THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 463 April 26 - 29, 2007
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
April 23, 2007
Yesterday was Earth Day. All over the country politicians proclaimed that the debate is over, the science is all agreed, and there is nothing to discuss, so let's save the Earth. One square of tissue per visit to the water closet. Stop burning hydrocarbons, but we are not agreed on nuclear power. It was too much for me; I simply tuned out. I got my column done, read some more -- Arthur Clarke once said that novelists ought to read a book every day, advice I used to follow; but now I try to manage at least a book a week -- and played World of Warcraft. I'll pay attention to the Burning Earth another time, but yesterday it was too much.
- Roland Dobbins
Fascinating. I wrote about all this in the 1970's and even spent some time on Thera with Spyridon Marinatos, who first proposed the "Atlantis on Crete" thesis about 1938. I also walked in the hills on Crete and other Aegean islands; you can still see high water marks a long way above the sea, very old but still distinct. And of course the "floating stones" of the Atlantis legend are a normal phenomenon of volcanic eruptions.
The Minoan cities had no walls. They didn't need them. They were protected by their Navy, and also by Talos, a "Bronze Man" who could run around the entire island in a day. The tsunamis, earthquakes, and darkness at noon causing lanterns to be lit in daytime but knocked over by more earthquakes with resulting fires finished off the Minoan Navy, allowing the Mycenaean cities to sack the Cretan capital. As to Talos, think a bronze armored chariot force able to deal with any invaders who got past the Navy, but hardly able to deal with a whole fleet of invaders.
I intended to write a novel about this but (1) historicals were not doing so well at that time, and more importantly (2) I found the Minoan civilization charming and praiseworthy and it was so damned unfair that it was destroyed by the eruption that I just had trouble doing the novel. I wrote something else instead.
But I did a lot of research both in the US and in the Aegean. It's interesting that the story surfaces again.
I understand that the VT maniac used the name Ismael Ax sometimes. I was asked in another place what this might mean, and thought my answer might be useful here:
Abraham had a son by his handmaiden Hagar. His name was
Ishmael. He would have been heir, and it was pretended that he was the son
of Sarah, the wife. But when Sarah became pregnant, Sarah and Abraham drove
the handmaiden Hagar and her son Ishmael out into the desert, where he
became the father of the Arab people.
Subject: The Corner asks for conservative sci-fi
I sent him a mail pointing to Space Viking, Uller Uprising, A Slave is a Slave (all of which are available on Gutenberg), and your "There Will be War" series. Other people may wish to chime in with their own recommendations.
I'd have thought almost anything Niven and I have done, including Inferno, Oath of Fealty, Mote in God's Eye, Footfall, Lucifer's Hammer -- then there are my own works including The PRINCE (which includes The Mercenary, West of Honor, etc.). But I don't know how to communicate with him and anyway I have books to write.
|This week:||Tuesday, April
I am not joining Sheryl Crow's campaign, but now it turns out maybe she didn't really mean it. One can never be sure. Politically correct types believe in Voodoo. They have to. There's something about that in today's mail.
If you think credentialism is bad in the USA (and it is) you will really hate what the Canadians are doing on that score. But we were born free... That story is in mail.
Indeed there's a lot of good mail, and there's going to be more after I have breakfast. And the column is up over in Chaos Manor Reviews.
And if all this isn't enough to get you to subscribe, what will?
There are new scams associated with the Virginia Tech massacre. See mail.
Do any subscribers have time to work on bashing A Step Farther Out into a pdf with illustrations and proper layout? It has footnotes. I have some partial work on this, but it has been neglected. There's a sequel that is in even worse shape. Have I any volunteers?
Before you read this you might want to read the piece on the rise of tyrants over in mail.
- Roland Dobbins
(The web site seems to have been pirated. I have put up a cached version of the article.)
We sow the wind. And that ought to be just about enough mail and other thoughts for the day. But if it's not, there are new diatribes by Joanne Dow.
World of Greg Cochran http://gc.homeunix.net/
I put this together this evening. Partly out of frustration that I've never been able to convince Greg to do it himself.
If anybody has links, etc., to add, feel free to send them to me.
The American Thinker web site seems to be under attack: attempts to go to the article on adolescence take you instead to a commercial advertisement and there seems no way to get past that to the site.
I have accordingly put up a cached copy of the article over in mail.
Niven was over and we hiked up the hill. We have a fledgling linnet in a cage: it's outside, and the parents are going frantic. I feed it mashed baby food. In a day or so it will be able to fly and gain altitude and I'll let it go when the parents are around. It takes up time, but that's all right.
The orioles are back, and there is at least one new male and one new female, I think twins. Last year there was one new female. Orioles are not very common in Los Angeles, but we seem to have a stable family of them. They feed at a specialized oriole feeder -- they have to perch to eat. They can't hover the way humming birds do. I keep both an oriole feeder and a humming bird feeder filled, but the humming birds eat the oriole food.
April 26, 2007
The local news stations can't get enough of the Phil Spector trial. I suppose that's better than some of the obsessions they could have.
The bird isn't learning to eat, but one hopes the parents will take care of that. My job is to keep it safe from cats (and Sable who finds the whole thing fascinating) and give it some flying lessons. While trying to get my writing done.
I haven't mentioned the newly discovered planet 20 lightyears from here, but I will observe that since it is very close to a red dwarf, it is likely to be tidally locked. When I decided to put a habitable planet near a red dwarf in one of the Mercenary stories, I made it part of a double planet system. Tidal locks have a huge effect on climate, and thus on evolution.
Beware the fury of the Legions. The Congress is about to bring an army home. Over time the legends of what happened will grow. They were able to convince the army that it was defeated in Viet Nam, when it wasn't; but that was the hollow army, not the nearly invincible Legions we have today.
We started this. We brought Saddam down. We disbanded the Iraqi Army, so that there was no central authority other than our own. This was done deliberately. Now we are pulling out, blaming the Iraqis for their problems. If this were part of a new policy of minding our own business, restoring the Republic and allowing the world to take care of itself, it might be comprehensible, but it is not: the very people who wanted to intervene in Bosnia, who put our troops into Somalia and then did not support them and eventually ran (telling Bin Laden what he had suspected all along) will be in charge of this withdrawal and of the army they bring home. They are still interventionists albeit rather stingy and politically sensitive interventionists. They are still the people who ask, seriously, what is the good of this splendid army if you can't use it to go Do Good all over the world.
Bush meant well, but history will never forgive him for starting a war with no idea of what to do next. This was compounded by sending in an incompetent proconsul (who subsequently got the Medal of Freedom).
And Republicans and Democrats are now playing political games. Both seem to consider the soldiers as pawns.
The bird was released today. It flew strongly to a tree, not so far that the parents won't find it. Sable is happier without having to share the house with a bird, but she does miss the show outside the French doors to my balcony.
April 27, 2007
The day was devoured by locusts. Errands, getting my car fixed, an appointment with the Plextor people, having the AAA come help me get my car to the garage --- all told I got nothing at all done today. Ah well.
April 28, 2007
COL North's essay on the consequences of the Reid-Pelosi Strategy:
<LARGE snip, but I cannot see how to soft pedal this conclusion>
Reid and his cohorts in Congress who believe "this war is lost" have acted to ensure that it will be. No one asked them: "If we lost, who won?" The answer should be obvious.
Of course this was my fear before we ever went in there. I am told that several retired 4-stars declined the job of warlord in Mesopotamia.
The costs of staying in are large, but perhaps not in comparison with the costs of leaving. What we must not do is lose it and stay in; and any admission that we will, sometime in the near future, cut and run is a loss. If we are getting out, then best we just get out. If we are staying in, we need to start recruiting constabularies to supplement the US Army.
Three brigades of MP's would be a good start. It will be expensive, but all our choices are expensive.
Name the likely problem that costs us more than ~100 billion a year. Because if there isn't any, leaving puts us in the black. I might also point out that although it's hard to put a dollar cost on alienating the entire world, including those who could be our friends, the cost is substantial. We're convincing the average person in places like Great Britain and Germany and Australia - people who are _not_ on the hard left - that we're just nuts. I wouldn't want to take on the job of arguing that we're not.
Mostly pulling out is _admitting_ that the war was an unmitigated disaster: the threat is to reputations of the fools who cooked up and/or endorsed this, not to the interests of the country.
And we're going to pull out, never doubt it. The choice is between pulling out rapidly and pulling out slowly: the second path has far _more_ potential for disaster. Of course that's probably what we will do.
Subject: Ollie North
Nobody ever said Ollie was _smart_. Look, has he ever managed to figure out what was going to happen next in Iraq? I have: he hasn't.
As for casualties going up as we leave, what a joke. Here's what you do: you build up some extra gas and ammo reserves - which is easy - and you form up a convoy escorted by armor and get the hell out. Oh, and secure a few key bridges first. That's it: it's Interstate-quality driving all the way to Kuwait. With the Air Force overhead and hundreds of tanks, how is anyone supposed to give us trouble? I guarantee we'll lose fewer getting out than we did fighting our way in - and that was less than we lose in two months of occupation.
As for leaving equipment behind, well, we'll take armor and valuable spares with us and blow up everything else. I kept telling people who talked of ' permanent bases' that there is no such thing. As for the money we spent on various improvements in Iraq - not much got done of course, and what got finished and hasn't already been ruined by incompetence is still there for the Iraqis if they want it. Did we expect to take the sewage plants home with us?
As for oil fields in Iraq, they'll eventually be exploited, never fear. Does Ollie think that we have to put a gun to the heads of the Arabs to make them sell their oil?
As for trouble between the Kurds and Turkey: I'll give you odds that the Turks will explain exactly what the situation is to the Kurds - with a baseball bat - and then the Kurds will refrain from causing trouble.
This country existed for a couple of hundred years without running Mesopotamia and it did just fine.
All of which needs thinking about.
Like I said.
April 29, 2007
We will continue the discussion of Iraq policy on Monday. I will also copy all the Saturday material there so we get a clean start.
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.
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