Saturday, April 10, 2004

For the record

There are a lot of people who want to say that money spent on the US space program is wasted, that it could better be used here to feed the starving whoevers in wherever.

Even though I'm not a big NASA fan any more, the existence of a space program brings good things to us. The 2004 inductees into the Space Technology Hall of Fame can be found here.

And of course, who could forget Space Food Sticks?

Friday, April 09, 2004

Software bugs and their consequences

Today, I came across this jewel on the continuing investigation of last August's blackout in the Northeast US and Southeast Canada.

This is worth noting for two reasons. First, it's just plain interesting. If you have any curiosity about the world that surrounds you, this is good stuff to read. Second, it's a great example of just how vulnerable our modern/high-tech systems are--not just to Mother Nature or those who would deliberately damage them, but to our own sloppy work.

I hope it makes you think a bit about preparedness. You should be ready for bad times--they're a commin'.

Take 5, guys...

I'm not too sure I like this idea of our troops taking a break during an operation, especially when it will allow the bad guys time to reconstitute, resupply and get their families out of the danger zone.

I can't feel much pity for the residents of Fallujah, even the female and the young. It's their sons, husbands and fathers who are fighting us, at least in large part. Make the family pay some of the price and see what happens.

I'm also not too happy with the reports of the New and Improved Iraqi Army bugging out at the first sign of trouble. I'm not thrilled with how long this is taking. We should be making Shock and Awe look like a Girl Scout picnic.

And what is this business about "meeting between members of the Governing Council, local Muslim leadership and the leadership of anti-coalition forces"? What is Bremer thinking? Is Bremer thinking?

I'm going to keep harping. You can not negotiate with these people. You must make them afraid of us. Make them very afraid. Keep them afraid. Then they will leave us alone. It isn't an easy solution, but it is a simple one.

It's either that, or we have to go the Empire route, and I don't care for that. I'd rather be a citizen of a republic than the subject of an empire.

The position of National Security Advisor

Jerry Pournelle has some interesting thoughts on the position of National Security Advisor and its relationship to the war on terrorists. Pournelle, being Pournelle (hey, that's a Good Thing), he also has some interesting thoughts on the general prosecution of the war and the current and long-term situations in Iraq. Worth your time.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Game over?

The Smallest Minority brings us these thoughts on the courts an whether or not we can rely on them as the guardians of liberty.

I wish I could say I disagree, but I don't.

I've long since come to the conclusion that this country, as envisioned by the founders, is on it's way out. What it will become, I don't know, but I don't think I'm going to like it. In the early days, people like me made their way West when the government or the population simply became too much.

That luxury is gone, and has been for a long time. There is no place on this globe that the intrusive hand of government doesn't reach out to gather us in and take care of us--like it or not. And Man is present everywhere, from pole to pole.

Being a science fiction fan, I have to believe the answer lies UP. If we could get the government out of the space business for just a few years, we would have a chance to get off this rock once and for all. Then people like me would have a safety valve--a place where we could go and make it or not by our own efforts.

Bibliography:
Anything that mentions a "Belter" (as in asteroid belt) culture, especially the works of Robert A. Heinlein and Larry Niven.

Pallas by L. Neil Smith

The High Frontier by Gerald K. O'Neill

There's more, but these and Google will get you started.

What were they thinking?

In the continuing coverage of Operation Vigilant Resolve, Fox News notes:

The California-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force assumed responsibility for Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division on March 24. The Marines said they intended to take a softer approach with Fallujah residents, hoping to win popular support.

But the Marines have quickly found themselves mired in violence. On March 26, Marines and insurgents fought a lengthy street battle in the city that killed one Marine and five Iraqis.


Well duh!

The United States (in all its various components) needs to come to the realization that this is a war unlike any other in our history. We face an enemy who can not be negotiated with. This enemy is one of only two we've faced in our history who isn't only willing to die, but actively seeks to die for their cause. As students of history know, the first was the Japanese in WWII. Old Marines who served in the Pacific can tell you all about what that fight was like. It ended when approximately all the defenders on a given island were killed.

Fighting fanatics is a kind of war that we as a country aren't going to particularly care for. It is a bloody business on both sides. A lot of people will be killed and wounded, and sometimes they won't be combatants. Mistakes will be made in identifying and eliminating the threat. And we'll make most of those mistakes, and it will cause a great amount of uproar both at home and abroad.

We'll also lose a lot of our own soldiers. Each one that dies is a hero and an irreplaceable loss. Each one should and will cause us grief.

However, we will lose far fewer of our soldiers if we give up on this "winning popular support" business. It sounds suspiciously like the "winning hearts and minds" nonsense from Vietnam--and look how well that theory worked out there.

I'm going to keep saying this--the goal can not be to get the terrorists to love us or negotiate a peace with us. The goal must be making them fear us so much that they mark us off their list of potential targets. The goal is to make the respect our resolve and our willingness to use force to defend ourselves. The goal is to make them pay such a high price for any attack that they are unwilling to attack at all.

It could be that this becomes a cockroach killing contest--it isn't over until they're all dead. If necessary, then so be it. The world will be a better place with them gone. If not, then that's fine too, as long as the terrorists learn to leave us alone.

An the sooner we start using the necessary tactics to accomplish this, the sooner our people can come home--and the fewer of them that come home dead.

Finally?

Since I have been p & m'ing for several days on the subject of Retribution in Iraq, I think I need to note Operation Vigilant Resolve has begun.

I'm happy that the military is finally taking some action. I'm not happy with the methodology. Sorry for sounding bloodthirsty, especially when I'm not involved with the fighting (and therefore not at risk), but I think that a stronger message than setting up checkpoints and slowly moving into Fallujah needs to be sent. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. It doesn't matter if the terrorists hate us. We need to make them so afraid of us that they leave us alone, favoring targets that don't hit back.



[Sound of large, prop-driven aircraft passing overhead, then fading into the distance. Cameara pans to follow the sound, ending with a shot of sunrise.]

A young male Arab, AK-47 strapped across his back, picks up a piece of paper that has just fallen from the sky. On it is cartoonish picture of buildings being bombed, along with the following in Arabic and English:

Attention residents of Fallujah:

You have recently attacked, brutally murdered and desecrated the bodies of United States citizens who were working in your city. This is intolerable.

By 8 AM tomorrow morning, you must evacuate your city. US Marine checkpoints currently surrounding Fallujah will pass you out in a quick and orderly manner. Any weapons will be confiscated. Any individuals who can be identified from video of the murders will be detained.

Promptly at 9 AM tomorrow, bombing of Fallujah will commence. At the conclusion of the bombing, all rubble will be cleared. You will not be allowed to return.


The young man wonders if the beard he has grown in the last few days will obscure his face well enough to pass unnoticed.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Uh, guys? The "overwhelming response"?

We're still waiting. But our enemies aren't.

I understand that a military op isn't usually planned in a day. But they can be if the need is great--and I think this one is. The more we are hit, the more troops that die, the more our enemies are emboldened.

This goes for the ones at home as well as overseas.