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Mail 289 December 28, 2003 - January 4, 2004

 

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Monday December 22, 2003

As usual there was a lot of mail over the weekend. Have a look.

Interesting article seen on Drudge.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/527uwabl.asp 

Interesting article. It does a decent job of connecting dots to show ties between al-Qaida and Iraq, by way of the al Sharif pharmaceutical plant that Clinton bombed. It also lays out the intelligence findings that led Clinton to make the bombing decision.

--John R. Strohm

=================

Subject: Offshore Jobs in Technology: Opportunity or a Threat?

Offshore Jobs in Technology: Opportunity or a Threat?

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/22/technology/22neco.html

In the early 1980's, Japanese chip makers appeared to be taking the semiconductor industry by storm, supported by their banks and their government. The Japanese were focused on the market for memory chips, which store data. At the time, Intel was getting battered and still received much of its revenues from memory chips. It made a bet-the-company decision, abandoned the memory-chip business and focused on microprocessors, the bit-processing engines in personal computers.

The bet, of course, paid off as the personal computer business blossomed. In retrospect, Intel's triumph might seem to be a foregone conclusion. But it did not necessarily look that way back then. Remember, those were the days when the term Japan Inc. struck fear in corporate boardrooms across America, and there was a resonant ring to the bleak prognosis of the nation's economic future by the former vice president, Walter F. Mondale: "What are our kids supposed to do? Sweep up around Japanese computers and sell McDonald's hamburgers the rest of their lives?"

Rich Pournelle

==================

Hi, Jerry - you might want to look at this link:

http://www.rnw.nl/science/html/031215wheel.html 

In essence, what the company has done is retrofit an existing diesel city bus with hybrid electric technology. The wheels are regenerative motors; they run off of, and serve to charge, a large battery bank, which is in turn charged by a diesel generator. Pretty similar to the current hybrid electric approach; whats different is locating the electric motors within the wheels, and of course the fact that moving a big lead acid battery tray around is much easier on a bus than on a compact 4 seater. The 'electric motors within the wheels' approach has been around for a number of years - I think it was Unique Mobility http://www.uqm.com/ that first brought it to my attention, back around 1989. But no one has actually put the technology to work, until now. Of course, the bus mentioned in the article is just a technology demonstrator.

What is unclear is how the vehicle will be heated; I can tell you that in climates like Canada, you NEED a serious heating system, if you don't want your passengers to freeze.

Still, the vehicle would be seem to be eminently suitable for much of the United States.

A major reduction in fuel consumption like this would go a long, long way towards making the United States Energy Independent. It would begin to tighten the economic screws on countries that don't like us very much, while simultaneously keeping literally billions of dollars a year right here in the USA. That money in turn would lower taxes, or increase services; either way, it would benefit the man on the street, right now, today. No matter how poorly it is spent - even if we do nothing more with it than raise the salaries of already overpaid, paper shuffling bureaucrats - keeping the money inside the borders will have important secondary and tertiary economic impacts.

So of course, the current US leadership will immediately adopt this or similar technology, mandate it for the sale of all new passenger buses, and require retrofits of existing buses over a graduated ten year period...

Sure, they will.

All those who believe that making the United States an Energy Independent country is a top priority, or is even on the priority list at all...

clap one hand.

>Charlie (who is obviously feeling rather bitter tonight)

Actually, putting the motors in each wheel was part of the original electric car refernce design we did at the meetings of the SC Academy of Engineering in 1964-65. But yes, it's a great idea.

============

Jerry

This -- http://www.fredoneverything.net/FOE_Frame_Column.htm  -- is one of Fred's better rants. He winds --hilariously -- up at advertising of all sorts, whips through industrial productivity (and nearly touches on Fred Pohl's The Midas Plague) and ends up at the same idea for dealing with spammers that you espouse.

Quite fun.

Ed

But the world exists export your job so that we can get cheaper junk we don't need. Once your job in manufacturing is gone you have to become a marketer.

Me, I'm investing in the Godfather Corporation.

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Let this stand for the hundred or so copies I have of this:

Subject: Expanding the hunt for terrorists!

At New York's Kennedy Airport today, an individual, later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, and a calculator. Attorney General John Ashcroft believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.

Al-gebra is a very fearsome cult, indeed. They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on a tangent in a search of absolute value. They consist of quite shadowy figures, with names like "x" and "y", and, although they are frequently referred to as "unknowns", we know they really belong to a common denominator and are part of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the great Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every angle, and if God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.


Therefore, I'm extremely grateful that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are so willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. These statistic bastards love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence. Under the circumferences, it's time we differentiated their root, made our point, and drew the line.

Remember, these weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scale never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex. As our Great Leader would say, "Read my ellipse."
Here is one principle he is uncertainty of---though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered and the hypotenuse will tighten around their necks.


 
It is quite clever and thanks to those who thought to send it to me.

Regarding the Mac and DVD-RW

Dear Jerry:

There's lots of other reasons you might want to create a disk image, for example copying the OS to another partition. Having the intermediate step of disk image creation increases flexibility, even if it seems counterintuitive. Plus giving you the ability to burn multiple copies of the image, etc.

But the real solution to your concern is to buy a copy of Roxio's Toast (or if you're going to do a lot of stuff with MP3s, Toast with Jam). Despite the cutesy name It's a far better and more intuitive program than the Windows version and works like a charm; you'll like it.

All the best--

Tim Loeb

I am convinced it's not a bug but a feature and I hate it. It's interesting how many Mac problems are solved by paying money for third part software; this after paying a pretty good premium for a Mac.

O have hated ROXIO since EZ-CD, but all my Mac expert friends tell me that the Roxio Toast program is the one you need. Pity Apple didn't put something as good into the OS and have done with it.

=======================

A friend in Luxembourg recently discovered Sir Francis Galton's 1873 proposal for improving the level of civilization in Africa . . . : http://www.mugu.com/galton/letters/africa-for-chinese/AfricaForTheChinese.htm . Enjoy, and Happy Christmas!

-- Chris.

Chris Brand, Psychorealist, author of THE g FACTOR (Wiley DePublisher, 1996). (The 2000 edition is available FREE at http://www.douance.org/qi/brandtgf.htm .)

LATEST NEWS: http://www.crispian.demon.co.uk/indexlatest.htm .

Good grief, I knew Galton was politically incorrect.  A long time ago I read Pearson's Life of Galton (in five volumes!) and Galton's work on composite images and such like. His conclusions are such that few will look at his data or much of the body of his work.

But you can't say things like that!

And see below

=======================

While we are being politically incorrect:

Hello, Dr. Pournelle,

In your response to Jim Mangles about costs of the petroleum economy, you said some things I find puzzling.

Market people tell me this all the time, but they never factor in the costs of war, subsidies to Israel, huge defense establishments, terrorism, and all the rest as part of the cost of the oil economy. The market rules except it doesn't really. Politics always trumps.

Are you claiming that our foreign aid to Israel is part of the oil economy? Our support of Israel runs directly contrary to our interest in cheap oil for the oil economy - i.e., it is either irrational or done for reasons other than benefiting the oil economy (or both, but that's another discussion :). Our huge military establishment was created to counter the Soviet Union, Red China and their satrapies, not to support the oil economy. Defense costs are down significantly from the Reagan years, both in constant dollars and as a fraction of GDP and this in spite of the fact that we are now in a low-level shooting war. As for terrorism, we in the Dar-Al-Harb would be targets for the Wahabist/Awakening types even without oil or Israel. The terrorists would just have to work with fewer resources. The only sense that including terrorism in your list makes to me is that oil money unarguably does provide much of the funding for terrorism. This seems to me to be like arguing that the patrons of Chicago speak-easies were responsible for Al Capone's crimes - there is a connection but it seems a tad forced.

The market rules in that it's possible to segregate costs. It's like exporting jobs: the people who benefit from the job export do not in general have to pay the costs associated with doing it. If you can make someone else pay for the infrastructure, markets are wonderful for efficient allocation of capital; but if you have no rule of law they don't work, and the costs of that are not usually allocated to the goods the market gives us.

The folks who export jobs directly benefit from the lower costs. The net benefit to the economy (putative lower cost of goods vs. definite loss of jobs) is another story - I have not seen any quantitative analysis which compares the two effects. Our rule-of-law infrastructure - primarily police, regulatory agencies and the courts - is in fact paid for at least in part by sales taxes, fees and fines. These seem to me to be a fairly direct way of making the beneficiaries of the system pay for it. There is even a not unreasonable argument that income taxes, as a tax on participation in the economy, are a fair way to charge the beneficiaries of rule-of-law for the costs. (this does not, IMO, justify graduated income taxes)

Petroleum economies may well be cheap, but to whom do you allocate the $83 billion in gifts we will be giving to Iraq? As well as the cost of the war.

I believe that "only" about $20 billion are for Iraqi reconstruction - the rest is to cover some of the costs of the war and of keeping our military in Iraq. To pay for the war operations, the Pentagon took about 10% of almost every defense agency's budget and that money has to be paid back or important jobs don't get done (I was working at White sands Missile range when this happened).

Bill Hembree

Several points. First, I should have been more precise in my language. Our overseas involvements of all kinds, including our payments to both Israel and Egypt to keep them from fighting each other, are part of the expenses of not minding our own business. Agreed they don't help keep oil prices down or oil assured.

The big military establishment was needed in the Cold War: in those days there were 26,000 nuclear weapons aimed at us, and the USSR made a deliberate attempt to come with the ability to negate our nuclear deterrent: had they made our deterrent incredible, they had the conventional forces to over-run Europe. There were a number time in the Cold War in which conquest as a means of solving many Soviet economic and political problems looked attractive to the Politburo if not to the main body of the nomenklatura, and had their generals been able to assure the political bosses that they could win a nuclear war and come out as masters of the world -- through pin-down first strikes, and other rather sophisticated tactics which used to be my business -- had they been so assured it's pretty hard to know what might have happened. As it was the death throes of communism were pretty mild but they need not have been.

But that was a real threat.

Bin Laden and others have said precisely why they consider the US an enemy, but the suicide bombers don't generally do their work because they hate US jazz and blue jeans. If the US were not involved in the Middle East we might or might not become targets at some given time, but there are plenty of others much closer to the objectives of the jihad. As it is, we pay a lot of money to build up the military capability of people who don't like us much. The Department of State has many careerists who consider working for Saudi Arabia as a form of highly paid retirement to be, if not a right, then a much wanted privilege.

Energy independence and getting out of that morass, so that we can watch the building of fences with interest but not vital interest, would be much cheaper than what we are doing; keeping the money at home would build up the US, not Pakistan and Saudi Arabia which are not entirely stable allies (one friend of mine is willing to bet even money that Pakistan will have an anti-American coup by next July 4); and leave us stronger to build a new military establishment with plenty of warning. Not to mention that having Thor on station wouldn't be a bad thing in and of itself.

You are not the only one to point out that including the subsidies to Israel as one of the costs of involvement in the Middle East may be unfair. If so, include the subsidies to Egypt as well and it may be clearer. Who else sends that much money to that part of the world?

I have nothing against US citizens supporting whom they choose overseas; it's the official tax bucks I would rather see spent in the US on stuff that benefits US citizens directly.

=========================

Dr Pournelle,

On the article about "The world information summit was held in Geneva". I found it pretty telling that the first sentence in the "Declaration of Principles" is:

"We, the representatives of the peoples of the world"

The arrogance required to make a statement like that is really scary. I also have to notice that the documentation for these, our representatives, was done in the, soon to be closed and protected by the DMCA, MS Word format. I guess if you can't afford a $200 word processor you just don't rate knowing what your "representatives" are doing.

James Kimble Loveland, Ohio

Indeed. The representative of the Masters Of The World would be more like. Or "representatives of the Masters of the part of the world that the Big Guys don't bother restructuring"?

=====================

Jerry -

I did some further checking and I see that you must have been referring to Firewire 800 (IEEE 1394b) rather than the 1394 which is on my Compaq.

I agree that Firewire 800 is not on any PC laptop of which I am aware. When I saw your statement about Firewire I did not know at the time that there was the new standard.

I apologize for wasting your time.

Jeff

Not a waste of time at all: I should have been a bit more clear in the column.

Jerry,

In you Monday's log, you stated

"The Mac continues to baffle me. Writing to a DVD-RW for example: when you "copy" to it, it shows you have made a copy. You can open that copy. But in fact nothing has been copied. There's only an image treated as a copy. If you thought you had backed up something to that DVD-RW, God help you, because you haven't. Before it actually does the backup you have to tell it to BURN. This is entirely unlike Windows where if it says it has successfully made a copy, it has made a COPY, not merely a virtual copy on the same hard drive as the original was on."

This is exactly how it works on my XP machines now (Home and Pro). You do the copy and nothing happens until you click on the drive (I think, I'm doing this from memory now as I don't copy to CD very often), follow the directions and actually write (burn) to the disk. Now this is with standard explorer functions, not from Nero or any other product.

Just thought you'd like to know (you've probably forgotten or only use Nero (if memory serves)).

Dick Pierce

On an R/W?  So far as I know, when I insert an R/W and it is formatted, it becomes just another, rather slow, drive in Windows XP. But now

I usually use Nero or similar on Windows 2000, but recently had occasion to help someone who had WinXP. The built in CD write function on WinXP works a lot like what you describe on the Mac, and it threw me for a minute. If you drag files to the window that represents the writable CD on her PC, it LOOKS like it copied the files there, but I knew it hadn't, both by the speed and lack of whirring from the drive. I had to poke around the menus to find the way to actually "burn" the CD.

I don't have an XP machine nearby to look at, but I think the similarities between the built in record features in OSX and WinXP are greater than the differences.

I was used to the kind of interface third party recorders had, where it was more obvious that "step one" was to create a file list of what you intended to put on the cd, and "step two" was to actually writer the CD.

I wouldn't say either way was particularly intuitive. I can get used to whatever works, as long as the steps are not cumbersome

regards, Jim

So I have to go do some tests. Ye gods.

I know on CD-R/W (which no one uses any more) it was just another disk drive. On DVD-RAM it's just another disk drive. Maybe I have it all wrong for DVD +R/W; I will have to look on a machine I have one of those drives in. But I would swear it's just another disk drive. Slow.

BUT it turns out I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I guess

Dear Dr Pournelle, Our Mac-fanatic staff occasionally need to do something beyond the fairly simple capabilities of iTunes or the native CD/DVD burning software, such as multisession burning.

At such times I run into the same "Think Different" Apple world view that you have trouble with. Like you I was thrown by the way the Mac fools you into thinking you have burned a CD when all you have really done is created a cached copy or image. It wouldn't have been so bad if this had been explicitly made clear, the way a UNIX-based toolset would do, but I suppose Apple thinks "mustn't confuse the poor babies". On the other hand, I found the Apple help system particularly well done, and in fact allowed me to get to grips with the issue very quickly.

This CD authoring business is particularly fraught for another reason. Recalling your comment that "...all my Mac expert friends tell me that the Roxio Toast program is the one you need. Pity Apple didn't put something as good into the OS and have done with it." Well said, though I do have some sympathy for their efforts to leave something for third-party developers to sell.

Apple is not even true to the spirit of earlier incarnations of Mac OS here. I noticed that my Mac staff were completely baffled. Only those with a UNIX background were able to twig the fundamental idea without assistance.

On the other hand, when I compare what is going on with what Windows provides, it's not clear to me that XP's tools are significantly better than the Apple offering, though I suppose your mileage may vary. A lot of time is spent giving PC-based staff a brief introduction to the fundamental concepts.

I would also remark that the major Linux distributions have stopped providing any significant uncrippled CD or DVD copying tools on the base distribution media. X-CDroast and k3b are very good of their kind, but such tools - and the multimedia extensions to things like mplayer or xine - are usually hived off to some third-party outfit or website. Fedora, for example, directs you to rpm.livna.org:

"According to fedora.us, the merger between Fedora.us and Red Hat necessitated the removal of certain problematic packages (including but not limited to mplayer, xine, videolan-client and xmms-mp3) due to licensing issues".

Now, I wonder just how much such "licensing issues" played a part in Apple's decision to let Roxio et al. take the heat for providing such tools?

Regards, TC

-- Terry Cole admin@maths.otago.ac.nz System Administrator Dept. of Maths and Stats, Otago University PO. Box 56, Dunedin tel:64-3-4797739 NEW ZEALAND fax:64-3-4798427

and

Like you needed another vioce in this frog chorus, but here's my two cents:

The deal here is that most CD-R/W media is going to be formatted for packet writing using UDF. this is supported through any number of third party packages, and Windows XP can natively read from but not write to this format. The mac is going to use the ISO 9660 format for optical media, which essentially requires an image be created, since it can be written to one session at a time. the UDF format is essentially an open ended session, for the purposes of writing data to disc.

Coming from a perspective similar to yours, I initially found this behavior irritating, until I realized that my dell was only acting different because I had ecdc, nero, and a couple of other udf writing systems installed.

RE accessing the mac remotely from windows, I've been dinking around with samba for a while and still can't get it to act right. the right daemons are started, and can see my windows domain controllers, but can't get the UID for the trust accounts. this means that the mac can't authenticate remote users from AD. if I can get this worked around, I'll try and document it for you and your readers.

Matt Fulghum

Which bodes ill for my networking unless I pay Thursby the $99. Apparently that ought to be included in the price of a Mac: pay extra to Apple and get a working networking program.

Regarding DVD, I guess the Sony application that came with the DVD writer, and whatever comes with Plextor writers, just does all that invisibly so I thought it was part of Windows XP. All I know is that I can make incremental backups to a DVD +RW disk over my network and while it is slow, it acts exactly like a slow hard drive.

I prefer DVD-RAM because that is the most stable of the lot, but it's being phased out. Pity because it really makes archive quality copies. I also have Magneto-Optical drives which are slower still but make nearly eternal copies...

I'll investigate using a DVD-R drive as a WORM for the Mac.

 

=======================

From Sue Ferarra

http://www.syracuse.com/news/poststandard/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1072085924261980.xml 

Is Handwriting on the Wall? Some say schools should stop teaching cursive writing

December 23, 2003 By Kevin Conway Contributing writer

Pupils in David Rufo's third- and fourth-grade class at Manlius Pebble Hill School must use cursive writing when they write in their journals.

But Rufo says the pupils shouldn't have spent the time learning cursive writing - handwriting that uses flowing letters connected to each other to form words - in the first place. <snip>

Hmmm

 

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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Regarding Sir Francis Galton

I had a look at that link. There was actually a sort of natural experiment along those lines, Madagascar. That was settled by the Austronesians who moved south into the East Indies from somewhere around Taiwan, getting to Madagascar by way of the East Indies (so not quite Chinese after all, but originally ethnically East Asian anyway) - Madagascar was their westernmost settlement.

While the culture of Madagascar is distinctly unAfrican, even with terraced rice paddies and such, the people have in fact bred towards African physical types from slaves brought in over the centuries. Maybe there's also a tropical disease resistance aspect driving that too.

I suppose everybody noticed that Galton wasn't a simple minded white supremacist but instead followed wherever his thinking took him?

PML.

-- GST+NPT=JOBS

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

See http://users.netlink.com.au/~peterl/publicns.html#AFRLET2 and the other items on that page for some reasons why.

Sir Francis was well known for following his thoughts to conclusions that many would reject.

================

On Michael Crichton

Thanks for the excellent reference to Michael Crichton's lecture. As I was reading I was saying to myself, well that certainly applies to the global warming discussion. I remember in 1970 during what was called the Great Clean-Air Car race, we found that the data we were getting in our emissions test in Pasadena didn't make sense. After much study I realized that the results from the NDIR CO2 tester was corrupted by the fact that our car, running on LPG was being tested after several LNG cars. Both type of fuels produce large amounts of water vapor due to the type of fuel, and this overwhelmed the dessicant used to strip out the water vapor from the CO2 instrument.

In order to measure the CO2, you needed to dry the air or else you could not see the CO2 for all the water vapor. In reading articles on greenhouse gases, there is rarely any mention of the role water vapor plays in this matter. The fact that it is even part of the greenhouse gases is ignored, even though the emission of CO2 from automobile engines is coupled with the emission of water vapor. Methane, used in power plants for example, produces more moles of water vapor than moles of CO2. But the consensus of atmospheric science is geared toward energy consumption as the bug-a boo as there is where the funding comes from.

 Negative results don't get more funding so the models that predict dire consequences get more funds and those that yield indeterminate results are discarded and don't get funding. The danger is that real information is mixed up in the flood of data and is hard to find.

Feliz Navidad Mele Kalikimata

Charles Simkins

=================

Jerry,

As a retired Professor of Physics I found myself in agreement with almost all points of his "Aliens Cause Global Warning" article.

But setiathome, which I have on my computer, does not rely on the Drake equation. It relies on the fact that life exists here on Earth. Thus life is possible elsewhere in the Universe. It has a non-zero probability. We just don't know what that probability is.

Setiathome is looking for the possible. That's experimental science.

Bob Delaney

I agree, mostly, and when I was advising young Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. we fought Senator Proxmire over Proxmire's zeroing out a $250,000 appropriation for SETI (to develop a 2 million channel receiver)  on the grounds that a lot less useful stuff was being funded for a lot more money, and the receiver technology might be useful in other ways.

I once said that Fermi's question -- "Where are they?" -- might be the most important question ever asked. Many see SETI as far more than an interesting experiment. But Crichton's point is still well made.

But Crichton's address is important and well worth reading.

And see also

===

Hi Jerry,

It pays to consider all factors before accepting a hypothesis...

"Dirty snow containing tiny amounts of soot may cause up to one-fourth of the global warming that scientists have attributed to greenhouse gases, NASA researchers reported Monday.

Even though snow might still appear pristine to the human eye, soot causes it to absorb more sunlight and reflect less heat back into space, said James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko, climate specialists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

Soot also causes snow to melt faster, contributing to the most immediate danger of global warming, rising sea levels, Hansen and Nazarenko said in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences..."

<http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/science/1203/23soot.html>

Joyeaux Noel! Rod Schaffter -- "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else blooms again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, you rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and bright skies alive, and then, just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops." --A. Bartlett Giamatti

======================

Joel Rosenberg on Iraq

As far as far as Iraq goes...

1. I always thought that the possibility of an Arab democracy was, at best, a long shot. People can come up with their own theories; but it is, quite simply, a fact that there never has been an Arab democracy, and there is no reason to believe that one is likely to break out.

2. Which suggests that the best that can be hoped for in terms of the Iraqi people is a kinder, gentler dictatorship -- pretty easy to get, given Saddam Hussein -- and the best that can be had for in terms of the United States is a dictatorship that, regardless of how gentle it is or isn't to its own people, will be aligned with the United States and against such rivals and enemies as Al Qaida, Saudi Arabia, France, and Germany.

It looks like we are well on our way to the second, and that the first is still a pipe dream.

There's lots of blame to go around, although apparently Paul Wolfowitz has been selected by many as the scapegoat. Frankly, I'd rather blame Colin Powell -- State refused to legitimize a government-and-exile prior to the invasion, apparently having staked their hopes on some sort of internal coup, leaving a kinder, gentler, Baathist in control. But, realistically, turning any Arab state into a democracy would be the work of at least a generation, and it's hard to imagine that the United States has the patience for that, and the willingness to endorse the sort of brutality necessary to deal with the recidivists in the interim.

Sort we go from here? I like the idea, still, of dumping the problem on the U.N., with the understanding that, when things go sour -- as they will -- the US will send the bombers again. Absent that, and absent some Arabic Ataturk -- something available only in a novel, not in reality -- the best policy is to get out as quickly as possible, and let the new, kinder, gentler dictator get to the business of hanging the Baathists as soon as possible. There is a Vietnam lesson here, although not the stereotypical one: Operation Phoenix was a failure in that if permitted locals to use the US forces to settle their own problems, without having to take the responsibility -- and the heat -- for getting it wrong.

The big mistake, in my view, was for the administration to accept the notion that the American taxpayer should have to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq. The Iraqi people made the mistake of putting themselves in the position of been an enemy of the United States -- they could have, at least in theory, gotten rid of their own dictator and substitute another one through the traditional bloody coup that substitutes, in the Arab world, for the elections that we use, and the free world, to change governments. They've got the oil to pay for it; let them.

Still, there are some benefits that have been gained. Qaddafi has apparently taken the non-too-subtle hint, as have, for reasons I'm not clear on, at least portions of the rulership of the Saudi entity. The capture of Saddam has put Chirac between Iraq and a hard place, and he's busy getting ready to forgive Iraqi debts, apparently in return for a non-too-close examination of his connections with the Saddam regime. I hope he doesn't get that.

But it's still a mess. The key, it seems to me, to sound American policy is letting it be the Iraqis' and the U.N.'s problem. Probably that's best solved by letting Iraq, like Gaul, be divided into three parts, and none of them being the responsibility of the United States.

-------------------------------------------------------- Joel Rosenberg http://www.ellegon.com/homepage.phtml

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, December 27, 2003

Not so cheerful news:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/27/international/americas/27NAFT.html?th   

Leaders promised the accord would create millions of good jobs, curb illegal immigration and raise living standards "from the Yukon to the Yucatan." A decade later, the verdict, even among Nafta's strongest supporters, is that for those goals free trade by itself is not enough.

[...]

Gary Hufbauer, a senior analyst at the Institute for International Economics, a Washington research group that supports free trade, said the gains for the United States lower priced consumer goods and increased corporate earnings are large compared to the losses.

"However, the gains are so thinly spread across the country that people don't thank Nafta when they buy a mango or inexpensive auto parts," he said.

The pain, he said, is concentrated in places like the Midwest, where manufacturing jobs have been lost to Mexico and Canada, and now to China. "Nafta-related job loss and lower income may be small, but the echo is very large because of all the other jobs lost to globalization," he said. "Nafta is the symbol for all of that pain."

[...]

Chester F. Dobis, speaker pro tem of the Indiana House of Representatives, held four meetings this year around the state to gauge feelings toward free trade. Mr. Dobis, a Democrat from Merrillville, said he had thought the only problems would be in his own district, a steel-producing region.

"Boy, was I wrong," he said. "These trade pacts have had a devastating effect on every part of the state. The companies deserted Indiana for Mexico a couple of years ago and now they're heading for China."

Few manufacturers have been able to resist the seemingly tidal pull of globalization that includes Nafta. One is Gerald A. Trolz, a local hero because he would not sell or relocate Goshen Stamping, his small hardware manufacturing firm, even after his main customer moved to Mexico and half his sales went with it.

He said the only reason he has been able to keep his firm in Goshen is that he owns it: he does not answer to stockholders. "The experts don't see what's happening here, on the shop floor, so it's easy for them to say that Nafta was good or bad," Mr. Trolz said. "Until this levels out, it is just plain havoc."

The increasing competition from cheap labor abroad has deepened a decades-old trend toward depressed wages, as has another unexpected impact of Nafta the arrival here of hundreds of Mexican migrants looking for work.

ash ['Newsflash: rich richer, poor poorer, experts shocked.']

Astonishing. But it's cheaper at Wal-Mart.

Without some form of competition, things stagnate badly and get terribly inefficient. With free trade and worldwide competition, the cheap drives out the good, some get wealthy indeed, and everyone else gets a few cents off on a pair of socks while beggar thy neighbor runs rampant. Merry Christmas.

 

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Sunday, December 28, 2003

Holy Innocents

Save the Endangered species!

Subject: Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus :)

I particularly like how they are endangered due to the predations of the burgeoning Sasquatch population.... He

Click here: Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Brick Muppet

Important work indeed! I have appended some instructions from the site:

How You Can Help

Here are a few things that you can do to help save the Pacific Northwest tree octopus:
  • Write your representatives to let them know that you are concerned and that you feel the tree octopus should be included on the Endangered Species List and given special protection.
  • Help to build awareness of the tree octopus's plight by telling your friends and co-workers, and by placing a tenticle ribbon on your website.
  • Join and donate to an organization commited to conservation, such as those listed below.
  • Boycott companies that use non-tree-octopus-safe wood harvesting practices.

Become involved!

===================================

Hi, Jerry!
 
With hard drives down well under a buck a gig, I determined that the cheapest way (not to mention the most convenient way) to store my audio/video files was on... another hard drive.  So, I bought a 120 gig Maxtor and put it into my XP system... and got a helluva surprise.
 
In all Windows operating systems since Win 95, the general procedure for putting a new drive in the system is to power down, physically install and connect the drive, power up, let windows find it, and then format it.  I had no reason to expect anything different.  So I followed the procedure... and windows wouldn't find it!  Click on 'my computer', and there it wasn't.  Obviously a cable problem, or maybe I'd done something stupid like set the jumpers incorrectly.  So I powered down, replaced the cable out of stores, checked my jumper settings (they were fine), and powered up again.
 
Same problem; no hard drive.
 
Went to system/hardware/device manager, and there it was; drivers installed, locked and loaded, good to go, ready to rock.  Except I couldn't format the blessed thing!  Clicked on properties/volume/populate, and it came back and told me it wasn't formatted.  Duh.  And try as I might, I couldn't get my hands on it, so as to format the silly thing!
 
Meanwhile, 'my computer' still insists its never heard of the Maxtor 120.  And I'm beginning to wonder if the drive is defective, or if Windows is playing another one of its silly little games. 
 
Well, I did a bunch of things.  I went into the system BIOS to see if the hardware could find it (and it did).  I started a command window, and tried to find it in DOS; no success.  I swapped cables, I swapped drives, I even fired up Google and searched the web; and I found tons of people with the same problem, but no answers.
 
And finally, I did what I should have done from the start: I went to the Maxtor website, logged onto their knowledge base, and poured my tortured soul out to their warm, loving, caring and compassionate computers.  And immediately, I had the answer.  (Not surprising; computers hate it when you pour tortured soul into their ventilation vents).
 
What I needed to do was click on start/settings/control panel/administrative tools/computer management/disk management .  There was my Maxtor 120 drive... and it was listed as 'not initialized', just as Maxtor suggested it would be.  At that point I right clicked it, selected initialize, and poof! suddenly I was partitioning and formatting my drive.  From that point on, everything was fine.
 
Moral of the story?  Windows XP in particular, and Microsoft in general, will bite yer butt when you least expect it.  I don't know, Jerry.  I earn my living in this field, I'm supposed to know these things... but it's a bit like getting into your car on a Tuesday morning, with a million things to do, and discovering that your boy genius has replaced the steering wheel with two levers and an inflatable bellows.  Maybe I'm getting old... after all, I'm not 14 years old any more.  Sure glad I went through this on my own machine, and not on one belonging to a client.
 
For the record - In general, I really like Microsoft software, and I admire the stability of Windows 2000 and XP over previous versions.  But Win 2K was, I think, somewhat more stable... and I find the fisher-price look (and the massive re-organization) that Microsoft gave XP to be very distracting, particularly for those of us who have to maintain multiple operating systems.  Sure, you can put XP into a compatibility mode so that it looks - sorta - like Win 2K... but most of my clients don't.  So I need to know all the ins and outs... and there are a LOT of ins and outs.
 
I find myself missing my Commodore 64.  Life was simpler.
 
Best wishes, Charlie
 
"Winchester Rifles... A Sure Cure for The Common Clod."

I suppose it is a bit like my experiences with the Mac. The first time that happened with me, it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Fortunately it's pretty well documented, and actually it's fairly intelligence given what else you can do from that disk management control window.

I have always thought the best backup was some more hard drives in other machines. It's one reason I keep Active Directory networking: once set up it works pretty well and I can keep copies of files all over the place, and adding new machines to the network is a snap.

 

 

 

 

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