THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 384 October 17 - 23, 2005
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October 17, 2005
Nominations for the Chaos Manor annual Orchids and Onions Parade are now open. Please send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "Orchid" or the word "Onion" as the subject. If possible, please use a separate message for each recommendation, and in particular please don't combine orchids and onions in the same message. If you wish your recommendation to be anonymous please say so. Messages become the property of J. E. Pournelle and Associates and may be published with or without attribution. Requests for anonymity will be honored. Give the name of the product, company, or individual, and if possible a link to where more information can be found, and state at reasonable length your reasons for wishing orchids or onions to the nominee.
I promise to read all the recommendations. In general I will not be able to make an individual response.
The annual Chaos Manor Orchids and Onions Parade has been a regular feature of the Chaos Manor column, and has appeared with the User's Choice Awards in BYTE since 1981. The 2005 results will be in the January, 2006 column.
I am taking my car out to the agency, and I'll take the metro back. It's raining in Los Angeles.
If you want to know a lot about the Palestinian situation, there are in my judgment two essential sources. One is the Atlantic article on Arafat: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200509/samuels This requires a subscription, but it is articles like this perhaps once a year that cause me to continue to subscribe to Atlantic when I have given up subscriptions to most magazines. This is an important article, and I don't use that word very often.
In my June, 2004 BYTE Column I said:
The Book of the Month is Richard Ben Cramer, HOW ISRAEL LOST, The Four Questions. This book will break your heart. Cramer, an American of Jewish ancestry, was the correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and knows the Middle East better than most anyone now writing about that place. I thought I had an understanding of the problems before I read this book; now I know I didn’t understand at all.
I consider Cramer's book, and the Atlantic Article, two essential works if one is going to try to understand the Middle East situation. They are of a piece, each complementing the other.
Searching for the reference to Cramer's book led me to update the Book Of The Month page. This is the "Winding down" section of my BYTE (and often Dobbs) column. It will NEVER be up to date due to contractual obligations: CMP pays me amply for 3-month exclusive rights to the column. Every now and then I update the page to 3 months ago, which in this case carried it from January to Summer 2005. The Winding Down section contains the Movie of the Month, the Book of the Month, the Computer Book of the Month, and the Game of the month. Sometimes there is more than one item in each category. There may also be other observations and gadgets.
|This week:||Tuesday, October
For your consideration:
Who Lost Delphi?
-- Roland Dobbins
A question of some importance; this is one view. Note that in Japan medical benefits are paid largely by the government rather than the employer. And they don't exactly have OSHA. I don't argue here that OSHA is not needed: perhaps it is, but if so, then who shall pay for its costs? Not just the direct costs of OSHA employees, but the costs of the regulations?
October 19, 2005
Here is a cool place to have a look: http://www.krazydad.com/visco/ Thanks to Art Russell for this one.
Thos morning at breakfast I read an article on page 7 of today's LA
Times. It was about entrenched abuse of locals by the UN Overlords otherwise
known as Peace Keeping troops. I must not have looked closed at the
attribution, because I find the same article was published today in Newsday:
Interestingly, although the article goes into detail, it says nothing about the nationality of the UN mercenaries who are involved in wholesale sexual abuse of those they protect. With one exception: it says Bosnian policemen were involved in the Natasha trade (what used to be known as white slavery; Stuart Cloete wrote well about the practices in Victorian England, and was concerned that it was going on even today). A bit of preliminary research turned up :
which give some information on UN Peacekeeping operations. Having the UN pay the bills is one way small countries can afford to keep larger than usual armies, and serving in such operations is generally lucrative compared to work at home. It's possible that these UN operations do more good than harm. I haven't looked into them. It does seem that there ought to be some mechanism for disciplining the troops: the UN isn't a sovereign entity and can't actually prosecute soldiers under its command. The home country has to do that, and most don't. On the other hand, changing things so that the UN has criminal prosecutory powers is a cure far worse than the disease.
I doubt this is a large problem compared to many of the ills that plague the world, but it is also one more example of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
October 20, 2005
This day was devoured by locusts. I should be done with minor administration now.
Today's LA Times has an article about Yahoo: the stock sells at $40.00 a share more or less. They report about 20 cents a share earnings. This year the profits of the stock were up 40% over last year, and on that report, the stock price fell from $42 to $40, because, well, because profits aren't important, it's growth, you see.
Earnings of 20 cents a share and stock at $40 is 200 times earnings, meaning that if you hold that share of stock for 200 years, it will eventually earn enough so that you have your money back. Interesting.
But we are not in an economic bubble, and there is no inflation. At least that's what they tell me.
October 21, 2005
I'll be caught up by evening.
Lots of mail some interesting.
Down at the beach house. It is gloomy.
I have had many letters about this:
Aye Scotty, beam us up!
10/17/2005 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- Engineers here are testing a new kind of transparent armor -- stronger and lighter than traditional materials -- that could stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating vehicle windows.
The Air Force Research Laboratory's materials and manufacturing directorate is testing aluminum oxynitride -- ALONtm -- as a replacement for the traditional multi-layered glass transparencies now used in existing ground and air armored vehicles.
Transparent aluminum. What will they think of next?
October 22, 2005
In the current National Review, the egregious Frum offers his reasons for disliking President Bushís choice of Harriet Miers for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He then says Marvin Olansky is "worse than silly" (the egregious Frum is fond of exaggerations) for saying that Harriet Miers is unlikely to "grow" in office, because "The pressures of the left are strongest on those that want what the left can provide."
In other words, Harriet Miers has never aspired to acceptance at fancy law schools as commencement speaker, or invitations to New York dinner parties. She is far more likely to covet the esteem of her fellow Christian conservatives in Dallas, and fear their rejection, than to want to be the commencement speaker at Harvard.
Nonsense, says the egregious Frum. Miers is insecure, accused of not knowing the law, not being cool enough, and of course she will thirst for acceptance from the left establishment. It never occurs to the egregious Frum that there are people who really donít want acceptance from Columbia Ė and who know that no matter how much they "grow" they will never be acceptable to the Enlightened anyway. The egregious Frum says we cannot know what really motivates Miers. Which is odd, because whatever else we do know about Miers, we know that George Bush knows her well, and heís quite certain that Miers is a strict constructionist.
Now he goes on to say that it would have been better for Bush to nominate someone like Bork, someone with credentials and a history. The odds are favorable, the prize worthy, and we could win this one, perhaps with the nuclear option.
Perhaps. My view is that taunting the Democrats and moving toward the nuclear option is dangerous. I am sufficiently conservative that I do not want to change the rules of the Senate. I do want the Senate to go back to where it was before Bork; where there is some deference to the minority, and not steamrolling through, but the minority also understands that the majority has rights as well. In our ideological climate I suppose all this is impossible, but I would not go out of my way to provoke confrontation.
I am hardly content with the modern Republicans and their spending. I do not believe there is any such thing as Big Government Conservatism.
The question is, are we more likely to have limited government with Republicans or Democrats? There was a time when that would be a silly question. Itís no longer silly, and indeed we donít even have an answer. But one thing I am very certain of: Iíd rather have Harriet Miers, and take a chance that she will grow in office to become a liberal activist, than whomever a Democrat president would appoint. Such as Larry Tribe. Whomever the Democrats appointed, the new Associate Justice wouldnít have to grow. Heíd be full grown activist leftist before he even started.
The egregious Frum, having read out of the conservative movement all those who were skeptical about the Iraqi War and who were not enthusiastic about supporting Mr. Bush in his war, is now turning on the President, has his doubts about the Presidentís ability to fight "this right and necessary war", and continues in his egregious way.
And now John OíSullivan is piling on; but for much better reasons than the egregious Frum. OíSullivan thinks the three great issues are: halting the regulator state; restoring national unity to an increasingly Balkanized America; and preventing the rise of an anti-American united Europe that would divide the West. Bush has failed in all those, says OíSullivan.
But of course the Iraq War is responsible for much of that. We rushed into The Patriot Act, and War, both of which make increased regulation well nigh inevitable; and the War certainly alienated Europe, and yes, I know, the French opposition to the War stemmed from a number of reasons some quite sordid. The War endangered the tax cuts. Yet support for the war was, according to the egregious Frum, the acid test for being a conservative. If you didnít support the war, said Frum in National Review, "we turn our backs on you."
I will agree with OíSullivanís wishes for the future. Ending the divisions in America is extremely important, perhaps the most important thing for our history. I am not as concerned with the territorial disputes of Europe, or entangling alliances, and my guess is that European unity is unlikely unless we give them good reasons to unite against us. If we think we have divisive influences in the USA, we have only to look to Europe to see how bad things could be.
But unity in the US requires, oddly enough, diversity: that is, Federalism. It is much easier to be unified against foreign enemies, and in favor of the constitution, if you live in a state that has laws you like. Consent of the governed doesnít mean forcing a majority opinion on everyone in the nation. The only way we will get national unity back is to allow some real power to the states; and that means reducing Federal power and cutting back or eliminating Federal regulations. It also means that some states will do things that will cause sheer hatred in other states. So be it.
We need to reduce Federal Power, and increase national unity; and devolving many divisive matters to the states is about the best way I know of to do that.
So. Is Ms. Miers likely to do that? Sheís a Texan, and the President knows her well. Sure, I could come up with candidates for Supreme Court other than Miers; but I am not the President. He thinks that is exactly what she will do and he knows her well. And he is the President.
But, I suppose, the egregious Frum, having read those of us who had doubts about The Iraqi War out of the conservative movement, will next attack as worse than silly all those who donít consider opposing the Miers appointment another acid test of true conservatism.
Iím willing to disagree with the President, but I prefer my disagreements to be along the lines of OíSullivanís.
October 22, 2005
Having read several objections to my essay yesterday on Miers, I see nothing to change my views. Why must every Justice be a Harvard Professor who has never studied history and never had any practical experience in the world? Or a judge? I think it is a good thing to have someone not from the bench on the court.
As to her supposed inability to persuade others, that's what Chief Justice Roberts is supposed to do.
I wonder if conservatives have lost sight of the goal: a tranquil and united nation with most really vital issues left to the states? Consent of the governed can be achieved with small jurisdictional units, and states rights is a start on that.
A new and better link to Murray's important article on the Hallmark of the Underclass is over in mail. If you have not seen the Murray essay I recommend it to your attention.
And there is a question about my essay on the Voodoo Sciences, and my reply, also in mail.
I will be driving back to Los Angeles Monday morning, so tomorrow's update may not be until evening. Meanwhile there is yesterday's essay, and all the weekend mail, which ought to be quite enough to keep you busy for a while...
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