THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 211 June 24 - 30, 2002
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June 24, 2002
Started work on this page and the day was devoured by Microsoft. You probably won't get the level of technical support I do. I was able to fix a number of problems and that story goes in the column, but it was 3 1/2 hours on the telephone doing it. I do a lot of silly things so you don't have to.
Found Joes' Italian Restaurant: that is, Joe had a great family restaurant down on Ventura Blvd. It came into the hands of others, and we didn't much care for it, but we were sure that somewhere Joe would open another restaurant. Today Roberta got a smog check near the old Joe's and lo! he runs the "New York Giants Pizza" restaurant out at Burbank and Woodman; and there's Joe, with the best eggplant parmigiani in the city. So the day wasn't entirely wasted.
But it took until midnight to catch up so I could get this page going.
I see that Sharon is building a wall, along and sometimes inside the old Green Line. I also saw in the Wall St Journal article a map that shocked me: there are far more Settlements in the West Bank than I had supposed, and they are not near the borders but scattered through the territories. Clearly those who have done the settling intend to annex the whole area and expel the inhabitants; they can have no other purpose in mind, given where they have settled.
Protecting all those places is going to take more than a wall. And more and more I think the US ought to put resources into developing self sufficiency in energy and everything else and get away from that place. There's no possibility of peace with that many settlements scattered through the entire West Bank; not without expulsion of the inhabitants, and I do not think the US wants to be part of that.
I confess ignorance: I had really thought there were few settlements not near the border. Now that I see otherwise, I do not see how building a wall will pacify the area. Or how anything else will. Perhaps I despair early?
The Apache thing got enough exposure that I didn't bother to send something out last week on it. This is just obscure enough that I'm afraid it'll fly under the radar, and so ask that you gentlemen post this email from Theo de Raadt in its entirety.
Subject: Upcoming OpenSSH vulnerability Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 15:00:10 -0600 From: Theo de Raadt
There is an upcoming OpenSSH vulnerability that we're working on with ISS. Details will be published early next week.
However, I can say that when OpenSSH's sshd(8) is running with priv seperation, the bug cannot be exploited.
OpenSSH 3.3p was released a few days ago, with various improvements but in particular, it significantly improves the Linux and Solaris support for priv sep. However, it is not yet perfect. Compression is disabled on some systems, and the many varieties of PAM are causing major headaches.
However, everyone should update to OpenSSH 3.3 immediately, and enable priv seperation in their ssh daemons, by setting this in your /etc/ssh/sshd_config file:
Depending on what your system is, privsep may break some ssh functionality. However, with privsep turned on, you are immune from at least one remote hole. Understand?
3.3 does not contain a fix for this upcoming bug.
If priv seperation does not work on your operating system, you need to work with your vendor so that we get patches to make it work on your system. Our developers are swamped enough without trying to support the myriad of PAM and other issues which exist in various systems. You must call on your vendors to help us.
Basically, OpenSSH sshd(8) is something like 27000 lines of code. A lot of that runs as root. But when UsePrivilegeSeparation is enabled, the daemon splits into two parts. A part containing about 2500 lines of code remains as root, and the rest of the code is shoved into a chroot-jail without any privs. This makes the daemon less vulnerable to attack.
We've been trying to warn vendors about 3.3 and the need for privsep, but they really have not heeded our call for assistance. They have basically ignored us. Some, like Alan Cox, even went further stating that privsep was not being worked on because "Nobody provided any info which proves the problem, and many people dont trust you theo" and suggested I "might be feeding everyone a trojan" (I think I'll publish that letter -- it is just so funny). HP's representative was downright rude, but that is OK because Compaq is retiring him. Except for Solar Designer, I think none of them has helped the OpenSSH portable developers make privsep work better on their systems. Apparently Solar Designer is the only person who understands the need for this stuff.
So, if vendors would JUMP and get it working better, and send us patches IMMEDIATELY, we can perhaps make a 3.3.1p release on Friday which supports these systems better. So send patches by Thursday night please. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday the complete bug report with patches (and exploits soon after I am sure) will hit BUGTRAQ.
Let me repeat: even if the bug exists in a privsep'd sshd, it is not exploitable. Clearly we cannot yet publish what the bug is, or provide anyone with the real patch, but we can try to get maximum deployement of privsep, and therefore make it hurt less when the problem is published.
So please push your vendor to get us maximally working privsep patches as soon as possible!
We've given most vendors since Friday last week until Thursday to get privsep working well for you so that when the announcement comes out next week their customers are immunized. That is nearly a full week (but they have already wasted a weekend and a Monday). Really I think this is the best we can hope to do (this thing will eventually leak, at which point the details will be published).
Customers can judge their vendors by how they respond to this issue.
OpenBSD and NetBSD users should also update to OpenSSH 3.3 right away. On OpenBSD privsep works flawlessly, and I have reports that is also true on NetBSD. All other systems appear to have minor or major weaknesses when this code is running.
|This week:||Tuesday, June
There are workmen doing maintenance and repairs here. This is going to be a hectic day. I will try to get organized.
It is now my considered opinion that using Windows XP Home is a very silly and possibly stupid thing to do.
I run XP Home on Galacticus, a sort of main computer. In MY NETWORK PLACES this was shown as c 0n Galacticus. For reasons having to do with memory failure as to what machine was named what I deleted that thinking I was deleting an obsolete link.
HAH. I now had no C: icon in MY COMPUTER, as well as in My NetWork Places. I can open a Windows Explorer and find the C: drive but not otherwise. There is no C: icon anywhere in there. The networking is insane anyway with some computers able to access the network, some not, and no real way to determine which is what. I really and truly HATE Windows XP Home, and I am about to get rid of it from the last machine that has it. I hope I can merely upgrade without having to reformat.
Moreover if you try to access a network drive it can't find, then close the My Network Places folder, all your icons and desktop vanish for about a minute.
But mostly I can remove the C: drive from My Computer and I can't get it back. and I can't access some of the other machines on the net. Fooey on XP Home.
OK, the net access is solved, and it was sort of my fault; see column. But the missing C: from My Computer is more than annoying. I suspect I'll just install Windows XP Professi0nal over it and be done with it.
They are working on the house again today. This is good, but distracting.
If you are curious about the new site hosts, one place to look is http://126.96.36.199/
As to why we moved from pair, it's mostly that things are getting complicated enough that I need more personal service attention in consolidating various domains I own, moving stuff around between them, and setting up an experimental site.
I continue to recommend pair.com to most anyone who needs a good web site host. My only complaints have been relatively trivial and due to impatience, and in fact I have heard from them while I was in the midst of composing an impatient reminder... They're good at it, and I am only changing because the new site is run by people I know and who are willing to do service well beyond anything I'd expect commercial people to do.
The changeover is pretty well complete.
I'll get to mail later. It's busy here.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AD-AWARE, www.lavasoftusa.com, go get it, install it, and run it. I'll wait.
I was fooling around with my Windows XP Home system in a vain attempt to get my C: icon back in MY Computer -- Microsoft says you can fix this with Tweakui powertools, but in fact you cannot -- and looking at what's running there, and found 19 processes and 32 registry keys from Gator and other spyware. Sheesh. Ad-Aware will get rid of this stuff. Get it and use it.
And if you know how to get my C: icon back in Windows XP Home, I'd be grateful. I have tried all the obvious stuff, including hiding nothing whatever, TWEAKUI, and invocations to Cthulhu.
I take it this is a serious question?
The Romans moved the Jews physically out of the region. Some remained, of course, but the political structure was gone, and Judah was no longer a nation. The Assyrians had accomplished the same thing with Israel some years earlier. Cyrus the Great let some return. After the Romans there remained centers of Jewish scholarship in the area, and continuous Jewish presence from Roman times to present, but no political control and very little political structure.
Roman pagans built a Temple to Venus atop what is now the Holy Sepulcher (one way we know the location of the sacred places was that the Romans paid a lot of attention to their destruction and desecration).
After Constantine most of the Semitic inhabitants became Christian. St Helena (Constantine's mother) restored some of the Christian sites, and Jerusalem became a religiously important city. The Roman Empire divided into Eastern and Western halves. The church in Jerusalem went with the Emperor, and this is the origin of the "Melkite" church, which is today loyal sort of to Rome and not to the Greek patriarchs. There is little left of Greek Orthodoxy in present day Israel; what you see is a branch of the Roman church which answers to the Patriarch of Antioch, (formerly Archbishop of Jerusalem) who considers the Pope First among very equal equals...
The Persians took Jerusalem in 614, and tried to impose their brand of paganism. 60,000 or so were killed and another 35,000 or so were taken from Jerusalem as prisoners. Most of the Christian structure was destroyed. (One building that survived was the church in Bethlehem because it had a depiction of the Magi, who looked Persian, and the Persians allowed it to stand since it paid tribute to them as Kings of Kings...) The Jews remaining in the area made alliance with the Persians and helped in the occupation, and this didn't engender good relations between Jews and Christians; the persecutions were severe enough that the Church was more than willing to finance Heraclius of Byzantium in his efforts to retake the empire. Byzantium used its navy effectively enough that Asia Minor was retaken. The Khazars were encouraged to ravage the Persian Empire, some of the largest fire temples of the Magi were destroyed, and Persia was in trouble. A truce restored Jerusalem to more or less Christian rule.
The Arabs then burst out of the desert from 622,. They converted the Kurds (then known as Saracens) and with their cooperation took Syria and much of that area. Their doctrine was "Islam or the Sword" although they had some special provisions for Jews and Christians, who could pay tribute (rather handsome tribute) and not convert. Most of the inhabitants were Christian Arabs. Many seem to have welcomed the Moslems; the tribute was less than the Imperial taxes had been, and there weren't the usual inquisitions about Monophysite vs. Monotheolite (don't ask!) and such.
The Saracens under Omar and Khalid conquered Palestine and most of the Arab inhabitants there converted; the rest remained Christian and Jews, and there weren't many Jews. Jews did well under Moslem rule compared to under Christian, but they were still second class citizens under tribute.
The Saracens then managed to win a great battle against Rustum the Persian (Iranian) leader. This was in May or June of 637, and Persia was pretty completely conquered in one great battle. Understand that the Saracens had many former Byzantine soldiers who understood formal battles. At Kadisiyah Rustum was killed and the Persian army scattered. In the years that followed Persia was converted , and with the aid of the Persians Islam swept across the Middle East and North Africa, into Spain, and was halted by Charles Martel at Tours.
Palestine was now ruled by Arabs and Kurds; the Saracens (Kurds) were particularly important in the area.
Comes now the Crusaders, and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Some of the Palestinian Arabs were converted. The Jews didn't have an easy time of it, since they were accused of being collaborators, and they didn't' convert. This went on until Saladin and the Horns of Hattin. Then came the Third Crusade, and Jerusalem became a kind of international city, ruled by Saracens but to be freely visited by Christians. I don't think there were any provisions for Jews in the treaties the Crusaders negotiated.
In 1453 Constantinople became Istanbul and the Ottomans took over the area.
You probably know the rest. Herzl began the Zionist movement to encourage Jews to immigrate into Palestine and buy property (but he postulated that there would probably have to be war to get acceptance). This was about the beginning of the 20th Century. There followed the Balfour Declaration, and the rest of that. The Brits were always interested in Mesopotamia. After WW I the French and the Brits divided up mandates, the Hashemites who had been Protectors of Mecca were given Trans-Jordan and Iraq (artificial kingdoms created for them so that the Brits could honor promises made by Lawrence of Arabia to Ibn Saud, a desert upstart who joined up with the Brits at just the right moment).
The Arabs hoped to use the Brits to throw the Jews out of Palestine, and British officers staffed the Arab Legion which conquered the West Bank territories in the 1948 formation wars. After 1948 all Jews were expelled from Judea and Samaria (which is what the Jews call the West Bank). Trans-Jordan became Jordan and incorporated the West Bank. Then came the 6 day war and the present era.
If that's not complicated enough I can come up with some more.
Terry Gray of Salem I have your check but can't find your email address. Help?
June 27, 2002
I am gathering material on the new Microsoft Palladium concept. There will be some links in mail later today; they're all negative. I'm still trying to understand what it is that I am supposed to condemn.
Mail in a couple of hours. It's still hectic here.
We should now be entirely at the new site. The hosts are
Greg Lincoln, Mazinsoft, http://www.mazin.net/
Brian Bilbrey, Orb Designs, http://www.orbdesigns.com/
It's the silly season. Of course with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that's perennial, but it's sillier than ever now. That is: the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court and declared that the Pledge of Allegiance, as specified by Congress, is unconstitutional because it contains the phrase "Under God", mandated by Congress in 1953 during the Seventy Years War and repeated by schoolchildren ever since.
This isn't the first time someone has tried to get that changed. Mad Madeline also tried but was notably unsuccessful. She's got her replacement now, a self-proclaimed militant atheist and non-practicing physician who is also a lawyer and who moved from Florida to California for reasons not very clear but which I suspect had to do with his perception of the courts in Florida and California. He has sued on behalf of his (presumably existing: I have seen no evidence that she exists, but one supposes she does) second grade daughter who, he contends, is harmed by the sight of a classroom full of children reciting the Pledge. It was not alleged that anyone tried to force the daughter to herself say the dread words "Under God."
Of course, it doesn't matter a lot whether we have the words "under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance. We got along without that for nearly 200 years. On the other hand, it's not all that controversial to say that the US thrives by the favor of God. It's not as if admitting that we are not quite autonomously sovereign is a bad thing; that we need once in a while to understand that there are limits to our power; that there is more to consider than the might of our armed forces. That reeking tube and iron shard can carry you only so far...
The Framers would have approved of the Pledge: George Washington, nominal Episcopalian but more devoted to the Masons and Deism than to the Thirty-nine Articles, never ceased to thank Divine Providence in his public speeches. John Marshall opened the Supreme Court with the intonation they still use, "God save the United States and this honorable Court." If you want precedent on the intentions of the Framers there is plenty to hand: this was to be a tolerant Christian nation, not persecuting anyone for religious beliefs, but not ashamed to profess them. And by Christian they definitely included Unitarians and Deists. No one used the term "Judao-Christian" in those days, but I doubt the Framers would have had much problem with it. And of course the Establishment Clause applied only to the Federal Government anyway. The states were free to have established churches, and most of them did at the time the Bill of Rights were adopted. It would be another fifty years before the last state disestablished its tax-supported church.
Courts in their never ceasing usurpations of power from legislatures, have said that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights and applies it to the States. No one who adopted the 14th Amendment had the slightest supposition of that -- and of course the courts don't say that the Second Amendment is incorporated, nor several other provisions of the Bill of Rights. We are all taught to be obedient sheep in the face of the courts because we can't imagine what else to do.
Which is why the 9th Circuit ruling won't stand for long. For once the people are up in arms. Congress is within an ace of telling California to ignore the silly court and its ruling, which in fact is what ought to be done. The Courts will see this and act quickly before people begin to get the notion that just because you put robes on a lawyer and call the creature "Your Honor", you have not necessarily made an honorable person and you certainly have not conferred infallibility.
There was a time when Courts realized what Hamilton made clear in The Federalist: the Courts are the weakest branch of government. They have no soldiers and not much in the way of police. They can be defied or ignored, and the trick is to prop them up and get people to act as if a decree from a court is unquestionable even if it is massively silly. There was a time when courts would have protected themselves against imbecilities like this "Under God" ruling by saying that the chap who brought the suit is a gratuitous interloper, who has not himself been harmed by the pledge, and has not shown that his daughter has been harmed by being required to listen as a classroom of kids recites the pledge.
If someone were proposing to exclude her from class for not saying "Under God" or for substituting "Under The Ceiling" or "Under Herby" for the proscribed phrase there might be some standing to sue. Given the nature of the litigant I would be surprised if he hadn't tried to get the girl to do something that would actually cause her harm just to increase his chances. He told the newspapers that this is about him, not her, but he must know that he has no standing to sue, and the theory that he can sue on the grounds that his daughter is being harmed by being required to listen to others recite the Pledge is patently ludicrous.
The courts had an out, but of course in their arrogance the 9th Circuit didn't take it. Now the Supreme Court will have to rush in and save the day before the sheep look up and see there are no gods up there, just nine lawyers in robes.
It really doesn't matter whether we publicly acknowledge that this is a nation Under God or not. Either we are or we are not, and what our children say in school every morning won't change that. It does matter that we, as a people, understand that if there is no fountain of justice -- if man really is the measure of all things -- we had better act as if there is a Law beyond our making and changing. Whether we are a nation Under God is more up to us than the Almighty, Who seems to have left that sort of thing up to us.
As to the consequences of living without limits or law, I refer you to C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, or the novel That Hideous Strength. Or even Kipling's Recessional. Beliefs have consequences; and the Sin of Pride is ever tempting to all.
Roland calls attention to another critical hole in Microsoft, this time in Media Player. "Run program of attacker's choice..." See Mail.
I just wanted to thankyou for your mention of ad-aware. I literally had 81 registry entries, and 194 pieces of crapware/spyware on my system.
David K. Vedra
Shocking, ain't it.
I post this link to the story of the Deir Yassin incident in Israel's formation wars because it should not be forgotten.
Note that I do not consider this any justification for the current terror wars. Tit for Tat isn't a moral argument.
June 28, 2002
Nope, can't agree, "under God" is discriminatory. Mutter them under your breath if you will, but the Framers didn't put those words at the end, Eisenhower and Congress did in a pathetic attempt to root out communists. It's got to go!
Which is the typical answer of those infected with the modern liberal control freak disease that cannot tolerate the notion that someone, somewhere, is doing something without permission.
The Framers didn't put nothing in the Pledge, which was written toward the end of the 19th Century. The phrase "under God" was added by Congress in 1953, I think mistakenly, but that's another matter. It was done by Congress, after full debate, and those who didn't and don't like it have this problem: there's nothing compelling people to say it.
The easiest way for courts to evade having to make hard decisions is to find there's no reason to decide because this is not a "case or controversy" under the meaning of the Constitution which gives courts the authority to settle "cases and controversies." The Court long ago got smart enough to never render an "Advisory Opinion" about pending legislation. It's not the Court's job.
Now I believe that the notion of "incorporation of the Bill of Rights" as an instrument to beat the States was wrongheaded, dumb, imbecilic, and plainly contrary to the intentions of those who adopted the 14th Amendment. I think it clear, and better politics, to allow the states to establish churches if they so desire -- they won't, of course, but even if they did little harm would come from it. An established church is not one that compels attendance or membership: no state could possibly pass such a law, which would be in conflict with most state constitutions (and in fact so would a state established church; Virginia got rid of its established church by an amendment to its state constitution sponsored by Thomas Jefferson). But by leaving Establishment decisions to the states we would be a lot closer to what the Constitution intended.
A Union of States. Some will "do things right." Some will "muck things up." A few will "trample upon the rights of the people." In nearly every case the problem will be that one state thinks that of others; few will think it of themselves.
Yes, on strict legal reasoning, the case was probably decided properly, or at least there are good arguments to that effect. And so what?
We have become control freaks, as that letter shows. The girl in this "case" doesn't live with her father who cannot get custody of her for reasons I don't know but which may be obvious. This case was brought on her behalf but without her, there is no evidence that she has been compelled to do anything she doesn't want to do, and the only reason given for this silliness is "It's got to go."
When one wants to take from the people something they want badly, particularly in cases involving beliefs and fundamental values, you need a darned good reason; one that will convince the people that you are right. If, for instance, there were stories of young girls being forced to say the terrible words "under God" under threat of being beaten or expelled, you would not have a public outcry here. (Well there would be outcry but in favor of the girl; the American people are good hearted.)
But when all you have is control freakery asserting itself, you undermine the notion of Republic and head us toward the other enemy of a Republic: plebiscitory democracy. The natural end of a Republic is democracy, which then degenerates into Empire. Sometimes Republics go to Empire as a result of military adventures and usurpation from the top. As often they fall to "friends of the people" who tell the people that they are being robbed.
The people are a great beast, better left unawakened. If we wish to take from them something they hold dear in the name of abstract principles, I think it is best to wait for something important, not a couple of pious words that likely do some good and little harm; and which can safely be left to the LEGISLATURE in any event. Courts ought to decide hard cases where there is something of importance at stake.
The Courts have now figured this out. They went too far and exposed themselves as the silly control freaks they are: The Enlightened telling The Benighted what is best for them. And the backpedaling has begun. The courts now realize that what is at stake is the credibility of the courts themselves -- and not much else.
We are pretty well moved to the new web site. I find that access there is much faster than at Pair. Most of my web traffic is back, so the transition seems smooth enough.
More on Palladium in Mail.
I was in a discussion of virtues recently. None of my learned colleagues had any notion that this is a very old discussion, and that at one time there was a consensus on the four cardinal virtues. After all, it's just a matter of opinion and anyone's opinion is as good as anyone else's, right? Well, on what basis is this assertion of equality of opinion made? If your opinion is that there are 121 pennies to the dollar and you insist on your proper due or you will kill me, and mine is that I only owe you 100 pennies, are these views equal? And if not, then why is your opinion on virtues better than mine?
Anyway I found this:
"Each man should so conduct himself that fortitude appear in labours and dangers: temperance in foregoing pleasures: prudence in the choice between good and evil: justice in giving every man his own [in suo cuique tribuendo]"
Which I had forgotten since I read it in Latin many years ago. I shouldn't have.
Prudence, temperance, courage, and justice.
Posted 7:38 PM by Eric Raymond
And a final note on control freaks: there are two kinds. One seeks to control everyone directly. The other merely minds other peoples business, and often calls himself libertarian.
The problem here is that the extreme individualism of both liberal and libertarian produces much the same result: no communities, no "little platoons", no place where people can live any kind of community life other than that of atoms. This Pledge business is a good example.
In the real world, this Pledge with the phrase "under God" may or may not do any good. The hope is that it will instill just a little national humility and a little realization that just because we as a nation can do something, it's not necessarily the case that we should. It is also supposed to foster some patriotism and national unity: but again tempered by the realization that as a nation we are responsible to a Higher Power. Whether the pledge accomplishes any of that is surely a debatable proposition -- and the proper place to debate that is in the legislature, not in the courts.
What isn't very arguable is that anyone is harmed by this. The legislature of California, not a particularly right wing organization and hardly dominated by the Christian Right or anything like it, has chosen to mandate that pledge in the public schools, but there are no penalties associated with not saying it. A student can stand up and be silent. If a case came to the court showing that someone was really harmed, there would be a case.
But there isn't. This is a gratuitous act of people who want to see to it that everyone does only things they approve of. It is the same mentality that stopped Christmas pageants, lighting the lights of the LA City Hall in a cruciform pattern on Christmas and Easter, and a whole bunch of other acts of public piety that endured for 200 years here. Then suddenly the courts, not the legislatures, find these fresh new rights, and that we lived in a repressive regime bowed under the weight of religious fanatics during most of the existence of the republic.
Oh? We didn't? The American people aren't really religious fanatics determined to impose their hideous views on the entire state of California? California is going to go impose a state religion on Arizona?
I say this again: I prefer that local communities have real power, including the power to do things I really wish they wouldn't do. That is better than anomie and alienation.
In any event, it's clear t me that this whole mess is the proper business of legislatures, not courts, and expanding the power of courts is not really a very libertarian thing to do.
June 29, 2002
People wonder where we get our ideas.
And Roland got this fortune cookie today:
The black bear used to be one of the most commonly seen large animals because in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks; they lived off of garbage and tourist handouts. This bear has learned to open car doors in Yosemite, where damage to automobiles caused by bears runs into the tens of thousands of dollars a year. Campaigns to bearproof all garbage containers in wild areas have been difficult, because as one biologist put it, "There is a considerable overlap between the intelligence levels of the smartest bears and the dumbest tourists."
And points to a news article on "quick" recovery, if you can call a million years quick...
It appears that the Microsoft Media Player "security fix" may be a cure far worse than the disease. BEWARE!
June 30, 2002
and read that, then go to Mrs. Pournelle's web site www.readingtlc.com and buy a copy of her program for the kid near you who seems bright enough but can't read.
As the article (by the mother of a "dyslexic" boy) says, any kid can be taught to read. That has been our experience too. But the education establishment would have to admit responsibility for the disaster it has created, so it never will.
And Roland's fortune cookie this morning was
In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: Who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: Who does not obey shall not eat. -- Leon Trotsky, 1937
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.