A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

Other websites that might make you think!

Setting a bookmark to get here

Valid HTML 4.0!

Paying for this website

Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign!

Previous |Next | Home

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday


Monday 27 January 2003

Well, Saturday turned into a bit of a fizzer. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Neither the wind, nor the late cool change arrived. The latter waited until Sunday, but brought us no rain. Saturday saw The Git and Thomas the Computer Whiz Kid stashing the last of the current firewood into the woodshed where it was less likely to catch alight from cinders falling from the sky. We burned around 6 tonnes of firewood over the last year for nearly all of our cooking, space-heating and hot water needs. Having discovered that a fire once every three days keeps us in hot water, likely we will use slightly more gas, about 10kg/year and slightly less firewood, about 5 tonnes/year in future.

Friday, Aurora wanted to install a new pay as you go electricity meter in return for $50 "to save on electricity costs". Various attempts at modelling the changes required The Git to make too many assumptions to be certain of the outcome, so we asked Aurora. They told us that we would have to change our electricity consumption patterns to save money and that's just not an option. The main consumers of electricity in The House of Steel are the electric lights and computers.

By Saturday afternoon, the Valley was filled with smoke once more, this time from a fire at Judbury some ten miles north of us. The temperature and humidity soared, the former coming close to 40C. The Git was too whacked by the conditions to closely monitor the temperature past 35C reached around an hour before noon (sun-time, not daylight savings time). Both The Git and Mrs Git were suffering from a minor case of diarrhoea, something that we rarely ever get, and this added to the misery of the unusually hot, steamy conditions. Mrs Git decided to get (gourmet) fish and chips from the new shop at Franklin for tea, rather than cook.

Sunday saw Mrs Git much improved, but The Git still barely had control of his bowels, so he didn't accompany her, Dennis and Thomas the Computer Whiz Kid on a jaunt to investigate old rubbish sites in the bush nearby. The dumps turned out to be detritus left by forest workers and they found nothing of interest beyond some medicine and beer bottles.

Dennis brought us several books as payment for The Git repairing his ailing computer and installing a much-needed 2GB hard disk:

Dennis also lent us Hunger Signs in Crops by various authors, The National Fertilizer Association (USA) 1949 and two more Terry Pratchett novels!

Thought for the day:

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.

Mark Twain

Current Listening:

Pink Floyd -- Obscured by Clouds


Top

Tuesday 28 January 2003

Puzzles and Mysteries

One

The other day we received an exhortation in the mail from Telstra, our telco to make better use of our telephone: viz call diversion, call waiting etc. There's even a convenient little card with the instructions printed in blue 5pt type on an orange background. Needless to say, The Git scanned and printed it at triple-size so that he could read it. He notes that Mrs Git is now suffering from long sight as well and despite exhortations to do something continues to do nothing. Apart from borrowing large type editions of books from the library when available.

Back to the Telstra tale. The Git decided that since we now spend so much time using our voice line for Internet access, it makes sense to divert calls to that number to our mobile phone. Doing this altered the the dial tone to something more akin to an engaged signal, but dialling out still works and so does the diversion. Removing the diversion generates a message declaring: "This service is not available. Please contact..." The novel dial tone remains and the diversion is disabled. Go figure.

We now leave the diversion on for one huge advantage and one minor disadvantage. The advantage is that the mobile has a much greater range than the portable handset. The disadvantage is that recalling the number of missed calls results in the display of our own telephone number, not that of the originating caller. We can live with that.

There are three puzzles here: why has the dial-tone changed and why do we get voice messages saying the service is unavailable to us? Why won't Mrs Git at least try out some reading glasses in the pharmacy?

Two

Spam Assassin is supposed to make The Git's life easier by flagging spam email. Apparently, Fred Reed's weekly rant, about a third of JPEG attachments and messages from The Oracle (a friend) are spam, but exhortations to make my prick/tits [delete whichever is inapplicable] bigger, watch teenagers get fucked in the arse by barnyard animals, make millions of dollars by doing nothing etc are not. All of the exhortations to make money by doing nothing appear to come from Africans. Pointing this out is racial discrimination. These are Great Mysteries to The Git.

Three

Atmosphere Ocean Coupled Global Climate Models (AOGCMs) are used to predict a dire future for the planet if we don't curb our nasty ways and reduce CO2 production. For some reason, the AOGCMs don't model the behaviour of CO2 -- apparently that's too complex. The CO2 numbers are plugged in from separate models. Every drinker of carbonated beverages knows that CO2 is far more soluble in cold water than warm, yet this critical behaviour is apparently not included in AOGCMs. This is a Great Mystery to The Git.

Four

The Git has asked on several occasions for convincing data regarding the Anthropogenic Global Warming Hypothesis from people working in the field. The responses include:

In the absence of something better than an expert waving a stick painted to look like an oversize, used tampon on the telly, The Git will continue to treat all eleven current explanations for climate change equally and sceptically. Apparently, being unconvinced by waving tampon replicas is "unscientific". Why this is so is a Great Mystery to The Git.

Five

A fundamental tenet of the Green Movement is the concept of ecological balance. Supposedly, humans (hupersons?) have disturbed that ecological balance and left to herself, Nature will repair the damage. In Australia, the aborigines were removed from their role as participants in the ecological balance. That is, their setting fire to the bush at regular intervals was no longer permitted to happen, nor have forest managers for quite some time. This has the effect that when fire occurs now, it is far fiercer and more destructive than under the old regime. The trees are killed, the animals inhabiting the trees are killed and the homes of Australians are destroyed.

Apparently, this return to ecological balance is more satisfactory than when the fires were lower intensity, destroying few trees, wildlife, or homes. Why this is "better" is a Great Mystery to The Git.

Thought for the day:

Clever people seem not to feel the natural pleasure of bewilderment, and are always answering questions when the chief relish of a life is to go on asking them.

Frank Moore Colby

Current Listening:

Moody Blues -- A Question of Balance


Top

Wednesday 29 January 2003

A late post today. The Git slept in for the first time since he don't know when! Funny how that often seems to make you feel more tired than insufficient sleep. The heat and humidity aren't helping. The Git is a cool-climate creature.

-oOo-

Interesting comparison of the Mac and PC on this Mac website:

In pro digital photography, megahertz matters

If RAW photo and Photoshop batch processing are important in your workflow, then speed is what you need

by Rob Galbraith

There are many factors to consider when selecting a computer system for professional digital photography. What combination of factors matters to you will be derived from the needs of your digital workflow: what tasks your computer must perform, what applications and peripherals will best do those tasks and whether you must maximize efficiency, image quality or find a particular balance of both. As a freelance photographer, and a trainer of other photographers, the requirements of my digital workflow are continually subject to change. As a photographer who shoots mostly RAW format photos, however, one workflow requirement always remains the same: I need speed. The processing of RAW photos is the most arduous and time-consuming task my computer has to perform. It also represents a significant bottleneck in any workflow that is trying to push the limits of both efficiency and image quality. In my work, a computer that can process RAW photos quickly is essential.

And that's what this report is about: RAW photo processing speed. Six different RAW processing applications, crunching files from 8 different digital SLR cameras, have been put through their paces on 4 different computers: two Macs running OS X 10.2.3, and two PC's running Windows XP Professional.

...

What's there to say but the obvious: The fastest dual processor Mac has been soundly thumped by one of the fastest single processor PCs. If this report had included a dual processor PC, the PC's margin of victory could have been even greater (at least in the multitasking tests, and for other PC software that may be optimized for multiple processors). Even the Dell, a modestly equipped desktop by current standards, matches or bests the dual 1.25GHz desktop Mac in numerous benchmarks. And the recently discontinued Powerbook G4/800 trails by a significant margin throughout.

Full story.

Don't miss out on the long, interesting and almost flame-free discussion following. It's curious that the Mac still won't allow opening more than one file at a time and still expects the operator to manage memory allocation. 

The Git has made no secret of lusting after a Mac recently, but the cost of the slowest G4 with a very modest video card and 256 MB of RAM plus software wouldn't leave much change out of $A10,000. That price puts it well outside of The Git's bank balance. He already has all the PC software he needs and $A10,000 would buy a superb machine with SCSI, a 5Mpx digital camera and a 22" Mitsubishi monitor.

-oOo-

Found in my inbox:

So - the business needs a computer.

I do my checking around, and figure I'm getting the best bang-for-buck and least headache with a new Dell. I spec it out nice -- 2.8Ghz, 1GB RAM, 120GB HD, 64MB Video card, XP Pro, Firewire & CD/DVD burner -- just under $3K.

So -- machine (finally!!! - nearly a month after I ordered it!!) comes, and I get it out and set it up -- she *smokes* -- awesome quick machine...

Anyway -- I do some poking around, and Device Manager says "Processors" - hmmm... Yep - sure enough, there's 2 of them listed... Fire up task manager, and there's 2 graphs up there... I double checked my packing slip and my order, and no, I didn't order 2 processors, and Dell doesn't think they shipped 2 processors... An XP screw-up? I open the case... Nope -- XP's right, and Dell is wrong -- this box has *2* 2.8Ghz processors in it..!

So today I call Dell to point out their error... I'm expecting to have wasted several hours of setup time and they're going to want the box, or at least the 2nd processor back...

They tell me that since I was so patient, and since the cost of getting the processor back (which they then can't sell as new anymore) was enough time and money on their part, that I was welcome to enjoy my 2nd processor compliments of Dell... Of course, it took me near 3 hours on the phone and in hold queues to find someone who would make that (or any!) decision on what to do...

Thought for the day:

Whether he admits it or not, a man has been brought up to look at money as a sign of his virility, a symbol of his power, a bigger phallic symbol than a Porsche.

Victoria Billings

Current Listening:

Loudon Wainwright III -- Unrequited


Top

Thursday 30 January 2003

The Git woke up in a sweat this morning. Partially, that was due to it being very warm and humid, but he was also reliving a nightmare. Some years ago, he worked for a computer training and consultancy company. The Git was asked to take over the development of a database part of the way through when an employee left for greener pastures. The names have been changed to protect the innocent/guilty [delete whichever is inapplicable].

The Git rolled up to the XYZ Corporation and was briefed by the extremely attractive young lady in charge of the project -- he's a sucker for good looks and an Irish accent! The documentation consisted solely of a specification for what the database was intended to do, couched in the jargon of the department. It was a FileMaker Pro database running on a Macintosh network, with FileMaker Pro Server at the server. The Git was only familiar with his own FMPro databases and not at all with the server product, so he borrowed the documentation for later perusal.

For whatever reason, the reports were printed to pre-printed forms, and since the reports were not yet laid out to print the appropriate information in the correct parts of the forms, he set to on that task. The Git has only had intermittent contact with Macs and almost immediately became frustrated by the lack of the right-click context menus he was used to in FMPro for Windows. As well, he discovered he couldn't highlight all of the related databases at once to open them. Each file had to be opened separately. Finally, when printing, a glacially slow process, he was unable to switch back to the application and continue working.

Back at home base, The Git dusted off the ancient Macintosh he presumed his predecessor on the project had been using, but FileMaker Pro was nowhere to be found on it. Nor would FileMaker Pro install on the machine -- the hard disk was too full. He went through the client files in an attempt to find documentation of the project, but all that he could find was the record of billable hours. The Git fired off an email to the ex-employee: "Where are the documents, copies of the files etc?"

Over the next week, when The Git had a spare hour, or so, he popped down to XYZ and started to come to grips with what the database was actually doing. Then one day, he arrived to find mayhem. Someone had updated the antivirus software on the server, crashing it while all the database files were open. Every single database file was corrupt and refused to open! "Ah well," said The Git, "let's just restore the backup". After a prolonged search, a single set of floppy disks was found in a desk drawer with the preceding non-relational version of the database on them! Time to call in tech support. "Oh, we don't support Macs!" said tech support. "We told them that if they wanted Macs, they would have to do their own support."

The Git carefully explained about backing up to the pretty girl with the Irish accent. It was something that she was apparently unfamiliar with. The Git placed particular emphasis on the need to back up prior to installing new software on the server and to maintain a series of backups, some off-site. "Oh, but the software wasn't new, it was an upgrade, silly!" Oh boy! The Git copied the corrupt files to floppies and took them home to see what could be done. Opening the files with a bin-hex editor and careful comparison with openable FileMaker Pro files enabled The Git to repair them sufficiently to open them, a tedious task. Unfortunately, all the relational links were borked, but he set to as best he could considering how little time he had spent with the database to properly learn how it ticked.

The Git returned to XYZ Company with the partially repaired database and copied the files to the server. He asked for them to carefully document what needed to be done to finish the repairs and left. Some hours later, he received a hysterical phone call: "You've mixed up all the old database files with the new ones! It's a complete mess!" The Git explained that given that they hadn't backed up their own files and The Git had done what he could without adequate documentation, what could they expect? Needless to say, this went down like a lead balloon.

It would be nice to be able to say there was a happy resolution to this fiasco, but he left the employer very shortly after that. The XYZ incident was one of the straws that broke this camel's back. The predecessor on this project, by the way, hadn't kept any backup copies of the files as he'd worked on them. Why? "Because unlike PCs, Macintoshes are reliable and don't need backing up!"

All of which reminds The Git that he'd better make another backup today. Unlike his predecessor in today's tale, he is not a Computer Science Graduate!

Thought for the day:

Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Current Listening:

Dory Previn -- Children of Coincidence and Harpo Marx


Top

Friday 31 January 2003

Twenty one years ago today, The Git and Mrs Git moved on to the farm in the Huon Valley. There was a drought back then, locally more severe than the one we are in now. Yesterday, it rained and more is predicted for today. Twenty one years ago, The Git seems to remember waiting until March for the first worthwhile rain. Snow flurries are predicted above 1200m for today as well. Tasmania's weather can only be said to be variable.

-oOo-

Allan Moult wrote:

> Don't miss out on the long, interesting and almost flame-free discussion following.

Us Mac users are gentlemen and women ;-)

Read this when it first came out and have to accept the facts. Apple is caught between Motorola and IBM chips at the moment and it looks like IBM has something dramatic up its sleeve for later this year.

>It's curious that the Mac still won't allow opening more than one file at a time and still expects the operator to manage memory allocation. 

Bullshit, I often have 20-30 tifs, jpegs, text files, etc open at a time.

And, with OSX memory allocation is automatic. For example, as of this moment in time I have 22 programs open. I'm running a G4 500 with 1.37Gb RAM [the RAM came direct from the USA and !Gb was under $A350 at the time]. Check out ramseeker.com > > The Git has made no secret of lusting after a Mac recently, but the cost of the slowest G4 with a very modest video card and 256 MB of RAM plus software wouldn't leave much change out of $A10,000. That price puts it well outside of The Git's bank balance. he already has all the PC software he needs and $A10,000 would buy a superb machine with SCSI, a 5Mpx digital camera and a 22" Mitsubishi monitor.

And do yourself a favour go visit http://www.apple.com.au and see what was released yesterday. Mindblowing good value.

I am lusting after the new 20" screen.

cheers

Allan ;->

Allan wrote: "Bullshit, I often have 20-30 tifs, jpegs, text files, etc open at a time."

You mistook my meaning. On the PC, I click the first file I want open and control-click (or shift-click if it's a contiguous range) the rest I want to open, then click the Open button. Last time I tried that on a Mac, it wouldn't let me :-(

Nice to know that OSX allows automatic memory management. Nobody corrected that allegation in the forum I was reading yesterday and I must have missed it in the reviews of OSX.

I checked apple.com.au yesterday for prices. The software is the real killer, though no doubt I could do that piecemeal. Also, I'm hopeful that I'll be eligible for some sort of student discount when I get my student card RSN.

Allan replied regarding the multiple file open: "You can with OS X in most programs," and "There are major discounts for the educational market, and I'm sure I know some folks who would pass on some demo ware." Now that's nice to know :-)

And from Robert Morgan:

>From Slashdot, <http://apple.slashdot.org/apple/03/01/30/0355243.shtml?tid=152>, "This calls into question the relevance of the the hotly debated article ... "

At any rate, I couldn't care less about whether a Mac is faster than a PC. I use both. I have an ibook, 600mhz & airport, which makes a wonderful email, web, music, dvd, and photo album machine. It runs twice as long as my Dell laptop on batteries, has twice the wireless range, doesn't get hot, and OS X is a superb OS with a gorgeous screen.

Now if only I could get it out of my wife's hands. Only myself to blame for that one I'm afraid; I shouldn't have let her see it!

Cheers - Robert

Heh... maybe Rob's article had the desired effect of some getting the software optimised for the job :-)

I note that in the ensuing discussion, it was pointed out that the PC software wasn't optimised either :-/

Your point about speed and heat is well-taken. I'm not unhappy with the speed of my 700MHz AMD. Thomas the wunderkind is finding the sound of the fan on his faster AMD cpu annoying. If, as my ex-friend told me the heat of my AMD is excessive (~50W) how excessive is 100W+ for recent P4s?

Apart from the financial aspect, I really can't think of any compelling reason for making my next machine a PC. We already have five PCs in regular use!

Thought for the day:

There is no such thing as absolute value in this world. You can only estimate what a thing is worth to you.

Charles Dudley Warner

Current Listening:

Steely Dan -- Countdown to Ecstasy


Top

Saturday 1 February 2003

Interesting paper published by The Royal Society:

The influence of land-use change and landscape dynamics on the climate system: relevance to climate-change policy beyond the radiative effect of greenhouse gases

By Roger A. Pielke Sr, Gregg Marl and, Richard A. Betts, Thomas N. Chase, Joseph L. Eastman, John O. Niles, Devdutta S. Niyogi and Steven W. Running

Our paper documents that land-use change impacts regional and global climate through the surface-energy budget, as well as through the carbon cycle. The surface-energy budget effects may be more important than the carbon-cycle effects. However, land-use impacts on climate cannot be adequately quanti. ed with the usual metric of "global warming potential". A new metric is needed to quantify the human disturbance of the Earth's surface-energy budget. This "regional climate change potential" could offer a new metric for developing a more inclusive climate protocol. This concept would also implicitly provide a mechanism to monitor potential local-scale environmental changes that could influence biodiversity.

...

The global radiative forcing by surface albedo change may be comparable with that due to anthropogenic aerosols, solar variation and several of the greenhouse gases. Moreover, in regions of intensive human-caused land-use change such as North America, Europe and southeast Asia, the local radiative-forcing change caused by surface albedo may actually be greater than that due to all the well-mixed anthropogenic greenhouse gases together (IPCC 2001).

...

Remote changes in different locations may be of opposing sign, so spatial averaging may under represent the true global significance of the land-use effects. These aspects of human influence on climate are not currently accounted for under the Kyoto Protocol. One reason for this may be the difficulty in objectively comparing the effects of different local land-surface changes with each other and with the effects of changing atmospheric composition. However, the neglect of land-use effects will lead to inaccurate quantification of contributions to climate change, with the danger that some actions may give unintended and counterproductive results. It is therefore important that possible metrics for land-use effects are explored.

Full story

Several points in this interesting paper are similar to ones The Git has made before: mainly that going off half-cocked (that is Kyoto) may produce unintended and unwanted consequences and that climate is clearly under the influence of many things apart from CO2. Climatology is in such an infant state that we must not be surprised by papers such as this one. Might it not make more sense to worry less about anthropogenic CO2 than coming up with strategies to convert more carbon into humus and trees, both known to be highly beneficial to the planet's life-support systems?

-oOo-

Readership of these pages are up 20% on last month, presumably mostly new readers rather than existing ones visiting more frequently. Welcome and don't hesitate to criticise any of The Git's ideas! The interesting things learnt come far more often from those who disagree than from those who agree.

-oOo-

Some time ago, The Git was invited to join a Yahoo Group devoted to sharing home-saved heirloom seeds. Unfortunately, Yahoo Group membership entails a penalty -- huge amounts of spam! If any of that Group are readers, or in contact with them, The Git's failure to save seed last season due to The Great Rabbit Plague has been rectified. He has successfully raised crops of Molly's peas and Windsor beans this year and is happy to send small quantities anywhere it's legal to do so.

Molly's peas are a mange-tout -- one eats the fleshy pods when the peas are at a similar stage as ordinary peas. They are not as sweet as the more modern sugar-snap varieties. Windsor beans are a variety of broad bean (fava bean) that is less prolific than more modern varieties, but the beans stay tender longer and The Git prefers the flavour.

-oOo-

The Git rarely has time to read much in the way of others' Blogs, but an Internet friend made through a List we both are members of has recently started one. Kelly has a talent for telling a wickedly witty story from time to time and hopefully these will appear in his Blog from time to time. Pity about his "taste" in colour schemes ;-)

Here's a limerick he wrote today:

A poet by trade was our Sturm 
He wrote odes to the almighty sperm 
When his wit was untied 
All the women, they cried 
And the men, in their seats, they did squirm.

Thought for the day:

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the centre.

Kurt Vonnegut

Current Listening:

Yes -- Close to the Edge


Top

Sunday 2 February 2003

Found in my Inbox:

A War Crime or an Act of War?

By STEPHEN C. PELLETIERE

ECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, used his State of the Union address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion: "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured."

The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq's "gassing its own people," specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein.

But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent -- that is, a cyanide-based gas -- which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

These facts have long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned. A much-discussed article in The New Yorker last March did not make reference to the Defense Intelligence Agency report or consider that Iranian gas might have killed the Kurds. On the rare occasions the report is brought up, there is usually speculation, with no proof, that it was skewed out of American political favoritism toward Iraq in its war against Iran.

I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq, but Halabja is not one of them.

In fact, those who really feel that the disaster at Halabja has bearing on today might want to consider a different question: Why was Iran so keen on taking the town? A closer look may shed light on America's impetus to invade Iraq.

We are constantly reminded that Iraq has perhaps the world's largest reserves of oil. But in a regional and perhaps even geopolitical sense, it may be more important that Iraq has the most extensive river system in the Middle East. In addition to the Tigris and Euphrates, there are the Greater Zab and Lesser Zab rivers in the north of the country. Iraq was covered with irrigation works by the sixth century A.D., and was a granary for the region.

Before the Persian Gulf war, Iraq had built an impressive system of dams and river control projects, the largest being the Darbandikhan dam in the Kurdish area. And it was this dam the Iranians were aiming to take control of when they seized Halabja. In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.

Thus America could alter the destiny of the Middle East in a way that probably could not be challenged for decades -- not solely by controlling Iraq's oil, but by controlling its water. Even if America didn't occupy the country, once Mr. Hussein's Baath Party is driven from power, many lucrative opportunities would open up for American companies.

All that is needed to get us into war is one clear reason for acting, one that would be generally persuasive. But efforts to link the Iraqis directly to Osama bin Laden have proved inconclusive. Assertions that Iraq threatens its neighbors have also failed to create much resolve; in its present debilitated condition -- thanks to United Nations sanctions -- Iraq's conventional forces threaten no one.

Perhaps the strongest argument left for taking us to war quickly is that Saddam Hussein has committed human rights atrocities against his people. And the most dramatic case are the accusations about Halabja.

Before we go to war over Halabja, the administration owes the American people the full facts. And if it has other examples of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds, it must show that they were not pro-Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who died fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Until Washington gives us proof of Saddam Hussein's supposed atrocities, why are we picking on Iraq on human rights grounds, particularly when there are so many other repressive regimes Washington supports?

Stephen C. Pelletiere is author of "Iraq and the International Oil System: Why America Went to War in the Persian Gulf."

-oOo-

In response to a query, The Git looked up what the IPCC had to say regarding the impact of land-use changes on climate:

Interactions between land, vegetation, and the atmosphere have been studied extensively in deforestation and desertification model experiments (Charney et al., 1977; Bonan et al., 1992; Zhang et al., 1996; Hahmann and Dickinson, 1997). Changes in surface characteristics such as snow/ice and surface albedo and surface roughness length modify energy, water, and gas fluxes and affect atmospheric dynamics. These interactions occur at various scales (Hayden, 1998), but although their importance is well appreciated (Eltahir and Gong, 1996; Manzi and Planton, 1996; Lean and Rowntree, 1997; Zeng, 1998) they still generally are ignored in scenario development. [emphasis mine]

In other words IPCC is far more concerned with CO2 scare mongering than climate change per se. Makes you think.

Thought for the day:

You don't want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel.

Richard Bach

Current Listening:

Nilsson -- ...That's The Way It Is


Home | Previous | Next | Old Ephemerides |Site Map|Top

Bookmarking these pages

www.sturmsoft.com/Writing/current.htm Use this, or the home page when suggesting people visit this site. This is where I put important notices as I feel they are needed.
www.sturmsoft.com/Writing/diatribe.htm Like the old redirector but with no delay. This is for regular readers of The Daily Diatribe.

Check out: 

Franklin & Friends, a website devoted to the village where the author lives: its culture, inhabitants, and more.

The DayNotes Gang for more daily musings on Life, the Universe and Things Computerish.

Jonathan Sturm 2003

Depth} j=navigator.javaEnabled()

Jonathan Sturm 2003