[F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (2812 previous messages)

rshow55 - 02:32pm Jul 1, 2002 EST (#2813 of 2814) Delete Message

MD1900 rshow55 4/30/02 11:16am ... MD1901 rshow55 4/30/02 11:21am

currently, there are conventions , and social patterns, that stand against checking, most of the time, when somebody with power actually objects.

To do better, we need to consider some conventions.

How do you check? is a big question - and not even the NYT has fully satisfactory answers, so far as I can tell, in cases of concern.

How do you persuade? is another big question. Some answers, though they are hard answers, come from experience in jury trials.

Some answers, and often easier answers, come from experience with courtship.

Problem is, sometimes an ideal approach for one set of objectives is exactly wrong for another - and things may be complicated enough that both kinds of approaches may be necessary. That takes exception handling.

The Music Man is a famous movie about checking, and courtship, exception handling, and redemption. It is a very black comedy, utterly charming at some levels, unnerving in others, about the things that worry me most.

1. Gestalt switches, in our current understandings and the new ones we forge. In our thought, communication, and language as it unchangeably is and will always be.

2. The problem of "fast talking" - of "salesmanship" - where a person can turn other people completely around, by arguments that seem fine step by step - because though the listeners seem to follow each step, and give feedback saying "yes" -- they can't remember, or keep track of what's said. There's a physiological problem here --- our memory structures are in some ways similar to resonance coded devices, which cannot store more than 90 degrees of phase shift stably. People need, after they've heard a certain amount, in detail, to have time to reconstruct the argument, so that it works for them in their heads. If they don't -- frauds and misunderstandings can happen -- often very expensive, tragic, dangerous ones. For clear understanding, when it matters enough, some teaching and interrogation and crosschecking has to happen face to face, has to take as long as it takes for the people involved - and contains elements of coercion, and circumstances where, subject to rules, different people involved, at least in small ways, "take turns being helpless." There are problems in peacemaking, that often go explosively wrong - where some things need to be understood and checked for here. The Bush administration isn't doing it, because it doesn't know enough. Neither is anybody in the Middle East. Neither are the Russians, though they do a pretty good job, sometimes, in spots, as other people and groups sometimes do, as well.

The problem of punishment, and redemption. In The Music Man , there's an entirely unjust, and "unbelievable" redemption at the end, that I liked a lot, and found believable. Professor Hill, married to Marion, could, with work, do an outstanding job of leading a band. . .

None of these issues are "new" -- but they go wrong so often, that I'm concerned.

A recent movie, The Sum of All Fears involves some similar themes, among others, in a much blacker context. It is a movie that I wish the whole country would see.

I wish I could talk to some of the people who played an operational part in that movie. Or one of a number of other movies, including The Bourne Identity or Good Will Hunting . Could I just call up the relevant organizations, cold, and get the interaction I'd want? Maybe, but I think not. There'd have to be some courtship, and maybe some discussion among intermediaries. Casey could do that sort of thing in a minute, which is one of the reasons I miss him.

rshow55 - 02:34pm Jul 1, 2002 EST (#2814 of 2814) Delete Message

Lots of people at CIA could, too -- but they won't - and have made that clear. Lots of people at The National Inquirer or The New York Times could, as well -- but the web of inhibitions and rules involved baffles me.

Anyway, there are a number of things I'd like to tell people close to gisterme - - and perhaps the most important things are involved with indented bullets in the posting just above. Problems in the areas involved need to be more clearly understood, and more safely handled.

I think, with some help, that I can make a contribution there. Not anything that anybody should trust blindly. But things people can check and judge for themselves.

 Read Subscriptions  Subscribe  Search  Post Message
 Email to Sysop  Your Preferences

 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  / Missile Defense

Enter your response, then click the POST MY MESSAGE button below.
See the
quick-edit help for more information.

Home | Site Index | Site Search | Forums | Archives | Shopping

News | Business | International | National | New York Region | NYT Front Page | Obituaries | Politics | Quick News | Sports | Science | Technology/Internet | Weather
Editorial | Op-Ed

Features | Arts | Automobiles | Books | Cartoons | Crossword | Games | Job Market | Living | Magazine | Real Estate | Travel | Week in Review

Help/Feedback | Classifieds | Services | New York Today

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company