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Mail 285 November 24-30, 2003






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Monday November 24, 2003  

I do advise having a look at last weekend's mail.


Byte column feedback

Morning Jerry,

Great column this week; I wanted to pass along an amusing anecdote on the language battles:

In the interest of full disclosure - I'm an old C engineer at heart.

In the column you comment "Worse, it [C] could and did confuse data with program instructions and it was up to the programmer to simulate the compiler in his head as he wrote the code, so that he wouldn't send the program into a data stack looking for instructions." At a job in the early 90's we used to do that deliberately for a couple of reasons: 1) to get more code space, and 2) to compile (or hand-assemble) user-entered queries into machine code so they would run faster.

We were using Turbo Pascal from Borland at the time.

"No matter how idiot proof you make something, and ingenious idiot will find a way to break it"

Which brings up an interesting question: Civil, electrical, architectural, and mechanical engineers are required to stamp their work products with a PE (Professional Engineer) certification in order to meet building codes. I wonder if it's time to consider doing something similar for software - if it's even possible.



Doug Lhotka "Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide." ~ Jim Burnham "I swear, by my Life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." ~ John Galt, Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

There were ways to trick Borland's implementation of Pascal into doing strange things with pointers and still get it to compile, but usually there were more intelligent ways to accomplish those results. The problems came when the original programmers left and someone had to adjust the code; meanwhile Moore's Law made the hardware faster and the tricks became first needless then sources of misery.

Stupid tech tricks How big is the turnaround? It depends on who's counting

This year, tech spending is genuinely on the rise, no matter how you measure it. Companies searching for productivity improvements are upgrading computers and buying software. Business in Silicon Valley is picking up.



Brice Yokem sends this link:

Which is interesting but they like hybrid engines a lot more than I do. Or than Rutan does now that he has some experience with them. Hybrids are a great idea in principle but no one seems to have got the details down.


If a person could literally live thousands of years, why not travel to distant stars?

<snip> The controversial cult which claims to have cloned five babies says it has discovered a way of reversing the ageing process. </snip>

Of course, what you would probably end up with is thousands of long-lived Strom Thurmonds, Bill Gates, and Michael Jackson's. How do you wrestle the accumulated wealth and power away from someone who has lived 2,000 years?

Braxton Cook

There have been numerous science fiction stories based on this theme. Is it a Faustian bargain? No one seems to have seen any of the babies...


I travel to go hunting for big game. I don't have an alternative to flying to Africa, but I have decided to drive where I go in North America.

This month I went deer hunting in Saskatchewan, Canada in an area north of Prince Albert. I have been going there since '98, about 2 years of evey three. Previously I flew.

The drive one-way was 2,016 miles from my home in San Diego, and this is my longest roadtrip to date. I find that such trips across broad strips of America can be very interesting, enough so that I will keep doing them. Sometimes I stop to visit friends and relatives. The border crossing with firearms was trivial, especially compared to US and Canadian airports and their customs "services". Of course I had my "papers" in order. It was 15 min one way, and 5 min the other. No searches, and no snotty behavior either.

This trip I was treated to lots of game viewing enroute, and the discovery of Mennonite and Hutterite colonies in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I hit the internet after I got home, and reading the details on the various Anabaptists was a treat itself. I am reading Fletcher Pratt's Great Battles that Changed History, and the travails of the Anabaptists complements Pratt's work for me.

Jim Dodd San Diego

The joys of not flying (and not encountering TSA)


Several from Roland:

Subject: Half the cost.,7204,

Subject: Idiocy 

Subject: Arteriosclerosis

Subject: HPM weapons

Subject: Zombie machines fuel cybercrime wave

Roland Dobbins

Sorry for the short shrift but there's just too much to get done...

Subject: SCO is slowly slipping away?

Looks like even the media don't want to come here what Darl McBride has to say..... 

-- John Harlow, President BravePoint

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





One of the principal threads over the weekend involved General Franks and sanity checks, as well as Kagan's essay. If you have not read those, start there.

Greg Cochran replies:

If there are good, wise, rational, and informed people on both sides of the issue ( Iraq), then surely it's beyond human comprehension. I don't believe that that there are. This is often the case: in lots of public controversies, one side has essentially all of the truth on their side. I can name six such controversies off the top of my head. Of course, sometimes it is a question of motives. I am for the the US, but that is probably not the case for everyone involved in this fiasco.

Do I think that any calm, rational, well-informed person could come to the conclusion that the invasion of Iraq furthered the interests of the United States? No. I have a generally sensible friend who did, but then it turned out two weeks ago that he has a brain tumor.

By this standard, I must think pretty poorly of the government. Indeed I do: I'd say that practically all the decisionmakers are either incapable or have failed to do their duty. Including Franks. We have an incompetent ruling class.

One tiny example: Shortly after we took over, Bremer decided to lay off the entire Iraqi Army. The day I heard of it, I said it was almost magically stupid - what the hell were they thinking, letting hundreds of thousands of men with arms training loose in an occupied country with 60% unemployment? Better to purge any bastards and keep the rest busy doing something either useful or harmless. It took me about thirty seconds to figure this out - the Administration came to the wrong conclusion and only realized it after about six months, which is probably too late. You could get away with it in occupied Germany, since they'd had all the piss and vinegar beaten out of them, mainly on the Eastern Front - but Iraq is not like Germany. This just illustrates my point - anyone foolish enough to support this misadventure is likely to continue to be foolish, and will make a bad situation worse. Things are never going to get better there.

Gregory Cochran

And Franks allowed his troops to be used to raid the Iraqi Council in June -- a group supported by the US military. And as one sergeant on the raid put it, "Well, I guess they won't be pro-American any more." More magical stupidity.

Should the sergeant have disobeyed orders and refused to do the raid? Of course not. Should Franks have fallen on his sword over that? Probably not. Same goes with the invasion itself: it wasn't something you could bet that much on, since there might have been the weapons of mass destruction -- Saddam bluffed good -- and military intelligence and the CIA and the State Departments all had different views. Yes: it is possible for a sane and competent man to have been caught up in this madness.

The key word there is informed. When you have conflicting information from people all supposed to be expert and you cannot yourself go find out -- what do you do if you are President?  The CIA is broken. It wasn't in good shape before Clinton; in his reign it became worse than useless. State isn't much better, filled with civil servants who can't be fired and who have agendas and views of their own and are not afraid to put them ahead of any other interest, including on the op ed page of the New York Times.

Alas, your assessment before the invasion of Iraq (which was pretty well mine at the time) didn't seem that clear to everyone, and intelligent people did advocate the invasion, many of them here. Many of them based their views on the Agency and State, neither of which organizations was providing either unbiased or accurate information.

The original proconsul we sent wasn't a complete fool. Then came Bremer, from State, and you could have predicted the result just knowing State's views (which are not always or even often those of the Secretary of State, who has yet another view of the situation).

While we are at it, you didn't even mention our wonderful policy of arresting as a "warlord" anyone who was actually governing any part of Iraq. As Angelo Codevilla puts it, "Anarchy anyone?"

But still we are there. Figuring out whom to hang by the neck as a traitor for getting us in this is fun, but it won't happen: and like it or not, we now have to snatch a victory from the jaws of imbecility.

And we are losing two troopers a day now.

Jerry, I'm in pretty solid agreement with your assessment of an Iraqi occupation. Invasion is often the easy part; long term occupation the impossible.

Even when foreign troops are welcomed, as American troops were in France during WWII, you can bet it won't be long before even those who cheered the loudest will be saying, "Thanks for the help, now go home."

But barring illegal or unconstitutional acts, a general's duty is to support his Commander-in Chief, which usually means a support of policy that might be called de jure by many, at least in public, and the determination to make even an impossible policy work as best he can. "Ours is not to wonder why, ours is but to do or die" is more than a hollow slogan with career military. Particularly generals who have no political ambitions of their own.

My belief in Franks really has little to do with Iraq, he does have an impossible task there, but with what very well might happen right here, should a sufficiently large terrorist attack transpire. Too many really do cry safety before freedom, and the promise of safety after a massive terrorist attack might well make suspension of the Constitution a reasonable act to the majority, if it meant a "guarantee" of safety, and the bringing to justice of those responsible a "certainty."

Ah, well. As the Chinese curse goes, "May you live in interesting times." We certainly do.

James Ritchie

Indeed. But we have had generals who put the nation ahead of their careers. It is a difficult decision, though. Beckwith told me he tried to resign rather than lead Desert One. "Son, when the President of the United States stands you to attention in the Oval Office and says 'Your resignation is not accepted. Lead the mission.' then what do you do? Me, I led the mission."


You mention the Imperial Presidency often enough. I wonder what you think then of Emperor George II taking not one, or even three, but five chefs to England. Did he bring his own beef too?

Regards and thank you for all you do,

Bill Gleason

Well at least he didn't keep Heathrow shut down while he got a haircut. But the tendency seems to be growing, and I do expect formal panegyrics on arrival within my lifetime.

Dear Jerry:

I read the Kagan essay again. I do better with printout than with on line. It seems to me that his key point is that Rumsfeld has locked himself into a single strategic vision which assumes that no adversary will find a countermeasure and resists, in the strongest terms any input to the contrary, from the military or otherwise.

In other words he's bet all of the chips on four queens and assumes no one is holding aces or a royal flush. There are ways around an strategic plan and this has already happened in Iraq. It is the very epitome of arrogance to assume that other people will play at war by your set of rules. All of the literature from Sun Tzu onward says the opposite.

The military plans for all contingencies. In Vietnam I was told that we had a detailed action plan for the eventuality that the South Vietnamese Government would suddenly join North Vietnam and declare war on us. T'wasn't likely but we covered the bet anyway.

When I was at the Headquarters in Frankfurt we had an E-4, name of Al. Very bright kid, Al, but weird even by our loose standards. (He'd have been right at home in Fandom). Al played broad games; the military battle games with all the little pieces and the maps. He had them all in his locker. This was his great passion. Once at Blitzkrieg he took on six of us and beat us cold. Al's job in the military was very mysterious. He had an office all by himself and no one knew quite what he did -- but he was a happy man. We suspected his job and his hobby were not that far apart. The Army plans for every possibility, but according to Kagan, under Rumsfeld, competing visions are not permitted. He also resists expanding the size of the Army because it might hurt the implementation of his theory. The Army may end up with greater problems than it had in the late 70's. It is at the breaking point already and no end in sight to deployments.

Kagan really did his homework. He doesn't say so, but the only possible solution to the problem would be getting rid of Rumsfeld and his whole neocon crew of chicken hawks. Not likely with an election coming on.

As for "salon" it's a little hoity-toity,not really your style, but, then again it's your party, Man. Call it what you will.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

From Joanne Dow:

Quoth Francis Hamit: Something bad has to happen before the police can be called and it's far better not to have anything happen at all, although you can never convince those cowboys in Accounting of that.

Quoth me: Remember how long we had to suffer with NF and how the police would do nothing until after someone was injured? It was even recommended that I illegally pack a revolver to protect myself because the police were not able to do anything. It's a strange society that demands safety then makes it impossible and even illegal for those assigned the protection duty to perform that duty in a sane manner. Ah well.


She refers to a cybercriminal on the old BIX network who threatened to perform terrible sex acts on Joanne and my wife with a hunting knife. The Secret Service in connection with McGraw Hill Security caught the man, who turned out to be all talk and unlikely to have done anything physical at all, even to his wife whom he didn't much care for; but Joanne's point is well made. I take the Hobbsian view that you are entitled to protect yourself: that's one right Leviathan, the Mortal God that the State has become, cannot take away.




Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Last time I sent you an e-mail I forgot to forward along anything official to validate my statements. Thank you again for being such an outspoken supporter of the U.S Military.

Joe Romeo


The following appeared on Headline: Army Reserve battling an exodus Date: 11/23/2003

"WASHINGTON -- The US Army Reserve fell short of its reenlistment goals this fiscal year, underscoring Pentagon fears that the protracted conflict in Iraq could cause a crippling exodus from the armed services." ____________________________________________________________

To see this recommendation, click on the link below or cut and paste it into a Web browser:


This message was sent by Francis Hamit

Not astonishing but worrying.




Subject: Microwave Thermal Rockets

Dear Jerry,

I love the space-related commentary on your website! I've been developing an SSTO concept for the last couple of years. Unlike the others, this one is definitely not a reinvention of the wheel, read on and you'll see what I mean: 

 ... it may sound like science fiction, but I assure you the technical feasibility is science fact, and that is food for thought!

Warmest regards,


-------- Kevin L.G. Parkin, MPhys, MS, Ph.D. (cand.) Division of Engineering and Applied Science California Institute of Technology

Secretariat Member, United Nations Space Generation Advisory Council.  ---------------------------------------------

Interesting indeed. I do find it odd that the papers do not reference the work of Arthur Kantrowitz. And of course I wrote about such things in A Step Farther Out as well as in several science fiction stories in the 70's...

Using Words Properly

This may have gone on long enough, but I do not like people who say my arguments are silly and then proceed to demonstrate -- well, read on.

Jerry Pournelle wrote:

>Look. Sometimes precision in language is useful. There is a difference >between a subsidy and a tax. >

Sure, for many purposes you are correct. But there is no moral difference from lobbying for a subsidy that benefits oneself and lobbying for a tariff that benefits oneself -- and that's what you claimed.

>"Subsidies are paid directly to certain people for certain reasons."

Yes, and tariffs are lobbied for by people who plan on directly benefiting from them. You wouldn't claim that the steel workers who lobbied for tariffs didn't expect to put them in their pocket every bit as much as if they were directly subsidized, would you?

Regards, Gene Callahan

First: I am not correct for "many purposes." Words are used properly or they are not, unless you are Humpty Dumpty and change their meanings at will and pay them on Saturdays.

Second, I never made any "moral" difference points at all. I am concerned with practical effects, including effects on citizens and their loyalties.

Third, I have never been a defender of the very large protective tariffs exemplified by the present steel tariff; nor am I so stupid as not to think that those who lobbied for the tariffs expected not to "put them in their pockets" nor can I imagine anyone silly enough not to know that. Imputing that kind of stupidity to me makes it pretty hard to engage in rational conversation. You began by saying I was silly and now you act as if I can't understand anything at all.

Subsidies are paid to certain people for certain reasons. That is: it is clear who the beneficiaries are, and it is clear who is paying the taxes if they are paid from general funds. The costs and particular benefits are known. Subsidies are paid sometimes to keep an industry in business because it is key: one such is the subsidy paid to a Massachusetts hemp hawser company, because in 1860 the Navy wasn't able to buy big hawser cables from North Carolina, so a plant was set up to make them. Last time I looked, Ted Kennedy had managed to keep that subsidy going even though today the cables go directly to surplus since the Navy doesn't use big hemp anchor cables any longer. That's a subsidy. We know to whom it is paid.

A tariff is a tax. It is a tax paid only by those who buy imported goods. It has the effect of raising prices, including for domestic goods, but it is never entirely clear on whom the cost burden falls, nor entirely clear on whom the benefits fall.

There are those who claim that subsidies interfere with the market less than do tariffs. On the other hand, tariffs allow and encourage competition among suppliers rather than locking in a particular company.

There are those who claim that any interference with the market is a bad idea. Clearly I am not among them. It is my belief that a country owes certain benefits to its citizens in exchange for the loyalty it demands of them (often on pain of confiscation or death, by the way).

It is clearly your opinion that common sense economics has no need for distinctions between tariff and subsidy. I do not agree, nor do I agree that my view is silly.

Subject: Debris of Empire

Roland Dobbins

It is part of the price of empire I suppose. And of course the security people need to justify their salaries.

Debris of Empire indeed. Panegyrics would be cheaper.







This week:


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Tuesday, November 25, 2003 

It's busy here. I'll get up some mail of interest, but most of the afternoon is going to be taken up with errands including going off to buy a 15" Mac in Glendale.

I have a good collection of letters discussing the tariff/job export/manufacturing situation, but that will require some comments from me, and I don't have time for that this morning. Tomorrow perhaps.

The following is an experiment by Francis Hamit. It is quite long, and if you want to skip over it, click here, but I thought it interesting:

WHY PUBLISHERS USE FREELANCERS by Francis Hamit Copyright 2003 by Francis Hamit, All Rights Reserved.

Here's something that most freelance writers don't know: newspaper and magazine publishers depend upon us not just for diverse editorial material, but sometimes for the very survival of a publication.

This is often the case in the domain of trade magazines, where I've spent most of my recent career as a freelance writer. But don't take my word for it, look at the publisher's trade magazine, "FOLIO: the Magazine for Magazine Management".

In an article in the January 1, 1992 issue, Peggy Schmidt and Sean Callahan wrote, "If a staff writer is producing 10 feature stories a year and you're paying a salary of $30,000 per year plus 40 percent more in benefits and taxes, each story is costing you $4,200. If you are confident that you can get the same quality of work from freelancers at half the cost, you may want to cut back in-house staff and reallocate the money to the freelance budget."

The article goes on to make several other recommendations including paying a set price per piece rather than by the word, and paying a little bit more to retain talent. Editors are also advised to develop regular relationships with knowledgeable freelancers by giving them regular assignments and that: "You may even save money since you can often negotiate a lower per-article fee if you can guarantee a writer a set amount of work."

Other advantages touted to using freelancers include their specialized knowledge. In an article called "How to Find Freelancers: A Primer for Editors", published in FOLIO in the April 1, 1998 issue, Marcia Ringel wrote: "Hundreds of freelance writers and editors are waiting to add expertise to your publication." And she also says: "Because freelancers keep abreast of the news, they'll gladly propose article ideas and supply fresh contacts as story sources. A reliable freelancer can prepare a regular column or track certain aspects of your field --tasks your staff would do if they had time." She also points out that using freelancers in distant cities to cover events saves travel costs.

And adds this tidbit: "What if your budget is zero? Call a journalism school and ask for a promising student." Publishers exploit unpaid interns in their offices as well.

Finally she concludes: "As freelancers lighten your load, you'll wonder how you got along without them."

I've been on the other side of this equation for most of my career as a journalist. I've had regular contributor or "Contributing Editor" next to my name on the publication's masthead at several different publications over the last two decades.

I have hundreds of articles in print, and have often been praised for being so prolific. My reply is always, "It's called making a living". When you support yourself as a writer, you end up taking a lot of work simply to pay your bills. For a number of years I averaged a major feature article about once a week.

In 1993, two things happened that altered the relationship between freelance writers and their editors. One was the introduction of the World Wide Web, with its advanced graphics capability, as the new medium for communicating printed information. It took a few years to sort it out, but it is now obvious that the Web is a print rather than a broadcast medium; one which, because of its digital nature, reduces the cost of distribution to close to zero, and expands the circulation area of a publication to the whole world. Over 600 million people in over 100 nations now access the Web. You can read most of the newspapers in the world online, from the "New York Times" to the "Malaysia Star".

The second thing that happened was that Jonathan Tasini, a freelance writer and labor activist who was then the President of the National Writer's Union, along with several colleagues, sued the "New York Times" and other publications for reselling their articles on CD-ROM and through online services. The "New York Times" called this a "revision" of their original collective work.

In 2001, when the case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, the decision went to the freelance writers. Rather than settle, the "Times" started eliminating freelance articles from its own database, causing outcries from librarians everywhere.

During the intervening years, most publishers sided with the "New York Times" and sold electronic rights they did not own -- and because of a 1981 Federal Court decision called "Quinto Vs. Legal Times of Washington" these were rights they should have reasonably known they did not own. That decision, which was about the reprinting of an article originally published in one newspaper by another, held that the paper reprinting the article had "a duty to inquire" as to the true ownership of the copyright in an article, and also held that the original publisher retained no rights to transfer to anyone else because Quinto was neither a member of the staff nor had signed a written contract transferring additional rights.

Despite this decision, an identical situation was allowed to develop by hundreds of publications with articles by thousands of writers. The publishers signed deals with firms called "aggregators" who digitized the content of thousands of magazines to create huge databases with millions of articles. This was additional money in the publishers' pockets. They get between 30 and 75 percent of the gross.

These databases are searchable and allow a user to retrieve and print out any one article. This was the basis of the Supreme Court Decision mentioned above. The "collective work" copyright does not include contributions by independent contractors. These contributions have their own copyrights.

The aggregators and their clients, which include major database providers such as Lexis-Nexis, Factiva, Dialog and Ingenta, relying upon contractual assurances by the original publishers, refuse to deal with freelancers directly on copyright infringement and point them back to the publishers who originally supplied the articles. Yes, they did have a "duty to inquire", but they were also entitled to rely upon the written assurances of the publishers and take them in good faith.

This traffic in what are essentially stolen goods gives the original publishers a new, undisclosed profit center, much like reprints made of these same articles for marketing and publicity purposes and sold without the author/ copyright owner's knowledge. (That's also an infringement of the copyright.)

Because publishers have been careful to conceal these arrangements even from their own staff editors, most writers whose articles are being infringed don't even know it.

Not so long ago there was a "second rights" market where a freelance writer could take an article originally sold to one publication and sell it to another, usually in a distant non- competing market. The Web changed all of that. Not only did publications start putting up electronic editions of their issues for the world to see, but some started selling them to the aggregators who resold them directly to the market for library databases and, indirectly, through the database firms to the extensive commercial market for article reprints. Originally such articles were delivered by FAX or courier service, but the Web made them instantly accessible online to those willing to pay for subscriptions or by the "pay per view" method to read and/or copy them. Because electronic publication now often happens simultaneously with print publication, the second rights market has been pretty much destroyed.

Undoubtedly, almost all of the millions of articles provided this way are properly and legally cleared as to copyright ownership and the rights transferred. But consider the following not so hypothetical situation: A freelance writer, working on an oral agreement like the one in the Quinto case, writes and is paid for an article in a particular publication. All the publication has purchased, unless there is a written agreement to the contrary, is the right to publish that article once, in print. If it sells reprints to someone, that is an infringement. If it puts it up on its own web site, that is infringement. If it sells it to an aggregator who resells it to all the other electronic markets, that is many infringements.

Web-based databases for libraries were introduced in 1997 and they've flown under the radar of public consciousness so far. Since they allow any library patron not just to read, but to print out and to e-mail an article to third parties without any real restriction, the impact upon the freelancers's potential to resell the articles themselves is devastating. The aggregators have not only defined the market, they've marketed and distributed in a way that crowds out all other competition. While the amount derived for a single copy of an article can range from a fraction of a cent to a few dollars, the total revenues are in the billions of dollars. It's a very large, and global, business.

Full-time freelancers are rare. It's a very tough way to make a living, and bargaining power is eroded by the large number of people who do it part-time for too little money, or do it for free just to see their name on a byline or to advance a cause or another business enterprise. Only the fact that competent, reliable freelancers save publications substantial amounts of money on staffing makes it a viable business. Given that, you would think that publishers would want to nurture these relationships by sharing the revenues from these secondary markets or, alternatively, by buying all rights at a fair price that reflects the value of this aftermarket.

Until the Tasini decision forced the issue, they did neither. Now they are very insistent on "all rights" or "work for hire" contracts, but offer no additional compensation, much less a portion of the additional revenues. This is both greedy and short- sighted.

Freelancers are essentially small business people who don't yet enjoy collective bargaining rights. If they try to agree on a common minimum price for their work, they are threatened with anti- trust suits for price fixing. Each has to determine the worth of their work on their own. Added to that is the fact that the publishers have concealed the revenues they make from the resale of the freelancers work, especially when they have no rights to it.

And they conceal that fact from the aggregators and database firms as well. They claim ownership of the copyright of everything in an issue of a publication in the contract, and are so credited in the databases. Nowhere will you find credit given where credit is due where freelance work is concerned. This is a violation of another section of the Copyright Act: Section 1202, which does not deal with infringement per se, but with "copyright management information".

This is the part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 that no one apparently bothers to read. It makes it a violation to deliberately alter titles, bylines, or to change or conceal true ownership of a copyright. The aggregators and their clients may be innocent in this, the publishers who provided the article, two years after the Tasini decision became the law of the land, certainly are not!

If a publisher who does not own rights beyond first print publication exploits them anyway, either directly or by selling them to a third party, then that is theft. If that publisher, to facilitate that sale, also claims to own rights which are retained by the freelancer, then that is fraud.

I could go on with the ins and out of this. At this point, having researched this on my own behalf for about two years, I could probably write a book on this, but I think you get the idea. If you wrote freelance articles for anyone on an oral first serial print rights basis, then you need to check online to see if your work is infringed and if the copyright ownership is properly credited. Start at your local library and see which publications are on those marvelous electronic databases. That's in the part called "title lists".

Then, since this is not legal advice, and I'm not a lawyer, you need to see one who specializes in intellectual property law if you think you may have a cause of action. Especially if it's a "credit where credit is due issue".

Section 1202 seems to, along with the other parts of that chapter, stand apart from the rest of the Copyright Act. It neither refers to them nor is referred to by them. That means, if your "copyright management information" is distorted by anyone, damages under Section 1203 (the civil penalties portion of the Act) may well include statutory damages up to $25,000 per violation regardless of when you actually register your copyrights.

I have my own cases going forward on these matters. Legal fees and costs are very expensive -- something else which publishers rely upon to keep us freelancers at bay. If you have found this article helpful and wish to make a donation, please send it to:

Francis Hamit Legal Fund P.O. Box 5499 Frazier Park, CA 93222-5499

I thank you in advance.

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Dr Pournelle,

Who is the empire?

Read this and worry,

Jim Mangles




Well, after you mentioned the Prince was on sale over at Amazon, I ordered a copy. They initially told me it would be 3 weeks before they could ship it, which was fine, I'm in no hurry (busy working my way through Footfall :-).

Then imagine my surprise when I get an email 2 days later saying that it'd been shipped. Well, a book arrived, but it was NOT the right book - it was "Prince - a novel" by IB Michael. Needless to say, this got sent back.

Then, a week ago, I finally receive confirmation that the book had shipped. Well, AGAIN, it was the wrong book, the *same* wrong book in fact... So, back to the web site, print out the return label, slap it in place and send it back. I asked for a refund this time, as they obviously can't seem to understand that IB Michael != Jerry Pournelle. Another outsourced operation to someone who can't read English?

I'll try again after Christmas.

Pete Flugstad Iowa City

Sigh. For those confused, The Prince is the name of the big book collecting all my Falkenberg stories and novels with a couple of new scenes never before published. It comes from Baen and it can be ordered directly from Baen Books as I understand it.


Hi Jerry,

I just thought that you'd want to know that Norton System Works 2004 now requires activation. And, according to this article,,3973,1395948,00.asp  , it can break and become unfixable. I guess that they didn't learn anything from the Intuit debacle.

Keep up the good work!

Brian Gannon

I will have more on this in the column.

Subject: Eugene Kleiner, RIP

Roland Dobbins


On Ipod batteries

Jerry, I always look at service plans as "insurance" against loss. Thus the cost of the plan is the premium. As I see it, the $59 charged to extend the warranty by one year, is a premium of $59 against a worst-case loss of about $400. That's somewhat steep as insurance goes, don't you think? I think it compares to paying a yearly premium of over $4,000 for collision coverage on your $30,000 automobile.




Dr. Pournelle,

An alternative to Apple's outrageous price for replacing a 2nd generation iPod's battery can be found at:

Laptops for Less 

The part costs $49 and has a shelf-life of 10 years according to an email they sent me. This is less than one year of "Applecare" and it's highly unlikely that your factory battery will fail in that first year anyway. The replacement instructions on the site look pretty straight forward for anyone who's not utterly clumsy ;)

So you can buy a $49 part and store it away until needed, or pay multiple years of Applecare fees knowing that the battery *will* fail eventually. Info on the above site and other good iPod stuff can be had at:


Regards, -------------------------------------------------------- David P. Huff |

| "Giving money and power to government  is like giving whiskey and car keys | to teenage boys." -- P. J. O'Rourke


Dr. Pournelle,

I tried the link you have and got the same as you, download Quicktime for "free". I know for a fact I have Quicktime installed. What I noticed that was checked on the Quicktime download page was "quicktime AND itunes". I use MusicMatch and there is a known conflict between it an itunes. By accident I typed (no www.) into the IE address bar and the movie played with no quicktime download required. A trick perhaps to get you to install itunes.

David A. Kickbusch Vice President Educational Achievement Services, Inc. (

But, but, but--- Oh, could it be?


Hi Jerry,

I just wanted to extend a caution to the previous comments about  and iPod batteries. The company sells cloned products that do not necessarily meet manufacturer standards. I purchased a Thinkpad battery from them and discovered not only that it lacked both the circuit necessary to pass power through to the secondary battery and the power management chip, but that it grew much hotter during recharging than the original IBM battery.

I don't know if the ipod battery falls into the same category or not - when the time comes, I'll probably spend the $99 on Apple's battery service. (   ).



P.S. Macauley's History is often available on eBay - I just picked up a complete set from the 1890's for around $50. Between that and Burning City I'm set for the holiday season reading. Any thoughts about making an autographed edition of Burning Tower available from your website when it's published?

I will consider the autographed copy option when the time comes. Thanks,


Dr Pournelle,

Debris of Empire

Horse feathers, more likely. Helicopters have been taking off and landing in Buckingham Palace gardens for years without any fuss.

The Daily Mirror's well known anti-Bush, anti-Blair, anti-Iraq-invasion position is obvious and of long standing.

And like so much of the low-end press in the UK, it always feels free to make facts up if the appropriate kind don't arrive any other way.

Jim Mangles

Well, well...


Subject: Dell Closes Overseas Call Centers,4149,1395692,00.asp 

He would not discuss the nature of the dissatisfaction, but some U.S. customers have complained that Indian support operators are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses.


But then

Subject: 54% of Dell employees are not in the US

Mr. Pournelle, 


ps- very interested in your experience with the Mac laptop and OSX. I want a new computer, but am scared off by Apple's QC stumble on this model. Thanks for all you do.

I just bought the Mac. I cannot say I was happy with the service from the store, but the machine looks and feels nice. We will see. I expect I will love it.



Yet another example of how much I learn here, then hear later. 

NICOSIA, Cyprus  The Turkish army has warned the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the country's police force has to be "cleaned up" to prevent further terrorist violence. ... The Turkish army considers itself to be the guardian of the Turkish republic established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The last major military intervention against the political system took place in 1980, after years of terror that paralyzed much of the country's life. In 1997, the military pressured into resignation a pro-Islamic government headed by Necmettin Erbakan. ...

Scott Anderson

I try...

The costs of Empire:

Subject: More Kipling

Kipling exhorted America to become an empire like Britain, but he fully showed the costs of empire.

Of course, we're too politically correct to even mention "The White Man's Burden" today, or to suggest that the native cultures of Iraq, Somalia, or the Balkans are any less civilized than the West. But it's worth linking again. 

Steve Setzer

The harbors ye may not enter...

I have one book out whose title is "Bind Your Sons To Exile".


NAMES for the New Powerbook: mail on this subject goes here

Subject: name for Powerbook

Sally (as in Sally Fowler from The Mote in God's Eye)

smart beautiful powerful seen rough times "carved from ice by the finest sculptor that ever lived"

Yeah, it works :-)

Steve S.

Roland has suggested Hecate. Peter Glaskowsky objects, and suggests Aphrodite or Diana. My first inclination is to Ariadne, a sometimes petulant but very useful princess (my midget ocean racing sailboat was named Ariadne back when I did such things). We will see.


Name your new Powerbook Julian after your god-daughter. She's had her own iMac for about a year now and she loves it. All I have to do is give her a CD in a case and she can do everything else. That's why Meg and I love Macs. Oh, and the Apple Store at the Northridge Mall is much better than the one in Glendale. They're not rocket scientists, but the are competent.

Sincerely, Matthew Miller QA Lead

Hah. A fascinating suggestion. Good to hear from you!

Jerry :

A name for the new Mac laptop? Why MacDuck, of course. After all, it came with a large bill, quacks a sad mallardy, has a tale to be told, and will be a Webbed feat. It remains to be seen just how effective this will be at amassing wealth and lucre like its cousin, Scrooge McD.

And given how Macs and PCs have converged in the way they work, it's another question of trying to call one thing another name, no matter how much each camp wants to assert how incredibly different they are from the other. It sounds like a... looks like a... flies like a...

... MacDuck. It has something of a ring about it !

John P.

I don't dislike it that much. Yet, although this business of trying to join my usual domain is driving me mad. But I expect to like this machine when we are done.


May I suggest - Freya - In Norse mythology, Freya is a goddess of love and fertility, and the most beautiful and propitious of the goddesses. Somehow, the frigid beauty of the Norse Lands seems a fitting analogy for the gleaming aluminum armor of the Powerbook!


Not bad.






This week:


read book now


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Subject: Iraq

Some one has finally mentioned the unmentionable 

free registration is required, at least until archived

Don Scherer

we're Americans. We neither study history nor learn from it. - Orson Scott Card

Indeed. Three Iraqs. I seem to have said something of the sort once. Iraq is an EMPIRE itself, not a nation state. Keeping it unified means keeping it an empire.

Subject: The rift widens, bit by bit . . .

Roland Dobbins

As you say...

Subject: The Camel's Nose Under the Tent Flap

Here are a couple of articles from today's Guardian (left-wing, but influential in the UK): <,2763,1093319,00.html > and <,2763,1093186,00.html >.

At this point, it's hard to tell whether this is more journalism or propaganda.

Wait a bit and watch for it.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

More insanity.

[snip] Fighter jets were scrambled at Miami airport after an elderly woman threw a fit on an American Airlines plane and flight attendants thought she would attack them, police said.

Reports said the woman was aged between 69 and 79. 

But...we all feel safer now, right?

Randy Storms

Terrorists! Terrorists!

Subject: Net failure hits UK

I'm sure lots of people are sending you links like this, but over here in the UK it felt like there had been a major DDOS or a terrorist attack on the Internet. We were hit by a double whammy because we get our internet service and route our analogue voice calls through the same company's network - NTL. Both NTL's DNS servers came down, and most of their internal and external systems ground to a halt.

At around 11pm last night I finally managed to get a dial-up connection, to a different ISP, through a BT line, and lo and behold the world was still there. I hadn't realised how much we have come to depend on the Internet. While I just looked at this as yet another interesting problem to solve, my wife was panicking about replies to emails she was expecting, and how our son would be able to do his school homework without the Web.

And this was just a seven hour outage, imagine the chaos if it had gone on for days; we might have had to send messages by snail mail and our son would have been forced to go to the local library for information!

But now it seems that the most likely explanation is that it was caused by a failure in the TAT-14 transatlantic cable: 

Best wishes

Paul Dove

But see below.



I have had a couple of recent instances to call customer support for two large companies, and I spoke each time to people who were obviously Indians. At the ends of the call I asked both where they were located. The reply both times: "Toronto".

I wonder if that is part of the script, or if they actually were in Canada. ;)

Jim Dodd San Diego

No data. Anyone know?

Dr. Pournelle,

A comment on the "Toronto" outsourcing statement. I use a call support company in Missassauga ,which is 10 miles from Toronto, and the vast majority of employees are East Indian. Some are Pakistani. There is a large population in the suburbs around TO called the GTA(Greater Toronto Area). Most are paid minimum wage($6.85 CDN/ $5.57 USD) and do a very reasonable job. They have the added benefit of being socially integrated within the North American culture and can more easily interact with a caller than can an employee in India.

P.S. I'm sending my subscription tonight!!!

Christopher Todd Gaska, CEO One Vision Inc.


Dr Pournelle,

The Iraqi Empire

Three Iraqs. I seem to have said something of the sort once. Iraq is an EMPIRE itself, not a nation state. Keeping it unified means keeping it an empire.

This may well be an important part of the solution to the Iraqi problem. It might also go rather better still with the addition of my idea, put forward earlier, of a king for Iraq, or perhaps three kings for three parts of Iraq. Let’s look at it.

Calling Iraq an Empire reminds me of what might be an historical parallel.

British kings and queens never called themselves emperor or empresses, except with regard to India. Thus Victoria was never known as the ‘British Empress’, but from1877, took to being called ‘Empress of India’ along with all her other titles. It is said this was suggested to her by Disraeli, when Victoria expressed her annoyance upon learning that her grandson Wilhelm, formerly merely King of Prussia, had himself made up to Kaiser (Emperor) of Germany following victory in the Franco-Prussian War. How could the king of a lesser nation, and her grandson at that, be known as an emperor when the monarch of the undoubted leading nation had never used that title? Conveniently, there was India, itself an empire contained within the larger British one.

But when it came time for independence in 1947, it was deemed necessary to partition India into Islamic Pakistan and Hindu India. This was proposed and carried out for very similar reasons to the ones the NY Times article expresses. The question is, did it work in 1947? Well, millions died in the ensuing riots and semi-civil war the decision provoked; indeed the two countries are still fighting over Kashmir to the present time. Is that a success?

Would it work now in Iraq?

I don’t know, but suggest (as the article does) that there would be trouble with mixed population Baghdad in an impoverished and otherwise Sunni region. The article does not mention, however, the almost certainly violent reaction of Turkey (and possibly Iran too) to the idea of an independent Kurdish state in the north. Both Turkey and Iran have significant Kurdish minorities they have been denying independence to for most of the 20th Century. Creating an independent Kurdistan out of what is now northern Iraq could be the way to a very serious regional conflict in the Middle East— almost a second Israeli-Palestinian situation, in fact.

And we need that like a hole in the head.

Jim Mangles

All of which we have said before, including here, and in my case before the invasion began: what are you to do with Iraq when you have it? I asked. Apparently no one asked that question before we sent in the soldiers.

The Turks will certainly not be happy with an independent Kurdistan on their border; nor will the Iranians. The Sunni of Baghdad do not want to lost control of Mesopotamia. Etc. None of these matters is easily solved and it looks as if they are just realizing that solutions are needed.






I just read an article, , saying that Boston is considering ending forced bussing, because demographics have changed, and most middle class whites have taken their children out of public schools to avoid it. Naturally, minority leaders (Minorities, in a system where 86% of the school children aren't white?) claim that they'll fight any attempts to end bussing that don't come from "people of color." What's a real shame is that this is in Boston, once one of the most Abolitionist cities in the natiion.

-- Joe Zeff The only problem with trouble-shooting is that sometimes trouble shoots back.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is seldom broken



Jerry, I'm not normally so strident in my demands on you (or anyone). But this is HUGE, HUGE news. I would suggest that it equates in its importance to humanity to the first powered flight, the invention of the nuclear bomb, or the first man on the Moon.

If the article below is correct, it would appear that a small UK company has perfected a method of causing human blood cells to revert to a stem cell like condition. These stem cells could then be used to remedy a wide range of degenerative illnesses, such as brain damage caused by stroke, heart or kidney damage... virtually any of the common degenerative conditions associated with age, and more besides. Human tests are now commencing!

This is big, big news... could be the equivalent of the first block of the east German wall coming down in the search for practical immortality. Copied from New Scientist.



Blood could generate body repair kit

19:00 26 November 03

A small company in London, UK, claims to have developed a technique that overturns scientific dogma and could revolutionise medicine. It says it can turn ordinary blood into cells capable of regenerating damaged or diseased tissues. This could transform the treatment of everything from heart disease to Parkinson's.

If the company, TriStem, really can do what it says, there would be no need to bother with conventional stem cells, currently one of the hottest fields of research. But its astounding claims have been met with bemusement and disbelief by mainstream researchers.

TriStem has been claiming for years that it can take a half a litre of anyone's blood, extract the white blood cells and make them revert to a "stem-cell-like" state within hours. The cells can be turned into beating heart cells for mending hearts, nerve cells for restoring brains and so on.


I'll wait for the peer-reviewed article.

A long time ago John W. Campbell, Jr., said that there probably had already been born someone who would never have to die. Few paid him much heed other than some of the writers whose stories he bought when they wrote stories in accord with his editorials.

But I have always thought he was right. I suspect I am just a bit past the age that will be able to make use of discoveries like these. On the other hand, every year my life expectancy seems to go up by a year, so I've been even with the game for a decade now.



Dr Pournelle,

Net outage in UK

“I'm sure lots of people are sending you links like this, but over here in the UK it felt like there had been a major DDOS or a terrorist attack on the Internet. We were hit by a double whammy because we get our internet service and route our analogue voice calls through the same company's network - NTL. Both NTL's DNS servers came down, and most of their internal and external systems ground to a halt.”

Well, we also get our internet broadband, our voice phone AND our cable TV from NTL here in the UK. All three were in pretty constant use through most of yesterday, up to and past midnight.

We were hit by no whammy-- single, double or treble-- last night; everything just sailed right on as normal. From what we could see, NTL’s DNS servers didn’t even wobble, and no internal or external systems ground to a halt. There have been no problems like he describes for months, at least.


I think Mr Dove must have experienced a local problem only,

Jim Mangles



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, November 27, 2003


Dr. Pournelle,

I doubt you are watching the news this Thanksgiving, but Pres. Bush flew into Iraq this morning to speak to troops at a Thanksgiving breakfast. This is the same place where a cargo plane was shot by a missile just a couple of days ago...

The debate will be raised whether this was a legitimate or foolhardy risk for the President to make. From the point of view of troops all over the world however, the presence of their commander in the field is a clear message that he has them in mind and is willing to share a little bit of the danger they face. From personal experience, the mere presence of an officer or commander in the field can be a massive morale booster that defies any logic, yet carries more weight than any pay raise, improvement in food or housing, or other material considerations. I was amazed by how much goodwill I gained from maintenance troops by helping work on one jet one night and by going over in person to talk to the maintenance officer and senior NCOs instead of doing all of our business on the phone, so this little visit is going to be a clear emotional demonstration that the President cares about is troops and is willing to put his own life at risk to show his support.

Foolhardy or calculated risk, it was a gutsy move and it appears to have worked. Fortune favors the bold. There aren't many rich greedy oil men willing to risk getting shot just to make some money for their businessmen cronies, and frankly that argument for the supersecret justification for the war is looking thinner and thinner to me.

In my opinion of course...

Sean Long

We are there because the President thinks it is right. Whether he is well advised to believe this is open to debate, but not that he believes he is doing the right thing.






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now











This week:


read book now



Lots more mail on many subjects later. Busy day today, probably won't get to more of this until tomorrow.



I found this thread on not for sure if it will help or not. Does the name of your windows AD server end in .local? if so this might help:

Here is a reply that tells how to fix it:

>Hi everyone, there is a fix, though it's not point-and-click easy. >Basically you need to go onto each Mac client and edit the "local" file >in the /etc/resolver directory (using Terminal in conjunction with a >shell editor such as pico, which is built-in) . Replace the nameserver >IP address listed with the correct one of your DNS server (in this >case, the SBS computer). You also need to replace the port number with >53.

Mike Proctor

Thanks. AdmitMac has fixed the problem and I suspect does much the same thing but I will, given time, look into this. I am sure glad that the Mac is simple and easy to use and get connected.






CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now



Has nothing to do with other material here, but I found this in one of my discussion groups. The topic was on beauty and averaging:

First of all, averaging the faces of men and women together creates an unpleasant effect. Second, attractive women tend to be more feminine and attractive men more masculine than average. Here, for example, is a link to a picture of Audrey Hepburn, whose reputation for beauty seems to only be growing with the passing years:

Her jaw is extremely feminine (i.e., small), but some of her other features are highly idosyncratic: e.g., she has very large, dark eyebrows, rather reminiscent of Groucho Marx. And she generally wore her hair short, not much longer than your typical lady gym coach. But, put everything together and it works.


Hello Dr. Pournelle:

 This is a bit of a rant, but I have to say after having had to sort through something like 50 to 70 spams each day, that my email is getting to be almost unusable. I work in the I.T. field, and much of my work, including searches for contract assignments, is done via email. These people are potentially causing me a loss of jobs and income. I am beginning to think that a good way to handle this might be to pass a law against beating up, assaulting, harming, or causing property damage to purveyors of spam. A maximum fine could be set at $25 or less.

Something along these lines was done some years ago, in some communities, regarding people who burned flags. A law was passed with a $25 fine to be assessed against people who beat up flag burners. The fine would be assessed, and double jeopardy would prevent the assailant from ever being charged with the more serious crimes of assault and battery. The only problem for me, then, would be to calculate at $25 a pop, how many of these people I could afford to encourage to search for honest work. I think I am just kidding.

Neal Pritchett



You have got to see this! 




It has got late. I will have a lot of mail for Monday.






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