IPv4 address shortage: Who was the first to become concerned?

My own answer is “I don’t know”.  I only know that there were a few of us thinking about the problem in 1989.  Roy Smith raised the issue on the TCP-IP mailing list on November 25th of that year with this message:

Date:      25 Nov 88 14:56:57 GMT
From:      roy@phri.UUCP (Roy Smith)
To:        comp.protocols.tcp-ip
Subject:   Running out of Internet addresses?
	Has anybody made any serious estimates of how long it will be
before we run out of 32-bit IP addresses?  (Silly question; I'm sure a very
great amount of thought has been given to it by many people.)  With the
proliferation of such things as diskless workstations, each of which has
its own IP address (not to mention terminal multiplexors which eat up one
IP address per tty line!), it seems like it won't be too long before we
just plain run out of addresses.

	Yes, I know that 2^32 is a hell of a big number, but it seems like
we won't get anywhere near that number of assigned addresses before we
effectively run out because most nets are sparsely populated.  My little
bit of wire, for example, has 256 allocated addresses yet I'm only actually
using 30 or so.
Roy Smith, System Administrator
Public Health Research Institute
{allegra,philabs,cmcl2,rutgers}!phri!roy -or- phri!roy@uunet.uu.net
"The connector is the network"

Back then we used IP addresses in a considerably sparser way than we do today.  That message kicked off a lengthy discussion in which nobody seriously was in denial about the potential for a problem.  You can find the whole archive of the exchange here.  There were two concepts that were touched upon.  The first was whether or not we could use the so-called “Class E” space (  I and others gave this serious thought at the time.  However, the related issue which won the day was that fixed address lengths were an important property to be maintained.  Vint Cerf raised that design consideration as a question.  He also raised the possibility of using variable-length OSI addresses.

How do electoral math differ from popular votes?

After the 2000 election one might think that everyone in the world understands how an American president is elected.  For those who don’t remember or don’t understand, electors are allocated to each state based on how many congressmen and senators that state has.  For example, South Dakota has one congressman and two senators, and is therefore entitled to 3 electoral votes.  Therefore, with the total number of congressmen being 435 and there being 100 senators, along with three electors allocated by Constitutional amendment to Washington D.C., there are total of 538 electors.

So how far off from the popular vote could an electoral vote get?  To figure this out, you need to know how many voters there are in each state and the number of electors per state.  270 electors can be gotten by winning evenly 50% of the votes in the 11 largest states in the Union.  If the loser were to take 50%-1 vote in those states, plus all the votes in the other states, using 2008 voter information, the winner would need only 43 million votes, while the loser could have over 110 million, or  71% of all the votes.  This is how President Bush won the election 2001 but lost the popular vote.

The electoral system almost always produces less dramatic results that do not mirror the popular vote.  Let’s look at a few percentages:

>Year Who Winner Electoral Votes Loser Electoral Votes Percentage Electoral Win/Loss Winner Popular Votes Loser Popular Votes Percentage Popular Win/Loss
1904 Roosevelt v. Parker 336 140 70.6%/39.4 7,630,457 5,083,880 56.4%/37.6%
1908 Taft v. Bryan 321 162 66%/34% 7,678,395 6,408,984 51.6%/43.0%
1912 Wilson v. Roosevelt 435 88 82%/17% 6,296,284 4,122,721 41.8%/27.4%
1916 Wilson v. Hughes 277 254 52%/48% 9,126,868 8,548,728 49.2%/46.1%
1920 Harding v. Cox 404 127 76%/24% 16,144,093 9,139,661 60.3%/34.1%
1924 Collidge v. Davis/Follette 382 149 72%/28% 15,723,789 13,217,948 54%/45.4
1928 Hoover v. Smith 444 87 84%/16% 21,427,123 15,015,464 58.2%/40.8%
1932 Roosevelt v. Hoover 472 59 89%/11% 22,281,277 15,761,254 57.4%/39.7%
1936 Roosevelt v. Landon 523 8 98%/2% 27,752,648 16,681,862 61%/37%
1940 Roosevelt v. Wilkie 449 82 85%/15% 27,313,945 22,347,744 54.7%/44.7%
1944 Roosevelt v. Dewey 432 99 81%/19% 25,612,916 22,017,929 53.4%/45.9%
1948 Truman v. Dewey/Thurmond 303 228 57%/43% 24,179,347 23,167,222 49.6%/47.5%
1952 Eisenhauer v. Stevenson 442 89 83%/17% 34,075,529 27,375,090 55%/44%
1956 Eisenhauer v. Stevenson 457 73 86%/14% 35,579,180 26,028,028 57%/24%
1960 Kennedy v. Nixon 303 219 56.5%/40.9% 34,220,911 34,108,157 49.7%/49.6%
1964 Johnson v. Goldwater 486 52 90%/10% 43,127,041 27,175,754 61%/39%
1968 Nixon v. Humphrey/Wallace 301 191 + 96 56%/36%/18% 31,783,783 41,172,957 (total) 43.4%/56.2%
1972 Nixon v. McGovern 520 17 97%/3% 47,168,710 29,173,222 61%/38%
1976 Carter v. Ford 297 240 55%/45% 40,831,881 39,148,634 50.1%/48.0%
1980 Reagan v. Carter 489 49 91%/9% 43,903,230 35,480,115 50.7%/41.0%
1984 Reagan v. Mondale 525 13 98%/2% 54,455,472 37,577,352 59%/41%
1988 Bush v. Dukakis 426 111 79%/21% 48,886,597 41,809,476 53.4%/45.7%
1992 Clinton v. Bush 370 168 69%/31% 44,909,806 39,104,550 43%/37.5%
1996 Clinton v. Dole 379 159 70%/30% 47,401,185 39,197,469 49.2%/40.7%
2000 Bush v. Gore 271 266 50.4%/49.6% 50,456,002 50,999,897 47.9%/48.4%
2004 Bush v. Kerry 286 251 53%/47% 62,040,610 59,028,444 50.7%/48.3%
2008 Obama v. McCain 365 173 68%/32% 69,456,897 59,934,814[ 53%/46%

In this table, the closest the popular and electoral votes come together is in 1916, although Bush v. Kerry comes close.

So what do we learn from all of this? I see two key messages:

  • The nature of the electoral voting system wildly distorts popular will in favor of each state getting at least some voice.  This was, after all, the reason for its design.
  • National polls are, at best, a finger in the wind, and may be entirely misleading.

What do you think of the electoral system?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

How many of these people do you know?

Update!  One additional person (don’t know how I missed him the first time around).

Let’s play Bearded Hippy Bingo!  Check out this photo and see who you recognize.  Drop a comment if you have a guess.  I’ll post the answers in a few days.  Clicking on the image should enlarge it.

Mr. Bush, you’re no Harry Truman

Some people are really not meant for this earth.  They happen to exist through luck or by the grace of others, or simply because evolution has not provided sufficient stimulus to cause them to bring themselves to an end.

Such was the case with union leaders in early 1980s, and not it seems to be the case with the Wall Street Journal.  In this lovely editorial, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro wonders why President Bush is receiving such a public flogging as hasn’t been seen since Truman, and whines that the attacks on Mr. Bush have been slanderous.  Perhaps some have been, but there have been plenty more that are well deserved.  Let’s review a bit with Mr. Shapiro, who appears to need the lesson.

The Economy

He argues that the current administration has little to do with the current economic mess.  Their appointee to chair the SEC, Christopher Cox led the commission that weakened the firewall within banks between lending and investing so that an investment failure could cause a banking failure, which is what happened.

Taking Deregulation to Its Illogical Conclusion

Over the last eight years we have seen more food scares than in the previous forty.  At one time it’s meat, and then it’s spinach, and then tomatoes.  Today we all worry about products brought in from China.  The regulatory regime of the FDA is so lax its amazing anything is safe to eat.  At the same time we are polluting our air and water while consuming as much oil as ever.  Mr. Bush entered the stage with corporate greed on everyone’s mind.  Enron and Worldcom were household names.  You would think we would keep a closer eye on Corporate America, and the Sarbanes Oxley act was meant to do just that.  And yet we have just shoveled another $700 billion into the banks.

Losing Two Wars

It was perhaps inevitable and likely necessary that we would go to war with the Taliban in order to root Al Qaida out of Afghanistan.  That we haven’t won the war is inexcusable.  President Bush doesn’t understand what winning a war is.  It is not enough to simply have moved troops into a particular piece of real estate, but rather to accomplish a particular political objective.  In Afghanistan that was to install a stable democratic government.  Stability requires lots and lots of time, effort, planning, and money, which Mr. Bush denied the Afghans by devoting his attention elsewhere.  Today we see fighting along the border, a resurgence of the Taliban outside of Kabul, and war lords re-emerging as power centers.  All of this was not inevitable.  It is one thing to try and fail, but we failed to try.

The other war was a war of choice that we entered because we were not told the truth.  President Bush claimed on more than one occasion that he acted on the same intelligence that President Clinton had.  If that was the case (and it seems that it was), then Mr. Bush demonstrated a shocking lack of judgment for the job in which he found himself.

But that wasn’t the worst of it, once in Iraq we failed to stabilize the situation, to provide basic services to the citizens, and to re-establish any semblance of normality in their lives.  Rather than paying attention to the deteriorating situation, Mr. Bush believed his chief lieutenants, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Condoliza Rice, as was well documented by Bob Woodward.

Loss of Moral Authority

Engaging in a war of choice against the wishes of most of the world was one of the many ways in which we lost the respect of the common individual in many countries.  By creating prisons and holding people indefinitely without trial, the administration flouted the law.  Allowing people to be transported to far away countries for the purposes of torture demonstrated to people outside the U.S. that we would do anything that we thought justifiable in the name of national security.  Denying them public trials further demonstrates a level of depravity usually attributed to petty dictators.

Isolation of America

Every foreign visitor has been subject to treatment that is usually reserved for common criminals.  Upon entry their pictures and fingerprints are taken, stored in a system of questionable security, subjecting them to potential identity theft, a problem that this administration has generally ignored.  It has been all but impossible for residents of the middle east to visit, due to extensive consular demands.  The effort required to visit the U.S. has cost us tourism and business as organizations have moved their meetings elsewhere.


I reserve my strongest ire for Mr. Bush and his sidekick for having led America, not from a position of strength, where he could have told people after 9/11 that the best way to get back at people who do not believe in our way of life is to rebuld and outmarket them; but instead from a position of fear.  Mr. Bush spread fear everywhere he went.  He did it perhaps because he was fearful.  But he also profited from fear, scoring political points off of peoples’ fear.  He imposed onerous rules at airports, treated foreigners like criminals, snooped into people’s private lives, and violated principles many Americans hold dear.

And so perhaps some level of disrespect is deserved.  Mr. Shapiro points out that after a generation people came to value Harry Truman and his presidency, and he argues that the same could happen with President Bush.  Harry Truman stood up to his military by integrating them, ended WWII in the Pacific through what could only have been a terrible choice, stood up against Stalin in Germany, and stood up against his own general in Korea.  He was attacked from the right because of wrongful accusations against his secretary of state by a Republican whacko named Joe McCarthy.  History showed he was right in each of the above cases, and his critics were wrong.  Does anyone seriously believe President Bush is in the same league as President Truman?  If so, please pass me what you’re smoking.