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Mail 287 December 8 - 14, 2003






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Monday December 8, 2003

Hi, Jerry.

In your current Chaos Manor article, I noticed your frustration with entering WEP encryption keys. I agree that the Windows interface is poorly implemented... I gave up trying to set up my father-in-law's router recently.

Here's a quick tip on entering your WEP hex keys... enter them first into Notepad, copy them to the clipboard, then paste them in both of the boxes (enter / verify). Save the text file somewhere accessible to all of your machines (at least temporarily). Open the file on each machine and copy/paste to ensure the hex string is correctly entered.

Also, here's an easy way to get a valid hex string: Open the windows Calculator, choose View -> Scientific from the menu, enter a bunch of digits (fill the display), click the (o) Hex radio button, choose Edit -> Copy, then click (o) Dec to return to Decimal format. Paste the resulting hex string into Notepad. If you have fewer than 26 characters, either repeat the process or copy a portion from the middle of the string and paste it at either end.


Brian Stewart, Database Administrator

Yeah. We must have been punch-drunk not to have thought of that at the time.


From Joanne Dow,2933,105086,00.html 



Tough New Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns

The Americans embarked on their get-tough strategy in early November, goaded by what proved to be the deadliest month yet for American forces in Iraq, with 81 soldiers killed by hostile fire. The response they chose is beginning to echo the Israeli counterinsurgency campaign in the occupied territories.

So far, the new approach appears to be succeeding in diminishing the threat to American soldiers. But it appears to be coming at the cost of alienating many of the people the Americans are trying to win over. Abu Hishma is quiet now, but it is angry, too. [...]

"You have to understand the Arab mind," Capt. Todd Brown, a company commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the gates of Abu Hishma. "The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face."

As for the soldiers:

A Million Miles From the Green Zone to the Front Lines


[...] An colonel in Baghdad (who will go nameless here for obvious reasons) told me just after I arrived that senior Army officers feel every order they receive is delivered with next November's election in mind, so there is little doubt at and near the top about who is really being used for what over here. The resentment in the ranks toward the civilian leadership in Baghdad and back in Washington is palpable. Another officer described the two camps, military and civilian, inhabiting the heavily fortified, gold-leafed presidential palace inside the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad, as "a divorced couple who won't leave the house."


No matter what you call this stage of the conflict in Iraq — the soldiers call it a guerrilla war while politicians back home often refer to it misleadingly and inaccurately as part of the amorphous "war on terror" — it is without a doubt a nasty, deadly war. And the people doing the fighting are soldiers, not the civilian employees of Kellogg, Brown & Root, or the officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority, or the visiting bigwigs from the Defense Department.

The troops in Bravo Company don't pay much attention to the rear-guard political wars being waged back in Washington, but they loved President Bush's quick visit to Baghdad on Thanksgiving. While it was clearly a political stunt, they were quick to credit the risks he took. I can confirm that flying in and out of Baghdad — even at night, when it's safest — is not for the faint of heart. A C-130 on approach takes a nervous, dodgy route, banking this way and that, gaining and losing altitude. Hanging onto one of those web-seats by only a seat belt (no shoulder harnesses), you're nearly upside down half the time — it would feel like the ultimate roller-coaster ride, except it's very much for real.

ash ['Me.']


While we have our troops in harm's way the obligation is to them. They didn't enlist to be police.


Economically, trade is no different than other technologies. Economist David Friedman of Santa Clara University puts it most succinctly: there are two ways to make a car -- you can either make it in Detroit or grow it in Iowa. You already know how to make it in Detroit. You get a bunch of iron ore, smelt it into steel, and have an assembly line of robots and workers shape it into a finished vehicle.

To grow it in Iowa, you plant car seeds in the ground (also known as "wheat"), wait until they sprout, and harvest them. Take the harvest and put it into a big boat marked "to Japan" and let it sail off. A few months later a brand new car comes back.

Moose Hunter

Sure. And not long after that the people of Detroit are unemployed and you have problems. Then you have a conflict with China and you want to build some tanks. You don't convert General Motors to making tanks, you grow them. Got any tank seeds?

Depending 0n others for basic industries works wonders so long as the world is working properly and economics rules. When people begin to riot because they don't have jobs, well, maybe we can jail them, or put them on plantations to grow cars.


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


Hi Jerry,

The MS FAT Tax is an interesting attempt by Microsoft to get people to send them even more money. I doubt they'll get many takers, though. The patents referenced are all referring to the techniques that Windows 95 used to make long file names coexist with the old 8.3 file names. The web page discusses the main advantages of signing up for the program as getting a license for the "specification" and standardizing implementations. Now, as far as I can tell, FAT has already become a defacto standard and implementations interoperate quite well. The target market seems to be device manufacturers, however most devices such as cameras use 8.3 style names and would have no need to license the long name related patents. So, since there's several reference implementations of FAT available, interoperability has already been solved and the patents are not applicable I don't see why any device manufacturer would license this.

These patents could be used to force Linux or Macintosh implementations of FAT to only support 8.3 names. I wonder if these patents have been issued anywhere besides the United States.

Regards, Dave Smith


I believe the FAT Tax

is part of an assault on Linux and FreeBSD and Apple OS/X and Thursby ADmitMac and Samba - all those open-source and commercial *NIXes and *NIX services support FAT, and I believe Microsoft are going after a media-maker or two first in order to get some sort of precedent set against someone who makes tangible goods, then make a 90-degree turn and go after these competing products which either obviate the need for Windows entirely or facilitate the connection of non-Windows systems to Windows.

In short, I think it's the keystone of a plot aimed at open-source and *NIX.

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


Dear Jerry:

You wrote: "Shame on Apple: they put 2 256 meg SIMMS in my PowerBook and both will be useless when I upgrade to 1 gig. Shame!"

You're absolutely right, but it's a little marketing trick they've been using for years now: the idea is to get you to upgrade memory when you buy, using Apple-provided product, which is far more costly than that from Kingston or Crucial et al. (On iBooks and iMacs the first stick is soldered in as a way of crippling the machines so they don't take sales from the more expandable PowerBooks and PowerMacs).

I'm a huge Apple fan, but their commitment to an aggressive price/performance ratio is not what it could, should, or needs to be. Memory is cheap these days, and Apple's machines run much better with a good supply: they should be stuffing them full, pricing aggressively, and thereby adding value for the customer at no real loss to themselves. They made NOTHING on your recent upgrade, but unfortunately most people still won't risk 3rd-party parts and/or are wary of doing their own installation so they either pay Apple's big-margin pricing or suffer with an under-performing computer.


Tim Loeb

I would have expected this from a discount house, perhaps, but I went to a full service full price Apple store, and ended with two useless 256 meg SIMMS. Never again.


On DDT (See last week)

As I recall (my copy is currently in storage), "Trashing the Planet", by Dixy Lee Ray and Lou Guzzo, has a chapter on DDT. There were some 500 studies of DDT, *ALL* of them trying to replicate ANY of the problems that Rachel Carson and Paul Ehrlich claimed. Ray and Guzzo give the full citation for EVERY LAST BLAMED ONE OF THEM. That list INCLUDED studies attempting to replicate the eggshell thinning effect.

NONE of the alleged deleterious effects were ever replicated. NONE. NOT A SINGLE RESEARCHER ON PLANET EARTH was able to substantiate *ANY* of the claims against DDT, be it killing birds, causing cancer, thinning eggshells, even though it would have been worth a LOT of good karma from the environmental movement if they had managed to replicate ANY of it. Nor has there EVER been a SINGLE study published ANYWHERE that actually demonstrates those effects. It appears that Carson and Ehrlich simply made them up out of whole cloth.

--John R. Strohm

Dixy Lee Ray quotes Dr. Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, stating that there are too many people. Banning DDT, he said, "is as good a way to get rid of them as any." Of course the ones got rid of are Asian and African, but Dr. Wurster didn't say that.

On pages 70-72 of Trashing the Planet she discusses bird egg shells. The evidence is inconclusive and may be species dependent; the direct experimental data in which birds were fed DDT and shell thickness measured, doesn't support the conclusions about bird eggs. Incidentally, Paul Ehrlich said that without banning DDT the runoff would kill all the algae in the sea and deprive the Earth of 40% of its oxygen. The amounts of DDT actually detected in sea water were tiny, and being an organo-phosphate the stuff is degraded by sunlight.

I would not put things quite so dramatically as you, but it is certainly clear that the 1972 ban on DDT was based more on proof by repeated assertion than by any actual evidence.

I have since been sent a number of references I don't have time to look at. I the several I did examine, enormous doses of DDT were given. That sort of "test" seems to me to have little value, since such dosages don't happen in the real world. The simple rule is "the dose makes the poison."

DDT may or may not thin out bald eagle populations. Lack of DDT certainly does condemn a number of people to insect-borne diseases. Such tradeoffs need discussion, but there was no such discussion in the regulatory "science" debates.

My correspondent says

Rather than attacking 3 decade old popularizations that were intended to stir things up, a few minutes of research would have revealed that the issues involved with organochlorines are extremely complex and most certainly not susceptible to the sort of "analysis" your readers and their sources appear to have applied.

William Colsher

Which may be true; I haven't seen any actual science applied to this matter, then or now. Unfortunately, the long list of references given are all in paper journals I don't have access to; at least there are no URL's for them. Again, what I know about DDT is not a lot; but I do know that when Paul Ehrlich tells me the planet is going to die unless we ban DDT, and no one on his side of the matter leaps to say that's nonsense, science and facts have gone out the window.

Cancer and DDT connections are pretty well dependent on massive dosage studies, which used to be very much in fashion.

As to persistence, I am long out of date, but in the debates over the ban on DDT they were talking about parts per trillion, meaning that "detection" was a function of the new found analytical and detection tools. There was precious little about actual quantities, and a lot of screaming about "ANY is too much", all reminding us of the shouts and screams about radiation and total ignorance of actual results of low level radiation doses.

I will admit that after a while I stopped listening. If there's some real science out there, with comparisons of risks -- there are plenty of natural carcinogens we are exposed to every day, including celery -- I'd be happy to see it. So far what I have seen is a long list of study titles. Someone with more time than I have can look into this matter. Since 1972 in the US at least it has been a closed issue, and it was closed on the flimsiest of data and a great deal of hysteria.

A simple PubMed search will produce a great deal of real science. For example:

Increased risk of pancreatic cancer:

Garabrant, D.H., et al., DDT and related compounds and risk of pancreatic cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst, 1992. 84(10): p. 764-71.

Aquatic effects (marked oocyte degeneration):

Binelli, A., et al., DDT contamination in Lake Maggiore (N. Italy) and effects on zebra mussel spawning. Chemosphere, 2001. 45(4-5): p. 409-15.

Your statement that DDT is not persistent is simply false (significant levels present 1997-1998 and see also Semenza below, also states the current levels do not appear to effect Robin reproduction):

Gill, H., et al., An assessment of DDT and other chlorinated compounds and the reproductive success of American robins (Turdus migratonrius) breeding in fruit orchards. Ecotoxicology, 2003. 12(1-4): p. 113-23.

Reproduction Issues in birds:

Halldin, K., et al., Reproductive impairment in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) after in ovo exposure to o,p'-DDT. Arch Toxicol, 2003. 77(2): p. 116-22.

Suggests that loss of specific food insects may be responsible for shell abnormalities in robins:

Manosa, S., et al., Persistent organochlorine contaminants in eggs of northern goshawk and Eurasian buzzard from northeastern Spain: temporal trends related to changes in the diet. Environ Pollut, 2003. 122(3): p. 351-9.

Shell thinning et al. In bald eagles:

Bowerman, W.W., et al., A review of factors affecting productivity of bald eagles in the Great Lakes region: implications for recovery. Environ Health Perspect, 1995. 103 Suppl 4: p. 51-9.

More bird disease:

Hario, M., et al., Organochlorine concentrations in diseased vs. healthy gull chicks from the northern Baltic. Environ Pollut, 2004. 127(3): p. 411-23.

Bad news for 'gators:

Semenza, J.C., et al., Reproductive toxins and alligator abnormalities at Lake Apopka, Florida. Environ Health Perspect, 1997. 105(10): p. 1030-2.

And Bunnies:

Lindenau, A., et al., Effects of persistent chlorinated hydrocarbons on reproductive tissues in female rabbits. Hum Reprod, 1994. 9(5): p. 772-80.

Human reproductive issues:

Gerhard, I. and B. Runnebaum, [The limits of hormone substitution in pollutant exposure and fertility disorders]. Zentralbl Gynakol, 1992. 114(12): p. 593-602.

Rather than attacking 3 decade old popularizations that were intended to stir things up, a few minutes of research would have revealed that the issues involved with organochlorines are extremely complex and most certainly not susceptible to the sort of "analysis" your readers and their sources appear to have applied.



In looking up the first of the references, I find in its abstract this conclusion:

"CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to DDT was associated with pancreatic cancer. The association was not explained by exposure to lifestyle factors or other chemicals, and risk increased with both duration of exposure and latency since first exposure. IMPLICATIONS: These results may indicate that DDT can cause pancreatic cancer in humans under circumstances of heavy and prolonged exposure. "

This is cautious language; it doesn't sound similar to any of what I heard in the debates. Arthur Kantrowitz campaigned for many years to get a Science Court established for settling cases instead of the lawyer "impartial jury" crapshoot system we use now.

I find further that there isn't certainty here in the science community:

Numerous occupations have been investigated for their potential role in the development of pancreatic cancer, but studies have not produced consistent results. Heavy exposure to certain pesticides (including DDT and its derivatives) may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer (ACS, 2000; Ji et al., 2000; Porta et al., 1999). Exposure to certain dyes and certain chemicals related to gasoline, in addition to asbestos and ionizing radiation, have also been associated with the development of pancreatic cancer in some studies, however, other studies have found no link between these agents and pancreatic cancer (ACS, 2000; Anderson et al., 1996). (
reports/rodney_metals/pancreatic_cancer.pdf )

If someone else wants to pursue these matters, feel free. It looks to me as if DDT use is a classic case of risk/benefits; but the decision made in 1972 wasn't based on anything like that. It was based on proof by repeated assertion.

Or by sensation:

DDT found in blubber of sperm whales.,1282,61508,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_10 

Lloyd Arnold Winterville, North Carolina

I could put up a headline. CHILDREN DEAD OF MALARIA FOUND IN BANGLA DESH AND SRI LANKA but it would not add much to rational discourse.

The article in question is full of "could" and "might" and not much for numbers, loke how much, and how many. Ah well.

I get along fine without DDT although in Southern California the stuff would be useful for ant and roach control. And I don't often have to think about kids with malaria in Africa and Asia.

Let me add a tiny bit of data on that:

In Ethiopia’s Malaria War, Weapons Are the Issue

December 9, 2003 By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

With a major malaria outbreak sweeping Ethiopia, an international doctors' group working there contends that outdated drugs are being used to fight it and may even worsen the epidemic.

Unicef, the United Nations agency providing the drugs, defended the choices it made in consultation with the Ethiopian government. The older drugs are still effective, it said, and changing policy midepidemic for a health system as battered as Ethiopia's can be disastrous.

But an internal World Health Organization memo from Dec. 3, obtained by The New York Times, disagrees and "strongly recommends" that a new but more expensive drug be used.

The struggle illustrates problems confronting the makers of world health policy. Drug-resistant strains can evolve faster than new drugs can be discovered, and new cures are inevitably more expensive, forcing choices between costly drugs that work and cheap ones that may not.

The W.H.O. expects Ethiopia's epidemic to spread to 15 million of its 65 million population - triple the normal rate.


So malaria is still a major problem. Enough so to justify DDT? And do people have more rights that canvasback ducks, or sperm whales? God told us to have dominion over the beasts, not to exterminate and replace them. But surely a child is worth more than a mosquito.

Bottom line: I don't know. Mark Brandt points out

As for malaria; my opinion is somewhat similar to yours -- DDT was banned for political reasons rather than as a result of scientific study. However, indiscriminate widespread administration of DDT was selecting for resistant strains of the Anopheles mosquito; it is not clear how much longer DDT would have been useful for malaria control had it not been banned.

Which is very likely true: by now, the beneficial effects might well have dissipated, unless some intelligence had been used in the application. On the other hand, we have no real knowledge of how many people died as a result of the hysteria from Ehrlich and his "environmentalist" allies.

I will leave it at that. As Edith Efrom said long ago, "Regulatory" science isn't science; and as Arky Kantrowitz keeps telling us, we need a science court system to make intelligent decisions in these matters.

And see below.




On the Army

Dear Jerry:

Front page news in the L.A. Times; the Army is deliberating reducing the combat readiness level of four major divisions so that they can rest and refit next year. Six months of increased vulnerability for the nation but no choice. The soldiers are very tired and the equipment, what is left of it, is broken.

Steve Lopez did a column about what worried parents are sending their kids in uniform in Iraq; armored combat protective vests! Why, because the Army doesn't seem to have enough. Six months ago it was PX items and rations.

I remember things being a lot better during Vietnam, but then that Army was three times the size of this and Vietnam was considered a noisy sideshow by the top rank. It looks like the lessons on Force Protection and convoy movement are being relearned finally. But parents are now flying into the war zone to try and check on their children, with indifferent success. (Brings a whole new dimension to the term "controlling parent" and I suspect that some of the soldiers were less than glad to see their kin show up. My father did that to me when I was in Basic and it was hugely embarrassing because I had to be pulled out of training to see him. He was, after all, a Colonel and RHIP.

The whole thing that Joanne posted about those in command in the war zone suspecting that every order was politically motivated is also familiar. Sounds like 'Nam to me!

There is deep irony to be found here. We trained ourselves to avoid conflict and trained our generals to think politically and diplomatically (many have graduate degrees in International Relations, paid for by the government) and restructured the entire military to make it harder to wander accidentally into conflict --- and we get a civilian leadership who wants and gets another war that will drain our resources for years to come and disregards the advice of the very people who've spent their lives doing the reading on this.

As for the contractor personnel, that's another flaw in the Neocon scheme that needs to be corrected. I once was told by a very decorated Marine pilot that he considered himself "A rifleman temporarily assigned to flying an airplane." This is, as I have said before, one of the hidden strengths of the US military. Everyone learns how to do the basic job and, in a pinch, can step up. Not so contractor personnel. They don't even show up to do what they are supposed to do. Might be dangerous. People are shooting weapons.

We not only need a bigger army, we need one where everyone, combat MOS or not, is a soldier. Nothing else makes sense. Not if we are serious about our military prowess.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

Well the alternative is to have a Republic with an army capable of defending our land. Of course that includes a larger Navy than we have.

Long ago I concluded that the Army needs to be doing things like PX jobs and food distribution: they will have to be doing it when the shooting starts and it is as well to know how rather than learn under fire.








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Tuesday, December 9, 2003  

This was forwarded by Frank Gasperik.

Air Rage

November 27, 2001.

Okay, that's it. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

For seven years I have been flying on a near-weekly basis, commuting between San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Spokane. Before that, there were several years in the late sixties and early seventies when I commuted every couple of weeks between the Left and the Wrong Coasts.

I can't use my frequent-flyer miles fast enough - the current balance is within striking distance of one million miles. I have a sheaf of free 1st-class upgrade coupons that is literally an inch thick - I throw away more than I use.

I spent so much time in East Coast rental cars, perusing those dreadful little maps handed out at the airport counters, that I still get confused about the direction of the ocean (it's to the right, so North must be that, that, it's to the the blasted map upside It didn't help that I served Uncle for two years in a ship, plying the Eastern and Gulf Coast waters, eyes glued to the charts or radar every moment I stood underway OOD. I should just give up and move back out there, I suppose, before I end up Chappaquiddicking myself, because I just can't keep it straight that the natural direction of the water is to the left.

I would have to drive, though, because I'm thinking seriously of giving up air travel altogether. Yes, as a result of 9-11. No, not because I'm afraid of terrorists. Because the air travel experience has become so gruesome.

John Madden makes road travel look like fun. Of course, he has a TV crew, roadies, groupies and all that. I have a wife, three kids, eleven cats, a dog, four goats, some cows and wayyyyyyy too many horses. Wonder if three -trailer semis are allowed back east...

Next week I fly again, after a month off. I dread the thought.

Air travel, with delays, cancellations, weather and lost baggage, has always been a struggle, one made tolerable by the opportunity to read and deal with email (755 items, 161 unread today). No more, though. I have studied the evolution of increased FAA security and found it more than wanting. The recent federalization of security personnel is too Orwellian for me to bear.

I have never suffered fools or tyrants gracefully. Some of the more petty are among those who have been operating airline security in recent years. While I have yet to miss a plane because of an interchange with one of them, it is simply inevitable that I will be sidelined for special treatment in the near future.

A month ago, I was going through the full-bore pat down at Burbank's airport. With the vertically-challenged latin rodent's paws in my crotch, I smiled at the granny lady next in line and said, "Don't worry, I won't be much longer because they have already done my body cavity search." She grimaced nervously while the wand bandito stared furiously at me for my impertinence. My response? "Sure am glad you're wearing those rubber gloves." If he could, said his glare, he would summon one of the uniformed National Guardsmen loitering nearby, M16 in hand, and have me summarily executed.

It's just a matter of time. That's why I have never taken flying lessons. Or skydiving lessons. And why I sold my motorcycle when I was 24. The way I do things, it's a just a matter of time before I kill myself. A triumph of good sense over adrenaline. I can't park my mouth so easily, though.

And it's not just that. Arriving two hours early and just barely making a flight that takes 30 minutes? Do the math. It's quicker to drive. And cheaper.

And you can stop to pee anytime you like (I'm a man, therefore the world is my urinal, don't forget), unlike those passengers forced to put their hands atop their heads for the remainder of that recent flight on the wrong coast, during which a guy who had to pee 15 minutes before landing was thrown face down by a sky marshall, then manacled.

Flying has become the modern EST seminar, the original "no-pee" training for personal growth. It wasn't fun then, and it isn't fun now.

And you don't have to submit to having your car searched, simply to park it.

I fail to see what all this has gained us, anyway.

Some of Osama's ragheads with razor blades allegedly (Come on, what proof have you seen? And all the black boxes were destroyed? Yeah, right.) hijack four planes and nail three buildings. That was a one-time event, never to happen again now that we passengers all realize we die if don't do something. Why, even the fourth plane went down short of the mark, possibly due to the heroics of passengers ("possibly" because it came apart in midair and actually crashed primarily in two locations, miles apart, suggesting it was shot out of the air, as the other planes should have been, but weren't, in the single most glaring lapse in national air security since Wilbur Wright went aloft without a seatbelt).

They all had ID. They all had social security cards. (Then why weren't any of them listed on the passenger manifests, by the way?) The box cutters appear to have been prepositioned. Nothing that has been imposed since then would have prevented what occurred September 11. Yet, government forges ahead with more rules, more bureaucracy, more delay, more inconvenience, more expense.

It's not such a problem for the once-a-year traveller. Kind of a lark, actually, to see all that commotion that we've all been hearing so much about.

But for us true frequent fliers? Whole 'nother story, boys and girls. We're not happy. And we're not flying anywhere near as much. Many of us are rearranging our lives to make that permanent, too. Once a week is history. Once a month is too much for me to bear, too, given the way things are - I'm going to work it down by telecommuting, driving and just plain doing without. There are lots of people just like me. We have been the backbone of the air travel industry and we are through being abused.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Talk about Air Rage

Forward as you wish. Cut and paste, delete...whatever. I don't even care if you take what I write and send it to others, claiming that you wrote it. It's all grist for something or other.

"I didn't say it would be easy. I just said it would be the truth." - Morpheus

Write to me at <

I am not at all sure the box cutters were pre-positioned but it hardly matters. You can't take over an airplane -- at least a passenger airplane, no one seems to have thought about providing security for large cargo aircraft which would work as cruise missiles at least as well as passenger craft -- with a box cutter.

The government now considers you a potential terrorist if you are on an airplane. It considers a 70 year old Medal of Honor winner at least as much a suspect as someone with a beard muttering Allah Akbar and fingering worry beads. We are all equal opportunity subjects now. And God help you if you need help on an airplane now.

The TSA is an established bureaucracy and probably can't be eliminated, but can't we at least put them to work somewhere else and let the old system back? It didn't protect us from 911 but neither will the TSA, and at least under the old system I didn't contemplate driving to Seattle because of fear of flying.


If you saw the DDT discussion above, I have added a lot to it, because it was better kept in one place.


Subject: ATM worms

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Please read 



and watch your wallet. The bad guys are everywhere.


William L. Jones

Link fixed.


Tax and Spend in the UK

See < 0,11268,1102914,00.html >.

Note however that the increased taxes under Labour have not improved services more than marginally. On the other hand, the civil service job listings each week in the Guardian are massive. Reminds me of DC.

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

Subject: The Examination Culture in the UK

See < 0,13394,1102946,00.html>. Examination marking in the UK has to be an art, because it's certainly not scientific. -- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior.




Dear Dr Pournelle, Remember the guy who started a project for building a cruise missile for under $5000? Well, he finished the missile, and began arranging for it to be built under licence by a firm in the USA. But then the NZ Government stepped in and "scuttled" the deal, by means which probably contravene the NZ Bill of Rights not to mention the Commerce Act. Of course the obvious remedy, a judicial review, costs a lot more than $5000.

So he went open source.

The cruise missile is now in the hands of an "unknown third party somewhere New Zealand". Good luck to the government trying to prosecute that. The builder does not know where. He does expect the results of detailed tests to be available sometime in the New Year. To stay posted, visit 

and, for some truly chilling comparisons, 


""Why would they [terrorists] want to build one of those missiles?" Because, as we've seen since 9/11, the strategies instituted by police, defense and intelligence authorities have been very successful at thwarting low-tech attacks against targets within the USA. A low-cost cruise missile (LCCM) might offer a significantly higher chance of success at striking high-value targets such as The White House, the Capitol Buildings or even downtown New York during rush-hour.

There's also the psychological effect that a terrorist-launched cruise missile would have on the general population. "My gosh, the terrorists have cruise missiles too!" would be a chilling realization for most people, even if the practical implications were known to be far less sinister."

My only naysaying observation at this point would be that several thousand V1s and around half as many V2s were dropped on London in late WWII - a second blitz. The civilians never liked it, but it wasn't as though they were gibbering in terror so much as to be ungovernable.

Regards, TC

-- Terry Cole System Administrator Dept. of Maths and Stats, Otago University PO. Box 56, Dunedin  NEW ZEALAND fax:64-3-4798427

Yes but the Secret Service now thinks that if you carry an anti-Bush sign you might wander into the street and be harmed so you have to be put in a "Free Speech Area" for your own protection. Astonishing how stupid we have become. Of course those with pro-Bush signs don't seem to suffer from this problem.





This week:


read book now


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

This ought to scare you silly:

Ugh, this article is somewhat depressing to read. The short version: Spammers are learning to become hackers to get their mass emails sent it would seem 

Worth the time to read. I hate to say it but we need white hat hackers to combat these spammers it would seem. Mafia Inc needs hackers and now!

Current location: San Francisco International waiting for my red-eye connector to Chicago O'Hare on my way to Baltimore. TSA at John Wayne airport took about 5 minutes to get through at 5PM. Really reaffirms my belief of if I have to fly to try and avoid major airports at all costs as they are always too busy to have efficient TSA like I ran into at John Wayne. T-Mobile data service has worked fine so far.

- -Dan S.

I read through that with growing horror, but there's a novel in there...

And along those lines:


A self-replicating peer-to-peer network 


And if you didn't see this, perhaps you should:



As usual, some things don't make the news:

Ed Hume

And indeed that's true. Most of the news comes from news feed stories, and most reporters in Iraq don't actually go out to the scenes they report on, nor can they get air time for small and non-sensational stories.

No one doubts that if you have to be occupied, American GI's are the troops of choice, just as the premise of The Mouse That Roared, that there has never been a more profitable thing for a nation to do than to lose a war with the United States was self evidently true.

Look: if $80 billion bucks and several divisions of GI's can't improve a place that was run by incompetent sadistic jerks, then the world doesn't work the way I think it does. The question is, is this the destiny of the United States? And some I guess think it very much is. But I wonder if there are not better ways to spend $80 billion in US tax revenue.


Interesting article on touch screen voting machines from my second-favorite computer pundit: 

Especially in light of this news item -- ATMs now hit by computer virus: 

I think we need to reconsider whether to discontinue punch card voting...

Sam Farris

I never have seen any problems with punch card systems, and anyone too stupid to figure out how to use one ought not be allowed to vote on general principles.

Voter literacy tests were once used in the South to prevent blacks from voting. That doesn't mean that such tests are wrong in principle, nor is a nominal -- say $25 a year -- poll tax. People who can't read English and who can't manage the price of a few bottles of liquor shouldn't be voting to begin with.



Major Vulnerability Found In Windows Messenger Service

By Gregg Keizer, TechWeb News

See this article at: 

Wow, this is a major, MAJOR vulnerability. The article details how a worm could use a single UDP packet (broadcast) to infect all vulnerable machines in a subnet (254 machines) at once. That could cut the time to infect major networks down to practically a few seconds. This is a good reason to use to get the shootthemessenger program to shut this off. (For those who do not know how to shut off the Messenger Service in Windows Services.) The shootthemessenger program works on Win2000, WinXP, but not on WinNT – at least when I tried it on one machine running Win NT. I do not know about the other flavors of Windows. But Microsoft does have an article at:

on how to shut off the Windows Messenger Service.

-- Oliver Richter

I have sent a warning to subscribers on this. Thanks.

It turns out I shouldn't have:

Yeah. This "NEW" vulnerability that InternetWeek has just noticed was part of the group of 8 patches released in a single day, October 15, 2003. MS03-040 through -047. Here's the URL: 

-- Brian Bilbrey <> Orb Designs

But I would rather warn people needlessly than not, so long as I do not do it a lot.


Hi, Dr. Pournelle,

Yes, it might be hard to believe, but it is apparently true that the U.S. deported a Canadian citizen from New York to Syria, rather than back to Canada (where he held a valid passport). He was subsequently tortured for ten months before the Canadian government could secure his release. It's happened at least twice recently; both cases were in the news for weeks here in Canada.

The more famous of the two cases I'm aware of is that of Maher Arar -- plug his names into the Google News search and you will get some disturbing tales. As Google News' search results vary by country, try these direct articles:

John Ashcroft admits to it, and defends the U.S. behaviour here: 

U.S. won't promise not to do it again: 

L.A. times piece:,1,1581222.story

The victim speaks: 


Charles --

---------- Charles Cazabon

I see. Reasons of State.

Hi Jerry - here the CBC's detailed history of the Arar case. Please note that he wasn't working in the US, he was flying back to Canada from vacation and had to change planes in New York.


==Barry Rueger

Thanks. Wasn't clear from the Times at least as I read it.


Dear Jerry:

I share your uneasiness at the way we're treating the detainees. And the rest of it I also share, as does just about everyone I've talked to about this -- and that's a very wide spectrum, politically. It is obvious that THE key issue of the Presidential election will not be the economy or even the war in Iraq, but what this country stands for.

It has come to that. A government that feels free to abuse non-citizens on such flimsy pretexts will, in time, not make the distinction between those folks and its own citizens. In fact, that has already happened once. We have been down this road before several times in our history, but the current policy reflects the worst offenses against civil liberties committed during the Civil War era. The attitude carries down to the local levels too. Romenessko's blog on has two stories this week about heavy handed censorship of high school newspapers despite state laws against it. Little indicators like that are what keep the knowledgeable awake at night.

Regards, Francis Hamit

What doth it profit a man...

Subject: Because it's working so well for the Israelis...?

12/9 (Guardian Unlimited) Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said yesterday.,3604,1102869,00.html 

Tim Elliott

That ought to end the insurrections quickly.

Dear Dr. P:

Are you dyspeptic or raving? Probably neither.

But lookit: Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, and many other civil liberties and rights as well. Why? Well certainly because the country was in great danger, but I would argue more because of the sort of danger it was in. Robert E. Lee was offered command of the armies of the NORTH before he headed back to ol' Virginny. Southerners looked & acted just like Americans, because they were. But spies and fifth column movements were everywhere; what to do when you KNOW somebody is actively conspiring to do you harm but cannot (or do not have the time to) PROVE it - leave them alone to carry out their plans or lock them away until the end of hostilities? Lincoln made the difficult choice - and went on to win.

The same thing with our current enemies. Many of the 9/11 murderers had been living in this country for years - they didn't show up like barbarians before our gates, obvious antagonists and combatants. They were well trained to fit in, avoid detection, not set off any alarms - to in short not do anything illegal until that very morning.

The key is to insure that a SUSPENSION of rights does not become the LOSS of those rights. Do you, like the lunatic Left, really believe that Bush & Ashcroft et al are closet despots conspiring to deprive average Americans of their freedoms?

Me, neither. Rather I think it's a case of "extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures" and that this Administration has every intention of returning things to normal just as soon as it feels it safely can. But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, or as RR put it "trust but verify," so I hope that you and many others will continue to watch events unfold with a critical eye and a bias towards "freedom now" over "freedom tomorrow."


Tim Loeb

First, a suspension that lasts for years is indistinguishable from punishment, and if the suspension includes shipping you to places where they will torture you, is this all right so long as it serves the interests of the state? Even if it is done on secret information?

The right to know the charges against you and to be confronted with your accusers was the right that free Englishmen demanded against the King, and is the essence of what we thought liberty and freedom was about. Or so I would have said, but I'm just an old scholar and I guess I don't understand modern security needs.

But the fact is that since 911 the other guy hasn't been able do much. But what we have done to ourselves more than makes up for his helplessness. And we continue to do it to ourselves.

There are no state secrets worth keeping at these prices. None. We didn't even do this during the Cold War when there were enormous enemy armies ready to race to the Rhine, and hundreds and later thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at us, and others that could have been smuggled in. The USSR had the bomb. But we didn't throw Judith Coplon into solitary and torture her.

Incidentally, why do we think Syria is an ally and will tell us what it beats out of people? Some of the advisors to the Administration want us to invade Syria to get Syria out of Lebanon. I am sure the Lebanese think that would be a good idea. So why send people to Syria to be tortured? Do we have a contract? Will they honor it? In what coin do we pay for this information?

Reasons of State. We did it for reasons of state. If you only knew what we know, if you had the arcana imperii, then you would understand and believe. Have faith.

Ave, Imperator.

Please show me the necessity for measures like this; show me the return on our investment of the Bill of Rights and Magna Charta.  Show me how the survival of those rights depends on keeping people in Guantanamo without trial, in shipping a Canadian to Syria. For that matter show my why we had to have Waco to preserve our freedom.




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, December 11, 2003

I have many letters on this:


Have you seen this? Gases trapped in antarctic ice layers show atmospheric CO2 started rising anomalously 8000 years ago, atmospheric methane 5000 years ago. Now someone is asserting this was caused by the start and growth of human agriculture, and further that this is associated with anomalously high global temperatures ever since - "The prehistoric practices apparently overrode a build-up of ice that models predict should have occurred from 5000 years ago."

Heh. One suspects the proper green conclusion is that civilization is a blight on the planet and should be removed forthwith, so the planet can go back to its natural iced-over state. 

Henry Vanderbilt

Wouldn't be very green then, would it? Throw another log on the fire, as we say in Fallen Angels.

Subject: You Were RIGHT All Along buffy willow 

see paragraph 3

'Prehistoric man began global warming' Date: December 11 2003

<snip> Measurements of ancient air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice offers evidence that humans have been changing the global climate since thousands of years before the industrial revolution.

From 8000 years ago, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide began to rise as humans started clearing forests, planting crops and raising livestock, a scientist said on Tuesday. Methane levels started increasing 3000 years later.

The combined increases of the two greenhouse gases implicated in global warming were slow but steady and staved off what should have been a period of significant natural cooling, said Bill Ruddiman, emeritus professor at the University of Virginia.

Jim Woosley


Once again, the headlines are gleaned from your works!

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Measurements of ancient air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice offered evidence that humans have been changing the global climate since thousands of years before the industrial revolution. Beginning 8,000 years ago, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide began to rise as humans started clearing forests, planting crops and raising livestock, a scientist said Tuesday. Methane levels started increasing 3,000 years later. <snip>

I preen.

And then:


Global warming on Mars! 

Could the sun have anything to do with this? Naw... it's all the fault of the U.S. -- If only we had ratified the Kyoto treaty...





Subj: Whoopers: Class of 2003 arrives in Florida

 2003 Operation Migration - Field Joural - Ultralight-led Whooping Crane Migration - Southward Journey

On 8 Dec 2003 -- day 54 of the migration from Wisconsin -- three ultralight guide aircraft led the sixteen juvenile whooping cranes of the Class of 2003 to their winter destination, at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Citrus County, FL.



We've put up this link before but it does no harm to do it again, since it's wonderful:
 Cool site, sort of a Powers of 10 for starmaps

Mark Rutledge


Hi Dr. P,

I found these two stories (Washington Post & Chicago Tribune, free-subscriptions req'd) and thought I'd pass them along. I know better than to expect great things from any gov't bureaucracy, but this quote from the Tribune article just makes me nutsy beyond words:

The system was so bad that after the suicide hijackers struck, the FBI had to distribute photographs of the suspects to its agents around the world via an overnight delivery service, because it didn't have the technology to electronically scan and e-mail photos. At the time, many agents were still using computers driven by "386" processors, which were introduced in the mid-1980s and eclipsed by technology available to consumers by1993.

cheers, -Josh 

Most Federal Agencies Flunk Internet Security Poor Grades Received for 4th Straight Year

By Brian Krebs Special to The Washington Post Wednesday, December 10, 2003; Page E03

Most federal government agencies have failed to adequately protect their computer networks from hackers and other online threats, the fourth year in a row that the government has earned low marks on a computer security report card issued by a congressional oversight committee.

The Department of Homeland Security -- the government's lead agency on matters of Internet security -- was one of seven agencies that received an F grade for 2003.

Also receiving an F was the Justice Department, which is charged with prosecuting many cases involving hacking and other forms of cyber-crime. Thirteen other agencies improved their scores slightly this year, nudging the overall government grade up to a D from last year's F. NASA fared worse this year, dropping from a D to a D-minus.

The grades, determined by the House Government Reform subcommittee on technology, come at a time when Internet attacks are at an all-time high. Attacks increased by 40 percent in the first three quarters of this year, according to the CERT Coordination Center, a government-funded cyber-security-monitoring agency at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.


and this one too.....

FBI hits glitches as it joins digital age

Upgrade ordered after 9/11 attacks By Cam Simpson Washington Bureau

December 10, 2003

WASHINGTON -- After decades of having agents rely on dictation, typing pools and mountains of paperwork, Dec. 13 was to be a historic day at the FBI.

A new computer system was scheduled to come online Saturday, finally allowing more than 11,000 agents to easily access case files and "connect the dots" from their desks--an effort at the heart of the FBI's struggle to rebuild itself to prevent another terrorist attack.

The new system is already months behind schedule and more than $200 million over budget, and its backbone component will not be ready this week, senior FBI officials acknowledged Tuesday. One senior FBI official said it might not be launched until the middle of 2004. Another FBI official said there would be additional cost overruns, which are expected to total up to $30 million.

That would bring the price tag for the overall system, known as Trilogy, to $626 million. The original cost was $380 million.

"It's our responsibility in the bureau to get this done, and no one is more disappointed than [FBI Director Robert Mueller] about missing this date," said one senior FBI official. "It was a huge disappointment."

The General Services Administration, the federal government's procurement arm, quietly announced the newest delays last month but didn't mention the latest cost overruns or say when the system would come online. A GSA statement said that a private contractor on the project, Computer Sciences Corp., "failed to meet a critical delivery date."

"It is very clear that they missed the schedule, but we just want to get the job done," the senior FBI official said Tuesday.

Regardless of who may be at fault, the latest setbacks could anger already skeptical members of Congress who have poured hundreds of millions of additional dollars into Trilogy while expressing doubts about its ability to work and the FBI's ability to retool itself. It also could be a setback for Mueller.


You are astonished?


Dr. Pournelle:

In one of your posts, you wrote "For that matter show my(sic) why we had to have Waco to preserve our freedom." I'm not entirely certain how you meant this comment, but I wanted to express something I've been thinking on this matter for a long time.

I'm a Baptist and a pretty conservative man. I believe the Branch Davidians were a bunch of nuts. So I kind of hate to have to admit it, but I think the Branch Davidians did this country an enormous service. They proved to the world that the FBI and the ATF and the DEA and all the new Praetorians are not all-powerful and that there are still Americans willing to defend their beliefs to the last. They gave the government reason to think long and hard before trying another operation that is just psychological warfare under false colors.

Let's face it, the government goon squads had absolutely no interest in law enforcement when they went in there. The operation had nothing to do with firearms laws, and everything to do with intimidation. If all they had wanted to do was arrest people, they only had to walk up to them on the streets. David Koresh and his followers were regularly seen every day in the shops and on the streets of Waco - it didn't take a Q-ship paramilitary operation to arrest them. The entire purpose behind the government plan was to make a show of force and put the fear of God into dissident groups (God as defined by the ATF). And they got handed their heads.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Please note the last two words, the ones that people keep forgetting - "and tyrants." By reminding the government that there are still risks in trying to run roughshod over Americans, they provided a check to the arrogance that is the primary cause of tyranny.

We (the people who do NOT want tyranny) had to have Waco, or something like it, to remind the would-be dictators that just as freedom does not come for free, neither does power.

Keith Hood

Didn't do a lot of waking people, did it?

AA anti-piracy chief is former head of ATF Posted 12/10/2003 @ 9:25 AM, by Ken "Caesar" Fisher

With Saddam Hussein apparently preoccupied, the RIAA has hired the head of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as its new anti-piracy boss. Mr. Bradley Buckles will help buckle down (sorry, couldn't stop myself) both large-scale commercial piracy and P2P piracy, brining with him not only law enforcement know-how, but an impressive set of contacts throughout the US government. Buckles will be retiring from the ATF just after the New Year.

Is it just me, or is supremely ironic that the chief of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau is going to be in charge of bustin' punks messin' with good old American Sex, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll? Of course, as noted above one cannot discount Buckles' value as an inside man in the government. The RIAA is clearly chompin' at the bit to get government level power. Oh wait, they kind of already have that. Still, Buckles has the oversight capabilities and the experience necessary for dealing with large scale criminal organizations. One can hope that his charge will be primarily to peruse the real criminals as he did with the ATF, and not the 12 year old girls looking for Brittney's latest "hit."

Real criminals like the Branch Davidians.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

There's danger right here in River City, as well as in the Balkans. A long, detailed, footnoted article on the infiltration of Wahabbists into our country, our government, and the current administration (to an extent beyond the wildest dreams of the old KGB) is found here: 

I wish you and yours well in this season of hope and influenza.

Greg Hemsath


Gary Pavek thought you would be interested in this link to "Feds urge permits for photos at courthouse" on the Rocky Mountain News Web site:

"It was so remarkably well-intentioned," he said of the permit idea, the questioning of people taking pictures and the relocation of cameras. "We didn't articulate it very well."

It's worth reading: the intentions were good, although it wasn't articulation that is the problem.

And I don't have an answer. Back in Cold War days, one of the most important information chunks we could get was the exact location relative to a known bench mark of an enemy missile silo. We had to get within 300 feet of an enemy missile to be sure of taking it out given the hardening and the size of our warheads. Getting closer lets you use a smaller warhead (i.e. more warheads per booster) and at the same time increases the PK (probability of kill).

If you go through an ICBM error budget you get things like winds over target, geodetic anomalies, earth shape irregularities, and so forth, but location errors are one of the largest, and worse, are systematic since if you aim at the wrong place and hit it you didn't hit the target: reducing all the other errors makes location error even more serious.

The Soviets had no problem locating ours: buy geodetic survey maps and go out to a mountain looking down on a missile farm and snap pictures. It was quite legal to do this. In the USSR, on the other hand, there were no geodetic survey maps and anyone taking pictures of a missile farm would vanish.

We sure would have liked to restrict photography around Malmstrom. Only problem is that absent a declaration of war it wasn't legal to restrict photography. Or constitutional for that matter. We could keep USSR citizens away from the bases and did, but not US citizens. So they knew where our birds roosted to within inches, while we had to rely on aerial photos. Later we had satellites and it got easier, but in the early days it wasn't.

Yet I don't recall any strong move to find a legal way to restrict photographing the missile farms. We could and did restrict photography on bases, like White Sands, and Kirkland, where the size and shape of an antenna could be a very useful thing to analyze; but not of whole valleys with the concrete lids showing.

I can understand the desire to ask people to get permits to take certain pictures. I can also understand the desire of some people to tell the authorities "Mind your own business." And in find I have mixed emotions on the subject.


Some good news:

Subject: Progress Reported in Treating Ebola Virus

Not a cure yet, but any progress is better than an almost certain death sentence.

--Gary Pavek


Subject: New Largest Mersenne Prime found

Interesting article, with a good description. They're apparently harnessing networks of machines to get the result.


Doug Hayden


Subject: Stock market closes above 10,000

Couldn’t have been the tax cuts… naw…no way. Must be because Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean….






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, December 12, 2003 

Subject: 'Feeling Insecure' Chaos Manor article

Dear Jerry,

Great article! Just in case you have not thought of it, though, it is quite easy to calculate the length of the hex key for WEP:

128 - 24 = 104 bits, 1 hex digit = 4 bits (0-E) so 104 bits = 104/4 = 26

Similarly 64 - 24 = 40 bits = 40/4 = 10 hex digits

Still, I remember the headache of trying to connect to my university's trial wireless service. The departmental one works great, but the university computing service's instructions were byzantine to say the least.



But you would have to know 128-24 was what you were looking for, and I sure didn't!


Subject: I had to laugh at your Mac travails

I have been reading your stuff with great amusement since the early 80's. I too was a DOS and Windows user before going to all Mac about 9 years ago. What you are going through is not unique. There are two very different mindsets and mental habits involved. A site you may want to check out is: 

This site has a very comprehensive listing of all Mac sites at the bottom. You might also find some of the articles listed useful. You will quickly locate a group of favorite sites in a few days, I think.

You should also be aware that there will be a major bug-fix (10.3.2) to Panther coming out in the near future (Next week? By the end of the year? Reasonable minds differ). This bug-fix is reputed to fix some of your networking woes with Windows machines.

The permissions/security problem may seem ridiculous to you, but it is the main reason virus writers have a tough time with Mac OS X. All ports are closed out of the box, and altering files almost always requires a user shortname and password. Once you get accustomed to it (and I can hear your howl from here), you'll probably think it's not too bad.

I hope that your Mac experience grows more pleasant.

John G

Yeah, me too. The bug fix would help too. I was warned that converting to Mac OS X 10.3 might expose me to problems others didn't have. You can tell who the pioneers are...

The security situation was one to remark on; I tend to agree with setting things secure so long as you also adjust your documentation and help files. So long as you also adjust your documentation and help files. So long as you also adjust your documentation and help files.

The mind set is not the problem. It's when things don't work the way they are supposed to, and everyone insists they really do work that way and you go nuts trying to fix it and then your critic tries it for himself and says "Oops! Why I thought that would do it, it ought to do it -- oh. Well here's this post in (some obscure place) that explains that you have to put your left foot in your right ear first. Then it will work the way it ought to! Sorry about that."

I exaggerate but perhaps not as much as you'd think.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

As a daily reader of your website, I would strongly encourage you NOT to stop keeping a public log of your efforts with network integration of Macs or anything else. What is interesting and valuable about your site, at least to me, is the revelation of your thinking process, polished or not. In my mind, one of the great things that you do is to show, by example, how to solve complex problems. I've learned a great deal over the years from perusing your site and I would truly hate for you to stop.

Please don't.

A faithful reader.

Tim Stewart

Yeah, that's what I try to do. But sometimes I get tired of dodging the bird lime pellets fired at me. It's what happened to people who wrote about the Mac in the guerrilla journalism days. After a while we just found other things to write about.

It's not as if I don't have other things to do, and I can privately circulate my logs. It's likely I'll go on doing as I have done. After all, people subscribe to this place so I must be doing something right. I think of subscriptions as a kind of score card.


>>For the Mac enthusiasts who would like to see more Mac users: realistically you have two sources, people who have never used computers before, and Windows users. You might think about the implications of that.<<

I see the same things with Linux users. Windows and Microsoft are the evil empire, Apple their handmaiden. Linux Rules!!!

Sheesh. The point here, I thought, was to get these things to do what you want the to do, regardless of what's on the bootscreen. I have a dual boot system: Mandrake Linux 9.2 and Windows XP Pro. Each has it's merits and drawbacks. There are some things that are either impossible or very difficult to accomplish in Windows that are easy on Linux and vice versa. Some things, like getting graphics cards to work properly with all functions enabled can be a nightmare on Linux but (thanks to very good support from OEM folks) are generally easy in Windows. Trying to diagnose a problem is usually pretty easy in Linux thanks to the million and one log files it keeps. If something screws up in Windows, trying to find the problem can be at best daunting and often impossible short of re-install. While better with XP, it's still the norm. If I could get one OS to do all that I want, I wouldn't have a dual boot system. While I haven't had a Mac in 10 years, one of the reasons that I gave up on it was that every time I went to ask a question on a BBS board or usenet, I got this: you just don't know how to do it because you used ( take your pick: Windows/Unix/Amiga) too long and your brain isn't functioning I seldom got a straight answer and eventually just dumped the Mac through frustration. It was a cool computer and did many things quite well, but just wasn't worth the evangelism.

Funn stuff, these computers.

Randy Powell (no web site, no sysadmin tag line. Just a user)

Well -- yes. It's one reason I gave up on the Mac some time ago, guerrilla journalism being the other. But I have expert advisors now, and I am trying: and apparently there are some problems in the current release of 10.3.1 and I get to be a pioneer. A rather despised pioneer I guess.

But we have

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

Subject: Macs and Mac Users

Your comments about the mind-set not being the issue with Mac users are about spot-on. Documentation I can find easily helps me the most.

I periodically help out a small business which uses a wide variety of old and new Macs and a few Windows machines in their office. Some things, as you have stated are either easy or impossible with the Mac.

I often help these users configure new email accounts on their variety of devices and periodically have issues with email username characters. I had once found on ‘some obscure post’ how to properly escape the username characters so email can be correctly configured (why they needed escaping is a question I avoid). I never can find this oh-so well documented feature when I need it, so I often just use a different email client to work around the problem. It often feels like buying a new house because the house-key broke. Documentation I can find easily helps me the most.

I have asked a co-worker and friend of mine, who is an extremely competent and knowledgeable networking and systems engineer, and Mac enthusiast, about how he has faired using Panther to connect to his AD domain. His reply was, “well, I have this third-party application which makes it all work seamlessly…” He then goes into a level of techno-speak I have a hard time following about Kerberos and authentication.

Recently he followed one of these Q&A sessions with a ‘here, I’ll show you.” His Mac requested his account credentials and he entered them. This was followed by a failed log in. My friend made the comment that he needed to use the short login and that the Mac sometimes just does that. He tried again and things worked. I know I would not have even begun to think that one form of valid login would be any more-better then another. The irony of this is the inconsistency did not even faze him.

I think Windows users have the same blinders on with many things Windows and in some ways translate this to the Mac. These trans-OS users can feel at loss at the lack of compassion with misunderstandings. I have heard Mac users complain about the Windows right-click button being the only place to find options. When using a Mac, I often have the same complaint in reverse. I have been told to use a different mouse with the Mac and my life would be better but I should have known the feature is right there when you use these keys. I don’t always carry my spare mouse with me, and I did not assume plugging in my Microsoft IntelliMouse would have worked anyway. Why did the Mac mouse have to be so silly to start with?

Who is the more correct? It is a learning curve either way, but don’t punish me for not knowing. Maybe Windows users are just expected to be more dumb then the other OS users. I really think Windows has been the OS for the masses, and the masses, collectively speaking, need hand-holding, which implies a high level of tolerance for not knowing how things work. Apple never struck me as a company bent on marketing to the masses.

Documentation I can find easily helps me the most. And yes, I do know how to use Google.

I too want to purchase one of the new Mac laptops. Money is always an issue, and I do not want to through money at something which will anger me. I have a similar home office network as you do at Chaos Manor and I am curious to see how you fair with the Mac. A subscription fee towards your efforts is a low-cost alternative to a high-end laptop I would not use.

Stay well and please keep on as you have, it seems to work.

Terry Dee Losansky

Software Engineer

Which pretty well says it all.





In your DDT discussion, you say "Dixie Lee Ray quotes Dr. Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, stating that there are too many people. Banning DDT, he said, "is as good a way to get rid of them as any." Of course the ones got rid of are Asian and African, but Dr. Wurster didn't say that. " (It's Dixy Lee Ray, not Dixie, by the way).

It's true, Wurster didn't say that the ones got rid of are Asian and African...because Wurster never said any of this in the first place. Shame on you for promulgating this lying garbage. What's next, a criticism of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

--Phillip Price

Let's see. Page 76, Environmental Overkill, Dixy Lee ray and Lou Guzzo (thanks for correcting the spelling for me; I'll fix that above):

"If we are to believe the statements of some people, including several well known biologists, that was just the problem with DDT. It saved human lives. For example, in response to a reporter's questions about banning DDT, Dr. Charles Wurster, who was then chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, stated that in his opinion there are too many people, and 'this is as good a way to get rid of them as any.' Another statement of Dr.  Wurster's was brought out on congressional testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture, 92nd Congress, first session, 1971: 'it doesn't really make a lot of difference because the organophosphate (pesticide) acts locally and only kills farm workers, and most of them are Mexicans and Negroes.' There is no record of any media of public reaction to this shocking statement." (29)

Note 29: Hearings before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, 92nd Congress on the Federal Pesticide Control Act of 1971. Quote in questions by Mr. Rarick, pp. 266 267

I did not follow up to verify the actual reference.

If Governor Ray misquoted, the proper way to tell me that is to say so; your letter is beyond the bounds of rational discourse.

I had intended to end the DDT discussion because it is well outside my scientific expertise, and while at one time I had tooled up to understand such debates when I was writing a general science column for the National Catholic Press and Twin Circle, I have long let what I knew about the subject fade out of memory. Also, I have problems: I like birds. I would hate to have to make decisions on a direct tradeoff between people and Golden Eagles. People aren't eagles, and each person is unique: how many people should we sacrifice to keep from exterminating the osprey?

These are not matters lightly considered nor is throwing in invectives like yours useful in the discussion. It is pretty clear that my views on birth control and those of the Catholic Church are not identical (or even very close) for precisely the reason that I don't think the mandate given mankind to fill the face of the (planet? universe?) and have dominion over the animals was a mandate to exterminate and replace everything that isn't human or directly useful to humans.

I tend to agree, Dr. Wurster is probably not being fairly treated here, and if some spokesperson for him (or Dr. Wurster himself) wants to explain those remarks, I'd be glad to add that explanation. It's never easy to be used as a horrible example, which is what Dr. Ray was doing with him; and there is always the danger that in trying to summarize a summary (which is what I was doing) the flavor gets lost and things come out more harshly than intended.

I doubt that's the situation with regards to your letter.

I really would like to end the DDT discussion until I have time and inclination to look into the whole bio-ethics of population matter; which is no small matter at all, and not one easily discussed much less settled by and rational discourse.

Incidentally Mr. Price insists that this is a well known false quotation and that he sent me references to that effect. If so, they came after his Protocols remark, at which point I ceased reading his material.

And as I said above, if someone rational wants to defend Dr. Wurster I will have no problem posting that.



Dr. Pournelle:

According to this article in "The Register" through "Security Focus" ( ), there is a technique that can redirect you to a bogus web site while still displaying the name of a valid site. For example, the site name could be one for Bank of America, but redirect you to another site that asks for your confidential account info. That info could then be used for identity theft purposes (draining your bank account, for example).

They have an example of the technique here:  . After an introductory page, clicking the button will take you to a page that the URL shows as , but that's not where you really are. I don't know if this vulnerability works in other browsers. But it did work on my computer, which is patch-current.

Microsoft was just alerted to this problem at the same time as the vuln was released. It is not clear if there are sites doing this, but it probably won't take long.

The current defense is to be very careful about filling in forms that ask for personal identification, like account numbers, SS#'s, your mother's maiden name, etc. Those 'phishing' techniques can be quite dangerous, and quite realistic looking. An example would be the PayPal phishing scam being propagated by the MiMail virus, which is quite prevalent. Details are here  , including screen shots of the "PayPal" account info screen.

Rick Hellewell, Info Security Dweeb,

Hear and believe




This week:


read book now


Saturday, December 13, 2003

At least we didn't spend hundreds of billions on this one. But it does sound familiar.

Gregory Cochran 

Title: Foundations on Sand, An Analysis of the First United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934.

Author: Peter L. Bunce, GS-13.

Thesis: The first United States Occupation of Haiti, after a slow start, made a great variety of capital improvements for Haiti, made changes in the Haitian political system, and refinanced the Haitian economy, none of which had much lasting impact on the Haiti people once the occupation was terminated.

Background: The United States occupied Haiti originally to restore public order in 1915. I's self-imposed mandate quickly expanded to reestablishing Haitian credit in the international credit system, establishing good government and public order, and promoting investment in Haitian agriculture and industry. After a slow start, marred by a brutal revolt in 1918-20, the United States Occupation of Haiti was reorganized and began to address many of the perceived shortcomings of Haitian society. Its international and internal debt was refinanced, substantial public works projects completed, a comprehensive hospital system established, a national constabulary (the Gendarmerie [later Garde] d'Haiti) officered and trained by Marines, and several peaceful transitions of national authority were accomplished under American tutelage. After new civil unrest in 1929, the United States came to an agreement to end the Occupation before its Treaty-mandated termination in 1936. Once the Americans departed in 1934, Haiti reverted to its former state of various groups competing for national power to enrich themselves. Almost all changes the American Occupation attempted to accomplish failed in Haiti because they did not take into consideration the Haitian political and social culture.

Recommendation: Before the United States intervenes in foreign countries, particularly in those where nation-building improvements are to be attempted, the political and social cultures of those countries must be taken into consideration.


This is representative of a number of letters on the MacSubject:


O’Reilly host the MacDevCenter website, and following your problems integrating your Mac into AD they have just published a very informative article by Michael Bartosh on how the Panther <-> AD integration is supposed to work. 

For some interesting additional technical background the same author has a 3-parter on Open Directory & Active Directory. 

One paragraph struck me as possibly being relevant to some of the asymmetrical problems you’ve been having with regard to having difficulty finding the Mac from a Windows machine.

“Specifically, unlike Windows clients, which can fall back to WINS name resolution, Apple's AD Plug-In requires a reverse DNS entry for domain controllers for the domain in question. This detail is often overlooked in Active Directory deployments.”

And the MacSlash thread does get much better as it goes along: you have a lot of fans who don’t like people dissin you. For whatever reason, some techies get very worked up about their favourite technologies. You have already fallen foul of an AMD jihad, and can no doubt expect a Mac jihad now that you’ve turned your attention to matters Mac. If you ever decide to experiment with Linux to any significant degree, you’ll doubtless ‘do something so that we don’t have to’ and make note of the fact and you’ll get some Linux fundamentalists after you. Just remember – though the facts don’t matter to the fundamentalists, they do matter to the rest of us, and we appreciate your efforts.

It never really occurred to me to try to connect a Mac up to a substantial AD deployment before, but after your experiences it seems that it might be more possible than I had thought. I think I’ll just give Apple a bit of time to fix the bugs first and wait until you think it’s ready rather than listen to the marketing people.


Craig Arnold

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." -William Pitt, 1783


Dr Pournelle:

I would like to apologize for my fellow Mac enthusiasts. I enjoy reading your articles and am glad that you are again looking at the Mac. I am currently using a 1998 vintage Powerbook with OS 9 but am in the market for a new Powerbook. Your web-log along with the excellent coverage from MacFixit are helping me decide how much longer to wait before buying.
Thanks for (un-intentionally) being a pioneer. You might consider having a look at They are usually a better resource for finding and solving Mac problems than Apple itself.

David Turner


Well, I do keep trying. Sometimes I am not entirely sure why.

Dear Jerry:

Your current travails with the Mac Attack crew remind me of what I went through with the so-called "VR community" when I was doing my book on Virtual Reality. Gawd! What a pain those people were! They spent months trying to mislead me, and sometimes outright lying to me about the technology, how it worked, and who had done what. (Journalism being the first draft of history, I really wanted to know that.) In the end, it availed them not, although I would guess that they added a year to the research and writing and were responsible for my having to do five drafts. They were all very anti-military, didn't want their precious technology to fall into the wrong hands, etc. It got pretty silly, especially after I found out and confronted them with the fact that DARPA had funded all of the really important research years before and that the most advanced virtual environments on the planet were SIMNET and its cousins , used by the military for training entire tank battalions. What is about people that make them so rigid and fanatical about a technology which, by its very nature , is always changing?

Yours, Francis Hamit

Interesting to a novelist though.


Subject: Eureka!

------- Roland Dobbins

Well I do declare!


"Why Johnny Can't Fail" 

The saga of a teacher.

What was that about "we would rightfully consider it an act of war"?


Hardly Astonishing




Space Access Update #101 12/13/03 Copyright 2003 by Space Access Society ___

___Last time we got one of these out the door, we wrote something about having more to say about NASA's problems in coming weeks. That was one Space Access conference and a half-year of working for a living ago. No more promises - but for the moment, we're writing again. That, and starting to put together the next Space Access conference. Thursday afternoon April 22nd through Saturday night April 24th, in the Phoenix metro area; more details as we nail them down. _______

Contents this issue:

- The Future of NASA Manned Space: Constrained Choices

(More on the current state of play in the emerging cheap-access industry in late December... This time for sure!) ______________

The Future of NASA Manned Space: Constrained Choices

There has been a lot of breathless speculation on what the current Administration review of national space policy might lead to, much of it centered on what if anything the President might choose to talk about on the upcoming 100th birthday of powered flight, December 17th 2003. We have no inside scoops, but we do have a few thoughts on the matter.

Our standard disclaimer on this: NASA is not a monolith; it's a whole collection of organizations of wildly varying size, missions, and competence. Some parts of NASA are both competent and efficient, many are at least marginally functional, and some are massively dysfunctional bureaucratic quagmires. There are lots of good people in NASA, some fortunate enough to be able to quietly go about producing value for the country, some mired up to their eyeballs in the aforementioned quagmires. Unless we specify otherwise, from here on we'll use "NASA" as shorthand for by far the largest single part of the agency, the Shuttle/Station manned spaceflight establishment.

First, however, consider that December 17th is the centennial of the *airplane*, that the first "A" in NASA stands for "aeronautics", and that the agency's problems are not confined to its space operations. It occurs to us that come the 17th, the President might have something to say on aeronautics. Just a guess, of course.

As far as NASA manned space goes, keep in mind two things: One, money is tight. The country's coming out of a recession, there's a war on, and the deficit is getting politically sensitive. Whatever new directions national space policy might be aimed, overall civil space spending is very unlikely to increase radically. That would take a national consensus that simply doesn't exist.

Two, NASA is a mess. Read the CAIB Report and weep. Neither the Congress nor the White House trust NASA anymore - neither to succeed on-time/on-budget (if at all) with any large new project, nor to reform itself unsupervised. As far as ambitious new missions are concerned, these various parties are (or ought to be) acutely aware that the existing NASA structure is capable of soaking up huge amounts of additional money for a very long time before any new output at all appears. The few federal legislators talking about funding big new NASA projects tend to have major NASA centers back home. The chances of their colleagues going along with any such major new NASA spending anytime soon are, we estimate, near zero.

Given all this, why not retrench - wind down the existing NASA manned space projects as quickly as possible, then start over from scratch in a few years?

Three reasons: One, the Law of Conservation of Congressional Pork says that established federal jobs-in-umpteen-Districts cashflows are extremely difficult to shut down. Absent huge amounts of political capital applied, the strong tendency on established programs with entrenched constituencies is to trim only around the margins, a few percentage points in any given year.

Two, we have international obligations to meet in the Station program. Our diplomacy is difficult enough these days without further annoying multiple major international partners.

Three, "doing space" has come to be a significant part of this country's self-image. (Never mind that the reality for the last twenty years has been a half-dozen astronauts flying a half-dozen missions-to-nowhere a year at a billion dollars a mission - and that's in a *good* year.) At a time of considerable national doubt and stress, we cannot lightly walk away from "doing space".

But neither can we just keep pouring money down the same old institutional rathole. How many major space transportation developments in a row has NASA screwed up now? SLI, X-33, and NASP... Four if we count Shuttle. Allowing NASA to continue "business as ususal" guarantees further national trauma and disillusionment, soon as likely as later.

A major part of any new national civil space policy has to be fixing NASA. Indications are the White House understands this. We expect a major thrust of the new policies will be to patch up the existing NASA establishment enough to more or less reliably run the Shuttle and Station programs through the middle of this decade.

Given the likely flat budget and the difficulties of fixing what we've got, we don't anticipate any major new initiatives - no hard date for a Mars mission or a return to the Moon. We wouldn't be completely surprised, however, to see a relatively modest new program to begin developing the deep-space transportation and propulsion to eventually enable such missions. We do expect that OSP will go ahead in some form, presumably with adult supervision lest old NASA follow its natural inclination and bloat the project into Shuttle-minus-the-payload-bay.

Longer term, something needs to replace the existing NASA. NASA may be repairable enough to finish Station and wind down Shuttle gracefully, but it has far too much institutional baggage to ever evolve into something fast and efficient. You don't build a race car by tinkering with a Winnebago. (If you *must*, the right way to do that is jack up the Winnebago hood ornament then roll a new race car up underneath it...)

We will conclude by observing that much of NASA's current routine space operations could appropriately be contracted out, given reasonable attention to fostering a more diverse, innovative and efficient space private sector.

In that vein, much of NASA's current advanced space R&D mission could benefit from increased competition, both at the contractor and at the contracting government agency level. The mid-nineties consolidation of all advanced space transportation R&D in one agency and two established major contractors was a disaster. From Space Access Update #98, more on this point:

[written as X-33 was finally shut down and SLI begun, winter 2001]

"The real lesson here is NOT to give NASA massive new funding and another five years - that would be pouring money down the same old NASA RLV monopoly rathole. The lesson of X-33 is, next time give the job to people actually willing to go at the problem in a manner that gives them a chance of solving it with the wide array of advanced technology that's already practical and available."

"This means letting multiple other agencies take a crack at the problem, in competition with each other, so "it was too hard" after a half-assed screwed up effort is no longer a safe excuse. Multiple competing outfits, possibly inside NASA (Ames and Dryden, Glenn, or Langley Centers come to mind) but certainly outside (DARPA, AFRL, NRL, NSF, and DOT are some possibilities) should now get a chance."

"Slice up the SLI budget a half-dozen ways, set a half-dozen agencies loose on the problem, encourage them to take chances with streamlined procurement and non-traditional vendors, and tell them that every four years, the two most successful among them get 50% of the budgets of the two least successful. Then stand back and watch the RLV's fly! That would be the ideal."

We look forward to seeing the actual policies the White House will adopt this winter with interest, and perhaps even some optimism.


Space Access Society's sole purpose is to promote radical reductions in the cost of reaching space. You may redistribute this Update in any medium you choose, as long as you do it unedited in its entirety. __________

Space Access Society 

"Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System" - Robert A. Heinlein




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, December 13, 2003


Some here should find this interesting.



Indeed. Thanks.


Jerry P:

I can imagine there are several thousand people, at least, who will pay Lt. Col West's fine, and as many who will offer him a job when he retires. This is war, not a peacetime occupation.


Not unlikely.


From Joanne Dow

Subject: Earth's magnetic field is weakening

10% in the last 150 years. 

Of course this could not POSSIBLY have anything to do with the UV holes in the upper atmosphere, could it? (hint: lower fields -> less bombardment at the poles -> less ionization at the poles -> more UV penetration at the poles.)


The "holes" have been there a long time, and most references to them are done for sensational rather than scientific reasons. But perhaps so. Of course if it is over 150 years, then clearly it has to be modern plastics and chemicals that have caused them.


Subject: Microsoft competes through innovation!

--- Roland Dobbins


We had many references to this, but it's worth getting it on the record:

Subject: Spammers indicted - about time!

Two North Carolina men were indicted in Virgina on four felony counts of transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail, under a new anti-spam law that took effect in Virginia last July. One of 'em is described as among the top ten spammers worldwide.

What do you call two indicted spammers? A start...

Henry Vanderbilt


Dr Pournelle,

I am sure you have seen this already, but just in case it slipped past you:,1367,61567,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_9 

While I love the effort, I'm not so sure that this will stand up.

Chris Grantham


Subject: Agriculture and Global Warming

Sounds similar to the Gaia hypothesis. I had been aware that there was growing evidence for this. High productivity necessarily involves high turnover of carbon and other elements, deforestation, and hence increased atmospheric CO2. Two points to remember:

1. The role of agriculture in the CO2 cycle isn't well-understood. On the other hand, the impact of agriculture should be proportional to agricultural production, and so should be assessable. The little ice age of the late medieval period may or may not have been causally associated with the depopulation due to the black death. Estimates of the amount of CO2 added to the atmospheric system can be made and compared to actual measurements.

2. There's no guarantee the agriculture-based ecosystem is stable in the long-term. The assumption of long-term stability is dangerous--the traditional climax forest model turned out to be false for similar reasons.

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



Subject: Warflying L.A. 

------- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Freezing light.

----- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Tagged.

-- Roland Dobbins

Heads of state. Heh. But of course this will happen a lot more as time goes on.  Didn't we have that in Oath of Fealty?



Subject: On a future Iraqi civil war

 "Or am I merely dyspeptic and raving this morning? (See mail)"

I think not.

see this article

Iraqi intellectuals living both inside Iraq and as members of the expatriate community in Europe and North America are warning that Iraq is perilously close to a civil war in light of recent events and decrees issued by both the US Civilian Provisional Authority (CPA) and the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC).

details included. Someone is not paying attention properly

Of course the reliability of the source is a bit questionable, but it's worth thinking on. Capture of Saddam will probably stir things but in what direction isn't entirely clear.


Joanne says

I spent the morning listening as news trickled in and as the news conferences happened. One thing lightly reported upon was the CPA press conference held while the networks blathered about the "We got 'im" news conference and the upcoming conference with the folks "on the ground" in Tikrit, which turned out to be their commanders not the soldiers.

First and foremost in an image conscious Iraq Saddam's demise at the hands of the soldiers could have made him martyr or a Hitlerian mystery. There is no such mystery or martyrdom possible now. The CPA officials, formerly Saddam's often hunted opposition, remarked about how unrepentant he was when they met him. By the way, to a man they are sure "We got 'im."

Saddam's return was a Specter Haunting Baghdad. Finally the specter is put to death. I suspect removal of the specter will lead to several things, increased intelligence aid from citizens, increased US soldier moral, increased desperation on the part of those committing terror, a big jump in the stock market, a boost in Bush's rating in this country, and some refinement of the attitude adjustments of the local despots, for some examples.

One thing it shows somewhat clearly is that the Bush team has set objectives and are nailing them down, one by one. Whatever else may be wrong with the situation there this is a good thing. This contrasts dramatically with Johnson's War.

His capture alive raises some very interesting possibilities. And now that I've had some time to nap on it (it's Sunday about 19:00 PST) the judicial situation gets stickier; but, what we should do seems clearer.

We could turn him over to the CPA for Iraqi justice. This is a major part of what should be done. The Europeans insist THEY have a RIGHT to try this man. They only have jurisdiction over his international behavior. (Otherwise they are inconstant in their behavior regarding the US invasion in the first place. We should not facilitate their having their cake and eating it, too.) If there is a guarantee that the Iraqi's will have final disposition over the man having his international actions examined in a major international forum is a good thing. But disposition of Saddam absolutely must be an Iraqi thing.

Given that Saddam's disposition should be an Iraqi thing we must get across to the CPA that, while death seems appropriate for his actions, a lifetime in a prison fortress decaying into old age alone and isolated from the world is better. He'd never be a free man again. He'd never be a martyr with a death spectacle. And it is actually crueler to him to let him live with utter loss of freedom, a symbol to all other actual and would be dictators.

These are my current thoughts. I expect this image of the ideal moves from here will mature as I mull it over. But I doubt anything will shake my determination that the best thing to do is make Saddam's disposition and trial for what he did in Iraq absolutely MUST be an Iraqi thing. They MUST be seen, by themselves, calling the shots. If nothing else it will astonish most of them. And after the astonishment wears off it will give them a sense of pride that the US thought enough of them to let them call the shots. With all the Euro-clamoring already coming through, what OTHER nation in the world might have considered for a picosecond allowing the Iraqis to call the shots? Loyalty building is quite likely a good thing in this situation.


Rumsfeld tonight is saying he'll be turned over to an Iraqi court.

One of the comments that came out of the conferences is that there is the possibility we walked over Saddam, literally, during some of the other searches. The soldier who saw the rug and wondered what was under it should be rewarded.

The authorities are also being coy about how Saddam's location was finally nailed down. It appears to be basic good intelligence work on the part of the US military. It seems to me the reward should be paid out as a bonus split among all the soldiers who are over there now. You done good, guys!


Good Idea







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