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Mail 314 June 14-20, 2004






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Monday  June 14, 2004

Subject: Reagan and Rights.

--- Roland Dobbins

The different definitions of "rights" is at the heart of the matter.

Subject: Hotel Internet Access

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

I just happened to talk with a co-worker who is traveling on business this morning. He made the observation that he was unable to access his email from his hotel "free" internet access until he made a browser session active and left browser window running while sending and receiving email.

If you still happen to be on your trip when you receive this note, perhaps you can try the same experiment.

Good luck and I look forward to Burning Tower.

Terry Losansky

Alas that wouldn't work either. Until 8PM or so the Adams Mark free high speed internet access worked, more or less (it wasn't all that fast, but then I am used to cable modem speeds). I could send mail. Then suddenly, no warning, no mail could be sent. A friend called ITT to ask what was going on. The hotel had cut off outbound mail. I could ftp but I could not send mail.

The explanation was spam prevention. It is certainly possible that someone at the convention used the hotel connection to send a bunch of spam. This seems a drastic way to solve the problem, and probably once the fans and SF people are gone they will turn it on again.


 Subject: More data points on the new Ice Age

Mark Huth

Clearly we just don't know. But this is interesting...


Subject: 2 million bank accounts robbed . . .

--- Roland Dobbins


Dr Pournelle, A friend of mine called Mindspring technical support late in the evening last week when she was unable to connect to the internet. While perhaps the fellow had six degrees and was very competent, his technical expertise didn't matter since she couldn't understand a word he was saying. After five minutes, she hung up the phone and called me the next morning. I had a similar experience when I called AT&T with a question about my bill. The customer service rep, who was Indian, spoke very fractured english and was very hard to understand. On of the issues that those who only consider the salaries involved ignore is that saving money doesn't help if you have dissatisfied customers. Not having customer service reps who speak _understandable_ english over the phone does not help customer satisfaction. Certainly I have seen glowing reports about how many highly skilled English speaking Indians there are eager to work for a fraction of what is paid in the US , but my experiences just don't seem to match those reports. Phillip Walker

I have not had that experience. Yet.



Regarding hotel mail:

Had a similar problem in OZ (Australia) recently.

I checked with the hotel to find out the ISP who was providing the access and checked their web site, turns out that they have turned of relaying on port 25 but if you send all your email to their mail server it was handled from there without a problem.

the reason given was to prevent mail relay through zombie computers. They only allow people with fixed IP to relay from their address space, all other email must go through their SMTP server and that is vetted by spam and virus filters.

It works for all their dial up accounts as they are set up with the correct SMTP address, it causes problem for people like us who are homed outside their patch.

hope that this helps.

Paul Beaver Sydney Australia

Hmm. I never actually talked to anyone at the hotel, because after Friday night there wasn't anyone. Both my service providers require authentication before they'll accept mail. Surely hotels have the means to prevent their systems being abused without going to drastic levels, and without requiring guests to understand any such things. The Adams Mark apparently can't be bothered and I give them bad marks for that.





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Tuesday,  June 15, 2004

Subject: Changes at Google

Whoa! I tried one of my typical complex Google queries, that I've been doing for ages - and it FAILED, with this error:

"radio" (and any subsequent words) was ignored because we limit queries to 10 words.

When did this 10 word limitation start? This is bad news - many of the queries I use on Google will no longer work!

___ Scott MacLean

This is the first I have heard of any of this.


If you search google groups for google "was ignored because we limit queries", the earliest mention is in late 2000, showing that they've done it for years.

Thanks, Kolya Rice



Hello Dr. Pournelle.

First, though this message isn't about Firefly, I did like the show, and I think Jewel Staite is what my assistant would call a "cutie." With a background well grounded in Heinlein and Doc Smith, it didn't give me any real heartburn.

I see you are thinking that this may be your last convention. I'd hate to hear that, but if it isn't fun anymore, it isn't. Now I'm still intending to take a couple of weeks off when I get back to the US and do some vacating in southern California, and it would be nice to be able to catch you at a con or something, so I can at least talk Creation of the Empire of Man from the Kingdom of Sparta with you. A subject near and dear to my heart.

Here is more of the same. The temperature is a cool 108 right now, and for a wonder, the wind is not blowing much dust around. Someday I'll need to talk computer use here with you. Not to mention email (I have 4 official email addresses not counting use of titles as well as names for mail) and some security implications.

I'm very close to my mid tour leave now, and I'm once again planning on hitting the UK. I saw little of my intended targets last time, and I want to be more comprehensive.

I'm coming to the conclusion that the typical Iraqi insurgent who wants to kill us isn't really our enemy. They can be a nuisance, perhaps a challenge, but they can't defeat us. We have two enemies here, the AQ factions and the media. Of the two, I have more confidence that we can deal with AQ than the media, even though they can do spectacular attacks, there really aren't that many competent terrorists out there. They can't waste themselves, and every one we take out is one fewer to train suicide bombers and whatnot. The media, on the other hand, we can do little about. They are certainly working against us as surely as the actual combatants, but unless your investigation is more current than I think it is, that conversation will go nowhere. I thought the imbedded journalist program was going to payoff bigger than it did.

Still and all, I can now honestly say I've endured Kuwait with a busted air conditioner. Not many can make that claim.


So the real question is, how can responsible people (like me, I hope) deal with this? I don't want to encourage us to further reaches; even if the Iraq adventure succeeds it was, I think, the wrong thing to do; but I certainly do not wish us failure in order to show I was right all along, or to discourage future adventures. The Afghan adventure was needed -- although had State been given charge under Schultz as the Soviets were pulling out, we could probably have installed the old Royal government as a neutral, much as Austria was created by US/Soviet cooperation when the Soviets ended their occupation there.

But given that we did not cooperate with the Soviets in creating a neutral state in Afghanistan, and the Taliban took over to become a haven for terrorists operating against both us and the USSR, then our most recent Afghan adventure was needed, and I don't want failure or success in Iraq to discourage further needed preemptive actions.

It's a puzzlement: what do people like me do now? I try to report what I can verify or what comes from trusted sources; and I watch; and I hope for the best.

I do agree: AQ has problems, and they are getting worse. Recruiting people to come to the USA and kill themselves, not betraying themselves while in transition, is difficult: witness their lack of success in this since 911. At the same time, they are getting suicide bombers in Iraq in numbers. This is worth thinking about although I doubt the neo-Cons have thought much on the subject.


Subject: Outlook between Laptop and Desktop - Buffy Willow


I am in the third week of a trial for keeping one Outlook file between two, or more, machines. I use a laptop primarily, with a desktop as a backup. I travel a lot, plus I like using Outlook. I have read with interest your travails using Outlook and the difficulty moving between machines. I think I may have a solution, that while not too elegant, appears to be working.

I work for the federal government. I use a 1.2 GHz PIII Gateway laptop with a 40 GB hard drive as my main machine. I travel a fair amount. The agency I work for uses GroupWise as the mail client. I discovered a long time ago that Outlook will also serve as a client with a GroupWise server. You lose some functionality, primarily group scheduling and notifications, but the email works great.

My desktop is an old Dell PIII. It is good enough. I have added a Firewire/USB 2.0 card as well as a SATA card. It has a 30 GB main drive and a 120 GB SATA internal drive.

I purchased two LaCie 120 GB D2 Firewire external drives. I use these, along with LapLink, to mirror both my laptop, desktop, and home machine. Once every six months or so I burn everything off of one of the LaCie's to DVD's. Basically, between my work desktop, the two LaCie's, and my home machine, as well as the DVDs, I have at least four copies of my total computing experience at all times.

I use Outlook XP on the laptop, and Outlook 2000 on the desktop. The experiment has been to move between my laptop and desktop as I travel and return.

My solution was to place both my Outlook.pst and Archive.pst file on one of the LaCie's, and take it with me wherever I go. So far, rules included, I haven't had any problems. I also use the backup utility that MS offers on their Outlook support site. So I actually have three files that I carry around with me on the external hard drive; Outlook.pst, FY04 Backup.pst, and Personal Folders Backup.pst.

I think that one of the shirt-pocket sized external hard drives, USB 2.0 probably, would be perfect to slim down and really portablize this solution. I heard you talk about how Outlook 2003 limits the location where it expects the .pst files to be, so this solution may be obsolete for you.

Your thoughts are appreciated, and your column is the first thing I read each Monday. Keep up the good work.

Rod Wittler

That will certainly do it.

Two points. First, Outlook 2003 will allow you to keep the Outlook.pst in other places than where it wants it, but it doesn't make it easy, and I decided to just let it do things its way.

But with that file where Outlook thinks it belongs, I have had no problems just shutting down Outlook on machine one; restart because Outlook does things in background anyway!; copying the Outlook.pst file to machine 2 in the place it expects to be; go on the road with machine two and use it normally; return, shut down Outlook, restart machine two; copy Outlook.pst to machine 1; and open Outlook. I just did that after the last trip and it worked fine.

So I guess I have solved the problem. This is with Outlook 2003 on both machines. I do like Outlook 2003, and if you can upgrade you should. I believe your system will work with Outlook 2003 without problems.


Subject: Doctorow and Lessig: Two of a kind?

Dear Jerry:

I blame Esther Dyson for starting this nonsense about "give it away and people will pay." She and Graham Nash were touting this at the Silicon Studio conference where Ray Bradbury stood in as Keynote Speaker at the last moment for Michael Crieghton several years ago. And you're right about the way they frame an argument. I've read Lessig's book "Free Culture" and it is full of emotionalism and false analogies.

I think that this push to abolish copyright is the new secular religion. As the Jesuits say, "Matters of Faith cannot be argued." . I posted a short take on Lessig's book on my "The Fight For Copyright" blog and, since he doesn't have e-mail on his web site, snail mailed him a print out. (Feel free to link to it.)

Today I found, by Googol search, let another big database provider who is selling my articles with out proper permission. I called them. Seems they are getting as much as $45.00 each (!!!!) for copies. Fine, I said, great for you, but guess what? I own those, the copyrights are registered, and you can find those registrations online, so how about you starting paying me the same percentage of the gross that Lightning Source does. 45%. That would be $20.25 per copy and their market is corporate intranets, where they buy in bulk and pay by the each.

They're thinking about it. Which they should , because at those prices they're on the hook for a lot of money. Almost a hundred articles in that publication and the aggregator probably provided them the entire file.

I challenged Lessig, in my blog , to undertake some poor freelancer's case based on the law as it is, not as he would like it to be. Joi Ito is has also joined the "creative commons" parade with his blog. The entire thing begins to have that same ultra left flavor that infected the Virtual Reality community a decade ago. That reached its peak when some ultra feminist proposed that the Cartesian model of space (X, Y, and Z coordinates) be replaced by some softer, more feminine form in the virtual. world. (Yeah, I'm a Liberal, in the political social justice mode, but I'm not freaking nuts!).

I think that my best move is to just keep doing what I'm doing; asserting my rights to be paid for the use of the intellectual property I've created. It really takes people aback that you've found a way to sell the stuff yourself. This they never expected. Not on that scale. And it brings up a non-copyright legal issue; Unfair Competition, which you can sue for other places than a Federal Court and the law in this area in California is , well, interesting and includes attorney's fees..

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

I am not sure Doctorow wants to abolish copyright, because despite being very assured and certain that he is correct, he doesn't say things directly; or perhaps I am just not smart enough to understand what he was saying.

But it did sound as if he is certain that intellectual property rights are doomed. Also that it was easier to read things on screen back in the old green screen Televideo smart terminal days than now, which I find so incredible I wonder if he actually used one. He certainly did say it. In my case I had a VDM board that did 16 x 64 characters, and it was fine but I sure would not have cared to read books on it; in the early days Niven and I used to let the Diablo type out our books and we would edit on paper and insert the corrections. It took us years before we decided to edit on screen. Now it's automatic, of course.

In any event, I am sure there are great changes coming, but I am not quite ready to abandon my digital rights to the world without compensation, and I haven't seen precisely what his compensation model is. It sounded a bit like a tax: you pay a fee to enjoy the Internet, much as Brits pay a TV subscription fee, and the money is then allocated to -- who? Norway does that, and sends money to SFWA, which may be fine for a writers organization but it hasn't done much for me.

And see Eric Pobirs below


Subject: Telemedicine and outsourcing

Dear Jerry:

The outsourcing of radiology to India is already a reality. So you now have your choice of an Indian Radiologist here or one in Bangalore et al. The law, as always, is dragging way beyond the technology, so none of the off shore people are properly licensed. I'm not sure that's really a vital issue since they're likely to be equally qualified and to have attended the same medical schools. I have an e-book available online called "Five Articles Concerning Recent Developments In Telemedicine", available on Amazon, Powells, or Elibron. I think it gives a good overview of the field, including the legal issues. Some of the articles won't seem all that recent and some of the planned deployments never came to pass. The Army gave up on virtual reality remote control surgery in favor of the "Combat Lifesaver" program. Seems to have worked. The KIA to WIA ratio is way down.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit


And on Firefly

Dr. Pournelle,

I'm surprised you have'nt seen FireFly, though with the work you've been putting into Burning Tower I can certainly understand. If you're curious about it, drop by the  or  forums. The fans that hang out there and the DVD sales of series really helped sell Joss Whedon's movie concept despite being the series being killed early by FOX. It does seem to have a polarizing effect on the SF community, though. Fen generally hate it or love it with equal passion.


I had never heard of the series. But then I don't watch a lot of TV unless it's a show my wife likes also. I have ordered the disk.

Regarding SP-2 RC-1
Regarding TSA

Dr. Pournelle:

A couple of items.

First is that if you are running Windows XP SP1 RC1 you will find that you may not be able to download files using IE. The dialog box will get to 99% completion and then there is no option but to cancel. Someone suggested I used Firefox, but I could not download Firefox because the download would not complete. I had to use another system and transfer across the lan to be able to download.

Regarding your problems with the TSA. I have carried a camera many times with no problems. They do not even open the bag. Seems odd that they target you. You’re not wearing a towel on your head by chance? But that would be profiling so it has to be something else. Perhaps you’re a journalist with a poison pen and that concerns them. Nope, I have read your stuff.

But my experience with the TSA has not been pleasant. They have rummage through my suitcases while I watch helplessly and they move carefully packed items that were protected from breakage to the unprotected area of the luggage. Desperate pleas to restore the position of the item were met with stern denials. My offer to repack was of course not considered as an option. On a recent flight some small items to be used as gifts disappeared. The TSA stole the times. Imagine explaining to my German friends that their gifts were stolen by petty thieves that were supposed to be protecting us from harm. One item (a small ceramic figure) I think was intentionally broken so they could peek inside. Attempting to file a claim is like mud wrestling with a pig. You both get dirty but the pig likes it.

The TSA on their current course will certainly destroy an entire industry. I have no fear of flying or of any terrorist activity while flying. Any attempt to take over a plane will be met with severe pain to the persons attempting such a tactic. I know that I would participate gleefully in the breaking any joints by using forceful manipulation of the joints at uncommon angles. What I fear is the TSA and the people that three days ago could not sling French fries at McDonalds and are now fondling my underwear, stealing from me, damaging equipment, and can shut down an entire airport for no logical reason.

But we were born free.

Ray Thompson Tau Beta Pi ( <> ) The Engineering Honor Society 865-546-4578

I had no problems with downloading using IE with SP-2 RC-1 on any machine and it was tested on at least three.

I am at this moment uninstalling RC-1 so that I can install RC-2 and I will report on that.

Regarding TSA, they said that our tickets were marked for the extraordinary search, and they had nothing to do with that selection. All our luggage was hand searched, and I saw two of them playing with my camera and remarking on it. I was offered a claim form but that didn't seem reasonable, considering that we had to catch a plane and I had previously been told I could not record the badge numbers of any of those people.


Subject: Econ 101 in action,

Well, if the quantity is constrained (by the number of tankers) and the demand is growing, what happens to the price?




Hi. I read your story about the TSA with dismay, and mentioned it on my blog ( A friend with more time than I had today beat me to the punch and called the TSA about it. His email is attached; the deal seems to be that you are indeed well within your rights to take down a badge number and name, and that, moreover, this is what the badge and name are there for.

Better luck on future trips. I share your misgivings about these encroachments on our personal freedoms.

Best regards, Christopher DeJong

I am pleased to hear it. And after I am kept off the airplane and miss my flights and connections and they get someone who understands that, I am sure it will be enormous compensation.


Subject: For Laptop Users


Check out 

This is a laptop pad that contains a thing called "Glauber's salt", which is hydrated sodium sulphate. Depending on how you prepare the stuff, you can tailor the melting point so that it is above room temperature, but still lower than how hot the bottom of a laptop gets. This makes a block of "ice" that slowly melts under your laptop over a period of several hours. Your lap stays nice and cool, fans come on less, and this is totally passive and utterly SILENT (my pet peeve). Over a period of 30-60 minutes, the pad refreezes and you're ready to go again.

Pricey at 30 Euros, but I really like it. Also works very well when you put the laptop on the desk, because the heat goes into the latent heat of fusion of the pad, rather than getting hot on top of the desk. I use a laptop at work and I find this keeps the laptop fans off for nearly an entire workday.

BTW, they have several other clever uses for this stuff and I expect we'll see this more, especially since oil prices may be high for some time.

Chuck Bouldin


Letter from Uganda

Subject: the Brits, and their impact on Uganda


Sean Long wrote to you regarding the travelers and the Brits, and I couldn’t help but make some observations of my own. As you know, I’m presently in Kampala, Uganda, on business, and have been for the past month. I am here several times a year, and will be moving here in the fall for a couple years. During my trips here for the past two years, I’ve made several observations, and it’s interesting to compare them to Sean’s email.

Uganda was a British Colony until October 9, 1962, when it was given independence. Nonetheless, it retains a great deal of the British heritage, combined with much of the native Ugandan culture, which makes an interesting mix at times. An excellent benefit of having been a British colony is that everyone speaks English, although the differences between British and American usage can be interesting at times especially when you add the uniquely African flair.

As I sit in my hotel room, I note that my door will not close and stay latched unless locked (with the key) from the inside. Sean describes this as normal in Britain, and has been the same in nearly every hotel room I have been in. Of course, this would NEVER pass muster in the U.S., for fire and safety reasons. Can you imagine trying to unlock the door with the key, as smoke, fire and panic surround you? That’s a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

I also note that the sink in the bathroom has two separate spigots, one for hot and one for cold, as was also mentioned. I do note, however, that the shower combines hot and cold in one spout, but I can assure you, its implementation is quite imperfect, alternately providing shockingly cold or hot water that make a shower a ….uh…”bracing” experience at the least.

Ugandan is a place where people are very polite, both from the native culture, and the imported British standards. Unless you are in a vehicle, everyone is very polite, but unlike Britain (I’ve spent some time there as well), most people are also very friendly, and although I usually have to initiate the contact, once I have spoken, smiles come out and it is very easy to engage in a wonderful intimate conversation. I usually have to initiate the contact for two reasons. One, I am white and two, I have a long full beard and long hair. After making contact, most Ugandans say they feared me until I began to speak to them, but then they immediately begin to warm up. The effect as I walk down the street or drive about in a vehicle is stunning. Heads turn, people stare, children stand mesmerized, it’s quite interesting. I’ve had some children come up to me, and want to touch my skin and my beard to see if it is real. A side note here, lest anyone get the wrong idea, I am a conservative, voting Republican most of the time, and had spent many, many years in the intelligence before going into the private sector. That does not stop me from being a caring person, despite the image the liberals have tried to paint of conservatives. The difference is my company and the people I work with try to get folks to begin to support themselves, instead of being locked in a dependent relationship. It frustrates most liberals, and people who were once pushing Globalization, have turned against it, because capitalism has begun to take over in areas where it was introduced, and begun to remove the need for foreign aid. If the need for foreign aid in a country is reduced, the need for the NGO is reduced, and the need for its bureaucracy is reduced.

Americans are fairly easy to pick out in the crowd here, because of their clothing, and either a brash or cloyingly apologetic air. In truth, neither fits the environment here at all. People here don’t understand persons acting this way at all, and it confuses them. When riding, I always have a driver, and am glad of it, traffic in Kampala is horrible, and competing for the space on a one lane road which drivers have turned into three is a game that requires no small skill, especially when you add the “Boda Boda” drivers, which are small motorcycle taxis whose drivers are all bent on self destruction. It’s also a requirement to have a big vehicle and driver in order to be taken seriously, as is wearing a full suit and long sleeved dress shirts, despite the heat and humidity in a land straddling the equator. Uganda is very much a class based society, having retained much of the British influence. People here are referred to as “big men” or “small men.” Yesterday when we were passing down a road, we had gone by an area of furniture vendors, and I had commented that a particular style of chair looked very comfortable. One of the men with me scoffed and said “That is a chair of a small man, it will break down very quickly, and we will go to a vendor of furniture befitting your status.”

Now I must tell you, this part of society here grates on me, as it would most Americans, but I can tell you there is no getting around it if you are going to operate in this country. If you don’t have high status, government and business people will not deal with you, and you will not even be able to get help, because your status reflects on anyone working with or for you. If you are of low status, you might even be just ignored in a store or business. Although there are many foreigners in Kampala coming from fairly classless environments, as it is the seat of government, I don’t see this changing soon.

As I sat at breakfast this morning, on an open veranda at the Grand Imperial Hotel overlooking one of the main intersections in Kampala, I was struck by comments made by Sean on British society. There was a bit of an altercation where a man was selling newspapers on a street corner (there are people selling newspapers all over in Kampala, in the mornings, you can hardly go 50 meters without being offered any one of 6 or so papers, each being sold for 700 Ugandan Shillings, or about 40 cents U.S. Reading the paper every morning is almost a requirement for every Ugandan, just to keep up with what is going on. In fact, if you haven’t read a particular paper, others absolutely delight in updating you on what is in it. For all its size, Kampala, and indeed Uganda, is like a small town. Everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing. I have many stories that illustrate it, but won’t bend your ear with them now. Back to the man selling newspapers…as he was walking back and forth over the 15 or 20 meters he had staked out, another man walked up and quite rudely began hawking newspapers on the same corner. The first man became quite incensed, and instead of confronting the man directly, began to gather support from everyone around him, vendors nearby selling things on blankets, a cell phone airtime vendor in a brightly painted booth (nearly all cell phones here operate on the prepaid method, and you can buy airtime almost anywhere), passersby, vendors riding by on their bicycles with a huge variety of things for sale, vendors with brick and mortar storefronts (a different meaning than the U.S.), and anyone else he could enlist. Soon, there was a crowd of people offering advice and comments, and the second newspaper vendor backed down and left in embarrassment. It’s very unlike the British concept, where the first vendor probably would never have said a word, but have boiled inside with sideways glances until one or the other left.

Another British import that we are “blessed” with here is the power system. As an engineer (although now I get to do very little of that, sigh) I am often appalled by the power systems. With the best of intentions, the Brits built the “power taps” which Americans call electrical outlets with “earth ground” as a requirement. Meaning you cannot plug a cord into them that does not have the third connection for the ground. The mixture of appliances you see here is from Britain and Europe, all 230v, but the European appliance don’t have “earth ground,” nor are their plugs the same, the British leads being square, and the European being round. Of course, there are the Netherlands/Danish ones, which add a whole new dimension to the picture. All of them are just close enough to work, if tweaked a little bit, and it is not uncommon to see someone with a knife stuck in a power tap, bypassing the ground to get an appliance working <shudder>. On the other hand, every power tap has an on/off switch on it, which makes it safer, although Americans are often baffled that their lamp or device does not work because the outlet switch is off, until they get used to the system.

When I move here this fall, my grandson will be coming with us, and I will be putting him in what would be the third grade in the U.S, although it is defined differently here. He will be in an international school, but will be following an English school curriculum, for the most part. They do make concessions for the American students, and indeed, the students take placement tests such as the Iowa Basics to ensure they meet the standards of the U.S. schools. This education is somewhat expensive though, I’ll have to pay around 10K a year for him to attend the school of our choice. There are six international schools that I know of in Kampala.

I see I have rambled quite a lot, life in Uganda is intriguing, and I’d be happy to give you updates if you are interested. I have, of course, many pictures, also thank to the wonders of digital photography, and I have traveled throughout Uganda extensively. I’m sitting at my laptop now looking out over beautiful, lush, green tropics, in a fairly quiet portion of Kampala. The long rainy season is about over, the sky is beautiful, and Africa is out in all it’s glory. The people of Uganda are some of the friendliest people on earth, and for the rest of my life, I will never forget this place.

Tracy Walters

Thanks. Good picture.


Linux and Windows

The issue with failure of Windows to boot following a Linux install is receiving some publicity:

<  > "... there are reports that installing FC2 in a dual-boot configuration with Windows 2000 or XP might cause the Windows side of the machine to fail... (It is hard to resist the temptation to ask whether this is really a bug or just a security feature, and why anyone would want to run Windows anyway.)"

There are three main things to be kept in mind here: — The problems are not just with Fedora 2 but any installer (XP or kernel v2.6) which modifies the MBR — XP, like earlier versions of Windows, can fail if startup files are more than 1024 cylinders away from the start sector — A given BIOS will present different geometries depending on the MBR already present.

Some discussion follows. _____

[1] The problems are not just with XP or Fedora 2:

< >

"May 17, 2004 WARNING! Be careful when partitioning on Linux 2.6 kernels! ... Reports are from users of Mandrake 10, SUSE 9.1 and Fedora 2." ______

[2] XP, like earlier versions of Windows, can fail if startup files are more than 1024 cylinders away from the start sector:

<;en-us;282191  > "UseBIOSToBoot Entry in Unattend.txt Is Enabled Regardless of the Set Value"

"...the computer could become unbootable if the boot files and kernel are ever located outside of the 1024 cylinder limit [8GB] of data that is accessible by way of INT 13. This can happen unexpectedly through the use of disk defragmenters or by the application of hotfixes and service packs."

This deserves to be better known. To summarize, "unattended" installations often introduce this problem. Saying "UseBIOSToBoot=0" does not eliminate it - it confirms it. If "UseBIOSToBoot" is found AT ALL in an Unattend.txt file, the Windows installer will turn on BIOS-based geometry!

Perhaps such behaviour would count as a bug. Unattended installs are very common on OEM Windows. Microsoft, though, is clearly aware of the issue, so perhaps MS would call it a feature:

"You may create a "master" answer file that contains all of the entries that are available in an Unattend.txt file, and set the values of the unwanted options to Option=0 or Option=No; however, this method may produce unexpected results."

[3] There is hysteresis in how a BIOS sees disk geometry:

<  >

In theory, the BIOS does not need to look in the partition tables. However, in practice it does this :( ... if you partition a disk with LBA turned off in the BIOS ... [then] turn LBA on, in many cases BIOS will still show 16 heads... However, after cleaning the MBR the same BIOS with the same settings will report 255 heads... Who knows what such BIOS will do if it will find something other than a DOS partition table in the first sector...

- So, contrary to received dogma among many IT specialists, many i386 BIOS implementations do examine the Master Boot Record when deciding how to present disk geometry to a boot program.

This means changing an MBR is not safe for Operating Systems (like Windows, even XP) which can rely on the BIOS for disk geometry, particularly when the MBR change assumes Linear Base Addressing (LBA).

-- Terry Cole System Administrator Dept. of Maths and Stats, Otago University PO. Box 56, Dunedin tel:64-3-4797739 NEW ZEALAND fax:64-3-4798427

But see below


On malpractice suits etc. (Reply to view)

It is a never-ending source of amazement to me that Americans tolerate a legal system that lowers their standard of living and makes them an international laughing stock. Why? It's really easy to fix: award costs when suits fail, limit or abolish class-action (what a scam), stop open soliciting (Mike the HAMMER Shapiro!) etc. It's not as if there is even any rational basis for disagreement about this. Nobody else in the world has this problem.

-- Gavan

Well, you see the legislature is full of lawyers, and the Democratic Party is beholden to the trial lawyers and their money, so ...

And see John McCarthy's comments below

And Greg Cochran on the latest in Iraq:

Locals are now blowing up both the northern and southern oil export pipelines; right now exports are down to ~40$ of prewar levels, and I see no reason to think that it won't be shut down entirely soon, now that the Shiites are in play as well as the Sunnis.

Certain pinheads said that Iraq woud be self-financing - that oil would easily pay for reconstruction. Not true, reconstruction costs are big - but it was true that oil exports ( which make up 95% of Iraqi exports) paid for for everyday costs of the Iraqi system. Probably the biggest such cost is subsidized food - over half of all the food in Iraq is imported. I don't have hard numbers yet that has to cost something like 20 billion a year.

If oil revenues don't pay the food bills -we're going to, at least if current policy continues. It's either that or try to achieve our silly political goals while watching half the population starve to death.

So, as oil exports go down. occupation costs go up just that much. If I'm thinking straight here. And of course our oil import bill stays high as well.

I have not heard any columnists talk about this, but then it does involve numbers.

Gregory Cochran

Someone please cheer me up.






This week:


read book now


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Subject: lambarail, what a great name

Mark Huth

Sure is!

Subject: Messing up RPGs

This may be an idea worth spreading:


Sure is! Thanks.

Mr. Pournelle,

The use of fake RPG-7's would probably only work for a very short time. Then the people using these things would put marks on known good ones and would only use them. People are not stupid. However, they would then give the bad ones to people on OUR SIDE -- the Kurds, for example, use RPG-7's I think -- and cause THEM to blame us for the death of their people during a battle. This only works if NOBODY on your side uses these weapons!

A much better, though not easy to accomplish, would be a powerful EM bomb that sent out a single burst that would cause sparks to blow up the explosives in guns and RPG's. Ships put all sorts of warnings about explosives and their radio/radar antennas because this is indeed a danger. Of course, our own weapons would have to be made so that they were immune to this or the EM weapon would have to be directional. Science fiction, so far, of course, but the way to go.

Nathan Okun



And JMC comments on the medical/legal wars:


Human society needs laws and lawyers, but maybe the US needs only 1/10 as many lawyers as it has.

Clearly certain activities of lawyers have gotten out of hand. It's not just medical malpractice. There ought'a a law.

The trouble is that laws are formulated and made by lawyers, and the lawyers who are not involved in medical malpractice defend the ones who do. Another relevant fact about the present situation is that the trial lawyers have formed alliances with liberal politicians, the Democratic Party, and its journalistic toadies like the New York Times.

So the doctors have undertaken guerrilla warfare against the lawyers. Good for them.

Slogan: the only way to solve a long standing moral problem is by the use of technology, e.g. birth control solved the unwanted pregnancy problem for a while.

Here's my proposal to squeeze the legal profession: Remove all restrictions on the use of computer programs to give legal advice. A California initiative might do it, since you wouldn't get it through a legislature. Do not be intimidated by scary predictions of the mistakes people would make. If actual harm is observed, tinker with the law.

A little boldness would help in face of threats of prosecution for practicing law without a license. Free legal software, produced anonymously if necessary, would be a big help.

John McCarthy

Heh. Boy would I like to see that...


Subject: TSA: UK v US ways of doing things

I read your piece on The TSA with interest. (See View)

I have been traveling to the US for the last 10 years usually 2 or 3 times a year. I used to enjoy visiting the US but since 9-11 it is no longer a pleasure.

I am always surprised by the amateurish way that the TSA goes about the security. The contrast is very marked when traveling from London to the US. At Heathrow the staff are polite and efficient, the first thing you notice is that the operator of the x-ray machine is sitting down on a comfortable seat, looking at a monitor at a sensible height, she is on her own and concentrating on the screen, she is not disturbed unless she asks for help.

Contrast this with most US airports where the staff are milling around disturbing who ever is looking at the screen. Usually the screen is mounted on top of the x ray machine so that the operator has to stand and look up to see it! Not very conducive to concentrating on the task of checking the images. Usually there seems to be a number of people looking at it, its never clear whose job it is to check the image. When I was in Boston in May they were putting nearly all the bags through at least twice, I have never seen that in the UK, if there is a problem in the UK they will open the bag and check it. And why do we have to take the portable out of the bag? In europe this is never done? Of cause now you cant ask question like why anymore.....

The TSA make you feel as if you are guilty, I have a beard and am from outside the US (although white anglosaxon UK) so always get double checked (bags searched etc).

If I can I now avoid going to the US, I would not mind if I thought the world was safer place but its not.

If you use this please withhold my name and email address as writing this could make travelling in the US even more unpleasant!



As far as I can see, the TSA is an instrument of the enemies of the United States. Its effect is to reduce air travel and tourism. I have a dozen letters from others in other nations who say they try to avoid coming to the US, even to change flights when going from, say, UK to Australia. I don't much blame them.

On dual boot:

Dr. Pournelle,

Terry Cole wrote:

"...the computer could become unbootable if the boot files and kernel are ever located outside of the 1024 cylinder limit [8GB] of data that is accessible by way of INT 13. This can happen unexpectedly through the use of disk defragmenters or by the application of hotfixes and service packs."

He is right and this can cause major issues - a recent Microsoft security fix (MS04-011), for example, replaced ntoskrnl.exe - and if the new file were more than 7.8Gb from the start of the disk, the system wouldn't boot.

HOWEVER, it's important to appreciate that this particular problem only affects Windows NT. Only NT uses the INT13 mechanism to access the disk.

Later versions use a different access method (I am not sure exactly what) and don't have the problem, as witness the fact that you can install the ntoskrnl.exe and ntldr from a Windows 2000 system onto a Windows NT system with a large boot disk and it will then work. It will look odd - you get the W2K startup progress bar, and then NT starts - confusing for the experienced!

I have spent a lot of time researching this since I had a few NT servers trashed by that update.

On the other matter, about MBR's, he may well be perfectly correct, I have no detailed understanding of those issues.

Best regards,

Andrew Duffin

Cole replies below


Jerry: I just read your latest Chaos Manor column. I've had similar experiences with Windows locking out the user when changing/removing the domain. Go to the web and locate a version of "Linux NT-Password changer". It fits on a single floppy, boots Linux and gives you the option to change the local administrator's password. It takes about 1 minute to do but will save you hours of labor. I keep one handy all the time. In fact I've got a floppy image and the software to create the floppy on my USB memory stick, just-in-case.

Hope this helps in the future. Jim Brandvold Sr. Distribution Engineering Services Specialist Public Service Co. of NM

I am aware that such systems exist, and I probably should have tried that, but it won't recover all files on an XP system. I probably could have restored the system to some previous state that would let me log in on the Chaos Manor username/password.

In future, before I muck about with network settings, I will be certain that my system can be brought up with a local administrator name and password. But it doesn't hurt to keep a copy of one of those registry editors around.


Subject: The plot thickens . . .;

- Roland Dobbins

As I said, you don't always need to see the fox tracks.

Subject: NASA and Iron Triangle

I had forgotten about "Iron Triangles" from poli sci classes. It seems to be an accurate description.


Many people who grew up in the era of the Apollo moon shots have been shocked to watch NASA retain its monopoly, and its vice-like grip, on access to space while failing to live up to the implicit promise of Apollo: of space travel for everyone. What has been harder to bear is that the agency has done so in a spectacularly expensive fashion, wasting hundreds of billions on projects that fail to live up to their billing. NASA is one of the most pork-laden and bureaucratic public bodies in America. Worse still, to the extent that private firms get a look-in on NASA’s $15 billion annual budget, the work mostly goes to just two giant aerospace firms, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, so there has never been serious competition to drive down costs. Unable to break the so-called “iron triangle” which comprises a government agency and a set of big-corporation and congressional interests at state level, space visionaries are increasingly looking at doing business without the government—and they are finding support from some of the world’s wealthiest (and starry-eyed) entrepreneurs.


Subject: Iraqi Oil Exports

I think that this article is not quite right: I think a minor southern port is still exporting. But exports are down by at least three-quarters, perhaps more.

We're going to have to pay for our occupation troops _and_ , maybe, for Iraqi food imports, salaries of government officials, etc.

Gregory Cochran 

Saboteurs halt all exports of Iraqi oil

 AP, AFP, Bloomberg Wednesday, June 16, 2004 BAGHDAD

 Saboteurs blasted a key pipeline Wednesday for the second time in as many days, halting all oil exports from Iraq, and gunmen killed the top security official of the state-run Northern Oil company as insurgents stepped up attacks on the country's infrastructure. . The attack north of the major oil port of Fao crippled two already damaged pipelines, forcing a halt in all Iraqi oil exports southward through the Gulf, said Samir Jassim, a spokesman for the Southern Oil Company. . "Due to the damage inflicted on the two pipelines, the pumping of oil to the Basra oil terminal has completely stopped," Jassim said. "Exports have come to halt." . Exports were halted last month through the other avenue, the northern pipeline from Kirkuk to Ceyhan, Turkey, after a bombing on May 25, Turkish officials said. . Two explosions on the southern pipeline occurred in the same area as a blast on Tuesday. Jassim said that it could take up to a week to repair the damage.

Someone please cheer me up here...


Subject: Aldridge Commission

The report is worth reading if you're interested in the subject. You can download a copy at: 

This little gem almost sounds like it was cut and pasted from your web site:

Given the complexity and challenges of the new vision, the Commission suggests that a more substantial prize might be appropriate to accelerate the development of enabling technologies. As an example of a particularly challenging prize concept, $100 million to $1 billion could be offered to the first organization to place humans on the Moon and sustain them for a fixed period before they return to Earth. The Commission suggests that more substantial prize programs be considered and, if found appropriate, NASA should work with the Congress to develop how the funding for such a prize would be provided.


Well. Interesting. Thanks.


Subject: One for the privacy file

Dr. Pournelle,

An addition to the privacy file -

If your router or firewall is set to block the domain, will not load. There is no mention on the website to mention that they're using bizrate to track anything and viewing the source html for the irs homepage yields no mention of bizrate, but any attempts to go to will first go to, and if is blocked then the irs site will not load at all.

I find it personally irritating because I block at my router in order to reduce the amount of annoying flashing ads on websites and as a result I have to remove the domain filter just to visit the irs website, but the privacy crowd will rightfully wonder what business the IRS has with bizrate, why the bizrate page load MUST occur before the IRS site will load, and why that business is not prominently mentioned on the homepage since bizrate is in the business of selling advertisements, tracking internet user statistics, and tracking personal information for their client's use. This is an interesting choice made by one of our most powerful government institutions.

Sean Long

I have popup stopper and other such filters, and I went directly to the site...

But see below: popups aren't the subject here



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Subject: INT13 with 2000 and XP

Dear Dr Pournelle,

Andrew Duffin responded: "HOWEVER, it's important to appreciate that this particular problem only affects Windows NT. Only NT uses the INT13 mechanism to access the disk." This opinion is widely held. But it is a misconception, one Microsoft was attempting to dispel with the knowledge base article I cited. This particular shibboleth is responsible for many disasters.

If one refers back to my note , it cited Microsoft in support. At the bottom of the Microsoft Knowledge Base Article (282191), will be found this comment:

"The information in this article applies to:

* Microsoft Windows XP Professional"

All current versions of Windows, including 2000 and XP, do indeed use the INT13 mechanism - when told to. The problem: Windows is instructed to use INT13 with some frequency. And the installer does not even know he or she is doing it. Unattended installs, updates, and service packs can all trigger this, with results that depend on the machine's BIOS.

I last observed this behaviour in the course of an unattended Win2k installation to staff PCs. One belonged to the Head of Department, which was most embarrassing.

Regards, TC

-- Terry Cole

Subject: Perhaps I should expand a bit

Dear Dr Pournelle, Perhaps I should expand a bit on "...with results that depend on the machine's BIOS." Older motherboards do not implement the so-called "INT13 extensions". Some newer ones implement them in ways which are frankly broken.

Even though Windows installations later than NT4 (specifically, Win 95 OEM SR2, 98, 2000, and XP) can take advantage of these extensions, BIOS bugs mean it sometimes does them no good. This of course is not Microsoft's fault. There is no proper 'standard', as I understand the word, for those extensions to begin with - it's an 'industry standard' or convention followed by motherboard manufacturers, more or less consistently.

There is in addition a problem with some BIOSes which reinterpret disk geometry based on the existing contents of a Master Boot Record. I mentioned this in the earlier post, but to repeat: if the MBR changes, the BIOS geometry may be recalculated at boot time and NTLDR based boots, even using extended BIOS calls, will fail.

I last observed this behaviour in the course of an unattended Win2k installation to staff PCs. One belonged to the Head of Department, which was most embarrassing.

As far as NT4 being able to use partitions bigger than 8GB is concerned, even the 7.8GB mentioned by Andrew is only attainable using a special unattended install - see for example Microsoft's Knowledge Base bulletin Q224526: " When you are installing Windows NT 4.0, you can create a system partition with a maximum size of 4 GB". Actually there are fairly esoteric ways, but I was too lazy to eg. transplant the hard disk into another NT4 server and have it format a partition of 7.8GB.

This bit me in 2002 when I tried to refresh the NT4 on our main fileserver - the setup utility flatly refused to allow a system partition greater than 4095MB! Exactly as Microsoft advised. By this time I was faintly paranoid about Windows unattended installs, so I made do with 4GB.

Regards, TC

-- Terry Cole System Administrator Dept. of Maths and Stats, Otago University PO. Box 56, Dunedin tel:64-3-4797739 NEW ZEALAND fax:64-3-4798427


Eric Pobirs on piracy and other matters

Subject: Firefly and other things

Being rather more conservative than Francis Hamit there are many things I disagree with him about but he is dead on about the fantasy ideology (to borrow a phrase Lee Harris, whose book I read last night) of the anti-copyright enforcement contingent. I've seen this play out before with the computer game world in the 80's.

Using a BBS networked joined at a mere 2400 baud the pirate networks would have a new Amiga or Atari game cracked and distributed throughout Europe and the US in a period better measured in hours than days. This was without any of the benefits of multiple hosted files on systems like Overnet to maximize bandwidth that we have today. Computers owners had the opportunity to obtain unlimited numbers of games for the cost of the floppies plus a possible buck or so each depending on their relation to the BBS operator.

The effect was that roughly 90% of all the Atari and Amiga owners of my acquaintance, although they'd never dream of stealing the actual boxed product from an ill-secured store, had substantial libraries of pirated games and apps. Some had hardly any legitimate software at all. They'd invest their spare cash in buying hundreds of floppies instead of using it to get those few games they genuinely wanted or waiting patiently for the deep discounts that inevitably come. Some other would have a small library of legal product and explain away the dozens of illegal items they also had as being unworthy of purchase. Worthy of stealing but not paying for, apparently. This is a terribly weak claim since, as mentioned above, everything eventually gets marked down to a fraction of its original price or if successful continues at a lower price point or as part of a compilation.

Many of these people were like those susceptible to drug addiction. Some can try heroin and decide it was pleasurable but not something they'd care to do again, while others are so intensely affected they become quickly enslaved to the need to recaptured that feeling as often as possible. A surprising number of people who never made another legitimate software purchase after coming into contact with piracy were perfectly able to afford any of the items they really wanted. Instead they wanted everything despite the fact it would take them years of full-time gaming to partake of it all. If there had been perfect copy protection these same people would have had problem finding the funds for the good stuff if they went to the trouble of reading reviews and making educated purchases.

This prevalence of piracy was a major factor in killing off Atari and Commodore as computer makers. Too much of their survival was tied up in the game market and piracy made that unviable for retailers and developers alike. While the PC had major deficiencies for gaming (still does in certain respects) it had the great advantage that the bulk of PC were primarily for practical applications with gaming as a growing secondary function. The owners of these machines didn't invest enough time in gaming to get involved in piracy. If, in their tens of millions, they bought just two or three games a year that was a solid business.

I've seen the same behavior in those forms of entertainment that most lend themselves to piracy. Now that DVD burners are cheap I've noticed acquaintances building massive libraries even though Fry's and Best Buy has many of the same movies starting as low as $5.99. So long as the blank media is only a fraction of those prices they go ahead and copy. With recent increases in cable broadband speed and file sharing systems like the aforementioned Overnet doing all of this by download is becoming very practical.

You may recall how I demonstrated for you how all of your works were easily available on newsgroups,even including scans of the front and back cover for display in MS Reader. This hasn't gotten and better but the displays have, increasing the attraction of reading pirated e-books.

I see lots of claims that people try stuff out and buy the items that merit it but I'm seeing damned little real-world evidence. Every time I've met someone with a mountain of CD-Rs containing copyright works they never seem to be able to say where they have their originals stashed for safekeeping. I hear all kinds of excuses. The publisher mistreats the artist. So this is helping artist how...? They're rich and I'm not. Perhaps if you created something valuable instead of devoting all your spare time to enjoying your stolen IP. I bought a bunch of stuff before and it was overpriced, so they owe me. So instead of holding out for a better price you decided to make your own thee-layer economic justice and eat your cake, too.

I'm sure studying the pathology of how digital media so easily tempts honest people into IP theft would be a great career building for some psych majors but I don't see any solutions to the problem.

I know Esther Dyson is a long-time friend of yours but looking back over the twenty-odd years since I first heard her make predictions, I have to wonder. Has she ever been right about anything? It seems to me that by the time the Next Big Thing proves fruitless she has long since moved on so nobody crawling from he wreckage recalls who first lead them there.

On Firefly: I thought this was easily one of the best new shows of the past five years. It not only got a huge number of things familiar to serious readers correct that TV and film perpetually get wrong, it also had a good cast chemistry and dialogue that was worth my full attention. Many SF shows have been little more than Westerns with ray guns but Firefly takes the idea of the post-Civil War oater seriously and finds good reasons for why these settings and situation exists centuries hence.

Since I'd hope you're long since done with the Stargate SG-1 and Farscape discs I lent you perhaps I can get a gander at Firefly once you've watched it to your satisfaction. There are several episodes in that set just as the big story arc was starting to form that were never broadcast.

Eric Pobirs

I have watched the first couple of episodes of Firefly and I tend to agree. I don't know how I missed this series.

It's clear to me that piracy is a bigger problem than Corey Doctorow thinks.

On Mail and Spam and authenticating

On 16 June, I received an e-mail from BTInternet with the following announcement: "To help reduce abuse of your email service and s**m (junk email), we've introduced authenticated email sending (known technically as 'authenticated SMTP' or 'SMTP server authentication'). Please make sure your settings are configured to avoid possible problems sending email."

So far, so good--It's good to see them doing something about zombies. I administer a number of computers at home, some of which run Macintosh (MacOS X) Mail, and one of which runs Microsoft Outlook 97, connected to a BT-provided ADSL line. There was a link in the e-mail "To change your settings, please click here," so I did that (despite the known risk: < >) and discovered the page I was redirected to did not address configuring my e-mail clients. So I called the technical support line and got a help-desk operator (and later his supervisor, both speaking accented English) who informed me that their training was limited to Outlook Express, and they couldn't help me. Later, we inquired via the support web page and received an e-mail response that BTInternet _only_ supports Outlook Express as an e-mail client.

In any case, I was able to configure Macintosh Mail to perform SMTP server authentication, and there was a patch available for Outlook 97 that supported server authentication at < >.

The Risks:

1. The risk of outsourcing core corporate capabilities--when you outsource technical support, you have to be much more explicit in your job descriptions. The help-desk people I spoke with were quite clear that their training was limited to Outlook Express on a Windows platform. I suspect that may be a minority combination in some sense.

2. The risk of monoculture--by requiring all customers to use Outlook Express, it makes accounts vulnerable to tailored attacks.

3. The risk of losing business by irritating high-end users unnecessarily.

My thanks to BT for this good bad example. (I teach this stuff. 8) -- Harry Erwin, PhD "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)

Earthlink and Mazin/Rocket, my two principal service providers, have always required authentication. With Earthlink you must be logged in to an Earthlink account, or else you must authenticate, before you can send mail through them; with Mazin/Rocket you must authenticate.

This isn't hard to do with Outlook. (I know nothing of Outlook Express, which I only use for reading one and only one newsgroup.) The settings are in the outgoing server section of the advanced settings for each account, and have been since Outlook 97 at least.

I had no trouble setting them up properly for the Mac and its mail system either.

I wish every ISP required you to authenticate before sending mail.


Subject: Non-Citizens Capture 29 Percent of U.S. Jobs


Non-Citizens Capture 29 Percent of U.S. Jobs, Report Says

My favorite line:

"Employment for non-citizens rose twice as fast as their overall population did, which may affect voter perceptions of the improving U.S. economy . . . ."

We all remember James Carville's advice to the Clinton campaign: Economy, Stupid. And in general, if the economy is doing good, the incumbent will win.

But now we have diverging economic trends. The economy is expanding in terms of dollars and productivity, but voters (ie citizens) are not sharing in that recovery in terms of jobs. My guess is that voters will vote on the basis of jobs, not GDP.

The next question is whether the belated job recovery will die at birth this summer as a stampede of illegal labor flees the hot southern sun.

My suspicion is that Bush's re-election will die because of his January 7 Amnesty-for-Illegals proclamation.

Joe Schembrie

I certainly am not happy with the current Administration's immigration policies. Of course the Democrats don't seem inclined to enforce the laws either.


On Love and Marriage:  this from another discussion:

I am so unstunned to read that the women worked less and the men worked more with no net gain in household income. I've had a girlfriend leeching off me without even being married and I know if I'd married her it would have been even worse. Men are expected to work. I've worked with guys who found their jobs to be unrelieved tedium followed by going home to thoroughly unenthusiastic wives who did very little all day - after all the modern appliances reduce the amount of real housework that is necessary. I felt sorry for these good-natured guys who felt determined to stick out lukewarm marriages for the sake of the kids.

I think one problem is that the initial feelings of love do not last enough years. Check out these results on how the feelings of being in love reduce the capacity to think critically about the person one is in love with.:

If we can lengthen the length of time people feel in love then marriage might become more appealing and produce more children.

One approach might be to genetically engineer a virus to deliver the vasopressin receptor gene selectively into the ventral pallidum reward region of the brain.

 Excerpt: ATLANTA -- Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University and Atlanta's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) have found transferring a single gene, the vasopressin receptor, into the brain's reward center makes a promiscuous male meadow vole monogamous. This finding, which appears in the June 17 issue of Nature, may help better explain the neurobiology of romantic love as well as disorders of the ability to form social bonds, such as autism. In addition, the finding supports previous research linking social bond formation with drug addiction, also associated with the reward center of the brain.

In their study, Yerkes and CBN post-doctoral fellow Miranda M. Lim, PhD, and Yerkes researcher Larry J. Young, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University's School of Medicine and the CBN, attempted to determine whether differences in vasopressin receptor levels between prairie and meadow voles could explain their opposite mating behaviors. Previous studies of monogamous male prairie voles, which form lifelong social or pair bonds with a single mate, determined the animals' brains contain high levels of vasopressin receptors in one of the brain's principal reward regions, the ventral pallidum. The comparative species of vole, the promiscuous meadow vole, which frequently mates with multiple partners, lacks vasopressin receptors in the ventral pallidum.









CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now



Subject: DHS does something right - A Threat Team a la FOOTFALL's

The Department of Homeland Security, given the difficult task of trying to divine al Qaeda's future methods of attack on the United States, is seeking advice from some unexpected sources these days: futurists, philosophers, software programmers, a pop musician and a thriller writer.


Typically the Red Cell team assembles 20 or so participants for a day-long session at leased offices in the Washington area. Each session divides into smaller groups and takes up a different question, such as: If you were a terrorist, how would you target the G-8 economic summit, held last week in Georgia? Another recent topic was: Why haven't terrorists hit the United States since Sept. 11, 2001?

The results are compared with terrorism analysis from Homeland Security's intelligence professionals who examine real-life threat information. Written reports on Red Cell's sessions are then forwarded to terrorism analysts inside the department, as well as to local and state police and security experts in private industry. Most Red Cell reports note they are "alternative assessments intended to provoke thought and stimulate discussion."


===== -- John Bartley K7AAY 

Interesting!  Thanks


Subject: Important milestone in private-sector spaceflight

John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace had a perfectly successful first test flight.

They put a bird on the pad, launched it, and landed it safely. (Can't say "lit a fire under it" because they are using H2O2 monopropellant: no fire to speak of, just heat and steam.) The article is not perfectly specific, but it sounds as though this was a DC-X-style "jet" landing, the way God and Robert Heinlein intended it to be done.

John Strohm,

I am not sure where this leads, but he sure is having fun!

Subject: Armadillo Aerospace test flight: details

For some reason everyone talking about this test flight is unable to simply looks at the Armadillo Aerospace site to find the information they seek: 

Yes, it was a powered landing and it is noted that the landing was less than a foot away from the launch point.

They have weekly updates on their progress for those who it interests.





Your Comments Invited:

Dr. Pournelle,

Popup blockers won't notice what is going on at the IRS site because it doesn't use popups. It is a fairly straightforward redirection through using the same window, which isn't even noticed by popup blockers. If you go into your router setup (are you still using the d-link?) and set up a firewall rule to block any url or domain with "bizrate" in the name, the IRS site will not load unless they've changed things since I emailed you. The redirection allows, and I assume the IRS, to track your ip address, any html headers your browser sends out which will include any info such as any name set up in a default profile, and a log of whatever info you have sent to For example, if you do a search for "what do I do if I am late on my taxes", chances are that search query is getting logged by

Why is this important? The latest iteration of the patriot act allows the FBI to request from your ISP info on who was using your IP address on that date at that time, the ISP is legally required to cough up everything it has on you. Not only that, it becomes a federal offense (ie. a terrorist act) for your ISP to notify anyone (you or a lawyer perhaps) that the FBI made the request for info.

The military isn't the only US government organization that is aiming for total information awareness, but where the military is generally kept on a short leash, the patriot act and it's successors have removed all accountability from the FBI and other government agencies because just like that airline security goon that harassed you had authority without any accountability. Like Martha Stewart proved that it is insane to volunteer information to a government agent, it may be equally insane to visit the IRS web site when they are sending all their web traffic through a company that exists for the sole purpose of fingerprinting and collecting information on site visitors.

Sean Long

I am in the middle of three other things, so I haven't had a chance to investigate this; it sounds serious.

But then we have:

Hi Jerry,

I cannot reproduce Mr. Long's browser redirection at the IRS. I set my DI-604 router to refuse connections to (and confirmed that it did stop my connection from going through), yet still was able to connect to the site. I also set domain blocking to include all things bizrate, and still no problems. Finally, I set IP blocking to the entire range of 216.52.244.* that corresponds to in WHOIS. IRS pops right up for me. I don't think there's any redirection going on.

Perhaps something has changed recently; perhaps this is an urban legend in the making?


Chris Lake


Subject: for Buffy Willow

Dr. Pournelle,

After I first found that I could no longer access the web site, I emailed you as well as the IRS webmaster to report what I decided was a threat to my privacy. I had not visited the IRS website since then until your correspondent Chris Lake reported that he could not reproduce my results.

I reattempted to go to and found that not only did my firewall no longer reported a redirection through, the entire frontpage of the IRS website has been redesigned since my last visit.

Once bitten twice shy, so although I won't trust the IRS to safeguard my privacy, it looks like they did alter their website to not fail to load when is blocked.

I am not sure what to say at this point. I am 100% positive of my earlier diagnosis as I spent the better part of an afternoon running traceroutes and using other diagnostic tools trying to find out exactly what was causing the site to not load properly, however the entire website has changed since then and I did submit a complaint to the IRS specifying the exact problem I was having. I wouldn't trust them with my cat's owner id tag number but an unverifiable issue is not usually seen as a problem at all.

I'm not expert enough to completely trace the web traffic in and out of the IRS web site, so maybe I'll never know what changed between then and now. In the meantime, sits just under in my firewall's blocked domain list since neither of those companies has a single product or service I am remotely interested in, and my trust in the US Government has dropped another tiny bit.

Sean Long

And I still don't have time to experiment on it myself. More information appreciated.

But here is one possible explanation.


Subject: Orin Hatch's Induce Act

Sen. Hatch's latest attack, uh, er bill for the RIAA and Hollywood.

"A forthcoming bill in the U.S. Senate would, if passed, dramatically reshape copyright law by prohibiting file-trading networks and some consumer electronics devices on the grounds that they could be used for unlawful purposes."

We're going to outlaw any device that can be used for copyright infringement. I don't look forward to turning in my digital (and film) cameras, cam corder, vcr's, cd burners and PC's.

Its interesting that a (theoretically) upstanding conservative Mormon guy is so interested in protecting the interests of Hollywood and the Music Industry under the guise of fighting Child Porn.


John Harlow, President BravePoint











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Subject: Judge rebukes TSA Article 

It's great to see this Judge give the TSA some of what they give us, but I am glad I won't be traveling by air with him. I expect his next few trips will be unpleasant.


-- 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....

What I find disturbing is the government's position: they can put people on a secret list that forbids them from flying; they do not have to say who is on the list; they do not have to say what are the grounds for putting people on the list; and they do not have to say whether they meet their own rules in putting people on the list.

I believe this is the very definition of arbitrary power.

Of course the government will now say that flying is a privilege, not a right, and thus there are no constitutional barriers to this sort of thing.

One wonders how many more of our liberties we will find were privileges and must surrender in the name of fighting terrorism?

But we were born free...


But then we have


Iraqis think they would do the job right:  at June 19, 2004


And indeed they would. And probably must. Welcome to entanglements and their consequences. What was it about "You break it, you own it," that the war hawks didn't understand?



Hi, Jerry!

Could your correspondent Sean Long be a victim of a phishing site?

A Dave Hatter, columnist in "Better Living Magazine" suggests that this has been done to others here: 

The article above has a link to an IRS page warning about fake IRS pages here:,,id=122997,00.html 

Arthur Maruyama (renewing subscription to you and Byte today--my apologies on taking so long to do so).

Thanks. And I wonder if that is in fact the answer to this puzzle.

Ed Hume sends

Subject: How much water to drink in the desert?

The Aussies know:

on survival in the desert with short supplies. I don't intend to be caught short...

Also from Ed

Subject: Radio Provocateur 

Read down a bit, check out just what this guy does. It's amazing.

I am familiar with Phil Hendrie and his antics, but I don't find them as amusing as he does. Portraying a priest who asserts the right to molest children seems a bit of an extreme trick to play on a caller who has no idea this is a hoax. His ability is indeed amazing, but I am not sure I can applaud the uses he makes of these gifts. It's a pretty cruel trick to play on listeners.


Subject: But we were born free

Dr. Pournelle, I thought this article might interest you and your readers as it bears some small resemblance to other current situations, especially in the harshness of the response. 

Here is an example of an otherwise reasonable system gone horribly awry. Is it simple incompetence or petty bureaucrats out of control, or just people so badly educated for their positions that they are unable to discern between what is duty and what is mindless obedience, devoid of common sense? I suppose the latter equates to incompetence but it seems shocking that jobs that focus so much authority into so few hands don't have higher character and education requirements or better screening for individuals who like power too much. Over zealousness combined with a lack of incisive thinking on the part of the enforcers may, in the end, be worse than the threat itself and I am fairly certain that this is what the Framers had in mind with the 2nd Amendment. Sadly, the Framers could not envision what has become of us, the governed, and we ourselves don't seem capable of taking the situation in hand.

Instead of us against them it is surely becoming us against us.

Ron Booker

I see no reason why federal officers should have powers of arrest other than in very clearly defined cases of violent crime, and even then they should have to prove they were unable to work with local law enforcement. The local sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer: if they want to roust someone off a cruise, let them get the sheriff to do it. He's unlikely to go along with these thuggish tactics.







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Sunday, June 20, 2004

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