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Monday, December 12, 2005

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This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 - 7,000 words, depending.  (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If  you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here.

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Monday  September 8, 2003

The column went out last night. That means there wasn't anything Sunday, but there was considerable mail and some views Saturday. I'm cleaning up the place today; sporadic attention and short shrift I fear.

And we have some mail today.

And on the subject of arm waving, see

I've read it several times and I still don't see the point other than someone wanted attention. If we have cheap kilowatts we'll find ways to use them. Fuel cells may be one way. There are others.  As to the horrors of producing hydrogen at the Earth's surface and thereby wrecking the atmosphere, I don't think I intend to stay awake nights over it.

Here's the actual meat of the article:

While there are certain benefits to hydrogen power, Rahn said there may also be unforeseen consequences that need to be examined before the energy technology replaces fossil fuels.

Translation: Don't do anything, but give us a lot more money to study. As long as you're up get me a grant. 

If you want to scare yourself, look at

Subject: We're all computer criminals, now.


Be afraid. Be very afraid. That article goes into some details that this one: 

didn't, but the two ought to be read together. There's more here than some of the pundits seem to understand.

I'll give you all a chance to digest some of the implications here before I comment. Do note that one of those discovery subpoenas is, as one writer says, less a command than an invitation to negotiate. Note also that you can be affected by other people's ignorance of this.

Note that Clinton's Privacy Lawyer, who presumably had his inputs into the DMCA, says

Privacy is destroyed because it has become so easy to reveal the identity of Internet users. Now, a copyright holder simply fills out a one-page form and a federal clerk immediately issues the subpoena to the Internet service provider (Verizon Online, AOL, MSN, etc.). The service provider must then release the name, home address and phone number of that user. Internet service providers risk large penalties if they even question the validity of the subpoena.

Now he's a professor of law, who says that questioning the validity of a subpoena risks large penalties. Really?

I do not know what is going on here, but the authors of the DMCA are now acting as if they are afraid of it, and saying rather silly things. It will be interesting to see what comes of all this.

More another time. And see mail




Adelphia Watch:

On Cable Modems and amplifiers: thanks to many readers, I now understand that common TV signal amplifiers fail to amplify and may in fact block the signals from the modem back to the cable company; also that there are in-line amplifiers that work in both directions. One costs about $50 and I have ordered it. The Electronic City clerks are pretty sharp but they don't understand cable modem, and sold me the wrong gadget; I'll take it back.

Adelphia went out entirely, TV as well as cable modem, last night about 1 AM. It was all right this morning. has an interview with me. Some of it is choppy due to odd transcription, but it's quite good.



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Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Adelphia Watch: apparently every night about 2 PDT Adelphia Cable Modem service just dies, and you must wait it out for it to return. It comes back intermittently over the next hour, but never for very long. By morning it's back to normal. 

What fun.

0830: However, it works fine this morning.

And if you want to really learn to hate lawyers I have this for you:

Suing over an act of war


Judge says --

-- that the 9-11 catastrophe, "The crashing of a hijacked jetliner was the kind of "foreseeable risk" that the airline industry should have guarded against . . . "

Now remember, these are mostly the families of people who died in the buildings, not in the airplanes. Seems to me that the real problem was the rules of engagement with hijackers. Once the rules changed, only the passengers and crew die. There is a hole in Pennsylvania that demonstrates the different results when the rules change.

Also, this claim is allowed to go forward: "The plaintiffs argued Boeing should have designed its cockpit door to prevent hijackers from invading." But the government took a long time to approve heavier doors, even after 9-11. And you still have the rules of engagement bit: pilots were instructed to go along with hijackers. What use would invasion-proof doors be if the government told pilots not to use them?

Ah well, we'll see what arguments the lawyers make. Maybe the plaintiffs should sue Clinton, too, for his abject fecklessness in not capturing bin laden when he had the chances.


You may be certain that the lawyers, including the tax paid judges, will do very well out of all this without regard to the outcome. 

I make no doubt this will be squelched. Both Democrats and Republicans have no desire to see this madness go on. But it is a sign of our times that such suits are now routinely brought, people are paid a lot to bring them, judges are paid to hear them, and they are allowed to clutter the court system when in fact those who bring such suits -- well, I won't say. 

The judge seems to have lost his reason. Perhaps he will end up on the Supreme Court.

This is the modern madness.

This is not my day.


First, the ATI 9800 card blows up with 3 GHz+ systems if you get enough objects on the screen. This happened with 2 different 9800 boards and two different Intel motherboard 800 FSB systems.

So I go to another system to be sure that this is what is happening, and Adelphia Cable Modem decides to fail utterly while I am trying the tests although it was reliable a couple of hours ago. Sprint calls with unsolicited sales calls just when I was contemplating a change perhaps to Sprint; now it's going to be a long time before I give them business. I told the called to wait a second and put the phone down. He was one for several minutes. Hope it made his day. He interrupted me in the middle of something.

Well, Adelphia is back. How reliable I don't know.

Not very. Before I could send that it died again. Is nothing going to work today? And this time it's off for a good long time, and the phone keeps ringing.  Why not.

And the Megapath iDSL isn't working either. I am not sure why. It could be the old Hawking to Hawking user loses problem. I'll try with another Ethernet switch. It takes a while to set up another D-Link router to work with Megapath which is what I ought to do so I can switch from one to the other. Megapath is paid up until the end of the month. 

Ah well.

At least it ended well. Final night at the Hollywood Bowl, Mahler's First done as well as I've ever heard it. Donohue summed it up: a conductor not afraid to let them all go at it.

Great fun, and Susan brought a chocolate cherry cake. A very good way to end a day...

Edward Teller, RIP 

We have lost a giant. As people get older and the Cold War is forgotten, I suppose Teller will be forgotten as well; but without Teller we might not have survived to win the Cold War. It was a lot nearer thing than most suppose.

We have lost a giant.




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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

A new Warning!

Subject: Microsoft RPC vuln patch didn't fix all methods - new patch supersedes, re-patch all systems pronto

Roland Dobbins


I have sent a warning to subscribers. Several have been returned to me with "assumed to be spam" headers, and no indication of who it was sent to. I have no way of dealing with that. The message says that it's futile to reply to it, and things won't be processed. 

That's fine, I suppose, and a good way to treat spammers, but there's clearly something wrong with software that rejects all security warnings.

Here was the message:

*** ATTENTION *** Your message did not reach the recipient.

Your message was assumed to be junk email, rejected due to pattern match with:

Subject: [spam score 2/10 -pobox] A Chaos Manor Security Warning List 2

If this was not unsolicited email, try resending, including the code '773' in the Subject: heading. This might let you get through. If you tried the code and still did not get through, it means the recipient has decided to block your domain or email address. Try sending from a different email address or email service.

Continuing problems? Contact your own site administrator or Internet Service Provider for assistance.

Of course this makes the assumption that the sender is desperate to be heard.

If you want the Chaos Manor security warnings and you subscribe I suggest you find a way to tell your spam software that I am not sending spam. 

Fletcher Jernigan your mail is being returned.

I will put up addresses of mail returned at badmail, updating as needed.

If you are at tampa bay, you ain't never gonna get no mail from me nowhow apparently. Ah well.


Incidentally, I have this from a subscriber:

BTW: I thought my consultants here were safe behind our firewall. Then last week, someone let a customer connect their notebook on our network for a demo. Then we found out who hadn't been updating their boxes.

Indeed. Relying on firewalls and routers is unwise. In my case I have direct control over what gets attached to my network, and that plus the routers gives me a little time for installation of the patches and fixes. 


I put this up last night, but I have moved it in respect to Dr. Teller. Life goes on.

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Thanks to Kim Smith...

Aging Doesn't Diminish Cognitive Differences
  Dwayne Hunter Betterhumans Staff

Monday, September 08, 2003, 3:57:30 PM CT

Contrary to a popular theory, a large study has found that even the very old retain their distinctive patterns of cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

The study disproves the theory of dedifferentiation, which suggests that aging is associated with a merging of [49]cognitive skill levels.


Leni Riefenstahl, Controversial Filmmaker, Dies at 101 

from a September 10 NYTimes article

And as the demands grow for both active-duty and reserve troops, Pentagon officials are nervously watching the long-term effects on recruiting and retention for both.

So far, however, the Army numbers are holding. Through the end of August, the Army had recruited 67,354 new soldiers, exceeding its year-to-date goal by 307, according to the Army Recruiting Command. In the same period, the Army Reserve had signed up 25,212 people, surpassing its goal for that period by 1,257.

Which allays one of my concerns, anyway.

Kellog All-bran in The Profit wrote "Even the best of friends cannot attend each others funerals."

The New York Times obituary of Edward Teller was written by Walter Sullivan who died in 1996. What a pity the Times didn't ask Teller to write the obituary of Walter Sullivan.

From another discussion.

Examples of typical NASA competence. You may be sure no one of importance will be fired. An accident investigation team will hire consultants, and people will be paid. Why not? 

And a commentary:

This raises a few questions: 1) Why can't LocMart (or whomever) AFFORD THE 24 EXTRA BOLTS so that BOTH carts are supplied with required hardware? What, bolts too expensive these days? Has no one there ever heard of McMaster-Carr or MSC or Enco? 2) Why did _NO ONE_ look to see if the thing was bolted down? Are aerospace jobs that compartmentalized these days that no one is in charge of checking basic hardware on a system? 3) Why does an Accident Review Team need to be created for someone forgetting to put in bolts? Don't these people have enough to do?

But alas all these questions are rhetorical.


The accident review board is needed because the purpose of these organizations is to hire and pay people.

"We need some bolts. Let's take them out of this cart, it's not being used. "

And see mail, here and here.

Music, Music, Music

The last time I did any serious commuting was in 1969 when I was still a professor at Pepperdine, in the old campus in Inner City Los Angeles. Pepperdine was put there by the Founder because at the time it was a middle class neighborhood near light industry where students could work their way through college, and was an integrated neighborhood. Mr. Pepperdine felt strongly about racial integration.

Anyway I used to commute there from Buena Park in Orange County; we lived there because my last job in aerospace was at North American Downey, and we had a house in Los Coyotes Hills. 

In those days there weren't talk radio stations. The all news stations got dull. I listened to popular music in those days. It was pleasant enough. I would have said not particularly memorable except that I do remember some of it. Today's popular music -- now that's really not memorable. I don't think I can name a single song. But that may say more about me than the music.

Anyway, I thought about this the other day, and recalled some of the music of the late 60's.  "Hey there, Georgy girl", "Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes," even Sonny and Cher "The Beat goes on" and if I think about it I can probably remember others. "My beautiful balloon". 

And of course there were songs from the 40's and 50's I remember. Anyway, I remembered "Hey There, Georgy Girl" although not who sang it or anything, and I thought, if I could find a copy on the net, I'd buy it.

I haven't found a copy. It's probably out there and I simply can't find it. I did find the words, but not an mp3 for sale or not.

So, I thought, since it isn't for sale, I suppose it's available out there through Kazaa or one of those things. Only I have not the faintest idea how one goes about signing up for such, or even if, given that I have a router and a firewall, it's possible to sign up for it; nor do I really want to. I certainly don't want to experiment. I do a lot of silly things so you don't have to, but this isn't one I like.

I don't even know how those things work. How can a part of your computer be available to everyone out there, and the rest of your network be fenced off? I'd imagine that if people have access to part of your hard drive it can't be that hard to get at the other parts.

But I don't know, and I invite comments from those who DO KNOW. Please don't send me speculations; I can speculate. I just have no experience with this and I'd think many of you do. Enlightenment, please.

And if you know where I can find a copy of Georgy Girl  that would be nice. My interest isn't quite to the level of going to a record store where I probably wouldn't find it anyway. But I don't mind paying, if anyone with the right to sell it is selling...


Thanks to all those who have sent me an mp3 of the song Georgy Girl as done by a largely male chorus group called the Seekers. It is alas not what I remembered from the radio, which was a singe female voice.

I do thank all those who took the trouble to send it. I am sure that this was the original, and that The Seekers were a great group, but what I remembered was something else entirely, or perhaps my memory is completely at fault. It's hardly a momentous problem.

And The Seekers rendition is very nice.





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Thursday, September 11, 2003

There are enough memorials everywhere that I need not add more. The best memorial to the dead is to live normal lives. Which does not mean forgetting.

We continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, and certainly those places no longer harbor our enemies. We have also nearly shut down the airline industry with silly measures intended to see that it never happens again: largely, I think, to forestall imbecile law suits of the kind that are pouring out from September 11. 

Whether this is the best strategy for this war can be debated another time.

The important thing is not to change our whole way of life over the actions of a few thousand people who took advantage of us in order to kill in a few hours the numbers that we usually take a month to kill on the highways. It was an act of war and it should be treated as war, but it also needs to be put in perspective.



Ahoy! Me Hearties! September 19 is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrr! So be ready, ye scurvy dogs!

This according to Dave Barry. I'm ready.


Thanks to all those who have sent me an mp3 of the song Georgy Girl as done by a largely male chorus group called the Seekers. It is alas not what I remembered from the radio, which was a singe female voice.

I do thank all those who took the trouble to send it. I am sure that this was the original, and that The Seekers were a great group, but what I remembered was something else entirely, or perhaps my memory is completely at fault. It's hardly a momentous problem.

And in fact The Seekers version is pretty nifty. Thanks again.

Roland and Al Lipscomb have sent some explanations of how the music sharing systems work with firewalls. I'll put that over in mail, and from the security considerations alone I pass...


A secret panel! To come up with Vision!  NASA needs vision! An INTERAGENCY GROUP will provide it!

Where are the adults?

I suppose we can generate a vision statement here in this forum. But in fact there needs to be something of a plan, and I am weary: I have written space plans for decades, they get adopted by someone, and ignored as NASA works to make thing happen the old ways with the old gang in charge. 

A "National Goals in Space" statement by the President might be a good thing; but what is needed is specific projects.

I will give you a space plan now:

"Be it enacted by the Congress of the United States:

the Treasurer of the United States is directed to pay to the first American owned company to build and fly a space ship that carries at least 10,000 pounds payload to orbit and returns to Earth eight times in a period of six consecutive months the sum of $2 billion dollars, tax free. 

To the first American owned company that constructs an American owned space station that is continually occupied by at least five Americans over a period of three years, the sum of $4 billion dollars, tax free. 

To the first American owned company that shall keep 31 Americans alive and well on the Moon for a period of three years and a day, the sum of $10 billion dollars, tax free.

No payments shall be made until the above conditions are fulfilled."

Note that one company could win all those prizes, or many could, or a consortium of American companies could win. Nothing is paid until the feats are accomplished.

Of course we won't do that.

I have new notes on the authenticity of the Dogs In Elk story. If you don't know that story, it's here. Do not be drinking coffee while reading it. I have appended the new material to the original report.



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Friday, September 12, 2003

Many errands today. And Roberta has suggestions on things we need to do with Burning Tower.  Romance scenes...


Down at beach at the bottom of a deep well.

I'll deal with mail...

Pvt. Lynch won't starve:

Sounds like a decent deal for everyone. It will be a good book.


I found this recently in a longer article:

After scrutinizing dozens of studies of psychological debriefing, a panel of eminent researchers assembled by the American Psychological Society -- Richard McNally of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.; Richard Bryant of the University of New South Wales in Sydney and Anke Ehlers of King's College London -- has reached a clear conclusion.

"Contrary to a widely held belief, pushing people to talk about their feelings and thoughts very soon after a trauma may not be beneficial," they write in a paper to be published in November in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest (available at ). "Although psychological debriefing is widely used throughout the world to prevent PTSD, there is no convincing evidence that it does so. ... For scientific and ethical reasons, professionals should cease compulsory debriefing of trauma-exposed people."

Of course none of this should be a surprise. It's not a surprise that people who get paid a lot of money to do touchy feeley counseling would insist their services are vitally necessary, and it's not much of a surprise to a novelist that for many people simply getting on with life is better.  If I made a living as a grief counselor I would probably believe in grief counseling, but I'd think most people given a choice would tell the grief counselors to go wallow in someone else's misery.

It is the conceit of the modern age that people are not real, but merely units for manipulation by "professionals". This isn't to say that psychologists don't do some good for people who ask for help. It is to say that all this compulsory help is demeaning.

Thoreau said "If I knew there were coming to my house a man with the fixed intention of doing me good I would run for my life."

The following comes under the heading of  "anyone could have told you so":,3523,1428940-6078-0,00.html



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Saturday, September 13, 2003

Lots of mail. Including a surprising discussion of peanut butter and freedom.

I may have the oddest spam yet. Here is the spam:


From: requisition []
Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2003 2:54 AM
Subject: trichloromethane


v ygxspkq trgbfuc fqfcwg

f jcitcffq cbrimtri lipdmowy

u zdshyhoto xrrzmypfl vdhyj

Here is the full header:

Status: U
Return-Path: <>
Received: from ([])
by eagle (EarthLink SMTP Server) with ESMTP id 19Y7jYl3NZFji0
Sat, 13 Sep 2003 03:07:57 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from ( [] (may be forged))
by (8.9.3/3.7W) with SMTP id TAA18818;
Sat, 13 Sep 2003 19:11:06 +0900 (JST)
Message-Id: <>
To: <>
From: "requisition" <>
Subject: trichloromethane
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2003 02:54:01 -0700
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/html;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable


Thus is appears to be From: Requisition, Subject Trichloromethane

but in the Preview Window you see GET OUT OF DEBT FAST.

Now clearly the "from" and the "subject" were chosen to get past spam filters, and this one actually survived to get to my Inbox. My question is, is there one single solitary human being on the face of this planet who is likely to borrow money from people who send this message with this header? That is, people who have some kind of spam filter setup, but who eagerly await this message?

I can understand that some people want V I A * R A bad enough that they will jump at chances to get it even though their employer spam filters all references to it; but loan services?  Really?

WHO is and why would anyone do business with them other than to use them as legitimate targets for practice?

Does anyone know anyone who bit on this particular spam?

If you are on RoadRunner, I get your mail, but you can't get mine. Your service has decided to blackhole everything from my ISP, which is a bit odd since there are not many accounts hosted here, but there it is.


I am not sure what to make of all this:

after everything else in the Lynch story.


Hackworth may or may not be off his nut (again).

The Bronze Star Medal can be awarded for either (and I say again, either) highly meritorious service or acts of uncommon valor. Such acts must take place in a designated combat zone.

The BSM awarded for acts of uncommon valor is designated by a 3/8 inch bronze representation of the letter "V."

Awards for meritorious service are otherwise unadorned in which case the BSM becomes analogous to the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) awarded for something(s) that happened in a place where one is more liable to be shot at than the "D" ring of the Pentagon.

I don't know if PFC Lynch's BSM came with the bronze "V." Based upon what I know of the story I would hope not, but the unadorned BSM may be warranted...if only for all the crap she and her family have had to endure since she was captured. FWIW, I saw one of the other POWs on TV last week and her BSM did not carry the "V" device as far as I could see.


Ron Morse Captain, U.S. Navy (ret) BSM ( among others)

That's what I recall. Thanks.


We hear a lot about Leo Strauss lately, and his influence over the neo-conservatives. Here leaders of the movement talk about Strauss.

What was Leo Strauss up to? 

Fall 2003 What was Leo Strauss up to? By Steven Lenzner & William Kristol

The only way to begin to understand Leo Strausss political thought is by studying his writings. This may seem a simple rule of common sense. Yet a glance at the current controversy over Strausss supposed influence on contemporary American politics and foreign policy suggests that this rule is easily ignored.

=I will comment later; Strauss says in effect that there are hidden messages in the ancient writers, and he's going to teach you to understand them. Perhaps he's right.






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Sunday, September 14, 2003

Still at the beach. I will probably have an essay this afternoon. Much in mail, including the price of empire.

I am adding scenes to BURNING TOWER, as suggested by Roberta.

If you have not yet bought your copy of The Burning City, which you ought to read before Burning Tower, but don't have to, this would be a very good time to go get Burning City and read it...




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