CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 303 March 29 - April 4, 2004
Highlights this week:
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March 29, 2004
Begin with the Education Mess
Subject: Re: The Education Mess
My wife holds a PhD in Biology. After post-doc work at NC State and working as a research assistant for NYC's Public Health Dept, she chose to switch to teaching to accommodate family demands. Thankfully, NJ, like most states, has an 'alternate certification' route for non-education majors. She took the Nat'l Teacher Exam (exit exam for ed majors), easily cleared the minimum score needed, then had to have her principal sit in once a term for three semesters and take classes one weekend a month for a year in such topics as classroom management and textbook evaluation before getting the probationary status off her certificate.
At this point the teacher shortage is so bad in most districts they're happy to take non-education majors as long as they can clear the minimum requirements. The Praxis exams that seem to be in vogue for Highly Qualified status are such that either of us could probably walk in cold and out-do most of the current crop of education-school graduates.
My wife now teaches at one of the local private schools where they don't give a flip about state certification, and the percentage of faculty with Ph.D's is in the low teens.
Bob Halloran Jacksonville FL
P.S. Saw you & Niven on the guest list for the local con (Dreamcon) in June; still a go?
We seem to be going to that convention, yes. Alternative routes to "qualified" teaching credentials are set up to be humiliating. At one point they wanted to make me president of one of the community colleges here to help straighten out a mess and bring in some new people. It turns out I am not qualified. I don't have the proper Administrative Credentials. Nor can I teach in a high school (not that I intend to) without a bunch of Mickey Mouse no mature person would undertake unless desperate for the job.
It was bad enough when it was controlled by the states. Now the Department of Education, which Republicans at one point wanted to abolish, is inserted into most of the school systems. It ought to be abolished and Federal Aid ended entirely. Education should be under local control with local financing. It will then get the attention it deserves from the people most affected. The plea that "this will leave out so many needy people" is mostly paternalism and bureaucratic turf mongering.
You wrote "The only bright spots are private schools and home schooling."
Actually, my kids go to a real bright spot of public education. Most of the kids can read and write well, even those whose parents barely speak English at all. The kids are smart and well-behaved, despite the fact that their elementary school is literally on the wrong side of the tracks, there are multiple trailer courts sending kids there, and the most expensive homes in this suburban area might be worth $140,000. Not many doctors or lawyers around here; lots of cops and general contractors and a few computer geeks.
I don't want you to publish my name or location because: (a) This public school is not afraid to use the G word (I wept hearing a hundred second graders singing "God Bless the USA") or spotlight the relatives of students who are veterans or current servicemen (we have more than our fair share of dads in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our teachers publicly call them heroes). I don't want the ACLU or the peaceniks suing our principal. (b) This public school is not afraid to hold teachers accountable (all reading scores are posted in the teacher's lounge, sorted by classroom). The NEA would think that's terrible. (c) This public school is in a state that is near the bottom of per-pupil funding, but has a principal who won't accept that as an excuse.
I look at the mess you have in California and I think you may be right about "bright spots" there. I have a friend in Los Angeles county who went from PTA President to home-schooling mom in one year. It's the same in NYC, Chicago and any other urban area dominated by union cronyism and radical politics.
But here in the unwashed vastness of Middle America, some of the schools still work. How long that will last...
I should have said "most" bright spots. Of course there are some good public schools. The more locally controlled the better the school. But it has long been known that the correlation between money spent and results obtained is very low (and actually negative in some instances). It's one reason the teacher unions are afraid of any kind of results-based education standards.
http://boortz.com/nuze/index.html dated today
Subject: India outsourcing to China.
--- Roland Dobbins
Subject: Cooking the books.
--- Roland Dobbins
I'm shocked, shocked, to discover the music industry might mislead us...
You'll notice that Mr. Clarke didn't start screeching in his "Chicken Little" act until AFTER he had his 30 year Federal Pension locked up...
Lieutenant Colonel of Marines;
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq;
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time;
Lover extrordinaire; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance;
Collector of Hot Sauce; Avoider of Yard Work
Subject: Artificial life.
Another safeguard scientists are designing to provide total control over artificial cells is to make their lives dependent on chemicals that do not exist in the environment. Withdrawing the critical chemicals would result in the death of the cells, particularly if they should escape into the environment.
Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?
-- Job 10:8-9
--- Roland Dobbins
|This week:||Tuesday, March
Another one for "the Crazy Years" file.
"Corrections Canada won't let guards at maximum-security prisons wear stab-proof vests because it sends a confrontational "signal" to prisoners, says a department spokesman. "If you have that kind of presence symbolized by (a stab-proof vest), you're sending a signal to the prisoner that you consider him to be a dangerous person," said Tim Krause."
----------------------------- Joel Rosenberg 612.824.3150 AACFI-certified MN Carry Permit Instructor and Certifier BCA-validated Minnesota Carry Permit Instructor NRA-certified Range Safety Officer, Pistol Instructor, Home Firearms Safety Instructor, and Personal Protection Instructor http://www.ellegon.com/homepage.phtml
The mind boggles...
-- Roland Dobbins
We have seen this before, but it's worth recalling:
Subject: Yes, can you remember your history?
Subject: Re: Roland Dobbin's "Artificial Life"
It's fiction, but a detail of Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" used a similar method: Make the reconstituted dinosaurs dependent on lysine and then not provide any in the environment of the island. That and making all the dinos female so reproduction couldn't take place.
Neither method worked very well. Again, fiction, but it could offer a caution to be EXTRA careful when dabbling in this arena.
Famous last words
Of course, the Saudis know that one very effective way to instill discontent in the American public during election year is to raise the price of gasoline to levels that the American public finds unacceptable. They knows that, historically, an unhappy public has voted for change.
The only legitimate way for President Bush to remain in office is to move massive amounts of oil into the United States, and get the price down. That has to happen pretty quickly; while the voting public has a short memory, it is not microscopic in length. People had better be breathing easy 6 months before the election.
But there is another, non legitimate way for President Bush to remain in office. Some - like Bev Harris, at Black Box Voting http://www.blackboxvoting.org/ - believe that the elections are now being rigged on a scale not possible prior to the advent of computerized voting machines. The new machines generate no receipt or physical card; and as such, it is completely impossible to audit the results. You cannot do a recount, for there is nothing to count. If you vote for Jones, but the machine internally records a vote for Smith... how would you ever prove it later?
And so, life is interesting. Restrictive and expensive, but interesting.
If President Bush moves aggressively to placate the people prior to the election, we will know that he is traditional. If he acts ineffectually or fails to act at all, and loses the election, we will know that he was foolish. And if he acts ineffectually or fails to act at all, and still wins the election...
Then I guess we'll all know something else.
Like I said. Interesting.
According to Kate O'Beirne in the latest National Review, what Bush is mostly doing besides a massive TV campaign is good old fashioned precinct organization work to gather in Republican votes in places where the Republicans are mostly too discouraged to go to the polls: there always are enough people who would have voted for the losing side but didn't vote to have changed the outcome of nearly every major election in the US. The best known was Woodrow Wilson who won by fewer than one vote per precinct in California (which determined the election).
Mr. Bush seems to operate on a fairly easily discerned set of principles, a sort of pragmatic middle class protestant ethic; which is a Good Thing. He's not as fundamentalist on Big Government as Coolidge, alas, but he's in that direction. But he's aware of his limits, and listens: sometimes to the wrong people.
Bush was for a while entirely surrounded by neo-Jacobins pretending to be Conservatives, but that seems to be changing. It is now possible to differ with Sharon and only be labeled an anti-Semite by a small group, who have spread that virus so often that many have become immune to it. (Whether the assassination was the right thing to do or not, it is not obvious that we should all cheer the blowing up of a man in a wheel chair as he comes out of a mosque; he may be an enemy, he may deserve death, but the image is not obviously one with which everyone eagerly associates themselves.) As the "support all our causes or you are an anti-Semite" argument loses force, more rational debate can take place.
It was not surprising that the first suspicion on the President's part was that Iraq was involved: they had, after all, tried to kill his father, and one does not lightly or easily forget a thing like that. It was not hard for the neo-Jacobins to induce Bush not to forget Iraq.
The Afghan invasion was necessary and proper. The Iraq War is debatable: but it IS debatable, and there are arguments in its favor. Friends and relatives, people I trust, who were very much opposed to the Iraqi War but who are now over there and in a position to see what is happening have come around to the notion that it wasn't such a bad idea after all. I remain unconvinced, but there was a salutary lesson for our enemies, and the splendid performance of the US military went a long way toward restoring confidence in our armed forces: national self-esteem if you will. Agreed much of the despair after Viet Nam was dispelled by the First Gulf War, but not all. And the people of Iraq are much better off. If Bush can build anything like a stable republic in Iraq it will be an achievement with very long term results. He is not likely to do that before next January.
The Conservative objections to Bush -- other than the War, which most of us opposed even if the egregious Frum managed to get National Review to read out of the Conservative Movement all those not vigorously on board the neo-conservative National Greatness imperial bandwagon -- has been his devotion to the Rockefeller Republican notion that you can Do Much Good with the power of the federal government: far from eliminating the Department of Education he has given it new powers. Far from eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts he has increased its budget. He has spent more money than any president in history, all to what he thinks are good causes: it's a bit like Clinton's "They are our bombers now": The big social schemes are "our" schemes now.
Conservatives didn't like big government in the past, and even National Review has come around to realizing that the execrable Frum and the neo-cons have been advocating doctrines at odds with everything Conservatives have favored. Big government doesn't solve the problem, big government is the problem. And some of the Conservative base has become discouraged by all this, and since those have tended to be the shock troops of the Republicans, getting them motivated again is going to be a problem.
There are signs that it's working, though. People close to me are going back into Republican precinct work, having dropped out over the years. Kerry scares them.
Bush doesn't have to steal the election. He can buy it the old fashioned way, with tax money: spend and spend, elect and elect. That seems to be the strategy of some of those around him. Of course that will alienate much of the Conservative base. The neo-cons think the Old Right has no place to go, and that is the power struggle around the President now. National Greatness or just plain old patriotism?
Now if we are to have Big Spenders in Washington, I would prefer Bush to Kerry if for no other reason than Bush seems to be aware that he has some limitations: he doesn't honk at me in a New England accent, and he is not entirely surrounded by The Enlightened who will Do Good for all of us Benighted. Laura Bush knows her husband doesn't walk on water and she doesn't have a national agenda of her own; she doesn't even like politics. We can rely on her to keep Bush somewhat sane.
And I think Mr. Bush's heart is in the right place. Brains are easy to come by. What's needed just now is some principles: and I can hope that Compassionate Conservatism has had its fling, and we can go back to Conservatism with a bit of compassion. At least Compassionate Conservatism was principled, and not merely an election strategy. It mostly sounds good. Indeed, much of what it advocates is good, but should come from that Tocqueville called "the associations" rather than government. Private action, not Big Government, really can implement "Compassionate Conservatism." The Salvation Army is a very good example.
But I don't worry that the Republicans will steal the election with some witless schemes to falsify election returns.
You really, really ought to look at this:
Jim's DIEBOLD PAGE
(or: "how to hack an election"!)
He lists the numerous flaws in the new Sequoia electronic, paperless voting machines from Diebold. Its so obvious, so unethical... it's enough to make you heart sick. He'll walk you through it step by step, if you have the stomach for it.
Check it out. Give it some press, if you will.
What was that old quote? "For evil to triumph, it is only necessary that Good Men do Nothing"?
You're a Good Man, Jerry. Don't let the bad guys win. Please read this.
Thanks - Charlie
I have no great confidence in the new voting machines, and for all their faults the punched cards served California well for a long time: they provide an easily counted balloting system that preserves a paper trail, and had not Gore's people made so much of the possible senility of their voters ("Our people are too damned dumb to know who they are voting for, but since we know who they really wanted, and the results were not that, clearly it was fraud") we would still have them here.
Elections have been stolen, and voting machines have been tampered with, and ballot boxes stuffed: Kennedy got more votes in Cook County than there were registered voters, as I recall. But I doubt there's any great conspiracy at work here.
Subject: At the intersection of the Education Mess, the Marching Morons, and Federal Overstretch
....lies the federal child tax credits.
Two is Enough, by Dalton Conley: why large families don't deserve tax breaks. http://slate.msn.com/id/2097913/
The author argues his thesis using the following reasons:
* microeconomic (the large expenses come with the first child),
* macroeconomic (we need neither vast armies of farm hands nor a vast industrial proletariat),
* educational (large families are less likely to devote parental attention to education),
* sociological (large families are associated with poverty),
* and demographical (unlike Europe, our immigration-friendly country is in no danger of demographic collapse).
He also goes into his interesting statistical methodology.
You may disagree with one or many of his positions, but he makes an impressive argument. How would such a policy influence educational and political scenarios? And is such a policy feasible?
--Catfish N. Cod (expatriate Mississippian @ a Boston university) firstname.lastname@example.org
Well I don't entirely disagree. Needs thought and discussion though.
Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and gathering them around him, he taught them saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek. Blessed are they that mourn. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are they who thirst justice. Blessed are you when persecuted. Blessed are you when you suffer. Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven...
Then Simon Peter said, "Do we have to write this down?" And Andrew said, "Are we supposed to know this?" And James said, "Will we have a test on it?" And Phillip said, "What if we don't know it?" And Bartholomew said, "Do we have to turn this in?" And John said, "The other disciples didn't have to learn this." And Matthew said, "When do we get out of here?" And Judas said, "What does this have to do with the real life?"
Then one of the Pharisees present asked to see Jesus' Lesson plans and inquired of Jesus his terminal objectives in the cognitive domain... and Jesus wept.
Brice Yokem Senior Programmer/Analyst
----- Roland Dobbin
The wages of Spam:
-- Roland Dobbins
Couldn't happen to nicer guys...
Here is an essay from the Cornell Review about what appears to be a hate crime coverup by the authorities where a white female student was badly beaten by four blacks (some or all were also females). Below that is a link to an article on it from the Cornell Sun.
Hate crimes can only be committed by white straight males. For better links see below.
You mis-remember my argument about how to destroy our foes. I did not say to use "democracy"--that's "W's" approach, about which I have reservations that would rival Ron's. I said to use *degeneracy*--attacking fundamentalist Muslim societies with Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction (including ones delivered over the Internet). Thus, I don't want the young of enemy societies surfing news sites. I want them watching "music videos featured Madonna gyrating half-naked", which is exactly what the TNR article said they were doing!
And please note what they were *not* doing. They were not listening to some Mullah extolling the virtues of *jihad* against (or even some or Communist Apparachik talking about "burying) the United States. We don't need other society's young men to spend their time discussing the Federalist Papers. It suits our strategic goals just fine for them to be spending all their time trying to make money and get laid.
But the Jihadis *absolutely* know she is doing it.
Alas, our analysts in the West simply have not connected the dots.
O subtle one, O serpent... And see below
Australia's Daily Telegraph reports that a memorial to Captain James Cook may be removed from the coastline there because it serves as a reminder of European dominance in the region.
A large anchor, some pine trees and flagpoles marking the spot were Cook landed at Kurnell in 1778 face the axe because they fail to sufficiently address the area's aboriginal origins.
The trees, Norfolk Island pines, will be removed because they were introduced by the Europeans. The intent is to return the land to its original vegetation where possible.
"The pine trees in the open grassland are at odds with the more natural 'bush' up the hill," the plan says. "The message is one of European domination over the Australian landscape."
Perhaps they can return the state of medicine and the economy and sanitation of all of Australia to pre-Cook levels. That will clean the place out nicely and the remnants of the Vikings will have some place to go...
For your information/amusement:
A top Washington, D.C. lady public relations colleague in practice in the public policy space whom I have been riding for years about her childlessness (she is now in her very late 30s) brought the book GETTING TO "I DO" ( http://www.amazon.com/ to my attention this week. She had plucked it off a friend's bookshelf, and, apparently, something in it had opened her eyes to the fact that her own psychology--not just the nature of the men she had happened to have met over the last 20+ years--was responsible for her still looking for "Mr. Right" (instead of being divorced, collecting child support from "Mr. Right"--let's not romanticize the "base case" *too much*). She urged me to read the book so I could do a better job of talking women like herself into pursuing a life change that would lead to more personal satisfaction (the "Top PR Exec" thing has gotten really old for her in the last few years, and of late she has found herself forced to start dating married men (about which I warned her in her mid-30s, as pretty a girl as she is).
http://www.amazon.com got me right to the book, of course, and when I clicked to order it, recommended as its companion book, WHY MEN LOVE BITCHES. Obviously I ordered that one too and could not *wait* to tease the woman who recommended the original book to me about it.
But having gotten my money for a second book, Amazon's marketing engine did not give up trying to sell more. After I finalized my order it popped me over to a web page entitled: "AMAZON THANKS YOU". On this page were listed still more books that Amazon's computers figured a man (I believe it knows I am "Mr.") who ordered GETTING TO "I DO" and WHY MEN LOVE BITCHES might also buy:
Rules:Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing Heart of Mr Right by Sherri Ellen/Schneider Fein (Author) Price: $5.99 Used & new from $0.75
Race, Evolution, and Behavior by J. Philippe Rushton Price: $14.00
Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov Price: $14.95 Used & new from $9.40
The Boys and Girls Learn Differently Action Guide for Teachers by Michael Gurian (Author), Arlette C. Ballew (Author) Price: $13.97 Used & new from $13.12
Useful Idiots by Mona Charen Price: $11.18 Used & new from $9.95 at Amazon.com.
So I ordered those....
Of course, Amazon's computer was not done with me. It sold me Jared Taylor's book, THE REAL AMERICAN DILEMMA, and then solicited me to buy:
Alien Nation by Peter Brimelow (Author)
Price: $11.20 Used & new from $2.81
Race by Vincent Sarich, Frank Miele
Price: $19.25 Used & new from $12.50
A People That Shall Dwell Alone by Kevin B. MacDonald (Author)
and I bought Vincent Sarich's book.
By then, Amazon realized it had a "live one", so it proposed that I pay $85 for Arthur Jensen's, THE g FACTOR (which I did).
The only mental model I can come up with to explain Amazon's computer's behavior is that it has the concept of "human-nature-realistic" programmed in as a category.
Not one of those ordered through my web site. Sigh.
In fact, Amazon seems to have an interesting association engine.
Another orchid, but one seasoned with a bit of garlic powder.
My ibm t41p is everything IBM promised, however they refuse to ship any kind of recovery or windows installation CD or DVD with the computer. The recovery data is on a hidden partition on the hard drive, which works well unless of course you suffer a hard drive failure. This laptop is therefore NOT SUITABLE to be someone's sole computer because if the hard drive fails, you have no recovery options and can't even get to IBM's web site to ask for help. I'm not in the US right now and multiple requests to IBM customer support via several different channels resulted in a uniform answer - call some 1-800 number within 30 days of purchasing your laptop to get your recovery CD. Well, I'm not in a country where I can make a free 1-800 call, and it's beyond 30 days because I purchased the computer during my move from the US to my current location.
So an orchid for the laptop itself - it's an engineering marvel, and some garlic powder for ibm's unbelieveably arrogant anti-customer stance on providing a recovery CD. I love this laptop but it is the last computer I'll ever purchase from ibm. Their $1 savings on including a CD has lost them a customer forever, but of course they are ibm and are above noticing such things. The laptop is too nice to toss a full rotten onion their way, but it's a purchase that will not be followed up under any circumstances and I recommend that my family/friends go elsewhere for their purchases. I imagine it's sort of like your experience with Apple... Wonderful premium products that may represent the one and only time we'll ever do business with that company. It almost sounds like a horrible dot.com.boom business plan.
So you can teach the IBM dog some new tricks, but some they just won't learn?
Subject: Fwd: [Politech] Lesson from Martha Stewart: Don't ever talk to the FBI
It is one thing to insist that statements given under oath and under penalty of perjury be true. It is quite another to insist that every federal agent keep accurate notes and never make a mistake under penalty of sending a citizen to jail.
In any event, the lesson is clear. Do not talk to these people and never cooperate with the government. You will regret it if you do. And that is a terrible lesson to be teaching.
I've been reading your web site (and your articles in Byte) for a long time. I'm at the other end of the political spectrum from you on a lot of issues, but usually I understand where you are coming from. If I disagree with an article that you point to, usually I can find a good point or two in it.
In fact, that is a large part of the reason I read your site. You usually manage to cut through the bile and the partisan rhetoric and provide genuine reasons why you think the way you do.
This article makes no sense to me, and I'm not sure why you pointed to it:
> A reasonable piece about Kerry and the Commission: > > http://www.techcentralstation.com/033004B.html
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why failings on the part of Clinton and Bush prior to 9/11 have anything to do with the way Kerry will prosecute a national war on terror. Not only is Kerry not Clinton, but the entire political landscape has shifted. Even if Kerry *were* Clinton, the notion that anyone in office, anywhere in the political spectrum, wouldn't have overcome pre-9/11 failings after that is laughable.
It would be like saying that Bush wouldn't have attacked terrorism more forcefully now than before. It is absurd.
It seems largely to be written not to argue about what Kerry's policies will be, but to appeal to the conservative base's fears of the return of a Clinton presidency.
Could you comment further?
Thank you for the kind words.
Briefly: I agree. September 11 was a watershed. But the news media, most of whom favor liberal causes, do not seem to believe as you do: that events before 911 are not a very good indicator of what one will do after it. Clinton blew many chances, because he didn't really take this seriously. Just what Clarke recommended, specifically, is not clear, at least not to me, beyond his apparently saying we needed to Invade Afghanistan Now, which wasn't going to happen and he must have known it. Most of the media are using this as an excuse to bash Bush for not doing enough to stop 911; and while "you're another" isn't a very good argument in the real world, it's pretty effective in the political arena.
When I recommend reading something as a reasonable account I don't mean that I agree with everything in it: I mean it's a reasonable account, and is worth reading. In this case he lists a number of mistakes made. SOME OF THEM CAN BE APPLIED TO THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION before 911, as well as to Clinton's administration. Mistakes are mistakes, and one can learn from them: I presume Kerry would be able to learn them as well as Bush. And one thing we can be sure of: Clarke had longer to work this problem than Bush.
Your discernment of the purpose of the article is probably correct. While Tech Central Station isn't entirely the NeoCon Justification Publication -- its science and tech stuff are usually much on target, and Sally Baliunas is one of my favorite scientists and that's where she often writes -- it does serve in part as the justification outlet for one wing of the NeoConservatives. A more reasonable wing than most. But I didn't mean by recommending one article as worth reading to be endorsing everything in it, much less in the entire publication.
The real question regarding Bush is this one:
Starting where we are now, can you envisage a 'good outcome' in Iraq such that its value, multiplied by the probability of achieving it, is worth hundreds of billions of dollars?
And my problem is that in one sense I can't: if I had the money spent on Iraq I would not use it to invade Iraq. More, the expected value of Iraq remains negative in my judgment: that is, the probable outcome will have cost us more than we gain. I thought that before we went in, and I said so, often.
I am not sure of this: people I respect who are on the ground in Iraq report that some things are going a lot better than we are told.
The value of planting a stable democracy in that area of the world is immense. The probability of that happening is in my judgment very small: but that is the Conservative view of human nature. Edmund Burke said most of it. Stable societies (including the British monarchy of Burke's time) don't just happen, they grow, and they have roots. Cataclysmic events do not usually produce good results.
Sometimes yes: Possony and I were working on "The Strategy of Progress" when he had his incapacitating stroke. The premise is that sometimes big events can change the world for the good by letting human activities, freedom if you will, get ahead of the bureaucracy. The natural tendency of the world is to convert more and more of the output of the social engine into structure: rules, regulations, transfers of income, bureaus, bureaus to regulate the bureaus; and those social institutions grow without limit. This I think Burke did not really see: he was, after all, writing only 100 years after the British society really did transform itself, and Whiggism was still viable.
Clearing away deadwood used to be the major Liberal goal, and it was a worthy one: but determining what is deadwood and what is living and important growth is never easy, and that was the legitimate debate between Liberal and Conservative for a long time, before the modern Liberal movement was captured by Statism First. But then the NeoConservative (NeoJaocobin in my book) movement is also for State Action First, leaving them much closer to the modern welfare liberals than either liberals or neo-cons suppose. In many cases the fight is over who gets to distribute the goodies, and the old Conservative view that the goodies ought not be taken up for distribution in the first place is generally lost.
But that requires more answer than I have time for.
The short answer is that the expected value of nearly any government expenditure is negative compared to what that money could have been spent on if left to the people who earned the money, or, if it must be taxed away, spent by the local government. Not always. I am not an anarchist, nor do I think the market will solve all problems. (How many divisions do you need to stop ten Panzer Divisions invading your country? None, the market will take are of it.) But most government activity is negative, preventing fraud, providing stability, enforcing contracts, providing RULE OF LAW. But then we have the Martha Stewart case (among many but we were just talking about it) to demonstrate that government is often the enemy of rule of law.
I don't think of any combination of outcomes and probabilities for Iraq that add up to a positive sum; but that doesn't mean that some outcomes are not worse than others, and we need to minimize the maximum loss here.
And as Francis Hamit continues to remind us, if security is done just right, you don't notice it, and you don't really see an effect.
Tying together the proposed western weapon of cultural degeneracy or destruction with the current state of education in the Arab world, perhaps the Britney videos would be very cost effective.
MEMRI reports one story saying illiteracy is running at 80% among Arab youth.
I allege that Britney viewing could trump madras Koran reading.
It does appear that today's events have proven correct the predictions of Wolfowitz and his friends that the arrival of our troops would cause crowds of Iraqis to begin dancing for joy in their streets. However, the source of their joy is slightly different than he had originally predicted...
"9 Americans, including 4 civilians, killed in Iraq" Contractors' bodies mutilated, dragged through Fallujah's streets NBC, MSNBC and news services Updated: 3:35 p.m. ET March 31, 2004 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4551230/
BAGHDAD, Iraq - In one of the bloodiest and most horrifying days since the end of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, five U.S. troops and four American civilian contractors were killed in separate attacks in the Sunni Triangle west of Baghdad. After an ambush on two vehicles carrying the civilian contractors in Fallujah, jubilant Iraqis burned and mutilated the dead, then dragged two corpses through the streets and hung them from a bridge spanning the Euphrates River.
The Sunni have finally figured out that we are not the Brits. The British took over Iraq from the Turks, and put the Sunni minority in charge, and helped them stay there. We aren't doing that, so the Sunni hate us.
But of course the Shiite majority doesn't love us either because we are not doing as they want: they want us to turn them loose to get payback on the Sunni.
And the Kurds don't care if the people the kill are Sunni or Shiite so long as they get their revenge on Arabs.
All of this was not merely predictable, it was predicted. Wolfowitz didn't believe it.
Now, as a homeschooling mom, I am always on the look-out for interesting things to do on-line, and interesting tie-ins to literature, movies, etc.
Here is a site that someone passed along to me.
I would be interested in comments. See below
I don't know how true this report is, but I agree with the sentiment:
Subject: Fw: Japanese Error Messages
April 1, 2004
“Of course, the Saudis know that one very effective way to instill discontent in the American public during election year is to raise the price of gasoline…”
I pointed out before that it’s possible OPEC might decide to move from the US dollar to the euro as its unit of account. Indeed, if you look at current oil prices in euros rather than dollars, there has been no price increase at all; it’s just the dollar is worth less.
And if you think that’s bad, consider the position of the Saudis.
If the US tries too hard to force change on the Saudis, they can always turn off the oil taps. That’s one way to get real oil price rises, as the Saudis are the sort of ‘central bankers’ of the oil business. If they did switch off, oil prices would double or treble overnight. That’s a rock solid certainty.
If Al-Qaeda can do it, they might just wreck Saudi oil production or piping systems. Same result.
If Al-Qaeda or sympathisers stage a revolt and take over in Saudi, same result.
If the US then tried to go into Saudi to take back the oil fields, the oil fields will have been blown before the Marines get there and the ensuing problems in an occupied Saudi would make Iraq look like a picnic, so no oil. Same result.
(Occupying Saudi is an especially boneheaded idea, because it contains the holiest places of Islam. That could really put the cat among the pigeons.)
Until someone can come up with a better idea, leaving the Saudis alone and doing a lot of praying would be good ideas.
Meanwhile, never mind Mars for now— build SPS’s up there and nuclear power stations down here as fast as our little legs will let us.
Get religion, was Coolidge's advice...
It appears the Cornell Sun has pulled the article you linked to http://www.cornellsun.com/articles/11217/ from Tuesday's Mail http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/mail303.html#Tuesday
but I believe I found a Google cache for it:
More reaction from students: http://www.cornellreview.org/rfaart.cgi?num=27
And, I'm not sure Buffy would find much slayage in Ithaca compared to Sunnyvale, but one never knows, do one?: http://18.104.22.168/focus/f-news/1096389/posts
However, isn't there federal jurisdiction, for hate crime offenses, somehow? Surely, she has been Disrespected on account of her skin, her hair, her dialect.
I do believe there's grounds for USDOJ to intervene, and they surely should, if Mr. Bush wishes *my* vote.
===== -- John E. Bartley, III
Bt definition a straight white male Christian cannot be the victim of a Federal Hate Crime. Get over it.
On Conservatives (response to above):
Short term promises are what wins elections. Thus, Republicans have learned to play that game to get elected. The limited government plank is still in the party platform, but it is not prominent and is fading. This is why I agree with you that what is happening is destruction of the Republic, and I don't see anything to stop or reverse the trend, do you? Conservative intellectuals like yourself and Mr Buckley are getting pretty long in the tooth, and will eventually pass on. Who will replace you? There are some, but not of the stature of those who occupy that position now. 'Politics of Expediency' have replaced limited government and separation of powers. The only thing I see as a viable possibility is a third party funded by someone like Ross Perot, who is more of a wild card than a hope. With the strictures on forming third parties it will be hard to get a third party off the ground with just grass-roots support.
Brice Yokem Senior Programmer/Analyst
We tend to muddle on. Eternal vigilance is the price, etc. And despair is a sin.
I assume you saw the Guardian article on the number of UK bureaucrats needed to change a lightbulb (3-4, depending on whether the occupants of the location needed comforting). My experience in the US was that most government jobs were in education, but it's different in the UK. Yesterday's Guardian ads section for bureaucratic jobs was about 130 pages. The education section Tuesday with the teaching jobs was around a third of that.
And they can't understand why things seem to be falling apart. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1183118,00.html> -- Harry Erwin, PhD "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)
I've been reading your recent discussion regarding Iraq and in one of your responses you said:
"I am not sure of this: people I respect who are on the ground in Iraq report that some things are going a lot better than we are told."
The question that immediately comes to mind for me is this:
If things in Iraq are going better and we are not being told this, why is this the case? Is this a matter of American media journalism failing us via means of stories getting dumped because they don't produce ratings?
Granted, I hardly watch TV news anymore and I tend to get most of my news from either the local paper (OC Register) or through various places collected at news.google.com. However, I'd be willing to bet that the majority of people are the opposite of me and get their news via TV and radio where time is short and news has to be "exciting" or some such nonsense due to advertising rates and ratings. Personally, I tend to take the things you report about as pretty close to the truth if not the actual truth since you have always had an affinity for cutting through most of the BS and spin that's out there and the people you know are usually very respectable folks who know not to waste your time. That means a lot to someone like myself but when it comes to news reporting by various media outlets on the air and online I have a very hard time figuring out which reporters are able to engage their BS and spin filters and tell their readers what they honestly believe to be the truth instead of regurgitating whatever the commonly held party line is. Anyways, just was wondering why we might not be hearing about how good we are doing in Iraq, thanks!
Well, I have a lot of sources that don't show; and note that Iraq is BIG, and the story from Fallujah will be different from the story from Mosul. And it has been my experience that most TV reporters go where they can get their equipment and their connections and their timely moment on screen, and they don't stay long enough to get much of the story.
I am sure that there will be a reaction in Fallujah now. At least I hope so: I can hope there are some civilized people there as well as the barbarians we saw in the newscasts. If not, then we can experiment with innovative ways to sack a city.
From Another Conference:
Don't you think it would be better to say that this is not a war on terrorism, but rather a war on barbarism?
Positioning our product as "Civilization vs. Barbarism" finesses the Clash of Civilizations issue and could be used to recruit Iraqis who are proud of their ancient history even if they had nothing to do with it. It would also transform Osama from an Islamic Militant into a Barbarian.
Seems to me that a "War on Barbarism" has even less of an obvious endpoint than our foolishly named "War on Terrorism"...
Incidentally, the Baghdad mob had long enjoyed the reputation of being the most fearsome in the entire Arab world, having earned its stripes when it tore limb-from-limb the last quasi-colonial prime minister after the fall of the monarchy in the 1950s. It appears that the Fallujaites are now vying for the same title.
I remember that some years ago, Saddam rather boastfully told a Western journalist that although his Iraqi enemies obviously hoped to someday execute him, they would certainly be disappointed; if he ever did fall from power, the ordinary Iraqi populace wouldn't leave even a thumbnail-size part of his body in one piece.
I would not expect the Sunnis to be overjoyed at the prospect of losing their dominance over the Shias and the Kurds, would you?
Still, this would not be happening if all these attackers' grandmothers were getting a pension from the CPA that was paid only for weeks during which no Americans were killed in attacks in their region.
We are in a war on Barbarism, and Ron is right: that has no obvious ending. There are plenty of barbarians in this world. A war on barbarism would have to start with the barbarians within our gates.
Are pensions to grandmothers a way to tame barbarians? Blankets and cows if you stay on the reservation...
The recent open, unchecked, brutish treatment of the bodies of 4 American mercs in Iraq (apparently after their deaths in combat) by a large mob of locals highlights the growing(?) role of "civilians" in military roles in Iraq. If one acknowledges the legitimacy of an Iraqi resistance (however unsympathetic we may find it), one is also forced to conclude that PMC's (private military contractors) are even more legitimate as targets than are U.S. enlisted -- they are not restrained by the same rules of engagement. These killings were armed resistance (not terrorism). Killing utility and road construction workers is a big notch down, blowing up crowds of mosque-goers is an even bigger one. This is definitely not the tone of media coverage on the deaths of these 4 American (mercenary) soldiers.
The below link is a few weeks old but I found it interesting -- many of your readers no doubt have better sources:
I wonder if the average Iraqi resents this "civilian" presence in Iraq significantly more than the military one -- it seems likely that some of these folks are functioning as the equivalent of a "special police"
Best, Ben Pedersen
P.S. I know some folks serving Uncle Sam out of uniform may not appreciate the term mercenary, I assure them I do not mean it to be derogatory, it is simply the best I am able to denote their roles despite the obvious disparity between any negative connotations and reality.
By strict definition a "mercenary" is a paid soldier who would change sides for more money. Whether the victims of the Fallujah Barbarians were CIA officers or not isn't important here. They were killed because it was thought they were. And by no stretch of the imagination would those men have changed sides for money.
I do not think the Company can ignore this.
Most people called mercenaries are fighting for causes they believe in. Of course they are paid. They need to make a living. I have many friends within that definition, and of course I was once an editor of a magazine owned by Lt. Col. Brown.
Hi. It's not clear from the site but Lucas Learning was shut down a about a year or so ago. My wife was an instructional designer there. She was really excited by the mission of the company. But it turned out to be a little too much like a lot of dot coms here in northern CA. Visionary leader, dedicated staff, and horrendous middle management.
Still, there is a lot of good content in many of their products. I spent several weekends playing through all the Pit Droids levels, and I don't even really like those types of puzzle games.
On another topic, I'm a recent mac convert, but coming from the linux side. I'm a software developer and gave up on windows after mozilla 1.0 came out. I have little use for any of the tools in Office so a workable web browser was the only thing holding me back. I then switched to the mac when I got a chance to try os x on a friends iMac. It was everything I hoped linux would become.
My advice on the mac it to hang in there with it. I took me about a month of using it full time to get really comfortable with it. Sure it hasn't been problem free, but IMHO it's miles ahead of anything i've seen from Microsoft or any linux distro. The only thing that will pry my 1Ghz TiBook from my hands now is a G5 powerbook. When those are available I'm going to line up like a good little zombie, sign that $3500 credit card slip and leave the store skipping like a little girl.
all the best,
Be sure to read ALL of the following including the last line...
Word is out today about a new virus that seems to evade most virus detection, and seems not to have caught the attention of the anti-virus guys. The virus is 'benign', in that it doesn't do any actual damage to the computer, other than affecting the system clock. This might cause problems with date-oriented programs, such as timekeeping programs, or spreadsheets that rely on the system clock for variables or formulas.
It appears in a message that does not have an attachment, so does not require any active action on a user's part to open or run the attachment. Although details are sketchy, it does seem to activate when the message is opened or read. It also seems to affect other mail programs in addition to Outlook. There is also an indication that it will affect many of the open-source based mail systems.
Although it is still not widespread, one security research firm has designated it as the "Sloof Lirpa" virus. It remains to be seen whether this virus will become widespread. There is indications that it will only affect computers today, and may be just a once-a-year problem.
The standard mantra applies.
Regards, Rick Hellewell, email@example.com
(sorry...this won't happen again)
The threat from biometric passports
Privacy International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and a number of groups worldwide are sending a letter to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ask them to halt their standards-setting on biometric passports.
Biometric passport systems, often seen as a response to terrorism, if gone unchecked, will result in national governments developing databases of citizens' face scans, fingerprints, and iris scans.
Put simply, through the ICAO, national governments are establishing national ID systems with all of our face scans and fingerprints without actually having a national debate.
“Softly, softly, catchy monkey” seems to be the motto of the ICAO. It’s time the monkeys (us) started making lots of loud noises about this.
April 2, 2004
We all miss Gary. Thanks. It's a good day when they jail a spammer. More! More!
One analysis suggests that Fallujah survives only because the enraged majority sect is kept from rushing in.
It would certainly be easy enough to foment civil war in Iraq. And it might be fun to watch the looting of Fallujah.
I agree with you that sacking the city of Fallujah is probably out of the question, but Peggy Noonan suggests what I think is an appropriate level of response in this online article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110004895 . The troops should go in and capture or kill as many as they can of those who should be easy to identify from the pictures of their smiling faces, and the bridge on which they strung up the bodies should be destroyed, with not one penny of our aid to go into the reconstruction. Let the inconvenience be a reminder to all of the residents of the city that there is no good to be gotten from committing atrocities against the people who are trying to rebuild their country.
Sounds like a good start. I confess to not being entirely rational on this. But I think we need so to something quickly for the encouragement of the others.
April 3, 2004
The OPEC decision to reduce oil output has provoked a great deal of wailing and moaning and nashing of teeth. However, I'd suggest that it is really a good sign. If one were to focus entirely on current production capacity, one would expect OPEC to raise prices much higher than they are now. Aside from the presence of the US military in the Gulf since Desert Storm I, the major factor which has restrained OPEC price hikes is the fear of stimulating more oil exploration and developement outside of OPEC, particularly in the USA. The Saudis have been particularly disciplined about restraining prices in order to discourage new competition. As a result, US oil production plumeted during the 1990s, The fact that they are suddenly going along with production cuts and price hikes suggests that this is no longer an immediate concern for them. Since there is plenty of undiscovered oil out there, the obvious conclusion is that the Saudis and OPEC are expecting a great deal of new oil to come on the market soon and are simply trying to make some extra money while they still can. One obvious new source of oil is Iraq. We've had a lot of bad news about how Iraq oil production has been suppressed by terrorists and the opposition, but perhaps this problem is now resolved. Also, since GW took office he has done everything possible to stimulate domestic production even though this has provoked a lot of propaganda about him enriching his oil buddies. One of the techniques he has used to stimulate domestic oil production has been to aggressively replentish the strategic petroleum reserve which Clinton had depleted to enhance Gore's chances of election.
On a related note concerning invading Saudi Arabia. I've always believed that W's decision to invade Iraq was motivated in part by a desire to bring the Iraqi oil production fully on line so that an interruption in Saudi supplies would not be catastrophic to the oil markets and the global economy. If my suspicions that Iraqi and domestic supplies combined with the SPR are correct, then Bush may soon decide that we are in a position where taking action against the Saudis is an option. I suspect that if he is reelected, he'll be delivering a number of ultimatums to the Kingdon concerning their support for Madrasi and Islamic charities which are so obviously fermenting hatred and terrorism.
The jobs number are a cause for celebration, but the developement that really encourages me to believe that the recession is over is the proliferation of advertisements for gold coins, bullion and stocks. There are a number of savy but somewhat unscrupulous investment houses which buy up large amounts of gold and gold stocks when prices are low. After a price run has run its course (which can easily be predicted months in advance by taking not of when and at what price the second derivative of the price curve turns negative and confirmed when the first derivative of the price curve equals zero) they begin to aggressively market their gold inventory. The unsavy buyers are encouraged to presume that these investment houses are merely acting as brokers when in fact they are selling off their inventory at retail prices. Of course a similar situation exist whenever any broker that you've never done business with before makes an unsolicited offer to sell you anything.
I was listening to Michael Reagan as I drove in the car last night. His topic was the events in Fallujah. I like his solution to the matter, a siege. Close all routes into and out of the city. Do not allow any traffic. Stem the flow of food into the city. Then announce the siege will be lifted when those responsible for the atrocities are turned over to to us. How long would it last? I'm guessing two or three days at the most, maybe a little longer as we wait for their supplies to run out. I agree with you. We need to act fast on this. We cannot appear weak or irresolute. Hmm... Decimation? No, probably not. Well, maybe if we admit empire, but not if we plan to remain posed as a republic.
Douglas E. Knapp
Si vis pacem, para bellum
Sieges would be nice. But that bridge has to go, and not be rebuilt.Dr Pournelle,
I confess to not being entirely rational on this.
Understandable, but irrational responses must be resisted.
The events at Mogadishu as popularised in ’Black Hawk Down’ have given credence to the view among many people in the Third World that if you do something sufficiently horrific to a group of Americans, preferably military , they will eventually give up and go away because they can’t take it, it seems. After all, that’s what happened in the end at Mogadishu. It is essential that this view is disabused, but not, however that is achieved, by overreaction. That would be even worse.
We are either nations where the rule of law prevails, including in our dealings with other nations and peoples, or when it comes to matters like Fallujah and our response, we can so easily become in principle if not magnitude, morally equivalent to the Nazis at Lidice in Czechoslovakia or Oradour-sur-Glane in France. That would hand the moral high ground to the other side and we would be well on our way to a rout in Iraq.
The only proper response is to seek out those responsible and bring them to justice. That may take a long time and be very tough especially if similar incidents occur in the meantime, but while imposing collective punishment on a city as an emotional response to an outrage that happened there might make for a warm feeling at first, as with peeing in your pants the warm sensation will soon pass.
Being an empire is not all fun.
Well. I never wanted an empire in the first place, but who says A must say B. If we are to have an empire we must needs be imperial.
One rule is that we treat barbarians as barbarians. Civilized enemies we treat with some concern and civility; for barbarians the treatment is the black flag and the deguello. Hamas rules. Turn over those responsible or face the consequences, and you do not have long to make up your minds. This is the path of Empire. It was practiced in those parts by the Turks for a very long time, and surely they have some memories of those times.
What you must not do is send your soldiers into places of harm and then not support them. What you must not do is leave them to bleach their bones in the deserts in vain. For if you do, beware the fury of the legions.
It is not as if all this has not happened before, much of it in this very place. Mesopotamia is not unknown to history.
As to the poor chap who witnessed the barbaric acts, did not participate, and is intimidated: we can wish him well, but we can suspect he has much to endure before he achieves tranquility.
The four "civilian contractors" who killed in Fallujah all turn out to have more than a dozen years experience in Special Ops (SEALS, Green Berets, etc). They were on "convoy duty" ????? Right, And I'm the Queen of the May. More like they were CIA Paramilitaries and given to the unfortunate tendency of such guys to flaunt it a bit.
That said, I agree that retribution must be swift and terrible. One of the problems with the modern age is that the whole world is watching. In real time. Anything we do will be seen as equally barbaric and undermine our image further. Which puts us in an interesting (in the Chinese sense of that troublesome word) quandary. Do nothing and we're seen as weak and invite further such incidents. Do what we need to do and we become the bad guys again.
I've been listening to news commentary. There are some interesting tidbits. One is that military overstretch is not exclusive to our forces. One reason that other nations are not willing to help us out with a few troops is that most have none to spare. What they do have is countering terrorism or already engaged in UN Peacekeeping in fights we started but haven't finished. As Abe Lincoln said during the Trent Affair, "One War at a Time".
And on a not totally unrelated matter, the recent OPEC oil production cutback has not had much impact on Europe. This is because of the sharp decline in the dollar, engineered to get the current account deficit down and employment up. Oil is traded in dollars, so the price increase that hits us hard here is barely felt where Euros are involved.
And I note that the attack yesterday that took five soldier's lives involved an M-113 APC. This is the one that looks like a cracker box on tracks. It's Vietnam War era equipment and was considered a deathtrap even then. Aluminum armor, which not only burns easily, but burns hot.
In other words, the Regulars get the shiny new stuff and the National Guard gets the cast-offs. And the units rotating into Iraq are from the Guard. Expect to see more incidents like this.
Reading Mahan, I get the idea that the reason that the Brits got out of the Empire business was that they realized it was not an efficient way to run things. You pay a lot for being the bully on the block...and you never sleep easily when you are.
Sincerely, Francis Hamit
Empire requires a logic. Part of that logic involves keeping a large army, which means keeping that army content with your rule. Betraying those who have a monopoly on the means of violence never works for long. Britain was fortunate enough to have a loyal aristocracy that could furnish junior as well as senior officers, and they had enough of the aristocratic virtues to win the respect of the men they led; but even then Empire was expensive, and the Boer War more than decimated the officer class -- and combined with the new Death Duties destroyed the system that produced them, families often suffering multiple confiscations as well as multiple bereavements. The Great War finished that job. After that you didn't have Captain Lord Wimsey and his ilk, and that meant not enough army to hold an empire and also contend in the European wars of jealousy.
We of course are certain that it will all be different from us. After all didn't we conquer the whole of North America with dirty shirt blue, Captain Brittles and one-troop posts (see Spanish Man's Grave for the emotional details)? With middle class officers, and good republican virtues. And we invented modern war with railroads and rifles and no more of the bayonet charges (read Cold Harbor to learn when Grant at least learned that lesson; Foch never did learn that elan is no match for a machinegun in the hands of a young working class trooper with 6 months training, nor did the Brits, really). So of course we understand these things, and the logic of empire will never apply to us. We know all this stuff cold.
The attractions of empire are many, and it's not always easy to see just what else comes with it. Fallujah shows us a part of it: what we do there now will be critical and have consequences for a long time to come.
At the very least, that bridge must go, and the city must understand that the joy they experienced has a heavy price for all.
Subject: Marines Defend Decision to Stay Out of Falluja After Killings
"Marines Defend Decision to Stay Out of Falluja After Killings By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: April 1, 2004
ALLUJA, Iraq, April 1 — Marine commanders defended their decision today not to send troops into Falluja to quell the macabre disturbances that followed after four American civilians were killed and their bodies dragged through the streets.
More than 4,000 marines are stationed near the restive town in the Sunni Triangle but when the violence broke out on Wednesday and the streets of Falluja exploded in mayhem, Marine commanders decided not to intervene.
"Should we have sent in a tank so we could have gotten, with all due respect, four dead bodies back?" said Col. Michael Walker, a civil affairs commander. "What good would that have done? A mob is a mob. We would have just provoked them. The smart play was to let this thing fade out."
My answer to Col. Walker: Yes. It would have done good for a lot of people if the Marines had come in from all four sides, shooting, to rescue the ex-Seals and Rangers...even if the Marines had arrived too late to save their lives.
Maybe I'll think more coolly in a few days, but right now, yes, I feel that those Fallujans burning the bodies, and butchering them, and slinging body parts over telephone wires, and hanging the corpses might have learned something from the exit end of assorted American weapons.
I have family at Ft Hood, and, yes, the sight of the killings had an impact. I think, and this is said from a thousand miles away and at least 30 years distance in age from the Soldiers, but I still think it would have done some good to see the Marines do something.
And this causes me to stop a second, and ask myself: do I now talk like a German occupying Czechoslovakia? Am I moving toward retribution? Must I learn the self-restraint that we ask of Israeli soldiers after a terror-bombing? Or that we ask of Palestinians after Israeli retaliation blows away a block of houses to kill one Hezbollah/Hamas/etc militant?
I don't know. I don't trust my immediate rage, but today, if I had control, I would encircle Fallujah, plant a tank or Bradley on every corner, and make life even a bit more unpleasant for Fallujans.
A bitter day, but
Jim Mangles mentions the issue of OIL account currency...
The whole notion that OPEC or any other oil producing country would care one whit about what currency they are paid in is absurd. As is the theory that what currency they sold their oil for would matter one bit to the exchange rate of the dollar. Just as absurd is that the US, by forcing OPEC/Iraq to trade OIL in dollars would have *any* affect on the dollar exchange rate.
This [crackpot] "theory" was brought up and debunked over a year ago:
Quoting from that article:
> Currency markets trade on the order of $1.2 TRILLION a DAY. [...] > The total value of oil trades a day is a drop in the bucket compared > to the currency markets. If OPEC wanted to be in euros all they > have to do is convert to euros. You could price oil in terms of any > currency, but those who sell must do something with the dollars or > yen or yuan or pesos they get. After the money is in an OPEC bank > account, they can do anything they want with it.
Even if you don't buy his arguments, just LOOK AT THE NUMBERS. They can't be faked. A quick search on Google turns up similar numbers for currency markets (I quickly found $1.5 TRILLION a day actually).
And recent OPEC news discusses OPEC limiting output to ~25 Million barrels/day - at $35/barrel, that's $875 Million. And OPEC has what, 25% of the market. So, quadruple that, and you're now up to $3.5 BILLION/day. And we're not even to up 1% of the daily currency market.
This whole theory needs to die already. While the price of oil in dollars may have gone up, but it hasn't in Euro's, this has everything to do with the overly-strong dollar and nothing to do with oil.
Last time we were in France I got about 1.3 Euros for a dollar. It was rather pleasant. But of course things are not that way now...
On Fred on Evolution: ( http://www.fredoneverything.net/FOE_Frame_Column.htm )
I've had a look at Fred's essay on evolution. I'm always interested in heterodox opinions on evolution, but I'm afraid to say Fred doesn't seem to be very knowledgeable on evolution.
He asks "Homosexuality in males works strongly against reproduction. Why have the genetic traits predisposing to homosexuality not been eliminated long ago?" Clearly, Fred hasn't heard of kin selection: a male homosexual will share half his genes with his siblings. It is possible that a male homosexual, not having children of his own, will be free to offer his assistance to his siblings or his tribe, and increase their chances for reproduction, thus propagating his own genes.
Another possibility is that while homosexuality works against reproduction, it may be that the genes that sometimes predispose a male to homosexuality actually have a stronger benefit in the many males that aren't homosexual. Likewise, it is believed that the gene for cystic fibrosis is still in the population because if you have only one copy, you are protected against tuberculosis (if you have two copies, you have a devastating illness). In the case of homosexuality, one suggestion is that it has to do with male humans having the feminine characteristics of being more caring and nurturing, so they will stay with the mother of his child and help care for that child (thus strongly increasing chances of reproduction).
Anyway, thank you for your wonderful website, it's always interesting and thought-provoking.
New Albany, Indiana
Well, as I said somewhere else, Cochran thinks homosexuality a sufficient evolutionary burden that he is certain that it cannot be "genetic", but it may be due to contagious infection; which may sound bizarre but there are plenty of parasites and diseases that affect behavior. We made use of that in the novel BEOWULF'S CHILDREN, and it was all based on very good science, too. Cochran takes evolution very seriously and looks at the consequences of the theory being exactly true.
There are other quarrels, such as Fred's illustration drawn from bee stings. This infuriated some people in another conference (people who are usually not hostile to Fred's views) because it is so easily answered.
Evolution and bee stings.
There are many evolutionary possibilities.
1. Bees evolve more powerful stings for protection from predators. Humans or our apish ancestors are unlikely to have been the most important predator, because our population is small. Imagine that squirrels were the important predator or, as in our folklore, bears.
2. Bee stings are only one of the chemical attacks on humans or ancestors, and the abililty to withstand such attacks evolves collectively.
3. Maybe the present situation is that unprotected humans are sufficiently deterred from attacking bee colonies. Our present ability to do so is a side-effect of our ability to invent technology, e.g. to knock bees out with smoke and to devise protective clothing.
4. Severe reaction to bee stings is an accidental bug in the human immune system and goes along with other diseases of over-reaction by the immune system.
5. African bees evolved a behavioral defense. The individual sting is no worse, but presumed predators elicit mass attacks.
All the above is just speculation. Here are three questions subject to scientific investigation. Maybe they have even been answered.
1. What are the other present macroscopic predators on bees? As far as I have read, mites and bacteria are the major causes of loss of present beehives.
2. People going into shock from bee stings is rare. Is it too rare to exert any evolutionary pressure? Humans have evolved media which whip up fears. Unfortunately, the fears so aroused are not in direct proportion to the size of the menace.
3. What is the complex immune system defects of which bee sting shock is an example?
Which prompted the reply:
It isn't the actual query I was responding to: the answer was -- as noted by at least two respondents so far -- obvious. I was responding to the tone and content of the query...
It is the tone within which someone who evidently
knows little or nothing about the relevant science asks what he thinks is a
really deep question, usually acompanied by a sneer.
Which elicited from me:
Sounds like modern liberals lecturing us on history
and political science.
Fred's point is valid for a lot of "social science", and he's not stupid: my guess is that a bit of rational discourse on the subject (which may be hard to find in Mexico where he lives now) would get him to understand that while full belief in evolution requires a leap of faith, it's not all that great a leap; nothing like the leap required to believe in Freud, or Jung, or L. Ron Hubbard, and at least the first two of those have been responsible for vast and important changes in society. Nor is the lock step thinking Fred abhors confined to the Social -- Voodoo as far as I am concerned -- "Sciences", witness Kyoto and the rush to Do Something about Global Warming and "The Ozone Hole". And the response to "The Bell Curve" wasn't rational discussion but a race to condemnation by learned professors who were proud of the fact that they had not even read the book!
Subject: 40 years on, Gravity Probe B is nearing launch.
----------- Roland Dobbins
April 4, 2003
The picture says it all, at:
What next? That was easier to say 18 months ago. Clearly, we can't simply withdraw; or if we do, then the sorts of people I like best in Iraq with be ground to pulp between the ex Saddamists and the rising Shiites (three varieties of them).
I'm thinking. Nothing coherent. Pretty sure that the neo-cons (I like "neo-jacobins" as a label) would rather lie to cover their blunders than to admit their blunders and try to correct them. If good policy happens from a lie, it happens only by accident.
But what next? I don't know.
(By the way, I like the Falluja bridge idea. Munch it now. Leave the debris where it falls. Maybe munch a few other bridges. If Fallujans want to cross the river, let them swim, or go back to ferries. Do rebuild the bridge. At least...at least...plant an Abrams at either end until we tear it down.)
(1) A story that everyone should have read, in some form, by now:
7 U.S. Soldiers Die in Iraq as a Shiite Militia Rises Up By JOHN F. BURNS
[JW note: latest news is 10 Americans dead...]
Published: April 5, 2004
AGHDAD, Iraq, April 4 — A coordinated Shiite militia uprising against the American-led occupation rippled across Iraq on Sunday, reaching into the heart of Baghdad and the sprawling Shiite slum of Sadr City on the capital's outskirts and racking the holy city of Najaf and at least two other cities in southern Iraq.
Seven American soldiers were killed in Sadr City, one of the worst single losses for the American forces in any firefight since Baghdad was captured a year ago.
An Iraqi health official in Najaf said 24 people had been killed and about 200 wounded in clashes that ensued when armed militiamen loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, a 31-year-old firebrand Shiite cleric, besieged a garrison commanded by Spanish troops on the road leading into Najaf from neighboring Kufa.
An American military spokesman said one Salvadoran soldier had been killed in Kufa and 13 soldiers wounded, including an American. All the other casualties were said to be Iraqis.
Within hours of a call by Mr. Sadr to his followers to "terrorize your enemy," his militiamen, said to number tens of thousands across Iraq, emerged into the streets of Baghdad, Najaf, Kufa and Amara, a city 250 miles south of Baghdad where four Iraqis were reported killed in clashes with British troops.
Forbidden to bear arms under a decree issued last year by the American occupation authority, the Sadr militiamen bristled with a wide array of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades that were fired at American tanks in Sadr City.
(3) Two fronts: analysis from Post
Protests Unleashed by Cleric Mark a New Front in War
By Anthony Shadid and Sewell Chan Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, April 5, 2004; Page A01
BAGHDAD, April 4 -- By unleashing mass demonstrations and attacks in Baghdad and southern Iraq on Sunday, a young, militant cleric has realized the greatest fear of the U.S.-led administration since the occupation of Iraq began a year ago: a Shiite Muslim uprising.
Fighting with U.S. troops raged into the night in a Baghdad slum, and hospitals reportedly took in dozens of casualties. But even before sunset, there was a sense across the capital that a yearlong test of wills between the American occupation and supporters of Moqtada Sadr had turned decisive, and its implications reverberated through Iraq.
The unrest signaled that the U.S. military faces armed opposition on two fronts: in scarred Sunni towns such as Fallujah and, as of Sunday, in a Shiite-dominated region of the country that had remained largely acquiescent, if uneasy about the U.S. role. If put down forcefully, a Shiite uprising -- infused with religious imagery, and symbols drawn from Iraq's colonial past and the current Palestinian conflict -- could achieve a momentum of its own.
(3) Finally, a greta web log from Salaam Pax's friend Raed ("Were's Raed?" He's here, at http://raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com /)
:Monday, April 05, 2004The clashes of today were worse than what I expected.
21 Iraqis killed and 155 injured, 7 US solders killed and dozens injured, 10 other Spanish and Salvador soldiers killed and injured.
This is what the media says: One day clashes. And here is the real story; long and boring, but real.
Muqtada AsSadr, is a very important phenomenon in the south of Iraq. I remember some discussions I had with a very dear American friend, working with the USAID in Baghdad; Sloan Mann was asking me about the most dangerous challenge in building the new Iraq. Falluja? He asked. “AsSadr” was my answer. That was 10 months ago.
<etc> but read on for a detailed account of the rise and danger of Muktada Sadr.
"Everyone was underestimating him; Bremer, political leaders, media, most of my friends, my parents. But I didn’t… at all.
From my frequent visits to the south, I could really feel and see the actual strength and authorities AsSadr have, and the real possibility that he will be a key person in the next stage of the Iraqi history."
"When the CPA decides to close the AsSadr newspaper and arrest his assistant, they should expect to have real clashes… I mean REAL ones.
Can’t everyone see how much is the American administration lost? Can’t you feel the lack of vision? Can’t you see the bloody results of the slow and stupid policy that has no orientation?
Did the Bush administration come to Iraq to establish a religious government? For sure not, because this is against the American interests, and that would be like giving Iraq as a unexpected gift to the Iranian government… the Enemy.
So why do they support the religious leaders and treat them like local gods? Because Bremer wants to be democratic? So why close their newspapers and arrest them? Because they are inflaming passions?"
"The problems Iraq have now needs decades to be solved… decades I say."
A very good log. See also Raed's mother's log...Salaam Pax says that if you visit Raed's family, be prepared to defend your political opinions, because you doesn't tolerate sloppy thinking.
The rising price of empire. Bad political theories on the part of the neocons -- namely their neo-Jacobin assumptions -- have led us here. It will be interesting to see where this takes us.
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