Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Ah how I love Lileks. He's in a dispute with his construction company. Now someone's placed a lien on his house.
I relish this; I really do. At least everythingís out in the open now. Have my phone calls been returned? They have not. Have I been given an explanation as to why the construction company thinks Iím liable for the bill? Apparently they think the charge was too high, but it appears Ė get this Ė they didnít get a bid. And now Iím expected to pay for their half-assery. As for the company that issued the lien: drop on by and let me show you how half the work you did doesnít seem to work at all. Oh, itís win-win all around.My kinda guy.
It is unwise to pick a fight with a guy who works at home, because he always knows when the workmen donít show up, and what they donít do. And he has lots of time to call you. Or he can go to the store and call you from a payphone, so the name doesnít come up on Caller ID.
If I get satisfaction here, which is highly unlikely, you will not see the website in which the entire process is detailed in case anyone wants to google this fellow or his company. Thatís always been my nuclear option, and letís just say the crewís oiling the silo doors.
On a related note. I've still not received the item I ordered from Lighterside.com 3 WEEKS before Christmas. The entirety of my communication with them has been a postcard in the middle of January informing me that the item I had ordered was backordered and if I'd like to cancel my order to return the postcard. According to the postcard the item was supposed to ship at the end of January. It's now a week into February. No emails. Just one postcard 5 WEEKS after I placed the order. Still no lamp. Worst service ever.
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Hmmmm. I'm thinking. I'm thinking. I'm thinking. Perhaps this is what it will take to kickstart a lovely unifying trend of patriotic energy conservation. Ok, so we're gonna smother Iran. We'll need a national energy efficiency initiative on the scale of the victory gardens/ scrap drives/ rationing boards of WWII.
We wouldn't need to do rationing per se. It'd be too complicated to actually mandate anything, but we could certainly make public recommendations. We could simply start calculating and formulating info on optimal energy consumption. Like we already do with new appliances and cars.
We already pay for public service announcements advocating everything under the sun. Surely we could run a 'turn off the lights,' or 'change your filter,' or 'carpool,' or any of hundreds of other bits of penny-saving advice that many people blow off because they don't care about the monetary difference. Pitch the idea as a patriotic, 'starve the fascists,' type program however...
We build spacecraft in our garages as a hobby. The american people can find a solution to this problem if properly motivated. Eventually events will motivate the masses one way or the other. Wise leaders would create a channel for that energy before the deluge following the outrage of the moment.
It'd make the isolationist Pat Buchanan types happy because it'd be a move toward self-sufficiency. It'd make the environmentalists happy for obvious reasons. It'd make automakers happy because it'd boost visibility and demand for flexible fuel type cars beyond fleets. (A flexible fuel engine is about 100 times more practical than a hybrid.) It'd make hawks happy because it'd offer an intermediate level of force in the conflict with Iran. Economic force is better than military force any day of the week, but only if the side using it is unified and dedicated. But most importantly it'd give people something to do and a way to participate in this struggle, which is a key element of homefront morale and the absence thus far is evident.
(Of course there is always a risk. We cut imperial Japan off the oil. We got Pearl Harbor. They got Hiroshima. This is the highest stakes game anyone ever plays.)
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As if movies like Saw II and Cheaper by the Dozen II weren't enough... As if turning on the radio weren't enough... If you needed documentary evidence that the entertainment industry has run bone dry, look no further.
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As I said, reasonable decent people practice their religion in reasonable decent ways. The problem now, that no one has gotten around to addressing yet, is what to do when a substantial minority or even a majority of a group turn vicious. Let's be charitable and say that only 30% of Germany supported the Nazis. Now what?
If more of Germany supported them, then you're dealing with a huge problem. What do you do with such huge numbers of people who support evil? If a smaller proportion of the german people supported the Nazis, then you're still dealing with a huge problem. Less than 30% of a population led an entire continent down the path of millions of deaths. Which prospect is worse? Which prospect are we dealing with now?
I'm sure it sucked beyond the telling of it to be a happy german farm boy, loving germany and being german. Loving your life, and suddenly have huge chunks of your identity wrapped up in the ideology that's flattering you while invading Poland and killing people. I'm sure it sucked beyond belief to be a happy nationalistic person in Japan, secure in the order of the world and your place within it, and suddenly have to live the rest of your life in the knowledge that the barbarians beat you hollow and only allowed you to live out of mercy. But it had to happen. Those toxic chauvanistic ideas had to be discredited for all time.
It won't be at all comfortable for the muslim world to go through such a thorough defeat, but at this point it's looking pretty inevitable. If we cannot have peace any other way we will obtain it through superior firepower. There's a latin inscription frequently seen on military medals: Armis Exposcere Pacem. It means 'they demanded peace through force of arms.' There's another quote about an 18th century British military leader who subjugated Scotland: 'He created a desert and called it peace.'
We are the most reluctant military superpower ever to grace the face of this rock, but when forced to it, we will drop nuclear weapons- the first and the only country to do so. We've had that power for over 50 years and we've only used it once, to defeat a philosophically implacable enemy. We are not evil. We chose that path in a cold-blooded calculation of time money and lives necessary to secure victory. We chose to take a smaller number of their lives (and only their lives,) in two instants, than we would take conventionally in weeks or months seuring the same victory. And it ended the war. We were tired, and failure was not an option.
We have the power to end this conflict in a day at any time we choose.
Ask yourself as a rational being if you would choose to use one of a dozen or so nuclear or dirty weapons against such a foe? No rational person would. But a very substantial number of people are followers unto death of individuals who are not rational.
I often wonder if a resident of Dresden would have chosen to risk a beating or stabbing in the street facing off with brown-shirt thugs if they had known what the later alternative was. Police yourselves, or the world will be forced to do it for you, and it will not be gentle. Yeah it sucks to be caught in the crossfire between your neighborhood gang and the police. Better, though scary and dangerous, to get the gang out of your neighborhood yourselves. As the people of Iraq have learned very quickly.
NO ONE should want america to take the gloves off. Each time we fight, we get more efficient and more benevolently ruthless. It may be less than a decade before we can have unmanned drones armed with directed energy weapons. At that point, an immam preaching death to America in Damascus, Aman, Riyadh, or Cairo, could be instantaneously turned into a pile of smoking ash, from Virginia. Not long after that, we'll be able to do it from space. At that point, with the power of Zeus in our arsenal, we'll be able to literally delete those who displease us. Yeah, it's scary as hell to us too, but it's technologically ineveitable.
It's also possible that we'll have pooped a new energy source out of the great american creativity machine, which runs on the fuel known as the First Amendment. (That prospect alone should be keeping a lot of petro-dictatorships awake at night. Which is pehaps distantly related the current crisis. If they don't have oil to sell, what do those countries produce? Scary situation for rulers, especially if there's anything to the whole peak oil theory, which they'd be the only ones in a position to know.) It's yet more possible that illegal immigration and/or epidemic prevention will have sealed our borders tighter than East Germany within the next decade. So why would anyone other than those confident and eager for their own martyrdom continue to provoke the west this way?
Or in other words: Hitler was a madman. Yet millions followed him even into death. The 'leaders' of 'the muslim/arab world' are mostly madmen. Yet it doesn't matter, millions follow them. So now what? Mutually assured destruction only works with rational actors. Our enemies are not rational actors. Shall we allow them to become better armed while we ponder the perfect response? We've tried that for a decade. It doesn't appear to be working well.
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Oooh that's a good term: pretext rioting.
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You gotta read this.
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