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Monday  December 1, 2oo3

I do get good advice on using the Mac. This isn't the mail I would normally begin with after a couple of days off, but it's topical and may save people some trouble:


----Original Message----- > From: J.David Hester [ Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 6:05 AM > To: > Subject: "Security" on your PowerBook > > Without a bit more information about the "security" issues you are > confronting, I won't be able to help much, but let me try. > > 1) Your first issue about having to provide a password everytime you > change a preference: > a) Go to System Preferences > b) Click on Security > c) Uncheck the box that says, "Require password to unlock each secure > system preference" > That might just do it. > > 2) Your other issues about sharing across networks: there are ways > (through UNIX) to completely alter and reset permissions on every file > and directory. They are complicated, though, and I wouldn't recommend > it. What you probably might want to think about is: If you want to > send a file to another computer, log into it through the Network and > put the file in the Drop Box. (The permissions for that directory are > usually only to allow another user the right to drop things into it, > not to read from it.) Then go over to that computer and drag it to > the place you want. > > If you want to get a file from another computer, make sure that > computer has it in its Public Folder, but not in the Drop Box. When > you log into it from your computer, you can see it and drag it into > your own directory.

> > If you really, really want to be able to control another computer from > your own on your network, though, you'll have to reset all file > permissions to allow anyone and everyone the ability to do anything > they want with that computer. As I said, it's possible to do (the > UNIX underpinnings of OS X are, after all, made to be able to set > permissions any way you like, and are therefore very powerful), but it > may not be the best thing to do (and from a manufacturing perspective, > would be a disaster for Apple to set up a computer in such a way than > anyone can do anything on it if it is on a network). > > If you want more help, please feel free to contact me. > > -David Hester > > > > >

> Yeah. Precisely. In other words allow this machine to disrupt all my > operations because to set it up I have to go to one place and do > things, then go back to it for everything else. > > And that security box IS UNCHECKED and a fat lot of good that has done > me. > > > > -

Understand. It's all a matter of customizing the machine that would rather not be all that accessible to everyone on the network. Since your network is only you, then you can try changing the permissions on everything to give you access to it from other computers.

To do that, highlight one of the files in your User folder (Documents, for example). Then give a Cmd-I (that's the letter "I" - pronounced "eye") command (Apple-I). Up will pop open an "Info" box. You'll see "Ownership & Permissions". Click on the triangle. You'll see "Details". Click on the Triangle. Then you'll see a list of permissions (Owner, Group, Others). If you click on the little lock icon (be warned: it will want you to give your password), you can change the Access permissions to the Group and Others. If you make them "Read and Write", you should be able to get and put documents directly into this folder from any computer on your network without having to go back and forth.

Make sure to "Apply to enclosed items..." before you click on the lock icon again or close the Info window.

You can do this to all of your User folders.

If you were to think of it from the perspective of having a network of different Users and people: Say I walk away from my desk but forget to screen lock it. If there weren't these various options the required passwords, someone could maliciously go in and change all my file permissions without me knowing (for example) and then after hours get into my computer and mess with my files.

The UNIX core to OS X is premised upon this assumption: many people using the network, and not everyone wanting to share their information.

May not be helpful to you, but you can fix things up the way you like.

Give it a try and see what happens.


P.S. The other issue MAY just be the interaction between your Windows and Mac computers. I'm afraid I don't have much experience in such a mixed environment with this new OS X. Sorry.

And I say again: I did do the INFO thing and set "Others" to be able to read and write, and one fat lot of good that has done. Maybe I have to reset the Mac first? I have had to restart the Mac after almost every change I have made to its networking. I will try that next but my suspicion is that Panther works differently from the

OK: We have it working. the story is long and goes in the column, but with the aid of AdmitMac we can now read and write to the Mac from the Windows network. Say Hallelujah! It's a pretty good story, too.


On another topic entirely.


Somehow this makes me think of John Ashcroft and the TSA.

After the uprising of the 17th June The Secretary of the Writers Union Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee Stating that the people Had forfeited the confidence of the government And could win it back only By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier In that case for the government To dissolve the people And elect another? -

"The Solution" by Bertolt Brecht

John Nichols

Indeed. Perhaps the most honest thing Brecht ever said; he toadied to the CP most of his life. And terrifying...


I wonder how you feel about our future in outer space today. Are the Burt Rutans on the verge of making your vision a reality?

I am 68. I am very disappointed and frustrated at the way 'globvernment' has stymied our space opportunity since the moon landings so long ago. I had expected that by now we would have moved millions of people off this old world and into another new world with a glowing future. That I will not be able to Email a grandchild on Mars just sucks!


Lou Issel

We almost had it. SSX, DC/X, and if Lockheed hadn't barged in and grabbed X-33 in the hopes of doing something big and spectacular; if we had used that money for incremental approaches, building a larger DC/X, then a larger one -- we'd be on the way now.

It is not too late. I may yet live to see another man on the moon.


Serendipity strikes: I've lately finished The Prince, the collection of your Falkenberg's Mercenary Legion stories, then this article appears in Salon:

--- CIA Seeks Guns For Hire in Anti-Terror Fight 

Nov. 27, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- The recent deaths of two paramilitary operatives tracking terrorists in Afghanistan opened a small window into one of the CIA's secret methods in fighting the war on terror: using guns-for-hire.

The agency has turned more frequently to contractors _ often retired Green Berets or Navy SEALs _ as it has worked to rapidly expand its covert paramilitary force, boosted by a big increase in funding in the two years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

William Carlson and Christopher Glenn Mueller were retired military commandos hired by the CIA as contractors to hunt al-Qaida and Taliban fighters near Shkin, in the wilds of eastern Afghanistan. They died Oct. 25 when they were ambushed while taking part in a larger military offensive in the area.

It appears they were hired by the CIA during the rapid growth of the agency's covert paramilitary force after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They were among an undisclosed number ---

It would appear that life is beginning to imitate art...

Jessica Mulligan

P.S. Thanks again to you and Stirling for a great read! -Jess

Thank you. Glad you liked it.

And from Joanne

Sometimes I write to people that I need to get teeny tiny eyes to read their teeny tiny print. Sometimes they get the idea. Most of the time I discard the message if it is not important. Rarely I will reply to the message with the key help they asked for in 40 point type white on white with the rest of the message done in a ransom note style.

If the message is important I cut the message and paste it into notepad. Notepad does not understand fancy fonts and sizes. It only knows the font you set it for. So that makes it a nice text resizer tool. It has saved my sanity more than once. And it's a 'saner tool' to use than the programs->accessibility->magnifier tool.

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and have had a year to be thankful for. At the moment I am thankful that this famn dool head cold is finally letting up somewhat. (Symptoms were never bad enough to be "the flu that is going around", I am told. So maybe I've escaped that one for now.)

And while I think of it if you have to fly and the noise is irritating to you I have a solution. Get Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones. Leave it with no audio source plugged in and simply use it to quiet the outside noise. It does a nicer job than those foam ear plugs for the bass. It allows you to hear the announcements in a quieter setting so they are clearer and less obtrusively irritating. I bought a pair for both myself and Loren. We both walked off the back end seats in a DC-8 with out being deafened and actually feeling more relaxed than from any flight I can remember in the last couple decades. I now understand why so many of my professional sound people friends use them and love them so much. I was skeptical before I tried because I associate most of the Bose stuff with overhyped and over- priced merchandise. These headphones are WELL worth their $300 price tag at their Orlando factory outlet store where I broke down and made the purchase just before flying home.


And you're right all counts, but I get so much mail I can't be cutting and pasting to read it...


The following letter raises important issues:

Dr. Pournelle:

You seem to be getting a lot of advice on how to get your new Mac functioning with your home network, but I see a larger issue. You have gained a lot of expert knowledge over the years as to how PCs work, much which you have shared with your readers. While Macs may "just work", one needs to "think different" as Macs too have a learning curve, no matter how intuitive they are claimed to be.

A lot of us rode the PC wave from DOS and then Windows, of successive generations of processors along with more capable development tools and OS features. We went with PCs because it was an insurgency against Unix with its gurus, sysadmins, and university bureacrats wanting to tap grant funds for computing fees. Microsoft is starting to regard its customer base as a cash cow instead of an insurgency, and we are all looking over our shoulders at Mac OS-X and at Linux. The switch from CPM to PC-DOS and then the switch to Windows 95 had a necessity that is not upon us yet. The "other side" doesn't have a killer app or revolutionary development tool to draw us over. I looked at an O'Reilly Cocoa book, and there doesn't seem to be a darned thing Cocoa-Objective C does that Visual Basic, Delphi, or C# .NET don't do, except they have a different-thinking vocabulary as to what they call a main window, a child window, a dialog, and an event, and they have this Objective C deal that looks like Java in hieroglypic script.

And the Linux world seems like the same Unix people who were taunting us that PCs were "toy computers." If Linux lived up to its hype and started to threaten Windows with more than taunts, I would swallow my pride and start developing for Linux. But given the effort I had poured into learning the DOS internals, the Int 10's and Int 23's, and the effort invested in the Windows internals, the WM_COMMAND's and WM_SIZE's, I am reluctant to throw myself at Linux at this point, and the Mac seems like an equivalent time pit.

Paul Milenkovic Madison, Wisconsin

I am looking for compelling reasons to go to either Linux or UNIX. I was one of those who fled UNIX and its wizard full employment act back in the early days. I stayed with CP/M until PCDOS showed it could do more for me, and with DOS until Windows 3.11 (Windows for Work Groups) and simplified networking. Each 'upgrade' has been less compelling, but there have been reasons.

I am looking to the Mac to see if it is the answer to any real questions I need answered.


After my academic experience with mostly Digital equipment (PDP 8/11, DEC-10, VAX 780, plus limited experience in coding on IBM and Control Data machines, no UNIX), I went to work for a company which actively became a Mac house in the late '80s. To the extent that purchasing two 286 machines and a 386 w/coprocessor for code development and in-house computing was a big deal which took almost a year to get the approvals (during which time we got Macs on almost every desk). Though at least I got some DOS experience on them.

Because of this, my first major PC was a Mac system.

However, during a six-month period on a temporary assignment, I had to work with (and train people on) PCs with Win3.1. With my Mac and DOS experience, I made the transition with no trouble.

When I got back to my mainstream tasking, I was assigned to use progressively older MACs, mostly for WP and graphics. During this period, the company had transitioned from mostly Apple office applications to consistent use of MS Office.

Then, in 96, I got a Pentium w/Office 95. From that point, I never experienced any advantage of Macs which justified the added cost, though I have several friends who swear by them.

I still believe that MS's big coup was NOT Windows, but introducing Office as a dual platform system. Companies wanted both Mac and PCs and needed them to talk together. No as effective as holding to one or the other, but...

And meanwhile, one of my professional associates was, AS A HOBBY, doing analysis of planetary orbits for perturbing bodies using Fortran on an Apple II, and ported his software to an Atari Falcon when the Apple II died.

Jim Woosley


We developed Roberta's reading program for the Mac because it had the only decent text to speech system in computers, and having her record several thousand sounds and sentences and drawing on those for the sound was out of the question for machines of that kind.

That Mac version exists although I am not sure it will run in modern Macs; they would need the speech synthesis and the program was written in SuperCard. The speech synthesis seems to be in the Mac all right -- I need to see what voices are available -- but getting the program to install may be a trick, since it's now on four floppies and it will need to be put, somehow, on a CD. But we'll see. It would be nice if it worked.


The current version runs in Windows. The sounds were recorded by Roberta. We don't have a Mac version of that one, although I would like one.








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Tuesday, December 2, 2003


Subscriber Jim Cooley posted the following warning on the messageboard, with the topic:

Danger Will Robinson!, Norton Ghost 2003 and SATA

in a word: DON'T !!!

I had a nice clean beautiful fresh install of Win2K and all the apps and customer data on a nice clean beautiful new D865GBFL and decided to install Ghost 2003 to make the client an "Emergency Recovery Disk(s)".

Bloody thing temporarily repartioned the drive, then tried to reboot from its special parttion, only to find out it couldn't find the bloody IDE drive. It was hung -- hung as in John Holmes hung.

Rebooting didn't help because it had F&^%ed with the MBR...

Symantec says it's fixed with a LiveUpdate but of course I can't just download a patch, I have to run LiveFriggingUpdate.

I can just imagine what folks with only one unbootable computer, would do.

I'll muddle though (I hope! ) but let that be a lesson to you: SATA and Ghost don't mix unless you've danced with LiveUpdate.


Who me? Grumpy? Naw....

-- Robert Bruce Thompson



I open with a relatively recent letter because I still have errands today and I can't put up the 20 or so letters that ought to go up. Since this was written I have found that many of my problems with the Mac inconsistency were caused by the default power saving settings: when plugged in the machine still goes to sleep, and when it does, it forgets most of its Networking connections and sometimes apparently forgets associated file permissions if they are part of the Networking. That has been cured by never letting it sleep when plugged into the mains.

However, the security on the Mac is still set so that it takes a sort of folder at a time approach to what I can do with it. There may be ways around all that, too, but they do take time, and managing the Mac from a Windows machine remains very hard to do; managing the Mac from the Mac itself is not such a problem.

More later, but this letter says a good bit worth saying:

Your problems have been giving me a different perspective on the Macintosh. As you are probably aware, the security community has been critical of some of the design decisions that Microsoft has made for Windows in the past, being particularly concerned about a default configuration with many open ports. The Macintosh default configuration reflects those criticisms--Apple's goal has been a computer that a non-computer-literate person could safely connect to the internet. To reach that goal, Apple blocked almost all incoming ports by default.

You operate a local network that is a benign environment, and probably most commercial offices do the same--the type of environment that unix and windows were originally designed for. The security community recommends a two-layer approach for that environment--a packet-filtering router and local workstation firewalls, but that is probably overkill for most systems not under active attack. It certainly makes operations more difficult, as you have discovered. This suggests that the security community is making excessive demands on people in your situation.

The Macintosh is configured to be attached to the internet using a cable modem or ADSL. That implies that all ports are likely to be attacked--I get port-scanned from time to time--and a default deny policy is wise. The user should have to actively decide to unblock ports, rather than be surprised by unexpected attacks. That approach does work in a Windows environment--Diane uses ZoneAlarm on her ADSL connection, and she has grown tolerant of having to interactively authorize ports--but she connects directly to the internet and is concerned about the potential of attacks.

I teach in a school of computing, so I have to deal with the threat posed by having hundreds of wannabe hackers inside the university firewall. My colleagues use Windows machines that are constantly being attacked and frequently hacked. I use a Macintosh desktop and laptop, that so far have been immune. But I have been very careful about opening ports. Based on your concerns, I have taken the liberty of reconfiguring my desktop machine to support windows file sharing, personal file sharing, remote login, and apple remote desktop to investigate solutions for you. Please wish me luck.

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

Good luck and thanks. My suggesti0n to people about security is that after you buy your $3000 Mac, invest thirty bucks in a good D-Link Router, use the default settings, then go to; let Shields Up scan your ports; and follow his advice on how to configure your router to stealth whatever ports are still visible (there probably will only be one).

If you can manage good integration of a Mac with Windows Active Directory without using AdmitMac from Thursby I'll be very interested. Thanks.



Hi Jerry

 I posted a vague idea I had on the website as I had no idea if it could work or not as this really isn't my area at all, being a UK lawyer by profession. It didn't get many comments however someone referred to the Dean drive on your site which I read with interest. I have enclosed my comment below and would be interested on whether my vague idea is completely duff as I suspect it is. By the way are you the well known Sci Fi author who did work with Larry Niven? David Antill

Would it be possible to use gyroscopic precession to provide a method of externally reactionless propulsion by constantly applying such force to a Gyroscope or series of Gyroscopes, that would lead to a precession force in the desired direction of travel (or would this be akin to pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps?) -- dawa < > , Nov 8 2003

You must understand that under Newtonian physics NOTHING will work without reaction; rockets are the only way to move in empty space. Thus there is no theory to look at and the answer to your question is "under the laws of physics as we understand them no that will not work".

One needs to BUILD something that actually DOES something contrary to Newtonian physics expectations; at that point physics theory needs revising, but until there are data contradicting the current theory why revise it?


On trying to get Roberta's program off old Mac and floppies and onto the new Mac:

One more unique thing on the mac, while you can plug a USB floppy drive into a new mac, it can't read 400 or 800k formatted disks since they require a mechanism with variable spindle speeds. You'll need to borrow a mac with a built-in floppy running OS 9 to copy the software to the desktop, then move it to a 1.44 formatted disk or a burning program. Having jumped through these hoops, it may well run in classic mode.

Good luck, Tim Harness.

Now I need to figure out how to do that. We may have some working older Macs here but probably not.


This could be (is) really be scary.

"An attempt by developing countries to put management of the internet under United Nations auspices is likely to be shelved at next month's world information summit in Geneva - but the issue is now firmly on the international agenda, summit sources say."


Terrifying. Thanks.


Language Wars

One interesting piece of history: When Borland bought the Quattro spreadsheet program, it was written in C. Adding new features caused the code to bloat beyond control. Eventually Borland did in fact rewrite the program from scratch - in Pascal. The result was a smaller, faster program with more features and a maintainable source code base. One of the reasons for this improvement was believed to be many functions and procedures which were not really used anymore in the C version, but no one knew for certain that they were not called in some obscure part of the program, so no one dared remove dead code. Not only was it faster to rewrite the code than to understand what had been previously written, but rewriting in Pascal was much faster for programmers, and the compiler optimized more code better than the average programmer.

I'd guess that I'd read this in an old Byte...

-- Guy Winters

I seem to remember that too. I didn't write it, but I mentioned it in a column.

Dr Pournelle,

Unknown unknowns 

Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.’  Rumsfeld

Am I alone in finding that Rumsfeld’s remarks in fact make perfect sense, albeit presented in a slightly humorous way?

Jim Mangles

Makes sense to me. There are "real" uncertainties in this world, that is things for which you can't calculate a probability with any confidence.

And in fairness this needs to be said:

Unix Wizard Full Employment Act

There is something to be said for that. However ... I worked once for a company that employed nearly 200 people in a dozen offices; a fair majority of the staff used Unix for their daily work. The place got by with a two Unix admins, a programmer for database stuff and an IT Manager who doubled as the network expert. I was hired in no small part because the four of them could not keep up with the administration load imposed when they added Windows (NT and W2K) to the mix.

My job officially was a 50/50 mix of Unix and Windows system admin chores, but on a practical basis the Windows portion kept me far busier.

You've doubtless _heard_ all of this before ....

Brian Dunbar Systems Administrator ---------- Display some adaptability ----------


But how many people in the office truly wanted to grep? Much of UNIX is intentionally obscure using arcane terms. This in part reflects its origins of course.






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Subj: Aerostats in Iraq

They're a little bigger than the balloon-deployed sensors the Legion and the Spartans use in _The Prince_, but... INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS: Aerostats Replace UAVs in Iraq



Hi Jerry,

I've been reading with some amusement and sharing of your troubles with the Mac and figured this hint page may help a bit with getting it onto the network a bit easier. I myself made the switch last January and to be honest, I'll never willingly go back, my G4 has been the most stable machine I have owned in 25 years of computers. My life was easier for the switch as I didn't have an existing windows network to try and link into. Hope this helps and thanks for all the interesting stories, I go back to Byte columns from the early 80s and I've always enjoyed your approach and take on the computer world at large. Be well!  And that being said,  is always full of neat little tricks, workarounds and undocumented features.

David Hathaway  The Electric Mail Company

Dogbert: Has your electronic mail system made you more efficient? Dilbert: In a way... Now I'm getting ignored at the speed of light. -- Scott Adams

Barring the initial crash that none of us can figure out, we have had no problems with the Mac itself (well too much beach ball, but that's also something else, see the column); it's connectivity that has been the difficulty. And we think we have a good handle on that.

Dr. Pournelle,

I live in Texas. I wasn't born here, but "got here as soon as I could." Now I want to leave.

I recommend parents who have their kids in public school get Roberta's reading program ASAP if they want to get into college. It's never too late to start.

In today's email headlines from the NY Times, (free subscription required, but you knew that, for your other readers) there is a great article on why Texas Public School education sucks (especially in Houston). The much bally-hooed TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) and TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) which the President has based No Child Left Behind on for the nation is blown out of the water. Children aren't taught to read, spell, or develop vocabulary very well, and in high school, reading skills even drop.

I've written you before that I have two of my children in private school where reading is taught via phonics beginning before kinder. My kids get 20 spelling words assigned each week and have to know what they mean and use them in sentences.

I have one child in public high school. The San Antonio Education board couldn't agree on a Algebra I book, so they decided to "make it up as they go." The lessons they came up with basically teach to the TAKS requirements. Is there a more blatant "teaching the test" scenario. Each class, the students would get a Xeroxed sheet. They had no idea of where they were heading during the year until they got their sheets. The potential math "geeks" couldn't even work ahead if they wanted to. There won't be many rocket scientist coming from here.

David A. Kickbusch

Sorry to hear things have come to that. The school system seems designed to be certain there will be plenty of people to work at McDonalds and Wal-mart.

Hi, Jerry, I thought I would point this out, since you seem to worry that nothing is made in America anymore.

Thanks for your Blog. I enjoy it very much.


I have probably been unclear. It isn't that we don't manufacture things, but that there are so many fewer manufacturing jobs. That is called efficiency and productivity increase but --

There are also critical industries that have been exported and we are losing the ability to do those things. Part of this is due to the sorry state of education in this country.

Think of this comment and letter as a marker for a full essay when I am not so severely under deadlines.


My company is engaged in an effort to bring technology to Uganda, and this is of a lot of interest to us. I’m not sure if it will be to you, but I thought I would let you know, just in case.


What an interesting set of readers I have!


You wrote: > That Mac version exists although I am not sure it will run in modern > Macs; they would need the speech synthesis and the program was written in SuperCard.

Just this morning, I noted that the MacCentral web site had an article yesterday
2003/12/01/supercard/index.php?redirect=1070353441000  > that summarized the announcement that SuperCard had been updated for Mac OS 10.3 Panther.

I would expect then that once you managed to covert those floppies to CD format that Roberta's program would run just fine under the new version of SuperCard.

Open nets...

(PS: Remember that one of the knocks against Windows is that it leaves far too many holes and services open and on, thus leaving many machines and users vulnerable to exploits. Mac OS X's underlying UNIX core has been configured by Apple to default to having most holes and services off. It's a fundamental difference in attitude.) -- Norman Ferguson | Dir. of Technology Services

The big problem is getting it from floppies onto something that my Mac can read. We will be looking at this. And I presume the old run time package will run in classic mode, but we don't know it yet. We'll be looking into this. Any help from readers appreciated.

Too much security can be the equivalent of none at all.

Your time pit is almost exclusively the result of two factors: (a) Apple's Windows integration tools aren't very good, especially in Active Directory networks (b) You have a Windows Active Directory network

In other words, you have vendor lock-in. The competing vendor (Apple) claims to have solved the compatibility problem, but of course the marketing hype outstrips the reality. This is nothing new in our industry; it's the depressing legacy of how microcomputer vendors have done business since the late 1970s.

I would have the same amount of trouble integrating a Windows PC into a network of multiple Macs running Apple's Directory Service. I don't suppose that's very comforting to you...

It's very easy to get a computer up and "connected" in terms of Internet, DHCP, web browsing, email, ftp, etc. Any computer--Windows, Macintosh, Linux, whatever. Connectivity to a proprietary directory service is a tougher nut to crack.

I'm glad there are people like Thursby. I wish Apple were more honest about their Active Directory "features", and I wish Microsoft documented AD publicly so that others could write clients for it. And I'm really glad that you do these silly things so we don't have to; we currently don't integrate Macs into our clients' Active Directory networks (they're all PowerBooks which don't hook in often enough to need integration), but if the need comes up we're definitely getting ADmitMac.

Steve Setzer

I see nothing to quarrel with. And I do lots of silly things so you don't have to.

Subject: USB Floppy drive for new Powerbook and other things

Dr. Pournelle:

You mention the need to import from floppy disc. There is a very nice 3.5" USB floppy drive that I use with my iBook G4. It supports MAC and PC formats for reading and writing but can only format a disc as MAC on a MAC or PC on a PC. I include a link below to the drive on the Apple web store for your convenience.

Although you are having "fun" integrating your new computer into an Active Directory setup, I am sure I speak for most of your readers when I say we appreciate your efforts. For good or ill, you cannot rightly maintain you status as an expert on computing for the masses unless you are conversant with the major players. Today, that means Windows, Mac and Linux. To be conversant in only one of the three leaves most people sounding like a religious zealot instead of a highly regarded holder of wisdom.

For reference, my home network has 3 machines behind a router and an ADSL modem, a Win95, a Win2000 and my new Panther iBook. As a long time Windows power user, I am also finding the MAC to have an interesting learning curve. Things are done differently and it is much harder to break long time habits and learn new ones than it is to learn fresh. I have encountered enough not techie friends and relatives to know that a non techie has an easier time learning on the MAC than Windows.

Your encounters with the need for passwords all the time are a result of your doing many non standard things. Under Panther, when you sign in it is at whatever level the user is. But, after a time out, 5 minutes default I think, the permissions revert to standard user. That is good enough for most work and keeps most users from accidentally making the machine FUBAR. It also helps protect against malicious virii and trojans from messing around with full authority.

With much respect,

Mike Ballantine

We don't yet know if that will read the old Mac floppies. We'll see.

Permissions reversion. Well I never. I didn't know that...

So it's a FEATURE?

We also find that if the machine ever goes to sleep it forgets A LOT.

The Bush Betrayal

Republican strategists are likely to say that libertarians and economic conservatives have nowhere else to go. Many of the disappointed will indeed sigh a deep sigh and vote for Bush as a lesser evil.


It is disappointing, but not astonishing. There is no viable candidate to the right of Bush. And do you want Gephart?

Me, I find less enthusiasm every day. And the meatgrinder continues.

Patrick Henry Was Right

Commenting on the proposed Federal Constitution:

"If we admit this consolidated government, it will be because we like a great splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, a navy, and a number of things: When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, Sir, was then the primary object…But now, Sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country to a powerful and mighty empire."

This quoted and discussed in a very good essay by Ryan McMaken on See

Mike Juergens

John Randolph had much the same thing to say. Now had we not been capable of becoming an empire, we might not have been able to resist incursions. Herman Kahn speculated that Empire was the natural state of mankind and the natural size of an Empire was to expand until it came against another Empire able to resist it.

I don't know. The Republic as Patrick Henry and John Randolph would have understood it is very long gone.


Subject: maglev

Japan's Maglev Train Sets Speed Record Tue Dec 2, 8:52 AM ET Add Technology - AP to My Yahoo!

TOKYO - A magnetically levitated Japanese train raced to a new record Tuesday, topping its own record set just last month.

The experimental maglev set the world's top speed for a train, clocking 361 mph in a test run in Yamanashi Prefecture (state), west of Tokyo, Central Japan Railway Co., which is carrying out the experiments, said in a statement.


Fascinating. Thanks


Subject: Too much security can be the equivalent of none at all

The subject line comes from your response to an email. I found this discussion to be quite funny and quite true.'ohlts.html 


And it can't be said too often. Any scheme people won't use is useless.


On Mac Software


Check out GraphicConverter. I have found it invaluable for converting Mac graphics to Windows graphics (e.g., .wmf). Simple to use, cheap, works properly >99% of the time and essential if you want to create some graphics on the Mac and then move it to the windows side, (which I do frequently). I like the reminder system they use to get frequent users to pay up: there is a 30 second delay on startup if you use the application beyond the trial period. Annoying enough to prompt one to pay up, but not actually crippling the product. They recently relaunched their web site: 

The single most useful program I have on my iBook is Mathematica 5.0, which in my experience is somewhat better behaved on the Mac than on Windows. But just try to get a Mathematica graphic generated on the Mac into a Word document on a PC. Ouch! GraphicConverter to the rescue. if one exports the graphic in PICT format and then uses GraphicConverter to convert it to .wmf, then Bob's your uncle. If you don't happen to know about this particular pathway through the twisty maze, you are in for a long search to get that sucker converted. Attached is an example. You don't need to buy Mathematica to look at the example, although you will need it to actually execute the code. You can get Mathreader for free at:

Stephen Belknap


I have a tonne of mail recommending various programs for the Mac. All useful. I can't post it all but I'll get to some.

Mr. Pournelle,

When dealing with Mac OS X, it is best to remember that it is based on BSD. In other words, it is a UNIX system.

What is the best way to integrate a *nix system (such as Linux and BSD) into a MS-Windows network? SAMBA. The good thing about Panther is that SAMBA is already built in. No 3rd-party application is necessary.

Don't take my word for it - read how Apple says to approach your problem: 

If you continue to rely only on MS-Windows gurus who approach it from an AD (Active Directory) perspective, you will continue to have problems and will probably never be satisfied. You need to consult with *nix gurus who know how to work with SAMBA: .

It should take less than half an hour to get it working the way you describe wanting it to work. That's how long it takes me to set up workstations (including OS X) using SAMBA.

Good luck.


Well, I'd suppose Roland knows something about UNIX, as does Dan. The problem here is that what worked with OS X 10.2 may not be quite the ticket for 10.3. In any event, if it takes a UNIX wizard to connect a Mac to an existing network, that says something important.


Subject: Large portions of your readership would not like this article 

Laurie Mylroie: The Neocons' favorite conspiracy theorist.

By Peter Bergen


Well, that's possibly true. On the other hand, the chief advocate for the Washington Monthly is Carville, who is, uh, well not always reliably non-partisan.

The general thesis is that there were no WMD in Iraq, and Iraq wasn't really trying to attack the US; was no threat, and was suitably deterred, and we had no need to invade for our own protection. Since I pretty well believe that too, said so at the time, and have seen no reason to change my mind, perhaps not so many of the readership here will be dismayed as you seem to think.

From my view it no longer matters whether we ought to have gone in there, other than to learn lessons about making war in the future. We're there, and running out without doing anything is likely to leave us a lot worse off than we were before we went in. We are, in my judgment, already worse off than before. We have large debts, and the money that might have been invested in energy independence is now being used to shore up Iraq.

It was hardly a shock that the neo-conservatives would see Iraq as a threat, and believe that invading Iraq would make the world a better place. They may even be right although so far the evidence is contradictory. It may be worth looking into why they had such views, but again, I am not convinced that Carville and his supporters are the best sources for that information. Still, there are interesting points about the article, and thanks. But I would be astonished if any one person were as influential as this article makes her...


Subject: Why do so few remember the Laws of War apply to us?

Dr. P,

While I may be taking an unpopular position (relative to other folks in the U.S.), there is a very significant reason why rounds designed to cause massive tissue damage (such as the "APLP" round described in the Army Times article) are not (and should not be) issued to military personnel.

We have long-standing treaty obligations which, in accumulation, are the "Laws of War" which we claim to honor. One of those venerable agreements states quite clearly: "The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions".

If we renege on standards which we have vowed for generations to uphold, we throw away any credibility we might have had in claiming moral superiority. The pertinent question becomes "Which inviolable ideals is the United States really unwilling to violate when respecting the ideal becomes a hindrance?"

BTW, this is also why that battalion commander *needed* to be relieved of his command for leading his men in violating the standards for treatment of POWs -- most especially for the purpose of "protecting his soldiers". Unpleasant as it may sound, soldiers are expendable, and expending their lives is the price we pay to preserve the ideals which have made the United States so great.


William Clardy

p.s. My apologies to Sean Long for misunderstanding his comments regarding the battalion commander mentioned above.

Full metal jacket...


Subject: About SAMBA

Dr. P,

One possible reason for the significant difference in SMB network (a.k.a. "Windows Networking") behavior between Mac OS X 10.2 and 10.3 is that the version of SAMBA included changed from 2.2.something to 3.0. SAMBA 3 includes a lot of explicitly experimental support for Active Directory networking, and was just barely out of beta status when Panther was being finalized for release.


William Clardy



News from Francis Hamit:

Dear Jerry:

I've established "The Fight For Copyright" blog at , a site which is worth investigating on its own because they give FREE blogs to writers. (Free-one of my favorite things). Working towards getting the web page set up by next month and working on Paypal and Amazon Honors and other systems. These take a while because of the security features. Anyway, the URLs for this blog are:  and 

That article I sent you last week is already there and I will be adding a six parter shortly. However I really want to encourage other people to add their comments. And to link to it if they want. More anon.

Regards, Francis Hamit



Hi Jerry:

What is your opinion about this article? 


Der Voron

I have little disagreement. Elephants are smart. We thought so when we started Footfall.



As a big game hunter and keen observer of animals including the elephant, and student of the major and various minor arcana of hunting, I can tell you that the article on elephant as earth's other intelligent species is just not so.

It starts off badly and goes down hill. For example rhino see very badly, but they have highly developed scent and hearing capabilities. Blinding one is not a big deal.

The article is a collection of fairy tales and Disney nature.

Jim Dodd 21st Century Safaris

I do know that my cousin George who was curator of mammals at San Diego Zoo and who started the San Diego wild animal park always thought elephants were about the most intelligent critters he worked with other than Chimps.

But I am hardly an expert. And I don't think I could bring myself to shoot big game even though I understand the market and ecological issues. I don't mind that the Mali Mali rangers do what they have to do to keep the place going properly (if that still exists in the new South Africa) but I am glad I don't have to do it.

Just So stories are always fun.



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Thursday, December 4, 2003

Subject: This is insane

Roland Dobbins


I go to sleep after a poker game and I wake up to all of this stuff, where to start.

1. Microsoft is now going to charge a license for the FAT filesystem format for *preformatted* removable solid state media (read: embedded market) and "certain consumer electronics devices: digital video cameras, digital still cameras, portable audio players, portable video players, multifunction printers, electronic photo frames, musical instruments, and standard televisions. Pricing for preformatted solid state media is $0.25 per unit with cap at $250,000. Pricing for consumer electronics devices is $0.25 per unit with cap at $250,000 per licensee

FAT was developed in 1976. FAT is used everywhere. This is nuts in my opinion. The patents that Microsoft claims they are protecting look like they cover long filename mapping into restricted namespace (i.e. shrinking it to a 8.3 name) among a few other things:

"Method and system for providing a common name space for long and short file names in an operating system" - 6,286,013 Sept 4, 2001 "Common name space for long and short filenames" - 5,758,352 May 26, 1998 "Method and system for access a file using file names having different file name formats" - 5,745,902 April 28,1998 "Common name space for long and short filenames" - 5,579,519 November 26, 1996

Is Microsoft trying to kill the FAT filesystem format as a viable interchange format? What on earth is the sensible reason behind this kind of maneuver?

2. NRO saying Bush will ask for a return to the Moon and perhaps establish a permanent base there. I distinctly remember Bush Sr. said more then once this too, back in 1992 I think it was. It never materialized. Furthermore, I fear that if Bush Jr. does state this its just going to give more money to NASA and not fix the problem which we can all agree is NASA. Think about this, Texas and Florida are two states that would look to benefit greatly from an expanded space program and there are heavy Bush ties in both states IMHO. All NASA can do is LEO dog and pony shows it would seem. The only way I can see myself being happy with this turn of events is if Bush takes a big chunk of money which the govt. already doesn't have see: 

and plows it into cheap commercial space access somehow along the lines of doing prizes like Jerry has talked about before in the past. I believe the projected federal deficit for next year lies around $233 billion dollars. We had a $100 billion surplus in 2000 if my memory serves me right. I want us to get into space, dearly, nay desperately, but I fear it could be the fiscal straw that breaks the camels back not to mention my fears of a well funded, yet administratively retarded NASA running the show.

Dan Spisak

Deadlines are upon me, and words fail me on the Microsoft insanity. Regarding space, giving money to NASA is the same as stopping the space program. The military might get us there. NASA will not.

Subject: Win-Ap networking (


Saw this link this morning. Hope it shortens your stay in the "time-pit".





Ave! Ave Imperator!

This is real, not a hoax, is my understanding based upon external corroboration:


An Email from a Captain in Iraq

We knew there was a dinner planned with ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. There were 600 seats available and all the units in the division were tasked with filling a few tables. Naturally, the 501st MI battalion got our table. Soldiers were grumbling about having to sit through another dog-and-pony show, so we had to pick soldiers to attend. I chose not to go.

But, about 1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile, asked me to come to dinner with him, to meet him in his office at 1600 and bring a camera. I didn't really care about getting a picture with Sanchez or Bremer, but when the division's senior intelligence officer asks you to go, you go. We were seated in the chow hall, fully decorated for thanksgiving when all kinds of secret service guys showed up.

That was my first clue, because Bremer's been here before and his personal security detachment is not that big. Then BG Dempsey got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as if to give a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this thanksgiving speech to give to the troops. He then paused and said that the senior man present should be the one to give it. He then looked at Sanchez, who just smiled.

Bremer then said that we should probably get someone more senior to read the speech. Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me! The cheering went on and on and on.

Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down! his cheeks. It was the most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my wedding and Aaron being born. Here was this man, our President, came all the way around the world, spending 17 hours on an airplane and landing in the most dangerous airport in the world, where a plane was shot out of the sky not six days before.

Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a plane and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment, and I will never forget it. He delivered his speech, which we all loved, when he looked right at me and held his eyes on me. Then he stepped down and was just mobbed by the soldiers. He slowly worked his way all the way around the chow hall and shook every last hand extended. Every soldier who wanted a photo with the President got one. I made my way through the line, got dinner, then wolfed it down as he was still working the room.

You could tell he was really enjoying himself. It wasn't just a photo opportunity. This man was actually enjoying himself! He worked his way over the course of about 90 minutes towards my side of the room. Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to shake a few hands. I got a picture with Ambassador Bremer, Talabani (acting Iraqi president) and Achmed Chalabi (another member of the ruling council) and Condaleeza Rice, who was there with him.

I felt like I was drunk. He was getting closer to my table so I went back over to my seat. As he passed and posed for photos, he looked my in the eye and "How you doin', captain." I smiled and said "God bless you, sir." To which he responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then moved on.

(Name withheld)

-------------------------- Roland Dobbins


And indeed I believe it all. Power is a heady thing. Having the mightiest army in the history of the world not only under your command, but cheering you as worthy to lead them -- lead them ANYWHERE YOU CHOOSE -- is no small thing.

Nor do I mean this to demean the President, or his action in visiting the troops in the field in a place that might not be the front line, but was not far from it. That took both courage and a sense of style, and a sense of what is appropriate. Aurelius did that kind of thing. Commodus did not.

But note that those troops will follow him anywhere. And pray that Bush will "be led to wise decisions and right actions," or in the older prayer, "to truly and impartially administer justice." Because they will follow him. Anywhere. He has been proclaimed as worthy to lead them.






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, December 5, 2003

"Macs sure are expensive. Which is all right, but a bit unexpected."

Yes and no. At the low end, Macs do cost more than bargain basement PC's. However, at the high end, they are actually cheaper. Dual processor G5 machines match or out-perform high-end dual Xeon systems that cost 25% more than the G5.

This is one reason the Virginia Tech chose dual G5 machines to build the 3rd fastest supercomputer in the world, and the fastest supercomputer at any university. See: 

If you click on the "slide presentation" you'll get a pdf file (large or I would have attached it to this email) that explains why they chose the G5 machines.

At work, I help manage a medium size computing cluster (about 70 cpu's now). It is all P4 machines running Linux, but this year we are very seriously considering G5 Macs, for two reasons:

(1) Our main research tool, a computational fluid dynamics code, runs about 30% faster on the 2 ghz G5 than on the 3 ghz P4, (2) the Macs are about $3k per dual cpu node, while the comparable Dell P4 is about $4k.

I'm sure that "white box" P4 machines can be had for much less than Dell's price, but we require name-brand with service contracts for the cluster.

The issues remaining with the Mac decision are mostly integration issues for working with the existing machines. Fortunately, the BSD Unix in OSX seems to work well with Linux. As you've seen, it is more of a hassle with Windows.

Chuck Bouldin

Thanks. I expect to be finding out more of these things as time goes on.

Old Mac Floppies and other hints

Hi Jerry,

My mom's a longtime Mac user (from 1984) who's making the transition slowly over to windows. She's a fine artist, and the tools for her art (, are starting to be produced *only* on Windows - kind of surprising but true.

In the course of my own painful experience supporting Mom and her Macs, I ran across a program called MacOpener, that I've used to access old Mac floppies on the PC. You could do that, then copy them to a USB key and move them to the Mac.

One word of warning though - she's managed to corrupt a number of Mac formatted firewire drives by attaching them to a Windows machine (and vice-versa). I strongly recommend only transferring files over the network (hope you have gigabit). Likewise, FAT32 drives seem to crash more often than NTFS ones.

Next, using CD's between the two, I stick with the ISO format disks, and avoid the Windows-Joliet format ones.

Lastly, some Mac file formats (.tif in particular), are byte-order sensitive, and need to be converted to work properly on Windows. Of course, Photoshop can read both formats on both machines.

All in all, the Mac and Windows get along like most in-laws. They're civil, but not quite friendly.



Doug Lhotka PGP Sig: C2F9 EB96 127A D4DD 02C7 ABE0 13A0 4C30 9C93 9D6F "Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide." ~ Jim Burnham "I swear, by my Life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." ~ John Galt, Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged


On Global Warming

Hmm, let's see. The world appears to be warmer now than it has been in 1000 years and the sun is more magnetically active than it has been in 1000 years. There couldn't be a connection, could there?  <snip> Using modelling techniques, the Finnish team was able to extend data on solar activity back to 850 AD. The researchers found that there has been a sharp increase in the number of sunspots since the beginning of the 20th century. They calculated that the average number was about 30 per year between 850 and 1900, and then increased to 60 between 1900 and 1944, and is now at its highest ever value of 76. </snip>

Different note: Is there anywhere on your site where you announce where you are making public appearances? I discovered that you were attending LosCon from an email I got from Galaxy Press, then going to the LosCon website. Of course, I found this out on the 28th when I was at my home in Twentynine Palms and 3 hours away. I, for one, would be very interested in the Science Fiction events that you attend to hear you discuss things with the people there and to try to get you to autograph more of your books for my collection.

Braxton S. Cook

I will try to do better on announcing my schedule in future. Thanks.

I have no idea how much of this is true:


Hello, Jerry,

Important article.


John Welch

- To many involved -- both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers -- the confrontation stood out as an exceptionally fierce battle after months of hit-and-run attacks. Witnesses described dozens of guerrillas in checkered head scarves brazenly roaming the streets in the heat of battle, U.S. soldiers firing randomly in crowded neighborhoods and civilian bystanders taking up arms against U.S. forces once the fight got underway.

For the military, the fight revealed a startling new reality about the fighters themselves -- unprecedented coordination and tactics and numbers yet unseen. Hollis says he saw a determination he did not expect from guerrillas best known for hitting, then running.

- "Everyone is with the resistance," said Safa Hamad Hassan, 22, whose cousin lay in a hospital bed with wounds to his abdomen from a tank round that landed near his house. "Saddam Hussein is finished. We are protecting our honor and our land."

Throughout the battle, Hassan said, as many as 40 armed guerrillas, all dressed in head scarves, ran openly through the streets of his neighborhood. They shouted at people to go indoors. It was their most public showing since the occupation began, and Hassan was one of the few in the town to admit even seeing them. He and others said civilians took up arms -- nearly every Iraqi man has a weapon -- and joined the fight as the battle dragged on during the day.

I do know that troops won't take continuous losses without eventual retaliation. Nor can the President allow that to go on.

Can you Recommend

Any particular books on the Crusades? I'm looking for some holiday reading material.

In particular I am looking at Steven Runciman's "A History of the Crusades: Volume 1", as well as "The Fall of Constantinople".

Thanks in advance,

Aaron Ortiz

The best book on the Crusades I know is Harold Lamb, titled The Crusades. It is a one-volume edition of his original two works Iron Men and Saints, and The Flame of Islam. Lamb isn't quite as good as Fletcher Pratt on integrating his subjects to the world, but he was an excellent biographer -- many of his biographies are still about the best you will find despite being old -- and a good and readable writers. Of course most is out of print but some of his works are still available in the used books market, and all are worth reading.

An important subject:

Jerry, here's my take on the Microsoft FAT tax: 

The short of it is, M$ is going to start charging a licensing fee for manufacturers who ship preformatted (FAT) solid state memory, and for devices, mainly cameras and audio players, which use the FAT filesystem for their storage.

So what. All this means is that memory makers will quit preformatting their cards, and cameras and mp3 players will start using a different filesystem for their memory cards. Install a driver, and Bob's yer uncle.

There may be a bit of delay until the flash memory consortium or the open source community or whomever develops a common filesystem available royalty free for whoever wishes to use it, but it will come.

But M$ isn't stupid. They have to know this will be the result. They're not SCO. So why? And why now, after so many years? They're not experiencing any cash flow crunch, and if they were, this licensing scheme is hardly enough to matter.

One reason. Longhorn plus DRM. Flash memory is predominately used for a/v content, either photos, or audio. Sure, a few geeks use it for non a/v data, but let's face it, we're a minority.

Imposing the FAT tax guarantees that preformatted flash media will vanish from the marketplace. In the meantime, they can offer their new DRM enabled, flash memory optimized filesystem, called, probably XMedia Filesystem, XMFS, royalty free. Manufacturers will love it, because it allows them to ship a value add with their products (the preformatting), and consumers will be able to stick it in their Windows PCs, and use it without requiring any special drivers.

And they'll be the only preformatted memory cards in the marketplace.

Bruce Dykes

Interesting. I am collecting information on this matter. Opinions when I know more.


A Bad Day For SCO

Today, the judge in the SCO vs. IBM case ruled in IBM's favor on IBM's two "motions to compel". Now SCO has 30 days to provide, "with specificity", all the information IBM requested.

IBM's top question, of course, amounts to "Of just exactly what are you accusing us, anyway?" To date, SCO's reply has amounted to "We can't answer that until IBM gives us a whole bunch of stuff first." Well, that didn't fly with the judge.

Groklaw broke the story: 

P.S. One of the comments in the discussion section notes that 30 days from now is early January, i.e. right after the holidays, and speculates that this is a sign that the judge is displeased with SCO (since she could have easily pushed it out to mid-January). -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

I would not be astonished to find that everyone in the court system is displeased with SCO.


We have seen this before

In Mail 285, Joanne Dow noted that "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."

I think it's even stranger that government can insist that citizens must depend on police protection (i.e., insist that citizens be disarmed) and at the same time disavow any actual duty to defend the citizens. Yet this is the situation in places like New York City.

Here's a summary of the famous Riss case:

It is well-settled American law that the police have no legal duty to protect any individual citizen from crime, even if the citizen has received death threats and the police have negligently failed to provide protection. [140] In New York, for example, the rule was explicated by the Court of Appeals in the case Riss v. New York: the government is not liable even for a grossly negligent failure to protect a crime victim. In the Riss case, a young woman telephoned the police and begged for help because her ex-boyfriend had repeatedly threatened, "If I can't have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you, no-one else will want you." The day after she had pleaded for police protection, the ex-boyfriend threw lye in her face, blinding her in one eye, severely damaging the other, and permanently scarring her features. "What makes the City's position particularly difficult to understand," wrote a dissenting opinion, "is that, in conformity to the dictates of the law, Linda did not carry any weapon for self-defense. Thus, by a rather bitter irony she was required to rely for protection on the City of New York which now denies all responsibility to her." [141]

Source:  Note that in New York City, theoretically any citizen can get a gun license by showing need. In practice, even if you live in a really bad part of town and you have already been savagely beaten by muggers, the police won't issue a carry license.

By the way, that link is to an essay about "shall-issue" concealed carry licenses: in places with shall-issue laws, a citizen can get a license unless the police can prove that he or she is not qualified (a convicted criminal or some such).

The essay is from 1994, and it lists 14 states as having shall-issue laws. According to the website, 34 states currently have shall-issue laws. (Vermont allows any law-abiding adult to carry with no license at all.) 

Personally, I agree with you that all law-abiding adults must be granted the right to effective self-defense. Because it is impossible for the government to prevent all crime, it is not moral for government to insist that people should be defenseless against criminals. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

But we have seen it all before. It is called anarcho-tyranny where the minions of the government are far more concerned with their own safety than for that of the citizens. Individual police will be dedicated as always but as an institution the authorities begin to concentrate on the easy and safe cases, abandoning certain crimes and certain areas of the city.

In the San Fernando Valley the rate of clearance of murder cases is well below 50% and falling; gang murders are dangerous to pursue.

For Dog Lovers: 

Karl Sandwell-Weiss

Border Collie?


Tiny black holes hitting the earth?

Ed Hume

 The Hole Man?


Subject: Michael Crichton on Environmentalism

Hi Jerry,

I thought you might find this interesting 

- Paul

I knew Crichton when I was President of SFWA and he always seemed quite sensible.


You’ve used a portion of this quote several times….I’ve always been intrigued by it. A friend sent me the whole paragraph.


"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a loss of fiscal responsibility, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world's great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage."

Written by Alexander Fraser Tytler in "The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic" 1776.

Tracy Walters

And it has been how long since Washington's first inaugural?





This week:


read book now



If you find you have too much time on your hands:

The first mouse click gets it rolling.

When it gets to the the second set of mountains in the background, press the left mouse button down and hold it down. That should start the catapult descending. When the catapult gets as far down as you like, let go of the mouse button. You can hold the mouse down too long and if you don't release soon enough, the whole thing runs off the cliff.

It took me quite a number of tries to figure it out. I wish they had put some instructions on the front page, but since it's free, I suppose I can't complain too much. Enjoy!

  My best toss is 342.8 so far.

 Happy Holidays! Aaaahhhhhh!

 Braxton S. Cook






CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday,  December 7, 2003

Pearl Harbor Day


I Am Not A Lawyer - although with the prospects of my chosen profession (software) maybe I should be.

This is the Microsoft page that talks about the FAT licensing program. Microsoft states "The FAT file system licensing program includes rights to a number of U.S. Patents" and then list four patents.

U.S. Patent #5,579,517
5,579,517&RS=PN/5,579,517  Common name space for long and short filenames

U.S. Patent #5,745,902
 Method and system for accessing a file using file names having different file name formats

U.S. Patent #5,758,352
=PN/5,758,352&RS=PN/5,758,352  Common name space for long and short filenames

U.S. Patent #6,286,013
6,286,013&RS=PN/6,286,013  Method and system for providing a common name space for long and short file names in an operating system

These all appear to be related to the Long File Name support that Microsoft added to the Fat format.

They also mention another patent that has not yet been granted.

I find it remarkable that a Rube Goldberg fix to a shortsighted design is deserving of a Patent.


PS I wish you luck on Your Macintosh adventure - I am hoping to buy a used G4 so I can play around with the OX myself.

Are lawyers more important than engineers and wizards in today's computer profession? One sometimes suspects so.

Our NBC affiliate is carrying a national report of an interview with a senior Iraqi ground commander who said that tactical BCW weapons were at the front, and that Saddam had given the fire order, but that the field commanders refused to use them for fear Coalition retaliation.

NBC and the British reporter who broke the story give the report fairly high credibility, but I have to wonder -- if they were at the front and weren't used, where are they? (Maybe stockpiled and mislabeled as conventional weapons? They were apparently disguised as RPGs....)

Note that I cannot currently find a link to this report in any article on the web.

Jim Woosley

Have not heard anything at all on this.


Dear Sir:

Dr. Crichton missed the boat.

He starts out well enough, saying that telling real from unreal is the central problem of our time. It's true enough in any era. Plato's Republic described the problem of understanding the universe with our imperfect perception. Scientific method is a way to analyze reality so that we can agree on it.

Dr. Crichton then describes environmentalism as a religion. He describes its central myths and compares them with Christianity. That too is all very plausible. The correspondense is quite neat. His description agrees with other things I have observed. For example, I think too many responses to Bjørn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist" smack of religeous reactions. They are cheap shots against him personally or against the dangers of his way of thinking, instead of arguments about the facts.

Dr. Crichton then talks about how the central myths of environmentalism endure despite the facts. He describes how some, like the story of the noble savage, and the effects of DDT are not true. He says that "the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children". He then says:


"I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigeous science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won't impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependant on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief.


This is where Dr. Crichton missed the boat. He should pass out cards with his citations, or post them prominently on his website. If Dr. Crichton wants scientific environmentalism he needs to pursue it with the tools of scholarship and science.

My grandfather had to get out of the fruit growing business when DDT was banned. He could not afford to buy insecticide. He complained to me once when I was rather young. My sister and I prattled the standard description of how DDT hurts birds. My grandfather had no answer. He rather liked birds. If there is reliable, repeatable, peer-reviewed and published experimental evidence that DDT does not, in fact, thin avian eggshells, this is big news. It should be in all the newspapers.

Reality testing is indeed the central problem of our time. Dr. Crichton is not helping.

Bob Wakefield

How much DDT do you use, on what, and where?

Crichton said nothing untrue. It doesn't kill birds. It does seem to have an effect on eggshell thicknesses, so one needs to have some care. But lack of DDT has certainly killed millions of people. Of course most of those were not Americans, so perhaps they were not so important?

Junk science is junk science, and the DDT ban wasn't really because of eggshells. And tradeoffs ought to be made for reasons of fact and truth, not from fancy. Birds are important. So are people. Most actions have a cost. Penicillin isn't all that good for bacteria. Birds are more important than bacteria, but are they more important than people?  Junk science is junk science.

The real charge against DDT was that it causes cancer.

On DDT and cancer see page 267 of Edith Efron's The Apocalyptics, if you can find a copy (I suspect Crichton was drawing on that book; it has all the primary references you will need.)

I don't know enough about the birds and eggshells relationship to DDT to have a right to an opinion, but given the hysteria about cancer, which was based on little to nothing, I would think it was up to the opponents of DDT to prove their case; and I would remind you that the done makes the poison in any event.

It don't cause cancer. And lots of people have died because of the DDT ban. That is provable. About birds I am not so sure.


What boat was missed? And why would you insist on footnotes in a dinner speech?


On Magic Bullets:



Here is an article by Dr. Martin Fackler -- the leading authority on wound ballistics. It debunks the latest "magic bullet" mentioned lately in the press, one of which was linked on your website.

Jim Dodd San Diego


Dr. Martin L. Fackler, "Blended-Metal Technology Bullets," Wound Ballistics Review, Volume 5, No. 2, Fall 2001, p. 42


Several of our readers called to my attention an article in the Armed Forces Journal International (August 2001, 58&60). Under the heading of “New technologies” I found the article by John G. Roos entitled “‘Meteor’ Round ‘Blended-Metal-Technology’ Bullets Live Up to Hard Hitting Claims.”

I found reading this article a bit depressing. This is the sixth time in the past two decades that I recall a new “magic” projectile having arrived, with great fanfare and outlandish claims, to deceive the firearm illiterate. Before reading the article, I predicted that these projectiles would be a very lightweight (they were: 60 gr. in 9 mm Parabellum, 77 gr. in 40 S&W, 90 gr. in 45 ACP) and shot at abnormally high velocities (they were: 2000 to 2150 ft/s at the muzzle) ­ they always are. And they would be shot into clay, as they usually are (and were in this case), to most graphically preserve their large temporary cavities. These cavities always impress those who lack understanding of wound ballistics.

It was disappointing to see the gullibility of those who should know better: shouldn’t a writer for Armed Forces Journal International express some skepticism at: “Tests of the unique ammunition have demonstrated that when a BMT round strikes soft tissue in a chest cavity, the resulting hydrostatic shock is so severe it destroys brain tissue mass….” A handgun bullet in the chest causing destruction of brain tissue? not only have I never seen that from a handgun bullet, I have never seen it ­ or any valid reports of it ­ from even the highest powered rifle wounds of the chest. Yet the writer apparently swallows it all, without so much as a doubt.

The article reported a demonstration at Blackwater Training Center in Moyock, NC. The observers purportedly included two officers from the US Special Operations Command, three weapons specialists from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, three members of the US Army Marksmanship Unit, a weapons engineer from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, IN, and a former member of the FBI’s Hostage-Rescue Team.

Shots were fired into “seven-inch blocks of ceramic clay.” Anybody who understands the rudiments of bullet testing is well aware that “tests” done using clay are an unmistakeable sign that the sellers of whatever bullet is being tested are either frauds or incredibly stupid. Clay has twice the density of living soft tissue, and it is inelastic ­ the temporary cavity remains in fully expanded position. This misleads the unwary or gullible about the effect on living tissue, most of which is elastic and absorbs the temporary cavity stretch of handguns bullets and suffers little or no damage from it. Clay’s increased density causes expansion in many soft-point and hollow-point handgun bullets that do not expand in living tissue. The last time I saw a major bullet manufacturer try to mislead purchasers by using clay was in 1987, when the Federal Ammunition Co. had a photograph of a large cavity in a clay block on the cover of its Law Enforcement ammunition advertising brochure. The expanded bullets they showed were expanded to far greater diameters than the same bullets when tested in 10% ordnance gelatin, which produces the same expansion seen in identical bullets recovered at autopsy (or in the operating room) from human bodies.

History keeps repeating itself in the “magic bullet” arena. In the 1970s we had the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and its infamous Relative Incapacitation Index (RII). They rated handguns on the size of temporary cavity the bullet generated. They used the not only unproved, but clearly disproven, theory that the incapacitation a bullet causes in the human body is proportional to the diameter of the temporary cavity it produces. It took two FBI agents killed and five badly wounded, in the “Miami Shootout” of 1986 to correct that fallacy and recognize that the fatal flaw with all the “large-temporary-cavity” handgun bullets was insufficient penetration depth to reliably reach and disrupt vital body structures.

Despite undeniable documentation proving it wrong, the “light-bullet-high-velocity” fallacy reappears every few years. The Glaser Safety Slug, darling of the NIJ, lost its popularity as the RII was relegated to the trash heap. But then came the “THV” (from France, the initials are for very high velocity in French), then the “Thunderzapper,” then the two candidates for the “advanced combat rifle” (that shot individual flechettes at about 4000 ft/s), and finally, in 1995, the “Rhino Bullet” (see Wound Ballistics Review V2 #1, 7-8). All have now joined the RII in the “failed frauds” corner of history’s trash heap. The BMT bullets will join them before long.

At the end of the article, Roos implied that all of the “distinguished evaluators” who saw the demonstration were “impressed.” If so, that is a very sad commentary on their competence in bullet testing ­ and indicates a serious need for training in wound ballistics for those whose jobs deal with the use of lethal force.

The lesson here is very simple: those who use clay as a “test” medium to demonstrate bullet effects are purveyors of nonsense. Whether they are frauds or just stupid really needn’t concern us ­ the effect is the same in either case. Such nonsense needs to be exposed to protect the firearm illiterate. I believe that those who have the knowledge to expose such nonsense have a duty to do so. Yes, it is distasteful to speak out against such things. It is easy to say nothing ­ this is one reason that the US is becoming a paradise for frauds. Their chances of being exposed are very small when knowledgeable people remain silent.


The Guardian/Observer, Independent, Times of London, and Telegraph are the 'big four' of UK journalism. The Guardian/Observer and Independent are generally regarded as center-left, while the other two are more on the right. (The UK press forms a continuum ranging down to popular A3 tabloids with journalistic integrity similar to that of the National Inquirer.) Attached are links to three articles on Guantanamo. The first is a report that the defense lawyers assigned to the prisoners for their military trials have been dismissed for protesting the terms of the trials and the second and third are special reports on Guantanamo.,13743,1098618,00.html,13743,1098604,00.html,13743,1000982,00.html

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







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