THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
Saturday, June 25, 2011
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June 20, 2011
1630: Larry Niven and Steve Barnes were over from about 1100, then for a hike up to the top of Mulholland (a good 4 miles about about 700 feet) and back, then lunch, so this is a late start. We are working on a novella that will be a sequel to Legacy of Heorot by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes. It takes place a few years after Heorot but before Beowulf's Children, the actual sequel. This will be a novella or short novel, and presents a new alien critter and a lot more of the sociology of a high tech interstellar colony where if you didn't bring it with you, you either make it or do without it.
We got a late start, so it was hot on the hill, then a long lunch. The current draft of the book has about 33,000 words of perhaps 50,000 total. It's pretty good, but needs some fleshing out, and some more attention to detail. If you liked Heorot you'll like this.
Last night we had a note from Dr. Cochran to the effect that it is cheaper to have Pakistan as an enemy than a friend, and caution from a deployed trooper commenting on that. Go see them if you haven't.
It's worth thinking about. Afghanistan has makes nothing we want, and unification of Afghanistan under a government in Kabul is resisted -- indeed detested -- by a good part of the rest of the country. The one thing that unifies Afghanistan is the sight of armed non-Afghanis on Afghan soil. That includes us. On the other hand we went into Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden. That took time, but it worked. We can declare victory and get out.
Of course the instant anyone speaks of ending the wars -- we are in three for certain and apparently contemplating a fourth in Syria, and a fifth in Yemen -- the cry of ISOLATIONISM goes up. I don't know what isolationism means. The United States could have intervened decisively in some Middle East situations -- if we had devoted anything like the resources poured into Iraq into Lebanon that once prosperous nation might well have been stabilized into a viable ally -- but in general we are not politically capable of acting decisively when that action is in the US interest. There appears to be a strong political faction that just plain can't stand the notion of using US forces to protect US interests, and we can spend the blood of the Legions only if we can prove that we don't get anything out of it. That is one of the factions that cries Isolationism! when we try to bring the Legions home and invest in domestic or at least hemispheric developments.
I said most of this as we were contemplating the expansion of the war into Libya. That was months ago. What was said then still applies. There is a limit to what the United States can do, and as we cut the Navy budget that becomes less. The US is broke. It is time to act decisively where we can be decisive, and cut our losses and come home where we cannot. In Afghanistan we have the added merit of having accomplished the goal of killing bin Laden.
Declare victory. Bring the troops home. Let someone else follow Alexander the Great into the graveyard of empires. We have a lot to do at home. We are better at being the United States than we are at pacifying the Middle East.
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|This week:||Tuesday, June
I have this as mail:
I have always suspected that a major goal of the TSA is to convince Americans that they are subjects, not citizens, and get them accustomed to the difference. Ordnung! Your Papers, Please.
In Tunisia this led where it always leads, to a repressive regime. When enough was enough, the security services decided to defend their prerogatives; whereupon the military told the security troops that 'if you fire on the people, we will fire on you.' The security forces acted as they do when confronted with real force, the President fled the country, and we don't know what is happening next. In Egypt the army and the security police were at odds and the army, which already ran the country. won; but we have not yet seen the end of that story, either. The mobs in Egypt were perhaps not the same as the street crowds in Tunisia. Getting reliable information from there is quite difficult; but I have not forgotten the Lara Logan assault. Street mobs are not a feature of a stable republic, although they are a common enough feature of mass democracy.
Is this actually happening in these United States, or is this alarmism?
I have discovered that I ought either to go up that hill more regularly, or stop doing it. Alas, I am more or less laid low. I hope to recover soon.
Niven and Barnes were here for the afternoon and we worked on the new project. Steve now goes back to Atlanta. Tomorrow I have an all day appointment in Torrance at Space-X.
A matter with profound implications as Asian populations get older. We have not seen the last of the problems this will bring.
June 22, 2011
Spent the day at Space-X factory/headquarters in Torrence with Larry Niven, Aldo Spadoni an engineer who does world class space art, and Roger Gilbertson, a Space-X marketing executive. It wasn't my first trip there, but I got to see a lot of operations that weren't discussed when I was the speaker at a fund raising event hosted by Space-X CEO Elon Musk. It was a good day, but I came home exhausted, and went to bed.
June 23, 2011
I spent the day in bed. I did manage dinner without too much stomach upset. Had neither the energy, ability, nor desire to do any work. Went to bed early. By the time I went to bed I thought I might be going to recover. Maybe. I even thought I might one day want to.
June 24, 2011
I have had an adventurous morning: I got up, had breakfast without terrible stomach pains, walked around the block, went with Roberta in my car when she took Sable to the groomers to be washed, and I am back here, actually trying to answer some of the mail. I expect to lie down again shortly, but I do think I am recovering. Whatever laid me low did the job well. I am now to the point where I want to recover and expect to. Yesterday I was certain I had terminal senility and recuperation was impossible. I have no idea whether I got something bad to eat earlier this week, a bug, a relapse of the stuff that has plagued me for weeks now, or just what.
I will try to catch up with the mail and my essays. I am now recovered enough that I want to.
Meanwhile, figure out how to get a raise every year
You are going to need it.
The President seems to have memory problems. One would think he could remember the name of the first live person he awarded the Medal of Honor to, but when he spoke to the Tenth Mountain Division he said "I had the great honor of seeing some of you because a comrade of yours, Jared Monti, was the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honor to who actually came back and wasn’t receiving it posthumously.” Actually, the President presented the Medal to Jared Monti's parents. The first living Medal of Honor Winner since Viet Nam was then Specialist (now Staff Sergeant) Salvator Giunti from Iowa. I am plagued with an increasingly bad memory, but this seems a bit excessive. Surely it was not on the teleprompter? Yet most of Obama's speeches are from the teleprompter; leaving one to wonder about the staff.
I would have thought that awarding the Medal of Honor was a big enough deal that a President would remember each one presented, and particularly remember the first one. SFC Monti received the first Medal of Honor that President Obama presented. One would expect to remember that in composing a speech to the troops; but perhaps the speech writers didn't look into the facts. Even so even if the teleprompter got it wrong, one would expect the President to remember the name of his first Medal of Honor recipient.
I am trying not to be unfair here. I used to have an excellent memory, but lately it's full of holes. On the other hand, Obama is a bit younger than me. And I never had the honor to present a Medal of Honor to anyone. I am sure that if I did I would remember that for the rest of my life.
June 25, 2011
Well, moving weekend. My old ISP, which was operated by Greg Lincoln and Brian Bilbrey, is closing down. We're moving to a different location, and this is the weekend for most of the moves.
As a consequence we will be changing formats here. View and Mail will remain, but just how they look and how they work will change. It will be a WordPress operation, and a lot of the peculiarities of this place will vanish. All the old stuff here will be accessible, unchanged, but what's coming will be different and is changeable. Changeable in part because I don't really know what it's going to look like myself. I will be mucking about with this and we'll get it do that we all like it, but it may take some doing. Stick with me, please.
It doesn't help that I haven't felt worse since radiation therapy, and my understanding isn't in good shape. I can promise a bunch of glitches. Once again, stick with me, please. We'll get there.
Now I have to go try to create some of the new pages. This may be the last of the old View that you will see.
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 COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 5,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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