THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 426 August 7 - 13, 2006
Highlights this week:
For boiler plate, search engine, and notes on what in the world this place is, see below.
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
August 7, 2006
There is a new column and mail bag at Chaos Manor Reviews. Tell your friends.
If you do not know about the WiFi security vulnerability, go read about it now. There is more about it in Chaos Manor Reviews for today.
First US Navy warship in Beirut in 22 years.
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=080706C : An article that does a reasonable job of analyzing disaster response organizations, and comes to some reasonable conclusions. The author doesn't seem to have heard of the old Civil Defense Organization, which would work somewhat in the way he recommends, but which set up structures before disasters to work when disaster strikes.
Volunteers will be a key element in any disaster response. They are on the spot, and there are a lot of them, at least in potential. Local fire and police will be involved. If there is a Civil Defense organization many of the volunteers will already be organized, and part of a structure into which new volunteers can fit; and will be accustomed to working with local fire and police. Many of the Civil Defense officers (nearly all volunteers, with perhaps some expense money paid by national Civil Defense) will be retired local fire and police officials, or retired military; those who aren't will generally be well esteemed by the local officials. Of course if local city government and emergency service organizations are hopelessly corrupt and inefficient as in the case of New Orleans, the Civil Defense outfits will either be like the city and useless, or will work more or less independent of the city bureaucracy (which is likely to be useless).
The proper way to organize for disaster is to build a volunteer organization and have it function before the disaster happens. Don't build a paid bureaucracy.
Fred today http://www.fredoneverything.net/Bush.shtml says
What Fred hasn't figured out is that liberalism, which is a derivative of Jacobinism, infects about half the people in the United States, and Jacobins and Liberals each and every one have no more than a hop-toad's understanding of how people work. The interesting thing is that Liberals and Jacobins themselves do not behave the way they are certain everyone does or should. Example: during the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, my very Liberal neighbors closed off Laurel Canyon Boulevard to blacks including the black driver of an Airport SuperShuttle. Of course they felt horribly guilty about doing it after the riots were over.
A second problem: while neo-conservatives are not "Liberals" in the usual sense, many of them including almost their entire leadership are former far-left adherents of Trotskyite views of one stripe or another, or their sons. (Like Byzantine Orthodoxy, Trotskyites divided and subdivided into a bewildering number of ideological groups arguing over tiny points of doctrinal difference that one need not try to understand) Thus they all believed the world needed some revolutionary reforms, and the existing order was pretty awful. When they became first anti-Stalinist, then anti-Soviet, then anti-Communist they changed their notions of what the world needed, but they never really shed their Jacobin views about the innate goodness of man, and the universal appeal of liberal democracy (small l and small d).
Jacobin sentiments and Liberalism go together, and probably 80% of American university professors (with the possible exception of hard science departments) are Liberal Jacobins. They hate Bush because he isn't the kind of Liberal Jacobin they like, and besides, he calls himself a "big government compassionate conservative" whatever that is.
In a word: Fred has it right. The Administration when it went into Iraq had no freaking idea of how human beings work. What Fred doesn't understand is that a good half of the American populace has been taught political principles and citizenship by professors and high school teachers who have no freaking idea of how human beings work, or at least have none when it comes to their political preferences and policies.
Fortunately much of the population didn't learn their citizenship lessons very well and continue to think like human beings. Unfortunately, most of those around the President, like most political people, are thoroughly insulated from the population whose consent gives them the right to govern.
My friend Norman Spinrad used to say during the Nixon administration "He ought to drink in bars. Get out and meet some people." Nixon didn't. He surrounded himself with people who didn't drink in bars and get out and meet people.
Mr. Bush is similarly insulated, and has been for a long time. He has the knack of making people like him. He is likable, and if he actually got out and talked to people, they way he does with the soldiers, he might learn something. But the whole Washington establishment is insulated, and I suspect Bush has spent more time talking with the troops on the ground than any of the other high ranking officers.
But why is he surprised that Bush has read no history, and the people around Bush know no history? You don't need history to graduate from Harvard, and what passes for history in our schools nowadays is so politically correct that to make room for obscure people no one ever heard of are included, James Madison and Henry Clay and John Caldwell Calhoun are entirely omitted. What is taught as history today is politically correct pap. I saw one book in which Chaka Zulu was held up as a Great Man, without a word about how, when Chaka's mother died, he had a son killed in every household because when Chaka mourns, everyone mourns. His section was larger than Napoleon Bonaparte's. Napoleon was hardly a model of compassion, but he began his career by carrying Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality across Europe on the points of French bayonets. (He also sacked Venice and ended the longest surviving Republic in history, but that's all right: no one ever reads about Venice now, and few know that the Founding Fathers at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 spent quite a lot of time discussing Venice and her history).
Fred, no one knows much about history now. Which is why in Mesopotamia and in the Levant we are doomed to repeat it again and again and again.
|This week:||Tuesday, August
It's hot again in Studio City, and with it come my sinus problems compounded by whatever this muscle thing in my neck is. The upshot is not much sleep, which isn't much fun at all. Add to that I had to get the International Edition of the column out last night, and the result is fairly low energy levels. I still have to pay the bills, and it's time to go work on fiction.
The LA Times today has a story: the Feds are prosecuting a landlord. He owns apartment in Korea Town. He had the audacity to name one of the buildings Korea Town Arms or something of the sort, which is clearly an act of discrimination against blacks. He is also said to favor Korean tenants in his Korea Town Arms apartments. This is a scandalous violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and he needs to be punished by being fined, and of course there are some complaining would-be tenants who want a lot of money in compensation (and so do their lawyers).
I am tempted to say the proper thing to do here is to make the black would-be tenants actually live in the Korea Town Arms apartment they say they wanted to rent. Surely they will be happy there.
But in fact this is absurdity on stilts. The awesome majesty of the Federal Government is to reach down and tell a property owner that he can't cater to the tenants most likely to want to rent his apartments, and he must be made to enrich some lawyers for his awful crimes. For this the heroes died.
And they seem to have improved Firefox to the point of near unusability. It keeps opening things in new instances of Firefox rather than a new tab, then when there are a lot of them, it freezes the machine. I think I am going to have to uninstall and start over in the hopes of making it usable again. Or just use the new Internet Explorer that has tabs also. Sigh. I sure wish I had not installed the upgrades and improvements.
August 9, 2006
I do thank those who told me to go into Firefox options and check the box about opening links in a new tab in the same window, but in fact I had already done that.
My problem is when someone sends me mail with a link in it, Firefox about half the time will open that link in a new tab as it should, and about half the time in a new window. I then have to copy the link, open a new tab, paste in the link, and go back and close the superfluous window. This uses up time and isn't what I intended.
Last night Microsoft Update restarted my machine. When I opened Firefox, Session Manager offered to restore. I used that and was presented with 22 tabs, all blank, and a blank screen. I kept going back to previous sessions, and eventually found one that was live, but again it took a lot of time. When Firefox is working well I like it a lot, but somehow they have made improvements that don't show but don't work very well. Perhaps it will get stable eventually.
But see mail, which may solve the problem once and for all.
I'll be out of communications for some hours today.
We are in San Diego at the beach house, but with problems. The telephone is not working at all. There is no dialup connection. I was going to get high speed connected but I can't because there is no telephone to do that with. At some point we will get things connected. And I suppose there is always T Mobile Hot Spots. Roberta's new cell phone will not work and says it will make emergency calls only. It gives no reason for this. My ancient cell phone works. Hers is new. Same service, Cingular, but hers being new of course it won't work.
I want old AT&T back. I want the old Bell systems. I want to be able to dial O and get an operator and human beings. I hate phone trees and bad music played endlessly with unctuous messages about how important my call is. Of course what I want isn't of great consequence.
We have a work slip that says we have to contact our "service provider" to get the telephone fixed, since we do not have dial tone. It gives no clue as to whom our "service provider" might be, nor any telephone contact number. Eventually I get through to AT&T which tells me they are not the service provider, our service provider is AT&T. It turns out we used to be AT&T but that was bought by SBC which then changed its name to AT&T, but the merger hasn't actually happened here so there are two AT&T companies. The old one is ours, and it's an orphan. Besides, it used SBC equipment and SBC was responsible for repairs and maintenance. But SBC now being AT&T has changed their relationship.
This goes on with two different low level people one of whom is apparently in Atlanta, before I finally, after two hours of horrible music and trying to hold a cell phone to my ear, get someone who can then call the old AT&T, who can then call the old SBC, who can actually find out what my ticket number is, and why it has been cancelled, and why they need a new one. Which they did, and in theory someone will show up here tomorrow. In theory.
(continued tomorrow) (And yes, I am aware the most of the country is paralyzed according to the news. But being without telephone....)
August 10, 2006
It is 0930. Sometime between 10 and 2 in theory someone will show up to repair the telephone. In theory. If not, then reporting that is going to take forever, since no one is quite sure who is responsible for fixing things. Thank you, Judge Green.
We now have an unregulated monopoly utility to provide telephone service, instead of old Ma Bell which was at least regulated. Ma Bell may have been inefficient, and bloated, and may have charged too much, but we had dial tone.
Now we have an enormous monopoly, and less bandwidth in the US than in the Philippines. I can't go on line to do any research on this. If I get a chance, I may be able to get to a T-Mobile hot spot only I can't go on line to see where the T-Mobile hot spots may be around here. And I can't leave here because the phone guy may show up. I sure wish I were home.
It's hot in here because they are doing something to the sand down on the parking area on the causeway into the Bay, and that is blowing up sand and dust and the windows and doors all have to be closed.
1430: The telephone company says they will be here before 9 PM. That's all they know but I do have to say that this was a far more pleasant experience than yesterday. The ticket is open. They had the wrong cell phone number for reasons not known to me, but that has been changed. So I wait. The TV keeps telling me things.
The TV is filled with stories about the end of the airline world as we know it. Can't bring toothpaste or baby formula on an airplane. Can't bring books or magazines if you are flying from England. God knows what they think of traveling with a cane. No laptops.
But, of course, we much continue to be nice to everyone, and do no profiling. We are all in this together, including the 40% of the minority population in England that says it is all right to carry out suicide bombing operations against Jews. We need to digest that information. But Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide; it was Liberalism that invited all those of alien cultures to live in every western nation, and said that it is OK for Muslim countries to have laws excluding Jews and Christians, but we cannot exclude anyone for any reason, even if they are here illegally. Interesting. But isn't that fair? Don't we feel better about ourselves for having been so fair and open? It's the land of the free and we will welcome those who want to end that.
I hope it is consolation for all those who are trying to go about their business and standing in 9 hour lines to get on airplanes without a water bottle or a book or a magazine. We should all feel good about how generous we are. The consolation is about all we will get for doing all this.
But we have diversity, and that's really neat, and we all ought to be proud.
I may be in an overly curmudgeonly mode today, what with my sinus/muscle spasm whatever it is headache that is getting progressively worse, and being tied here waiting for the telephone repair man before I can even get on line. Spending an afternoon and following day without any on line access turns out to be difficult; odd, because for most of my life there was no Internet access, and being somewhere without a telephone seemed like a very good thing to do once in a while. Refreshing. New habits die hard, I guess.
I do have cell phones, and I am more and more tempted by those comprehensive plans that have wireless data service by cell phone. I will look into them when the smoke clears.
Niven is in Canada. I presume he got there before they shut down the airlines; at least he is not home, so I suppose he's there. God knows how he will get home.
Tomorrow I will go to the medicos. Saturday they are supposed to install Cable Modem here, and along with it for not a lot more a telephone service. I'm not sure how that works, or why you would want that as opposed to just using Skype, but we'll find out. It doesn't cost enough more to make it worth worrying about, and I presume we can still use Skype even if we have that.
In a bit I am going to go find an Internet Cafe and see if I can connect up, get email, and send this off. I hope that works. Obviously if you see this you will know it did. The Starbucks at the Ralph's on Mission Blvd says it's a T Mobile Hot Spot so that ought to do.
Last night I took the opportunity to enroll a LOT of new subscribers. Each one will get a message, so it will take a while to send all those and clear my outbox, and of course there will be a ton of incoming mail. I may as well plan on a long time in Starbucks...
15:13 An AT&T tech in an SBC truck arrived. Highly competent. Replaced a couple of corroded jacks, and we have dial tone. I am rather foolishly doing this by dialup to save the trip to Starbucks which is a couple of miles away, although I probably could walk there, do the mail uploads and downloads, and walk back before this will be done...
And now I have two days worth of mail to process. Sigh. But at least I can do it. I could have got DSL too, now that the phone is fixed, but we're arranged for Cable Modem at least for a while. DSL looks a lot cheaper though. And the AT&T/SBC technician was highly competent. Of course it helped that he had read some of my books...
I am caught up, and there is some important mail posted.
All is well. Tomorrow I am off to the doctors, to find out just what in the heck is wrong with my neck.
Machiavelli had much to say about soldiers and a republic.
But we could certainly recruit our overseas occupation constabulary from around the world, offering citizenship after twenty years of service....
And I close tonight with:
August 11, 2006
Be sure to see Mr. Hellewell's letter on Updates, above.
By the way, the next step in airplane terrorism is for some group to start stuffing liquid explosives up their butts: in much the same way that people smuggle cocaine in intestinal condoms.. . Then the TSA will require a full rectal exam before every flight. I was thinking of extrapolating the likely future columns generated by this, in the style of their authors. We all look forward to Andrew Sullivan's overly enthusiastic endorsement of that precaution, Victor Davis Hanson's explanation of how we're reviving the commendable practices of ancient Sparta, John Derbyshire's relevant reminiscences about his days in an English public school, and Rush Limbaugh's comment that the same happens in every fraternity initiation, etc. etc.
I'm gonna take the train.
Roberta points out that many modern bras have liquids in them. How will they detect them? More to the point, what is to keep some woman from wearing a bra with acetone in one bra pad and peroxide in the other? Presumably if she removes her brassiere in her passenger seat it will be noticed, but perhaps not in the water closet? Or will we not have surveillance in the bath rooms of the airplanes? And why not? Surely it's better to have cameras in the bathrooms than simply to pay extra attention to suspicious persons, particularly those of Middle Eastern origin and appearance who are young men of the appropriate age? But no, that would not be egalitarian, it would be discriminatory, and thus against all our principles. Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide. We may all be consoled as we stand in 8 hour lines, and treat every passenger as if he were Osama bin Laden himself rather than inject even the smallest amount of common sense into this.
We would, apparently, give up air travel entirely than to treat young males of Middle Eastern origin traveling alone or with other males differently from the way we treat 80 year old grandmothers traveling with their children and grandchildren. We all know the dangers, don't we? Old ladies often blow themselves up with their children and grand children. So do retired generals carrying the Medal of Honor, can't treat them differently from -- well, you get the idea. Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.
I have been having a friendly argument with my friend Greg Cochran about Jacobinism. He simply cannot believe that any of the decision makers involvind in invading Iraq genuinely believed we would be welcomed, or that they really believe that in every heart there lurks a desire to be a Jeffersonian democrat. No one can believe that, not enough to base decisions on that.
I understand his incredulity. He is a product of the hard sciences, and he takes science more seriously than most. He does rational decision making considering alternatives as if his decisions were important, and he thinks everyone else does that too. The truth is that most of us don't, of course. Most of us, even the most rational, decide things through prejudice. Richard Weaver's LIFE WITHOUT PREJUDICE is illuminating in this regard, but it is a book not much read now. So is his IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, which is also to the point, but again not much read now.
Most of the educated persons in America have never been exposed to the notion that John Jacques Rousseau got it wrong, that man is born free but he is everywhere in chains, that the Americas and other places were populated with noble savages unspoiled by the horrors of western civilization; and the few who have been so exposed don't teach at our universities. Where would George Bush have ever heard of the Doctrine of Original Sin, or, if you don't care for religious terms, the kind of realistic assessment of the motives and actions of men in political office that the Framers of 1787 understood very well? Where would he have read of the history of the Venetian Republic and the notion of checks and balances? Not at Yale, where he would have been given the usual liberal Jacobin ideas. I doubt Bush ever heard anyone look at all deeply into the nature of man. Much better to read of the Rights of Man. The Bill of Rights is no Jacobin document. It gives no rights. It puts restrictions on government. But of course that is not the modern view of things.
Greg insists there is more to the story than we know; that there is no way that rational people would believe that the Iraq War would be short and successful. I urge you all to read Freeman's account of the decisions by the National Review Board, intelligent conservatives all, who urged on the War, and unleashed the egregious Frum on the conservatives who held back, before you side with Greg. One might ask, whatever were they thinking? But Bill Buckley is not a fool, nor are most of his associates (I say nothing about the egregious Frum who volunteered for the job of trashing his betters).
Greg thinks I have lost my mind else I would not believe that ideology played a major role in our disaster in the Middle East. Sometimes he convinces me. Then I talk to other True Believing Jacobins. After all: would it not be a wonderful thing if we could plant a western leaning democracy in the heart of the Muslim Caliphate? Surely that is worth blood and treasure? But if such a thing be possible, what does it say about the nature of man? About the malleability of human institutions, and of their very natures? If we believe we can build a democracy in Iraq, what must we believe about the nature of man?
August 12, 2006
Good news: we now have high speed internet at the beach. All set up, cable modem, with a router and WPA protection. The bad news is that it took all blooking day to get it installed and set up, and I'm running pretty late. Oh. Well. It works, and that won't have to be done again.
Now to get the column entry for Monday done, along with the weekly mail bag. See Chaos Manor Reviews.
August 13, 2006
We're at the beach. I have high speed Internet.
Cease fire announced:
Subject: Sometimes, it sucks to be right...
As I'm sure Ralph Peters is thinking. In terms of what the Israelis were doing, it's clear that he was right, and I was wrong. Ditto for your argument that if the Israeli government wasn't willing to do the damn job (I'm abridging and paraphrasing), it didn't make sense to respond seriously.
Wish it were the other way around. And not particularly because I like to be right.
Be sure to tell your friends that my column is no longer in BYTE, but you can find Computing At Chaos Manor at www.ChaosManorReviews.com
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, 8,000 - 12,000 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. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
For the BYTE story, click here.
Search: type in string and press return.
The freefind search remains:
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.