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Monday December 15, 2003

We have Saddam, and we have pledged $80 billion to an oil-producing country, and we are determined to bring them democracy. I don't want to be a spoil sport. It's good that we have him. But there are realities to consider.

It is not our first effort. Have we learned from this:

The Electronic Telegraphic

Monsters and Cannibals at war in Haiti By Marcus Warren (Filed: 13/12/2003)

Fuelled by drugs and voodoo, supporters of Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide are fighting a revolt against him, reports Marcus Warren

Thousands of students calling for the resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide clashed with police and armed thugs yesterday in a day of violence that once again brought anarchy to the streets of the Haitian capital.

Drink and drug-fuelled mobs of Aristide supporters roamed the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, into the night, setting up barricades, intimidating onlookers and flaunting their weapons in the hope of muzzling a groundswell of demands for the government's overthrow.

The thugs, known as "the Monsters", shut down most of the capital, chanting "Aristide for king" and screaming "This is a war between the dark and light-skinned" at passers-by as they gathered in front of the presidential palace to the accompaniment of voodoo drums.

Pulling drivers out of their vehicles to rough them up and steal their cars, their only saving grace was their poor marksmanship. One hoodlum who took aim with his revolver at the car in which I was travelling, missed from 10 yards. <snip?

We have been singularly unsuccessful at bringing democracy and economic prosperity to Haiti. Of course Haiti has no oil. On the other hand, it's a lot closer, and it would only take about $6 billion US to double the GDP. And no, I don't know what we should do about Haiti. I am merely warning that you may see reports like the above datelined Baghdad in a few years. I wish that were not true.

I presume Aristide is a nicer person than Saddam?


I am finishing up Burning Tower. It needs a closing scene and I am working on it.


George Washington on slavery:


I just got the DVD for THE HULK, and so far, a long way into the movie, it is UTTERLY BORING.

I presume this evil Lieutenant Colonel and this Banner guy in the first acts will have something to do with the plot later, but all the pseudoscience and dream sequences and the rest are just plain boring. And what is this bearded hick with the pictures doing? It's confusing but I don't care because I can't get involved.

I also have problems figuring out how to get the viewer into full screen mode. None of the menu items at the top say "full screen" as far as I can tell. Eventually I did Right Click, which Apple doesn't have except as a two hand command with the one button affectation for a mouse, but I have a Microsoft mouse and right click does bring up a menu that lets me go full screen.

(Now there is a Video menu item with a Full Screen mode. I would swear I did not see that before. Anyway that problem is solved. And the right-click works also.)

Ye gods there is some bad acting here. A corporate villain, a villainous light colonel, and they all hiss like villains in the old movies. I wonder if this guy will tie the girl to a railroad track?

Apparently unlike Windows DVD players there is no slider bar to control where on the DVD you are? You can backspace to a previous chapter but not with any fine tuning to see a scene over again? Or is this just stupidity on my part? On Windows Power DVD there is a slider bar on the player control. I can't find one on the Apple DVD player.

Which means that if you miss anything at all you will have to go back to see a LOT of the movie? Maybe it's better to view DVD movies on my Windows player? Not to mention that the total volume even with a speaker is very low; of course I don't hear as well as some, but it does seem weak, and the only sound output is on the earphone jack so far as I can see (the Flat Panel 17" I got has speakers and volume but with both Mac and that unit's volume at max I can't really hear it.)


Well over on a Windows Power DVD system there is a slider, and the volume is high enough to hear.

I have found that the change scenes button doubles if held down as a 4X fast forward (and the other 4X fast reverse). Whether those are as good as a slider I am not sure. The volume problem I will just have to live with. I probably need better amplifiers or maybe a preamp for the speakers built into the Sharp viewscreen.

Peter reports that he finds the top volume too low also. This appears to be a Mac defect, like not having competent clerks in the stores.

But alas the film is still boring, even on a PC.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003 

  I am late getting this up although we started early. Got up early, took Sable to the groomers for a wash. She doesn't need her toenails trimmed since she spends a lot of her time on the concrete deck around the pool, and on concrete sidewalks for her walk. But she does need washing, and that takes a bigger tub than I have, and drying, which takes a lot of time. Easier to pay someone to do all that. So we dropped off Sable and I did errands, like banking mailing the bills and going to the Great Earth vitamin outlet, and the market, and other stuff; got back to find that the groomers hadn't started on her because Sable wasn't going to be washed, and they couldn't get the muzzle on her. So we had to go down and muzzle her. She didn't fight me over that but she sure looked betrayed...

And that got me started late.

Mac Help Wanted

[THANKS TO ALL WHO responded: we have solved part of this problem! Please read on before sending help!]

Roberta's Mac reading program uses the Mac speech synthesizer and was developed on a PowerMac. It works: but it exists on floppy disks only. It will run on her ancient PowerBook which is pre OSX by a lot. Neither the PowerMac nor the ancient PowerBook have USB or FireWire ports so far as I can tell. Neither has a CD writer, although the PowerMac has a CD reader.

I need to get that program from the PowerMac to my new PowerBook. I am guessing that connecting her system to mine with AppleTalk won't be too hard, although exactly what port we use -- what the physical connection will be -- I don't know, and I'd appreciate advice on that.

She finds that a program called SimpleTalk while present on the PowerMac no longer works; it seems to be corrupted and we don't know how to replace it. I don't know enough about Macs to figure it out. I presume that at worst I can find it on line somewhere, download to Ariadne the new OS-X 15" PowerBook, use that to burn a CD, and read the CD in her PowerMac; but we are hoping there is an easier way. The PowerMac has never been on line: it's older than the Internet. Perhaps there is a way for it to go on line but it has no Ethernet port that we know of, so that's not too likely.

I probably need to spend more time seeing just what assets the PowerMac has; but if anyone knows a simple way to get an ancient PowerMac talking to a modern 15" OS-X 10.3.1 PowerBook, I would greatly appreciate the time saving. I can probably manage to figure it out, but that is going to take time I don't have.

So we have these problems:

  1. Getting the reading program from floppies or from the ancient PowerMac to the new PowerBook.

  2. Finding a copy of SimpleTalk and getting it onto the PowerMac

  3. Getting her reading program to run on the new PowerBook; since Agnes, the required voice, runs on Agnes, I presume this isn't impossible.

All help appreciated.

[We will use either a USB floppy drive connected to the PowerBook or we will use MacDrive on a PC and transfer the files from PC to Mac. So the transfer problem is solved.}

 [We have several offers of the older OS that is on her PowerMac, including fro Garry Utter who will simple send a copy on CD, so that problem also is solved. I'll probably try downloading from the net onto Ariadne, burning a CD, and installing on the PowerMac just to see if I can do it, but it's a solved problem in any event. That should restore SimpleTalk.]

I have GOT to get to work on the last scene in Burning Tower.

Mac Volume Broken?

No CD I put into the Mac puts out enough volume to make it the right way to listen to it or to watch a movie.

Yes, I have gone to system preferences, and put the volume slider on the Menu Bar, and pushed that all the way to loud.  Yes, I have used the DVD Player volume control and put that all the way up. Yes, I have used the volume controls on the Sharp 17" flat screen with built in speakers and put that up all the way.

The problem is the same with the native sound from Ariadne and also when I plug the Sharp builtin amplified speakers into the phones outlet of the PowerBook G4 15", which does NOT HAVE a "line out" port unlike some laptops.

And no, I can't hear The Two Towers from about 6 feet away, not comfortably. The dialogue isn't really intelligible unless I sit closer.

I suppose I can feed the output into the Sennheiser RS65 SurroundSound Radio earphones. And in fact that works and there is enough volume, and those phones are great.

And I suppose I can find a pre-amp to go between the speakers and the Mac, but it seems odd that we need it. Does anyone know a good simple broad band pre-amp that will take the earphone output of a PowerBook and boost it before putting it into the speakers on a Sharp 17" flatscreen?


And now it is time to go get Sable.

With the Sennheiser wireless earphones the Mac does very nicely indeed for sound, although at full volume it is still not as loud as I would expect.  Is this worth sending back to Apple to have fixed?

I presume given that I bought that Applecare policy I can wait until next month to do that if I have to.


On Macs, Peter G says

I meant to add to my previous message, btw, that just reinstalling the most advanced compatible Mac OS on the old Power Mac will put SimpleTalk back on it. If that isn't practical, you can probably get one of your local Mac helpers to install SimpleTalk alone from a floppy or CD copy of the same version of Mac OS.

What we have is a PowerMac. It reads both floppies and CD's. We are unlikely to have any copies of any OS for it, although that isn't impossible. Can one buy one of the old OS's for the older PowerMac? I am sure we never put OS-X on it, but beyond that I'm not sure; I can go check.

[This is no longer a question. The OS is available free from Apple.}

It's a pity there's no way to use Appletalk to connect the two machines, my new PowerBook and the old PowerMac; or if there is I don't know about it. Are there adapters that let me connect to USB on the one hand and whatever the PowerMac used for communications on the other? I mean surely Apple has SOME way to communicate with its older stuff?


Hallelujah! I have checked the floppies Roberta ships and they are "HD" meaning that

If you in fact have 1.44MB floppies, here's a good program for reading those disks in a PC: 

------- Roland Dobbins

ought to work. In addition I have ordered for about $40 a USB floppy drive (I may already have one, it works on the PC, but I am not sure of its ability to work with Apple formats; another thing to try so you don't have to). One way or another we will get the programs transferred.

On the Sound Output front:

The PowerBook only has analog audio output so far as I know, although I am willing to be corrected. The audio comes out the headphones jack; there is no Line Out. If there is another way to get sound out of the PowerBook I do now know it.

[Digital sound output is in the USB; the proper equipment can turn that into sound for speakers. I'm getting something that will do that.]

The audio in the PowerBook speakers is too low for me to use for movies. It might be all right for most, but in my case I have to sit very close to the system in order to understand the dialog, and the music and special effects are audible but not very dramatic.

This is improved by taking the output and feeding it to a Sharp 17" flat panel monitor with built-in speakers and amplifier -- I presume amplifier since there is a volume control -- but at maximum volume it is still not loud enough for me. That's with the Mac system preferences volume at max; the DVD Player volume at max; and the Sharp volume at max. It ain't enough to listen to unless you are close to the system, although it's better with the Sharp than without. With the Sennheiser RS65 phones it's fine.

Apple seems to sell a series of amplifiers and powered speakers, all at premium prices, that will make all this better. I am also about to experiment with other power speaker systems just to see what will happen. The PowerBook output is probably good enough for a single person listening to a movie on an airplane where the listener is close to the system; and of course would work with headphones in any case.

Unlike PC systems, the sound output of the PowerBook is inadequate without further equipment or amplification. This is surprising given the cost of the PowerBook. I hasten to add that I need louder sound than many people, and have for 50 years.


More communications possibilities: there appears to be Ethernet software on the PowerMac and in the systems folder there seems to be "Ethertalk". Alas there is no Ethernet cable outlet on her PowerMac.

She says it isn't older than the Internet we just were never able to use it properly with the Internet.

Anyway, I should be getting the means to transfer the files from her old PowerMac to the PowerBook.

 I still need to find a way to restore SimpleTalk to working on her machine. And probably it wouldn't hurt to find the OS version she has and reinstall that.

She has OS version 7.5.3 on the PowerMac. SimpleTalk is hosed. If I had a copy of 7.5.3 I could reinstall on her PowerMac it might get that back. Meanwhile in a couple of days we will have a USB floppy drive.

This problem is also solved; see mail.



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Wednesday, December 17, 2003 

On the Mac front, we have solved the problem of getting Roberta's old PowerMac set up with a restored version of the OS 7.5.3, and I know how to get 7.5.5 if I want, both being available free from Apple for downloads, or from compassionate readers on a CD.

I have an enormous list of stuff I should download for the new PowerBook 15" G4 named Ariadne, and I'll try to get to some of that to see what it does.

I also want to set up mail on the Apple. The simplest way is to turn off mail collection on the Windows networked systems, let the Apple collect mail while leaving copies on the server, deal with it, then turn on the Windows system again to suck it all up and put it here in the usual manner. This is how I deal with mail on the road using a Tablet PC, because updating the enormous unparsable Outlook PST file from one machine to another is painful (although possible) and it doesn't take long to set mail flags. I lose a bit of communication through lapses in memory but this is Chaos Manor.


Iraq Again

On Iraq: the gnurrs come from the woodwork out. Some Baathists are showing their colors. Demonstrations in the streets for Saddam! Like having demonstrations in the streets for Hitler in Berlin in November 1945, no? What would we have done then? What would the Russians have done then?

I cannot think that a healthy thing for the Iraqis to be doing. I presume that the company has good cameras.

We are there, we are making progress. We can't cut and run, and for the moment the world needs Iraqi oil; I admit I am astonished at how long it is taking to get it flowing at earlier levels. Surely a nation that could build a new fleet after Pearl Harbor can get oil flowing in a year?

Jim Woosley sends a link to

which is an essay by Orson Scott Card from the view of a dismayed Democrat. Scott says some things that need saying, and his discussion is worth reading.

My problem remains: I don't want us to act like an Empire, and I do not like the Imperial mood that has taken over the Republican Party. The Party of Big Government is frightening. I didn't care for the Clintons in any way, but government grew less under Clinton than it has under Bush. I do not think firing cruise missiles at aspirin factories to create a domestic news diversion is a proper use of American power -- it's immoral of course, and not good realpolitik either --  but I am not certain that invading a country whose dictator was thoroughly deterred is good realpolitik, or sends a proper message.

Under the accomplishments column we can put the cooperation of Syria, whose dictator is scared stiff; but apparently not so much that he is evacuating Lebanon. Of course I am not entirely certain that Lebanon will be better off without Syria, so far have things deteriorated there. Let me hasten to say I haven't any special expertise on the matter and I am certainly ignorant of important facts and developments there: I reason from principles, not from particulars.

 But the principles I start with are those of traditional US foreign policy. Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute; avoid needless foreign entanglements; the United States is the friend of liberty everywhere but we are the guardians only of our own; and avoid becoming involved in the territorial disputes of Europe (or elsewhere).

Some call that isolationist. I don't. I have no quarrel with readiness, nor with making it clear that attacks on the United States will be met with the full fury of a free people enraged. I am willing to call the Iraqi involvement a useful demonstration of just how far we will go if we even suspect your country of harboring and abetting our enemies.

But I see no reason to sink $80 billion into Iraq as a gift to Mesopotamia. I would rather put that money into 40 1,000 MegaWatt fission power plants, a small fleet of heavy lift re-usable (single or two stage to orbit) spacecraft capable of restoring our military space assets in the event of an Argus-like event as well as of beginning solar power satellites, and research into the best use of electricity as a substitute for gasoline in transportation systems.

I would rather see us work toward energy independence. Properly spent, $80 billion would go a very long way toward achieving that.

That doesn't seem to be an alternative contemplated by the present administration. And that I think is a pity.


Megatons to megawatts

Forwarded to me by a friend - thought you'd be interested... 

One might wonder why the media isn't all over this. Maybe because it's actually happening, as opposed to being something they can hotly demand? It's sometimes strange what passes for 'news' these days.

Mike Morris

And indeed I find that an interesting site. There is more than I have time to examine just now, but it sure looks intriguing. Megatons to megawatts....


I have the 19 floppy disk images for installing OS 7.5.3 on Roberta's machine. They exist on the PowerBook Ariadne, and I don't yet have a USB floppy drive although I should be getting one of those fairly soon.

I can try burning them to a CD and see if there's any way I can get the PowerMac to use them. We will see...


And for a moment of SHEER TERROR try

Subject: Global Dimming?


<,13026,1108853,00.html >


Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of

Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and


 Which I never heard of before, but maybe we need lots and lots of CO2 and FAST. Is this the advent of the Ice Age?

Thirty years ago I found out that in the last Ice Age, England went from deciduous trees to solid ice in under 100 years. It comes on FAST when it comes.

And global dimming will do it...


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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Global dimming. I am still contemplating that. And no one believed it. Fallen Angels, here we come...

Following is part log and part copy of a letter sent to a team of advisors. I was mucking about with the Mac and this was a way to record thoughts:

I was able to get to Sable (my main writing machine) and transfer a copy of Burning Tower over here. I had done that previously but I have no idea at all where that document is. It is in here somewhere I suppose, but I sure can't find it. So I put another copy in the "documents" folder I get when I open the hard drive icon. At least I have some way to find that.

Double clicking on Burning Tower.doc opens it in Word so that works as expected. I sure wish I knew where the copy I transferred over here last week went. It's probably my failing memory, But I thought I had created a "WinWord" folder the way I do on all my other machines, and a Burning Tower folder within that. It may be an awful way to organize but it's the way I use, and it works: a WinWord folder for Windows Word documents, and book project folders within that.

I have a thing called idisk, could it be in that icon? No that has a documents folder but nothing in it. Hmm. There is another icon called jerrypournelle -- aha. And there hides the WinWord folder. So now to relentlessly find all copies of Burning Tower on this machine. All. And delete them. Now get back to Sable and copy this into that WinWord folder, whose location, we hope, I will remember in future.

The mail editor is nice and does spell checking, BUT when you tell it to remember a word, it continues to leave all instances of that word marked as misspelled until you click on the word. Perhaps if I wait long enough? Not likely and I haven't time to do that test. But this is a nice mail editor.

Now to get the car smog checked.

There were several Mac updates yesterday, including one that is said to make networking easier. Something seems to have helped. I have downloaded and installed all Mac updates known to me.


Jailing Al Qaeda Members

In other news I see we are jailing six Yemeni-Americans for being members of Al Qaeda and for having gone to Afghanistan although they were not accused of actual hostile acts against the United States. We went through a lot of that with the Smith Act trials, but we never jailed many Communists under it: only some leaders, and not many of those, and when movie studios blacklisted some writers for their communist activities (and their refusal to disclose all those activities) there was a storm of protest. I see little protest here.

This is worth thinking about but the implications are broader than you might at first think. How much is a diverse society worth? If those had not been Yemeni or Arab would they be given 15 years merely for belonging to an organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States by force and violence? Certainly none of that happened to Communist Party members, even their highest US leaders.

In France they are contemplating forbidding children from wearing "religious symbols" at school. In the US this would normally be a matter entirely left to the States, but with our activist courts and the nearly total breakdown of the federalist system here -- how else is abortion a federal matter, or education, or any of the other matters not mentioned in the Constitution, and thus reserved to the States under the Forgotten Tenth which last time I heard was part of the Bill of Rights -- with the destruction of the federal system God alone knows what the courts would make of a law such as the French are apparently about to pass.

I am not for coddling the enemies of the US. I wasn't for giving young Walker "a little kick in the butt" as his uncle recommended. On the other hand 20 years to life seems a long time to send away a dopey kid who has not been proven to have actually born arms against the United States nor to have done any actual harm to anyone here. The same seems true for these goofy Yemeni who went over to take up terrorist training -- instruction I could mostly get in a dozen places in California -- and who haven't been shown to have done anything. If they are a danger to the US lock them up. Internment camps may be needed. But I am not sure that fifteen year sentences are appropriate for having joined an organization before 9-11. Had they been proven to have done anything at all -- stockpiling weapons and explosives would do -- I'd have a different view.

Incidentally, Joseph Alsop once accused McCarthy of stockpiling weapons in the basement of the Capitol as part of a plot. (He didn't actually; what he did was in a libel suit of someone else who had made that statement; but Alsop ended up having to decide whether to say he knew the statement was false, or that he believed it was true, and gulping hard took the latter course, opting to appear foolish rather than false.) But those were crazy days, and McCarthy was a blundering drunk unable to control his staff and cursed with a particularly evil man on that staff.

Still: if we are looking for witches we will find witches. One of the prices of a free republic is that people do things we don't approve of, and we have to put up with it, or use social means for their suppression rather than use the forces of government. I do not flat out say that joining Al Qaeda after 911 should not be a crime; but I am very concerned when membership in an organization prior to its having committed an act against the US can result in a fifteen year jail sentence.

If the goal is to neutralize these potential enemies there are less harsh -- and far less expensive -- ways to do that than to send them off to Club Fed for a decade and more. If the goal is to punish them, isn't 15 years a bit harsh when no violent crime is even charged? I am always afraid of going down a road toward punishing thoughtcrime.


SS1 Flight!

From Rich Pournelle

Here's some cool video Harlock shot. Feel free to post it if you credit Mike Massee of

Warning: the following audio-visual is a BIG file.

 and More photos:

And mail has more on the story.


Notice: I will not be responsible for my actions if I find myself in physical proximity to the people who want to send me the BANNED GOVERNMENT CD


The Mac has failed me again.  I was using the mail program to send and receive mail, and I thought it was pretty nifty. Then suddenly I get messages that the server has rejected the password of myjepaccount. Note that it would deliver me mail to myjepaccount.mac, but it won't accept the password to send the mail. All outgoing mail stacked up in the outbasket.

After half an hour of rage, with the machine asking me for passwords and refusing to send mail, it stopped asking. I would try to send mail, it would trundle for a while trying to make contact with :"server" and then just stop. Nothing happened. No error message. Nothing. Just didn't send.

I kept trying. And Lo! it again asked for the password to the account of myjepaccount for the server  Once again I entered it. Insanity consists of doing the same thing over and over in the hopes that the outcome will be different: "this time for sure."

Only it worked. Sent that mail and all the other mail stacking up went out too.

Clearly the problem was the Apple SERVER WAS DOWN but they did not want to tell me that. Instead they said my password was rejected. Or the Mac would tell me nothing.

So to use the Mac Mail Program properly you must feign insanity: keep trying the same thing over and over until it works.

It's really neat when it works. And I can understand mail servers going out. The Earthlink mail server dies; but Windows just tells me it can't make contact with it, not that my password was rejected.

On the other hand, until Outlook 2003 Outlook did much the same thing, demanding passwords when the problem was that the external server was down. But Microsoft fixed that. Apple has not done so, and gives inconsistent and improper error messages when mail can't get to the server it want to send mail on.

Roland points out that it took Microsoft about 6 years to fix their problem. Still, why should it take Apple so long? Perhaps because Apple employees are close to the mail server and it don't go down for them...

Also, while the mail account (to receive mail) and the smtp account (for sending mail) have exactly the same user name and password, Mac mail treats them as if they were different. Which is very confusing until you know enough to know they both need the same information.

Incidentally, the downloaded updates to OSX 10.3 seem to have fixed the communications with Active Directory problem.


Well there are worse things than global warming. Or global dimming.

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Why does this not astonish me:

To: Jerry Pournelle Subject: Saddams Agents Infiltrated U.S. in Iraq

I thought you might find this story interesting.

Saddams Agents Infiltrated U.S. in Iraq

Jim Woosley

I am not astonished. We don't understand that place. And while I wish them well, I do not believe we will see real democracy there. Perhaps if the US were to leave an army in enclaves to act as guardian of the constitution as the Turkish Army does for Turkey...

Arbitrary Power

This morning's paper brings the news that courts have determined that the President hath not the authority to "detain" citizens arrested in the United States without charging them with a crime. Duh!

It does say that Congress can grant that authority as a war power. I would question that, absent an actual clash of arms in the United States. Inter Arma Silent Leges, but the clash of arms has to be close. This at least is worthy of debate. But Congress, after the Roosevelt internment of the Japanese American citizens in World War II, explicitly said that absent Congressional authority this was not a power the President holds; and Congress certainly hasn't given the President any such authority.

Had the courts decided otherwise we would be in the situation in which the only safety of any citizen from perpetual imprisonment incommunicado is the good sense of the authorities: it is the essence of arbitrary power, and to say that internment is not punishment is a cruelly mendacious statement. Even Paul of Tarsus had the right of appeal to Caesar - and Rome was pretty frankly an Empire in the days of Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero.

Now it is almost certainly true that if we continue to have unrestricted immigration, dismantle all the elements that made our "melting pot" work to convert immigrants into Americans -- it was not long ago that one could learn how to be an American, and study to become one, and many like my former students from Italy and Kuwait and Thailand and Ethiopia did, splendidly -- if we continue to put out the fires under the melting pot, we will find that we have no choice but to put ourselves into the hands of those with power: to grant arbitrary power in order to protect us.

But we are not there yet, and we need not fear our own liberties. The Court has done good work today.

God save the United States and this honorable court.


Earnest Lilley on intuitive designs:

The great irony about the "intuitive" nature of the Apple interface is that it presupposes that everyone thinks alike. Everything is intuitive for the person who designed it.




Eric Pobirs adds

I recall a similar problem in many of the text adventures of yore. The player be driven insane trying to give an obvious command but it would only be accepted in a phrasing that was unknown to those who hadn't grown up in the same region as the author.

Above a certain level of complexity I think intuitive is an impossible or at least overly subjective goal. After a point you can only strive for consistency so that those who've learned the essentials have a head start on battling with interfaces for controlling more difficult concepts.

Which makes enormous sense.



THE WALL STREET JOURNAL,,science_journal,00.html

December 19, 2003

Scientists Revisit Idea
That a Little Poison
Could Be Beneficial


Science rediscovers hormesis. Some of us never forgot.


Regarding the War Powers of the President:

He have arbitrary power! My Lords, the East India Company have not arbitrary power to give him; the King has no arbitrary power to give him; your Lordships have not; nor the Commons, nor the whole Legislature. We have no arbitrary power to give, because arbitrary power is a thing which neither any man can hold nor any man can give. No man can lawfully govern himself according to his own will; much less can one person be governed by the will of another. We are all born in subjection—all born equally, high and low, governors and governed, in subjection to one great, immutable, pre-existent law, prior to all our devices and prior to all our contrivances, paramount to all our ideas and all our sensations, antecedent to our very existence, by which we are knit and connected in the eternal frame of the universe, out of which we cannot stir.

Edmund Burke on the Impeachment of Warren Hastings for crimes against the people of India.

The whole speech, and Macauley's commentary appended, are worth reading if only as an example of great oratory. Contrast with the speeches of any Kennedy.

This is of course the Framers, not the scene so brilliantly described by Macauley. I don't have a good picture of the Impeachment. And see mail.



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This week:


read book now


Saturday, December 20, 2003

Open mail with a ghost story. I'll have some comments on the recording industry lawsuit decision when I get back from a walk.


PerfectDisk from Raxco keeps telling me that it has an update available. I told the system to update. When it opened the installer, it demanded the original installation disk before I can update.

Now I am looking for the uninstall since I don't usually keep all the original installation disks of everything I install on all my machines (this is on a test machine in the other room).

Once more I am reminded that if you want defragmenting software for our enormous disks, use Golden Bow VOPT which works, doesn't cost much, and doesn't make you jump through nine hoops.


/enter bile mode

tells the story: Sun and Microsoft devoting energy to legal stuff that ought to be going to engineering and development. It's not unreasonable to wish a pox on both their houses. Sun sues and sort of wins. Then they realize that they lose by winning. They try to extend the deadline for Microsoft to stop shipping stuff using the Java virtual machine because if Microsoft don't ship that, Sun can't sell to the people who have it. Microsoft says we planned for this deadline and we gonna stop shipping the stuff just like you forced us to do. Sun says "But not Yet! You are dirty guys for complying with the agreement we made. Wait until it's better for us before you comply."

And on it goes.

But if you use Windows 2000 or Windows 98, you will be affected...

Meanwhile Linux remains under attack and more resources go to lawyers, fewer to engineers and coders. Why not?

A pox on all of them.

SCO is Caldera under another name. They also own all the old CP/M stuff which means they are likely the heirs to Gary Killdall's settlement of the Digital Research discovery that the original DOS from Seattle Engineering really was stolen from Digital Research CP/M (if you know how, you can find Gary Killdall's name and copyright in DOS 1.0). I am not sure what that's worth other than there's complete immunity for Digital Research from "look and feel" suits by Microsoft. One wonders why they wanted the CP/M stuff.

Didn't Caldera used to be an OCR company that made rather good OCR software?

And now their lawyers are making scary faces at Apple.

With superstar lawyers. This business is getting goofy.

It's coming time for the end of the year essays for the column. I'm pretty sure this will be one of them...

/end bile mode


More good stuff on the SS-1 flight in Mail.

And good news from Denmark:


There was a lot of mail today, most pretty good. Have a look.



Saturday   TOP  Current Mail

This week:


read book now


Sunday, December 21, 2003



The world information summit was held in Geneva. The keynote speaker was Robert Mugabe.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And see below


I have spent some of the day throwing things away. Exhausting work.


I wonder if the guy who wants to sell me a banned CD needs his any part of his anatomy enlarged? Perhaps a LOT, by mechanical means.


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