THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 435 October 9 - 15, 2006
Highlights this week:
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October 9, 2006
Of course it's not politically correct to care.
The North Koreans tested a nuke. It was inevitable. We gave them the technology in exchange for promises. The only real question is, are they a threat to these United States? Have we enough interests in that region to warrant real action?
Or would we be better off telling South Korea and China that they have a problem. Deal with it. We're out of here.
Free trade and open seas are in our national interest; are those threatened?
|This week:||Tuesday, October
10 / 10
Happy Birthday Republic of China
I am weary of the Foley mess, perhaps too much so since I seem to be
extraordinarily ineffective in communications on this issue. I am not sure
why I am unclear, but I must be. This is the only mail I got on this today
but it is so extraordinarily wrong that it's pretty clearly my fault for
miscommunications. And explain how Foley was forced out of office. His behavior was so
embarrassing and disgusting TO HIMSELF that he left of his own free will
as soon as the truth came out. I don't give a dam how other politicians
justify similar activities, its obvious that Foley HIMSELF considered
his behavior to be beneath contempt. I feel somewhat sorry (but not too
much) that he did not resign and get help sooner for something he
himself considered aberrant behavior, but he made his bed and he should
lie in it. What ever happened to the vaunted republican notion of
accountability for your own actions? I'm afraid your strategy of
demonizing the victims and the whistle blowers has lost you much respect
in my eyes. You may not care, but as and avid fan of both your fiction
and non fiction for many years it hurts me.
And explain how Foley was forced out of office. His behavior was so embarrassing and disgusting TO HIMSELF that he left of his own free will as soon as the truth came out. I don't give a dam how other politicians justify similar activities, its obvious that Foley HIMSELF considered his behavior to be beneath contempt. I feel somewhat sorry (but not too much) that he did not resign and get help sooner for something he himself considered aberrant behavior, but he made his bed and he should lie in it. What ever happened to the vaunted republican notion of accountability for your own actions? I'm afraid your strategy of demonizing the victims and the whistle blowers has lost you much respect in my eyes. You may not care, but as and avid fan of both your fiction and non fiction for many years it hurts me.
Which is puzzling. I have never thought Foley ought to remain in office, and the one commendable thing he has done is to resign. As to feeling sorry for him, I don't, much, because he took such great pains to hide his proclivities from his constituents, who presumably would have chosen another candidate in a primary election. There are Republican constituencies in which it wouldn't matter that the candidate was gay, Foley's was not one of them.
As to accountability, agreed: but accountability to whom? Are you arguing that no gay person should be a member of Congress? There are several; this is part of the new American consensus on toleration vs. approval (toleration having won out over criminalization and job discrimination). In Berkeley the Sea Scouts are being denied the public berth for their training boat because the Scouts don't accept gay Scoutmasters. There is no bar to being a gay Congressman. To whom, then, is Foley to have been accountable? I have said to his constituents. To whom else should he be accountable?
As to demonization of victims, where are the victims? It is NOT ILLEGAL in DC for a male Member of Congress to have actual sex with a 16 year old boy. There is no "victim" here. Now if you are arguing that it should be; that the age of consent ought to be higher than 16; then say so. I would agree entirely. But it isn't likely to happen because the Congress has abdicated its Constitutional power to govern the District of Columbia. My opinion on what ought to be isn't terribly relevant here. As to whether 16 and 17 year old boys are harmed by instant messages from a Congressman about masturbation and such like, it might be worth discussion, but it's not likely that the boys were particularly harmed; it isn't as if Foley were trying to seduce them, or using his position to make them submit to his attentions. There is not one shred of evidence that any of the lads involved objected to this attention from a gay Congressman. How were they victims?
Now sure: to some of us the whole notion is distasteful. I would have thought that anyone in his right mind, certainly including Foley, would know better than to send those messages to a teen age boy; but that is my proclivity and clearly is not one shared by the City Council of the District of Columbia. I have several times pointed out that this is the very forward edge of the battle area in the cultural wars: is that sort of behavior to be forbidden; tolerated; or approved? And those who approve of legalizing homosexual relations between a 16 year old boy and an older man can hardly complain when the older men talk about it.
Finally, as to using the Internet: I am very much against making it a criminal offense to talk about activities that are legal. To say that it is legal to seduce young men is, it seems to me, to say that it is legal to talk to them about the subject; and criminalizing discussion of actions which are themselves legal seems to be a remedy far worse than the disease.
And I am extremely weary of this subject. Of course Foley ought to have resigned, but not because he did instant messaging with the pages; but because he was elected under false pretenses. If it turns out that Barney Frank has sent Instant Messages of a suggestive nature to pages (note the IF; I don't say it has happened; this is known as a hypothetical) should he be forced to resign? If so, to whom does he owe an obligation not to do that? Foley is hardly the first male Congressman to find the pages sexually interested.
So I don't understand this letter. I have never defended Foley, but I don't condemn him for his sexual orientation; I do say that's relevant to his constituents. I do not see any victims here, so I don't understand why I am accused of 'blaming' them. I know enough about teen age high IQ boys to have some idea of what they might do in these circumstances -- and the effect on them. And I certainly do not like the idea that it is perfectly legal for a male Congressman to seduce 16 year old boys, pages or not; but it IS legal.
As to forbidding certain speech on the Internet, be damned careful what you do. It would be illegal to consummate the relationship in Florida where some of the IM's originated -- but the consummation would take place in DC where it is legal. This is a very sensitive matter; forbidding conversation between consenting adults very much is. Be damned careful what you wish for here.
And that really ought to be enough on this matter.
North Korea may not have nukes after all. Interesting. They seem to have managed a sub-kiloton detonation. Such things take extreme sophistication and are thermo-nuclear and very wasteful of fissionables - or they can be achieved with a very badly designed or constructed fission bomb.
It is likely that this was a fizzle, not a demonstration of sophistication. There are two basic fission weapon designs, one for Pu and the other for U235. In both cases the sub-kiloton detonation will result in a fairly dirty bomb.
Korea is claiming that there was no nuclear fallout escape from their test. That is unlikely. We have to wait for the sniffers to find out precisely what they have done, but it does look as if they didn't get a "natural" fission reaction. Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were the expected yield detonations of a fission reaction -- 15 - 20 kilotons.
October 11, 2006
Peggy Gasperik, RIP
An old friend. Few readers will have known her. She was Frank's companion for decades. They were married two years ago. I know no one who has an ill word for her.
Bush says that if we cut and run in Iraq, they will follow us home.
North Korea threatens nuclear war. Do they know what they are doing?
October 12, 2006
Niven and I had a long hike yesterday and plotted out the next two rings of Inferno 2. I am hard at work.
North Korea continues to threaten nuclear war. Do the know what they are doing?
Firefox strikes again. I seem to have lost the previous desktop. Is there a RELIABLE Firefox extension that lets you restore your previous session? It doesn't seem to have any mechanism for offering that option. It used to. I recall being asked. Now it doesn't. I am beginning to think this is a bust. You have to bookmark everything to get it back. Session Managers don't work, or close themselves capriciously; at least that seems to have been my experience.
I had a letter -- I think I even published a letter -- on a session manager, and now I can't find it; but it looks as if the one I was using has removed itself from the extensions. Firefox is always sending out update, and if you accept them, Firefox wipes out your desktop and makes you build everything all over again. I don't think they test those very well.
October 13 2006
Friday the 13th falls on Friday this month.
Firefox is worse than I thought. There is Session Manager and Tab Mix Plus. If you have Session Manager you may not be able to uninstall it. If you install Tab Mix Plus and have previously tried to uninstall Session Manager, it blows everything up. I may have to uninstall Firefox and start over.
One reader says Firefox is a Linux program ported to Windows, and it shows. He may be right.
Tab Mix Plus seems to work, IF you can ever get it installed without Session Manager. Attempting to uninstall Session Manager (I keep wanting to type Session Manger) gets the message that it will uninstall next time you start Firefox. If you have that situation, find a way to save your tab addresses in Notepad or some such, because the next time you open Firefox (1) session manager will still be there still saying that it will go away when next you open Firefox, and (2) all your tabs will be gone and there will be no way to restore them. Restarting the system may cure that. If you had Session Saver installed, THAT will allow you to restore to your previous default. After that, Tab Mix Plus does seem to take over.
I suppose this goes in the column. Firefox is the right browser to use for most purposes, and most of the extensions are great; I'll have more on this in the column; I now have a happy ending.
Rush Limbaugh has a diatribe on negative attitudes: what's the point of "GOP Insiders" going on talk shows talking about the Republicans losing this election?
It's a good point; but he also says that it's the same thing to say that we can't win in Iraq, and that's negativism and defeatism.
But a rational assessment of a military situation is not the same as "defeatism" about elections. Is victory possible in Iraq? Few Iraqi's now believe so. You can have Iraq; you can have democracy; but can you have both? And will a dismembered Iraq be possible without a civil war? Is a civil war resulting in a dismembered Iraq a "victory"? That can be debated in the context of "Would we be better off with Saddam in power?" and the discussion would be quite legitimate. When Baker says "Victory is not possible?" he means that the Western allied Iraqi democracy promised by Chalabi is not possible,. Saying that is not defeatism, it is realism.
The question is, is the peaceful and orderly democracy hoped for by the administration's allies still possible (if it ever was)? Or is it defeatism merely to ask that question?
The president says that if we cut and run they will follow us home. Is it defeatism to take that statement seriously and address that possibility? Is it defeatism to look into means to assure it can't happen? I would think that building border fences, cancelling visas, and building up the Navy would manage to keep them from following us home, and would be cheaper than continuing the war. Indeed, I would think that closing the borders, paying a lot more attention to visas, building up the Navy to 600 ships, investing in genuine X Programs that build up our space access capabilities, providing substantial (billions) prizes for certain technological developments such as mobile energy storage and reusable orbital launcher systems, building nuclear power plants, and developing our domestic oil resources would not cost substantially more than continuing the war. Is it defeatism to at least study that possibility?
Limbaugh says "How can you say that victory is not possible after 3500 brave troops have lost their lives for that goal?" But some things are just not possible. Certainly the rosy picture given us by Chalabi never was possible, and many knew it. I don't like saying I told you so to my friends; but I did, and I was hardly alone. It is not defeatism to say something is impossible; and it is not helpful to continue to pour blood and treasure into Mesopotamia if victory is not possible. Baker says "Victory is not possible." Surely we ought to take that seriously? Who does believe victory is possible? And on what reasoning?
Rational debate is not defeatism.
The Cost of Victory
It is absurd to say that the United States cannot succeed in Iraq. We certainly can. We can send two million soldiers to occupy Iraq. We can station constabulary along all the pipelines and get the oil pumping again, ruthlessly destroying all possible bases of operation against them. We can patrol Baghdad day and night, and we can enlist technology.
What it will cost to do this is another matter. We certainly can win; but at what cost? And do we want to pay that.
October 14, 2006
Considerable mail. The Iraq discussion continues, and there is mail on science and groupthink. The implications of that latter can be large.
There is also mail on North Korea and nukes.
And Denying Global Warming: crime against humanity, and shouldn't it be illegal like holocaust denial?
Subject: Freedom Works
Dick Armey takes on the religious right.
Amen. But note that there are conditions. Freedom under law; ordered liberty; these are not anarchy. The shadow of Hobbes, society without law and order, remains. Life in a state of nature is the life of war of all against all, and here is life in that state of nature:
Which appears to be where much of the former USSR is headed. When the USSR collapsed, Fukuyama proclaimed the end of history: we would see universal liberal democracy. History was over. But in under two decades since that proud proclamation, we see that his Jacobinism has not led to the predicted results.
Eternal vigilance. And understand what the ancients knew, good government is a gift from God, to be cherished and revered, and the defects of society should be approached as the wounds of your father, not as an opportunity to make drastic changes. That, at least, is the view of the Old Conservatives.
You are going to love this, unless you already know about it… 350+ years of Royal Society Journals now online.
Don’t get lost in it and forget your writing friend.
October 15, 2005
Got the column out today. There is a great deal of mail for tomorrow.
Do you recall the old Apple games? Here's an interesting place to look:
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