Saturday, January 29, 2005

Art of War II

• P. 32 (I'm skipping back and forth): He [Sawyer] seems a bit disdainful at the ancient Chinese rulers' disdain for warfare. I'm not sure I agree. Wars of defense can be expensive. Wars of conquest can be very lucrative if you win, but what do you get if you win a war of defense? A bunch of dead bodies on your land and your kingdom safe for another year. Their policies seem to have worked; why disparage them?

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/27/1997 12:01:00 PM

Friday, January 28, 2005

Art of War

Notes on Ralph Sawyer's translation of Sun-tsu's Art of War:

[This Book Note refers to Sun-Tzu: The Art of War, translated by Ralph Sawyer.]

• I'm not so sure I want a quite so scholarly translation at this point. I'm only peripherally interested in ancient Chinese history; I'm primarily interested in military and philosophical value. For instance: I don't really care, at this point, who Lord Shang and Han Fei-tzu are. Maybe I should just avoid the notes. Perhaps I should find a contemporary military translation, leaving out nonessential Chinese history and personages, and focusing on how these doctrines apply to modern philosophy and warfare.

—Screw it; I skipped to the actual text—

• I pretty much agree with everything so far (p. 168; p. 2 of the text)—although again, I'd like a more Western viewpoint; I don't really feel like dealing with Yin and Yang and Heaven and Tao. But I do have an issue on p. 168: Sun-tzu says that "If they are rested, force them to exert themselves." I have an alternate viewpoint, that says "If they (the enemy) are weary, force them to exert themselves. But if they are rested, consider letting them rest…and rest…and rest until they become bored and unready and stir-crazy and neglectful of maintenance and generally complacent—and then attack."
Always consider, with every action, what you teach your enemy. Not what the enemy may learn—that's simple counterintelligence. But what you teach him—about how you fight, about your competence, about your methods, and about war.
• Never forget—either when considering your own forces or when doing battle with your enemy—that war always boils down to privates and new sergeants and lieutenants—to those young men on the battlefield who actually operate the equipment and do the actual fighting. It is they who actually fight the war, and they, in the end, who collectively decide the outcome. If their morale is low, if they are complacent, if their fear controls them, if they are incompetent or poorly trained or do not understand the objective or how to accomplish it, you will lose no matter how intelligent, well-trained and motivated your senior leaders are, or how detailed, thought-out or well-made your battle plans are, or how superior your military is in equipment or numbers. (Actually, numbers can save you here, if you are willing to waste your near-useless men. Given working equipment and no way to escape, men will fight, as well as they can.)
        So when considering the previous note, remember that nearly everything your enemy's young fighters know about war they will learn from you. Try and teach them all the wrong lessons, if you can, so that they learn the right ones only disastrously.

This is the doctrine of my life:
• Above all, especially in warfare, understand why you do what you do. Blindly following any doctrine could lead to disaster.* Only perfect—utterly perfect—doctrine will not lead you astray under any circumstances—and how will you know it is perfect if you do not understand it?

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/26/1997 03:00:00 PM

Me? Blogging?

Well, damn, I've finally done it. I've entered the blogging world.

I didn't think I would, really. I mean, I had nothing especially against it; I had read several blogs and found them interesting. I just considered it kind of faddish and silly, for the most part; people making a big deal about bringing even more garbage to the 'net.

And then I found MacJournal.

I had been looking for a good journaling program for the Mac for years, and never found one that I felt suited my needs. I'd even tried MacJournal a couple of versions back and, while good, it didn't quite catch my imagination. This time, though, when I looked at it, it seemed to have the features I needed. I think it was the flexibility of nested journals that finally sold me.

What got me excited about this program was the prospect of typing up all my old journal entries. I have plenty of half-full journals laying around, filled with everything from useless whining ('though it's good to look back at how you've felt sometimes) to some quite interesting (to me) philosophical dissertations and thoughts I didn't want to lose. But they weren't doing anybody, including me, any good sitting around gathering dust. Entered into a program, titled, indexed and searchable, I could finally make use of all those old thoughts and ideas. And then I noticed that MacJournal also supported auto-posting of journal entries to a blog.

And that was ruin.

You see, the main reason I had never really been interested in blogging was that I just didn't think I had anything to say. I didn't want the pressure of coming up with something pithy and important every day or so, and I refused to spew unmitigated stupid blather. (Occasional stupid blather, like this post, is okay.) But my journals? Being able to post my journals where the world could see them, possibly learn from them, appreciate them, give interesting, constructive feedback on them, but more likely respond with rousing choruses of "you suck"?

That I couldn't resist.

So I spent damn near all day fidgeting and fooling around with various blogging software and websites, and ended up with a ridiculous combination of programs, sites, hosts and computers to make this thing work. Those that know me will laugh when they hear the concatenation every post goes through.

Here it is:
1. First, I type up the entry in MacJournal on my PowerBook.
2. Next, I click the button that sends the post to one of my subordinate (category) blogs on
3. Then, Blogger logs into the iMac in the other room (yes, back in the same house the post originated from) and posts it to my iDisk (yes, this was the only way to do that).
4. Simultaneously, the post is uploaded to Apple's servers, where it is hosted on the appropriate category page for nice people like you to look at it.
5. At the same time, Blogger emails me a copy of the post I just sent to the category blog.
6. An email client that I have open for this express purpose (my usual client can't handle the task) auto-emails the post back to
7. Blogger repeats the process above, logging into my iMac and posting to my iDisk, except this time to my main blog page, so the post will not only show up in its category, but also on the main page.

So let's be clear here: I send my post across the country so it can be sent back to my house to be sent back out to another part of the country, simultaneously sent back to my house by another route then back out across the country, to get sent back to my house again, and again sent to the other part of the country, to be downloaded and read by people who are probably across town.

Wild, huh? But it works. Oh, I know I could get around all of this, and get more functionality besides, by using a dedicated client like Blogwave Studio, but then I'd have to copy and paste each entry manually. This way, all I do is click a button, and computers do the rest of the work. Just like I like it.

Maybe I'll get fed up with doing it this way sometime; I really am missing out on a lot of cool features...but I'm just getting started. We'll see.

Well, it's 2:00 in the morning; I should probably wrap this up. A few parting notes:

• I've set this blog up in categories. The main page will always show the latest posts, regardless of which category they're from (kind of like memepool, but not remotely as cool).
• The categories are listed in the Links section of each page. Tacky, but it will do for now.
• Because of the rigamarole each post has to go through, some of the text on the main page may not look quite as nice as it does in the same post on the category page. Live with it.
• Also, comments are disabled on the main page. To comment, you have to click on the category link at the bottom of each main-page post. If anyone has ideas on how to make this fact more clear, please let me know.
• This one's important, so listen up: I don't necessarily intend to post every day. If you want to be notified when I do post, click on the nice little Monitor Changes button near the top of the page. Give it a try if you're interested in my (possibly insane) ramblings. Note that for now at least, that little button will only track the main page; there's not much point in tracking the category pages unless that one category's all you're interested in. Every new post will appear on the main page at
• I'll try to restrict my posts to about one a day, but I may get carried away and do several journal entries at once.
• Leave comments! Please! Just so I know somebody's reading this!

For those not so technically inclined (read: non-nerds): What is a blog? Blog is short for Weblog. Web log-->weblog-->'blog-->blog. Check out this Wikipedia article if you want to know (lots and lots) more.

Well, I guess that's all for tonight. Toodles!

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 1/28/2005 01:10:00 AM