jp.jpg (13389 bytes)


Mail 322 August 9 - 15, 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  August 9, 2004

See View for news on XP Sp 2

Lots of good stuff over the weekend.


And Greg Cochran on the latest in Iraq:

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

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

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

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

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

Gregory Cochran >

Monday, August 9, 2004

The northern pipeline was already blown up, and now they have suspended production in the south, because of threats from Sadr. At least for the moment. it makes sense for insurgents , as I said before. 20 billion was a WAG - the real food import number is considerably lower - but no oil means no money for the Iraqi government - other than what we give them.

"Oil Prices Rise After Iraq Ceases Production From Some Key Fields, Fueling Supply Worries

A senior official with Iraq's oil company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the southern oil fields stopped pumping oil Monday after militants loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to target the oil infrastructure in Basra. " - ABC News, August 9th, 2004 >

Not aimed at you, Jerry, but rather the pinheads of the world who refuse to see the obvious:

I told you so.

Gregory Cochran

I continue to wonder: If Halliburton, the US Army, and the US Marine Corps can't manage to bring in the oil, who can? Without that oil the US economy is in bad shape and getting worse. Energy prices and economic health of the US are very highly (and negatively) correlated as anyone can see. Conservation won't do it. If you could conserve your way to prosperity Bangladesh would be rich (there's an essay in that, but later).

And I told them so before we invaded. If we're going in, we have to get the oil pumping. The money goes to Iraq. We aren't after their oil, we are after selling enough to bring the world price down to $20/bbl.

And I sent this to subscribers this morning (note I have not posted new subscribers in a week or so; apologies)

I received these two mails this morning. Be careful out there!:


I have now received four different unsolicited ZIP files, including one apparently from Ernest, which makes me think we are experiencing a new virus attack. I'm not stupid enough to open the ZIP files, and Norton hasn't found a virus in the ZIP files (though I just checked that Norton was up to date) yet.

I counsel a mail blast to the jerrypournelle subscribers ONLY AFTER we have identified what sort of virus it is. If I was forced to guess I would think it's probably a Bagle variant.

The other three were from Taipei companies, so I suspect it's just hitting on that side of the world and is going to start getting ugly in the Western hemisphere soon.


Alex Pournelle, Director, PC and LAN Practice, Tech/Knowledge ( VP Business Development, Location Connect ( (800) 818-TECH or (626) 844-1000; Fax (626) 844-1001

My email server auto-blocks any zip file with an exe in it, unless its password protected. Subsequently I've yet to see a virus come my way since I had the new email server setup going. Here is the info on this new virus, it would appear to be a new Bagle variant, yay! : 024913.html VName=WORM_BAGLE.AC

Current discussion on this can be found here (scroll to the bottom and read the "no subject" posts near the end: 024911.html

Most vendors don't seem to have this in their online databases or signature files yet. Be careful. Other useful links:

Hope this helps.

- -Dan S.

Take heed and take care. Do Not Open Unexpected Attachments even if they are from your best friend.


Subject: AIM vulnerability, critical ( priority one).

- Roland Dobbins

AIM Users take note






This week:


read book now


Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

After reading your notes about installing SP2 requiring 26 minutes on an Intel machine, I thought you might be interested in the results of installing on an AMD Athlon 64.

The Machine in question consists of an Athlon 64 3200+ processor on an MSI board with one gigabyte of Crucial DDR400 Ram and a Maxtor 250GB Serial ATA 150 drive. Windows XP Professional is the OS.

After downloading the file and copying it to a network folder on my server, it took 111/2 minutes from clicking on the file to final logon for the service pack to install.

Since then I have also installed SP2 on an AthlonXP 2500+ with 500Megabytes of ram. It required only 23 minutes.

I'm sorry, I just like poking at bears with sticks. I have a network with a Windows 2003 server, a SUSE Linux 9.0 server, two workstations, two laptops, and a third workstation VPNing in from another house: everything except one laptop is AMD. It's been alot of years since I bought Intel and I've never had a single regret.

Thanks for your time, I really just wanted to give you the comparison figures; I hope you find them of some use.

Brad Lyons

I have since installed SP-2 on other machines. I find that if they did not have SP-2 RC-2 installed, the new installation goes much faster. I suppose that should not be a surprise.


Dr Pournelle,

The price of oil

And I told them so before we invaded. If we're going in, we have to get the oil pumping. The money goes to Iraq. We aren't after their oil, we are after selling enough to bring the world price down to $20/bbl.

Beware of what you wish for.

While we may think we do, we don’t really want the price of oil falling to $20/barrel. We really want it to get to $50/barrel and to climb slowly and steadily from there on, ahead of inflation, until it gets to something like $100/barrel in today’s money. That’s not so out of line with the equivalent of $70/barrel in today’s money the stuff was costing some 20 years ago—which inevitably led within a few years to a glut, and $20/barrel oil.

Oil is an unusual commodity in that demand is almost completely price inelastic but supply is highly price elastic. Of course demand for oil increases or decreases in line with general economic growth—but not in line with the price of the stuff. Nonetheless the economics of oil are simple enough: make it expensive enough and within a few years there will be a glut; make it too cheap and right away there will be a drought.

At $20/barrel, many of today’s marginal fields would shut down to wait for the price to rise again, and exploration and production of new fields would stop. Result--> immediate drought.

At $50/barrel, the price would justify pumping everywhere that could be pumped, and exploration and production of new fields would be worthwhile again. Result--> eventual glut.

The reason for wishing for $100/barrel is that at that sort of price, it becomes economically viable to start developing alternative energy economies such as hydrogen.

And in the end, that will be the only way out from being ruled by oil and the unsavoury individuals who control access to where it buried.

Jim Mangles

This requires an answer, but I have to go work on a novel. It is a rather unusual view.


Dear Dr. Pournelle:

In the Friday, Aug. 6th, mail, Tracy Walters noted the theft of source code from an India-based contractor.

This is a major concern with companies like mine that have both India-contractor-based on-shore and off-shore personnel. Supposedly, all off-shore support agents work on workstations with no storage capability: no hard drive, no floppy drive, and no disk burners. We used to call them smart terminals. However, I doubt such network appliances would stop someone who truly wanted to steal source code. I can think of at least two ways grab the code and there are probably more.

This is a risk companies take in order to increase their bottom lines. Don't we all feel safer now that the code that runs our financial -- and other -- institutions is going across the globe? I wonder how comfortable investors are knowing that the code that handles withdrawals can be seen by contractors in India? Eh, as long as the dividends stay high, who cares?

(Name withheld)


Subject: Xandros

I have followed your writing for many years. Even after moving on to Linux years ago I still enjoy reading your column. Your column is the reason I have a Byte subscription.

Nothing would make me happier than have you report on Linux!!!

I was disappointed though, with you diluting Linux with Windows Software. Given your credentials I would have loved to have heard your opinion of the OpenOffice suite!

Gerald Bryant

SO far Open Office is useful only to those who need rather simple templates and formatting. It doesn't have anything like the features of Office 2000, much less Office 2003; or so it has proved for me.

You could live with Xandros, although you might find the game scene a bit sparse. I couldn't: there are just too many things I do. If I had to give up Windows, for the moment I'd take the Mac with Microsoft Office for the Mac instead. Between the Mac and Windows I still choose Windows, but that's in part because Windows runs my TabletPC (and a lot of games I like...)


Subject: Khan Leak

Is there anything to this story? Were the Bush Administration is talking to reporters on background while the Pakis were still running sting operation? Forget Sandy Berger, someone need to be fired if this is all true.  Let me say that this intelligence leak jeopardized our plan and some al-Qaida suspects ran away," one of the Pakistani officials said on condition of anonymity.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that Khan's name had been disclosed to reporters in Washington "on background," meaning that it could be published, but the information could not be attributed by name to the official who had revealed it.

The Pakistani officials said that after Khan's arrest, other al-Qaida suspects abruptly changed their hide-outs and moved to unknown places. On Monday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the White House to explain why Khan's name was revealed.

The disclosure on Aug. 1 came as the Bush administration was defending its decision to warn about possible attacks against U.S. financial buildings in New York, Washington and Newark, New Jersey.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan cautioned Monday that information may be more limited about future raids against al-Qaida suspects.



Subject: The Mote in Frank's Eye.

--- Roland Dobbins


Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Oil and Motes

Mr. Mangles has a point, but only so far. We won't ever really consider non-oil methods of energy until the oil is actually gone. I'm sure that people freaked out about the lowering levels of Whale Oil, right up to the time they started drilling petroleum. I'll even bet that there were unsavory whale oil cartels controlling the economy. There always is, isn't there?

Mote in Frank's eye:

Isn't it the leaking TV waves that are keeping the aliens at bay? I know that crap like Survivor, or Trump's Apprentice keeps me from watching!

AMD vs. Intel:

15 minutes, or 23 minutes, or 26 minutes doesn't strike me as being processor specific, but rather how many users are accessing the same files through the 'net. It took me about 21 minutes with my P4 2.8. So what?

Bill Grigg Who tries not to poke at wild animals with anything.

Actually, in my case I had the download already: the time was the installation time. I got the "Network" download and have been using it on all of my machines. It does seem to make a difference if you had SP-2 RC-2 or not; if you had that installed it takes longer to install the gold edition.

XP SP2 and RC2

Afternoon Jerry,

I've seen a lot of questions in blogs about installing the final SP2 over the release candidate without uninstalling. After seeing one response by a Microsoft rep that it works (and is actually supported), I installed it, and can report that it works just fine. Given the problems some folks report when uninstalling the release candidate (all devices disappearing for example), that's good news.

On a related note, for users of Symantec/Norton Antivirus, the new version 2005 is due out in the next month or so, and should be SP2 compatible. 2004 and earlier do not always integrate properly with the new security center. ZoneAlarm and it's antivirus work properly now.

Best regards,


Actually the SP-2 product manager told me it would install cumulatively with RC-2 so I never even tried uninstalling anything. But it does take a bit longer, or such was my experience.








This week:


read book now


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Begin with this.

RE: Feeling Even Safer Now

Homeland Security has just made us safer by deporting a professor of Christian systematic theology (Dr. Karkkainen) back to his home country of Finland from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. (Jerry, perhaps you know of the place, they're at the corner of E. Walnut and N. Oakland). Visa rules for religious workers teaching at seminaries now require that "A seminary must now be directly tied to a single denominational body for the U.S. government to consider it legitimate. Since Fuller is interdenominational, it apparently no longer counts."

Fuller is the largest interdenominational seminary in the world. There are many internationally acclaimed Biblical scholars from around the world who teach at this institution (I studied there myself and will vouch for this fact.) Homeland Security will have to keep a close eye on this place. Ah well. One source for the story is at

Mike Cheek Tallahassee

I don't suppose there is any way to rid ourselves of these politically correct clowns. Now it's true: it's easy to set up a "seminary" and use that as a means to bring in questionable people. But there is a difference between a Finnish Christian scholar at Fuller and "Dr. Ahmed Allahu Akbar of the Greater Glory Islamic Mosque (established Septermber 15, 2001). Not that I expect the jokers in HomeSec to understand this.

And voting out the present regime won't help. The newcomers will be even more politically correct.

Sigh. See also anarcho-tyranny in New York...

And if you think global warming is a threat:

Subject: Cumbre Vieja.

-- Roland Dobbins

So: when do we expect that particular doom? And is there a way to trigger such things?


Subject: PC Magazine - Apple ranked best overall.,1759,1623864,00.asp

-- Roland Dobbins

Not by gamesters they aren't...

But agreed Apple is back in business. Glaskowsky really loves his. And I still like Tablets...

Subject: PC Magazine - Apple ranked best overall

Dr. Pournelle,

True, Apples are good computers. Very well built, rock solid OS, excellent performers. They should garner high accolades, even from an Apple hater such as I. Perhaps I should clarify that. I used to own a Mac, years and years ago. When I went to upgrade the CPU I was informed that my existing printer and monitor wouldn't work with the newer model. Last time I bought a Mac!

Ferrari's are very good cars, well built, fast, exciting, and I expect them to garner high praise, too. They make and sell more Fords in one day, that Ferrari does in a year.

As you say about Apples, "not by gamer's they aren't". Truth be told, they play games very well, they just don't attract the attention of the programmers. Shame, really. Same with Linux, great OS, no games. I'll be keeping my Windows XP Pro for a while yet, though I enjoy using Xandros...

Bill Grigg




On another subject entirely:

Subject: Here's why Kerry shouldn't be President

 Many leaders had a hand in Washington's Cold War triumph, but Ronald Reagan's contributions were pivotal, and Kerry opposed every one of them. Reagan's defense buildup disabused Soviet leaders of any hope that they could ultimately come out ahead of the United States. Kerry derided these military expenditures as "bloated" and "without any relevancy to the threat." In particular, Reagan's plan to seek a missile defense system against Soviet ICBMs and NATO's decision to station new missiles in Europe to counteract the new Soviet deployment there rendered futile the Kremlin's vast investment in nuclear supremacy. Instead of these measures, Kerry advocated that we adopt a one-sided "nuclear freeze."

(correspondent name withheld)

SDI is critical: we are in a technological war with China whether we know it or not. I am not sure Bush knows this; but I am certain that Kerry does not know it, and the people around him are the old unilateralists.

I am of the view that we ought not engage in needless overseas adventures. I didn't want us in Somalia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Kosovo, or Iraq again. But I also know that wealthy republics do not survive without military strength. Strategic defense is a vital part of a program of technological superiority. We also need space based defenses, and one day we will need Thor.

I don't know if Bush will vigorously pursue a strategy of technology, but he says he will, and has made some moves in that direction. Not so with Kerry who has always acted as if we don't need one.

On domestic issues I frankly would prefer to vote Libertarian or Constitutionalist; I think the Republicans are not very good on those issues. But when it comes to overall military policy, I don't trust Kerry's insight into the necessity of a strategy of technology. I am not wild about Bush, but he does move in the right direction on that issue.

Subject: Alchohol in the military and Army morale

Dear Dr. Pournelle; I've enjoyed this site for some months, your writing for 30 years and your conversation on the few occasions we've met at various cons. I find that I rather agree with your views on the hijacking of the conservative movement/position by what you call the neojacobins (good phrase). The road to Empire was not what I intended to defend when I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, etc upon entering the U.S. Army long ago, nor was the notion of "peacekeeping" every tribal squabble in creation as the last administration seemed to enjoy, but rather the defense of the United States. Looking at what has been wrought, I rather regret the years I spent of discomfort, low pay and some danger; I certainly wouldn't do it again.

When I was with the 3rd Inf Div in Wurzburg, Germany in the late 1970's, alchohol was everywhere, including in the soft drink machine in the day room (25 cents for cokes or beer). Our main concern was with more serious substance abuse problems. Many times we NCO's were rousted out in the middle of the night, issued sidearms and then raided the EM barracks for hashish, heroin and amphetamines. A DUI was bad news as was drunk and disorderly and drunk on duty but, in general, alchohol, like tobacco and coffee, was the fuel of the Army. There was the stereotypical alchoholic lifer but mostly no real problem. I can't believe that this new generation is so much more incapable of holding its liquor than ours that it is the cause of various outrages such as Al-Gabib or at Guantanamo: more likely just a new PC similiar to the new, no smoking Army.

As to morale, I believe we have a serious problem. I've spoken with a fair number of National Guardsmen in my town who have been sent to Iraq (or to various airports, etc. in other states for periods up to and/or over a year) and many are angry; this was not what they enlisted for-if they wanted to go off adventuring, they would have joined the Regular Army. Most say they are sorry that they enlisted and will not re-enlist. Also, due to a winning fight with cancer, I've spent much time the last few years at the VA hospital and gotten involved with the DAV and other veterans groups. The majority of Veterans with whom I've spoken are vehemently opposed to this military adventure in Iraq (though not so much against Afganistan). This is true in your area in that the hospital I'm speaking of is West LA VA Hospital where I've spent 1 to 3 days a week for the last 18 months. Go over there and check it out, should you doubt. We've WWII vets, people from your war, Vietnam, Gulf War 1 and now this one. Most who speak are opposed. This includes some of the staff who are Reservists.

Finally, in regard to voting for the lesser evil, in this coming election it is like choosing between Hitler and Stalin, not just the Presidential candidates but the parties themselves. I'm considering joining my daughter and voting Green, not that I support their program but rather that they alone seem able to be an actual, viable third party. I'm really despairing for my country, much as one would for a father who's gone hopelessly insane.

Oh, on a pleasent note, is there any hope for the further adventures of Col. Falkenberg and King Lysander I? Though I love your writing, that series rates (with me) up with the general canon of H. Beam Piper (my all time SF favorite).


Gary L. Park onetime SGT USA

They taught me that it is as important for an officer to know what NOT to see as to look for things that ought to be found. As to how you know what you shouldn't see, it's simple: if a sergeant you trust doesn't want you to see it you'll know, and you have an important decision to make.

If I were going to vote other than Republican it would be Libertarian or Constitutionalist, but I worry a lot about losing 4 years in the technology war with China.


And from another conference: 

Why Al-Arian May Walk By Robert Spencer | August 11, 2004

He said, "Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn them and their allies until death." He is alleged to have used his position at the University of South Florida as cover for his activities as head of the American wing of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He is thought to have held a key position in the group's worldwide leadership and even to have established a cell of the terrorist group at his university. He helped sponsor conferences featuring Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a principal conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

He is, of course, the notorious Sami Al-Arian, and soon he may walk. Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Moody ruled that prosecutors not only have to show that Al-Arian raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but that he knew that what he was doing was illegal and would aid terrorist activities. According to defense attorney Bill Moffitt, who must have been resisting the impulse to jump and cheer in front of reporters: "They will have to show that the support they allege Dr. Al-Arian provided was directly connected to the violence the group carried out. It significantly raises the burden of proof, and rightly so."

Imagine for a moment that you are a terrorist. Besides blowing up people and buildings and spreading mayhem, you decide to win a few hearts and minds by opening a soup kitchen. Then you attract a supporter who helps you raise significant money; when this supporter is arrested, he says, "Oh, I was just supporting the soup kitchen. I didn't know they were killing anyone." Have things gotten so bad that we have to spell this out? Even if this imaginary terrorist group really does have an accounting system that allows the big supporter's money to be used only for its soup kitchen, that frees up other money to buy bombs. Judge James Moody should go back to elementary school: Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a terrorist group. I know it. You know it. The State Department knows it. Now we're supposed to believe that Sami Al-Arian, who was in regular contact with members of the group itself, didn't know it?

Yet instead of getting the rebukes he deserves, Moody has been lionized by the establishment media. In an unsigned editorial, "A standard of justice,"<snip>

Meanwhile, we can jail people for talking back to TSA officials, and TSA people can tell you that it's illegal to write down their badge numbers (given their IQ they probably think no one could remember the badge number without writing it down).

Decline of the West, part 26,534...


Subject:  no wonder these groups are viable financially

C Preston


Dr Pournelle,

Decline of the West, part 26,534...

"Oh, I was just supporting the soup kitchen. I didn't know they were killing anyone."

Nothing new here. That’s how the Irish Republican Army raised funds in the US for many years.

Jim Mangles






CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, August 12, 2004


I thought you would find the first item interesting.

Jim Woosley

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News Number 696 August 12, 2004 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein

THE MASSIVE NORTHEAST BLACKOUT of a year ago not only shut off electricity for 50 million people in the US and Canada, but also shut off the pollution coming from fossil-fired turbogenerators in the Ohio Valley. In effect, the power outage was an inadvertent experiment for gauging atmospheric repose with the grid gone for the better part of the day. And the results were impressive. On 15 August 2003, only 24 hours after the blackout, air was cleaner by this amount: SO2 was down 90%, O3 down 50%, and light-scattering particles down 70% over "normal" conditions in the same area. The haze reductions were made by University of Maryland scientists scooping air samples with a light aircraft. The observed pollutant reductions exceeded expectations, causing the authors to suggest that the spectacular overnight improvements in air quality "may result from underestimation of emission from power plants, inaccurate representation of power plant effluent in emission models or unaccounted-for atomospheric chemical reactions." (Marufu et al., Geophysical Research Letters, vol 31, L13106, 2004.)

THE LONG-TERM DYNAMICS OF THE ELECTRICAL GRID are examined in new studies conducted by Ben Carreras and his colleagues at Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Wisconsin, and University of Alaska. Engineers at the utilities are of course always looking for ways to make their systems better, especially in the aftermath of large blackouts, such as the event on August 14, 2003. These post-mortem studies typically locate the sources of the outage and suggest corrective measures to prevent that kind of collapse again, often by strengthening the reliability of specific components. Carreras argues that a more effective approach to mitigating electrical disasters is build more redundancy into the system. And to do this, he says, you need to look at how the electrical grid, considered as a dynamic system subject to many forces, behaves over longer periods of time. And to do this one needs to build into any grid model social and business forces in addition to the physics forces that govern the movement of electricity. Thus the Oak Ridge model not only solves the equations (governed by the so-called Kirchoff laws) that determine how much power flows through specific lines in a simulated circuit, but also build in the strain on the system over time caused by an increasing demand for power, the addition of new generators and transmission lines, and even elements of chance in the form of weather fluctuations and the occasional shorting caused by warm, sagging lines contacting untrimmed trees. The model proceeds to let the grid evolve, and for each "day" it computes possible solutions---in the form of successful combinations of power generation levels and subsequent transmission of that power over existing lines, some of which come in and out of service---for the continued running of the grid. The model derives a probability curve for blackouts which matches pretty well the observed outage data for North America. The Oak Ridge scientists believe that their model could be used by utility companies to test grid behavior for various network-configuration scenarios, particularly those where the grid is operating dangerously close to a cascade threshold. (Carreras et al., Chaos, September 2004;

A Terrific Argument for nuclear power, but I don't expect the "environmentalists" and those "concerned about the Earth" and all the others who beat their voodoo science drums to pay attention. We're all for the environment unless of course it means actually doing something.

And here is why I don't trust Democrats. The Democrats and some Republican turncoats have taken the sub-orbital THOR out of the R&D program, for largely peacenik reasons:


The conferees agree to provide $29,110,000 for the Air Force and DARPA FALCON/Common Aero Vehicle (CAV) programs. The conferees are concerned that safeguards are not in place to guarantee that nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities would not misinterpret the intent or use of the FALCON/CAV programs. Therefore, the funds provided herein are for the development of hypersonic technologies for non-weapons related research, such as micro-satellite or other satellite launch requirements and other purposes as listed under the conferees recommendations. The conferees direct that none of the funds provided in this Act may be used to develop, integrate, or test a CAV variant that includes any nuclear or conventional weapon. The conferees further direct that none of the funds provided in this Act may be used to develop, integrate, or test a CAV for launch on any Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile. The Committees on Appropriations will consider expanding the scope of this program in subsequent years if safeguards negotiated among our international partners have been put in place.

This Congressional action is ironic, given that the primary reason the Clinton Administration gave for not taking out Bin Laden is that they could not keep track of his position in Afghanistan long enough to blast him with a cruise missile. The FALCON program is designed to produce the capability to perform one-hour from alert to impact non-nuclear strikes from CONUS.


In other words, we mustn't scare anyone into thinking we will Do anything. This is a formula for losing the Technological War. But the Democrats have always been good at that.

I don't like Republican greed and I don't like imperialism, but I sure do want to survive the technology wars.

Scott Kitterman ( has sent you a Yahoo! Singapore News article

Personal message:

They seem to have discovered that the empire needs auxilliaries....

Scott Kitterman

US wants to build network of friendly militias to combat terrorism


Subject: Got any spare change?

August 10, 2004: The last World War II PT boat, fully equipped in wartime configuration, is up for sale. PT-728 was one of 800 PT (Patrol Torpedo) boats the United States built during World War II. This one was produced in 1945, and never saw combat. After the war, it spent several decades serving as a fishing boat in Canada. Bought by an American collector in 1994, PT-728 was returned to its wartime state. However, the twin .50 caliber machine-guns and 20mm cannon are not functional, and the four Mark VIII torpedoes are dummies. But at a glance, the 72 foot boat looks like a World War II photo come to life. The owner, Bill Bohmfalk, is auctioning it off on eBay. Floor bid is $500,000.

John Monahan

I know someone who could use it for photos so he'd look more like Kennedy. He can afford it, too. Or his wife can.


Subject: the rock in the Canary Islands


Concerning this story , this was also the subject of a Discovery Channel program. They had a series on various natural catastrophes that have occurred before and the prospects for them occurring again. The interesting thing about this topic is that it presents a third fundamental mechanism for generating large waves from large masses of stuff falling into the water. The first two mechanisms are wind and earthquakes, and there are limitations on how large waves can get from those processes. Two points about "stuff falling into water"; (1) The idea that this mechanism can generate large waves is pretty new, (2) there is really no limit to the size of the wave; it just goes up with the impact of the falling material.

The program documented a landslide-generated wave in a fiord-like area in Alaska where a 90 foot fishing boat was flipped by the wave. There were pictures of large evergreen trees scoured off the hillsides about 90-100 feet above the waterline (numbers are from memory, but approximately correct). This was a very -small- landslide wave compared to the Canary island scenario. The program had a graphic showing the devastation that could be expected on the East coast. The loss of life would be like a full-scale cold war nuclear exchange. The wave goes much farther inland than I would have believed possible.

So, the mechanism for generating large waves is very real. The threat is real. I suppose we can only hope the rock falls in bit-by-bit and that we get some warning.

Chuck Bouldin

Santorini, or Thera, which generated a number of legends when it blew up then collpsed in either 1450 or 1200 BC (there's still some controversy over when) generated most of the waves through collapse: stuff falling into the water.


I haven’t emailed in while, and have been able to check in sporadically of late, but I have to say that your comment on education having decayed into credentialing has certainly hit a sore spot with me. I’m 44, was subjected to every trendy teaching method available in elementary, middle, and high school. I have a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and recently finished a PhD from a major state school, where the instructors are expected to act like consultants. Despite my extensive education I do not believe I am educated in any meaningful sense. We are heading for troubled times if nothing is done.

Please read “Illusion of Victory” by Thomas Fleming. It deserves a “Book of the Month” accolade.


Fred C. Dilger PhD.

See Jane Jacobs on the coming dark age...


On the Decline of The West:

Title: In defense of Judge James Moody

Despite what Robert Spencer might think of Judge Moody's ruling, I say God bless him.

Do we arrest people for using a business or charity established by organized crime for the purpose of laundering money? No, we don't -- there's no way to prove the customers know anything about the activities of such a place. What we do is shut the store DOWN. When we DO arrest a customer or contributor, we must first prove that the people are knowingly contributing to the criminal activity, not the charity. This is not a new standard. It is ignorance of the *law*, not ignorance of the criminal activity, that is not an acceptable excuse.

Moody made a ruling not based on the specifics of the defendent, but on what his ruling would mean to the laws as they are applied to anyone. It may mean, in this case, that a person who knowingly supported terrorism will go free, and that is not a good thing. His ruling, however, IS a good thing for any citizen who is being "used" by a criminal organization.

The great strength and weakness of our legal system is that those who are accused are protected. This is done in order to protect those who are accused unjustly or due to error. I am alarmed when someone says, impatiently, "but it's obvious there should be an exception in this case!" Perhaps there should be.... but exception creates precedent, and the wrong precedent will defeat the reason why we have laws in the first place.

What Judge Moody did was the *opposite* of anarcho-tyranny: he set a standard for the law and applied it even to an undesirable. God bless him for it, I wish more would do the same.


Christopher B. Wright (

and we have:

Dear Jerry:

The judge's instructions in that South Florida case were correct. There is still no such crime as "suspicion" in this country, no matter how much certain members of the Right might wish it otherwise. Go far enough with that idea and you get to the point of the medieval Bishop who said "Kill them all. Let God sort them out.". I was watching C-SPAN again yesterday. General Bill Odum, former head of the NSA, was giving members of Congress an education in practical intelligence gathering. One of the things he said was that we lack effective counter-intelligence in this country because we've relied upon the FBI, which sees itself as a law enforcement agency, to do it. He favors having counterintelligence agents who have no powers of arrest. His argument is that, if you can arrant them, then you will do so, just for the publicity. The preferred doctrine is to watch them and try to discern all of the connections and resources at their command. This gives you much better ability to frustrate and disrupt their plans. Some overeager and ambitious junior US Attorney does not get to advance his career by making a bug noisy public arrest that drives other people to ground. It is an interesting idea. He said that we also need to drop the artificial distinction of domestic vs. foreign intelligence. It's a cold war artifact. Again, a very interesting idea. Counterintelligence would then be fused across the disciplines and "intelligence factories". (That's agencies like NSA and NRO). In other words, it should work the way it does in television and the movies.

All of this is part of the discussion abbot implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. The Congressional hearings are bringing forth people who have struggled with these problems for decades. The entire culture has to be changed, and that means more than just rearranging the deck chairs.

As for the TSA, I wonder if they would pull that 'you can't write down my badge number" crap if they knew you were a reporter. There are petty tyrants and bullies in every organization and they need to be opposed. I'm pretty sure that such a policy does not exist. It would be counter-productive to good order and discipline within the ranks.

And the guys who arrested Mike Wallace are inspectors for the New York City Limo and Taxi division, which is notorious for such petty tyrannies. I question why these guys even have powers of arrest. They are not involved in law enforcement, but in civil regulation. There has been a lot of commentary on Romensko on this by other journalists and Mayor Bloomberg has taken an interest. I rather suspect those two clowns are going to end up washing limos rather than inspecting them. More seriously, this kind of abuse by minor officials plays into the hands of terrorists and tyrants. No one feels safer . Public safety is not improved. The first rule of any business is to remember who the customer is and that the customer is in charge. Otherwise you don't have a business.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

If we cannot see the difference between representatives of an enemy culture pledged to finish us off, which raises money to use for purposes that are very clear to everyone -- he would have had to be pretty stupid not to know where the money went -- then we are indeed in trouble.

But the west no longer believes it has anything special, and the liberal philosophy that generates tolerance for everything including intolerant enemies has no real stuffing any longer. Tolerating enemies as monuments to our freedoms makes sense only if we know what freedom is. Instead we defend the worst sort of "freedom" while grinding down anyone who actually tries to be free of the system. Moreover, the next step is to require that our enemies be paid with public money, and that we import more of them and put them on the dole.

A legal system that cannot tell the difference between real charity and front groups that raise money for terrorism will spend its time harassing Hatfill but not doing much about the real enemies.

So it goes.

And if one cannot tell the difference between "Kill them all" and putting that sort of operation out of business, that's significant.


Subject: Webroot Spysweeper

Dear Mr. Pournelle:

>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. > >Sincerely, > >-Michael Pusateri

With all due respect, I find that I must disagree with Mr. Pusateri's assertion as to the superiority of Spysweeper. I'm a professional desktop PC and notebook computer troubleshooter and these days, a significant part of my work and income comes from removing the various kinds of spyware, viruses, trojans and worms from clients' computers. I have come to discover that when a client has Spysweeper installed, even when it is rigorously kept updated, it will not find all of the malware that Spybot Search & Destroy 1.3 and As-Aware 6 will find. I have an experience base of over 100 tested and serviced computers to date in real world environments. Spysweeper simply in my experience can't perform as well as Spybot and Ad-aware. It's not an enjoyable task to tell a client that Webroot Spysweeper that he paid for isn't as good as are the free versions of Spybot or Ad-Aware.

One thing I do is to use both Spybot and Ad-aware on the systems I service. Sometimes it takes them both to get all the nasties cleaned out. But if I have to pick just one application, then it will be Spybot 1.3 due to it's stay resident component. With all that said, there are some malware, usually certain trojans, that can only be removed by manually editing the registry (not for the faint of heart) and deleting files that stay behind after deleting the trojan in question and then reinfect the computer on next power cycle.


Karl Murphy CM/IT Solutions.


Subject: The Underground History of American Education

--- Roland Dobbins



You aren’t compelled to loan your car to anyone who wants it, but you are compelled to surrender your school-age child to strangers who process children for a livelihood, even though one in every nine schoolchildren is terrified of physical harm happening to them in school, terrified with good cause; about thirty-three are murdered there every year. From 1992 through 1999, 262 children were murdered in school in the United States. Your great-great-grandmother didn’t have to surrender her children. What happened?

If I demanded you give up your television to an anonymous, itinerant repairman who needed work you’d think I was crazy; if I came with a policeman who forced you to pay that repairman even after he broke your set, you would be outraged. Why are you so docile when you give up your child to a government agent called a schoolteacher?

His thesis is correct: schools, at least the ones we have, aren't needed except to provide jobs to the education industry.


An article and a response:

 COMMENTARY As the AIDS Bureaucracy Cashes In, the Prospect of a Cure Dims By James P. Pinkerton

August 6, 2004

The big news on AIDS is that there is no news. After 20 million deaths over 25 years, there should be some news - of a vaccine, of a cure - but there's nothing on the horizon. And in no small part, it's because politics has squeezed out science.

Last month I traveled to Bangkok to cover the 15th World AIDS Conference. Many luminaries - Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, CEOs of various pharmaceutical companies, actress Ashley Judd - were there, all talking The Language of Concern and Compassion. But nobody talked seriously about a vaccine or a cure; the phantom of this opera was the prospect of actually eradicating the virus.

Activists blame the U.S. government and the pharmaceutical companies. Uncle Sam, they say, underfunds condom distribution. Given the activists' antipathy to abstinence-eager Texans, it probably won't do much good to point out that the dreaded Bush administration is spending more on condoms than Clinton's ever did. This year, the U.S. Agency for International Development is expected to donate more than 500 million condoms to poor countries around the world.

The "Big Pharma" story is less straightforward. Activists say the drug companies have underfunded R&D. But the truth is that the drug makers have spent tens of billions of dollars on fighting AIDS. Now, however, they are quietly pulling back. Why? Because they no longer see profits ahead. The drug companies are being pressured into basically giving away their existing anti-AIDS meds in Third World countries, home to 95% of the 38 million people infected with the virus.

Even so, they are routinely vilified; the chief of Pfizer, Hank McKinnell, was booed off the stage in Bangkok. If a pharmaceutical company were to come up with an AIDS-smiting "silver bullet," Magic Johnson would gladly pay the sticker price, while everyone else would demand it free. If you're Pfizer, it's hard to make money that way. <snip>

And a resoponse:

Every American "ideal" (e.g., curing AIDS) morphs into an "industry" in an average of 20 years, plus or minus. This has happened with civil rights (now the "Race Industry") and environmentalism, so given that AIDS burst on the scene in the early 1980s, it's timely.

One bizarre thing, though, is how the New York Times can find people with "M.D." behind their names to cite "poor access to health care" as a reason for Afro-Americans *contracting* HIV in the first place. An equally bizarre thing is that the same people will speak of HIV as "manageable". For Andrew Sullivan, perhaps, but in sub-Saharan Africa??


> following what scientists know as a Darwinian > inevitability - mutating into newer and > more lethal forms

I thought diseases were just as likely to mutate into kindler, gentler, let-your-
infectious-host-live-longer-so-he-can-spread-you-more-efficiently forms.

> And if perma-funding for the dying becomes > the new "mode of production"

Did he mean "means of production" (after Marx)?


Another example of the NYT being "All Race, All The Time" that follows the depressing pattern--you name the social problem, and American blacks are a little over 1/2 of it.


The New York Times August 7, 2004 Patients With H.I.V. Seen as Separated by a Racial Divide By LINDA VILLAROSA


More on Bluetooth

Subject: BlueSniper.

 Roland Dobbins


Subject: Bluetooth and security...

Hi -

I had a wonderful experience with Bluetooth the other day and it's kept me chortling ever since.

At the local Saturn superstore here in Frankfurt, Germany, I recently was deciding which PDA to buy. My Sony-Ericsson T610 has Bluetooth and I didn't want to run any more wires on my desk than I need to, so it was pretty easy to make a choice. At the Saturn store they've got a whole passle of PDAs out, cabled for security, but otherwise running.

So I decided to take a look at the PalmOne Zire 72. I activated the Bluetooth and let it take a look after I made my T610 visible. After all, if it can't see it in such an environment, then it's not much worth, right?

I found 19 active telephones. 19! I quickly checked to see if I could log on to my own phone (worked) and turned my Bluetooth off. Then I took a further look, and there were still 17 within the range of the PDA. I started seeing if I could get access to these phones and was able to log on to three of them, which were completed naked to any Bluetooth in the area.

I ended up buying the PalmOne Zire 72 (aka BlueBeast) and took a walk through a floor at work to see what I could find. Not so extreme, only 3 phones out of some 20 were visible.

Bluetooth is apparently "on" by default on at least some Siemens and Nokia telephones; the makers and service providers are amazingly lax or ignorant when it comes to proper use of the technology.

And when I was searching, two people came up behind me to see what was so interesting, and I could see their phones become visible. When I pointed this out to them, they looked at me strange and said words to the effect that their phones didn't even have Bluetooth, and when I told them what their phones were they were amazed.

Great parlor trick if it wasn't so amazingly stupid.

Best regards,

John F. Opie

Ouch! Roland keeps warning us about this...


Subject: An IDE for storylines and plot development

An IDE for storylines and plot development

This is an interesting idea. It may force me to install .NET on my computer. But if I did that I'd have to actually *write* some of the stories in my head, and it's so much easier to be a non-writing writer. 

Labyrinth is an integrated development environment for developing and recording storylines and plots.

* Novels and scripts: Keep track of complex plotlines and analyse relationships between characters * RPGs and ARGs: Ideal for developing a plot for your campaign, or tracking the progress of a game you're playing.


* Use structures to show relationships between plot elements * Use timelines to show how plot elements change over the course of a plotline * All plot elements are cross-referenced automatically: navigate between plot elements, structures and timelines in a simple, common-sense way * Contains an integrated task list (new in version 3.2) * Fully extensible: easily write your own add-in functionality (new in version 3.2)

--Gary Pavek =========================================== "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ---Anais Nin (1903-1977)






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  13 August 2004

Subject: current mail format messy


From Thursday the current mail format starts going a bit screwy -- too wide in Netscape 7.1

Jim P-P

I expect I have fixed it but it is not my fault if Netscape is too stupid to wrap long URL's; I can't see that they are too long. If I see that something has caused a requirement to scroll in FrontPage I fix it, but if I don't see the problem I don't spend time looking with other browsers. Life isn't long enough, I fear.


Subject: The Tunguska ETs?

Considering the sources, I don't give this much (any) credence:

-- Roland Dobbins

I am getting out my tinfoil hat...


Dear Jerry:

Recently you commented, while responding to a letter in Mail, about not liking "Republican greed."

I note that Mr. Bush, who grew up surrounded by peers in wealth & privilege, married a teacher who while not penniless brought little but herself as dowry; Mr. Kerry, on the other hand, first married an heiress worth (according to most reports) some $300 million, and when she died then found matrimonial bliss in the arms of yet another heiress whose fortune is estimated at between 500 million and a billion dollars.

Marrying into the super-hyper-inconceivably rich once might be an accident of love; twice is a plan.

"Trophy husband," anyone?

All the best--

Tim Loeb

How did she find two Senators? I make no doubt that I'd rather hang out on a fishing trip with Bush than Kerry.

As to greed, politicians are greedy for power purchased with other people's money. Democrats want the money pumping through, not so much so that individuals can accumulate some of it as to keep themselves in power. Republicans are the stupid party: their problem is that they can't find very many smart people who will take silly government jobs, so they have to settle for people who, in the words of young Podhoretz about his stint in the Bush I White House, "didn't have ideologies, we had mortgages." This sets the stage for being manipulated by big crooks who do want money to flow into their own companies or their own pockets.

Whether it is more honest to base your political organization around shakedown artists like Jesse Jackson and the Trial Lawyers and the NEA and Prison Guard Unions, who among them consume far more money than Enron and the big crooks, or to be lax on corruption until it's discovered, is not all that clear, but it is pretty clear which disgusts the public more.

I can put up with the kind of "greed" that says "LET MY MONEY ALONE: if your heart bleeds for the poor, YOU feed them! and pay their medical bills while you are at it," but the Enron kind is another story: yet the National Education Association bleeds off far more money and ruins more lives yearly than Enron did in its time in existence. But the Republicans, far from abolishing the Department of Education as they should, have given us the "No Child Left Behind" Act which is really the "No education bureaucrat left unemployed" Act, and Bush One gave us Americans With Disabilities act which federalizes damned near everything anyone does. So it's hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle.

I don't like either party much. I think I have some marginal influence over the Republicans who at least say they are for limited government and devolution of some matters back to the states; if Bush is the slow boat to socialism, Kerry is the express train.

But the issue that decides me is The Technological War; we're back in it, for real, and we don't seem to know it. I guess it's time to revise that book. I have some reasons to believe the Republicans can find people to pursue a strategy of technology, and many more to know the Democrats don't seem able to. My heart is with the Libertarians and Constitutionalists.


Subject:  Future Weapons,2933,128591,00.html 

<snip> Smart Ammo Developed for Ground Troops

Smart ammunition technology already exists in missiles fired from ships and fighter jets, but soon American troops on the ground will have the same kind of advantage.

Developers at Picatinny, an armament research and development center in New Jersey, and the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland are working on so-called airburst ammunition that will give U.S. troops the power to hit enemy targets without actually seeing them. </snip>

Won't the enemy just put lids and overhangs on their trenches, barracades, and foxholes to hide under? I would.


<snip> XM-8 Is Gun of the Future

U.S. soldiers have been waiting for a long time for weapons to replace current ones that rely on Vietnam-era technology. And the new weapons are right around the corner. </snip>

It's about time!

(I think there may be fiction material in these article...)

Braxton S. Cook



And then we have:

Subject: Outsourcing on State Level

Tom Ridge and the gang ought to be correcting this problem instead of frisking people at the airport.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004 States stung by work sent overseas

By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer,

Outsourcing of U.S. jobs to cheaper operations overseas is a major theme in the presidential race and some governors' elections -- and came as a surprise to many state governments that discovered they're paying foreign workers to answer calls about state food stamp programs or to keep state computers humming.

The shift of U.S. private-sector jobs to other countries is politically sensitive on its own, but the idea of using state taxpayers' dollars to hire foreign workers to do white-collar state jobs hits a particular nerve. Outsourcing - also called offshoring when U.S. jobs go overseas - emerged as an issue this year on the campaign trail and some 35 statehouses. At least a dozen states acted or are in the process of making sure that state procurement dollars don't end up in foreign countries.

New Jersey was one of the first states to learn more than a year ago that offshoring information-technology (IT) work can create a political firestorm. The state spent nearly $1 million to bring back its call centers from India and Mexico. A handful of other states plan to follow suit.

State contract work that ended up in India is a big issue in the gubernatorial race in both Indiana and North Carolina, where Democratic Govs. Joe Kernan and Mike Easley each face tight races and have made moves to bring state jobs home. <snip>



And on another interesting subject:


Hello Dr. Pournelle, ( ) has an interesting presentation of the 86,800 most commonly used words in the English language ranked in order of commonality. "Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance." I'm not sure how useful a tool it is -- I suppose if you need it, you need it bad; otherwise, it is an interesting toy. The things that some people do with their time ...

Humm... "hate" is 3107th and "love" is 384th. However, "war" is 304th and "peace" is 1155th. Patterns? Let's see -- "theory" is 748th but "practice" is 565th. "military" and "army" fall side-by-side! Oh, this could be a time sink. I must move on.

Best wishes,

Clyde Wisham

**** "It's deja-vu all over again."-- Yogi Berra ****

Time sink indeed.


Subject: God as a QC Inspector

Go far enough with that idea and you get to the point of the medieval Bishop who said "Kill them all. Let God sort them out."

Except that it never happened. Supposedly said by a general at the massacre of Beziers in 1209, there is no contemporary evidence for it at all. It first appears in "Dialogue on Miracles," written sixty years later by the German monk Caesarius of Heisterbach, "an author with an ardent imagination and very little concern for historical authenticity." Other stories in his book involve appearances by the Blessed Virgin and similar "historical" events. Historians have not, since 1866, taken the statement as factual. Regine Pernoud used this as an example of how slowly scientific knowledge permeates the public consciousness.

There are still people today who think that Galileo was convicted of heresy.

Michael Flynn

and see below







This week:


read book now


Saturday, August 14, 2004

Subject: A radical idea - common sense!

A branch of the US government has taken the radical step of directing its functionaries to use common sense and giving them the actual discretionary power to do so. The specific instance is not automatically arresting, cuffing, searching, and deporting otherwise harmless foreigners for minor visa over-stays. Who knows, though, if this works out, our government might even eventually start applying this sort of consideration to citizens! 


Henry Vanderbilt

Surely nothing so radical!


Subject: re: Cumbre Vieja


re: Subject: Cumbre Vieja.

-- Roland Dobbins

So: when do we expect that particular doom? And is there a way to trigger such things?


just some awfully rough rule of thumb calculations

Since the slab of rock measures roughly 15 -20 km long x 15 -20 wide x 1.4 km thickness on an apparent slope of 15 - 20 degrees (much is underwater) I imagine that even a megaton device could have a hard time making it shake loose. Never mind suit case nukes ...

I imagine that a true volcanic event on the order of Mt St Helens (about 10 megatons) might be needed to set it all loose. There is a detachment fault, and other details, but it still needs impressive force to shake it loose.

The google search even comes up with a PDF as a first item

who is one of the authorities on the situation.

Strangely enough, many major cities will be protected by their off shore islands... note the illustrations for Miami, shielded by the Bahamas. I suspect that NYc gets protected to some degree by Long Island, and Boston might get protected by Cape Cod. Similarly much in the Chesapeake Bay gets protected by the DelMaVa peninsula. The waves seem to mostly follow a true straight line via the great circle route, and have a really hard time turning corners.

According to the "more information" portion of the original press release:

... although we cannot say whether the volcano will fail in its next near-summit eruption (like that in 1949; a small eruption in 1971 at the very southern end of the island seems to have had relatively little effect, probably because the magma did not rise so high in the volcano) or only after several more eruptions have progressively weakened it, since eruptions of the Cumbre Vieja occur at intervals of a few decades to as much as a few centuries the year-to-year probability of failure is relatively low. The "half-life-to-failure" of the volcano, if things continue as they are, might be as much as 5,000 years - but could be much less.

Another one of those low probability high impact threats that seem to be so common these days ....

Like asteroids. Your chance of being killed by an asteroid strike is rather low, but not zero, comparable to being killed in an airplane crash: but the conditional probability that millions to billions will be killed along with you is exceedingly high...

Subject: Canary Is. volcano

From the Canary Is. volcano article:

"Within three hours, the wave would swamp the east coast of Africa, within five hours it would reach southern England and within 12 it could hit America's east coast. "

That'd be a hell of a tsunami if it could get the east coast of Africa in three hours!

Nick Hegge

They move FAST in deep water (g * depth)^1/2 more or less.


The phenomenon we call a tsunami is a series of extremely long waves with long period. These waves are primarily associated with earthquakes occurred under oceanic bottom or near coast. Volcanic eruptions, landslides, nuclear explosions and even outer space objects impacts can also generate tsunami. In the deep ocean tsunami speed can exceed 1000 km/hr , tsunami length from crest to crest may be a hundred kilometers or more while height may be only a few centimeters so people aboard cannot feel them.

When the tsunami enters the shoal parts of coastline, wave velocity rapidly diminishes and the wave height considerably increases. Just in these shallow waters tsunami becomes dangerous for life and property, its height may be from 30 up to 50 m or even more and tsunami strike becomes devastating. Tsunami is most dangerous for settlements situated inside V-shaped gulfs and bays when open part looks towards the ocean. In Kuril Isls 2-nd Kuril Strait (where Severo-Kurilsk is situated ) is similar to such bay. Great amount of water enters such bay striking coast and flooding rivers up to 2-3 km from coastline.  ( )



Tsunamis and East Coasts

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Nick Hegge said

"That'd be a hell of a tsunami if it could get the east coast of Africa in three hours!"

To which you responded

"They move FAST in deep water (g * depth)^1/2 more or less."

To which I'll agree, but point out that the Canary Islands are on the WESTERN side of Africa. For the wave to get to the eastern shore of Africa it would have to travel across the Americas, the full width of the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. I wouldn't expect much wave action after all that.

I know you work without a net, but has the BBC off-shored their editors?

Bill Grigg Happy to be on the western side of Canada!

Ah well. What I saw was a splendid opportunity to work in a physics lesson, but that assumes I remember my geography, which clearly I didn't...

Of course a big enough wave might damage the west coast of Florida...




I had an eye-opening chat the other evening with the son of a friend. This young man (abt 30) works as a high-school teacher in inner-city L.A. He does this only because he has a passion for conjuring -- is a pretty accomplished conjuror, in fact -- and wants to be near the Magic Castle. He would work at anything to be near the Castle.

His stories about his school ("94 percent Hispanic... largely illegals... 9th-graders reading at 2nd or 3rd-grade level... everybody in a gang...") are hair-raising. I kind of knew it was that bad, but to hear it first hand is another thing.

He says he is the only conservative for miles around. All his colleagues on the teaching staff, and all the administrators, are far left. ("Flower children," he says, "hopelessly idealistic, no connection to reality.") Social promotion is the norm. Senior administrators all in deep denial.

Holy shit, we are in trouble.


And the reply


Several years ago I saw some charts for tested student performance of the Santa Barbara area schools. Some were in the top 10% statewide and some were in the bottom 10%. There was hardly any school in between.

The Anglo parents are buying real estate in the right districts and sending their kids to private schools to create this huge split. This is not discussed in any sort of local public policy debates.

At the same time the Anglos are hiring the Mexicans to do gardening. roofing, painting. They are shafting themselves for short-term advantage. And we have lots of left-liberal Volvo drivers. Toyota Priuses are very popular around here. It is that kind of town.

Eventually the whites are going to have to abandon the public schools entirely because there will cease to be a safe district. Or maybe Montecito will be able to hang on to high standards.

All this will continue to unfold with no public discussion of course.


Add another nightmare: From a South Asian in another conference:

saw derb's article on the asian american left:

being right in the scrum of things at Nameless U, I can volunteer the following observations:

1) Many of the Asian American (primarily Indian/Chinese/Korean) kids who make it to campus are apolitical mathematical types. I certainly was. But from day 1 of Freshman Orientation, you are subjected to what I now recognized as an all-encompassing Marxist indoctrination that goes by the name of diversity education. One of the major consequences of this (esp. things like "Crossing the line", which I've mentioned before) is to thrust the oppressor-oppressed frame of race relations right into the foreground and keep it there for four years.

The RAs, the courses, the tone of the volunteerism, the whole shebang - it's a full fledged religion, with racism/sexism/homophobia replacing original sin, and with professors and diversity counselors as priests. Coursework is based on it, Freshman orientation is based on it, and your reputation is partly based on it. You really cannot be too left wing at Nameless U, just as you probably couldn't be too Catholic back in pre-Reformation Germany or too Muslim in Northern Pakistan. Extremism is seen as virtue and dedication.

Lacking the tools to recognize propaganda & indoctrination for what it was at the time - what did I know, I was just a 17 year old kid with a facility for differential equations - I and most of my peers were caught up to a greater or lesser extent.

We live in interesting times. And all this is paid for by our taxes as investments in the future.



Michael Flynn's message seems to assert that it is peculiar that people believe that Galileo was convicted of heresy, a myth that does not line up with the facts. Frankly, if asked I perhaps would not have used that word, but I would not have disagreed with it either, and so I wondered if this was a case where my education had, indeed, failed me. So I did a google search on "galileo" and "conviction" with a result page showing a lot of links to pages that do assert such a fact.

I then read the wikipedia entry < > and was astonished to see that it did not, actually, say "convicted for heresy." The entry is actually vague on the specifics of the conviction, though it goes on to describe sentencing.

One of the links <  > had this, though: ...what Galileo was made, by express order of Pope Urban, and by the action of the Inquisition under threat of torture, to abjure in 1633, was "_the error and heresy of the movement of the earth_."...

So I guess it is true. Galileo was not convicted of heresy. He was put on trial for it, he recanted his works, he was put under house arrest, but convicted of heresy? No, not convicted...

But it is hardly a good example of public ignorance, of educational failure. it at least implies a knowledge of the background conflicts.

Alex Sapojnikoff

The Galileo story is considerably more complex that this indicates, which was Flynn's point. But it's all right. In another generation there won't be anyone who ever heard of Galileo, just as no one today knows much about the accomplishments of Pope Urban.

Not a case of educational failure. After all there is so very much to know, and our schools teach so very much of it.


Re: AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa

As I mentioned in an earlier email, I’m in Uganda putting computer systems in hospitals to track the dispensing of and patient outcome relative to Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs. There are extensive programs here for fighting AIDS, with many organizations getting ARV drugs into the hands of those that need them, and fighting opportunistic infections surrounding HIV positive and AIDS infected persons.

The particular program I am working with provides free drugs to those than need them. It’s still in it’s infancy, and as such is only providing drugs for a few thousand patients. By next year, the goal is to provide the drugs to all those who need them in Uganda. Similar programs are going in place in 12 other countries in Africa, one country in the Caribbean, and just recently, in Vietnam.

This past week, I visited 5 regional referral hospitals, speaking the Medical Supervisors (senior Doctor) and Hospital Administrators, along with the Doctors directly in charge of the ARV programs at each hospital. Next week, I will visit the remaining regional referral hospitals. We’ve piloted the system at the National Medical Center in Kampala, and in two other locations in Mengo and Jinja (the source of the Nile, by the way).

In every hospital, without fail, the Doctors say “The ARV drugs work!” They see people going from bedridden status to up and leading normal lives. A critical test is the CD4 count (, and Doctors have told me that they have seen this count go from very, very low levels (below 100) to near normal when the drugs are taken properly.

What this means in a society where the life expectancy is around 45-50, is that the person may very well live a full life.

Obviously, there are many complex issues in procurement, distribution, dispensing and tracking outcome of these drugs. That’s why I’m here, along with several Non-Government Organizations (NGO) and governments from all over the world.

I could probably go into lots of details that would bore everyone here…but suffice it to say that although AIDS is killing and will continue to kill many people for some time to come, progress is being made, and we should thank the drug companies for developing the drugs that ARE working. Many are donating significant supplies of the drugs, or providing them at greatly reduced cost in Africa. One more thing, there are unscrupulous drug manufacturers out there. An Indian company was just banned this past week for making three ARV generics that did not meet the standards required for the programs. Poor quality control, poor manufacturing processes, and drugs that did not perform as expected.







CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Subject: enough rope, finally?

Well, if the plan was to give the rebels running Fallujah enough rope to hang themselves, it seems to have succeeded. The Marines have officially disbanded the "Fallujah Brigade" after it repeatedly proved its utter uselessness in preventing local outrages. The boss local Marine says the idea is that anyone carrying a weapon in Falujah will be a target no matter what uniform they wear when the Marines go back into the city. The implication is that this is going to happen soon.

We'll see. The Army seem to have resumed the push into Najaf against the al Sadr militia also. Could be Allawi is serious about crushing major overt rebellions. Could be we're going to back him up. If so, about time. 

Henry Vanderbilt

Well past time. We have been playing the wrong game and sending the wrong messages, and good soldiers get killed as a result.

My contacts in Baghdad are being evacuated. Something is happening over there.


 Subj: Hijinks Ensue in New Jersey

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I can't tell if gubernatorial politics in New Jersey have taken a Suetonian detour or one of a more Marlowesqe bent.

Judging from McGreavey's choice of a homeland security advisor, I suspect that the people of the "Garden State" just missed having the governor's favorite racehorse appointed a state senator. Have there been any severe fevers in the soon to be ex-governor's immediate past?

McGreavey himself seems to have, for the time being, escaped the fate of Edward II....


Christopher Morton Rocky River, Ohio


Subject: Reading, Writing and . . . Politics

From the Boston Globe

Reading,writing &right-wing politics This fall, conservative Christian homeschoolers will hit the campaign trail for George Bush and other candidates who support their political agenda. Why aren't liberal homeschoolers following suit?


By Steve Grove | August 15, 2004

WHEN A SMALL NUMBER of parents started dragging their children out of public schools in the 1960s in order to teach them at home, critics argued that the new "homeschool movement" would impede children's social development and create a bunch of isolated, introverted misfits.

But 30 years later, homeschooling has blossomed into a significant social movement. Figures released last month by the federal government's National Center for Education Statistics place homeschooling numbers at around 1.1 million students, up from 850,000 in 1999 though some estimate the actual figure is closer to 2 million. And as the movement has grown, homeschooling advocates have brandished reams of studies and reports claiming their children are just as civically and politically engaged as their non-homeschool peers, perhaps even more so.

This election season, one segment of the homeschool population aims to turn its students into a political force. Last February, a predominately conservative Christian homeschooling organization called the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) launched "Generation Joshua," a Web-based program that aims to teach civics by putting 4,000 homeschooled kids on the campaign trail. The students will be sent out in "Student Action Teams," ranging in size from 25 to 200, to do grass-roots campaigning for socially conservative candidates in hotly contested races throughout the country. Not only must these candidates be supporters of homeschooling, but they must also fall in line with other core values held by the HSLDA. <snip>

Schools should not be a matter of national politics. One of the best reasons for decentralizing control of education is that political abuse may happen -- inevitably will happen -- but the scope will be smaller.  If I had my way, all public schools would be governed by local boards with real power; and no school district could have more than 10,000 students in all grades in the entire district. Ideally they would be even smaller than that. Local districts should have most of the power, and most of the money ought to come from the local districts, with some bare minimum, say $1,000 a year, supplied by the state. The rest has to come from the people who buy the education.

Sure: rich districts will have more money. But they will be districts and public, meaning that everyone in the district gets to go to the school, meaning that more rich people will leave their kids in public schools rather than getting out of Dodge. The result would be more real equality, instead of the fake equality we like to pretend we have now.

But I dream.





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

birdline.gif (1428 bytes)