THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 628 June 21 - 27, 2010
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June 21, 2010
I have spent the morning getting the May column done. It's finished and ought to be up tonight or tomorrow. Late, but done. First time I missed a column deadline in 30 years.
It has been a busy day, and it's not really over yet. I'll have an essay tomorrow. I'm dancing as fast as I can...
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|This week:||Tuesday, June
The big news is the McChrystal affair. The left is already calling it the equivalent of the Truman-MacArthur imbroglio. Liberal spokespeople are calling for McChrystal's resignation. I have also heard populist voices demanding that McChrystal be dismissed and disgraced, complete with stripping him of his medals and insignia and publicly breaking his sword for his "disrespect" for the President.
I am just reading the Rolling Stone article that caused all this controversy. I am not a regular Rolling Stone reader (they did have a couple of good reviews of my books many years ago, but I didn't find the publication much to my liking) and it's not easy reading. As I understand it, the President has ordered the Commanding General of the Afghan War to come to the White House and "explain" his remarks in Rolling Stone; and the General has made some sort of apology for those remarks. We may expect a lot more on this in the next few days.
I wonder why there is any crisis at all. I find it hard to believe that General McChrystal did not know that Rolling Stone is a populist somewhat left of center** publication, and that he said anything to their reporters that he didn't expect to find, with typical spin, all over the popular press. He certainly could not have expected anything sympathetic to the military in that publication. It's hard to know what he thought he was doing, but it's also hard to see what it is he is supposed to have done. He has not disobeyed any orders. He has implemented the insane Rules of Engagement imposed by the White House and their Ambassador. He has apparently said that Obama was "unprepared", which is hardly news; did anyone think Obama was prepared to assume command? What did he do to prepare himself? I wouldn't have thought that saying anything unflattering about the President to Rolling Stone would be a good idea for a commanding general, even if what was said is manifestly true. It's lese majeste at best, and although McChrystal is unlikely to lose his head for maiestas as he would have in the times of Tiberius, it may "cost" him his job. Saying that the Emperor has no clothes doesn't always have a happy ending outside of fairy tales.
Of course that's not inevitable. At the moment, McChrystal is restrained by both law and tradition from being really critical of the President's handling of the war, and the silly Rules of Engagement that have been imposed, and the less than brilliant leadership of the civilian overseers of our expeditionary wars. If the President dismisses him, those restraints are gone. You never want a serious crisis to go to waste, but it's a bit hard to see how the President comes off well here.
In the Truman-MacArthur controversy there were serious issues at stake, not just civilian command authority -- after all, no one including MacArthur questioned that -- but what place the Korean War had in the American Cold War strategy, and whether conscript soldiers could be sent into a war that we did not intend to win. "There is no substitute for Victory." MacArthur thundered. When America goes to war, she goes to war. Don't Tread on Me.
Truman worried about the risk of nuclear war, about just what would be the cost of China actually entering the war rather than maintaining the fiction of a "volunteer" expeditionary force, of expanding the war to include naval operations, Japan, Formosa (at the time recognized by the US as the Republic of China and the only legitimate government of China); of driving Mao and Stalin into a closer alliance. Was Containment a legitimate strategy, or must the US undertake to roll back Communism? How far should we back Generalissimo Chiang? Recall that Madame Chiang, a Christian, was quite popular among many in the US.
These issues are debatable even now that the Cold War has ended with the collapse of the USSR and the conversion of the People's Republic of China from a totalitarian regime of irrational Maoists into an authoritarian gerontologic oligarchy reminiscent of Franco's Spain -- economic but not political freedom.
Return to the crisis caused by a general's off handed remarks about the President's state of preparedness. Why is this a crisis at all? It did not need to be one: the President created it by summoning McChrystal to the White House. Where is this going? Is it a crisis that must not be wasted?
One result of the McChrystal incident is to distract us from the upcoming Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Kagan; from the oil spill; from the coming collapse of the health care system as more and more employers realize that they cannot afford ObamaCare; from the executive action of implementing ObamaCare in 2010, not in 2014; from the $20 billion dollar slush fund to be handed out by political appointees; from the myriad issues that caused Thomas Sowell to wonder if we are not already on The Slippery Slope to Tyranny.
Another result may be an actual meaningful debate on the simple question of Why Are We In Afghanistan?
Many years ago I was asked in a televised debate what should be be strategy for Viet Nam. I said "Win it and get out." Allard Lowenstein said to me, "But Jerry, your friends in the Administration want to lose it and stay in." Of course McNamara and his people were hardly my friends, as Allard knew; but it was a fair observation. Obama decided to stay in but send fewer troops than McChrystal asked for. Why?
As we come closer to November, expect many more incidents and crises that must not be wasted. And see below.
A very old friend, twenty times the Vice President of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), and nearly always present at meetings. He was getting radiation treatments at the Kaiser Sunset facility where I went, and for some years those had gone well, but lately things had not been going so well. We were old friends but not close friends, fellow survivors who exchanged greetings and good will. For many years he gave LASFS the benefit of his steady judgment and quiet competence. Farewell.
It's a good question. Could it be that no one thought of it? I can't believe that union politics ruled in a situation of this gravity. Why didn't the President suspend the Jones Act for this crisis? I really can't think why not.
First, it is not established that the General said anything at all; we only know what a not always reliable source says that he said. Leave that. Assume the Rolling Stone article is perfectly factual. It then has to be established that to say the President was unprepared is contemptuous, and that saying so in a bar in an informal and theoretically off the record meeting is to "use contemptuous words" within the meaning of the Act. Would it be contemptuous to say that the President is clean and articulate? I presume that proving 'contempt' has to be done by a General Court Martial, not by the press or by the White House. I doubt very seriously if any such Court will be convened; certainly the question of whether or not the President was prepared and how he prepared himself would come up in any such trial.
Of course the President has the constitutional authority to relieve McChrystal of his command. And McChrystal has the option of resigning.
The problem is that the President was and still is unprepared for this war. He is also ambiguous about it. He doesn't want to be there and he doesn't know how to get out. He was unwilling simply to cut and run -- which he undoubtedly wanted to do the day after his inauguration -- because of the consequences. He sent in enough troops to keep us there without disaster, but not enough to win. He put unprepared and unfit people in charge of framing the Rules of Engagement and the general tactics of the war. He let Nuts have control of vital aspects of the War. He remained less than knowledgeable about many of the important aspects of the war or of this kind of war, but did not compensate by allowing those who do know something of war be in charge of it. He doesn't know if the war is winnable or not.
Were I McChrystal I would probably go to the meeting with the President, resign, and come out of the meeting with the message "He's still not prepared." At least I'd dream of it. Whether or not I'd do it is another matter. I once asked Charles Beckwith why he led the mission into Iran, given that he knew there were insufficient resources to accomplish the mission, and it was likely to lead to disaster without a miracle. He said, "Son, when the President of the United States stands you up in front of his desk and says 'You are the best man to lead this mission. Your resignation is not accepted,' you shut up and soldier." The resulting events in the Iranian desert were not as big a disaster as it could have been, but it wasn't very good outcome either.
The President would probably very much like to dismiss McChrystal and use him as an excuse to cut and run, but if he dismisses McChrystal the general is free to comment on the President's preparedness. It will be interesting to see what happens. I sure don't know. In the time of Tiberius Caesar maiestas was a capital crime, and many of the Senators and many of the equestrian order died of it. We have not come to that in our Republic. McChrystal can be glad of that.
Note that the UCMJ protected Bremer from the truth. Bremer was arrogantly incompetent. He deserved contempt. An eyewitness says
This is pretty apparent from Bremer's book, which makes it clear that this inept proconsul had no clue as the effects of his actions. Perhaps the world would be a different place if someone had treated him with the contempt he deserved then demanded a Court Martial, with the defense that the contempt was deserved. Why Bush sent this monumental incompetent isn't known; he was apparently selected by the State Department.
"We who preach and write books ... write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We dictate at the same time as we explore. We speak as we are still knocking for understanding". Augustine of Hippo
** "Left of Center" is a term used by the popular press, and usually is thought of as more or less synonymous with "liberal socialist." It's a very imprecise term. Many years ago I wrote my PhD dissertation on the unreality of the "left-right" political spectrum and its lack of utility in serious political discourse. Instead I offered the "Pournelle Axis". I explained all that in an article written for one or another of my anthologies, and sharpened with the help of Jim Baen's editorial skills. The result was a column which Jim liked enough to publish in several places along with his comments. You can find it here. The political spectrum has changed in some ways since I wrote that.
June 23, 2010
The President has relieved General McChrystal of his command, as is his right. It's not clear what McChrystal, certainly one of our best counter insurgency warrior officers, will do now. The rumor is that he offered his resignation and that was refused, but the President says he has accepted the general's resignation as CINC in Afghanistan. The President never wastes a crisis.
There's a lot to be learned from this. One is that the principle of unity of command remains valid; and it was violated by Obama in Afghanistan as it was by Bush in Iraq. Obama talks about unity in command, but that is precisely what does not exist in Afghanistan, as it did not in Iraq.
Another is that Obama demands respect. He said so in his speech.
Of course the most elementary lesson is that hanging around with reporters from Rolling Stone is probably not a productive thing to do for military of any rank. One wonders why that wasn't obvious from the beginning. Interestingly, that only happened because the volcano in Iceland stranded the Rolling Stone reporter in Europe at a time when the Afghanistan command was also there. An irony of history indeed.
More ominous is Yale Professor Ackerman leading the charge for using this crisis as a justification for a purge of the officer corps. I expect this to be echoed by much of the media.
A more interesting discussion would be whether the COIN strategy, which Obama affirmed in the same speech that announced McChrystal's dismissal, has any chance of working in Afghanistan.
And Lo, I will be with you always, even unto the return of the Taliban. But in July, 2011, we're out of here.
I am not sure how to sell that to a tribal leader, who is faced with choosing between the Taliban insurgents and the Mayor of Kabul.
I wonder what Petraeus exacted as the cost of taking that position? Petraeus sent the troops in for the kill in Iraq. Did he also get the July 2011 withdrawal date cancelled? Did he get assurance that he can change the rules of engagement? It's hard to believe he would accept the command under the restrictions McChrystal endured. And yes, I am aware that McChrystal wanted the job, and seems to have embraced many of the crazy rules -- except that the Rolling Stone article doesn't precisely show that.
The real question is, what authority does Petraeus now have, and how will he use it? Will there be a change in the rules of engagement? The purpose of the military is to break things and kill people. Will the Legions in Afghanistan be permitted to do that? I find it hard to believe that Petraeus would accept the command under the restrictions McChrystal endured.
June 24, 2010
Petraeus is sent in to win. One presumes he's intelligent enough to insist on precondition elements, like sacking some of the clownish civilian agents sent into Afghanistan. The principle of the unity of command has not been observed in this war, and it should be.
We may expect new efforts to define "win". Just declaring victory won't do. But with an intelligent and competent soldier in command, and with the White House having little choice but to be very sympathetic to his requirements, the character of the war may change, possibly for the better.
I have always been opposed to any massive US presence in Afghanistan. I do not really want the Legions to learn how to govern without the consent of the governed, and I see no real US interest in restructuring tribal Afghanistan into a nation state. It may have lithium and we many want some of its mineral resources, but those minerals are in areas that will be controlled by someone we can deal with. The US needs to guarantee the Afghan borders against foreign invasion, as we need to guarantee Iraq against invasion from Iran. The guarantees ought to have a time limit, although the limit need not be specified -- yet. But it is greatly in the US interest to get out of the Middle East.
Obama had to turn to Bush's general in preference to his own. McChrystal voted for Obama, and to the extent he has political sentiments they are more sympathetic to the Obama wing of the Democratic Party than to anything else. He has now been replaced by the architect of Bush's "victory" in Iraq. I say "victory" because what we will leave behind in Iraq is a far cry from what the neo-conservatives thought we would accomplish (and what Bush thought was on the way when he did his "Mission Accomplished" stunt). It was a victory in that we removed Saddam. Had we pulled back into enclaves -- pulled back to Kuwait, for example -- and left Iraq to fester until a new caudillo emerged -- back at the time of "Mission Accomplished" we would be better off and it's not likely that Iraq would be all that much worse off.
Similarly, after the Special Forces and the CIA aided the Northern Alliance in its overthrow and stunning defeat of the Taliban, had we then guaranteed Afghanistan's integrity against invaders but otherwise pulled back into Kabul, I believe we and Afghanistan would be far better off now. Our war with Afghanistan was that it harbored our enemies; not that it had a government we didn't like. There are plenty of places with governments we don't like, some of which make Saddam and the Taliban look pretty tame. Once the Taliban was gone, why was it our business to install something else?
We have neither the ability nor the resolve to change all that and bring about the end of history. I do not demean the Legions when I say we don't have the ability; I mean that without resolve we do not have the ability because nation building takes a long time commitment. You can't pull out when the novelty wears off.
The Romans understood this: the Legions were not good at pacification and nation building. Auxiliaries, with Roman officers and non-coms but native forces who were never going to be pulled but would remain and intermarry and be Romanized -- were the proper instruments for that task. This policy was successful in many places. Rome was overwhelmed by the upsets in central Asia that sent Sarmations and Scythians and Goths and Vandals and Huns, whole peoples, wandering. Some were admitted peacefully into the Empire. Some crossed the borders illegally but were allowed to stay. The Empire was weakened by civil wars and revolts, but those were brought on by the weakening of the hold of the Legions and the Auxiliaries out at the borders. Aurelius was succeeded by his less than sterling children, who were succeeded by a martinet unacceptable to the Legions after which the Praetorians auctioned off the Imperial throne to the highest bidder; Septimius Severus came from Africa to demonstrate that Emperors could be made in places other than Rome; and the long descent began. (Clearly I condense a long process. Read Gibbon and his successors for more.)
If the United States wants to be in the Empire business, it will need to develop two kinds of military force: the nation builders, and the Legions. This is expensive, and requires imperial policies: war must feed war. Those we protect must pay for that protection. (As King George III demanded after the French and Indian Wars (AKA the Seven Years War) in the American Colonies. Note that England relied more on regulars including Hessians than on British officered locals like George Washington who as a militia officer saved much from the Braddock Expedition disaster. And again I simplify, but the point is still valid.)
In the exuberance after the fall of the USSR there was a feeling that we could accomplish anything. It was the End of History: the world was to become a series of Liberal Democracies. The United States was to be the midwife of this inevitable revolution. It was a heady idea. I note that one of the biggest attractions of Communism was that Marxism was a scientific analysis that predicted the end of history, and the Communist Party was to be the midwife of history. One could march in step with the flywheel of history, or one could futilely oppose it in defense of the uninspiring and sometimes despicable bourgeoisie. Marxism failed, but now the United States could hasten the development of the world into the new order of liberal democracies, bringing about this brave new world. It was an inspiring vision, and Hussein was an obvious villain worth bringing down.
The rest is history.
The United States has still to find a new picture of its role in a more realistically conceived future, a future in which Liberal Democracy is not welcomed with open arms -- particularly not if brought in with Abrams tanks -- and a future in which the survival of the United States does not require a military establishment larger than those of the rest of the world combined. We have yet to coldly assess our national interests in China and the Far East; India; Pakistan; the Near East; the Middle East, and this hemisphere. As a result we don't have control of our own borders but we look to control the borders of Afghanistan.
It is a debatable question whether the United States can afford to become a Liberal Socialist state like most of Europe. Whether we ought to go that way is even more debatable . I prefer freedom to Socialism, transparency and subsidiarity to stronger federal government, and liberty as the default case in questionable decisions. (Many of my views have been summarized here.) What is not debatable -- at least I don't think it is -- is that the United States can become a Liberal Socialist state while maintaining the costliest military establishment on the planet. Europe couldn't have developed their progressive systems while maintaining a meaningful military establishment. They had NATO; they didn't need real armies. They could rely on our Legions. We need the Legions to honor NATO, but it's not at all clear what need we have of NATO. This is not to belittle those who fought at our side in the Near East and Afghanistan. Their aid was meaningful and many showed great courage and integrity. But whether we need NATO's assistance for our national survival is another story.
Of course Empire can -- skillfully done -- have some profits. War can feed war. What's the point of that huge military establishment if you don't use it? Levy tribute on our allies: we paid for their defense for decades. Now it's their turn. Athens did that, moving the League Treasury to Athens, and when Melos tried to secede from the League and be neutral, Athens -- the Athens of Pericles -- besieged Melos, slaughtered all the men and enslaved their women and children as a lesson to others who had thought they were allies, not subjects. With the tribute levied on the Empire they built the Parthenon. The long term result wasn't so good, but Athens had armed enemies, Sparta, and beyond Sparta the Persian Empire to finance Sparta. The US faces no such enemy so long as we keep our military establishment. Or -- but wait, have we forgotten China? Well, perhaps we can negotiate a CoDominium.
We aren't likely to do this -- and certainly I am not advocating it, as I said, I prefer the Old Republic -- but it is a way to finance Liberal Socialism. Levy tribute on our neighbors and allies. They can call it foreign aid. With that tribute maintain the Legions and build long term auxiliaries. Impose Western Liberal Democracy across our sphere, settling the auxiliaries as long term allies. The formula is known. Whether we have the skills to apply it may be debated.
But I ramble. For the moment we have in command a general who understands that to win you must break things and kill people, and it is not clear that the President has any alternatives. In the past we had Germain and Howe. We now have Germain and -- who? Not Cornwallis, Petraeus is better than that. Wellington? We live in interesting times.
June 25, 2010
It was a busy day. A Presidential cavalcade, black SUV's in a line, helicopters overhead, police everywhere, went from the White House to Virginia, crossing the Potomac; I wasn't there, but I'd bet there was a traffic jam. Of course they are used to that sort of thing in Imperial Washington now. Harry Truman used to take his morning walk in DC -- famously doing so even on the morning after a gang of terrorists shot up Blair House -- and refused to allow his bodyguards to interfere with the normal lives of civilians, but since then it has been routine to stop air traffic while the President has a haircut on Air Force One, block traffic all across Washington when the President goes anywhere at all, and in general disrupt the lives of the subjects wherever the President goes. It was thus under Bush, it is thus now.
I would be astonished if this trip, involving the President of Russia as well as the US President, were any different. The videos and snapshots taken in Ray's Hell Burger don't show the security people, but the place must have been crawling with them; simple prudence would demand that. Not only the US Secret Service, but whatever the Russians call the KGB now would be involved. It's interesting that I have found no accounts of this; it would have been an interesting story, how the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Homeland Security, and possibly other US security services -- we have so many I can't keep track of them -- interacted with the modernized KGB.
And of course the place is a couple of miles northwest of the Pentagon. It's an area of Arlington I don't know; when I regularly went to the DC area in the 1950's and early 60's, it was mostly for Pentagon briefings. We generally flew into Washington National and stayed at the Marriot Twin Bridge, and rarely got north of the Pentagon. In the 1980's my trips were all to the Capitol area. But I'd imagine that Hell Burger is close enough to the Pentagon for modern visitors, who can't stay at the Marriot Twin Bridge, to go there. According to the 2008 Washington Post review, the place isn't particularly cheap, so it must have some other attraction I don't know.
(They can't stay at the Marriot Twin Bridge because it no longer exists. It was torn down in 1990 and not replaced, and the Twin Bridges are no longer called that: they are the George Mason and Arland Williams bridges now. Williams was a hero of the 1982 crash on takeoff of a Boeing 737.)
One does wonder -- at least I wonder -- why the President of the United States would take the President of Russia from the White House to Arlington and Ray's Hell Burger. Presuming they traveled together in a motorcade so they would be able to continue their discussions of trade policy and other matters of importance such as Iran, and Georgia, and Afghanistan, and the Chinese and Russian Turkestans, and such. Of course what with all the blaze of publicity and lack of security the discussions would have to be halted while in a public place like Hell Burger, and both Presidents had to go to the G 20 Conference in Toronto the next day, but perhaps they had so little to disagree on that there was no time pressure.
I recall that when I was in Moscow in 1989, during Glasnost but before the fall of the Soviet Union, the McDonald's at Pushkin Square was new enough that there were long lines of people waiting for a hamburger, and one of the demonstrations of the superiority of capitalism over socialism was that in America fast food places gave really fast service, just as we used to delight in showing naive Soviet engineers the big parking lots of worker cars at American manufacturing plants, but surely that can't have been the point this time. Anyway, if the point was to demonstrate that there are great fast food burger joints in the US, and there's some prejudice against the ubiquitous McDonald's, surely there's something else in the District? I would have said the Roy Rogers on Pennsylvania Avenue, except that I find to my horror that there is no Roy Rogers in the District now. Still, there must be some place closer. Or send an unmarked Secret Service car for takeout? He could take a really good container to keep it all fresh. No traffic jams.
Rush Limbaugh speculates that Obama went out for lunch because all he can get in the White House is broccoli and yogurt and bamboo, and he wanted something real. The President can't send out for burger and fries because they aren't permitted in the White House kitchen. Since we know that Bush I was able to banish broccoli from the White House, this may be the first reduction in the powers of the President since the tenure of Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. I doubt that's the story, but I'm not sure I have a better one.
It really does puzzle me. It may be that the President's political advisors thought this would be a way to restore some of the President's fading glamour. I don't think it accomplished that, but perhaps that was the intention. One does wonder what the President of Russia thought of all this. Certainly Russians like to project an image of heroic leadership -- pictures of Putin working out, or going hunting come to mind** -- but demonstrating American politics by taking a flotilla of armed vehicles out to buy a hamburger doesn't quite seem to fit that picture.
I guess it remains a mighty mystery. We do hope that the expedition didn't cut too deeply into the time the two presidents had for discussion of issues important to the nations they lead.
Which I suppose puts the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US into perspective; much of the job loss has been due to productivity (as many have noted here, particularly in mail).
On the other hand, many of the jobs were lost to high labor costs in the US. It's not a simple equation. But it is good to know there's a dance in the old girl yet...
The Israeli Ambassador explains the Israeli dilemma in a hostage case.
It doesn't say anything we could not infer, but it is well said.
June 26, 2010
I am reminded of what was expected of the meeting with Medvedev:
And they also managed to go to Ray's Hell Burgers before flying to Canada.
Also from June 23:
Also from the Forbes article but not included in the MDA digest:
I do not believe that nuclear war in the Persian Gulf is imminent, and I certainly agree that bombing Iran into the stone age is a poor policy. Of course any large actions in the Gulf would have to be carefully coordinated with the Russians. Russia's stake in the region is very large. The USSR stationed troops in Tehran during World War II, and getting them out was a major accomplishment of the Truman administration. Iran has oil and warm water ports...
You may believe as much of the story of US and Israeli Special Forces operating inside Iran for target assessment as you want. There are certainly been many adventure novels on this theme, and there have been for some time.
The management of US policy toward Iran is difficult and complex, and there are no easy solutions. My own recommendation has always been to move cautiously toward opening Iran: make it easy for Iranian youth to acquire iPhones and iPads and such; Western cultural weapons of mass destruction will do the rest. Of course the regime there understands this, and seeks to promote hostility to the west among the next Iranian generation. We need to avoid helping the regime promulgate this message.
Perhaps all this was discussed in the meeting of the Presidents of the US and Russia. It certainly should have been. So far I have heard no reports on the subject -- which, look you, may well be a good thing.
June 27, 2010
The confirmation hearings for Kagan begin shortly. George Will has a well done column in the Washington Post http://www.sgvtribune.com/ci_15384407 that asks several questons.
The fallout from the McChrystal affair continues. Whether it leads to a national discussion of why we are in Afghanistan, and what the exit strategy is, we don't know. Colin Powell famously insisted on knowing what it would take to get out before we sent the troops in. It was good advice.
Afghanistan may well have valuable mineral deposits. What it doesn't have is mining engineers to extract it, or railroads to ship it. At one time the normal assumption would be that it would be American companies that would develop any new assets found in Afghanistan. Not it's far more likely that China or Russia will be the developers. Possibly with American advisors...
The media interest in soccer, or football as the game is known everywhere but here, stirred me to go look up the "Offside Rule". Understanding it turned out to be a great deal more complicated than I had thought; apparently the purpose of the rule is to guard against the danger that soccer would become interesting and exciting. It says, in essence, that Team A cannot score unless there are at least two Team B players between the scoring player and the goal. One, the goaltender, is pretty well guaranteed to be there, of course. Whether the other is there or not depends on Team B, not on anything Team A can do. (The rule is a bit more complex than that, but that's its essence.)
So as soon as I thought I understood that, there was what was clearly an offsides play in the Germany/England game, and it wasn't called, and now I suppose I don't understand after all. I suspect I don't care. The arguments for the offsides rule boil down to saying it would be too easy to score if there were no such rule, which might make soccer more like basketball, and we can't have that....
Nicholas Aleshin sent the above. Can you guess what is being loaded into the airplane?
I recall when I first got a 5 MB hard drive. It was a Honeywell Bull, about the size of a two drawer file cabinet. The lights dimmed when I turned it on. And when I was on the Board of the Lowell Observatory, Shoemaker had about two hundred megabytes of asteroid and comet data. It was stored on a DEC hard drives: removable platters larger than dinner plates that held 32 megs each. I got Gene a couple of Priam 300 mb Winchesters so he could have all his data available at once. The second drive was for backup, of course. We got rid of the DEC drives which were costing a fair amount for maintenance.
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