jp.jpg (13389 bytes)


Mail 318 July 12 - 18, 2004






BOOK Reviews

read book now

emailblimp.gif (23130 bytes)

CLICK ON THE BLIMP TO SEND MAIL TO ME. Mail sent to me may be published.


LAST WEEK                 Current Mail                  NEXT WEEK



Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Highlights this week:


  The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.


If you are not paying for this place, click here...

IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

 Search engine:


or the freefind search

   Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search

read book now

Boiler Plate:

If you want to PAY FOR THIS PLACE I keep the latest information HERE.  MY THANKS to all of you who sent money.  Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods. I am preparing a special (electronic) mailing to all those who paid: there will be a couple of these. I have thought about a subscriber section of the page. LET ME KNOW your thoughts.

If you subscribed:

atom.gif (1053 bytes) CLICK HERE for a Special Request.

If you didn't and haven't, why not?

If this seems a lot about paying think of it as the Subscription Drive Nag. You'll see more.

Search: type in string and press return.


line6.gif (917 bytes)

read book now If you contemplate sending me mail, see the INSTRUCTIONS here and here.



This week:


read book now


Monday  July 12, 2004

We can open with this:

Greetings, sir. I thought you and your readers might find this interesting. 

Tim Elliott

Scott is pretty good with words...


Subject: IRAN: Why the Israeli Bombers are Coming

July 11, 2004: Israel is receiving two new F-16I fighter-bombers a month, and will eventually receive 110 of these new aircraft. Iran is bothered by this because the F-16I is capable of reaching Iran with smart bombs, and have electronic warfare equipment that can defeat Iranian air defenses. Iranian air force fighters are no match for the F-16Is. Israel has threatened to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities if it becomes apparent that Iran is going to build a nuclear weapon. Israel does not fear Iran building a nuclear weapon, and using a missile to fire it at Israel. No, Israel has always made it clear that it would retaliate with far more nuclear weapons and destroy Iran. What Israel fears is an Iranian nuclear weapon being given to terrorists, who would then smuggle it into Israel and detonate the "anonymous" nuke. This would be difficult, as Israeli border and port controls are strict. But it is the kind of terrorist nightmare that Israel has to deal with, and a bombing raid against Iran seems the lesser of two evils. 

John Monahan

MAY YOU BE POOR in misfortune, Rich in blessings, Slow to make enemies, Quick to make friends, But Rich or poor, quick or slow, May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward, And may you live to be a hundred years with one extra year to Repent.


Subject: Mozilla prefbar warning for Linux users

In mail for Friday, July 9, 2004 Terry Cole recommended a "preferences toolbar" for Mozilla. The link given was a direct download link; the main site for the project is: 

Since I frequently need to test Web pages with and without JavaScript enabled, this looked just like what I needed, as it would avoid navigating through the preferences dialogue every time. Well, I downloaded it, and after restarting the browser, Mozilla crashed immediately upon launch. This was 100% repeatable, and Mozilla was unusuable until I deleted the "chrome/prefbar.jar" plugin from the Mozilla directory. This was with Mozilla 1.7 (binary downloaded from the site) on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation kernel 2.4.21-9.EL. Apparently, this has been a problem for some Linux users since Mozilla 1.5--there is a thread discussing the problem at: 

Even after I deleted the plug-in and successfully restarted Mozilla, my bookmarks were messed up, so I went ahead and restored the complete Mozilla installation and my ~/.mozilla directory from the previous night's backup.

Linux users should consequently be wary of the prefbar plug-in and be absolutely certain to have a current backup of Mozilla and their personal .mozilla directory before experimenting with it. This, of course, is a wise move before experimenting with any browser plug-in.

------------- <> ------------

John Walker


From another conference:

>LOS ANGELES -- Some say high-stakes testing is to blame for cheating
>in the classroom. But in this case, it's not the students getting
>caught -- it's the teachers.
>A recent study shows as many as 200 teachers in California were caught
>cheating to help their students perform better on rigorous new
>standardized tests, which are part of the President Bush's "No Child
>Left Behind ([2]search)" education plan, which calls for greater
>accountability among teachers.
>Since the law was implemented, more teachers have been caught helping
>students cheat in about a dozen states around the country.

Well, The Good News is that at least these teachers knew what the right answers were!

I am not being completely flip. We spend our summers at our Del Mar, California beach home, leaving their regular nanny behind  (with full pay, of course), so we employ a couple of Del Mar School District teachers on summer holiday as nannies. One of them had just gotten in trouble at the end of the school year for refusing to pass her student teacher ("Of Color", of course) because the girl (who possessed a 4-year "college" degree) could not read and write and do arithmetic even at a 6th-grade level. So if this product of first Affirmative Admissions and then Affirmative Grading (she reported getting excellent grades in "college") had made it into the teacher corps via Affirmative Action, she would *not* have been able to help her kids cheat!

Even worse, the wretch refused all attempts to tutor her as an insult to her intelligence and "education"!


Self esteem training in action?


Also from another conference:

At 11:56 PM -0700 7/7/04, Jerry Pournelle wrote:
 >Some boring repetitive work requires low IQ


Yes, I keep wondering how much IQ it will take to push your and my wheelchairs if and when. Not a lot, I would wager.

Alas, *finding* the jobs that the low-IQ types can do probably takes more smarts and organization than they have. We used to have structures in place to guide the unskilled into low-skill jobs such as an uncle who is a union steward telling his nephew about an opening at The Plant. Of course having an "uncle" implies that one has at least one "parent", and of late the single-parent family has been morphing into the zero-parent family.

Today, the only path through life that we tell kids about and guide them into is the academic one--It's "Yale Or Jail". Everyone not in the 10% or less of our population who have that magic combination of academic ability and academic interest (I had the first but not the second) to make a success out of college is left to shift for themselves. Alas, they are the least-able members of society to find their own way, even if we put up some capital to help them, which, of course, we do not--our only investment modality is higher education.

It gets worse. Sand Hill Road is lined with buildings where America's best and brightest toil away, trying to figure out the best ways of using billions of investor dollars to make America's *other* best and brightest even richer than they would have gotten without this focus and capital. Where, pray, are the buildings full of equally-talented men and women trying to figure out how to create jobs for America's unskilled that pay a middle-middle class wage?

Only a generation ago, widespread unionization allowed totally unskilled blue-collar workers such as those on Detroit's assembly lines to earn a middle-class income (or better). How can we replace those jobs with ones that pay *market* wages something close to as good?

Obviously America has to do something about the supply of unskilled workers through drastic immigration reform and also incentives for unmarried women to delay having their *first* baby until age 30 or so. But this problem is serious enough to be worked from the "demand" side as well. 

The Department of Agriculture shift its focus from "farm" productivity to "farm labor" productivity and, *especially*, farm labor "ergonomics". That is, shift away from research on non-labor inputs like genetically-enhanced seeds to focusing on enhancing farm labor productivity and re-engineering farm work to make it physically less onerous. Agriculture is a major consumer of unskilled labor.

Outside of agriculture, my favorite idea is to create clouds of computer-dispatched jitney cabs. It does not take great academic skills to drive a car, and the computer system could provide all the supervision that young, work-ethic-challenged blue-collar wannabe types would need.

I believe that it is a lie to say that we cannot afford to pay young underclass males to perform public services like such a cloud of jitney cabs would represent. All these men are already eating and living *somewhere*. They have clothes on their backs. They are already "consuming". What they are not doing is "producing". And, of course, having young, unemployed males hanging around is so *incredibly* expensive in terms of crime and illegitimate births that any alternative would be cheaper.


All of which bears a lot of thinking about. Jim got his wealth in days and starts new companies, some of which do very well.

And see below


Subject: ghetto wireless networking antenna

Dr. Pournelle,

My house has thick brick/concrete walls and although my wireless router signal is reachable throughout my house, the signal strength is fairly low downstairs and pretty low even in my wife's office just 20 ft away. Rather than spend a bunch of money on a repeater or even in a high-gain antenna that I could point at my wife's office, I decided to first try the ghetto approach and it actually worked.

The wireless router sits in a corner that happens to open towards my wife's office and the downstairs room where I sometimes use my laptop, so I just put a little tinfoil in the corner as a reflector. I measured a 10% signal strength increase downstairs and my wife reported a more reliable network connection. The total cost in time and money was 5 minutes and about 4 cents worth of tinfoil, and I expended zero time worrying about such things as focal length. I'm sure that the signal improvements will be much greater when I get around to putting a proper parabolic reflector behind one of the 2 router antennas and pointing it in the right direction, but for now I'll take what I have as a cheap hack that just happened to work on the first try.

If you have any similar wireless performance issues in the future, consider the cheap solution. I saw some very interesting online experiments using wire mesh chinese parabolic cookware and USB wireless adaptors here:  and the results are amazing considering the cost and effort put into these types of antennas. If you are using a wireless router with two antennas, it wouldn't be too difficult to take one of those antennas and point it at your house's dead zones or setting up the high gain antenna at one corner of the house to spotlight-cover any low signal areas.

Sean Long

I may try that. I use the TabletPC wirelessly in the places where I can use it...


Subject: Subduction zones

Dear Jerry,

I was discussing the Yucca Mountain developments with a friend via e-mail. I was amused by the judge's requirement for the guvmint to come up with a plan that extended beyond 10,000 years. I also mentioned that you'd suggested dropping fused glass bricks of nuclear waste into subduction zones. Her response:

"How in the name of the lost gods does Pournelle think he can GET the damn stuff to go into the subduction without breaking up and releasing the radioactivity into the surrounding area? Not to mention that subduction happens on geological time, not HUMAN time.

"Sorry. I know you're quite taken with Pournelle, but that's one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard. Just a glib toss off that sounds clever, and isn't."

She's quite up on earth science and water resource problems. I opined that any radioactivity released would be quite localized...maybe a bit more deuterium and tritium, but that water stops neutrons pretty effectively.

Can you offer any more details on the topic or suggest a web site that describes this method of nuclear waste disposal?


Steve Erbach Neenah, WI

Actually, it's pretty simple although I can understand the concern of those who haven't seen the details.

First, although the nuclear waste scaremongers know but never say this, after 600 years or so the only radioactivity left in nuclear waste comes from the actinides, and is not much different from the radioactivity of the ores from which it was refined (except concentrated, so of course we dilute it). The dilution comes in the form of glass: we form the whole mess into glass bricks. I don't mean we surround the waste with glass, I mean that it becomes an integral part of glass bricks.

Glass bricks are nearly eternal. Now drop them into the Mindanao Deep (there ain't much life down there, and what there is lives off hot springs, and would probably appreciate the additional energy; the glass isn't going to chemically decompose). Over time that area is subducted. The glass isn't harmed until things get so hot that it melts, and when that happens, your actinides are right at home with others of their ilk.

Your friend's alarm is natural, but she should do me the credit of having a little common sense.

Incidentally, there are easier ways to isolate nuclear waste from the environment for the 600 or so years that it's more dangerous than ores. The ores remain radioactive for millions of years, of course -- after all the Earth is still hot inside, isn't it? All we have done is take them out of the Earth, use some of their energy, and put back something a bit less radioactive than what we took out (it's called the First Law of Thermodynamics: if you extract energy from something, then it has less potential energy in it than when you started. Your friend knows that but she isn't thinking about what's happening here).


Something to worry about? Anyone familiar with this? Anyone on the enforcement side got anything to say?

I apologize for ruining another day, but I learned about this from the Chicago Reader, which had the story for Art Institute of Chicago Professor Claire Pentacost. The Reader doesn't put its main stories on line as far as I can tell. 

Please don't attach my name to this. I am the same age as you are, but do not have the resources and the Dan Quayle and military credentials that you have.

When I was five in 1945, it seemed we had solved this kind of problem with the death of Hitler. Has it come back?


Subject: A perhaps more reliable story about the Art Professor

Here's another version of the Steven Kurtz story. For the first time since WWII, I'm a little scared.,12271,1236288,00.html 


Bacteria as art? I certainly don't fault the authorities for looking into this, but the continued prosecution is ridiculous. As someone said, perhaps the University is owed a few hundred bucks for misuse of grant money, but I suspect that it isn't eager to get it back: why threaten to ruin someone life over this?

But here we are. Anarcho-tyranny works this way. It's the easy way to rack up conviction scores. I'd welcome some words from someone who thinks this is a good way to spend taxpayer money and law enforcement time. And see below


Francis Hamit sent me a copy of the US NEWS report on Abu Graib. I replied "Good God. How did things get to that pass? Where the hell were the officers?"

Dear Jerry:

There were officers, but it becomes obvious that one of the side-effects of this Corporate approach to running the military is that a lot of what has been developed over decades as "best practices" (to use a management theory term currently in favor) got put aside in the name of both expediency and ideology. Speaking of the latter, the decision to fire the entire Iraqi Army was not made by Bremer, per the latest Z-gram from NMIA, but at the highest levels of the Pentagon without consulting the commanders on the ground there. That means the Neocons again, as far as I can tell. These guys were absolutely convinced they had the handle on all of this and simply would not listen. Having dealt kind of attitude with this as a consultant, I can tell you that even when you point out a course of action is required not just by custom, but by law and regulation, these guys will still ignore you or look for cheats to get by. It is very disheartening and I have to feel very sorry for anyone who is a flag rank officer trying to keep the forces tougher until there is an election and we get new leadership. The whole thing is just screwed up. I have a TO&E from 1962 that was my father's, for the entire US Army of that time. It is instructive as to how much thought, planning and experience went into force planning and doctrine. The cutbacks inspired by the collapse of the Soviet Union just went too far. Using contractors rather than troops for essential functions (and every function in a combat zone is essential) is a cheat. Those damn contractor truck drivers and security guards get paid more than full Colonels, and per a story in the L.A. Times yesterday. the availability of these jobs is stripping rural communities of their fireman and police officers. The pay offered for a one year contract is four or five times what they make at home, so they roll the dice and take the job to get out of debt and provide a better life for their families. Homeland security, at all levels, has been seriously damaged by this war and its marketplace/business-as-usual orientation.

Now there is some loose talk about, should there be a terror attack , postponing elections. That way lies real trouble. Tyranny begins there for real. I can't imagine people sitting still for this for a moment. The whole idea goes back to that thing my old high school classmate (like you a very conservative Republican) suggested last year about the Neocons looking for ways to seize permanent control of the government. Pretty good thriller plot, right? I don't want to see a real life version.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

The chances of election being postponed are about the same as for the Martians to invade, or there to be an outbreak of Plague that kills 90% of the country, and when people begin talking that way I wonder about what else they have to say. I agree, the National Glory boys have black eyes and are getting a bit desperate, but they aren't really in charge: they're just very persuasive, facile, good at arguing their case, and tireless at it.

Foxes usually are. And they usually get their way with Lions, until the Lions finally wake up. Read your Pareto, of if he's too dense (but well worth the effort) then read James Burnham's The Machiavellians, the section on Pareto.

Subject: WPost: As Rationales for War Erode, Issue of Blame Looms Large

Hello, Jerry,

Some recent articles from the Post and the Times, discussing the Senate investigation of the war in Iraq:

"As Rationales for War Erode, Issue of Blame Looms Large

By Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writers Saturday, July 10, 2004; Page A01

Yesterday's report by the Senate intelligence committee left in shreds two of the Bush administration's main rationales for the war in Iraq: that Iraq had illicit weapons and that it cooperated with al Qaeda."

Readers of your site began to discuss this almost two years ago; many argued that Saddam's Iraq had been fully contained, and that there was no reason to believe that he had any real connection with Al Qaeda.

Full article at

Meanwhile, the NY Times has looked at several sections of the report. Today;s coverage begins:

"9/11 Report Is Said to Dismiss Iraq-Qaeda Alliance By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, July 11 - The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is nearing completion of a final, probably unanimous report that will stand by the conclusions of the panel's staff and largely dismiss White House theories both about a close working relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda and about possible Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11, commission officials said.

The report, which is expected to be made public several days before the panel's mandated deadline of July 26, will also probably be unwelcome at the White House because it will document management failures at senior levels of the Bush administration that kept the government from acting aggressively on intelligence warnings in the spring and summer of 2001 of an imminent, catastrophic terrorist attack, the officials said."

Full article at:

Following on:

"Intelligence Findings Sway Few, but Add to Anxieties By MONICA DAVEY

CHICAGO, July 11 — As Americans learned details of a Senate committee report that found flaws in the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, many who had always staunchly favored an invasion said that their support remained firm, and many who had strongly opposed the war said the report merely added to their list of reasons.

But for the people in between — those whose opinions about Iraq have changed, sometimes more than once, over 16 months of conflict — the conclusion that government assessments of Iraq's weaponry were overstated stirred new uncertainty and anxiety, renewed sadness over lives lost, and a sense of helplessness about when and how the conflict would end.

This weekend, seated on a park bench not far from Lake Michigan, Max Sanjuan, 32, recalled how in March 2003 he supported going to war. As time passed and stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons were not found, doubts began to creep up. Then on Friday came the Senate Intelligence Committee's findings.

"It's getting scary to even think about," Mr. Sanjuan, a stock trader, said. "Hopefully we did the right thing, but this doesn't give me much faith."

Eating lunch nearby, Mark Hall, 49, said he remained a proud supporter of President Bush and nearly all of his administration's decisions, but was starting to wish that events could somehow be rewound.

"I never like to see our boys get hurt, but especially now that we know all this," Mr. Hall, an unemployed car salesman, said. "I guess I wish now that we hadn't gone in, in the first place."

"And of course we can't leave now," he said. "We're there. So what are we going to do about it?""

Full article at


As he says, "We're there. So what are we going to do about it?"

A good question.

Perhaps we could start by throwing out the lies or truth-stretchings. I believe that lies are bad, in themselves, and that only bad policy results from lying to ourselves and the world. Lying is bad and it doesn't work.

Recall that on September 12, Perle and Wolfowitz began telling reporters that Saddam Hussein had blown up the WTC and Pentagon. Recall that their subordinate, Douglas Feith, was put in charge of a Pentagon group that was mandated to find reasons for "regime change" in Iraq as a solution to Al Qaeda. Recall that, in late 2001 and early 2002, Secretary Powell accused Wolfowitz of being obsessed with Iraq, and that Powell was then steadily belittled in the neo-con press.

Recall that weapons inspectors, evaluators such as the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, and the former commander of CENTCOM all insisted that Saddam was a threat only to Iraqis. General Zinni, of CENTCOM, says that he had contained Saddam at an annual cost of $23 million per year, and a total cost of no casualties other than troops hurt in routine accidents. No one to hostile fire.

So, the American people deserve the resignations of all those jolly jumpers who expected to send our military kids waltzing through Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus. We deserve to receive the resignations of all those who still shriek that we can bring utopia, peace, flowers, love summer in Haight-Ashbury, and universal benevolence to the Arab world by merely knocking off the head dictator in a few countries -- ignoring clans, tribes, social structure, customs, religious sects, and, for good measure, ignoring the oligarchy of Saudi Arabia, and the massively dangerous fundamentalist movement in Pakistan.

Start fresh. Start over with people who do not have some hubristic interest in defending what they did in Iraq, and what they, consequently, neglected to do to Islamic Fundamentalism.

OK, we start from the bottom of a hole that we dug. As everyone says, let's stop digging. That is, maybe we can think better if we stop trying to fool ourselves.

Yes, this is an election year, and things will be said by both parties just for party advantage. Neither party has much right to be proud of their actions. Republicans supported the war to keep solidarity with President Bush. Some had misgivings, but followed the orders of high party officials -- like good little Marxist-Leninist party cadre. Democrats looked at their polls and voted with the Republicans; that's what Hillary Clinton did until the polls changed.

Shame on them all.


John Welch

(father of two kids in the Army, one of whom, last week, received her sets of DCU's and MOP gear and flack jacket, with a warning that she will have to pay for any damage, dirt, or wear&tear when she returns the whole kit...makes me think that Rumsfeld is running a "bring your own" war...subject of another email.)

Well you prove too much. First: we do have decision making mechanisms. They were employed. The Congress acted. And in the light of 911 a lot of things were said and done that in a less frenzied time would have seemed absurd. That is the way of the world and it always has been.

Afghanistan was a damned good idea.

The Iraqi War looked better before it happened than after: not all that many of us were saying that it wasn't such a good idea, and I was prepared to be proved wrong: after all, I have access only to open sources (and perhaps a few old friends). But one thing was certain, if we were going to do it, it had to be done skillfully: and it wasn't.

And when some of us tried to point that out, the Neo-Cons read us out of the conservative movement, as if they had any right to do that -- they were never conservatives in the first place. New Jacobins all; and Jacobinism has ever been the enemy of conservatives and ordered liberty.

But they are persuasive, very much so, and they have little to do but try their persuasions, and they had access to the decision makers. As I said above: the Foxes often persuade the Lions.

My guess is that the US is due for a Pareto Circulation of Elites, and it's about time.


Subject: "Bacterial Art..."

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I am a geneticist and microbiologist, and I remain confused about this weird case between the geneticist and the artist. The bacteria in question can be ordered for ten dollars a culture from Carolina Biological Supply. True, you need to have some kind of academic (middle school or high school will do) bona fides...but I'm guessing that Carolina would have sent the cultures out to Kurtz had he put the request on his institution's letterhead.

However, when you read some of Mr. Kurtz's material, you see lots of "biological pranks" described---such as releasing genetically engineered fruit flies inside shopping malls to "raise awareness," etc.

What I do not know, and have not seen, is the *nature* of the bacterial artwork in question! Perhaps that has something to do with how serious the FBI is taking this case? I really don't know.

But, as is clear, the case is small potatoes (or should be) to the FBI.

Just my two cents.

-Mark Martin, Ph.D. Occidental College

You express much the same set of concerns that I do: just what has this guy done and why? But ye gods, worse cultures can be collected off chickens and toilet seats, and threatening him with ten years, and spending that kind of money on his case, seems needless and would be silly if it were not frightening...


On Kerry

I don't particularly like Kerry, but consider the fact that he would, if elected, be forced to negotiate with a Republican Congress, or at least one that may be split one way or the other. That will give him a weak mandate at best. Yes, he can keep preaching the stuff he does, while making the deals that will work the best. It is definitely less than optimum, but the Congress will hold his feet to the fire and he will have a hard time making changes that would please the liberal wing of the Democrats. So hold your nose and vote for Kerry, and then vote for your favorite Republican representative, who Kerry will have to negotiate with in order to even get some of the crumbs he wants.


It has an appeal: divided government may be best. But Kerry as CINC is a bit disturbing too. I cannot help remembering Albright: "What is the good of that splendid army if you don't use it?"  And she's blathering as if she's Secretary of State again. Iraq is a mess, but so was the Balkans actions. What I fear is being afraid to use the military when it is needed -- Afghanistan as an example -- while frittering around saving lives in Africa and other places, interventions here and interventions there, but nothing decisive.

Subject: Paging Professor Pournelle

Might the DHS Threat Team find a home for you?  <snip> The Department of Homeland Security this week called on academia to submit ideas for creating a new terrorism research center, the Homeland Security Center of Excellence, which will be funded with a three-year grant worth $12 million.

The winning school will become the DHS's fourth Center of Excellence. The DHS's other centers are at the University of Southern California, where the focus is on risk and economic analysis of terrorism events; the University of Minnesota National Center, which conducts research on protecting the food supply; and Texas A&M University, where the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense is located. <snip> -- -- John Bartley K7AAY

I have done my turn in the barrel. This is a younger person's game.







This week:


read book now


Tuesday, July 12, 2004


Subject: Pareto in brief


Since I was unfamiliar with Pareto, I decided to do a quick search and came up with this link that may prove useful to some of your readers. 

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

E.C. "Stan" Field

Not quite the same as reading Burnham, or Pareto himself, but it's a neat summary.

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Monday's Currents and Mail provided much food for thought, and quite a bit of food for fury. However I must comment on Mr. Welche's last comment about a soldier being warned that she would be "charged for damages" (I'm paraphrasing) to her equipment. I thought this was pretty strange, so I asked my supply sergeant and NBC specialist if they had heard of any such directive. They said they hadn't heard of any such thing. Then I called the Ft. Bliss CIF (Central Issue Facility, from which we get our DCUs and other field gear). They hadn't anything either. Damaged or worn equipment can be "Direct Exchanged" (DX'd) for new. If the CIF people question whether the damage came from legitimate causes the unit commander can write a memorandum explaining it. If the soldier's chain of command questions the damage or loss we can call for an investigation. The point is that in all my career and even today the Army attempts to make sure soldiers do NOT pay for legitimate losses or damage. If you use your helmet to pound camouflage stakes; yes, you will probably pay for it. But if that helmet stops a shell fragment you will not. I don't know Mr. Welch and must trust the veracity of his statement, but it is not the official policy of the Army to charge soldiers for legitimate damage or loss of equipment. As for this being Donald Rumsfeld's policy, don't we have enough real things to criticize him for without having to resort to this type of non existent outrage?

Yours Truly, Frank Luxem

"I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know." Mark Twain


Subject: BBC: Turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen


Someone fighting back 


I am not sure it's true but it ought to be true!


More on Mozilla plug-ins:

Dear Dr Pournelle, A quick check of the bugzilla report for the Mozilla preferences bar showed that the symptoms depend to some extent on the order in which other "add-ons" (.xpi files) are installed. (Thank you John Walker for drawing Mozdev Bug 4509 to my attention - I was mortified but I'm glad you could recover.)

So I'm a bit hesitant to put forward another very useful xpi. This one allows a Mozilla/Firefox user to open a link in Internet Explorer. I do this a lot when visiting the Cisco Academy site, which behaves very badly when viewed with anything other than IE. The version I use is v0.81, available from <  > and the home page is <  >.

While it would be distressing to put more readers through vicissitudes like those Mr Walker endured, I'd still like to encourage adventurous souls to visit Mozilla/Firefox extension sites - cf. <  >.

Buggy they might be, but a lot of these little plug-ins are truly cool, like the Mozilla Calendar (groupware) or the Knowledge Fractal.

Regards, TC -- Terry Cole System Administrator Dept. of Maths and Stats, Otago University

I have many exhortations to try Mozilla/Firefox and I will have to do so, when I get a few other things under control here...

Subject: To deflect an asteroid, paint it!


From, if we get enough advance warning of an impending asteroid collision, we might be able to use paint to change its course.

"A little dab'll do ya."

................................Karl Lembke

Wow. There's a story in that...

Subject: Update on the fish story

It looks like the TSA were not to blame.

David Brodsky

Smells fishy to me...  But perhaps on this we let them off the hook.

And another exchange:

At 10:51 PM -0700 7/12/04, Jerry Pournelle wrote:
>I thought we were talking about skills, not education. The high IQ
>people will always manage. Those a bit above average won't do too bad.
>It's the rest, who need SKILLS and SPECIALITIES not "education" which
>they can't do much with, who I was concerned about.


Our kids who are not part of our natural IQ elite need to acquire the skills of a trade (e.g., roofer), but they also need "start-up working capital". For example, in Milwaukee, where I provided the seed-round financing for John Gardner's TradeQuest program, one can apprentice oneself to any of the skilled trades and the Brotherhood of Carpenters, Electricians, Roofers, <etc.> will be glad to have you, but you have to have your own vehicle because all the work sites are in the suburbs well outside the reach of public transportation. And one must also have one's own tools.

So basically a truck and tools (1000s of dollars, not 100s) are the price of admission, and the children of Milwaukee's inner-city working poor don't have it/can't get it. The state is happy to give them 2X that amount in "educayshun", of course, French Literature, anyone?


Which raises several very valid questions... but

Meet my across the street neighbor, Mike Albini.

Mike "didn't take to schooling," left as soon as he could, and went round the neighborhood asking people if they wanted their lawns mowed. Now, 20 yrs later, he has a nice little landscaping business, with two trucks, a bobcat, and a couple of (young white American) guys working for him. He has a nice middle-class lifestyle.

Which will soon be in trouble. Mike: "I go to my supplier to buy shrubs. There's a line of South Americans in front of me. They're buying shrubs too. They live five to a room down in the Station (local ghetto). They don't pay tax, workmen's comp, social security. Most of them are illegal. Everything's cash. They mark up this much on the shrubs [thumb and finger close together]. I can't live on mark-ups like that. They're going to put me out of business."

If you drop out of school nowadays, don't think you'll make a living mowing lawns. That slot's taken.


Open borders, New World Order, comparative advantage: to hell with this fair day's pay for a fair day's work, and the notion of democracy as rule by the middle class and everyone has a chance to be middle class. We want it all and on the cheap.

We sow the wind.

An Australian comments:

The toleration of illegal immigrants by the US authorities astounds me. Our governments intercepts them on the high seas with Navy frigates and uses Army bases to lock 'em up in the desert. And this was done by a pro-free-market PM!

This has had the desired effect. The illegal people smuggling industry has completely dried up.

The union movement officially hates Howard. But unofficially, on the building sites and factory floors, the workers are pleased that his policies have allowed them to cling onto their dead-end jobs.

Farmers and bosses love illegals. They work for a song and are subservient to economic authority.

The middle class is ambivalent. The lower-middle class don't want a bar of Pee-Cee Multi-Culti. To them this is simply a code word for getting mugged or having to wait longer for public health care.

The upper-middle class simply adore illegal immigrants from the Third World. The staff chic ethnic restaurants and annoy the hell out of the red-necks.

No-one stops for a moment to consider the national interest, except Howard of course. But he will never get any credit for this. He simply refuses to play the self-serving, head-line grabbing game that Bush could not resist.

Bush will pay the price. He has been caught out in the deep going for a match winning slug.

Howard would rather play a dead-straight bat to most deliveries and graft a decent score with cuts behind point and deflections to leg.



And a security warning:

Subject: IMPORTANT - Microsoft Releases Patches for July

Dr Pournelle:

It's the second Tuesday of the month, so time for the monthly Microsoft patches. This set includes several patches that mostly have to do with closing the ability to remotely execute a program.

They can be classified in two ways, depending on one's outlook:

"Wow ! Look at all the patches that Microsoft released. They sure have a lot of security holes. I better use something else!"

"Wow ! Lots of patches from Microsoft this month. They seem to be making progress in identifying and fixing security holes."

I use (as we do at work) Microsoft products. The patches fix holes. Install the patches on all workstations. Test them on the servers. I feel that you need to be a bit more careful with servers to make sure that patches don't break things. But I don't think it is wise to delay testing patches on servers. Witness the problems that those 'major sites' (and we still don't know who they were) had that didn't fully install the April patches, and were then the source of the 'download.ject' worm.

As for all the user workstations here at work, they will get the patches immediately after a quick test on a couple of test systems. And at home, I'll install them right away. (In fact, the home systems are set up for "automatic-do-it-now-don't-ask" installation of patches.)

As for XP-SP2 update, Microsoft has announced it will be ready next month. The size will range from 60-95MB. Steve Ballmer says it will be installed on all new computers sold 'this fall'.

I'd like to see the update CD's sitting on the counter at all big computer shops. The stores could promote it "Come in and get your free XP-SP2 CD's, and we'll give you 10% off any single item". That could increase traffic and sales, more than offsetting the cost of in-house duplication. I'd also like to see the CD image available on public web sites. People could burn a CD at work (with their high-speed connection) then take it home and install. And it should be available to anyone, even those that have 'neglected' to pay for their copy of Windows.

In any case, as soon as it's publicly available, I'll be downloading and installing at home.

Regards: Rick Hellewell, Information Security at

Some of us know about some of the "major sites" but don't want to say. It's not quite fear of lawsuits since truth is a good defense. Nor is is part of the usual problem that we all know what we can't say and who we can't say it about. Mostly I guess we feel a bit sorry for the suckers, and we're pretty sure they learned their lesson...









This week:


read book now


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Subject: Something you won't see every day...

 Mike WA6ILQ



Subject: Ian Spiers' leads local news in today's Seattle Times - Photo student draws attention of authorities

< >

Wednesday, July 14, 2004, 12:27 A.M. Pacific

Permission to reprint or copy this article/photo must be obtained from The Seattle Times. Call 206-464-3113 or e-mail with your request.

Photo student draws attention of authorities

By Sara Jean Green And Katherine Sather Seattle Times staff reporters

On Monday night, the volume of Internet traffic to Ian Spiers' Web site — <> — crashed his server. Strangers from Chicago and New Zealand offered him space on their servers to get his story back online.

Spiers, a Seattle freelance graphic designer and amateur photographer, has been amazed at the outpouring of international support he's received since posting a tale of two run-ins, the first with Seattle police and the second with agents from the Department of Homeland Security, for taking photos at the Ballard Locks, one of the most popular tourist spots in Seattle.

Clark Myers

Well, at least it's not being ignored. And

"ICE Special Agent in Charge Leigh Winchell said yesterday he wasn't aware of either incident; he also declined a reporter's request to interview McNamara, saying that, as a matter of policy, agents don't answer media questions. "

is learning, I hope, a reasonably valuable lesson. Although perhaps they're all having a laugh.

What seems to disturb everyone is the "racial profiling". That part doesn't bother me. I can see how they thought Spiers looked Middle Eastern, and would want to know a bit about him. But they did that: after which the Feds can't be bothered to check with the local police. By now, I am sure, Spiers is hoping to create an incident by declining to talk to these people: which is no bad idea, since the Martha Stewart case makes it clear that anything you say to them can be used to send you to prison without regard to whether or not they gave you any warning, recorded the conversation, of even took notes at the time. Safest, once you know you are dealing with Feds, to clam up, say nothing, stand mute.

I can recall when we were proud of the FBI. FBI in Peace and War was a popular radio show, and the Bureau was filled with rather decent and patriotic people who were conscious of the rules as well as the severity of the situation (Judith Koplon anyone?) One could and should cooperate with them: if they were being serious they asked you to sign a statement, and that would be under penalty of perjury: but what you said was more to be helpful. But that was in another country, I fear.

Meanwhile the Gomer Gestapo rides on:

Subject: How to make friends and influence people

Steve Dunn

To pick a nit, it's "How to win friends and influence people" if the reference is to Dale Carnegie's still valuable book.

Of course the Minister of Defense wasn't stripped searched, just required to remove his coat and shoes as the wand was applied. Just like me. Only in my case my knee set it off once which made them really unhappy, so I got to sit with my legs raised (God knows what would have happened if I'd been unable to do that). But we're all safer for it. "It's for security, sir."


Every now and then I can't help myself:


Your discussion of disposing of nuclear wastes by dropping them into a subduction zone is interesting and technically valid. However, "disposing" of the actinides is a criminal squandering of a valuable energy resource. These Actinide group elements can and should be used as an effective energy source by burning them in nuclear reactors. And no Virginia, we don't have to worry about terrorists making nuclear bombs out of reactor wastes. The isotope mix in even reprocessed wastes is simply unsuitable for a nuclear weapon, unless of course you are stupid enough to store it in a waste suppository for a few centuries.

I understand how making reference to historical events can be a useful shortcut for communicating complex ideas succinctly. However: I'm continually amazed at the mileage that you and some of the paleoconservatives are getting out of the term "Neo Jacobean." Correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't heard anyone claim that former President George Bush Sr and current President George Bush Jr are descendants of the Stewart Kings and therefore rightful rulers of England as well as its colonies that presumably should include the US of A.

I know, I'm really stretching the point here, but only to demonstrate the absurdity of your overuse of the term. Equating the current political disagreements within the US to the Jacobite rebellion is ridiculous. Unless you are a member of the Michael Moore - Al Gore fan club who actually believe that the election was stolen by the US Supreme court (which ruled that the election should be conducted under the laws in effect at the time of the election rather than laws as revised by the Florida Supreme Court) then Geo W. Bush is the rightful President of the US of A.

While everyone is entitled to disagree about the Iraq war, the fact remains that President Bush did get the consent of Congress for the war in Iraq. I know, it was merely a Congressional resolution rather than a formal declaration of war. However; the problem wasn't W usurping authority as much as Congress' history of abdicating its responsibilities. We haven't gotten a formal declaration of war out of Congress since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. I see no hope of reestablishing Congress' prerogative to declare war unless we get into a situation where an enemy army is actually invading our territory and a sitting President has the cajones (and recklessness) to refuse to take action until such time as Congress formally declares war.

Your latest batch of letter writers really went off the deep end. No one including Wolfowitz claimed that Iraq and Saddam Hussien had sponsored the September 11, 2001 attacks, The war against Iraq was predicated on the Bush Doctrine of preemption against states who sponsor terrorism. This policy is a subject of legitimate disagreement, but Bush wasn't being dishonest by invoking this policy to justify the war against Iraq.

There can be no question that Iraq under Saddam Hussien was a sponsor of terrorism. Iraq has very openly paid bounties to the families of suicide bombers who kill Israelis, which establishes its bona fides as a nation that sponsors terrorism. (I know paleoconservatives pride themselves on their hostility towards Jews in general and Israel in particular, which is one of the reasons why they didn't have a prayer of ever winning the Presidency much less a majority in Congress.) Iraq also tried to assassinate President Bush Sr. There is also considerable evidence that Iraq was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing and more controversial indications that Iraq aided and abetted the Oklahoma City bombing (read "THE THIRD TERRORIST" by Jana Davis). Given the well established fact that Iraq had extensive WMD programs at the time of Gulf War One and that Iraq had been uncooperative with the UN Weapons inspectors before evicting them, the presumption that limited stockpiles remained and that production either had been resumed or could be resumed on short notice, it was not unreasonable to presume that Iraq could and would supply WMD to terrorists.

Now there is an awfully lot of bloviating going on now about the intelligence failures that led to the US to falsely believe that Iraq still had WMD. However, there are a few facts that are being ignored. You may recall that US demolition experts were injured by a road side bomb that included an artillery shell loaded with chemical agent (Sarin if I recall). The fact that bomb disposal experts were unable to recognize the round for what it was as they were trying to defuse it certainly raises questions about the wisdom of concluding that Saddam had no WMD based on a cursory examination of his hundreds of thousands of rounds of munitions. More recently, Polish troops have also purchased a number of chemical artillery shells from a seller that had been negotiating with Al Queda. (Unfortunately, everyone including you seems to have been too obsessed with the Abu Grahib triviality to have noticed it.) While we haven't found the vast stockpiles of WMD that we'd been expecting, we've found enough WMD to disprove the assertion that Bush lied about the risk of Iraq supplying WMD to terrorists. As David Kaye pointed out, given the break down of command and control in Iraq, we also have no way of knowing how much material was being exported prior to and during the war.

As disappointing as it might be to not find the vast stockpiles of WMD that we'd been led to expect, given the history of other intelligence failures it would have been imprudent for W to dismiss the threat. You may recall the shock and surprise that everyone felt when India and Pakistan got into their bomb testing contest? The fact that Pakistan had developed nukes and that India had reactivated its program came as a severe surprise to the nation. Granted, there probably were CIA analysts who'd tried to sound the alarm, but they were ignored by the Clinton Administration. Pakistan's chief nuke scientist Kahn has also been marketing Pakistan's nuke technology to everyone who had the cash to pay his price. Clinton, with the help of Jimmy Carter, had also presumed that they'd cut a deal with North Korea to halt its nuke program. We now know the Korean's were violating the agreement since its inception and are now in a position to market nukes. We've also discovered that Lybia had a surprisingly large stockpile of chemical munitions as well as a nuke program that included gas centrifuge isotope separation. Given this history of monumental Intelligence screw ups, can you really vilify W and the neo cons for taking the alarmists view towards Iraq's WMD status?

Finally, I'd like to offer you and all of the other PaleoConservatives who are pontificating about the treatment of the prisoners at Abu Grahib prison an all expense paid trip to Iraq. There you can spend a few fun filled weeks exhuming the remains of the tens of thousands of men, women, and children who'd been murdered by Saddam's regime. Many of the corpse still have their hands bound just as they were when members of the Iraqi security forces and army put a bullet through their heads. When you are done with your vacation, then you can came back and pontificate about how foolish it was to fire the perpetrators of those atrocities and how horrible the conditions at Abu Grahib prison were. You also might want to criticize the Truman administration for not keeping the Nazi army on the payroll too?

James Crawford

In order:

1. Perfect is the enemy of good enough. If the goal is to get rid of the nuclear waste it's cheaper to make glass bricks and drop it into a subduction zone than to store it in caves in Arizona. If you can convince people to use it for fuel, be my guest. The nuclear reclamation program has not been able to get anywhere under Democrat or Republican Congresses and Presidents, and we need nuclear power: you want us to not have it because criminals like me want to get rid of the waste rather than do optimum refinements. So be it.

2. You are confused. Jacobites were the Stewart loyalists in Scotland and responsible for the Risings of '15 and '45.

Ye Jocobites by name, lend an ear, lend an ear
Ye Jocobites by name, lend an ear
Ye Jacobites by name, your faults I will proclaim,
Your doctrines I must blame, you shall hear, you shall hear
Your doctrines I must blame, you shall hear

What is right and what is wrong, by the law, by the law ?
What is right and what is wrong, by the law ?
What is right and what is wrong, a short sword or a long
A weak arm or strong for to draw, for to draw
A weak arm or strong for to draw

What makes heroic strife famed afar, famed afar ?
What makes heroic strife famed afar ?
What makes heroic strife, to wet the assassin’s knife,
Or hunt a parent‘s life with bloody war, bloody war
Or hunt a parent‘s life with bloody war ?

Then leave your schemes alone in the state, in the state
Then leave your schemes alone in the state,
Then leave your schemes alone, adore the rising sun
And leave a man undone to his fate, to his fate
And leave a man undone to his fate

There were other groups known as Jacobites in Church history. None of them have anything to do with the Jacobins, which is a term from the French Revolution and refers to

Member of an extremist republican club of the French Revolution founded in Versailles 1789. Helped by Danton’s speeches, they proclaimed the French republic, had the king executed, and overthrew the moderate Girondins 1792–93. Through the Committee of Public Safety, they began the Reign of Terror, led by Robespierre. After his execution in 1794, the club was abandoned and the name ‘Jacobin’ passed into general use for any left-wing extremist.


The term is in common usage, and I hadn't thought anyone would confuse it with Jacobites, which is a bit more obscure.

Your next paragraph says all that's needed and will be one reason I pay less attention to your letters in the future.  "(I know paleoconservatives pride themselves on their hostility towards Jews in general and Israel in particular, which is one of the reasons why they didn't have a prayer of ever winning the Presidency much less a majority in Congress.) "

Now I resent that, and by a lot, but I am not astonished. Accusations of anti-Semitism whenever anyone is critical of Israel is automatic, but I think a lot less effective than it used to be. Israel is now snaking a Wall between houses and crops, wending its way along to grab territories; even the Israeli opposition is unhappy (presumably they are anti-Semites also?). Everyone knows that if Israel wants peace over there they can build a wall along the old Green Line (with exceptions for genuine security matters: I would keep the Golan Heights were I in charge); pull out the settlers; and pull out the occupation forces and check points that make a trip from Nablus to Bethlehem a nightmare full of hazards; and END THE TRADE MONOPOLY whereby no one gets to sell anything to the Palestinians, and they cannot buy or import anything, without going through the Israelis. The petroleum monopoly is so severe that some settlers make a good living buying gasoline at Israel retail prices and selling it to Palestinians for whatever they can get: it will still be cheaper than the official price Israel offers to Palestine. But of course withdrawing the check points and ending the trade monopoly were NOT part of the offer made in the Rose Garden and which Arafat rejected.

I have no love for the Palestinian Arabs who encourage young people to go get themselves killed slaughtering Jews and anyone else they can get; I have nothing but contempt for those who dance in the streets when a suicide bomb goes off; but if I were a Christian Arab in Bethlehem I would be throwing rocks at the Israeli soldiers provided I wouldn't get my parents' house bulldozed for doing it.

But I know no one who takes pride in being hostile to Jews, and I am not hostile to Israel, only its government. Most Israelis I know would be willing to give back the land and give up the trade monopoly; Sharon won't. Sharon needs Arafat who needs Sharon and both know it. A pox on both of them. But I suppose that since both are Semites that makes me anti-Semitic.

Your next makes it clear you don't read much here, but then those who confuse Jacobins and Jacobites may make other errors.

I have not 'vilified" Bush, nor will I. I thought the Afghan action was right and proper and well done, but not finished: we should have used what it took to surround and search the hills, and if it needed the 10th Mountain to stay there two years with Special Forces help, then so be it. Clean out the nest of  vipers.

I thought the Iraq war ill advised and still do. Had the goal merely been the decapitation of Iraq and demonstration that even looking as if one is harboring the enemies of the United States is very dangerous I would be cheering to this day. Instead, we set ourselves on the Jacobin task of building democracy. Worse, we did so with the assumption ==  the Jacobin assumption == that this would be easy because the desire for democracy and freedom burns in the breasts of all mankind, and give people the chance and we can carry Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! across the world on the points of our bayonets.

 But we didn't bring enough bayonets for that.

But I have not vilified Bush for this, I have pointed out that this is an assumption about the nature of man, and this is a dire test of that view of humanity.

See but more particularly see

for my view instead of your rather simple picture of what I have been saying.


On "bloviation" about intelligence failures, what have you been reading? Not this site, because I have been pretty careful not to talk about it. I have always said that everyone believed Saddam had WMD. It's likely SADDAM thought he had weapons of mass destruction, and certainly his generals did (each thought some other general had them.) So, since I have said none of the things you don't care for, I see no point in responding other than to urge you to read what I say, or write to those who have said the stuff you don't like, but please don't denounce me for what others have said. But since you consider me an idiot I don't suppose it matters.


As to your last paragraph, I presume someone is impersonating you. If you are defending what went on at Abu Graib, then you haven't done it. If you are saying "but worse things happened there when Saddam was in charge," you are certainly correct, and no one I know has said anything else.

I have pointed out that most of what happened was at the level of Boy Scout Camp pranks, with a few exceptions. But the deplorable part is that people were scooped up and kept in filthy conditions with food not fit for rats for weeks or months, and eventually released without charges. It was all a mistake.

If you believe the place was well run you are deluded or have an odd idea of what well run means.

And my point has always been that once the invasion began with no clear notion of what we would do after we won, such matters were inevitable.

In any event, thank you for your views, and good day.


And leave it to Monty to make my day!

Subj: Lawfare

Inter Arma Silent Leges? Apparently not any more -- or at least the *lawyers* aren't silent... . 


This essay offers several broad themes for consideration: 1) law is not, and can never be, the vehicle to ameliorate the horror of war to the extent its advocates hope and, indeed, seem to expect; 2) although not yet fully institutionalized, the role of law and lawyers in American military interventions is surprisingly pervasive for practical, warfighting reasons as much as altruistic, human rights-oriented ones; 3) advocates of international law during armed conflict are often ill-informed by the realities of military strategy and technologies; and 4) there is disturbing evidence that the rule of law is being hijacked into just another way of fighting (lawfare), to the detriment of humanitarian values as well as the law itself.


Now I need to dig through that. Sounds fascinating! Thanks!


Dr Pournele,

UK troops lead Bastille Day march through Paris

Further to your mention of the history behind Bastille Day,

QUOTE/ British armed forces have led Wednesday's Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time. They were guests of honour for the march as part of a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale with France. /END QUOTE

It is worth noting that this is the first time the Grenadier Guards have marched through Paris in full dress uniform since immediately following the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Jim Mangles

Hurrah! Up the Empire!

Subject: bioterrorism charge reduced to spamming

The FBI abuse of the bacteria guy is hardly surprising. This is what happens when you give guns to lawyers.

Am I alone in thinking that the FBI would be doing its job much better if they went back to their original function, which was acting as an information clearinghouse and accompanying local police for Federal-charge arrests?

Matthew Joseph Harrington

But that is precisely what they ought to be doing, with the possible exception of real, live, urgent national security cases.



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, July 15, 2004

The following subject is distasteful, and you may want to skip past it.

Over in another forum, in a discussion of AIDS in Africa I asked:

Am I deceived? My last information on female to male AIDS transmission was years ago, but at that time there was not one single unambiguous case. Male to female with normal sex would eventually give the woman AIDS, but female to male was a very low probability event.

Consequently, the way to not get AIDS (other than abstention or mechanical barriers) was to avoid being buggered whether you were male or female, and not to use soiled hypodermic needles, which is a pretty bad practice to begin with and surely conveys no pleasures. Thus the chances of a person of normal intelligence with reasonable control over impulses for getting AIDS was low.

Is this wrong? Is there something about Africans that makes it easier to get AIDS in normal sex with women? Is it something about African women I don't know?

And have things changed in the United States? I am not trying to be cute here: I just don't know. I do know that a decade ago I did a fair amount of due diligence on this matter and concluded that if you don't do drugs and don't get buggered, a male rake -- what was called a gay blade in my youth -- is more likely to be killed by a protective father (whether or not he becomes a statue) than to get AIDS.

I got a number of answers, none of which were terribly satisfactory because they involved various practices that are themselves voluntary: that is, it may be unrealistic to expect monogamy and abstinence, or even the use of condoms in all cases, but surely under the threat of death one is not required to practice "dry sex" and various other acts that may or may not enhance pleasure, but are certainly dangerous.

In the discussion came the following pair of comments:

>It is my understanding that the risk of female-to-male transmission is
>a lot higher in Africa. But I've yet to see any measures male versus
>female rates of infection. We'd expect to see higher female rates than
>male rates if most HIV transmission was happening heterosexually in
>Africa even though men can get it from women.

> >One explanation advanced for higher rates of female to male
>transmission is that the males are more likely to have open sores from other STDs.

> >Another explanation is that heterosexuals in Africa have more sexual

> >I'd be curious to hear a knowledgeable non-P.C. analysis of what is
>known about African HIV transmission.

And the reply

Ten or fifteen years ago, Phillip Adams, one of Australia's best known columnists and broadcasters (former evangelical, one-time youthful Communist, advertising tycoon, still left - Australia's Mike Moore, physically, and in what he is willing to say about "Shrub" as he calls George W., but personally agreeable - so, in short, on this subject without obvious bias) wrote very assertively, on probably good expert authority, that heterosexual anal sex was common in sub-Saharan Africa as a contraceptive method. He was arguing strongly against the PC attempts to aim expensive government advertising as much at heterosexuals as at homosexuals, as though Australian heteros needed to be frightened out of their socks as it was clear gays needed to be. That is the last I have heard or read of the matter but I suspect that it does indeed identify an additional factor in the way AIDS has spread in Africa. (I wonder whether there is a similar problem with transexual prostitutes in South and South East Asia.)

I have just emailed to Phillip for an update so I hope to be able to pass it on.


Which is where matters stand now. It seems to me an important question. In Thailand they are concerned about 3% infection rates, while in Uganda there is dancing in the streets because the rate is almost down to 5%.

What is going on here?  Is there a non-PC analysis of the vectoring mechanisms? Or is the entire subject simply part of that body of the scientifically unspeakable? We all know what we can't say and who we can't say it about. Is inquiry into this part of that package?

Subject: AIDS issue


Concerning the AIDS issue posted today on your website, I’m in a position to give a bit of insight. I’ve been to Uganda several times in the past two years on several projects, and the most recent project I’ve been working on is the distribution of Anti-Retroviral drugs to AIDS infected individuals in that country. I’m leaving on the 25th for Uganda and Botswana (another hard hit nation re: AIDS). My CEO is leaving next week for Vietnam to enter discussions with Medical professionals and the U.S. Ambassador there.

The biggest issue causing the spread of AIDS in Uganda is indiscriminate and unprotected sex. Men in Uganda tend to “sleep around” quite a bit, married or not. It was very much accepted until recently, and folks there are beginning to frown on the practice, but it still a very common thing for a man to support multiple lovers. In fact, many young women work their way through college this way. Another problem in the more remote areas is the “Traditional Healer” practice of advising infected males to sleep with a young virgin in the belief that it will cure them. All it does, of course, is infect them too. Open sores are a way of life in Uganda due to the hard life people have, and transmission can be done this way, according to advice I have received from medical professionals I have spoken to, based on my concerns of getting in a wreck in Uganda and having AIDS be transmitted from blood from someone else involved in the accident. It seems this is a valid concern (especially when you have an opportunity to experience the bedlam that is automobile traffic in Kampala city, or the reckless game of Russian Roulette you play on the highways throughout the country, especially at night). My understanding is thhe one issue with transmitting via open wounds is that it takes quite a bit of blood to transmit it this way, as long as the wound is bleeding out, as it will be difficult for the transmission to take place.

There are however, many, many cases of the husband coming home with the disease and infecting his wife. I’ve met many of these women during installation and testing of the ARv tracking systems. Most of them have just accepted it, a few are angry (very few), others are just too sick to care. I believe this is the most common occurrence of the transmission of AIDS in that country. There is also the issue of mothers transmitting to their children, although a vaccine has been developed (through research in Uganda) that if administered in a very short time near birth, the child has a very good chance of not getting the disease.

There are billboards all over promoting the use of condoms, people hand out free condoms at the weekend dances, and there are boxes in many public or restaurant “water closets” that have condoms for free.

The Ministry of Health in Uganda has made great strides through information campaigns in print and radio media (there is little in the was of television in Uganda, and it is almost all from outside the borders on satellite TV, and quite recently, cable in Kampala. I work closely with people from the Ministry and they are very committed to battling AIDS in any and every way they can.


I thoroughly understand how the husband comes home and infects the wife. It happens here also.

But how did the husband get it in the first place?

In the US there is still no well documented case of female to male AIDS transmission (at least none I know of; my due diligence in this is a couple of years old). In every case I ever looked at there is a probability of dirty needles or that the man got buggered and did not want to admit that so claimed to have got it from women.

In the US if you don't get buggered and you don't use dirty needles you don't get AIDS, and it don't matter if you have normal intercourse with a different infected woman every night: you don't get AIDS, or so it would appear, and given the politically correct people trying to make AIDS the only disease worth putting money into I would think if female to male transmission were easy and demonstrable we would see lots of documented cases. If there are such I would like to be shown that.

But we see NONE that I know of. Now I could be deceived. But the last time I looked, in the US you don't get AIDS if you don't get bad blood (Asimov's method of getting AIDS: bad transfusion) or you don't share needles, or you don't get buggered.

Has that changed in the US??? If not, then why is Africa different?

Subject: female to male AIDS xmission

Dr. P.,

I read an article a few months ago which stated that some study had discovered female to male AIDS transmission was almost negligible in circumcised males, but was much, much higher in uncircumcised males, presumably due to something in the foreskin: I speculate, is that skin more "open pored?" Is the virus harboured in its folds? Does the foreskin develop damage (in "dry sex") which makes it more likely to transfer the virus? I do not know the answer to any of these questions but I do recall the above study, for what it's worth. (Those who examined the results suggested that circumcision of all males might be the way to control the transmission of the disease. I haven't seen any other articles on this subject.)


My friend Priscilla Reining (one place I found her on the web ) has compiled a list of tribes in Africa and compared AIDS rates of those who practice circumcision and those who don't, and the AIDS rate is much lower in those who circumcise. I had nearly forgotten that and I shouldn't have, since it's probably one part of the explanation. The web site I show above seems devoted to proving she's nuts, or perhaps it was so boring I didn't read far enough; but I assure you she's a very careful anthropologist.

Here is a better presentation of her views:


Dr Pournelle,

AIDS in Africa

My cousin, who is a consultant gynaecologist, used to practice in South Africa until quite recently.

He puts the very high incidence of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa down to the traditional practice there of employing anal intercourse as a sort of poor man’s contraception. The danger is exacerbated by more traditional sexual diseases being endemic among the population, as these diseases tend to cause lesions on the sexual organ that make HIV transmission very much easier—and into the bargain , diseases such as syphilis or gonorrhea weaken the body’s resistance generally.

I hope that is helpful,

Jim Mangles




Dr Pournelle,

Talking of Jacobins...

There is a strange parallel between the French Revolution with its Jacobins and Girondins, and the Russian Revolution with its Bolshevists and
Mensheviks. Both revolutions evolved (Can you talk of revolutions evolving?) through reigns of terror into dictatorships, of Napoleon on the one hand, Lenin and Stalin on the other.

Many, I suspect the vast majority, of revolutions turn out in the end to deliver something worse than that which they overthrew. The question is why this was not so for the American Revolution?

I would suggest the following:-

This was not really a revolution at all but a war of independence, and the two are quite different in many ways. The leading American revolutionaries were not really revolutionaries of the kind found later in France and Russia; all they had sought was to preserve their ‘rights as Englishmen’ but in the end concluded it was necessary to cast off England to achieve these.

I would be curious to learn your thoughts on this.

Jim Mangles

Crane Brinton's Anatomy of Revolution postulates something similar. The short answer is that the Colonists wanted "the rights of free Englishmen", and their leaders having read about the history of the English Revolution of 1648 and the Commonwealth, wanted little to do with the full monty; your observation is entirely correct.

There are at least a thousand books on why the American experiment succeeded when so many failed. Alas, I think those who planned the Iraqi War have not read a single one of them.

And here is the end of the Wilson matter, I think:

Subject: La Plame redux . . .

--- Roland Dobbins

One less stick to beat Bush with...

And a quick follow-on to the 9/11 commission report, I refer you back to  "....DEBKAfile went back to its most reliable intelligence sources in the US and the Middle East, some of whom were actively involved in the subject before and during the Iraq war. They all stuck to their guns. As they have consistently informed DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly , Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons programs were present on the eve of the American-led invasion and quantities of forbidden materials were spirited out to Syria. Whatever Dr. Kay may choose to say now, at least one of these sources knows at first hand that the former ISG director received dates, types of vehicles and destinations covering the transfers of Iraqi WMD to Syria. "

My take is, although marching to its own drummer, is right more often than not. If there is truth to these allegations, why are we tip-toeing around the question?

Whether or not these banned materials were still in Iraq is moot. Saddam did have them. He did use them, early and often. He deliberately cultivated the impression that he still had them and would use them again. And that is no different than if I hold up a liquor store with a plastic squirt gun painted to look like an Uzi and the cops shoot me. My fault, not the cops.

Should the US have played the role of cop? Certainly no one else was going to.

Did the appeasement of Hitler in the Munich Pact bring peace? Letting Saddam continue to play his little brinksmanship games wasn't going to make the middle east any safer either.

Now, comparing Saddam and Hitler is not fair. Saddam modeled himself on an even more ferocious dictator of the times, good ol' Joseph Stalin.


Greg H

Well, I agree no one else was going to do it, but I don't think we should have either; but the vituperation heaped on Bush now is undeserved. If the reasons he gave for going to war were valid, they were valid: that is, the intelligence we had was about as good as we would get, and not many disputed much of what was said with the exception of the Prague meeting. I didn't think we should have gone in, but finding out that much of what we suspected was not true doesn't change anything.



The following is very long. It is from the Women's Wall Street Journal, and I strongly recommend you go there and look at the original article as a courtesy to them for printing it. The subject matter is somewhat important:

Subject: Terror in the Skies, Again?

Greetings, sir. I fly frequently, and the following account is similar to several I've either been a part of or witnessed firsthand. I don't know the author, and I'm not familiar with the publication, but this rings true.

Thanks for providing a forum for this sort of information.

Tim Elliott

Terror in the Skies, Again? By Annie Jacobsen

A WWS Exclusive Article

Note from the editors: You are about to read an account of what happened during a domestic flight that one of our writers, Annie Jacobsen, took from Detroit to Los Angeles. The Womens Wall Street Editorial Team debated long and hard about how to handle this information and ultimately we decided it was something that should be shared. What does it have to do with finances? Nothing, and everything. Here is Annie's story.

On June 29, 2004, at 12:28 p.m., I flew on Northwest Airlines flight #327 from Detroit to Los Angeles with my husband and our young son. Also on our flight were 14 Middle Eastern men between the ages of approximately 20 and 50 years old. What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats.

On that Tuesday, our journey began uneventfully. Starting out that morning in Providence, Rhode Island, we went through security screening, flew to Detroit, and passed the time waiting for our connecting flight to Los Angeles by shopping at the airport stores and eating lunch at an airport diner. With no second security check required in Detroit we headed to our gate and waited for the pre-boarding announcement. Standing near us, also waiting to pre-board, was a group of six Middle Eastern men. They were carrying blue passports with Arabic writing. Two men wore tracksuits with Arabic writing across the back. Two carried musical instrument cases - thin, flat, 18 long. One wore a yellow T-shirt and held a McDonald's bag. And the sixth man had a bad leg -- he wore an orthopedic shoe and limped. When the pre-boarding announcement was made, we handed our tickets to the Northwest Airlines agent, and walked down the jetway with the group of men directly behind us.

My four-year-old son was determined to wheel his carry-on bag himself, so I turned to the men behind me and said, You go ahead, this could be awhile. No, you go ahead, one of the men replied. He smiled pleasantly and extended his arm for me to pass. He was young, maybe late 20's and had a goatee. I thanked him and we boarded the plan.

Once on the plane, we took our seats in coach (seats 17A, 17B and 17C). The man with the yellow shirt and the McDonald's bag sat across the aisle from us (in seat 17E). The pleasant man with the goatee sat a few rows back and across the aisle from us (in seat 21E). The rest of the men were seated throughout the plane, and several made their way to the back.

As we sat waiting for the plane to finish boarding, we noticed another large group of Middle Eastern men boarding. The first man wore a dark suit and sunglasses. He sat in first class in seat 1A, the seat second-closet to the cockpit door. The other seven men walked into the coach cabin. As aware Americans, my husband and I exchanged glances, and then continued to get comfortable. I noticed some of the other passengers paying attention to the situation as well. As boarding continued, we watched as, one by one, most of the Middle Eastern men made eye contact with each other. They continued to look at each other and nod, as if they were all in agreement about something. I could tell that my husband was beginning to feel anxious.

The take-off was uneventful. But once we were in the air and the seatbelt sign was turned off, the unusual activity began. The man in the yellow T-shirt got out of his seat and went to the lavatory at the front of coach -- taking his full McDonald's bag with him. When he came out of the lavatory he still had the McDonald's bag, but it was now almost empty. He walked down the aisle to the back of the plane, still holding the bag. When he passed two of the men sitting mid-cabin, he gave a thumbs-up sign. When he returned to his seat, he no longer had the McDonald's bag.

Then another man from the group stood up and took something from his carry-on in the overhead bin. It was about a foot long and was rolled in cloth. He headed toward the back of the cabin with the object. Five minutes later, several more of the Middle Eastern men began using the forward lavatory consecutively. In the back, several of the men stood up and used the back lavatory consecutively as well.

For the next hour, the men congregated in groups of two and three at the back of the plane for varying periods of time. Meanwhile, in the first class cabin, just a foot or so from the cockpit door, the man with the dark suit - still wearing sunglasses - was also standing. Not one of the flight crew members suggested that any of these men take their seats.

Watching all of this, my husband was now beyond anxious. I decided to try to reassure my husband (and maybe myself) by walking to the back bathroom. I knew the goateed-man I had exchanged friendly words with as we boarded the plane was seated only a few rows back, so I thought I would say hello to the man to get some reassurance that everything was fine. As I stood up and turned around, I glanced in his direction and we made eye contact. I threw out my friendliest remember-me-we-had-a-nice-exchange-just-a-short-time-ago smile. The man did not smile back. His face did not move. In fact, the cold, defiant look he gave me sent shivers down my spine.

When I returned to my seat I was unable to assure my husband that all was well. My husband immediately walked to the first class section to talk with the flight attendant. I might be overreacting, but I've been watching some really suspicious things... Before he could finish his statement, the flight attendant pulled him into the galley. In a quiet voice she explained that they were all concerned about what was going on. The captain was aware. The flight attendants were passing notes to each other. She said that there were people on board higher up than you and me watching the men. My husband returned to his seat and relayed this information to me. He was feeling slightly better. I was feeling much worse. We were now two hours into a four-in-a-half hour flight.

Approximately 10 minutes later, that same flight attendant came by with the drinks cart. She leaned over and quietly told my husband there were federal air marshals sitting all around us. She asked him not to tell anyone and explained that she could be in trouble for giving out that information. She then continued serving drinks.

About 20 minutes later the same flight attendant returned. Leaning over and whispering, she asked my husband to write a description of the yellow-shirted man sitting across from us. She explained it would look too suspicious if she wrote the information. She asked my husband to slip the note to her when he was done.

After seeing 14 Middle Eastern men board separately (six together, eight individually) and then act as a group, watching their unusual glances, observing their bizarre bathroom activities, watching them congregate in small groups, knowing that the flight attendants and the pilots were seriously concerned, and now knowing that federal air marshals were on board, I was officially terrified.. Before I'm labeled a racial profiler or -- worse yet -- a racist, let me add this. A month ago I traveled to India to research a magazine article I was writing. My husband and I flew on a jumbo jet carrying more than 300 Hindu and Muslim men and women on board. We traveled throughout the country and stayed in a Muslim village 10 miles outside Pakistan. I never once felt fearful. I never once felt unsafe. I never once had the feeling that anyone wanted to hurt me. This time was different.

Finally, the captain announced that the plane was cleared for landing. It had been four hours since we left Detroit. The fasten seat belt light came on and I could see downtown Los Angeles. The flight attendants made one final sweep of the cabin and strapped themselves in for landing. I began to relax. Home was in sight.

Suddenly, seven of the men stood up -- in unison -- and walked to the front and back lavatories. One by one, they went into the two lavatories, each spending about four minutes inside. Right in front of us, two men stood up against the emergency exit door, waiting for the lavatory to become available. The men spoke in Arabic among themselves and to the man in the yellow shirt sitting nearby. One of the men took his camera into the lavatory. Another took his cell phone. Again, no one approached the men. Not one of the flight attendants asked them to sit down. I watched as the man in the yellow shirt, still in his seat, reached inside his shirt and pulled out a small red book. He read a few pages, then put the book back inside his shirt. He pulled the book out again, read a page or two more, and put it back. He continued to do this several more times.

I looked around to see if any other passengers were watching. I immediately spotted a distraught couple seated two rows back. The woman was crying into the man's shoulder. He was holding her hand. I heard him say to her, You've got to calm down. Behind them sat the once pleasant-smiling, goatee-wearing man.

I grabbed my son, I held my husband's hand and, despite the fact that I am not a particularly religious person, I prayed. The last man came out of the bathroom, and as he passed the man in the yellow shirt he ran his forefinger across his neck and mouthed the word No.

The plane landed. My husband and I gathered our bags and quickly, very quickly, walked up the jetway. As we exited the jetway and entered the airport, we saw many, many men in dark suits. A few yards further out into the terminal, LAPD agents ran past us, heading for the gate. I have since learned that the representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Federal Air Marshals (FAM), and the Transportation Security Association (TSA) met our plane as it landed. Several men -- who I presume were the federal air marshals on board -- hurried off the plane and directed the 14 men over to the side.

Knowing what we knew, and seeing what we'd seen, my husband and I decided to talk to the authorities. For several hours my husband and I were interrogated by the FBI. We gave sworn statement after sworn statement. We wrote down every detail of our account. The interrogators seemed especially interested in the McDonald's bag, so we repeated in detail what we knew about the McDonald's bag. A law enforcement official stood near us, holding 14 Syrian passports in his hand. We answered more questions. And finally we went home.

Home Sweet Home The next day, I began searching online for news about the incident. There was nothing. I asked a friend who is a local news correspondent if there were any arrests at LAX that day. There weren't. I called Northwest Airlines' customer service. They said write a letter. I wrote a letter, then followed up with a call to their public relations department. They said they were aware of the situation (sorry that happened!) but legally they have 30 days to reply.

I shared my story with a few colleagues. One mentioned she'd been on a flight with a group of foreign men who were acting strangely -- they turned out to be diamond traders. Another had heard a story on National Public Radio (NPR) shortly after 9/11 about a group of Arab musicians who were having a hard time traveling on airplanes throughout the U.S. and couldn't get seats together. I took note of these two stories and continued my research. Here are excerpts from an article written by Jason Burke, Chief Reporter, and published in The Observer (a British newspaper based in London) on February 8, 2004: Terrorist bid to build bombs in mid-flight: Intelligence reveals dry runs of new threat to blow up airliners

Islamic militants have conducted dry runs of a devastating new style of bombing on aircraft flying to Europe, intelligence sources believe. The tactics, which aim to evade aviation security systems by placing only components of explosive devices on passenger jets, allowing militants to assemble them in the air, have been tried out on planes flying between the Middle East, North Africa and Western Europe, security sources say.

...The... Transportation Security Administration issued an urgent memo detailing new threats to aviation and warning that terrorists in teams of five might be planning suicide missions to hijack commercial airliners, possibly using common items...such as cameras, modified as weapons.

...Components of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] can be smuggled on to an aircraft, concealed in either clothing or personal carry-on items... and assembled on board. In many cases of suspicious passenger activity, incidents have taken place in the aircraft's forward lavatory.

So here's my question: Since the FBI issued a warning to the airline industry to be wary of groups of five men on a plane who might be trying to build bombs in the bathroom, shouldn't a group of 14 Middle Eastern men be screened before boarding a flight?

Apparently not. Due to our rules against discrimination, it can't be done. During the 9/11 hearings last April, 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman stated that was the policy (before 9/11) and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory.

So even if Northwest Airlines searched two of the men on board my Northwest flight, they couldn't search the other 12 because they would have already filled a government-imposed quota.

I continued my research by reading an article titled Arab Hijackers Now Eligible For Pre-Boarding from Ann Coulter (_ _

(  ) ):

On September 21, as the remains of thousands of Americans lay smoldering at Ground Zero, [Secretary of Transportation Norman] Mineta fired off a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding them from implementing the one security measure that could have prevented 9/11: subjecting Middle Eastern passengers to an added degree of pre-flight scrutiny. He sternly reminded the airlines that it was illegal to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion.

Coulter also writes that a few months later, at Mr. Mineta's behest, the Department of Transportation (DOT) filed complaints against United Airlines and American Airlines (who, combined, had lost 8 pilots, 25 flight attendants and 213 passengers on 9/11 - not counting the 19 Arab hijackers). In November 2003, United Airlines settled their case with the DOT for $1.5 million. In March 2004, American Airlines settled their case with the DOT for $1.5 million. The DOT also charged Continental Airlines with discriminating against passengers who appeared to be Arab, Middle Eastern or Muslim. Continental Airlines settled their complaint with the DOT in April of 2004 for $.5 million.

From what I witnessed, Northwest Airlines doesn't have to worry about Norman Mineta filing a complaint against them for discriminatory, secondary screening of Arab men. No one checked the passports of the Syrian men. No one inspected the contents of the two instrument cases or the McDonald's bag. And no one checked the limping man's orthopedic shoe. In fact, according to the TSA regulations, passengers wearing an orthopedic shoe won't be asked to take it off. As their site states, Advise the screener if you're wearing orthopedic shoes...screeners should not be asking you to remove your orthopedic shoes at any time during the screening process. (Click _here_

( ) to read the TSA website policy on orthopedic shoes and other medical devices.)

I placed a call to the TSA and talked to Joe Dove, a Customer Service Supervisor. I told him how we'd eaten with metal utensils moments in an airport diner before boarding the flight and how no one checked our luggage or the instrument cases being carried by the Middle Eastern men. Dove's response was, Restaurants in secured areas -- that's an ongoing problem. We get that complaint often. TSA gets that complaint all the time and they haven't worked that out with the FAA. They're aware of it. You've got a good question. There may not be a reasonable answer at this time, I'm not going to BS you.

At the Detroit airport no one checked our IDs. No one checked the folds in my newspaper or the content's of my son's backpack. No one asked us what we'd done during our layover, if we bought anything, or if anyone gave us anything while we were in the airport. We were asked all of these questions (and many others ) three weeks earlier when we'd traveled in Europe -- where passengers with airport layovers are rigorously questioned and screened before boarding any and every flight. In Detroit no one checked who we were or what we carried on board a 757 jet liner bound for American's largest metropolis.

Two days after my experience on Northwest Airlines flight #327 came this notice from SBS TV, The World News, July 1, 2004: The U.S. Transportation and Security Administration has issued a new directive which demands pilots make a pre-flight announcement banning passengers from congregating in aisles and outside the plane's toilets. The directive also orders flight attendants to check the toilets every two hours for suspicious packages.

Through a series of events, The Washington Post heard about my story. I talked briefly about my experience with a representative from the newspaper. Within a few hours I received a call from Dave Adams, the Federal Air Marshal Services (FAM) Head of Public Affairs. Adams told me what he knew: There were 14 Syrians on NWA flight #327. They were questioned at length by FAM, the FBI and the TSA upon landing in Los Angeles. The 14 Syrians had been hired as musicians to play at a casino in the desert. Adams said they were scrubbed. None had arrest records (in America, I presume), none showed up on the FBI's no fly list or the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List. The men checked out and they were let go. According to Adams, the 14 men traveled on Northwest Airlines flight #327 using one-way tickets. Two days later they were scheduled to fly back on jetBlue from Long Beach, California to New York -- also using one-way tickets.

I asked Adams why, based on the FBI's credible information that terrorists may try to assemble bombs on planes, the air marshals or the flight attendants didn't do anything about the bizarre behavior and frequent trips to the lavatory. Our FAM agents have to have an event to arrest somebody. Our agents aren't going to deploy until there is an actual event, Adams explained. He said he could not speak for the policies of Northwest Airlines.

So the question is... Do I think these men were musicians? I'll let you decide. But I wonder, if 19 terrorists can learn to fly airplanes into buildings, couldn't 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?

To receive any follow-up articles about Annie's experience, go to _www.WomensWallStreet.com_ ( ) and register to become a member. You will receive an e-mail notifying you of any subsequent articles on this subject.

Do you have any thoughts about this article that you'd like to share with our e-ditors? Send them an email by clicking _HERE_ ( ) ; Source:

WWS/article_landing.aspx?titleid=1&articleid=711 _

I am unfamiliar with Ann Coulter other than to have seen her advertisements and once in a while to have seen her participate in a verbal free for all of some kind on one of the news channels : I seldom watch those because I don't understand much of what is said, and I see no reason at all to devote time to people who are paid to be rude to each other in public. Nothing is going to be learned beyond some personal facts about the abilities of the participants.

But it is clear to me that the TSA was born in anarch-tyranny. It does the each things like confiscate scissors and an elderly general's Medal of Honor, but it can do nothing about serious matters like this.

Are we doomed as a nation? Would we not be better off with far less "security" of the Gomer Gestapo TSA variety, since it isn't going to do much about situations like this? Or have I missed something?

Subject: So, we probably are not any safer  I like her finish "So the question is... Do I think these men were musicians? I'll let you decide. But I wonder, if 19 terrorists can learn to fly airplanes into buildings, couldn't 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?"

The hell of it is, there are reasonable measures that could be taken to increase security, but that isn't the direction that has been taken. What is wrong with the people who are supposed to be running things?








CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  July 16, 2004


Subject: Annie Jacobsen's travails

Annie Jacobsen's travails -- I certainly understand why Annie was frightened by the events on her flight to LA June 29th ... I expect I might have been too, had I been there. Somewhat hearteningly, it seems likely, if not PC, that the passenger list nationality component is one factor in the "secret" formula for assignment of limited Air Marshal resources to specific flights. However, just a word on the dynamics of groups of young men travelling together ... I can assure you that I have travelled with tearaways who make the antics of this group seem utterly unremarkable. What made this group terrifying and added significance to their behavior was their ethnicity, and PC mumbo-jumbo notwithstanding, Annie and likely the entire passenger group WERE profiling by race for the simple reason that doing so is only common sense. I wasn't there, had I been there I may well have considered this group exceptionable. That said, a few comments on the ominous signs of terrorism mentioned in the article:

1)Frequent trips to the restroom and other odd behavior may easily be occasioned by overconsumption of alcohol the evening before, of course, this behavior is unheard of for musicians, men away from home, or Arabs outside the Middle East. 2)On boarding, travel groups arriving piecemeal may wish to reassure themselves that all members have boarded. 3)Buddies not seated together may spend excessive amounts of time out of their seats. 4)Sharing fast food is not a crime, nor is failing to leave loose trash for airline personnel to gather. 5)Carrying loose electronic items rather than leaving them to the attentions of strangers is my personal habit. 6)It is common practice in many parts of the world (including, at times, my home) to substitute a cloth roll for a toiletries bag. 6)A fasten seat-belts sign may remind folks to make their last trip to the bathroom if manners do not constrain them from doing so (particularly if they have some clue that they may spend the next several minutes in the company of authorities who may not be interested in allowing them the opportunity to use the facilities). One suspects this "clue" to be a constant for groups of Syrian frequent flyers. This signal may also serve as a reminder to check the itinerary a traveler has recorded in his small red notebook, perhaps repeatedly as different questions occur to him. It may also occasion nervousness, given the impending landing, and nervous travelers may resort to the rosary, little red prayerbooks, or simple prayer. 7)Sudden mood swings may be occasioned by the perception that the lady whose cute kid you were grinning at moments before now suspects you are a terrorist and is forcing her smile. As a 25 y.o. white male my personal experience of this type of mood swing is limited to the sick feeling I get when power doorlocks are employed as I cross the street near a car containing a woman alone and the dirty looks I get from suspicious parents if I dare to speak to (or sometimes even smile at) a child in public. 8)The inability to eavesdrop due to foreign language usage would be suspicious .... if the conversation were not between foreigners. 9) And while I would never commit the grievous sin of wearing 'shades indoors, I cannot dissuade certain of my friends from persisting in this inexplicable atrocity.

Best, Ben A. Pedersen

  All good Points. I could wish your formatting  were helter. I am on a train  with a tablet.


Jerry, I'm doing the page layout for High Trader, a boardgame on the economic exploitation of the Solar System. It's a top-down rewrite and streamlining of Rocket Flight, which you own.

I'd like to devote a page of the rulebook to contact information for organizations that promote human endeavors and private enterprise in space. My deadline for the listings is July 31st.

If you'd be kind enough to post this on your mail forum, I'm accepting submissions at:

design AT adastragames(dot)com

Please include "Space Access" as the subject so that it gets filtered to the right mail folder.


Ken Burnside Ad Astra Games








This week:


read book now


Saturday, July 17, 2004

Subject: Ann Coulter

Here's her website. Have I mentioned that I love her? I'm a pushover for a feisty babe. 


She certainly seems to deal with Wilson, if a bit heavily.

Niacin a Potent Brain Protector 

[I used to take half a gram or so a day to improve my alertness.]

Those with lowest intake 80% more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's

By Gabe Romain Betterhumans Staff 7/15/2004 4:30 PM

Go nuts: Available in high amounts in peanuts and other nuts, niacin has been found to protect against cognitive decline

Niacin offers potent protection against age-related cognitive decline and associated diseases such as Alzheimer's, suggests a large new study of the B vitamin.


And from another place:

Chris Brand here:

Sorry if I have missed something, but I am not at all inclined to accept the premise embedded in this question. IQ is quite the best predictor of success in the whole of the social sciences. I append below my Conclusion to a paper for the Galton Institute, London, in 1995 (published 1996), and will gladly attach the whole paper to any who write to me. Just think about it: it's surely clear that hardly anyone under IQ 100 is allowed to get on TV (except perhaps in specialist short-term occupations like being a footballer).


Today, the West is dependent on intelligence like no society before it, but the media and many social scientists pretend that IQ does not matter. Faced with an ageing population and an economy that will soon be overtaken by those of East Asian countries, the hopes of the West are pinned on education -including now tertiary education for the majority of young people. However, it would be a brave expert who would forecast the worth of many of the paper certificates of qualification that are now issued by the educational systems of Britain and the USA. The piety is that young people are working harder; and the brighter ones are certainly learning to word-process and delaying procreation. Perhaps it does not matter that most education must now be supplied to students in the 'structured', i.e. frankly pre-digested way that makes it suitable for rote learning. What cannot be doubted, however, is that intelligence still has all the importance with which Plato, St Augustine and Dr Johnson credited it in the past. The twentieth century's favourite life-outcome variable of 'socio-economic success' is best predicted by IQ. Nor are material outcomes alone affected by intelligence. As Sandra Scarr (1985) has said "....there are few human endeavours that could not be included in the domain of intelligence, if one considered all of the correlates of 'g'." Indeed, some think g more important today thanks to equalization of opportunities and increasing 'cognitive stratification'.

This paper has pointed to areas of human affairs in which the influence of g is probably even stronger than has been traditionally represented by supporters of the London School. In particular, it has been suggested that at mediocre and low levels of g, and in combination with other handicaps and problems, g is an especially crucial variable in today's world. By contrast, higher g yields those diverse patterns of "wit, virtuosity, inventiveness and individuality" that evolution theorists consider today to be such a 'turn-on' (Ridley, 1994). It is important to distinguish such areas in which g accounts for less human variation: the exercise throws into relief other areas in which IQ's influence is actually stronger.

Confronted by such phenomena, the scientific investigator must counsel realism-especially after the many years in which idealistic utopian endeavours have been predominant in the educational arena. Clearly, IQ is of such apparent importance as to necessitate that all publicly funded researches into social problems should now be obliged to take IQ into account. What Herrmstein & Murray rightly call the "scandal" of intellectuals' neglect of IQ must be ended.

Today, as China is now known to have been embarked for the past six years on a vast programme of eugenics (in the Peking area), it is high time for the West to come to terms with IQ and with what is to be done about it. The last Western country to treat the g factor with as much contempt as do Britain and the USA today was Nazi Germany. With awe-inspiring indifference as to how to sustain Germany's national culture or win a world war, the Nazis ensured the last great migration of intelligence in the West-giving the USA 'the Bomb' in the process (e.g. Hobsbawm, 1994[i]). (The Nazis thus reversed that original massive influx of entrepreneurial talent from which Prussia had so benefitted after the Massacre of St Bartholomew's Day in Paris.) Today, an equally serious question confronts the West: Can the triumph of Western liberal democracy be long sustained without taking intelligence seriously? Although the London School view of IQ has survived the Burt Affair, the importance of IQ and intelligence has still to be properly recognized.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----

[i] Hobsbawm (1995) observes: "The National Socialists....deprived themselves of the flower of continental Europe's physical talent by driving Jews and ideological opponents into exile, incidentally destroying the early twentieth-century German scientific supremacy in the process. Between 1900 and 1933, twenty-five out of sixty-six Nobel prizes in Physics and Chemistry had gone to Germany; but since 1933 only about one in ten."

Also, just yesterday:

IQ PREDICTS HEALTH General intelligence (IQ) at age 7 was found to predict health at age 30-40 even when birthweight, social class and job type were partialled out in a new US study of 633 people on Rhode Island (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, viii). IQ especially predicted lower rates of diabetes, asthma, cancer, arthritis, heart disease and strokes. Rates of adult illness lowered by one third for each 15 IQ points.

All of which is repeatedly demonstrated, if politically incorrect...






CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, July 18, 2004

July 7, 2004: The 2,600 troops of the 2nd brigade of the 2nd Infantry division, stationed near the DMZ for over half a century, began moving to the port of Pusan, where it will ship out to Iraq in August for a year of peacekeeping duty. The brigade will not return to Korea. 

MAY YOU BE POOR in misfortune, Rich in blessings, Slow to make enemies, Quick to make friends, But Rich or poor, quick or slow, May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward, And may you live to be a hundred years with one extra year to Repent.

George Murphy


This story was sent to you by: Rod McFadden

The steps keep getting farther out, Buffy Willow!

-------------------- Hawking Changes His Mind on Black Holes --------------------

By JANE WARDELL Associated Press Writer

July 16 2004, 6:08 AM PDT

LONDON -- After almost 30 years of arguing that a black hole swallows up everything that falls into it, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking backpedaled Thursday. In doing so, he lost one of the most famous bets in recent scientific history.

The complete article can be viewed at:,1,5091524.story?coll=sns-ap-science-headlines 


Tongan Marines join U.S. Marines in Iraq

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq(July 13, 2004) -- U.S. Marines here with 1st Marine Division recently welcomed "friendly islanders" from Tonga with a warm "malo e leielei."

Forty-five Tongan Royal Marines traveled from their tiny South Pacific island in order to support the division's security and stabilization mission in Iraq. They arrived earlier this month and are currently planning to stay for a six-month tour before heading home.

This trip marks the first peacekeeping deployment for the Tongan Defense Service outside of the South Pacific.

"All of my men volunteered to come to Iraq," said Tongan Capt. Maama Misi, platoon commander. "Our Marine Corps is very small and everyone wanted to come out here, but we could only bring a certain number."

The country of Tonga - the only monarchy in the Pacific - is four times the size of Washington D.C., and is home to about 110,000 residents. The Tongan Royal Marines Corps is made up of a few hundred people, so the group here makes up a large chunk of the defense force.  <snip>

Jon Monahan


 The Electronic Telegraph The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame By Michael Leidig and Roya Nikkhah (Filed: 18/07/2004)

Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.

A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes. Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: "The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.

"The Sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years."

Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

Average global temperatures have increased by about 0.2 deg Celsius over the past 20 years and are widely believed to be responsible for new extremes in weather patterns. After pressure from environmentalists, politicians agreed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, promising to limit greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012. Britain ratified the protocol in 2002 and said it would cut emissions by 12.5 per cent from 1990 levels.

Globally, 1997, 1998 and 2002 were the hottest years since worldwide weather records were first collated in 1860.

Most scientists agree that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels have contributed to the warming of the planet in the past few decades but have questioned whether a brighter Sun is also responsible for rising temperatures.

To determine the Sun's role in global warming, Dr Solanki's research team measured magnetic zones on the Sun's surface known as sunspots, which are believed to intensify the Sun's energy output.

The team studied sunspot data going back several hundred years. They found that a dearth of sunspots signalled a cold period - which could last up to 50 years - but that over the past century their numbers had increased as the Earth's climate grew steadily warmer. The scientists also compared data from ice samples collected during an expedition to Greenland in 1991. The most recent samples contained the lowest recorded levels of beryllium 10 for more than 1,000 years. Beryllium 10 is a particle created by cosmic rays that decreases in the Earth's atmosphere as the magnetic energy from the Sun increases. Scientists can currently trace beryllium 10 levels back 1,150 years.

Dr Solanki does not know what is causing the Sun to burn brighter now or how long this cycle would last.



Even if "41" had not abandoned the Shias to Saddam's torturers, he would still deserve to rot in hell for signing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It's *cruel* to keep a person with ADHD in a job that is unsuited to someone with that condition. Especially when there are jobs that ADHD types can do perfectly well, such as venture capitalist.



Subject: Lawless in Gaza.

-- Roland Dobbins

And the civil war there is only beginning.






Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

birdline.gif (1428 bytes)