlwind they sowed. During the Clinton years, the Republicans frequently pulled the same stunt, as well as putting a 'hold' on a judicial nominee (Senator Hatch began vigorously enfocing the 'blue slip' policy, requiring BOTH senators from a state to return their blue slips before the nomination could move forward) and effectively 'pocket-veto'-ing the nominee. This was a favorite tactic of Sen. Helms, who used it to prevent action on all African-American nominees of the Clinton administration to the Fourth Circuit.

The same Republicans who blocked judicial nominees are now crying great crocodile tears about the shortage of filled judicial benches. If the need was so critical, why weren't more of Clinton's appointees approved?

Check the record on this, and I believe you'll be surprised, and even more disgusted at the behavior of Senators from both sides of the aisle: the 'Dim'-'Crass' and (as I've heard them called) the 'Repugs'. I assume this last refers to repugnance.

Best Regards from an Admiring Reader,

Doug Hayden

p.s. I ran across this quote, and will assume it's accurate because those who oppose it would find it too easy to check:

"Overall, although not a single Clinton-nominated appeals judge was voted down by the Senate, blue slip and related delays and blockades meant that the Senate approved only 61% of President Clinton's appellate court nominees, compared with 87% of those nominated by President Reagan. In 1999-2000, 19 out of 32 Clinton appeals court nominees ó roughly 60% ó were blocked from receiving a vote"

Based on this method, President G. W. Bush has had 168 of 172 nominees confirmed, or about 97.7%.

Here's the link if you want to read it and decide for yourself:  . The material I quoted is at the bottom of the page following the first 'NEXT' link.

The current status of blue slips in the current Senate is available from 


Douglas Thomas Hayden

I never said the tactic wasn't used by all sides and for a long time. Even Jefferson: what do you think Marbury was suing Madison over? (Although that involved delivery of a commission not a hearing.)

It is still a misuse of privilege which ought to be reserved for important situations, not to build a concurrent majority out of blocks like mad femiminsts. You know that things are bad when Sharpton starts telling them to shut up and vote and have done with it.

And it's not 4 of 170.

Finally, beginning with lines like "rain on your parade" is a pretty good way to get me to skip a letter. There are just so many I get, and while I try to read some of all of my mail, I don't read every word of every letter.


On War Games

I agree, steel panthers is still tops 

I tried to track down the author.... he was supposed to be at IGN games, but no response. The groups are drying up and running it under XP is sometimes a problem, but I did by not doing the sound installation.


Why is no one writing such games for future war?


From Joanne Dow

From Popular Science via CNN

"Kantra also liked the Discovery Kids Ultimate Labs DNA Explorer, which turns budding scientists loose with a realistic genetics setup. It retails for less than $100, and it can extract real DNA from fruits or vegetables. Call it Chemistry Set 2.0. "Kantra also liked the Discovery Kids Ultimate Labs DNA Explorer, which turns budding scientists loose with a realistic genetics setup. It retails for less than $100, and it can extract real DNA from fruits or vegetables. Call it Chemistry Set 2.0."

Ah er how many years before a kiddie DNA experiment kit produces the killer virus that wipes out humanity?


Or the old William Tenn classic story, Child's Play...


Extraordinary delusions and the Madness of DMCA:

Caught by the Act Digital Copyright Law Ensnaring Businesses, Individuals Over Fair Use

Lexmark alleged that the company illegally copied some of the code used by computer chips in Lexmark cartridges to enable the remanufactured cartridges to work. The chips monitor the level of toner and tell users when it is running low. More important, they make the cartridges compatible with the printer -- if the two do not execute an electronic "secret handshake" activated by the chip, the copier will not work.

By figuring out how to emulate that handshake, Static Control circumvented Lexmark's ability to protect its copyrighted works, Lexmark's attorneys argued. In February, Lexmark won an injunction that stopped Static Control from making its chips.


Indeed. Stark raving mad.


What Does Microsoft know and when do they know it?

(I'm coming from yet another student account tonight.)

You might find this interesting.

(Don't blame me. That's the URL Microsoft used to display it. I just cut it from the browser.)

[And don't blame me for not bothering to make it usable.]

A couple of selected quotes:

"When Windows XP is installed, a machine SID is configured to contain a statistically unique 96-bit number. The machine SID prefixes the SIDs of user accounts and group accounts that are created on the computer. The machine SID is concatenated with the relative ID (RID) of the account to create the account's unique identifier."

"Because the SID identifies both the computer or domain and the user, unique SIDs are essential to maintain support for current and future programs."

So, the machine is UNIQUELY identified within the known universe, and each user and/or group account on that machine is UNIQUELY identified in the known universe. They don't say it, but somehow I have a feeling that files created/modified by those user and/or group accounts will also carry those SIDs, so the creator/"owner"/whatever of each and every file in the known universe will be UNIQUELY identified in the known universe.

For some reason, this makes me just a little bit nervous.

--John R. Strohm


On the War In Viet Nam:


You recently published a letter from Francis Hamit condemning the hubris of the neocons and citing Vietnam as an example of where such hubris leads.

I dispute his contention of what happened in Vietnam and take an entirely different lesson from that sad bit of history.

We did not lose the war in Vietnam because of anything that we did or did not do in that country. We lost the war because Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandals and the McGovern wing of the Democratic Party took over both houses of Congress with substantial majorities. One of their first acts was to cut off all aid to South Vietnam. Since the South Vietnamese military had been trained in the logistics intensive American style of war fighting, their defeat by the communist forces who continued to be supplied by China and the Warsaw Pact was not too surprising.

The parallel between Iraq and Vietnam is that if Howard Dean is somehow elected President next November, you can expect to see video of desperate Iraqis who trusted the United States besieging the American Embassy in a futile attempt to get out of the country.

Mark Kelly Deer Park, TX

Well, I don't disagree except that we did not lose the war in Viet Nam. We accomplished what we needed, which was a long campaign of materiel attrition as part of the Seventy Years War. In 1972 we demonstrated that at small cost we could hold South Viet Nam forever, and bleed the North and their Russian allies white as we did.

The Democrats threw away a victory. We weren't defeated, we simply came home when the Democrats decided that having won it wasn't worth defending the Gooks with American blood and treasure. If that sounds harsh, I am sorry, but it's what happened. We had won. The border was stabilized in the sense that it took a large army to cross it and ARVN with U.S. supplies and air support could destroy any such large army. Every time and to the last man.

Indeed, the last phase of Viet Nam was a bit like what happened in Afghanistan, except that no one noticed and the Democrats in Congress either didn't care or didn't want the country to know.

The situation in Iraq has some similarities except there is no Seventy Years War, and no great power with 26,000 atom bombs aimed at us that we must defeat with an indirect approach and a strategy of attrition.


U.S. Troops More Hostile With Reporters
With casualties mounting in Iraq, jumpy U.S. soldiers are becoming more aggressive in their treatment of journalists covering the conflict.

Media people have been detained, news equipment has been confiscated and some journalists have suffered verbal and physical abuse while trying to report on events.

"But if we find we have left our bones to bleach in these desert sands for nothing, beware the fury of the legions..." (Centurion in a letter home from North Africa, 3rd Century)

It may have begun...

Kim Smith

=Indeed. I do not think so, but it is well to be wary.


And this just in:

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I read your reader's comment on Steel Panthers. Matrix Games has published a much-improved Windows version of the game:

Game mechanics, unit stats and combat results are much more realistically done than they were in the old SSI version. The game can be downloaded for free, they make money from selling so-called mega campains for the game.

By the way, Empire Deluxe has also been published in an improved version:

The "Empire Deluxe Internet Edition" offers bigger maps (up to 254 * 254 squares and up to 32,000 cities) and improved menus that help to control large numbers of units. Mark Kincaid at Killerbee Software is currently working on the "Empire Deluce Enhanced Editon" which is going to have maps of unlimited size and many new features and units.


Ralf Goergens

Thanks. Looked at Empire Deluxe and I was willing to buy it, but they seem to want to know more about me than I care to say and have no provision for me to just send them the money by Paypals and get the game. I will probably do it, but I weary of filling out forms...

Be warned the complete Panthers game download is BIG

I have downloaded Panthers and bought Empire Deluxe. We'll see.






This week:


read book now


Friday, November 14, 2003

Need to run errands and do many such things as well as get ready for COMDEX.

Students cheating and turning in a report not their own? 

<snip> Universities cite "laziness", "lack of appropriate preparation for assessment", "peer pressure and pressure to pass modules and gain good grades" as some of the reasons students have given for cheating. </snip>

I'm not sure how to tell these 'esteemed educators' but cheating of this sort has been around since Professor Able asked third year student Cane to write a paper on the effects of raising sheep on the global climate who then got Noah to write a paper justifying the belief that a flood was coming. Even in my day, frat houses had filing cabinets full of reports that they would provide for a fee.

Trying to stop it is kind of like tossing in more inspectors at the airports. About the only thing you increase is the irritation factor. Punish egregious behavior. Let the rest slide through. Those that would cheat in this way will be found out quickly enough when they have to explain to their boss why a test report for a $10,000,000 piece of hardware they have been testing reads like a third-grade Dick and Jane story.

Why do people always focus on the wrong problem? Students cheating is not the problem. Students not learning is a BIG problem.

Braxton Cook

You have an interesting point, but more interesting to me is the cheating that the Universities do. They pretend to need such enormous sums that all our children now graduate with a crushing debt load that can never be shed even by bankruptcy. My wife worked her way through college to a degree and she was the 11th child of a coal miner invalided from the mines and working to install asbestos in a shipyard. (His house in Idaho was blown up by the Pinkertons because of his union activities, but that's another story.) She got out without debts.

It's pretty hard now, and we all know that the Universities "need" all the money they get in the same sense that anyone "needs" money if they can get it. The students know this too, and respect for academia is deservedly at an all time low. Why not cheat? The University cheated YOU, taking enormous fees to stick you in a class taught by a foreign graduate student who barely speaks English and hates every one of you.

Hi Jerry,

She's fed up and she's not going to take it anymore. 

I wish I could disagree with her, but I can't.

- Paul

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States we would rightly consider it an act of war.


Even fishing jobs are being exported. 

<snip> Further evidence of the globalization of the industry comes from the fact that fish caught or raised in the U.S. -- like flounder and cod -- are shipped to China to be cut into fillets and then shipped back to U.S. markets. Anderson said itís cheaper to do that than to have the work done here. </snip>

I guess the objective is to have high-paid executives that can go anywhere in the world who are supported by a low-paid set of workers who can still get 'cheaper' foreign-made goods while sweeping out the executive's house, using leaf blowers to clean his/her lawn, or washing their imported cars. I seem to remember reading about a similar society - 17th and 18th century France anyone?

Braxton Cook

It's good for you. The market will take care of all problems. Why do you keep on worrying about such things?

Dr. Pournelle:

So the Democrats are calling a black woman judge a Turkey. That ought to be interesting.  Turkey is she?

Heck, today Ted Kennedy called the nominees, including the minorities, "Neanderthals."  Fortunately he is equipped with the standard "Get Out Of Deep Guano Free" card issued by the media to all Democrats, and probably won't get any grief for it. 

A Republican that had said that would already have his slowly drying hide nailed to the front of the Capitol building.

Tom Brosz

Indeed. Interestingly, not long ago Senator Kennedy was heard to say the Constitution never intended for a minority in the Senate to block a vote on a judge. Of course Clinton was President then.



Regarding your comment:

ďI just hope the Administration understands this. The Air Force doesn't. They are too dominated by fighter pilots. The Navy doesn't. It's busy doing something but it isn't looking at space. The Army is frozen out.

A new Service? but not NASA, anything but NASA.Ē

Might I suggest handing over the responsibility for space exploration to the U.S. Marine Corps. Give them an inadequate budget, harp about how extremely dangerous space travel is, tell them they are likely to fail and that they are in for long hours, hard work and heavy sacrifice!!! Create the 1st Long Range Force Recon Battalion, then, get ready to celebrate Mars 2005...

OORAH, Richard

Semper Fi

Subject: How they do it.



Subj: SchoolTool: open-source school administration 

"SchoolTool is a project to develop a common global school administration infrastructure that is freely available under an Open Source licence. Our vision is to create a platform that is equally compelling for schools and colleges in First and Third World countries, that supports best practices in school administration and which is readily customised to comply with local regulatory requirements."

Written in Python.






This week:


read book now


Saturday, November 15, 2003

Subject: The Fate of the Middle Class

You might find this interesting.

Dr Timoid of Angle



I was looking at for something else (instructions/utility for cleaning up my Rules list) and found this for synchronizing PST files across machines: 

Maybe it'll help. It sounds good.



Thanks. Of course I am in Las Vegas just now. Copied the pst file to the Tablet...


Like Mr. Bursey, I was under the mistaken impression that all of the US is a Free Speech zone. Fortunately I know better know.

I am tempted to write to W. Ralph Basham, Director of the United States Secret Service, and ask for a map of all the designated Free Speech zones, so that I will know where I am permitted to raise my voice in dissent. (A Freedom of Information Act request seems an appropriate rhetorical strategy.)

I have already notified certain members of my family that I might send such a letter, assuming that my self-preservation instincts don't kick in quickly. That way they will at least have some idea what happened when I am "disappeared" late some night.

--Gary P... um, I've suddenly realized I'd feel more comfortable today NOT using my full name. After all, I don't know yet if email is a Free Speech zone.


You know, just when I'm at my curmudgeonly best, something like this just has to happen. Last week, you might remember my small tirade about the Empire and its injustices, in particular the widow in PA whose $800,000 farm had been sold at auction, to a real estate developer, for $15,000. Well, here's the happy ending:

< >

Somebody put Tinkerbell back in her bottle...

--------------------- Bill Seward, KG4SAQ 

Vote for Cthulhu. Why settle for a lesser evil?


Dr Pournelle, Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert, has some thoughts on the effectiveness of TSA, the guy who placed simulated explosives on the Southwest filghts, and why the 9/11 attacks are non-repeatable. Basically, he agrees with you.

"It doesn't matter what weapons any potential new hijackers have; the passengers will no longer allow them to take over airplanes." 

Plus, he has the usual interesting links.

Kit Case


Joanne says,2933,103163,00.html 

"Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (search) gave terror lord Usama bin Laden's thugs financial and logistical support, offering Al Qaeda (search) money, training and haven for more than a decade, it was reported yesterday."

"Their deadly collaboration - which may have included the bombing of the USS Cole (search) and the 9/11 attacks - is revealed in a 16-page memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee (search) that cites reports from a variety of domestic and foreign spy agencies compiled by multiple sources, The Weekly Standard (search) reports."

With a pointer to the Weekly Standard article.







This week:


read book now


Sunday, November 16, 2003

In Las Vegas. Last night I was 24 K from a hotel room dialup. Ugh. At the Press Room now.

I think the USA may be losing the hearts and minds of Australia - homeland security just messed with Sue Smethurst, the editor of New Idea, an Australian women's magazine, when she was on her way to interview Olivia Newton-John. And, of course, on the duck test principle all Americans are associated with that.

As an aside, I should tell you that on finishing their service the Gurkhas weren't compensated with British citizenship but with gratuities and pensions they could take home and use to set themselves up. Your idea of using US citizenship as a reward for constabulary recruits can only work with people who are taken with the American dream, not with the sort you actually want. Of any pro-US types who did wind up in the USA afterwards, you would be building a proportion of the disillusioned too, so that wouldn't be stabilising compared with recruiting within the USA or keeping all veterans outside (I think Flaubert pointed out the problems the Carthaginians got from bringing the mercenaries home in his novel Salambo). PML.


I.e., a Goods and Services Tax (or almost any other broad based production tax), with a Negative Payroll Tax, promotes employment.

See  and the other items on that page for some reasons why.

Peter Lawrence

Your point is well made about some mercenaries not wanting citizenship. Hiring them by regiments and giving them retirement payy (or lump sum bonus) works if you don't bring them to your country.

The successful use of mercenaries requires that you have a good citizen army as Praetorians, loyal Legions, and then you can use Auxiliaries to do most of the fighting. The temptation to skimp on Legions is the big problem. And eventually they learn the dread secret, that Emperors can be made in places other than Rome.

Dr Pournelle,

Keegan on Rumsfeld on Iraq

This may interest you; Keegan is recognised as Britainís leading military historian:;$sessionid$


Forcibly, America is becoming an imperial if not an imperialist country. The attitude was exemplified by an encounter I had with a tall, lean, crew-cut young man I met in Washington. Our conversation went as follows: "Marine?" I asked. "Yes," he answered. "Have you been in Iraq?" "Afghanistan. Just got back." The exchange was straight out of Kipling. There is a lot more of that to come.

And yet, and yet. It seems to me there is a fundamental misunderstanding today about the real nature of British imperialism and how it differed from Roman imperialism. Essentially, the British went around the world seeking new markets and the British army and navy came along to protect them. Itís worth recalling that it was not the British state as such that conquered India but a private trading company, the East India Company, and it was not until after the Indian Mutiny of 1857 that the British state felt obliged to take over the government of India from them. Up to that point the Company had come to posses India principally by divide and rule, by setting one Indian prince to fight with the Company against another, until all India was in its power. I know a little about this as ancestors of mine were directors of the Company and one particular ancestor was one of only two civilians ever to win the Victoria Cross, during the Mutiny.

In other words the British were driven by economics, while the Romans were driven by politics. Of course there are parallels between the two empires but the Romans would not have recognised or understood the nature of the British Empire. A better modern parallel for the Roman Empire could be the Soviet Union or perhaps the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Jim Mangles

There are two sources of legitimacy of governments: by consent of the governed, and everything else including monarchy and theocracy.

The US seeks to export our brand of democracy. Since that doesn't happen by pure persuasion we seek to carry it on the points of our bayonets. That may work, but the cost is high. Meanwhile the soldiers want more direct results. Let me win your hearts and minds or I'll burn your goddam village down if you keep shooting at my troops. Got that? Eight rounds of ball ammunition, lock and load.


Subject: half the people...

To be strictly accurate, shouldn't that be "Half the people are below median intelligence?"

Eric Baumgartner

Depends on your assumptions about distribution. With the normal or bell curve, mean, median, and mode are all the same. If median is significantly different from mean, you have an entirely different kettle of spilled worms of another color.


Subj: Spammer invades Python Package Index?

Civilization is truly doomed! 8-((  Python Packages Index

Note the so-called Package "John Bloxham" updated 2003-11-13.


Doom! Doom!

Sue Ferrara wants you to see this page from Fast Company! 

Sue Ferrara's message to you: I read this article in the doctor's office the other day. Fascinating. All of America, from public education to shopping is becoming homogenized. Different is no longer good.

And that's life...

Ballpoints Do Too Work in Space Aviation Week & Space Technology 11/10/2003, page 17

Edited by Frank Morring, Jr.

VARIATION ON A THEME Back during the Cold War a story, probably apocryphal, circulated that Soviet cosmonauts didn't need special pressurized ballpoints to write in space because they used pencils instead. Pedro Duque, the European Space Agency astronaut who spent a week on the International Space Station during last month's crew changeover, admits that until his most recent flight he believed "what I've always been told, that normal ballpoint pens don't work in space." But after a Russian trainer told him the popular wisdom was wrong, he took a "cheap ballpoint" with him to the ISS and used it to draft his space diary. "It doesn't stop working, and it doesn't 'spit' or anything. Sometimes being too cautious keeps you from trying, and therefore things are built more complex than necessary."

Ed Hume

And now you know why things cost so much.

Here's an interesting look at some data on Americans. Interpret it as you choose.

The first link is a map of financial contributions, as a proxy for votes, for democrats vs. republicans. The analysis can be viewed by county, 3-digit zipcode, or state. Howard Dean's home state of VT appears as the most heavily leaning democratic state, and the south is not nearly as republican as the northeast is democrat. By zipcode and county gives an all together different look.

The next is the 2003 Generosity Index, a ranking of charitable giving, by state based on income. The ranking list is colored with the now famous red for Bush and blue for Gore. A few implications can be drawn from the list--the least of which is I'm not helping New York in the standings. 

The last link is the source document for the Generosity Index. (Just so you don't think we're surfing the net looking for cranks.)

Ed Hume









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

birdline.gif (1428 bytes)