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Mail 337 November 22 - 28, 2004






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Monday  November 22, 2004

Subject: SHocking Pictures from Iraq

This was forwarded around at work. CNN would never dare put these online.

Sean Long

Sean Long, Maj, USAF



Subject: White flags don't always mean surrender

<<Fallujah attacks expose new risks csmonitor.com.url>>


Rod McFadden


Subject: the viewpoint of the cameraman

 Shortcut to: http://www.kevinsites.net/

Let this stand for several I have received with this link to the Fallujah cameraman's web site. He presents his case and his views. I'll comment another time.


Subject: HR 5382 Passes House - Thanks! (See previous mail)

Things ran a bit slower than expected and the House recessed Friday night without voting on HR 5382. They're back in session and voting on "A Motion To Suspend The Rules And Pass" 5382 right now - this looks like passing by a healthy but far from unanimous margin; the current tally is 269 for, 117 against, 47 not yet voted.

OK, the motion got the required 2/3rds majority; the House has passed HR 5382.

Our thanks to everybody who called and helped out - we'll be writing about what comes next (presumably Senate action) as soon as we have details.

Henry Vanderbilt Space Access Society hvanderbilt@mindspring.com 

PS - our website seems to be down for the moment, but we expect to have it back up soon, with details of next April's Space Access '05 conference as soon as we nail them down.


Subject: Life Expectancy US vs UK

Jim Managles said: >However when you look at the general results, the statistics tell you one significant fact: >life expectancy in Britain is better than in the US for both men and women, by three or four >years. This says that the British health system works better than the American one, and for a >lot less money to boot.

If you look at these references: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/tables/2003/03hus027.pdf  http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=8486 

It looks like the difference is about a year and if you look at white Americans the results are almost the same. It is arguable about how much impact medical care has on life expectancy compared to environmental conditions, life style and general public health measures. The biggest improvement in recent years has probably been in trauma care. Saving the life of an 18 year old in an automobile accident has a lot more impact than anything you can do for a sick 65 year old.

Joel Upchurch


Subject: Laws of War and Principles of War

I agree with what you just posted on these subjects (except that I think you made them try to apply too universally), but I think there is more to be said on the subjects.

What counts for the Laws and Customs of War isn't what Grotius said, but something that goes further back. The Law of War originally rested on the concept of "perfidy", which basically meant you had to be trusted to be offered trust in a context where there was no enforcing authority. If you didn't respect surrenders you couldn't be offered the option of surrender, and so on. Grotius codified accepted usage, and tried to systematise it and make it carry the things he wanted implemented - but there had to be something there first. US mythology makes out that in the US War of Independence Banastre Tarleton killed prisoners who had surrendered, but he actually refused to accept their offer of surrender. This is basically the postion of those who seek to excuse the US killing of wounded a Iraqi hostile (NOT a "rebel" - he never broke faith with a pledged loyalty, he never offered it). The other side of the coin is, and this is a question of fact, if that Iraqi had ever offered surrender AND his offer had been accepted - or DEEMED accepted by virtue of being wounded in an area that the USA had taken responsibility for - then the whole perfidy thing means that killing him was a breach of the Laws and Customs of War. As I say, that is a question of fact, to be determined. If facts are found against the killer, then honour actually requires his comrades to kill HIM, with at best a drum head Court Martial, to preserve their own credibility in their own interest. There's actually a Henry Kuttner Venus short story that addresses this very point, a prequel to his novel "Fury"; in that, the mercenaries destroy their perfidious comrade for using banned weapons, to his complete astonishment.

We need to know the answer to that question of fact.

On the Principles of War, and remembering Napoleon's own dictum "l'execution c'est tout" (freely translated, "the trick is doing it"), I remember those principles summarised with a mnemonic: engage; dislocate; penetrate; pursue. Not all his battles and campaigns used each, or indeed in the same proportions - indeed his most brilliant strategic effort was the strategic barrage that forestalled all fighting in Germany just before Austerlitz - but his thinking and conduct often fitted that overall pattern. He also used the combination of arms for each phase, i.e. infantry for the first two, artillery for the middle two, and cavalry for the last two, with a breakdown between heavy and light versions of each for different phases. We have to reinterpret all that in the light of our own different resources, not just read it out like a check list. Where I would tend to disagree with you is in assessing "wars" as being settled in the pursuit; rather, I would say that your analysis better suits a German-style campaign by campaign assessment. It has been pointed out that German military thinking failed in the field from practitioners who misinterpreted the likes of Clausewitz and only dealt with campaign issues, thereby setting themselves up to lose wars that their adversaries managed to stretch out longer.

By the way, did you ever notice that actual US military men are also familiar with Jomini, not just with Clausewitz? It's your less rounded people who talk themselves into corners from rushing in with executive summaries of rounded experienced writers. We all ought to use our limited reading and experience like paramedics, dealing with the emergencies in front of us and learning to recognise when we are out of our depth and ought to call in people with wider experience.

While we're on these subjects would it be unkind of me to ask you and your readers to revisit what I sent you a few years ago and you posted at http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2mail/mail178.html#Wednesday ? I don't think your reply really addressed the concerns I presented, but anyway I think it might be worth thinking about in today's outworkings of what I feared then. Was I expressing a reasonable apprehension?

Yours sincerely,

P.M.Lawrence. GST+NPT=JOBS

I.e., a Goods and Services Tax (or almost any other broad based production tax), with a Negative Payroll Tax, promotes employment.

See http://member.netlink.com.au/~peterl/publicns.html#AFRLET2 and the other items on that page for some reasons why.

I included the Kuttner story ("Clash by Night") in at least one of anthologies.

The point made previously is that the United States is not a reliable ally: we withdrew from Viet Nam after promises of protection. This is a valid charge, but this time the election went differently. Viet Nam was won, when the Democratic Congress decided to withdraw support. In 1972 150,000 troops invaded from the North. They were utterly defeated by South Viet Nam with US air and materiel support at a cost of under 500 US casualties. In 1975 a similar sized army was sent south, having been rebuilt with Soviet equipment (which couldn't have been cheap), and the Congress of the US sent no air support at all, and materiel help of 20 cartridges and 2 hand grenades per South Vietnamese soldier. Saigon accordingly became Ho Chi Minh City. And I observed at the time and since, that given Kennedy's assassination of Diem (not direct, but Sorenson's letter to Diem's enemies was a death warrant and everyone knew that) we broke it -- and assumed ownership. Which the Democrats eventually abandoned after we had won. So yes: relying on the US was not wise. We advertised to the world that if you call in the US, you will probably not survive personally.

The First Gulf War changed some of that: the Kuwaiti Royal Family sat out the war in London casinos, then came home; so the Kennedy message was changed. After which Bush encouraged revolts against Hussein, but was unable to help those who did rise up, so most of the democratic elements in Iraq were slaughtered, and the marshes drained in an ecological disaster unprecedented in history since the Turks broke the terraces in Anatolia and created wastelands where there had been gardens. And the US did nothing while our allies within Iraq were hunted to ground and slaughtered.

This time, at least, that hasn't happened. But it is the implications of intervention in other people's affairs that cause me to want to stay out of other people's lives unless we have a full commitment complete with Declaration of War.

As to your remarks on application of principles of war, did you read what I said, or were you merely anxious to score a point? Or have you merely lost track of what we are trying to do here? Clearly it is not possible in a one-page discourse to cover a subject as important as the principles of war, and anything said is going to be overly general. Perhaps a better writer than I am could get across more nuances in a similar space, but not many do; and this is, after all, a daily journal, not a polished and published academic work.

For more on the principles of war I can refer you to twenty books, most of them contradictory -- and indeed, wasn't that said in the excerpt from The Strategy of Technology? And did I not give a link to the entire book? What more, I ask, could I have done?


Dr Pournelle,

"Writing Secure Code"

In your Book of the Month listings for November 2003, you states that... »The computer book of the month is Michael Howard and David LeBlanc, Writing Secure Code (Microsoft Press, 2002; ISBN 0735617228). It carries a cover blurb from Bill Gates: "Required reading at Microsoft."« ...

Is that blurb from Gates supposed to be an endorsement of the book or an Awful Warning against taking its advice? ... :(

Jim Mangles

Clever. But it is certainly the case that Microsoft takes security seriously -- NOW. As it is certainly true that they rushed Internet Explorer into production without sufficient thought on that.

And I will painfully limp up again and point out that had the computer industry gone down the road of Modula-2 instead of C as a systems programming language we would have range checking built into the compiler, and buffer overflow exploits would not be possible. In addition, programmers might actually have some hope of understanding what programs are doing without having to rely on the usually cryptic comments and annotations that programmers reluctantly add to their code when they are in the throes of creative ecstasy. Instead we used a language that will notoriously compile utter nonsense, so that the programmer has to simulate the computer in his head to get the result he wants -- and a later programmer trying to make sense of that may not have the same model in his head.  This is a discussion for another time and place, but it is increasingly clearer that Wirth and Dijkstra were right: computers ought to be used in creation of computer code, and the compiler ought to catch nonsense that the programmer overlooked (such as invisible type changes).

I had this argument with Minsky once regarding Modula vs. LISP. Marvin said (talking to McCarthy about me) "He wants to put on a straightjacket then see what he can do while wearing it." I had trouble replying, but in fact the reply ought to have been something to the effect that I wanted some guard rails and lifelines when climbing cliffs.


The mentality here is amazing. Just amazing. A blunter statement of PC you will never see. Any joke must be vetted for being PC first. Free speech is less valuable than the idea that no one must *EVER* be offended.

Well, at least there's progress...even the ethnic activists think the race "dialogues" are endless!!


Students forget that humor targeted at minority groups — be it women, ethnic or otherwise — is not worthy of publication. Freedom of speech is one thing, yet it is ignorance that makes necessary the endless race dialogues and the Cultural Awareness Associate program on this campus.



This and reply from another conference:

Subject: I Am Charlotte Simmons (was "what undergrad is like nowadays")

Just got back from vacation, catching up...

Saw the subject line of this thread. Anyone keen for an angle on what undergrad life is like nowadays could do worse than try the book I read last week in the Caribbean: Tom Wolfe's I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS.

For the father of a nearly-12-yr-old beautiful girl, the book was TERRIFYING.

If any academic list members HAVE read IACS, how true is it?

I'm hoping TW has wildly exaggerated. However, I was working with bond traders when BOTV came out, and he got that pretty exactly right....




With my wife's energy level down from her (breast cancer) chemotherapy, we have had to press a 22-year-old ski-bum-wannabe into service as part of round-the-clock extra coverage to mind the children. She expressed alarm to me about how "adult" the freshmen in her old high school are dressing compared to how they dressed when even *she* was a teen. (And this girl, of course, wears jeans so low that she obviously must shave every morning.)

This babysitter suggests that you should accompany your wife down to The GAP at your local mall when she takes your daughter to shop for clothes. There you will see "fashions" for "tweens" (pre-teens) that will make you think that you mistakenly wandered into "Sluts R Us".

To deepen your panic, you should go to a really big magazine outlet and look through Girls/Women's magazines until you find ones whose ads are clearly targeted towards your daughter's demographic. Then familiarize yourself with the editorial content. While you are at it, take a close look at the editorial content in COSMOPOLITAN and its competitors such as MARIE CLARE.

Be very, very afraid. As late as 1970, twice as many undergraduate degrees were awarded to males as females in America, but at least one article in NEWSWEEK predicted that by 2008 that ratio will have been fully reversed. Sex ratio sets the "price" of females in the local mating market, and right now women would be a "short" if there were options on them.


ummm, no. This is why Tom Wolfe's recent stuff has bombed. The book "Hooking Up" is an old guy's view of what he *thinks* young people are doing. Very different from his perceptive sendups of NY liberals in the 80's.

The key difference is that Wolfe was not a political infant. He could state the position of his leftist opponents in terms they would agree with, which allowed him to put himself in their shoes & thus skewer them all the more mercilessly.

But he is a *sociological* infant, at least w.r.t to the sociology of young adults. I mean, blowjob = good night kiss? No, human nature is not that plastic. One would think a conservative would know this...

Wolfe's "Hooking Up" reminds of when an old guy starts talking about computers. Within about 5 seconds I can tell if he knows what the hell he's talking about.


Of course it is very un-PC to talk about such things.


Medical Savings Accounts: The Singapore Experience

< http://www.ncpa.org/images/1pix.gif > by

Thomas A. Massaro, M.D., Ph.D.


Yu-Ning Wong

NCPA Policy Report No. 203 April 1996 ISBN #1-56808-071-9

Executive Summary

In 1984 Singapore adopted a system of Medisave accounts, individually owned accounts used to pay for many of the health care expenditures that in the United States would normally be covered by health insurance. The fact that people are spending their own money rather than that of a third-party insurer has helped to curtail Singapore's health care costs, which are about 3.1 percent of gross domestic product. Even with these low expenditures, the income of Singapore doctors is about the same in relation to average wages as physician income in the United States, and patients have easy access to such technology as CAT scans, organ transplants and bypass surgery.

Singapore also compares favorably to other "Asian tigers" in terms of spending and overall health indicators. For example, Singapore had an infant mortality rate of five per 1,000 live births in 1992, equal to that of Japan and lower than that of Hong Kong, which was six.

To achieve this record, the government has implemented three programs that help people pay for medical expenses: Medisave, Medishield and Medifund.

The Medisave Program.

Created in 1984, Medisave is a compulsory national health care savings program designed to help citizens meet their individual responsibilities and to supplement funds drawn from their own savings. Medisave contributions range between 6 and 8 percent according to the worker's age, and can be used to pay for a variety of specified inpatient and outpatient medical services, both before and after retirement.

The Medishield Program.

Since Medisave accounts alone may be insufficient to cover a serious or prolonged illness, Medishield was established in 1990 as a catastrophic insurance program to pay extraordinary hospital expenses for those under 70 years of age.

The Medifund Program.

Since the combination of out-of-pocket, Medisave and Medishield payments may not cover all low-income workers' medical expenses, Medifund was established in April 1993 to provide assistance.

Public institutions dominate Singapore's hospital sector: 13 of the 23 hospitals and 8,640 of the 10,469 beds are in facilities controlled by the Ministry of Health. A key component of the government'spolicy is a tiered structure of subsidies based on the setting in which care is delivered and the amenities provided with it. In the public hospitals, there are five classes of wards that receive varying degrees of subsidy, while private hospitals are unsubsidized.

In principle, individuals are free to choose among the five levels. Medical social workers provide financial counseling to everyone at the time of admission into the public hospitals. They advise patients that it is their responsibility to choose a ward class they can afford and to cover their expenses through a combination of subsidy, Medisave, Medishield and personal funds. If necessary, patients can draw on their spouse's, children's or parents' Medisave accounts.

Quality of service is an important issue for Singapore's hospitals. Hospital personnel are responsible for improving service, and senior management makes decisions based on the satisfaction of patients and other customers. For example, patients waiting less than 15 minutes at admission increased from 40 to 71 percent between 1991 and 1992.

Singapore has one of the most sophisticated health care delivery systems in Asia, serving citizens and foreign nationals alike in both private and public hospitals. In terms of efficiency of delivery, Singapore is comparable to U.S. managed health networks and point-of-service plans.

* The hospital admission rate for residents is approximately 1.10 per year per 1,000 population, about the same as aggressively administered HMOs in the U.S.

* The ratio of caregivers to support personnel is 5:1 at Singapore General Hospital - it is 2:1 in benchmark American hospitals - reflecting the increased efficiency that comes from lighter bureaucratic and regulatory loads that Singapore places on the delivery system.

* The average length of stay at Singapore General Hospital is 5.4 days, also comparable to the best American managed care and far less than that in other developed countries.

The Singapore programs provide incentives to reduce consumption and offer protection against extraordinary events and free-rider abuses. The system is efficient and effective, the health status of the people is improving and the national investment in health care is surprisingly low, while hospitals are profitable and physician incomes are relatively high. <snip>




Teenagers alone

Feral and furious Nov 11th 2004 From The Economist print edition

Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Wonder Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes By Mary Eberstadt Sentinel; 218 pages; $25.95

"IT WOULD be better for both children and adults if more American parents were with their kids more of the time," insists Mary Eberstadt, at the end of a gloomy account of all that has gone wrong with youngsters' lives. She wants a new public consensus to reflect that.

Can views change? Public concern about the absence of fathers from their children's lives has already begun to rise in the past decade. Indeed, the author's catalogue of childhood unhappiness sometimes conflates the effects of divorce with her main and more controversial target, namely, the decline in the amount of time that children spend with either parent. She blames the rise of day care and of empty homes for rising aggression, obesity, unhappiness and teenage sex. The average American teenager now spends about three-and-a-half hours alone each day: more time alone than with family and friends. In that loneliness, and in children's resentment of it, lie the roots of most of the ills that beset America's youngsters.

The loneliness, Mrs Eberstadt argues, starts in day care. Deposited, by working mothers, too soon and too long in the care of strangers, small children suffer more infections and develop more aggressive behaviour than they once did. At school, children whose parents are out of the home for long periods behave worse and achieve less. Violence in primary schools has grown. So has childhood obesity: the proportion of overweight youngsters tripled between the 1960s and 1990s. Why? Because, says Mrs Eberstadt, there is no longer an adult at home to tell a sedentary child to stop munching in front of the television and go out to play. She cites research showing a significant link between maternal work and overweight children. Television makes the dual-career and single-parent family possible.

Children hate being parentless. But the adult response to what she calls the "furious child problem" has been pharmaceutical: prescription-drug use is now rising faster among children than among the elderly. Schools have difficulty managing "feral" children, their behaviour undisciplined by a parental presence at home. Teenagers left alone at home for too long get up to greater mischief. And she reports a rising epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers. Parents are "the ultimate prophylactic". <snip>








This week:


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TuesdayNovember 23, 2004

Subject: IMPORTANT  - Ad Banner Sites serve up Bothra Exploit

(I'm sending this again...I think this story is being underreported...this exploit is wider than I initially thought when I sent you this on Sunday. I've made a few changes and updates, including more thoughts at my place.)

Dr. Pournelle:

"The Register" is a popular computer news site. They, like many news sites, have ads that are supplied by a third-party ad serving company. One of those companies was infected with the Bofra/Iframe exploit, which allows installation of virus/worms just by displaying their content. So by visiting a web site that uses an infected ad server, you are vulnerable. The Register story is here:


Note that although this is a IE 6 exploit, it does *not* affect Windows XP with SP2 installed.

If your readers visited The Register Saturday 11/20/04 (or other sites/date, see "later note" below), they should ensure they are properly patched. If not, update your anti-virus, then scan your system. Then install Windows XP Service Patch 2.

This problem of ad servers causing viral/worm problems may be a problem that will get more prevalent.

(Later note: this one is more widespread -- remember the "Russian Ject" exploit earlier this year? Infected sites serving up exploits via a document footer code exploit? This one may be just as widespread. More info and more links about this on my site this week:


Note also that many will say to use an alternate browser. Firefox is the current 'geek and media darling'. I have tried it, and have found some differences in how it displays sites, mostly in the size of text, which displays smaller with Firefox than IE. Table borders are also sometimes MIA in Firefox. And I haven't been able to get the tabbing to work.

So I am not a Firefox zealot yet. I still use IE6 for most of my browsing; I also use NetCaptor, which uses the IE6 engine. And I haven't been hit by any Windows vulns yet. Safe computing here: OS updates, AV updates, hardware/software firewall, and adware scanning.

Regards, Rick Hellewell


Subject: The problem with single source intelligence

Dear Jerry:

I tend to agree that having one person at the top of the Intelligence Community through whom all money is dispersed and all information flows to the policy makers is a Bad Idea. There is a reason we have 15 different intelligence agencies. They check each other's work, for instance and make it harder to sell ideological desires as hard, actionable , intelligence. The entire DOD "Office of Special Plans" scheme was an end run around a well-vetted process that would have kept us out of a war in Iraq. So we can already see the dangers. The neocons got played, big time, by various special interests who did not respect the process and wanted to make free with the public purse for their own ends.

This kind of political influence has been the root of every major intelligence scandal. Iran-Contra was very much in this vein, with people doing "the right thing" (lying) for "The good of the cause". The problem is that when you suspend disbelief for agreeable fantasies that meet your own preconceptions of a problem head on, you are liable to be sold a false tale...and act upon it.. This is a classic deception technique dating back to Sun Tzu.

On the other side of this, the lack of coordination and command and control is also a major problem. So are heavily entrenched staffs of professionals who want to refight the battles of old. Turf battles for limited resources are always a problem. People at the top who have no knowledge are a danger, but so are those who served once, long ago. They tend to think nothing has changed , when everything has changed. Porter Goss may be such a person. William Casey certainly was.

Our current problem (and this dates back to Ollie North and Iran-Contra) is ideologues who can't accept a world view that differs from their own. They are unwilling to admit mistake or bias while at the same time discarding all contrary information as irrelevant. Sometimes that bias can starve or dismantle a collection discipline like HUMINT in favor of an apparently easy answer like "National Technical Means" (I've yet to see the spy satellite that can read adversary intentions, and , as the India nuclear bomb fiasco proved, there are simple countermeasures to deny such access entirely.)

If we do have a single person in charge of Intelligence, then that person should be like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Appointed in way that makes he or she immune from political influence, for a long time spanning more than one administration, and kept separate from the Cabinet. It needs to be someone who is a professional in the field, not a political appointee. (The latter are never fully informed by the careerists who work for them).

Sincerely, Francis Hamit

The notion that career "professionals" are better at diplomacy and intelligence than political appointees is a standard googoo idea, and it almost never works. If you are going to hold the political departments of government responsible for decisions you must give them the means to implement their policies.

Of all the silly notions the Democrats implemented, the provision that some set number of Ambassadors must be drawn from the "professional" foreign service is high on the list. An Ambassador is the representative of the President, and a presidential crony may or may not be good at "diplomacy" but he'll certainly be aware of his wishes. A good part of the Iraqi mess is due to the "professional" diplomacy of our Ambassador in Baghdad who failed to let Saddam know, firmly, that the US would not approve of his invasion of Kuwait. A strong Iraq opposed to Iran would be far more in our interests than what we have now, and someone more aware of American political considerations and the wishes of the President would have understood and have made Saddam understand; or at least would have tried instead of delivering a namby-pamby "diplomatic" message that practically invited Saddam to invade.

As to North and Iran Contra, the Democratic Congress, having thrown away a victory in Viet Nam, were apparently eager to allow Central America to go to our enemies. The NSC actions were the wrong way to go about remedying that, but something had to be done. Containment requires that the enemy be contained. The liberals held up the US for all kinds of domestic crap in exchange for allowing the defense of the nation; their Central America policies were disasters in the making. Something had to be done, and it is pretty clear the Democrats wanted to extract more political gains from allowing the national defense.

And the notion that we can have a "professional" director of all the secret funds monies is laughable. The British system used professionals, and got Philby and his colleagues, who compromised not only all their intelligence assets but ours.

Competition works; and there is a good reason to have multiple intelligence agencies and to keep their assets independent and compartmentalized.

And if you are going to have government of, by, and for the people, you must allow the people's representatives some power: creating an aristocracy, largely recruited from graduates of Ivy League colleges, and calling that "professional" and acting as if these enlightened are so much smarter than the rest of us that they deserve to rule, gave us the Cookie Pushers. That kind of entrenched elitism is not in the national interest, and requiring a credential from some elitist institution as a condition for rising in the ranks of the intelligence services is madness.


Subject: Nuke Funding Cut

Per our earlier chat months ago, interestingly, it wasn't John Kerry or the Democrats who did this . . . or who will sign it. And we now have a regime of faith, hope, belief and a calling from "beyond the stars".


Funds for Atomic Bomb Research Cut From Spending Bill < http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/articles/A5554-2004Nov22.html  >

By Walter Pincus

Congress has eliminated the financing of research supported by President Bush into a new generation of nuclear weapons, including investigations into low-yield atomic bombs and an earth-penetrating warhead that could destroy weapons bunkers deep underground.

The Bush administration called in 2002 for exploring new nuclear weapons that could deter a wide range of threats, including possible development of a warhead that could go after hardened, deeply buried targets, or lower-power bombs that could be used to destroy chemical or biological stockpiles without contaminating a wide area.

But research on those programs was dropped from the $388 billion government-wide spending bill adopted Saturday, a rare instance in which the Republican-controlled Congress has gone against the president. The move slowly came to light over the weekend as details of the extensive measure became clear.

Dropping the programs was praised by arms-control advocates and some members of Congress who tried unsuccessfully for several years to kill them. These opponents argued that such research by the United States could trigger a new arms race, and that the existence of lower-yield weapons -- sometimes called "mini-nukes" -- would ultimately increase the likelihood of war. …


And it is nowhere near over. Understand: I never thought a Bush victory was a victory for conservatives; but a Kerry victory would have been a defeat for conservatism. Bush was the better of a bad bargain.

Subject: intelligence


As a former military intel collector and tactical consumer (depending on the system and time in my career) I saw first-hand why the military needs its own intelligence system: the “civilians” collect what they want and disseminate that part of it they think that is “good” for you Operating Forces to know.

Jim Dodd

LCDR Jim Dodd, USN (Ret.)

San Diego


Dr Pournelle,

Philby & co.

"The British system used professionals, and got Philby and his colleagues, who compromised not only all their intelligence assets but ours."

The trouble with this thesis is, Philby & co. were _not_ professionals. They all got themselves into the British SIS by virtue of the old school tie, by knowing the right people; by being what Thatcher would later call in a somewhat different context, "one of us." The British system in these days was not professional at all, but amateur from top to tail.

Professionalisation of the SIS was the essential step that had to be taken after Philby & co. came to light, which blew away for ever the exceedingly quaint notion that employing gentlemen amateurs was ever a good idea.

You appear to be proposing _exactly_ the wrong (and exceedingly quaint) policy.

Jim Mangles

Either I was remarkably unclear, or you are deliberately not seeing what I said. The Old Boy Network created the cookie pushers in US State, and the various traitors in both US and British intelligence services. Once they got in they stayed in. That was what they all thought "professionalism" meant. Hiring people "like us." People from the right schools -- Princeton in the US case -- who thought the proper thoughts. The result wasn't pretty. Allan Dulles left some of that in place; but he also had his parallel outfit of people brought in off the streets. The "professionals" always resented these uncredentialed interlopers who came in sideways to lateral entry at levels above the "professionals".

Centralizing all intelligence functions under one czar will inevitably lead to bureacratization, and to credentialialism, and Political Correctness in the one service where those things aren't tolerable. That's the problem now. Sure: some of our best people came up through the ranks. And some were not. The Mumbling Menace was an interesting case, a DCI whom no one understood (except Woodward who apparently was able to understand him on his death bed although no one else who met him understood five consecutive words).

I have no idea what you are proposing or what you think I am proposing: but I will say again that "professionalization" usually means Civil Service, which means people you can't fire; and no accountability from top to bottom, and no way to get accountability. At least the military remains military, and has some chance of promoting real talent as opposed to credential collectors.

Just as the only way to reform education is to put good people in charge of schools and give them the power to enforce their policies, fire incompetents, and generally run things, the only way to make intelligence services work is to put someone in charge who understands what is needed and let them have both authority and responsibility. Sure: if you get a bad principal, you can get a bad school run in an arbitrary and capricious way; but at least there is the possibility of a good school, and a bad principal with authority probably can't muck things up much worse than the "professionalization" through paying tribute to credential providers has already done.  What you count on with schools is that one bad school doesn't destroy the system. Same with intelligence services: you need more than one precisely because it is inevitable that some of your agencies will get hidebound with hardened arteries, really "professional" in the Civil Service sense, and the job is too darned vital to be left to that sort.

Under Civil Service you seldom get responsibility: who do you hold responsible? Look at NASA for an example of that. Imagine now that all intelligence operations are centralized: the result will be an outfit just like NASA.

And of course you get this sort of thing:

There is a class, as well as an ethnic, angle on the 911 intelligence failure. Both are due to disgraceful officers of the Republican Party.

The Republicans have been courting the Muslim vote in the US, which is why the terrorists got a free pass from Visa authorities and were able to plot the atrocity more or less unmolested.

Grover Norquist set the American Islamic institute to court the Arabic vote and was eager to avoid giving offence to swing voting Arabic communities.

A Troubling Influence By Frank J Gaffney Jr. FrontPageMagazine.com | December 9, 2003 http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=11209 

The Republicans have also been courting the Arabic petrodollar in SA, which is why US intelligence services have been been unofficially deterred from investigating the link between Saudi sponsors of Wahabbist Madrasses and the spread of fundamentalist terrorism.

No one in the US crony capitalist class wants to bother Saudi investors who plough hundreds of billions of dollars into US- domiciled portfolios and who spend billions of dollars on US engineering, arms and energy companies. Robert Baer has been blowing the whistle on this for years, and for his troubles got purged.

See No Evil By Jamie Glazov FrontPageMagazine.com | February 11, 2004 http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=12137


I could give you plenty of such stories from the other side, too. But does "professionalization" of the counter intelligence services remedy this? Exempting the secret police from supervision and control by elected officials seems a bit -- uh -- dangerous? One reason for thinking hard about policies that get people hating us.

We are the friends of liberty everywhere and the guardians only of our own, and we don't need quite so many secret police.








This week:


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Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Subject: Letting Illegals Stay

How can we declare war on terrorism and grant amnesty to illegals at the same time? (See Washington Times article below: Bush revives bid to legalize illegal aliens)

An influx of immigrants with citizen status will lead to lots of interesting consequences. I already attended a conference over the weekend where the opening remarks were done in Spanish and English. Needless to say, the 15 minutes organizers allowed for this open wasn't nearly enough time.

Workers at the local health club believe they will be asked to work what have been the traditional holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas because there are so many people in our area who do not celebrate those events.

The blue states may not have been able to elect Kerry, but its residents still seem to hold sway.



Bush revives bid to legalize illegal aliens By Bill Sammon THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published November 10, 2004

President Bush yesterday moved aggressively to resurrect his plan to relax rules against illegal immigration, a move bound to anger conservatives just days after they helped re-elect him.

The president met privately in the Oval Office with Sen. John McCain to discuss jump-starting a stalled White House initiative that would grant legal status to millions of immigrants who broke the law to enter the United States.

The Arizona Republican is one of the Senate's most outspoken supporters of expanding guest-worker programs and has introduced his own bill to offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

"We are formulating plans for the legislative agenda for next year," said White House political strategist Karl Rove. "And immigration will be on that agenda."

He added: "The president had a meeting this morning to discuss with a significant member of the Senate the prospect of immigration reform. And he's going to make it an important item."

While the president was huddling with Mr. McCain, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was pushing the plan during a visit to Mexico City.

"The president remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform as a high priority in his second term," he told a meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission. "We will work closely with our Congress to achieve this goal."

But key opponents in Congress said Mr. Bush's proposal isn't going anywhere.

"An amnesty by any other name is still an amnesty, regardless of what the White House wants to call it," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.

In California emergency rooms in hospitals are closing, and the city of San Diego is broke because illegal immigrants soak up all the resources. If it becomes known that illegals will be turned in if they report to emergency rooms, they won't come, and they will die in the streets, say advocates of amnesties.

No nation can support the world. For reasons unfathomable to me, while the nation is 75% opposed to illegal immigration and in favor of enforcing the immigration laws and denying free welfare services to illegal immigrants, both political parties are in favor of expanding the benefits. It is sheer madness. A country that has an elite leadership that defies the vast majority of the citizens is neither a republic nor a democracy.

Subject: Intel--more, not less

"We are the friends of liberty everywhere and the guardians only of our own, and we don't need quite so many secret police."

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

Even if I accepted the planted axiom, surely a reduction in forward presence implies *more* intel being required, rather than less? If my tripwire is forward-deployed, I can discount (or overlook) some indications and warnings with comparative safety: if I have committed myself to letting people develop whatever aggressive means against us they please, free of pre-emptive disruption by me, surely I need to substantially *increase* the number of field personnel looking for potential aggressors, both abroad and at home?


David G.D. Hecht

Do you seriously believe that 911 would have happened if we had not intervened in Middle Eastern affairs over the years? But in fact I distinguish between overseas intelligence and domestic secret police. I would be in favor of opening the language schools and doing some serious intelligence work. None of the proposals I have seen will do more than shuffle about the leadership of the bureaucracies that will remain. Das Buros immer steht.

Subject: A worthy charity

I don't often ask you to use your clout to spread the word about something, but I think this is a worthy cause, and I suspect you'll agree.

< http://www.ttgnet.com/daynotes/2004/2004-48.html#Tuesday >

If you do, a mention on your site of this organization could help them out a lot.

Best regards.


-- Robert Bruce Thompson thompson@ttgnet.com http://www.ttgnet.com/thisweek.html http://forums.ttgnet.com/ikonboard.cgi


Subject: "In Search of Stupidity"


WRT "In Search of Stupidity" ( http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reviews/bookmonth.html ):

<<He leaves out details: The first review of Wayne Ratliff's Vulcan—which became dBase 2—was mine in BYTE, and that review caused George Tate to buy Vulcan and rename it.>>

Some time well into... hmm... dBaseIII timeframe? -- Wayne Ratliff re-released an updated version of Vulcan, and gave it one or two updates after its "initial" release. (I remember being excited when an upgrade allowed me to code for the mouse.) The program got very little notice, and I don't know what eventually became of it, but I suspect it ended up wherever everything else I bought from that era ("Multibasic", anyone?) ended up.



Subject: Re: New Model Army/War in Iraq

Dear Sir,

Of course it's breaking down. I've known many National Guardsmen (and was one for a few years, after my second hitch; if they'd wanted to be legionaries as opposed to filling sandbags, they would have enlisted in the regulars). But, with the (somewhat odious) stopgaps, it won't collapse for 3-4 years. Bush cares less than did Carter (and I was on active duty during that time, where NCO's, in groups, under arms, went into the EM barracks (when we went at all; usually for drug busts)--'Leighton Kasseren, Wurzburg, Germany, 1979'--if you're curious and can check)--and that is one reason for my concern. I spent years rebuilding an army and hate for an asshole to destroy it yet again! Another 'semi-sorta-vet' strikes again.

The 'if it's brown.....' quote was just that, from my nephew, from (he said) his sergeant and with the sergeant behind him, when he was able to get on the net. I hope for my nephew, that he returns safely. But there is no such thing as justice, merely political vengence. Hopefully, Canada will show some cojones and actually indict 'wubbuw' for his crimes. No big thing, but tyrants fear ridicule, it's said . I hope they fear something.

On a far more pleasant note, may I ask a question? Some of us are playing an on-line Traveler game in the 'Space Viking' world-line. The Gilgameshers are left out because, so the gamesmaster says, your manuscript of "Return of Space Viking" uses them in an unusual manner. Would you tell me (us) the secret (of this long unpublished opus, at least in reference to Gilgameshers? Sir, I was also privileged to meet Mr. Piper; he was most kind to a 12 year old boy who had contrived to travel 1500 miles to a 'sci-fi' convention to meet him--he was a gentleman!; and kind to at least one child (I've no notion why I included that last--possibly sentiment, even after all these years.)

Hummpf! Sir, I'm aware that you support our current 'Idiot in Office' (see Heinlein, 'Expanded Universe'; he's still correct; no occupant has made a rational decision in the last (now) century!), but , while you are a power unto yourself, could you show written objections to this criminal war? Shucks, every time I go on al-jazzarria, I get virus problems like you won't believe--not the US I'm sure; must be the other side that doesn't want me to see their view of the war.

Please answer the mundane question---it's important, to a current pastime; while the other is merely tragic and pathetic and beyond our control--I'm completely serious.

Gary L. Park Ex-SGT USA

Well, I don't know how we get out of Iraq, but I think we are obligated to leave them no worse off than when we went in. Had we found credible threats to the US when we got there, we could justify a quick in and out regime change on grounds of our own security, but there hadn't been one: the only justification we have now is that Saddam was a monster who deserved deposition and imprisonment; which lays an obligation on us not to leave them with ten more devils each worse than the last. Or so I believe. It is just possible we can do that without going full Imperial.

If we do decide we must be Imperial -- that is, govern many people without their consent -- we will need to change the Reserve and National Guard structure, mostly by adding a new long-term constabulary force drawn from non-citizens who will get citizenship and a pension on retirement; that is, assuming we want to have Reserves and a National Guard for the purposes for which they were originally intended.

I cruise Al Jaziera and other such web sites, but I do so from behind a router with considerable stealth. The attempts to penetrate my defenses don't come from the US or friends of the Company; they're mostly from organized crime, particularly Russia and neighbors.

One day I may write Return of the Space Vikings. Read Junkyard Planet again and think on what role the Gilgameshers might play in a followup understanding how long it was after the System States War that Space Vikings took place. It may come to you.

Beam Piper was a very close friend, and I was devastated by his suicide, which I didn't believe was suicide until I talked to the Chief of Police in Williamsport. It was. The horrible part was that at the time I could have loaned him enough money to get him past his problems. Beam was a cavalier.


Subject: Grammar am obsolete


Teachers are actually fighting against us aren’t they? I don’t know why it took me so long to understand it (maybe because I attended one of their facilities). Teachers are arguing whether children need to be taught grammar or whether the skill will pop up on its own.

I am horrified by so many things in this article that I fear I might quote the whole thing as a conglomeration of a half-dozen horrors. The principal wants to teach deconstruction before the children master construction. The National Council of Teachers tried to stamp out diagramming. One teacher, who does teach diagramming, never sends the kids home with very many sentences to diagram, because mastery of this skill “becomes a chore”.


How can I keep these people away from my children?

-Will Albenzi

The more knowledge and wisdom you acquire, the more you become aware that no one is really paying attention.

Come now, do you not understand? No Child Left Behind. All must get the benefits of the new wisdom from the education establishment in Washington, which has, after all, done such an exemplary job with the District of Columbia schools.

The more you try to protect your children from these people, the more power they will seek to control all credentialing of all teachers including home school teachers. It is the nature of anarcho-tyranny that we can always find means for enforcing credentialing requirements when we can't find illegal aliens and terrorists and dangerous criminals; because enough resources will be devoted to intimidating the citizens to make sure that particular job is done.


Subject: Containment, or why we left Iraq unfinished

Towards the start of the operations to liberate Iraq, I read an essay that explained why we left Iraq unfinished the first time around. It was either written by George H. W. Bush, or someone from his cabinet. In a nutshell, we had two options: conquer Iraq and hold it, or leave Saddam Hussein in power and hope he was cowed. Many people have argued that we should have "gotten" Hussein at that time, but how? The man was paranoid, had multiple hiding places, lots of bodyguards, and even doubles. The only way to round up Hussein would have been to conquer the whole country.

Bush the Elder was, of course, routinely branded as a war-monger, and he no doubt feared that the consequences of conquering Iraq would lose him any chances of re-election. Of course he *wasn't* re-elected but he couldn't know that ahead of time. Also, he had built a solid coalition, which included Arab countries; none of the Arab countries wanted to see Iraq conquered. No one was willing to pay the political price of irritating all the Arab countries at once. So we made the deal with Saddam: disarm, show the world you have disarmed, and you can stay on.

Had Saddam Hussein been a rational dictator, he could have ruled until he died (old age, or an assassin finally got lucky). He could have continued to abuse his people, so long as he didn't make himself a threat. But he convinced our government that he had WMD. He paid for suicide bombers in Israel, provided a haven for terrorists, and seemed to be working on biological and nuclear weapons. Perhaps worst of all, his policies resulted in about 5,000 Iraqi children starving to death per month (according to a Tony Blair speech) and he told his people that the US wanted those kids to starve... *and* he used Oil-for-Food to skim 11 billion dollars, and spent lots of it on weapons. In short he was doing everything possible to convince the US that Iraq was a threat, either now or later. (I agree with your theory: he hoped to get some kind of weapon he could use to be a credible threat, so the US would have to leave him alone while he did whatever he wanted to do.)

I know a former Army Ranger who thinks that the US will be forced, sooner or later, to fight every Islamic country, including Syria. He says we have to do them one at a time, and it was just Iraq's turn. He says that the extreme Muslims like Osama Bin Laden know that the young folks in the Islamic countries are being exposed to American culture, and they like it (especially the women, who like the idea that they can be people, and have a life). These guys won't be happy unless we convert to Islam, start forcing our women to cover their faces and stay at home all the time, and let them kill all the Jews and occupy Israel. Since we are not willing to do these things, we can sit back and wait for them to kill us in terrorist incidents, or we can conquer them. They are not willing to "live, and let live". It would be nice if he is wrong, but if he is I'm not sure where.

As a science fiction fan, I look to the future and I worry. Suppose Osama Bin Laden had been born in the 1700's; his ability to cause havoc would have been limited (he would have been mostly a threat if he could have convinced large numbers of men to fight in stand-up battles on his side). Modern communications help him coordinate terror attacks, making them more deadly. Crashing a jumbo jet makes a good-sized bomb. What will happen if, 40 years from now, antimatter-powered vehicles are commonplace, but we still have crazed terrorists? Or if space travel is commonplace; instead of the Snouts, maybe it will be a terrorist who drops an asteroid into an ocean and kills millions? Some believe molecular nanotechnology will be a working technology within 30 years; imagine designer nanites designed for maximum damage to America! Technology is opening up new ways a terrorist can cause mayhem faster than it's finding ways to make us safer. --

Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" steve@hastings.org http://www.blarg.net/~steveha

I have a tee shirt that says "Give a man a relativistic rock and he will shatter a planet today. Teach him the math and he will shatter planets for the rest of his life."  Any one of Niven's "singleships" that the Belters flit about it would easily do a major whack on Earth. I have been working on a novel in which we have an asteroid civilization, and what the Navy has to do.

My solution to the first Gulf War was not to have it; I am not sure it matters which gang of thugs occupies Kuwait, and I am not sure it was our business to put that right anyway. It did give us a training war for our military, and a new sense of pride, and make us understand we are a superpower. And put the Coalition of the Bribed in charge of Iraqi Oil, with all the billions siphoned off from sanctions while Iraqi children starved. And made bin Laden pay attention to us since we had an army over there.

Of course a better way not to have that war would have been to have an Ambassador to Iraq who would have told him "NO, DAMMIT" instead of the diplomatic language the "career diplomat" employed, and which looked like an invitation to go in. But that's professionalism for you.










Subject: Color Lasers with "Caller ID" for Tracking

Dr. Pournelle:

An article in PC World states that your color laser printer may have unique hidden printing to identify the printer used...sort of link "Caller ID" on your printouts.

"According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce. Governments, including the United States, already use the hidden markings to track counterfeiters.

"Peter Crean, a senior research fellow at Xerox, says his company's laser printers, copiers and multifunction workstations, such as its WorkCentre Pro series, put the "serial number of each machine coded in little yellow dots" in every printout. The millimeter-sized dots appear about every inch on a page, nestled within the printed words and margins. "

(link: http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,118664,00.asp  )

Other news reports indicate similar tracking on HP printers, in addition to Xerox; not all models. You can see the yellow dots with a blue LED light, although they are quite small, so you might need a magnifying glass (more info in the above link).

Related is that Adobe "Creative Studio" and "Photoshop" software prevents copying/printing of currency (bills).

Regards, Rick Hellewell

I will have more thoughts on this another time. Comments solicited.






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Saturday, November 27, 2004

I am off to LOSCON again, but here for your amusement:

Subject: "A whale of a story", how is "Hot Fusion" doing?

Hi Jerry -


For one thing I wanted to give you a link to a website that has a video of one of the favorite stories that I (first) heard from you - and subsequently from elsewhere. This has to do with how not to dispose of a dead whale. You may have already found this, but in case you didn't, try http://www.perp.com/whale/  . This is probably my favorite Urban Legend That Was Actually True.

I also was intrigued by reading your recent account in de Prof that there appears after all to be some substance to Cold Fusion. Certainly that is a worthwhile item to pursue, but how practical it will ever become is a big question.

Thus I wonder what you have heard about Hot Fusion. I did see the recent news item about building a facility in France (or possibly in Japan) that will hopefully produce the first self-sustaining Hot Fusion reaction. Have you heard anything beyond that?

I am interested in Hot Fusion for two reasons. Most significantly, it appears to have the potential for energy production on a grand scale, that could replace fossil fuels. Secondly, how practical it is could affect the urgency of Space Solar Power. If Hot Fusion can do what is hoped for it, we may have a lot more time to consider Space Solar than would otherwise be the case.

Of course I had said we should put Space Solar ahead of other grand-scale space missions. I hope to find the time to complete my essay about it, which I intend to send to the President now it is known who that will be. I think Space Solar will ultimately be our key to the enormous amounts of energy that will make us a truly spacefaring civilization, but if we can burn deuterium instead of carbon it can be a long term goal.

Interestingly enough, there is a new item about why we should reconsider the Moon / Mars mission. I am sending you a link to that as well: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/space/20041124/sc_space/nasasmoonmarsinitiativeharmsscienceamericanphysicalsocietyreport 

- Tom Locke

The last thing I heard about "hot" fusion is that it is possible with magnetic confinement to get past break-even in energy, but it takes brute force, and the costs are very high; the known methods do not scale to anything economic. I got this from the director of the project at Los Alamos some years ago, but I have seen nothing to contradict it since. I had thought inertial confinement might make neutrons, but I haven't seen anything on that front for years either. The topic no longer comes up at science conferences. Everyone seems to be in a funk.

I wish I had better news, and perhaps someone out there has better.

The dead whale story was wonderful. I posted it at the time, and thank you for the reminder.

Space Solar Power still looks like the key to the future. It would allow the US to be an energy-exporting country, with good control over the export -- just turn off the switch. Both solar cells and energy transmission efficiences are getting better all the time, and it's already commercially interesting if you can get the launch costs down. There is no reason why launch costs have to be so high. I suppose it's one reason to rejoice over $50 + oil.





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Sunday, November 28, 2004

LOSCON all day.




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