jp.jpg (13389 bytes)


Mail 302 March 22 - 28, 2004






BOOK Reviews

read book now

emailblimp.gif (23130 bytes)

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


Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Highlights this week:

LAST WEEK                 Current Mail                  NEXT WEEK

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


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

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

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

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

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

 Search engine:


or the freefind search

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

read book now

Boiler Plate:

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

If you subscribed:

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

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

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

Search: type in string and press return.


line6.gif (917 bytes)

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



This week:


read book now


Monday  March 22, 2004

More warnings BUT DO NOT PANIC

< >.

Not much you can do about this one if you're running Windows. By the time you read this, you're probably infected. The last few days, I've been logging on the order of 80-100,000 attacks per day (200/minute) over a dial-up connection.

By the way, the Black Ice and Real Secure Internet firewalls have been compromised by a back door. Replace them with something more secure. The real solution is probably to use a bastion host ('sacrificial goat') in front of your PC or use a UNIX/LINUX/Macintosh desktop machine, but that's a bit over the top for an unsophisticated user.

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

I am sure you have all been keeping your Microsoft patches up to date. If you have, you have nothing to worry about.


Dr. Pournelle,

Have you considered a header-downloader for your email when on the road? While I use Eudora and/or Thunderbird depending on location, I have PopTray running all the time and only load up the email program of choice when I'm alerted that there is mail to be downloaded. From PopTray, I can view the headers and download the raw message body should I so choose, allowing me to cherry pick messages I KNOW I want to read, and leave the rest for downloading/filtering by the main email program.

You can also delete a bunch of spam en masse. It is a lot faster highlighting the bunch and only unselecting those emails you believe are worthy of further attention. During the SoBig crisis last year, one client was getting 500 messages per hour on a rarely used account. Their solution was to highlight and delete, letting PopTray's internal whitelist handle the legit accounts. Worked very well.

And PopTray monitors all three of my accounts and shows the current header count in different colours, thus letting me know which account to go look at.

PopTray is a project and can be found at .


Gary Mugford Idea Mechanic Bramalea ON Canada

I probably should do something like that. When I get out where there is no fast Internet connection, the flood of spam becomes important.

Dr. Pournelle,

This site,  quotes researchers at Johns Hopkins as a place on the moon which would be the best location for a base.

David A. Kickbusch

Interesting. We know that there are polar areas with illumination 95% of the time, but they now seem to have found light perpetual...


Dr Pournelle,

The war to save the US dollar?

I happened by chance upon this fascinating article very recently.

Certainly it is an original way of looking at world events over the last couple of years:-

The Americans could live with Saddam until he started selling oil for euros instead of U.S. dollars. Then the Europeans could live with him.
America can export dollars, which cost nothing to produce, and receive real goods and services in return. When those dollars eventually find their way into foreign reserves, they can be invested only in American assets. This creates a demand for U.S. treasury bills without high interest rates, and inflates the U.S. property market and stock market … [b]ut this continuous inflow of foreign investment (on the "capital account") is needed to balance America's mammoth trade deficit (on the "current account"). America's imports now exceed its exports by almost 50%, or 5% of GDP. Its net foreign debt is more than a quarter of annual GDP, and its public debt is about 60% of annual GDP.
If the euro becomes a global currency to rival the dollar, central banks and other traders will sell down their dollar reserves, causing the value of the dollar to plummet (and devaluing the debts of poor countries at the expense of their creditors). The unwanted dollars will be withdrawn from the U.S. asset market and will flood the market for U.S. goods and services.
The first OPEC member to show serious disloyalty to the dollar was Iran…
The second offender was Venezuela… The third and most blatant offender was Iraq. In October 2000, Iraq persuaded the United Nations to allow Iraqi oil to be sold for euros instead of dollars, with effect from November 6. Iraq then converted its entire $10 billion "oil for food" reserve fund from dollars to euros.

These events went unreported in the U.S. media.

Without wanting to be associated with the obvious and lurid conspiracy theory  and anti-American aspects of this article, it does point up an important fact: whichever country ‘owns’ the leading reserve currency of the world (Britain in the 19th century, America in the 20th) is handed an immense fiscal advantage, namely that it can effectively import goods and services without having to pay for them!

Individuals do have to pay of course, and individual companies too, but the country does not; it just prints more US dollars, or pounds sterling when it was Britain’s turn. The single most significant reason for the immense difficulties the British economy faced from World War One (when the dollar replaced the pound as world reserve currency) until quite recently— about 20 years ago say— was the need to overcome this truly huge deterioration in the country’s international financial fortunes due to loss of reserve currency status. That was about 70 years of struggle— not helped by World War II, of course.

If indeed the euro does replace the dollar as most favoured international reserve currency, then I would quite seriously suggest that the people of the United States today can have little concept of the tremendously serious impact this will have on the American economy and thus general prosperity, inflation, interest rates, economic growth and employment levels— none of which will change for the better.

Final thought: well before I came across this article, I had already thought to myself that if I was OPEC, observing the very significant change in the relative values of the dollar and the euro over the last year or so, I would be seriously considering changing my currency of account for crude oil from the dollar to the euro.

Jim Mangles


>> including members of Sharon's family as they came out of the Temple, >> there would be no questioning that as an act of terrorism; or would there?

The two cases aren't the same: Sharon is an elected political official -- the Sheik wasn't. Sharon was responsible for military actions carried out by his government against military targets -- the Sheik was the head of a terrorist organization and responsible for terrorist attacks against civilian targets. And while civilians DID die as a result of Israeli attacks, those civilian deaths weren't intended (and actively avoided if possible, even at the expense of Israeli Soldier's lives). The Sheik's attacks intended to kill civilians.


================ "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai

So being elected gives you an exemption? That may be to prove too much, or to expect too much from politicians. But the question is one of security: is there more or less security now? Understand, I don't know the answer to that, nor can I say what I would do were it my job to make such decisions. I don't live over there.


"Successful Strategic Bombing" William S. Lind Thursday, March 18, 2004 

In one of history's shortest and most successful strategic bombing campaigns, Islamic Fourth Generation forces have brought about "regime change" in Spain. The conservative Popular Party, which had allied itself closely with American President George W. Bush and sent Spanish troops to Iraq, was badly defeated in Spain's national election following last week's bombings on Spanish commuter trains. As one Popular Party MP said to the Washington Post, "The terrorists have killed 200 people and defeated the government - they have achieved all their objectives." The new Spanish government will be headed by the Socialist Party, which has promised to pull the Spanish army out of Iraq, withdraw from the U.S.-British axis and realign Madrid with Paris, Berlin and Moscow.



Lessons for the Islamists

 Kill 3,000 Americans, and you lose 2 countries.

Kill 200 Spaniards, and you win a political victory.

 Maybe the terrorists may gamble that the rest of Europe is as soft as Spain - except Britain.



"Hate" incident at Claremont Colleges another fraud: For the last week, the once conservative Claremont Colleges east of LA (the home of 94-year-old wise man Peter Drucker) have been holding hysterical Red Guard-style rallies against "hate" because a social psychology professor named Kerri Dunn claimed she had found her car vandalized and covered with anti-Semitic slogans after giving a lecture against "hate."

Now, for the umpty-umpth time in the history of college "hate" brouhahas, the police have discovered that the "victim" did it herself. The idealistic feminist professor turned out to also have a couple of recent criminal offenses on her record back in Nebraska.

How many times do these Reichstag Fires have to happen before the Establishment realizes that "pro-diversity anti-hate" is a moneymaking racket that crooks exploit to win power and wealth from gullible colleges?


Long Live the Marinius van der Lubbe International Firebombing Society...










This week:


read book now


Tuesday, March 23, 2004  


My reading of material about the Spanish election (mostly from European sources) indicates that the Conservative Party had alienated a number of voters concerning internal national security issues. One of the biggest voter concerns was the reduction of several thousand national police during the previous several years, and a slackening of resistance against the northern rebels. I think the election outcome was a much more complicated thing than just the bombing (though it was clearly a defining moment for a plurality).

Our nation is again beginning to wake up to the realization that (as my father said to me more than once) you must judge a politician by what he/she does, not by what he/she says. Both of our presidential finalists are going to have to explain a lot of their past actions/inactions over the next few months.

Allan Smalley


Will it really cost $1 trillion to send people to Mars? Who says so? Did any of the reporters actually check the numbers even a little? 

-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

Henry Spencer has said that the Shuttle is only about two-nines safe: we can expect to lose one Shuttle every hundred flights or so. Here's a problem that, fortunately, didn't lead to loss of a Shuttle and the people on board... but it easily could have. 

-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

I believe I said that the last time I gave a keynote speech at a AIAA meeting. The would have been in the 1990's. Of course NASA saw to it I was not invited back...


A potentially disastrous problem with a space shuttle rudder went undetected for two decades, NASA has revealed. However, the problem can be fixed in time for the shuttle's planned return to flight in March 2005.

When a shuttle returns to Earth, the rudder brakes the craft to a speed that is safe for landing. Shuttle program manager Bill Parsons told a press conference on Monday that a gear in one of four actuators that move the two-part rudder was installed backwards on Discovery.

By good fortune, the defective actuator was installed in the top position on the tail-mounted rudder, where it was subject to the least force. However, the faulty actuator could not have handled the most extreme forces during landing if it had been in the bottom position.

That could have disabling the rudder by jamming it open or closed. "Loss of the rudder speed brake would mean loss of vehicle and loss of crew," said Parsons.



===== -- John E. Bartley, III K7AAY telcom admin, PDX - Views mine. celdata cjb net - Handheld Cellular Data FAQ *This post quad-ROT13 encrypted. Reading it violates the DMCA.*

Perhaps the destruction of my DC/X by NASA (they forgot to hook up the hydraulics on one of the landing feet) was just more of same competence?

Egads indeed.

Subject: shuttle breaks

The brake gears were installed backwards.

OK, mistakes happen. Even when everything is triple-checked for redundancy and checked again because they can't afford another mistake.

But per Fox news: "They HOPE (emphasis added) to have the brakes replaced before Shuttle flights resume next March."

I can't add anything.

Jim Woosley

Nor I.



Thanks for putting up my letter. It is slightly incestuous in that much of what I believe here is owed to the Galaxy & Analog articles of yours I read a quarter of a century ago. It is however a matter of some pride to be able to pass it on.

The Harry Lime quote resonates far more widely than any other line in the film. I think this is because it appeals both to those who feel macho about war & on the other side those justify failure as proof they are peaceloving.

In fact Renaissance Italy had wars because they weren't warlike & the Swiss didn't because they were. Because the Italians were to busy making money to fight the soldiers doing the fighting in Italy were mercenaries - the best of whom were Swiss.

I dont know if you have read the book "From Third World to First" by Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore: 

I got it to see how to do as the title says. However he also has a lot of valuable stuff about international (mainly Asian) politics & ends with a lot of politically incorrect stuff about democracy v meritocracy & racial inheritance which, being to the left of you, I do not like but cannot dismiss.

Re the Spanish election - this is not an easy giving in/not question. The problem is that approx 90% of the Spaniards were against their government going into Iraq in the first place. So the democratic basis was missing & the Spanish people can hardly be blamed for not rallying round. On the other hand if this bombing hadn't taken place the people would have voted for their rightist government & not have minded to much about the war. Ii it possible to have a victory for both terrorism & democracy?

Re the dead Sheik - I think the assassination of Sharon would have been seen as at least a semi-legitimate target. In the same way that there was little objection when NATO bombed Milosevic's home, the US bombed Saddam's cafe. On the other side when the IRA bombed the Conservative Party conference it was not exactly seen as legitimate but it did not produce the horror that bombing an innocent Birmingham pub did. Perhaps the world would be a better place if military actions were mainly aimed at the leaders, even those on the "democratic" side.

Neil Craig

Single combat between the world leaders...

It all depends on what you are after. Emperors seldom take the field in person, and when Caligula did it was a symbolic invasion of Britain, with the troops gathering shells and other "spoils of the sea" for a triumph although no ships actually crossed the channel. (It is likely that a British chieftain surrendered to Caligula, and it was arranged that he do so aboard a ship just off shore, so that the claim to have conquered Britain without the need for a costly expedition was somewhat sustainable, and the rest followed; it wasn't as silly as the movies usually portray; but the point is that emperors seldom take the field or take personal risks. The US Constitution did contemplate the President actually commanding the Army, but none has; and of course when Napoleon III tried that the result wasn't very good...)

It remains to be seen if Israel is safer with the Sheik dead: the image of a crippled old man blown up in his wheelchair as he come out of the mosque after morning prayer is one easily exploited, and may produce more volunteers for suicide missions.

We were in England and had a book signing and press conference in a Birmingham pub during the height of the IRA bombings; it was a nervous time since Roberta was with me; but nothing happened, and we didn't even get to meet the resident ghost.


And now we have:

Dr Pournelle,

Battling emperors

Emperors seldom take the field in person

Of the top of my head I’ve come up with this:-

Napoleon? Alexander? Darius? Julius Caesar? (Not strictly an emperor, but…)  Augustus? Even Clau-Clau-Claudius who really did invade Britain? Vespasian? Hadrian? Aggrippa? Constantine? (and practically every other Roman Emperor, especially those ‘elected’ by the Army from the ranks of their generals.)

Then there are kings: William the Conqueror and Harold? Robert the Bruce? (‘Welcome to your gory bed, or to victory’) James IV ? (who died at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513) Richard III? (‘My kingdom for a horse!’) Henry V? (‘We band of brothers’) Frederick the Great (“Do you rogues want to live for ever?’)

And even queens: Bouddica? Elizabeth? (‘I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too.’)

But I can think of no presidents except Washington, Grant, Eisenhower before they became president.

Jim Mangles


I certainly did not say that kings don't fight, although mature monarchies generally don't put the monarch in the field. Lion Heart preferred battles to the palace, and Edward Longshanks was no slouch. Bruce had no choice. And of course William I didn't take the field after winning the crown. But there have been plenty of warrior kings. Richard III Crouchback was his brother's military commander and a warrior most of his life. At Bosworth he fought his last battle

Augustus knew little of war, and let others command. Tiberius didn't fight after assuming the throne although he was very active in military management. Caligula made a show. Claudius put on a show, and while his scholarship may have been a factor in dealing with the British war chariots (Graves has him say so in Claudius the God) he never pretended to be the actual commander. There were warrior emperors: I never said there were none.

I said they seldom take the field in person, and this in the context of single combat between leaders (Richard I would have loved to do that, and Robert Shortbreeches Duke of Normandy a king in all but name rode the length and breadth of the Muslim reaches with 60 knights, demanding that anyone challenging the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem  come forth and dispute it, singly or with an army. No takers.) But again those are warrior kings.

Emperors tend not to do that. Not always. Rome had warrior emperors who expanded the Empire. Trajan will do as the primary example. But even under Trajan, the judgment of the critical observer Juvenal was "Nam qui dabat olim imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se continet, atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses."   Perhaps not the most heroic pronouncement a people ever earned. But they were content...

Most of the emperors who fought were engaged in civil wars, which, if they won them, gave them the purple: after which the business was to find the firm seat, not the iron hand. Septimius Severus didn't have to fight much to take the throne and the Praetorian Guard which had been accustomed to auction off the empire, was disarmed peaceably.

After Adrianople, though, with the dominance of heavy cavalry, the Western Empire had the problem that the Army was the state, and if the Emperor put someone else in charge of the army, that someone was likely to return as Emperor. This was an unstable situation, and no real solution was ever found. The Eastern Empire was more fortunate. Justinian managed a number of conquests, but he didn't personally command: Belisarius and Narses did the work for him.

I hadn't noticed Elizabeth Tudor in armor in any of her portraits, but perhaps I missed one.

But in fact this raises a question that deserves an essay: what do I mean by Empire? And that takes considerably more time than I have just at the moment, but we'll see, because it is a good question. What is Empire?

Example: Alexander began as a traditional warrior king of Macedon, a traditional warrior kingdom that had the great fortune to have Phillip the Great become its king. There is no evidence that Phillip intended anything more than conquest and booty and ending the Persian threat once and for all. Alexander conquered, and discovered, probably during the sieges of the coastline cities, that Macedonians with Greek auxiliaries were not enough, and began to dream of empire: a union of people united not in culture or clan but by allegiance to a common ruler. Eventually he required his tough Macedonian hill men to bow and kiss his foot and submit to the kinds of indignities they despised, and to accept Persian satraps as governors and leaders. Then he died.

Rome, on the other hand, began with the Asia Minor custom of accepting peoples of all tribal backgrounds as potential citizens -- the legend of the rape of the Sabine women is at the heart of Roman history -- and evolved a Republic, but a diverse one, not entirely based on ancestry. One could learn to be a Roman: be brought in as a slave, have sons who were free, and grandsons who were citizens. That Republic was transformed into Empire, and admitted even more diverse peoples until the only common bond was allegiance to the Emperor. Is that a different Empire from the Alexandrian variety? I would say so. And Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor of the French, but in fact was restoring the monarchy: a different proposition, although he probably would have had to stay Imperial to make it stick.

Enough. Another time.


Dr Pournelle,

The next American empire

I think this may interest you, complete as it is with maps showing the location of Roman and British Empire military bases, but oddly not one showing American ones.

Jim Mangles

Give them time


I think one of the biggest reasons Microsoft has gained so much acceptance is that it has done a little better than others in addressing this kind of issue. I am not saying Microsoft has the answers or that their answers are even acceptable. But a modest user could often figure out how to set up the printer and print without the problems demonstrated here.

If the Open Source community ever wants to explode into the hearts and minds of corporate administrators create something like Active Directory. A place to go to find out where stuff is. The power is not in any of the fancy stuff, just my ability to query for a printer and then with one click make it my default.

The process in Rant 2 (  ) could be set up on a server running on everyone's network. Then the first step would be for each client to ask "who answers questions about printers?" Your internal DNS server might be the best place to put this kind of information but I am sure others will have good ideas as well.

Al Lipscomb




This week:


read book now


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Another take on immigration:

Japanese Substitute Inventiveness for Immigration; NYT Shocked

 By Steve Sailer March 21, 2004

Sofia Coppola, who owns a fashion business in Japan, recently captured the best original screenplay Academy Award for the movie Lost in Translation -- making her the fourth Oscar-winning member of the Coppola dynasty, after her father Francis, grandfather Carmine, and first cousin Nicolas Cage. Bill Murray stars as a morose and mordant American action movie star who finds himself washed up in a Tokyo Hyatt.

The hotel seems dispiritingly like every other downtown luxury hotel in the world. But its Japanese idiosyncrasies make it subtly disconcerting.

Japan refuses to import millions of Third Worlders, so the Japanese have robotized many service jobs. This takes Murray some getting used to. His drapes fling themselves open in the morning. In a hotel gym devoid of personal trainers, he finds himself in the clutches of an unstoppable and hyperactive exercise machine shouting indecipherable and no doubt deranged commands.

But, of course, it's the puzzling uniqueness of Japanese life that helps make Lost in Translation so entertaining. You leave the theatre thinking that a trip to the Orient would be disappointing if it wasn’t a little disorienting. Isn't travel more fun when other countries are different from your own?

In a lot of small ways, Japan is indeed very different. Consider professional nail care. Here in the U.S., you can head down to your local inner city and find dozens of storefront nail salons. The first thing you'll notice is, to paraphrase Aretha Franklin, the sisters are not doing it for themselves. No, even though there are plenty of unemployed women in the neighborhood, the salons are staffed by East Asian ladies who have come all the way across the Pacific to paint the fingernails of the black lady customers for less than cousin LaQeesha would charge.

Now that's diversity!

Except that, one of these days, you'll be able to go to any formerly exotic place on earth—Zanzibar, Istanbul, the Galapagos Islands, it won't matter—and see the same old thing: Korean, Chinese, or Southeast Asian immigrant ladies polishing nails.


But not in Japan. The Japanese voters think their islands are crowded enough already without importing human nail polishers. And the Japanese government is mysteriously inclined to enforce the will of its people.

So the Japanese have done something that by our standards is weird, even comical. They've invented yet another kind of vending machine, this one for doing your nails. You stick your finger in, and it gives it back (you hope) with the nail painted to your specifications using inkjet printer technology.

New York Times reporter James Brooke was recently shocked, shocked to discover that the Japanese people's famous fascination with robots and automation stems from their "xenophobia." [Japan Seeks Robotic Help in Caring for the Aged Mar. 5, 2004 NYT ]



And see below.


I found an article at National Review Online that I thought you'd like to see:


It does conduct an interesting discussion. I have considerable affection for both Peggy Noonan and John Derbyshire.


Al Lipscomb writes that: > If the Open Source community ever wants to explode into the hearts and > minds of corporate administrators create something like Active > Directory.

Umm, they (MIT actually) actually did - Kerberos - 10+ years ago. And Microsoft took Kerberos, made some incompatible (some say gratuitous) changes, added in LDAP (also an Open Source "standard") for "network directory services", defined the "scheme" of how the directory is set up, and that's Active Directory.

So, if a corporate adminstator wants to setup a true open source "Active Directory" they need to setup Kerberos and LDAP. Not trivial, but not having setup or dealt with AD, I'd expect it's not that much harder than setting up AD. And I'd expect there's lots of information out there on doing exactly that. And you'd have a standardized solution and no vendor lock in. And I expect many corporate admins know this, but they're locked into Microsoft and trying to fight Microsoft on this is just not worth the battle.

If you read ESR's original RANT about CUPS you find out that automated network printer discovery is already part of CUPS, based on the IETF's Internet Printing Protocol standard - but because of poor UI design this was not apparent to him.

In both cases, Microsoft has made the underlying technology marginally easier to use. Which is what ESR's whole rant was about: Open Source has the technology, often much better than Microsoft's - but Open Source developers are failing to make it easy enough to use because they don't think about the user enough. Jerry's UNIX wizard full employment act in effect (I don't think it's intentional on open source developers part, but that's irrelevant).

Pete Flugstad


Well, thinking about it and poking around, I came up with Julian the Apostate, Basil II 'Bulgaroctonus' and Constantine XI Palaeologus, who had no choice. Many of the other Byzantine Emperors did frequently take to the field, but most of those were generals first and emperors by the raising of the shields second. Of course, Byzantium morphed into an essentially medieval kingdom after awhile. And losing with the Emperor present tended to turn defeats into first-class disasters. The best example there is Manzikert.

Napoleon, Alexander and Francis were all on the field at Austerlitz, but Kutnetzov commanded the coalition forces. (Francis didn't have much choice either.)

So I'd have to agree with you.

As for NASA: who designs a gear that can be installed backwards to ill effect and WHY would you do that?

However, the real problem is that NASA is hanging on life to the Shuttle. I say that because it occurred to me that if the damn thing is that unsafe, which it is, reentry-wise, and we're only going to fly 27 more missions, then why aren't we flying the thing unmanned and on automatic? It's basically designed to fly without pilots, and will function from here on out primarily as a lifter. Why waste money flying it manned, when the personnel can be shipped up by the Russians? We could be done with it much quicker and more safely without having to waste money on X-raying every square inch and conducting emergency crash drills. (They did that! They had a crash drill! With real people tromping around out in the countryside! "Base, we've found a simulated body part.")

Seriously, they could dump the shuttle, switch to capsules and cargo lifters and STILL have a standing army. Except they might actually get things done. But they can't let go. It's like there's some middle/upper-management shuttle cult.


['Hail Mighty Atlantis! We sacrifice this Fiscal Year 2004 Budget document in your name! Bless these humble prie- er, managers with much funding and many congressional hearings and a bounty of large-breasted interns!']



when I sent the message yesterday about Shuttle brakes, I had only heard the Fox report, which neglected to mention that the brakes were originally installed 20 years ago.

I am, of course, even more appalled.


On the issue of the cost of a Mars mission, the 1989 post-Bush I NASA plan called for a $800 B program over 30 years, much of which would have been spent to justify using the then-incarnation of the ISS as the staging point for the program. (This was in the days before the first Congressional redirection, IIRC, when the ISS was still expected to come in for under $20B in construction costs.)

Jim Woosley



 The most telling engineering issue about the Shuttle breaking system is that a part was designed so that it could be installed incorrectly.  Any decent custom design (the Shuttle is the essence of that) would prevent this from the get-go.

 Allan Smalley


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


Indeed. I once was in charge of human factors, and that was our first principle. Oh well.


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

For your readers that need a CD/DVD burning program that just works and is free there is Deepburner available at  .

The program is freeware. The UI looks a lot like Nero . It is good for Win95 on up to Win XP.

Also for Win XP users that worry about WPA there is available Image for DOS (and Image for Windows) from  . These are not freeware but the cost for both is only $28. I could not get Image for Windows to work for me but Image for DOS works fine . After burning a CD image of my C: drive I re-formated the drive and restored all files and there was no request to do the WPA again.

Thank you for such a great web site !

Tom Slater

Thank you.


Subject: About that fire last year...

This is the first I've heard of the determination of what caused last year's San Diego fire: 

--Gary Pavek

Good Grief!!!!  So that's what did it!!


The info in today's [Wednesday's] column is wrong.  That was the cause of the "Pines Fire" from 2002.  They are still fighting about the cause of the 2003 "Cedar Fire".
The Pines Fire started in the eastern foothills below Julian.  It burned the eastern edge of our mountains and into the desert.  The Cedar Fire started to the West of the mountains and burned mainly West - South - East.
Two different fires!
Chris Landa



Subject: Is this a Pollyanna outlook?


This column at ReasonOnLine has to do with the evils of outsourcing: 

Clearly the guy is optimistic. But does he ignore too much?


Steve Erbach Neenah, WI

He states his case well, and I haven't time to answer: but is there a difference between your job being taken over by a machine, and having it sent overseas? Or taken over by an illegal immigrant?  Politically I am sure there is. Since economics pretty well ignores politics, I am not sure what the economists would say; but politically there is a lot of difference.


Hello Jerry,

1. I am not an intellectual, although I do read books. There is not yet a law against this, although TechCentralStation seems to think that book-reading should be allowed only under the careful control of a neo-con thinktank. Nope. I am a computer programmer. Proudest compliment I ever received was when a founding father programmer at GE said, about 20 years ago, "well, you're just an old bit-fiddler!"

2. I do not hate America, and I don't spell it with a 'k'. On the whole, I think this is a pretty decent place, with deeply fine people.

3. I oppose the occupation of Iraq, and have ever since September 12, 2001, when Wolfowitz/Perle/Feith/Rumsfeld and friends quickly started giving "deep background" interviews that blamed Saddam for the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I could see that Islamic Fundamentalists had done it.

4. I supported the overthrow of the Taliban, although I thought then, and still think, that President Bush should have done it the old fashioned, and constitutional way: he should have asked Congress for a declaration of war. No secret handshake agreements, no winks, no private promises to senators. Just this: the Taliban government allowed their soil to be used to launch an attack on the continental USA. That is certainly grounds for a genuine declaration of war.

5. I'm getting impatient, and I have a family member with orders to Iraq, with another on the edge. I'll say it bluntly: it is insane to claim that Iraq is the center of world terrorism. Islamic Fundamentalists bombed us; we attacked a nasty tyrant who had nothing to do with Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism. As General Shinseki predicted, we do not have enough troops to occupy and pacify Iraq. We have started a war we did not need to fight, and we now have more than half the Army combat units tied into this war...either serving in Iraq, or refitting for their next tour.

6. Summary: I am not an intellectual (or an academic). I love America, clearly, soberly. And I oppose this neocon adventure into Iraq. What can TechCentral Station make of this?


John Welch

Well I suppose I am an intellectual. I find little to argue with, except that I do recognize that we are over there now.

Me I would pump oil, and get the world oil price down to $20/bbl and to hell with the cost. Send however many troops it takes to DO that, and hire as many Iraqis on contingency fee basis as it takes to DO that, and PUMP THE OIL.

Tech Central isn't all neo-Jacobin. They do publish Sally Baliunas among others.




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now




George Washington donned uniform for the Whiskey Rebellion. He met the militia army at Carlisle, PA and accompanied it to Bedford, where he turned command over to Light Horse Harry Lee.

Washington was the only sitting president to wear uniform while in office. Dubya's flight suit doesn't count -- most civilians (reporters for example) are issued flight suits for rides on military aircraft, for the fire resistance of the Nomex as for any other reason.

James Madison, armed with borrowed dueling pistols and sitting on a borrowed horse, observed the battle of Bladensburg from a close-by hill. He was accompanied by most of his cabinet. Not foolish enough to take command himself, he was there (so he said) to mediate disputes between the general in charge of the militia and the Secretary of War.

Lincoln visited McClellan during the Peninsula campaign and later commanders of the Army of the Potomac as well. Though not at the front lines, he was certainly within the sound of the guns and could have been at risk of one of Stuart's patented cavalry raids.

The constant to the above examples is that the fighting was taking place within the borders of the United States.

Modern communications allows a president to have direct command while still in Washington. Of course, this is generally not a good thing. Presidents have no business giving permission to bomb outhouses. <G>



Von Moltke the Elder said after Saddowa that he was the last independent general, and from then on generals would have to operate with a telegraph wire up their arses...


Letter from Japan

Subject: Japan & Immigration, population and economics

Dear Jerry,

A lot has been written of late about Japan, immigration and automation. The recent article in mail title "Japanese Substitute Inventiveness for Immigration" was typical of the genre - interesting but with a lot of really wrong information. I've been living in Japan for the last four years and so I get a much different view than the journalists who never seem to leave the vicinity of their hotels.

I have no doubt that there is a vending machine somewhere in Tokyo that will do your nails. However, there is no shortage of nail salons, mostly run by Japanese women. Likewise the $50 lunch - yah, I've eaten those, however I usually eat lunch for less than $10, less than $5 if I go to McDonalds.

Japan has imported fewer foreign workers than the United States for sure, but there are a large number of foreigners working in factories, food processing, etc. We don't see them in Tokyo because, guess what, Tokyo is the most expensive city on the planet so if you're trying to cut costs, you don't have your business in Tokyo. My wife's home town is called Kakegawa, in Shizuoka Prefecture. There's a lot of manufacturing and agriculture there - Shizuoka is home to both Honda and Yamaha Music along with a number of other manufacturers. There are a large number of Brazilian (largely Brazilian Japanese) workers living there.

Japan's approach to foreign workers isn't that different from, for example, Germany and their policy towards Turkish workers - come, work here, and GO HOME. I am a US Citizen and I have the equivalent of a Green Card here in Japan because my wife is Japanese. It was much easier to get my visa set up than it was to get my wife's Green Card processed when we were in the US. However, should I want to become a Japanese citizen the process is much harder (see David Aldwinkle's site for details about an American who became a Japanese citizen). Japan's policies are driven by xenophobia, language barriers and a just plain lack of space. There's really not room to expand the population here either by immigration or reproduction.

What's of more interest, I think, is what is going to happen to the world economy 20-30 years down the line. Japan used to be a source of cheap labor and a manufacturing giant. Today, Japanese labor is among the most expensive and a large portion of the manufacturing has been moved to China, the Phillipines, etc. Japan is going through a population implosion - my wife's mother has 4 siblings, my wife has 2, and our family currently has one child and we might have a second (so I guess we're 1.5 children). China is going to go through an incredible population implosion as a result of the 1 child policy. India will also mature as an economy and as that economy matures the birth rate will decline. The question I have to ask is: What will happen when the pool of cheap labor in China and India turns into expensive labor?

There are no other sources of cheap labor large enough that could satisfy the requirements of the world economy when China and India are 1st world nations.

Regards, Dave Smith


I reported in my column some time ago that when I visited the Sony and Mitsubishi plants (both a fairly long train ride outside Tokyo), they both had "model" assembly lines for products. They made real products that went into the sales pipelines, but the purpose of the plant was more to determine the best way to automate the process. The real manufacturing was done overseas because that was much cheaper: Malaya, Singapore, and the Philippines in those cases.  When innovations were made and tested in the Japanese plants they were then sent to be incorporated in the overseas plants; but since the Japanese plants were "real" production lines, there was no change in quality and no incentive to experiment just for the sake of experimenting.


I am not entirely sure I understand the following:


US Import duty.

Jerry, In 1826 Canning the British Prime Minister wrote:-

In matters of commerce the fault of the Dutch
 Is offering too little and asking too much.
The French are with equal advantage content,
 So we clap on Dutch bottoms just twenty percent.

Regards John Edwards


Rescue Dragons:

The Japanese get closer and closer to mecha robots every day...

Mike Massee


Jerry, I've been following this case about an atheist wanting to forbid using the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance so that his 9 year old daughter (of whom he does not have full custody) won't have to say it.

Wouldn't it be easier if he just teaches her to pause for a moment at that point? I assure you a child of that age would have no problem with it. When I was that age, we were expected to sing Christmas carols such as Silent Night in school and, being Jewish, I paused without being told so as not to repeat certain words.

Also, I think it says quite a bit that the ACLU is backing him on an attack against religion, especially when they've made it quite clear that they will not get involved to protect Civil Liberties guarenteed in the Second Amendment.

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

Such suits used to be dismissed on the grounds that there was no standing to sue, it not being clear that any harm was resulting from the government's actions, and the government is presumed to be right in political matters unless you can show definite harm: in other words it is not a "case or controversy" that puts it into the scope of Court power.

That was the proper way to handle things; but of course we are so much better off now. Or at least the lawyers are. Judicial activism, substituting judicial judgment for that of the Congress (and thus taking it entirely out of the hands of the people) is a full employment act for lawyers, but I am not entirely convinced the rest of us are better off for it.

I am not entirely sure Congress was wise to insert that phrase, or to leave it there, but it is certainly a political matter, not one for the courts, and the people are just sick enough of judicial activism that the Court, which does follow election returns, probably will weasel a way to retain judicial activism while wiggling out of deciding this issue.

The States have always had the constitutional right to establish a state church, and most had them when the Constitution was ratified. I believe the last actual state church (clergy paid from taxes) endured until about 1842, when it was disestablished by state action not by any act of a court. The judicial activists of course dispute all this and say that there was this selective incorporation of the Bill of Rights, with the First Amendment as interpreted by the lawyers -- excuse me, courts -- being now applicable against the states, but of course the Second is not.

Federalization of all matters has brought us no great benefits. Note that Brown vs. Board didn't integrate the schools, and enforcement of voting rights, by Congress, using undoubted rights under the Civil War Amendments, is what brought real integration in many of the states, with black elected officials and so forth. The Courts have yet to make the schools work properly.

Political matters are in general best left to political bodies, and lawyers and courts are not supposed to be political: they are supposed to represent the monarchical element in this Republic, safeguarding well defined rights, not trying to run the government: principles, not policy. But the lawyers have subverted this, with amazing results.


This should have gone up yesterday but it's still relevant:


I find it curious that Mr. Clark's book was released (with the attendant media hysteria) precisely at the same time the 9-11 Commission was scheduled to take testimony in open session from officials of the Clinton and Bush administrations. One could reasonably predict that the Clinton administration, in particular, was up for a very public and embarrassing pasting.

I try not to fall prey to the political paranoids. But in this case Mr. Clark is now partnered with Mr. Kerry's chief foreign policy adviser and had previously been moved to a position of lesser visibility and influence by Ms. Rice in a bitter and particularly ugly realignment of personnel shortly after the Bush administration seized power.

It seems to me that a partisan strategist in this election year might see Clark's book as the best chance the Democrats had to push the Commission's hearing down on the news peg and they seem to have enjoyed some success.

Of course I may have become overly cynical in my dotage.


Ron Morse

There was enough pressure that Clarke has now said he won't take any post in a Kerry Administration. Of course he'll make enough off the book to make that perhaps needless. My take is that he never had any specific proposals, he kept insisting on Presidential Access and the ability to by-pass his superiors, and unlike Clinton, Bush doesn't work that way. The Bush people demoted him to cyber terrorism chief, he fumed (and made no contributions in preventing cyber terrorism that I am aware of, but perhaps things happened I don't know about). He kept insisting on direct Presidential access, which is hard to come by, and when he didn't get what he wanted, he brooded and began writing a book.

I am waiting for him to tell us what, precisely, he proposed prior to 911 that was not done. I am also waiting to hear his precise advice to Clinton when the Sudanese offered us Bin Laden on a silver platter.

Obviously we didn't want to bombard that hunting camp and take out most of the Gulf States royals in order to get Bin Laden! And alas the US doesn't really have people like Matt Helm on the payroll. Well, we do, sort of, but Lon Horiuchi seems more concerned with shooting American civilians including women holding babies than with going after actual terrorists. What we don't have is the kind of teams Eisenhower sent into Rumania and other satellite states to avenge the men killed on the RB-47. After a number of Russian occupation officials were shot at great distances, the Russians got the message. But I don't think the US has such people any longer, so we had no one to send after Bin Laden when we knew where he was: and bombarding areas that might be hosting Pakistani physicians is not always a great idea.

I'd like to know what Clarke's advice on the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory was. We blew it up to the great detriment of Sudan but I am not sure what benefit we gained by doing that.

And see below:


Subject: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin’s funeral

A few cluster bombs dropped on Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's funeral would go a long way towards reducing bus bombing in Israel by direct attrition of potential suicide bombers.

Would you like to bet there would be more hand wringing and wailing by various members of the press and certain politicians over a few hundred dead terrorists than there ever is about blowing up school children on buses?

Steve Martin

It is certainly one approach, and of course many of us thought in those terms while watching the Palestinians dancing in the streets on the news of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

War to the knife. Certainly the US did this sort of thing in World War II: firebombs in Tokyo, and of course Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As well as the systematic destruction of much of Germany.

Whether the direct attrition would be effective isn't as clear to me as to you. After the Cologne bombing raids the number of people in German war work rose: their civilian factories had been destroyed, and they thought they had no choice since the allies were determined to kill them all. Goebles said that some of the Allied bombing raids like Dresden were worth a couple of divisions. It may be that direct attrition of a few thousand street demonstrators would result in more people determined to die for their cause; not fewer.


That trillion dollar estimate:

Jerry, from the fpspace list. You may have wondered where the magic 'trillion' dollar estimate for Bush's return to space program came from. Dwayne tracked it down.

Interesting that the number is just bandied about and used without fact checking .. and now it's been inserted into our political life. "Everyone knows" that the plan would cost a trillion, or trillions and "we just can't afford that"


The fact of the matter is that for under $100 billion we could begin construction of space solar power satellites. If we doubt it can be done for that much, we have only to offer a prize: say

"The Treasurer of the United States is directed to pay to the first American owned company to beam down 1 megawatt of electric power generated from solar power in space, and to deliver that power for at least 12 hours per day for 200 days of one year, the sum of $80 billion dollars. No monies shall be paid until the conditions of the award have been met."

That might not do it but I suspect it would, since the company that did it would own the facilities and  the power, and while one megawatt isn't a lot, if you can do one you can do hundreds.

Since the only practical way to do this is to develop reusable heavy lifters, the cost to orbit would go down dramatically (the real cost of solar power satellites is getting stuff to orbit; it's an operations cost driven construction) -- since you would have low cost to orbit, you could do the Moon and Mars on weekends and third shifts, and it wouldn't cost any trillion dollars.

In fact, offering a $10 billion prize for the first company to build a fleet of three ships each of which goes to orbit 10 times within one year would probably get solar power satellites going.

But we all know this, so it is interesting: why are there no prizes offered for stuff that we all know would greatly benefit the US?


Subject: Microsoft's hidden victory?
In all the hype about the EU anti-trust decision, one part of it that was in Microsoft's favor was initially overlooked: it specifically endorses Microsoft's right to charge a license fee for using the Windows API,  which other programmers use to make their software compatible with Windows. See the Register story here:
(Note that The Register certainly has an agenda, but they do usually get their facts straight.)
This has a lot of implications for people trying to create a world where Microsoft software can play well with others, and vice versa.
Chuck Wingo

Fascinating. Isn't Media Player available as a free download whether or not you got it with Windows in a package? How can the Europeans keep people from taking free stuff off the Internet?


Subject: The Long March.

------- Roland Dobbins




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  March 26, 2004

Open with this warning:

The "Bagel.U" virus variant is becoming more prevalent. You can tell you got an message from this virus when you see a blank subject and message, but an executable attachment (randomly named). The viral messages started late yesterday.

The AntiVirus companies have released special update files today (Friday) to sense that variant. But there was a bit of delay between the first known viral messages being sent out, and when the AV companies had their updates ready. Those that automatically block or delete messages with executables were protected against that delay ("zero-day" viruses); this blocking is highly recommneded (should be common at corporate/business mail gateways). Home users will have to be more careful.

The usual mantra applies....

Regards, Rick Hellewell, Information Security,


Yesterday I got:

This is an interesting article:


 The AeA report blames outsourcing on the failure of US education.

 Also, I don't remember for sure who recommended it to me. It may have been you. But the book _Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea_ by Robert K. Massie is excellent. I'm about half-way through it.

 Thinking about it, I believe it was Barbara who mentioned it to me first when she read a review of it in Library Journal or one of her other library magazines. I thought at the time that it was a history of dreadnought battleships, and told her I'd be interested in reading it.

She bought it for me, and as it turns out it's a history of the naval war in WWI, as the full title indicates. It's well worth reading, although heavier going than the light fiction I usually read to relax.

 Robert Bruce Thompson

 To which I answered Castles of Steel was book of the month in one of the columns. I gave  my copy to my naval officer son.

   I have long said that the education system is the reason for most  disasters here. And Federalizing it and letting the blasted teachers  unions impose "standards" for teachers is the dumbest move ever.

  Note that private schools can make use of retired military and other  people as teachers and not have to mess with 'credentials': and they  get better results.

  Oh well.

 I remember a few months ago sitting around with three of my astronomy club observing buddies. Paul Jones got his PhD in Organic Chemistry from Duke and did his postdoc work there. He's an Organic Chemistry professor at Wake Forest. His wife, Mary Chervenak, got her PhD in Organic Chemistry from Duke and did her postdoc work there. She's a research chemist for Dow Chemical. Steve Childers got his PhD in Biochemistry and did his postdoc work at Wisconsin, and is a full professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Bowman Gray School of Medicine.

 We were discussing the problems with public education, and I pointed out that not a one of them was qualified to teach even an elementary school science class in North Carolina.

 Robert Bruce Thompson

After the "No Child Left Behind" federalization of credentials, it is my understanding that they are not qualified to teach in any state or anywhere else in a public school. Note that I am not qualified to teach in this country either. You must be "qualified" with the proper "credentials": your results don't matter. You can be the dumbest bonehead in the world, so long as you have attended the workshops and found some way to get passing grades from Department of Education. Of course everyone knows about the academic standards of the Department of Education in every major, minor, tiny, large, etc. college in the nation.

So maybe we should be outsourcing work we don't teach Americans to do.

I am not sure whether Bar Associations or Teachers' Unions are the biggest public enemies in the country, but they certainly are the top two.

And yes, I know there are plenty of dedicated teachers breaking their hearts out there: but until they take the credentialing power away from their unions and the Departments of Education, the nation is doomed.

The only bright spots are private schools and home schooling. And see next week.


Feeling Safer Already

on  dated today:

Remember "You don't professionalize unless you federalize"? Only a politician could say that. Now airports are having their say, and they've had about enough, thank you, of the TSA. 

Jim Woosley


Greg Cochran on Clarke and Iraq:

< From previous: My take is that he never had any specific proposals, he kept insisting on Presidential Access and the ability to by-pass his superiors, and unlike Clinton, Bush doesn't work that way. The Bush people demoted him to cyber terrorism chief, he fumed (and made no contributions in preventing cyber terrorism that I am aware of, but perhaps things happened I don't know about). He kept insisting on direct Presidential access, which is hard to come by, and when he didn't get what he wanted, he brooded and began writing a book. >
          I think you're wrong.  Clarke was pretty much right on the money: he thought Al-Qaeda was going to do _something_ very bad, very soon and he couldn't get the Administration to do much of anything.  They did less than Clinton had.  People like Wolfowitz believed in Iraqi anti-US terrorism which did not exist, and ignored people actually blowing up embassies and destroyers.
           He was anti-terrorism czar until October 2001: the Administration had demoted that position, not just him -  it had been at near-Cabinet rank - at the _beginning_ of the Administration because they  weren't much interested.  Here is what Clarke wanted to do, _well_ before 9-11:
<In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, "Response to al Qaeda: Roll back." Clarke's proposals called for the "breakup" of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel. The financial support for its terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, its assets frozen, its funding from fake charities stopped. Nations where al-Qaeda was causing trouble-Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Yemen-would be given aid to fight the terrorists. Most important, Clarke wanted to see a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to "eliminate the sanctuary" where al-Qaeda had its terrorist training camps and bin Laden was being protected by the radical Islamic Taliban regime. The Taliban had come to power in 1996, bringing a sort of order to a nation that had been riven by bloody feuds between ethnic warlords since the Soviets had pulled out. Clarke supported a substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban. That way, terrorists graduating from the training camps would have been forced to stay in Afghanistan, fighting (and dying) for the Taliban on the front lines. At the same time, the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost "several hundreds of millions of dollars." In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11."  > This in January 2001.
           I might also point out that the _next_ antiterrorism czar, Rand Beer, who had been in government for many years  and was thought pretty much apolitical  resigned, on the eve of our invasion of Iraq.  Now he's working for Kerry. Greg Thielmann, Powell's intelligence deputy, says much the same thing. The former head of DIA's Middle East section says the same thing. So does Howard Zinni - so does the Army War College, for Christ's sake. It's the revolt of the professionals.
          If _I_ had worked for Bush, I'd be trying to kick him out now , and I'm more of a yellow-dog Republican than anyone you've ever known.
                                       Gregory Cochran         

If Bush doesn't get the oil prices down (by pumping more oil in Iraq, presumably) he's in political trouble. If he can do something about fuel prices he's safe.

As to Clarke, I still don't see a lot of specifics. Going to war in Afghanistan prior to 911 would have been a pretty big deal, and I doubt Congress could have been talked into it. For good or ill we do not have much in the way of CIA clandestine operations of the sort we had when the Company saved Indonesia (probably the CIA's most important coup); and you can't lay that to the Republicans. Democratic Congresses since Viet Nam have undermined our ability to project force overseas without sending in the overt forces.

That may be a good thing. It may not be. Covert operations are always tricky, and more likely to go wrong than overtly exerting the power of the Republic using the uniformed services, if only because of the limited number of resources you can put in.

Domestic Security has always been a problem. The FBI has always had charge of internal security as well as the Caribbean region due to bureaucratic coups in the time of Wild Bill Donovan, and the Company has never recovered internal security jurisdiction despite repeated efforts to play counterintelligence games. The Bureau was thoroughly politicized under the Affirmative Action AG Janet Reno, and it will take a long time to recover. The counterintelligence operations were all blown by moles and defectors, and while that was Cold War stuff, it much affected our abilities to operate in other places.

The fact is that we don't know what we are doing here, and it will take a while to figure it out. Sending in the Army is what we know how to do; although the Afghan war against the Taliban is a damned good model of what we could do if the Company were given the resources. Special Ops work, especially in cooperation with smart bombs and missiles and the like; but you need the forces on the ground, and they need to know what they are doing, and to speak local languages, and be able to run agents, and such: it's a shadow war where you have to be able to fight but it's even more important to recruit locals to work with you.

We have had that capability in the past, and the Agency was damned good at it at one time -- you can get some hints of it in the novels of Helen McInnes and the very competent Company people she lets flit through the stories. Try Snare of the Hunter as an example. Of course most of her stories take place in Europe. In the glory days of the CIA it was highly competent while managing to project an image of being hopeless inept: an image that in those days it wanted to project. Unfortunately as the politicals got into the act the image was all too accurate a picture of reality.

I find the hearings interesting.  "We did too authorize assassinations by the CIA, didn't you know?" asks Clinton's National Security Advisor, to the astonishment of the Agency people.  Hmmm.

Clinton had his chance to implement whatever Clarke wanted done, and didn't do it: he sprayed cruise missiles around, but they didn't do anything real. Do not wound your enemies...

On that subject, from another conference:

 [The] academy also has a big "diversity" problem as S. has pointed out. The old Arabists have been run out of academy by Edward Said et. al. and the result is that ideologues rule the roost.

Another unfortunate diversity hire was Janet Reno. I was watching C-Span last night with George Tenet being questioned and if I understood him correctly Reno didn't want anyone in DOJ to talk to anyone in the CIA. The mind boggles. Unfortunately Tenet's testimony and the questions session are not yet on the web site: 

I think the questions and answers will eventually be at the second link.

Tenet made some excellent points about the institutional barriers in the form of regulations and laws that prevented a lot of information from being synthesized. So the criminal investigation of the first WTC bombing produced a lot of information that could have led back to Al Qaeda but the CIA wasn't allowed to see it. In the FBI there were law enforcement and intelligence groups that couldn't talk to each other either. Some of this has already been reported. But Tenet put it into a larger context.

Also, Tenet alluded to immigration and border control problems with watch lists that were not shared. But immigration and border control seemed like something the elites did not want to discuss.

Which is to the point. Things were screwed up under Clinton, and I doubt Clarke liked that much; but all his ire is directed at Bush who had 200 days to straighten things out and didn't, and also demoted Clarke; as opposed to Clinton who gave Clarke the perks and titles, but didn't do anything about the mess either.

Now on this subject:

My how Clarke's story has changed since 2002.,2933,115085,00.html

 -- John Harlow, President BravePoint

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

And also I have mail (which I seem to have misplaced) asking if the Iraq invasion didn't work to concentrate Qadaffy's mind something wonderful, and thus encourage him to rejoin the civilized nations lest he find himself next.

Possibly. The implications are much larger than that, though, and need more time than I have to give just now.



I was in diapers when this happened. I can find information about the incident itself easily enough, but can't find any discussion of Eisenhower sending a message back to the Soviets. A brief rehearsal of that part of the history would be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Mike Cheek Tallahassee, FL

Not from me you won't get it. I wasn't in diapers.





This comes up periodically, but it's worth your attention if you have not seen it before:


This is one of the best descriptions of so-called progressive taxes that I've seen. It was forwarded to me, so I'm not 100% sure the attribution at the bottom is correct.



Sometimes Politicians can exclaim; "It's just a tax cut for the rich!", and it is just accepted to be fact. But what does that really mean? Just in case you are not completely clear on this issue, we hope the following will help.

Tax Cuts - A Simple Lesson In Economics

This is how the cookie crumbles. Please read it carefully.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this: The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1. The sixth would pay $3. The seventh $7. The eighth $12. The ninth $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, the ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20."

So, now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So, the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'?

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being 'PAID' to eat their meal.

So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings). The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!"

"That's true!!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The ones who get the most money back from a reduction are those who paid in the most. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the Caribbean.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D Distinguished Professor of Economics 536 Brooks Hall University of Georgia

And of course it is all true.

The real problem is, why are some of them so broke they can't pay, or have so little pride they don't want to contribute? With attitudes like those above, the dinner party can't be much fun.

Democracy only works in middle class societies.

>> Democracy only works in middle class societies. <<

I think you're wrong. Republics work only with a strong and numerous middle class that takes an interest in its government. Democracies never work at all.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

Well, it seems to have worked in Switzerland. But in general I'll agree; republics have self government or they don't survive. And the Framers said "There never was a democracy that didn't commit suicide."





The info in today's [Wednesday's] column is wrong. That was the cause of the "Pines Fire" from 2002. They are still fighting about the cause of the 2003 "Cedar Fire".

The Pines Fire started in the eastern foothills below Julian. It burned the eastern edge of our mountains and into the desert. The Cedar Fire started to the West of the mountains and burned mainly West - South - East.

Two different fires!

Chris Landa



A continuing discussion:

Subject: Kings and Generals

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

William I certainly did take the field after assuming the English crown; he personally commanded the army that put down Edwin and Morca, and died as a consequence of injuries sustained at Mantes. Septimius Severus may not have had to fight much take the throne from Didius Julianus, but he certainly had to fight against the other two self-appointed saviors of the res publica, Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus (there was a moment when the smart money was on Albinus, not Severus, to be emperor).

The definition of "mature monarchy" takes a little thought; Egyptian New Kingdom pharaohs routinely were field commanders, although it might be asserted that human society in general was much more mature in the days of the European Renaissance three thousand years later.

Alexander's empire was certainly different from Augustus'; even so diffident a student of Spengler as myself would note that the three centuries between them had wrought such changes to Classical society as to make the accomplishments of one impossible for the other. And, as Spengler was not the first, so am I most unlikely to be the last to note that Alexander's empire was rather similar to Napoleon's; an American (or perhaps better a Western) Empire is more likely to be similar to Augustus'

"Empire" really needs to be better defined. We speak of the British Empire, the Persian Empire, and the Roman Empire, without seeming to note the word hardly refers to the same thing. We ought to be cautious that the idea of an American Empire is not improperly identified with those.

------------------------------------------------ John W. Braue, III <>

"Gold cannot always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold" -- Niccolò Machiavelli


Subject: Microsoft's hidden victory?

Dr Pournelle,

in you comment on the EU anti-trust decision you asked how the Europeans could prevent people from taking free stuff off the Internet. This is not the intent of the ruling, the intent is to create a level playing field for companies like Real Networks. Users will still be free to download Windows Media Player, as well as other media players. So hopefully the best player will win, instead of just Microsoft winning by default.

Des Murphy

For your convenience this free software must be downloaded and not provided with your OS.  For your convenience this exit is closed. For your convenience you will be strip searched.  I am from the government and I am here to help you.

And I offer this without comment other than to say the author of this is not an idiot, and has some qualifications to comment:

Dear Jerry,

Sitting, listening to Mr. Clarke's testimony, and his cybersecurity priority concern, I am encouraged to send this note to you regarding a possible connect-the-dots problem which may have emerged perhaps less attended to than it should be. (So please allow me to try to point out to an old timer how others might suck eggs.)

If these certain propositions are true:

a) There is a historical effort by Russia (from Soviet and even Czarist times) to push for influences and alliances and outreach with India, a primary supporting member of the Fidel led Non-aligned Nations movement since 1966.

b) Jane's reports the continued active sales of military hardware, building in technology, (submarines, aircraft carrier) to India by Russia, including second level technology.

c) India has lately become the focus of off-shoring telephone computer maintenance and tech support. An impression exists that all major ISP support and service, HP support, MicroSoft support in part, and Symantech and Earthlink support (in part), have off-shored, most at a new money-per-minute format, since the onset of 2004.

d) It is reported, though I have no means to confirm or verify, that these tech support services are as cheap as they are because they are partly subsized by the Indian government. [UK based warning.]

e) It is reported, though I have no means to confirm or verify, that these India tech support services are flypapering computer user data in the Unites States to create intelligence MAPs. [Silicon based warning.]

f) MicroSoft has adopted a corporate stance opposed to the Monopoly Law Enforcing sttes such as the U.S., and EU. Also, MicroSoft had 'sold*' its operating source code access [*-license? how can you withdraw information obtained under license from a sovereign entity?) to the state of Russia.

g) Russia is currently actively working to destabilize Lithuania, as well as former Soviet ring-states.

h) Putin has re-asserted the use of apparatchiks to staff government, and recaptured state control of the press, transforming the popular participation available in Russia.

i) Question 1: Is there substantial intelligence cross penetration and sharing between India and Russia, (especially in the face of American military presence in Pakistan)? I presume this exists sub rosa by legacy if not overtly in the present.

j) Question 2: Does item (f) allow India a special advantage in deploying chosen computer resources? Again, sub rosa mechanisms allow this functions in the absence of conscious policy.

k) Question 3:

Have we in fact allowed and incentivized the following strategically vulnerable situation contrary to American strategic interests?:

    A hostile intelligence regime (Russia), now inter-cooperative to national power with world concerns (India faced with China, US, Indonesia, Pakistan) are in a position to gain Intelligence, and access to numerous computer use and data reserves, and are able to be financed by it's target's population at the infrastructure level, individually yet collectably, to have this access.

    Further these both are therefore incentivized at both national security levels to craft, construct, and launch viral/worm/and other program concepts, to seize upon exploits discoverable within the MicroSoft user program architecture, being rewarded both with money and sensitive internal information?


Thank you for your attention.

I hope to be in touch soon about another (lighter and recreational) matter.

Hope you are doing well.



Subject: Ode to Napster, Music's Last Hope

Hello Jerry,

As always, Dvorak is thought provoking. Is RIAA its own worst enemy?,1759,1537393,00.asp 

Regards, Clyde Wisham

**** "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."-- Oscar Wilde ****

As you say...


Another item on Clarke

Subject: Information on Richard Clarke 

Fascinating reading. -- Harry

I remember him now; he seemed a bit familiar when I saw him on TV. It was an Atlanta AAAS meeting, I believe, although it may have been a COMDEX. Some of Clinton's science and technology people were at the conference and I had lunch with them; I had been a panelist on cyberwar. This was quite early in Clinton's administration, possibly first year, although probably the second, but before the Gingrich Congressional win.

I am afraid I don't remember much about Mr. Clarke. There was another chap on Clinton's staff who did impress me, and I believe I wrote about him at the time in BYTE.

But not, I think, Mr. Clarke.

"I am waiting for him to tell us what, precisely, he proposed prior to 911 that was not done. I am also waiting to hear his precise advice to Clinton when the Sudanese offered us Bin Laden on a silver platter."

In one of Clarke's many media appearances in the past week, on NPR, he discusses this and seems to say that he believes the Sudanese never extended such an offer. He explains his reasons for believing this at some length but I do not recall genuine evidence being discussed. I'm not familiar with what evidence there was of this offer in the first place. 

In the media he certainly comes across as someone who believes what he is saying.


I am sure he believes what he is saying. I am not sure his memory is correct when it comes to the measures he proposed. And whether or not he proposed an invasion of Afghanistan in the first year of the Bush Administration is irrelevant since there was zero chance of getting either a declaration of war or an appropriation for doing that; not until 911.



Well, the test message hasn't been bounced by your spam blocker; I'll try this again...

For what it's worth, the gentleman running the new NASA "Centennial Challenge" space prize program will be talking about what they're up to at our Space Access '04 conference next month. (April 22-24 in Phoenix, for details see )

They're currently running on a few hundred thousand in Administrator's discretionary funds; the request for next year would give them $20 million starting in October, if Congress approves. It's not in the ballpark you're talking about here, but it's a start.

The principle seems to be getting established. Soon we may be in a position to start haggling about price...

Henry Vanderbilt Executive Director Space Access Society

I will probably manage to get to that conference this year. I doubt I can get the Administrator of NASA to it this time, though. It has been far too long since I attended one of those meetings although my son Richard usually goes.

As to test messages and bounces, apparently adelphia got itself black holed. I've arranged for our ISP to pass their stuff through to me anyway, and the listing has been lifted but some routers aren't updated yet. Or so I am told.


Laws and Regulations

Hi Jerry,

A double whammy for you today...

Start with this: 

which leads naturally into this: 

Fred has it spot on.

- Paul











This week:


read book now


Saturday, March 27, 2004


At some point I should get my booty in gear and write about X-Projects, but this isn't the day.





CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, March 28, 2004

From Margeret Moss:

Subject: "the ancient insolence of office"

 Man Arrested For Saving a Stray Chicken
by Carl Warden


So just what is going on in Oregon? Have they any concept of the Rule of Law, or is this now a People's Republic?







Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

birdline.gif (1428 bytes)