THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 230 November 4 - 10, 2002
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.
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November 4, 2002
And my long time friend and co-author Charles Sheffield has died. We founded the Jupiter imprint series. He did far more of the work on Higher Education than I did. Ph.D. in physics, a world class engineering scientist in optics and imagery. An expert on the Darwins, he single handedly revived interest in Erasmus Darwin. I'll miss him. A good writer, a good friend, and a hard worker.
Good news, bad news. The good news is that Sable had her first Vet appointment and she's healthy. She also got her microchip. The bad news is that we have to stop taking her on walks. The danger that she'll find some droppings of a sick dog is just too high until she has had all her shots. She got some more today, but it will be weeks before we can resume taking our midnight walks. I will miss that: an hour or so before my bedtime I was taking her for a half hour fast walk around the neighborhood. Put her ready to sleep, got me thinking good for an hour and then ready to sleep, and was a good thing all around.
So we'll have to run her around in the back yard, which won't be the same thing.
More bad news: the iDSL bills are higher than they said they would be. And of course I don't have any choices here. In 14 months the phone company puts in a relay close by and the problems go away, but just for now, I have to pay, which means I have to remind you more often to Renew Your Subscriptions. Oh. Well.
I have a lot on the Microsoft Decision for the column, and the new system is embargoed until the 14th, about when the column comes out: it's pretty neat. In fact it's very neat.
And I am working on the column.
|This week:||Tuesday, Fifth
of November, 2002
Guy Fawkes Day
Always remember the fifth of November,
Think about this: of 435 seats in the House, all up for election, only about 15 are in doubt: the incumbents will win in over 400 and there is precious little to nothing anyone can do about it. And that, my friends, is the institution designed to be the populist, democratic, body, the protector institution of our republican form of government. Governor Eldgridge Gerry would be proud of the work of his successors...
The House has seen to it that although it is supposed to be the democratic and competitive institution, it is in fact the very citadel of incumbency. The Senate, on the other hand, although not representative by numbers, is actually more reflective of voter trends and desires. But of course in both cases the real key is money.
Today is also the last day for soft money. Does anyone think this will make lobbying budgets less important? The Microsoft suit was designed to show that, as Pericles observed, just because you take no interest in politics does not mean that politics won't take an interest in you: pay your tribute to Washington or be punished. I wonder if Scott McNealy quite understood the implications of waking that sleeping giant.
"Lord, Lord, I did nae ken."
"Och weel, ye ken NOW."
Who is the junior Senator from South Dakota? Actually there isn't one, Tom Daschle gets to vote twice... And in California we get to choose a Governor. Oh frabjous day... In Minnesota the memorial service got so bad that a man who has appeared in public in a pink boa walked out in embarrassment. In Missouri the widow of a ghost who won runs again...
And in Yemen the Company put paid to some of those who ordered the attack on the USS Cole. Shades of the old republic, of Stephen Decatur and the Barbary Coast. Millions for defense, and not one cent for tribute. This government expects Perdikardis alive, or Rizzouli dead. From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli...
It is trite to say so, but in part the fate of the world depends on voter turnout in the United States. Vote early and often.
Now by popular demand:
Discovering her brothers: Alex and Richard meet Sable
In a pig's ear, I will...
I don't have to be smart. I'm cute.
My first ball. This Chaos Manor place is pretty neat, if you're my size. And I'm pretty smart, even if I am cute.
I don't know about this stairs stuff. It looks awfully high... Got to the landing. Hmm. This wasn't so hard after all. Now I can go up there whenever I want to...
We are up early on this Wednesday next after the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November. Very early, but it's just right puppy time. Huskies don't bark -- well, they can, but usually they don't -- but they do howl, particularly if lonesome, and while we can cage her where we can't hear her, there's no such place where she won't wake the neighbors. And Sable is very well designed: she's as hard to ignore as a human baby, and after all, all she wants is to be with people. Of course at 6 AM being with people who are asleep is boring, so we need to distract ourselves by chewing, and while we're happy enough with pig ears (hard on the pig but fine for people), it means this human who takes care of me gets plenty of time to read the election news.
As to the election, there were no surprises in California. Secession lost, most of the state debt issues passed even though no one has any idea of where the money will come from, and Gray Davis has won although it was a lot closer than he thought despite all the money he raised. Cronyism is entrenched here.
Nationally, we will have our war: for only the second time since the Civil War the President's party gained seats in the first off-year election. You'll hear that over and over, but it is remarkable, and should be remarked. And studied.
The President now gets to appoint the judges he wants, and he is not likely to be in a mood to compromise after the performance the Democrats put on, not allowing over half his appointees even to get a vote. The liberals will try to paint every judicial appointee as a Klan member who wants to legalize NAMBLA while setting all CEO's free. I doubt the Republicans will pay much attention any longer. The president tried cooperation and got obstruction, and there are enough vindictive people around him -- some of the judges who appointments the Democratic leadership blocked for no good reason were personal friends of powerful GOP Senators and White House officials -- that power politics is likely to prevail. Until not long ago this was fairly rare in the Senate; it will be increasingly common now.
The main lesson from this election is interesting: TV advertising has saturated the system, and produced what amounts to national stalemate. For the first time in a long time, old fashioned precinct party political work may have been decisive. Those of you who have Heinlein's TAKE BACK YOUR GOVERNMENT should get it out and read it again. Those who don't, last time I heard Baen had a ton of them in a warehouse. If he doesn't, work on him to get it out at least in a Print on Demand edition.
And maybe I ought to write my own version. I spent a lot of time in precinct politics -- I was County Chairman in San Bernardino in 1964 although Mrs. Pournelle did most of the work since my aerospace Cold War job kept me on 20 hour days -- and there are lessons in this election that ought not be lost.
If this election produces a flood of new concerned citizens, we might yet be a republic.
There is a renewal of the Halloween Papers debate, which isn't surprising. I also find some of my original writing about the Microsoft lawsuit to be interesting, and that reminds me that in addition to Reports, this site contains Debates. In both cases each has a summary page that explains what's available. There were responses from many long time readers. I probably ought to come up with a better organization of this place. Real Soon Now...
I expect this to open a new debate, which I welcome.
You might have a look at
which is pretty good on the Agency's capabilities...
November 7, 2002
Deadlines approaching. I have more puppy pictures which I'll post later, and some post election thoughts. My Microsoft Decision thoughts -- mostly in the nature of "I told you so" -- will be in the column.
Mail later today.
November 8, 2002
Rain and Column time. Both more than enough to eat the day.
November 9, 2002
Column is nearly done but it keeps sprouting other stuff.
The world's cutest puppy -- pictures later -- is now big enough to get into everything. She has figured out that there's something about poop that upsets these humans, so it's better to put it outside, but she also thinks that if she can see the outside through the windows in French doors, that's probably the right place. But she is learning...
Thank heaven for Nature's Miracle. One product eliminates odors. Another tastes horrible and stops her chewing anything it is sprayed on. And she's growing and getting smarter every day...
She also got her foot caught in a door I was trying to close, but no harm done, and she didn't think it was me who did it. As I say, pictures later.
Column going well, the rain here was just right, no mud slides, and there was enough to end the fire season.
Yesterday I had some spam. It so upset Norton and Outlook that it wouldn't even load or delete: somehow it was making a call to a non-existent file, and blowing up Norton Anti-Virus. The odd thing that is first I was getting messages telling me about this thing -- Norton is set to just delete stuff without bothering me -- so I ran Norton Live Update. BIG mistake. After that, Norton not only popped up to tell me things I didn't need to know, but couldn't deal with this at all.
The remedy yesterday was to get the people who run Rocket where my mail is kept to delete the offending messages; but that's a temporary thing. Today I downloaded and set up Mozilla. Norton still had problems with that mail, but we fixed most of those, and Mozilla let me download the horrible stuff so I could delete it, then let Outlook go get all the non-deleted mail left on the server. That worked. It will be in the column, but the real problem is NORTON Anti-Virus which apparently doesn't know how to deal with W32.Yaha.F@mm although it does detect it. This thing tries to call a file that Norton won't let it create, a .tmp file, and when it can't get it, it blows Norton up. I hope the Norton crew finds a remedy soon.
Until then I can use Mozilla to go get mail and delete bad stuff. Mozilla, interestingly enough, has a horrible INDEX, but it doesn't need one: things are organized quite well and in a logical manner, in contrast to Microsoft which sticks important things in different places and makes you play guessing games. I know Microsoft has legacy problems, but the solution to that is to do a sane organization and either provide a good index, or have duplicate ways to accomplish something -- the old legacy way, and a sane way.
With Mozilla, if you believe it's organized logically, you can find everything about where you would expect it to be. It sets up well. I may convert to it as a web browser. My only problem is that when I told Mozilla to be my web browser, it also decided it was my default web page editor and disenfranchised FrontPage. I didn't tell it to do that, and I don't want it to do that, and until I can figure out how to make it stop doing that, Mozilla is exiled to be called in only when needed.
Sable has decided I don't want to play just now so she's watching me from the cave under my desk. She likes it there. Pictures later...
I have been requested to put up a special puppy picture page. I'll get to that when I finish some other work. Thanks for the suggestion...
And I have mail saying "The Republicans obstructed Clinton's judicial appointments too."
I never said otherwise. Read what I did say. I was making a prediction. I will say that the Democrats managed to make a fine art of not allowing judicial appointments even to come to the hearing stage, but it's not important who started what. When I was younger the Senate was a collegial house, and Senators found each other more important, and the Senate as an institution more important, than they did their party or their relationships with the White House. Presidents come and go, but the Senate steht immer. That has been lost. The Thomas hearings, and the Bork hearings, were both symptoms and causes of the breakdown of self government into something less pretty.
It's not unusual and it wasn't unpredicted. It's still something to note, and to be concerned about.
I was sent a transcript of some student debates. They aren't worth reproducing (I'd have to remove all the names and the editing would be tedious) but I did draft a response that may we worth reproducing here:
Apologies but little of that - I confess I didn't read it all - is reasoned or intelligent comment. It is fairly typical of undergraduate debates since Medieval times.
Bush has a resolution from Congress. It's not a Declaration of War, which I would prefer, but since Korea we have made do with that kind of Congressional support; the people who now want to play literalist games are the very ones who have allowed the Constitution to be changed nearly beyond recognition without Amendments, and are at best inconsistent.
The "we're another" argument is silly. The US hasn't deliberately used war gasses on civilian populations (Waco may be an exception) and to put the US in the same moral class as Iraq simply disqualifies the speaker from deserving serious consideration on anything else said. It's not only a silly proposition but if you believed it, there are serious consequences.
People who argue in the name of "protecting our sons and daughters" and say "would you go?" haven't thought out clearly the implications of a volunteer military. Ask the troops and they're eager to fight. Most paid armies are eager to fight people they know they can whup with few casualties. The army would repudiate the idiots who purportedly are speaking for them.
The idiot who compared using guided missiles to V2 and then said "And HITLER used those" doesn't deserve any attention on anything else said. Some arguments are so stupid that it's pointless to continue talking to such people. V2 wasn't guided, to begin with, and has nothing to do with anything else. It was a pure terror weapon. Modern precision weapons still cause collateral damage, but it's just that; V2 was nothing BUT collateral damage.
And it's more than possible to have opposed the Serbian campaign and still be for taking out Saddam. The Iraqi war arguably has some conceivable relationship to American interest. But the objection to the Serbian campaign isn't that we hit the Chinese embassy or any other unintended target. Such things happen in war. The objection to the Serbian campaign is that we had no business there at all, it having absolutely no connection to our national interests. The Iraqi War may or may not be justified as in our interest, but it is argued by people worth listening to that it is; and it has nothing to do with Hitler and V2.
Stopping Hitler in 1936 wasn't politically feasible even though it should have been done. But Iraq and all the Arab nations together have a GDP about equal to Spain : what threat to the world are they? They sit on oil. We need it. I am on record as saying I'd rather invest in energy technology than war with Iraq. But at the end of the day, we do have interests at stake there.
What to do isn't clear. And certainly what we are about to do isn't what I would do. But if America is to be an Empire and World Policeman, then Iraq is the next place to go. For good reasons, given that we really are interested in a New World Order.
Let me add: watching the Europeans build THEIR empire, with their International Criminal Court that purports to have jurisdiction over American military people operating outside Europe makes me wonder if the US isn't going to have to form an Empire just to keep the Europeans in their places. The Brussels Bureaucrats want to run the world in their bureaucratic way, and sometimes the sword is the only remedy for red tape. Of course as we become Imperial we grow our own bureaucrats and weave our own red tape webs...
I prefer a Republic. One strong enough to tell Europe "Millions for defense. Not one cent for tribute." And avoid entangling alliances, and not be involved in the territorial disputes of Europe in places like Kossovo...
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