THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Refresh/Reload Early and Often!
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This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 - 7,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here.
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August 25, 2003
Still on the road so most activity is in MAIL.
August 26, 2003
Home tonight, with any luck.
We are home. A bit exhausted, but we're here, having visited The Grandchild in Fairfax, Virginia.
I now have a lot of experience at using a Tablet PC as my only machine on the road during a time of Big Virus Attacks...
This is a fairly silly question: the Road Map wasn't likely to lead anywhere to begin with. It was inevitable that some Palestinian elements would launch bomb attacks on Israel and that the Palestinian authority would not be able to prevent that.
Given that inevitability, the only question would be the Israeli response. It was inevitable that if that response was severe it would stimulate a counter response, ad infinitum. Whether or not Sharon's government could have done something different: offer to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority in hunting down those who planned and armed the attack, that sort of thing -- is not known to me. What I do know is that only something like that might have kept the peace plan going.
It wasn't likely. Even if the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority were actual friends working together, the settlers on the one hand and Hamas and its ilk on the other would be working hard to sabotage any accords.
In fact, Israel by supporting the settlers particularly in Gaza (where one settlement is on the other side of the main north-south road and can only be supplied by shutting down essentially all north-south traffic in Gaza, a fairly heavy irritant to the Palestinians) probably doomed this round of peace efforts before they ever got started. Of course it can be argued that if every settlement were removed and the Green Line offered as the border there would still be attacks. Certainly it is inevitable no matter what the settlement that there will be attacks that the Palestinian Authority can not prevent no matter how badly it might want to prevent them. There will be suicide attacks, and nothing you, nor I, nor Sharon, nor the Palestinian Authority, can stop all of them.
Since that is inevitable, the only restraint possible must come from Israel because they are the only ones more or less in control of the means of violence on their side. Even there they have no real control over the settlers who have a strong interest in preventing a real accord that the Palestinians are likely to accept; but they do have control of most of the instruments of violence including helicopters and rocket firing aircraft. They can use them or not, but if the government doesn't use them those particular means of destruction will not be employed.
As one Israeli recently put it in a Washington Post article, everyone on both sides knows that the eventual settlement will be for a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital; the question is how to get there from here. I suspect he is right.
I sure don't know; but to insist that the Palestinian Authority control all the advocates of violence within the Palestinian community as a pre-condition to a cease fire is to say that no cease fire will happen. Anyone can see that.
Whether it is a good strategy to target Hamas political leaders including those who advocate guerilla warfare directed at military targets and settlers but not at random Israeli civilians I will leave to those who know the situation better than I do and who have to live with the consequences; but it takes neither moral obtuseness nor particular brilliance to observe that if one side has no real control over the violent elements within it, most of the restraint is going to have to come from the side that does have such control. Whether or not restraint is a good strategy is something else to discuss. The Road Map assumed a period of decreasing violence. I had little faith in it to begin with; but anyone could have said that it was going to take a lot of Israeli patience for it to be implemented.
Fixing blame isn't particularly useful.
Some time ago I said that the problem would not go away, but Israel had the means to build a Wall and separate the two sides. The more crooked that Wall, and the more settlements it includes, the more residual hatreds its construction will generate; but it's about the only chance for anything like peace. And as John McCarthy keeps saying, only time and a change of generations is going to make any real change over there. The trick is to last long enough for that to happen.
I haven't been in the business of assessing moral opprobrium. It does little good, and requires that you stop discriminating between moral monsters and those who are merely of the same race or religion as the moral monsters. I have no idea now many Palestinians approve of random acts of violence against Israelis. I do know it's pretty hard to hold their "government" responsible for everything every Palestinian does. Maybe firing rockets at people in Gaza (where the suicide bombers do not come from) is a good way to keep people from the West Bank from doing suicide bomb missions. Some argue that it is not. I am sure I don't know.
The first news this morning is that two more troopers are dead in Iraq. The meat grinder continues.
What should we do? I didn't want to go there, but not having gone there is not an option. We are there, and the prestige of the United States is committed: to cut and run now might leave us a lot worse off than if we had never gone.
Understand that the blood costs are not all that high. A Marine in Iraq is about as safe (if a lot less comfortable) than he would be driving on the freeways around Camp Pendleton, and a black infantryman is safer in Baghdad than a youth his age would be in Compton. A trooper a day is 365 young men (the casualties are mostly men) a year. More than that die in traffic on a typical non-holiday weekend.
There are other and higher costs. Keeping the troops over there hurts recruitment. Extending their tours is a breach of faith; it may be necessary but it has to be seen as necessary.
The benefits could be very high. The existence of a reasonably stable, reasonably friendly client state in that region would have obvious advantages.
There are also consequences more difficult to foresee. It costs Saudi Arabia less than $5/bbl to produce oil. It is sold for more because the supplies are controlled. The existence of a oil-rich state that could produce oil at $5/bbl and sell it at $10/bbl would have an enormous effect on the world economy. The effect on ours would be highly beneficial. The effect on the former USSR would be disastrous at least in the short run.
The long term effect on the US would probably be to harm domestic oil production and research into alternative energy (including oil from unconventional sources) but perhaps not. Perhaps we will have the foresight to continue those R&D efforts.
The President says we must stay the course. It is early days, and we are learning.
I have said before, if we intend to rebuild Iraq it must be from the bottom up: establish working local self-governments, establish rule of law, establish real estate law -- whose house is this? I said it all earlier and I see no reason to change that.
If we cannot establish local stability and rule of law, we will never establish a working national government in Iraq.
Incidentally, that is probably true of Afghanistan, although there both the stakes and the issues are different.
I suspect we'll be talking about what to do in both these places for some time to come.
And from Greg Cochran:
The new, official and of course optimistic estimate is that Iraq will reach its prewar level of oil exports in October 2004. So the sort of production increase you expected is not going to happen any time soon, certainly not soon enough to affect the next Presidential election. . Increasing production over prewar levels would take yet more tens of billions of dollars, none of which will come from private sources unless things are quiet - and of course they will not be.
Evidently we're also planning to spend something on the order of 30 billion on Iraqi water and power alone over the next 4-5 years. Not counting people ripping out the pipes and power lines and selling them, of course.
Gee, I wonder how many nuclear plants we could have built with the 4 billion a month in occupation costs, the war costs, and the Iraqi infrastructure costs. One a month?
I forget, why is Iraqi infrastructure more worth investing money in than our own?
Jerry, you have got to learn to be more pessimistic. it increases accuracy. Things are happening much as I expected.
And it's going to get a whole lot worse.
Bremer: Iraq Effort to Cost Tens of Billions
By Peter Slevin and Vernon Loeb
August 28, 2003
I sent a warning to subscribers last night. It was probably needless, but I had not sent a mailing to subscribers in a while. If you didn't get it and should have, please tell me.
I have several rather crude messages purporting to be from Microsoft exhorting me to install the patch attached to the message so that I will be safe from the virus storms. Clearly these are not from Microsoft. In fact, they have a return path address of the Russian parliament, which is amusing but unlikely.
I am sure I do not have to tell you not to open unexpected mail attachments.
Thanks to all those who have recently subscribed or renewed.
Our trip East was very good and the TSA didn't spoil it. Jet Blue worked well.
Here is the header from that mail...
Return-Path: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Received: from localhost ([unix socket]) by rocket.mazin.net (Cyrus v2.0.17); Wed, 27 Aug 2003 16:27:08 -0400 X-Sieve: cmu-sieve 2.0 Return-Path: <email@example.com> Received: from localhost (cs24243255-190.austin.rr.com [220.127.116.11]) by rocket.mazin.net (Postfix) with SMTP id 319F22640CA for <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Wed, 27 Aug 2003 16:27:02 -0400 (EDT) From: "Microsoft" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Use this patch immediately ! MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/mixed;boundary="xxxx" Message-Id: <20030827202702.319F22640CA@rocket.mazin.net> Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 16:27:02 -0400 (EDT)
Dear friend , use this Internet Explorer patch now! There are dangerous virus in the Internet now! More than 500.000 already infected!
Today we have:
While you got a faked Russian address in path, some careless individual with an infected PC happened to have the worm pick one of our public addresses as the from address and mail itself to public addresses for numerous members of the U.S. Senate.
Naturally, they generated an auto-response. Because these addresses do regularly receive e-mail from some elected officials or their flacks, I can't kill them on sight. Fortunately, they have been stripped of the attachment somewhere along the way, they are safe to open.
Wednesday, they out-numbered the Nigerians.
DO NOT OPEN UNEXPECTED AND UNVERIFIED MAIL ATTACHMENTS!
I have somewhat updated the badmail page.
August 29, 2003
Begin with signs of the times:
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide. Liberals are people who are afraid that someone, somewhere, is doing something without permission. And the purpose of government is to hire and pay bureaucrats; and the more conscientious they are about doing needless jobs, the worse things get.
And here is another thought for the day. It is in reaction to:
"For instance, we're told that the continuing breakdown of black families is the direct legacy of slavery, since enslaved families were routinely split up and sold. In fact, slave families were almost always kept together, and in 1870, only five years after slavery was abolished, 80 percent of black children lived in two-parent homes. The black illegitimacy rate hovered around 20 percent for decades; by 1950, it had dropped to 9 percent. In 1965, however, the federal government began offering poor mothers government checks if they could prove there was no working male at home. The result? By 1975, the black illegitimacy rate had skyrocketed to 70 percent.
which concludes something no one wants to think, that the Civil Rights movement didn't do what was expected, and we remain two nations integrated only at the fringes.
To which came the comment:
Back in about 1985 I had some dealing with a 60ish black Ph.D. who was either superintendent or principal of one of the major public high schools (virtually 100% black) in this community (50% black community). He told me that Brown vs Board had been the single greatest setback for blacks in the twentieth century. He maintained that the degree of control necessary to raise numbers of successful young black males was possible in all black segregated schools with a significant number of black male teachers. After integration, the numbers of black male teachers evaporated to the point that constant mayhem was the inevitable result and that white male teachers who tried to enforce standards would be accused of racism and rejected. Of course, the lower class macho black male attitude toward females meant that they were relatively non-influential for that group.
I leave off his name (this is from another conference) since I don't have his permission to post this. I post it without comment.
August 30, 2003
We are staying home for the holidays. A lazy weekend. There's mail.
August 31, 2003
Over in another conference I became irritated at a young intellectual who insists on acting like the typical undergraduate atheist and keeps bleating that you can't be religious and have any regard for science. I was going to write an answer when I found that the indispensable Fred Reed has done so, and saved me most of the trouble:
Now my friend McCarthy is upset by Fred's attitude toward research in consciousness (in the AI community that's called "self awareness" because "consciousness" has so many literary and religious connotations). For John's views on this see
And certainly there are parts of Fred's statement that lack rigor; but then that's true of everyone who writes on the subject.
The problem really is this: if it's all a dance of the atoms, why care what happens? What's wrong with murder? I mean, I certainly want all you other guys to have ethics and scruples, and I want you to believe I have them, but really, at bottom, why should I care what happens to other atoms since I can't feel your toothache, or your pain when you are fed feet first into a wood chipper.
And at this point very few of us write with any rigorous logic. It's treacherous ground, because in the real world, there really are some questions you aren't allowed to ask, and thoughts you aren't allowed to express, lest your own atoms be rearranged violently.
There is an unfinished discussion of Thermal Protection Systems for reentry in mail.
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