THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 531 August 11 - 17, 2008
Highlights this week:
For boiler plate, search engine, and notes on what in the world this place is, see below.
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
August 11, 2008
Today there are frantic pleas from Georgia.
Once again I can only thank God that Georgia is not yet a member of NATO. If NATO wants to admit Georgia, let it -- provided that we are out of NATO, the entangling alliance. We do not need to be involved in the territorial disputes of Europe.
We will be subjected to pictures of the suffering Georgian civilians, and more please as Russia follows the principles of war : wars are won in the pursuit. Georgia will find itself in effect disarmed before this is over. Russia intends that this be a lesson for others.
I spent most of my life fighting the Cold War. We won it. We do not need a new iteration of the Cold War, or worse, a shooting war with Russia.
I pray that the reduced coverage of your illness is a good sign - I was worried for quite a while.
There's little to report. My hearing grows worse and my balance is off; on the other hand I look terrific, my weight is stable, my blood sugar is good, my cholesterol is about 130, and while I don't have the energy I would like I did get a lot of work done once I was determined to do it.
I worry a little about the balance and my head seeming stuffed up (not the nasal passages, which are mildly affected by allergens but easily controlled with Sudafed; we'll look into that at my next appointment.
I am sleepy more than I like, but a nap usually does let me get back to work.
There is mail on the Georgia situation. Phillip and Patty and granddaughter Catherine are here for the day and I need to get downstairs.
Thanks to all those who renewed or subscribed last month I can pay the bills, which I'll do tonight after the kids leave for Disneyland.
I had better not comment on this. I might be thought to be advocating terrorism. Apparently Maryland has no attorney general and no concern about protecting the rights of citizens.
For platinum subscription:
Platinum subscribers enable me to work on what I think is important without worrying about economics. My thanks to all of you.
Did you subscribe and never hear from me? Click here!.
|This week:||Tuesday, August
Those interested in the new Cold War may find this amusing:
I suppose I should write an essay on this, but I don't really have time.
I can say that whatever moral imperatives we may have to help Georgia pales into insignificance compared to our moral obligations in 1956 when the Hungarians revolted against Russian rule. I have an old friend who had been a captain in the Hungarian national army; his unit attempted to take a movie studio in the hopes of finding American uniforms, which they would wear in hopes of making the Russians believe the Americans were coming.
Eisenhower sent Hungary no help. The danger of Central Nuclear War was too great, and we did not have the military force present in the area to create a fait accompli.
The Russians retain over 20,000 nuclear warheads, and several thousand ICBM's. We have not built Ballistic Missile Defenses. The Russians still have missile submarines. The only real defense of the coasts is ground based lasers with popup mirrors, as described in the first reports of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy written for Reagan in 1980. We have not built those defenses. We are not equipped to play nuclear chicken games. We have stood down most of our deterrent force, and our Strategic Forces are vulnerable to a number of first strike scenarios.
Of course it will never come to Central Nuclear War; so we say. But the only effective intervention we could make in Georgia would require "tactical" nuclear weapons. The problem is that the a tactical nuclear weapon, during the Cold War, was one that went off in Germany; use of nukes anywhere else would precipitate strategic nuclear strikes. If we attempted intervention in Georgia with anything other than nukes, it would be a disaster. If we attempted to use nukes against Russian forces, what would then be the limits of conflict? Would Baltimore harbor survive?
Of course the Russians would never think that way, just as they would never send tanks into Prague, or into Georgia. But every part of the history of the last century taught the Russians one thing: there is no such thing as overkill. If you are going to fight, send in everything you can. (I believe the US term for this is shock and awe...)
Walter Lippmann once wrote that military power was like a bank account against which the diplomats could write checks; and it was very possible to be overdrawn. The United States is very nearly overdrawn now.
If we want to play the game of world Empire, there are costs. The first is to create SAC again, complete with full restoration of the ICBM force, young officers in silos on Christmas and other holidays, air crews sleeping in quarters on runways, rebuilding the numbered Air Forces. The second is real Strategic Defense, with orbital elements, ground based lasers, pop-up mirrors, local, and midrange interceptors, endgame defenses, and the homeland security measures required to protect all that. None of this is cheap. It is unlikely that the American people will pay that cost.
We may be the only superpower, but that does not automatically give us mastery of the world, and it is unlikely that the American people would pay the costs in blood, treasure, and ruthlessness to assume that role.
Military power is like a bank account. We may draw against it, but being overdrawn is not advisable. If we attempt any real intervention in Georgia, we will be overdrawn. The US has many common interests with Russia. It may be time to look into those. We may have more influence with the Russians as friends as we would ever have in a new Cold War.
Chronicles: Your Home is Not Your Castle
L' Affaire Plaime developments:
I will generally no send you links except possible to this web site, and any email I write will be pretty unambiguously from me; but even then be careful.
Here is Stratfor's take on Georgia and Russia:
I find little to disagree with.
= = =
Little to disagree with indeed. The US policy of trying to encircle Russia instead of making friends with the Russians has been a disaster, and will remain so. Kosovo was key: we were willing to bomb a sovereign state to require them to give part of their territory to illegal alien invaders. If we would do that, what else might we do? Clearly Russian security lay in their military forces, not in any kind of pledges from either Republican or Democratic politicians in the United States.
Why it was thought necessary for the US to generate a cordon sanitaire around Russia is beyond my kenning. And I fail to comprehend why we were not working actively to prevent a Georgian invasion of a territory composed mostly of ethnic Russians. We had a presence there. It was not used to prevent war. Indeed, from first appearance we did nothing to prevent, and may have encouraged, Georgian adventurism.
We sowed the wind. The Georgians have reaped the whirlwind, but the returns are not all in. We may yet find more reasons to regret our actions here; and the more blustering we do at this point the sillier we look. We should not make empty threats. God save us if the threats we make are not empty.
EWO. EWO. Emergency War Orders....
August 13, 2008
We are the friends of liberty everywhere. We are the guardians only of our own.
Once again I thank God that Georgia was not admitted to NATO.
Bush insists that the territorial integrity of Georgia be respected. I presume their reply will be "As you respected the territorial integrity of Serbia. Have a nice day."
Charles Murray has an excellent article on higher education in the Wall Street Journal today. I am sure there will shortly be a flurry of articles from learned college presidents denouncing him.
Of course what Murray advocates was what I wrote about in the 1970's in my stories and in A Step Farther Out.
(that is an early version; the actual essay is at
Energy Independence. The Wall Street Journal has taken to calling energy independence for the United States a pipe dream and exercise in futility, and by implication, efforts in that direction are futile.
Obama says that the solution to the energy crisis is to raise taxes on Exxon and other oil companies. That will somehow bring gasoline prices down.
While total energy independence would require an effort about as large as we estimated the cost of the Iraqi war would be -- not what it really cost, but what was thought to be an outside estimate of that cost -- and investment of some $300 billion could do the job. Certainly $500 billion would do it.
First: One Hundred 1000 Megawatt nuclear reactors. The first of those would cost probably $20 billion, but the 100th would be down to under a billion. I would argue that $100 billion would actually do the work, but call it $150.
Second, large prizes for use of electricity in transportation. Call that $50 billion. More prizes for development of storage technologies to enable distributed energy systems such as rooftop solar power and small occasional use windmills like the one on top of Ed Begley's house. The problem with intermittent storage devices like wind is the collection and storage costs; if the power is stored and used where it is generated, it makes sense when oil is more than $80 a barrel. The same is true for use of biowaste. We have the science and we know the numbers; what we need is new technologies for efficiency.
Third, drill and pump here. We can always use oil. The goal is to stop burning oil and use it as a feed stock for manufacturing, but we will likely always need gasoline and diesel fuels.
And, finally, a few billion in both prizes and X programs to develop low cost to orbit. There's plenty of energy out there. There's also an enormous resource base. Ninety percent of the resources easily available to mankind are not on the Earth (details in A Step Farther Out).
Energy and resource base expansion is not a pipedream. We have the science already. We need to develop the technology -- and we know how to do that.
We spent far more on the Iraqi war, for less return. It's time to start a program to expand our resource base; energy independence will be a very small part of the return on that investment.
For a pdf copy of A Step Farther Out ($4.95):
News Spam is Bad News
The "CNN Alerts" spam has been replaced (at the moment) by "MSNBC - Breaking News" spam. Clicking on links in those emails will get you a nice hunk of malware that will change your desktop background, and lots of nice pop-ups for anti-virus software.Even clicking on the 'unsubscribe' link will get a silent installation of the malware.
This spam/malware campaign is very prolific. I am seeing dozens per minute at the office mail system.
The anti-virus guys aren't fully cleaning - or even detecting - this one. One indication of infection is a strangely-named (random letters) folder in your "Program Files" folder, along with some entries in your registry that help keep your computer infected.
One good place to go to help clean up your computer is here: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial42.html . Follow the instructions carefully to get their expert help in spyware/virus removal. I've had good experiences with their help.
Of course, the best way to get rid of an infection is a reinstallation of the operating system, along with restoring your important data from backups.
And the best way to NOT get an infection is to be very careful about clicking on links in your emails. Type in the link yourself, unless you are sure that the mail is from a known good correspondent.
Regards, Rick Hellewell
I have been getting a lot of mail with my address faked as sender; be careful that the mail really is from the purported sender.
And I found this interesting:
August 14, 2008
I have been a week off in all my planning: the Writers of the Future weekend, which begins with a dinner tonight for the contestants and all the judges -- the annual party they throw so I can meet my friends, as I think of it -- is this week, not next week, and I am supposed to speak to the contest finalists this afternoon. I had thought of all that as happening next week after I return from the DC/X reunion in Alamogordo. I have stuff to do here -- the bills must be paid, and I have galley proofs of Escape From Hell -- so I won't get much done here today, and I won't be going upstairs to work on Mamelukes.
Over in Mail there's a note on how the neocons, having over-stimulated the Georgians, tried to apply the brakes in recent weeks. The whole incident puzzles me: the United States has satellites, but in addition we have a couple of hundred military advisors in Georgia, and presumably they are neither blind not incommunicado; the Russians certainly knew that the Georgians were about to move on their breakaway province -- Russia's army can't be that well prepared and ready to move. If the Russians knew, we certainly did.
I think we should have a new Constitutional amendment: every year the State of the Union address should open with a reading of George Washington's farewell address, with emphasis on avoiding entangling alliances and not becoming involved in the territorial disputes of Europe.
Yes: the Cold War required alliances. Perhaps Communism would have collapsed of its own weight without active containment, but that's unlikely: victory feeds aggression, Many of you will not recall the period in the 1950's when "Communism on the march" was very much a possibility, with all the world red except for North America. Had we abandoned Europe to an expansionist USSR the results would have been ugly indeed. We built NATO to prevent that; but what, now, is the US interest in remaining a member of NATO?
Never wound the king. Never do your enemy a small injury. These are basic principle of realism in foreign policy. We now act as if it is a triumph that we are ferrying home Georgian soldiers and bringing in "humanitarian" aid while pledging to -- to rebuild the Georgian army? I have heard that and I still cannot comprehend it. Rebuild it? To what end? Peace in that region is in the gift of the Russian Empire, not a consequence of Georgian military might. What must the Russians do now to prove that? And I suspect they will take our efforts to "rebuild" the Georgian army as an invitation to demonstrate the consequences of relying on promises like that.
Now go read http://prospect.org/cs/articles?article=overhyping_georgia while I get ready for my evening with friends...
And you may find today's mail interesting.
The Charles Murray essay I referred to yesterday is
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121858688764535107.html and not the one cited.
For platinum subscription:
August 15, 2008
Tonight is the Writers of the Future awards ceremony (for last year's click here). It is also my day to get ready for the DC/X reunion (see here and here) event in Alamogordo; I leave tomorrow morning, and while I'll have a computer capable of dealing with mail and keeping this site up, I have no way to predict my energy levels: and clearly the conference has first call on resources while I am there. It also means a fair amount of preparation I have to do today.
Which means that I may not do much updating here from now until next Wednesday. I'll do what I can, but no promises.
This week at Chaos Manor Reviews we have a new column (International Edition) and a mailbag with both general comments and specific comments on the column itself; and of course I have had quite a lot to say here this week, so I don't think I have neglected you... I will also put up some mail today. Roberta recommends one article about Georgia and Russia. I have followed that with another, and a few observations.
Thanks again to those who subscribed or renewed subscriptions. A subscription to this site is also a subscription to Chaos Manor Reviews and vice-versa and gives access to the closed areas.
For platinum subscription:
Where have all the sunspots gone? See mail.
August 16, 2008
I am off to Alamogordo in an hour, so I'll be off the air until tomorrow.
We are safely in Alamogordo. About to go to dinner. There is something wrong with mail: I receive but do not send. I'm not sure what I done wring this time! i suppose I will figure it out sometime.
This is Office 2003 and XP so I ought to be able to get it working -- indeed it DID work earlier today. It may be the hotel network. If I have a really critical message I can use webmail.
Tomorrow is a busy day and I need to get to sleep. I will probably have nothing until Monday
August 16, 2008
The DC/X reunion is well attended, mostly industry people. Ambassador Cooper, formerly head of SDIO and successor to Dan Graham at High Frontier, gave the keynote. I am waiting to do my speech, only there are other organizational matters. I'm to be on not long after lunch, which can be a problem. We're in the reconstruction area of the Space Museum: It's a working workshop in a hangar. Folding chairs and banquet tables have been put out for attendees. It turns out to be a good place. The remains of the DC/X are in a back room.
No I am waiting to go on.
Well I made my pitch. Or speech. Or what have you. I will write more at length, but it is a weird experience to make my Survival with Style speech 30 years after I first began doing it, especially after listening to a few people give part of the speech earlier in the morning. Some knew where it had come from (which is from A Step Farther Out)
I am told it went well, and a high school teacher wants to show a recording to her school, so perhaps so; I'll get a copy and see if a podcast can be made from it.. Now I am back in my room, and I'll have a nap before dinner.
Thanks to readers who point out that hotels often block port 25 for outgoing mail. I have an alternate port from my major ISP and I am using that now, and It Just Works.
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
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 weekly 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.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
For platinum subscription:
For a PDF copy of A Step Farther Out:
For the BYTE story, click here.
Search: type in string and press return.
The freefind search remains:
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.