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Mail 307 April 26 - May 2, 2004






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Monday  April 26, 2004

Be sure to see the VIRUS WARNING in Mail 306

There was other mail Sunday, April 25.

Subject: The Growing Tide of Islam

This story is pretty unsettling. Will people who say they want to see Tony Blair dead and an Islamic flag hanging in front of 10 Downing Street work to make that goal a reality?


We live in interesting times.

Egypt for the Egyptians. Pakistan for the Pakistani. India for the Indians. England for the Egyptians, Pakistani, Indians, etc., but of course not for the English, nor Sweden for the Swedes. So it goes.

Dear Dr Pournelle,

One of the believe-it-or-not articlets of the Economist drew my attention to this statistic: "Between 1980 and 2002, the American population grew by 26%. In the same period, the number of Americans in work grew by 40%".

Each statistic is staggering in its own right. European populations, like those of China, are comparatively stagnant. But the real stunner is that proportionately far more Americans are in paid employment, and that median household income is increasing - which means the middle class is, contrary to expectations, growing stronger according to census data.

More information is available at <  >.

The impression that the US, as a superpower, was punching above its weight, is no longer so strong. It's now less obvious that as other economies become more developed, the importance of the United States in world affairs will diminish - especially considering a growing economic confederacy with Canada and Mexico. And the increasing employment puts a new light on outsourcing of eg. IT jobs. "Strip out immigrants, and the picture of stagnant median incomes vanishes. Indeed, for the nine-tenths of the population that is native-born, middle-income trends continue their improvement of the 1950s and 1960s. For these people, inequality is not rising, but falling... What this piece attempts to argue is that the middle is far from being hollowed out."

A lot of the reason for the increased population is that the US has simply hijacked people from other countries by immigration, legal and otherwise. And I'll bet it's still true that people with the nous to up sticks and leave home are better than those who stay.

I'm aware of worries that patriotism in the US is on the wane. On past trends, that will turn out to be transitory; as the children of immigrants grew up in America, they grew to identify with their birth nation more than their parents. More importantly, there has been no real threat to the US for decades. Wait and see what happens when a credible Islamic bomb becomes real.

Meanwhile, suffice to say I'm not convinced of America's economic demise. Nor do I think the republic is moribund. Maybe it's becoming an empire. It surely resembles no empire I'm familiar with, except perhaps the British. The Chinese call it a hegemony, but it's not clear what that means. For want of anything better, "The West" will still do. Even though it's likely to include many oriental nations. We need a new word for it, says me. I know you disagree.

Regards, TC

-- Terry Cole BA/BSc/BE/BA(hons) ( System Administrator, Dept. of Maths. & Stats., Otago Uni. PO Box 56, Dunedin, NZ.

It is easy to read trends and forget fundamentals. Still, there is a problem:

We need not worry overly about those on the right side of the Bell Curve. They will find themselves work of some kind, and ingenuity will make them productive. Nor need we worry about those just to the left of the median: they will remain comfortably middle class, or historically they have done so. But between those and the hopeless (who will simply have to be supported) lies a rather large class of people who have become middle class through automatable or exportable jobs; and finding them work that produces enough for them to earn middle class wages is our immediate problem.

It is probably time to begin thinking about that.

And the trend between the median wage and the top compensations in this country grows more rapidly every year, and that may be disturbing. Rule by the middle class is stable. Rule by the many in a country of sharply divided classes is not stable. We have run that experiment often enough to have confidence in the outcome.


Dr. Pournelle:

While "no blood for oil" is the chant of the anti-war protesters who see everything in black and white, I don't think that anyone is so coy as to suggest that oil isn't an issue.

One of the reasons why we don't have space-based power is the oil glut of the last 20 years and I guess oil is in now in short supply. The conventional Hubbert-curve wisdom is that we may already be at, in rough round years, the peak of world oil production, and that the liberation of Iraq may be part of a grand strategy to develop the hitherto neglected oil fields of Iraq, to put the fear into our terror-financing Saudi friends, and to give us perhaps another 10-20 year breathing room until we can figure out what to do next.

The unconventional wisdom is that there is more oil to be had than we know what to do with. You can Google to look up what Thomas Gold has to say on this, and you can Google up the Thomas Gold critics saying he is full of it.

If oil really is the result of the anaerobic decomposition of algea blooms in shallow seas and lakes capped by the right type of rock formation to hold it in place, the Hubbert-peak people have it right and one way or another we really have to worry about the Middle East. If Thomas Gold is right, not only can we let the Middle East people work out their differences on their own, it also means that space power or the renewal of nuclear power will have a tough time.

The pro-Gold arguments? Well, read what Dr. Gold has to say. The anti-Gold arguments? Petroleum has the carbon isotope balance and molecular left-handedness of life (Gold argues the isotopes are concentrated by migration through porous rock the way gaseous diffusion enriches uranium, and the recently-discovered bacteria in rocks metabolize oil to produce the handedness), and Dr. Gold's drilling experiment in Sweden is a crock because the hydrocarbons he found were the lubricant used in the drilling mud.

Are all commercially-viable oil deposits found in post-Cambrian sedimentary rocks? I came across this reference  that says that (commercially-viable) oil is found in volcanic rocks and rocks as old as 3 billion years.

I suppose that CO2 emissions are a limit on use of oil, but I suspect Freeman Dyson is right that the really problem with CO2 is not a mild degree of global warming but what will happen to food supplies when the oil finally runs out and we stop fertilizing the atmosphere with CO2. I suppose we could run out of oxygen if oil is really that abundant. But space power and the renewal of nuclear power may not happen in our lifetimes.

Paul Milenkovic Madison, Wisconsin

Indeed. King Hubbert's "harmless curve" has been the subject of debate for a long time. Of course one day we will run out of oil; but in fact we have been seeing predictions that we'll run out in fifty years for at least the fifty years I have been following the arguments.

Tommy Gold's theories have not been disproved so far as I know, and there are high passions in favor of him as well as other reputable people who denounce him as a fool. I have interviewed him both formally and informally over lunch, and he's not a fool. He may be wrong: I am not competent to comment on oil geology, or the efficiency of his drilling experiments. But he may be right.

But right or wrong, oil is far too valuable as feed stock for industrial chemical processes to have us set a match to it.

Nuclear fission and produce plenty of power without pollution. Nuclear waste is a non-issue: encase it in glass (actually fuse it into glass) and drop it into a subduction zone, unless you think you will have a use for it some day. And beyond fission there is space or lunar solar power, and the possibility of superconductor power lines that will let us link ground based solar collectors over wide areas to ameliorate weather and day/night effects.

And our foreign policy would sure be better if we could tell the Arabs to drink their oil...

And see below


Spam bites man

Dear Jerry,

Check out this unctuous message that was attached to some spyware that locked onto my browser and insisted on taking over my search function anytime I did a web search. I found the "signature" to be more than a little interesting....LOL

Kim Owen Smith 

Original message follows:


We are always happy to receive feedback from our users. You can write to us here < >

Appearance of popup consoles on your computer < > while viewing web pages means there is some kind of adware installed on your PC.

It is possible that this adware is produced by our company.

I am a representative of an advertising company that pays to its affiliates for distribution of this software, MSSearch.

Usually our product is distributed via adult web sites <> . Installation of this program is a kind of substitute of admisstion fee to the porn resources.

If you never visited the websites of this kind, please check who could use your computer <> in your absence.

Uninstalling our program is quite simple and is done by standard Windows tools.

To uninstall MSSearch popups:

Windows 95/98/ME

- Open My Computer <> .

- Open the Control Panel.

- Open Add/Remove Programs .

- Scroll through the list of installed programs and click on the "MSSearch" link so that its highlighted.

- Click the Add/Remove button.

- Close the Add/Remove Programs window when you are done.

Windows 2000

- Open My Computer <> .

- Open the Control Panel.

- Open Add/Remove Programs.

- Scroll through the list of installed programs and click on the "MSSearch" link so that its highlighted.

- Click the Change/Remove button.

- Close the Add/Remove Programs window when you are done.

Windows XP

- Click Start.

- Open the Control Panel.

- Open Add or Remove Programs.

- Scroll through the list of installed programs and click on the "MSSearch" link so that its highlighted.

- Click the Change/Remove button.

- Close the Add/Remove Programs window when you are done.

In future try not to install any software without reading Terms and Conditions attached to them.

Best Regards and happy surfing!

Paul Atrides.

Support department.

How wonderful. I wondered what happened to the Atrides family...





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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I periodically get this letter from someone. It's time to deal with it again.

Subject: Radioactive tourism

Dr. Pournelle:

You write that nuclear fission can "produce plenty of power without pollution. Nuclear waste is a non-issue: encase it in glass (actually fuse it into glass) and drop it into a subduction zone, unless you think you will have a use for it some day."

This link is full of haunting imagery of the worst-case scenario involving nuclear power plants: 

Obviously, gut-wrenching pictures from the Chernobyl area don't affect your conclusion; even "Elena's" comments demonstate that the Chernobyl disaster tells more of the Soviet system than of any intinsic problems of nuclear power plants. I only send this link because I found it fascinating, and I hope you find it so.

Sincerely, Christian J. Schulte

Junk science plus sentimentalism begets hysteria.

There is no reactor like Chernobyl in the United States, and there cannot be one. Edward Teller personally saw to it that no "positive void" reactor designs could ever be licensed in this country.

The worst case disaster scenario for the United States is Three Mile Island, in which the worst did happen. Just about anything that could go wrong did go wrong. The result: If you had gone to Three Mile Island, carrying a radiation meter, and deliberately positioned yourself at the hottest spot just outside the site fence, moving whenever there was any hotter spot, and stayed in the hottest possible spot on the site perimeter, you would have received less radiation than you would get from 8 chest Xrays. (The actual number is smaller than that, but 8 will do to avoid arguments.)

The worst that happened to anyone working inside the perimeter was to receive the maximum allowable dose for the month (determined by their film badges) and be sent home for a month at full pay.

Three Mile Island was a hideously expensive experiment, but it showed just how good our designs are.

Chernobyl was not the same kettle of fish. I will leave it to you to find out just what was different about Chernobyl, assuming you really want to know; but rest assured, that can't happen in the US.

We have not "almost lost Detroit." To the best of my knowledge there has never been anyone in the US off the plant site who has been harmed by radiation from a US power reactor. (There were cases involving Hanford and other weapons development reactors, but those were not power reactors and we don't have any of those reactors any longer.)

Now: either you already knew this, in which case discussion is pointless; or you have been deceived by those who informed you, and the deceptions were probably deliberate. The facts are known and well known.

Dr. Pournelle:

I think I might have caused a misunderstanding. I earlier sent you an email with a link to the photo-journal of the female Russian motorcyclist who tours through Chernobyl. Your response seems to indicate I might have sent an incorrect link, with reference to "losing Detroit" or something like that.

For what it's worth, I support the expanded use of nuclear power. I am aware that Chernobyl was a Soviet problem, not a nuclear power plant problem. Sending that link was an impulse born of stumbling across "kiddofspeed" yesterday, having an intense reaction to it, and reading your web page today. I sent the link because I was engrossed in the creepy, surreal atmosphere of the website's contents. My motivation was aesthetic. I apologize for seeming to lend support for the notion that we must avoid nuclear power because of a possibility of a Chernobyl-like disaster here.

Yours truly, Christian J. Schulte

Apologies: I misread your letter, which was one of several, but the most articulate; when I saw  "Obviously, gut-wrenching pictures from the Chernobyl area don't affect your conclusion"       I failed to realize your meaning. In my defense I will note that had you said "don't affect the conclusion" I might have caught on. Perhaps not. I plead sinus and allergy problems causing lack of sleep. But I get accused of callous indifference all the time, this time I saw that accusation where it was not meant.

And of course I should remember who sends what, but often I don't. Again my apologies, but at least I am saved from having to find one of the less articulate and more vehement letters and posting that.

I highly recommend the Chernobyl motorcycling photos to all your readers. They are, for a variety of reasons, fascinating. And the lady who rides her motorcycle through Chernobyl explains well, in Chapter 1 of her web site, why she has little to fear from the radiation (and the steps she takes to stay safe).

I hope no one gets the idea that this web site is only for people who hate and fear nuclear power. It's interesting for anyone. The two main lessons I took away from it are

0) nuclear fallout is pretty scary

1) the Soviet Union was evil. (Sending fire fighters and other rescue workers in to Chernobyl without adequate protective gear, without even telling them that the area was radioactive. Jailing the workers on duty in the reactor, rather than the people who designed and built it. Keeping the disaster a secret so people didn't know to stay away. Evil.) 

In happier news, cold fusion is looking like there is something there. Here's a news link, and a Slashdot thread about "where are the neutrons"? 

In the Slashdot discussion, one person mentioned polywater. I had never heard of it. Links here: 

Stay well. Keep writing! -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

Thanks. Polywater was a big deal a couple of decades ago, and was responsible for some good science fiction stories, but as I understand it turned out to be non-repeatable, probably the result of insufficient cleaning of glassware. If anyone knows different I await correction, but I have heard little to nothing about it for well over five years.




Central America Monitoring and Visualization System

Hi, Jerry!

I recall that you had some interest in studying Central America; well, while it's not fully accessible yet here is a way of viewing that area from space via the Central America Monitoring and Visualization System: 

Here is a NASA Space News article describing what they hope to do with this site: 

Arthur Maruyama


Hello -- knowing your enthusiasm for a sharp display, I have a few thoughts to share with you.

One the one hand, perhaps you should see if IBM can send a review unit of their new high-resolution 22.2" LCD display, charmingly named the "IBM T221-DG5 22.2 inch QUXGA-W Flat Panel Monitor" Its maximum resolution is 3840x2400 - 204dpi. Here's the URL: 

On a related note, I've been trying out a Toshiba M200 tablet, which is not nearly that high-res, but packing 1400x1050 (or 1050x1400 in portrait orientation) into about 12" is still on the sharp end of the scale. I find that the higher dpi, combined with ClearType and/or zooming text up by 200% or more, has a gigantic impact on the readability of on-screen text.

I do prefer the Toshiba to the Compaq/HP (I've had test runs with the TC1000 and the 1100). It's a convertible, rather than a "pure" tablet -- the keyboard is not detachable. And it does not have an internal optical drive, which may be a deal-breaker for some. But unlike the TC1000, I can flip it around into a really useable laptop in classic laptop form at a moment's notice. And Toshiba have some clever accelerometer buttons - you hold it down while rotating or tilting the screen, and it can tell "which way is up" or scroll you up or down through a document.

On the gripping hand, even in XP, the high-dpi GUI experience has some serious flaws -- mainly I think due to GUI designers who assumed (understandably) that the system font would always be around 10-14 pts, so frequently dialog boxes and such do not fit all their text or controls into the visible area of the window. Oops. I gather Longhorn is going to handle this (usable UI independent of screen dpi) much better - and I seem to recall from various blogs etc that both Bill Gates and a few people in Microsoft Research have these very IBM high-res displays.So maybe by the Longhorn timeframe we'll see displays of similar size & resolution for a reasonably exorbitant price - maybe US$3000 vs US$8399 today.

-Dan Becker

Cool. In fact I have bought at TC1100, which I find I can use as both laptop and tablet, and for that matter I can carry a large keyboard in checked luggage and attach that when I really need to type a lot. I haven't noticed the problems you seem to be having. I love tablets.

I fear $8300 for a monitor is a bit above what I'd recommend to readers. Bottles with flat anti-glare screens are cheap even in 21" and work very well. I wouldn't mind replacing my heaviest 21" bottles with flat panels but it's not high on my agenda until the prices come down.


Vinton Cerf on spam

Morning Jerry,

I had the opportunity to hear Vinton Cerf speak this morning. In addition to being one of the inventors of the IP protocol, he currently serves as the Chairman of ICANN. After an interesting discussion on the future of the internet, we had a short Q&A session. The first question dealt with spam. After describing a recent presentation on the lack of technical solutions, he provided this suggestion:

"Public Flogging"



Doug Lhotka doug[@]

"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide." ~ Jim Burnham



Continuing to Remember The Alamo:

Subject: The Alamo Controversy

Dr Pournelle, Much of the revisionist version of the events at the Alamo is based on the de la Pena "diary". De la Pena was a staff officer for Santa Anna. In the mid 50's, a document was discovered that was suppose to have been dictated by de la Pena while he was dying in prison. In this document it was stated that Crockett and six others were captured and later put to the sword. This of course contradicts what was reported by other witnesses who reported seeing the body afterwards, specifically Mrs Dickinson, Joe - one of Travis' slaves, and Ruiz, the mayor of San Antonio who was pressed into service removing the bodies.

There is little conclusive evidence about the authenticity of the de la Pena document. We do know that, as with most memoirs written well after the events, some statements in the document can be verified as true and others verified as false. Some historians believe that it is for real, others are skeptical.


As I understand it, Mrs. Dickinson saw the distinctive coonskin cap that Crockett habitually wore, and was thus pretty sure the mangled mess she saw surrounded by dead enemies was Crockett. The alternative ending given in the latest movie version is consistent with the acting style of Thornton, and is not inconsistent with what Crockett might have done had he allowed himself to be captured. Alcalde Ruiz is likely the most reliable reporter on what he knew, including the number of Mexican and American dead.


Dear Dr. Pournelle:

To the best of my knowledge, (not great) it is still unlawful to use the SSN for identification; and, in fact, my card carries the warning that it is not usable as such. I understand the newer cards have dropped that warning. For tax purposes, you may apply to the IRS for a Tax Payer Identification Number in its stead, and the military will, if forced, issue a new service member a service number instead of using the SSN. You must know to ask for these and do so before the other number SSN is in the agency's system but it is possible.

You do not have to use your SSN for any type of form. All U.S. government forms and most others carry the provisions for not giving the number. In the case of the gentleman trying to buy the car, he probably would have been denied credit. On job apps, it is usual that they will not cosider the app. So, as you see, the government is following (at least the letter of) the law.

But, as you say, we were born free.

Patrick A. Hoage


Subject: Changing drive letters in XP Pro

I remember reading you had some experience changing the designated drive letters on a PC running Windows XP.

I've just built a PC running Windows XP Pro, and for some strange reason, XP decided that the boot drive would be drive I: The DVD-ROM is C:, the CD-RW is D: and the memory card reader takes up E:,F:,G: and H:

I tried going into Control Panel, Administrative Services, Computer Management... Then into Disk Management... Then right-click on the drive and choose "Change drive letter and path..." Then select the drive and choose "Change..."

But that gives me the message "Windows cannot modify the drive letter of your system volume or boot volume."

And ideas on how to change the drive letter (without starting all over again)?


Charles Milner -- Harts Systems Ltd <>

I have never had anything like that happen, so I have no remedy off the top of my (rather stuffy at the moment) head.

I think of several kludges including installing a new drive to become the boot drive and named anything but C:, then renaming the old drive to C: and removing the new one, but I expect the Registry will be fouled up even so. I don't think I have ever had such a problem: can anyone help?



Subject: Respiratory problems....

>I remain under the weather. It's all upper respiratory and sore throat, but I am not shaking it off >very well. I recall a few years ago I had one of these bouts that hung on until I tried snake oil >(literally; from China) which, by coincidence or by cause, signaled the abrupt end of my >difficulties. I would prefer not to have to run that experiment again.

Mr. Pournelle,

I always find your pages interesting (though I don't always agree with some of the conclusions), but at any rate if I may I'll give a suggestion which might 'give back' a little.

My allergies had been getting worse for a few years before I went another round with an allergist early last year. Things were hit and miss until he suggested I try something called nasal lavage.

May is usually my worst allergy month. In May two years ago I was getting miserable sinus headaches 3-4 days a week. After starting with nasal lavage, this past May I had one sinus headache the whole month. It works better than drugs, has no significant side effects (antihistamines make me sleepy, Allegra keeps me from sleeping), and it's cheap.

Once a day I flush my sinuses with a saline solution (roughly 10 ounces, mixed from 1 gallon distilled water w/four teaspoons of non-iodized salt). High pollen days or after yard mowing or the like I do it more often. The lavage works to flush the irritants out of the sinus cavity as well as any bacteria hanging around, and leaves the sinuses clean so they can do a better job of dealing with new irritants on their own. Cleaning out the sinuses results in less postnasal drip, which can cause the sore throat. For whatever reason it also deals with my itchy eyes. Warm the water and it's not an unpleasant experience- certainly it's better than the sinus infections this regimen makes me miss.

Everyone is different, and this may just be my particular combination of allergies and sinus defects that makes it work for me. With that said, this has really made a difference in my daily life, and I'm surprised it took five years of going to and talking to doctors and allergists before someone suggested I give it a try.

On a daily basis I use a regular Waterpic following nozzle attached: 

When I travel I use a portable one: 

YMMV, but HTH.

-Les Elkins

"NEVER use a maj7 chord in any bar that is named after a deceased NASCAR driver, a large-calibre firearm, or an intoxicated farm animal." -Rev. Billy C. Wirtz's Universal Chord Law

I think I should try something of the sort, although I don't care to mix gallons of saline solution; I suspect I can buy that. My car is at the body shop and Roberta is out with hers and it is 100 out there so I won't dash down to Savon for a couple of hours, but I am desperate enough to try nearly anything...

Incidentally, if you agree with my input data and not my conclusions, one of us is in serious error. It may be me. Disagreements over assumptions and data are common. Disagreements over conclusions given the same data are more serious, and should be chased down and corrected.


Subject: Stupid Texans.

-- Roland Dobbins

Heh. It is an interesting experiment. In Los Angeles the school would be looted within a fortnight.

More Lunar Minerals:

Subject: Hapkeite.

- Roland Dobbins

Subject: Slowly, slowly, we're getting there . . .

-- Roland Dobbins

Slow but sure, or at least, certainly slow.

The following is an interesting note by a Jewish friend:

For example, a couple of weeks ago I happened to catch an interesting C-SPAN presentation by a leftist professor in New York named Finkelstein, apparently a notorious enemy of the neocons regarding the Mid East. His primary focus was on the elite media's misportrayals of the conflict, which he explained by---among other things---pointing to what he called "the ethnic factor" in our media and major universities.

As a related example, Finklestein mentioned some public statement by Abe Foxman of the ADL arguing to the contrary, which downplayed any such possibility, citing as proof the fact that very heavily Jewish Hollywood makes almost no movies about the Jewish Holocaust, a topic which one would think would surely attract Jewish interest.

This claim surprised Finkelstein, so he investigated and discovered---contra Foxman---that over the last 15 years or so, Hollywood had actually produced something like 237 different movies wholly or partly about the Holocaust. During that same time, Hollywood had produced just two movies about Jesus Christ, one of which (I think) portrayed him as a adulterer and the other as a gay activist.

Considering that something like 2% of American movie-goers derive from a Jewish heritage and something like 95% from a Christian one, it may be entirely coincidental that Mel Gibson's rather so-so and entirely self-financed recent film has already become the most profitable movie in the history of the human species.

Given that most Hollywood producers generally tend to put profits above all else, I really doubt they deliberately avoided making movies about Jesus all those years. It's just that virtually no one they personally knew had any deep interest in the subject.

I believe that in traditional economics this is what is sometimes described as "market failure."


An interesting observation...







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Subject:  Kidofspeed's Chernobyl pics

I don't know about the absolute truth of this site, but I can this without reservation: someone is one hell of a photographer!

And: the Russians can pack more sentimental impact into one sentence than any other culture I've encountered.

It's no wonder the USSR held on as long as it did, with their propaganda machine armed with great photographers and writers. More is the pity.

Jim Snover

An interesting observation...

Subject: Limits?



The specific limit that we have derived here is of in- terest for several reasons. First, it demonstrates that the effective information available to any observer within the event horizon of an expanding universe is less than the Hawking-Beckenstein entropy. Second, the numeri- cal value we have derived puts several fundamental limits on any future technological civilization. If consciousness involves information processing, then when one is ulti- mately able to determine the minimum complexity of a conscious being in terms of the information-processing rate in bits/sec, then an upper limit on the future of consciousness within an accelerating universe can be de- rived. On a more concrete level, perhaps, our limit gives a physical constraint on the length of time over which Moore’s Law can continue to operate. In 1965 Gordon Moore speculated that the number of transistors on a chip, and with that the computing power of computers, would double every year[8]. Subsequently this estimate was revised to between 18 months and 2 years, and for the past 40 years this prediction has held true, with computer processing speeds actually exceeding the 18 month pre- diction. Our estimate for the total information process- ing capability of any system in our Universe implies an ultimate limit on the processing capability of any system in the future, independent of its physical manifestation and implies that Moore’s Law cannot continue unabated for more than 600 years for any technological civilization.

- Roland Dobbins

I imagine things for a living and I cannot imagine 600 years of Moore's Law without discontinuities.


Subject: Ordnung!

- Roland Dobbins

"When a stupid man is doing something he knows is wrong, he always claims that it is his duty. " Julius Caesar


Subject: London is not for the Brits

In light of your observation yesterday, I thought you would find this story of interest.


This is LONDON 27/04/04 - London news section

New homes block is for 'Asians only' By Paul Waugh, Evening Standard Whitehall Editor

Race watchdogs have been called in to investigate a state-of-the-art London housing block that is being reserved


Sirajul Islam, lead councillor for social services at Tower Hamlets, said:
"We certainly do not advocate segregation in Tower Hamlets.

"But the 'one size fits all' approach to public services is no longer acceptable in 21st century Britain.

"Tower Hamlets is fortunate to have a diverse mix of communities and the council strives to ensure that its services are responsive to the differing and changing needs of its residents."


Find this story at


Egypt for the Egyptians, Algeria for the Algerians, England for everyone but the English...


And here is news Mr. Milner will not want to hear...

I hand built a system and installed XP Home. I had problems with the boot drive which should received the C drive letter ending up as something far down the alphabet. The first thing to do is dis-connect the memory card reader until the XP is entirely installed and working correctly. If I believe I also disconnected all of my other drives except one CD drive and then installed XP and managed to get XP to believe the boot drive was C:.

After I got XP installed I connected all of the other drives and let XP detect them and then gave them permanent letter assignments using the Disk Manager. I think I also had to F Disk and Format just about every (damn) thing once the Root drive had decided its name wasn't "C"

Steve Martin

 Gold Star Question -- -- -- -- -- -- --

If the universe is constantly expanding, is wall-to-wall carpet a good investment?

I never install auxiliary drive devices until I have the system booted up. FDisk and Format are not what anyone wants to hear, alas.

Hi Jerry,

For Charles Milner who has a problem restoring boot-drive letters inadvertently relabeled in XP Pro, this is a known issue, and the corrective method for W2K will likely apply to XP. From Microsoft's knowledgebase:;en-us;Q223188 

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 223188 HOW TO: Restore the System/Boot Drive Letter in Windows "...This article describes how to change the system or boot drive letter in Windows. For the most part, this is not recommended, especially if the drive letter is the same as when Windows was installed. The only time that you may want to do this is when the drive letters get changed without any user intervention..."

Regards, Joey Pastoral





Subject: Fallujah - Operation Dresden ?

Jerry, I may grouchy today, but perhaps we need/needed an "Operation Dresden" performed on Fallujah. The operation would be to cordon off the city (which is already done), demand a surrender of the people we want or we carpetbomb Fallujah like we did to Dresden. I'd be amenable to using precision bombs near sensitive areas, but the mosque and hospital are reportedly used as bases. Despite the fact that some people would howl at us, Fallujah deserves this treatment at least as much as Dresden did. Also, it would serve as an example (always good for empire), and Arabs tend to respect force more than cultural respect. Afterwards we tell Najaf that they have 1 day to comply. One hopes that two instances of carpet bombing would instill the proper fear that we need...

Thanks, Jim Laheta

It hasn't come to that yet, as it hasn't come to the grave of the hundred heads yet; but blood is the price of admiralty, as we will discover.

Why send a Marine when a 500 pound bomb will do the job?





CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, April 29, 2004

On the language schools:

Dear Jerry:

The US Army Language School is now called the Defense Language Institute and is located both in Washington DC and Monterey, California. When I was in the graduates of this school were called "Monterey Marys". A dismissive term that did not reflect the reality that some of them would be working not just on the front lines, but behind them. I almost became one of them. My original assignment beyond Basic Training was to go there and learn Farsi. I had my gall bladder out instead, missed the start date (the school was a year long) and ended up at Fort Devens , where I ultimately did my Vietnam jungle training in 30 inches of powder snow. Terry Karney took Russian at Monterey. The school never closed and I assume that classes in various South Asian languages are going full tilt. These take a long time to learn and using native speakers in the field creates other problems. Otherwise we'd just go to Detroit and run an ad in the paper. I'm not sure that classes can substitute for field experience in the language and culture. One buddy of mine in Germany flunked German and was sent to us as an OJT clerk. By the time his classmates showed up, he was speaking pretty serviceable German while they were totally at sea at first.

If you read the papers today, you'll see that some Army generals are no longer staying silent about the logistical and force protection problems. Some of the new units rotating in left their armor behind. Now it has to be shipped and that also means that the mix of spare parts has to be changed. I'm looking forward to the next Republican presentation of "A Christmas Carol". I understand that Rumsfeld will play Scrooge and Eric Shinseki will appear as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Nominations for the role of Tiny Tim are still open.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit



I am a graduate of the Defense Language Institute - West Coast from the Russian language program. I attended there from 1971 to 1972 and it was an excellent program. But conditions were different. The Vietnam War was hot and the draft was active. So many of us looked around for programs that would tend to keep us alive.

To get into the language program you had to score at least 30 out of 60 possible on the DLAT/ALAT exam. This was a test based on a made up language with increasing complexity. Every wrong answer cost you 1 1/2 points. We had just 45 minutes to do the test.

When my class formed in March 1971 we had over 120 students. Most were college students with some in postgraduate studies. When we graduated in March 1972 we had just 56 left. Some were dropped behind to another class, some were sent to other specialty areas, and a few suicides.

Russian was a bit difficult, but I cannot even imagine what Arabic would be like.

During this period the Vietnamese students at Fort Bliss in Texas rioted. Their attitude was, "What the fuck can you do to us - send us to Vietnam?" They were all broken to E-1 and allowed to continue in the program. Their morale was very low.

Just two years later the draft was gone and we were getting out of Vietnam. People were coming through the program with scores in the low teens. The college students were gone and they had to try to find candidates in the regular pool of enlistees.

Now what kind of people do you think the military is going to get today. What kind of people would want to take Arabic and go into the meatgrinder of Iraq?

Chris Landa

A year ago when we first began the war the military had no recruitment problems, and finding applicants for Middle East language training, and for military government training, would not have been difficult. It might have involved a few bonuses. Aptitude for languages is not all that highly correlated with IQ. People who are bilingual often have an enhanced ability to learn yet another language.

But really, the point is that you can't have an empire, or even a republic with long term overseas adventures, without acquiring the resources to do the job: and it takes no great genius to realize that if you are going to occupy a country, you need people who know something about that country, about occupations, and about the languages involved. Duh.

If you do gear up for occupation of a large country, do you have any business trying to do that? See below for more on language schools


Making Sense of Fallujah

Subj: Making sense of Fallujah

Does the following notional order of preferences help make sense of what's going on in Fallujah?

In descending order from "Most Preferred", by the US High Command, to "Least Preferred":

A. Iraqis take care of it all themselves.

B. Iraqis take care of as much of it themselves as they can handle, Americans help where needed.

C. Iraqis provide the information, Americans provide the violence.

D. Americans kill as discriminately as they can, without much (or any) info from Iraqis.

E. Americans indiscriminately slaughter everything alive.

The way I see it, the initial hope was for A. Perhaps an insanely optimistic hope, but perhaps understandable, in view of how well the "major combat" part went: remember, no chem/bio used against Coalition forces, no large-scale oil-well fires, no house-to-house through Baghdad, etc.

Right now, from what I've been reading on, and from what a few Fox News "analysts" have said, we seem to be somewhere between B. and C. The US forces keep nudging things towards B., often by offering D. as an unpleasant alternative for the Iraqi tribal leaders in the Fallujah area to contemplate. But those tribal leaders are really more comfortable with C., especially if they can provide the information privately and deniably, so it's slow going, and often C. is the best we can get.

The US media -- including the rest of the Fox News "analysts" -- are reporting something between D. and E. Part of this is due to how effective the Iraqi tribal leaders have been in hiding their contributions of information: the US reporters don't find out it's happening, so it must not be.

And al Jazeerah, and others of that ilk, are of course reporting E.


A fair analysis.

Back when we first went in I said that we would have to encourage local government. In Fallujah there were local governments and sheiks who were in fact keeping order. Bremer had them arrested.

When the Union Army occupied the South, one rule was that anyone who had been an officer in the Confederacy, or who had held public office under the Confederacy, was ineligible to hold public office in the Reconstruction local governments. The result is well known, and in many places the Ku Klux Klan (the old Klan headed by Nathan Bedford Forrest and disbanded by him as part of the Hayes/Tilden election compromise) was the actual government, with the "official" government of carpetbaggers and scalawags ignored or the target of Klan violence. Reconstruction succeeded only when those restrictions were removed. As a young man in a Southern rural school I actually learned the old song that ended with "I'm glad I fit against them, I only wish we'd won, and I don't need no pardon, for anything I done."

The analogy is nowhere near exact, but there are parallels. And until the US can build local governments we won't get out of this with much credit.

On those lines there are lessons to be learned from the following:

Subject: Gallup goes to Iraq.

-- Roland Dobbins


Which  brings us to:

Subject: The -Iraqis- certainly had a plan.

- Roland Dobbins

Which was again not only foreseeable but foreseen. Given that we knew this would happen, what should be have done? But in fact we didn't act as if we knew this was coming, which is astonishing. The State Department had contingency plans anticipating such events, but apparently the Department of Defense didn't encourage study of any such plans, and may have forbidden military officers to work with or listen to the cookie pushers. Which is a mistake of gigantic proportions.

State didn't want us in there, but that doesn't mean they couldn't contribute to going in. I didn't want us in there, but I certainly could foresee many problems and had at least some glimmerings of things we could do to avert them.

But all that is water under a bridge. We are there. What do we do tomorrow morning?

Dear Jerry:

This morning on the Today Show, Lt. Gen William Odom, former Director of the NSA and a man well respected in the military and intelligence communities, expressed the opinion that the war in Iraq is a failure. "We've already failed, " he said, "By staying you just fail worst." He thinks we should get out and let the Iraqis settle it themselves.

The NY Times this morning has a story about how Saddam's plan was , all along, to have the very conditions that are now present. This is why stocks of heavy weapons and ammunition were left all over the country and the prisons were emptied just before the invasion. Certainly that would explain his current attitude and non-cooperation with our interrogators. He is not defeated. As I pointed out before, no one there ever surrendered. And if this is not major combat what is it? a "police action"?

Tonight Ted Koppel is going to do a Nightline program which smacks of the Vietnam era. Sinclair, which owns more television stations than anyone else in the nation has ordered their nine ABC stations not to run it, saying that they don't think it in the best interests of the country. Koppel plans to read the names and show the pictures of all of the military personnel killed in this war. Is this really Sinclair's call? Such a decision casts severe doubt on the FCC rules which encourage media consolidation. The First Amendment only applies to the government, but the FCC controls the airwaves, not Sinclair. I'm hoping that someone, somewhere will challenge Sinclair's licenses for those stations. Obviously they are not a neutral provider of services acting in the public interest.

The fact that Odom felt compelled to speak out is enormously significant. Even former Directors of the NSA keep a low public profile and try not to draw attention to themselves. They are not political operatives. I take it as a sign that the flag rankers, unable to get the neocons and chickenhawks to listen, are now starting to take their case directly to the public. This is not the done thing, but when faced with a series of blunders and miscalculations of this magnitude and in the light of their greater responsibility to the nation, they obviously feel that they have no choice.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

Perhaps. But the situation is not irretrievable, and neither major candidate for office has given any hint of wavering: we're in Iraq to stay. Given that, the question becomes what do we do now. And the following is relevant:

Subject: Taking Chance Home

--- Roland Dobbins

If blood be the price of admiralty, lord God we ha' paid it in full.

Subject: Would you buy a used war from this man?

"...Mr. Kerry's assurance that he will not cut and run from Iraq..." is, based on his record, no assurance at all.

Greg Hemsath



On another subject

Subject: Real Science used in Slashdot 'Global Warming' discussion

In a Slashdot discussion 

which praised the new NAS Museum in Washington City 

the debate, inevitably, turned to 'global warming'.

One chap actually (gasp) did some calculation, went back to source documents, and found the CO2 buildup *lags* behind oceanic warming. He therefore posited that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are likely not a cause of whatever's going on. 

===== -- John Bartley K7AAY "Clearly, latrines are the forgotten Last Amenity of the Apocalypse. (Other signs.. Michael Jackson as your Best Man (?), Christina Aguilara as your makeup consultant & Cher as your personal shopper.) - ginmar


Subject: Forma Urbis Romae 

--- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Government - FCC fines for informal complaint

It seems the government need nothing more than an informal complaint to fine broadcasters now 

The last line is the most telling.

Long time reader and Byte subscriber (mostly just so I can read CHAOS MANOR)

Thanks Dave Krecklow

Rules are rules, you know. When a stupid man is doing something he knows is wrong, he always insists that it is his duty.


Rod McFadden sends this story of the Sea Scouts in action:



And sometimes I wonder just who reads this page. Or maybe I know.

Subject: Garrison troops.

- Roland Dobbins

If we are to continue our overseas adventures, this is certainly a necessary step.


Subject: Sun Rise, Sun Set

 Roland Dobbins


Subject: A DNA Computer for internal drug delivery

Science fiction coming true?

Wired reports at,1282,63265,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_8 "Scientists program the world's smallest computer, made of DNA molecules, to detect and treat prostate cancer. They hope the mini machine will one day be administered as a drug, where it could search for and combat disease in every cell."

I'd vote for the DNA computer as an alternative to the current "digital examination process".

Rick Hellewell

Wow. Me too! That's the one that will get you in the end. As my friend Poul Anderson used to say.


More on the Language Schools

Subject: DLI/Army Language School personal experience

Hi Jerry,

I studied German for 8 months in 1975 at the Defese Language Institue in Monterey, California. At the time, in the post-Vietnam era (I was at DLI when the war came to it's' final end in April of 1975), we had high quality people studying in all of the langauges there, despite the disparaging commetns made by one of your corresponents who was there at about the same time.

I recall being pleasantly surprised by the level of intelligence, learning and humanity among the students AND the instructors.

At the time the concentration was on European and East Asian languages. I know Arabic was taught, but it may have been a tthe East Coast DLI, rather than Monterey.

The technique used for German (and Russian, which a girlfriend at the time was studying, so I got an insider's view of that program also) was not quite total immersion, but for the six hours of daily classes no English would be spoken unless desperately needed ("I gotta go to the latrine/head NOW, sir!"), and we would often sit about the barracks (which were more like college dorm's) and "immerse" ourselves in the language.

I think your earlier correspondent slightly (!) underestimates the sense of duty (and self-respect) the typical soldier/sailor/marine/Coast Guardsman/airman had at the time, not to mention today. We were all volunteers, we all wanted to elarn the langauge, we all wanted to go on and do the job we had signed up for, and we all knew that if we flunked out we would get a quick trip across the bay to Ft. Ord for a quick tour at either Truck Driver or Cook's School. (if you really pissed a company clerk off, though, they might cut your orders for Mortar Baseplate Bearer School at Ft. Polk in Louisiana. Happened to one poor slob who flunked MI school).

I think today you could find similar young men/women who would sign up for similar jobs in the "meatgrinder" (using that phrase I think is a clue to the worldview of the user) of Iraq, whether as linguists or as Military Government types.

I never heard the term "Monterey Mary" in three years of Army service, and I was in MI, where nearly everyone had been to one of the language schools. Maybe the term was something that was used during the Vietnam War draft era and was lost quickly when that ended. Considering that in my section of 8 students we had one navy SEAL and an Air Force fighter pilot who was the toughest and nicest "Polack" I ever knew (his family had fled Hitler, and refused to return to a communist Poland), and a former Marine combat veteran (who for some reason became a soldier?), it would have been "interesting" to see what would have happened had some clown called one of us that. I doubt it would have gone down well...

Take care, be well, and keep writing!

Kim Owen Smith

The German instructors were fascinating, most of them had lived through the Second World War, and the male ones of that age had all served in the Wehrmacht. One instructor had been the Luftwaffe Intelligence chief for the entire Eastern Front for the last two years or so of the war. Another had been in the Gross Deutschland division (an elite formation, roughly on a par with the Big Red One), fought at Kursk in July of 1943, then was assigned to the "Wacht Battallione" (an elite unit within an elite unit, detailed to ceremonial guard duty in Berlin), and served there right up until the Russians shot him in the ass in Berlin in May of 1945. He was still pretty pissed at the Russian after thirty years, as I recall,


Subject: You were righter than pehaps you knew - need Army Language Schools as distinct from the Defence Language Institute -

DLI comes with a great deal of intelligence baggage (clearances for students and instructors and concerns for identification and simple face recognition in after years and what to do with folks who wash out after clearance) and does not share priorities with serving Infantry, Artillery and Armor branches. Fighting the last war again. Berlitz would be better than ignorance.

For what it's worth notice the number of serving army types who find their common language with Iragi contacts is Russian.

Clark Myers



On Diversity

As part of a discussion in another place of Tom Sowell's latest works on the actual effects of affirmative action and diversity action, I got this from a correspondent:

1) No one *really* believes in the fundamental credo, except for a small minority of fanatics with the power of the state behind them. Even those who mouth lip service and *kinda* believe in "diversity" don't keep their kids in Harlem's schools. Like the mini-entrepreneurs in Russia or Sailer's recent NoCal vs. SoCal comparison, they talk left and live right.

2) The ideological credo is increasingly discredited by popular events. 9/11 was a *big* break in that it suddenly became possible to criticize Muslims. Madrid contributed to that. From Muslims ---> immigration is becoming a legitimate topic for criticism. Holland has pulled a U-turn. France and Britain will see big gains for the National Front and the BNP.

which struck me as having a predictive value. And elicited this comment from another participant

It is  an awful thing to say, but it may be that a gross US failure in Iraq could help tip the balance.

The working premise of the Wilsonians in the admin is: Iraqis are really just Americans in fancy dress. They want democracy and a constitution! Just like us!

This doctrine has obvious theoretical connections with the "diversity" and "multiculturalism" ideologies -- We are all the same under the skin!

Well, perhaps we are and perhaps we aren't; but if it dawns on Americans that for Arabs, the humiliation and killing of their enemies is priority No.1, while law and constitutionalism are priority No. 27,849, another great wedge will have been driven into the diversity/multiculti rock.

You will all recall my screed on the assumptions on the nature of man involved in the President's speech.

And then this comment:

I agree with this argument. I've been noting all sorts of shocked reactions by both liberals and neoconservatives to the events in Iraq. The events there are definitely a challenge to their worldviews. There are even Guardian articles which show recognition that the Iraqis are not like Guardian readers in ways that are really important. The Iraq invasion and occupation may be worth the money for the educational value alone. Imagine what fantasies that Krauthammer and Wolfowitz would still be spinning and believing and convincing others of without the events of recent months.

So every cloud has a silver lining?






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  April 30, 2004

Subject: Bush not reading the paper

Diocletian, in Gibbon::

" "How often," was he accustomed to say, "is it the interest of four or five ministers to combine together to deceive their sovereign! Secluded from mankind by his exalted dignity, the truth is concealed from his knowledge; he can see only with their eyes, he hears nothing but their misrepresentations. He confers the most important offices upon vice and weakness, and disgraces the most virtuous and deserving among his subjects. By such infamous arts," added Diocletian, "the best and wisest princes are sold to the venal corruption of their courtiers."

Gregory Cochran


Subject: Brutality of empire.

-- Roland Dobbins

Unfortunate but not unexpected. The crunch comes when a popular soldier is accused of something like this against a particularly brutal enemy -- and appeals to his comrades. Or at least that is how it has worked in the past..

Do note that humiliation is not quite the same thing as stuffing someone in a wood chipper feet first, nor is simulation of electrocution the same as actually applying the current. We have heard plenty of demands that uncooperative prisoners be fed pork or threatened with burial in a pigskin.

What I have not heard here is accusations of actual rape of a prisoner.







This week:


read book now


Saturday, May 1, 2004

Happy Birthday, Jenny

Information on latest worm:

Subject: LSASS worm ( priority one)

-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: zero tolerance = zero intelligence


as you often cite examples of this type, you may be interested in this site which collects examples of the rampant insanity/inanity running through (running over) the school systems: 

... all in all, a very depressing overview for anyone who really cares about the children's safety and well being.

Best regards, James Siddall jr

It is depressing, but it is also worthwhile to record these things.



I think someone has been listening to you:

April 30, 2004: In Fallujah, the marines have agreed to let a former Iraqi general, Salah Abboud al-Jabouri, lead an 1,100 man Iraqi force bring peace to the city. General Salah was once a divisional commander in the Iraqi army. This "Fallujah Force" would have to make certain things happen if it wanted to stay on the payroll. These tasks include rounding up the heavy weapons (anti-aircraft guns, mortars and so on), foreign terrorists and the people who killed four Americans. Many people in Fallujah, and their traditional leaders, are upset with the armed gangs in the town, and are expected to support efforts by the Fallujah Force to bring peace. The marines will come back if the Fallujah Force fails to perform as expected. Several weeks of fighting between the marines and the gunmen has left eight marines and some 600 Iraqis (mostly gunmen) dead. <snip>



We can hope so...



Dear Jerry,

I am not -surprised- that untrained and/or improperly supervised soldiers would abuse prisoners like this current case in Iraq. I'm not even -too- surprised they videotaped the abuse and showed it to non-participants (okay, does the word "stupid" fit here also?).

I -am- dumbfounded that these soldiers apparently were not trained in the Geneva Convention rules for POW treatment. Over a quarter-century ago, as an interrogator in an MI unti that was part of the HQ of a mechanized infantry division (First Division) I regularly taught infantrymen the rules of treatment for POWS according to the Geneva Convention. In classrooms, at a simulated POW camp we built, during maneuvers I'd dress up in "Aggressor" uniform and let myself be captured, and then after the "war" was over tell the troopers how they did in their POW handling (not just the Geneva Convention stuff but also the basic intell stuff, like segregating the prisoners, not letting them talk, asking a few basic questions etc.). This was the MAIN job for us interrogators absent anyone to interrogate!

That was the training decades ago for the line infantryman. These guys in Iraq are Military Police, who are officially tasked with long-term handling of POW's. What's going on here? I could teach the basics in a one hour classroom lecture, and hammer it in. "Don't do anything dumb!" followed by examples of "dumbth" in regard to POW handling. Someone dropped the ball Big-Time.

I wasn't some career guy, I learned the ropes in a few months of Intell School (and from the older, career guys who had "real-world" experience in Vietnam once I reached my assigned unit). This stuff was not hard to learn or teach. The mind croggles, especially at the command and control "structure" that allowed this to happen. Troopers will do this sort of thing (heck, I can be stupid, I might have been youngandstupid enough backintheday) BUT THAT'S WHY WE HAVE SENIOR NCO'S, WARRANT OFFICERS (and an occasional shavetail Lieutenant)! WHERE WERE THESE SENIOR PEOPLE? (COme to think of it, who WAS behind those video camera's?!)

This was not the way the Army worked, and those were the Bad Old Post-Vietnam days We're suppose to be much more enlightened and sensitive now, right?

It's the way of empire in short. I think those senior NCO's just didn't give a rip. It's like some old Centurion refusing to get worked up if a local got worked over by some of the boys for no good reason. "They're not citizens, they're subjects of the emperor. Besides, these are legionnaires, they -NEED- to work out some of that aggression on SOMEone, best it not be on each other, or me!"

Ad hoc, Chewing Gum and Baling Wire Empire, indeed....

(And yes I do know how interrogation in real wartime situations works...even in a "follow the rules" army... But Don't Do Anything Stupid!)

Kim Owen Smith


Military IT


April 30, 2004: Much to everyone's surprise, military geeks (computer and software experts) are signing up for longer terms of service, and reenlisting at nearly the same rate as troops in other jobs. The American military is increasingly dependent on IT (information technology, computers and the Internet), and needs an increasing number of people in uniform who understand how to run and maintain the growing inventory of high tech gear. In the late 1990s, during the Internet boom, it was feared that military IT specialists would leave the service as soon as they could, turning the military into a training school for civilian companies able to pay IT specialists more money (and not require them to sometimes work in combat zones.) This seemed to be the case at the height of the boom, but then the Internet bubble burst in 2000, and IT employment opportunities shrank. After that the military found that they could still attract qualified recruits by offering IT training, and then get them to sign up for an extra year or two. When there were more qualified recruits wanting IT training, the recruiters simply demanded longer enlistments (supply and demand and all that). While the long term attraction was higher paying jobs after the enlistment was over, this did not mean most of the military IT personnel did not reenlist. While army and navy IT specialists re-enlisted at slightly lower rates than average, the air force rates were about average, and in the marines, above average.

With junior IT people staying in (sometimes with the help of re-enlistment bonuses), the military has offered more education for it's IT geeks. This provides the military with IT experts who understand the military better, and can better supervise the thousands of civilian IT experts who are still hired for special projects. The alternative was to hire even more civilians on a temporary basis. This still goes on, but not as much as in the past. Most importantly, military people have come to accept all the computer and network technology as an integral part of military operations. Over the past decade, an increasing amount of computer gear has been found in combat zones, and the IT specialists are there to keep it going. Most of the people entering the military in the last decade have grown up with computers, and accept them as an everyday item to deal with.



Well, it's one job that might not be exported...

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I am disappointed, if not really surprised, that the enlargement of the European Union was not discussed on your site: at this time Iraq has precedence--and rightly so.

But given your interest in history and your frequent quotations of Europeans (like the Roman emperors, Machiavelli, Napoleon); given the role of the USA in the World Wars I and II (and III but this is not widely acknowledged in Europe); given the many American cemeteries that can be found in Europe and given the Marshall Plan, it seems odd that this historic day didn't deserve a single comment on your site.

So what are your thoughts about the enlargement of the European Union?

André Romain

P.S.: The design of your site/blog/salon is perfect. Change it at your own risk! (I'm a patron payer…)

Thanks for the interest and confidence; I can only plead pressure of events. It's column time, my sinuses are killing me, and God knows there were enough pundits remarking on the repeal of the Treaty of Westphalia. Only, of course, it wasn't quite that. Europe isn't becoming a new Holy Roman Empire, or empire at all; it appears to be delivered to a bunch of faceless bureaucrats that no one quite knows. 

And I may well be wrong on all this, which is another reason I haven't commented: I don't know enough about it, and those who do haven't sent me much.

The truth is that I like many Americans try not to think too much about such developments. Our involvement with Europe led us to the horrible Kossovo war, in which we supported a bunch of illegal immigrants into the heart of Serbia, bringing non-Europeans into Europe with our bombs; and I think the consequences of that will either be small (I hope) or large and bad for civilization. We will see.

Das Buros steht immer; and perhaps that is all that comes of this. Europe needed the US in 1940, and Europe and America needed each other during the final stages of the 70 Years War; but now?

It is time I suppose to take some time off and think about large questions. Thank you for raising one.








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This week:


read book now








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