THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 327 September 13 - 19, 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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September 13, 2004
We are awaiting workmen. The first from Sears didn't have the parts although we had told Sears what the problem was. Years ago Sears was reliable. It sure isn't now.
For no reason I know I woke up thinking about a poem I read when I was a child. There was a repeated first line,
O where are you coming from,
with the adjective in the second line changing at each verse. The final verse of that string was
O where are you coming from,
I did a Google search on "Soldier Gaunt Soldier" and found two references, Question 1403 in the search for quotations at this web site
and a more substantial reference in
which quotes the following lines as being part of the introductory matter to Peter Watkins' The War Game movie.
O Soldier, Gaunt Soldier?
With weapons beyond
The reach of mind?
With weapons so deadly,
the world must grow older
if it does not turn kind.
As it happens, I have periodically looked for this off and on for years. This is a line from a Stephen Vincent Benet poem which I had always thought was part of his collection The Burning City along with Nightmare #5 and Nightmare with Angels, and probably entitled "Nightmare with soldiers" although that is speculation not memory.
The last verse is a response to the questions.
I memorized it in 1943:
"Stand out of my way and be silent before me,
Not precisely the thing to recall when doing weapons design analysis in the 60's, although perhaps it was. I recited it once to Herman Kahn when we were discussing deterrence and Doomsday Machines, and such like.
But I can find no trace that Benet wrote this, nor indeed, except for the references above, to its existence, which I had begun to think was a fancy, a false memory; but clearly it was not. Apparently sometime between 1943 and now, Benet or his heirs decided to eliminate the work from his literary estate and obliterate the memory of the poem; or so it would seem.
I have the feeling that it was part of his very rare book NIGHTMARE AT NOON, and the anti-war sentiments weren't considered proper after Pearl Harbor.
Any information appreciated.
I see the Lt. Gen. in charge of Marines at Fallujah is now talking: first the Marines were ordered to attack the city, hastily in his judgment when they had they thought a better approach; then, when they were winning, the were told after 3 days to stop. This was the worst possible course of action. Either you try a soft approach or you go in hard, but you don't abandon the soft approach, go in hard, abandon that, and then start dithering. Or you don't unless you are a neocon in charge of political affairs in a war you started but don't know what to do about.
The Marines knew what to do. They were overruled.
The worst of it is that Kerry is surrounded by people of even less military ability.
Civilian control of the military is fine for grand policy. When it begins to dictate tactics the results are seldom good. And then the civilians are supremely self-confident that they know far more than any mere soldiers about how to "win hearts and minds" or are driven by false visions of human motivation (neo-Jacobins who are sure that the desire for democracy beats within the Arab breast despite the daily indications that they would do ANYTHING to prevent even a smattering of, for instance, women's liberation) -- when the civilians have a false theory of humanity and no practical experience, civilian control is costly. One reason democracies ought not engage in imperial adventures.
Ruling people without consent of the governed is possible, but the rules aren't the usual ones of democracy.
Incidentally, I note that even the staunchest libertarian economists now conceded that until you have rule of law you can't have liberal democracy or liberal economics. The US established rule of law in Germany and Japan after the war; both countries were too flattened to resist. Germany had a long tradition of rule of law. Japan had a long tradition of social obedience, which worked to much the same end.
There has not been Rule of Law in Iraq since Hammurabai.
From Ed Hume:
Remember, all ye swabs...
A speculation: could Clinton operatives have faked the Bush ANG documents and leaked them to Kerry? A Kerry victory would be a disaster for Hillary.
Nah. Couldn't be. But Carville sure looks perky...
While we are on this, it turns out that David Alston may have misremembed in his speech at the DNC: that is, he was not on the boat when Kerry was aboard. As he was the only black guy on the boat, one would think this would be remembered. Alston told of being present during the action that resulted in Kerry's Silver Star. Alston was wounded and invalided out of service before Kerry took charge of that boat. Yet Kerry listened as someone claimed to be part of his crew, but could not have been, and said nothing.
I am here reporting something I have been told:
"Thus, *at no time* did David Alston serve with John Kerry.
I have found this, which says Alston was on board for a while, but how long is conjecture. So it's lapsed memories, and that I can very well understand.
I see that CBS is doubling the bet again, and PC Mag is coming in now:
and if all this reminds you of Alger Hiss desperately trying to show that the pumpkin papers COULD have been forged by someone with enough money and resources than it should.
Hiss was never able to show that anyone DID construct a typewriter that could produce text that looked as if it came from his old Underwood. Not one person involved in the conspiracy to jail Hiss ever came forward. The weight of evidence is immense and it all says Hiss was guilty.
Same here: there is a desperate effort to show that this blurred document COULD have been genuine if the ANG had access to a Selectric Composer. But that was a rare machine. I have a Selectric, still, and I have all the type balls, and none was Times New Roman; but an ordinary Selectric couldn't have done that anyway. The Selectric Composer was expensive and comparatively rare. I never saw one outside a University and only one there; it was used to make really neat looking stuff. But the Selectric was usual for document.
At Boeing in the 50's the Unit Secretary had an IBM Executive for formal letters, but almost all Company documents were done on ordinary machines. At Aerospace I had my own Selectric, but I was rare in that most engineers wrote long hand. I had to produce many documents, and I type faster than I write, so it was easier for me to do my drafts on a Selectric. Incidentally I had also the most advanced Underwood/Ollivetti electro-mechanical calculator in existence at the time, a very big thing that printed tapes and trundled noisily; I also had a 20" slide rule. It made it easier to calculate expected values using fractional exponents. For the final stuff, which we'd game out to do Monte Carlo models, I'd have my models coded into FORTRAN and run in Central Computing, but it was easier to get preliminary results using expected values and I could do those myself in my office with calculator and slide rule. (If you missed it, see this.)
Anyway, there is no evidence that the writer of those documents had access to or even knew of the existence of the Selectric Composer, nor has anyone found any documents done on a Selectric Composer associated with this man or the ANG unit. CBS is doubling the bet again, but it's desperation.
Has anyone been able to show ANY document in Times New Roman dating from that time? Done on a Selectric Composer or anything else that could do proportional spacing?
|This week:||Tuesday, September
The bleating about the documents continues, but it sounds more and more like Alger Hiss defense: someone COULD have faked the pumpkin papers. Ignore everything else and cling to the possibility. Only this time it's not even possible. Ah, well.
The Benet poem is not entitled Nightmare at Noon, but it may be part of the book of which that is the title poem. Thanks to those who ran it down for me. Benet wasn't in favor of the Second World War (but then neither was the United States: Roosevelt had to pledge to stay neutral to win re-electi0n in 1940). His work in the 1930's reflects his gloomy prediction that the smoke and the armies would spring up again.
Ah. Here is mail: the title is probably "Song for three soldiers." But alas, the text wasn't in the letter
Gutenberg gives this:
Benet died in 1943.
Hollywood Bowl concert tonight. Ariadne auf Naxos opened with a matinee on Sunday for no reason I know but it sure was a good show.
From another conference, where one suggestion was "declare victory and leave."
Consider the following scenario. We leave, the Sunnis, who dominated Saddam's army, conquer the others, and put Saddam back as at least nominal leader, just for spite. Our politicians and pundits get to ask each other, "Who lost Iraq?".
You'd recognize the name of the person who said it.
You can read Benet's poem Darkness at Noon here:
While you are at it try Nightmare With Angels
While I am thinking on it,
It was true of King George, but is it not true of every President in this Century and the Last?
From a letter from the Middle East:
"It is also true that surprising nations may
perform deeds of great gallantry. Tonga has sent 45 Royal Marines, which is
roughly equivalent to 13000 Canadians or 23000 Frenchmen in terms of
percentage of national population. Another nation had a small unit cut off
and under attack during one of the two significant risings against us. They
held off attackers until they ran out of ammo and then fought hand to hand
before coalition forces reached them. Their commander just wanted assurances
that their ammo supply would be increased before they went out again. I’d
recommend pulling out Fehrenbach’s story of the Turkish Brigade in Korea or
reminding yourself of the Ethiopians in the same conflict. "
In fact my memories of the Turks and the Ethiopian Imperial Guardsmen have not dimmed, nor has my admiration of their performance.
September 15, 2004
Remarkable. An 86 year old former secretary who calls Bush "the President Select", recalls an obscure ANG lieutenant missing a physical, and is sure there were some memos to that effect, but she would have been the one to type them and she didn't, and by the way, the CBS papers were forged. So the LA Times headlines are about her memories of how there might have been such papers, and only at the very end of the story does it mention that Oh, by the way, CBS used forged documents.
But of course there is no bias in the media.
While overseas our proconsuls demonstrate their incompetence and once again call into question the whole notion of civilian control of the military. Which is in fact a delicate question. Without civilian control the military tends to be too strong and to undertake the wrong missions. With civilian control often comes micromanagement by chicken hawks with neo-Jacobin views and general incompetence.
Which is one good argument for Republics staying the hell away from the empire business. Rome never solved the problem, and ended up with some proconsuls appointed by the Senate, others directly by the Emperor, and all of them trying to get rich while their appointments lasted. But of course none of that can happen with the United States, which has men of far greater loyalty and discernment than the old Roman Republic. All our people are smarter than Caesar and Marius and Sulla and more loyal than Cincinnatus, and don't you forget it.
Mencken said that the American people get the government they deserve and they get it good and hard.
On web design: is there a simple way to insert a calendar onto a web page? FrontPage has worked well for years for me, and I don't have to think about design and stuff. One of these days I may do some refurbishing, or look to tools to make it easier to put gimmicks into here, but in fact it seems like a lot of work to no particular end.
I need to index the mail for the week. For the moment, note that there are new WARNINGS.
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, fine
I come from the war that was yesterday's trouble,
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, tall,
My harness is novel, my uniform other
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, gaunt
Stand out of my way and be silent before me!
Apologies for any errors in transcription. It is in fact Stepehen Vincent Benet's Song for Three Soldiers from the Oct. 1943 Atlantic Monthly. the parts spoken by the soldiers should be italic, but gmail doesn't seem to want to let me do that.
A WARNING FOR MOZILLA USERS in mail
September 16, 2004
Well I think this story is pretty well cleared up now:
WASHINGTON - Documents allegedly written by a deceased officer that raised questions about President Bush's service with the Texas Air National Guard bore markings showing they had been faxed to CBS News from a Kinko's copy shop in Abilene, according to another former Guard officer who was shown the records by the network.
The markings provide one piece of evidence suggesting a source for the documents, whose authenticity has been hotly disputed since CBS aired them in a 60 Minutes broadcast Sept. 8. The network has declined to name the person who provided them, saying the source was confidential, or to explain how the documents came to light after more than three decades.
There is only one Kinko's in Abilene, and it is 21 miles from the Baird, Texas, home of retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, who has been named by several news outlets as a possible source for the documents.
CBS anchor Dan Rather acknowledged for the first time Wednesday night that there are serious questions about the authenticity of the documents.
Rather spoke after interviewing the secretary to Bush's former squadron commander, who told him the memos attributed to her late boss are fake. <snip>
Who is Bill Burkett? ( http://michael-friedman.com/archives/000139.html )
Former Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett is the man who claims that Bush and the Texas National Guard cleaned out any damaging information in Bush's National Guard files in 1997.
As Kevin Drum explains in an exhaustively researched post, Burkett has a major axe to grind - he blames Bush for the military denying him medical care during an illness in 1998.
However, there is another reason to be skeptical about Burkett. Burkett has strongly held loony left political views. He has written numerous articles espousing his positions and clearly wishes to sway the electorate. This gives him another obvious motive to lie about Bush's National Guard files. <snip>
The only interesting thing about this is that Rather was so eager to have such a story that he bit, and bit hard, and then CBS kept doubling its bets. It tells us a lot about CBS and the reliability of 60 Minutes, which used to be a pretty reliable program. Mike Wallace may have left out some material in order to strengthen his cases, but he didn't include fakes, and he tried to be fair in his way. So did most of the 60 Minutes people for a very long time. I knew some of them. The Second Unit Director was a neighbor with sons in the Scout Troop of which I was Hikemaster. We did not agree on political matters, but we were friends, and I respected him. (One character in Lucifer's Hammer is based very loosely on him, as a matter of fact.) But that was long ago.
None of this will have much effect on the election. It's the Silly Season.
I note that the Airline Industry loses $4 billion a year as an industry -- but pays $14 billion a year in taxes. This is insane. Some of those taxes go to support the TSA, whose job it is to make people wish they were not flying; it does that job very well indeed, while failing to provide much in the way of protection. A servant who is master: that is the entire institution of the TSA. It also bunches people up nicely so that a terrorist with a roll-on full of RDX and old nails can get far more people and not even have to blow himself up. "Here, I have to go the loo, can you watch my bag for me for a minute, old chap?"
But Agony Airlines (once Alleghany Airlines, then US AIR, but always remembered as Agony Airlines) which bought our wonderful PSA and folded it up is in Chapter 22: that's Chapter 11 twice. And still has to pay taxes and fees and such while complying with the Railroad Labor Act that makes airlines negotiations impossible unless you are a new airline. So it goes.
Meanwhile the Air Traffic Controllers have computers with memory leaks that have to be reset monthly, only no one bothered to do that this month, and stewardesses were able to say things like "I'd like to welcome you to Los Angeles, but I can't. We've just landed in El Paso, Texas. Have a nice day."
Why there are no stand by radios isn't clear. The backup system is computerized too. And so were the telephones. (Voice over IP? I don't know, but the phones weren't working either.) Controllers were frantically trying to call other centers on their cell phones because some genius didn't remember that we have this marvelous invention called the telephone, and it doesn't cost very much to have multiple lines put in, and it usually works.
I doubt anyone will be demoted or even reprimanded over this, other than the wretched technician whose job it was to reboot the system; the imbecility of the entire design reminds me of NASA and the dual mission analyses of the Mars probe that resulted in engine cutoff at 50,000 feet because two different teams did analyses but never talked to each other.
Our kitchen is complete. They installed a new Maytag this morning. We have new counter tops, new floor, and a new Maytag installed by two men from the Ukraine who have been in the US about 4 years. For a while we were without a sink. Now we have a kitchen again. Shout hallelujah!
At one point Fatimah Jackson, a University of
Maryland anthropologist, criticized the government practice of gathering
racial statistics. Former U.S. Census Bureau official Kenneth Prewitt stood
up and asked if that meant the census should have no question about race.
Jackson answered that she didn't know why the government should spend money
getting data on something that has no biological basis.
Those of us occasionally dependent on NSF funding especially appreciate that our National _SCIENCE_ Foundation gave these jokers four million dollars.
Also re: anthropology .... at Stanford I know that the
anthro department had a nasty spat & split recently, with the cultural
anthropologists going one way and the biological anthros going the other.
One presumes that races exist only in breeds of cattle and dogs and cats, but not in human beings? But as a Constitutional matter, perhaps they should not exist in any legal sense including collection of government statistics.
So there are two questions, one scientific and the other legal. The scientific one is easy. The other not so.
Well this is a zealous program, no?
I sent a message to subscribers. I got back this:
Your message to: Mike.Casey@phys.ocean.dal.ca
(XXX) has triggered our SpamAssassin SPAM filters and has been rejected.
(one of the items in the report was that I had
forged my address)
So I replied:
Well, Mike Casey SUBSCRIBES to my web site and PAYS
Jerry Pournelle Chaos
And of course received this:
Your message to: postmaster@(XXX) has triggered
our SpamAssassin SPAM filters and has been rejected.
I see no point in repeated iterations of this, but in fact I tried, sending only the message "is this an endless loop?" in reply to one of theirs. Needless to say they never got it. They are well protected from Spam, almost as well as if they simply cut their connections to the Net and had done with it.
September 17, 2004
We have a four hour Mozart opera tonight. I suppose it will be good for my soul, but Opera Seria is not always my favorite way to spend an evening.
My friends at Mazin tell me that the problem detailed above is caused by using out dated versions of Spam Assassin and outdated black hole lists. There is a moral to this story: if you are a system administrator trying to protect people at your institution from spam, LEARN YOUR JOB. You may be protecting your clients from things they want, while not really doing what ought to be done about spam.
Note that I did send out a mailing to subscribers yesterday. If you subscribe and did not get it, please send me email telling me when you subscribed and how (if you remember) and under what address you subscribed; and what address I ought to be using. You might also check to see if your mailbox is full: I get much mail returned for that reason.
Proper form for updating your address is:
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Well, we do advertise one product, Roberta's reading program, which we have recently worked on to eliminate any problems people were having with Internet Explorer 6 and Windows XP. The "fix" consisted of making the instructions more clear. This program will teach just about anyone to read English. By "read" we mean will make their reading vocabulary at least equal to their speaking vocabulary, as well as give the ability to read English words the student has never seen before. It's explained in some detail.
REMEMBER that September 19, 2004 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Arrrr! See to that, you swabs!
September 18, 2004
REMEMBER that September 19, 2004 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Arrrr! See to that, you swabs!
http://www.electoral-vote.com/index.html may be interesting.
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