THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 425 July 31 - August 6, 2006
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
July 31, 2006
There is or shortly will be a new column segment and mail bag on Chaos Manor Reviews. The mail contains some new tips on using command lines.
Remember: if you find this page, and Chaos Manor Reviews, worthwhile, this would be a good time to subscribe. Keeping both these sites going plus writing fiction is a fair amount of work. Thanks to the many who have by subscribing shown me that it is worth the effort.
Sunday's Mail has a letter from LtC. Phillip Pournelle aboard HSV-2 Swift in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The morning paper headlines tell of the 54 women and children, mostly children, killed in a bomb shelter by an Israeli air strike in Qana. Everyone acts as if the world has come to an end. Israel is roundly condemned. Governments call for an "unconditional cease fire".
I have been critical of Israel and will continue to be; but in this case, one wonders, what should they have done? Hizbollah is controlled by hard and cynical men who would joyfully trade 54 of their own women and children for this kind of publicity, and ten times that many if it would assure a cessation of the Israel offensive. It was no accident that they were using an area near a bomb shelter as their base of operations for firing rockets in the general direction of Israel. The difference between Hizbollah and the IDF is that the IDF generally hits its targets, but sometimes misses; Hizbollah cannot be said to have targets. They just fire their rockets in hopes that they will kill someone, but mostly in hopes of provoking retaliatory strikes that will kill their own people. In Qana they succeeded beyond their expectations; and while the public image will be of Lebanon mourning, you may be sure that if we could get cameras into the Hizbollah command center, you would see rejoicing.
Now the cry is for Israel to stop. Forfeit any gains made. "There can be no negotiations without an immediate and unconditional cease fire," which will, of course, allow Hizbollah to reform and regroup. In a word, Israel is to declare defeat and withdraw. The result will be to encourage Hizbollah to buy more and better rockets. If driven out of the South, the remedy is obvious: buy longer range missiles, find more refugee camps in which to base them, and fire more rockets at Israel. Wait for more IDF counterfire. Be sure the cameras are ready. And win another victory.
Many decry "CNN Victories" as meaningless. Not so. Each Hizbollah "CNN victory" brings in more recruits, and gathers more financial support. Each Hizbollah victory makes it easier to acquire more and better rockets.
Katyusha rockets are not classed as "weapons of mass destruction" only because they have almost no accuracy. They are an ineffective military weapon unless used in great numbers all at once for area bombardment. Otherwise they are merely targetless bombardment weapons. Those who condemn the Allies in WW II for high altitude night bombardment of cities as terror raids should have no trouble in putting Katyusha rockets in the same class, despite their relative ineffectiveness unless used in large numbers. However, they are cheap. They are easily acquired, and in small numbers easily hidden among civilian populations, in mosques, in grocery stores, in living rooms. "Hi Mom, what's for dinner. Oh. We have some new rockets!"
Israel now finds herself caught in the jaws. If they press forward for an actual military victory, dealing death, destruction, and defeat to Hizbollah, they will inevitably give over more "CNN Victories". There will inevitably be more scenes of dead children found in the rubble of bomb shelters. Each CNN Victory will assure thousands of new Hizbollah recruits, some from populations that had previously held Hizbollah in contempt. And at each stage there will be demands that Israel back off, stop the killing, declare an immediate and unconditional cease fire, negotiate: negotiate from a position of defeat, but now a worse position than before. And this will continue until either (1) Israel wins an actual military victory, or (2) Israel can no longer pay the price and face the pressure, which is in fact the most likely outcome.
And winning an actual victory will be very costly, and include a long aftermath of occupation either with conscripts or with paid soldiers hired from, probably, Russia, although there may be some other sources for recruits. Paid soldiers -- also known as mercenaries -- are expensive, if they are any good, and even more expensive if they are cheap but ineffective.
In a word: Israel, like the United States, is faced with the dilemma: Imperium or Republic. The United States has the luxury of hemispheric independence, energy independence, the possibility of withdrawal from the Middle East. Israel does not have that option.
And the options she faces now are stark and unattractive.
I would delight in having someone prove my analysis wrong.
R. Curry of Tennessee I have your check but not your email address for subscription!
--- Roland Dobbins
I know too little about what is happening on the ground over there; but this doesn't seem an unreasonable analysis. I want it to be wrong. Alas, it's the analysis I had before we ever went in there; what I told what few contacts I had left in the Administration would happen if we did invade.
I do not enjoy being right, and I continue to hope I was wrong. Unfortunately, I have had considerable experience at strategic analysis, and I haven't usually been wrong.
I have added my short essay above, and Joel Rosenberg's response, to the special reports page that contains our dialogues on the Lebanese War. I have more than one letter saying that this exchange is as enlightening as anything seen in the newspapers or on TV. I don't disagree with that assessment.
Google SKYPE and the
first item you see is:
Download Version 2.5 Now
Download Version 2.5 Now
That link takes you to a place that looks like a Skype web site. It offers you Skype for $28.88. Now actually Skype doesn't charge you at all, but this outfit doesn't tell you that. Worse, after you have paid and you do download Skype you have to download it again. And of course Skype never heard of you.
I paid them by Visa, but Visa won't let me cancel the payment until it is billed at which point I can dispute it. I sure will. They did nothing for me, nothing whatever, and charged me for a "membership". It makes me wonder if they will do anything else with my credit card.
Apparently Google doesn't investigate any of this. They just let people buy ads that hijack Skype, charge you more than they said they would, and provide you with NOTHING in return except the link that you ought to have got from Google in the first place.
Needless to say, I will pay very close attention to any other charges made on that credit card in future. To make it worse, after reflection I called VISA to alert them, and their systems are down for maintenance and they can't talk to anyone until 5 AM. I'll have to call again tomorrow. By then God knows what may have happened.
And I wonder if I should not be looking for some other search engine services, since Google seems to be in league with some very shady operations.
I note that my phrasing above "in league with" is unfortunate and misleading. Google isn't "in league with" this outfit; they merely carry their add. But I do wonder if they should not rethink allowing sponsored links to other people's sites.
You can hear
my participation in the This Week In Technology TWIT here:
In correspondence with a new reader I was reminded that there were several serious exchanges of views in a section of this site known as ALTMAIL, including an analysis of Marxism. Marx is still taken seriously in some academic circles, but few people actually know much about his theories.
Altmail was a brief experiment back in the days when I tried to restrict the MAIL page to computers and technology. That soon became impossible.
For some of what's in that section see the altmail home page. Like REPORTS, there is a plethora of stuff that may be interesting to some. New readers -- we are getting quite a few as people come here from BYTE -- may want to have a look. There are many resources on this site. Alas, the indexing and organization leave something to be desired. But see Altmail, Reports, Reviews, and Science for a sampling.
August 2, 2006
Hollywood Bowl last night: Beethoven's Fifth, and a spectacular Symphonie funebre et triomphale from Berlioz involving the LA Philharmonic, The Pacific Chorale, the Grenada Hills charter school marching band, a sermon delivered by solo trombone, and a cast of plaster. I can pretty well guarantee you have never seen anything like it. I certainly haven't.
Our Hollywood Bowl group includes the Nivens, Alex and Dana Pournelle, Dr. Laura Brodian Freas, Dan Spisak, Mei Francis of Blizzard. We have a block of seats just above the boxes, with an unobstructed view and decent acoustics.
See Colonel Couvillon on Iraq in mail. And it's time to go to work.
August 3, 2006
Happy Birthday Alex
Happy Anniversary Phillip
I have a lunch appointment with Congressman Rohrabacher to talk about space and defense stuff, so I had better get ready.
I note with some interest that Israel seems determined to stay the course this time.
I have a reply from the author to Joel Rosenberg's comments on his piece, and another long speculation by Joel; I'll get both up tonight or tomorrow.
And I am preparing a longer essay on unintended consequences of really well meant legislation that changed the face of America. Stay tuned. This might be a good time to subscribe...
August 4, 2006
In Wednesday's post of comments on the war in Iraq by Colonel Couvillon, USMCR, I inadvertently designated him as Col, USMC. That error has been corrected.
My headaches are back. Roberta has some as well. The weather is good, but it's hard to work.
I am working on the Monday column, and on Inferno.
We had a good meeting with Congressman Rohrabacher yesterday at his home. His triplets are delightful. Alas, security reasons prevent my posting pictures.
Left: the obligatory posed picture after lunch. Richard Pournelle, Dana Rohrabacher, and me. Right: Richard holds the "Newt Gingrich Surfboard." When Newt became Speaker, Dana, an avid surfer, presented him with a surfboard. Of course the board is kept at Dana's house for use when Newt visits, and since it's an excellent board it's a favorite with many visitors.
August 5, 2006
I'm hard at work on Monday's column which will be Part One of the August column. The International Edition of the column is Part One and Part Two which are mostly done at the same time. Tokyo, Istanbul, and other overseas publishers that get my column do get what I do in parts 3 & 4 (and twice a year Part 5), but since they are generally monthlies, they may not use it all. Or they may. That's up to them.
Meanwhile I am moving along on Inferno, and I need to work on that this afternoon. Consequently, Mail is on Short Shrift, and I don't have much to say in today's View. That will probably be the case tomorrow as well. Monday there will be a new Chaos Manor Reviews column, and a new Mailbag.
Subscriptions are coming in fairly steadily as the word gets out that Chaos Manor Reviews is where you must go to read Computing at Chaos Manor. I am not quite caught up enrolling subscribers, but don't let that stop you from sending in your subscription. I do them in batches, and I love having so many I get a few days behind!
I see that there's now a rush for a cease fire.
I hate to say this: but Israel should refuse. There is no justification for this much war without a fairly major result: disarming Hizbollah and breaking their control of Lebanon at least south of the Litani and preferably south of Beirut. If that be not accomplished, then all that killing was pretty well in vain, and Israel's response was far out of proportion to either the injury or even good sense.
The only thing that will make this Lebanese War have an outcome favorable to Western Civilization is the disarming of Hizbollah and their expulsion from Lebanon. Whether that be possible is not entirely clear, but it is not an impossible objective, and is certainly legitimate.
An immediate unconditional cease fire will merely set the conditions for a repeat in future with Hizbollah armed with actual guided missiles; which would be ugly indeed.
The net is extraordinarily slow today. I hope it's not my machines.
August 6, 2006
Urgent warning: Centrino security vulnerability. See mail.
There will be more on this vulnerability and its remedies in tomorrow's Chaos Manor Reviews column. If you aren't reading Chaos Manor Reviews and don't subscribe, you should be doing both...
I have finished the weekly Chaos Manor Reviews column and Mail Bag and sent them off to Brian, who thought he was an ISP provider but finds himself an acting Managing Editor; for which many thanks indeed.
The heat wave is over, and it's very pleasant in Studio City. Alas, our sinus conditions haven't improved as much as we'd like, and mine is coupled with some kind of crick in my neck that stimulates a bad headache that blends with the sinus headache to produce something painful enough to be distracting and disturb sleep. But I preen: despite all that I have got the column segment done, produced several thousand words of Inferno II which when Niven is through with them will sing, and had a good session on strategy of technology with Congressman Rohrabacher. It was a pretty good week despite starting with a heat wave and ending with sinus headaches. I'll trade the bad stuff for the accomplishments any day.
I suppose there's an essay in there somewhere, but I'll leave it to others to draw that moral.
Now I need to clean up this place. I won't be finished with the International Edition of the column (the part that goes to Japan and other points for translation) until tomorrow afternoon when I ought to have some results from the Apple World Wide Developer Conference, and Dan Spisak will be back from DEFCON and we'll know more about the WiFi exploit.
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. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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