THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 307 April 26 - May 2, 2004
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.
If you are not paying for this place, click here...
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
Search: type in string and press return.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
For the BYTE story, click here.
The freefind search remains:
April 26, 2004
Took the Explorer to the body shop today. Last week someone rounded the corner at high speed and hit my parked Explorer head on. The brush guard was bent, and the headlights sort of displaced. The brush guard did its work of protecting the car so well that I was able to drive the Explorer to Phoenix and back, arranging to drive in daylight because the headlights work but aren't aimed well. Now Eddie (for Eddie Bauer model) will get a new set of brush guards and his lights realigned, and such like.
I have had that car long enough that it is paid for, and it runs beautifully. The only thing I wish I had in it that I don't have is a built-in GPS, and in fact there are ways of using the Tablet PC for that purpose; I will need to devise a mount of some kind. Eddie has full time four wheel drive; I mildly prefer the more traditional kind with a transfer case so you can have double-low, but in fact I haven't had any need for it. I have had Eddie 50 miles from the nearest pavement and 10 miles from the nearest road, without any reportable problems. Of course I am more cautious now than I used to be, and Eddie is larger and won't get into places I could get the little Bronco II, so I have never found myself anything like stuck.
Unless you do nothing but wander in the bush, you will spend far more time on freeways than ever you will off road. When Niven and I went to Chaco to explore that wonderful place we were on the highway most of the time, with a day on bad dirt and gravel roads and no more than an hour or so off roads in Chaco (and another hour or two playing with sand dunes in California); so on-road comfort is important. My Explorer has always had that. It drives easily and steadily, it's comfortable, and it's dust-tight, which I can assure you is a desirable feature in this computer age.
In the old days with the International Scout we would come out of Baja covered with dust. I have had Eddie in places where dust ran off the windshield in rivulets so that I had to turn off the wiper, and got out of the car dust free after a minute or two at high speeds on a paved road to blow the dust off the outside.
The big V-8 engine had no problems going over the passes at legal speed maximum even with the air conditioner on (I watch the temperature gauges with some interest when I do that). All in all I expect another 5 years of life out of Eddie and maybe more, and I have been more than happy with the Vista Ford Agency's service and warranty compliance (which has years and miles to run: I always buy the extended service policy).
And no, I didn't get any discount, and the Ford company has no idea I am writing this.
As to repairs, I pay the deductible and USAA pays the rest, and if you are eligible for USAA insurance and don't have it, I seriously advise you to look into it.
There was a virus warning last night you will do well to be aware of.
April 27, 2004
I remain under the weather. It's all upper respiratory and sore throat, but I am not shaking it off very well. I recall a few years ago I had one of these bouts that hung on until I tried snake oil (literally; from China) which, by coincidence or by cause, signaled the abrupt end of my difficulties. I would prefer not to have to run that experiment again.
A lot of people in Los Angeles are suffering from pollen allergies and that may be my problem. Whatever it is, it saps the energy and stuffs the head and scratches the throat and deepens the cough, making it hard to sleep until utter exhaustion...
The "Nukes is Chernobyl, how can you be so hard hearted?" letter has arrived, and is dealt with in Mail. Of course it turned out that I misread the letter, but it still gave me a good opportunity to reply.
April 28, 2004
Yesterday's record heat wave has broken, and it was pleasant out this morning on our walk. My head is still stuffed, and I still have the sore throat and deep cough, but it's all somewhat better than yesterday so I think recovery is at hand.
I ordered the Allergy Control Products pump and nose thingy with their flushing solution. I suspect it's overpriced compared to what I could manage scrounging around but the laborer is worthy of his hire: if their gizmo can accomplish the results I need, I don't care about the price. After all, a few years ago I resorted to Chinese Snake Bile Oil "made from the freshest of snake biles"...
I do find that flushing out the system by snorting saline solution (a lot of it) followed by putting my head in various prone and supine positions seems to help a bit, although at first everything seems dried out after the saline is expelled. I expect it takes a bit of time to get a new self-secreted coating in there. All in all I seem to be in better shape than other people my age, and certainly so compared to people who were my age when I was younger. Except for Col. Rhodes Dawson, one-time associate Scoutmaster of Troop 139 (I was Hikemaster); Rhodes only slowed down a bit after falling off his roof at age 93, and managed to look pretty spry until he died at 102. But there aren't many like him.
The LA Times this morning has an article about a former exiled Ayatollah who went back after the US intervention in Iraq, and is now disillusioned with the American occupation. I have been studying it to see what evidence there is for what he thinks as opposed to what the editor thinks the reporter thinks the man thinks, but I haven't come to any conclusions yet. He ought to be happy, but he's not. The occupation is taking too long and there have been few visible beneficial results.
What bothers me is that well before the US went in, I said, here on this site, about the same thing that Secretary Powell said to the President: you break it, you own it. So you had better think hard about ownership.
We should, at the least, have opened the US Army Language School again and done some intensive classes in Arabic; and set up the Military Government schools again, and begun recruiting young Community College grads to be military government enlisted troops, and College grads to be officers. We started military government schools in 1943 with a view to what we would have to do in Germany and Japan given our Unconditional Surrender policy; we very much needed to do the same here. If we had started those language and government schools the day the decision to invade was made, we'd have the first group of such people over there now.
But in fact so far as I know we have not yet begun to train military police and military government troops nor have we an intensive Arabic and other Middle East languages school. The Army well knows how to teach languages, and the immersive technique works well. Not all those who go into it will come out fluent. Some will have to be dropped, and some take longer than others do, but in general we were turning out people to speak various languages at a pretty good clip when the language schools were running. If there's any such effort now, I am not aware of it; I am sure if one of you knows what's going on I'll learn in hours.
Recriminations about the past are pointless unless one learns lessons and doesn't make the same mistakes again. Given the President's doctrine of Preemptive War, and given Mr. Kerry's assurance that he will not cut and run from Iraq, isn't it about time we started building the structure for intervention in Middle East affairs? At the least we need people who can speak the languages of the region, and others with some training in military government in such cultures. We need those now; and since it takes months to years to produce such people, we need to get those schools opening now. Tomorrow morning won't be too early.
About those weapons of Mass Destruction:
When former weapons inspector Kay reported to Congress in January that the United States had found "no stockpiles" of forbidden weapons in Iraq, his conclusions made front-page news. But when he detailed what the ISG had found in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last October, few took notice.
Among Kay's revelations, which officials tell Insight have been amplified in subsequent inspections in recent weeks:
There is considerably more, but surely the point is made?
April 29, 2004
Apparently the language schools are still open, although I have no data on how many graduates there are, or whether there was an intensive effort made a year ago to train soldiers in Arabic and other Middle East languages. I have heard nothing about military government schools, or specialized training in dealing with the Middle East. Anyone could foresee problems if we invaded Iraq, and even if there were good security reasons for not training military government specialists prior to committing the troops to battle, it has still been a year since we went in.
There is considerable mail on the conditions in Iraq and what we should or should not do.
If we are there for the long haul, we had best start acting as if we are. If we are getting out, then if it were done, when it is done, it were best it were done quickly.
If we are staying, and I presume we are, we must:
Finish the Fallujah insurrection swiftly and violently. Give the town leaders 24 hours to produce every single person whose picture we have of involvement in participation in any act of uprising against us, and 36 hours to come out in a body unarmed. That won't happen, but the deadlines must be firm, and not negotiated, and the action must be carried out with regard for minimizing American casualties. A day or so into the assault we can halt and offer a short truce for the evacuation of wounded and non-combatants, who must come out unarmed and subject to search. (And that implies we must have facilities to put those people in, and supplies for them.) After that truce the reduction of Fallujah proceeds as an encouragement for all the other Iraqis.
It will be brutal, it will not play well on television, it will horrify Ted Koppel; but if carried out properly, with no deliberate targeting of the helpless -- and I make no doubt the Marines can do that -- the result will be a second victory in Iraq.
We must also think hard about who governs Iraq, and what rules of law are to apply. But we have discussed all that here at length.
Here is something worth thinking about, a view of the consequences of free trade and job export. Comments invited:
April 30, 2004
I guess I am slowly recovering, but the operative word is slowly.
The headlines say we may cut a deal and pull out of Fallujah. This in my judgment sends precisely the wrong message. It says, harry the US enough; kill enough Americans; hold on for a few weeks; and you have won.
Not the message I would send. Perhaps there are things I don't know.
May 1, 2004
Happy Birthday, Jenny
I have been thinking about the Iraq situation, and several things stand out. First, I wish we had thought of bringing in Iraqi officials in Fallujah before it got forced on us; I don't like the message this sends. Still, the only occupation most young Sunni men are fit for is military: they were the army before, and Iraq needs an army.
Using the former Iraqi army, with the US Marines and Army standing by in case the new Iraqi Army gets thoughts of going into business for itself. After all, the Sunni have been the military arm of the occupation powers in that region for a very long time. The Turks used them, as did the Brits. Then they went into business for themselves, and that's largely what Ba'athism was all about.
So. If we rebuild the Iraqi Army to soak up a number of the armed unemployed Sunni, and pay them to keep the peace, and restore the sheiks in the holy cityies with some Iraqi forces to help them, that takes care of one problem.
The other is Saddam drained the wetlands of the delta area in the south, and all the young farm men who used to work in that area have nothing to do but join the Mahdi Militia. They need to be put back to work restoring the land down in the south. That means money and engineering, both of which we can supply.
There will be legal problems, since Saddam moved a number of his supporters into the area and gave them land. That needs fixing, possibly with some compensation scheme, to restore things to what they were before Bush the Elder made the mistake of inciting uprisings we didn't support. Some of those who moved into the "reclaimed" wetlands may deserve compensation. All will need relocation. Again the local sheiks will know.
We can't make things perfect, but we do have a chance to do it more correctly than we have been doing.
The important thing is to understand that one universal majority winner take all vote won't work; Iraq has never been a nation state, and won't be one now. The Kurdish portion is closest to what we think of as a nation state; the rest of Mesopotamia is a mixture, largely tribal in nature, with the remnants of city-states overlaid with more modern structures. By setting up local governing structures we give the place a chance to develop democratic traditions, and build on what is already there. The Prophet has a strong dose of democracy in his original system. It got overlaid with other trends until it was nearly forgotten in the times of the Persian Caliphs, but it's still in the Koran if you look hard enough.
I still believe building Democracy in Iraq is beyond our endurance and resources: that we would be a lot better off getting out, declare victory and come home, and invest in energy independence. Nuclear power plants, hydrogen generators from electricity, fuel cells for mobile power; making methane from coal and water and electric power; whatever it takes to get energy independence. That would help our own economy, employ our people here, and get us out of the Middle East where we don't belong.
If we are to stay over there, we need to be a competent empire. That means using the Sunni to govern while we build whatever institutions we think appropriate, and understanding that this is a decade long operation. Possibly longer. The rewards will not be great, and the expense will be very heavy. We will not be thanked for it.
May 3, 2004
I am off to Seattle for WINHEC. I will update from there. Thanks all
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.