CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 306 April 19 - 25, 2004
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I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too... I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail.
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April 19, 2004
As usual there is a lot of mail from the weekend; begin with that.
See David Brooks, "A More Humble Hawk", http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/17/opinion/17BROO.html.
"Nonetheless, I didn't expect that a year after liberation, hostile militias would be taking over cities or that it would be unsafe to walk around Baghdad. Most of all, I misunderstood how normal Iraqis would react to our occupation. I knew they'd resent us. But I thought they would see that our interests and their interests are aligned. We both want to establish democracy and get the U.S. out."
"Despite all this — and maybe it's pure defensiveness — I still believe that in 20 years, no one will doubt that Bush did the right thing. To his enormous credit, the president has been ruthlessly flexible over the past months and absolutely committed to seeing this through. He is acknowledging the need for more troops. He is absolutely right to embrace Lakhdar Brahimi's plan to dissolve the Governing Council and set up an interim government. This might take attention away from the U.S, and change the atmosphere in the country."
[This is the first sign of doubt, re-thinking, or even self-criticism that I have seen from the neo-cons. As of last week, the American Enterprise Institute was still running pep-up pieces about how the uprising minimal and we are "winning." Odd because Brooks blames the administration for having no plan to reconstruct the country. Was't it obvious that whoever "broke" Iran would now "own" it, as Powell has been quoted as waring.]
[The Woodward book reinforces what we heard leading during the preparations for the war, reinforces Treasury Secretary O'Neill's book, and reinforces Richard Clarke's book: the neocons had captured President Bush's attention, and then used September 11 as an excuse to execute their own, separate, strategy to overthrow Saddam and occuoy Iraq. ]
Excepts from the book on the Post website, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22552-2004Apr18.html .
[Odd because the Presdient continues to lump all terrorism into one giant bag: Al Queda, Baathi resistance bombers, Ceylonese bus bombers, retired Palestinians, new Palestinians, almost everyone but the IRA. In his press conference, he continued to merge Islamic Fundamentalists with Baathis, even though the Al Queadans see the Baathis as as immediate enemy. Their ideology leader here, Sayeed Qutb, was, after all, hanged by Nasser for writing _Milestones_, a book that preached the overthrow of secular Arab nationalist governments. Available on the web in several versions.
Two weeks ago, an Army caption complained, in bewilderment, we've run lots of community improvement operations in this neighborhood. We have to figure out why they are now shooting at us." I think, painfully, that one of Napolean's captains might have said the same thing. "We brought the the printing press, we abolished serfdom, our cannons blasted away the old obscurantism. We stand for liberty, equality, and brotherhood. Why are they now shooting at us?"
Burke had an answer, but the neocons do not.
Regards, with pain,
I think of no conservative (as opposed to neocons) who did not forsee the problems; and all the analysts I know warned that if we were going in there we would need lots of troops, and military government units, and translators.
The US began in 1943 to prepare for the occupation of Germany. Nothing similar was undertaken for Iraq: indeed it hasn't happened yet.
I beg to differ. Democracy can be imposed on Iraq, but it requires an occupation army probably an order of magnitude greater in size than our current forces and leadership sufficiently interested in reform.
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her
“Democracy cannot be imposed from without and how democratic would such a solution be?” says Francis Hamit.But it was imposed on Germany and Japan after 1945, with very considerable success.
As for Arabic democracy, well it’s like the small boy asked if he can play the violin, who answered that he didn’t know because he’d never tried.
The rewards of a democratic Iraq would be so great it’s worth giving it our best shot.
Particularly in the case of Japan; Germany could be said to have been a democratic state under a tyranny. Japan had never been anything of the sort. Their constitution and form of government were imposed by the occupation.
The rewards are high, the goal is noble; the task is within our abilities; but it will be enormously expensive in blood and treasure and will we stay the course? And is this a Constitutional use of American power? By definition any "democracy" in Iraq that is hostile to the United States is not acceptable nor a good outcome.
Note - Condi Rice is single, last I checked.
Political Conversation: Condi’s Slip
A pressing issue of dinner-party etiquette is vexing Washington, according to a story now making the D.C. rounds: How should you react when your guest, in this case national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, makes a poignant faux pas? At a recent dinner party hosted by New York Times D.C. bureau chief Philip Taubman and his wife, Times reporter Felicity Barringer, and attended by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Maureen Dowd, Steven Weisman, and Elisabeth Bumiller, Rice was reportedly overheard saying, “As I was telling my husb—” and then stopping herself abruptly, before saying, “As I was telling President Bush.” Jaws dropped, but a guest says the slip by the unmarried politician, who spends weekends with the president and his wife, seemed more psychologically telling than incriminating. Nobody thinks Bush and Rice are actually an item. A National Security Council spokesman laughed and said, “No comment.”
----------------------------------------------------------------------- Roland Dobbins <firstname.lastname@example.org> // 650.776.1024 voice
"A moment's thought would have saved us from these follies. But thought is a painful process, and a moment is a long time."
-- A.E. Houseman
Well I have heard of courtiers who thought of themselves as married to their jobs. Richelieu?
Jerry, Irak - with hindsight. In most really big military operations something important is overlooked. This is because there are so many things to think of that there is neither spare mental capacity nor a department whose job is to ask and then answer awkward questions. A good example from history is the aftermath of the Normandy landings where no thought had been given to the problems of advancing through the bocage which consists of high earth banked hedges around small fields which is ideal defensive country. When the effective tactic of heavy area bombing was adopted it was often the pall of smoke that was aimed at and on at least one occasion this resulted in a creeping barrage that did more damage to the allies than to the enemy. The wind usually but not invariably coming from the West.
Nor do I think that you can draw a parallel with Germany or Japan. Germany was a democratic country to begin with, Hitler was elected, and had been comprehensively defeated over a long period. In a different sense Japan was even more comprehensively beaten. Apart from the purely military reverses where their soldiers gladly gave their lives for the Emperor and often chose suicide instead of capture they were faced with the fact that the Godlike emperor had himself surrendered. The more pragmatic Japanese also thought that having their entire country melted by the new sort of bomb was not a good option.
I submit that in this sense Irak has not been beaten. The Iraki army ran away or surrendered because they are essentially suited to fighting the first world war. They were not lacking in courage or determination when fighting Iran on a technically level battlefield but realised that they had no means to fight the USAF or the Abrams tank. Saddam could not afford to plan for the strategy of defending the towns house by house plus ambush attacks on supply convoys as the locals would have used it against him. The ordinary Iraqi does not feel defeated and lends at least tacit support to those with sincere religious beliefs who want to die fighting the infidel.
With hindsight the great error was to allow the army and the police to disband. Perhaps even now they can be partly reconstituted with the Iraki commander of every police station and army company shadowed by an American who had the power to over-rule or discharge him. Then you could slowly introduce democracy starting at the most local level. As local leaders and parties emerged they could be given more power and so start the messy business of horse trading that is regional and finally national democracy. This will take a long time. The alternative is to loudly announce that the people on this list are the new democratic government and then to go away leaving behind the turmoil which will produce a new Saddam.
There never are good answers.
Regards John Edwards
Well -- yes.
Shuttle-Derived Vehicle: Shuttle-Derived Disaster by Jeffrey F. Bell
But SDV-2 still has a terrible problem -- those solid boosters on the sides. These were a last-minute substitute forced onto the Shuttle designers by bean-counters at OMB to reduce the development cost. It was recognized at the time that they would greatly increase the operating costs of Shuttle.
The SRBs are often described as"reusable", but this is nothing but propaganda. After every flight, they need to be dismantled, sent to Utah in pieces, remanufactured, sent to Florida, and laboriously reassembled.
Again -- well, yes. I have been saying this since 1981.
Re: Mr Mangles post on the Iraq Legal System.
The Legal System in Iraq is Napoleonic. What we call a 'prosecuting attorney' is also known as a 'judge' in Iraq. There were no 'detectives' in the police forces. Judges of the court are responsible for investigation and prosecution.
As I thought. Being in San Diego on a 56K line I didn't have any way to check, but I was fairly certain Iraq and much of that area uses the Napoleonic Code system. The "examining magistrate" determines that a suspect is guilty; then in a trial the accused is required to prove innocence. The verdict of an examining magistrate is a bit heavier than an indictment in the English system, in that the burden of proof then passes to the accused, but the analogy is clear.
Note that Maigret works for an examining magistrate, and is an inspector of the judicial police.
Subject: Can it be? They're claiming neutron & gamma ray emissions . . . .Roland Dobbins
Cold fusion at last? Dead graduate students? Pons didn't have any..
Subject: Adding layers.
--- Roland Dobbins
Mr. Mangles makes the observation that democracy was successfully imposed on both Germany and Japan in 1945; and you agreed with his position, suggesting that if we could do it then, we can do it now in Iraq.
As I have pointed out to you in previous emails, one of the major reasons that we were successful in doing so in both countries, is that the general population had conceeded defeat. Both countries had endured four long, difficult years of war. Everyone knows of the thermonuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; fewer remember the firebombing of Tokyo, and no one even talks about Dresden anymore. But the fact that it has fallen off the historical radar screen, does not mean that it was not an effective tool at the time for instilling terror in the civilian population.
In both Germany and Japan, the vast majority of warriors were dead, and large chunks of the civilian population were dead as well. The survivors had suffered privation, starvation, and grief; and everyone - absolutely everyone - simply wanted the war to be over.
That situation does NOT exist in present day Iraq.
I am not advocating that we firebomb fallujah, or employ atomic weapons in Iraq (as we did in Japan, and probably would have done in Germany had we had them at the time). Still, it should be quite clear that the precision of our weaponry actually works against us. We are able to destroy a tank from the air with such precision that teacups in houses 1,000 feet away barely rattle. But if all we do to the civilian population is occasionally rattle their teacups, they can perhaps be forgiven for not being duly terrorised by the horrors of war.
Still: it should be absolutely clear that until the average Iraqi citizen fears us more than he hates us, it is going to remain open season on US citizens in Iraq - be they Military or Civilian.
I have no solution to offer; only the observation that, if we are to successfully impose democracy on Iraq, it will cost many, many lives. The 800+ coalition soldiers lost to this point is nothing, compared to the coming cost. And the Iraqis will lose many more; I think the current ratio is around ten Iraqis dead for each Marine. The economic cost will also be staggering; so staggering that, I'm not at all convinced that the oil is worth it. And I mean that literally. This is going to be so expensive, and take so long, and kill so many people, that all the oil in Iraq might not be sufficient reward.
Hell, Jerry. There are options, but there are no solutions; and by that, I mean that all the available options suck. No matter how you cut this deck, we're committed to a long, gruelling, expensive and difficult battle. And a lot of good Marines are going to die at the hands of Iraqi goons, simply because it is politically unacceptable to employ weapons of mass destruction to subjugate a country which we invaded on the pretext of their posessing weapons of mass destruction.
What I said regarding imposition of democracy at the end of WW II was:
"Particularly in the case of Japan; Germany could be said to have been a democratic state under a tyranny. Japan had never been anything of the sort. Their constitution and form of government were imposed by the occupation.
"The rewards are high, the goal is noble; the task is within our abilities; but it will be enormously expensive in blood and treasure and will we stay the course? And is this a Constitutional use of American power? By definition any "democracy" in Iraq that is hostile to the United States is not acceptable nor a good outcome."
How anyone gets the notion that this is simple agreement with Mr. Mangles is a bit beyond me.
And I had thought I have said everything in this letter time and again, proving that I must not be as clear as I thought I was.
For the record: I do not think it impossible for us to succeed in Iraq. I do think it unlikely; and I am certain that it will take a long time and be very expensive. I have already many times said I would prefer to do other things with the money this will cost.
The US is enormously in debt to foreign countries, and our trade deficit is such that we borrow about 5% of our GDP every year from overseas, and use that to buy gewgews which we consume, passing the debt along to our children (or planning to stiff those who invested here). This is Free Trade, and one reason I would prefer a 10% tariff as a means of raising money as well as discouraging imports in favor of stuff we make here. Yes that means a lower level of consumption, but we are already consuming like fury.
I even more prefer that if we borrow money we INVEST it in such things as power plants and energy independence (nuclear power as hydrogen wells, if nothing else; but space solar power in addition would be better). Borrowed money ought not be spent on consumer goods.
Now we are financing the war on borrowed money; and how that will be paid back is not at all clear.
So: yes it would be wonderful if we could put a democracy in Iraq, and no, that is not impossible; but it will cost a great deal of money we don't have, leaving us in debt worse than we are now; it will take a lot of time and determination and stamina on the part of the American people in the face of exhortations to cut and run; and it will require that the military believe in the task.
Of course, on the subject of the debts, and our paying the army on borrowed money, gold won't get you good soldiers, but we have got good soldiers, and good soldiers can always get you gold...
Latest fraud.. heh
April 20, 2004
Interestingly, the German man in the street in 9/39 did not want war, nor did the military. Germany was an elective dictatorship, like the UK. Japan was similar except that the constitution required that the ministers of war and the navy had to be serving officers, which gave the army and navy a veto on any government being formed. The post-WWII reforms had little to do with the basic structure and everything to do with who had power in the system. Pre 1868, Japan was similar to Saddam's Iraq in governance, but the reforms of the late 19th century took hold rapidly. That's why I think democracy can be imposed--freedom, though, is harder to grow.
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her
Consequences of being Politically Correct:
Subject: EPA Approved ICBMs
EPA Approved ICBMs by James Dunnigan April 18, 2004
In order to comply with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations, and at a cost of about $5.2 million per ICBM, the rocket motors on 500 Minuteman III missiles will be replaced with new ones. These rockets will emit less toxic chemicals when used. But the new, environmentally correct rockets will be heavier than the old ones, and will thus have a shorter range than the original motors.
Now if only we could get to EPA to make the incoming nuclear warheads "less toxic".
Ye flipping gods! Maybe we need an emperor to jail some bureaucrats for treason. If those MM are used, we won't much care about their chemical toxicity.
I've been reading your books and articles for many years and have always enjoyed them. Thanks.
Just read your latest article on Byte.com and wanted to see if you knew anything about Intuits\'s Quicken programs since you use their TurboTax program.
Like you I have used their tax program for many years and still find it easy and useful. I have also been using Quicken as my personal finance program for over ten years. Recently, I purchased a new computer that offered and upgrade to Quicken 2003. For $10.00 I went ahead and updated the program. It has many features that I never use and really do not care to learn, but the guts are pretty much the same as always.
My financial institution went online about three years ago and specifically aim their online banking at Quicken and MS Money users. Quicken uses a download format called WebConnect which from my understanding is their .qif format with account header information to automatically download transaction data into your Quicken accounts.
Anyway, shortly after updating to 2003, my automatic downloads quit working. (I can still import data via a stripped .qif file, but this has added many steps to reconciling my accounts). My financial institution has no idea what has happened, the Intuit website offers tech support but you must pay as you go. There knowledge base has no direct answer to the problem, though I have tried every workaround they suggested (nothing works). I went to the newsgroups and found even more people that are having problems with both the 2003 and 2004 issues of this software, almost all are having problems with downloads. I pretty frustrated since I can't go back to the 2001 issue, it no longer can process my data file.
Now that I have given you eyestrain, my question is, have you heard anything about this problem? Any assistance or information would be greatly appreciated.
I plead ignoramus (literally "we know nothing"); I wrote an accounting program 25 years ago in CBASIC and it still works just fine, doing journals and posting them to ledgers, and I have never seen any need to do anything else.
Short of purging the atmosphere of dihydrogen monoxide ('the deadly killer'), this research seems to show the most practical way to add a thermostat to Our Fair Planet, without killing off the economies of nations I am personally fond of..
<snip> "..this finding suggests that iron fertilization could cause billions of tons of carbon to be removed from the atmosphere each year. Removal of this much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could have helped cool the Earth during ice ages. Similarly, it has been suggested that humans might be able to slow global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through a massive ocean fertilization program." <snip>
===== -- John E. Bartley, III K7AAY telcom admin, PDX - Views mine. celdata cjb net - Handheld Cellular Data FAQ *This post quad-ROT13 encrypted. Reading it violates the DMCA.*
I wrote about this 20 years ago when Russell Seitz first made me aware of it.
And of course in A STEP FARTHER OUT I described Ocean Thermal power systems which have much the same effect.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004 8:21 AM
That pesky Netsky virus has mutated and now is called W32/Netsky.x@MM. As in it's former state, this variant uses its own SMTP (email) engine and harvests all of your email addresses in your Outlook Address book and e-mails itself.
The characteristics of this virus are as follows:
"Spoofs" or steals email addresses in an attempt to legitimize itself and in turn will trick unsuspecting users (or those who don't read this email) into opening up the email message and its attachment.
NOTE: This is why many users have received "undeliverable" messages from mail systems claiming that the email they sent was not received by the intended recipient.
Subject: (varies from the list below)
(taken from the following list)
NOTE: If you receive an email with any of the characteristics above, DELETE it. Receiving an email does not necessary mean your PC has been infected.
PLEASE be aware that if you access your Internet email such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail, or AOL, you are running the risk of opening an infected email and spreading a virus such as the one mentioned above, or others.
If you receive and email with any of the characteristics above, DELETE it and do not forward it to anyone. IF you have a question about a suspicious email, contact your local IT representative and that person will assist you.
This is a bit old but it is not obsolete.
We need more Taleyarkhans and less illiterate migrant workers. Too bad no one has quite such a nuanced position on immigration.
Background: Taleyarkhan was the guy who caused the bubble fusion controversy a few years back, with the claim that he could get 10^6 K temperatures by subjecting deuterated acetone bubbles in a beaker to shock waves.
Physicists who were gun shy after cold fusion demanded replication. So Taleyarkhan and guys at ORNL, Purdue, RPI, and the Russian academy of science replicated and extended the results, which are going to be published in Physical Review E (one of the truly pimp journals in physics). Looks like this stuff is for real.
Anyway, given that Taleyarkhan is an IIT Madras grad, somehow I intuit that this news isn't going to show up on VDare's front page.
"Dr. DeGruy-Leary has pioneered research in the explanatory theory - Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, which addresses the residual impacts of trauma on African Descendants in the Americas. In addition she has developed a culturally based educational model for working with children and adults of color, which is currently being implemented in Portland Public Schools.
She has recently created the “African American Male youth Respect Scale” an assessment instrument designed to broaden our understanding of the challenges facing these youth in an effort to prevent their overrepresentation within the justice system. Dr. DeGruy-Leary currently serves as an Assis tant Professor at the Graduate School of Social Work, Portland State University."
I'd say she has found her pseudo-event, as defined by Boorstin, and will catapult it into tenure. Post-traumatic slave disorder. It will sound good on the talk shows.
But what good is this psychiatric-sounding label going to do for the black community?
And that is of course the real issue. All this nonsense just makes people take real problems less seriously.
Apparently, there is a regular convention called Gathering for Gardner that celebrates math and magic:
He was a bit more addicted to debunking than I cared for, but his FADS AND FALLACIES was an important book, and still worth reading.
They laughed at Columbus. They laughed at Lawson, too, and they're still laughing...
A house in Myanmar makes its own hydrogen, which it uses to heat water, for space heating, and feeds it into a fuel cell to produce electricity to run household applicances.
250,000 Ringits is about $65,500 US Dollars. 100 square meters is just under 1,200 square feet.
(TinyURL in case the longer verstion gets truncated: http://tinyurl.com/2ohb3 )
--Gary Pavek =========================================== "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ---Anais Nin (1903-1977)
Now that would be an interesting X project. But see below.
Subj: Iraq: what books are the troops buying?
One day perhaps I will subscribe to that, but I doubt it.
I guess I'm not surprised that big business has sway over government bureaucracies, but the above is just too blatant.
But we were born free.
David brings up the attempt to revitalize the intel agencies when Reagan came into office and mentions that, in hindsight, given how bureaucratically hidebound and timorous they had become, pensioning them off and starting from scratch ("green-fielding") might have been the only approach with a chance to work.
All of which resonates with the current Administration's attempt to reform NASA back into something useful and get it to resume the outward expansion aborted post-Apollo - "Moon, Mars, & Beyond", MM&B for short - at some reasonable cost.
I'm giving the Administration and their people at NASA the benefit of the doubt for now; I can see why they wouldn't want to do anything draconian before what looks like being a close election. But once the election is past, either we see green-field starts for the core bits of MM&B with large parts of Old NASA pensioned off, or I don't hold out much hope for the reform taking root. All too easy for it to turn into just another rearrangement of the deck chairs.
The Angelo David refers to is Codevilla, who once worked for me at Pepperdine Research a very long time ago; and while I am not convinced that should have been done with the Company in 1980, the case for sowing salt where NASA once stood is stronger.
There are parts of NASA that function well. There are people at NASA who are extremely competent. But the culture there is impossible.
Subject: Simply shocking.
------ Roland Dobbins
I am shocked, shocked...
April 21, 2004
The last two days have been very eventful. We have been going on patrols with the unit [1st Armored Division] that we are replacing and the patrols have been very productive. We have seen action almost every time that we leave our compound and a mission the first night netted two known terrorists plus a cache of weapons. We have been very busy and the operations tempo doesn't look to let up anytime soon.
The patrols also bring us in contact with the Iraqi people. Most of the area we patrol is very friendly towards us, but there are some rough spots. The city transitions from urban slum to suburban middle class to junkyard with shanties to palace like houses very quickly. Our patrols take us through huge gardens, open air markets, tenement housing, landfills and industrial centers. It is very strange. The children run to the sounds of our vehicles and anytime we stop and dismount we are surrounded by cautious but very inquisitive crowds. They understand that we mean business, but they also are not too afraid to have fun at our expense. One boy stuck his hand out to my squad leader in a gesture of friendship only to pull it back and run it through his hair when SSG [staff sergant--name withheld] reached to shake it. The crowd and the soldiers all laughed together at that one. The adults range from happiness to indifferent to contempt. The women usually the first two.
The young men, like I mentioned before are the ones we watch out for. The city is in pretty bad repair throughout, but many people appear to be overweight which leads me to believe that living conditions cannot be too bad for everyone.
The call to prayer is rarely heard in Baghdad though it seems nonstop in the outskirts where we live. As for what you can send me: I need a nice brush like a paint brush or shaving brush to clean my weapons with. The sand gets everywhere. Any kind of beverage powder or something to flavor water with would be great. Baby wipes are always nice and magazines to read. Other than those things, I am not wanting for much. I'm sure a list will develop after I really see what we have around here.
Classmate's end note:
I'm sure as time goes on these updates will be less frequent, but at this time his family (my brother, his sisters and mother) is interested in how he is settling in, and what his needs are. (Notice the plural on the weapons--I think he has four, in total, a roof mounted M-240 machine gun (on his Humvee), an M-240 for dismounted operation, an M-4 carbine, and his 9mm sidearm, so he's got a lot of cleaning to do!)
Today's _Wall Street Journal_ online, on the Editorial Page, reports that, as of Tuesday afternoon, 20 April, Spirit of America had received $707,750 of the target amount of $100,000 for the US Marines' project of restoring seven small TV stations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
Yes: over seven times the target amount.
WSJ says: "Jim Hake is stunned by the response. He says his friends in the Marine Corps are stunned. We are not."
Purchase of the equipment is now proceeding. Since the project exceeded its funding goal, "Mr. Hake [founder of Spirit of America] says ... the rebuilding and upgrading of community TV stations in Iraq can be extended."
Thank you, Dr. Pournelle, for helping spread the word; and thanks to all who contributed.
I'll keep my eye out for further progress reports -- none on spiritofamerica.net yet, as of 07:37 Eastern US time 22 Apr 2004.
Good. I am in fact not really astonished...
Subject: Civilian Contractors in Iraq
Livejournal post from a female soldier in Iraq. She has some general complaints but also a longer bit about civilian contractors in general. From this one data point, it seems like using civilian contractors as REMF's may be transfering soldier's frustrations from the US military to the US civilian population. Yet another down side of using civilian contractors as we all know there are hazards when the military stops respecting the population is is supposed to protect.
Other of her postings are here:
Subject: Interesting, if accurate.
------ Roland Dobbins
But how can you tell? I can't.
Subject: "too unrealistic"
--- Roland Dobbins
"Iraq is rich in the most dangerous resource -- idle young men."
Food for thought!
But easily forseen...
It is called anarcho-tyranny. The US will tell you that you must spend huge sums to educate backward children, tear out your walls to allow wheel chair access, ban smoking in various places, have your scissors confiscated in airports -- but can't enforce control of the borders, or prevent terrorists from taking flying lessons and then using the airplanes as cruise missiles.
It is much easier to enforce pettifogging regulations on law abiding people than it is to catch bad guys; so guess which course bureaucratic tyrants will pursue?
Eventually you have a nation that simply doesn't care to be law abiding. You have a generation of vipers.
We have sown the wind.
Subject: More Hydrogen house in Myanmar
And why didn't the Myanmar eco-house builder just use the electricity from the PV cells? There are serious losses in the electrolysis process.
"The gas is used as a domestic heater to provide hot water to a stove or burner, and operate a fuel cell to produce electricity for other appliances."
Okay, maybe a hydrogen gas heater is more efficient than an electric heater. But there's no way in heck that running your lights on
PV --> electricity --> H2 from water --> fuel cell --> electricity
is as efficient as running your lights on
PV --> electricity
What a joke.
It is an X project, and I for one applaud their efforts. I'd like to see something of the sort done in Mojave. Yes: direct electric is more efficient; but if you are using solar energy, "efficiency" isn't the only goal. At the moment the trick is to develop all parts of a system to avoid use of fossil fuels. One of those is developing mobile storage systems, such as fuel cells. There are no hydrogen wells, so you also need a way to generate hydrogen. The process makes waste heat. Houses need heat. Tuning that kind of interdependent system is worth learning about.
Subject: minor mea culpa on the H2 house
A neighbor reminded me that solar cells don't work at night (duh!) and that fuel cells are more efficient storage than batteries.
The efficiency of the electricity --> H2 --> elecricity process is about 37.5% (.75 * .5)
The efficiency of batteries is about 30%.
So I guess they chose a good model after all.
Still, I'm looking for H2 wells...
Well -- yes.
Following is commentary to my BYTE.COM article this week. FYI I do the entire 10,000 word column at one whack and the BYTE editors chop it into weekly segments. This week is mostly on greed, Hollywood, digital cable, etc.
The fact that if you have "premium" channels or digital cable you have to tune in each channel manually when you want to use it is not a problem, it is a scandal. For two decades I have been able to program a whole sequence of programs on different channels on the VCR - and conflicting programs on different VCRs - and watch them when I have time - (and I haven't watched a commercial in years}. This ability is vital to me. Therefore I cannot get premium channels or digital TV, even though I would like some of those channels. New channels are not being added to analog cable. The problem is cable companies' utter refusal to deal with this intolerable problem for 25 years. I heard some standards people were working on it but that was years ago. I have not heard of any reason why the decoder cannot be put in a separate box from the evil manual tuner which is 25 years out of date (how often do you use your 25 year old desktop?). This would at least solve the problem for the first 165 channels. I would be very pleased if you flamed the cable companies in your upcoming piece on entertainment systems.
But many premium channels would not exist without advertising. I agree this is a big problem. Microsoft is working on some technical fixes; I'll know more about that when I get back from Seattle in mid-May.
Incidentally, many digital tuners have some features not available on the clicker you get from the cable company, but if you buy the clicker direct from the tuner maker the buttons are there and they work...
Creative Destruction and the Tax Payer (An Appeal)
I was heartened to read your ideas on a "Tax Payer's Union".....Right up to the last line: "Ah Well. We can dream".
In this age of instant communication, is the idea of at least going through the initial motions of constructing such an entity really a total impossiblity?
Is there no one among your readers who would want to even 'play' with the idea, at least as a mental exercise?
It is just within the past few months that I have been envisioning an "Employee Rights" organization that lobbies for what its name implies. Personally I believe that lobbies are a horrific allowance within our political system. But if you can't beat them....
Your idea of a Tax Payer's Union is much wider in scope, and could ideally be even more useful.
To my immense frustration, I have little to no knowledge of how to structure an organization. But I can envision people among your readers who DO know how, and who can peruse the bylaws and organizational structures of existing organizations to come up with a skeletal structure for so fascinating an idea as a "Tax Payer's Union".
I can further envision some among your readers who have marketing experience getting this to play on the internet. The trick of course it getting them together. That would require only a response.
I can read, I can write, I can think. I have no idea where to begin, but I would be willing to do whatever grunt work that my time allows to further such an endeavor, should I be asked.
Denny Hullihen Lancaster, PA email@example.com
Faith, ye're welcome to try... and see next. Warning: read the comment that follows as well.
Subject: Publicizing restricted information
Your mail from Monday, Apr 5, included a note by Patrick that the TSA's employment application includes an NDA regarding the application itself.
If Patrick wishes to publicize this application or any other unapproved information, he has several options. One is to send mail to John Young ( mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ), maintainer of the Cryptome web site ( http://cryptome.org ). This site archives quite a few data that the powers-that-be would rather be kept quiet. The US gov't hasn't shut him down, though it seems they'd like to -- the FBI recently came to visit Young at home to try to impress upon him the homeland security implications of his site and to protest the publication of FBI agents' names ( http://cryptome.quintessenz.org/mirror/fbi-cryptome.htm ). (Note that the imperial federal government is allowed to be careless with the personal data (and property, well-being, and lives) of its subjects but that the members of the government are to be protected from the scrutiny subjects.) Young is good at keeping secret the identity of correspondents who wish to remain anonymous.
Another option is to use anonymous remailers to send the information to individual mail accounts or to mailing lists that might be interested. Two web-based remailer front ends are at http://www.gilc.org/speech/anonymous/remailer.html and https://riot.eu.org/anon/remailer.html . (The latter is in principle more secure because it uses a secure HTTPS connection to the user's browser. On the other hand, their certificate seems to be broken, so the user can't actually confirm that it's a secure connection. Use at your own risk.) A mailing list that is interested in things of this nature is Cypherpunks ( mailto:email@example.com ).
Regards, Steve Furlong
I will point out that John Young is hardly reliable, having published a list of journalists who were supposedly CIA members that included the entire directory of an organization that included many people who were never part of the Company and never worked for it.
Thus when he lists FBI agents' names one might want to have the salt shaker handy. I know for a certain fact that some of the people he has identified as CIA agents never worked for the Agency in any capacity. Being identified as CIA can cause problems obtaining visas to many countries.
People I have some regard for have no regard for him, and question the statement that he is "good at keeping secrets."
I posted this yesterday in haste without paying sufficient attention. Thanks to those who have pointed this out. Keep the salt shaker handy.
Subject: _Let's Discuss Prices_
< http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/view303.html#Thursday > Best bit of fiction I've read from you in a while; I'd encourage you to finish it. As for real life, your proposal may be a bit extreme, but I'm open to contributing to more moderate endeavors. Thanks for the Fred link; I've got sensitivity training this month, and that may help me to avoid taking it too seriously.
Keep your head straight. Be sensitive. As I am, always...
From Jim Hightower's website.
'You've heard of the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Strikes, used as an excuse to attack Iraq and whoknowswhere next. But there's a companion doctrine here in "The Homeland" called the Bush Doctrine of "Contained Dissent." '
Here is something that might interest you: an open-source link-editor for HTML.
Andrew D. Todd
--- Roland Dobbins
Recent events have made me wonder just how many troops we do have in Iraq. It seems that force protection and convoy security which , in my day, were done by military police, have now been turned over to civilian contractors, as have the mail, the mess halls and a host of other functions.
This is the typical Harvard MBA approach to to the military : focus on your core business and outsource the rest. Stateside, in non combat zones this may save money in the short run. In a combat zone it is pure lunacy to trust civilians to do any major support function. The reason is very simple: They're civilians and not subject to normal military control or discipline. With troops, you are promised a job, but if that job is not aviialble or you are needed elsewhere, you can be ordered to new duties.
That's happening right now with all of t5he soldiers in Armor and Artillery units who are being converted, at least for the moment, to Military Police duties. The hidden reserve of the military is all of those people who do other things than carry a rifle. Push come to shove, they can and do carry a rifle and in a combat zone that skill set comes in very handy. A case in point is PFC Miller, the welder with the 507th Maintenance Company who about a year ago won a Silver Star for taking out an enemy mortar position and nine enemy soldiers. The more such jobs you convert to "civilian" the less capable the force becomes. Now the so-called "security guards" doing convoy duty are "former" soldiers whose employers get between $1,500 and $2,000 per day for their services. How does tusing them instead of line troops save the government money?
This does reduce the number of "soldiers" needed in Irag, but its basically a con. More money spent for the force needed so that Rumsfeld et al can keep the headcount of "troops" down. Last I heard we had over 20,000 contractor personnel in Iraq, all of whom are targets for enemy action. This whole idea of doing the military part of this war on the cheap actually turns out to be very expensive. I think we've been conned from the beginning about this war; the cost, the effort, etc. And as Barry McCaffrety said on CNN the other day, we have eight of our ten Army divisions bogged down there. We have, as he put it "shot our bolt." First Armored is being held there at least another three months to deal with the current uprising. I said at the begiining this thing was a tar baby. Seems I underestimated just how much of one it would be. Like you I wasn't in favor and feared the worst.
Well, here we are, stuck. Can't solve it with the troops on hand and no one else wants in; most of those in want out. No suprise then that the Pentagon has asked the Selective Service to prepare for a "selective" draft.
More news from the front:
Hello Dr. Pournelle.
I'm pulling another of those awful long lights.
I watched a few minutes of BBC earlier today while eating. I found what the reporter said interesting. He talked about how the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people had been lost over the last year, and everyone thinks things are worse and worsening. Then he said that some polls disagree. Like all of the ones I've seen. I'm wondering why he bothered to include that pesky detail.
As for preventing 911, I agree that without the immediate repeal of our PC rules, it couldn't, and can't happen. There are lots of people out there, and while the US has lots of resources, it can still be spread too thin. I've been astonished at some of the things I've heard were done back there in the world in the name of security.
It turns out I've left some of the War World books back at my home. This shouldn't terribly impact my work on the AV product, though it would be nice to have them at hand to ensure I've been comprehensive and checked everything.
I was thinking earlier today about some of the unexpected implications of computers. I am writing to you, an author whose books I've been reading for decades, and after I send this I'm going to compose a message to another of my pen pals, a playboy playmate from the 60s. Earlier I exchanged mail with my brother. I was able to check on the books and movies I ordered from Amazon, though I was unable to convince Norelco to send me a new electric razor since I'm not in the continental US. These are amazing times, and I don't think we appreciate that fact enough. It hasn't been that long, as such things go, since being here was one of the better options for exile. Neat.
I thought for a while about spinning a metaphor for the arrests that sparked the current troubles in Iraq using a hypothetical arrest of somebody like Jesse Jackson, but I find I lack the courage. Too much of a risk I fear.
On a more fun note, I have been ordering Buffy and Angel DVDs here. Next I just need Buffy season 6 so I can watch the musical episode.
Subject: Now THIS is useful! Importance: High
<<An tInneall Mallachtaí - The Curse Engine.url>>
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I have read Carroll Morse's "The Case for Partitioning Iraq". I find him shockingly naïve -- at least, I prefer to think that it is naïveté, not depravity, that causes him to write so.
At a minimum, I would ask what he expects to have happen when the Turkish (Iranian, Syrian) army sweeps across the former border, intent on murdering all the Kurds (Arabs, sincere Muslims) it can find? Perhaps he feels that his reply is made when he writes: "Ten years after Rwanda, the international community should be "sophisticated" enough to offer the people of Iraq something more than a promise that they will not be victims of ethnic violence unless it is violence perpetrated by legal residents of their home state." Yet, I think that the current "ethnic violence" -- to phrase it mildly -- in Sudan is clear refutation of his idealism.
We may certainly question the conditions and reasons why we invaded Iraq, or why we decide to occupy it for any length of time. If we are determined that it be partitioned among its neighbors, however, let us say and do so explicitly.
------------------------------------------------ John W. Braue, III <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://www.win.net/ratsnest/log.htm
"Gold cannot always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold" -- Niccolò Machiavelli
I would have thought it clear that any partition would have to be accompanied by border guarantees backed up by the US Military. What the US hath put asunder let no man join together... Or steal.
April 22, 2004
Is there any good reason to use Outlook?
Outlook Express is good enough for normal mortals. Seen nothing but trouble with Outlook; who's life is that complicated?
Rob Megarrity (Computer Dude, Australia)
I use Outlook for a number of reasons. First, the RULES work. Second, InBlocker, a Bayesian Spam Filter, plugs in nicely, and does a pretty good job on any Spam that my ISP's Spam Assassin hasn't identified. Third, I can send messages in any format I like, Plain Text or HTML, and choose among them. Fourth, the Contacts list and Address Book work once they are set up, and maintain a bunch of mailing lists for me. Fifth, the Calendar and Task systems work, although not as well as the older Franklin Ascend worked before the Y2K bug killed it and they "fixed" things.
Outlook is harder to set up, but it will be worth it in the end.
They made some major changes in Outlook 2003. They also moved some things around and didn't index the help files well. They're working on that.
All told, Outlook works for me.
The help system, however:
Dear Jerry, here's a shining example validating all your feelings regarding Microsoft's atrocious help system:
THE GRIPE LINE WEBLOG by Ed Foster
Monday, April 12, 2004
Shame on Dell, or Shame on Microsoft?
Want a PC that lets you read e-mail attachments? At least with Dell, that can cost you an extra $149.
A reader relates this story about an acquaintance who had recently purchased a new Dell for around $1,600. "Her new computer had Windows XP, Home Edition, as loaded and configured by Dell," the reader writes. "Since her old computer was Win 9X, she was a bit unfamiliar with it. She soon found that she could not receive attachments. She called Dell and they charged her $149 to direct her to open Outlook Express, go to Tools-Options-Security and turn OFF the checked box that does not allow attachments to be opened."
"She had gone to the so-called 'help' menu
option in Outlook Express on the new computer, and of course there was
NOTHING under 'attachments' that mentioned this 'feature,'" the reader
points out. "Imagine, they ship her a new computer with a key attribute
turned OFF, and since this is not a 'hardware' issue, when she called in
they charged her $149 for a year's worth of 'software help' to enable the
feature. She was furious with Dell."
Of course that was Express...
First, I thought you might enjoy this link: http://www.bootstrap.org/augdocs/augment-29292.htm .
In the late 80s there was a promising product called Layout if memory serves this 40 something faithfully. I remember many issues of BYTE pages with advertising for this product on it. It looked so promising I even ordered a copy but found out later that the company apparently went out of business.
The Windows product promised to let a programmer visually create a flow diagram and it would generate the code in their choice of C, QuickBASIC, or Pascal.
If you have any information on what really happened to this product and the carburetor that can get over 90 MPG, I'd love to hear about it.
Dilton McGowan II diltonm@McCOMSoft.com
I recall the program but I don't know what happened to it; perhaps a reader will.
We must keep our perspective .. and our sense of humor in these times. I present a scene from 'The LIfe of Brian'. Cheers and have a good day!
Reg is addressing a room of masked commando’s (MC) some are named eg S,X,F etc
R: We get in through the underground heating system
here ... up through to the main audience chamber here ... and Pilate's
wife's bedroom is here. Having grabbed his wife, we inform Pilate that she
is in our custody and forthwith issue our demands. Any questions?
Brian Dunbar Systems Administrator email@example.com
Display some adaptability
In your book "A STEP FURTHER OUT" you spent some ink debunking some of the myths surrounding the population bomb. Ben Wattenberg used later imformation to further defuse the population bomb in "The Birth Dearth." The recent release of the book "THE EMPTY CRADLE" by Phillip Longman proves that we are winning the debate over the population bomb. In reading the book, it is obvious that Longman is a liberal rather than one of the conservatives who've traditionally been skeptical of the overpopulation scare. While "The Empty Cradle" doesn't include the rigorous statistical analysis that made "The Birth Dearth" so compelling, he does explain in plain language that the impact of the current demographic trends will be. I was particularly impressed by his making the point that all kinds of investments, weather they be T-bills, bonds, stocks, gold or land, are going to loose value as the number of young, productive, young people who will be investing relative to the number of retirees who will be selling investments to support themselves declines. The book also has an interesting discussion of the pro-natalist policies of Theordore Roosevelt Rex compared to the competing eugenics policies of Margaret Sanger. He also points out that Adolph Hitler adopted both population strategies. Longman finishes the book by making one, reasonable change in tax policy that would encourage people to invest in the future by having and raising children. Unfortunately, he also offers other proposals that prove that he is a health/safety Nazi. I don't consider Longman a guru, but it is amusing to see someone of his political stripes making these points.
Contrary to the opinion of someone who wrote to tell you that they were so disgusted by the first chapter of "The Alamo" that they didn't bother to read it, I heartilly reccomend "The Alamo." The movie does an excellent job of walking the fine line between offerring a historically accurate rather than mythical portrayal of classic, American heroes without succumbing to politically correct revisionism.
My son Alex liked the movie The Alamo. There is apparently a tradition that Crockett was captured alive and was murdered after defying Santa Anna; but in fact witnesses saw his body with the coonskin cap.
I don't know about the line about Bowie in bed "like a woman". Bowie would not have gone gently. His pistols would be empty and the great knife red. Depend on it.
April 23, 2004
April 24, 2004
In Phoenix for the space conference
April 23, 2004
Here's an article from Thomas Sowell re: the prosecution of Stewart and why it's a bad sign of the times. I was not a terribly big fan of Stewart and her better-than-thou attitude, but Sowell has convinced me of the error of thinking that she deserves to be punished just because.
Bart D. Leahy
Sam the Eagle: Would you stop this foolishness? Gonzo the Great: What sort of foolishness would you like to see?
--Muppet*Vision 4D (WDW)
Indeed. Of course she wasn't convicted of any stock swindle; she was convicted of lying to a federal investigator. I would have thought that short of sworn statements under penalty of perjury you could say anything you wanted to a Federal Investigator, who is no more superhuman than anyone else, and I know people who think it a positive duty to lie to Federal Investigators.
What the Stewart case shows is that you should not talk to those people. Remember a detail wrong and go to jail. Good citizens cooperate with the police, but not when it's a separate crime to lie to them. What did I see when the man ran out of the bank? Did I see a gun? "Ask my lawyer. Good day, sir."
Dr. Sowell makes a valid point, though. A sufficiency of laws intended to make the world a perfect place produces a tyranny under which anyone can be jailed on the whim of the prosecutors. We've discussed this here before.
Subject: IM2000 to end spam?
Dr. Pournelle, I just stumbled across this, perhaps you had not heard of it before either: Dan Bernstein (author of qmail, etc.) made this "Internet Mail 2000" proposal:
"IM2000 is a project to design a new Internet mail infrastructure around the following concept: Mail storage is the sender's responsibility."
I've no idea what, if anything, has been done with that idea in the last four years, and oddly, in that short overview Bernstein doesn't mention spam at all. But, it seems to me that if IM2000 was adopted, a very useful side effect might be to eliminate most spam altogether!
Yes, under IM2000 spammers could send out many more "message notifications" than they send emails now, at even lower costs, since those notifications now are now just short "you have a message waiting for you" messages. But, for any of the spammers' victims to actually READ those emails - and the spammers can't make money unless they do - the spammers must serve up the body of that email, from their own server, to each and every recipient that wants to read it.
Effectively, IM2000 transfers most of the costs for sending email from the receiver to the sender, where it belongs. Email servers become a lot more like web servers - and there's no such thing as "web spam", is there?
-- Andrew Piskorski
I am not entirely sure how this would work. And computer equipment is pretty cheap now. I suspect this would have little effect, but perhaps I am wrong.
Subject: Looks like murder, to me.
---- Roland Dobbins
--- Roland Dobbins
As I understand it, the original Social Security Act promised that the Social Security Number would never become a national ID number, nor SS Number be used for identification. So it goes.
Subject: On your comment on Roland Dobbins' letter:
I believe that when the Social Security thing was started up, that the union people insisted that there be a provision for changing one's SS number, so as to facilitate getting another job using a fictitious name after having gotten crossways with one's previous employer.
I actually went to a SS office to explore getting a new number, once. The functionary was rather nice, and showed me the regulations. Apparently, it is legal to try to get a different number, but the book says they are required to discourage us.
Hoping I've made more sense than I did in that other letter, I remain
Subject: Social Security number
You said: "As I understand it, the original Social Security Act promised that the Social Security Number would never become a national ID number, nor SS Number be used for identification. So it goes."
You understand correctly.
Some twenty years ago, after being asked for my Social Security Number for something or other, I got curious. I picked up a telephone and called the Social Security Administration and asked that very question.
Their answer was clear and concise. The law specifically forbade the use of the Social Security number for any purpose whatsoever other than the identification of Social Security accounts. It was specifically unlawful for ANYONE to use it for ANY purpose other than that one. However, the lady went on to say, there were no enforcement provisions in the law, there was absolutely nothing they could do to a violator. If you were asked for it, and you declined, there was no way to compel the violator to provide whatever service they were offering, that was conditional on your handing over the number.
--John R. Strohm
And so it goes. As with most government promises. For your convenience this law is being ignored. And see next week.
Subject: Maybe Bluetooth isn't so bad, after all.
- Roland Dobbins
1) If you get an email that Osama Bin Laden was captured, with a link to click on, don't do it. The link will attempt to install a "trojan" on your computer that will try to steal passwords and bank account information. This one is getting widespread; it started appearing late Thursday. And it doesn't require opening an attachment, just clicking on the link to get to the hacker's site. That site seems to be inactive now, but users should be careful about any link in a mail message that you didn't expect to get.
Users should think before clicking...for instance, why would the editor of CNN send you an email, with a link that doesn't have CNN's address? (Although links can be faked; see previous warnings.)
2) If you have the Symantec Client Firewall for Windows, there is a severe vulnerability that can allow your system to freeze with just a single packet of data from the Internet.
3) If you or your company is running MS IIS 5.0 server with SSL, there is an attack going on that tries to get passwords and security information. Since SSL systems are used for payment processing, there is significant concern about this one. The MS04-011 (part of the April MS patches) will block this one.
If anyone has a payment system running on MS IIS 5.0/SSL, they should be patching immediately.
More details about all of this on my "Daynote" site at http://digitalchoke.com/daynotes/2004/2004-04-18.php#Saturday .
Regards, Rick Hellewell Information Security Guy firstname.lastname@example.org
= Other Sunday April 25 Mail ================================
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