Saturday, December 30, 2006

Solar transit of space shuttle and space station

The picture of the space shuttle and space station against the sun in the picture by Theirry Legault here touches some mystical part of me, which was no doubt nourished by too much sci-fi.

The separation between the shuttle and the space station was 200 meters, as per the photographer (or you can estimate it from the photograph and fact that the sun subtends an angle of 0.5°).


Two on Pakistan

Can't find the byline, but whoever wrote the following shows a perception uncommon in the Western press:

Pakistan could become next US nightmare

"Soon after he seized power in 1999 - ahead of being sacked by Sharif - The Economist magazine called Musharraf a "useless dictator". Seven years later, he hangs onto power without having achieved much in the way of reform, largely because the US regards him as key to keeping the Islamists out of power. That is turning out to be another big misconception in Washington."

Here is Tariq Ali, in a piece originally published in the London Review of Books:
The General in his labyrinth.

Two items that struck me:

On the death of one dictator yesterday, this remembrance of another dictator seems apt:

"Pakistan’s first uniformed ruler, General Ayub Khan, a Sandhurst-trained colonial officer, seized power in October 1958 with strong encouragement from both Washington and London. They were fearful that the projected first general election might produce a coalition that would take Pakistan out of security pacts like Seato and towards a non-aligned foreign policy. Ayub banned all political parties, took over opposition newspapers and told the first meeting of his cabinet: ‘As far as you are concerned there is only one embassy that matters in this country: the American Embassy.’ In a radio broadcast to the nation he informed his bewildered ‘fellow countrymen’ that ‘we must understand that democracy cannot work in a hot climate. To have democracy we must have a cold climate like Britain.’"

The second is this:
"In western Afghanistan, it is only the Iranian influence that has preserved a degree of stability. If Ahmedinejad was provoked into withdrawing his support, Karzai would not last more than a week."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Uncertain about Heisenberg

In a comment at Woit's Not Even Wrong, Paul Jackson points to this essay by E. Prugovecki, which is about the less-than-solid foundations - both mathematical and philosophical - of modern physics, in particular, quantum field theory.

There are many things to examine in that essay. However, for now, I look at a quote from Heisenberg that Prugovecki actually uses twice!

Quote 1:

And, in a similar vein, Heisenberg (1971) comments: If predictive power were the only criterion of truth, Ptolomy's astronomy would be no worse than Newton's.

Quote 2:

...but as Heisenberg acerbicly pointed out on one occasion, if predictive power were indeed the only criterion for truth, Ptolemy's astronomy would be no worse than Newton's (Heisenberg, 1971, p. 212).

The reference is : Heisenberg, W.: 1971, Physics and Beyond, Harper and Row, New York

To produce Newton's astronomy, we need his three laws of motion and the law of gravitation. The laws of motion are of great generality and describe non-gravitational phenomena as well (e.g., a lot of today's civil and mechanical engineering is included) Leaving that aside, Newton's laws describe bodies falling at the earth's surface, as well as the motions of planets, and the motions of their satellites. One also finds Newton's laws adequate, e.g., for galactic motions - general relativistic corrections are small. Ptolemy has nothing to say about anything but the planets. Just on predictive power, Newton's astronomy is infinitely superior to Ptolemy's.

So, I disagree with Heisenberg's remark, as presented in Prugovecki's essay. Heisenberg, no doubt, knew all of what I just wrote, and that is what leads to my feeling of uncertainty. What did he mean?

Another paper from SAAG

Somalia : Jihadis emulating Taliban's tactics by B Raman.


"An important lesson from Afghanistan and Iraq is the danger of under-estimating the motivation and resilience of the jihadi forces. How to prevent the recent Afghan history from repeating itself in Somalia? This cannot be done by non-Muslim forces. Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco etc have to be encouraged to take the initiative in bringing about an Islamic solution to the problems of Somalia, which will not serve the agenda of Al Qaeda and the IIF. The time has come to encourage these countries to come together in a strategic alliance with the twin objectives of countering ----with Islamic and not Western arguments and tactics --- Al Qaeda and the IIF on the one side and Iran on the other. Islam of Al Qaeda brand poses a threat to the peace and stability of this region today. Iranian machinations could pose an equal threat tomorrow.

End quote.

The Saudis supported the Taliban until 9/11, so presumably their solution would be Talibanism minus anti-Western rhetoric and actions.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Yet another war

Another war - Ethiopia and Somalia's nominal government versus Somalia's Islamists who have control of most of the country - is launching itself. No quick resolution is likely. This will likely be touted as an expansion of the Jihad. All such areas of war are fertile nesting grounds for terrorists of the al Qaeda ilk.


Meanwhile, Kabul Express still lingers with me. Plus stories of a Vietnam Christmas (on turcopolier) and the story of a WW I Christmas truce. It seems to me that recognizing the humanity of the adversary is only one tiny part putting an end to war. Right now, all it does is give one a mild regret that the other chap has to be killed.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Kabul Express

Kabul Express is a movie I greatly enjoyed, and would strongly recommend to most people. It is best if you know Hindi; but the subtitles are adequate. If you're not familiar with the subcontinent you might not follow some bits. The story is that of two rather green Indian journalists who go to Afghanistan, after the Taliban were overthrown, to interview a Taliban or two, and the adventures they have with a few other folks. The movie is light-hearted in a grim setting, and most of the time you will be laughing.

A review picked at random.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


-- They reflect the money I have (or in the credit card's case, don't have) at any period of time. These appear on my balance sheet. Income and expense accounts reflect where money comes from or goes to. --

Analysis Patterns - Reusable Object Models
Martin Fowler.

What does that mean?
I've been tagged by CIP.
That being so, the rules are:

Grab the book closest to you.
Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.
Name the book and the author.
Tag three people.

I tag:

Sayvasachi and (a long shot)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sufficient cause for death penalty

I won't be happy until I can impose death penalties on Saudis who annoy me. Not that I ever will. But I think Saudi Arabia should be expelled from the community of nations.

Wednesday December 20 2006 09:42 IST

ALAPPUZHA: Losing one’s way in Saudi Arabia could mean losing one’s life. Jojo Joseph, 31, a native of Mariyapuram, near Edathua, in Alappuzha district stumbled on this great truth on Monday. What saved him from the sword was the timely intervention of the Union Government.

Jojo, an employee of an electronic firm in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, who had gone to a place near Madina to see his wife Sheeba, a nurse, and their new-born, lost his way and ended up on the road to Madina.

Jojo, who did not know that the road was out of bounds for people belonging to other religions during the pilgrimage season, was arrested by the police at Al-Azeez, a place near Madina. The Saudi religious court ordered that Jojo be beheaded at noon (IST) on Tuesday ‘for trespassing into the area.’

Jojo conveyed the news to his folks in Mariyapuram who contacted Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy.

Chandy, who was in Kottayam, directed his office to send fax messages to the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed and T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. “It was a race against time,” said Oommen Chandy.

“After sending the messages, I called up Vayalarji, Ahmed and Nair. They swung into action in no time. The embassy came to know about the incident only when they received my fax,” Chandy said.

Chandy spoke to Jojo on his cellphone who gave him the name of the police station where he was lodged.

At the instance of the Prime Minister’s office, the External Affairs Secretary contacted the Saudi Government and convinced the authorities that Jojo had lost his way and that there was no ulterior motive in moving along the road.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bell Labs - a memorial

Dave Burstein, at has the following -

"As Lucent and Bell Labs Dies
Set the flags to half-mast
"They looked for dung but found gold, which is just opposite of the experience of most of us." Describing Wilson and Penzias’ Bell Labs discovery of the Big Bang radiation.

Claude Shannon would ride his unicycle through the halls of Bell Labs, but when he stopped he invented communications theory. Applying that theory suggested megabit speeds over copper were possible, and DSL is the practical application. Crucial early work came directly and indirectly from the Bell Labs and Telcordia. Today, 160 million homes have DSL connections. Dozens of the engineers whose work has been reported by DSL Prime were deeply influenced by their time at the Labs.

Another great moment came when Wilson and Penzias couldn’t get rid of some noise in their radio telescope, even after shoveling off the bat guano. No matter which way they pointed, that three degrees above absolute zero noise wouldn’t go away. Eventually, they found an explanation; this was the cosmic background radiation from the big bang.

Alcatel deserves no blame for picking up the final pieces and hopefully preserving some of the fragments. I’ve been covering the decline of Bell Labs literally since my first solo interview as a reporter. Jeremy Bernstein came to the WBAI studios nearly twenty years ago and discussed his worries about the lab’s future. He had just written 3 Degrees Above Zero, which chronicled both the Wilson-Penzias experiment and glory days of the institution.

I wish I had the skill to write an obituary worthy of the Labs. From Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, the ending axe blow, one of the great moments in theater.

“I didn't see. ... Oh, these young people! [Mumbles something that cannot be understood] Life's gone on as if I'd never lived. [Lying down] I'll lie down. ... You've no strength left in you, nothing left at all. ... Oh, you ... bungler!

[He lies without moving. The distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, of a breaking string, dying away sadly. Silence follows it, and only the sound is heard, some way away in the orchard, of the axe falling on the trees.]” Project Gutenberg

Never again are we likely to read:

Nobel Lecture (8 December 1978 or other dates)
Robert W. Wilson (or ten others)
Bell Laboratories Holmdel, New Jersey, USA

Fractional Quantum Hall Effect (1998) Horst Stormer, Robert Laughlin, and Daniel Tsui
Optical Trapping (1997) Steven Chu
Laser 1981 Arthur L. Schawlow
Cosmic Background Radiation (Big Bang) (1978) Arno A. Penzias and Robert W. Wilson
Improved Understanding of Local Electronic States in Solids (1977) Philip W. Anderson
Maser 1964 Charles H. Townes
Transistor (1956) John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley
Wave Nature of Matter (1937) Clinton J. Davisson"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jefferson on Gandhi and Jinnah

Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties:

1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes.

2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests.

In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still, and pursue the same object. The last appellation of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.

Thomas Jefferson
A note to Henry Lee, Aug 10, 1824

Jinnah was the Aristocrat and Gandhi was the Democrat.

It was when Gandhi opened the doors of the Indian National Congress to everyone that Jinnah left the party.

Press and Government

Something that a perceptive person soon suspects is that the American Main Stream Media is very much in bed with the Government. With regard to such suspicions, Teresa Neilsen Hayden's essay is a must-read.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Primer on Afghanistan

Christian Parenti provides a short, comprehensive view of Afghanistan.

Some excerpts that are of particular interest to me:

"Pakistan’s support for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar dates back to 1975 when the ISI supported the young radical against the nationalist government of Daud Khan. With the Communist coup in 1978 and Soviet invasion of 1979, Pakistan’s support for Hekmatyar and other Afghan guerrillas increased: CIA and Saudi money was managed by the Pakistani ISI.


Throughout the Reagan years, U.S. funding for the mujahedeen steadily increased. Facilitated by innocuously named lobbying groups like the Afghan American Educational Fund, above-board appropriations for the largely secret campaign reached $250 million annually by 1985. Much more issued from the CIA’s black budget. Fully a third of U.S. monies went to the religious zealot and Pashtun Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Now this feverishly anti-American warlord has joined forces with the Taliban.


The guerrillas here got a major boost when the extremist and pathologically ruthless commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar pledged the support of his Hezb-i-Islami, an old mujahedeen party, to Al Qaeda and made peace with the Taliban.

Pakistan yesterday and today

Borrowed from the forum:
Jinnah's Pakistan: An Interview with MA Jinnah, and how the Pakistan of Yesterday is the Pakistan of Today

My comment: Margaret Bourke-White was quite on the money in her assessment; and what is scary is that nothing really has changed in the last sixty years.

The Messiah and The Promised Land
Margaret Bourke-White was a correspondent and photographer for LIFE magazine during the WW II years. In September 1947, White went to Pakistan. She met Jinnah and wrote about what she found and heard in her book Halfway to Freedom: A Report on the New India ,Simon and Schuster, New York, 1949. The following are the excerpts:

Pakistan was one month old. Karachi was its mushrooming capital. On the sandy fringes of the city an enormous tent colony had grown up to house the influx of minor government officials. There was only one major government official, Mahomed Ali Jinnah, and there was no need for Jinnah to take to a tent. The huge marble and sandstone Government House, vacated by British officialdom, was waiting. The Quaid-i-Azam moved in, with his sister, Fatima, as hostess. Mr. Jinnah had put on what his critics called his "triple crown": he had made himself Governor-General; he was retaining the presidency of the Muslim League -- now Pakistan's only political party; and he was president of the country's lawmaking body, the Constituent Assembly.

"We never expected to get it so soon," Miss Fatima said when I called. "We never expected to get it in our lifetimes."

If Fatima's reaction was a glow of family pride, her brother's was a fever of ecstasy. Jinnah's deep-sunk eyes were pinpoints of excitement. His whole manner indicated that an almost overwhelming exaltation was racing through his veins. I had murmured some words of congratulation on his achievement in creating the world's largest Islamic nation.

"Oh, it's not just the largest Islamic nation. Pakistan is the fifth-largest nation in the world!"

The note of personal triumph was so unmistakable that I wondered how much thought he gave to the human cost: more Muslim lives had been sacrificed to create the new Muslim homeland than America, for example, had lost during the entire second World War. I hoped he had a constructive plan for the seventy million citizens of Pakistan. What kind of constitution did he intend to draw up?

"Of course it will be a democratic constitution; Islam is a democratic religion."

I ventured to suggest that the term "democracy" was often loosely used these days. Could he define what he had in mind?

"Democracy is not just a new thing we are learning," said Jinnah. "It is in our blood. We have always had our system of zakat -- our obligation to the poor."

This confusion of democracy with charity troubled me. I begged him to be more specific.

"Our Islamic ideas have been based on democracy and social justice since the thirteenth century."

This mention of the thirteenth century troubled me still more. Pakistan has other relics of the Middle Ages besides "social justice" -- the remnants of a feudal land system, for one. What would the new constitution do about that? .. "The land belongs to the God," says the Koran. This would need clarification in the constitution. Presumably Jinnah, the lawyer, would be just the person to correlate the "true Islamic principles" one heard so much about in Pakistan with the new nation's laws. But all he would tell me was that the constitution would be democratic because "the soil is perfectly fertile for democracy."

What plans did he have for the industrial development of the country? Did he hope to enlist technical or financial assistance from America?

"America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America," was Jinnah's reply. "Pakistan is the pivot of the world, as we are placed" -- he revolved his long forefinger in bony circles -- "the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves." He leaned toward me, dropping his voice to a confidential note. "Russia," confided Mr. Jinnah, "is not so very far away."

This had a familiar ring. In Jinnah's mind this brave new nation had no other claim on American friendship than this - that across a wild tumble of roadless mountain ranges lay the land of the BoIsheviks. I wondered whether the Quaid-i-Azam considered his new state only as an armored buffer between opposing major powers. He was stressing America's military interest in other parts of the world. "America is now awakened," he said with a satisfied smile. Since the United States was now bolstering up Greece and Turkey, she should be much more interested in pouring money and arms into Pakistan. "If Russia walks in here," he concluded, "the whole world is menaced."

In the weeks to come I was to hear the Quaid-i-Azam's thesis echoed by government officials throughout Pakistan. "Surely America will build up our army," they would say to me. "Surely America will give us loans to keep Russia from walking in." But when I asked whether there were any signs of Russian infiltration, they would reply almost sadly, as though sorry not to be able to make more of the argument. "No, Russia has shown no signs of being interested in Pakistan."

This hope of tapping the U. S. Treasury was voiced so persistently that one wondered whether the purpose was to bolster the world against Bolshevism or to bolster Pakistan's own uncertain position as a new political entity. Actually, I think, it was more nearly related to the even more significant bankruptcy of ideas in the new Muslim state -- a nation drawing its spurious warmth from the embers of an antique religious fanaticism, fanned into a new blaze.

Jinnah's most frequently used technique in the struggle for his new nation had been the playing of opponent against opponent. Evidently this technique was now to be extended into foreign policy. ....

No one would have been more astonished than Jinnah if he could have foreseen thirty or forty years earlier that anyone would ever speak of him as a "savior of Islam." In those days any talk of religion brought a cynical smile. He condemned those who talked in terms of religious rivalries, and in the stirring period when the crusade for freedom began sweeping the country he was hailed as "the embodied symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity." The gifted Congresswoman, Mrs. Naidu, one of Jinnah's closest friends, wrote poems extolling his role as the great unifier in the fight for independence. "Perchance it is written in the book of the future," ran one of her tributes, "that he, in some terrible crisis of our national struggle, will pass into immortality" as the hero of "the Indian liberation."

In the "terrible crisis," Mahomed Ali Jinnah was to pass into immortality, not as the ambassador of unity, but as the deliberate apostle of discord. What caused this spectacular renunciation of the concept of a united India, to which he had dedicated the greater part of his life? No one knows exactly. The immediate occasion for the break, in the mid-thirties, was his opposition to Gandhi's civil disobedience program. Nehru says that Jinnah "disliked the crowds of ill-dressed people who filled the Congress" and was not at home with the new spirit rising among the common people under Gandhi's magnetic leadership. Others say it was against his legal conscience to accept Gandhi's program. One thing is certain: the break with Gandhi, Nehru, and the other Congress leaders was not caused by any Hindu-Muslim issue.

In any case, Jinnah revived the moribund Muslim League in 1936 after it had dragged through an anemic thirty years' existence, and took to the religious soapbox. He began dinning into the ears of millions of Muslims the claim that they were downtrodden solely because of Hindu domination. During the years directly preceding this move on his part, an unprecedented degree of unity had developed between Muslims and Hindus in their struggle for independence from the British Raj. The British feared this unity, and used their divide-and-rule tactics to disrupt it. Certain highly placed Indians also feared unity, dreading a popular movement which would threaten their special position. Then another decisive factor arose. Although Hindus had always been ahead of Muslims in the industrial sphere, the great Muslim feudal landlords now had aspirations toward industry. From these wealthy Muslims, who resented the well-established Hindu competition, Jinnah drew his powerful supporters. One wonders whether Jinnah was fighting to free downtrodden Muslims from domination or merely to gain an earmarked area, free from competition, for this small and wealthy clan.

The trend of events in Pakistan would support the theory that Jinnah carried the banner of the Muslim landed aristocracy, rather than that of the Muslim masses he claimed to champion. There was no hint of personal material gain in this. Jinnah was known to be personally incorruptible, a virtue which gave him a great strength with both poor and rich. The drive for personal wealth played no part in his politics. It was a drive for power. ......

Less than three months after Pakistan became a nation, Jinnah's Olympian assurance had strangely withered. His altered condition was not made public. "The Quaid-i-Azam has a bad cold" was the answer given to inquiries.

Only those closest to him knew that the "cold" was accompanied by paralyzing inability to make even the smallest decisions, by sullen silences striped with outbursts of irritation, by a spiritual numbness concealing something close to panic underneath. I knew it only because I spent most of this trying period at Government House, attempting to take a new portrait of Jinnah for a Life cover.

The Quaid-i-Azam was still revered as a messiah and deliverer by most of his people. But the "Great Leader" himself could not fail to know that all was not well in his new creation, the nation; the nation that his critics referred to as the "House that Jinnah built." The separation from the main body of India had been in many ways an unrealistic one. Pakistan raised 75 per cent of the world's jute supply; the processing mills were all in India. Pakistan raised one third of the cotton of India, but it had only one thirtieth of the cotton mills. Although it produced the bulk of Indian skins and hides, all the leather tanneries were in South India. The new state had no paper mills, few iron foundries. Rail and road facilities, insufficient at best, were still choked with refugees. Pakistan has a superbly fertile soil, and its outstanding advantage is self-sufficiency in food, but this was threatened by the never-ending flood of refugees who continued pouring in long after the peak of the religious wars had passed.

With his burning devotion to his separate Islamic nation, Jinnah had taken all these formidable obstacles in his stride. But the blow that finally broke his spirit struck at the very name of Pakistan. While the literal meaning of the name is "Land of the Pure," the word is a compound of initial letters of the Muslim majority provinces which Jinnah had expected to incorporate: P for the Punjab, A for the Afghans' area on the Northwest Frontier, S for Sind, -tan for Baluchistan. But the K was missing.

Kashmir, India's largest princely state, despite its 77 per cent Muslim population, had not fallen into the arms of Pakistan by the sheer weight of religious majority. Kashmir had acceded to India, and although it was now the scene of an undeclared war between the two nations, the fitting of the K into Pakistan was left in doubt. With the beginning of this torturing anxiety over Kashmir, the Quaid-i-Azam's siege of bad colds began, and then his dismaying withdrawal into himself. ....

Later, reflecting on what I had seen, I decided that this desperation was due to causes far deeper than anxiety over Pakistan's territorial and economic difficulties. I think that the tortured appearance of Mr. Jinnah was an indication that, in these final months of his life, he was adding up his own balance sheet. Analytical, brilliant, and no bigot, he knew what he had done. Like Doctor Faustus, he had made a bargain from which he could never be free. During the heat of the struggle he had been willing to call on all the devilish forces of superstition, and now that his new nation had been achieved the bigots were in the position of authority. The leaders of orthodoxy and a few "old families" had the final word and, to perpetuate their power, were seeing to it that the people were held in the deadening grip of religious superstition.

India springs a strategic surprise

In "A Matter of Honour", a history of the British Indian Army, historian Philip Mason theorizes on why Indian armies suffered defeat time and again. According to him, it was not the quality of the fighting men, they were as courageous as anyone else, and their training was actually superior to that of Europeans. Nor was it their equipment - until the 1850s when the Industrial Revolution really kicked in - Indian manufactures matched or exceeded that of Europe in quality. Indian workshops quickly duplicated European improvements in weaponry; Mason says Europeans would often rearm themselves with captured weaponry.

The reasons for failure lay in political organization, and lack of attention to the arts of war, both strategy and tactics.

Please note that these failures were in defensive wars; Indian rulers seldom had ambitions outside of their "natural sphere" between the Himalayas and the seas, and from the Indus in the West to the mouth of the Ganga/Brahmaputra in the East.

The result of military failures was disastrous for India. It lost its political independence, its sciences and its arts, and its economy. India would enter the modern world in the third world.

It seems independent India has at least partly, taken those lessons of the past to heart.

The latest is this (for a limited time, you may find the full article here
It is only a "proof-of-concept". Its significance lies in the proof-of-effort. It is an attempt to increase the cost of Chinese and Pakistani threats to those countries.

Ten centuries ago, when Mahmud of Ghazni's father, Nasir-ud-din Sabuktagin, was laying the groundwork for Mahmud's devastating invasions of Northern India, it does not seem that Indian rulers of the time recognized the threat. There is a unstated "never-again" consciousness at work here, I believe.


"The New Guardian

India unveils an all new anti-ballistic missile expected to be the fore-runner of a sophisticated air defence system to thwart, among other threats, a Pakistani nuclear weapons attack

By Raj Chengappa

It looks like the Prithvi and even flies like one, but that's where the semblance ends. On November 27, not just India but the world got to know the difference after the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) unveiled a brand new missile, said to be a precursor to an advanced national air defence system.
The test was short but decisive. At 10.15 on a blustery winter morning off the east coast of Orissa, a conventional Prithvi missile posing as an enemy weapon was launched. Within seconds after its take-off, a sophisticated, long-range radar picked up the signals, analysed its flight path and sent an electronic command to an interceptor missile stationed at Wheeler Island. Almost immediately, the interceptor codenamed pad01 lifted off with a roar and plume of smoke. Travelling at five times the speed of sound, it rapidly closed in on the incoming Prithvi. Two minutes later and after some mid-course corrections, pad01 detonated its proximity fuse at a height of 50 km above the Earth. Both the missiles exploded in a ball of gas and the debris fell harmlessly into the Bay of Bengal."

End quote.

Does it make the world a safer place?
Probably not.

Should it matter?
Only in a world that embraces a concept of collective security would this be a wrong thing to do.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Glenn Greenwald on Thomas Friedman

Glenn Greenwald on Thomas Friedman is a must-read. The essay exposes the rotten core of Washington punditry.


"Put another way, these are the premises which Friedman, prior to the invasion, expressly embraced:

(1) If the war is done the right way, great benefits can be achieved.
(2) If the war is done the wrong way, unimaginable disasters will result.
(3) The Bush administration is doing this war the wrong way, not the right way, on every level.
(4) Given all of that, I support the waging of this war."


To support a war that you know is going to be executed in a destructive manner is as morally monstrous as it gets. The fact that there is some idealized, Platonic way to fight the war doesn't make that any better if you know that that isn't what is going to happen. We learn in adolescence that wanting things that we can't have -- pining for things that aren't real or possible -- is futile and irrational. To apply that adolescent fantasy world to war advocacy is the hallmark of a deeply frivolous and amoral person.

End quote