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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

03:26 PM







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Monday  June 7, 2004

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

For a major, if largely unacknowledged contribution that Mr. Reagan made to the cause of human freedom, you might be interested in this speech he gave 3 August 1987 to the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice. 

Yours, Michael D. Greaney Director of Research Center for Economic and Social Justice


Subject: Perle on President Reagan's finest hour.

Before the current contretemps, Richard Perle served his country and his President well in Reykjavik, and he captures the importance of that moment well:;sessionid=

----- Roland Dobbins


Subj: Spirit of America Full Throttle

Recall that Spirit of America is the outfit that's providing equipment for the Marines to give to restart local TV stations in Iraq.

Founder Jim Hake is returning from a visit to Jordan and Iraq, where he's been looking at how to scale up. 

[="Spirit of America Full Throttle" will launch in June, and its goal is nothing less than "to turn the tide in favor of a free and peaceful Iraq and to improve American-Iraqi relations."=]






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Tuesday,  June 8, 2004


Subject: Eerily prescient...

Naturally, I've been re-reading Ronald Reagan's speeches for the past couple of days. This excerpt of a comment by President Reagan on June 8, 1982 (to the British Parliament),

"...the Soviet Union is not immune from the reality of what is going on in the world. It has happened in the past--a small ruling elite either mistakenly attempts to ease domestic unrest through greater repression and foreign adventure, or it chooses a wiser course. It begins to allow its people a voice in their own destiny. Even if this latter process is not realized soon, I believe the renewed strength of the democratic movement, complemented by a global campaign for freedom, will strengthen the prospects for arms control and a world at peace."

...rings as eerily prescient. The sentence, "It has happened in the past--a small ruling elite either mistakenly attempts to ease domestic unrest through greater repression and foreign adventure, or it chooses a wiser course," brings to mind moonbat goons harassing travelers in airports and adventures in Iraq... for a beginning. More and more "our" government seems to be becoming the property of "a small ruling elite" less connected to a Constitutional republic founded on few and small "rights" granted to government and many—and great—rights reserved by the people.

Does the 10th Amendment still exist in any real sense? Do any of the other nine of the Bill of Rights still have real teeth, as long as any government official or body can regulate, re-interpret, tax, modify or in any way change them?

I really need to stay away from the American State papers (*especially* the Declaration of Independence's "train of abuses" and the Bill of Rights :-). Contrasted with/compared to our current state of affairs, they offer too much grist for depression—or anger.


Is there hope for the republic? Seriously.

Going out now for a (still) fresh breath of air. ("Fresh" because no politicians have been nearby recently... <heh>)

David W Needham

Of course there is hope. Despair is a sin; and the essence of conservatism is a recognition that things change whether we like it or not, and it is our duty to preserve the best of what we have under the pressures of change. That has never been easy, and we know this because we have history.

In 1978 in the Era of National Malaise and the Era of Limits things looked very dark; but we feared an entirely different enemy than we have now. Now we have met the enemy and he is us: Pogo wasn't so correct when he said that, but it's true now.

The enemy of the Republic is the notion that everything can be fixed, and all problems are national. There are few threats we cannot meet by understanding that most problems are local and should be left to as local a level as possible; that government and non-governmental organizations may have noble purposes but they pay high salaries and their purpose becomes one of paying those salaries; and we can't fix all the problems of the nation, much less all the problems of the world.

Reagan understood that. A nation that can elect Reagan just after electing Carter just after electing Nixon has no need to despair.






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Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Subject: The RocketCam.

-- Roland Dobbins

Hoo hah!

Subject: Old passwords never die . . .

-- Roland Dobbins

Nor fade away...


Subject: gravitation

 Importance: High

Dear Jerry

I read intersting discussion on your home page. According to the research done by our institute gravitation has no speed because it is carried directly by physical space. In empty physical space time does not run. Time exist only as material change in physical space.

Best Wishes, Amrit, SpaceLife institute

I am not familiar with that theory. Thanks.


Subject:  How many 1600 SAT's per year

In the year just before the SAT was recentered, 32 students nationwide scored 1600 on the combined math and verbal exams. The following year, after recentering, 545 students scored 1600. In those days a bit more than 1 million took SAT I.

Perhaps compression at the top was an innocent fallout of recentering, but I doubt it. Compression made it possible for very selective schools to admit high scoring minorities who had suddenly become indistinguishable from higher scoring non-minorities.



Subject: 'Child abuse and neglect'.

- Roland Dobbins

This is a very complex subject and I am not sure I know enough to comment. But I wonder how a nation that forbids state laws against abortion squares that with protection of just-born through adolescent children at the expense of parents rights. There must be a principle at work I don't grasp.


Subject: XP SP2


Seeing your favorable comments on SP2, I installed it. The process was uneventful.

Immediate benefit: the Windows firewall works again. When I added Bluetooth and bridged it to my cable modem connection for wireless browsing with the Tungsten T3, I lost the Windows firewall. It didn't even show as an option. Now, with SP2, it's back and enabled by default.

Thanks for yet more good advice.

Bill Dooley

Thanks. I have SP2 on most of my machines now.

And then

The effects of budget cuts on the Navy are reflected in their most recent acquisition of the modified shallow draft aircraft carrier. Though not quite equal to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) or the precomm George HW Bush (CVN 77), it's proponents tout it's maneuverability, low profile, and reduced operating costs associated with its fuel consumption and reduced manning requirements. The only complaint received thus far are is from the pilots who think the squad bay has lost some of it's luster.

There have also been discussions among senior Naval and Coast Guard staff who are considering its use in the war on terrorism as part of the fleet used to maintain Maritime Domain Awareness.

(Name deliberately not recorded by me)


Dear Mr. Pournelle:

You wrote:

"One has no problem making the case that the world is better off now that the crazy old man is locked up in a military hospital."

But isn't it premature to make this assertion before we know whether there will be some sort of stable government in Iraq after the US military's departure? It will probably be true to say that the small corner of the world that is Iraq will be better off without Saddam if and only if the country doesn't sink into a civil war (something that looks rather likely at the moment). As for the larger world, you've suggested (plausibly in my view) that Saddam was already deterred from doing much external mischief. Still, he might yet have perpetrated some new horror. But again, if Iraq falls apart, some comparable horror (or horrors) may occur.

Having started out as one of those people who was sold on the war by WMDs (they seemed more important to me as a casus belli than they did to you, I gather), I'm having a harder and harder time thinking the whole thing was worth the candle.

Any response you'd care to make would be appreciated.


Aaron Baker Evanston, Illinois

Your point is well made.

Look, I didn't want us in there in the first place, and nothing I have seen causes me to change my mind: my foresight and hindsight, forethought and afterthought,  are the same in this case. But we are there; and if there is anything that will get us a better outcome than I now foresee, I will be more than happy to be shown wrong.

I do not think this is the utter and complete disaster some of my friends believe it was. I do think we had better be very careful not to blunt the combat army, and not to get in too deep elsewhere just now.


Subject: Let's just make everything illegal

-- 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....

Well I wouldn't take that too seriously. So there are nutcases everywhere...


Subject: Some great pictures


They sure are!


Good Evening,

I stumbled across this link and immediately thought of your and your bits of foam rubber! 

Good to hear Burning Tower is nearing completion, it's been so long I had to read Burning City all over again.


Bill Grigg

Well that couldn't hurt! But thanks. I still use bits of foam rubber under the Caps Lock key; I can use it, but I have to WANT to.


 General Relativity predicts that gravity has a speed equal to c, Newtonian mechancis presumes instantanaeity. The Kopeikin observation, with Hubble, appears to confirm the "speed of light" propagation limit, though there's some arguments against it as well, on the assumption that gravity is a function of spatial geometry.

The original report:

The rebuttal to it:


Yes, I was aware of that. I don't know the theory referred to in the original letter. IO have postulated the speed of gravity as greater than c but unknown in at least one SF story, but I was aware that I was making things up to make the story work. I don't usually do that.


Subject: well said

Well said.


Perhaps so. I have reasons for not having a high regard for Sorenson, but that should not influence opinions about what he has said.



It seems that the FOIA is a boon to foreign intelligence services:  (June 9, 2004 entry)


Yes, it was said that it would be at the time it was passed. I have mixed emotions. Ed Teller once said that very few things should be secret; that keeping secrets harms the keeper more than letting them out would. He meant scientific knowledge.

BuInt and licensed physicists doesn't appeal to me much either. I admit entirely mixed emotions.


Subject: The noise of the spheres.

- Roland Dobbins

The Universe on an iPOD...









CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


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Subject: Hijacking Reagan -- A Personal Thought

Critics and fans of Bush both misuse Reagan. Iraq is not the Soviet Union.

For those of you who recall, I had an opportunity to deal directly with the Soviet General Staff in 1991, before and after the coup. There was no question in their minds why they lost the Cold War: Ronald Wilson Reagan.

They said it to me. Directly. Po russkie. (In Russian). In Moscow. At the Ministry of Defense. And at Zhukov's dacha.

They did not need Arthur Schlesinger, Robert Dahl, Paul Warnke or Sidney Blumenthal to interpret their thoughts.

Let a great American rest in peace.

43 and his policies belong to our time now.




Re: your reader wondering about a dialup router, Hawking Technologies still lists one on their website. The specific URL is:

< >

I used one a few years ago, before I had broadband but needed to share an analog modem connection among three or four PCs. I connected the Hawking box to a USR 56k modem. It worked very well, giving me a noticeably faster connection than if I had a modem directly connected to my PC. I figure it must have negotiated MTU better than Windows or even Linux.

An alternative would be one of the several specialized Linux distributions meant to fit onto a floppy and share either a broadband or a dialup connection, transforming an old PC into a router. Coyote Linux <> is one such distribution. It will run on a 486DX/25 with 12 megs of RAM, and does not require the presence of a hard drive in the box, so power consumption and noise should be low.

-- Dave Markowitz AIM: frodo527 Y!: dave_markowitz RKBA = FREEDOM!!!


This struck me as funny....

< >



From Greg Cochran


"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose — and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you 'be silent; I see it, if you don't.'

"The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood. "

Greg Cochran

None of which I can disagree with. I have been saying that for years.

Subject: SpinRite 6 (NTFS, Linux Compatible) now on sale from

SpinRite 6 (NTFS, Linux Compatible) now on sale from

Good evening Jerry,

Just a quick note to let you know that Steve Gibson has released SpinRite 6, which now runs on any type of file system on a DOS-visible physical disk. I don't know if you've used it yourself, but it's allowed me to recover data from failing drives when nothing else worked. A 2004 Orchid candidate for sure!

Best Regards,


Doug Lhotka doug[@]

"I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there's purpose and worth to each and every life" ~ Ronald Reagan

Gibson does good stuff.

Ash Valentine sent this: 

[Eugene Volokh, June 10, 2004 at 2:36am] Possible Trackbacks The Burning City:

Just finished rereading Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle's The Burning City, and liked it as much as I did on first reading. I highly recommend it. I generally like most of what they've written, either together or separately; but this ranks as one of the best.

I can't disagree...

Dr. Pournelle,

For those who are looking for a dialup router, Apple sells one -- Airport Extreme Base Station < > will route over Ethernet or wireless. Unlike any other dialup router I've seen, it will dial up to AOL. You must have a Mac to configure it, but all OS's can use it once configured.

Beth Macknik


Dr Pournelle,

Shameful Conquest

As I learn more and more, not just of excesses of the Department of Homeland Security and disgraceful behaviour in Iraqi jails, but yet more alarmingly of apparent attempts by the administration to justify the use of torture and the setting aside of the Geneva and Hague Conventions, one passage spoken by John of Gaunt in Richard II comes more and more often to mind:

…England that was wont to conquer others Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.

America, the city on the hill, the last best hope of mankind, show my pessimism wrong.

Jim Mangles

Come now. The final scores are not in. How many Russians or Iraqis or French have been tried by courts martial for abuse of power?







CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


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Friday,  June 11, 2004

Subject: Iraq

I'm rereading AJP Taylor, the Origins of the Second World War, after many years.

Hussein was not the first leader to overstate his national capabilities for making war. On page 18, Taylor notes that Hitler followed the same strategy (for probably the same reasons).

"In a world of sovereign states, each does the best it can for its own interests; and can be criticized at most for mistakes, not for crimes" (page 9). What does that say about the Iraq adventure? -- Harry Erwin, PhD "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)


Subject: I think I may have discovered a virus.

About two days ago, a program called "mmcshext.exe" started demanding access to the internet. ZoneAlarm checked with me, and I told it to deny access, which is my standard response until I can check on something.

Nowhere on Symantec's website, Microsoft's website, or anywhere on Google was there a reference to "mmcshext.exe." There were .dll files with this name. Whoa.

And every few minutes, the window came up. mmcshext.exe wanted access to the internet.

I quarantined a copy and forwarded it to Symantec. I got this response a short time ago:

We have analyzed your submission. The following is a report of our findings for each file you have submitted:

filename: D:\mmcshext.exe machine: PENTIUM-III result: This file is infected with Download.Trojan

Developer notes: D:\mmcshext.exe is non-repairable threat. Please delete this file and replace it if necessary. Please follow the instruction at the end of this email message to install the latest rapidrelease definitions.

Have you heard about this one from anyone else? The Download.Trojan is not a new virus, and I don't know why Norton didn't detect this on its own. I ran it specifically on that program, too.

The update they sent me did detect it.

Tom Brosz

No data and I have to get to bed, I am on duty in the morning. But perhaps someone here knows.

Subject: Windows XP SP2

Hi Jerry,

I would just like to point out SP2 is still in beta, it wasn’t pointed out in your latest column in BYTE. As you probably know, Release Candidate 2 (RC2) was released a week or so ago, they are still tweaking things. Looks like SP2 will be officially released in late July.

You pointed out SP “Just Works”. Well OK, maybe for you. SP2 has the potential to break older applications with changes to DCOM/RPC, and other things like turning on the firewall by default. I think you are doing your readers a disservice to recommend installing a beta Service Pack, and not pointing out that it is in fact beta software. Eventually they’ll get the issues resolved, and there will be probably some apps that will need to be fixed/upgraded to work properly.


Chris Cantwell

I spent a good bit of time pointing out that you probably don't want this on mission critical systems, and the site does also. If anyone doesn't know that a release candidate is a beta then I doubt they will be installing OS updates.

I have had no problems with it.

Some may.


Subject: WMD: Before, during, and after?

----- Roland Dobbins

Interesting... The fact is that no one of importance believed that Saddam did NOT have some WMD.


Subject: Homeschoolers/Lightbulbs

How does a homeschooler change a lightbulb?>

First, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison 

and do a skit 

based on his life.

Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles 

Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs 

as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill.

On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money 

and also Abraham Lincoln 

as his picture is on the five dollar bill.

Finally, after building a homemade ladder 

out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.

And there is light.





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Saturday, June 14, 2004

Subject: Pentagon Journalists


Defense Website balances good wit bad in Iraq By Jennifer Harper

(June 3, 2004)The Department of Defense has its own counterpoint to the mainstream press, which often emphasizes lawlessness and acrimony rather than progress and hope in Iraq as the June 30 transition approaches.

The Department of Defense's "Defend America" Web site ( offers a daily, clear-eyed dose of the good, bad and ugly that confronts U.S. troops -- along with the noble, poignant, hair-raising and humorous.

"We try to show all sides of the human experience. If it impacts our soldiers, we cover it," said editor Linda Kozaryn. "We hear from parents, families and friends of our troops who are grateful for the news. We give them something the mainstream media does not."

The site is also a showcase for military photojournalists on the front lines of both Iraq and Afghanistan, bolstered with facts, maps, transcripts and operational information.

But the contrast in the coverage of Iraq is startling.

Defend America reported yesterday, for example, a half-dozen Iraqi armed forces recruiting stations "continue to be flooded with thousands of eager Iraqi volunteers" -- 25,000 in the past year -- ready "to serve their country and ensure its freedom," said U.S. Marine Maj. Timothy Fitzpatrick, head of the Iraqi recruiting effort.

The U.S. Army, meanwhile, introduced the concept of the town meeting to Baghdad neighborhoods this week to "give the community a taste of democracy and a sense of ownership," said Capt. Michael Levy of the 1st Battalion, 21st Regiment Field Artillery unit.

More than 70 people attended one inaugural gathering, which was deemed a success by Army organizers.

But The Washington Post said yesterday that American efforts in Iraq were nothing more than "chaos" and a "controversial, costly intervention."

USA Today declared that "Iraqis want their country -- now," while the Los Angeles Times referred to the transition as a "messy process." CBS News continues to call its coverage of transition "Iraq in Turmoil."

In addition, the Los Angles Times offered a lengthy story yesterday about a run-down schoolhouse, which served as "a symbol of how the coalition has failed" Iraqis. Defend America, however, detailed the exact amounts of U.S. funds -- delivered by Marines -- earmarked for the city of Al Kharma.

It included $19,000 for city infrastructure, $21,500 for electric power, $23,500 for billboards and flagpoles, $2,500 for street cleanup, $32,000 for youth recreation and $7,000 for a soccer and handball league to be run by a local sheik.

The Los Angeles Times story dwelled on "open-air sewage," while Defend America offered two news items that explained that "rehabilitation work on turbine 5 has added 110 megawatts of electricity (105 MW derated) to the Iraqi power grid," and "the 5th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division plans to help the people of Al Rashid solve their sewage problems."

The Department of Defense also maintains its own news site (

From Ed Hume


Subject: Shoe box

So why is the podunk airport in Greenville-Spartanburg, SC the first place I encounter a 4" high box with a shoe print on the top and a metal detector, with buzzer underneath, just prior to the walk-through metal detector at the security checkpoint? It effectively eliminates the question of whether the shoe has metal arch support or metal shoelace eyelets by having patrons step on it prior to the body screening. Seems like a time saver to me. Didn't they share the idea with the rest of the TSA?

For that matter, why does every airport with a universal shoe removal policy not have a post-screening area optimized for putting one's shoes back on? I understood the sawhorses-and-partitions look to screening areas that had to make do with space not originally designed to be a security checkpoint. But it is two years down the road and I either stand on my luggage or on the end of the x-ray machine exhaust... waiting for the next bag to rocket down the rollers and bounce a gray tray off my knee.

The entire process is optimized for inconvenience. Why doesn't Disney or Six Flags have a contract to create a flow control process that accomplishes the required screening in a, if not pleasant, at least NOT unpleasant manner?

A government trying to encourage repayment of airline bailout loans would do well to throw a few bucks in that direction.


The purpose of TSA is to hire and pay TSA employees. They will continue whether or not the airlines operate. What do they care?


I found a link to this article on the Drudge report. The fact that Iraq was exporting WMD out of Iraq prior to the war isn't news to me. However, it is encouraging to see this developement get some coverage in the mainstream press. 

The fact that WMD along with Surface to Air missile components are turning up in European scrap yards is interesting and almost amusing. It certainly doesn't represent a security threat. However, it does demonstrate that the stuff existed in Iraq and how widely it had been dispersed by Saddam to conceal it from UN inspectors. The fact that weapons components are still being exported from Iraq as part of scrap shipments also demonstrates a failing of the US occupation troops to establish proper controls on the border. Perhaps this could have been avoided by retaining the Iraqi army intact to aid in the occupation. Then again, as you've dramatized in your books so many times, Janissaries can become a serious threat to their overlords.

While watching the funeral ceremonies for former President Ronald Reagan, I'm repeatedly reminded of the similarities between his Presidency and that of George W. Bush. Just as Reagan was denigrated by the foreign policy and military strategy establishment as well as self proclaimed intellectuals for having the audacity to suggest that the Soviet Union was an evil empire and that it could be defeated rather than merely contained, Bush is being vilified for taking a hard line in the battle against terrorism and Islamic totalitarianism. I also can't help noticing that the same liberals who vilified Reagan (Senator John Kerry tops the list), are now vilifying President Bush. What really amazes me is that so many of the traditional conservatives who supported Reagan are so incensed by their feud with the NeoCons that they are now allying themselves with those same liberals. It kind of reminds me of David Weber's books, especially "Ashes of Honor." Perhaps Reagan's death will prompt conservatives to reexamine their situation and their priorities?

James Crawford

In what way?

The invasion was not well planned and not well done. We are now stuck with it and with trying to make a good result. That may or may not happen. It certainly will not happen if the neojacobins have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. It is for them to make some overtures. It was they with the egregious Frum who turned their backs on us, insulted Stephen Tonsor, gave flip answers or ignored our replies.

It's their turn. Or they can resign and let someone else replace them. Expending all out resources to leave them in charge to make yet more disastrous errors is not in the interests of the nation.

I have seen nothing in the way of long term goals, or a resolution of the fundamental problem of governing others without their consent. I have seen nothing showing how we proceed even if Iraq miraculously becomes a democratic ally, which doesn't seem likely in any reasonable time.

Are we to be a competent Empire or return to the Republic?

I have no alliance with the liberals. I don't believe that government solves all problems. I don't believe that creating more bureaus and paying more government employees will make us a stronger nation. I don't believe that "National Greatness" of the kind advocated in Weekly Standard some time ago and never rescinded will be a good thing for the nation.

I will remain what I have been for a long time. If the NeoJacobins want to come back to conservative views, abandon imperial ambitions and look for ways to strengthen the republic I will cheer for them. Have you seen signs of this?

At the moment the best outcome we can expect from Iraq is $2 / gallon gasoline and and end to the financial drains of the occupation, and the elimination of a source of supply for enemies. That may be a very good outcome, but I will argue it could have been achieved cheaper and that the permanent hikes in oil prices are a terrible burden to the nation.

We need energy independence. We will not get that this way. There are ways we can go toward that goal at a lot lower costs than we are paying now.

Or if we are to be competent empire, then there are measures we must take and they don't involve some of the cynicism we have seen.

Enough. More when I get home, it is late here.


Subject: Medical Outsourcing

Dr Pournelle,

Medical Outsourcing

Steve Setzer asks, “Would anyone care to guess on when we'll start outsourcing routine medical care to India and China?”

Medical outsourcing, especially for more routine and elective operations, is already big business in India with patients from Europe and North America.

India has been oversupplied with graduates for decades. Indian Universities, well founded in the British way of doing things and much higher quality than most imagine third-world universities to be, produces hundreds of thousands of graduates every year who cannot find work that reflects their skills.

A recent TV show in the UK about the relocation of British call-centres to India, made clear three points that are worth considering:

(1) They are staffed entirely by graduates. Applicants don’t even get considered without an honours degree. (2) The working conditions are not primitive or backward, but very high standard, equal to those in W Europe or N America. (3) The cost difference between UK and Indian labour costs (plus all the other associated costs such as management, telephone calls, buildings, free medical insurance for employees, etc., etc.) means Indian call centres cost clients significantly less than 20% of the cost of a British one.

On that basis, a 10% import duty as you have proposed would just be shrugged off as irrelevant. And in any case, I don’t see how you could tax something as ethereal as phone calls (or come to that, software too.)

Jim Mangles

But the revenue might be used to help alleviate the problems caused?










CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Subject: RPG's

Good morning Jerry.

You recently ran a couple of links to the history of the RPG. I humble submit to you the end of the effectiveness of the RPG.

One is constantly amazed at what the British are able to invent.


Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the end of it. The point counterpoint of offense and defense continues. The best solution to RPG's is generally to have a combined arms force and proper tactics to keep them out of range of the tanks, but better armor certainly doesn't hurt.


Subject: Class system.,9171,1101040621-650695,00.html

-- Roland Dobbins

Actually I welcome something like this. After all, we do much the same with security clearances. Depends on the background check, but the notion of getting people to voluntarily carry identicy papers that are difficult to fake makes sense.

Not that the security systems we employ do much to make us more secure anyway. It's mostly for show, and this is less insecure than what we do now...

I am beginning to see parallels between the war in Iraq and the American Revolution.

The biggest parallel is the miltants are fighting more like the colonists-- no uniforms, no marching, no government backing for arms. And we are more and more like the Brits who came to quell the revolution.

The American military has identifiable uniforms. Heavy tanks. A seemingly limitless cache of arms. Our soldiers proceed in convoys, making them easy targets.

The militants hide among the Iraqis, behind walls, in the hills.

The bigger questions for me are these:

Can we fight more like militants and less like an Army?

If the Americans did this, would they become more like the enemy so that incidents like Abu Ghraib would multiply? Would we send in commandos? Would Americans be willing to risk more American lives?

The militants are also expanding this ground war into places we can't go without incredible risks and political entre-- like Saudi Arabia.

And what the heck is happening in Afghanistan? Do we really have that country under control??? The media have seemingly abandoned that battlefield for Iraq.

Trying to contain and understand all of this is like trying to keep jello in a sieve.


Afghanistan is a mess but it will always be one; only a king can unite it, and probably not then either. We can't change that. There will be warlords there, and that's not anything we can change, and why would we?

Iraq is at least 3 countries too. Depends on where you go as to what is going on. But sending in ununiformed assassins wouldn't do a lot of good.

If we want to govern as rulers of an empire we have one way to go. If we really want to establish a democracy we have our work cut out, and it's a different course from empire.

 There are parts of Iraq where we are successful. They don't make the news much, and won't.

Back to 3 countries. There is no way to have Sunni rule Shiite or Shitte rule Sunni and have both of them happy about it. Now what? And the Kurds want neither of those groups ruling them, and Turkey can't abide an independent Kurdistan. Neither can Iran.

All of which we discussed here before the US went in there. Those fundamentals haven't changed.



Coal Combustion and Radioactivity

Hi Jerry, An interesting article on release of radioactive materials (chiefly uranium and thorium) from the burning of coal. Ironically, the energy content of these elements if used in a breeder reactor significantly exceeds the energy content of the coal itself:

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Cheers, Rod Schaffter

Another time,
I devised a left-hander
Even more gifted
Than Whitey Ford: a Dodger.
People were amazed by him.
Once, when he was young,
He refused to pitch on Yom Kippur.
--Robert Pinsky

I explained in A Step Farther Out 20 years ago that more radioactivity per KW goes up the flu in a coal fired plant than gets released from a nuclear power plant...








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