THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 433 September 25 - October 1, 2006
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
September 25, 2006
|This week:||Tuesday, September
0930 It's time for our walk. I have a series of items from my morning papers that need comment. I am also working on a short essay to remind military planners of a concept that seems to have been lost in the modern Pentagon: the ratio of forces to space. While it was once largely a linear matter, "space" being the length of the front, this is a key concept in control of territory once taken, and is particularly important in these days of highly mobile warfare.
Mobility allows the attacker to concentrate much force in a small space and do so quickly. In mobile warfare, particularly with the possibility of 3D injection of substantial force into the enemy's rear areas, the defense needs both rapid response capability, and enough troops in key areas so that they will not be overwhelmed with a small force that can set up bases for incoming mobile forces.
Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart is the primary thinker who identified the ratio of forces to space as a key concept, but the notion has been around a very long time. Napoleon made use of it, and French "columnar tactics" in Napoleonic times resulted. Foch misunderstood the notion and used "elan" plus a rudimentary mathematics to show that the offensive must always prevail -- this just as trench warfare was becoming the dominant factor in The Great War.
I also have some thoughts on free trade and political stability. Are we better off if everyone has a job being reasonably useful, but common goods cost more due to inefficiency of manufacture, or if there is unemployment particularly at the bottom end of the skill set, but underwear and other common goods cost less for everyone? And what happens if in addition to free trade you allow open borders and unrestricted competition for the few meaningful jobs at the low end of the skill set? Which "economists" have addressed this situation with actual economic studies?
But it's time for a walk.
I am back, but now it's time to work on Inferno. There's a bit on the economic situation over in mail.
It looks as if someone in government is finally taking this matter seriously. We'll see. But it does appear to be fairly carefully done.
There is a fix for the VML Zero Day exploit mentioned in this week's column. See Mail for details.
September 27, 2006
More work on fiction today.
My friend and frequent correspondent Francis Hamit has been driven out of his home by the Day Fire. They were packing up the cat and then the computer in that order, so I haven't heard since the warning, but the news says no one has been harmed.
Back when I was in that business the National Intelligence Estimate was sufficiently sensitive that the fact that you had access to the document was itself classified Secret. Leaking it was a very serious offense. Have things changed since then? Is no one investigating the leaks? The NIE doesn't contain source data but it does -- or did, I should say -- contain confidence information, and close reading might let someone have a pretty good guess at sources. Leaking the NIE was a big deal; apparently no longer?
More later. It's dinner time. I'll have the mail later tonight.
September 28, 2006
Thank Frank Gasperik for this one: http://www.dashboardmohammed.com/
And Roland Dobbins for this: http://www.mapsofwar.com/ind/imperial-history.html
September 29, 2006
If you ever had any doubts about just how evil the teacher union leadership is, read this article. The Iron Law of Bureaucracy predicts this effect; but why we put up with it in our public schools is beyond me. The public schools absorb the greatest part of every state's budget; they are our investment in the future; and we put them under the control of teacher's unions, whose major goal is to insure that incompetent teachers remain employed.
At least it's progress of a sort, however halting.
Some Republicans hope for defeat:
But one doubts that electing open border democrats under the control of teachers unions and lawyers associations will do a great deal of good either.
I was looking for the 6th grade reader you had scanned in and were offering for download for a nominal fee. I looked a bit for the page, but I couldn't find it. I'm on the school board of the Catholic school in Flagstaff, AZ and I was planning on evaluating the reader for use in our classrooms.
I would be happy to purchase a copy if you could send the me the PayPal link.
I put this letter in View rather than mail, because it's all my fault: I have the reader in Word Document form. It needs a bit of formatting before it can be set up as pdf, and I need to write some introductory material. The introductory material is easy enough. It's the formatting. This arthritis thing makes it difficult to do long sessions looking at the screen. I need to figure out a way to change my posture so that I can do more formatting and layout work without an hour of it finishing me for the day.
I have the reader. It has many classic works, and is very suitable for home schooling, or as a supplemental reader for pupils in the public schools. In addition, I have another supplemental reader.
Here is a small snip of one of the stories:
(The story continues to the Battle of New Orleans, Lafitte and Jackson, Jackson's preparations, and such like.) I have included another story in its entirety over in Reports. See The Bravery of Regulus.
I have also put two examples of stories from the California Sixth Grade Reader of 1916 in Reports.
I intend to put these stories into decent format and make them available, complete with ISBN numbers. My problem is time. The stories are all in WORD Document format. Some are of course poems that need precise formatting.
I can write the introductory material easily enough; the problem is getting the time to format this material. I can't sit still for very long.
My apologies for taking so long.
You may or may not know that the teachers unions have prevailed on the textbook publishers to suppress the sale of public school textbooks to home schoolers. Dr. Arthur Robinson, publisher of the irregularly sent but invaluable Access to Energy, has developed a home school curriculum which I have not evaluated but which I have good reason to believe is very good.
The public schools seek a monopoly over what is taught to our children. They are supported in this by the teachers unions. My preference would be for good public schools, governed by local school boards which can assess school taxes and is elected by those who pay those taxes. I would get both the Federal Government and the state governments out of the system. I would also abolish teachers unions, and tenure, and most of the other developments that have taken place since about 1940. Good public schools, like universal conscription, have the effect of giving citizens common experiences.
None of this will happen, of course.
Now we have:
Of course that's just faked up, and they are suppressing the REAL photographs. I know that because I heard it on the radio the other night from a prominent science advisor to someone or another.
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
September 30, 2006
Tokyo Rose, RIP
October 1, 2006
I am grinding out the column. I sent a mailing to subscribers today. If you subscribe and didn't get it, tell me about that.
Sue has found an article in the Washington Post that tells an important story about the consequences of Federal Aid to Education. Read it!
I sent out a mailer to subscribers. One return was this
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Now I have no idea what to do. I am not about to send this out again to the entire list with the code 773 in the header. While I would like to communicate with subscribers, I sure don't intend to make a career of getting through their defenses!
Whoever you are, you have effectively protected yourself from getting any mail from me. Ah well.
The latest from Fred. He talks about the differing views on the War in Iraq.
An important essay. In my judgment Fred does not understand military officers, but given that his views came from a particular time and place that's predictable. There were far too many junior officers getting their tickets punched in Viet Nam, and the replacement policy we had, which is the very opposite of a regimental system, was insane. (Why should you fight for a lieutenant whose goal is to serve in this unit for a while so that he can leave it with a promotion?) But that is a discussion for another time and place.
A military bureaucracy is different from some: in an army, at least, most of the higher management is drawn from officers who led men into battle and survived the experience. But again that is a discussion for another time and place.
Roman soldiers often refused to fight. When troops believe their lives are being thrown away for objectives that cannot be achieved, that can happen. But my contacts among the troops on the ground in Iraq do not indicate to me that any great number of the soldiers -- private soldiers or non-commissioned officers -- believe that.
Caesar, faced with what amounted to a revolt, was able to bring the legions to loyalty. It was loyalty to Caesar and their junior officers, not to the Senate and People of Rome; but loyal they were. I wonder how many professors of history have read anything about how he did it.
I expect to see a lot of mail about this.
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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