THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 639 September 6 - 12, 2010
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September 6, 2010
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September 7, 2010
Family visiting. Catching up on mail. Two of my boys took me up the hill today, and I ended up with a 6 mile hike to the Tree People and back the back way. Longest hike I have had in a couple of years. Feels good if tiring. Sable is not used to having someone more important than she is around the house, and that can be tiresome. In other words, a good day, but I'm still a bit behind in work.
Thanks to all those who have recently subscribed and renewed. I'll get back to my more frequent essays shortly; meanwhile there is a lot of mail, and I am catching up on that with some comments.
Florida is in the news. First, detectives have found a 170 page manual on "How to Molest Children" written by "The Mule", which is apparently available on the Internet. Actually, it doesn't seem to be available: there are lots of stories about it, but if there's an actual link I haven't found it, and none of the sources I have seen have actually seen a copy of this book: it's all stories about what someone says that a book they haven't read is saying. Which sounds a bit like the American Association for the Advancement of Science session about The Bell Curve: no one discussing it had read it, they were proud of not having read it.
Stories about the manual say it is detailed, with techniques for finding and tracking young targets, and techniques for keep them quiet about the event.
Also in Florida they have declared International Burn a Koran Day. This is opposed by the big guns who say that this will put the Legions in danger. One presumes that this would apply to burning a copy of Mein Kampf during World War II? Publishing stories about National Socialism ought to have been banned because it would infuriate and humiliate the Germans? Not to mention the various stories about Japanese and Emperor Hirohito. Burning a Koran is said to be both dangerous -- "Are you willing to have American blood on your hands if you do this?" one reporter asked the instigator of International Burn a Koran Day to be celebrated on 9/11.
The questions hare are obvious. Just how much power ought the state to have in regulating such publications and actions like burning a Koran? How much is granted in the Constitution (none so far as I can see; which was also the decision in early times after the Alien and Sedition Laws and that controversy that we all studied in 6th grade American history back when there was such a thing as 6th grade American History)? And how much was allowed to the States? The answer to that second question was, until quite recently, "A Lot." Banned in Boston, banned by the Binford Commission in Memphis, banned here and banned there was common with books, motion pictures, stage performances, and other such stuff.
I understand that the Burn a Koran Facebook page has 9,000 followers. There's even an essay giving ten reasons to burn a Koran.
And this discussion seems to be dominating the news today. It's still the silly season...
January 8, 2010
The family left this morning and I had dental appointments, so little got done. I am catching up.
I also note from what I saw of his collection of books to be burned, none is a Koran. The Koran is explicit: it cannot be translated, and any copy in any language other than the original Arabic is not a Koran and must not be considered a Koran by any Islamic scholar. None of the books I saw in his collection are Arabic. Now he intends to be insulting and insulting he can be by burning a translation, but blasphemous against Islam (which I presume is his intent) he cannot be without an Arabic copy. Actually one wonders whether any such overt action of an infidel is any more sacrilegious than the existence of the infidel who has not submitted to Islam nor submitted to dhimmitude by paying tribute.
September 9, 2010
.Actually I will be late today, too: I have appointments at JPL for some research on works in progress.
About to go to JPL.
I remain astonished about the size of the flap about the burning of the "Korans". I say it that way because under every doctrine of Islamic scholars I know of, the clear statement in the Koran that no translation is a Koran means that only infidels believe they are burning a Koran and thus being blasphemous when they burn a translation. And yes, that's a quibble but so is the flapdoodle.
Of course the burnings are a tactical error. Never do your enemy a small injury. This will infuriate the Muslims in the same way that lobbing a missile into the Mosque of the Two Aspects in Medina would infuriate them, while doing nothing to intimidate them; that is, if you are going to engage in acts of terror, make them effective. Don't galvanize the enemy with small insults. And for those who are unable to figure it out on their own, I am not advocating the bombardment of Medina. I'd be far more likely to assent to assisting the Israelis in dismantling the Iranian nuclear establishment. Note also that I have not yet done that, either. Not that anyone is asking my assent or advice in that matter.
The Burnings are a tactical error, but it is not our tactical error, and escalating their importance with all this attention is not wise. I make no doubt that someone throws away a used Koran translation every day, as someone almost certainly throws a worn out Bible into the trash quite frequently.
As to the safety of the Legions, the best way to protect them from the Afghanis is to withdraw them as soon as the Taliban was thrown out of Kabul. You can say, but we didn't do that -- which is the point. If a fifty person congregation is determined to have a public burning of documents they call Korans, there is nothing the Republic can do to stop them, and the best public policy is to take no notice. Meanwhile, certain instructions ought to be delivered to all the junior officers and non-coms in Afghanistan. These would not be official orders, and ought to be restricted to those commanders and sergeants who can be trusted to understand what to do and to whom to do it. Rom Emmanuel is not the only person who understands that some crises can be used to advantage. Poppy fields come to mind.
It would be better if that small Florida congregation had not announced it's "International Burn a Koran Day", or, given the announcement, it had been ignored; but that option is no longer open. The question is what should we do now, in both the Koran burnings and the mosque on the "sacred soil" of the 9/11 disaster.
What we must not do is appear to be intimidated. That requires a subtlety that may be beyond the current civilian controllers of our Legions.
I have posted some important mail. I am now off to JPL
1700: Back from a tour at JPL with the local NASW people. Lots of interesting stuff happening, and I'll do a report with pictures shortly. I am astonished at how many people out there still remember me. I haven't been there in a long time, not since Dan Goldin was Administrator.
September 10, 2010
The President held his second press conference of the year. He answered seven questions.
The Burn a Koran flap continues. There are riots in Afghanistan. The connection of the riots with the once obscure Florida minister does not seem well established.
A couple of weeks ago a local National Association of Science Writers arranged a tour of JPL. I hadn't been out there in a long time, and since it was all arranged and it only takes half an hour to drive out to JPL, I decided to sign up, and yesterday I went out there. Many things have changed since Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall (we had JPL scenes in both those novels) but much is the same. The old Von Karman Center where the press assembled to cover the planetary encounters in the glory days has now been converted to a museum. The big open bay which in those days was a bull pen for reporters, filled with banquet tables on which reporters put their portable typewriters, is now filled with models of spacecraft that were not even conceived in those times of Pioneer and Viking and Mariner. It's still very much worth a visit, and visits and tours are not hard to arrange. One of the tour conductors turned out to have been my Senior Patrol Leader back when I was in the Scoutmaster business and we took long hikes into the High Sierra in a time of no cell phones and no possible communication from out there. Long ago.
I'm putting together a report which I'll post here with photographs.
It's not the tune I learned as a boy, and a few of the words are different, but many of us can remember this one:
Another one that's close, and has the refrain. http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/bigrock.htm
That caused me to look for some more of the hobo songs of the Depression era. They're all subtly changed now, apparently. I wonder it it's worth trying to preserve them now. I spent part of a summer in the Smokies wandering through and noting some of the songs. I suppose they changed from place to place, but I still remember most of them. The tunes were usually the same.
They are still nattering about burning Korans. The Reverend Jones thinks he may cancel his decision to cancel burning his footlocker full of books. Query: if I put in an application to the National Endowment for the Arts for $#!& Mohammed in which I will lower an Arabic Koran into a plastic ice chest of camel excrement, will that be counted as creative art and displayed in the National Art Museum?
Larry Niven has a convention badge, I believe originally drawn by Rotsler: BAD TASTE IS TIMELESS.
Seriously: one hopes the Legions are prepared. Whatever this leads to is not likely to be good, but there are ways to make the outcome better. Recall Machiavelli. It is better to be feared than loved. It is particularly better to be feared than disdained when the possibility of friendship or love is vanishingly small.
One presumes that the local sheriff is prepared to defend Mr. Jones when the inhabitants of the fever swamps converge on his small church.
We may also look forward to a spate of articles about "Look what you made me do," or perhaps more likely, "Look what you made them do." And of course those who say the people of the US must restrain Jones because the people Jones is offending are unable to restrain themselves, and thus it's all the fault of the US that Mr. Jones wasn't suppressed. The silly season with a frisson of danger.
September 11, 2010
For Absent Friends
Despair is a sin. We do not forget.
The Other September 11:
September 12, 2010
Family visitors, afternoon social events. I put up a large mixed bag of mail last night.
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 COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 5,000 - 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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