THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 289 December 22 - 28, 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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December 22, 2203
I was going to work on the novel today, but I got busy cleaning up. Eric and Dan hauled away two carloads of surplus stuff, four big bags went into the trash, two boxes got mailed off, Alex too a couple of boxes last night, and The Great Hall is almost cleared. I can see the floor, sit on the furniture, and see wood on the table.
My office is still a horrid mess, so that's tomorrow I guess.
Every day throw something away...
The Mac continues to baffle me. Writing to a DVD-RW for example: when you "copy" to it, it shows you have made a copy. You can open that copy. But in fact nothing has been copied. There's only an image treated as a copy. If you thought you had backed up something to that DVD-RW, God help you, because you haven't. Before it actually does the backup you have to tell it to BURN. This is entirely unlike Windows where if it says it has successfully made a copy, it has made a COPY, not merely a virtual copy on the same hard drive as the original was on.
If you go to shut the Mac down it will ask you if you want to Burn you R/W drive, which is confusing as hell. But you have to do that, or you will have an utterly blank disk. (Or one unchanged from when you inserted it, anyway.)
This isn't intuitive, although some Mac people think it is. Me, when I drag an icon into a folder, I expect it to be COPIED there, not just virtually copied there. I see it is going to take a while to learn the Mac philosophy...
December 23, 2003
I have to work on the novel today but I am also cleaning up the office, having got the Great Hall in shape. I work better when I can see my desk.
A Merry Christmas to All.
I got an article on teaching your dog to sing Christmas Carols. Sable already sings. She also talks. Not in English, precisely, but she tries to imitate us. Huskies tend to do that. Sable actually barks, which our previous Huskies did only in extreme situations; Sable barks fairly often for a Husky, as much as a couple of times a day.
I expect her to learn God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, one of these days.
Today the Thursby AdmitMac evaluation license period expired, and Ariadne vanished entirely from my network. None of my machines can see her, and she can't see anything at all: the "Network" button in the finder finds one and only one server, Ariadne herself.
Clearly the simple thing to do is pay the man the holiday special price of $99. Macs need third party software to solve networking problems of this kind apparently. I want to muck about to see if the revisions to 10.3 have fixed any of the networking problems so I will probably try that first.
Mostly I need to transfer pictures and documents if Ariadne is to become the standard laptop here. It worked just fine under the third party software. We will see if it can be made to work with Mac OS.
The Evening next before Christmas
Aliens cause global warming...
And see mail
Also see his other speech on environmentalism.
O ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Look now! For glad and golden hours
Yet with the woes of sin and strife,
And man, at war with man, hears not
December 25, 2003
The Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, commonly called Christmas
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
O Trinity of love and power,
Go to the below website and click on Barney and Spot's Winterwonderland!
Lieutenant Colonel of Marines;
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq;
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time;
Lover extrordinaire; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance;
Collector of Hot Sauce; Avoider of Yard Work
Check out my homepage at
December 26, 2003
Happy New Year
December 27, 2003
It sure is quiet here. I even got Chaos Manor cleaned up so that you can sit in the Great Hall, but everyone has gone now.
Dr. Jennifer Pournelle brought back some neat pictures from Baghdad, taken from outside the Green Zone, as well as a couple taken from inside. Outside there is a bustling city, with malls and souks, offices opening, people installing big sheets of plate glass -- merchants don't do that if they expect more riots -- traffic cops although Jenny says she never saw them give anyone a ticket. Refrigerators in crates on the sidewalks offered for sale. Shops, fancy and otherwise. It looks like Los Angeles, with some scenes from the Arabian Nights, just as Los Angeles itself looks like a modern southern latitude city with some scenes from Old Mexico.
I'll try to get some of the pictures up, but the important message is that some good things are happening, and no one is reporting them. The reporters huddle inside the Green Zone and come out when there is a bombing, so that's what we see. And there are bombings, but these are few in the context of a big city.
But there are enormous gasoline lines, and people who sit in the line for 20 hours -- that's not a misprint, twenty hours -- to get their car filled, or who buy gasoline from a vendor in a donkey cart, in a country that floats on oil don't understand what is happening, so the word in the street is that the United States is stealing the oil. Of course we're not; it's not being pumped, or the pipelines are bombed before it gets to the refinery, or the refinery isn't working because it was a thing of shreds and patches and makeshift repairs done by people working under economic sanctions -- and who were all sent away because the American experts are here, thank you, and we don't need help.
But Jenny, who was an Army medic and then later a captain of military intelligence, says many of the military experts are reservists. "They don't understand how their own organizations work, and they're trying to organize Arabs and Kurds and build new organizations in a country that invented bureaucracy." As an example: the chap whose job it is to tell the military what archeological sites are valuable and ought not be bombed or blown up with artillery just because someone takes a potshot from one of them has not a clue as to how the military chain of command works. He gave the list to some sergeant. He's not quite sure who that was, the man said he'd take care of it. Only no one else in the Army has the information. Nor does the Air Force, nor do the targeting officers in charge of smart bombs and cruise missiles, nor ---
"It's as if in a University setting he'd given informati0n about a hazard in the Psychology Department building to a random graduate student in the Chemistry Department and expected everyone on campus to know about it." When she put it to him that way and told him he really needed to talk to the G5, he said "Gee maybe you ought to have this job." Which is all true but the Agency for International Development isn't paying her to do that. Not in the contract. Someone is paying that chap to do it. He'd very much like to, but no one told him how, possibly because none of his superiors know how until you get up the ladder to people who can't understand that there is anyone who doesn't know who the G5 is and what he does...
There's a lot of that. Particularly there are a lot of power plants and sewage treatment plants and city infrastructure maintained with baling wire and chewing gum (duct tape was very hard to come by) during the economic sanctions, and the people who kept it going were fired for being Baathists. Now it doesn't work, and looking at it no one can figure out how it ever worked, since it's nothing like what they see in their maintenance manuals (assuming the manuals still exist: much of this stuff is long past manufacture, old and obsolete by any standards, but it was all they had). And up at the top level you get "Why the hell can't you get that working? I've seen the &^)(*& building! It wasn't bombed!" Actually if it had been bombed it would be easier to get replacement equipment than to get spare parts for a GE generator made in 1956...
But the Iraqi people are pretty well educated, and if given a chance they can get things done.
"So," I asked, "how do you tell the managers who were Baath Party members because you had to be a party member to reach a supervisory level from the party activists who were thugs?"
"The local people know."
Which is about what you'd expect.
One last point: Jenny says that outside a few cities, Sunni vs. Shiite isn't important: what's important is clans. And the clans around Tikrit were Saddam's clans and nobody else likes them and they don't like anybody else. But if you know something about the clan structure you can figure out a lot of things -- and if you don't know what a clan structure is, or even that there is such a thing, you can't possibly govern.
Random pictures from Baghdad, 22 December, 2003
Left to right: Outside a hotel window in Annam, Jordan; the name might startle you.
Going into Baghdad. What the Green Zone looks like from outside. Proceed across the Tigris: there's a modern city out there. There are markets, with traditional goods, and modern appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators for sale. And modern buildings across the river.
You may be reminded of the Assyrian room of the British National Museum (sometimes known as the largest collection of stolen property in the world). Most of this was looted and has been returned, either forcibly or bought by friends of the museum. Looters burned much of the library. The large piece was sawed into chunks for easier -- what? Transport? Sale? The looting was organized, but some of it got out of hand.
And a street scene that's all too common:
December 28, 2003
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