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Monday  August 21, 2006

Commentary from De Doc:

Subject:  MRSA

The MSNBC article on MRSA is old news -- at least to practicing emergency physicians. Information on MRSA has been available for at least a full year, and ERs have already adjusted their prescribing patterns accordingly.

The MRSA story is an interesting one. MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) used to be considered an infection found in hospitalized, immunocompromised patients. Pneumonia and septicemia were common manifestations of this strain of bacteria. It didn't respond to much of anything except vancomycin, which was in turn effective only in IV formulations.

In the last couple of years, ERs and epidemiologists started to notice a different kind of skin infection in the community -- nastier, more painful abscesses, often deeper, caused by a strain of MRSA. Interestingly, this strain responds to more drugs than vancomycin; fortunately, those drugs include inexpensive ones like trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra), nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin), and tetracycline. This strain also can be eliminated, although it may take several courses of antibiotics. (The original hospital-prevalent bacteria could be suppressed, but often resulted in a persistent carrier state in survivors).

These differences have led to speculation that this new, community-acquired MRSA ("ca-MRSA" to distinguish it from the original) did not mutate from the hospital-based strain, but from "wild" community stock.

If I have to deal with emerging infections, this is the kind I want to have to deal with: more benign than its ancestors, bacterial, treatable with common and inexpensive antibiotics.

We won't always be so fortunate.

cordially, Bill Ernoehazy, MD


Subject:  This sounded familiar


"Counterinsurgency is work better suited to a police force than a military one. Military forces — by tradition, organization, equipment and training — are best at killing people and breaking things."



Mr. Reagan had a sign on his desk: "It's amazing how much you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit."


Dear Dr Pournelle,

The following web page contains links to both television and radio reports on Steorn's free energy claims:


The radio segment contains an interview with Steorn's CEO, Sean McCarthy.

Best wishes, Simon Woodworth.


And a word from our resident physicist

Subject: Low energy magnetic actuator 


First look at low energy magnetic actuator patent application.

1. The claims of the patent application are reasonable and appear to make no mention of "free energy."

2. The claims involve the low energy "switching" of magnetic fields. Examination of the claims and the drawings reveal that the concept is basically a movable semi-closed Faraday cage enclosing multiple magnets.

3. The multiple magnets must either be permanent magnets, or electromagnets.

3a. If electromagnets, then they must either be conventional or superconducting, and will have energy losses commensurate with the type of magnet employed in establishing and maintaining the magnetic field in the light of whatever energy is drawn during use. In either event, it is not really plausible to claim "something for nothing" and particularly in this case, where the modest losses which might be sustained in electromagnetic switching by current control are probably more than compensated by the permanent losses associated with maintaining the multiple electromagnets in the actuator.

3b. If "permanent," even permanent magnets are subject to randomization of the aligned domains which contribute to ferromagnetism and thus to ongoing degradation in performance.

4. In either event, this discussion ignores other secondary switching losses (the primary switching loss, of course, being the primary power to actuate the shield movement) such as mechanical and electromagnetic recoil of the casing from the changing fields associated with the switching process. This can be partially mitigated by using non-magnetic materials, but not completely.


More when we know more but this seems pretty definitive.


Subject: From "News of the Weird"

http://www.newsoftheweird.com/archive/index.html  and scroll down to "School Daze", part (2) . 

"The Buffalo (N.Y.) News reported skyrocketing absentee rates at local high schools this spring because of a new district policy that the lowest possible semester grade would be 50, even for those missing every class (meaning that a grade as low as 80 for one semester could be averaged with a no-show 50 to reach the minimum-passing grade of 65). [WTVF-TV (Nashville), 5-24-06] [Buffalo News, 6-9-06]"



Over the Moon.


-- Roland Dobbins


Free trade plus wars of choice . . .


--- Roland Dobbins




This week:


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Harry Erwin's Letter from England

Subject: Letter from England

Diane and I spent the weekend in London. We saw the play '39 Steps", which is a send-up of the Hitchcock movie (which was a send-up of the book), did a couple of guided walks, and got our shopping done. Later, I'll post some pictures to my blog so people in America can have a small taste of August in London.

The UK security services are peeved about FBI leaks. There is a certain amount of scepticism here about last week's terror arrests, so charges had to be brought. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1854503,00.html>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1855601,00.html>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2323085,00.html

Israeli reservists angry with their government about the mishandled war in Lebanon. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1855611,00.html

The UK educational system is failing to teach the basics--school leavers (at 16) are typically unable to write a coherent letter correct in grammar and spelling. They also can't do simple calculations as the they haven't memorised the times tables. A large part of the problem is that exams can't possibly test everything a student should know, so they're written to a syllabus, which the schools proceed to emphasise to the detriment of everything else. I have seen the same thing at the university level. A computing graduate should have mastered at least one computer language, which takes about 18 months of practice, but you can't test mastery on a three hour exam, so the students try to fake it without the practice. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1854349,00.html

The Tories appear to be coming back: <http://politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/story/0,,1855568,00.html>

 Sometimes you have to get the balance right. The system here that handles youth offenders is underfunded, over-bureaucratised, and poorly managed, so the police are discouraged both formally and informally from making arrests for minor offences. That means the yobs run wild, and you end up jailing them for more serious offences. You then warehouse them with expert criminals, where they improve their skills. What is really needed is to separate the sheep from the goats early and then treat each subgroup appropriately, instead of waiting too long. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1854331,00.html

Here's part of the reason why. I don't doubt this is part of the problem in America, too. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1854340,00.html

It's not just the research councils and the NHS that have to cope with the Treasury shell game. The Army suffers, too. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1854478,00.html

National Health Service computer chaos. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1854475,00.html>  <http://technology.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1855563,00.html

NHS rationing of care. The NHS values one year of life span at £30,000. If it costs more than that, no deal. One of the reasons I leave my retirement funds in America. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5262760.stm

Pension schemes in the UK. Another reason I leave my retirement funds in America. <http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1854506,00.html

Cricket fiasco. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-2322944,00.html

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw>  Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>


Joanne Dow recommends:

Subject: Robert Spencer on CSPAN

It's long. It's important! It's well done. 


Another long one comes from Czechoslovakia and is important. A young man infiltrated Mohammedanism and brought back what is REALLY there rather than their facade.




Subj: Ed Felten: From DRM Wars to PRM Wars


DRM Wars: The Next Generation

=... Policymakers, and music and movie companies, are starting to realize that DRM won’t solve their P2P infringement problems. And so the usual argument for DRM-bolstering laws is losing its force. ... [A]dvocates of DRM-bolstering laws have switched to two new arguments. First, they argue that DRM enables price discrimination — business models that charge different customers different prices for a product — and that price discrimination benefits society, at least sometimes. Second, they argue that DRM helps platform developers lock in their customers, as Apple has done with its iPod/iTunes products, and that lock-in increases the incentive to develop platforms. ...=


DRM Wars: Property Rights Management

=... The new arguments have no real connection to copyright enforcement so (I predict) the DRM policy debate will come unmoored from copyright. ...= They apply to physical as well as to intellectual property. =A good example is the use of cryptographic lockout codes in computer printers and their toner cartridges [to prevent refilling].= As Moore's Law makes such *Property* Rights Management techs cheaper, they can be more widely applied. Will they? Time for a public policy debate!


PRM Wars

Will the public be more skeptical about generalized PRM than they've been about DRM for enforcing copyright? Will legislators and courts? Will anyone apply any lessons from the DRM experience to the PRM debate?

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


Subj: Multiple cores, memory and the future

At what point will stuffing more and more cores into each CPU chip hit the memory-bandwidth wall?

It makes no sense to have a zillion cores on a chip if almost all of them are always stalled, waiting for memory access.

Seems to me more likely that, somewhere around four or eight cores, it'll make more sense to go to much larger caches, or even to bring some of the main memory array on-chip, rather than to keep increasing the core count.

In the eight-core Cell Broadband Engine for the PlayStation3, each of the seven Synergistic Processor Elements runs from its own private on-chip local store; it accesses the main memory array only via DMA transfers between that array and its local store.


Cell Broadband Engine Architecture from 20,000 feet

The Blue Gene/L supercomputer packages CPU and RAM chips together on a single module:


IBM JRD 49-2/3 | Packaging the Blue Gene/L supercomputer


Blue Gene/L compute card

The compute card has two dual-core CPU chips and nine RAM chips (total 512 megs RAM) for each CPU chip, soldered to an 8x2-inch circuit board. The RAM chips are soldered to only one side of the board, so it'd be straightforward to make a 2x4-inch module -- not lots bigger than a DIMM -- with one dual-core CPU chip and a gigabyte of RAM.

Each CPU chip also has five network interfaces on-chip.

It's easier for IBM to play these games than it is for Intel or AMD: IBM's CPU cores are just elements in a *library* of circuit modules that also includes controllers for off-chip memory, on-chip memory arrays and interfaces to several kinds of off-chip networks, all designed to be put together in various combinations. For Blue Gene, IBM added a custom "Double Hummer" floating-point unit to each CPU core; Double Hummer has special instructions to speed up complex-number arithmetic.

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com



This is really cool. A "Smoke Angel:"



The smoke angel picture is lovely, but the URL is for the "current day's picture". For a static link to that picture, use:


--Gary Pavek



Subject: The future is here, 


The future is here - free TV over the Internet:


I have even found my daughter watching a TV show on-line. After all this trouble we went through to make sure we can pick up no broadcast TV, and have no cable TV, we are undone by our cable Internet.

We can run, but we can't hide.



Subject: -- Age of Censorship?


Tim of Angle

 'Be not the first by whom the new is tried, Nor yet the last to cast the old aside.'


Israel and Lebanon

1) A roman legion commander would have handled missing soldiers right there, communications slow in those days.

The blessings and curses of modern instant communications. Problems get passed up the chain of command. Decisions get handled at the highest level, regardless as to whether or not competent, whether or not action at a lower level would have been appropriate.

2) It had to happen, finally someone figured out how to fight the israeli.

Learning From Its Mistakes by Charles Glass http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/glass2.html

a) <begin quote 1> ... But what impressed most Lebanese as much as Hizbullah’s victory over Israel was its refusal to murder collaborators – a triumph over the tribalism that has plagued and divided Lebanese society since its founding. ... <end quote 1>

This means poor people, people with their eyes on sack of food, can work for israel and survive. Survive to tell hizbulla everything they know.

b) <begin quote 2> ... Israel’s massive destruction of Lebanon has had the effect of improving Hizbullah’s standing in the country. Its popularity had been low since last year, when it alone refused to demand the evacuation of the Syrian army after the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Hizbullah sensed that Washington was orchestrating the anti-Syrian campaign for its own – rather than Lebanon’s – benefit. <end quote 2>

Remember this: Syria was invited in to help put an end to the civil war. Blowing up anyone would have been contrary to Syrian interests.

c) <begin quote 3> ... Despite occasional Syrian pressure, Hizbullah has refused to go into combat against any other Lebanese militia. It remained aloof from the civil war and concentrated on defeating Israel and its SLA surrogates. <end quote 3>

These guys understand the concept of: One enemy at a time.

Now to see when the rest of the Arabs copy the example of Hizbullah.

Scott Rich

Indeed. For an incident involving two Legionnaires, the Legate wouldn't have bothered consulting the Governor; he'd simply have crucified a dozen people from the local village, and made it clear that the Legion policy was no better friend, no worse enemy.  And had the Governor been visiting, he would probably have left the matter to the Legate. Only if one of those seized for retaliation plead that he was a Citizen would the matter have been considered complicated.

And whether or not the Arabs understand the concept of one enemy at a time, there are plenty of others in the region who do. The Latin (Christian, with Norman kings) Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted for generations, until Saladin, no Arab but a Kurd, used his Kurdish tribesmen as bodyguards and power base and united the region; and then defeated the over-confident Norman chivalry at the Horns of Hattin.


Subj: Has Bill Gates backed off on intellectual property rights?


Bill Gates: Is he an IP Maximalist, or an Open Access Advocate?

The Gates Foundation insists that AIDS-vaccine researchers share their results promptly.

Rod Montgomery==monty@sprintmail.com


I asked John Carmack for comments on the Register article on liquid explosives


I just sent the following to the author, you can quote anything you like:

I'm usually in the position of trying to use basic statistics and common sense to combat fear-mongering about the dangers of terrorism, but I have to tell you that you are just plain wrong about the impracticality of binary liquid explosives.

I worked with concentrated peroxide for years at Armadillo Aerospace, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that you can reliably mix two clear liquids and get a high explosive that can be detonated by a sharp impact.

TATP is an unstable molecule that can slowly form in acetone / peroxide mixtures, even fairly dilute ones. Synthesizing and purifying that is probably something better done in a lab, but a simple solution of concentrated peroxide and acetone (or any other soluble fuel like methanol or ethanol) is also an explosive that is just as powerful. Many explosive, like gunpowder or ANFO, are not compounds at all, but simply mixtures of oxidizers and fuels.

You do need concentrated peroxide to do this, the common 3% peroxide from the drug store won't cut it. We have first hand data points at a couple of these concentration levels, but there are some papers available that map out the sensitivity / concentration / mixture ratio diagrams with a lot more tests.

50% peroxide / fuel mixtures won't detonate, even with a blasting cap. We used a very large amount of this safely as a rocket propellant, which does demonstrate that just mixing them is not hazardous.

60% peroxide / fuel mixtures can be detonated with a blasting cap. A blasting cap would probably be caught by explosive sniffing equipment, so it probably wouldn't be useful for terrorists.

85% peroxide / fuel mixtures can be detonated by modest impacts. Shaking a plastic bottle of mixed solution with a few ball bearings in it would probably do it.

98% peroxide / fuel mixtures can be detonated by static electricity.

30% concentration peroxide is available in jug quantities from many places on the net. 50% peroxide is available in drums from many suppliers. We bought over ten tons of it while we were doing mixed-monoprop propellant work a couple years ago. 70% peroxide is what most manufacturers produce, but it only gets delivered by tank car to qualified receiving stations. The only remaining domestic supplier of 90 / 98% peroxide essentially only sells to government contractors.

This does mean that you can't just pick up the chemicals you need, but don't overstate the difficulty of doing the concentration. We did decide that it wasn't worth our while to do large scale (tens of tons) concentration ourselves, but here we are talking about just making enough to fill a couple water bottles. We concentrated a few gallons ourselves early on with vacuum distillation, and there are a couple people you can find on the net that will sell you a ready-to-use concentrator system for modest quantities. For the water bottle quantities, all you have to do is leave some 30% peroxide in an open crock pot under modest heat for a few days, and you are left with a much smaller quantity of 85% peroxide. A member of the Sacramento L5 society wrote a nice report on this process.

There is no immediate reaction when mixing these fuels into even 98% peroxide. Left on a shelf for a long time, or in the presence of various chemicals that can catalyze the reaction, you will get some of the organic peroxide molecules that chemists usually think about when you mention peroxide explosives, but this isn't at all important for just making a bomb.

I can say this with certainty, because we have actually done it. When we began working with concentrated peroxide as a rocket propellant, we did many tests to sort out the mythical dangers from the real dangers. One of these tests was the explosiveness of peroxide / fuel mixtures. We used methanol with 98% peroxide, but not at an optimal mixture ratio. It would do just fine to blow a hole in the side of an aircraft. No doubt about it.

I wouldn't advocate any additional regulation or security measures based on this, but promulgating a new myth that binary explosives aren't a valid danger isn't helping anything.

John Carmack


Subject: More on Steorn: the plot thickens

Jerry, I do wish that the next free energy claimant would come up with a simpler name to pronounce than 'Steorn'. What's the matter with 'Joe, inc.'?

Steorn now states that the patent referred to does not constitute the sum total of their invention. The following is from their website at
http://www.steorn.net/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=41&page=1#Item_0   :

"the patent refered to (the low energy magnetic actuator) is not a patent on the core steorn technology. Due to the fact that the US patent office does not allow patents with this claim we have filed a sequence of patents wich describe various aspects of the technology.

The patent refered to is at the PCT stage and hence is available to the public. Our other patents are currently pre-PCT and will move to the PCT phase (and hence be available to the public) in the near future.


The Steorn Team"


Wikipedia is carrying a largely neutral, somewhat skeptical and quite informative article on the Steorn claims at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steorn  ; they report that

"According to information available from the Irish Companies Registration Office <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Companies_Registration_Office>  , Steorn has not filed accounts since October 28 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_28>  , 2004 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004>  . Under current Companies Registration Office practice strike-off procedures could begin against Steorn by the end of October 2006. A strike-off would have serious consequences, such as the loss of Steorn's limited liability status. Furthermore, any assets of the company, including any patents or other intellectual property, would become the property of the Irish State."

However, further investigation indicates that failure to file accounts is a common failing among Irish based firms, and should not be used to indicate an unusual instability in Steorn.

Meanwhile, I fail to understand what prevents them from simply starting to manufacture a small, useful object that demonstrates the technology. To me, that is the fatal chink in an otherwise excellent story.

Regards, Charlie

 No one ever actually builds a Dean Drive, Free Energy machine, or anti-gravity. They all could but they don't because the theory is so beautiful there is no need to actually build the thing. They want to get you interested in supporting them, and they have great PR programs; but they wouldn't need the PR or the theory if they just built one.

Free, live free.




This week:


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Subject: Incredibly convincing fake Paypal e-mail 


Incredibly convincing fake Paypal e-mail just received. Includes security warning and links to Paypal security notes.

But the "warning, you need to fix your account" hyperlink text reads https://www.paypal.com/us , while rolling the mouse over the hyperlink reveals a wholly different website, http://rds.yahoo.com/ <alphabet_soup>.

Just remind everyone not to click on links in e-mails. I tell you three times three, or seventy time seven times, so it must be true.



Subject: more support for ABM


Thought I'd point you to Austin Bay's latest, http://www.strategypage.com/onpoint/articles/200682304451.asp  , where he discusses Anti-Ballistic Missile defense. I know you've been advocating it for decades on end. Perhaps the conversation can move forward once most people figure out that suicidal groups cannot be deterred by the MAD policy.

Thanks, Jim

(different Jim's here)


Subject: Structure of Conservative Argument. . .

Mr. P:

While I am certainly no "Liberal", nor "Conservative" in the modern sense. I am something of a fan of the works of the Economist Albert O. Hirschman, and what is probably his last book "The Rhetoric of Reaction:" he takes his parting shots at structure of the arguments against "progressive" causes. It is useful to pay heed to his arguments if only to see how someone like yourself will be viewed.

His first book "National Power and the Structure of Foreign Trade" written in 1945 is a first rate analysis of the use/limitations of economic power in the national interest.

Just a thought


Not familiar with him. I'll have to have a look.


Subject: Of course!, 

My gosh, where is the incentive anymore to live a moral life? Only the perverse, odd and otherwise seem to get attention these days!


Article Last Updated: 8/23/2006 02:05 PM jonbenet ramsey murder investigation

Karr movie rights for sale By Linda Deutsch The Associated Press DenverPost.com

Los Angeles - John Mark Karr's relatives offered up the book and film rights to the family's story today in hopes of raising money for a high-power attorney to defend Karr against charges that he killed 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

"They're not looking for money for themselves," said Larry Garrison, a producer the family hired to represent them in media deals. "They're looking to support John's boys' college education and to make sure all legal fees are covered." Karr remained in a Los Angeles jail this afternoon awaiting transfer to Colorado, where JonBenet was killed in her Boulder home in December 1996.

Garrison told The Associated Press that no money had changed hands yet with the Karrs, and he didn't want to go into details about the agreement. Karr's brother, Nate Karr, confirmed that Garrison is now representing the family.<snip>

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.


Subject: Damn Interesting -- Operation Acoustic Kitty, 


Tell your dog to watch her back:




Subject: Kurdistan

I guess some good came of the war, but they were already on their way.


 In a region where rule by reactionary clerics, gangster elites, and calcified military dictatorships is the norm, Iraqi Kurdistan is, by local standards, an open, liberal, and peaceful society. Its government is elected by a popular vote, competing political parties run their own newspapers, and the press is (mostly) free. Religion and the state are separate, and women can and do vote. The citizens here are tired of war, and they’re doing everything in their power to make their corner of the Middle East a normal, stable place where it’s safe to live, and to invest and build.

But they don't have Diversity!!!  How can it be any good without diversity! We could have partitioned Iraq long ago, but that wouldn't have preserved Diversity!

Of course in the west we are playing out Camp of the Saints, but We Have Diversity.

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.


Subject: LEAP

Seems law enforcement officers get disillusioned with the War Against The People er Drugs....


Interesting video.




CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, August 23, 2006

Subject: the ossification of being

"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide."

There's a person in one of Vernor Vinge's books, "Marooned in Realtime", I believe, who is spurned from society. Obliged to live his life entirely alone, with advanced medical services that prolong his life for hundreds of years, the man eventually becomes a robotic parody of himself, with unvarying daily rituals.

While your catchphrase may be perfectly accurate, its repetition is becoming a bit less than human.

And then there's the "Iron Law"... "Iron Law"... "Iron Law"... "Iron Law"...

Be wary of the force of habit.

Tom Hanlin

I see. One should not point out instances of unpleasant truths because that becomes repetitious. I would to God there were no need to use either observation ever again; but I fear that many do not see these as instances of general principles.


Joel Rosenberg comments on my Lebanon and Syria essays

Unfortunately, I agree with the thrust of your V/view. Israel is clearly not better off right now than it was at the beginning of the war -- neither, of course, is Lebanon, and perhaps Hezbollah's "victory" is rather more winning the narrative than winning the war.

But, no question: Israel lost. (And I say this both regretfully, and despite having considered Daffyd's arguments to the contrary. )

The best possible result -- for Israel and the US -- would have, as I'd argued earlier, having a "robust" ( i.e. "real") blocking force in the south of Lebanon, centered around the entirely expendable French Foreign Legion. I don't accept much of the mythology around the FFL, but there's no doubt that they're a good, and extremely expendable, infantry force, and once they'd engaged with Hezbollah, they'd not have listened to pleas from CNN talking heads about "proportionality."

But, once again, the French outmaneuvered the US State Department -- they promised a lot, and are delivering 200 engineers, and offering to run things. Not exactly a win. There are lessons here for both Israel and the US administration; I don't quite despair of the administration ever learning them, but close. (Among others: bring a longer spoon when dining with the French. Make promises deliverable only after the French have delivered actions, not promises. Remember that there was a time when Hitler could have been stopped by a single French division, but he wasn't. Require that any diplomat negotiating with the French peruse every single cartoon involving Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football. Etc. )

A variant of your third option was, I think, possible -- Hezbollah delenda est at least in the south, stopped only if and when others were willing to step in and disarm Hezbollah. Obviously, that's not going to happen. This round. (Whose problem, I ask rhetorically, should it be if southern Lebanon must become a no man's land if it's not going to be Hezbollah-free?)

That said, it may not be quite as bad as it appears. (It is, however, bad.) There were lessons in this, and if they're learned, the next round -- and, since Israel survived (not that that was really in doubt in this) there will be a next round -- may be a win, if they're learned. Among them:

* Yes, Israel must treat the Lebanese as the enemy, if only because they harbor Hezbollah. (Actually, they do rather more than that, by and large. That's unlikely to change in the near term.) Lebanese, either singly, by community, or collectively, can become allies only when they act as allies, rather than largely privately exhibit some sympathy or, as is more generally the case, exhibit a loss of putative former sympathy. Rhetorically: to what extent should a combatant allow their opponent to use an enemy population as human body armor?

* Armies are, as many (you and I included) keep saying, good for two things: killing people and breaking things. If you want military force to have useful political results, the military has to be able to kill the right people in enough quantity, and break the right things, ditto. "Bombing them into submission" will not work on those who either can't or won't submit if bombed. The habit of southern Lebanese allowing their homes, schools, hospitals etc. to be turned into Hezbollah launch/storage sites must become the problem of the Lebanese next time around. Trying to win the CNN narrative by using infantry where artillery (term used generally, to include air power that doesn't restrict itself to smart bombs) should be used was a mistake; the utility of smart bombs requires very specific intelligence that wasn't always available, and never will be widely enough available. Bint Jbeil and Qana, to pick the obvious examples, need to be flattened next time -- it's more important for military leaders to study the terrain and the roads than the press reviews. Smart bombs are a special case (and utterly wonderful where they're applicable) not a general solution.

* "Land for peace" is a loser of a formulation. It arguably didn't work with the Sinai (I'm one of those few who thinks that, all in all, Camp David was a mistake for both the US and Israel, although certainly not the disaster of Oslo), and it inarguably didn't work with the retreat from South Lebanon under Barak, or from Gaza under Sharon. The area the Lebanese call "Shebaa Farms" is of at most utterly trivial military importance to Israel, but trading it for promises is pointless, and should be a nonstarter. The Golan is of great military importance to Israel, but trading it to Syria for promises is pointless, and should be a nonstarter.

* Patton's observation that moving fast, far, and hard has not been overtaken by changes in technology. In the next round, Israel has to move far and fast while mobilizing, not ratchet things up slowly. Damaging Lebanese infrastructure to prevent the resupply of Hezbollah in the south only makes sense if the IDF is going to capitalize on the lack of resupply, and that means forcing Hezbollah out of their holes. Blowing up bridges, etc., has no military utility (political utility is another issue, but not nearly as clearcut) if the IDF isn't going to capitalize on the destruction. The sensible purpose is to interfere with resupply, and if it has the political side-effect of motivating the Lebanese, that's fine, but optional.

* Fighting along a defended line is not the way to break a line defense. It never is, and never will be.

* Assymetrical warfare has, well, assymetries; Israel, like the US, needs to learn to capitalize on the assymetrical strengths, rather than accept the enemy's conditions of contest.

* Next time? It won't happen under Olmert, but his bumbling was not, alas, Columbo looking clumsy while being clever; thankfully, he's on his way out. Cleverness isn't required -- steadfastness and aggressiveness is, and while he's no Arik Sharon, Bibi Netanyahu may -- may -- have figured that out. Next time: "respond disproportionably but over the whole of Lebanon, coupled with military invasion, going in for the long haul with the goal of clearing many areas of Lebanon of Hizbollah influence; make it clear that the war is against Hizbollah, not against Lebanon; make it clear that the war aim is to destroy Hizbollah, and when we are done Lebanon will be free of Hizbollah." The response needs to be proportionate to the goals and the problem, not to the most recent provocation/aggression. (The US should not have gone to war with Japan if one attack on Pearl Harbor was the only issue -- and, of course, it wasn't, and even then it was "Germany First.")

* And, as always, keep the eyes on Iran. They didn't spend the millions on missiles for this fight; it was just a short distraction. The center of mass is there, and in their nuclear program, and if that isn't going to be stopped by diplomacy (and it isn't), then the question becomes what the meaning of "unacceptable" is, and what the alternatives are.

I do think that we're going to see nuclear weapons used within the next five to ten years, and it's worth thinking about, in advance, who we're less bad off are the first ones using them.

As to Syria, I'm more optimistic. As you suggest, Libya got the US's point: "we may not be able to make you over in our image, but we're not going to try. Cool it, or we kill people and break things." Baby Assad may not be as smart as Kaddaffi; if he's killed and Damascus is smashed, his successor may be wiser. Or, if not, his successor's successor . . .

Which brings us back to Iraq. As you know, I was always skeptical of the likelihood of creating an Arab democracy there (or, for that matter, anywhere during our lifetimes, or our grandchildrens'). But that didn't, by itself, militate (so to speak) against the destruction of the Saddam regime; it argued against the Other Powell Doctrine: "You break it, you bought it." An Empire does not have to turn every enemy into a satrapy, or an ally.

As I said back during Gulf War I, we were (and, amazingly, still are) at the right historical moment to solve the problem of Kurdistan, and end up with an actual ally in the region. Letting Iraq be split into three (or more) parts is going to be hard on the few small-d democrats in the south, but it's not like civil war is going to be a bargain for them either.


Subject: Fauxtography in the news again....

As hard as Laura Ingraham can be on the ears (and perhaps brain) her interview with Melanie Phillips is worth listening to even for only the last few words.

Paraphrasing.... Certainly truly moderate Muslims - voices not being heard. They are terrified to speak out literally in fear for their lives. The governments of both America and Britain have not done protect them, fund them, and treat THEM as the legitimate representatives of Muslims.

I rather agree with Melanie's assessment here.


This is a nice complete write-up about the photo fraud, aka fauxtogagraphy, that plagued reporting out of Beirut.


Note the satellite pictures of the devastated Beirut plus the satellite image with a wider field of view that shows the others to be about 1% of Beirut where Hezbollah was strongest and had its headquarters.

Notice also the photographs of the "ambulances" targeted by the Israelis, supposedly. It's really one ambulance top. It's rusty. It's been around the block. And it is the exact size of the hole needed to mount the ventilation cover or emergency light on one of the vehicles shown in the bottom picture.

With Mohammedan Nazis like this feeding us news how can we deal with it? (I say Nazis because the fascists are too moderate to describe extremists who see NO distinction between religion and secular. That places them at the apex of the Pournelle political graph even beyond the Nazis. We simply do not have a term for its real location. http://www.baen.com/chapters/axes.htm

More about "The Ambulance": http://www.zombietime.com/fraud/ambulance/  Zombie's effort with it must have left him a er zombie. He obviously spent a LOT of time putting this evidence together.

We really need to beat up the Saudis, I suspect. When a young Saudi "Imam" declares that up to 10 million US deaths are perfectly legitimate if al Qaeda attacks the US with nuclear weapons."


Oh really.... Such a religion of peace it is. The odor of bovine waste in here is getting a little high when Saudi Arabia declares they are good guys and we should be nice to them.

I think it's time to bail out for another day to avoid the stench.















CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


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Friday,  August 25, 2006

At Worldcon with a headache







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Saturday, August 26, 2006






CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Still at WORLDCON; on the way home.





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