THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 326 September 6 - 12, 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.
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September 6, 2004
LABOR DAY and COLUMN TIME
I am dancing as fast as I can... Worldcon is in Boston, but I'm here, slaving away. Alex and his fiancé were over and we had a nice barbeque, and Dan Spisak was here to help with the column, so it wasn't a dull day. Just lots of work.
|This week:||Tuesday, September
Getting the column out.
More Marines dead in Fallujah. Hundreds of Russians dead in a school. The Russians are descended from the Rus who were Vikings, and are subject to berserker rage in which they no longer care about the consequences of their actions against their enemies. Communism tried to impose an intellectual discipline over that and partly was successful. Whether that veneer of civilization will hold now is not clear.
When the terrorists kidnapped a USSR officer some years ago at about the same time that the American station chief in Lebanon was taken, the KGB went in, kidnapped many relatives of terrorist leaders, and began sending parts to back with requests for the return of their man. They got him alive. Ours was of course tortured to death.
How long the Marines will put up with Fallujah is not clear. History records that Julius Caesar forgave his enemies several times until his Legions decided they did not care to fight the same rebels over and over, and slaughtered all the prisoners in one notable battle. Of course our troops are far better disciplined.
It is not a safe world. I do not think it is safe by our being in Iraq; but I am certain that being in Iraq and playing games as we have in Fallujah is not a good idea. There needs to be an example made: a community disarmed through block by block searches, thorough disarmament. But whether we can do that now that we are not "sovereign" is not clear. The ideal time to do it would have been just before transfer of sovereignty: then the incoming government could both blame it on the Americans, and threaten their enemies with our return.
Kerry, I see, has yet another position on Iraq: at least he says it's a new position, but I wasn't able to figure out what it was other than getting the troops home in four years. At what price he did not say.
The column is done.
One Russian schoolgirl was shot in the back 40 times as she ran away. Over 700 Russians killed in a week by terrorists.
Anyone want to bet on Tehran or Damascus or even Mecca surviving another year? Russians are not PC. They are Rus, old Vikings. From the fury of the northmen...
Seen in another discussion:
Unpaid Gurkhas for Sharon. That's the US Marine Corps
September 8, 2004
The column is done and off. There are workmen here to replace the kitchen counter tops. Others will ratproof the dishwasher area. Others will -- suffice to say Chaos Manor is in the hands of the contractors.
And we're coming up for air after doing the column.
There is a new edition of Ad-Aware. You will be told about it if you update your current edition. My new one found 40 questionable cookies on being run; I had run the old version just before installing the new and that had found 12 or so since the last time I ran it. The data miners are out there, and they have their tame Congresscritters to keep their nefarious activities legal. Long Live Fritz Hollings! Although may I have my own ideas about where he should endure this long life?
September 9, 2004
We were awakened at 0755 by Sable, who is very good at telling us that (1) there are people in the back yard, (2) she knows them and they're all right, and (3) she still thinks we ought to know there are people in the yard. Mostly she talks about it. It's quite different from the fuss she makes if there are people she doesn't know and doesn't trust. Huskies don't exactly bark, although they know how. Sable was raised her first couple of months in a house that had non-Huskies so she does sometimes bark like a normal dog, but not often, and it still sounds different. To the wolf breeds, barking is a big deal, and means they are summoning help to deal with a situation they don't think they can handle.
Her predecessor, Sasha, barked about four times in all his life, once on the trail: back before leash laws, he ran ahead and around a bend, and began barking furiously, clearly summoning help. I got around the curve to discover him confronting a saddled horse; the Ranger had left it on the trail. The horse wasn't much concerned, but Sasha had never seen one before, and I am sure was thinking if I would help him pull down this thing we'd eat for a month. I got him to realize that horses weren't game; given the thing's size I am sure he was glad to hear it.
Sable, on the other hand, has seen horses most of her life, and on the free run in the unleash dog park she likes to drift toward the water trough near the farm where there are horses. Those horses, being separated from an unleashed dog run by no more than a railed fence and a low chicken wire fence presumably to keep tiny dogs out, are entirely uninterested in dogs and pay them little attention, which is fine by Sable because she just wants to watch them.
Anyway, the workmen came, and we now have kitchen counter tops and a sink. No dishwasher yet, but tomorrow they ratproof the dishwasher compartment. Of course we had a gas leak yesterday afternoon, and the Gas Company man found a leaking pressure relief valve, which he bypassed but we ought to get a new one so the Sears people are coming to do that. How do families without a home manager survive? Roberta has spent full time managing this place for weeks now; if I had to do all that I would never get any work done (or the place would slowly settle into the muck).
I have been paying the bills, and I find that two of my telephone lines have $8 per month AT&T bills tacked on, and the other two do not. One of the lines that pays AT&T is on one which we NEVER call out; it's reserved for incoming calls and almost no one has the number. The basic Pacific Bell (well SBC now) bill for this phone is $16 or so, but then there is an $8 AT&T bill for nothing I can think of. I don't even know who to call to ask. Does anyone understand telephone bills? It's clear to me I need to abandon AT&T on this line, and probably on the other line (it's the FAX line) that gets socked with an AT&T monthly charge. But do I call AT&T or SBC? Sigh.
Incidentally, of the $8 a month AT&T charges me for doing NOTHING, $2.00 of that is a "statement fee": they charge me for sending me a bill. I hate them.
More casualties in Iraq, mostly because we showed weakness at Fallujah. The Russians understand that, and Putin said that Russia showed weakness, but will not do so in future. Kipling was not a Russian poet, but perhaps someone has translated The Grave of The Hundred Heads.
Meanwhile, The American Conservative has one of the silliest articles I have seen in a while, with a scenario about the Iranian Guard charging the US Army and Marines and killing about 400 in a few hours. I don't know what Claude Salhani has been smoking. His bio says he is a UPI editor and journalist. I suppose this is what we can expect from UPI. His thesis that Israel may bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities (as they did the Iraqi some years ago) isn't out of line; his notion that the Iranians might be crazy enough to order their Revolutionary Guards to attack American forces in Iraq is at the edge of feasibility although Iranians are usually not quite as crazy as Arabs; but his picture of the subsequent battle is a pipe dream of an Ayatollah. I doubt the fly boys would let the Revolutionary Guard get close enough to our troops for them to kill 400 of them in a few hours, but if they did close with the Army and Marines they would regret it rather quickly.
I suspect we have some military people who pray for something like this, anything better than being there in the heat day after day with nothing to fight while suicide bombers creep up on them. A charge of Revolutionary Guards might be a relief.
On the other hand, Pat Buchanan's reminder that at the time he labeled his column "Fallujah: High Tide of the American Empire" is a fair cop. Our retreat in the face of barbarism in Fallujah was a severe error: better had we gone in and disarmed the city before transfer of sovereignty. The new Iraqi government would benefit twice: from the elimination of a threat, and they could blame it all on us.
Well, that didn't happen, just as we STILL do not make our food subsidies to Iraq dependent on it being quiet in the area. If every village faced the idea that if an American is killed in that province we stop feeding them for two weeks, the resulting tranquility would be marvelous to behold. Of course we won't do that.
Incompetent Empire. We need to decide just what the hell we are doing over there, and start doing it. Begin by making it clear we don't intend to feed people who won't stop the attacks on us.
Today's LA Times says half the work force is functionally illiterate. Roberta Pournelle's reading program has yet to fail to teach anyone to read who finishes the program. Now admittedly many of those were in reform school and had no choice but to sit through the lessons, but oddly enough THEY LEARNED anyway.
Adults learn, too. Chinese and Armenian kids in public schools learn. The program works. So we know how to teach kids to read.
There are problems we can't solve and those we won't solve. Illiteracy is one of those we won't solve. Instead we have nonsense like No Child Left Behind.
September 10, 2004
This day was more or less devoured by locusts.
September 11, 2004
It is Sable's second birthday although the nation has better reasons to remember this date. Niven came over this morning and we took a 2 hour walk up the hill to the Tree People and around and down. Hot, and Sable was panting a good bit, but there's water here and there such as at the Tree People, and all is well. I think we have our next novel picked out.
I am not sure there's much worth saying about the anniversary. We know how to prevent airplanes from being hijacked and used as cruise missiles. We also have a pretty good idea of the resources of the enemy: they don't have many, else they would be here and used. They have killed 1,000 US troops, but that's because we put them where they could be harmed. Recruiting agents to come to the US and do harm to us, getting people competent enough to carry out the mission but also willing to try, is not easy. The Palestinians have learned that if you get someone worked up to be a martyr you need to send them fast: no time for elaborate plans.
But the terrorists have managed to cripple the airline industry with the TSA, and make travel a burden to be endured rather than something to be enjoyed. But it is notable how few incidents there have been since the Big 911.
We saw Vanity Fair last night, and I have to say the movie is better than the book. Thackeray was probably more sympathetic to Becky than he let on, but he is still a creature of his culture. Witherspoon does the part in an interpretation that probably Thackeray wouldn't much care for, but she does it extremely well. I also prefer this ending to Thackeray's.
September 12, 2003
CBS bet its reputation on the authenticity of forged documents, and when that bluff was called, doubled the bet. And has now lost.
The documents were KERNED and supposedly written in 1984. CBS kept yammering that they COULD have been done by a Selectric, or an IBM Executive. But they couldn't have been because nothing in those times could do kerned text.
The frantic defense reminded me of Alger Hiss who spent a fortune trying to show that the FBI MIGHT HAVE BEEN ABLE to forge the pumpkin papers. CBS never showed that the Texas National Guard unit had an IBM Executive typewriter or anything with Times New Roman typefacing ( I had a Selectric and many type balls for it, but not a Times New Roman).
But CBS kept doubling down on this bet and now it's just plain impossible.
"CBS's last hope had been to show that Colonel
Killian -- whose wife
Interesting that it was blogs that nailed CBS and very quickly. How are the mighty fallen..
Incidentally, is this kind of forgery a crime?
And it just gets better and better:
From Ed Hume:
Remember, all ye swabs...
Oops! Stay tuned . . .
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