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Thanksgiving and randomness

I currently have no plans for Thanksgiving.


Mbeki still denies HIV

Nice description of homeopathy and placebos.

Village of idiots analogy of the cell and genome.

I may not be a Ron Paul supporter, but I don't see the point of raiding these people issuing coins in his name.

Dinesh d'Souza vs. Mark Twain (atheism)

If you've heard of that "surfer dude" physics thing, the first few comments here have a couple of links to cautious descriptions. In short: symmetry groups have had a big role in particle physics, but seemed to run out of steam when it came to gravity; the guy found a big complicated group which seems to help. Whether that's genuine or because the group's so big it can fit anything if you look is unclear, especially as no calculations have been done yet, if they even can be done. But: not a crank/kook. Also, stop reading New Scientist.

Me babbling about new tropes in science fiction.

Greta Christina on the Jasmine arc on "Angel" and atheism vs. theocracy.
"When the stability and peace of a society is built on the foundation of a false belief, nothing is more important than perpetuating that belief, and stamping out non-belief. A society built on reality and truth and evidence can be questioned... but a society built on a false belief -- or even an unproven and unprovable belief -- has to bolster that belief, or else it will crumble."

Which reminds me: in Juuni Kokki, the moment when Youko confronts and kills (not that that's ever acknowledged, tangential gripe) the monkey scabbard demon (ep 7 of the anime, chapter 44 of the book) is a great moment of atheist morality, boiling down to "I'll be nice and good because I want to be." I think the anime actually brings this to life better than Eugene's translation, proficient though it is.

LA Times has a 1-page PDF on the ineffectiveness of the War on Some Terror. And ginmar notes that al-Sadr, commander of the biggest militia in Iraq, declared a cease-fire on US troops a few months ago, which might have something to do with reductions in violence credited to the surge.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
martianmooncrab
Nov. 20th, 2007 08:17 am (UTC)
if you were in the Portland area you could eat at my place, there is only going to be 3 + cat, and I always cook for 12.
mindstalk
Nov. 20th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Alas, nowhere near Portland.
jordan179
Nov. 20th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
And ginmar notes that al-Sadr, commander of the biggest militia in Iraq, declared a cease-fire on US troops a few months ago, which might have something to do with reductions in violence credited to the surge.

Almost certainly, the reason for this declaration was that an Al Qaeda attack on US troops usually resulted in a very few US troops dead or injured and dozens of Al Qaeda fighters dead, and Al Qaeda is running out of recruits. Note that the cease-fire is only against US troops: Al Qaeda is still cheerfully murdering Iraqi troops and civilians.
mindstalk
Nov. 20th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
AFAICT, al-Sadr, a prominent Shiite, has nothing to do with al-Qaeda, a radical Sunni movement. The Pentagon has even said that al-Sadr has replaced al-Qaeda as the most dangerous 'accelerant' in Iraq. So why did you bring up al-Qaeda?
jordan179
Nov. 20th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
My bad: I read the original post too hastily.

Though the same logic applies to the Shi'ite guerillas as it does to the Al Qaeda ones ... in either case, attacking American troops uses up your own troops to little effect, while one can murder Iraqi civilians and live to fight another day.
mindstalk
Nov. 20th, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC)
That still seems irrelevant to the original point, which was that reductions in violence may be due less to the surge than to decisions on the other side, which themselves might or might not be directly connected to the surge. We're not stopping them; they're waiting for us to go away, or maybe even making decisions independent of what we're doing.
jordan179
Nov. 20th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
That still seems irrelevant to the original point, which was that reductions in violence may be due less to the surge than to decisions on the other side, which themselves might or might not be directly connected to the surge.

Since the insurgents want us out, if they are refraining from attacking our troops, the likeliest reason is that they have learned that attacking our troops results in losses. (In a wargame, our Defense Strengths would be so high that such attacks would lead to too many "Attacker Eliminated" results). The surge put more pressure on them (since it freed up forces from patrol / garrison duty for search-and-destroy missions) and hence exacerbated their manpower problems.

We're not stopping them; they're waiting for us to go away, or maybe even making decisions independent of what we're doing.

What we're doing is deterring them from attacks on our own troops, causing them to either lie low or to seek softer targets. But if they lie low, they lose politically during the period in which they are forced into ineffectuality; if they seek softer targets then they give the lie to their claim of "driving out invaders," and alienate the Iraqi people. In either case, the result is a win for our side.

At least in this phase of the campaign.

The end of the surge would not immediately restore the Bad Guys to full power. For one thing, those Terrorists slain in the surge do not magically spring back to life. For another thing, we are buying time in which Iraq can regain her military power: as Iraq grows stronger, Iraq can take over more and more of the job of defending herself. Eventually, Iraq will be strong enough to defeat those attacking her with her own forces.

This has already begun to happen. Remember how weak, corrupt and ineffective the Iraqi Army and police forces were right after the 2005 elections? In just two years, both armed and police forces have made major recoveries. In another year or two, they may well be strong enough to defeat anything but a direct Iranian invasion, and in yet another year or two, they may be strong enough to handle even that.

As long as the Democrats don't repeat their South Vietnamese betrayal of 1974-75, a free and democratic Iraq may truly have a future. Isn't that good news?

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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