THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 335 November 8 - 14, 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, 8,000 - 12,000 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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November 8, 2004
The column was supposed to be on the wire last night, but my head isn't working. It gets out tonight.
Done. Let it age a few hours, one more pass, and off it goes.
Did anyone notice me sitting behind Sir Richard in the 60 Minutes episode on Rutan?
|This week:||Tuesday, November
The column is done and in.
There is a new worm that doesn't require you to OPEN mail. It is enough to follow a link within the mail. Details in mail.
The Yahoo news story says the virus hasn't appeared in the wild. See mail.
I see that the FAA is having problems, mostly caused by the decline of the revenue from ticket sales and airport use fees. Abolish the TSA and see FAA income grow...
Coming up for air. Talin has suggested a number of changes in format based on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and has been kind enough -- he says crazy enough -- to have done some models. The result is entirely different from what we have, and I'm thinking about it.
There are issues here. One is perhaps idiosyncratic: I do not care for the modern "blog" style in which the bookmarked page takes you to the latest post -- mail or comment -- with everything else above that. Some arguments develop over time, and require being read in order, and that format makes it nearly impossible to do it properly. You go to the beginning, read down, then go back up to the next, read down, and so forth. Most people don't do it; which makes it convenient for skimmers, but makes it impossible to develop a theme. I prefer what we do here, with the week done day at a time. Talin says that is no problem and the calendar can be kept.
The second has to do with editors. I have got all the O'Reilly books on CSS and I am looking through them. There is no index entry for editors, so I am not sure how to proceed. I have always used FrontPage, from its earliest editions, and what I see tends to be what I get, which means I spend my time trying to think of what to say and how to say it in good English, not in editing text for presentation. Again, I am assured, CSS makes this easier by putting things into formats; and perhaps it does.
Finally there is mail. Mail comes here in many formats. Some of you have learned to send mail in plain text with double spaces between paragraphs and otherwise no carriage returns at all. This is easy to "paste special" into the mail section. A few of you have figured out how to do it in html compatible with what I do, and I sometimes will convert to html (Outlook presents all mail to me in plaintext, and I have to convert if I want to see html) and paste directly, but I have to be sure there are no hidden links and the like, so I only do that with long time readers I know pretty well; I'd hate to paste in a link to a zombifying server.
FrontPage and Outlook have, despite all the "la calumna" we see lately, served me well. The only virus I ever got was Melissa, a long time ago, which came from opening an attachment to a press release from someone I knew. Of course Melissa immediately began sending copies of itself from me to others, and some others opened the attachment because, after all, it came from me. Fortunately I saw that my system was sending out traffic I hadn't ordered and hit the Big Red Switch, so there was a limit to what it sent, and it was a cheap salutary lesson for many of us: we no longer open unexpected mail attachments. But that was a long while ago, and otherwise these tools have been very useful for letting me organize my thoughts and present things without having to think about them.
I don't put in as many pictures as I once did, but when I do, FrontPage makes that easy, too. Anyway, I am studying the CSS books, because I see Talin's point about making things cleaner here. Of course I can argue that what I have is a filter: those who get here and stay have done so despite having to spend a bit of effort on it. Talin's answer was that a lot of people have a look and go away without ever finding out what they might be missing. He's certainly right about the excessive boiler plate on some of these pages, so I'll probably do something about that.
Anyway, the column is done, I am coming up for air, and I will think about these things.
The Marines are now doing what I thought they would do last April after the first uprising. It is unfortunate for everyone that they were called off before finishing the job last time. What we in the West think of as being reasonable is seen in the Middle East as weakness. I will still make the case that we ought not be in Iraq in the first place, but I think it is clear that, given we are there, we must not leave until we have thoroughly demonstrated to any nation thinking about harboring our enemies that this is not a good idea.
The entire notion of International Law -- it is probably better described as The Law of Nations -- was built around what was, when Grotius first proposed it in the early 1600's, a fairly novel idea: sovereignty. The notion of sovereignty had to be developed because prior to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 -- a treaty based in large part on Grotius' ideas even though he didn't quite live to see it -- the prevailing theory was more internationalist in scope, with adherents of the Papacy and Christendom on the one hand, and of a revival of the Roman Empire on the other, and during Grotius' lifetime at least, the Holy Roman Empire trying to be the embodiment of both.
International Law tried to deal with facts on the ground, in the modern terminology: there was no international enforcement mechanism, and there was no longer any international body to which all the Western nations -- the others didn't really count -- owed allegiance. The King of France was pretty well sovereign in his own domains, as was the King of England. The exact status of the different parts of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire were another matter. Note that the Papacy denounced the Treaty of Westphalia as utterly void, since it ended, even in theory, the notion of Papal supremacy over the Christian world. Note also that the United Nations pretends to the kind of suzerainty over the world that the Pope once claimed. Papal suzerainty ended at Lutzen when Gustavus Adolfus of Sweden showed that there was more than one Great Power, and the German states were not all subject to either Pope or Emperor. Had the Empire won, it would have stood to the Papacy as the United States does to the United Nations: a superpower able to enforce its will on much of the world, but subject to the Pope only in voluntary submission.
I bring all this up because the world is in much the same condition now as it was during the Thirty Years War. Calvinists in that time used the notion of Sovereignty to imprison or execute people like Grotius who believed in free expression. Sovereignty allowed repressive regimes, and gave them a legal status, which both Catholics and Protestants were quick to make use of. The year 1648 is one of those dates to remember: not only did the Treaty of Westphalia change Europe forever (one of Hitler's avowed goals was to reverse that treaty) but the English killed their king and brought in Puritan rule to abolish Christmas and make Merrie England somber and pure. (Charles I was executed in January of what we now consider the year 1649, but in those times the year did not end on 31 December).
The world is now larger than Europe, and the United Nations isn't united as the Papacy had been. There is no universal agreement on anything including the status of women. The United States has explicitly repudiated the notion of sovereignty as regards nations that sponsor terrorism and harbor terrorist enemies of the West. The United Nations doesn't recognize that right.
Should we think of the US as Sweden had Gustavus Adolfus lived? Incidentally, it was Gustavus genius minister Oxenstern who appointed Grotius as Sweden's ambassador, in which guise he took part in negotiations that led to the Treaty of Westphalia.
And that's quite enough rambling. I am sure there are many holes in the above, which is merely a draft of speculative thoughts. I'll leave it as an example, although I am not quite sure of what. But to come back to the beginning, the US Marines are about to end the insurgency in Fallujah. The demonstration of what happens to those who sufficiently annoy the United States continues. It is not pretty, and many innocents will be killed; but then many innocents die when the terrorists do their work. I would have conducted the war on terror quite differently from President Bush, but given that we are in Iraq we have few choices now. This should have been done earlier. Better late than never.
I have mail concerning "a tank at the LA Federal Building protests."
Subject: Military in Westwood
It would appear that the budgetary use-it-or-lose-it game applies to soldiers deployed within the United States to quell potential post-election unrest. With the absence of any big news last week, soldiers in tanks were deployed to a protest last night at the Federal Building in Westwood.
No data. Dan has identified these vehicles seen on TV as LAV-25. We also have this mail:
I'm trying to track down more information, but I
believe there is a storage facility near the Federal Building for APCs and
other vehicles. I've seen military vehicles on Wilshire in Westwood many
times. It's possible (again, I have no information yet, this is speculation)
that APCs were taken out to the hostage situation that occurred yesterday at
the Mexican embassy, and were returning to their base when the protesters
which makes a great deal of sense: there was a hostage situation at the Mexican Consulate General (not Embassy; the Embassy is in Washington, DC) and LAPD may well have borrowed an armored car for that. It certainly doesn't look as if the LAV-25's had any interaction with the protestors, whatever it was they were protesting.
It's astonishing how many will believe ill of the military.
Over in mail there is some discussion of stem cell research and a pointer to an important article.
And Belgium has dispersed a political party -- the largest party in Belgium. So much for democracy.
November 11, 2004
Eternal Father, strong to save,
O Trinity of love and power,
Since what we choose is what we are,
There is no holiday in Iraq.
November 12, 2004
Niven will be here shortly and we will attempt to work.
I took the day off.
November 15, 2004
Vegetating. Head clearing up but just a little.
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