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Monday August 2, 2004

There was considerable mail over the weekend, as usual. Some of it was on important subjects. One is a very recent Baghdad sitrep.



One reason not to answer in haste.

I wrote last week a reply to Mr. Mangles on the subject of transformations of forces and what can happen when republics become empires. It was done quickly, and made some references to the situation in the Balkans, where UN troops act as lords, and Serbia has been subjected to a permit raj and political correctness at the hands of foreign occupiers; it was a short reference, but I had forgotten European sensitivities.

Then while on a flight trying to get some of this cleared up, I forgot I had made that reference in a published work. Thus this exchange:

On 1/8/04 19:49, "Jerry Pournelle" <> wrote:

> As to the rest, who said anything abut stripping it bare? I didn't and > the fact that you are certain I did is curious >

Oh yes you did.

It's there in black and white.

You said (and I quote from your site) "...while our troops conquer the enemies for you rational Enlightened people to occupy and strip bare"

I am guilt of adding the word "it" between "strip" and "bare". I plead guilt to that, which does not really change the meaning in any way. The rest is all your own fair hand.

> If you are unaware of the situation in the UN occupied areas of the > Balkans you should enlighten yourself.

I am aware, well enough. I think you clearly are not. I think you speak in ignorance--profound ignorance--or you have been seriously misinformed. I suggest you're the one who needs to do some self-enlightening on this matter.

Apart from the fact that is was not "conquered" by US troops, not least due to their total absence from the scene until the UN occupation--not conquest--of Kosovo, the notion that there is or was anything for any western nation that's worth stripping bare in these backward and benighted places is just risible.

I really do believe for the first time we have been in dialogue that you are talking utter twaddle, and I'd rather believe it is from ignorance than maliciousness.

Which certainly takes care of me as a reliable source, doesn't it? But there is more. I made the mistake of another short answer:

On 2/8/04 3:17, "Jerry Pournelle" <> wrote:

> Well all right. It was a sarcasm. But the fact is that the UN lords > are living large in Kossovo, courtesy of our defeating the Serbs, > which is a bit as if Paris bombed Washington DC in support of illegal > Mexican immigrants in California. > > You seem to want the US and Europe to run the world, US to supply the > muscle and Europe the heart and brains and incidentally to take most > of the profits. > > Me I want to come home

'It was a sarcasm' -- I like that; so if it had been more than one it would have been 'It was two (or three, or whatever) sarcasms'. And I'd always thought 'sarcasm' was like 'water': just 'sarcasm.'

As for UN lords in Kosovo: well maybe UN officials are comfortable (I don't know) but I know for sure that Kosovo is not exactly the favourite posting for British troops... not by a long shot; it's a grimmer place to go to than Iraq, many say.

Oh, and by the way it would be a more accurate metaphor to talk of Paris bombing Mexico City to discourage illegal Mexican immigrants in California.

'...US to supply the muscle and Europe the heart and brains...' Well, that inspires a sarcasm. Right now, the US Administration might be considered to be a bit like Bungalow Bill: not a lot going on upstairs. So it would be nice if someone supplied some brains.

I do not want the US & Europe (ie., NATO) to run the world, but I fear something similar, incorporating Japan, Russia if it ever develops into a truly open and democratic state, and other places too as they mature enough--including, if possible, maybe 50 years from now, China--is a geopolitical necessity in the 21st century. Such an alliance... A 'coalition of the willing' if you will, would be able to stabilise the peace and safety of world. That's not a new Roman Empire and neither yet is it a world government, but it something achievable midway between--a commonwealth.

We can't go home yet.

(BTW: WHAT profits?)

So. I give Mr. Mangles his gotcha, and I have learned a lesson about short answers to mail.

I have not the time to look up all the incidents I have had reported to me that justify my remarks about UN forces in Serbia, but I have a number of them. If one believes me mistaken in my conclusion that all has not gone well there, it still does not change my views at least that US forces applied to make the world better have not uniformly done that very well -- the economy of the lower Danube was devastated for months by the dropping of the bridges, and as to Kossovo as recently as 1920 the majority was Serbian and no Albanians were legally allowed to immigrate; the Albanian majority was seen by the Serbs as an invading force. You make think of analogies to that in other lands.

The use of US forces to defeat other lands for yet others to occupy does not strike me as building world stability; I continue to agree with Talleyrand that you can do much with a bayonet but you can't sit on it. Francis Fukuyama has a new book out on world stability through "state building" in which those of us Enlightened can share our systems with those who are benighted. I shouldn't put it that way, because I agree with the Ancients: good government is a great and food fortune, amounting to a blessing from God or the gods; but I am not at all sure it is a gift within our ability to bestow.

The mission of the Roman People was to protect the weak and make humble the proud; so said Virgil and Augustus was much taken with the resulting vision. It is a vision, and it may even be noble. After all I am a Fellow of the Augustan Society, although I may not share all the views held by my colleagues on the nobility of Octavius Caesar Augustus, but he certainly had some noble ambitions. The world may have fared better under those visions of Roman order than it might otherwise.

But that was a long time ago and as Mr. Mangles points out with increasing fervor, the US is not Rome.

I knew that. Nor will it become Rome. But what it might become, and I am pretty certain it will become if our governing vision ceases to be building a great example for others to follow and becomes one of imposing order and stability on the world, may not be so much to everyone's liking.

There is a logic to empire, and a strong logic to governing without the consent of the governed : to believing that one has the right and duty to govern without the consent of the governed. Most people through history were so governed: the US created a new order and started a long experiment that I suspect is now failing.

But enough. I write this in some haste too. There is too much to do.

I give Mr. Mangles his points, and apparently I have not learned my lesson since I am writing this answer in counterpoint to increasingly shrill demands that I join my wife and dog for a walk.


Having returned, I find I don't much care to play these games.

It is probably true that most of the Europeans who want US intervention to save the world (although Europe certainly has the military means to do that so long as we don't interfere) have very high minded motives and are certain that they do good, and thus resent my references to profits. The facts on the ground are a bit different. Our interventions in the Balkans were "new Democrat" interventions of the "it's our army now" and also had very high minded motives; as has been frequently observed, these were uses of American power justified by the fact that we had no discernable national interest in the conflicts.

Mr. Mangles says "We can't go home yet." I wish him well of it; Europe certainly has both the manpower and the economic means to go play all the world-saving games he likes.

American policy should be as it once was: we are the the friends of liberty everywhere, but guardians only of our own. Show us a threat we can deal with and we will (Afghanisan comes to mind). Nation Building or as Fukuyama would have it State Building is something to be left to others. We will be better off abolishing the TSA, getting rid of much of the structure of Homeland Security, deploying our military to defend our borders, enforcing immigration laws, and devolving as much government and regulation to the states as we possibly can.

History shows that democracy is best suited to small states; and of the wealthiest nations on Earth (per capita wealth) most are small. Small wealthy states have ever had the problem of avaricious neighbors (and avarice is a disorder any nation including democracies can have: it's easy to blame one's comparative poverty on a comparatively wealthier nation particularly if you have a big army and the other guy does not). The US solved that by federalism, and that endured for a long time.

The Civil War changed the nature of the union in a fundamental manner; but it left us unique even so. It is likely that if the US were as thoroughly ruled from Washington as France is from Paris, the union would have broken apart despite the Civil War. Now we have the national means of enforcing central government and Homeland Security to show us how important it is that we be subjects and not citizens, and things may fundamentally change. Are  changing, even as we watch.

So perhaps it is time to do adventuring. But if the US does begin to do imperialism, we may learn how to do it well. The Brits did not care for us much when they needed us. It will be interesting to hear their views when we are overpaid, oversexed, and over there with our boom boxes and rock music and other cultural weapons of mass destruction, this time not in answer to a visible threat, but in the name of "world stability."



From Colonel Haynes, a rather disturbing message:

This is a story that is being scrupulously ignored by the main stream media, by the Republican National Committee and most other information organizations. It makes these e-mail distributions the exact equivalent of the Soviet era "zamisdat" news sheets. Those were typed or mimeographed by the underground and hand distributed to circumvent Pravda and the other Communist propaganda rags. Thank God the Internet arrived in time for these electronic methods to become available.

If the media (or any of you!) consider these charges untrue, there is an obligation to publish them where they will be examined and if found to be false, publicly discredited. I sense a strong personal obligation to help circulate these testimonials ... and I sincerely hope that at least most of you to whom I choose to forward them think as I do.

 Bill Haynes ===========

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Jim Mendrala" <> Date: August 1, 2004 11:30:29 PM PDT Subject: 18 Swift Boat Veterans comment on Kerry's war record

This was passed to me by a friend. Good readings for veterans and the country. Jim


18 Swift Boat Veterans comment on Kerry's war record -- Regardless of your political views---this is worth reading !

"We resent very deeply the false war crimes charges he made coming back from Vietnam in 1971 and repeated in the book "Tour of Duty." We think those cast an aspersion on all those living and dead, from our unit and other units in Vietnam. We think that he knew he was lying when he made the charges, and we think that they're unsupportable. We intend to bring the truth about that to the American people. We believe, based on our experience with him, that he is totally unfit to be the Commander-in-Chief."

-- John O'Neill, spokesman, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

"I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States. This is not a political issue. It is a matter of his judgment, truthfulness, reliability, loyalty and trust -- all absolute tenets of command. His biography, 'Tour of Duty,' by Douglas Brinkley, is replete with gross exaggerations, distortions of fact, contradictions and slanderous lies. His contempt for the military and authority is evident by even a most casual review of this biography. He arrived in-country with a strong anti-Vietnam War bias and a self-serving determination to build a foundation for his political future. He was aggressive, but vain and prone to impulsive judgment, often with disregard for specific tactical assignments. He was a 'loose cannon.' In an abbreviated tour of four months and 12 days, and with his specious medals secure, Lt.(jg) Kerry bugged out and began his infamous betrayal of all United States forces in the Vietnam War. That included our soldiers, our marines, our sailors, our coast guardsmen, our airmen, and our POWs. His leadership within the so-called Vietnam Veterans Against the War and testimony before Congress in 1971 charging us with unspeakable atrocities remain an undocumented but nevertheless meticulous stain on the men and women who honorably stayed the course. Senator Kerry is not fit for command."

-- Rear Admiral Roy Hoffman, USN (retired), chairman, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth .

"During Lt.(jg) Kerry's tour, he was under my command for two or three specific operations, before his rapid exit. Trust, loyalty and judgment are the key, operative words. His turncoat performance in 1971 in his grubby shirt and his medal-tossing escapade, coupled with his slanderous lines in the recent book portraying us that served, including all POWs and MIAs, as murderous war criminals, I believe, will have a lasting effect on all military veterans and their families. Kerry would be described as devious, self-absorbing, manipulative, disdain for authority, disruptive, but the most common phrase that you'd hear is 'requires constant supervision.'

-- Captain Charles Plumly, USN (retired)

"Thirty-five years ago, many of us fell silent when we came back to the stain of sewage that Mr. Kerry had thrown on us, and all of our colleagues ho served over there. I don't intend to be silent today or ever again. Our young men and women who are serving deserve no less."

-- Andrew Horne .

"In my specific, personal experience in both coastal and river patrols over a 12-month period, I never once saw or heard anything remotely resembling the atrocities described by Senator Kerry. If I had, it would have been my obligation to report them in writing to a higher authority, and I would certainly have done that. If Senator Kerry actually witnessed or participated in these atrocities or, as he described them, 'war crimes,' he was obligated to report them. That he did not until later when it suited his political purposes strikes me as opportunism of the worst kind. That he would malign my service and that of his fellow sailors with no regard for the truth makes him totally unqualified to serve as Commander-in-Chief."

-- Jeffrey Wainscott .

"I signed that letter because I, too felt a deep sense of betrayal that someone who took the same oath of loyalty as I did as an officer in the United States Navy would abandon his group here (points to group photo) to join this group here (points to VVAW protest photo), and come home and attempt to rally the American public against the effort that this group was so valiantly pursuing. It is a fact that in the entire Vietnam War we did not lose one major battle. We lost the war at home... and at home, John Kerry was the Field General."

-- Robert Elder .

"My daughters and my wife have read portions of the book 'Tour of Duty.' They wanted to know if I took part in the atrocities described. I do not believe the things that are described happened. Let me give you an example. In Brinkley's book, on pages 170 to 171, about something called the 'Bo De massacre' on November 24th of 1968... In Kerry's description of the engagement, first he claimed there were 17 servicemen that were wounded. Three of us were wounded. I was the first..."

-- Joseph Ponder .

"While in Cam Rahn Bay, he trained on several 24-hour indoctrination missions, and one special skimmer operation with my most senior and trusted Lieutenant. The briefing from some members of that crew the morning after rvealed that they had not received any enemy fire, and yet Lt.(jg) Kerry informed me of a wound -- he showed me a scratch on his arm and a piece of shrapnel in his hand that appeared to be from one of our own M-79s. It was later reported to me that Lt.(jg) Kerry had fired an M-79, and it had exploded off the adjacent shoreline. I do not recall being advised of any medical treatment, and probably said something like 'Forget it.' He later received a Purple Heart for that scratch, and I have no information as to how or whom. Lt..(jg) Kerry was allowed to return to the good old USA after 4 months and a few days in country, and then he proceeded to betray his former shipmates, calling them criminals who were committing atrocities. Today we are here to tell you t! hat just the opposite is true. Our rules of engagement were quite strict, and the officers and men of Swift often did not even return fire when they were under fire if there was a possibility that innocent people -- fishermen, in a lot of cases -- might be hurt or injured. The rules and the good intentions of the men increased the possibility that we might take friendly casualties."

-- Commander Grant Hibbard, USN (retired)

"Lt. Kerry returned home from the war to make some outrageous statements and allegations... of numerous criminal acts in violation of the law of war were cited by Kerry, disparaging those who had fought with honor in that conflict. Had war crimes been committed by US forces in Vietnam? Yes, but such acts were few and far between. Yet Lt. Kerry have numerous speeches and testimony before Congress inappropriately leading his audiences to believe that what was only an anomaly in the conduct of America's fighting men was an epidemic. Furthermore, he suggested that they were being encouraged to violated the law of war by those within the chain of command. Very specific orders, on file at the Vietnam archives at Texas Tech University, were issued by my father [Admiral Elmo Zumwalt] and others in his chain of command instructing subordinates to act responsibly in preserving the life and property of Vietnamese civilians."

-- Lt. Col. James Zumwalt, USMC (retired)

"We look at Vietnam... after all these years it is still languishing in isolated poverty and helplessness and tyranny. This is John Kerry's legacy. I deeply resent John Kerry's using his Swift boat experience, and his betrayal of those who fought there as a stepping-stone to his political ambitions."

-- Barnard Wolff

"In a whole year that I spent patrolling, I didn't see anything like a war crime, an atrocity, anything like that. Time and again I saw American fighting men put themselves in graver danger trying to avoid... collateral damage. When John Kerry returned to the country, he was sworn in front of Congress. And then he told my family -- my parents, my sister, my brother, my neighbors -- he told everyone I knew and everyone I'd ever know that I and my comrades had committed unspeakable atrocities."

-- David Wallace

"I served with these guys. I went on missions with them, and these men served honorably. Up and down the chain of command there was no acquiescence to atrocities. It was not condoned, it did not happen, and it was not reported to me verbally or in writing by any of these men including Lt.(jg) Kerry. In 1971, '72, for almost 18 months, he stood before the television audiences and claimed that the 500,000 men and women in Vietnam, and in combat, were all villains -- there were no heroes. In 2004, one hero from the Vietnam War has appeared, running for President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief. It just galls one to think about it."

-- Captain George Elliott, USN (retired)

"During the Vietnam War I was Task Force Commander at An Thoi, and my tour of duty was 13 months, from the end of Tet to the beginning of the Vietnamization of the Navy units. Now when I went there right after Tet, I was restricted in my movements. I couldn't go much of anyplace because the Vietcong controlled most of the area. When I left, I could go anywhere I wanted, just about. Commerce was booming, the buses were running, trucks were going, the waterways were filled with sampans with goods going to market, but yet in Kerry's biography he says that our operations were a complete failure... He also mentions a formal conference with me, to try to get more air cover and so on. That conference never happened..."

-- Captain Adrian Lonsdale, USCG (retired)

"I was in An Thoi from June of '68 to June of '69, covering the whole period that John Kerry was there. I operated in every river, in every canal, and every off-shore patrol area in the 4th Corps area, from Cambodia all the way around to the Bo De River. I never saw, even heard of all of these so-called atrocities and things that we were supposed to have done. This is not true. We're not standing for it. We want to set the record straight."

-- William Shumadine

"In 1971, when John Kerry spoke out to America, labeling all Vietnam veterans as thugs and murderers, I was shocked and almost brought to my knees, because even though I had served at the same time and same unit, I had never witnessed or participated in any of the events that the Senator had accused us of. I strongly believe that the statements made by the Senator were not only false and inaccurate, but extremely harmful to the United States' efforts in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. Tragically, some veterans, scorned by the antiwar movement and their allies, retreated to a life of despair and suicide. Two of my crewmates were among them. For that there is no forgiveness. "

-- Richard O'Meara

"My name is Steve Gardner. I served in 1966 and 1967 on my first tour of duty in Vietnam on Swift boats, and I did my second tour in '68 and '69, involved with John Kerry in the last 2 1/2 months of my tour. The John Kerry that I know is not the John Kerry that everybody else is portraying. I served alongside him and behind him, five feet away from him in a gun tub, and watched as he made indecisive moves with our boat, put our boats in jeopardy, put our crews in jeopardy... if a man like that can't handle that 6-man crew boat, how can you expect him to be our Commander-in-Chief?"

-- Steven Gardner

"I served in Vietnam as a boat officer from June of 1968 to July of 1969. My service was three months in Coastal Division 13 out of Cat Lo, and nine months with Coastal Division 11 based in An Thoi. John Kerry was in An Thoi the same time I was. I'm here today to express the anger I have harbored for over 33 years, about being accused with my fellow shipmates of war atrocities. All I can say is when I leave here today, I'm going down to the Wall to tell my two crew members it's not true, and that they and the other 49 Swiftees who are on the Wall were then and are still now the best."

-- Robert Brant

"I never saw, heard of, or participated in any Swift boat crews killing cattle, poisoning crops, or raping and killing civilians as charged by John Kerry, both in his book and in public statements. Since we both operated at the same time, in the same general area, and on the same missions under the same commanders, it is hard to believe his claims of atrocities and poor planning of Sea Lord missions. I signed this letter because I feel that he used Swift boat sailors to proclaim his antiwar statements after the war, and now he uses the same Swift boat sailors to support his claims of being a war hero. He cannot have it both ways, and we are here to ask for full disclosure of the proof of his claims."

-- James Steffes


Now what are the odds that ALL these fine men are lying and Kerry is telling the truth? Or is it more likely that another Democrat "can't remember shit" and lies through his teeth! Can you read this and tell any of these 18 men they are wrong about Kerry. Kerry shouldn't even be a Senator ~~ he should be court-martialed.

Wm Haynes Aerospace Systems Analyst


I wasn't there, and know little about that part of the campaign, although my friend "Franklin Ford" was an AID official who did get out to the Delta and told me many stories which I subsequently made public on BIX and GENIE. I certainly heard none of the systematic brutality and atrocity stories Kerry told in those days.

On sources: I have nothing beyond what you see here. A letter was sent to Colonel Haynes, who sent it on to many people including me. I have no idea of the reliability of Jim Mendrala who was the original sender. I don't follow topical news. However a Google Search on John O'Neill, spokesman, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth produced this:

Swift Boat Veterans Condemn Kerry as Unfit to Command
Dave Eberhart,
Tuesday, May 4, 2004
WASHINGTON – It was the news conference John Kerry did not want to see happen.

In a standing-room-only suite at the National Press Club, former “Swiftee” John O’Neill, spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, told reporters that the junior U.S. senator from Massachusetts spent 45 minutes on the phone with group founder Rear Adm. Roy Hoffman, USN (Ret.), trying to “discourage” the band of brothers from going public with their united sentiment that Kerry is unfit to be the nation’s commander in chief.


The effort failed, and in a 90-minute session one veteran after another described with brutal honesty why he fixed his signature to a public letter to the Democrat candidate condemning Kerry’s allegations of war crimes and demanding that the former decorated Swift Boat skipper authorize the Department of Defense to release all his military records. <snip>

( )

So I would guess that there is some provenance to this.


I don't suppose it would do any harm to reveal the true name of "Franklin Ford" but I have not heard from him in some time, and although I am sure he is long retired I won't do it here. So for now


It's Pournelle's Fault


On the Swift Boats people, see below.




Just after Colonel Haynes' message I got this. I have no idea if the quotes are verifiable.

John F. Kerry speaks:

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country." - John F. Kerry

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." - John F. Kerry

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'." - John F. Kerry

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future." - John F. Kerry

"The future will be better tomorrow." - John F. Kerry

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world." - John F. Kerry

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made." - John F. Kerry

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe." - John F. Kerry

"Public speaking is very easy." - John F. Kerry

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls." - John F. Kerry

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur." - John F. Kerry

"For NASA, space is still a high priority." - John F. Kerry

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children." - John F. Kerry

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." - John F. Kerry

"Its time for the human race to enter the solar system." - John F. Kerry

John Dinkel


Well that didn't take long:

Subject: RE: "john F. Kerry Speaks

According to this site 

These quotes get attributed to various "flavor of the moment" political candidates.



Subject: "John Kerry" Quotes

Title: "John Kerry" Quotes

When Bush was elected many of those same quotes were passed around via email attributed to him. THAT email was cribbed from an email that was passed around long before that, filled with quotes attributed to Dan Quayle...


Christopher B. Wright (


Dear Dr. P --

You wrote:

>Just after Colonel Haynes' message I got this. I have no idea if the >quotes are verifiable.

The quotes certainly are verifiable.

However, thirty seconds of search engine use reveals that virtually all of these alleged Kerry quotations were in fact originally voiced by the former Vice President, J. Danforth Quayle.

The only one which I cannot definitely attribute to DQ is the line about imports coming from overseas, which appears to be obscure, probably a misrendering of George W. Bush in Oregon in 2000, in which Dubya said, "more and more of our imports come from overseas".

I recall spending much of the first Bush-clan Presidency in an avid search for the latest and funniest Quayle malapropisms, and I logged many of them in near-real-time from wire service copy.

There are messages of mine in ancient DAT-tape archived mail spools which incorporate the "if we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure" quote as a .sig file. I've also got some Quayleisms from that era which didn't make the above alleged-Kerry list, including this beauty:

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."

Mr. Dinkel, the original submitter, needs to be rapped across the knuckles and sent back to school for some basic lessons in informational hygiene.

It's certainly reasonable and proper to critique Sen. Kerry on any number of different grounds, and I'm happy to do so at length and late into the night, especially over a pitcher of good beer. But let's be sure that the criticism is actually substantive, shall we?



Again, I haven't time to look. Quayle certainly said some odd things in public, but he was a very competent head of the National Space Council, and was directly responsible for getting the DC/X built despite the opposition of NASA and much of the Air Force. SSTO technology was considered dead as the result of a very authoritative paper by RAND done by Charles Lindley. Lindley was on my Council which recommended SSTo investigations: he had repented his earlier views, largely due to Council discussions with Max Hunter. Quayle took the trouble to get RAND to do a new feasibility study, and this time the indications were that we could do it.

Quayle asked us "Why now and not before? Is it new engines?" to which Max Hunter and Chuck Lindley said in effect "No, we're just smarter now."  Max was blunter. "We were stupid 20 years ago."

Anyway DC/X was built and flew because Quayle listened to all sides of a very highly technical debate. He was a lawyer by training, and had been known as "the distinguished junior Senator" and "an authority on defense policy" until the day after he was named as candidate for Vice President...

So it is certainly possible to make some odd statements in public. I've done a few myself, but fortunately the cameras weren't running and there were not a lot of newsmen watching.

Incidentally, Quayle on life on Mars: the Astronomer Royal wrote a book in the 60's (that late!) in which he speculated on the subject, and if one did not spend a good bit of time following the results of the probes, one might be forgiven for holding that view after Pioneer and other Mars probes showed a very different Mars from Percival Lowell's. Alas, because I liked Lowell's (and Heinlein's) Mars a lot...

Anyway, that sh0uld be enough on that one.

The Swift Boat people's remarks are a different story.




Subject: Be careful what you write.

- Roland Dobbins

Feeling safer already


And  now for those worried about codes in products:

Subject: RFID Crack


Now you can crack the RFID tags used in retailing. I suppose it had to happen sooner or later, and "Sooner" is nearly always a safe bet in the Crackerverse:,1759,1628713,00.asp 

Charles Krug

" LAS VEGAS—A German consultant has released a tool that its creator says will allow modifications of the code stored within RFID tags, theoretically allowing consumers to wreak havoc in future retail deployments.

The RFDump <> software allows a user equipped with an RFID reader, a laptop or PDA, and a power supply to rewrite the data stored in ISO 15693 tags, the most common tags used to host the EPC (Electronic Product Code) information traditionally stored in bar codes. "

This probably goes in my new novel.

 (But see below, alas)


The REST of the Story

Everyone has heard the line

What if they gave a war and nobody came?

I've recently learned that this is the first line of a poem attributed to Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956), the German poet and playwrite. The full text of the poem follows:

What if they gave a war and nobody came?
 Why then the war will come to you!
 He who stays home when the fight begins
 And lets another fight for his cause
 Should take care:
He who does not take part
In the battle will share in the defeat.
Even avoiding battle will not avoid Battle,
since not to fight for your own cause really means
Fighting in behalf of your enemy's cause.

Courtesy Baen's Bar

Jim Woosely

Brecht has some great lines. He wasn't a very admirable person, and went back to be Minister of Culture for People's Germany. But he did have some courage, and after the East German uprising:

The Solution

Bertolt Brecht

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Which is perhaps his redemption.


Subject: Arabs Caught Crossing Illegally Over U.S. - Mexican Border

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

This is frightening. I wonder if there is anything to it. If so, who is sitting on the story and why? There seem to be a lot of people involved.

Cheers, Clyde Wisham

**** "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."-- Winston Churchill ****


Subj: Iraq: Optimism or Hope?

You have accused me, Sir, of Optimism.

I plead guilty only to Hope.

I am not *confident* that All Things *are* going well, or *will* go well. I merely am *not* confident that Things are going so horribly, irretrievably badly that the whole business is Doomed. I see indications both ways, and I see that the conventional Media -- and at least one of your other contributors -- report only indications in one direction. I can't do a lot about the conventional Media at large, but I can try to give you the opportunity to make a more balanced view available to _your_ readers. Maybe that's why I seem Optimistic to you?

You want Optimism? *Here's* an Optimist: 


I presume your remarks are actually address to Cochran.

I find you an "optimist" as I find Cochran a "pessimist", but neither term is useful as an absolute. As to presenting the readers with a variety of opinions, I thought I had been doing that. Some people have sent me long documents they want me to open and read, but I don't do that; otherwise I put up a pretty good sample of everything I receive.

One chap recently thought my views about Iraq "wishful thinking" which is puzzling and confuses analysis with wishes: much of that leads to shooting the messenger.

His point was that the Kurds are willing to accept the semi-federal structure now proposed for Iraq, and thus to point out that fundamental differences remain that have strongly centripetal effects is "wishful thinking". My "wishful thinking" is for a time machine that lets us not get in there in the first place; I certainly don't wish for a Civil War with my friends and relatives caught up in it. But I have not seen anything to indicate to me that the Shia majority is willing to accept anything less than an absolute majority rules centralized Iraq, and I haven't seen any of the fatwa's that govern Iraq to any other effect.

I have always said that if we could get local governments going and leave the top layer to something less than a democracy, the results would be good; once in a while things happen to make me think that's possible; but the bombs do continue and I can't think that is good news.

We had lots of good news coming out of the Delta in Viet Nam, too. My "Franklin Ford" reports were full of them. We were winning that war, in fact we had won it, when we abandoned it for domestic political reasons. Perhaps it will be different this time.


I am going to post this:

Subject: Kerry:

Dear Jerry:

This is not something you and I should even try to convince each other about. Total waste of time. That said, I'm a bit suspicious of those Swift Boat veterans. As our mutual friend who would actually know will tell you , Kerry was known to be a bit of a "hot dog". At that time and in that war, that was how a young officer was supposed to make his way, by being stupidly aggressive. I note that none of the 18 actually served with Kerry on his boat and that those guys are going around the country with him , supporting his candidacy. I wrote the article on Disinformation that appears in the Enclyopaedia Britannica. There is probably some truth in much of what they said, but that is why I described it as "an elegant form of lying". Partial truth is part of the art of it.

This seems to be a continuing tactic of Republicans who did not serve against Democrats who did. Deny or denigrate their service. It worked with Max Cleland in his Senate re-election campaign. I heard so much bull about Cleland at the club that I presented one of our foremost conspiracy theorists with a copy of his book, where he describes exactly what did happen when he lost two legs and an arm to grenade.. This same individual said that he had "heard" that Cleland was drunk at the time, which is just an outright lie.

I don't think these guys who served over there are deliberately lying. I think they have been persuaded to remember it, based not on their own observations, but what they heard. Then or later. Having been an Awards and Decorations clerk (among five other jobs) while I was in Vietnam, let me once more state what the regulations are on the Purple Heart. It is not an award per se, but an entitlement, and if you look at the regulations you will see that that the key document for the award can only be issued by and has to be signed by a Medical Officer. No one else can institute an action for awarding this particular medal. Not your commander, your sergeant, no one. Neither can they prevent nor disapprove it. Nor do you need to be wounded by the enemy to get one. Incidents of "friendly fire" and even those where no direct combat is encountered , such as a vehicle accident ( as happened with Jessica Lynch) qualifies. Sometimes even psychological wounds qualify. It is all up to the doctor on the spot.

I actually processed one of these. It was for one of our MPs who was on convoy duty, and for his actions that day should have probably been awarded the Bronze Star as well, except that no thought to put him up for it. We were an MI outfit and liked to keep a low profile. This kid comes in with the medical officer's form, telling me that he has been ordered to present it post haste. I've never seen one, so I have to look it up. I tell him, "Bill, this means you get the Purple Heart". He protests. The wound in question was covered with a band aid. It was a "scratch". I asked if he had the item that caused the wound and he shows me a piece of shrapnel about two inches long with jagged edges, in a little glass bottle. I advise him that he should take the award, (not that he had a choice) because if the "scratch had been four inches deeper it would have gone right through his heart and killed him. He turned white at that point. It had never occurred to him that he might actually get killed until that moment.

That little episode is why I tend to disregard claims that a Purple Heart wound was not sufficient. It is not a matter for post action, after the fact, judgment. The doctor says you get the Purple Heart, you get the Purple Heart, and at that time in Vietnam, as the Republican Green Beret veteran that Kerry saved from drowning in the Mekong pointed out, you got three and you were automatically sent home. I have no Purple Heart myself, so I did a year there. I don't resent anyone who was rotated out early, for wounds or any other reason. I do resent those who do resent that. I find usually they didn't serve at all, much less in Vietnam.

Bottom line, the Purple Hearts are not as significant as the testimony from Kerry's own crew mates. And while I believe that what these Swift Boat veterans say seems true to them, I view it with great suspicion as yet another product of the infamous attack machine that questioned Max Cleland's patriotism for political gain.

Bob Kerrey, the former Senator who won the Medal of Honor heard that the Republicans were going to try and dispute Kerry's Silver Star and Bronze Star. "Let them try it," he growled, "Let them try it. I can't wait."

Neither can I. Enough is enough.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

You cause me to go back and read that long article about the Swift Boat people because I had not recalled anyone questioning his medals. It's in there, but it's not the major thrust of what they are saying.

What they are mostly talking about is not his service record, but what was said and done after the war; atrocities he accused them of participating in, or of being aware of without intervening.

His own crew, or some of them, seem satisfied with him: which is much to his credit, and they don't seem upset that he talked about atrocities committed by the Swift Boat people; but then he didn't report them as being involved in such things.

In any event, I agree, questioning people's service records is silly. I know a chap whose wrist was broken by a typewriter at headquarters, I believe in the act of using it as a blunt instrument for opening a locked field desk. He got his Purple Heart and I don't recall anyone resenting it although there was some laughter. Everyone who has seen the elephant knows that medals are distributed in a semi-random fashion, and depend in large part on having a literate and eloquent person witness the action and feeling impelled to write it up. I know no one who has any medals at all who doesn't know of people who deserved them but didn't get them.

But I would think it legitimate to resent being accused of participating in atrocities, which is, as I understand it, the main thrust of those people's remarks.


Subject: RFID Hack — a bit of "FUD"

Dr. Pournelle:

Regarding hacking RFID chips. IMHO, a non-issue...."FUD" (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) via the press.

- reprogramming RFID chips only work on *reprogrammable* RFID chips. Non-reprogrammable ones are much cheaper, and more likely to be used in scanning situations (using RFID instead of bar code). - RFID will be mostly used for inventory/restocking purposes. Sales tracking is more likely to be done via bar codes. I suspect that bar codes are here to stay for a while. - and even bar codes can be 'hacked' — just print your own bar code label. (But that doesn't happen much) - many self-checkout systems (at least the ones I've used at Home Depot and Wal-Mart) use bar codes and weight checking. Both have to match, or there are problems. You have to scan the item, then place it in the bag (which is on a scale) before you can go onto the next item. - RFID tags don't contain pricing info...(again, it's just a 'bar code') - RFID standards include encryption of the ID code on the chip. You have to have the right 'writer password' on your RFID writer in order to program the chip. Much harder to break. - Wouldn't you be noticed if you were carrying around a RFID writer?

So, hacking RFID tags is a non-issue. They are just fancy bar codes. Their main advantage to the retailer will on the inventory/reorder side. I think it will be a very small part of 'shrinkage' that all stores deal with.

Regards, Rick Hellewell, information security at digital choke dot com

Ah well, it would have made for such a good story, too...


From the Afghan front

Well, we had another chance to employ in combat. My third employment was also the most frightening. It started with us supporting U.S. forces near the Pakistani border.

 Suddenly, we get a call from a patrol a mile up this valley that they are in heavy contact and have wounded. The controller was worked up and it took 15 minutes to get an effective talk on. A 1500 foot ceiling had rolled in so my lead held above using the targeting pod through breaks in the clouds while I dropped down low altitude. I flew low through the valleys and rolled into the wrong one.

 I broke off the pass, spun and rolled onto the right target. Right as it settled in my sights, an Apache helicopter flew in front of me. He wasn't talking to anyone so I aborted the attack. The Apaches got up on freq and started working the area. I stayed at about 1500' using binoculars to watch the area. I found 8 camels saddled up on a ridge above the friendlies. No one was around the camels, so we figured this was terrorist transportation. The Apache's had Chinooks in tow, so we deconflicted from them while they held outside of the firefight. Savage, a flight of HMLA-773 Cobras arrived and we coordinated to help them escort Dustoff into the ambush site.

 After Dustoff cleared the area, we bingoed out for home. Higher headquarters wanted our flight back into the fight so we got the KC-135 to chase us down. We rejoined, and the KC-135 dragged us back south to the fight. When we got back on station, we started taking moderate small arms/automatic weapons fire from a mountain top. The FAC cleared us in to the target.

My flight lead's gun malfunctioned, so we coordinated a Joint Air Attack Team attack with another flight of USMC Cobras. I rolled in with two AH-1 Cobra gunships following me down the chute. It was very dark because a massive thunderstorm had blown up right over the target area. The first pass was rainy and I came off dry due to late clearance. I spun around, picked up the Cobras and rolled back in. I flew through heavy rain and shot a 3 second burst of high explosive incendiary 30mm bullets into the enemy position near the crest of the mountain. Even with bleed air rain remove and anti-ice, the water all over the windscreen made the explosions from 170 bullets look a lot closer than they were. It was a Low Angle Strafe pass so I was close to eye level with the target. The Cobras rained HE and flechette rockets into the same area as I pulled off target. We received no more fire from that location.

It was the most challenging attack I have ever done. Shortly after, the ground forward air controller reported hail, lightning, rain and high winds. As the dry river beds filled up with flood water, the Hogs and Cobras backed out. While my lead and I were waiting out the storm, I had a near collision with a HUGE prehistoric looking bird. As it went down the left side of the jet, I got a master caution light. It turned out that it missed, and the light was a Low Oil Pressure from bunting over too hard. It caught my attention! When we finally left for home, we climbed to FL 230 and saw a massive thunderstorm sitting right on the border. It looked about 20 miles wide and up to 40K at least. We had no idea that such a huge storm had blown up so fast.

- M


On the Transit Ordnung! Story:

Eat Candy, go to jail...


Sue here.

For the moment, eating on the Metro is outlawed in an effort to keep things tidy. Will society get to the point that over-eaters will become like smokers? Will they be relegated to eating their meals out in front of buildings so that they don't offend other eaters?

I am exaggerating, of course. However, as I read the follow-up story to the Candy Bar-gate, I had this vision of smokers and obese people gathered in front of doors on cold, snowy days indulging in their addictions.

I think I need to go to bed. It's late on the East coast.


Snacker's Arrest Irks Metro Board Balance Sought On Enforcement

By Lyndsey Layton Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, July 31, 2004; Page B01

Several Metro board members said they want to review the transit system's enforcement of its rule against eating and drinking after a woman was handcuffed, arrested and charged with chewing a candy bar in the Metro Center Station.

"It's a question of striking the right balance," said D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who represents the District on the Metro board. "I'm not advocating to lift the rule or relax the rule; I'm looking for ways to avoid people ending up in handcuffs for chewing a candy bar."

Charles Deegan, who represents Prince George's County on the board, said he thought the Transit Police officer who made the arrest overreacted. "She probably needs -- what do you call it? An attitude adjustment," said Deegan, who joined Graham and board member Gladys W. Mack of the District in calling for a review of the policy.

But Metro Police Chief Polly Hanson said that Officer Cherrail Curry-Hagler tried to issue a citation to Stephanie Willett and was forced to arrest her because she refused to stop and produce identification.

"The reason she got locked up is because she wouldn't stop to let us give her a ticket," said Hanson, who added that she is investigating the arrest but that it appears her officer acted in accordance with department procedures.

News of the arrest lit up phones at talk radio stations and brought Willett national attention.

About 6:30 p.m. July 16, Willett was eating a PayDay candy bar while riding the escalator from 11th Street NW into the station. Curry-Hagler, who was riding up on another escalator, warned Willett to finish the candy before entering the station.

Willett nodded but kept chewing the peanut-and-caramel bar as she walked through the fare gates. Curry-Hagler, who had turned around and followed Willett, warned her again as she stuffed the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into the trash can near the station manager's kiosk, according to both Willett and the officer.

Curry-Hagler told Willett to stop and produce identification because she intended to write a citation, Hanson said. Willett said she refused to stop and told the officer, "Why don't you go and take care of some real crime?" while still chewing the PayDay bar as she rode a second escalator to catch her Orange Line train.

At that point, Willett said, Curry-Hagler grabbed her and patted her down, running her hands around Willett's bust, under her bra and around her waist. She put Willett in a police cruiser and took her to the D.C. police 1st District headquarters, where she was locked in a cell. At 9:30 p.m., after she paid a $10 fee, Willett was released to her husband. She is scheduled to appear in court in October for a hearing.

Willett, a 45-year-old scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency who lives in Bowie, said she was arrested because she talked back to a police officer.

Hanson said that wasn't true. "It's an indication of her state of mind," Hanson said. "The ridership of the Metro is highly educated and maybe getting stopped and having your behavior corrected in front of people isn't something you think you should have to put up with. Her actions led to her arrest. The verbiage is just an indication of how uncooperative she was."

Willett's arrest for eating was the second this year. Since Jan. 1, transit police have fined 58 other snackers on the Metro and given 308 written warnings.

Hanson said her police take the no-eating and no-drinking rule seriously because of complaints by the public about greasy wrappers, empty bottles and sticky spills on the trains and buses and in stations. "Some people who've been riding this system for years feel it's pretty dirty right now," she said.

T. Dana Kauffman, who represents Fairfax County on the Metro board, said he supports the candy bar arrest. "Fundamentally, people don't want to be sitting in food, looking at food or listening to food," he said.

Policies vary elsewhere. In Chicago and San Francisco, eating and drinking is prohibited on subways and buses. But in New York and Boston, food is sold inside stations and no one bats an eye at snackers.

"You can have your Doritos and soda on the train," said Lydia Rivera, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. "Just take your garbage with you."

C 2004 The Washington Post Company

Note that the wrapper was thrown into the trash, not on the floor. Note that the candy bar was entirely in the mouth, so it's apparently enough to be chewing on something to get you rubbed down and handscuffed.



Subject: "Kerry Phishing"

Dr. Pournelle:

Phishing has moved into the political arena:

"In a world awash in fake e-mails designed to steal personal information, it was probably inevitable. This weekend, researchers discovered a near perfect imitation of a recent solicitation sent by the Kerry-Edwards campaign. The notice was a hoax, sending users off to a Web site controlled by a computer hacker. ....

"The Web site designed to collect the stolen information was disabled on Sunday. And a clever tactic employed by the Kerry campaign's Webmaster also foiled the e-mail -- effectively hacking the hacker.

"The original version of the fake e-mail referenced a genuine image of Cam Kerry that was hosted on the legitimate campaign Web site. Over the weekend, that image was replaced by a statement from the Kerry campaign indicating the e-mail was a fraud. Because the fake e-mail used the Kerry campaign site as the source for its image, when users called up the e-mail, instead of Cam Kerry's face, they saw a notice saying "Do not donate using any link in this e-mail."

Regards....Rick Hellewell information security at digital choke dot com

I suppose it had to happen. Sheesh.


Subject: Purple Heart

As a former/retired Intell weanie, I hate to disagree with a fellow former MI soldier, but Mr. Hamit is wrong in regard to the Purple Heart.

Prior to 1985, a purple Heart was only awarded to service members wounded/killed as a direct result of enemy fire, the Purple Heart was not awarded for wounds recieved as a result of "Friendly Fire."

This was changed by Public law 99-145, which expanded converage to those wounded or killed by "Friendly Fire" while engaged in combat with enemy forces. Jessica Lynch, and every one in the HMMWV with her, was awarded a Purple Heart as a result of a vehicle accident caused by evasive maneuvers made while under enemy fire. A soldier wounded/killed in a normal, non-combat, traffic accident in a war zone would not qualify for a Purple Heart. And, at least for Army personnel, the award is not automatic. In certain situations the award can be denied if the commander decides the wound resulted from personal negligence, such as walking through a clearly marked off-limits/mined area, or searching for/retrieving war souvenirs.

This exact issue came up on a forum I follow, and was forced to research this before inserting foot to mouth. The Internet is great, when you can a trustworthy source.



AR 600-8-22 Military Awards 

Michael Goldsberry

P.S. Love your books.

I thought I recalled it that way. The chap who broke his wrist with the typewriter and got a Purple Heart did so during some kind of enemy raid or artillery fire, which was the cause of his trying to open a locked cabinet using the typewriter. How much of his story was real and how much embellishment I cannot say, since it seems to have changed between the first and last time I heard it told.











This week:


read book now


Tuesday,  August 3, 2004


Subject:  Iraqi property disputes

Now I wonder where I heard about this before?

<snip> US-based group Human Rights Watch is warning that unresolved property disputes in northern Iraq have produced a crisis which may turn violent. </snip> 

Don't you ever get tired of being omniscient? Doesn't that spoil daily living?

Braxton Cook

Well, I don't claim omniscience. That one was pretty easy to predict. The remedy is to get courts people respect.


I think some readers may be amused that these things get equal billing in the Museum of "Tolerance".

Talk radio is mentioned as verging on "hate speech", but a museum supposedly dedicated to "what happens what hatred goes unchallenged" has no mention whatsoever of the 100 million murdered by the Communists. I suppose the Red Terror, Great Leap Forward, Ukrainian Famine, etc. don't count as inhuman. The people killed were killed by those who *meant well*, after all...and don't you know, it's so *gauche* to go bashing on about the asymmetric treatment afforded Communism and Nazism...

Check it out for yourself: 

Here's the article: 

"The Wiesenthal Center helped create the form: the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, founded in 1993, uses the Holocaust as its core exhibit, a kind of case study of what happens when hatred goes unchallenged. Other exhibits look at the civil rights movement and the activity of white-supremacist hate groups. Those topics offer easy moral choices; few rational Americans disagree about, say, the repugnance of the Ku Klux Klan. In its interactive exhibits, the museum does address a few more complex issues, like racial profiling by the police or the line between free speech and hate speech in talk radio."


Well, after all, the Great Leap Forward was a long time ago... The capacity of people to be beastly is hard to overestimate.






This week:


read book now


Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Mr. Pournelle,

I read your recent column in Dr. Dobbs. If it is not too presumptuous, I would like to offer what I have done in regards to a computer that is outside of a home network.

If you take a look at the attached graphic, you can see what I did. I put two NICs into my computer. One is configured to use DHCP and the other is configured to static IP setting for my DSL line. I have several static IPs with my broadband service.

Depending on my current needs, I plug one of the Ethernet cables into my computer, depending on what I want to do. Having them both connected causes no problems, but opens the vulnerability of a bridge up. Most of the time, I keep my computer behind the router, but on occasion, I simply switch cables and am outside the router on the wild and wooly internet.

Two NICs are not essential, you could reconfigure the adapter each time, but I find having two saves me time and headache.

On a separate note, I have found that Webroot Spysweeper is a well done piece of anti-spyware. I have used AdAware and Spybot and think that Spysweeper does a better job. It's not free, but I believe you get what you pay for in these cases. It is quite similar to Norton Anti-Virus, with a LiveUpdate-style system in place. In my tests, Spysweeper will even remove CoolWebShop, the most pernicious spyware I know.

Good luck in the quest for cyber safety.


-Michael Pusateri


Jerry, Not quite sure how I got to your site other than doing a search on the phrase "Bob's your uncle." But I have an important question for somebody in England. I woke up in the middle of the night with t.v. on some nature show and they were talking about wild cats of England living in the hedge rows.

Is it true?

Are they nice or naughty kitties?

Was I in any danger when I was walking in Kent or Surrey?

Can Tony Blair join up w/ W. Bush to make England safe from these wild beasts?

Has any one sent their M.P. out to look for the Weapons of Cat Destruction?

Are they al Qaeda cats?

Do you know of anyone eaten by these feline terrorists?

Can we send you George W. Bush?

all the best, tom


Subject: Homeland Security Simon.

-- Roland Dobbins


Subject: Unfair use.,1412,64453,00.html?tw=wn_story_top5

- Roland Dobbins


Subject: What happened to the NTC

If you are not aware, the !!th ACR is being 

The U.S. Army is retraining its reserve infantry units before sending them to Iraq. New training courses concentrate on teaching skills that are specific to the kind of situations they will encounter in Iraq. For example, troops fire more ammunition in a few weeks than they normally do in two or three years. The trainers, most of whom have served in Iraq, demonstrate the firing positions typical in Iraq (like firing from a hummer or truck.) Special first aid training emphasizes treatment of wounds common in Iraq (like those from roadside bombs.) Troops also go to the NTC (National Training Center), where several hundred Arab-American (most of them immigrants from Iraq) civilians act as Iraqi civilians in several different scenarios. This way the troops get to experience dealing with Iraqis under realistic conditions (in mock Iraqi villages or towns), and then have the Arab-American trainers critique them on their performance in English. Most of the Iraqi-American trainers have friends and family in Iraq, and keep up on changes in civilian reactions to American troops, and update their training scripts. The troops also get courses on Arab culture and, from troops have already served in Iraq, what to do, or not do, to get the best results. The culture specific training pays big dividends for troops manning roadblocks, raiding Iraqi homes or dealing with hostile crowds.

This sort of thing gets little attention, but plays a major role in keeping American casualties down. It’s also helping Iraqi police and soldiers, who are getting similar training on the technical aspects of fighting on the road, or in the midst of typical Iraqi buildings. You’d think that the Iraqis would just “know” how fight in their own back yard, but Iraqi military training was never insightful or thorough enough. American trainers are changing that, and the Iraqi police and para-military forces are a lot more effective as a result.

John Monahan


Subject: George's Blog.

-- Roland Dobbin

No comment. None. Zero. Absolutely no comment...










CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, August 5, 2004


I happened by your view page: and ran into several broken links. Click on "Single Stage Rocket Technology". You'll see what I mean.

Best wishes,


Fixed. Thanks. I had archived a bunch of those. I no longer put those indexes on the mail page, although perhaps I should. Anyway the links work now.

Bad news for Linux

Tracy Walters

It just may be: not sure about what this means yet.

re: Spekaing of property rights

The Lunar Embassy and Eros Project may see their bills increase soon:

Al Payne.



Dr. Pournelle:

I read your latest Byte column about Xandros, so decided to give it a try. But before I installed it, I noted that the "Business" edition (which you used) costs $129.

Xandros has several versions, one of which is 'free'. The free one doesn't contain the "CodeWeavers Crossover Office" which allows you to install Windows programs. Xandros does include Open Office (MS Office equivalent), and you can buy CrossOver for $75.

The free version also doesn't allow a 'dual-boot' installation, such as the one that you did. The Business version ($129) is the only one that works with Active Directory.

The free version uses Opera as the browser, the other versions use Mozilla. (Comparison matrix here:  )

Users wishing to try out Xandros can download it for free, but the free version is limited. The download of any of their versions uses BitTorrent, which requires installing the BitTorrent program. (Although you can bypass BitTorrent for $10.)

Your column piqued my curiosity, though, so I'll try it out as "Aunt Minnie" might. I'll see if my experiences with the free version are comparable with yours.

Regards, Rick Hellewell, information security at digital choke dot com

It still works. Some things are a bit peculiar. We are having problems printing from the web browser as an example (although not from Word).


Francis Hamit makes a big deal about Republicans who weren't there denigrating the records of Democrats who were. Well, I was there, on the Gun Line, for almost seven months and I, for one, would like to know how John Kerry got his sorry little ass sent back home so fast. From what I understand, either he had and used pull to get himself sent back (just like the pull he's acusing Bush of using to keep from going) or he was such a poor or disliked officer that he was sent back to get rid of him. In either case, his short tour does not reflect well on his qualifications as an officer.

Maybe that's why he turned against the war when he came home: sour grapes.

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

Actually the story is simpler:

Subject: Why Kerry returned so fast

The reason for Kerry being shipped back to the US was that had had 3 Purple Hearts and the rule at the time was that 3 would let your ask to be transferred back to the U.S. and Kerry chose to do that. He didn't use any political connections to get home.

A bit more info is that before he was on a Swift Boat, he was on a large Navy ship for 1 year, so his active military career was more than 4 months.

- Stephen Hart

And that is also being said on the radio shows, so I presume it's well known. Most of this is irrelevant to anything: the curious part is that so much is being made of it by the Democrats, with Viet Nam vets on the stage at the Convention and so forth.



Dear Jerry,
I recently posted this urgent message at a restricted access security affairs site, and was hoping that your much larger  audience might help get the word out before it is too late:
Baboons on rampage in South African town
Mon Jun 14,11:41 AM ET

CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Residents of a small South African coastal town are threatening to declare all-out war on baboons who have terrorised pre-schoolers, raided homes for food and urinated on clothes after pulling them out of closets.
This is by no means an isolated incident:
Monkey uprising overruns Bangladeshi town.

Monkeys terrorize Indian government.

Monkeys invade Indian embassy in Nepal. 
(An alliance with Maoist rebels perhaps?)

That's right, there is growing evidence that monkeys and their relatives are plotting to overthrow human civilization.
You think they are cute hairy little bare-ass creatures, but don't let the sly beasts fool you!
At some point in the year 2004, the Moon will align with (something or other) and unleash harmonic forces that will cause a great awakening in the conciousness of every ape, monkey, and baboon... spider monkeys and lemurs, too. Then the little monsters are going to rip and sack their way through the unsuspecting nations of the Earth.
Many leading humans have been aware of this simian conspiracy for some time. Why do you think experienced ape-fighter Charlton Heston was named to lead the NRA a few years ago? Heston is out of it now, but others have taken his place in preparing our resistance to this onslaught of subversion and gorilla warfare.
Stock up on ammo, guns, and bananas!

The conspiracy seems to be concentrated in the Indian subcontinent. An attempt to gain control of Indian nuclear weapons at an early stage?
Can we be sure that all of our posters are loyal humans? Couldn't one or more of them be the proverbial monkey pecking at a keyboard, sent here to spy out the potential Resistance. Hmmmm?
The Truth is Out There, somewhere.
Jimmy Reynolds

I have no comments....

Subject: the charitable folks at the TSA

Hello Dr Pournelle: The link below shows that our protectors at the TSA have actually benefited certain charitable organizations. So the next time your belt, buckle, pocket knife, scissors, Medal of Honor, or any other item which may be considered dangerous in the hands of unsavory citizens are taken from you, some comfort may be found in the thought that you may be contributing to a good cause.

Ah. So.


Dr. Pournelle:

This week's (or perhaps, day's) warnings:

1) The "Brador" virus is meant for your Pocket PC PDA (or Pocket PC Phone). It arrives via an email attachment. When executed, it installs a back door on your PDA on a port that anyone could use. The back door will allow file transfer (read or write), or command execution. It's fairly new, but reported to be in the "wild". Details here  .

The implication is significant, as expressed by the folks at the Internet Storm Center "The PDA, though, could prove to be the perfect soft target. They're usually highly insecure by default, and are allowed to waltz right past the firewall and join the network, no questions asked. Add innate wireless capabilities, often via 802.11b, Bluetooth, and infrared, and a little-known autorun "feature" (highlighted at last week's Black Hat and DefCon security conferences) and you've got an easily owned vector for $CODE_OF_YOUR_CHOICE. "

More of these are inevitable.

2) We all know about 'phishing' on IE, and how to fool you with an link that is not what it seems. There is a similar problem with the Opera browser. If exploited, it can allow the attacker read access to files on your computer, just by you visiting a web page. It's a javascript exploit, but a bit hard to do. It appears that the vulnerability has been around for a while, and only partially fixed.

Regards, Rick Hellewell, information security at digital choke dot com


Xandros Free Download

Dr. Pournelle,

Xandros is now available as a free (non-Bit Torrent) download at  

I purchased Xandros Version 2 Business Edition on July 14th, received it on the 23rd, and had it up and running that night. In fact, it only took 2 hours to install. That might seem long, but that time includes pulling a 20GB HD from an old computer (PII 233, still working with the original 4GB Drive! Remember when 4GB seemed large?), installing it in my P4 2.8, formatting and partitioning it using the Xandros installation program, installing Xandros as a dual boot with my XP Pro OS, registering the product, downloading all available updates and configuring my mail. In truth that time also includes removing the HD and changing the jumpers from Master to Slave (I hope I haven't offended any California civic politicians!) and reinstalling it. For a lark, I formatted the drive the next day and did a fresh installation of Xandros, it took less than 35 minutes.

I love Xandros! It's a clean looking GUI, stable and secure. It found my Windows network no problem, including a box that my Window XP Pro can't see. The only problem I've experienced so far is my old Canon BJC 4300 ink jet printer which printed a test page (badly) and hasn't printed since, either through Xandros or XP. (Honey, can I buy a new printer, maybe a laser this time? Didn't think so!) Considering the few times I print, not a real biggie. I'm rolling up the sleeves this weekend to fix that problem, regardless.

I installed my Office 2K disks using the bundled Crossover app, upgraded the IE 5.0 to 6.0 and installed SP2, you know, just to have IE on a Linux box! I'm typing this in Mozilla Mail, and I am using Opera as the browser. This version also comes with Star Office. I could have saved some dough, bought the $89 version and not have received Active Directory capability and 30 additional days of installation support. Considering that they were selling the $129 version for only $97, I splurged the extra $8!

Aunt Minnie could have done most of this stuff herself. My only beef is the lack of commercial games that work on Linux, and the lack of retailers selling the ones that do. Linux needs LOTS of work at that end. An OS that is only good for productive work is an OS that is a fringe market.

Bill Grigg Linux Newbie since 07/23/04









CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday, August 6, 2004

And then we have:

“It is, no doubt <> , as hard for American and European mandarins to imagine being conquered by Chinese troops equipped with superior weaponry as it was for Chinese Mandarins to imagine the reverse, two hundred years ago. Will our mandarins be smart enough to learn from that experience? That's the question, isn't it?”


A few years ago, the journal for the [US] National Defense University included a note that a PRC war college article called for the ability to defeat the US by 2029. Recognizing that very little gets published without official approval somewhere, the question then became: were they announcing policy or just allowing a couple of relatively junior officers to rattle cages?

The most straightforward (and safest) way to answer this was (is): decide what the PRC must do to reach that goal, and see if they’re doing it. It’s important to be at the leading edge of some of this stuff; which is why, for example, the anti-missile defense is being worked on now.


Indeed. See Strategy of Technology, which looked at this in 1970. Some lessons have to be learned over and over.


And something else to worry about:


As an executive at a US-based software development company, this is very worrisome. Especially since one of customers just sent our source code to a company in India who is supposed to maintain the system for them. The fact that there are no IP laws there just about makes any kind of consequences for theft unlikely.

Source Code Stolen From U.S. Software Company in India

Jolly Technologies reported that an insider stole portions of the source code and confidential design documents relating to a key product and said it has stopped all development at its R&D center in Mumbai.,4902,95045,00.html?nlid=SEC2

Tracy Walters


August 6, 2004: The U.S. Army’s M9 pistol caused some excitement in Iraq. Not because of the old debate over the knock down power of the 9mm versus the old .45 (11.4mm) pistol, but because more of the troops wanted a pistol, any pistol. This is because the pistol was often more suitable for the police functions, like searching rooms, and when patting down individuals. That said, the troops who did have the M9 9mm pistol had some problems with them in Iraq. Turns out that all the fine particle sand in Iraq screwed up the magazine, causing the spring in the magazine to fail to feed rounds. The fix was to load only eight rounds, instead of 15, or get the magazines made by the M9’s manufacturer (Beretta). Some troops were doing that, as well as getting better holsters (the thigh holster was a favorite, but anything that could hold more ammo magazines was popular.) Some troops managed to scrounge up pistols, although this was not always officially permitted. Some of those soldiers with 9mm pistols also bought, with their own money, commercial laser aiming (red dot") systems. They found that a hostile civilian would often calm down when he noted the red dot on his chest (from the pistol laser aiming system). Used like this, the M9 became a “non-lethal weapon” that worked.

John Monahan

All of which goes along with the separation of military from constabulary functions. Constabulary units should be trained and equipped for their work: and not be used as primary combat units. Sure, you can have some General Purpose troops for some functions, but if you want cutting edge troops to defeat an organized enemy, constables aren't the proper forces.

Real armies are good at breaking things and killing people, and if all have is a hammer, all your problems begin to look like nails....


Subject: Air Marshall on Flight 327 talks,8599,676558,00.html 

He never saw any activity that caused him to ask the pilots to turn on the seat belt sign (which he can request) and keep people in their seats. "Nothing my main partner or I saw on Flight 327 brought us anywhere near a conclusion that we considered breaking our cover or deploying as we've been trained. And we never came close to drawing our weapons."


But: the band played one night, for about 400 people at $30 a head, call it 500 at 50 if you like counting drinks, and add more gambling, and maybe the Casino got $20 grand out of it. The cost for tickets from Lebanon is about $2500. Travel expenses alone would have been about at much as the band was paid.

Tell me why this all makes sense? Or any of it? I don't need to buy the "terrorist test scenario" to wonder what was happening here.

Subject: neoJacobins haven't learned the rules.

Dr. Pournelle,

Regarding: "I would have thought even neo-Jacobins in Washington would know that. If you can't protect people, then people will go to those who can protect them." That really makes you think.

On the one hand, maybe the reason they don't know your rule is because they've been politically successful in the US by focusing on 'image' security like TSA, and ignoring 'substance' security, like energy independance and working the root causes of terrorism.

On the other hand, when it comes to image they do understand your rule, because a centerpiece of neoJacobin domestic politics is: "we'll protect you and the other guys can't".

So in the US, as far as they have seen, your rule is true only for image, but not for substance.

The problem with Iraq is, the rule holds for image AND substance. The Iraqis have immediate danger there across most of their society, not just in their inner cities like in the US (LA, DC, etc). Since the neoJacobins are so poor at taking advice ("with us or against us"), they are having a real hard time realizing your rule applies differently in Iraq compared to the US. If they could learn it, they probably wouldn't be neoJacobins any more.


Good point. It deserves a longer comment but the deadlines are upon me.

Foxes and lions: see Pareto...


Subject: A Modest Phishing Proposal


With regards to your item on the phishing scam e-mails. Might it not be a good idea for anyone who recognises these e-mails for what they are to go to the site indicated and enter incorrect data. That way the poor phishermen will have their good data diluted in a pool of bad. It might even get them to give up and go back to requesting help getting their late father/uncle's money out of the country. :-)

Keep up the good work, it is much appreciated.


-------------Ian Crowe
Technical Support Manager IPV Ltd.

Hmm. I'd love to discombobulate those people, but I'm not sure there isn't a danger in doing this. What think all of you?














This week:


read book now


Saturday, August 7, 2004

SUBJECT: Lord Napier's doctrine does not apply?

Dr. P.,

I don't know if you've already seen this in today's _Los Angeles Times_:

"Ruth Shulver, press officer on a racial crime task force in Scotland Yard that works on crimes resulting from forced marriages, said, 'We have to act on honor crimes within the framework of existing laws on crimes like intimidation, harassment, domestic violence or kidnapping.'

"But the police must not be seen as interfering in cultural traditions, she said. 'We have to maintain a very careful balance.'"

la-fg-marriages7aug07,1,2902344.story?coll=la-headlines-world >

Personally, I prefer the brand of intolerance ascribed to Lord Napier in confronting the Hindu practice of suti.


Bill Clardy

Yes, I saw that and I also was reminded of Napier. But that was in another country, and the Empire is dead.

Subject: RE: Tracy Walters, Bad news for Linux, Thursday, August 5, 2004

The firm Open Source Risk Management LLC is only technically an insurance company. Mind you, the fact of being an insurance company is important because it gives OSRM legal standing for lawsuits. OSRM is in fact a collective legal counterattack fund. Dan Ravicher, Pamela Jones, et. al. are going lead counterattacks on patents before they can actually be used to sue anyone. From there, they will hopefully be able to escalate to legal counterattacks on the patenting process. If they could manage to drag one of the more "prolific" patent examiners into court, or before a senate subcommittee, that would be very effective because it would put the fear of the Lord into the others. Jones is posting instructions on how to read a patent on her Groklaw site, an important point because patent language diverges from ordinary engineering understanding. Think of it as a commando raid on the enemy's lines of communications, to disrupt his offensive. The actual risk of patents lies in the costs of meritless litigation. From that standard, it doesn't matter whether a patent is well-founded or ill-founded, or simply irrelevant.

Andrew D. Todd

This is very important, and I want to take it up again next week after deadlines. Thanks!

Subject: MY WAR - Fear And Loathing In Iraq

Just another California boy:

A Picasso painting (Guernica), a quote from Sherman (Civil War), 30' long spray painted words "FUCK YOU AMERICANS! -muhammad" on a highway overpass, boring patrols looking for IED's, 9 hour gunfight with bullets and RPG's striking all around. And a lot more -- see it at .

This soldier's blog is amazing.

Somehow, this kid (says he got mostly D's in high school) is writing it all down. You've got to read it!

Bill Mackintosh

I agree. This lad is a natural. His Men In Black report is stunning.

Subject:  I just can't believe this one 

"The immigrants will be provided with housing and furniture, they will be helped to learn the English language and to complete formalities needed for residence in the US, which is especially important, and have been promised life-long welfare allowances for pensioners and the disabled."

well, why even learn English? and this with a GOP Congress and White House, too! if this was the lead on every newscast and in every newspaper, there'd be a - well, WOULD there?

C Preston

Melting pots work only if there is some inducement to melt. It is not politically correct to suggest that new Americans should learn American culture, or even that new immigrants, legal or otherwise, become or have any regard for Americans and American culture.

And neither political party seems concerned or even interested. It is of course the new barbarian invasion of the West. Gibbons thought we were, at long last, secure from the East, with our cannon and musketry and fortresses. It is to laugh.






CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, August 8, 2004

I have some very reliable reports from inside Baghdad but they take editing to get identification stuff out of them. That should be up tomorrow,. 

The most straightforward (and safest) way to answer this was (is): decide what the PRC must do to reach that goal, and see if they're doing it. It's important to be at the leading edge of some of this stuff; which is why, for example, the anti-missile defense is being worked on now.


1) Lot's of Red Chinese Technology comes from the west. If the advancement of technology in Red China is through purchasing it from someone else, the only way to exceed the technical expertise of the west, is to purchase from the future.

2) Our edge is mainly in computer technology, and that advances by leaps and bounds, so by the time Red China and their bureaucracy has lethargically applied the microchips they have bought from us, they are obsolete. I don't think there is any Silicon Valley there, either.

3) It has not been 70 years yet for Red China to exist. I suggest things are not all what they seem in the People's paradise. If they try to get into a technology war with the west, they will risk going the way of the USSR.

4) In order to take advantage of that technology they have to send students over here to learn at our universities. Exposure to western culture can result in picking up more than technical expertise.

Brice Yokem Senior Programmer/Analyst

The principles set forth in The  Strategy of Technology apply just as much to the Technology War with China as ever they did to the Cold War...

Subject: IBM -- Stealthy Leader?

Hello Dr. Pournelle,

According to Moore, IBM has very quietly become the computer industry leader once again. 


Clyde Wisham

**** "There is no devil; it's just God with a hangover."-- R. W. Schnee ****

Who'd have thunk it? But I learned early from IBM and have always had a soft spot in my heart for the company. They gave the University of Washington a 650, and free programming classes to graduate students who were interested in learning how to use it. This was about 1956. We were working on inverting a 60 x 60 matrix, which no one had ever done before...







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