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Mail 312 May 31 - June 6, 2004






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Monday  May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

 Saturday, May 29, you said:

"But the point is that when Forrester wrote that, not all that many years ago, the world was no longer a place where one's word of honor was inviolate or even all that important; but it was a place where the readers could conceive of such a situation. Now, I doubt that anyone under 60 years old can read that story without laughing out loud at such a quaint notion."

I would beg to differ: while the world may have reached the point where honor and integrity are irrelevant notions, there are still some of us who believe (and even among those who do not believe, I would still like to think that there are many who would refrain from laughing at such "quaint notions").

I am not yet 60 years old (I still have 6 years to go before I become "double untrustworthy"), and I like to think that I still believe in honor and one's word. While I would accept that society in general has taken a different turn, I still believe that there are men of honor in the world.

Ok, call me an idiot with antiquated beliefs if you wish; I will stick to them.


N. C. Shapero

 Remember, integrity, like virginity, can only be lost once

And perhaps I am unduly pessimistic as I listen to graduation speeches and see the results of a modern education; I know I exaggerated the problem. I would hope by a lot.

Was Saddam Deterred?

Let this letter stand for many like it:

Mr. Pournelle,

On your Web site, you say The real question was, had Iraq been deterred before we went in? And it seems pretty certain that it was. Saddam wasn't trying to expand his power. He was just clinging on to what he could. Saddam wasn't a threat to anyone outside his borders.

I wonder about that. Consider alone that Mr. Hussein was paying $25K to the families of terrorists in Palestine, and this is what he did _publicly_. One can only imagine what he was doing in private (increasingly, evidence comes out that he may have been doing quite a bit). And, one can only imagine what his response would have been once the US backed down. Is this a man who ever responded positively to appeasement?

Id love to hear more of your reasoning along these lines. Personally, I think the pictures of a bedraggled, worn-out old man belie the true nature of Saddam Hussein, and that there would have been Hell to pay had he been left in power.


Mark R. Coppock

coppockm @

And other evidence comes out; so perhaps he was.

In which case the question becomes, could he have been deposed or assassinated without our attempting occupation? It was not the War that gave us problems, it was the Nation Building that followed; or so it seems to me.

You may be right; I do not think so, but it is certainly not impossible.

In which case why are we not invading other countries that support such practices? How much must the American people do? For surely the Israel/Palestine situation is unique. The Palestinian people have little recourse except terrorism. That isn't a justification, it's an observation. An occupied people has few weapons.




Subject: This is a disturbing development 

Islam has historically had some pretty hard-and-fast rules about warfare. See : you don't kill noncombatants, you don't kill wounded, you don't kill POWs, and you don't kill people in places of worship.

It would appear that those rules have gone out the window.

--John R. Strohm

I wouldn't be unduly disturbed; the main stream has always obeyed the rules. And there have always been exceptions. Remember the Assassins? Yet now they are the subjects of the Aga Khan and are pacifists...

Dear Jerry Pournelle,

one of your friends has been reading The Moscow Times online at !

David K. M. Klaus ( thought you'd be interested in the following article and has asked us to send it to you:

"Armageddon Almost Not Averted" 

Here is David K. M. Klaus's comment (if any):

If this is true, and I don`t know if it is or not, it`s more than a bit frightening. Talk about needing better password security!

We hope you enjoy the article!

Best regards, The Moscow Times Web Staff

I do not believe a word of it, and it certainly is no recommendation for that paper that they published this the way they did. The silly rumor surfaces every now and then.

Missile commanders owned their birds and could launch them at discretion only after a period of time in which there was no communication between SAC headquarters and the commander. That time was usually fairly long but could be reduced, not at the Wing site but by SAC CINC; but it couldn't be reduced to zero in any case.

As to the launch procedure, that remains classified, but it involved physical keys as well as receipt of a valid message, and both launch officers in a silo had to agree that they had received a valid message. It took two to tango...

And see below


Two thoughts on outsourcing:

(1) Every year many sharp students from Asia graduate from medical schools and become doctors

(2) Every year new advances are made in telemedicine

Would anyone care to guess on when we'll start outsourcing routine medical care to India and China?

Steve Setzer

Can't you imagine the malpractice suits? Actually, if the legal eagles continue as they have, the only doctors you will be able to afford will be in jurisdictions where our civil suit writs do not run.


Subject: 'post-traumatic slave syndrome'


------ Roland Dobbins

Why not?


Subject: Lost in Afghanistan.

--- Roland Dobbins

Novak doesn't talk to the same people I do. He has grains of truth, but he is also promoting grousing to deep belief.

Of course the troops in "the other war" rather resent not being in the spotlight, and being given a nearly impossible task. But it beats hell out of trying to build a democracy; at least they haven't been given that mission.

When Charles Beckwith tried to resign rather than lead Desert One, President Carter said, "Colonel, shut up and soldier..."







This week:


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Subject: Colossus Code-breaker rebuilt for D-Day anniversary

Saw this on Slashdot. Pretty interesting article on the BBC website.

This is the code breaking box that cracked the Lorenz code (used between Hitler and his Generals.) It was both programmable and electronic.

The full article is at .

John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

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


And catching up on old mail:

Subject: Hudson High, Zoom U, Canoe U vs. NSA in Cyber Defense Bowl?

This looks to be as much fun for the digerati as the old GE College Bowl was for geekdom in general.

<snip> " The NSA team, known as the "Red Cell," launches attacks on selected networks at the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Navy academies from an operations center somewhere in Maryland. The computer scenario plays out virtually inside the cadets' computers." <snip>

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


Another I missed last month that still has interest:

Subject: Army Focusing on "Easy" Laser Weapons | Spyball | Other high-tech military toys 

===== -- John E. Bartley, III K7AAY telcom admin PDX http://celdata cjb net "Clearly, latrines are the forgotten Last Amenity of the Apocalypse. (Other signs to look for.. might be Michael Jackson as your Best Man (?), Christina Aguilara as your makeup consultant & Cher as your personal shopper.)


And another I missed which is worth attention from some:

I'm normally more quiet than this with those whom I know have busy schedules. But you popped into my mind due to the Outlook PST chat from a few days ago.

Whilst doing some random cleaning of the browser's bookmarks file, I came upon a link I haven't checked in quite some time. Not my field for starters, but an interesting diversion nonetheless:

I was greeted by a rather depressing page, and after a bit of brooding and a few sips of my evening glass of Cab, I decided that if you shared my dismay at this turn of events you might wish to either bounce this along to some of your industry and academic contacts or drop it into the mail thread at your site. I won't blather on (much!) about why the Academic Committee of a venerable institution would decide to squelch an academic web site of long standing simple because it has been maintained by utilizing the international collaborative nature of the Net itself. But I have to believe that among your readers and correspondents there must be people who could help Mr. Harrison get the site running again without injecting too much commercialism into the effort.

Okay, that's my soapbox effort for the time being. Back to leaving you alone while fighting off my own swarm of locusts...


Dean Riddlebarger The Other One Consulting 317-894-5422

I ran out of gas! I had a flat tire! I didn't have enough money for cab fare! My tux didn't come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!

And yet another in my late April mail:

Subject: Zigbee Home Area Network

Dr. Pournelle,

I thought you might be interested in this article:;

It talks about an HAN protocol called Zigbee, based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. It appears to specifically address the issues with remote devices and home automation. This may come under the "What I'd like to see next in computer evolution" category.


Bruce Jones

This may tell you more than you want to know about networks, but that's a good thing for those who do want to know a lot...


I haven't used PROXOMITRON but perhaps I should:

Subject: Re: Eliminating Unwanted Ads

Scott Lemmon, the creator of Proxomitron, has retired, but his creation lives on. The last version is 4.5-j and no more versions are likely to be developed. However, some improvements are available via patching. You don't need to install the patch to have Proxomitron work for you, but it is nicer. Also, several enthusiasts are active developing improved filters and installation of one of the more advanced filter sets will improve results for difficult web sites One of those developers is at The standard forum for problems is on Yahoo! at You can sign up there (free) to gain full access and ask questions or offer ideas. Members are generally very helpful.

So, first download Proxomitron 4.5-j (  ) and unzip it into a handy folder like c:\Program Files\Proxomitron. Proxomitron does not alter the Registry, so simple placement of files in folders is all that is needed. Uninstalling involves only deletion of files and folders.

Next, go to the patcher page  and read and follow directions to install the improvements available for Proxomitron, if you want to do that.

Instructions for installation, use, and programming of Proxomitron are included in the Help file, but first set up your browser for accessing files through Proxomitron. This is done by using the Proxy server ability of the browser. Assuming the use of IE (I much prefer the tabbed browsing of Mozilla, but let's not get into that!), under the Tools menu select Internet Options to get the tabbed setup machina. Select the Connections tab and, assuming you are connected to the internet through the LAN, click on the LAN Settings button. Check "Use a proxy server for your LAN..." and enter an address of LOCALHOST and a port of 8080 Check "Bypass proxy server for local addresses" Press the Advanced button and make sure that LOCALHOST and 8080 are entered for HTTP and (if Proxomitron filtering is useful for it) for Secure Servers, but not (I suspect) for FTP, Gopher, or Socks.

Remember if, during testing or for some other reason, Proxomitron has not been started, you will need to revert the above setup for Proxy Server (or you might think internet is not working).

I place a Proxomitron shortcut in my Startup folder so it starts whenever I start the computer or re-boot.

If you have any difficulties, please feel free to e-mail or even to phone me any time, day or night. Believe me, I like your other fans appreciate what you do for us.

Bill Mackintosh

Thanks. I will look into this.

And another I missed that's still topical:

Dear Jerry:

As you know I was an early and effective advocate for giving women full equality in the military. BG Karpinski's actions during and since the events at that prison simply prove that equality has been attained. Women can now screw up just as badly as men. The self justification and "it's not my fault" campaign she has been conducting in the media is a big mistake on her part. By Army culture, traditions and regulations, she was in charge and therefore responsible.

Hers is a major leadership failure. A commanding officer is only as good as the staff under her/him. The Taguba report noted that her S-1, S-4, S-4 and S-5 were incompetent and not working according to standard. But she could have replaced these officers. It was her shop. She would not have had to import new ones, but simply promote (to position if not rank) competent junior officers. She could have also gone anywhere her units were and just had a look for her self.

When I was in the old Army Security Agency, our CG, MG Charles Denholm, was famous for showing up at a unit while he was officially "on leave" , flipping out his World Wide Badge, and taking a look. It kept everyone one their toes. Because ASA was stretched very thin during the Vietnam War, responding to events often meant doing things that were out of the ordinary. Which is how this E-5 ended up in a job normally given to an E-9.

Karpinski simply failed to lead. In civilian life she is some kind of management consultant. I was in the "management Army". Management theory was all the rage back then, but it was quickly learned that, in a combat situation, you can't manage solders into battle, you have to lead them. Any situation where, as the Taguba Report put it, soldiers are in "mortal danger" is a combat situation.

The Taguba Report indicated that some of Karpinski's eight batallions rose to the occasion and performed well. So it was not the fact that they were reservists or working out of their MOS that was the key factor. It was leadership.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit


Subject: OSD Cant' Be This Stupid . . . Can They???,8599,634638,00.html 

Well, now we know . .



And another one I missed entitled "This War"

Hi You said: "God help the Iraqis if the troops are really aroused. The similarity to "The Last Samurai" comes to mind."

This is real life damnit. Not a Heinlien space opera.

You've been spouting this drivel for a long time. They are not scared of you. Are you aware of the two shites, young men, who threw themselves under the tracks of an M1A1 just to freak out the watching troops.

The shites love martyrs. They love death and you are not going to scare them into doing what you want.

Shock and Awe ... ah yes it can be played by anyone. The beheading would come under the DIY shock and awe section.


Now I have no clear idea of what he means.

If he thinks that people who were thoroughly cowed by the Turks for 800 years, then by Saddam Hussein, cannot be deterred or frightened into obedience, he is welcome to his view; but in fact most of the problems in Iraq have come from the Sunni minority, which in fact cowed the Shiites for Saddam, and did it very well.

Most people do not love death. It is true enough that if you take away all hope you can create such enemies; but it is the hope of success, rather than the love of death, that motivates most people. The last of the unrepentant samurai did in fact throw themselves at a modern army in the last century; not quite as romantically as in the film, but the result was about what you would expect; but that was the remnant of a warrior culture. The Shiites have been suppressed since the days when the Sunni "Companions" took over; there aren't many Caliphs of the Blood, and the "Hidden Imam" hasn't returned; while the Assassins transmogrified into pacifists. Oppression works, if the oppressor is serious.

Along those lines

I share Graham's anger at the execution of an American civilain. It is no doubt only a matter of time until this happens to a soldier or civilain from the UK.

But he is wrong !

Making an example of Najaf is exactly what is needed. If you are an Iraqi insurgent are you going to be scared by the Politically Correct application of military force if you have spent all your life living under the Saddan reigme. I don't think so.

Tell them what you are going to do and do it. Invite the World's press to see it and show the whole Arab world what the price is of resistance and what American military power can do. A picture is worth a thousand words and a violent, even disproportionate reaction to this event will save lives on the ground in the long term !

Alas I do agree with Graham that this will not happen. The war will continue, Iran and Syria will no dobt step up their aid.

The end result ? Who knows but my bet would be a Tet style offensive prior to the Presdential Elections. The focus being on high profile targets which will ensure media coverage. Militarily it will be crushed by Coalition Forces, but it will be enough to convince media pundits that Iraq is "Unwinnable".

I fear that the wheel of history has now turned against the West. The sad fact is that we may very well lose in Iraq and in the War against Terrorism for the simple reason that as a society we now lack the will to do what we need to do.

Simon Enefer

Never wound the king...

Subject: Article from and The Capital Times

David K. M. Klaus - notes: "Dr. Pournelle, please have a look at this article. It strikes me as worth noting in your weblog.

As with Clinton. I would have thought Bush would have better sense. Truman would have.


Subject: AstroSynthesis

Dear Dr. Pournelle, You may find this interesting. I stumbled over a utility program for Windows called "AstroSynthesis" at  It is about $35. (be sure to click on the links for features and screen shots)

The program is a 3-dimensional starmap generator/database. Apparently it was designed for role-playing games but it would be useful for SF authors.

It can generate starmaps and solar systems, set up interstellar empires, spheres of influence, and trade routes. It will allow rotating the map on all three axes. It will create fractal planetary maps. It also allows attaching notes to stars, planets, and other objects. It can generate random stars in random locations, or it can import datafiles of your own stellar postions. It comes with a datafile of actual stars within twenty light years of Sol.

It can also create animated movies flying through the map.

I am not affiliated with the program creators, I am just facinated with starmaps.

Take care, Winchell Chung

I need to look into this.


And I am now more or less caught up on past mail.


On Missile Launch codes

As a former ICBM crew commander, I would be shocked if an unlock (enable) code of all zeros was selected. Even if true, one of the overriding control elements of the Minuteman system, Positive Control (of the weapon system) would have prevented some random crew from dialing in the code and launching. Not only does it take two crew members to agree, but any attempt to send an enable code or a launch vote to a missile triggers an alarm in all five squadron launch control centers. In the event that a given enable or launch command is invalid or unauthorized, there would be four other crews immediately sending an "inhibit" command to the affected missiles, which disengages the missiles from a launch sequence.

I can say from personal experience that games were NEVER played out on strategic alert. Ours was a deadly serious business: our standards were very high, and tolerance for mistakes and goofs was just not there.

Matthew Farr


Subject: Fw: Interesting site - 404 Error

Jerry, this one is too good NOT to pass along. My mother found it.

> Hi! > > Here's one that you don't need to be a computer geek to enjoy! :-) > > 404 Error >

Hoo Haw!


Subject: Correcting for inflation

After a little hardware help from Morris, we now have Phil C on-line through my ADSL.  I bought a Linksys router today at Fry's, because my modem only allows one computer to reach the net at any time.

You've been saying for some time now that you get a lot of security from having a router, and I agree. However, you can't get one anymore for $25 as you've been saying. The one I got was the least expensive at $40. Not that this negates your premise, mind you, but you might want to correct your comments for inflation.

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

Hmm. It may be the last price I got was during a sale. It may also be that the cheaper ones are simply no longer available?








This week:


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Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Subject: little recourse except terrorism

>> The Palestinian people have little recourse except terrorism.

When Oslo started they had the opportunity to turn away from terrorism -- they had the full support of the entire world, plus a large majority of the Israeli population, including the government. When Rabin ofered them 97% of what they wanted (and the remaining 3% in a land swap) they had the opportunity to show their true colors -- which they did, by turning down the offer and restarting the intifada.

When someone ONLY wants to fight, they don't see or take advantage of other opportunities.


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

What Rabin (actually Barak) offered them was a set of Bantustans. Israel would control all entrance and egress, and all traffic among the enclaves. Israel would control the airport and seaports (as it does now).

Rabin brought in the PLA and Arafat. That didn't help the peace process much.

I have no brief for the PLA. Likud and the PLA need each other: neither would last very long without the other in existence. But the notion that  Barak offered Palestine anything that a rational leader could accept is just plain wrong.

The devil is in the details, and the details aren't widely publicized.

Israel would keep Army bases in the Jordan Valley, control all water rights under and around Palestine, all air space over the Palestinian Bantustan, and all access into and egress from this Palestine. As Richard Ben Cramer puts it in "HOW ISRAEL LOST": "The way I'd put it, the Israelis proposed to continue their occupation, with a prettier name -- 'Palestine.'" What they didn't offer was anything like a sovereign state.

I realize this comes as a shock to you. It came as one to me: I too believed that Barak had offered them a state, sovereignty, with nothing left to dispute but a few percent of the territory. Had he offered that, and that were refused, it would be one thing.

But that isn't what was offered. There was to be no sovereignty. There were three enclaves, and travel between them was to be through IDF checkpoints. The IDF would control all entry and exit to the outside world. No Palestinian leader could have accepted that and face his own people.

Note that the present operations in Gaza are designed to prevent any traffic between Egypt and Gaza that doesn't go through Israeli checkpoints. The ostensible purpose is to prevent the smuggling of weapons through tunnels. Perhaps so, although there seem to be weapons enough already in Gaza. Certainly it will prevent the smuggling of gasoline and food and medicine and paper hats and diapers and cigarettes and all the other stuff that flows through monopoly companies.

I have no idea how or whether peace will come to that land; but I am fairly certain that the Palestinians will never put up with what the South African blacks would not accept, and so far that's the best offer they have had.

Now of course every time there looks like there might be a truce, someone upsets it. The IDF fires missiles. A suicide bomber blows up some women and children on a bus or in a restaurant or on a beach. A mob tears limb from limb some Israeli soldiers who had the misfortune to get lost. Rockets are fired, either from Gaza at a Settlement, or from an Israeli helicopter into a city to get a Hamas officer.  And that ends the talk of peace for a while. You can always count on someone to start the war up again before there's a real truce. In fact, you can count on both sides. It's as if Likud needs PLA. Sharon needs Arafat. Something like that.


Subject: Tuesday 6/1/04


Regarding router prices: CDW seems to have a few priced between $33 and $40. CDW's retail prices (our purchasing wizardess has negotiated a substantial discount) can generally be beat with a little judicious shopping, so your $25 isn't high by much...

Regarding the imperial presidency: the AOPA (Airline Owners and Pilots Association - has been mounting a campaign against the excessive and capricious application of TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions) on general aviation traffic whenever Bush travels. While some restrictions may be warranted, the abuses are rampant. A quick search of the AOPA site on "tfr & bush" will produce plenty of examples. One could argue whether publicly defining a relatively narrow window for the President's whereabouts in space / time increases his security, or decreases it...

Scott Miller

The routers I use are all D-Link although we did test Cisco systems which have more security features, but at much higher prices. My recommendation is to find the D-Link that has the features you need and use it.

The imperial restrictions grew like crazy under Clinton and seem to have been kept by Bush. I understand 9/11 changed the world. But by that much?

But we were born free.



X-rays are being read overseas already, and medical transcription has been sent out since at least last year, probably longer ago than that. Not just to India, but also Mexico and others. But who cares about privacy; your doctor works for an incorporated practice, and they subcontract out to a local transcription service, who farms it out to a consolidator, who sends it to their subs, who send it overseas. Catch me (Who? Not me!) if you can, while your medical, insurance, billing and payment histories are being sold to criminals around the world.

SSN CC# Checking account codes Home address Relatives names

Good thing it's cheaper...



Subject: "It just seems like a burden to them."

-- Roland Dobbins

Of course it depends on what else is taught. Homework isn't the remedy to everything. Certainly as one gets further into school the requirement to do some independent work to achieve honors becomes important.

I had about an hour a day of homework when I was in St. Anne's in grades 1-3, mostly spelling and handwriting; perhaps that every other day at Capleville 4 - 8; and varying amounts including term papers in Christian Brothers High School. Probably not enough: the amount of homework I had to do in college astounded me. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the war came along and relieved me of that for a while...


Subject: Helping the government isn't necessarily very smart.

-- Roland Dobbins

Ask Martha Stewart



This morning, Ad-Aware found a few things on my system and cleaned them up. Then I ran Spybot and it found 62 additional items. Both are the latest versions.

Spybot is also free. It's available on Tucows.

Bill Dooley

My experience has been that Ad-Aware gets the stuff, but I'll try this experiment. Thanks.


Subject: Blood money

A live journal entry on blood money as practiced in Iraq. 

Thanks for doing it all so we don't have to...


Were-gild has a long and honorable history in Western cultures also. See the Iliad for details...


From Pshrink:

Subject: The letter on the bed

A mother enters her daughter's bedroom and sees a letter on the bed. With the worst premonition, she reads it, with trembling hands:

Dear Mom, It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm telling you that I have eloped with my new boyfriend. I found real passion and he is so nice, even with all his piercing and tattoos, and I love riding on the back of his big motorcycle. But it's not only that mom, I'm pregnant and Ahmed said that we will be very happy in his trailer in the woods. He wants to have many more children with me and that's one of my dreams. I've learned that marijuana doesn't hurt anyone and we'll be growing it for us and his friends, who are providing us with all the cocaine and ecstasy we may want. In the meantime, we'll pray for science to find the AIDS cure, for Ahmed to get better, he deserves it. Don't worry Mom, I'm 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. Some day I'll visit so you can get to know your grandchildren.

Your daughter, Judith

PS: Mom, it's not true. I'm next door at Sandy's. I just wanted to show you that there are worse things in life than my report card that's in my desk drawer...I love you!


Speaking of a box of rocks...

An Arkansas school teacher who gave her students a fish-shaped water gun is under fire from a parent who says she disapproves of weapons in her house, reports KPOM-TV <  > in Ft. Smith, Ark.

The teacher at an elementary school in Rogers, Ark., gave her students the squirter following a lesson about animals in the rain forest. School officials say she feels horrible about the entire situation and didn't mean to offend anyone.

The parent who complained, Karen Young, doesn't want fish-shaped toy guns in her house because she accidentally shot an ex-boyfriend one time when the gun she was beating him with went off.,2933,121332,00.html




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, June 3, 2004

Dear Doctor Jerry,

I ran across something in Salvador Madariaga's memoirs, 'Morning Without Noon':

"Iraq was not strong enough to defend herself. Iraq is not a nation. 'The child of the League', Frank Waters calls her. She was, like Jordania, like most of the 'nations' that were to swarm later in Africa, an artificial creation invented by the colonial powers. No comparison whatever with the nations that emerged out of the emancipation of Spanish America; for in this case, what happened was that every university gave birth to a nation, through the fostering of an elite conscious of a personality of its own. Iraq and Jordan were born of agreements between Britain and local chieftains with royal ambitions, no doubt based on some real factors, loyalties, traditions, but by no means on a national consciousness, while the peoples concerned were pestered with internal stresses due to dissident races and religions.

"The Assyrians were one of these dissident groups. They claimed to descend from the Assyrians of antiquity and, for all I know, they did represent what remained of the Old Assyrian (Christian) Church. They were themselves an ill-adjusted mixture of tribes who from time immemorial had lived in the mountains of Iraq, with other tribes running away from persecution in Turkey or Persia. I was apprised of these facts by the Assyrian hereditary patriarch, the Mar Shimun, who began to pay me frequent visits. He was young and handsome and his very white face and chiselled features were enhanced by large black eyes that seemed now and then to become even brighter when he smiled because he then uncovered a dazzling double row of very white teeth that shone between his thick lips. His hair and beard were very black. He spoke quietly and without gestures, with the poise of a man whose authority. 'Of course,' he would add after a long statement of 'facts', 'Your Excellency need not believe everything I say.' And we smiled at each other with our eyes in complete agreement.

"This man conceived his patriarchate as a pharaoh would have done, as a king-pope, and he quietly and courteously put it to the Government of Iraq to which he would, of course, remain loyal both as a person and as the head of his people; a proposal that naturally enough did not find favour in Iraq official quarters. But, since the Iraqi Government promised to be cooperative in such matters as housing, all seemed well to the League Council- until all went wrong. The homeless Assyrians got impatient and invaded Syria (July 1933). The French authorities who ruled Syria then, forced them to recross the Tigris into Iraq whereupon a skirmish, almost a battle, was fought between the eight hundred Assyrians and an Iraqi detachment send to intercept them. The Assyrians recrossed the Tigris again and the French interned them.

"There was no reason why the story should not have ended there, at any rate for a few years, but for the fact that Iraq was not yet ripe for independence. The inconclusive battle on the Tigris acted on the Iraqi army as an irritant and within two weeks the shooting of prisoners began, followed, on August 10, 1933, by a massacre of Assyrians during which hundreds of men were killed and hundreds of home pillaged and destroyed. As the news reached Geneva (August 31st) the seventy-sixth session of the League Council was about to begin, and on the initiative of Ireland, Mexico and Norway, the matter was considered, or rather, should have been considered. But King Faisal died and the discussion, though urgent, was adjourned to October.

"So October came and the Iraqi government insisted on the 'fact' that the responsibility for the massacre lay in fact on the shoulders of the massacred- a principle as time-honoured as anything in human history. Iraq, however, promised it would not happen again. The Council nonetheless thought it would be best to find a safer place for the Assyrians. This was the task that was entrusted to a committee presided over by me, a job that was gradually taken over by my assistant, Olivan, since it implied more travelling than I had time for. The first suggestion, some land in southern Brazil, would have been suitable, but at the cost of 600,000 pounds; and when the Council expected Britain to foot that bill, Britain declared her liability to be limited to a share of that sum proportional to that of her share in the League budget. No member of the Council -or of the League- could agree to that, considering that the coming of age of Iraq had been forced down an unwilling League's throat precisely by Britain. After months and years of endeavours, rooted in a curious mixture of goodwill, cleverness, an astute combination of charity and national development and what not, the Assyrian question was lost in the desert, partly of Iraq, partly of Syria, partly of League paper, and all was left in readiness for another crocodile to turn up in the Middle East some day."


So you know Saddam Hussein liked to call himself Assyrian. I hope our guys 'in the desert, partly of Iraq, partly of Syria' have someone who's got the 1933 paperwork.

All the best,

Bruce Purcell

I had heard some of this story before. Iraq is a complex place; and sending in a combat army to administer it has always been a rather poor idea if the goal is the good of the Iraqi people. American GI's are probably the best you can hope for in a combat army, but they are still a combat army.

This venture was sold by the neo-cons as a lark, an easy conquest, followed by endlessly flowing oil and lots of good in the Near East. It has not quite worked out that way. It may yet turn out well. It may.


And of course I knew this was coming:


The final line of your June 1st column on the Weekly Standard was: "apparently the neo-conservative Weekly Standard has said, on its editorial page, that there shall be no more discussion of Israeli practices in Gaza. And that is astonishing."

I was wondering if you were also planning to discuss Palestinian practices in Gaza? Or do you limit your discussion solely to actions taken by Israel?

And I wonder how you would react ... say ... if terrorists murdered some of 3000 of your fellow citizens? And then you saw pictures of women and children dancing joyfully in the street upon hearing that news? How would you personally feel about a group of people like that? And their "cause"? Would the fact that they reveled in the murder of your countrymen upset you in any way? It's just a hypothetical of course; similar to soon-to-be-ex-Senator Hollings question. Thank goodness nothing like that has ever happened here in the good old US of A, eh?

Regards, Ted

Ted Maas

-=< Chaos ... Panic ... Disorder ... my work here is done >=-

Now what is one to say to that? Note, though, that he refers to my View here on this site, not to my column, which is about computers and appears in a different place, and doesn't talk about such matters.

Palestinian practices in Gaza: they have attempted to kill all Israelis in Gaza, men, women, and children. That is the main reason that Sharon wants to withdraw all Israelis from Gaza.

American Indians massacred settlers. Whether with good reason or not depends on your view; and how the Indian Wars are viewed varies a lot within the US. The one certain thing is that the tactics didn't do the Native Americans a lot of good. Opening casinos is another matter.

When discussing tactics of resistance and occupation, there are two questions to be asked: Is the action morally justified?  And is it effective? By effective I mean is it efficacious in achieving the stated goals of the actor?

Ends may or may not justify means (if ends don't justify means, whatever could?) but the question doesn't even come up if the means don't serve the end. If the action is both morally reprehensible and ineffective, then the nobility or lack thereof of the goal is a lot less relevant.


In the Palestinian case the stated goal is to end Israeli occupation; probably unstated is the goal of driving the Israelis into the sea, but that isn't going to happen, and most Arabs now understand that. Their means have been to blow up Settlements in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, and to attack Israel proper (pre-1967 Green Line Israel). Actions against the settlers haven't been very effective and don't make much in the way of headlines. Bombing Israeli civilians in Israel proper don't seem to have done them a lot of good either.

In the Israeli case the stated goal is to achieve some kind of stable peace in the region. There are as many unstated goals as there are factions: even in Likud, and certainly if you count Labor, and that's not counting the religious parties. But all say, at least to the US, that they want to achieve a stable peace. Their means include targeting individuals, bulldozing houses, check points, and military roads cutting the Palestinian territories into small areas; and of course controlling or trying to control all access to the Palestinian areas from both inside and outside Israel.

It is pretty clear the Arab tactics are doing them no good. More, they can be depended on: every time the Israelis do something rather horrid, the Arabs can be counted on to mount an even more gruesome attack. If the Israelis drop a 500 pound bomb on an apartment in the hopes of killing one Hamas official and get him, 6 bodyguards, five women, and seven children, the Arabs can be counted on to blow up a bus or a restaurant and kill 30 people who have had nothing to do with the war. Depend on it. This doesn't seem to be accomplishing their goal of being left in peace to establish a state.

But it is clear that one can't talk about the efficacy of Israeli tactics because any criticism gets the kind of letter I show above, and either the implied or explicit charge of anti-Semitism, whatever that is. Now of course that means that a good 35% of the Israelis citizens are anti-Semitic in that they do not believe that Sharon's tactics are accomplishing the stated mission, but I suppose they can then be dismissed as self-hating Jews.

Anyway, thank you. You have made my point.


Apparently Mr. Maas did not make my point: his was the most literate of a number of messages  that appeared to have come from people who have read nothing whatever I have posted except that one remark about the Weekly standard. Mr. Maas is a long time reader who intended an entirely different point, and it was my misreading that caused his letter to be posted as an example. The others were so shrill as to be useless.

My apologies to Mr. Maas.

His view can be summarized as "I think you are wrong; if the Palestinians would stop blowing people up, there would be peace."

And see below.


Subject: Freedom of Information

People regularly scoff at the old "hearts and minds" attitude but it is extremely effective. Secular societies know it. It will hopefully be the catalyst for change in Iran without any intervention. It is the fear in Iraq.

Check out this little story. Further proof that totalatarian dictatorships that supress their society have no hope when information can be freely exchanged, The Dicktater knows it.

I feel for the poor people in North Korea.

Ted K

As I used to say in Cold War days; Arthur Koestler said that the sufficient condition for the collapse of a totalitarian society was free exchange of information within it. I wasn't sure it was sufficient on its own, but close; and I said back in 1980 that the computer revolution would bring that about. I had a lot more to say on that.

North Korea will now test Koestler


Subject: Guardian Article on Girl Smeared by Matt Drudge

<,13918,1230113,00.html  >

 -- "The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is." (Tom Vogl)

Harry Erwin

First I have heard of any of this, but I am not a regular reader of Drudge.



Linksys Router Administration Page may be available on the WAN even when disabled in firmware.

Morning Jerry,

There is a moderately critical security vulnerability on the Linksys BEF series firewall/routers, including the popular WRT54G wireless/firewall/router, which are often used on home broadband connections. Details can be found at: The administration page is accessible via the WAN even when the unit is configured to disable such access. The issue has been confirmed in several versions of the Firmware, and no patch is currently available. Access may be possible even if a service such as ShieldsUp ( shows Port 80 and/or 443 as Stealth, because many ISP's block inbound traffic on those ports to prevent broadband users from operating websites. While this limits the risk somewhat, users should not rely on ISP blocking to secure their home networks.

To verify the vulnerability:

1) Obtain the WAN IP address from the Router status page. 2) Surf to that address using your favorite web browser (make sure that the browser hits the local network - i.e. no proxy, or AOL browser, etc). Because of ISP blocking, I suggest doing this from the internal network. 3) If the administration password prompt appears, the unit is vulnerable.

Users should take the following action:

1) Assign a strong password for the administrative function on the unit. A strong password consists of a random string of letters (mixed case), digits, and, where possible, special characters. This is important to do with all models and all brands. Many users install broadband routers while leaving the default password in place which is a huge security hole.

2) On the router administration page, under the Games tab on the WRT54G (elsewhere on other units), turn on port forwarding for ports 80 and 443, and forward the traffic to an unused IP address. The units are usually configured to start DHCP addresses at .100, so using should be safe in most cases.

3) There are some reports that units were shipped with the firewall disabled by default, so while the users are logged in, they should verify that the firewall is active.

4) Monitor the Linksys website and apply a firmware upgrade (which is hopefully under development) as soon as it's available.

Alternatively, your readers can replace the unit with a different brand, which is what I'm going to do. You regularly recommend DLink, and many folks in GRC's newsgroups (including Steve) have made positive comments about NetGear. Either is likely a good choice.

Best regards,


Doug Lhotka doug[@]

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

"I swear, by my Life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." ~ John Galt, Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Important: See below


Subject: So it begins.......

Dear Jerry:

They've just announced on television that CIA Director George Tenet has resigned. Bush came on, looking rather upset, to make the announcement. Management guru Robert Townsend once said that "No one should be chief executive of anything for more than five or six years." Tenet has been in that job for more than eight years I believe. Having also worked for Clinton, he was more loyal to the Intelligence Community than any particular adminstration, so I don't see this as him falling on his sword to save Bush and the neocons from their own folly. I think he's had it with being the fall guy.

And I do wonder if he has a book deal.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

We will have to watch what's next. I have no idea.

And on another topic entirely:

There has been a huge lobbying effort going on for decades now pressing for what the "psychological helper industry" calls "parity"--health insurers being forced to cover their services in the same way that the services of real medical professionals are covered today. Of course, the "talking cures" these folks have on offer, were they drugs, would never get past the "effective" part of the FDA's "safe and effective" test, but there are a lot of people who would love to earn good livings offering them, nevertheless. Numbers like "33%" as the percentage of Americans with mental illnesses in need of treatment are conjured from the wishful thinking of this lobby.

One way to get a handle on the true rate of serious mental illness might be to contemplate the rates of failure of other important organs. What is the rate of mild/moderate/serious/catastrophic failure for hearts? For kidneys? For lungs (including severe asthma)? A guess would be that the failure rates for even an organ as much-more-complex as the human brain would not *naturally* be an order of magnitude larger.

Of course, with brains there is the unfortunate fact that our society tolerates (even subsidizes) the forming brains of the children of certain groups to be exposed to stresses well beyond any reasonable design limits, such as being raised in a "zero-parent" family (e.g., those unfortunates I call the "Children of C.R.A.C.K."--infants born to the focus clientele (Maternal Drug Abusers) of Project Prevention's ( ) cash-for-long-term-effective birth control program. So as with many medical conditions (such low-birth-weight babies), one must exclude America's underclass to get a sense of what our country's "real" rate of various illnesses/bad medical outcomes are.



Subject: Largest Prime Number

I was browsing around the web and found this interesting article.

< >

A 240,00 computer grid found a prime number with 7,235,733 digits.

John Weatherby

No small sum...







CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  June 4, 2003

Subject: FYI - Ray Bradbury on Michael Moore...

Dr. Pournelle, You might find the translation of a Swedish interview with Bradbury to be of interest. 

Some of the reader comments are particularly of interest as well.


--- Richard Johnson Instructor Computer & Information Sciences University of South Alabama

Heh. Ray can be a bit colorful at times. Heh.


Subject: "Travellers" in the UK

I followed the link from your site to the article about the British villagers refusing to pay their council tax in protest of the "traveller" incursion, and wasn't too surprised---both at the villagers' action and the official response. The British authorities are, for reasons I find opaque, apparently scared silly of "travellers," possibly because some soft-headed type classified them as a "minority group," instead of a subculture of thieves and scroungers, which is what the majority of them are. The real Roma (gypsies), I am told, utterly despise them, both for their filthy habits (using neighbors' lawns as a place to crap, forex) and for the hostility their activities generate toward all travelling folk---even though some of the "traveller" population does have an admixture of Roma ancestry from 'way back when.

Not being up on the latest twists and turns in the perversion of British law, I am unable to explain how it is that "travellers" are allowed to invade and pitch camp more-or-less where they please, with the law apparently unable to do anything about it for a matter of several weeks---more than enough time for any caravans (camping trailers and the like) in the neighborhood to disappear, the local crime-rate in general to skyrocket, and anything made of scrappable metal to vanish mysteriously in the night. After finding out about the Tony Martin case (in which a farmer went to prison for shooting and killing a 16-year-old burglar, a "traveller," with _29_ prior convictions, who had broken into the farmer's home) my curiosity was piqued, and I started sniffing around Usenet. A search under "pikeys" on the groups yields some interesting data---it seems that if you own a caravan in the UK, you have to keep it under tight lock and key, or else it'll mysteriously disappear, and even if the police find it, the "travellers" have torn it up and nearly ruined it---and to add insult to injury, the owner is generally advised that pressing charges is unwise, since the guilty parties and their friends and kin will do their utmost to harass and steal from the complaining party, even in the unlikely event of a conviction.

I'm not British. Anybody trying that sort of shenanigans around here would receive mighty short shrift, either at the hands of the landowners or of the law. I don't know what the British can do about it, but I predict that sooner or later, this sort of thing is going to breed an almighty huge backlash.

Eric Oppen

One does wonder just how long the English will put up with what is being done to them. Perhaps indefinitely, but given their history as, as Parkinson put it once, "one of the most war-like people in history,"  it is a bit astonishing. But the Anglo-Norman experiment in world order is over, apparently even at home.

And perhaps they are not alone in giving up their heritage:


I'm very much an agnostic. However, I'm also very opposed to the Politically Correct BS that appears to more and more prevalent. Especially, the antagonism to religion. From what I've read, a good number of the Founding Fathers were either agnostic or out-right atheists. That didn't prevent them from agreeing that a person has a right to worship or not as they wish.

This article from CNN is alarming in two ways - first the discrimination against a religious function. What is worse (IMHO), is the statement by one of the park's officials : "We don't want to tread on anybody's First Amendment or constitutional rights," said Brian Robinson, director of the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority. "What we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted that just sort of occurs spontaneously."

One definition that I have read regarding totalitarianism is this: "What is not expressly permitted is forbidden." Reads quite like the official's statement, doesn't it? 

In the same vein, we have this here in Florida (a little north of Tampa): 

It amazes me that people accept this type of action. While we were once citizens responsible for ourselves, we are agreeing to our on subjugation in the interest of safety.

There is a phrase that was once very prevalent and taken to heart by many: "Those who give up essential liberty, to preserve a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."1

It says much about our society that so many so quietly accept the loss.

Dean Sanchez

From 1) This sentence was much used in the Revolutionary period. It occurs even so early as November, 1755, in an answer by the Assembly of Pennsylvania to the Governor, and forms the motto of Franklin's "Historical Review," 1759, appearing also in the body of the work.-Frothingham: Rise of the Republic of the United States, p. 413

And the Los Angeles County Commissioners are about to remove a tiny cross from the County Seal to avoid an ACLU law suit. It will cost about a million dollars to remove it from all the places it appears (sheriff's patrol cars, county buildings, flags, etc.) but that will cost less than the law suit would have cost the county. I am sure the people appreciate having their civil liberties so defended.

Subject: "financial institutions"

-- Roland Dobbins

Taking reward against the innocent. But we were born free...

Of Civil Liberty: Patriot Act vs. ACLU


I'm not generally on the side of the ACLU, but frankly the Patriot Act has begun to scare me. Extra-legal arrests and warrants should scare us all.


From [never heard of them before this] which I linked to from this "article"

   the Slashdot comments at level 5 are excellent for thought provoking.

Ashcroft, Snoops and Gag Orders The Secrets of Surveillance By ELAINE CASSEL

Everyone knows by now (or should) that the Patriot Act allows the FBI to conduct surveillance on Internet and email usage. Using so-called National Security Letters (NSLs), the FBI directs Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide passwords and identifying information that will allow the government to target people who are plotting terrorism or who are otherwise potentially dangerous to national security. I am sure that many of you reading this (and I, likely) have the government in our computers.

The same mechanism of NSLs is used to obtain information from librarians, health care providers, and business records of individuals and entities. The party from whom the government demands information is forbidden from telling the client that the FBI is being provided information. And the target of the investigation won't know about it until or if he or she is arrested for crime or detained without a charge (say, as a material witness).

Until now, we did not know much about how the government goes about this procedure. Now we do. Thanks to a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York in behalf of an unnamed ISP. The government has tried mightily to keep the entire suit under seal, but the federal judge has allowed the ACLU to release some information about the case.

Following is a report on the case, with some interesting heretofore unknown details. Never has the ACLU needed your financial support more. Clearly, it is the only thing standing between us and our fascist government. Read the briefs and supporting documents in the case.

"The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) yesterday released more information about the heavily censored legal challenge it is bringing against the government's use of a controversial provision of the USA PATRIOT Act that allows the FBI to obtain from businesses sensitive personal information about their clients. Among the documents unsealed today is a declaration by the ACLU's anonymous client in the case, the president and sole employee of an unnamed Internet Service Provider (ISP), referred to only as "John Doe." John Doe is prohibited by law from revealing his identity to the public, even as he confronts the federal government over the very section of the Patriot Act that forces him to remain anonymous.  links to complete article.


Which is the sort of thing one expects a Civil Liberties Union to be concerned with.

There are reasonable compromises between liberty and the requirements of security in war time. The Civil War showed that: there were Confederate sympathizers in all parts of the country, and some were more than merely sympathizers. And then there were the World War II American born saboteurs sent to wreak havoc (although they weren't very competent, and at least one simply wanted to get back to his girl friend...)

More recently, the McCarthy era showed both that the threats were real and the opportunities for abuse of power in suppressing real threats can make the cures worse than the disease. (I recommend Buckley's THE RED HUNTER, a fictionalized history of those times, for those who want to understand what was going on then.)

But surely this is a more pressing matter than replacing the Los Angeles County seal.



Subject: The Outward Urge




I have long thought that the call to space and the call of the sea have a lot in common. People who feel the urge to break free of the Earth are, I think, descendants of those who in a different age could not resist the hazards and the loneliness of life under sail. I find myself moved by the literature of the sea (e.g., Joseph Conrad, or C.S. Forester, or Patrick O'Brian) in the same way I am by evocative science fiction (e.g., yours, or Larry's, or Poul's). The same is true of poetry. I think we understand the answer to the question Kipling asks in 'The Harp Song of the Dane Women' 

("What is a woman that you forsake her
And the hearth fire and the home-acre
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?")


One of the best answers to that question is John Masefield's  'Sea Fever," which has always been a favorite of mine. It seems to me that we need something similar to express the spaceward urge, so I have shamelessly adapted Masefield for that purpose.  Maybe some of my fellow astronuts will like it:



Star Fever
(with apologies to John Masefield)



I must go out into space again, to a lonely place in the sky,
And all I ask is a swift craft and a star to steer her by,
And the countdown and the lift off and the g force growing,
And the MECO and the free fall, with the world's curve showing.


I must go out into space again, for the call of that rocket ride
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a perigee with the thruster roaring,
And a clean burn to a Hohmann arc, with the r-dot soaring.


I must go out into space again, to a star like a brilliant spark,
And the strange worlds that are out there, in the depths of the endless dark;
And all I ask is a thrilling yarn from a fellow stellar rover
Of planetfall and xeno life, when the long trek's over.


Phil Chapman



Mr. Maas writes: (and see above)

I do have to write that my SUBJECTIVE view of your website leads ME to conclude that you show a marked favoritism to the Arab viewpoint of the Mideast.

For example, you can read what you posted to Akiva on June 2, 2004. You write "I am fairly certain that the Palestinians will never put up with what the South African blacks would not accept, and so far that's the best offer they have had."

But not a single opinion on why Arafat didn't make a counter offer. My SUBJECTIVE view is that you place the failure to reach a peace agreement then - and the responsibility for all the violence that follows - solely on the Israelis.

And in the very next paragraph you explicitly state the current violence is due to the actions of both the PLA and the Likud. "It's as if Likud needs PLA"

It is my opinion that you are wrong. Once the Palestinians stop Jew murdering and accept the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace, the violence will end. It is my opinion that the entire onus of violence rests solely on the shoulders of Arafat. It is my opinion that the actions of Israel, and the tactics they employ, are both morally legitimate and an effective means of self defense against a sworn enemy.

Ted Maas

Which  certainly deserves an answer.

First: earlier Mr. Maas and others have said that I generally have more to say about Israeli atrocities than Palestinian. I agree; but surely there is no lack of information about the actions of the Palestinians and Arabs? And surely everyone here is aware of them, and anyone who thinks I have anything worth saying cannot possibly believe that I am either unaware or indifferent?

If you want to break your heart, read Richard Ben Cramer HOW ISRAEL LOST with its stories of losses on both sides. The Russian single mother physician who claimed to be Jewish in order to get her daughter out of Siberia (she vaguely remembered a Jewish grandmother), brought her to Israel, raised her to her teens, and lost her to a suicide bomber; the Palestinian mother whose  teen-age kid was blown up in the act of assembling a bomb to put into a model airplane; and on, and on. No one not bereft of his senses can fail to be aware of the horrors; and having been there in 1998 when there was peace and we could travel through the West Bank as well as Israel, it is doubly horrible because I have seen what that land can be like when the worst one sees are insults and insensitiveness; but this was when everyone thought there would be peace.

(Worst one personally sees: but there were the minefields in the Jordan Valley, and the busses of Settlers with 15 year old boys carrying loaded machineguns with spare magazines taped on as they toured Christian churches on Mount Carmel. And the armed checkpoints that seemed designed to humiliate those who had to go through them: but balanced by the continuing foot traffic about 200 yards away through the olive groves of the Inter-religious Institute of Tantour.)

Yes: I have probably said more about Israeli actions than Palestinian, but that is largely because the former generally go unreported while the latter seldom do. When I write of such matters I have a point; I don't write about atrocities because I like thinking about them.

Now regarding the Peace Offer. Richard Ben Cramer had a very great deal to say about that in his excellent book. Let me summarize.

Arafat did make a counter offer, it was his original offer, which was never even considered.

Cramer believes the Palestinians are ham handed, and Arafat doesn't want peace any more than Sharon; if there is to be peace it will have to be negotiated by someone with more claims to legitimacy than that thug. I haven't Cramer's extensive experience in that area, but I have long believed that. The PLO has no chance of retaining ownership of Palestine in fee simple if normal conditions return to that land. It has rivals, and so far politics and thuggery are indistinguishable, but it's not certain that the PLO would win even in a battle to the death among thugs, were it not for the threat if Israeli intervention.

As Richard Ben Cramer says in HOW ISRAEL LOST, if the Israelis went back to roughly the Green Line keeping much of Jerusalem and putting the Old City in some special status with possibly dual or international sovereignty, removed the minefields from the Jordan Valley, and stopped trying to exercise control -- check points, control of all import and export, petroleum and food monopolies over everything going into Palestine -- and pulled out the Settlements, there would be peace in an instant. The Palestinians would not be happy about losing the rights of refugees to return, but it would be pretty hard to get people to blow themselves up slaughtering innocents over the rights of their grandparents to properties in pre-1967 Israel, particularly if compensation were offered.

I think everyone knows this. It is certainly arguable.

The Israelis have never offered sovereignty -- a return to pre-1967 conditions with territorial adjustments -- and it doesn't look as if they ever will.

Years ago I said, here and elsewhere, that if Israel wanted peace all they had to do was to build a Wall more or less along the Green Line adjusting for really critical military topography but not for economic, keep Jerusalem but offer to negotiate on its form of government, pay for whatever they left inside their side of Wall, remove the Settlers (paying them to leave, and leaving their improvements as a prize and partial compensation; why blow them up?) and just declare themselves RID of Gaza and the West Bank. Let it be sovereign, let Jordan have the West Bank, invite the Martians to come in: but get out and stay out and let the Palestinians sort out who will be in charge.

Instead, they have built a Wall that includes deep incursions into Judea and Samaria and separates villages from cities, they insist on control over everything imported or exported from Gaza and all of the West Bank, and they keep check points deep inside Palestine; and keep the Jordan Valley a desolation on the West side. Driving along the road from Jericho to Galilee is an experience: on the Jordan side all is green. On the West bank of the Jordan they have built a desolation, mined it heavily, and call it a defense policy.

The new Wall isn't a peace offer, and it won't be secure; it's a perversion of the notion.

As I said earlier, there are plenty of arguments about the morality and who's in the right and the rest of it; and perhaps the chaos that is there is justified because not going back to the Green Line (more or less) is worth fighting and dying and continuing the occupation and making the Jordan desolate; but surely that ought to be debated?

One more point: the fortification of the Jordan Valley, and the retention of high ground Settlements in Judea and Samaria, are often justified by the needs of military security.  I think this demonstrable nonsense.

The Golan Heights are a different matter, and were I an Israeli military officer I would immolate myself before acquiescing in my government's surrender of the Heights. Take the high ground, boy, or they will kick hell out of you in the valley. But that's entirely different from the Jordan valley. Palestine isn't part of Jordan any longer, and Jordan isn't likely to build a mass tank army and send it across the river. Nor is Egypt likely to attack again. The military security of Israel in these days of electronic surveillance, satellites, and even embassies in Jordan and Egypt, doesn't depend on watchtowers on Mount Gerizim and minefields north of Jericho.

Israel is far stronger, relative to her neighbors, now than in the dire days of the Yom Kippur War, when they really did come close to losing, or thought they had; and military intelligence is much better. And for that matter, the US maintains forces in Sinai to oversee the demilitarization of that area. Probably the only world power that could defeat Israel now is the United States.  The likelihood of any combination of Arab and Muslim states and their allies being able to do it is negligible. Israel's peace is not threatened by armored armies and air forces.

What would I do were I a Palestinian? I'd get out. But of course some Palestinian, Christian, Muslim, and Druze, have very deep roots. Some families have lived in Bethlehem since their ancestors were converted to Christianity by the Apostles. They are not leaving, and they have sad stories. But one thing I would not do is encourage my children to blow themselves up killing other children. I'd also keep them far away from any armed Palestinian. And cry a lot, just as the Russian physician cries for her lost daughter.

And a last point: I would think it obvious that Israel can be: democratic; big; Jewish -- pick any two. To remain Jewish and democratic, Israel must have a majority of Jews. Ben Gurion said that in 1949 to the Knesset when the Green Line was proposed. He said that the Haganah could conquer all of the Land of Israel, from the Sea to the River; but it would then have a minority of Jews, and after the next election the government would be Arab. Those numbers have not changed much.


And now for something a little different:

Subject: travellers and Brits

Dr. Pournelle,

An answer as to why the British put up with the travellers - Brits pride themselves on being of a rather stoic nature. Any real complaints, or taking up the cause of another's complaint, may be viewed as weakness. In this manner, they view Americans as being rather weak and easily distracted.

This also explains the English phenomena whereby a wal-mart style superstore is put up in town, and it immediately starts out by pricing it's goods ABOVE the prices in small stores. There is a rather common saying among Americans who live in England for more than a few weeks that "England is a third world country working half days to catch up." Every Brit I've talked to here will quite cheerfully point out little British quirks that the whole world considers to be backwards, but since nobody complains, nothing ever changes. A big example is kitchen and bathroom water faucets. The Brits are unable to engineer a faucet that is capable of combining hot and cold water to create warm water out of the faucet. Most sinks have either a cold and hot spigot, or a single spigot that has 2 closely spaced hot and cold outlets at the end instead of combining the cold and hot water early enough to create warm water before it is dumped out. They are also unable to make a simple locking doorhandle. Most doors have a bolt lock that requires the use of a key both inside and outside, and a fixed knob in the center of the door, ensuring that there is only 50% of the leverage available to pull the door closed and the door must be locked with the key or it swings open freely.

Brits openly acknowledge these as throwback engineering failures, but the stores do not sell faucets that can create warm water, and they do not sell any doorhandles that can latch a door shut without locking it or requiring a key to keep it shut. It's because nobody complains, and nobody requires anybody to actually DO anything about anything.

About the only thing they're good at is driving... It's refreshing to see people actually following traffic laws and not driving 10 mph below the speed limit in the fast lane, but that's because the training required to get a drivers license is tough enough to be considered discriminatory and racist in the US since it requires a significant cash investment, the ability to read, and a lot of time as a restricted driver before an unrestricted license is issued. But anything else, road safety conditions, law enforcement, household engineering, it's all "good enough" and doing anything to fix inconveniences is seen as weak, something a mere colonist might do, and frowned upon in general. So the issue with the travellers is not going to change. There are too many generations of socialist stoics around for anything to happen. They are a pacified, socialist, unarmed populace and it shows via a nearly complete lack of ambition or progress.

But it sure is a gorgeous looking place to live. Green beyond belief. I grew up in S. California and this place is amazingly lush compared to most places in the US. Nice architecture, lots of history, plenty of things to do.

Sean Long

I think I have no comment...


Subject: Virus warning

There's a new virus, Korgo, exploiting the same exploit as Sasser. This one logs keystrokes and sends them back to the creator so that passwords, credit card info and other personal data can be recovered. As before, it only affects XP/2K machines, making those of us that stuck with 98 safe. <snicker!> Details and a link to the MicroSoft patch are at

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

Thanks. These things are thick on the ground lately. Actually this one has been around for a while. Anyone who has been taking care of OS updates ought to be safe, but for those who don't:


Many long years ago I took Poul Anderson to Edward Teller's OPEN SPACE AND PEACE conference at Stanford, where I presented a paper on operational factors. It has been a while...

Open Skies Treaty

-----Original Message----- From: statelists@STATE.GOV [mailto:statelists@STATE.GOV] Sent: Friday, June 04, 2004 7:34 PM To: DOSFACTS@LISTS.STATE.GOV Subject: Open Skies Treaty

Fact Sheet Bureau of Arms Control Washington, DC June 4, 2004


Origin and Purpose

The Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 30 States Parties. The Treaty establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the entire territory of its participants. The Treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international efforts to date to promote openness and transparency of military forces and activities. The original concept of mutual aerial observation was proposed by President Eisenhower in 1955; the Treaty itself was an initiative of President George H.W. Bush in 1989. The Treaty was negotiated by the then-members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and was signed in Helsinki, Finland, on March 24, 1992. The United States ratified it in 1993. This Treaty is not related to civil-aviation open skies agreements.


The 30 States Parties to the Open Skies Treaty are: Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and United States. Kyrgyzstan has signed but not yet ratified. The Treaty depositaries are Canada and Hungary.

The Treaty is of unlimited duration and open to accession by other States. States of the former Soviet Union that have not already become States Parties to the Treaty may accede to it at any time. Applications from other interested States are subject to a consensus decision by the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC), the Vienna-based organization charged with facilitating implementation of the Treaty, to which all States Parties belong. Four states have acceded to the Treaty since entry into force: Finland, Sweden, Latvia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The OSCC has also approved applications for accession by Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, and Croatia. Croatia ratified the Treaty but has not yet deposited its instrument of ratification. Cyprus s application for accession is pending before the OSCC.

Basic Elements of the Treaty

Territory. The Open Skies regime covers the territory over which the State Party exercises sovereignty, including land, islands, and internal and territorial waters. The Treaty specifies that the entire territory of a State Party is open to observation. Observation flights may only be restricted for reasons of flight safety; not for reasons of national security.

Aircraft. Observation aircraft may be provided by either the observing Party or (the "taxi option") by the observed Party, at the latter's choice. All Open Skies aircraft and sensors must pass specific certification and pre-flight inspection procedures to ensure that they are compliant with Treaty standards. The official certified U.S. Open Skies aircraft is the OC-135B (a military version of the Boeing 707).

Sensors. Open Skies aircraft may have video, optical, panoramic and framing cameras for daylight photography, infra-red line scanners for a day/night capability, and synthetic aperture radar for a day/night, all weather capability. Photographic image quality will permit recognition of major military equipment (e.g., permit a State Party to distinguish between a tank and a truck), thus allowing significant transparency of military forces and activities. Sensor categories may be added and capabilities improved by agreement among States Parties. All equipment used in Open Skies must be commercially available to all participants in the regime.

Quotas. Each State Party is obligated to receive observation flights per its passive quota allocation. Each State Party may conduct as many observation flights -- its active quota -- as its passive quota. During the first 3 years after EIF, each State will be obliged to accept no more than 75% of its passive quota. Since the overall annual passive quota for the United States is 42, this means that it will be obligated to accept no more than 31 observation flights a year during this 3-year period. Only two flights were requested over the United States during 2004, by the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus Group of States Parties (which functions as a single entity for quota allocation purposes). The United States is entitled to 8 of the 31 annual flights available over Russia/Belarus. Additionally, the United States is entitled to one flight over Ukraine, which we share with Canada.

Data Sharing/Availability. Imagery collected from Open Skies missions is available to any State Party upon request for the cost of reproduction. As a result, the data available to each State Party is much greater than that which it can collect itself under the Treaty quota system.

Implementation of the Treaty

Provisional application of portions of the Treaty took place from signature in 1992 until entry into force in 2002. During that period, participants conducted joint trial flights for the purpose of training flight crews and testing equipment and sensors. With entry into force of the Treaty, formal observation flights began in August 2002. During the first Treaty year, States Parties conducted 67 observation flights. For 2004, States Parties have planned 82 missions. The OSCC continues to address modalities for conducting observation missions and other implementation issues.

Since the signature of the Open Skies Treaty in 1992, the security environment in Europe has changed significantly. The Open Skies Treaty continues to contribute toward European security by enhancing openness and transparency among the Parties. For further information please see


*********************************************************** See for all State Department Fact Sheets ************************************************************ To change your subscription, go to


On Michael Moore:

Subject: Michael Moore follow-up

You all probably know by now my feelings regarding MM and his lying "documentaries."

Here's a link to reactions regarding his latest: 

make sure to follow the links downstream to get a clear picture of his shenanigans.

As background, [let me just say that] I enjoyed his first film and had an open mind regarding his work, even if I felt that he stretched things a bit beyond normal bounds.

But it was when he premiered his TV series that one segment he aired destroyed his credibility as a documentarian en toto. And that's the worst sin a documentarian can commit. Lie, whether due to ignorance (meaning he did not research the subject sufficiently) or by pursuing an agenda and ignoring the facts (i think the latter is the case).

In a nutshell, the segment castigated the big, bad HMO for refusing the "life saving" pancreas transplant to a victim of diabetes.

Well... not to draw a too fine picture, diabetes is successfully managed by insulin injections and patients treated in such a manner live long and fruitful lives. The only difference between such treatment and a functioning pancreas is the avoidance of having to suffer the daily injections. So, rather than a life/death situation, as it was portrayed in the segment, it's a quality of life issue, and one not severely impacting the diabetic. While I have no love lost for HMOs, I have to side with them in this case.

And to quote Ray Bradbury, "Michael Moore is an asshole." I think that Moore himself has provided all the evidence we need to come to that conclusion.



The above triggered several letters on diabetes; let this stand for the dozen or so I received:

Subject: Diabetes more than a nuisance - buffy willow

Dr. Pournelle,

The statement "The only difference between [regular insulin injections] and a functioning pancreas is the avoidance of having to suffer the daily injections" is not true. There are a lot of long term life shortening health complications caused by diabetes (blindness - diabetes is supposedly the biggest cause of blindness in under-65s, kidney disease, neuropathy, heart disease, infection, amputation, etc), and the diabetics I've known worry much more about that than the injections. There are some short term risks, too, particularly if the diabetic gets away from their insulin supply or regular diet (unexpected plane delays, the distraction when a parent dies, etc). Not everybody is perfectly disciplined either, although you can say that is the responsibility of the diabetics or their parents (but ever try to get a teenager to consistently do something that is good for them when you are not around?).

Insulin injections are a life saver and the argument about Moore vs. the HMO can still be made (do all diabetics get a new pancreas?), but injection-controlled diabetes is more than just a nuisance. I bet you'll get a lot of mail on this one.







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Saturday, June 5, 2004

Subject: IMPORTANT - Linksys Vuln, and Random Disconnects of the Wireless Connection

Dr. Pournelle:

Your reader reported Thursday (6/3) on a Linksys vulnerability to remotely access the admin page of the Linksys box.

This problem can only be exploited from the 'inside' (your network), not from the outside (the Internet), although a determined hacker could get into your system if your wireless network is not encrypted/locked. (And determined hackers can still get into your home network, even if encrypted, but that's another subject. The intent of the encryption settings are to make it harder, so the hacker will go somewhere else. Sort of like putting an alarm system on your car; it reduces the chance of theft.) But it is good to remember that the default settings are not always the best...something that I think the hardware and software vendors are starting to realize

On another subject, some people have reported that WinXP can sometimes randomly 'lose' your active wireless connection. This seems to happen if you have enabled 802.1x authentication, but that is not supported by your wireless hardware. You'll find that setting on the Properties page of the Wireless connection. Authentication tab. It is less likely if you have enabled WEP encryption.a

Some reports about this also indicate that the 815485 Microsoft patch (especially on older wireless cards/drivers) can cause the problem; you can test that by removing the patch via the Add/Remove Programs. See the Microsoft article here:;en-us;821442  .

Regards, Rick Hellewell Information Security,


Subj: We missed the Slayage Conference! 8-(  Jonah Goldberg on Buffy on National Review Online

[=Running like a steel spine through Whedon's work is the conviction that evil exists, isn't going away and must be constantly fought or it will win. Indeed, the series finale of Angel last month concluded on the eve a massive battle we'll never see, offering a simple message redemption is for tomorrow, but the battle against evil is for right now.=]


Indeed. Sigh.


Subject:new scam

Subtle Subtle Subtle...never give out any information on anything to Someone who calls YOU.


This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & Mastercard Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself. Thanks to Dr. Pat Cloney for passing this on. Those con artists get more creative every day.

My husband was called on Wednesday from "VISA", and I was on Thursday from "MasterCard". The scam works like this: Person calling says, "this is <name , and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by <name bank. Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?"

When you say "No", the caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under that $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?"

You say "yes". The caller continues... "I will be starting a Fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1-800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control #" The caller then gives you a 6-digit number. "Do you need me to read it again?"

Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works. The caller then says, "he needs to verify you are in possession of your card."

He'll ask you to "turn your card over and look for some numbers. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are your card number, the next 3 are the 'Security Numbers' that verify you are in possession of the card. These are the numbers you use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. Read me the 3 numbers".

After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, "That is correct. I just need to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?"

After you say No, the caller then Thanks you and states, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do," and hangs up.

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.00 was charged on our card.

Long story made short, we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA card, and they are reissuing us a new number. What the scammers wants is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master card direct. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement, you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost to late and/or harder to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a "Jason Richardson of MasterCard" with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening.

Please pass this on to all your friends. By informing each other, we protect each other. Thank-You

Frank G.

And thanks. I have sent a warning on this to subscribers. Most likely everyone knows better than to talk to people who call you and ask for critical information, but it is easy to lapse while distracted.

Incidentally one of my machines was hit with hack.flood virus last night. This one does little harm and is easily caught, but the moral of the story is don't browse the Internet with a machine not running Norton or another virus protection program even if you are behind a good firewall. The way I got infected will be in the column.











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