Coded gray.

Friday 21 March 2003

Old TV picture

Pic of the day: M1 main battle tank, presumably footage from the previous Gulf war, brought to me courtesy of MicroProse.

Shock and awe

I went to the dentist today. It was just a small thing, and I was really surprised by the throbbing pain that persisted for about 12 hours afterward. Add the fact that I was kind of mentally tired after a full work week, and don't expect anything deep from me tonight.

Besides, you are probably following the American and British invasion in Iraq with "shock and awe". Some of the technology used by the invasion force is far, far ahead of anything known by the regular troops they have encountered so far. The invaders must seem like gods of war, invincible, able to sweep armies aside. No wonder people surrender in droves. What is the alternative? They do nothing good dead. And it is only moral restraint that keeps the coalition troops from killing them all and be done with it.


I played both the original M1 Tank Platoon from MicroProse and the sequel. Very interesting games. The level of realism was quite scary. The thick, solid game manuals should be in every school library: They are packed with facts not primarily about the game but the vehicles, strategies and tactics from real life on which the game is based. The second game had a couple bad bugs, but the biggest problem was that battles could last for hours and you could not save during that time. Of course you can't do that in real life either, but that's a poor excuse for bad design. I would have played it a lot more if I did not have to tie myself up for hours. Anyway, the point is, there was a lot of data on the newest M1 Abrams tanks and their various allies and opponents. "Shock and awe" is definitely a good phrase. One should definitely think twice before messing with an Abrams. The problem in the game (and presumably also in Iraq) is that they are few and far between.

But you did not come here to read specifics about goddamned weapons of destruction, did you? Speaking of which, I noticed that the bombing of Baghdad did not start until sunset. So the citizens there were probably right, when they told the Norwegian correspondent that Bush as a religious man would not bomb on the holy day. To be honest, I did not expect him to know that Friday is the holy day of Islam, just like Sunday is to Catholics and Protestants. I mean, this is the guy who called Nigeria a continent just a couple years ago. But I guess someone must have told him. Or even that he may have given control of such details to competent people. One can always hope, although my experience in life is that people tend to want to control more the less competent they are.


Clarke, the science fiction writer, is credited with the quote that a sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Although I also agree with Florence Ambrose that any technology is magic to those who don't understand it.)

This came to mind when I heard about the "hordes" of Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered to a small detachment of coalition forces in southern Iraq. The invaders must have seemed like gods of war to them, I thought ... and suddenly my mind was back thousands of years, to the dawn of civilization. The day the gods came. Flying monsters filled the sky. There was Roc, the bird so large it could have snacked on elephants. There was the flying dragon that belched fire. There was the ship that could travel equally well on land and on water, and the spear that never missed. There was the divine flying serpent. The simple humans looked up in shock and awe as these indescribable creatures darkened the sky and annihilated anyone who tried to resist them. And then the gods came down, and suddenly civilization started all over the planet.

A coincidence for sure, but it makes for great fiction. I know there's a guy called Erich von Däniken who wrote some books like that. I read some of them but found them kinda boring. The muses in my head do it better, at least when they are armed with video projectors like they were today.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Recession over?
Two years ago: Goodbye to nothing
Three years ago: Returns
Four years ago: "Love" is a bad word

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