December 29, 2005

Is the Iraq war all about oil?

Why do the people who run the world and start wars do what they do? I have a suspicion that they don't really know what they're doing any more than anyone else knows exactly what he is doing in life and why. So you can't say a certain war is about one thing really, or for or against one country; it's just a mish-mash of all the motives and reasons that the leaders involved have, (with the followers having their own mostly misguided personal reasons of career or of religiously felt duty to serve.)

There are some loose political groupings of leaders who push certain wars, and without whom those wars wouldn't have happened. For instance, the Neoconservatives (the writers and Bush administration appointees, not every Joe in the street pro-war Republican) were indispensable to the war on Iraq happening. But many things are necessary causes to a major event. Somehow the Neoconservatives and the pro-war sentiment of media figures had to influence the Republican presidential primaries in 2000, to get a Bush in, knowing that Iraq was already a likely war, obviously since US planes were still bombing Iraq regularly under Clinton, in order to have someone in office who would be strongly personally motivated to finish what his father started. Otherwise, with another president with personal attachments to some other region of the world and a tendency to select appointees with similar concerns, the next war might have been fomented and prosecuted against some other country.

What good does continuing the war against Iraq do? How long will Iraqis see foreign soldiers fighting in their country and provoking their young men to take revenge on behalf of their families and honor? I doubt that fans of the US will ever learn to see this from their point of view, even if it lasts fifty years. The schools will still teach about the patriotism of the American Revolution, and still teach that the nationalism of other countries is a horrible thing, and that the rest of the world is better off when it has democracy brought to it by the US. There's nothing to learn from the war for the public.

Does it make oil cheaper, to be fighting over the oilfields and pipelines? Probably not. So really, the war is in the interest of, let's see: oil money (which includes the Bushes,) and super-rich schemers who want to limit the world's use of energy so that their capital is worth more relatively and controls the world more, and so-called liberals who want to limit the use of energy by something like the Kyoto Accords or whatever means necessary, so that their plans for a world socialist order will seem closer.

War conceived for an evil purpose, prosecuted by evil means, directed against the interests of those called to fight it, and lacking any possibility of conclusion except by annihilation of one side or the other: That's par for the course with human beings.

December 25, 2005

Caffeine and the Economy

On the way to a Christmas Eve get-together, I was asked what I'd been up to. I said I'd started a blog, but I'd hardly put anything on it, except about naming the blog, and having a problem with putting up links, then a message that there wasn't a problem, it was my fault. Someone was curious what the name was anyway, so I said since I'd hardly put anything on it, I might as well say: Return of the Sasquatch. I also answered about the links that they were a choice collection of the most pessimistic and paranoid websites.

For dessert, we had tiramisu with espresso in it and chocolate pie made from espresso chocolate, and some had coffee too.

This led to conversational comments from several there that they seem to be getting more sensitive to caffeine. They have a little chocolate and feel zooming for a couple of hours, or they have a cup of coffee and feel their hearts racing. Some have had to cut down because it's kind of scary. I thought of when I ate a bar of chocolate over a couple of days recently and it kept me up more than I'd noticed chocolate doing before.

I said, "Maybe there's a secret conspiracy to put more caffeine in coffee and chocolate to keep the economy going."

Over the laughter, the one who'd been asking about my blog said, "You should put that on your blog."

The recent news on the size of a lethal dose of coffee could have been pushed by the conspirators, to prevent indirectly causing more deaths by caffeine poisoning and also to calm coffee drinkers' fears that they're close to giving themselves a heart attack. On the other hand, the Internet flap about caffeine could have been purely a side effect of more caffeine being present in caffeinated foods and drinks, the resulting nervousness and racing hearts causing a general interest in the subject of its danger that reached critical mass.

Similarly, the hypothetical increase in caffeine could have been a result of the process of capitalism: An accidentally higher-caffeine blend of coffee or chocolate would cause consumers of that brand to keep busier, which would result in them buying more of that brand while they're in a phase of using that brand. Any company, especially modern corporations using computerized sales tracking, would detect that change in sales, but without necessarily detecting the reason for it. For all they know, it's a better tasting coffee or chocolate or something they changed about the packaging or advertising that caused the change in sales, but they tend to keep the set of changes that caused that increase in caffeine, whether it is a different blend, variety, or recipe. Thus the amount of caffeine in capitalistic civilization ratchets up to where the stimulus to purchases is in balance with the danger that scares consumers away from it.

It's like I'm debunking myself and at the same time making my point more credible.

December 05, 2005

Adding external links actually not difficult.

I've added ten external links.

They didn't show up until I clicked the refresh button in my browser.

This is the point where power users who take computer experience for granted and snarky geeks all laugh. Because obviously it wasn't any problem with the coding at blogger dot com.

But this is exactly the sort of complex breakdown I meant: There's a system that has a hundred different subsystems to it (power hookup, monitor, keyboard, mouse, operating system, browser, screen saver, internet service, etc.) and no one who gives instructions for what to do with one subsystem really cares whether the instructions work for users who aren't experts on the other subsystems. Experienced users laugh at new users who don't know what subsystems within subsystems they're supposed to have: "It's your own fault if you don't have antivirus software and adware scanning and a firewall and . . ."

The obvious buttons and instructions on editing links make it look like you're supposed to hit the republish button, then view the republished blog with the new links by pressing a button labeled View Blog or in new window. What they don't tell you is: Your browser has no special way of knowing that you've just altered the contents of a webpage, so if it usually loads pages from a cache when they're called for repeatedly within a few minutes, it'll do that to your blog page, and you won't see your alterations, until you hit refresh.

I think most people go through these sort of hassles all the time while using computers, and assume that that's what using computers is all about. (That and crashing and restarting for those of us still using Windows.) I'm just being extra sensitive and careful to notice the precise details of what happens, not because I think any of my reports are going to help the programmers and instruction writers make things work more smoothly, but because it's illustrative of how civilization works and breaks down.

Everything gets more complicated until it takes years of education or training to run things that were supposed to be conveniences. Not necessarily blogs, but certainly some aspects of using computers turn into occupations in themselves. Then a move to break out and do things more naturally and directly has a chance of being competitive.

Things don't work when first used, complaint pointless.

Things like adding links to a blog here don't work the very first time you use them, but there's absolutely no point in complaining about it, because anyone experienced in using a system simply will not believe that someone using it for the first time did as instructed and got no results.

Maybe in the future personal computers will take a year or so just to set up, and all the malfunctions and unusability in that breaking in period will be blamed on the user. That seems like the way things are going.