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Monday  September 20, 2004

Lots of mail over the weekend.

From Sue

Subject: Rather's Statement . . .

From Drudge:


Last week, amid increasing questions about the authenticity of documents used in support of a 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY story about President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard, CBS News vowed to re-examine the documents in question—and their source—vigorously. And we promised that we would let the American public know what this examination turned up, whatever the outcome.

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

But we did use the documents. We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith and in the spirit of trying to carry on a CBS News tradition of investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.

Please know that nothing is more important to us than people's trust in our ability and our commitment to report fairly and truthfully.

Sure, and he never rushes into print, and then when he's wrong he keeps insisting he's right until nailed to the wall.

Internet: 1, CBS:0

CBS Admits 'Error'

Morning Jerry,

CBS's whitewashing machine switched to the 'spin' cycle today:,2933,132906,00.html 

But of course, there's no bias in the media...oh gosh no.



Doug Lhotka doug[@]lhotka[.]com

"Do something you like. Forget about the pay, for Christ's sakes. Regulate your style of living to fit your income. Just have fun in your job, that's the main thing." ~ General Chuck Yeager



Dr Pournelle,

On global warming

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Quite. We are not dealing with an evidence-based, falsifiable scientific theory here, but a new religion.

True Believers will not be argued out of their faith in global warming by mere evidence, and consider those who attempt this, the Deniers, to be agents of the Devil in human form. The only hope for these poor lost souls is to admit their sin of trying to confuse (or tempt) the faithful with the facts.

Even worse are those who say that if there really is a problem there are many technical fixes, particularly the most obvious which is nuclear power. However the seriousness of this sin is apparent to True Believers, because nuclear power is of course the fire of Hell itself. Those favouring nuclear power are beyond the pale, doing Satin’s work. This is because they offer answers that do not require humanity to suffer for their sins and repent. Those, known as the False Prophets, who succumb to the mortal sin of believing in this iniquitous doctrine are worse sinners than the Deniers because their sacrilege is so much more insidious To redeem himself a False Prophet should rend his clothing and kneel before the symbol of the True Faith, the Holy Windmill (preferably on a cold, wind-blasted night in the pouring rain) crying out a hundred time, “Forgive me, I am an unworthy sinner who had lost his way!”

For there is more joy in Kyoto over one sinner who repents (even if he does catch his death of cold in doing so) than a hundred true believers who never considered the evidence before signing up.

Jim Mangles


Regarding Interchangeable parts:

Jerry, you have fallen into the usual trap of PR flacks. Eli Whitney was one of the first and the best, but actually, interchangeable parts were developed and perfected 75 miles north of Eli's place in Hamden, CT. The Springfield Armory (now a national park) has a good overview of its contributions to American technology, and it deserves MAJOR credit for these two early innovations, among its long, long list: 1) At a considerable cost in engineering and materials, they perfected the notion of interchangeable parts. Whitney's demonstration to the Congressional visitors was a fake; he had built only the one set of parts, and it was years before he actually could manufacture parts which could be reliably substituted for each other. 2) They also pioneered in management structuring, creating the first line and staff organization outside of the military services. This innovation is too little recognized as one of America's significant improvements in worldwide technology ! Both of these items are very readably documented in Broke Hindle et al's "Engines of Change" (Smithsomian Press) which I got for $ 2. used from and David Hounsell's "From the American System to Mass Production" which is almost unendurably stuffy (would you have dared to publish your PhD thesis without a rewrite?), but exhaustive.

Enjoy your column, but have you talked recently with anyone who was on the ground in Iraq? One guy recently noted that they have had 5000 years to resolve their internal differences, and we aren't contibuting anything of value. His hitch is up in 3 months, and he can't wait. Call on the powers that be... his vehicle took a RPG round in his absence, but the crew escaped with their lives (but serious injuries)...

Ed Savage, West Hartford, CT.

Well, I was mostly taken in by my grade school textbooks, if taken in I was. In any event the interchangeable parts lesson hasn't been learned by everyone and fitters vs. assemblers remains a valid distinction.

As to Iraq, yes, I have many sources both military and otherwise in Iraq.


Subject: Modern Game Design

You wrote, in response to someone's comment on EMPIRE:


I would love an updated EMPIRE with the naval scenario Monty and I devised. As you say, many of the new games are prettier but just aren't as much fun.


We are watching a sea change in how computer games are produced; I, admittedly, as a developer of the older style of manual game, have a biased perspective. (I see the current process as beneficial to my business...)

1) Computer game development costs roughly double every 4 years. Most of this is because the number of programmer and artist hours per title nearly double every 4 years to handle updated capacities.

2) Minimum time to release for a computer game is now around 2-3 years. Which means that when the number of programming hours goes up, the amount of time spent from project initiation to completion does not. Instead, the number of programmers (and production artists) goes up -- as does the amount of overtime paid. (They can't stretch the development loop past 3 years becuase the hardware will have changed too much.)

3) Because the cost and time involved in developing a computer game has risen logarythmically, the companies that publish and distribute games have gotten much more conservative -- they want something that will likely get their money back.

4) Because the time and development costs keep rising, the number of viable "release slots" have dropped -- there are definite seasons to computer games.

5) The typical life cycle of a released computer game is 2.5 years. This is driven by Moore's Law more than anything else.

While it's possible to do some incredible things as a one man operation (Major Holdridge's TacOps is one example), the market for computer games, has, like the development costs, turned to the Hollywood model -- which means that at any given time there are about 6 formulas, and everyone is trying to make money off of them, or find the 7th formula that will replace one of the current six....and all the game producers have learned that slick graphics will sell better in the short term than excellent game play...and as your game has a lifespan of 2.5 years, sinking effort into a game that's still fun to play a decade later makes no sense to the cost control methodologies for the current business.

One of the game formulas that's been replaced in the current market is the "turn based" wargame, like EMPIRE. Ironically, this was one of the earliest big successes in the industry, with SSI. Real Time Strategic games ("whack a mole, with clickable armies") have supplanted them, as have "first person" and "helicopter perspective" shooters, all because cool art sells better than good gameplay.

The computer game revolution that was supposed to crush my kind of publishing venture in the mid '90s has moved by -- and the people who want a good turn based game are perhaps better off looking in the boardgame hobby than the computer game shop. The titles cost about the same in either case; the manual game will have more focus on gameplay than artwork, and unlike a computer game, will have all the variables out where one can see them, and if need be, adjust them to suit. Moreover, most of the interesting developments in game play regulation seem to be coming from the manual games field. Computer games killed (or nearly killed) the accounting-degree-masquerading-as-a-game titles -- Campaign for North Africa by Richard Berg being the archetype of the excesses of that genre. Most modern games in this type of genre focus on appropriate levels of decisionmaking.

Some titles I can recommend:

The Gamers' Operational Combat Series (

Columbia Games' EastFront (

Columbia Games' Wooden Block Games (of which EastFront is perhaps the best, followed by Hammer of the Scots) (

American Megafuana: ( d=2

And my own titles can be found at the page in my signature.

Ken Burnside Ad Astra Games 

Perhaps cool art sells better than good gameplay, but I would think that the SSI combat simulation games ought to sell well enough to justify converting them to play on Windows XP without problems? I mean, why would they not?

I liked those games, and it's a bear to get them going on a good XP machine although the increased machine speeds let you play at the highest AI settings.

And I liked things like Fantasy General and some of those. Why can't they be made to run properly on modern equipment? Or maybe they have and I just haven't tried them recently enough.


Subject: goals

Some of us used to talk about terraforming Mars, but people seem have decided to Americanize the Middle East instead.

Terraforming Mars is possible.

Gregory Cochran

You can't terraform anything until you can get there. Bush has a Moon and Mars initiative and the Republicans are actually talking seriously about prizes and x projects.

Subject: Bernard Lewis: "Europa wird am Ende des Jahrhunderts islamisch sein"  "Europa wird am Ende des Jahrhunderts islamisch sein"


I doubt it, but it could happen. Alas for Gibbons...


The person sitting next to me on my flight yesterday (to an undisclosed location) works as a consultant in education. This person does not want to be identified because he or she gets business from them, but he or she is alarmed that Head Start in certain areas of the country are imposing bilingualism. He or she specifically cited:

Blanc Enriquez Education Services Center (umbrella organization for Head Start) Region 19 El Paso Texas

The assertion is that Ms. Enriquez is telling Hispanic parents who would prefer that Head Start emphasize English learning that in Region 19 Head Start will be "bilingual". I take it that this means essentially Spanish-only, with the main driver being the ability to grant Head Start jobs to non-English speakers.

The fight never ends, does it?



Subject: Another astronomy tidbit: Iridium flares


Don't know if you've seen these things, but bright flashes occur from the sunlight reflecting from the flat panel antenna of Iridium satellites. Details are here 

You have to put in your -exact- latitude and longitude and use an accurate clock (+- a few seconds), but these things are worth going out to see. Good flares are brighter than anything in the sky except the moon, and it is a thrill to look in just the right place at exactly the right time and see this. Don't blink, the flares last about 2-3 seconds.

Caveat: I haven't looked for one in almost a year and I am not positive that the Iridiums are all still operating given that the system is a commercial flop. However, it is worth trying to see one of these.

Chuck Bouldin


Subject: Novak Withdrawal Piece


I wouldn't read too much into that Novak column talking about a possible sudden withdrawal from Iraq, post-election. It's a signal, yes, but to who? Many if not most non-neo conservatives seem to believe that, whatever the wisdom of getting into Iraq, now that we're there we need to stick with it till we achieve some acceptably stable result. If it's taken domestically as repudiation of the neos, all well and good, but I doubt that's the primary message.

My take is, it's most likely a signal to Allawi: Next time we go into Fallujah, lose your nerve and tell us to stop halfway and there ceases to be a point to our being in Iraq at all - we'd have no further hope of achieving anything that'd outlast our presence, so we might as well leave now. This prospect should, I think, stiffen his resolve in the coming months.

Henry Vanderbilt

Good analysis, and probably correct; but with any luck it IS a repudiation of the silly neos who got us into this mess; as well as, as you say, a warning to Allawi.

Subject: My own reflections on Iraq

Dear Jerry:

Looking back on my own experience in a war zone, I've come to the conclusion that we can get the situation under control if we use as many troops there as we had in South Vietnam. The problem is that amounts to more than we currently have in the entire Army and Marine Corps. Not only did we have half a million U.S troops, we had the ARVN, who weren't totally useless and corrupt, and the White Mice (South Vietnames National Police) who were.

John Kerry has finally concentrated upon the war in Iraq as a unifying campaign theme. I saw most of his speech today and he was very plain about all of the miscalculations and screw up. The forthcoming debates should be very interesting. Kerry is asking questions that Bush will have no good answers for.

Not that Kerry has more than the vague outlines of a plan himself. How could he. Things are at such a pass that any hope of an easy answer and an easy exit vanished long ago. We are stuck, good and hard. Kerry, at the least, is not locked into this false ideology of empire that the neocons have foisted on us.

I'd love to play poker with those guys. They're rather easily led. The hard truth is that they were played. Chalabi may be an agent for Iran or Israel or both. (Not impossible-- it is the MIddle East.) Regardless, he sold them a comfortable fiction they wanted to believe.

But that is neither here nor there. What do we do now? There are no good solutions and that joke I made about hiring part of the North Korean Army doesn't look so funny anymore. It may come to something very much like that. BUsh's haste in going to war and his arrogance towards our friends and allies pretty much guarantee that we will have to continue to go it alone. Meaning no matter whose troops they are, we'll pay for them.

We can rebuild the Army, and badly need to do so. We need to stop using civilian contractors at high wages to do jobs which used to belong to soldiers. Driving trucks, running mess halls and PXs and the mail, for instance. We can probably add 40,000 troops every five years. Not much help where Iraq ia concerned, is it?

So we have to hire help. Russia has a dog in the fight and a long time interest in Iraq. The old Soviet Union trained the Army we "defeated". (The lack of a formal surrender and disbanding this is now considered the biggest error of the war.). For the right price Russia will help. Germany and France will not. Any government of either country that agreed to such a thing would fall within the week. The real problem is that no other nations, except China and North Korea have really big armies anymore. The Germans are helping in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and say that's all they can do.

Letting Iraq simply collapse is not an option. We have to stand up their army and police, which is why the terrorists and old regime concentrate on preventing that, as they also try to keep from taking oil out the ground. And in their place we would do exactly the same.

So, here is what will happen, regardless of who wins the election.

The price of Oil will remain high. Taxes will go up. If they don't the nation will go bankrupt. Iraq will continue to drain resources from our economy The number of troops killed there will go up, drastically as we are forced to use harsher tactics to secure the "no go" areas. Our international reputation will continue to decline. China, India and Russia will emerge as great powers and a lot faster than they would have if we had not been sucked into this feckless adventure. The draft will be reinstated.

And Bush will carry the blame for all of it.

In 1971 John Kerry asked Congress "How do you ask someone to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Good question. One he's going to ask again.

I don't think any of us has any kind of reasonable answer.

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

I dislike deficits but in fact we are borrowing money at 4%, which is to say paying less now with big deficits than we paid under Clinton when the budget was about to be balanced. Go figure.

There will not be conscription. There doesn't need to be conscription, except in the sense that democracies are better off with universal conscription and long term reserve service, as in Switzerland; but that is very expensive, and won't be done. "Selective Service" of LBJ's  "exempt the kids of the upper classes" variety isn't politically possible, and thank God. We can do that only when there is a real vital national interest at stake: Viet Nam cured that one.

Hiring Russians makes sense; the CoDominium is possible and more than possible. The Russians can be paid in oil extraction technology. More seriously, there are good reasons for US/Russian cooperation, just as during the older Cold War there were good reasons for US/Chinese cooperation. We have mutual interests.

The number of troops killed will not go up if we begin retaliations. We are learning how things work there; and we have no more troops there than the Turks needed to keep the place tranquil for centuries.

As to increasing the number of troops and the rest: better we hire client states. There are still some available.

Rebuilding the army for what? There is a difference between Praetorians and Legions and Auxiliaries, as I have said many times. If we want the instruments of empire we can can procure them. Some can be got off the streets here at home. There is a form of conscription that will work quite well to get occupation troops, and involves using the criminal justice system and deferred sentences. "Your sentence is 5 years. It will be remitted to 3 years if you manage to graduate from Basic Training. If you obtain an honorable discharge, we will forget you were ever in this court. You have 24 hours to decide." Quite good soldiers can be made this way. They will not be the high tech soldiers of the New Model Army; but they will be quite good enough for occupation deployment duty.

I don't much care what Kerry says now; is there anything left to say he hasn't tried out? Why do you care what he decides to say this morning?

Bush's problem is that he was sold the "Mission Accomplished" message, and he's just decent enough to be ashamed to go say "All right. I was wrong. The mission was not accomplished, the war was not over, and a lot of people had me on in ways I would not have imagined. I know better now. This is, as we originally said, going to be a good long slog, and I need volunteers for the new army we will need to accomplish it. We can't keep the combat army indefinitely over there: I need a different kind of army now. Will you join? Will you help reshape the world? It's a long, hard, road but we are involved, and it is better that we have an army in Iraq than that they have terrorists in New York."

Some of that is an accurate picture of the world. Some is merely defensible. But it would work. I can't imagine anything Kerry would say that anyone would pay attention to now.

Subject: Iraq's new army

Dr. Pournelle,

Just came across this description of the current situation in/around Fallujah:

The disturbing part is about half-way through:

"There are only six Iraqi army battalions in service, each with about 700 soldiers, three of which are deployed in Najaf. Six more battalions are supposed to be trained by the end of October. By the end of January, U.S. officials hope to have 27 trained and deployed Iraqi battalions."

A more important bit when it comes to the successful installation of 'democracy' in Iraq:

A senior US commander "said Fallujah and the city of Samarra, an enclave 65 miles north of Baghdad where U.S. forces have avoided a decisive battle with insurgents, do not have to be pacified before national elections can be held in January."

Well, things are clearly going well.


John Pietkowski





Subject: the neocons were played by the French on Niger

'GIACOMO' COMES CLEAN ABOUT FRENCH INTEL DECEPTION <mailbox:///C%7C/Documents%20and%20Settings/Oldspook/Application%20Data/Mozilla/Profiles/default/okmi4bdp.slt/Mail/> - An Italian businessman has admitted being in the pay of the French in the affair of false documents indicating Saddam Husayn was trying to buy uranium from Niger, the Sunday Telegraph (London) reported on 19 September. (;sessionid

The man has been identified by Italian news agency Ansa as Rocco Martino, known by the codename of Giacomo. (See 'Italians Say French Intel Behind Niger Uranium Forgeries' WIN #32-04 dtd 06 September 2004)

Martino admitted his employment by French intel to an investigating magistrate in Rome on 17 September. He said obtained the false documents from an employee at the Niger embassy in Rome before passing them on to French intelligence. He was on the French payroll from at least 2000. Ansa reported Martino said he had believed the documents to be genuine.

The French appear to have sought to discredit U.S. and British arguments for toppling Saddam, something the French opposed, by providing what would be exposed as false information.

Diplomats say that Martino contacted the authorities in Rome of his own accord and wrote a letter of resignation to the French DGSE last week.

Italian Investigators suspect Martino was first taken on by French intelligence five years ago, when he was asked to investigate rumors of trafficking in uranium from Niger. He is thought to have then been retained the following year to collect more information.

In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush, relying on information supplied by MI6, drew on the forged documents to attack Saddam. In March that year the International Atomic Energy Agency exposed the documents as forgeries. In July, the White House withdrew Bush's claim and admitted it had been based on inaccurate information. British officials continue to say their intelligence about Iraq buying uranium was backed up by a second, independent source. (DKR)

Francis Hamit

==================;jsessionid=JXLKVWUNR3XYECRBAEKSFEY?type=healthNews&storyID=6273329 <;jsessionid=JXLKVWUNR3XYECRBAEKSFEY?type=healthNews&storyID=6273329>

TB Set to Be Global Scourge Again, Models Predict Sun Sep 19, 2004 01:31 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Super drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are at the tipping point of a global epidemic, and only small changes are needed to help them spread quickly, U.S. researchers predicted Sunday.

Two separate studies show that multiple-drug-resistant TB, which can only be cured with a carefully monitored cocktail of drugs taken for months on end, could easily start spreading more commonly.

The reports, to be published in Monday's issue of the journal Nature Medicine, coincide with another report published last week saying the World Health Organization's efforts to control multi-drug-resistant TB were not working as well as hoped.

If all the reports are true, it means that TB could make a dangerous new resurgence, and with new strains that are even harder to fight than the old ones.

TB infects an estimated 8.7 million people a year and kills 2 million a year despite widespread control efforts.

The disease is spread by airborne bacteria that settle into the lungs and cause long-term infection. Many people who are infected do not become ill themselves but can spread it.

Tough hygiene and treatment campaigns beat TB back in places such as Europe and North America, but AIDS, with its attacks on the immune system, helped TB make a comeback in the 1990s.



Lee Kuan Yew, the statesman and astoundingly successful founder/leader of Singapore wrote about this in his memoirs. In the 1968 LKY went on sabbatical and spent some time in the US including Harvard. His words:

"I found many other fresh ideas and picked the brains of other highly intelligent people who were not always right. They were too politically correct. Harvard was determinedly liberal. No scholar was prepared to say or admit that there were any inherent differences between races or cultures or religions. They held that human beings were equal and a society only needed correct economic policies and institutions of government to succeed. They were so bright I found it difficult to believe that they sincerely held these views they felt compelled to espouse."

That was more than 30 years ago. The suppression of free speech and repression of legitimate debate has only grown worse over time.











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I found this to be a good analysis of what Kerry has outlined as his plan for Iraq.


September 21, 2004, 8:35 a.m. A Foreign War John Kerry takes another position on the war he knows not much about.

His reaction to the speech is much the same as mine, but with the twist that he writes for National Review whose egregious Frum was one of the architects of the present disaster. Ah, well.

Subject: DOS games under XP


I saw your lament on the site about not being able to run SSI's old turn-based wargames under Windows XP. As it happens, I recently got the same notion, and I've been using with great success an open-source application called DOSBox that is essentially an MS-DOS emulator for XP, Mac, and Linux. You can download the program from

I mainly like it because I can control the speed of the emulation, allowing games which were not written with fast processors in mind (X-Com, I'm looking at you) to operate at the appropriate speed.

You mention Fantasy General in particular as a game you'd like to play, and I'm happy to report that it actually runs better under DOSBox on my XP laptop than it does in MS-DOS mode on my Win98 machine at home.

Hope the program works as well for you as it has for me.


Connell Smith. -- connell.smith

I did some work with it, and had a bit in the column and here, but perhaps I had a bad combination of equipment and versions; I'll try again. In particular I would love to get some of the old DOS SSI games going again. Thanks for reminding me.




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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Nothing new here but the person saying it.


 BBC News 22 September 2004

Africa 'better in colonial times' The average African is worse off now than during the colonial era, the brother of South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has said. Moeletsi Mbeki accused African elites of stealing money and keeping it abroad, while colonial rulers planted crops and built roads and cities.

"This is one of the depressing features of Africa," he said.

Moeletsi Mbeki also said that South Africa should support democracy in Zimbabwe, and not tolerate violence.

President Thabo Mbeki has been accused of being too soft on his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe.

South Africa should "not tolerate use of violence, torture and rigging of elections and, if necessary, we should support the opposition," Moeletsi Mbeki said.

Downward spiral

He said that while China had lifted some 400,000 people out of poverty in the past 20 years, Nigeria had pushed 71 million people below the poverty line. <snip>

And check this:

It is indeed depressing, and reminds us that the best intentions do not always produce the best results: but of course that is the essence of conservatism, isn't it? One must judge by results, not by intentions.


Subject: Are you paranoid when they write a special law just for you?

Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK

The war against hats....

Did you hear the one about the man who isn't allowed to wear a hat? It's just one example of the increasingly inventive use of Asbos. The Magazine is keeping tabs.

There is unrest in Cardiff, where up to 100 stray horses have been roaming the city streets. They belong to travellers, say locals. One horse chased a 12-year-old girl. Action is needed. An Asbo has been rumoured.

Asbos - anti-social behaviour orders - are a cornerstone of Tony Blair's commitment to crack down on the sort of everyday nuisance acts that blight communities but, in the past, police have been largely powerless to act on.

Each Asbo is a civil order tailored by the courts against a named individual, forbidding him or her from repeating specific "anti-social" acts. Breaking the Asbo could land the offender in prison.

As Asbos become more widespread, the courts have become bolder and more inventive about how to frame such orders, leading to some pretty novel, sometimes bizarre, examples.

** Wearing a woolly hat, baseball cap or hooded top now comes with unusual risks for 21-year-old Christopher Wood. **

 Knocking on the front door of any home in Britain could now land 30-year-old Londoner in jail.

 ** An Eminem and Dido fan who incessantly played the musicians' songs at top volume was banned last month from owning a stereo, radio, or TV. It was the first order of its kind.

Interesting. Of course saner immigration laws would make all that needless, but that is apparently no longer an option. There won't always be an England.


Several items on education:

Subject: Twice as likely.

- Roland Dobbins


And from Sue:

Subject: Homeschooling Follow-up

Home-schoolers incensed by drill scenario Wednesday, September 22, 2004By Sarah Meischand Lisa Medendorp CHRONICLE STAFF WRITERS

Muskegon County emergency officials, along with school and hospital personnel, learned a lot from a mock terrorist exercise Tuesday, but the incident also became a lesson in sensitivity for one of the event organizers.

In the exercise, a domestic terrorist group -- dubbed Wackos Against Schools and Education -- plants a bomb on a public school bus loaded with students. According to materials handed out to explain the fake scenario, the "Wackos" believe everyone should be home-schooled. <snip>

Also from Sue

Subject: Public School Teachers- Buffy Willow

Public School teachers in the nation's largest cities send their own children to private schools according to a new study out from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. The report is highlighted on the foundation's homepage and can be accessed as a PDF File. 

Here's a newstory about the study from the NY Sun

New York Teachers Sending Their Own to Private Schools

BY JULIA LEVY - Staff Reporter of the Sun September 9, 2004 URL:

Almost a third of New York City public school teachers send their children to private schools, a new study says.

The study, released yesterday by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, found that 32.5% of the city's public school teachers send their sons and daughters to private or parochial schools, compared to just 22.7% of all New York City families.

"Those who know best what's happening in the public schools are not sending their children to public schools," said one of the authors of the report, David Alan DeSchryver. "It's a flag. It's an indication that maybe something is not what it should be in those schools." <snip>

Is anyone astonished?

Subject: French teacher and multiplication tables

Dr. Pournelle,

The post about the French schoolteacher and his 'traditional' teaching techniques was slightly disturbing given the age of the students whom he was "steering...through their times tables." The California public elementary school I attended in the early 80's required us to learn our multiplication tables (through 12's) in 3rd grade (i.e., age 8 or so, not age 10!). By 'required' I mean that we had to get more than 90% correct on a 100 question timed, five-minute test in order to advance to the next grade level (admittedly, some students had to spend a lot of extra time practicing, and take the exam several times). Incidentally, we were also expected to be able to do it in reverse, though not quite as fast (the division test only had 90 questions).

Before you posted this article, I had viewed much of the negative commentary on the American education system on your site as the grumblings of (no offense) my parents' generation. But if people are actually impressed by this French schoolteacher and want similar things in the US, then the degradation of the American system in the last 20 years must be much higher than I thought.

Thanks for a wonderful website,

Joe Beaver

It is later than you know...




This is wonderful:

Subject: Legal Carry-on Baggage?

I've long been a fan of "The Phantom" (bummed when the locap paper stopped carrying it, happy to find online sources for current strips) but got a special giggle out of today's strip:

David L. Burkhead

I have long been a Phantom fan, but of course the Los Angeles Times is FAR too PC to have anything like that in place of some of the most egregiously boring comics of any paper in history. Ah well.


A letter about Iraq, with some inclusions

Hi Dad:

I hate to send depressing news, but this email pretty well sums up what's going/gone wrong in Iraq.

Brief summary:

The Central Library of the largest University in Iraq, in Baghdad (the capitol), was looted immediately after the war. Yes, librarians had SPECIFICALLY identified this as a crucial cultural asset, marked for protection. No, it was not protected.

And, with $17 billion in appropriations for Iraq reconstruction still unspent--you guessed it--no one has even looked at the place, let alone given them the money to, for example, replace their burned library furnishings.

I could, literally, fix a lot of this tomorrow. Well, not tomorrow, but by the end of the month. Housewives solution: give them some money. Send them shopping. Make them show what they bought. Then give them some more. If you look at the list below, they aren't even asking for all that much.

Please, read the below--as a scholar you will appreciate the loss, and the necessity for restoring libraries as part of any plan to build democracy--and pass it along to anyone you think might care.

Best, jenny

----- Forwarded by Jennifer Pournelle/CAS on 09/22/2004 03:37 PM -----  Sent by: 

09/22/2004 01:00 PM

Today's Topics:

1. Report on the Central Awqaf Library & Report on the Central Library of Baghdad University / Al-Waziriya (Charles E. Jones)

----- Message from "Charles E. Jones" <> on Tue, 21 Sep 2004 12:40:05 -0500 ----- To: Subject: [Iraqcrisis] Report on the Central Awqaf Library & Report on the Central Library of Baghdad University / Al-Waziriya

Report on the Central Awqaf Library & Report on the Central Library of Baghdad University / Al-Waziriya The Middle East Librarians Committee on Iraqi Libraries has received permission to publish the following two reports, one on the damage done to the Central library of Baghdad University / Al-Waziriyya, the second on the Central Awqaf library in Baghdad. The two reports were written by one of the most energetic archivists working in Iraq today, Mr. Zain Al-Naqshbandi. He is primarily responsible for the investigation and content of the two reports. The report on the Waqf library is certified by Mr. Salah Karim Hussein, the head of the Library, Mr. Asim Dawud Al-Khattab, a specialist in libraries (with five degrees in library and information science) and Mr. Muhibb Al-Din Yasin Ibrahim, one of the employees of the manuscripts section of the Awqaf library who was able to save 109 manuscripts, and find a further five in the post-looting stage. The reports were transmitted to the committee by Hala Fattah, who also prepared the English translations. The full English and Arabic text of these reports appears on-line at:

Zain Al-Naqshbandi 28/6/2004 Report on the Central Awqaf Library

This is the oldest turathi (heritage) and cultural institution in Iraq. Its collection consists of waqfiyyas (endowment documents) of important personages and contains 6,500 mss in all fields of knowledge. The library also had a collection of 45,000 printed books, of which 6,000 were books in the Ottoman script. There were also three collections of medical books in the Central Awqaf library; each collection possessed close to 4,000 medical books. ONLY 5,000 MSS REMAIN. THE REST HAVE BEEN LOOTED OR COMPLETELY BURNED.

The materials that were stolen from the Library:

* 1,477 mss in all fields of knowledge. * 5 Rizzo machines. * Bookbinding equipment. * Two photocopy machines. * A Reader * One English/Arabic typewriter. * A mimeograph machine. * A refrigerator in which microfilms were stored. * 12 air conditioners. * 12 air conditioning split units. * 10 fans. * 45 rare manuscript canvasses.

What was burned:

* 70 teakwood book cases donated by the Gulbenkian Foundation. * The largest air conditioning unit in the library. * A microfilm reader (for 35 mm. films). * A microfilm reader (for 16 mm. films). * A reader typewriter (?). * 45,000 rare books and periodicals. * 5,00 books in Ottoman script. * 5,000 medical books (obviously part of two awqaf collections belonging to individuals bequeathed to the Central Awqaf library). * 5,300 books in Ja'afari ( Shi'i) fiqh or jurisprudence. * 60 steel cabinets. * 120teakwood chairs. * 18 reading tables.

Compensation: No party or humanitarian organization has helped in returning this civilizational (turathi) legacy to Iraq. We appeal to honorable people to offer their services to this library which is counted as one of the oldest cultural institutions in Iraq, taking into consideration the fact that the conditions in this library are the same as those in other Iraqi libraries, whether burned or not burned. The Central Awqaf library must be rebuilt, renovated and refurbished according to the most up-to-date international standards in terms of library collections, equipment and furniture. These include all services and a fully equipped library (with photocopying machines, microfilm readers etc.etc) Internet facilities, digital cameras and other such equipment so that the library can offer its services to its readers and researchers in the proper manner.

Signed by Salah Karim Husain, the Director of the Library; Asim Dawud Al-Khattab, library expert (with five international degrees in library science), and Muhib Al-Din Yassin Ibrahim, an employee in the mss section who rescued (an untold number of) mss from the Iraqi Scientific Academy ( al-majma' al-ilmi al-iraqi), 109 missing mss ( I'm not sure if he means that they belonged to the majma' or to the Central Awqaf library; the text is unclear) and found 5 missing mss (again, I'm not sure in which library).

Zain Al-Naqshbandi 22/6/2004 Report on the Central Library of Baghdad University / Al-Waziriya

The library was established in 1959, and is considered the second largest library in Baghdad after the National Library. It comprises three-quarter-of-a million publications consisting of the greatest reference works in the Arabic language and foreign languages, as well as periodicals, and many individual titles. It is also the chief repository for Master's theses and PhD dissertations produced at Baghdad University. Finally, it holds several ancient books, especially foreign ones.

What was Stolen and Burned:

* Close to 20 computers * Photocopy machines * Typewriters * Refrigerators, air conditioners, split units, home heaters (sobat). * Only 1% of the books were stolen.

What was Burned:

* The card catalogue on the 1rst floor, and the effects of the fire are still visible. * Some wiring was burned but workers were able to reconnect the power on a temporary basis so that students can still work in the library and have access to the sources they require. * No responsible authority has visited the library with the exception of the University President's one visit, and this after hours. He did not visit the burned first floor, or so the workers at the library informed me. * An Engineering team was drafted to gauge the damage and to repair it from last Ramadan, but up till now nothing has been heard or seen of their repair initiative. * On the other hand, many newspaper and media outlets have written investigative reports in the following newspapers: Tariq al-Shaab, Al-Nahda, Al-Da'wa, and Majallat Al al-Bayt, all of whom demanded the authorities to repair the library, but to no avail. * The Iraqi tv station visited the library and filmed it (on the same day as the funeral of the President of the Governing Council, Izz Al-Din Saleem, may God have mercy on him). * An American librarian visited the library, along with her interpreter, and offered to help repair and renovate the library but since the staff of the library did not have a mandate to come to a decision on their own (laysu ashab al-qarar), they passed along the information to the main library on al-Jadiriya campus which then contacted the President of the University, which refused the American librarian's offer, saying they already had a set amount specified in reserve (al-mablagh marsud) to repair the library! * The library staff and researchers are all waiting for succor (faraj).

Omissions, Suggestions and Demands:

* To rapidly repair and renovate the library (things missing: doors, windows, floors, paint, electrical appliances; the summer recess will be a good time to do this). * Re-equipping the library with photocopiers and computers. * The institution of a central air conditioning and heating system. * Create an Internet hub in the library. * Reopen the department of gifts and exchanges (before the Iran-Iraq war, this department used to correspond with 400 cultural institutes around the world). * Buy a large generator to be used when power is down. * The library staff are not included in cultural exchange and visits with other centers of learning, as if the library were a private institute and not a government university (this is the feeling of the staff). * The library atmosphere is unhealthy because of the consequences of the fire.

The Fight Against the White Ants / Termites (urdha) that have Burrowed into the Library Walls: ( Translator's Note: The English name for this wood-eating worm is white ant; it is a worm that burrows in the walls of buildings and literally eats through them; Iraq is infested with them. They are thought to be the result of the importation of Asian woods in the thirties and forties).

Suggestions: Because the colleges (on the campus of Baghdad University, Bab al-Muazzam/al-Waziriyya such as the College of Education / Ibn Rushd, College of Education / Ibn al-Haytham, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Languages, the College of Journalism / Media Studies, and the College of Islamic Sciences) were not moved to al-Jadiriyya (the central campus), the library of the Bab al-Muazzam / al-Waziriyya campus should be separated from the library on al-Jadiriyya campus, both administratively and financially. There was in fact a separation of both libraries from 1991 to 1995. At that time, there was a race between the two library administrations to maximize and to develop library services, each in their fields. There is a feeling between researchers and staff at the Baghdad University library in al-Waziriya / Bab al-Muazzam that this library is neglected, so much so that the Head of the Library only visits it each month.

* The library needs to be restocked with recent books in the Arabic language and in foreign languages, in addition to films, slides, projectors and digital cameras. * The library needs laser discs[?] (aqras layzarat) of journals in history, geography, Qur'anic studies, jurisprudence, religious studies and other subjects, * The library needs to re-subscribe to Iraqi, Arab and international periodicals. * It needs to build a new (organizational and cultural?) base for conferences and meetings. * From my extensive knowledge of this library, and my use of it for over 20 years, I now have a feeling that this library has been neglected in a large way and there have been several attempts to shut it down and move it to al-Jadriya campus. This would be an irresponsible action and would not take into consideration the following : * Most of the Liberal Arts colleges are situated in Bab al-Muazzam, close to this library, and this library is considered the sole resource for students, researchers and professors, from every department and school, of which the following: * The second College of Education / Ibn Rushd which comprises the departments of Arabic language, History, Geography, Psychology, Kurdish language, Sociology and Islamic Education. * The College of Languages which comprises the departments of English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and the Oriental languages such as Farsi, Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish. * The College of Arts which comprises the departments of Sociology, Psychology, Geography, History, Arabic, English, Translation. * The College of Journalism and Media Studies which comprises the departments of Journalism, Radio Broadcasting and television. * The College of Shari'ah (Islamic Law) which comprises the departments of jurisprudence, al-da'wa (the call), Arabic language, Islamic education, Qur'anic sciences/ Teaching.

The question that immediately imposes itself is why should the interests of thousands of students, researchers and professors be hurt by the move of the library to al-Jadiriya campus.


-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+- Chuck Jones IraqCrisis Moderator -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-_______________________________________________ Iraqcrisis mailing list -

As Jenny says, depressing. She has only recently returned.


This ought to cheer you up about space:


Point of contact: Lauren Leo, Institutions and Management, 202/358-1333 ---------------------------------------------------------

Safety Climate and Culture Change Re-survey

On February 6, 2004, NASA awarded a contract to Behavioral Science Technology (BST) Inc., to assist the agency in developing and deploying an organizational plan for NASA safety culture and climate change. This effort began with the deployment of a Safety Climate and Culture Survey to provide a baseline measurement for a group of cultural elements that have been shown to be important to safety assurance and overall organizational excellence. From the survey results, BST recommended a series of specific activities for NASA to undertake to strengthen its organizational and safety culture.

The initial phase of activity took place at the Glenn Research Center, the Stennis Space Center, the Mission Operations and Engineering Directorates at the Johnson Space Center, and the Safety and Mission Assurance Organizations at the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Kennedy Space Center. For the past six months, these Centers and Organizations have undergone leadership assessment and coaching, behavioral observation and feedback, and team effectiveness training in an effort to enable NASA to become an even better agency.

This week, BST will redeploy the Safety Climate and Culture Survey to individuals at these specific Centers and organizations to determine the extent to which progress has been made in NASA's effort to strengthen its culture. Because true culture change takes years to achieve, we do not expect the survey results to indicate achievement of large-scale culture change but rather to reflect the forward momentum that has already occurred and the commitment to achieve positive changes in NASA's culture. We will share the survey results with you, along with NASA's plan for the next phase of activity, as they become available.

I appreciate your personal commitment and involvement to ensure the accomplishment of this effort and the future mission success of the agency.

James L. Jennings Associate Administrator for Institutions and Management

See how wisely they spend your money?


Subject: "Go it alone"

Francis Hamit makes some really good points, but his "we will have to continue to go it alone" is a joke.

Let's put it plainly. The four most useful militaries in the world belong to the US, the UK, Israel, and Russia. We have two of the big four on the ground in Iraq, a third supporting us, and the fourth may come on board now after the school assaults. We also have troops from several of the most militarily powerful regional players--Australia, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Poland.

Who exactly else would be any damn good on the ground in Iraq? I wish the Kiwis were there, and the South Africans still know something about fighting. But Hamit's statement, boiled down, is "It's not multilateral if we don't have the French and Germans." Pfft. They've let themselves deteriorate too far to be any use.

Steve Setzer

Subject: More Hamit

I should have read Hamit a bit more closely. He hits it right on the head when he says that "No other nations except China and North Korea have really big armies right now."

But I think that undercuts his own arguments. Who cares whether France and Germany are willing to help us in Iraq, if they have no capability? Except for Russia, those who have capability either would never help us anyway (China and NK) or are already helping us (UK, Japan, Australia, South Korea).

China will emerge as a great power regardless of Iraq, and the timing won't change; we could slow it down if we'd stop selling them so much rope to hang us with, but we won't. Russia IS a great power, they just took a decade off from history (the same decade we took off). India will never muster the discipline to be a great power.

Steve Setzer

Russia took off more than a decade, and are farther behind than you think, but I tend to agree with you. Historically, though, the Russians have not been very good at projecting power far beyond their borders. On the other hand, they had a long time of experiencing the peculiarities of governing Muslims.


Subject: Shooting ourselves in the foot.

We are losing more here than we can imagine, I fear.,2933,133099,00.html 


In high schools across the country vocational classes ? auto shop, wood shop, metal shop ? are being phased out.


So, the schools are admitting they cannot teach anything useful to the lower half of the bell curve. They can't teach anything useful to the upper half either, but I thought they would at least try to maintain some semblance of producing a product other than people with credentials.

I have a degree in physics, but the time I spent working in the wood shop in high school are some of my most cherished memories. I can understand dropping auto shop. Who can work on their own cars these days? But wood shop, metal shop, even the electronics shop?

Where will this sort of thing end? Why teach grammar? Who uses that anymore? How about literature? If it isn't a movie or on the Internet, is it really worth anything? Why have football in high school? Do we really need to teach science in high school? Wouldn't it be cheaper to wait until we know if the urchins are going to need it? What's the point of teaching math? A computer can balance a checkbook and who really looks at sales receipts anymore? Who needs to read anyway? Road signs are graphical. TV and movies can present us with all the literature we need and make it entertaining in the process.


As the number of vocational education classes have gone down, the high school dropout rate across the country has gone up. Experts don't yet know if there's a correlation, but they do know schools today are geared more for the college-bound than the blue collar-bound.


Maybe that's the way it will work. Eventually we will determine that everyone would be better off if they didn't know anything and stop sending the kids to school all together. The teachers could then go work for the TSA.

Braxton S. Cook (Worried about my country while I'm in Italy.)

About half the population does not need and cannot use "education". Of course that includes very few of those who read this web site.

But this is not Lake Woebegone, and half the population cannot much benefit from "education" in the sense of learning how to learn. They can very much benefit from training. This is not derogatory. I could not run a lathe and take pride in my work year after year. I am not temperamentally suited to that. I can very much appreciate those who can do that.

Our schools now exist to turn out people with credentials. Many neither educate nor train.


This one is a warning:

Subject: Opting in.

----- Roland Dobbins

By opting out you opt in: read this.


Subject: Paging Fred Hoyle . . .

-- Roland Dobbins

I miss Sir Fred. He had the dryest sense of humor of anyone I know: once after a long lecture from George Oswald that was all warmed over Sagin I said "Fred, have you ever heard a more boring lectures?" and he instantly replied "Yes, actually, it was in Cambridge in 1952..."

I have used the panspermia hypothesis in most of my extraterrestrial science fiction.


Please don't put my name or e-mail address on this one as I don't want to end up on anybody's list....

Last week I read, via your link, the letter in the Washington Post about the TSA at Dulles airport with some personal interest as my wife and I were scheduled to fly out of Dulles last Saturday morning.

So I knew to take my shoes off, but did something else to garner extra attention. As the TSA rep (who had neither a name tag nor a badge number that I could see) picked up his hand held scanner, I clearly heard him say, "Time to fire up the electric cattle prods". The thundering response from his co-worker that overheard him (according to my wife, I missed it) was along the lines of "It's to early in the morning for that."

The interesting thing is that I fly out of Baltimore-Wahsington International (BWI) fairly regularly and I've never encountered anything but a professional attitude there.

The TSA has got to go. In the bad old days I would complain to the airline and they would understand that this was bad for business. Today... As you say, we were free, once.

Name withheld by request

But we were born free... We're the TSA. We don't care. We don't have to.

Subject: Frankenstien,


INFORMATION WARFARE: Dr Frankenstein is Alive and Well and Living in China

September 20, 2004: It turns out, although China has put a lot of effort into creating a cyberwar force capable of launching attacks over the Internet, that their own computers are already overrun with viruses and worms. A recent government survey found that 87.9 percent of Chinese PCs connected to the Internet were infected during the last year, and most were still infected. While the United States is regarded as the one nation most dependant on the Internet, it is also the country with the largest amount of effort dedicated to protecting it's PCs from infection by "malware" (viruses, worms, Trojans and the like.) China, on the other hand, has developed an outlaw mentality when it comes to software, so most users have pirated operating systems and applications on their machines. While there are pirated versions of anti-virus software available, using this kind of protection is not popular.


Subject: The lost tomb of Cheops?,3604,1293377,00.html

- Roland Dobbins

What a find that would be!



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


read book now


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Subject: Let's hear it for the TSA!

-- Roland Dobbins

The worst of it is that while they harass us they are unable to protect us: because the job they seek to do is pretty nearly impossible. There are ways to keep airplanes from being hijacked and used as cruise missiles against ground targets; there is no way to prevent someone from bringing down an airplane, particularly if the perpetrator is willing to die in the crash. There just isn't a way.

The TSA is supposed to make us feel safer; anyone with intelligence knows it doesn't actually make us safer. It is also supposed to make us more docile. I know that most don't think that is its intended purpose, but I ask, seriously, how can those who set it up not know that is what it accomplishes? There is probably no institution more designed for studied and deliberate humiliation of Americans, and instilling in them a sense of resignation over indignities and intrusions on the very notion of citizenship.

This is a monstrous institution, filled for the most part with those too incompetent to get real jobs doing something useful: as witness the supervisor in Jacksonville, Florida who told me I would not be permitted to fly.

(From previous view) (Regarding TSA, I am told that I was certainly within my rights to write down the badge number of King68427 at Jacksonville, Florida, about 9:30 AM at the Delta concourse Monday 14 June 2004; but Sheila, the Supervisor, told me that if I did I wouldn't be allowed to take my flight. I didn't get Sheila's number. She made me cross out King's but I had memorized it and wrote it later. ) (Entire incident described in previous view.)

And of course nothing has happened to Sheila the Supervisor. Nor will. I am sure she still believes she can keep people from flying if they take badge numbers of egregious employees of TSA.


Subject: More on Fred Hoyle

Dr Pournelle,

More on Fred Hoyle

As I’m sure you know but for the benefit of others, it’s worth noting that Fred Hoyle invented the term “Big Bang” as, typically of him, a sarcastic way of disparaging a theory that he, the most significant advocate of the rival Steady State theory of the creation of the universe, considered to be quite wrong. To the end he never really accepted the Big Bang theory; like Einstein with quantum theory, he considered it to be incomplete, to be missing something important.

Also Fred Hoyle wrote the only science fiction I’ve come across with rigorous scientific footnotes, complete with the supporting mathematics. The classic example of this was “The Black Cloud”
1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-9387602-9044111?v=glance&s=books  written in the early 1950’s. I’ve still got my paperback copy.

As for his dry humour. Yes, typical Yorkshire humour. Fundamentally sarcastic, but with an intelligence and rapier-like speed and accuracy that few could match.

I too miss him.

Jim Mangles



The deteriorating situation in Iraq presents us with only two viable options.

Either we can leave that benighted country as rapidly as possible or we must build vast mounds of the skulls of our enemies, so as to terrify their surviving friends into better future behavior.

Choices, choices, choices---so difficult to decide. Being the rather squishy and indecisive moderate that I am, I just can't make up my mind, and so---like the little boy faced with the choice of either pepperoni pizza or chocolate ice cream---very much wish to have both.

Why don't we leave Iraq as rapidly as possible AND then also build vast mounds of the skulls of our enemies, namely those domestic traitors who caused this national calamity, so as to terrify their surviving friends into better future behavior.

Under these circumstances, the departed shades of our thousand-plus dead warriors will beam down from Valhalla with satisfaction, recognizing that their personal sacrifice served the necessary purpose of finally allowing us to flush out and eradicate those numerous tendrils of treachery which have so long ensnared our ignorant and corrupt political ruling class.


I would hope we have more than those two alternatives. But hope isn't analysis.

Subject: Ascend  <-- does that even work anymore?

JEP said: Alas, I have heard nothing from any reader on a patched copy of Franklin Ascend (pre-2000). The new Franklin Covey doesn't work well with Outlook 2003, and isn't anything like as convenient as the old one anyway.

"4. Franklin Covey certifies that the current version of ASCEND as well as future versions are compliant with the year 2000. The software utilizes the Windows 4-digit date control. This will allow users to move their calendar or any dated module in ASCEND to the year 2599. ASCEND 4.0, ASCEND 5.0 and ASCEND 97 take advantage of the 4-digit Microsoft Windows control. All prior versions of ASCEND (prior to ASCEND 4.0) should be upgraded to assure year 2000 compliance."

Which version are you using? I don't see any patches floating around but I can ask some people I know if they could cough one up. Provided I know the version.

ash ['Or you can upgrade, I guess.']

I have been unable to "update" my old Version 3 although I would love to. The "upgrade" consists of replacing it with the modernized thing which doesn't work for me, having lost many of the features and gimmicks that made Version 3 so neat.

OK: I have found it. It is in fact Ascend 5.0; I do not think I can "update" that but I will try.

This is embarrassing: Five works fine. I just copied it from a ZIP drive to an XP machine and that works. Now I will have to reconstruct precisely why I gave up on the program. This is really odd.









CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  September 23, 2004

Dr Pournelle,

“Where are all the stars?” 

QUOTE/ Scientists studying the deepest picture of the Universe, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, have been left with a big poser: where are all the stars?

The Ultra Deep Field is a view of one patch of sky built from 800 exposures.

The picture shows faint galaxies whose stars were shining just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

But the image's revelation that fewer stars than expected were being born at this time brings into question current ideas on cosmic evolution /END QUOTE

Jim Mangles

Well, I didn't hide them!

Actually I always liked Sir Fred's continuous creation and his evolution from space. Of course Adrian Berry says "I think Sir Fred is off his head, don't you agree?" and I have to sort of gulp.


And this from Mark:

From Byte in 1/96, I think. Fella writing is one J. Pournelle. Blurb at the bottom of the column suggests that he is a science fiction writer....grin!

"I don't like Franklin Quest's Ascend 5.0. I don't like the colors, and I particularly don't like the way it handles telephone calls. It uses the Microsoft Dialer, which means that if you hang up the phone after your call, your software doesn't know you've done that; and until you go back into the software and tell it that you've hung up, it keeps the phone tied up. It also keeps a log file open that is "timing" the call long after you hung up.

"The result was that I didn't use Ascend 5.0 to dial. I'd look up the numbers in a paper book; but since I wasn't using Ascend 5.0, I wasn't entering new numbers in it, so I got to losing phone numbers.

"I'm not sure what I had against the rest of Ascend 5.0, but I went for almost two months without using it. The result was a mess. I wasn't able to keep track of appointments. I was losing phone messages. I didn't have any priority to my work. That clearly could not go on.

"Therefore, I went back to Ascend 4.0. It has a few flaws that version 5.0 was supposed to fix, but I can live with them; and it's just easier for me to use. The colors are brighter. It has a phone dialer that knows when I have hung up the phone. It took me about 2 hours to go through the nine weeks in which I hadn't updated appointments, kept my journal, done my reports, and dealt with my priority task lists, but eventually I was done with all that.

"The effect on my work was immediate. No more jotting down little notes on scrap s of paper and losing them. Now I have a record, and even better, it's a record I can search. With luck, version 6.0 will be as good as version 4.0, but with the bugs fixed; until then, I can't live without Ascend, but I can sure live without version 5.0.

"One good thing came of all this: I rediscovered the joys of paper logbooks. The problem with an electronic log is that you often don't have it with you, and often you want to make handwritten notes. Carrying a printed copy of the electronic log and using that to jot notes in doesn't work well because the resulting book is too thick to carry easily.

"For years I carried Borum & Pease hardbound composition books. They're like the ones you see in the drugstore, but they come page-numbered. Since I have the habit of taping business cards, letters, and newspaper clippings into my logbook, I've found it makes sense to use nylon strapping tape to reinforce the binding. When I dropped Ascend, I started a new logbook. I'm going to continue to carry that. T he result is I have a book that supplements my electronic Ascend records nicely.

"One day I suppose I'll have a personal digital assistant (PDA) that I can carry about and jot notes into. My son uses a 286 DOS-only monochrome Gateway HandBook for that purpose and has mastered the art of typing fast with one hand while holding the system in the other. I still need a place to set the HandBook down, and thus it's as easy to keep the Gateway 2000 Liberty in my briefcase. The bottom line is that so far there is no PDA as convenient as a paper logbook, especially if you also use Ascend on your laptop and desktop.

"Incidentally, I have friends who like Ascend 5.0 and can't figure out why I don't."

Mark Huth

Clearly I went back to 4.0, and used that, and then the Y2K bug killed that operation. Sigh.

Now I will need something new I think.


This is long, and you should skip it if the information isn't useful

Frequently Asked Questions About Falun Gong

How many people have been affected by Jiang Zemin's persecution against Falun Gong?

Since the leader of China, Jiang Zemin, began the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in 1999: 100 million people practiced Falun Gong in 1998, but lost that right when Jiang banned it in 1999. Hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been illegally arrested and detained. More than 500 have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 18 years. More than 1,000 have been forced into mental hospitals, an act condemned by World Psychiatric Association. Over 100,000 have been illegally sent to labor camps without trials. At least 1023 deaths through police torture have been confirmed, with government sources inside China disclosing that the actual number exceeds 1,600.

What is Falun Gong?

Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that includes exercise and meditation. Its principles are based on Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance. Persons who practice regularly find it to bring them better health, reduced stress, inner peace, and deepened morals. The practice began in China in 1992 and quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China and then beyond. Falun Gong is practiced by over 100 million people in 40 countries.

For more information about the practice of Falun Gong, visit

Who is Mr. Li Hongzhi?

Mr. Li Hongzhi is the founder and teacher of Falun Gong. He introduced the practice to the general public in China in 1992. In keeping with Chinese tradition, Li is often respectfully referred to as "Master" or "Teacher," but he is not accorded special treatment, nor does he accept money or donations from students of Falun Gong. Li has given lectures on Falun Gong in many countries, including Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. For his contributions to humanity he has been given over 400 honors and awards, and is a two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Is Falun Gong a religion?

Like religions, Falun Gong has its spiritual beliefs. Through practicing, one strives to become a better person who is able to contribute more to our society, so the goal is similar. But in Falun Gong there are not any devotional activities or worship, nor any set doctrine or canon; there is also no membership, organization, or hierarchy. Falun Gong is more properly referred to as an ancient form of self-cultivation practice, often called qigong.

Why is the Chinese government persecuting Falun Gong?

Falun Gong is a group that simply grew too large for the communist leadership's liking; its 70-million-plus practitioners in China far outnumbered communist party members. The persecution was ordered by communist dictator Jiang Zemin, who feared losing control over people's hearts and minds. Other, smaller groups that the State has not been able to take control of are persecuted, too, like Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Tibetan Buddhists.

For a more detailed account of why the Chinese leader is persecuting Falun Gong, visit our special report on the subject (

How has Falun Gong responded to this oppression?

Practitioners of Falun Gong in China have made appeals to the Chinese government via the proper legal channels, and have resisted the persecution with nonviolent public protests. There has not been a single report of responding with violence, destroying property, or the like - despite beatings, torture, jailings, murder, and other grave injustices. Practitioners outside China have taken up long marches, done hunger strikes, staged sit-ins, launched letter-writing campaigns, staged rallies, held press conferences, and documented rights abuses.

What has been the United States' response, and that of the international community?

The US government has been unequivocal in its opposition to China's actions against Falun Gong. In November of 1999 the US House unanimously passed resolution 218, with the Senate concurring, which condemned Beijing's actions and called for the immediate release of all jailed practitioners. A new, even stronger resolution, HR 188, was introduced in July of 2002. President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have spoken out and issued statements. Governments around the world have responded with similar force. Human rights groups and other organizations have been outspoken in their support for Falun Gong's freedom of belief, including Freedom House, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, and the National Organization for Women.

I found this of sufficient interest that I read it. I know little to nothing about the situation or why China finds this outfit so repulsive. They have been inimical to Christian missionaries also, of course.

I put it here largely to solicit letters like this:

Subject: Falun Gong

Jerry The Falun Gong aren't quite as innocent as they try to portray themselves. The Chinese government is responding as all dictatorships do to things they can't easily scare away.

Since the movement was invented in 1992 it has grown to over 100 million people. In many ways they make Scientologists look reasonable. They have taken a mixture of eugenics, fascism, spiritualism and Darwinism to create something that appeals to the lost souls.

Since leadership is by appointment, the masters lead their practitioners without having to worry about any challenge. Opposition is by degenerates or if it's too powerful, by the hidden aliens.

Pasted from one web site Terminology: Falun Gong, (pronounced fah-luhn goong), literally means "the Practice of the Wheel of the Dharma." 1 Falun Gong refers to five sets of exercises, done to Chinese music and involving lotus postures and hand movements. Falun Dafa is the spiritual movement that practices Falun Gong. Increasingly, the movement itself is being called Falun Gong.

"Cultivation," as used in Falun Dafa, is an Eastern concept. It involves the development and transformation of one's entire being -- body, mind and spirit. "One literally 'cultivates' their qualities like a garden, planting seeds of goodness and not letting that goodness be damaged by circumstances or events." 4Dafa means Great Law or universal principles. Dharma was originally a Sanskrit word. It is commonly used by Buddhists. It can refer to: "...the impermanent and interdependent nature of all life." 2 The teachings of the Buddha. 3 The workings of natural law -- the way that life works. 3

Fa: The law. Falun means law wheel; Gong means the cultivation of energy and capabilities. Qi: The body's vital energy Qigong: a set of Chinese breathing exercises.

Symbol: The Falun Dafa symbol is circular and is composed of a central, counterclockwise-pointing swastika, a symbol of the Buddha School. It is surrounded by:

four smaller swastikas two red/blue Yin-Yang symbols two red/black Yin-Yang symbols.

It is viewed as a miniature model of the universe. Some advanced practitioners are believed to see the symbol revolving. "When Falun rotates clockwise, it can automatically absorb energy from the universe. While rotating counter clockwise, it can give off energy. An internal clockwise rotation offers salvation to oneself while an external rotation offers salvation to others." 5

The swastika symbol has been used for many millennia throughout the world by various civilizations, including ancient Indian society, Chinese society, Germanic tribes, native Americans and ancient Israelites. It is only in the 20th century, after a tilted swastika was adopted by the Nazis as their prime symbol, that the swastika has been seen as representing evil.

Racism: According to the New York Times, Li Hongzhi said that: "...interracial children are the spawn of the 'Dharma Ending Period,' a Buddhist phrase that refers to an era of moral degeneration. In an interview last year, he said each race has its own paradise, and he later told followers in Australia that, 'The yellow people, the white people, and the black people have corresponding races in heaven.' As a result, he said, interracial children have no place in heaven without his intervention."

Beliefs: As noted below, homosexuality is degenerate behavior, on a par with sexual promiscuity. As noted below, illness is caused by the indwelling of "an intelligent entity that exists in another dimension." The body's vital energy, Qi, can be focused to improve one's health and sense of well being. But it can also "be used to develop the ability to fly, to move objects by telekinesis, and to heal diseases." 12 "...the Falun, or Dharma Wheel, and is described by Mr. Li as a miniature of the cosmos that he says he installs telekinetically in the abdomens of all his followers, where it rotates in alternating directions, throwing off bad karma and gathering qi. Many Falun Gong adherents say they can feel the wheel turning in their bellies." 13 Eighty-one previous human civilizations had achieved a higher level of scientific achievement than we enjoy at the present time. However, they were all "left in complete destruction." 12 A person with qigong training can walk through solid objects, like a wall. A qigong master emits "gong:" a "high-energy substance that manifests in the form of light." Individuals with some qigong training can exhibit super-human abilities: clairaudience, telepathy, precognition, etc. But it takes a qigong master to achieve certain functionality, like alchemy -- the ability to transform one type of substance to another. The latter could tear down a large building using mental power only. They would never do this in practice, because it is forbidden for them to demonstrate their powers. Also, such destruction would cause harm. 10 Karma is a type of black material that encompasses each person's body. It has a physical existence "in another dimension and can transform into sickness or misfortune." Qigong practitioners can open their "tianmu" -- third eye. When the passage between their third eye and pineal gland can take many shapes: "oval, to round, rhombic to triangular." It can be used to see through walls. A practitioner can engage in remote viewing and observe objects thousands of miles away. Normal people are aware of only three dimensional existence -- four if you include time. However, a qigong master can see "dozens of levels of dimensions." Time shifting is also possible. 10 There are many living entities on earth that appear to be humans, but in fact are aliens.

Stephen Walker

But understand, I know literally nothing about these people.

I know a number of Scientologists, largely through being a judge with the Writers of the Future, and whatever horrors there may have been, (I have ted the books, and I know Keith Hensen) as Algis Budrys says, most of those stories were about times long ago; while the people I know are pleasant and do good work with the contests, which I think are very useful for new writers. And as Roberta observes when we go to Writers of the Future dinners in the Scientology Celebrity Center (last time was with Ann McCaffrey and Kelley Freas and Yoji Kondo and Tim Powers and Fred Pohl, old friends I see far too little of) -- outside the Center you can see drug deals going down, and surly kids; inside there are plenty of teen age kids and every one is polite, reading, and drinking soft drinks or coffee. So comparisons with Scientology trigger mixed feelings in my case. It is literally true that a couple of my better friends are Scientologists, including one chap I consider the best authority on Medieval Jewish scholarship I know.

The Chinese seem determined to root out this group. I don't know why.


The following is also long. I have been cleaning out old mail as you may surmise:

Don't Shake Hands With Your Doctor. By Jack R Button

In 1875, Thomas Eakins made a painting of Samuel Gross, a surgeon. It shows Dr. Gross wearing a surgical gown that was stiff with the splatter of numerous operations. He was painted because he was an outstanding surgeon -- not because he was one of the leading opponents of the germ theory in the United States.

In Austria, thirty-five years before, DR. Ignaz Semmelweis had found that far fewer patients died from infection when doctors were required to wash their hands between patients. Austrian physicians had fought this news and drove DR. Semmelweis to the edges of the profession. He died insane.

American physicians fought Dr. Semmelweis' news as strongly as the Austrian doctors. One declared that it is impossible that physicians carry something on their hands that kills patients…. " we are gentlemen."

Today, 157 years since Dr. Semmelweis‘ discovery, doctors still do not wash their hands between patients about 55% of the time. Doctors at Kaiser Permanente’s hospitals still shake hands with patients. The Center for Disease Control tells us that there are even doctors in the U.S. who do not wash up for surgery. This is one of the reasons that each year about 2,000,000 persons acquire an infection in an American hospital. And about 103,000 of them die each year as a result.

Your lifetime risk of dying from a hospital acquired infection is twice as high as being killed in an automobile accident. The most effective way to avoid these infections is simple -- stay away from hospitals and doctor's offices unless absolutely necessary.

It is not a hardship to avoid "encounter medicine." Sound data tell us that a visit to the doctor is as likely to harm you as to help you. Every medical intervention includes a risk to the patient. The American pattern of care increases that risk. Treatment is maximized. And the more treatment, the more people are made ill or killed by drugs and operations.

Dr Barbara Starfield is highly respected physician, teacher and administrator. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, she estimates that each year 420,000 Americans are killed by iatrogenic (doctor caused) harm. Hospital acquired infection, (80,000 deaths a year) and reaction to medicine properly administered in hospitals, (106,000 deaths a year), were leaders.

The estimates used are known to be low. The article omits a number of categories of doctor caused death— such as cancer caused by unjustified X-rays. A study found that when doctors buy their own X-ray equipment, they suddenly order twice as many X-rays and charge more than twice as much.

Studies show that each additional doctor increases medical costs in an area by over $2,000,000 a year-- without making a net improvement in health or the length of the patient's lives. Put bluntly, additional medical care kills about as many persons as it saves and causes about as much illness as it cures.

It is clear that our health care has to be restructured. We can ignore the needless deaths but not the soaring costs. If the growth rate could be sustained, medical care would reach an impossible $82,000 a year in 2025.

Doctors have no interest in making the needed changes. A rational system of care will shrink physician's income and authority. It is up to the rest of us to act.

Businesspersons can be expected to be among the leaders in restructuring health care -- once they understand that our medical care is mostly smoke and mirrors.

The needed model of care is available. It is a new system of health care cooperatives. The cooperatives can prosper by providing "optimally limited care," which is the treatment that a patient would choose if they were given all of the facts on benefits, risks and cost.

The financial structure of cooperatives make it possible to strip them of the fee-for-service incentives that expand costs and kill patients. Far safer care at one third the cost will be popular. People can be expected to vote with their feet, causing echoing corridors in fee-for-service hospitals.

In 1976, Dr.Franz Inglefinger was the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. In an editorial, he estimated that only ten percent of medical cases were helped by treatment. He placed the number of cases where the patient is harmed by treatment at 9% "give a point or two either direction." He described the net benefit of medical treatment as being "moderately on the positive side of zero."

Current studies show that Dr. Inglefinger's estimates were surprisingly accurate. They were just a bit optimistic. Sound studies show that outcomes are on the negative side of zero.

The sooner Americans become health care realists like Dr.Inglefinger, the sooner we will shift to cooperatives. And the sooner we will be free from medical expenses that cost jobs, eat our retirement, and take the tax money needed for basic services.

You don't have to wait, you can get a head start. Stay in control, do your own research – and trust no one completely. Do not go to the doctor unless you know what you want.

. Remember that your decisions will usually be better than your doctor's. Your decisions won't be distorted by years of living in a fantasy world where you play death fighter while shortening many lives. This time the financial incentives can work for you. Stay out of hospitals if at all possible

Shifting to a rational system of care can reduce medical costs by over $1,000,000,000,000 a year and save a great many lives -- maybe yours.



Subject: "There's no electro shock--yet."

--- Roland Dobbins


We have seen this story before:

Subject: Teacher Arrested After Bookmark Called Concealed Weapon

I feel safer, don't you?

You asked what would happen when all the jobs for the lower half of the bell curve were exported. For those at the far end, they get jobs at the TSA. 


But you raise a point that needs dealing with. TSA jobs tend to require judgment when faced with new situations not covered in training, and thus need people with education rather than training. Most skilled jobs don't need that: they need meticulous care to do things right. This is not something to denigrate. High IQ allows education, and often correlates rather badly with the ability to do skilled work. Most professors (back when professors were smart and educated) were awful mechanics and the tales of absent-minded professors were based on realities. One can admire a skilled mechanic or plumber or air conditioning expert, although I suspect there are very few of any such reading this.

The left half of the Bell Curve are people we need; but we need to be sure there are jobs and training. Skill is not education. Educated people can learn skills, but many aren't very good at skilled work. My carpenter friend makes wonderful model airplanes and thinks nothing of spending months on one; that would drive me mad, although I would love to have something like that I could say I had made. And so forth. I doubt he could run this web site. Or want to.


Subject: Laptops and Spinach

Dr. Pournelle:

As a wise philosopher said "Well, blow me down!" 

Regards, Rick Hellewell


And here on Iraq we have:

I am truly not trying to be defeatist in posting this. I in fact hope the US can somehow stay the course, hold elections and get out leaving Iraq in one piece controlled by moderately anti-US Shiites.

But this report is interesting because it gives the UK counterfactual to US methods of ruling Iraq. And the results makes no difference who rules Iraq, it always goes from bad to worse.

Thus even if a committee composed of Jesus Christ, John Stuart Mill and Otto Bismark had run the CPA with all the money and staff they needed it would not make much difference.

The Iraqi political class would still have been composed mainly of hot-headed Iraqis. They apparently can think of nothing better to do with their new found freedom than take up arms to settle scores against who ever is within AK47/RPG range.

So perhaps the Bushies should not beat themselves up too much over their undoubted errors in administrative execution. Even if every decision they made about security, economy, polity, military had been absolutely perfect Iraq would still have gone FUBAR. Bushies stuff- ups just made us taste the bitter truth sooner.

Not that all Iraqis are like this. But all Iraqi political contestants seem to trend this way, esp the young and restless males. In political contests of this kind, one "counts balls, not noses".

I believe that this is another data point in favour of the Steve Sailer "Mesopotamia: in-bred grave yard of statesmans dreams" argument against Iraqi regime change.


Iraq: How bad can things get? By Paul Wood BBC Middle East correspondent, Basra


Just how bad are things in Iraq? Since just last week it has seen hundreds of deaths, suicide bombings, beheadings, yet more people kidnapped.

When I visited Basra exactly one year ago it was safe enough to stay in town on our own.

This time, we wouldn't dream of doing that. The chances of being kidnapped are too great.

British troops are on high alert as they patrol Basra now It's true there have been some real, solid achievements over the past year.

There aren't petrol queues, or petrol riots, in Basra any more.

The electricity is on for longer. And oil exports from the south are up to 2.9 million barrels a day.

But here are some other statistics. Last month, the British Army fired 100,000 rounds of ammunition in southern Iraq.

The base in al-Ammara sustained more than 400 direct mortar hits.

The British battalion there counted some 853 separate attacks of different kinds: mortars, roadside bombs, rockets and machine-gun fire.

No British regiment has had such intense "contact", as they call it, since Korea.

Fury over Najaf

A year ago, the British Army was still congratulating itself on running one of the more peaceful parts of Iraq.

It seems sometimes UK troops are gingerly walking on the thin crust of a volcano, wondering how much pressure is building below

If you'd predicted all this, it would have been dismissed as doom- mongering.

British officers characterise the fighting in August as merely a spike in the violence.

They say quite rightly that the trouble had a particular cause.

The Americans were battling Shia gunmen loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada Sadr in Najaf.

The British say they could have destroyed Sadr's militia if they had wanted to. The fury spilled over into Basra and al-Ammara.

The anger was fuelled by the widespread belief that US-led forces were attacking the two holy shrines in Najaf.

At the height of the crisis, a leading Shia figure in Basra told a British Brigadier: "There are lots of moderates here who support you. But if the shrines are touched, I'll kill you myself."

Uprising fears

Eventually a peace deal in Najaf brought peace to the rest of the south too.

Since the shrines were not touched, only about 400 hard-core gunmen joined the fight against the multi-national forces in Basra.

Still, in an area which is 99% Shia, the great danger for the British is of a general uprising.

A year ago the atmosphere in Basra was very different It sometimes seems as if the troops are gingerly walking on the thin crust of a volcano, wondering how much pressure is building below.

The British - with tanks, air support and thousands of soldiers - say they could have destroyed the small militia force attacking them.

But they were asked by local people not to turn Basra into a war zone.

And because they didn't, the majority still welcomes them here.

Grateful for security

We went on a British patrol in the dead of night to stop and search vehicles on the road from al-Ammara to Basra.

None of Basra's 25,000 police officers came to the aid of the British soldiers in the August fighting. Some even helped the gunmen

At our checkpoint, drivers were made to get out and show their ID cards while soldiers looked under the seats and in the boot for illegal weapons.

Not one of the drivers or passengers expressed any resentment at this.

One explained that hostage-taking was especially bad on that stretch of road.

The gangs usually kidnap a driver, his lorry and its cargo, he said, and ransom the whole lot back to the company concerned.

Many drivers are killed. It's no surprise then that people are glad of the British presence.

Vicious intimidation

The problem is that very few people are actively supporting the fight against the militants.

There are no illusions about life in the British sector any more A vicious campaign of intimidation doesn't help matters.

Last month, five cleaning ladies at a British base were murdered on their way to work.

Two local translators disappeared. Their severed heads were found outside the front gate.

But perhaps the most worrying development of the August fighting was that none of Basra's 25,000 police officers came to the aid of the British soldiers. Some even helped the gunmen.

I met one of the senior civilian political advisors to the military command.

Every time he came to Basra things seemed a "step change worse", he said.

The best thing to happen, he went on, would be for a new Islamic government to be elected in January which would ask multi-national forces to leave.

I don't think he was being facetious.

Exit strategy

Elections do form part of the exit strategy, but not in this way.

The hope is that national elections in January will produce a government with the authority and the legitimacy to face down the gunmen on its own.

But in local elections in the British sector this week, turnout was just 15%.

A government election with that much backing would be just one faction in the civil war which some American intelligence officials believe is brewing.

That is very much the worst case. But whatever happens, British officers no longer have any illusions that the southern corner of Iraq they run will be immune from the violence.

And that says a very great deal. The same correspondent sends:

It looks like this article will become more applicable to Iraq et al in the not to distant future.

The Coming Anarchy

How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet

The Atlantic by Robert D. Kaplan 

The Minister's eyes were like egg yolks, an aftereffect of some of the many illnesses, malaria especially, endemic in his country. There was also an irrefutable sadness in his eyes. He spoke in a slow and creaking voice, the voice of hope about to expire. Flame trees, coconut palms, and a ballpoint-blue Atlantic composed the background. None of it seemed beautiful, though. "In forty-five years I have never seen things so bad. We did not manage ourselves well after the British departed. But what we have now is something worse--the revenge of the poor, of the social failures, of the people least able to bring up children in a modern society." Then he referred to the recent coup in the West African country Sierra Leone. "The boys who took power in Sierra Leone come from houses like this." The Minister jabbed his finger at a corrugated metal shack teeming with children. "In three months these boys confiscated all the official Mercedes, Volvos, and BMWs and willfully wrecked them on the road." The Minister mentioned one of the coup's leaders, Solomon Anthony Joseph Musa, who shot the people who had paid for his schooling, "in order to erase the humiliation and mitigate the power his middle- class sponsors held over him." <snip>

Jane Jacobs speaks of a coming Dark Age. She of course means here.


From W2K News

Thousands Of Zombies Created Daily

Symantec apparently monitors the Net and can see how many PC's are turned into zombies. Since 50% of the USA's households are now on 'always-on' cable internet, the numbers are going up rapidly.

It turns out that the rate at which PC's are getting hijacked skyrocketed in the first half of 2004. A whopping 30,000 systems per day were subverted into zombies, and that is 15 times more than the 2000 per day in 2003.

Symantec claimed that building "botnets" (networks of zombies) is a very lucrative business. Phishers and spammers pay good money for botnets, which can also be used for all kinds of other attacks like Ddos. Symantec's service development manager Jeremy Ward told New Scientist (link below) that "What we're seeing now is malware that is truly professional, you have the ability to set up botnets for a number of money-making schemes."

and see below


This from another conference:

America's *original* occupation plan was not all that crazy, according to an interview on PBS radio with General Jay Garner I heard yesterday (Thursday, 9/23/2004). Going in, the plan was to disband the Republican Guard units, but to keep the regular Iraqi Army intact, "Under New Management". Note that this plan was consistent with the Administration's pre-GW-II propaganda effort aimed at getting the regular Iraqi Army to overthrow Saddam itself and thereby save itself from the inevitable drubbing by the U.S. military.

This plan at least made numeric sense--we were not sending in enough troops to police the entire nation, so we would take over its existing Army/police forces and merely purge the worst of its Baathist leadership. General Garner had no idea why the plan was changed under his successor.

Meanwhile, of course, it is not extraordinary for Americans to not be able to go places for fear of kidnapping. A number of fellow residents of my Houston condo building are Mexican nationals who come to Houston to get away from the constant threat of kidnapping/need to have armed guards with them at all times they experience back home in Mexico City. Things are even worse in Columbia, I hear.

And as for "no-go" areas, ref: my separate post on this topic. Europe has at least a hundred of them by now--muslim neighborhoods made so dangerous by disaffected young males that police and fire services stay out. As my Christian Nigerian cab drivers always say, "Muslims Are Trouble".

Anyway, remember that Iraq disintegrating would not be a bad thing. Smaller entities have less resources to cause trouble, and more focus on just fending off the tribes around them. It's only when oil money is available that these thugs can embark on anything really troublesome like WMD programs (e.g., Pakistan would not have nukes were it not for Saudi subsidies).

Also remember that we have not even *tried* positive incentives. Young men who will be costing their grandmother her pension check that month by causing trouble would be less inclined to attack just for the hell of it. But instead we apparently keep sending the food rations to Faluja.


There are things that can be done: why they aren't done I don't know. And why we changed the original occupation plan including the promises to the regular army units that they would have a place in rebuilding the new Iraq I don't know either. But I don't understand neo-Jacobins.




This week:


read book now


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Subject: Botnets

Dr. Pournelle:

Regarding your mail entry (Friday) about the Symantec report of bot/zombie 'armies':

Today's Internet Storm Center 'handler report' (
date=2004-09-25 ) tells of a company's problem with a bot infection that was causing a "Denial of Service" attack on their internal network, and the difficulty in removing it. Some interesting lessons in there about proper computer security policies, and enforcement, along with educating users on computer security risks.

Regards, Rick Hellewell



Back when I was regularly attending a karate class (before the six-month exile to Utah and consequent change of employers), I was exposed to a few local Falon Gong practitioners. It didn't then seem to be any different than other Oriental religion with an active health-promotion/self-defense program, and the consensus of my group was that the Chinese government crack-down was as against any non-government social structure which promotes self-reliance and personal independence. I have since heard (from Holly Lisle) that the Falon Gong has a record of human rights abuses against its female adherents and children of members. I have not had a chance to follow up further with detailed/verified information.

Have you looked into Ascend for the tablet computer? That might fit your lifestyle best these days.

During my trip to Albuquerque this week, I went to board the plane wearing very thin soled sneakers, and still got pinged because I forgot to take my belt off. I didn't get to change shoes coming back home, but they were requiring everyone to take their shoes off, and most men were also taking their belts off. I can't really believe that is necessary, but as you say the real solutions are not politically correct -- even for a Republican administration.

I firmly believe that a significant factor in the resurgence of violence in Iraq is due to two primary factors: a) Ba'athist loyalists who believe that they can paint Bush's policies as a failure and thereby manipulate the American electorate into voting for Kerry; b) Iranian (and possibly Syrian and North Korean) factors who are trying to keep us occupied in Iraq so that we won't have the resources to respond to their own WMD ambitions.

On point a), I become more disgusted every day at Mr. "Reporting for Duty." His actions in 1972 directly contributed to the death and suffering of Americans and Vietnamese civilians in Viet Nam. And his words and actions (and those of his supporters and fellow Democrats including Mr. Moore and Dr. Dean) are contributing to the death and suffering of American soldiers -- and civilians -- and Iraqi civilians in Iraq today. I can't believe that any responsible Democrat believes that Roosevelt, Truman, or Kennedy would be supportive of this brand of partisan politics in wartime. Even if they had concerns about whether the war was right or the most effective response to the problem at hand. (I note that Mr. Kerry is not calling the TSA a problem.) I fear that we are nearing a point where discussion of America as a republic or America as an empire is going to be overshadowed by discussion of the survival of America as a sovereign polity.

As you point out, things aren't all skittles and beer around the Republicans these days, but at least they give me some hope for the future of the country.

Jim Woosley

Well, I suspect Falon Gong presents a different face to its American adherents from what it shows to the US; I know that Moon's Unification Church in Korea was told about his translation to being the literal Brother of Jesus Christ long before those in the US knew of his elevated status. (In fairness: Moon operated a number of US organizations that were independent of his church. Charles Sheffield and I were both part of his International Committee on the Unification of the Sciences which was chaired by Dr. Tor Tagnar Gerholm and had nothing to do with the Church of Unification; some of its conferences produced significant papers, as did other Moon-sponsored events and conferences. Most of those activities seem to be in abeyance since his revelations about his true status.)

Howard Dean in my judgment is in a different category from some of the other Democratic candidates. He made no bones about his positions on Iraq: we shouldn't be there. We should not have gone there and the sooner we are out, the better. Had he been nominated we would have a clear cut political referendum on the war and our foreign policy in general. Dean is not a politician in the usual sense of the word. Like Webster and some others from New England in the past, he had his positions and his principles, and did not adjust them to the political winds.

There are too few like him in this nation. That doesn't mean I would have voted for him, because while I entirely agree we should never have gone into Iraq at all (either time) and that we ought to stop meddling in other people's business, I am not convinced that simply pulling out under fire is now the best policy. That needs discussion.

There was a time when a two-party system with both sides flexible on issues but reasonably firm on some principles (tariff for revenue only; control of immigration to allow cultural adaptation of newcomers) produced pretty good government. That era seems to have ended.

As to sovereignty, the issues are complex: with open borders we get the equivalent of an invading army every couple of years, and assimilation is very difficult. On the other hand, one consequence of Empire is loss of control by the original Imperials. The Roman Empire ceased to be Roman long before it ceased to be. After Septimius Severus there were no "Roman" emperors.

Subject: more on Falun Gong

Hi Jerry,

Here is a link to their official web site:

Note the articles on letting go Human Attachments while cultivating. Also note the From the Editors section. This works just like the Watchtower Society of the JWs. The word is officially changed when needed.

I have always been one of those people that is interested in what drives religion. I believe that there has to be a supreme force, it just isn't represented by any religion that I've investigated.

The scary ones always have an outside appearance of direction and organization. That's before you find out where the direction is and how you are being organized.

Falun Gong has people willingly burning themselves with gasoline to demonstrate how they are being tortured in China. It's not surprising that the Chinese government is terrified of them continuing to grow as a religion.

I've never considered a leader who has their followers commit suicide to be peaceful. However, they have been very good at working the western press.

Stephen Walker


Subject: TSA Event in NO

I thought that I would forward this to you given your interest in TSA. The following item came from: *****************************

Today I am less proud to be an American

On the afternoon of Sept. 3, at Concourse "D" security gate at the airport in New Orleans, my 23-month-old son (that's right, 23 months) was forced to submit to a "wanding" and a "pat down."

At first, he just cried, but when the screener and the screener's supervisor advised my son that he "must submit or be arrested or removed from the terminal," he really screamed. I also was threatened with aforementioned actions if I could not get him to comply.

This incident started at the metal detector when my wife, my son and I (all with tickets on Continental) walked through in the above order. After my son walked through I picked him up, and the screener then advised that I had to back up and remove my shoes. I complied (holding my son, who had already been through and passed).

When I came back through without shoes, the screener advised that I had been selected for additional search. I acknowledged his request and tried to hand my son to my wife, but was advised that he had to be searched. When the screener tried to make my 23-month-old son hold out his arms and then advanced a metal-detector wand at him, he reacted by clinging to me and crying. I advised the screener that this was unnecessary but was told basically to shut up or I would be arrested and removed.

The screener searched my son's backpack and pulled out a Pooh Bear and several toys, but no weapons or contraband. After this incident, seven total strangers came up to my son and expressed their regret that he was so poorly treated by a branch of our government.

JAMES D. KEMPH Diamondhead


Take care

Bill McGown

Ordnung! This is a perfect example of what happens when you put a low IQ person who has been trained in a situation that requires someone with education and judgment.

The notion that the rules are more important than the reasons for the rules prevails among some people; and indeed, if you give such people important tasks that are above their ability to reason through, you are probably better off telling them to enforce rules. I know a couple of people like that, good people, competent, but no judgment whatever. We've had a couple in our novels.

There is an old rule among the Secret Masters of Fandom who run conventions: Anyone who volunteers to "work security" should be kept far away from the job. This eliminates some people who would be good at it, but it also prevents a number of the ordnung! incidents. People who like to be lords probably shouldn't be.

Rules are made to be rules. How any of this hoohaw makes any of us safer isn't so clear. But we were born free.

(and see below)


Dr. Pournelle,

I went stateside for a short vacation and while I was there, I went to a compusa (in Colorado Springs) to get an iPod mini and some accessories. There, I verified that apple makes nice products but their salespeople are either insane or incompetent.

The lady who apparently runs the apple section was apparently a military retiree but I never got her prior rank. I didn't have a problem with her but she picked a fight with my wife and came close to throwing a punch. I had just told her about how Apple wouldn't sell me the iPod while I was overseas, the saleslady had started to defend Apple, and my wife made a comment saying as a prior military member she had also experienced Apple and other companies who refused to ship to overseas military addresses even though some other companies would. At that point the saleslady began to berate my wife about how she had 20 years of service and knew that it wasn't true, and then stepped aggressively towards my wife with her chin up and forward.

That body language from a guy means a fight is seconds from breaking out. Rather than be faced with the prospect of beating this hyperaggressive saleslady within an inch of her life had she touched my wife (attacking a member of my family does not increase one's welfare), I grabbed my wife, the gear I was going to be purchasing, and exited the partitioned-off Apple fight pit towards the checkout line.

Is insanity or incompetence a requirement for apple salespeople? The rest of the compusa personnel were friendly and sympathetic and I'd still recommend that store as long as you don't look the apple saleslady in the eye or approach the apple fight club section.

As for the iPod mini, it's almost all it is said to be. The menu selection touchwheel input gizmo is a bit sensitive so selecting a specific menu item sometimes happens after an overshoot or two, you can't just drag-drop songs in but must instead use apple's iTunes to transfer music (you can drag-drop other files but they won't play), iTunes won't import playlists from the music player I've been using for 7 years, and the iTrip clip-on FM radio transmitter for in-car use is just a touch low in output power. Other than those minor points, so far I've been quite pleased. I did find that although 4 gig of storage really is enough, my favorites playlist has somehow grown to 4.3 gig so I had to cull out a few dozen songs to make my playlists fit. It's a neat gadget that really fits what I needed. No more burning custom CDs, trying to flip through cd cases while driving in traffic, etc. Even at home I can just plug the ipod with the itrip transmitter into the power supply and set it next to my home stereo, so I don't have to keep a big/ugly computer next to the entertainment center if I want my music instantly available on my stereo.

I'm considering another Apple device that lets you stream music from a computer to any other computer on the network. It must be purchased with one of Apple's networking products unfortunately, however there is one wireless network adaptor that is designed to plug right into a regular stereo so you can stream music wirelessly from any computer on your lan straight to the stereo. That way I could have a playlist running up in my office and get the music piped to my stereo or my laptop if I choose to work out in the backyard. I already have all the hardware I really need, but Apple doesn't seem to sell the software by itself.


Well, my experiences with the Glendale Galleria Apple Store were not quite that bad, but miserable enough that I have never been back there, and this has inhibited me on looking at other Apple stuff. I wouldn't want to put readers through that.

I gather the ipod is great, and the new Apple systems that came out last week are really neat and competitively priced. They had none of them at Fry's last time I was there. Fry's sells Apple stuff but doesn't push it and the displays are not usually up to date; but Fry's and Glendale Galleria Apple Store are the only places I know to go look, and I would as soon be boiled as go into the Apple Store again.

Subject: reports on the new Apples

I've been avidly reading reports of the new iMacs. Ric Ford at Macintouch notes the following:

(A) Heavy. The 20" especially is heavier than one might expect; the 17" apparently isn't too bad.

(B) Be careful carrying it. The manual has some instructions buried in it on proper carrying after it's been unpacked and set up, if you need to shift it.

Nothing serious, it looks like. Just be a bit careful; I mean, how often do you move a 20" monitor around the room anyway? This is just a 20" monitor with a computer in its guts.

It's always worth reading Macintouch before buying new Apple gear; there should be some links on the right side relating to the iMac G5. 

As far as the wireless music streamer mentioned by another correspondent, I think the "AirPort Express with AirTunes" device works with any WiFi-g (54 Mbps) network, but it requires that you run the free iTunes software on your PC or Mac to stream music wirelessly. On the PC most reasonable quality WiFi-g cards should work. You can either just use the AirPort Express or you can bridge it into an existing WiFi-g network, AFAIK.

Steve Setzer



Subject: Even Slate can't be wrong all the time . . .

----- Roland Dobbins



Subject: The Jobs Crunch.

- Roland Dobbins


Hello Dr Pournelle,

There is a nice little interview with Burt Rutan on the BBC at 

Good wishes

Douglas Smith


On Evolution?

This article (from ) is an interesting example of how population (racial) differences can arise.

Apparently they have evidence that a single gene leads to higher oxygen in Tibetan women carrying it. This leads to a massive decrease in children per women dying before age 15. The women without the gene lost 2.5 children to death while those with it lost only .4. This can lead to a rapid increase in the gene in the high altitude population. Incidentally, this article shows one of the possible costs to the current unwillingness to study racial differences (which don't exist according to PC). The anthropologist doing the study hopes to determine why the death rate is so high for the children of mother's without the gene. She hopes knowing might help to prevent some children's deaths. Obviously, if no studies of population differences are done, the second stage of understanding the differences will not be reached.

Published online: 16 September 2004; | doi:10.1038/news040913-20

Tibetans show 'evolution in action'

Emma Marris A gene for well oxygenated blood is spreading in the Himalayas.

Higher blood levels in Tibetan mothers means a better survival rate for their children.



Subject: Forgetting who the customer is.

Dear Jerry:

Just a general observation here: The problems described with the TSA and in CompUSA (where I, too, have had negative experiences) have a single root. They forget who the customer is. In the case of TSA they should all be trained on and acknowledge the fact that they get paid , ultimately, by the same people they are inspecting. TSA should have on-the-spot supervisors to take complaints and resolve disputes. In retailing the turnover is high because the incentives are low while the grief to be had from higher ups can be extreme. Back when I worked at a Factory Rep for Hoover (1986-87), I would have supervisors from the various department stores I was assigned try to supervise me! They would ask me, as long as I was just standing there, to help stock shelves, that kind of thing. No matter that it took me away from demonstrating vacuum cleaners. I had one nut-ball threaten to call the police and have me arrested for trespassing if I didn't do what he said. In such circumstances I declined and if they kept it up, I left. I got paid for the full day anyway. If I had done as they asked, Hoover would have fired me for goofing off on the job.

As for the SMOF rules on security, that's probably a good one especially back in the days of "Jackboot Fandom". But then, how do you explain the Dorsai Irregulars who volunteer for security? Of course most of them have military or similar background. Having stood my full share of security posts when I was in the security business, I cannot, for the life of me, see how anyone would consider it "fun". (Unless of course, they like bullying people). Of course, when we were hiring, we always looked for people who had, as my old friend Pat Donlea put it "A strong social need to serve". Those we hired while avoiding the cowboys and cop wantabees.

I put most such incidents down to poor training or no training. This happens because the respective organizations have convinced themselves that it's an unnecessary expense. But, "an ounce of prevention" etc. People have curious ideas about what they can't and can do at work , unless you give them very specific training. I recall one guard I had that we finally had to fire for handing out religious tracks on the job. Your First Amendment rights do not extend to the secular workplace.

So the salesperson who got pugnacious with that guy's wife over Apple's shipping policy made the first mistake that everyone in retailing is warned against. She took it personally. You can't do that on the job. Only the customers can.


Francis Hamit

and we have

Subject: A rare, kindly thought about the TSA

Jerry, I was reading the letters on your site today and had an odd thought. It's quite possible that the leadership of the TSA knows that its current practices are pointless and don't really aid security. They may be insisting on such stupid things as making gentlemen remove their belts, refusing to let people carry nail clippers and such other foolishness simply because it makes the people flying feel safer. If we had a detector that people could walk through without removing anything, without putting their carry-on through an X-ray machine without doing anything but walking through that could catch weapons and explosives with 100% accuracy and no false-positives, people wouldn't trust it or feel safe. I think most people need to have the intensive, intrusive security searching we have now or they don't think it's effective. And, in the long run, which is more important to our economy, that people are as safe as possible when flying, or that they feel safe enough *to* fly?

-- Joe Zeff

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

and finally

Subject: 23mo. terrorist

The letter posted today on the TSA incident regarding a 23 month old toddler is interesting for several reasons.

1) I have no idea what the TSA guidelines are, but babies HAVE been historically used to smuggle contraband by unscrupulous adults, it is not ridiculous to search an infant.

2) The problem here is not one of unwarranted scrutiny (assuming that ANY airport screening is warranted), nor of low screener IQ's, but of screener attitudes, which are a direct result of TSA management failure. People will resent stupidity far less if it is unfailingly courteous. A screener who approaches his assignment confrontationally is not going to be a shining success in his contact with the public; inculcation of an appropriate customer service mentality is the responsibility of his (hopefully more intelligent) management.

Best, Ben Pedersen

Of COURSE babies have been used to smuggle contraband, but what in the world was the indication that any contraband was being smuggled in this instance? How many normal American couples with a child have attempted to hijack an airplane? EVER? We all know who hijacks airplanes, but of course we can't say that or act as if we know.

As to making us feel safer, I doubt it: I seriously doubt that daily demonstrations of inflexible stupidity in action makes anyone feel safe enough to fly. At least I haven't met many such people. Perhaps so, but I would want to see evidence, and I don't mean speculation about P. T. Barnum.

Unfailing politeness might help, but not much. The fact is that you will not get intelligent people for a job like TSA screener because anyone smart enough to do the job properly will understand that the rules make no sense; so you are stuck with people who need the job so badly they will force themselves to ignore the stupidities they are forced into, or so stupid that they don't see the stupidity. Which do you prefer? Someone smart but desperate because he can't any other job (make up your own stories on why he can't find another job...) or someone so dumb he doesn't know the rules are stupid and he's required to enforce them? Give them the best hearts in the world, you still have stupid people doing things that in their hearts they know is wrong and insisting that it is their duty.

Do you honestly believe that anyone in the airport actually believed that the child was being used in an attempt to smuggle weapons onto an airplane? Does anyone honestly believe that?




CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, September 26, 2004

Dr. Pournelle,

Mr. Seltzer is correct that airtunes and itunes work over any network, but airtunes is not available except as part of an apple wireless hardware device purchase.

Sean Long


Subject: On the TSA and stupidity

An associate and I have observe numerous times that while we are clearly (and constantly) surrounded by idiots of all sorts, we only notice it because we're *not* idiots. Of course, there are no doubt other people who thing (correctly) that we are idiots. From their perspective.

Those people too stupid to realize that they are stupid don't realize that everyone else at their level is stupid. And can't recognize that other people are smarter than they.

Which brings us to illiterate morons (aka TSA). Years ago I determined that being early at the airport inspired "random" searches for bombs. I discussed this with a security individual and determined that he truly didn't understand what a "random" search was. For him, random searches involved checking early-morning business travellers' briefcases for explosives residue.

While the TSA doesn't make anything safer, and drives the rest of us stir-crazy, it's entirely possible that the morons involved in the day to day activities really are doing their best and don't understand that they *are* morons.

:) Rob

There's a cheery thought.


Hello Jerry,

In Friday mail, under the "This from another conference" heading, you quote your correspondent Jim: "And as for "no-go" areas, ref: my separate post on this topic. Europe has at least a hundred of them by now--muslim neighborhoods made so dangerous by disaffected young males that police and fire services stay out. As my Christian Nigerian cab drivers always say, "Muslims Are Trouble"."

I think Jim is widely optimistic. In Le Figaro daily dated Feb 1st, 2002, Lucienne Bui Trong, a criminologist working for the French government's Renseignements Generaux (General Intelligence - a mix of FBI and secret service), complains that the survey system she had created for accurately denumbering the Muslim no-go zones was dismantled by the government. She wrote: "From 106 hot points in 1991, we went to 818 sensitive areas in 1999. That's for the whole country. These data were not politically correct." Since she comes from a Vietnamese background, Ms. Bui Trong cannot be suspected of racism, of course, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to start this survey in the first place.

The term she uses, "sensitive area", is the PC euphemism for these places where anything representing a Western institution (post office truck, firemen, even mail order delivery firms, and of course cops) is routinely ambushed with Molotov cocktails, and where war weapons imported from the Muslim part of Yugoslavia are routinely found.

The 818 is from 2002. I'd go on a limb and venture that it hasn't decreased in two years.

So Jim, try several hundred instead of just 100.

And there is a depressing one.


Again from another conference:

The America of 2020 will have an awful lot of jobs that are doable by an IQ 70 person as long as they don't have other dysfunctions--*someone* will have to push the wheelchairs of the Baby Boomers. Unfortunately, the America of 2020, like the America of 2004 will not be one in which an IQ 70 individual can function as an autonomous adult away from the workplace, and our politically correct rejection of paternalism and embrace of radical personal autonomy guarantees that the structure such people require to lead successful lives will not be available to those whose immediate family cannot/will not provide it.



> Unfortunately, the America of 2020, like the America of > 2004 will not be one in which an IQ 70 individual can function as an > autonomous adult away from the workplace, >

I can barely function as it is. Life is WAY too complicated. I spend 5-10 hours a week on paperwork & never really catch up. Income tax is now a total mystery.

It's the fault of lawyers, of course. The bloke next door sold his house recently. In the course of having it evaluated, they discovered a damp spot in the attic--his wife had unplugged the dehumidifier & forgotten to re-plug it. This threatened to make the house UNSELLABLE--there were *weeks* of arm-wrestling with lawyers, engineers, occupancy-certifiers and real-estate agents. Over a damp patch.

Our culture is seizing up, like the later Roman Empire. Bring on the barbarian invasions.


And of course Jane Jacobs predicts a coming Dark Age.


And also from another conference:

The strike on Osirik was an act of war, and would have resulted in a conflict many orders of magnitude larger were it not for the inability of any Arab army to do anything against Israel other than get itself annihilated.

There is no law without the ultimate recourse to violence behind it. The U.N. inspections only worked because Saddam believed that the U.S. would invade Iraq if he kept the inspectors out. And note that we would have had to do so without proof positive that he had WMD programs going.

Anyway, the Shiites have the oil and the Sunnis do not. The Sunnis will either get with the program or starve.

The Law of Sovereign States has been modified to fit the New CNN-based World Order. States are now only completely sovereign if they can convince the United States that they are not a threat and also if they don't do anything so awful internally that significant numbers of their citizens flee over their borders, especially showing up in G8 nations seeking asylum. Gee whiz, these are just not such hard things to do/not do that one cannot feel sympathy for rulers who cannot manage such simple matters, and therefore end up hiding in spider holes.

We are not at all the only power that enforces these rules. The French have been constantly abrogating the "sovereignty" of their African ex-colonies when they violate the second rule, and NATO has done the same in the former Yugoslavia.

Saudi Arabia is not a "borderline" state. It should have been our #1 target for invasion. It is Saudi oil money that finances the Madrasahs worldwide, and this simply must stop. And, anyway, the House of Saud is not long for this world.



For anyone interested in the breath, depth, and the inevitable ultimate success of Saddam's pre-GWI nuclear program, I highly recommend David Albright's web site. See . If you take the time to read the many reports, you will learn how a country with limited (but not zero) technical resources can build an effective weapons program. As always the Europeans provided the greatest assistance, although the crucial information about centrifuge design was NOT provided with official approval. Disgruntled employees of MAN broke the law to provide classified blueprints and other technical aid.

Complete agreement: he wanted nukes and he was willing to spend big time to get them.

In my judgment $1 billion a year spent on observation of Iraq including both USAF and CIA operations would have been enough to insure he didn't get nuclear weapons without our knowing about it; and that would have been cheap compared to what we have paid.

Of course we did get some live fire training for the troops for our invasion money. Nothing like combat to hone the force. But surely there has been enough?


Recent reports indicate that Latin American gang culture, in its current form, is an export from the US. Sadly, America is corrupting Latin America in this case. Now if we could only get the anti-globalization types to attack this particular form of US cultural imperialism. Both the US and Latin America would be better off. I won't hold me breath...


And we exported gangs, and now re-import them; and they are not longer just local street gangs, but networks with branches and a hierarchy. Ain't it wonderful? There are articles in the LA papers today about just how serious the gang situation is: in LA County we have had more casualties in 3 years among young people than we have had in the Iraq war.

And another correspondent found this:

In 1831 a Mexican, Lorenzo de Zavala, tells about Mexico's problems.

Two things have caused me to write of this journey. The first is that I have believed that nothing can give more useful lessons in politics to my fellow citizens than the knowledge of the manners, customs, habits, and government of the United States, whose institutions they have copied so servilely. Secondly, because I offered in my _Historical Essay_ to publish my memoirs, it is now time that I begin, although it may be in incoherent bits and pieces as circumstances permit.

Because a book written by me in which I criticized more or less severely the conduct of the rulers of the Republic in accordance with my conscience, in my capacity as minister of the Mexican government to France, would not be in keeping with public policy, I have not been able to continue my History of Mexico beyond the year 1830, nor to publishe the part of my memoirs prior to that period. On the other hand, I was not going to publish a partisan work, much less a collection of panegyrics. The historical truth must come out of the historical documents, the press of the period, and the conscientious publication of the few men who divest themselves of personal and party feelings to transmit to posterity events as they are revealed to their understanding by a critical examination. Now that we have committed so many errors that have been so fatal to our fellow citizens, let us at least do the service of confessing them and presenting ourselves as we have been. Coming generations will profit by these terrible lessons.

This book has no merit as far as originality is concerned. I can say that it has been no great mental effort for me because most of the descriptions, documents, and even many of the reflections, I have taken from others or from my own notes concerning the places. I have added at the time of coordinating some considerations that grew out of the circumstances or events that I was relating. However it should be very useful to Mexicans, for it is to them that I dedicate it. In it they will find a true description of the people whom their legislators have tried to imitate - a people that is hard working, active and reflective, circumspect, religious in the midst of a multiplicity of sects, tolerant, thrifty, free, proud and persevering.

The Mexican is easygoing, lazy, intolerant, generous almost to prodigality, vain, belligerent, superstitious, ignorant and an enemy of all restraint. The North American works, the Mexican has a good time; the first spends less than he has, the second even that which he does not have; the former carries out the most arduous enterprises to their conclusion; the latter abandons them in the early stages; the one lives in his house, decorates it furnishes it, preserves it against the inclement weather; the other spends his time in the street, flees from his home and in a land where there are no seasons, he worries little about a place to rest. In the United States, all men are property owners and tend to increase their fortune; in Mexico the few who have anything are careless with it and fritter it away.

As I say these things, it must be understood that there are honorable exceptions, and especially among educated people are to be found very commendable social and domestic virtues. There are also in the United States people who are prodigal lazy and despicable. But that is not the general rule.

I seem to hear some of my fellow countrymen yelling: "How awful! See how that unworthy Mexican belittles and exposes us to the view of civilized peoples." Just calm down, gentlemen, for others have already said that and much more about us and about our forefathers, the Spaniards. Do you not want it said? Then mend your ways. Get rid of those eighty-seven holidays during the year that you dedicate to play, drunkenness and pleasure. Save up capital for the decent support of yourselves and your families in order to give guarantees of your concern for the preservation of the social order. Tolerate the opinions of others people; be indulgent with those who do not think as you do; allow the people of your country to exercise freely their trade, whatever it may be, and to worship the supreme Author of the Universe in accordance with their own consciences. Repair your roads; raise up houses in order to live like rational beings; dress your children and your wives with decency; don't incite riots in order to take what belongs to somebody else. And finally, live on the fruit of your labors, and then you will be worthy of liberty and of the praises of sensible and impartial men.

The people of Mexico are my Maecenas, but I do not follow in the way of others who fill a page with the praises of those persons whose patronage they solicit. The advantage of those who write, without expecting a reward is that they say what they feel, and they are believed and respected.

In my writings I have never sought anything other than the truth. whoever reads what I write,unless he has been badly advised, will find naturalness, frankness, good faith, an unquenchable desire for the public good and an insatiable love of liberty. If passion or affection be mixed in once in a while, surely it has been without my noticing or suspecting it.

You, my dear reader, try to read this book with attention, and I hope that when you have finished it you will have changed many of your ideas-not in prejudice to reason, nor even less to morality, nor to your religion, whatever it may be, but in favor of them.

- Lorenzo de Zavala, Journey to the United States of North America, 1831


And this in response to mail on jobs and IQ

There are ALWAYS jobs that those who need SKILLS rather than education can do; there are always jobs for IQ 70 - 90 people.

IQ snobbery is fine and dandy, but I have had to do farm work, and wait on tables, and scrub floors, and there is nothing undignified about doing that stuff: it is hard work and necessary, and those who do it ought to be respected. Like my gardener and his family who spent the day yesterday trimming a tree for me. I would have been terrified to climb those ladders and wield those saws, and I know damned well from experience that I would not have been as meticulous in cleaning up afterwards as they were.

The fact is that many high IQ people are pretty useless because they think the world owes them a living above what they can earn, and they envy anyone lower on the IQ ladder who has taken the trouble to learn a skill that earns more money than the high IQ type can get just from displaying his Mensa membership. I know Mensa Post Office clerks who ought to be fired: they don't do the job well, but they won't take the trouble to use that intelligence to learn to do something they can do well.

Intelligent people aren't much good at repetitive work that requires care.

Now some jobs fall in the cracks. TSA screening comes to mind: smart people will begin well, and decide for the sensible solution when faced with something outside the rules; but over time they will go mad with boredom and grow sloppy. Less gifted will have to do the job as a skill for which they are trained, which means FOLLOW RULES not use judgment, resulting in the horror stories I tend to collect on my web site.

But an ingenious nation not obsessed with the bottom line, and not ruined with the insane belief that there is no value to anything other than the accumulation of economic goods -- which has not been entirely converted to Mammon -- will find dignified work for its citizens, and make them feel proud to do their jobs; make them feel valuable citizens who contribute to the nation, rather than proles who are tolerated because we can't drown them and whose only function is to spend money and contribute kids for the Army. We, however, have gone over to Mammon and will export any job whatever if it gives us more goods at lower prices.

Things are in the saddle and rule mankind. The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. And of the US.

Of course, my views there are postulated on making it painful to be poor even if that is unfair: that is, providing an incentive to get out and work, and contribute. Pappy Doolittle was "undeserving poor" and knew it: a man ought to work to support his children because that was the right and proper thing to do. He just didn't do it.

But we no longer distinguish between deserving and undeserving poor...

And one last point, from someone in the trenches:

Women pretty much bring home the bacon, run the house, manage as best they can with no males worthy of the name around, and go to church.

The men sort of shuffle around. The women pretty much kick them out of the house most mornings after the kids are off to childcare/school, mistrusting with good reason what they’d be up to if they hung around all day. (Most likely worried about small thefts: things like stealing all the out and cached toilet paper and light bulbs.)

Grandmothers are replacing girlfriends. (Nobody’s married.) The grandmothers are incredulous at the whole scene. As one of them put it to me today, “What did somebody do to these people?”

The males are recoverable, but only after lengthy prison sentences or conversions to Islam. Pentacostal Christianity and 12 step groups are beyond this bunch.

They lack almost entirely the verbal wit and board-game intelligence I’m used to among thugs and slugs of an earlier generation. None of them can hold his own at backgammon, chess, or go. None of them can play basketball or fight. They’re pretty much all clinically depressed, endlessly craving a beer, reefer, hit, or even cigarette to diminish the nothingness of their lives.

The only work they do is a little child care, for which some of them are paid a few bucks by matronizing girlfriends, or friends of girlfriends, who exasperatedly complain to one another out loud, like rich people about servants, why these dudes can’t even walk a child home from school. (They’re always getting sidetracked, and the child is apt to arrive home without supposed accompaniment.)

This is more than you wanted to know, but what isn’t?

And there is where we are with the underclasses. So far have we come with out doing of good. We have sown the wind.


Hi Jerry,

One thing I thought I learned in my life was that conservatives did not foolishly over-estimate the capacity of government to make all things better for all people. That government is best which governs the least, and all that. How in the world did the Republicans let themselves be put in a strangle-hold by the Neo-Jacobins (your term; I kind of think the 'con' bit is quite appropriate). It does seem to go against the grain.

According to <a href=" ">this, </a> these wunderkinder thought they had the keys to building utopia. A little humility, and a little analysis of history would have saved a thousand lives (and counting), and a couple hundred billions. It would also have left us with a somewhat higher regard in the rest of the world than we have now, and significantly more options. None that are on the table now are going to leave us in a stronger position in the war on terrorism than we were before the invasion.

People say it's easy to complain and point fingers, but we are there, and the question remains, what do we DO now? What makes me so damn angry is that we shouldn't have been stuck trying to answer that question, and I'd like to see some accountability on the part of the folks who dropped us in this little briar patch. There's folks in the cabinet whom I do not want to see within a thousand yards of a goverment building... can we get a court to issue restraining orders on account of their abusive relationship with governmental authority?

So what's my great idea for a way out of this mess, you ask? Quietly declare our objectives met and get the flock out of Dodge. Revert to 'speak softly and carry a big stick' (in the words of Fred Reed - stay home on Saturday night for a change), and rustle up another 200 billion to spend on energy independence.

Where you and I differ is which administration is most likely to come anywhere near this objective. I think a second term for Bush is a mistake. Have there been any clues that anyone in this administration has gotten so much as a whack across the knuckles for this, or for spending us into stratospheric defecits? Remind me, who is twising Bush's arm into allowing all of this nation-building and willy-nilly spending? A split government, with Kerry balanced by a Republican congress would probably wind up being much more.... how you say.... conservative than a unified party government has shown itself to be.

End of rant,


Kerry is surrounded by intellectuals who are true believers in Jacobin principles and Wilsonian foreign policy. He is after all more liberal than Ted Kennedy.

My wing of the party lost leadership, and the party was taken over by the neocons -- neo-Jacobins, but they said they were conservatives and during the Cold War many acted as if they were -- but they led us into disaster. Even THEY can see it's a disaster. Chalabi the Thief didn't come through. No one came through. Now Iraq is a broken mess.

But at least they had the excuse that they thought they were acting in the National Interest. Kossovo and the Balkans are also big messes; and there we didn't even have a pretense that it was in the national interest. Indeed, the fact that we had no conceivable national interest there was a PLUS for Albright, who I notice is a spokesperson for Kerry now. She has learned nothing and forgotten nothing from the day she told Colin Powell "What is the good of this splendid army if we can't use it?" 

Frankly, I don't like the Bush crowd much. His father fired every one of my friends in the White House the day he took office. He hasn't been a lot better. But at least he does not adhere to the mad notion that we ought to get into wars that are NOT in the national interest, and that if something is in the national interest that's a minus, while if it is not in the national interest but we can do good then we ought to send in the troops.

As to Iraq, I would love to declare victory and run, but I am not at all convinced that is a good idea. I can see many downsides to doing that. Many.


Geeez! And these people are the smart ones amongst us!

"Women are different than men, not only psychologically (but) physiologically, and I think we need to understand those differences," says Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Randy Storms

"Politicians work so hard at being re-elected because they wouldn't want to have to work under the laws and conditions they've created."


















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