THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 266 July 14 - 20, 2003
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. 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.
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July 14, 2003
In 1789 Parisians stormed the Bastille, liberating seven prisoners, all aristocrats and all held by Royal command: four forgers, two madmen, and a young man who had challenged the best swordsman in Paris to a duel and whose father got the King to lock the lad up so he wouldn't be killed.
The head of the governor was displayed as a symbol of liberation, although he had in fact surrendered and lowered the drawbridges. Some of the garrison were afraid and did fire their weapons, but there was no real defense of the fortress, which was largely a retirement post for old soldiers who had served the nation: most of them were not whole, and most doubled as servants for the aristocratic prisoners who had apartments and were not kept in chains.
The four forgers vanished. The madmen ended up in a common madhouse which was no better than you would expect it to be. The final young man joined the revolution, but was eventually beheaded by the Terror.
The building was torn down over the course of the next year. The revolutionary government eventually (August 23, 1793) proclaimed the first complete conscription in history:
"1. From this moment until that in which the enemy shall have been driven from the soil of the Republic, all Frenchmen are in permanent requisition for the service of the armies. The young men shall go to battle; the married men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make tents and clothing and shall serve in the hospitals; the children shall turn old linen into lint; the aged shall betake themselves to the public places in order to arouse the courage of the warriors and preach the hatred of kings and the unity of the Republic."
There was more, see http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1793levee.html
Liberte! Fraternite! Egalite!
It is time and past time to work on fiction.
In a lighter vein, Sue Ferarra suggests you look at
to find out about Snapple Facts.
And perhaps it is time that authors began to worry:
I suppose it has to be better work than the Chicken Ranch or lap dancing.
I was going to put up a picture here but it takes too long to download. To see penguins at play, click here. He also sends this link:
Satellites that Surround Earth
Which is truly marvelous.
|This week:||Tuesday, July
Off to get a haircut and go to the bank. Mail and an essay on toe sucking when I get back.
Clearly I must keep the Megapaths iDSL if I am going to keep this web site going. Adelphia Cable Modem works well when it works, but at unpredictable intervals it just stops. Worse, it works just well enough that the Hawking dual WAN router doesn't realize when it has died so that I have to go unplug the WAN 1 input. Maybe Adelphia will get this fixed. Maybe.
But my advice is if you must depend on communications, stay away from Adelphia Cable Modem. It is unreliable.
On the toe-sucking issue, there is mail from a Colorado prosecutor that says things better than I could have.
On the Kobe Bryant Story:
And I love this one:
The source says there's lots of evidence. Well, that clinches it. If The Source knows...
I am no fan of imperial actions, but if ever a small nation deserved the support and favor of these United States, it is Liberia. It was founded by an American Non-Governmental Society and built in large part by American efforts. Firestone established the world's largest rubber plantation there. There was at one time a thriving community of people working for American firms. Civilization was rough but spreading.
There was certainly nothing like Western Style Democracy in Liberia, but it wasn't a horrible regime either. The True Whig Party of descendents of freed slaves ran the country, although the bush tribesmen were a majority. The following is a reasonable account of what happened:
Even from the time of its founding, however, the country's political situation was troublesome. The people of the 16 tribes who live in the interior constituted the majority of the population but never enjoyed a political status commensurate with their numbers. Power rested with the few Americo-Liberians whose ancestors had come from the U.S. In 1980, tensions boiled over -- rebel army personnel staged a gruesome predawn coup that left the president dead. Government officials were executed before TV cameras on the orders of Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, who assumed leadership of the country. The new government soon proved little different from the one it had replaced -- repression and corruption continued unabated. Civil war erupted in 1990, and Doe met the same fate as the president he had deposed.
Note that the coup took place in 1980: Jimmy Carter was president in an American election year. A handful of Marines could have restored order then. The former government, whose ministers were executed on television, had had a policy of requiring that American companies doing business in Liberia also provide schools and medical facilities for the workers and their families. One could argue that they hadn't demanded enough, and that they were corrupt and could be bribed. What a surprise. But they were, slowly, expanding civilization, and they had better governors than most post-colonial African nations have ever enjoyed.
There was even an attempt to build a spaceport in Liberia: in the 70's Liberia seemed to be politically stable, there is a reasonable harbor, and thanks to the government policy of insisting on schools and medical facilities for workers and their children there was a growing population of educable workers. The coup stopped all that.
One could argue that the US should have gone in there in 1980 to protect both American property and general civilization. I argued it at the time. Civilization in Africa is pretty fragile and if ever there were an American protectorate in Africa, it would be Liberia, which had always been our ally and was a useful ally in World War II; but of course Jimmy Carter wouldn't send in the Marines.
Here is what Jimmy Carter had to say later:
Carter: Most of my term was spent with President [William R.] Tolbert in control here as president, and I came here and visited him at the time . When the coup took place during the last year I was in the White House, I was really not paying much attention to Liberia. I was involved with the hostages being held in Iran and running for reelection and so forth.
At that time, we only knew Samuel Doe as a sergeant who had taken over command temporarily. Later he developed, as you know, a fairly oppressive regime that at least had the tacit approval of the United States of America, and slowly but surely all of the adjacent countries became disillusioned with Samuel Doe's regime. ... Ten years later, in 1990, Doe himself was overthrown, as you know.
I am not sure what that means, or what he expected Reagan to do about the repressive regime after Doe had been in power for a year; but then I have never been able to make a lot of sense of Jimmy Carter's foreign policy. Anyone concerned with national malaise and an era of limits, and who is sure we have lost the Cold War, isn't likely to be anyone I understand.
Now we have an odd situation. The neo-conservatives who want us to invade Iran and Syria and stay in Iraq and Afghanistan don't want us in Liberia where we have actual moral and ethical obligations. They want us to go into places that hate us, but stay away from a place where at least the civilized elements very much want us.
Liberia has always been divided into civilization and the bush, and until 1980 the story was of a slow expansion of civilization and a slow retraction of the bush.
Liberia is also a perfect illustration of why simple majoritarian democracy without some imposition of civilized standards cannot work. (They learned that all over Africa.) But conservatives at least have always known that. Civilization is fragile, and democracies seldom vote in favor of measures that are favorable to the preservation of democracy. Sometimes they do. Sometimes.
Of course if one does not have a prejudice for civilization over tribal or barbaric societies, if one does not admire people who can build roads through the jungle and make deserts bloom: if one is completely stuck on the notion of the equality of all cultures up to and including cannibalistic ones (what's wrong with that?): then I suppose one might have a different view.
It is not the business of the United States to right all wrongs, to protect the weak and make humble the proud across the globe; but I would guess that even John Quincy Adams would favor sending in Marines to impose order in Liberia. We built the place; do we not have some obligations to civilization there?
Paul Craig Roberts weighs in on the Martha Stewart persecution:
And that's enough for me for awhile. I'm going to be taking a substantial break from news and events and the Internet as a whole.
Regards and best wishes,
-- "In the Country of the Blind, the one-eyed man is in for a hell of a rough ride." -- Robert A. Heinlein
I can understand the temptation, but it's a luxury I can't indulge in.
Adelphia Cable Modem once again works sometimes but not most of the time. I'll report this tomorrow, I guess. It fixes itself after a couple of hours, but then it happens again. Just fades in and out.
The worst of it is that it works so well when it is working that I am unhappy with the 144 kbs iDSL when it doesn't. Come January I will be able to get real DSL and then we'll see.
July 17, 2003
Happy Anniversary, Roberta
We were married in Seattle in 1959. It was an odd wedding party and a rather odd wedding, and most of her relatives disapproved of me. Ah well.
Adelphia Cable Modem is still not reliable. It won't even work well enough to let me download their reporting software. So I'll have to use Megapaths to get the Adelphia trouble shooter and then use it.
Over in Mail I got a letter concerning my views on Empire and Republic. It seemed to misunderstand me so I wrote an answer that perhaps belongs in the main thread so I will put it here as well.
I am not particularly pessimistic in the ways you think. We are not in any trouble when it comes to holding Iraq, and it's not that hard to make the soldiers happy again, although you do have to do that. It is the long term effects on us, and particularly the loss of cheap self government, that concerns me. But those are probably gone, not because the world changed but because we have, and in doing that we caused world changes that make it very hard to get back to being a Republic.
Empire is, in my judgment, rule of people who do not consent to that rule. "Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" is the description of a republic. Neither Afghanistan, nor Iraq, nor especially Bosnia, have consented to our rule, and indeed most of the populace in those places would cheerfully vote us out if given the chance. (Of course in the US the population would overwhelmingly vote to stop immigration and stop exporting jobs, but they'll never get the chance to vote on those matters either.)
It is very easy to get used to government by the consent of the governing class rather than the governed. It is very hard to break that habit once you get into it, since the people with the power have little motivation to change it, and will cheerfully hand perks to the opposition so long as the opposition isn't interested in changing the system.
Our overseas experiments accelerate that trend.
At the moment we're a not very competent empire, and at the moment the Army is not as important as government employee unions, teachers unions, and the trial lawyers associations in American politics. You and I will both live to see that change, so that the military will be as important as any of those in political matters. That was hastened by the contemptuous way the military ballots were dismissed in Florida in the year 2000 election. If the American public didn't notice that high handed imbecility, you may be sure the soldiers did.
So our formula seems to be sensitivity training for the officers, and extended tours of duty for the troops. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to project the results of such actions, and apparently someone in the Pentagon has noticed, so that we are now negotiating with the UN, with India, with anyone, to get some help in Iraq. We'll manage that. There's a lot of oil over there and we can pay well for the help. Of course what we want is an occupation force we can send home when we need to: bringing in Turks or Russians doesn't meet that need. Denmark is too small, and France has too may past associations in the region. Germans would be a mistake, and certainly we don't want Former-USSR Moslem nations involved on the ground. Or do we?
Perhaps we can hire Ghurkas. And see mail.
Security alerts coming in an hour or so.
---------------- Roland Dobbins
Microsoft has issued yet another have-your-way-with-me critical vulnerability warning. This warning applies to all current versions of Windows except Windows Me. Windows 98SE and earlier versions of Windows 9X were not tested and may or may not be vulnerable. You can read the details at:
-- Robert Bruce Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.ttgnet.com/thisweek.html http://forums.ttgnet.com/ikonboard.cgi
Well Adelphia thinks it is the Hawking Router, and that may be the case. When the Adelphia line is plugged directly into a Windows XP PC and I set the TCP/IP to do everything automatically, it seems to work; through the Hawking Router it fails intermittently.
But I hate running bare to the Internet so I closed that connection. I then tried to address a D-LINK DI-604 router to 192.168.1.1 from its setting of 192.168.0.1 and disable DHCP services, but when I do that I don't seem to be able to communicate with it any more and the setting doesn't stick: next time I do connect to it the router seems to be back to 192.168.0.1 which is not what I want. There are no instructions for using advanced features, at least none in the manuals I have.
It seems to want to be connected to the machine that changes its address and if it can't report the address change then it can't make the address change; but of course the 192.168.0.x system that got its DHCP from the router now can't see it if it's 192.168.1.1 so the router can't report to it and, apparently, after a while says to heck with it and reverts to the original address setting. This isn't so good. Maybe I need to have two computers connected to the D-Link, one addressed in the 0.x range and the other in the 1.x range? Or is there some other way? This is driving me nuts but I am going to go work on my book now.
I am on through the Hawking with iDSL connected to WAN2 and the Adelphia cable modem connected to the cable but with its Ethernet port unconnected. I'll probably figure this out sometime this evening or tomorrow. Now to work on fiction.
Windows XP clearly has a critical need detector. Now the Zip Drive opens but Windows goes mad trying to autoplay when all I want to do is save the blasted files onto the Zip so I can go to the monk's cell.
I can't even close down the window. XP is too clever by half.
I think I am going mad.
Well, I fixed that, and I have done about 1200 words of Burning Tower so I feel like a writer again. Of course my brain is now mush, and I still have to figure out how to make the Adelphia cable modem behave, which involves readdressing the router, but that's for later.
Well now the cable modem doesn't work with or without a router. Now it won't work connected directly to a PC. I did manage to get the router addressed properly and the DHCP turned off. I am connected through iDSL again. Adelphia Cable Modem isn't working although their status page shows no local area problems.
I don't have a lot more time to waste on this.
Midnight: it is not working at all, connected direct or through a router. Adelphia Cable modem is dead.
And on the Kobe Bryant story:
Bryant uses the alias, "Javier Rodriguez" and is assigned a first-floor room at the end of a long hall
All very odd.
And more recently:
On the other hand, the meat grinder continues. I'll more to say on what we had best be doing, but that will have to wait until next week. And I have a correction to my Bosnia mention.
There's a lot of other mail on different subjects. And I am going to go write.
July 19, 2003
I suppose there is nothing for it but to wait on the Kobe Bryant situation. Why he might invite a hotel employee to his room after she got off duty is easily inferred even if he hadn't admitted adultery. Such things happen, although one would have thought less frequently with Mr. Clean. But they do happen.
It is my understanding that professional athletes get frequent offers of this kind. Magic Johnson is said to have indulged himself with over 1,000 women and acquired HIV+ from doing it.
(Thanks to Dr. Timoid of Angle for calling this to my attention.)
It is the standard Ricardo argument, and two minutes thought will show that it doesn't at all answer any of the questions one might normally ask about globalization and its social costs. In fact it assumes its conclusions. That happens frequently.
Among other things, it equates "poverty" with "inefficient economic deployment of resources," which is bizarre. Wealthy nations spend money 0n opulence, and that's not efficient. If one of the aspects of opulence is a society in which almost everyone is employed, and there is neither poverty or welfare, that's not poverty. Poverty for some is often the result of efficient allocation of resources if efficient means "maximum goods at lowest possible prices."
But that kind of economic strategy leaves the problem of what to do with those made redundant by imports: and in general the Ricardists do not answer that one. It's someone else's problem. Those who reap the benefits of the efficient allocation of resources don't pay that cost.
I've said all this before, of course. But TCS is usually a sensible place, quite sound on science in general. Publishing a light weight economic rant like this seems out of character. They must have had a slow day.
Adelphia Log: this morning the service wasn't working for me. Resetting the cable modem (turning it off and back on) did nothing, but turning off the router and both cable modems, then restarting them, made it all work just fine. I am going to install some switches downstream of the UPS that feeds these units (clearly turning off the UPS doesn't help). Apparently one should reset the routers and cable modems daily. If I didn't work through a router it might be different. I also need to investigate other routers.
Do note that sometimes Adelphia ceases to work entirely, no matter how I am connected to it. Other times, resetting everything seems to work. I can only log everything in hopes of finding a pattern. At the moment all works just fine.
Where are the divisions?
Where are the Divisions?
It is said that the President of the United States always asks, “Where are the carriers?” when a crisis erupts. StrategyPage.com will now provide the answer to another important question - based on open source information – “Where are the Divisions?”
This month’s posting shows that 17 of the Army’s 34 ground maneuver brigades are deployed in Iraq. A Marine division is also employed in Iraq. The 3rd Infantry Division is in the process of redeploying to the United States. The 35th (KS Army National Guard) Infantry Division is in the Balkans. (Federalized National Guard units are shown in blue.)
No comment needed.
July 20, 2003
Thirty Four years after Apollo. For what we have spent on the space program we could have asteroid colonies as well as a permanent Moon Base.
We could still have them. Prizes and X projects would do it; but that would require abolishing NASA, because NASA simply will not allow anything to succeed that it can't do.
Meanwhile, see Mail for why this is a black letter day.
I have known of the existence of a "lost" Heinlein novel for some time. I have not read it. I do know that Robert never talked about it, at least not to me or anyone I know. He did bring out Take Back Your Government and cause it to be published (I wrote the introduction) although it was pretty well dated.
Mr. Heinlein's views of the world changed enormously from 1938 (about the time he ran for nomination to the state assembly on the "Ham and Eggs" ticket) to Starship Troopers. I know nothing else of this. I haven't been consulted about its publication.
I have in the past advised young writers to burn their trunk upon achieving success.
Richard Pournelle lives out in Mojave where his space company is located. Recently a dog was rescued from the desert: she had puppies. One of them, "Lefty", is now Richard's dog. Today Lefty and Sable met for the first time.
The sequence is Sable's first sight of this intruder, Lefty flees to Roberta for safety, and Lefty after Sable pushed him into the pool...
And you may recall that when we first got Sable she was about the size of her rageddy toy. The toy oddly enough still exists -- she's shredded many of her things but that one survived along with the Christmas present one reader sent her -- but she's a little bigger now.
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