THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 416 May 29 - June 4, 2006
Highlights this week:
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May 29, 2006
as adjusted by the demands of our national deity, Mammon
Still at BAYCON. I go home tomorrow morning. I'd rather that were today, but there it is. Sinus infections not quite as severe, but getting on night's sleep by not sleeping at all the night before has little to recommend it as technique.
They have me doing a lot of talking today. The first is in a few minutes, so I won't be able to adjust mail until this evening. I'll also have to be working on my WinHEC report tonight. Look for more mail later.
The talk I am about to give is called Inventing the Future, and it's more or less what the title implies, with examples of how we have done that in the past, both by intent and inadvertently. I will be giving an expanded version of that combined with some of my old Survival With Style lecture from the 1970's (alas, it is NOT out of date) at the WorldCon in Los Angeles this fall.
Larry is going to a panel on what happens if the ice caps melt and the waters rise. I'd rather go hear that (assuming that the participants have data, and this being San Jose with Silicon Valley and NASA Ames nearby I would expect they do) than listen to my talk. So it goes.
I have a flight home leaving in a few minutes so I will be home in a Couple of hours. Good convention, made better by Peter and Rolando Dinner lost night with David Friedman and family, Larry and Marilyn, Pete and Roland was delightful and interesting. I do not recall a dull hour with any of Them, And all at once was great.
|This week:||Tuesday, May
Home. Desk piled. Sable had to go to the vet, and she's still there, so it's a bit worrisome here although there really isn't much danger. Minor infection. I'll know more in an hour.
I note that Conservative Republican Sensenbrunner has the same concerns about the Attorney General and the raid on a Member's office as I do; perhaps I am out of my mind, as some of you have asserted, but I am in pretty good company. Also see mail.
Subject: Motie born in China!
May 31, 2005
I see that California wants to reverse the Connecticut Compromise and make the US a winner-take-all plebiscitary democracy. It will probably happen, too. Ah, well.
So: we will have a fearless leader elected by popular vote; parties that have no great power to raise money as parties due to campaign financing restrictions; legislatures with no legislative immunities faced with an executive who can claim to be "the people's choice", "leader"; and -- well, the results are predictable. Ah, well.
When one sows the wind, the results are predictable.
Subject: Error in the Atom Feed?
I use thunderbird to read your chaos manner musings. T-Bird hasn't grabbed anything new since the 21st of may. When I click the atom feed on http://www.jerrypournelle.com/atom.xml
XML Parsing Error: undefined entity Location: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/atom.xml Line Number 4853, Column 35: <title>Harry Erwin's Letter from England</title> ------------------------------------------------^
Flush your cache. There was an erroneous character in a title. Some parsers couldn't manage it, but I fixed it over the weekend. It should work now.
"I was stunned to learn that a black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today, according to sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin."
June 1, 2006
June 2, 2006
Today would be a good day to renew subscriptions if you haven't done so in a year or so. (I say this in preparation for sending out one of my infamous Chaos Manor Gentle Nags, as well as a current subscriber memo in preparati0n...)
Larry is coming over later to work. I hope I am up to it. I seem to be pumped up with meds, the day is hot, Sable is lethargic due to her medications, Roberta is in Seattle for a family reuninon and birthday thing (not having grown up in a large family I never got used to these; I often go with her, but this year it came at --) AND it's deadline time. I have to have Monday's installment done today or tomorrow, and at least 3 weeks' worth more done by Tuesday.
But we will be working on fiction today, assuming my energy level doesn't collapse.
The stories are coming to the fore. Afghanis complain that our soldiers are trigger happy and shoot too much, and the result is innocent civilian casualties. Stories come out of Iraq of troopers who, pushed beyond human endurance, snap and go on a rampage of revenge killing. Worse, in Iraq, it's happening with the elites, the Praetorians, not just the regular Legions.
I do not here comment on the truth or falsity of the particular stories. In at least one case the sources are suspect, and the stories very likely exaggerations if not fabrications. Perhaps they are all untrue. What is certain, alas, is that we must not be surprised when more such stories come out, or when some prove to be incontrovertible. War is Hell. Even in the monarchical days of strictly limited war with small professional armies and rigid discipline imposed by an officer corps trained from birth to enforce Frederic the Great's dictum that the burgers in the towns and the peasants in the fields should neither know nor care that the State was at war; even in those days there were such incidents.
A sergeant has been sent to jail for allowing his dog to bark at a prisoner. There are stories of looting, arson, rapine, murder, and use of air strikes to cover up murder. A female MP forced male prisoners to wear feminine underwear. Children are handcuffed, then shot, and their house blown up. The stories are endless, ranging from the trivial to the significant to the truly horrifying.
The one certainty is that there will be more of them. Get used to it. A nation that sends its young men (well, and women, and perhaps the female of the species is more deadly than the male, and perhaps not; but the overwhelming number of both troopers and atrocity reports will be of males) to war must prepare for such things. They are inevitable. With the best will in the world they are inevitable.
War is Hell. Sherman knew that, but then so did every commander through history. In war everything is very simple, but the simplest things are very difficult, and that goes for enforcing discipline and simple order. To ask someone to be constantly in danger of losing his comrades -- much less his own life -- to be constantly under fire and stress, to serve endlessly in a war without clear objectives, and in those conditions constantly remain under control; to make soldiers more and more autonomous and independent of their commanders, give them more and more power while exposed to more and more danger; to do those things is to generate the atrocity stories.
We face a ruthless enemy schooled in the techniques for triggering the rage of our young men; who count as great success any such incident; who are willing to expend lives to generate anger, hatred, revenge; and we are astonished when they are successful?
And the client states now have the wind up. They want to conduct their own investigations. They cannot convict Saddam Hussein, but they can charge US Marines with atrocities.
There will be more of such and you will hear every jot and tittle of it. The US Press will cooperate with the national enemy while truly believing they are the only true patriots.
We have sent the troops into War. We keep them there. War is Hell.
And for all that: we have not sent in the Air Force to firebomb cities. We have set no firestorms. We have had no Hamburg, Kiel, Berlin, Tokyo raids. We lose more citizens of the United States to murder by illegal aliens every year than we have lost soldiers in the entire Iraq War.
It is well to have a sense of proportion.
You may find interesting
The full speech as quoted athttp://www.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/Mill_supports_death_penalty.htm
which is worth reading both for its good sense and its rhetorical style.
June 3, 2006
I am installing Vista and Office 2007 (beta 2 in both cases); reports in the column. It's going well so far.
Norton Save and Restore is said to be Ghost with expansion and new features; I'm trying it on my main machine, but of course I have backed up everything on that machine. And then some. But this makes a reboot point to replace the whole drive.
I will see whether we have an update installation of Vista; I don't really want to install everything new on this machine.
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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