THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 302 March 22 - 28, 2004
Highlights this week:
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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March 22, 2004
Packing up to go back to Studio City. Virus warnings, take heed. Commentaries on the news when I get back home.
Safely home. Bit tired. The Middle East situation needs a lot of thought. So does the Clark book.
If Hamas had tried to take out Sharon and killed several people including members of Sharon's family as they came out of the Temple, there would be no questioning that as an act of terrorism; or would there?
In the case of the former Terrorism Advisor, it's pretty clear he resented being demoted from Cabinet status which he held under Clinton. It's also not at all clear what his role was in the bombardment of, say, the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, or what advice he gave Clinton when Sudan offered to turn Bin Laden over to the US. None of that makes him wrong about everything he says.
Subject: Things Seem to be Hottening Up in DC
The DNC is deploying its troops on this in a way that reminds me of some UK tabloid newspaper campaigns. On the other hand, I sincerely believe 9/11 was preventable.
-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Security engineer and analyst. http://www.theworld.com/~herwin/
Well, 9-11 was certainly preventable: different rules of engagement for airline pilots and passengers, stronger cockpit doors, but mostly telling passengers they will not be prosecuted for attempting to take down a hijacker, and they are under no obligation to obey the highjacker's orders would have done a good bit toward saving the Pentagon and the Twin Towers.
But the fact is that for 8 years the Clinton Administration didn't do a lot, and for 200+ days neither did Bush, because we didn't really believe it could happen here. And our response to this day is more concerned with being politically correct than with actually making airplanes safer. Searching retired generals and threatening to confiscate his Medal of Honor is par for the course when the goal is political correctness.
Invading Afghanistan was certainly a good move. Whether the Iraq invasion was also a good move is not clear, at least to me; and not getting the oil flowing no matter the cost has very much been a blunder. (They tell me it's tough patrolling those long pipelines, to which I can only say, didn't you think of that before going in? And if so, what did you plan to do about it? Getting the Iraqi army involved in protecting the oil flow == no oil flowing no pay to the soldiers == would seem like an obvious move, but disbanding the Army may not have been helpful.)
I am waiting to read the book to see what Clarke said we should do that was not done; what he advised Clinton to do that Bush didn't do. From the CBS interviews he seems to have great hindsight. So do I. And whatever Dr. Rice's mental abilities, I suspect it's impossible to have been any time at Hoover without learning something about Al Qaeda and bin Laden; his suggestion that she knew nothing of the subject is suspect. Possony certainly left enough material on terrorism during his stay there.
|This week:||Tuesday, March
Finishing the production work on Burning Tower. Not sure when the book is scheduled, but it will be out before the end of the year.
The situation in Gaza and the West Bank ought to make it clear that the remedy to the Middle East is not democracy. If they held democratic elections in Gaza, no government willing to compromise much with Israel would be elected: after yesterday's events even less so. Now as it happens Palestinian governments change through political manipulation and assassination rather than democracy, but the results are probably not all that different.
Are we certain that the result of a vote in Iraq won't be something like Algeria? And that's the problem. Democracies often vote measures that are not good for democracy. It is only when you have a large middle class and few fanatics determined to change the whole arrangement that you get rule of law and stability from democracies. The US and English democratic experiments showed this, as they evolved from monarchy through aristocracy to a squirearchy (even in the US most states had a property qualification for voting for quite a long time, and the English Reform Act of 1832 hardly established a full democracy; and in the US even into the 1950's there were property qualifications required for voting in property tax elections in places as unlikely as the Soviet of Washington).
In Iraq the stakes are too high for a winner take all election such as the mullahs want. None of this should be a surprise to anyone, but it does seem to have surprised some of our neo-Jacobin praetors...
http://www.techcentralstation.com/032304A.html asks the question "Why do they hate us?"
He is speaking of the intellectuals who oppose the war in Iraq.
Now many of those people really do hate Amerikkka and say so often; but not everyone who has doubts about the wisdom of the invasion of Iraq hates the United States. I certainly don't, and I have considerable pride in the accomplishment of our troops who, using high tech weapons and technologies, conquered the heartland of civilization, the graveyard of Roman armies, in under a month. Moreover, now that we are there, we have to accomplish something: republics should not send out the army on whim, and if it turns out that some of our reasons were incorrect -- no WMD, although very reasonable people could have concluded there were plenty of them, given Saddam's behavior -- still, we should not leave without accomplishing something. I wish I knew what that might be.
But before we decide what we should accomplish there, we have to decide what we are. Empires have different goals from republics.
And republics are no damned good as world police: the costs are high, the path is long, and the people's patience short. Even Venice had her problems sustaining long term policies and paying for the fleet.
March 23, 2003
I am getting the maps and other production work out for Burning City, so anything here is when I have time; should be done in a few hours, though.
I note that the mainstream press is beginning to take note of phishing and other means of identity theft. I trust all the readers here are aware of the problem, and never, never, never respond to those "your account is about to be cancelled, send your financial information in this ultra-secure link" scams.
Never. Whether it purports to be from your bank, Microsoft, Earthlink, The New York Times, Ebay, Catholic Near East Welfare Society (your sponsored children will starve!), Red Cross, Salvation Army, Macy's, Gimbel's, J. C. Penny, or the Internal Revenue Service, do not respond to this stuff!!
Meanwhile, a bit of mail, and I added to my response on emperors.
March 25, 2004
Sent off the maps for BURNING TOWER.
There remains the dedication. And I hope to do some new fiction work this week. Plenty of mail for your edification...
March 26, 2004
Some good mail this morning, and an important virus warning I thought important enough to send out a mailing to subscribers. More when I get back from my walk.
And here we have a discussion of modern war in another place...
And I have lost the letter that recommends this so I can't give credit, but
http://gnooks.com/ is interesting. Put Jerry Pournelle into the map of literature and the result is interesting indeed. (It also changes: the first time I did that, Robert Louis Stevenson was right next to my name, which I liked a lot...)
Then go look at this, on another subject entirely:
And I am only a sometimes fan of David Gelernter, but if he wrote like this all the time I'd be his greatest supporter. Indeed, it was because he used to write like this thatI found him so interesting:
"You must be an intellectual. No normal person would say a thing like that." George Orwell
March 27, 2004
March 28, 2004
Fifth Sunday in Lent. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
Sunny but Santa Ana destroying the nasal passages. KUSC is broadcasting a concert from the new Disney Hall (October, 2003 inaugural). The Philharmonic sounds great. Disney Hall looks great. Of course it was designed for people without legs, and I will never again go to it, but it looks great and has good acoustics. If you are about the size of a Toon, it will be a great place to go.
I would not care to have the man who designed that hall work on anything else. At least nothing else for humans to occupy. Perhaps a coop for the Oregon Chicken.
If you don't know about it, try
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html and click on calendar for past stuff.
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