THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 409 April 10 - 16, 2006
Highlights this week:
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April 10, 2006
The first segment of the April Column is about Intel Mac, and it's up at www.byte.com. There's already mail, but I'll wait to post that.
This week I have to finish the last segments of the column -- these things seem to take longer every month -- and pay taxes in addition to all kinds of administrative work and chores such as taking Sable on her annual trip to the vet for checkup and shot renewal. There was a lot in both view and mail over the weekend, and I recommend you start with all that. And don't miss dhimmitude .
There is new evidence that global warming has slowed down. There is other evidence that it hasn't. The situation remains as it was: theorists are sure there is warming because their models show there has to be. Data gatherers believe that, but they are not finding it in careful measurements. And so it goes.
asserts that the evil DRM chip is inside the Intel Mac. I am not quite sure what he is saying, but in any event, it ain't so according to chip experts I have asked to comment. In any event, fear not.
Some contrary opinion to the prevailing "wisdom".http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/09/ixworld.html
Perhaps so. See above.
First, anyone not blind will see that the West has been teaching powerful lessons over the years:
The first lesson is: if you are a dictator, or part of an unpopular government structure, get nukes, get them quick, get them in any way you have to. Get nukes and get them now.
The second lesson is, don't let go. Even if you are a reluctant dictator, even if you hate dictatorship and wish peace and democracy to your country, do not relax your grip, and do not contemplate retirement. That way lies persecution of yourself and your family, and you will probably die in a foreign jail. If you are lucky you may be put under house arrest or seek asylum in a foreign embassy.
If you are a dictator, your only chance of survival is to hang on and get nukes. Nothing else works.
Those are the lessons we teach, and anyone with sense has learned them well.
Certainly the mullahs have. Whether they have always wanted nukes, or learned to want them from the lessons the West has been teaching, is not important. They want nukes, they want them soon, and objectively they have every reason to desire them. It's a very rational desire.
That is the first thing we must understand.
Next: the mullahs understand that time is not really on their side: the West's cultural weapons of mass destruction are gnawing away at the vitals of fundamentalist Shiite Islam. The Shah opened the door, and his opening to the West and the White Revolution, while partly shut down, was permanent: in Iran they know that there is more to education than sitting on the floor and memorizing an ancient book; that there is more to life than blowing yourself up.
While the mullahs may have hopes for a different sort of society for Iran than is very likely to come, they aren't entirely unrealistic. And one way to divert this seduction of their young people is to stir the pot, make the confrontations important, go as far as they can short of provoking the West to invade. The attractions of blue jeans and rock music are great. Islam doesn't seem to be enough to overcome them. Patriotism is needed. That may do the job. And if you can convince the young people that jihad is necessary, that the West isn't going to let you have blue jeans and iPods, that the West is going to nuke your country and steal your oil and reduce you to peasantry, occupy your land but give you no security from bandits and religious enemies: if you can convince your young people that the West isn't going to let you have its goodies because it wants to steal everything you have and give you nothing -- then you are home free.
And that, I put it to you, is the mullah strategy. Convince the youth of Iran that the West is their implacable enemy; that the West is coming for them.
And if that takes provoking a tactical "surgical" nuclear strike on some Iranian facilities, why, it's a high price, but the stakes are very high.
And of course whatever we do to Iran and Syria merely confirms everyone's desires to get nukes and get them fast.
Contemplate this while trying to decide what to do about Iran and Syria.
There were a number of advocates of preventive war in the 1940's and 1950's. Patton's view, "We're going to have to fight the Russian SOB's anyway, so why don't we do it while we have a GD army over here to do it with?" was popular with many. Deterrence and containment, the long term strategy that we adopted, was less spectacular and didn't seem all that attractive. No sounding trumpets, no drums and flag. No SAC missions and flying bombs. The force would be generated and head out over the Arctic only to be called back. Plenty of drills. Men and women sitting in isolation in deep bunkers as the klaxons went off. EWO. EWO. Emergency War Orders. Emergency War Orders. I have a message in five parts. Tango. Xray. And so forth. But it was all a drill.
Deterrence is long, unspectacular, and often boring. Containment is frustrating. It worked, though. It contained militant Communism, a philosophy so attractive that it still claims a number of tenured professors. Communism was a lot more seductive to the West than militant Islam ever could be. Yet, in a few generations, that light failed, and Communism collapsed, not in nuclear fire but with a whimper and some artillery shells fired at a parliament building. Yet at one time, the USSR had 26,000 nuclear weapons, most of them deliverable and aimed at the USA. How many can Iran acquire with their best efforts? How many deliverable? By what means? We contained the USSR with 26,000. We deterred the USSR and chiliastic Communism which at one time had as militant a desire to sweep the world as ever did any jihadist.
Containment says: the enemy is expansive, and one of his strengths is that he is convinced that his victory is inevitable. God, or the flywheel of history, or the objective economic factors, or the laws of history, make victory certain. March in step with the flywheel of history. But if we show the enemy this is not true, that he is not expanding, that he is stuck with his inefficient system to stew in his own juices; when there is not enough to go around, then petty temptations to corruption become irresistible. If you believe strongly enough in the underlying religion, you will put up with hardships for the cause; but if the worms of doubt set in, and there is a shortage of the good things of life, human nature takes over. Corruption sets in. Inefficiencies get worse.
If we nuke Iran to destroy their capability for making nuclear weapons, we make it legitimate to use nuclear weapons to achieve cultural goals; we make preventive war a legitimate thing to do.
The result will be a change in strategy: buy a nuke. Use terror, use bribes, use infiltration, use any means necessary to get some nukes, and do nothing to provoke the west until you have them; but get them. In the West most things are for sale. Find ways to buy them.
Containment and deterrence work. Those are not spectacular policies; but they are proven. They do work. Contain Iran, and let our Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction have time to do their work. Syria and Iran have no counter weapons. Syria is already a defensive dictatorship with no pretense of legitimacy whose sole goal is stay in power. Iran is under the control of mullahs: will they prevail over the next Iranian generation? If so, how? What are their arguments? What can we do to make them lose control? And what can we do to convince the young Iranians that they are better off following the mullahs?
Is anyone asking those questions?
On what we are doing in Iraq
I wrote this in response to a private letter from a serving officer. On reflection it belongs as a public statement:
My point is that we are NOT building Jeffersonian democracy. We seem to be building winner take all on the French model central government, with proportional representation rather than single member fixed districts and federalism with substantial local power.
Why the US thinks that those failed principles that have given democracy a very bad name and which we never employed here are a good idea I do not know. There are silly intellectuals who think the US needs to go to election by tickets with PR rather than single member districts, and national unity rather than federalism; and this is probably the key debate about our own future. But why we want to install such systems in Iraq through using our legions, I do not know. Probably because the intellectuals have more control over the legions than they do over the US itself. Intellectuals in power: one of the things the world cannot endure. A servant when he is master... (Read Pareto, or Burnham on Pareto (The Machiavellians) for more.)
Apparently we do not know our own history or how our own government works, but we are going to go tell others how to run their countries -- on the French and Israeli models despite their lack of success in the places those have been used.
England is adopting this madness. Winner take all is a HORRIBLE way to run a democracy unless it is very decentralized, and proportional representation and party tickets is an awful way to choose representatives.
Those who do not learn history...
I consider C. Nothcote Parkinson, Stefan T. Possony, and Herman Kahn (among others) to be in the same class, and those who want to understand the world need to read them. (Add Pareto, and Burnham on Pareto and the Machiavellians.)
- Roland Dobbins
Parkinson has his Iron Law of Bureaucracy. I have mine, but his came first.
In one of Parkinson's books he examines the War on Terror in Malaysia and how it was ended. I don't think we study that campaign, and I doubt many in our military (and almost certainly none in our administration) ever heard of Sir Gerald Templar. Which is a pity.
Sorry everyone, but Iraq did go uranium shopping in Niger.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, April 10, 2006, at 4:43 PM EThttp://www.slate.com/id/2139609/
As, Indeed, the Agency concluded; and Wilson's report was originally believed to confirm this. But everything has become political.
|This week:||Tuesday, April
THE NEW YORK TIMES
April 10, 2006
How to Lose the Brain Race
By STEVEN CLEMONS and MICHAEL LIND
IS the United States importing too many immigrant physicists and not enough immigrant farm workers? You might think so, to judge from two provisions that Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, added to the comprehensive immigration reform package that just fell apart in the Senate. Senator Feinstein insisted that the bill call for some fees for foreign students applying to study at American colleges and universities to be doubled, and also demanded that agribusiness get the right to 1.5 million low-wage foreign guest workers over five years. Combined, the two proposals sent a message to the rest of the world: send us your brawn, not your brains.<snip>
Is comment necessary?
Subject: things we can look forward to, here in the US, as we import South-of-the-border politics northward -- from today's NYT story on Ollanta Humala of Peru
"His father founded an ultranationalist movement, etnocacerismo, that celebrates the superiority of the Indian race over those Peruvians descended from the Spanish. His mother has called for gays to be shot and a brother, Antauro, led a rebellion against the government last year."
I have done a couple of minor revisions to yesterday's view.
This is a very busy week for me. I have to get back to work. With luck it will be done by Tax Day.
April 12, 2006
I have to take Sable to the vet for her annual shot renewal and quick exam. Back later.
Wow. She's seriously over weight. Time for some diets and more exercise. We do two miles a day. Looks like I am going to have to add to that. Can't hurt me any to get a bit more exercise...
Subject: Larger than life,
These are amazing. It's hard to believe they are sculptures.
Note that you will have to disable popup blocking. These are astonishing.
Now go see today's mail.
April 13, 2006
It is not quite as simple an issue as some make it appear. Yes, one can be charged with conspiracy, and Zacarias Moussaoui has proudly pleaded guilty to being a part of the 9-11 conspiracy. One suspects that he was actually thrown off the team as a nut case, not trustworthy, and not privy to the exact time and place of the attack, and he's very happy to be considered one of the team; but that's another story. He has pleaded guilty, rather proudly.
Capital punishment is to be applied, say the prosecutors, because Moussaoui knew what was going to happen, he was in custody, and all he had to do was speak up to prevent the attack. But do not people in custody have the right to remain silent? I thought that was the whole point of the Warren Court's rediscovery of the 4th and 5th Amendments. Whether that was a good idea or not is another discussion; but I would have thought it was the law of the land.
Does one have a positive duty to report on an impending crime if one is in custody and making that report is tantamount to confession to a crime?
We have made it a crime to lie to a federal investigator, even if the conversation is informal, even if there is no record of the conversation being kept, and even if the only record are the investigator's notes made later. One can be jailed for telling lies to federal investigators even though one is not under oath nor under warning of penalty of perjury.
We are now saying that one can be put to death for not telling federal investigators about pending crimes, even if doing so will be equivalent to confession to a crime, if what you don't tell them allows others to commit a crime that results in death.
Does this need discussion?
Apparently I am not the only one to worry about this:
The War Dance Around Moussaoui.
- Roland Dobbins
Subject: The Fight for Copyright - Francis Hamit
On that subject:
Presents an argument that one analyst I respect says "Wonderfully argued."
Peter Glaskowsky says
But this debate isn't just about money. If you have time for a 5,500-word response that is much more wonderfully argued, you should read this story, one of the best ever written about a political issue:
Although the story is over 20 years old, it's never been more timely.
If you don't have time for that, here's my much shorter response:
How many musicians live 50 years past the end of their career and yet still receive significant royalty income? And of those, how many are poor?
It would take a strange combination of circumstances for a musician to be successful enough to have retired at 30 or 40 and still receiving royalty income 50 years later, yet to not have banked enough money to escape ongoing dependence on those royalties.
I would suppose the most likely set of circumstances that would lead to that result is that the musician became famous, successful, and wealthy early on, then blew it all and now has nothing left but the royalties. I don't think we should change the law to protect these people without thinking of the other consequences of the change.
We have to balance the benefit to self-destructive rockers against the cost to society of extending copyright protection into the indefinite future, as the US has done. I shouldn't need to rehash for this audience the harms done by the US copyright extensions. Creators of new works have to worry about unintended similarities to a larger number of old works. It's harder to locate the legal owners of older works to get copyright clearance for documentaries (q.v., the "Eyes on the Prize" problem).
Ultimately, it's necessary to let older works slide into the public domain because that's how they become integrated into our culture. A moderately long copyright term allows creators to extract substantially all of the direct value from their creations, but eventually the indirect value becomes more important to society than those last few percents of direct value, and the law needs to recognize that.
Tiger Woods has been sued by what used to be the Spastic Society but which has changed its name because of sensitivity measures, and now thinks no one else should say such things. Fascinating world we live in.
April 14, 2006
I am trying to get my HP Compaq iPAQ set up with Alexis, the communications system, so I can give using it as a PDA one more try.
One problem. I previous installed the synchronization software on Anastasia, the former communications system since retired in favor of the dual processor Alexis -- and I can't find the installation disk. It ought to be in the HP box that the iPAQ came in, along with manuals and anything else that came in that package, but I can't find that.
Aside: most of us have great memories for most of our lives, and while we might be somewhat systematic, we don't develop really good habits for where we put things, and develop orderly systems then get in the habit of using them. This is all right when the retrieval system is working properly. Alas, there will come a time when your data retrieval is not working properly, and you will then regret that you didn't develop orderly habits when you had the chance. But I digress.
If there is a way to download an installable copy of the HP Compaq synchronization software I can't find it. I suppose they are afraid someone will pirate it, but since as far as I can see it only works with an iPAQ why anyone who didn't have an iPAQ would want it is beyond me.
In any event, I don't see how to transfer it from one computer to the other, and I don't see how I can find a copy of the synchronize software. Anyone have suggestions?
The Ipaq runs on Windows Mobile. Microsoft Active Sync is the software needed to sync.
It is a free download from the MS site at:
Be sure you use the version of Active Sync that matches the Ipaq.
Niven and I will be driving to Phoenix this week for the Space Access Society, so after tomorrow things will be a bit spotty.
On scaling back the Green Zone:
April 16, 2006
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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