Saturday, October 29, 2005

the next few months

I'm predicting that over the next few months, the administration will continue to make exactly the same statements and speeches it has in the past. Each of these will be heavily scrutinized to pickup the 'post-indictment' change of tenor. There will be no change in tenor, yet the left and the media will invent changes within it.
The primary reason behind this is the wrongful expectation that when faced with your own faults, you must back down. ie, "Now we're caught them red handed doing something bad, they will be forced to apologize and compromise!"
Such "logic" only prevails for those people who are not guided by their own strong principles, but instead seek to adopt those of others as needed.
What we will see in the future from this administration is exactly what we've seen in the past: a commitment to the democratization of the world, and an unyielding rejection of tyranny.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The legacy of Abu Ghraib

Much like turning Iraq into the battlefront with Al Qaeda could not be a publicly discussed reason for going into Iraq, the legacy of Abu Ghraib is one whose resulting effect upon opinions within the middle east may be better than expected.
Nobody would wish for such actions as were taken during the Abu Ghraib scandal to occur. But at the same time, the manner in which America and the west has dealt with this issue has sent a message to the middle east.
Leaders should apologize to the people for improper actions which are inevitably their responsibility. Scandals such as these have and should be dealt with openly and with transparency. Procedural changes must be undertaken, again with transparency, to ensure such things do not occur again. And punishments should be meted out each accordingly to his or her culpability.
A dictatorship may refuse to acknowledge the issue, or blame it upon international conspiracies. They may also refuse to apologize for the wrongs which have been committed, after all, as unimpeachable leaders, they need not apologize to anybody for anything. A dictatorship, in the unlikely event of acknowledging such a problem, may also not make changes to prevent such occurences in the future.
Of the governing systems available today, the one most likely to prevent a recurrence of such a problem is clearly a democracy.

The message and legacy of Abu Ghraib is: "Look, here is how a real government deals with failures such as this, compare it to how you are being treated now."
For most of the population of the middle east, that's a difficult question to swallow. They ignore it, play it down, lambaste its context, but the question is still there.

The net effect of Abu Ghraib could be positive. This in no way excuses what those soldiers did, or the failure of policy an leadership which contributed to it. It is only an observation of the potential reality of the situation.

Perhaps this concept should remain undiscussed, ie, the crimes committed are so horrible, that the very slim chance of this being interpreted as an 'excuse' is unacceptable. I have not yet concluded whether or not that is the case.

Accusations are enough

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-21T201708Z_01_FOR173008_RTRUKOC_0_US-AFGHAN-USA-BODIES.xml&archived=False
"The U.S. military -- already under fire for the handling of Afghan detainees and desecration of the Koran in Guantanamo Bay, which provoked angry protests in Afghanistan -- has ordered an inquiry into the footage shown on Australian television."

You mean.. the baseless allegations which were retracted by the rag which led with them?
I just have a difficult time believing they printed this.

It shows that allegations, even refuted ones, are sufficient to keep a story going well past its validity, so long as the message is what people want to hear.

Notice this doesn't mention 'discredited allegations', but direct assumption of the truthfulness of already discredited allegations.

Amazing

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's time for some alternatives

One thing we're not getting, is alternatives to the looming disasters like the International Criminal Court and the attempted UN takeover of the internet. We need a new multinational body, operating completely separately. It must have directly elected representatives to handle these kinds of international issues.
Yes.. only democracies are going to be able to play.. but we need to hand over the ICC and the control of the internet to such a body, to resolve conflict between democratic states.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

mastermind or puppet?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5352146,00.html

I'm pretty confident this article offers a mischaracterization of the subject in question's relationship to the Taliban. The heads of the Taliban came from Pakistan and were ethnic pashtuns, generally from the afghani/pakistani border area they've been calling 'warizistan'... (yeah.. sounds like they're ready to create their own country of death). I remember talking to a pretty well informed pakistani lady back in 1998 about the Taliban, and was asking her why Pakistan was supporting them. She said it was considered by most of Pakistan (the more reasonable areas like Lahore) that the Taliban was being expelled from Pakistan. A lot of them were Afghan refugees who'd stayed in Pakistan since the end of soviet occupation... but a great many of them were soviet-occupation era war orphans. So.. Afghani problems... meet Afghanistan... don't let the door hit ya on the way out...

There were a great many people who, like the vichy regime in france, attempted to collaborate with the taliban. That's generally what happens when you are under occupation. If someone steps up, promises that your people wont cause trouble and will pay their 'taxes', they'll have some tendency to leave you alone. Bamiyan province is not part of the pashtun region... they're shia... It's just incredibly unlikely that this guy was anything other than what he says... a puppet head.

We do need to get rid of all the remenants of Al Qaeda, and their harboring cohorts, the taliban... but if we arrested this guy, it would probably be most like the proverbial baby-bathwater thing. Perhaps this guy should be arrested, but he would have to be arrested for collaborating, not calling the shots.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Zimbabwe: who knew a park was dangerous?

It's always entertaining to consider the incredible flights of fantasy people around the world take, with respect to the US.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/14/AR2005101400653.html

"The ambassador must consider himself very lucky that he is dealing with a professional army that the Zimbabwe National Army is," Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba said in a statement published by state media on Friday.

"Elsewhere, and definitely in America, he would have been a dead man. His adventure is really dangerous."

I don't think Zimbabwe understands how america operates. We don't just shoot people who stray into classified areas, and we don't stick classified areas in the middle of public parks.
What caused this?
"During an October 10 recreational visit to National Botanical Gardens in Harare Ambassador Chris Dell inadvertently wandered into a poorly marked military area located in the middle of the of the park,"
Makes you wonder... it was close to Mugabe's home.. but it was still a military area in the middle of a park. Makes ya wonder why it's there.. and why our ambassador chose to go there?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Daily Kos vs. Miers

At it again... when you are afflicted with BDS, there is *always* a rationale for opposing Bush... you just have to stretch for it..
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/10/12/133917/76

They've got it aimed *straight* at their foot right now.... all they have to do is pull the trigger.

Sorry for that... I just don't understand why Bush' reasons for nominating Miers should be held against her in any way shape or form? Don't we want to find out whether she's a reasonable candidate for the position, rather than what's going on in Bush' head?

This is endemic of the left these days, focussing on what's inside Bush' head, his motivations, when they (we) should focus far more on his actions.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Why or why not the UN?

The most crucial problem facing the UN in its quest for 'moral authority', is that true power is only derived from the people a government hopes to govern, not from the agreement of various dictatorships and oligarchies.
True UN reform would involve worldwide representative elections, a constitution, and commitment to building a bureaucracy to run its institutions.
That's not going to happen in the next fifty years, so we might as well accept that since their precious moral authority can only be granted to it thorugh democracy, they will never have it.

The UN is built on the premise of states being equal. That premise is violated in some cases such as the security council, but for the most part, the UN attempts to treat nations as equivalent, whether they are western democracies, Togolese or Zimbabwean dictatorships, or fascist China. But nation states do not have equal rights, democratic nation states do.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Go Boulder!

Colorado University at Boulder (with which I have no affiliation, unfortunately) has been honored with yet another faculty member receiving the nobel prize in physics. I'm guessing the Boulder physics department will now be on the level of MIT, Princeton and Cal Tech in attracting talented faculty.

Dearest De Lay

Many of us have stuck with you, not because we're big fans, but in attribution to the part you played as an aggressive conservative pushing the agenda for discussion forward. No convictions have been made, but the circumstances appear dire.

Whether these charges are true or trumped up, it's time for others to lead. The role of an indictment such as this in politics is a little unclear. Juries, under our system of justice, are expected to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt with the burden of proof placed upon the prosecution.

However politics plays more like roman law, where once charged, you are generally allowed to exonerate yourself. At this point, opinions expecting guilt or innocence are a little immature and preconceived. Unless someone out there knows relevant facts, they might just consider keeping their mind open to the possibility of a trial going either way.

While the posts basically supporting the indictment are probably more bountiful, some opinions are questioning the indictment as being unusually vague.
I hope this trial will be resolved as soon as possible, to limit its damage to an appropriate extent within the political arena.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Using the Green's functions method.

Recently my graduate Electricity and Magnetism course covered Green's functions for solving electrostatics problems. It's an unusual geometric/mathematical approach to solving problems for which physicists would normally go straight to the hard core tools which may make some problems unnecessarily ugly.

Green's functions are not a set of functions, in the way sine, cosine, polynomial, exponential, and Bessel functions are, but rather a method for finding a function which is useful for solving the problem.

The real meat of the method is to take any convenient, geometrically identical problem, and mix it with your real problem. Generally in these problems, you will have the potential at certain positions given to you, and you will want to find the potential at some other arbitrary point.

Solving the Poisson equation directly may be difficult, but Green's reciprocation theorem comes to the rescue. You can take *any* other geometrically identical problem, find whatever you can about the charge and potential distributions anywhere in the analogy problem, and mix it with what you know about the original problem to get the result.
In some ways, this may appear to be a 'free lunch', but really, the lunch was free the whole time, solving the problem in a different way is just paying for your 'free lunch'.

I'm going to post a link to a pdf up here for my review of Green functions eventually.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

GW and history

Who would the BBC pollsters elect to run the world?
Noam Chomsky was selected fourth. Noam Chomsky is known for extremist writings, some of which endorsed the regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia both before and after the mass slaughters. I don't want to tell people specifically what to think of him, but if they search google for the views of his supporters and detractors, they can decide for themselves who's side is more compelling.

I encourage everybody to do so. I also encourage everybody to attempt to read some of his works in order to gain an opinion based on depth of knowledge.

The obvious refutation to this poll is that it was online and not pulled from a random sampling. So ballot stuffing was definitely at play here.

What's probably most entertaining about the BBC's fantasy election, is that GW Bush will likely be recorded in history as being one of the great american leaders alongside Reagan, FDR and Lincoln. I'm not going to comment on whether he deserves such recognition or not. But my case suggesting that he will get it, stems from the observation that history is merely a recording of the 'results' of our experiments. In the case of Clinton, Bush Sr., Carter, and others, nothing was wagered, and nothing was gained or lost. In the case of GW, events beyond his control forced him to make a wager on Afghanistan and Iraq. When the results return, we'll know how he'll stand in history.

There's also an unnatural interest in GW by the left. It's difficult to walk through a book store without seeing a new book on the shelves either for or against GW (though generally against, since the stereo type of the Bush supporter does not involve the necessary skills to *read*). I'll predict right here that this obsession by his detractors will give Lincoln a run for his money as 'most written about' President.

We stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan, and GW's place in history is framed in gold, like it or not. Beware, wishing to deprive GW of such recognition is a dangerous step towards wanting a change in foreign policy for personal reasons, rather than logical. People who want us out of Iraq shouldn't care one iota about GW or how he's perceived anywhere, now or in the future, so as not to mix the two opinions.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Legal Mayhem

First of all, it's somewhat suspicious to me that Miller would choose to go to jail, even after a blanket grant of permission for everybody involved to testify to the grand jury. Couple that with the fact that she was violating the law, and now I'm extremely suspicious. To top it all off, there were rounds of negotiations involved in bringing her our of jail. Why would anything like telling the truth and providing evidence to a grand jury investigation require negotiations? Some claim she was negotiating the scope of her testimony with the special prosecutor.
Does this mean she was actually in jail because she did not want to testify about unrelated events? Is this the proper forum for resolving such disputes? Isn't that the job of the presiding judge, not of negotiating lawyers?
Some things I need to know before calling the case in my own mind:

1) What was the resulting content of Miller's 'negotiations'?
2) Have either Libby or Rove admitted to discussing the covert nature of Wilson's wife's employment with the CIA.
3) How large is the area of conflict between the accounts given by all those involved?
4) Was Plame's employment with or role at the CIA common knowledge within gov't circles?

I've seen all of these questions answered in poor form. Until we all know the truth, pouncing to judgement is a little premature.