Archive for June, 2008

Predicted … observed

Monday, June 30th, 2008

In 1988 the warmists issued their first prophecy of doom. Repent of your sins against Gaia, abandon the industrial civilization that allows us to feed far too many people, or the wrath of Gaia will manifest in massive global warming, with the wrath setting in around the year 2000.

The Blackboard checks on how that prediction went

In 2001 they issued a new prophecy of doom, this time with the wrath of Gaia setting in rather more slowly. When the warmists tell you that observed climate change is occurring in accord their revelations, what they actually mean is that they are adjusting their revelations to accord with observations.

Solution to the energy crisis

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

tells it how it is: This crisis was caused by politicians. He tells how
to reduce fuel costs in the short run, and the long run. “you want
energy now” he tells us. And then he tells us how to get it.

How do we solve the energy crisis? Answer. Let businessmen extract oil. Drill here. Drill now. Pay less.

Court appointed lawyers

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Texas Child Protective Services wishes to “protect” Teresa Jeffs from being sexually abused – which “protection” has a curious resemblance to charging her with practicing polygamy while white.

The courts have appointed Natalie Malonis to supposedly represent her and two other polygamist “children”, which lawyer has been conducting trial by media against her supposed client:

“I believe that [Teresa Jeffs] was avoiding service because of coercion and improper influence from Willie Jessop.”

“There is no question I am absolutely looking out for her, … What’s happening is really a shame because people who purport to care about her are really doing her a disservice.”

“I’m trying to help her. It’s really not in any child’s interest to waive their attorney-client privilege. I’m not going to fight with her in the media.”

“And one of the big problems in this case is that the victims really don`t consider themselves victims so they`re not — it`s difficult to help them.”

This kind of public @#$% would be improper even if Malonis was a prosecutor instead of supposedly a defender. If a lawyer’s client starts fighting her in the media, she is not allowed to fight back in the media.

One mode, and it is secure

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Ian Grigg correctly argues that any internet protocol that has an insecure mode can never be made secure, thus if security is introduced as after thought, will never be secure.

Https is exactly such a bolted on afterthought, and to use it one must pay money, and suffer substantial inconvenience. Further, it is a woefully inefficient protocol, so people always try to minimize their use of it to only what is truly necessary, which they are unlikely to ever do correctly. Further, those to whom one must pay money are themselves a point of failure, not a source of security.

Iang attempts, and fails, to make his website conform to the one mode principle. For a blog to implement “the one mode and it is secure” paradigm it must be accessed by https, and accessing it by http should generate an 301 redirect to the https site. The trouble is, that when one reaches the https site, the site has to have a certificate whose root is accepted by the big browsers, typically a Verisign certificate. Such certificates are a pain to get, and a pain to install. And so, no one ever does. Iang has not got a big name certificate in the appropriate name for his web site, so accessing his site correctly generates no end of alarming error dialogs.

Hatred of softly influential groups

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Wherever a group has disproportionate economic or cultural success that does not rest upon political power, does not involve the ability to kill people and break things, does not depend upon hard power, for example Jews, Americans, Indonesian Chinese, Indian Fijians, Indians in Africa, the Ibo in Africa, the same hatred occurs, the same accusations, the same fantasies, the same excessive and disproportionate attention, the same concoction of utterly trivial grievances into supposedly enormous crimes – even if the disproportionately successful group and the less successful group have no previous history, but only encountered each other fairly recently. I observe that we also get such interesting phenomena as self hating members of the successful group – the psychopathologies so characteristic of Jews are also characteristic of other disproportionately successful and correspondingly hated groups.

This phenomenon is the inverse of Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome is that we are apt to love those who control us by fear and murder. Hatred of softly influential minorities, such as anti Americanism and hatred of overseas Chinese in various third world countries, is that we are apt to hate those whose intellectual creativity entertains or inspires us.

Amy Chua, author of the book “World on Fire”, which examines the problem of softly influential groups, under the demonizing and politically correct name “Dominant Minorities”, is a pretty good example of a self hating Filipino Chinese. It would seem that the Chinese sinned by being industrious and successful, and therefore the system that allowed them to succeed is supposedly to blame for bringing repression upon them in the Philippines, and massacre upon them in Indonesia.

There are a great many diverse newly affluent ethnic groups, among them the overseas Chinese of various Asian countries. An ethnic group succeeds, perhaps because of genetic superiority, perhaps because of a culture that encourages education, thrift and hard work, and so people hate that ethnic group – hate Amy’s ethnic group among others. Her analysis of the problem is absolutely accurate and spot on, though of course her implied solution – a political elite that imposes equality on all the non elite – has failed disastrously. She sees, and explains in detail, that her ethnic group is in the same hole as the Jews, and as a great many other similar groups, correctly analyzing the problem that afflicts overseas Chinese and Jews and many other groups as a single problem with many groups and many examples. The flaw in her analysis is the self hating and politically correct phrase “dominant minority”.

The groups she is talking about are not dominant, rather they possess soft power. If Americans wandered around shooting people to force obedience, everyone would love them, but Americans are hated because they persuade people to drink coca cola and watch terminator movies.

Similarly Hitler, a failed artist, was primarily enraged by the influence of Jewish plays and art. When people complain that America rules the world, they really complaining that they watch American movies, and thus people are playing attention to Americans instead of themselves.

The correct description of the problem is “non coercive influence”, and “softly influential group” Non coercive influence, soft power, is what a softly influential group possesses, and it makes that group hated. Dominant minorities are often loved, and are never hated. The problem, rather is hatred of softly influential groups.

I observe that since the surge, since Americans flattened half of Fallujah, we have at last seen large numbers of Arabs clerics, all of them Iraqis, most of them not very far from Fallujah, preaching genuinely moderate Islam, and large numbers of Arab intellectuals, a great many of them Iraqis, arguing for moderate and realistic behavior by Arabs and Arab countries, accurately perceiving the faults of Islam and the Arabs. The American attempts to directly build a state were all miserable failures, and continue to be so, but when the Americans showed persistence in slaying their enemies, there was considerably greater willingness to examine American ideas and beliefs honestly and thoughtfully. Arab intellectuals and clerics changed their position, and we now increasingly hear from Arabs that Arabs have problems because their society has something wrong with it, not because the outsiders are holding them down. Seeing that Americans would fight and not yield made in much easier for Arabs to understand and agree with the Americans, though I think Americans could have made the same point at considerably less cost to themselves.

The critical variable is hard power, and hard power is the costs you can inflict on others. If a softly influential minority exercises sufficient hard power – that is to say, hurts enough people and destroys enough wealth, or demonstrates willingness and ability to do so – irrational hostility diminishes among those people who are potentially vulnerable to being hurt, and the softly influential group becomes able to make its case intellectually, able to win hearts and minds through persuasion and good deeds. The good deeds are only appreciated from people who can and do also do bad deeds.

Not only is the group less hated, but it less apt to hate themselves. Not so very long ago Americans were having orgasms of guilt because a guard at Gitmo tortured a poor helpless terrorist by pissing a short distance upwind of a Koran. Today Americans have flattened half of Fallujah and no one gets indignant.

When Americans knocked down a few dozen houses in Fallujah and killed a few people, there was a big outcry about the Fallujah massacre, just as there was about the Jenin massacre when Jews knocked down a few houses and killed a few people.

But when Americans came back a couple of years later and proceed the flatten half of Fallujah and kill a great big pile of people, not only are Fallujans fine with that, but more importantly, Americans are fine with that. If you google, you will still get five times more hits on Jenin massacre than on Fallujah massacre, and most, probably all of the hits for Fallujah massacre are for much smaller events from long ago where Americans were doing very little damage to people or property. When Americans rolled their sleeves up and really started killing people and breaking things in vast numbers, then there was no more talk of “Fallujah massacre” – not from Arabs, not from Europeans, and not from Americans.

The solution to the problem that Amy so accurately describes is the Fallujah solution, the opposite of the solution she inaccurately prescribes. The answer to irrational hatred is to hurt people and break things. Since the hatred is irrational, crazy, and self destructive, a sufficiently hurtful and destructive response to hatred snaps people out of their madness, and creates an environment where communication and good deeds can work, as is happening in Fallujah and Anbar province.

Of course, that strategy can also lead to holy war, if people incorrectly evaluate other people’s legitimate grievances as irrational, crazy, and self destructive, but what we are seeing in Iraq is the quenching of holy war, with, to my great surprise, a massive outbreak of moderate Islam, We are not seeing any signs of a functional democracy or national unity, which was supposed to be the mechanism that would supposedly produce moderate Islam, but we are seeing moderate Islam despite, or perhaps because of, the severe disfunction of the institutions that were supposed to encourage it.

How much hard power is required? Small doses are counter productive, merely giving people superficially rational excuses for their irrational hatred. Gitmo produced the insane hysteria about torturing a prisoner by pissing upwind of a Koran, making the problem worse, not better. The Fallujah sized dose, however, has had dramatic good effects in Fallujah and noticeable good effect in America, winning the hearts and minds not only of Fallujans, but of Americans.

Bring back the Northern Alliance

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

The US is winning in Iraq, in large part by abandoning or indefinitely postponing the goal of a unitary state, and cultivating the militias, such as “the Sons of Iraq” (who are more like the sons of Arab Shia Iraq) Afghanistan, however, is going down the tubes.

According to Gideon Rachman

  1. Our current strategy isn’t working
  2. There are no real alternative strategies
  3. We cannot afford to lose.

There is of course an obvious alternative strategy:

The Northern Alliance took care of the Taliban just fine.

Bring back the warlords, the local militias, the armed congregations with serious theological disagreements with Al Quaeda and the Taliban. Fund them, arm them, give them ground to air missiles. Hang the democratically elected Kabul government from the nearest trees. They hate us and we should hate them. A bit over fifty percent of the voters in Afghanistan hate us, probably near sixty percent. Arm the guys that don’t hate us, and give them air support.

The Taliban is winning not only because it receives military support from Pakistan and the Pakistani armed forces, but because it receives covert support from some elements of the elected government that it is at war with. Bush famously said “If you are not with us, you are against us” but many people are doing very well standing on both sides at once.

A better ID card

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Digital Identity Forum has a better solution for ID.

Instead of an ID card that tells any purported authority everything about you, an ID smart card that verifies what authority the authority actually possesses, and reveals the minimum information that that authority is authorized to know, for example that you are over 18, to be read by cell phone with nfc cardreader.

Roots of the energy crisis

Monday, June 16th, 2008

The energy crisis happened because of optimistic projections – that gas to liquid and coal to liquid would not be needed until the technology had been improved and the cost brought down, that the dramatic growth in China and India could be accommodated by rapidly expanding conventional oil production.

The political elite, unable to introduce a carbon tax because it would directly and visibly hurt people, proceeded to block coal and oil developments, thus invisibly and directly hurting people. The plan to develop America’s vast shale oil reserves was shot down a few weeks ago by the Democrats. At the same time, various oil states suffered partial, and in the case of Nigeria, near total collapse, making it difficult to extract oil without employing old fashioned imperial methods which are politically unthinkable in this day and age.

I wish I could end this by saying “so the solution is…”. But there just is not a solution. Energy is best produced in big, large scale projects. In a world of insecure property rights, where corporations are unpopular and disarmed, big projects are no longer feasible. The general world trend is any big project is going to be unworkable without a correspondingly big bunch of guys with guns who have the right, and feel they have the right, to do what it takes to protect that project. As I have said before, underground coal gasification followed by gas to liquids conversion is the technological solution, but that technological solution requires a political solution, and that political solution is nowhere on the horizon.

I wish I could end this by saying “so the solution is…”. But there just is not a solution. Energy is best produced in big, large scale projects. In a world of insecure property rights, where corporations are unpopular and disarmed, big projects are no longer feasible. The general world trend is any big project is going to be unworkable without a correspondingly big bunch of guys with guns who have the right, and feel they have the right, to do what it takes to protect that project. As I have said before, underground coal gasification followed by gas to liquids conversion is the technological solution, but that technological solution requires a political solution, and that political solution is nowhere on the horizon.

Rational Oil Prices

Friday, June 13th, 2008

It seems that Arnold Kling has been in Afghan cave during the past six months. He does not seem to think that there has been any bad news on oil supply over the last six months.

The recent run-up in oil prices represents a similar puzzle. I think that it’s difficult to tell a story for the rise in crude prices for the last six months that is based on the rational digestion of news. Either six months ago folks were overly optimistic about long-term supply and demand conditions or now they are overly pessimistic about those conditions. I don’t think that what changed in the last six months was the ews about supply and demand.

I have been watching the news, and over the past few months it has been quite horrifying, particular with the Democrats and both major party presidential candidates shooting down Shell’s plan to develop shale oil, which pretty much guarantees extraordinarily high oil prices for at least the next two decades. Indeed, the political majority in most of the developed world seem to intend to block all carbon extraction.

There can be no peace with dar al Islam

Monday, June 9th, 2008

There can be no peace with dar al-Islam.  In the long run, dar al-Harb must conquer or be conquered – and if dar al-Islam is to be the conquered, the conquered have to be colonized and displaced, as in the early days of Algeria and Israel.

The problem, the reason there can never be peace, is lucidly explained by Dhimmi Watch