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Monday  May 24, 2004

As usual there was weekend activity, some important.


I saw Gen. Zinni on 60 Minutes last night---the Four-Star 40-year Marine General who'd served as top U.S. Commander in the Mid East, also much wounded and much decorated in Vietnam.

He said that everyone in DC knew perfectly well that our national security policy has been hijacked by a small group of neocons---he listed all the usual names---who were basically more loyal to Israel than to America and had led us to utter disaster in the Mid East because of their extremist ideology and America-Second agenda. He also said that the roots of our Iraq disaster ranged from complete incompetence at the best to perhaps outright literal corruption at the worst. He indicated that his views are shared by pretty much all of America's top military officers, and this accords with my own impression and news accounts. Finally, he mentioned that the neocons had viciously and publicly accused him of being an anti-Semite for criticizing their Iraq plans prior to the war (poor Zinni---I think he'd have preferred facing incoming mortar rounds rather than the insults of those filthy, treasonous, human vermin).



Subject: Zinni on 60 Minutes

"He said that ... our national security policy has been hijacked by a small group of neocons---he listed all the usual names---who were basically more loyal to Israel than to America and had led us to utter disaster in the Mid East because of their extremist ideology and America-Second agenda."

This is common knowledge to nearly everyone who doesn't get their news from network TV or follow Falwell's theology.

Real Translation: "The political appointees are corrupt traitors and we Generals are the True Patriotic Sons of the Republic."

Left unsaid is the explanation for why the vast majority of Congress tolerates this situation. Or why the Commander in Chief appointed all these obvious double agents in the first place. Zinni surely has one in his own mind.

"He indicated that his views are shared by pretty much all of America's top military officers."

Keep those gas tanks topped off and pantry shelves well stocked with rice and canned goods. Another good stiff power blackout, another eruption in Watts, a large multi prison mutiny in emergent Aztlan in the SW, a successful attack on a major oil facility in Saudia Arabia.....

Mark  Gallmeier

Well, that may be your translation. It is not mine. As to what Fallwell's theology has to do with this, I do not know; perhaps you can explain?

Congress doesn't precisely tolerate the situation, but usually goes along with the President on foreign policy; as it should.

Nor do I think the people Chalabi deceived are double agents or anything like that. Many were duped by Chalabi, who said that the people of Iraq would welcome us (in fact welcome him) with parades and flowers and all would be well in no time, and meanwhile Saddam was massing all those weapons -- and Saddam did a pretty damned good job of bluffing that he had them.

I was prepared to find that my analysis was wrong and that of the Weekly Standard people was correct. I didn't believe it, but I didn't and do not think one had to be a traitor to believe such things. We have been wrong on foreign policy many times. The Democratic Congress let Viet Nam fall after we had achieved victory: it would have taken only some supplies and some air support to defeat the 1975 invasion from the North as decisively as the 1973 invasion had been defeated -- but I did not hear calls for treason trials then.

And in fact Zinni didn't say precisely what my correspondent suggests; I posted that as what one Jewish analyst who is opposed to what happened in Iraq read out of it.

I fear I am not sure which double agents you have in mind to begin with.

Hello, Jerry,

This is a link to the full text of General Anthony Zinni's remarks at the Center for Defense Information. Powerful stuff, best read in his words, rather than as edited or summarized.

John Welch



Subject: Lovelock on Global Warming and Nuclear Energy

Dear Doctor Pournelle,

I'm sure you have seen this but, just in case: 

Of course the organized environmental movement doesn't agree:

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, told the Independent: "Climate change and radioactive waste both pose deadly long-term threats, and we have a moral duty to minimise the effects of both, not to choose between them."

Ahh well.


Tom Ayerst

Nuclear waste: in 600 years the residual radioactives are actinides, and the levels are comparable to what went into the reactor to begin with. It's easily separated from the environment: cast it into glass is one way, and drop it into a subduction zone like the Mindanao Deep. It is not a "deadly long-term threat" except to Tony Juniper's job, which is of course far more important -- at least to Tony -- than truth.

Dr. Pournelle:

Very interesting how many persons come to the view that accelerating fossil fuel consumption is really dumb.

This article comes from the view that we are already beyond recovery from global warming impacts. Shaky logic but a desirable outcome. He points out that nuclear power is urgently needed, and that any agriculturally-connected energy solution is a disaster.

Allan Smalley



My personal definition of a "liberal" use to be "a person who presses for motorcycle helmet laws, and then bemoans the shortage of donor organs." But now it's "a person who thinks that exposing consenting adults to second-hand tobacco smoke should be a felony, but asserts that exposing babies to first-hand crack cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. etc. is an inalienable Constitutional right of their mothers (through their bloodstream during gestation). Read:


If you think I am at all kidding.




Dr. Pournelle: 

I have no idea who's putting together this report. If true, it does not bode well for the war effort. If false, what would be a suitable punishment for the perpetrators?

Bart D. Leahy

Sam the Eagle: Would you stop this foolishness?

Gonzo the Great: What sort of foolishness would you like to see?

--Muppet*Vision 4D (WDW)

I know nothing of this beyond your message. As you say, highly disturbing, but there are details given that make me inclined to doubt on its own internal evidence.

Does anyone know more? It's unlikely to remain hidden if true. And there's little likelihood of anything happening to the perpetrators if it's made up...


Hi Dr. Pournelle,

it seems unfair to me that in times where it is open knowledge that people are extradited to places like Syria for "special questioning", young, inexperienced privates in a war zone are supposed to know that they have to disobey orders to abuse prisoners. Sometimes, right or wrong, a nation must show solidarity to its soldiers.

Furthermore, it seems to me, that if the military is to function, following orders must not be a weak defense. Clearly there are orders like: "March on Washington and close down Congress" which must never be followed. But such orders must be clearly and under the stress of war be identifiable as illegal if following them should be considered a crime. So, if it is decided that following orders in that case was a crime, it is decided that US forces under no circumstances whatsoever can torture prisoners. As desirable from a humanist viewpoint that might be, I doubt its wisdom. It's a shame that those following these orders are prosecuted before those giving the orders. Where is the superior officer of these privates?

Regards Oliver


Novak piles on:

Subject: Our Man in Baghdad

- Roland Dobbins

And a somewhat different view:

I haven't been following the Chalabi story.

However, Chalabi has been active against Saddam for 30 years. During this time it was reasonable for him to consort with various enemies of Saddam including Iran, especially when the US was angry at Iran.

That he would keep his dealings with one potential helper secret from the others strikes me as normal.

He presumably never regarded himself as primarily a henchman of the US, and I hope the neocons never supposed he did.

However, if he had dealings with Iran recently that resulted in US servicemen being killed, I would resent that.

Apparently he played a significant role in exposing the corrupt role of the UN in the oil-for-food program.

I note that the liberal media, e.g. New York Times, have had very little on the oil-for-food corruption as compared to the Wall Street Journal. I also notice that Fox has had much more than CNN. Besides the WSJ, US Congressional committees have played a role in publicizing the UN corruption.

Am I mistaken in supposing that the NYTimes ignores UN corruption, because it wants the UN to play a big role in governing Iraq, whereas the WSJ has the opposite opinion about the UN?

I still recommend that the new Iraqi government file suit in World Court against the UN and ask for $10 billion for the UN's negligence in allowing Saddam to divert that much money designated for the Iraqi people in order to build palaces, buy military related equipment, and bribe French, Russian, and UN officials.

Final remark: That the UN officialdom would be corrupt is only to be expected. It is necessarily recruited from a wide variety of countries according to the power of various countries and blocs of countries. In many of these countries bribery is a normal way of life, but the political nature of UN recruiting adds to the frequency of corruption.


It is my understanding, not contradicted by anyone I trust so far, that Chalabi's Kool-Aid included the promise of a deal with Israel so that a pipeline could go through to the Mediterranean. This could be done without making a deal with the Palestinians.

Such a pipeline would have to go through Jordan, and the King of Jordan would last about 24 hours after he approved of such a deal without the Palestinians being on board in one or another way.

One does not have to be a Middle East expert to know that; which makes me doubt the story because surely our suits in the Pentagon are smarter than that? Could even the neo-cons deceive themselves enough to drink that brand of Kool-Aid? And yet it is widely reported that they did.

I suppose I ought to go back and read some of the older statements. One thing is certain, Chalabi was flown into Iraq by the suits against the advice of the uniforms, and without consulting State or the CIA. That in itself is interesting.


May 25, 2004

Russian Scientist Dies in Ebola Accident at Former Weapons Lab


NEW ORLEANS, May 24 - A Russian scientist at a former Soviet biological weapons laboratory in Siberia has died after accidentally sticking herself with a needle laced with ebola, the deadly virus for which there is no vaccine or treatment, the lab's parent Russian center announced over the weekend.

Jim Wooseley



The wedding party story

And on the other side, we have... 

Just who are we supposed to believe?

- Paul

And it's too dangerous for journalists just to drive there. But apparently the wedding singer was killed, and his face appears among the dead.

We will see. It is almost certain that the village was one of smugglers. Smuggling is a way of life along the borders in nomad territories.

For more doubts, see below


Subject: Army War College Report

Dear Jerry:

The release of this Army War College Strategic Study, entitled "Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces In A Post Conflict Scenario" and dated February, 2003 , before combat operations began is fairly devastating to Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocons.

Every thing that later happened during the occupation was anticipated . So it wasn't that they weren't told and didn't know the probable outcome of their flawed strategy. They were told and choose to ignore it.

This was the day that Bush gave his speech at the Army War College. Somehow I think those guys who were cheering weren't students or faculty there, but were bused in for the occasion. The timing of the release is a real slap in the face for him and his administration.

The report should be widely read and distributed. The first thing that leaps out is that the Army knew that it didn't have the right mix of troops for an occupation and its experiences in Bosnia, Kosovo, and, yes, Panama, were taken into account.

Gonna be Hell to pay when Warner, McCain and Levin get their hands on it.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit






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Tuesday,  May 25, 2004

We saw this story before, but it seems to be spreading.

'Only nuclear power can now halt global warming' Leading environmentalist urges radical rethink on climate change

Global warming is now advancing so swiftly that only a massive expansion of nuclear power as the world's main energy source can prevent it overwhelming civilisation, the scientist and celebrated Green guru, James Lovelock, says.

His call will cause huge disquiet for the environmental movement. It has long considered the 84-year-old radical thinker among its greatest heroes, and sees climate change as the most important issue facing the world, but it has always regarded opposition to nuclear power as an article of faith. Last night the leaders of both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth rejected his call.

Professor Lovelock, who achieved international fame as the author of the Gaia hypothesis, the theory that the Earth keeps itself fit for life by the actions of living things themselves, was among the first researchers to sound the alarm about the threat from the greenhouse effect.

(more at:) 

-- John Bartley, K7AAY, tel. admin, USBC/DO, PDX, views mine. 503.326.2231...147 Handheld Cellular Data FAQ rm -rf /bin/laden && newfs -m 99 /dev/iraq

Perhaps something will come of it.

Subject: What is Bill Saying Here?

I've never emailed you but have been enjoyed reading you for 25+ years, both in Byte and some of your fiction. I went and read the Bill G. WinHEC address and found something that was interesting:

BILL: Now, that's in the face of the attackers, of course, trying to get more and more sophisticated and going after the publicity that can be received. There's an irony, which is that because those people are going after that publicity, they're actually forcing the system down the learning curve in terms of its security richness, and actually that's what means that somebody who's going in who just wants to steal information, not to propagate and get publicity, but actually just to do silent security attacks, it's making their job nearly impossible because of this learning curve improvement that's taking place with the high volume software, with Windows in particular.

Is he really saying that getting virus attacks in Windows not a problem or an anoyance, but is really a feature? Just thought is sounded odd...

Keep up the good work.

Scott Reedstrom

Well, yes, but an unintended feature; he was musing about unintended consequences. After all he doesn't have to set up a tiger team to come after him, good people do it for sport.

Subject: stolen votes?

There is a country that, within a few weeks, will conduct an all postal election where the votes MUST be witnessed by a third party in order that they be counted as valid.

The possibilities for coersion are huge and surely not only should your vote be confidential, the fact that you voted at all should also be confidential?

Where is this country? Is it some tin-pot dictatorship?

No, it is that land of freedom and fairplay, the United Kindom.

So, in the interests of saving a bit of money, voting in the UK is no longer even theoretically confidential. 

-- | Geoff. Lane | Manchester Computing | Manchester | M13 9PL | England |

Just as magpies are attracted to shiny objects, business executives are attracted to technical bullshit.

There will always be an England. Won't there?

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

You may wish to contemplate an alternative analysis before you pronounce with finality on the subject:

Not everything you read in the Big Media is true (like I need to remind you).

Very respectfully,

David G.D. Hecht

Nor, alas, is everything you see on blog spots. The news people can't just drive out to the scene and look around; so we get The Official Story in all directions.

The truth will out, and except for those involved, it hardly matters: if this wasn't an incident, something else will be. You will not have an occupation army that does not break things and kill people and that will include innocents.

And eventually that occupation will come back to haunt the occupiers: if you want to see that story unfolding look at the changes in Israel since 1968.


Subject: Separated at Birth?


A couple of fragments from an AvWeek article:

(Aviation Week & Space Technology 04/19/2004, page 61) Michael A. Dornheim Los Angeles

Separated at Birth?

"In the latest bit of remarkable fortune on Mars, the rover Opportunity discovered that the only big rock in its neighborhood is the cousin, if not the brother, of a famous Martian meteorite found on Earth. The finding is all the more special because the rock is itself rare on Mars. <snip>

The Meridiani Planum experience has been like an Easter-egg hunt, with an unseen hand placing clue after important clue and Opportunity finding them."

Remarkable. Coincidence? Are there Martians standing behind the POV of our cameras, snickering? Or is God playing games with us?


What are the odds on all of this? Very strange.








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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Subject: Large.

- Roland Dobbins

And growing...

What are ``cloud nines?''

[``Cloud nines'' are floating geodesic spheres. The following extract from a paper posted to GEODESIC by Robert T. Bowers explains the idea.] ``When considering a geodesic sphere, the weight of the sphere is a function of the surface of the sphere. The amount the sphere is lifted by warm air is a function of the volume of the sphere. In mathematical terms, weight is a function of the radius squared, while volume is a function of the radius cubed. This is very significant. Even as the radius of a sphere increases, thus increasing the sphere's weight, the lift of the sphere increases more. If you image a sphere that could grow larger, as the sphere gained a little weight, it would gain much lift.

``Buckminster Fuller proposed that as spheres of great size are considered, the amount of air enclosed grows huge compared to the weight of the sphere. Of a sphere with a radius of 1320 feet, the weight of the enclosed air is 1000 times greater than the weight of the sphere's structure. If that volume of air was heated only one degree, the sphere would begin to float!

``Of course, domes of even greater sizes would be required if that sphere were to carry any additional weight. But it is not inconceivable that floating geodesic spheres could carry aloft entire communities. Perhaps the concept of a floating dome of one half a mile diameter is too much for most people to seriously consider. Regardless, it does demonstrate the scope of projects that are made possible with geodesic domes.'' -Robert T. Bowers Fuller quote from I Seem To Be A Verb

Came across this small description which I thought might interest some people who haven't seen it before ...

Geodesic spheres larger than half-a-mile in diameter can be floated in the air, like clouds. Draped with polyethylene curtains -- to retard night-time air intake -- the spheres would be light enough to remain aloft, at preferred altitudes.

``Cloud nines'' one mile in diameter could house thousands of people, whose weight would be negligible. Passengers could pass from ``cloud'' to ``cloud,'' or from ``cloud'' to ground, as the ``clouds'' float around the Earth or are anchored to mountain tops. The ``clouds'' could become food factories by impounding sunlight.''

-- David Paschall-Zimbel

And of course Poul Anderson among others wrote stories making use of this concept. They are certainly possible. They are also quite vulnerable to any kind of attack or natural disaster.

The Blimps to Orbit concept looks feasible; the re-entry speeds are great, but the re-entry times are long and the surface areas are very large. I've been following this concept and it looks reasonable, but it needs testing.

The fact that it is being tested is encouraging.

Subject: Space blimps

$1/ton to LEO? Ion drive? 

Chris C

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand. Stephen Wright




An interesting piece on the RPG, which has proved devastating both in Iraq and also against its inventors, in Chechnya:

Best regards,



Dr Alun J. Carr Phone:

  Mechanical Engineering Dept
University College Dublin

Indeed. Thanks.


On Nemourlon Armor

Subj: M5 - towards the fiber component of Nemourlon?

I think this goes alongside the earlier articles about Sheer Thickening Fluid impregnation to enhance the performance of Kevlar (R) armor: 

[== According to Cunniff's mathematical model for the estimation of impact performance based on the mechanical properties of armor materials, ... M5 could cut weight by at least 35 percent compared to currently available fragmentation armor at the same protection level. So far, ballistic impact test results with a limited, relatively low-strength sample of M5 are glowing.

"We shot it, and it came out better than we expected," Cunniff said. "We found there was something wrong with the model; we underpredicted the performance of the material. Of everything we looked at, it looks like M5 will be a really big improvement in reducing the weight of armor." ==]

How many more 35% improvements in fiber performance do they need before they impregnate it with STF to make Nemourlon? 8-)


For those unfortunate few not familiar with my science fiction works, Nemourlon is the name I gave to a flexible body armor I postulated for Falkenberg's Mercenary Legion in stories that take place later in this century. I first wrote about it in 1973.

We also have Cerebrus

Subj: Cerberus for force protection duties 

A new, low-cost mobile sensor suite tower that offers multiple detection and assessment capabilities will extend the eyes and ears of current force protection personnel, and reduce manpower demands. The descriptive name Cerberus, for the mythical three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the Underworld, “seemed appropriate as the tower is made up of three different cameras,” said Mike Jennings, deputy director of the Special Products and Prototyping Division. ... Cerberus accomplishes all of this through the use of its three detection modes:

* Perimeter Ground Radar, which presents an alarm and tracking of the target; * Unattended Ground Sensors, for coverage in radar skip zones or in heavily vegetated areas that the radar cannot penetrate; * Video Motion Detection, which uses staring cameras that can be independently positioned to fill gaps in radar, or to cover avenues of approach.

In either application, the VMD software offers an alarm to any motion in its field of view and presents an image and a track of the target, representing the first time NVESD has integrated the VMD component. ... Once fully fabricated, Cerberus will offer a new solution to rising force protection needs worldwide. It also opens up the possibility for application in civil Homeland Security roles in areas of protection such as borders, ports, and infrastructures. ...


It might better be called Argus; in any event it's a potent system.


Your NASA tax dollars at work:

Subject: NASA Space Suit Problems

Whenever anyone presses NASA to shift money from current programs and take a bet on competition and going outside the system they say if we don't keep spending the money we'll be left without crucial capabilities. What no one realizes is that we no longer have any capabilities.

NASA ruled yesterday that U.S. spacesuits on the International Space Station are unusable and ordered the crew to use Russian gear instead, adding considerable time and distance to a critical spacewalk next month.

The crew wanted to wear American suits and go out the much closer American hatch to get to a broken power supply unit on the exterior of the space station, but a cooling problem with the outfits made that impossible.


When, way back in the 1980's, I suggested in a BYTE column that NASA's space suits  were not very good, a Hamilton Standard official actually tried to get McGraw Hill to fire me for such insolence. The suits aren't much improved now. The Hamilton Standard axis of evil with the Astronaut Office is notorious. The stupid suits we use cost billions in mission effectiveness, since they use low pressure pure oxygen and thus require pure oxygen pre-breathing for any mission on which an EVA is scheduled. You can't run the Shuttle on pure oxygen at atmospheric pressure, which means that you have fewer gas molecules in the Shuttle, which means cooling efficiencies fall, which means that many electronic components have to be shut down until the EVA portion of the mission is over.

It is well known that we know how to build better suits.

Better suits would use some 12 psi of enriched air rather than 3.5 psi pure oxygen, or just go with 14 pounds of air and be done with it. But elderly astronauts tire when required to do much work in 12 - 14 psi suits. Since the astronauts all tend to be 40+ year old Ph.D. types rather than 20 year old riggers and mechanics, and the astronaut office controls the missions, and Hamilton Standard and the higher ranking NASA people in the astronaut office are thick as, well, are good buddies, the NASA Ames people who know how to build suits are never given any money, Houston keeps control of any suit advancement program, and there has been little to zero progress since the 1980's.

It is one of the scandals of the space program, one well known to anyone who bothers to look into it. Hamilton Standard makes more per year maintaining the useless suits we have than it would cost for a full development program to make better ones. Think on that for a while.

I wonder if a RICO suit is in order? It is coming to that. It may take that to get the NASA bureaucracy and the industrial complex out of bed together and start a program that allows us to have decent EVA equipment that will allow us to do on-orbit assembly.

On-orbit construction is the key to the planets. Everyone knows this. And NASA does not care.


You said, regarding the unsuitability of current space suits:

On-orbit construction is the key to the planets. Everyone knows this. And NASA does not care.

At this point, on-orbit construction appears essential to the President's long term vision in space. While it may never happen, if the suits are a weak point, they need to be addressed NOW. Not in six years or ten years.

Jim Woosley

That is certainly the case; although I doubt NASA gives a rip.



While looking for a link for the Strategic Studies Institute's "Reconstructing Iraq" report ( that Frances Hamit mentioned in the email you posted at the end of Monday, I found a different page that made clear the fact that even though computers can be relied upon to apply templates with unerring precision, a webmaster should never underestimate the value of a good copy editor.

It was on the U.S. Government's National Technical Information Service (NTIS) web site -- most likely constructed by a computer from a template: 

"Hot Topic: Rebuilding War-Torn Countries

"NTIS has a wealth of information relating to this topic, following are some of the categories for which we have information...."

Aside from the fact that the lead sentence of the page should have been two sentences (change the comma after "topic" to a period and capitalize "following"), a good copy editor would have raised a question about the ironic nature of saying that this particular agency has a "wealth of information" about rebuilding war-torn countries.

By the way, the Strategic Studies Institute also has a paper that tries to illuminate the Chinese approach to strategy. The author seems to have his bona fides. 

--Gary Pavek =========================================== "The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished," -- George Bernard Shaw

Possony and I were for years Fellows of the Institute for Strategic Studies (later the International Institute for Strategic Studies, but always a British organization with international membership). When I left active professional work on such matters after the publication of Strategy of Technology, I let my membership lapse because IISS was trying to get a balance with fewer US members and more European members, and to do that they were encouraging American Fellows to become honorary. I sometimes regret doing that since I don't think I can renew that again.

IISS publishes some good papers and does some good studies, and at least some care is taken: they don't have an automatic viewpoint although they are "International" not American and one must never forget that. The membership is about half US, I believe, but the actual staff is mostly British and European.


Subject: Exit Strategy - How to leave Iraq in three simple steps. By George Saunders

 Exit Strategy - How to leave Iraq in three simple steps. By George Saunders

This has a certain perverse logic

Mike Z

Very Typical Slate piece. I can't say I am better off for having read it. But that sort of thing passes for cleverness over there.

From a Swedish physician friend:

Hi, a scientific debate seems to be going on over a perhaps possible new form of nuclear energy from an isomere of the isotope hafnium 178. What are the real facts? What is KNOWN? What are the latest facts and what has been prooven to date? Sorry to bother you, but it seems difficult to dig out the facts here! Thanks!Best regards! Take care! Claes.

And I fear I have no reliable sources on this at all.


and read between the lines. This is a energy storage mechanism like hydrogen or a battery.

New data from  disputes 

this claim.

Use a linear accelerator to convert the hafnium 178 nucleus to an isomer. Strike the isomer with soft X rays and get hard Gamma rays. Reap the heat from the shielding. One would have to design a specific mechanism to fluoresce in soft X rays when exposed to hard Gamma Rays to get a chain reaction. I vaguely remember that one or two other elements are less likely to supply useable isomers.

Bob Parker





From Sue:

Judge Says Bullying 'Should Have Been Cleared Up' by School: A middle-school student who stabbed a classmate with a pencil after the other boy struck him was sentenced to probation May 5 by a judge who said more than two years of bullying of the youngster at Pointe South Middle School in Clayton County, Georgia, "should have been cleared up before it got to this court." 

Of course it should have been, but does anyone expect that now?


I once worked in a psych ER. This story below is true.


Unruly students dumped on hospitals, doctors charge

The Associated Press 5/17/04 4:38 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Public school students who have committed only minor infractions are being rushed to emergency rooms for psychiatric help, flooding hospitals with unnecessary work, hospital officials said.

"A child gets in a food fight, pulls off a teacher's toupee, throws things, creates a ruckus and gets packed off to the ER. None of these examples are psychiatric emergencies," Andrew Bell, director of the Child and Adolescent Crisis Intervention Program at North Central Bronx Hospital, told The Daily News for Monday editions.

Bell said the hospital had received an average of 42 students a month since the beginning of the school year. Officials at North Central Bronx and New York-Presbyterian hospitals told the News that at least a third of the students who visited ERs did not need treatment -- and that the experience could prove traumatic for many.

The number of visits had increased in the wake of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, officials told the News.

In a statement, the city Education Department countered that school principals were often forced to make decisions about how to handle unruly students in "extreme" circumstances. In most cases, the department said, parents were involved in treatment decisions.

Education Department policy dictates that students labeled a "clear threat" to school safety must receive immediate psychiatric attention.

Sensitive New Age Schools....

And another letter from Iraq:

What follows is another e-mail from M. E.,  now stationed in Iraq. Mike wants us to forward his email to as many people as possible. I'd say that's the least we can do for him....

Hey Everyone,

Checking in from northern Baghdad on a Sunday to say what's up and let you know what's going on over seas. The past week or so has been filled with a lot of little victories. That's what being deployed is all about. We've been gone from Fort Hood for over 2 months now. We got here on a Wednesday, so every Wednesday is another week complete. It's weird to think that little things like that matter, but they do. Before I forget....please feel free to send these emails to anyone you want....the way I see it is that the more people that know the real story, the better.

A lot of people replied to my last email and were glad to get a better understanding of the situation over here, so I figured I would explain some more things about the situation in Iraq. This time, I'll focus on the ways the Anti-Coalition Forces (ACF) attack us. The first way is by indirect fire, either rockets or mortars. Mortars are much more deadly, but they have to get within 3 miles of Camp Cooke to have a chance at doing any damage. It's a bold move because we have a radar that tracks the point of origin of the mortar within 30 seconds. When that happens, we either get an attack helicopter up right away or send the QRF (quick reaction force) to the site. Sometimes they get away when we have no aviation assets available....but when the apaches are in the area, they run them down. Because they have to be so close to fire mortars, the ACF have adapted and fire rockets at Camp Cooke because they can shoot them from 6-14 miles away. The accuracy is worse as they fire further from the FOB, but once in a while they get lucky. And even with the Apaches, it takes about 5 minutes to get that far they often get away.

The next threat is small arms fire (SAF). This means either AK-47's (a rifle) or RPG's (rocket propelled grenades). The guys who carry out these attacks have to be pretty stupid because they have to be within 200 meters of a US vehicle to have a chance at doing any damage. Sometimes they fire from a mosque or a hospital, so we can't return fire. They also like to fire from a ditch on the other side of a canal, which eliminates the chance for us to chase them down. But even then, we usually will engage them with our machine guns and get them. Sometimes they get away, but never without hearing bullets all around them. RPG's and SAF rarely works against tanks or bradleys, so they usually target Hummers with this type of fire.

The most dangerous type of attack is something called the IED. Improvised explosive device. Basically, they take old artillery rounds and attach electrical wire to a blasting cap....then they bury the round in the median or just off the side of the road and run the attached wire to a position 300 meters away from the road. They then sit there for up to 24 hours and wait for an American vehicle to come by. They simply touch the 2 wires, creating a charge and the round explodes. The round is made of metal and explodes, causing it to break into little pieces flying everywhere. That shrapnel usually hits the vehicles and sometimes soldiers inside them. This is their most effective way to hurt us. Since we've been here, 5 soldiers have been wounded this way in my task force. The "triggerman" often gets away because the explosion kicks up a lot of dirt and the situation immediately becomes chaotic. In Iraq, we find about 1 in 2 IED's and are getting better at detecting ways to find them before they detonate.

The last type of attack is the VBIED....vehicle borne IED. AKA a car bomb. This is the most disturbing type of attack because there is little you can do to stop it. It is also a clear indicator of terrorism. The typical Iraqi fighting against us wants us out so they can go back to Sunni's in power or create a radical Muslim state (Sadr's supporters). They don't want to die. So these suicide bombers are terrorists, usually who come in from other countries and are either al'Queda or part of a sister network. In Iraq, the Zarqawi terrorist cell is mostly responsible for these VBIED's. Zarqawi was a Lieutenant under Bin Laden in Afghanistan and now is somewhere in Iraq and helping to carry out these attacks. The VBIED is yet another indicator that this war here is VERY MUCH tied to the war on terrorism. The VBIED was used only a few times a month until 2 months ago. We have seen an average of 14 VBIED's since April and that number will only grow as June 30th approaches. The worst thing about the VBIED is that it is a sure-fire way to take out your target, whether it be an Iraqi working with us or an American vehicle. They pack the car with 100-500 pounds of explosives to make sure of it. So when anyone asks, make sure that you let them, we are not fighting just Iraqi's here. We are in a war with terrorists. And instead of having these terrorists like Zarqawi focus their efforts and money on a way to attack innocent Americans back home, they are focusing on it here in Iraq. At least here, it's soldiers taking the losses....and we are killing some of them in the process. My next email will explain exactly what we do to counter these attacks and take them out.

Moving onto what's been going on in our sector.....I was lucky enough to witness a haji brawl the other week....just a reminder that a lot of these people are like us in some ways.... Last week, I went out with the scouts to see possible locations that insurgents could attack the canal bridge. Just as we rolled up, we saw 2 cars stopped. Iraqi road rage. It was 6 on 2 and our soldiers went there right away to break it up. But amidst a country at war, it was a pretty funny incident to say the least.

Just the other day, we found 6 more huge weapons caches. These ACF are afraid to keep the weapons and IEDs at their house, so they pick a spot 500 meters from where they will attack....and bury the weapons in a chest. So when we find these caches, it's a big deal because it is essentially cutting off their supply lines. Without weapons readily available, they have a much harder time attacking us. We found some surface-to-air missiles (that made the aviators real happy), thousands of rounds of ammo, weapons, RPG's, cases of TNT and explosives, you name that was a big deal. Some of the attackers have been coming north from Baghdad and attacking us with IED's in the more rural areas we control. But all in all, things have been relatively quiet because the insurgents are preparing and planning for June---their last push before Iraq takes control back of running day to day political activities for itself. We're expecting June to be the worst month yet.

I'll end with a little take on the whole "this is our generation's Vietnam" bullshit that we hear about over here. None of us can stand hearing "I support the soldiers but this war is unjust." If you think this war is unjust: a) you are wrong, this is a war on terrorism b) you are not for the soldiers if you think that. We hear that all the time in the news and this talk of "our Vietnam" is the worst thing we've heard yet. This is absolutely nothing like Vietnam. We are fighting terrorists over here. If we pack up and go home, we are sending them a message. That message is simple: America is weak and will give up if you pressure them hard enough. Iraq is the world stage and by standing up to these people, we are sending a message to the world---that we are dedicated to keep innocent Americans safe from terrorism. Hearing the comparisons to Vietnam is stupid, but then again I've never put my trust in what the media says.

Thanks to everyone for your letters, packages, prayers, and support. I have received so many letters, magazines, updates from back home, care packages, pictures, cd's, you name it. I doubt there are many soldiers who hear more from their family and friends by the mail than me. So thank you very much, every little letter means a lot. I started putting all the pictures mailed to me on the wall and every day, taking a look at that wall makes me smile. I've got to get going, but I hope everyone has a good week coming up. We'll be out here taking the fight to these bastards.!

God didn't promise days without pain, Laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, But He did promise strength for the day, Comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

- Mike


Subject: Because its digital its different

Saw a reference to this article on Slashdot:

When you review the patent, it's using digital recording instead of analog. No new invention, just using existing equipment. But because it's digital, it's different - a really new innovation ;-) The USPTO reviewers don't live in the same century as the rest of us and the SCOTUS has said you can patent a business process. Can anyone explain to me how this promotes "the Progress of Science and useful Arts"? And how is it an invention or discovery? The only discovery that I can see is how to extort money from those that can't afford to litigate.

Dean Sanchez


Subject: Study on number of millionaires

I thought the most telling statistic was that the average age is 62.



Dr. Pournelle,

I thought you might be interested in the article on intellectual property on this link: 

I always suspected that the Disney Corporation was a Communist front :-)

- Mark


The Stop Loss Program: Details

Subj: Army Stop Loss history

It's not a nobody-ever-gets-out program. The program has two parts: one is to retain critical skills, the other is to stabilize deploying and deployed units. They reevaluate and retune the stop-list monthly.

The critical-skills program seems to be limited to a one-year extension of service.

The following history is from a search of the archive of Army Public Affairs News Releases:

[begin history]  Army enacts 'stop-loss' for some specialties

4 Dec 2001: An Army-wide "stop-loss" program announced today will keep soldiers in selected military occupational specialties from leaving active duty; mainly those in special operations and some in the aviation field. ... [release lists MOS affected]  Stop loss expands to Reserve components

2 Jan 2002: The "stop-loss" program implemented in November to stop soldiers in certain specialties from leaving active duty has been expanded to include Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers. ... [lists MOS affected]  Stop-loss program adds more specialties

12 Feb 2002: The Army has just added 38 more career-management fields and military occupational specialties to the "stop-loss" program. ... Those numbers bring the total affected by the three stop-loss announcements to about 3,330 active-duty, 4,450 Reserve and 4,760 National Guard troops. ... [lists MOS affected]  Stop-Loss 4 releases some soldiers, adds others

6 Jun 2002: The Army announced June 6 a fourth increment to the Stop-Loss program ... While the new call will keep about 260 soldiers on active duty who had potential separation or retirement dates between now and Sept. 30, it releases another 370 who had been impacted by previous Stop-Loss decisions. Stop-Loss continues to retain about 12,000 active, Reserve and National Guard soldiers. ... [lists MOS affected]  New Stop-Loss gives chance to separate

10 Sep 2002: ... Under the new policy, soldiers will generally be subject to Stop-Loss for no more than 12 months -- even though their military occupation specialty may remain affected by Stop-Loss ...  New Stop-Loss measure freezes mobilized reservists

26 Nov 2002: The Army's newest Stop-Loss measure will keep all mobilized Reserve and National Guard soldiers in the Army until at least 90 days after their unit demobilizes. ...  More specialties drop from Stop-Loss list

3 Dec 2002: The Army recently removed Stop-Loss restrictions that impacted two warrant officer specialties and seven enlisted military occupational specialties. ...  Latest stop-loss freezes soldiers in deploying units

24 Feb 2003: ... The [latest] initiative is targeted for selected units that have already deployed or have been alerted for deployment into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. ...  Army partially lifts Stop-Loss order

29 May 2003: The Army has lifted "Stop Loss" for active-component units involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom and for soldiers in about half of the specialties that had been required to stay on active duty. ...  Latest ‘Stop Loss’ keeps thousands of Soldiers in place

19 Nov 2003: Soldiers assigned to units that have been selected to participate in the second rotation of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the fifth rotation of Operation Enduring will not be allowed to voluntarily leave the Army or change duty stations under the most recent approved “Stop Loss and Stop Movement” program. ...  Update: Army officially announces Stop Loss expansion

6 Jan 2004: [A]ctive-duty Soldiers currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be allowed to change duty stations, separate or retire until after their unit redeploys. ... Army officials emphasize that since lifting the last Unit Stop Loss in May, more than 16,000 Soldiers have transitioned from the service. [end history]



Something is broken at Microsoft:


Enjoyed chatting with you yesterday evening. It was an interesting presentation and I am looking forward to seeing the production.

On to Microsoft's folly!

Using Windows XP Home edition with an NTFS volume when on right clicks on a folder, such as My Documents, on is presented with a context menu that leads one to believe that the folder can be shared.

Clicking on share leads to a dialog box that ask for the shared name and offers essentially two choices for how the folder will be shared, read only or write access.

Choosing to give full access does not yield the expected behavior when accessing the share over the network. In my case the access was read only.

This is badly broken and should have been fixed long ago.

It would appear that the only thing that Microsoft products are truly good at is wasting the user's valuable time!

As I mentioned last night it appears that the meretricious minions of Microsoft are busily building the world's largest elephant trap. The hole has been completed and the sharpened stakes are currently being installed. All that remains is for the hole to be covered and for Microsoft to blindly walk over the hole and fall in.

Bob Holmes





CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Subject: Proof Chihuahuas aren't dogs . .


Scientific proof Chihuahuas aren't really dogs. 

"...Among other findings, the analysis determined that the Chihuahua is actually a type of large rodent, selectively bred for centuries to resemble a canine.

"This is clearly going to raise some eyebrows in the Chihuahua world," said Peggy Wilson, president of the Chihuahua Club of America. "It goes against our belief system. People are pretty passionate about their dogs. There is going to be disbelief...."

Somehow, I always knew . . .

Charles Krug

I ain't touching this one...

Subject: RE: Proof Chihuahuas aren't dogs--Thursday, May 27, 2004

Well, you know Ernst Mayr's textbook definition of a species-- interbreeding. That said, it didn't take very much Googling to turn up a collection of Chihuahua mixed breeds. They seem to have been crossed with all the other little dogs.


Excuse me, is this your leg? It seems to have come off....

Subject: More for the Crazy Years file

I think I've been given a broad hint as to why my Minnesota legislators sounded like a bunch of drunken incompetents at the end of this year's legislative session: 

The pictures were the best part -- the garbage bins in the basement of the lege looked like something out of Animal House.

TV report shows drinking at Capitol in closing days of session Associated Press May 27, 2004DRINKING28 Late at night, in the closing days of the legislative session, lobbyists, state workers and even some lawmakers gathered in offices at the State Capitol to drink beer, wine and liquor, KMSP-TV reported Wednesday night.

The station showed trash cans full of beer, wine and liquor bottles and suggested that at least some the alcohol of might have been provided by lobbyists. Lobbyists are not allowed to give gifts to legislators.

``What's troubling me is the coziness of the lobbyists and lawmakers,'' former House Majority Leader Ernest Lindstrom said after watching hidden-camera video taken by the station.

----------------------------- Joel Rosenberg 612.824.3150 BCA-validated Minnesota Carry Permit Instructor NRA-certified Range Safety Officer, Pistol Instructor, Home Firearms Safety Instructor, and Personal Protection Instructor

That's all right. Of course the Timberwolves have some problems too...

Subject: Energy Alternative buffy willow

This would be very nice indeed. 




Subject: Life in the clouds of Venus willow

I would have thought Roland would have mailed this to you but hey! I saw it and immediately thought of 'The Big Rain' in A Step Farther Out. 

Venus clouds 'might harbour life' By Martin Redfern

There could be life on the planet Venus, US scientists have concluded in a report in the journal Astrobiology.

The existence of life on the planet's oven-hot surface is unimaginable.

But microbes could survive and reproduce, experts say, floating in the thick, cloudy atmosphere, protected by a sunscreen of sulphur compounds.

Scientists have even submitted a proposal for a Nasa space mission to sample the clouds and attempt to return any presumed Venusians to Earth.

"Venus is really a hellish place," said Professor Andrew Ingersoll, of the California Institute of Technology.

"If you could get through the sulphuric acid clouds down to the surface of Venus you'd find it was hotter than an oven. You could melt lead at the surface of Venus and there'd be no water."  <snip>


Regarding my current column in BYTE (


Microsoft has already achieved the goal of "Making Passions Come Alive!" The millions of curses hurled toward Redmond on a daily basis are done with a passion seldom achieved outside of religious ecstasy.

Microsoft would do much better if their goal was to allow their paying customers to accomplish their work in a calm and orderly manner.

Once again, Microsoft fails to realize that their products are not an end unto themselves, but merely a tool to allow the completion work related or recreational tasks.

Bob Holmes The OS/2 Curmudgeon


You quote a correspondent from Manchester (Currentmail, Tuesday):

> There is a country that, within a few weeks, will conduct an all > postal election where the votes MUST be witnessed by a third party in > order that they be counted as valid.

Er, no.

To begin with, as your correspondent must know, all-postal voting is only in six "test regions" of the country.

That doesn't include the area where I live, so I asked a friend who has just cast such a vote how it works. He tells me:

> You mark the ballot paper, fold it up and put it in Envelope A with > the bar code showing through the window. You then take Envelope A, > Envelope B and the declaration form to a witness. In front of them, > you sign the declaration form. They countersign. Now you put > Envelope A and the form together into Envelope B, with the return > address on the form showing through the window. (The windows don't > line up, by the way - maybe there's a good reason for that.) You post > Envelope B.

So your vote is still secret: the witness is a witness to your signature, not to your vote.

I don't think all-postal voting is a good thing at all (especially given the dire performance of our Post Office), but misrepresenting what's going on is not the way to tackle it.

Fred Bone

Well, that's a relief. Thanks.

We have seen this before, but it never harms to be aware:

This message, claims to be from

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

------=_NextPart_000_0016----=_NextPart_000_0016 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="Windows-1252" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

The sample file you sent contains a new virus version of buppa.k. Please update your virus scanner with the attached dat file.

Of course, it isn't as I never sent them any file, and my Norton Anti-virus removed its payload. Cleaver, and dangerous; who's going to question something from Symantec?

-- Joe Zeff The Guy With the Sideburns Proof that they're lusers who must die: they send spam saying "Restore your sex life" even though they never told you to back it up.

They're everywhere.


Earth Brightens After Years of Dimming

Associated Press Writer

May 27, 2004, 3:14 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Scientists studying earthshine -- the amount of light reflected by the Earth -- say the planet appeared to dim from 1984 to 2001 and then reversed its trend and brightened from 2001 to 2003.

The shift appears to have resulted from changes in the amount of clouds covering the planet. More clouds reflect more light back into space, potentially cooling the planet, while a dimmer planet with fewer clouds would be warmed by the arriving sunlight.

That means the changes in brightness could signal climate change, though it's too early to tell.

Steven Koonin, a California Institute of Technology physicist and co-author of the paper, said that "at the moment, the cause of these variations is not known, but they imply large shifts in the Earth's radiative budget. Continuing observations ... will be necessary to learn their implications for climate."

Climate change "depends upon many factors in addition to (reflected light), such as the amount of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere. But these new data emphasize that clouds must be properly accounted for and illustrate that we still lack the detailed understanding of our climate system necessary to model future changes with confidence."

Jim Woosley


Warning: do not read this if you are subject to fits of anger.

Subject: 'serious mistakes'

---- Roland Dobbins

Colorado, again, at Martin Luther King school; ironic. Ironic.

Harry Redd has sent you a story: " - News - Student Whose Hair Set Afire Told To Stay Home"

the link: 

Message from Harry Redd: More on "Modern Education"

Why not?



On Biodiesel:

I saw that one on Slashdot.

With all due respect, Jerry: They're talking about dedicating TEN THOUSAND SQUARE MILES of "otherwise economically useless land" to algae ponds. I haven't looked at a map and measured, but, what little map-looking I have done suggests to me that this is an area CONSIDERABLY larger than ALL of Greater Los Angeles. If we can dedicate ten thousand square miles of land to building algae ponds, and an odd thousand or two extra square miles for dumpsites for the waste (the part of the algae that ISN'T oil, which, according the the website, is AT LEAST 50% of it), then I fail to understand why we can't dedicate a few such square miles for conventional pressurized water reactors and powersat rectenna fields.

They talk about doing this in, say, the Sonora desert, but they need a few inches of brackish water for their algae ponds. I don't recall seeing anything on their top-level web page that talks about how they are going to deal with (a) getting that water into the desert in the first place, and (b) how they are going to KEEP that water in the desert. (I seem to remember something from elementary school science class about a phenomenon known as "evaporation", which had SOMETHING to do with the effect of sunlight on water...) Part (a) requires you to either build one hell of a pipeline from the ocean to the desert, or build on desert adjacent to ocean. "(L)and" immediately adjacent to the ocean is called "seashore", and the composite phrase "otherwise economically useless seashore" does not seem, to me at least, to contain a great deal of meaningful semantic content.

I would like to see someone do a comparative budget workup of the cost of the algae-farming against the cost of using the well-known oil shale fields that we STILL haven't touched. (When I was an incoming freshman at UT Austin, I asked a professor in the UT Petroleum Engineering Department when we would start exploiting those fields. He said "Probably never.")

--John R. Strohm

10,000 square miles is 100 by 100; fairly large, if all in one patch. And the Sonora isn't the right place to do it.

The Rann of Kutch was once seriously proposed for a symbiotic nuclear plant/chemical mine/agricultural area. There are other such places.

Only dreamers imagine that any given technology will solve all problems. On the other hand, converting biomass to transport fuel is not impossible and may turn out to be important. Including chicken guts and pig excrement...




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  May 28, 2004

Subject: Sustainable oil?

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Perhaps the oil economy is going to last for many years yet ! You've mentioned this before but there seems to be more evidence for it.

Tom Slater 

Sustainable oil?

By Chris Bennett © 2004

By the late '80s, the platform's production had slipped to less than 4,000 barrels per day, and was considered pumped out. Done. Suddenly, in 1990, production soared back to 15,000 barrels a day, and the reserves which had been estimated at 60 million barrels in the '70s, were recalculated at 400 million barrels. Interestingly, the measured geological age of the new oil was quantifiably different than the oil pumped in the '70s.

Analysis of seismic recordings revealed the presence of a "deep fault" at the base of the Eugene Island reservoir which was gushing up a river of oil from some deeper and previously unknown source.

Possony was studying this phenomenon when he died. There may be a lot more oil in this world than we think. But it it still a fossil fuel, and there are better uses for it than simply to light a match to it.

Now for some good news on the virus front:

Subject: Virus Author Arrests

Dr. Pournelle:

It's been a good month for tracking down virus authors. In the last three weeks:

- Several arrests in Germany of the Sasser authors - Several arrests in Germany of the Agobot authors - One arrest in Canada for Randex author, and - One arrest in Taiwan of the author of the Peep spyware.

But the cyber-war continues. The "CVS system", which is a version control and collaboration system often used in open-source software development projects. Their servers were compromised with by a 'root-kit' hack, which gives the attacker full control of the server. The main CVS site is still unavailable.

Update and be careful.

Regards Rick Hellewell (the "Man of the Mantra"), Information Security,

And I got this today; last night we had guests in the Founder's room at the opera and they mentioned their machines were slowing down, so I suggested Ad-Aware.

Subject: Re: Opera


We had a WONDERFUL time last night! Thanks again. The show was great, the singing amazing, the acting was even good!

Please tell Jerry that we are now adware-free thanks to Ad-Aware! The first scan found 249 objects to delete, so I guess we were pretty badly infected. Many thanks for that, too.

See you on Sunday!


The opera was Il Trovotore. Getting a million popups every time you visit a web site is no fun...


And an intriguing question from Sue:


This story begs the question: How did Michael Moore acquire the rest of the Berg footage? And, by accepting the footage, will he been seen as a hero to those who support his tirades? Will he be seen as the Jane Fonda of this war?

What power does to one's ability to reason.


Filmmaker Moore says he has Berg footage

Associated Press Last updated: 3:45 p.m., Thursday, May 27, 2004

NEW YORK -- Filmmaker Michael Moore, whose incendiary new documentary lambastes President Bush's handling of the war, said Thursday that he has footage unused in the film of Nicholas Berg, the American civilian later beheaded in Iraq.

The footage, of an interview with Berg, "is approximately 20 minutes long. We are not releasing it to the media," Moore said in a statement. "It is not in the film. We are dealing privately with the family."

Neither Moore nor his representatives would describe the nature or contents of the interview with Berg, who held staunch pro-war views.

No one answered the phone Thursday at the home of Berg's parents in West Chester, Pa.

"Fahrenheit 9/11," which recently won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, accuses the Bush camp of stealing the 2000 election, overlooking terrorism warnings before Sept. 11, 2001, and fanning fears of more attacks to secure American support for the Iraq war.

Moore's assault on U.S. policy got him into trouble with Disney, which refused to let subsidiary Miramax release "Fahrenheit 9/11." He is still trying to work out a deal for U.S. distribution.

Intriguing but hardly astonishing.

From a Washington analyst I respect:


The neocon apologistas just never quit. Amazing.

 Subject: Hoagland Perhaps Still Pines For Chalabi

Jim Hoagland asks why al-Shahristani's Iranian ties might disqualify. 

Jim, here's a hint:

"Las < > t year, prior to the invasion of Iraq, he repeatedly went on record accusing Saddam Hussein's regime of actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction, claiming forcefully, in both the US and European media, that Saddam had constructed "hundreds of kilometers of underground tunnels" to stockpile vast amounts of chemical and biological weapons. He authoritatively questioned the Iraqi government's voluminous report to the United Nations on its weapons systems, citing the paperwork found at the home of an Iraqi scientist in Baghdad as evidence of that government's cover-up and clandestine nuclear program. Also, he repeatedly claimed there was a connection between Saddam's regime and al-Qaeda terrorists.

No, this is not about Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and onetime darling of Pentagon officials who has fallen out of favor in Washington and, worse, been accused of spying for Iran's mullahs. Rather, the reference is to Dr Hussain al-Shahristani, a close aide to the moderate Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has been reportedly hand-picked by the United Nations' special envoy on Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, as Iraq's next prime minister. . . "

Kaveh L Afrasiabi ______

Afrasiabi argues ala Hoagland that Iranian connections should not per se invalidate an Iraqi public figure. True enough.

But after cavalierly dismissing al-Shahristani's blatant lies as "what any patriot would say to get Iraq liberated", even Afrasiabi concedes (a) al-Shahristani's pre-war Iraqi Refugee Council had offices in Tehran and London for a number of years; (b)Shahristani maintained partial residence in Iran after escaping from Abu Ghraib in 1991; and (c) given his background as a onetime director of Saddam's nuclear research in Iraq who became a political prisoner gave al-Shahristani special cachet in the run-up to the March 2003 war on 60 Minutes and in other fora.

So Jim, over to you. How would you characterize al-Shahristani's explicit statements on WMD, invoking his past role as director of nuclear research?

Given these circumstances and al-Shahristani's active lying, his MOIS and other connections DO merit closer scrutiny. Ledeen's recent invocation of Angleton to explain away Chalabi was comically inapposite for so many reasons. But Ledeen unknowingly stumbled onto one unintentional germ of truth -- counterintelligence can lead to paralysis.

But CI is long overdue in this context.

Which mostly proves that it's a mess over there. But then we should have known that going in.


Radiation and hormesis in action


Dear Editor,

In 1983 a group of 180 apartment buildings was completed in Taiwan. Somebody had made a serious mistake. They had mixed into the concrete a considerable amount of highly radioactive cobalt 60. This meant that ultimately 10,000 people lived in buildings for from 9 to 20 years so radioactive that they received an average of 74 mSv of radiation per year in 1983, declining thereafter as cobalt 60 has a half life of 5 ˝ years. This compares with a rate of 0.5 mSv above background which is the normal maximum exposure for radiation workers & total of 15 mSv maximum safe limit for land fit for habitation according to US government standards.

According to the linear no threshold (LNT) theory currently in use world-wide for assessing nuclear risks there is no lower limit to the level at which radioactivity kills (hence the term "no threshold") & this, inhabited for a decade & a half before the radioactivity was traced & measured, should be the site of a truly massive cancer death rate.

It isn't.

A thorough & methodical tracing of all the 4,000 families by a team led by W. L Chen of Taiwan's Director of Medical Radiation Technology of Taiwan's National Yang-Ming University (the full report is available in English on  ) has resulted in an unequivocal & spectacular result. Cancer rates in that highly radioactive building are down to 3.6% of prevailing Taiwanese rates.

For many years there has been an unfashionable alternative to the LNT theory called hormesis. This is an effect, long observed in plants & cultures, whereby intermediate level radioactivity actually stimulates life & improves health. There has been significant evidence for this (the deaths at Hiroshima did not appear to fit the LNT pattern, there are places in India & Iran with background radiation of 15mSv or higher with no observed increase in cancer & numerous studies of radon in homes have found a reverse correlation between radon levels & cancer). Nonetheless, such has been our fear of all things nuclear that the LNT theory has been absolutely accepted despite the fact that there has NEVER been any actual evidence for it.

This study, however, is so detailed, has such well-defined boundary conditions & in proving a reduction in cancers of 96.4% has such a clear result that there can no longer be any intellectual doubt whatsoever. Radioactivity, up to 50mSv, is good for us.

This is reminiscent of the time when Gallileo turned his telescope to the skies & for all time disproved the, then politically correct though scientifically shaky, theory that the Sun revolved around the Earth. True the Pope of the time forced him to recant or be dealt with as heretics then were. True it took a long time to bury. However from the time of Galileo's observations the official theory was dead. Unlike normal life, in science the truth always wins in the end though sometimes the end can be a long time coming & much pain may be caused in the interim. This is because while opinions change repeatable science results remain the same - that is the nature of the universe.

The effect of this proof on our nuclear power industries can hardly be underestimated since with the collapse of the theory go most of the fears that have so crippled it. The effect on medicine however cannot even begin to be estimated as the way is now open for serious research on how hormesis works & how it can be used to serve mankind. It is interesting to note that the healing water from the world's great spas has always been mildly radioactive & medicine has heretofore been unable to find out why - I wonder what the future holds for such places.

Yours Sincerely Neil Craig

Thank you for a cogent summary. More on this can be found at for those interested.

For many years the NRDC and other "pro-environment" groups have insisted that all radiation is dangerous no matter what the level, and cumulative as well, so that the only safe action is to eliminate radiation. Of course there is natural radiation, which varies from place to place; sealing one's house allows radon to accumulate, raising the radiation in the house, sometimes to surprising levels; and going to higher altitudes always results in higher exposures, so much so that airline crews get quite a lot of radiation exposure, enough to be of concern.

The NRDC hasn't quite said that we must evacuate Denver and Colorado Springs as dangerous radiation hazards, but such a policy would be logical, given their "scientific" assumptions.

The alternative theories of radiation are the ancient pharmaceutical doctrine "The dose makes the poison," (i.e. that a some low enough level radiation is irrelevant), and "hormesis", which combines the "dose makes the poison" doctrine with the not entirely intuitive discovery that at low enough levels, radiation is actually good for you.

The hormesis hypothesis has been confirmed many times. One study was by the Swedish Army, which accumulated data on conscripts (Sweden has universal manhood conscription) from areas of known high radiation and compared their health statistics to recruits from areas matched in other characteristics. The conclusion was very much in favor of the hormesis theory. One participant in the study was Claes-Gustav Nordquist, the Surgeon Colonel of the Lifeguards Regiment who was until his retirement one of the leading oncologists in Sweden. There have been many others, but Claes is an old friend so I learned a good bit about the details of that study.

Despite the plethora of data confirming hormesis, the "environmental" movement continues to insist on the LNT (Linear, No Threshold) theory and this is one of their reasons for opposition to nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels.


Subject: Succor of empire.

-- Roland Dobbins

But that can as easily be done by a republic...


Hello, Jerry,

From todays Times, 


In the Scrapyards of Jordan, Signs of a Looted Iraq


AHAB, Jordan, May 26 — As the United States spends billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq's civil and military infrastructure, there is increasing evidence that parts of sensitive military equipment, seemingly brand-new components for oil rigs and water plants and whole complexes of older buildings are leaving the country on the backs of flatbed trucks.

By some estimates, at least 100 semitrailers loaded with what is billed as Iraqi scrap metal are streaming each day into Jordan, just one of six countries that share a border with Iraq.

American officials say sensitive equipment is, in fact, closely monitored and much of the rest that is leaving is legitimate removal and sale from a shattered country. But many experts say that much of what is going on amounts to a vast looting operation.


Recent examinations of Jordanian scrapyards, including by a reporter for The New York Times, have turned up an astounding quantity of scrap metal and new components from Iraq's civil infrastructure, including piles of valuable copper and aluminum ingots and bars, large stacks of steel rods and water pipe and giant flanges for oil equipment — all in nearly mint condition — as well as chopped-up railroad boxcars, huge numbers of shattered Iraqi tanks and even beer kegs marked with the words "Iraqi Brewery."

"There is a gigantic salvage operation, stripping anything of perceived value out of the country," said John Hamre, president and chief executive of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan Washington research institute, which sent a team to Iraq and issued a report on reconstruction efforts at the request of the Pentagon last July.

"This is systematically plundering the country," Dr. Hamre said. "You're going to have to replace all of this stuff."

The United States contends that the prodigious Middle Eastern trade in Iraqi scrap metal is closely monitored by Iraqi government ministries to ensure that nothing crossing the border poses a security risk or siphons material from new projects. In April, L. Paul Bremer III, the occupation's senior official in Iraq, and the Iraqi Ministry of Trade established rules for licensing the export of scrap metal from the country.


"American officials" say there is no looting, but so far the occupation officials have almost always been shown to be wrong -- either purposely misleading us, or misled themselves. On issue after issue, they are batting about 1 for 10, or worse.


John Welch

ps...I love the dateline in the reminds me just how ancient this area is...


And now this:

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

In reading the NY Times story about the Iraqi scrap metal in Jordanian yards I found that the most interesting part of the article was "snipped". It appear from the Times Reportthat the International Atomic Energy Agency is concerned about the scrap metal operation.

In the past several months, the International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, has been closely monitoring satellite photographs of hundreds of military-industrial sites in Iraq. Initial results from that analysis are jarring, said Jacques Baute, director of the agency's Iraq nuclear verification office: entire buildings and complexes of as many as a dozen buildings have been vanishing from the photographs.

"We see sites that have totally been cleaned out," Mr. Baute said.

The agency started the program in December, after a steel vessel contaminated with uranium, probably an artifact of Saddam Hussein's pre-1991 nuclear program, turned up in a Rotterdam scrapyard. The shipment was traced to a Jordanian company that was apparently unaware that the scrap contained radioactive material.

In the last several weeks, Jordan has again caught the attention of international officials, as pieces of Iraqi metal bearing tags put in place by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, established to monitor Iraqi disarmament during Mr. Hussein's rule, have been spotted in Jordanian scrapyards. The observation of items tagged by the commission, known as Unmovic, has not been previously disclosed.

"Unmovic has been investigating the removal from Iraq of materials that may have been subject to monitoring, and that investigation is ongoing," said Jeff Allen, a spokesman for the commission. "So we've been aware of the issue," he said. "We've been apprised of the details of the Rotterdam incident and have been in touch with Jordanian officials."

. . . The sites now being monitored by the atomic energy agency include former missile factories, warehouses, industrial plants and sites believed to contain "dual use" equipment like high-precision machine tools that could be used either for civilian purposes or for making components for nuclear and other weaponry. Mr. Baute said that the analysis had been completed at about a dozen sites and that the agency was working to prepare a report on the entire monitoring program.

Gee I thought the New York Times determined that there was no WMD capabilities in Iraq and that this was all just a con job by the current administration.

Maybe Ann Coulter was right (paraphrasing)- the best thing about being a liberal is that you can liberaly reinvent history on a daily basis.

Please keep up all of your good works, your salon is one of the great stops on the internet.

Most Sincerely (except when I am not),

John Zaccone

Which is even more fascinating...




Dear Jerry:

I had a bizarre Idea yesterday on this topic. Why not lease part of the North Korean Army? A "troops for food" program. They've a million men ; we need a quarter of that. This would make good relations with us in the North Koreans best interest and keep their people from starving. Understand this would be a straight lease deal, not an alliance. Let's call a Merc a Merc for once.

Thinking outside the box,

 Francis Hamit






This week:


read book now








CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now



From: r n [mailto :moc]
> Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2004 4:35 AM
> To:
> Subject: Google
> Hi,
> Did you know you're a GOOGLEWHACK?!?!?!?!
> Rob

To which I replied, what the the world is that?

It is a game, made famous by the English comedian Dave Gorman using the website

When you use Google to search for something, it scans around 3 billion webpages - the purpose of the game is to find a combination of 2 words which when entered together retrieve only 1 matching result, that is, 2 words which are only found together in 1 in 3 billion websites. Namely, a Googlewhack!

Your website is currently the only website in the world which contains both of the words "gyration" and "elderberries"!

It is part of the fun of the game to inform the site owner of their membership in the Googlewhack club. Hope you did not mind me e-mailing you!



I suppose I should be proud. I suspect there are many other word combinations that appear here and nowhere else, given the nature of chaotic views....


Jerry, you ask in part of your Saturday night essay, "Wasn't Afghanistan enough" (in reference to deterring others). Here's a stab at an answer.

First off, note that some of the "paleo-cons" may be right, and the "neo-cons" may simply have an agenda of taking out every Arab dictatorship one by one in order to make Israel safe. Assuming the "neo-cons" don't have that agenda, here is why Afghanistan was not sufficient.

If we're trying to deter anyone at all, it's Syria, Iran, Egypt, factions in Saudi Arabia, etc. These nations simply did not see Afghanistan as being of the same nature as themselves. But Saddam Hussein was one of THEM.

* Iraq is an Arab nation, Afghanistan is not. (And yes, Iran is not Arab either, but it is a Gulf state and more Arab-influenced than Afghanistan.)

* Iraq had wealth and a real combined-arms military, with armor and air assets. Afghanistan had really tough-minded guerrilla infantry and that's about it.

* Afghanistan was a failed country; Iraq was a going concern.

* The Taliban were newcomers; Saddam held power in Iraq for decades, just like the Assads in Syria or the clerics in Iran.

* The Taliban were closely and obviously connected to Osama Bin Laden, the Iraqis less so.

Al-Qaeda, with Taliban support, violated Niven's First Law. Hussein violated the Second Law (harboring Lawrence Foley's killer if nothing else), and is serving as an example of why that's a bad idea, even if you're a powerful Gulf state.

Steve Setzer

All of which would be relevant if we were not now in the middle of a debate on whether it was a good idea in the first place; that is, after Iraq, are we more, or less, likely to go in after the bad guys? Our experience there wasn't a good one.

I will go into this in some detail next week.











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