THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 262 June 16 - 22, 2003
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 - 7,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here.
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June 16, 2003
I have many errands today. I'll try to write something on today's events later. We'll probably deal with the topic of the hydrogen economy this week.
As usual there was mail over the weekend. There were also security warnings.
That was a relief. Roberta has been feeling horrible for almost a week, and we were worried. A trip to the emergency room Friday night brought no reassurance. Today she saw the internists, and it was some kind of food poisoning, followed by a low grade bacterial thing, and while it will take a bit of care with diet for a while it's nothing to worry about. So perhaps I can get back to work. Those who sent in subscriptions by credit card will get your confirmation as soon as she's back at her desk, probably Wednesday, and thanks for your patience.
The symptoms started shortly after John Dvorak's visit but were due to an event the day before John got here. I got mildly ill. Roberta became violently so. It's amazing how often "stomach flu" is food poisoning and vice-versa. And of course the first treatment is usually stoicism, which is fine if you don't have anything important.
Anyway that's why I haven't been doing much and didn't get the Dvorak at Chaos Manor pictures up. We're all relieved now that we know it's not anything permanently serious.
The Wall Street Journal today says that Ellison isn't serious about buying PeopleSoft, he's just sowing FUD and trying to prevent PeopleSoft from merging with other companies to become a threat to Oracle. If Microsoft did anything like that you'd hear the screams and the thunder of lawyers out to file lawsuits. But Ellison isn't with Microsoft, and only Microsoft is evil, so it's no big deal. We do live in interesting times.
Earthlink users are now getting the scam request for "updating" their account information by furnishing financial data. Don't do it...
|This week:||Tuesday, June
In another discussion group I was eventually forced to come up with a long piece on my views on tariff. I include it here, although it was written there as the culmination of a long discussion, and is not quite the essay I would have written on the subject.
weary of being misrepresented so let me try to say one more time:
When you export someone’s job
the person remains, and there are costs associated with having exported
The costs are not born by the
company that benefits from the lower costs of production; they are born by
the community, which will include the customers who get their widgets at
These costs are associated
with: alienation of the worker whose job has been lost. In some cases
those are trivial. In some cases they are not, as when someone has worked
for a long time at a particular job, has become highly skilled at it, is
older and past the age of easy retraining, and lives in an area where the
worker has roots but there are few job opportunities. The costs can
include some form of welfare, some form of retraining cost, and sometimes
extreme social costs as the entire family discovers that “being a good
man and delivering a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” does not
result in any kind of security, and then some godless capitalist comes up
and brays that he got all he deserved and he should shut up.
These costs can also include
voting patterns including voting for measures that harm the economy,
including "Robin Hood" laws.
High tariff protects industrial
inefficiencies and can destroy entire industries over time.
Temporary protective tariffs
were employed by this country to help build industries
Tariff for revenue only vs.
protective tariff used to be one of the defining issues between Democrats
(in the South mostly) and Republicans who were perceived to represent
mostly the interests of the NAM and what has become the Rust Belt.
There is certainly a level of
tariff that produces revenue without having much effect on trade, and
which helps pay the costs of import inspections, protection of trade
marks, and other necessary activities of the Customs Inspectors.
As an example, there are
printers in Israel who specialize in printing unauthorized and
uncontracted books of science fiction including my own, and selling them
to Costco and Wallmart in fairly large batches. Each sale of one of those
books costs the American publisher and the author money; they are
typically sold at remainder prices, often before the book is remaindered.
If these are not intercepted at the border, then the harm is done and
irrevocable, since suits against the publisher are won by default but the
publisher, whose identity is usually known to the Israeli authorities, has
gone out of business and established a new firm that ostensibly has no
connection with the old one. Raids by the Israeli police on such firms
caught in the act have been universally unsuccessful because somehow the
publisher was tipped off to the raid a couple of days in advance and
cleared all the assets out of the place after which it was abandoned.
b. If I seem to have some knowledge of this in science fiction it is because it happened to me and I worked with the State Department and Customs Service when I was President of Science Fiction Writers of America. I make no doubt it happens with other genre, and I make no doubt that it happens in other countries other than Israel. I am most familiar with this particular instance, but I understand that both Taiwan and mainland China have engaged in the practice.
There are other trademarked goods imported illegally and sold as genuine.
all cases the pirated books and knock-off trademarked goods have to be
intercepted at the borders, and the inspections cost money. Tariff is one
way to recover some of the costs of those inspections.
There is probably a level of
tariff which can alleviate some of the social and economic costs of job
export without being so overly protective of American Industry as to
discourage innovation and lock the industry into technological decay;
indeed it may be possible that preventing the industry from exporting the
job may force technological innovations to increase productivity. My guess
is that this level is between 10 and 15%, and ought to apply to all
imports; it is a tax on imported goods designed to balance the competitive
advantage offshore manufacturers obtain by not having to enforce EPA,
Americans with Disabilities, OSHA, and other such regulations.
I am more than willing to
concede that getting rid of some of those regulations would do more good
for productivity and preserving American jobs than the tariff. I also note
that ADA was signed by Bush the Elder and he is proud of it, and is
unlikely to be repealed by any rational US Congress. The same is true of
many other such regulations. They are givens.
Economic models demonstrate
that the most efficient allocation of resources is generally done through
extreme competition, laissez faire capitalism with unrestricted free trade
and unrestricted immigration. These are models: no nation on earth has
ever actually tried this. The models do not take account of social and
political realities, such as the real economic costs of political
externalities like welfare, crime suppression and such like that are often
a consequence of that kind of economic environment.
I have never seen an economic
model that attempted to examine the real world with its social costs of
free trade and fold those into the model. My suspicion is that if you did
put in all the real costs to the community of free trade you would find
that a 10 to 15% tariff would make economic sense; but I do not insist on
that, because the social costs of alienation, and the loss of the
expectation that 'a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay' is the
proper philosophy of life for a citizen of a republic are so severe that
the economic costs are nearly irrelevant. Republics cannot afford to have
large numbers of citizens who no longer believe that the republic looks
after their interests and is concerned for them. Alienation is real and
In all cases defense is more
important than opulence, and you will always have interferences with free
trade for those reasons alone; and some industries are vital to the
survival of the state, and allowing all those industries to be sent
overseas and the experience in operating those industries to stagnate, can
have severe military consequences if the industry in question has been
exported to a potential enemy or a country under the effective control of
a potential enemy, or a country that can be blockaded or greatly
influenced by a potential enemy. I say this in the abstract; you may fill
in particulars if you like.
I conclude that some industries
must be protected simply because their existence is vital for defense.
I say no more here than was
concluded by several RAND Corporation studies some years ago. Hostile
trade as a weapon is not unknown in history although our present
leadership seems never to have heard of it.
I could continue, but perhaps
this is enough on this point.
And to repeat a warning:
Earthlink users are now getting the scam request for "updating" their account information by furnishing financial data. It looks VERY official. Don't do it...
And it gets worse: Earthlink managed to cancel Roberta's account, although they assure me it will be reinstated shortly; but meanwhile no one can access their accounts because the billing software is being reloaded (and that may or may not have something to do with the timing on her account being deaded; mine isn't).
And readers will get a VERY OFFICIAL looking notice purporting to be from Earthlink that will ask for all kinds of accounting information. DO NOT DO THAT!
And this just in:
I wondered if this would exist on the web. I note that in some collections of Vachel Lindsay the poem no longer exists, even by reference. It is certainly not PC.
and I don't know why I remembered it. We memorized it in high school but I had forgotten most. Interestingly there is a defense of posting that poem on that web site.
Apparently they felt the need to justify including it...
And we have
this SECURITY WARNING from Roland
> SOFTWARE: > DESCRIPTION: > A vulnerability has been identified in Internet Explorer (IE),
which > can be exploited by malicious people to execute arbitrary script
code > on a user's system. > > The vulnerability is caused due to an input validation error in
the > custom errors generated by IE, when a website returns an error
page. > The problem is that the requested URL is included, which may
allow > execution of arbitrary script code in the "My
Computer" security > zone. > > Successful exploitation requires that a user is tricked into
visiting > a malicious website or click a malicious link. Afterwards, the
user > must click the link generated by the resource. FOR entire story see Security page
> A vulnerability has been identified in Internet Explorer (IE), which
> can be exploited by malicious people to execute arbitrary script code
> on a user's system.
> The vulnerability is caused due to an input validation error in the
> custom errors generated by IE, when a website returns an error page.
> The problem is that the requested URL is included, which may allow
> execution of arbitrary script code in the "My Computer" security
> Successful exploitation requires that a user is tricked into visiting
> a malicious website or click a malicious link. Afterwards, the user
> must click the link generated by the resource.
FOR entire story see Security page
The Earthlink problems are fixed and Roberta is getting her mail again. Anyone who tried to send her mail in the last 24 hours and got it returned should try again. Earthlink apologizes for the inconveniences.
It's still a bit hectic here at Chaos Manor, but there's a lot of interesting mail. Go look there...
June 19, 2003
Gloomy today. Lots to get done. More interesting mail.
Security concerns about Bluetooth. See mail.
And I have a question: When I restart one of my XP Professional screens opens a folder. Nothing executes and it's not difficult to close it, but I can't find where it is being told to open it on startup. I have looked at all the initialization files in sysedit. I have looked at all the folders and files with the word start in their name. Where else should I look to get rid of this upstart startup?
Now that was stupid of me. For years I recommended Startup Manager. It still works, and just fine. I just didn't have it on this machine. I copied it over from another. Works wonderfully.
June 20, 2003
I really have to work today.
I note that in California only 21% of fourth graders are reading "to fourth grade level" which means in essence that 80% are illiterate, unable to read a newspaper.
But everyone insists that there is nothing fundamentally wrong.
Even the best states didn't do all that well.
Look: all children of "normal" intelligence, which in practice translates to about IQ 70 and above, which is about 95% of the population ( I can look up the exact numbers, but surely my point is clear) can learn to read, and in rural Tennessee and Florida in the a920's and 1930's they all did so learn, in first grade. As my mother, a first grade teacher, put it, at the end of first grade they had learned to read "or they didn't learn anything else, either". And in Capleville, Tennessee (which was then way out in the sticks, very rural) in the 1930's there were no children in our (all white) consolidated of 2 grades per room with one teacher, about 30 kids per grade -- there were none who couldn't read. I didn't have a lot of familiarity with the black country schools, but I do know that black farm boys of my age could read my comic books and I don't mean just look at the picture.
But we now have Head Start that still will not teach children to read; inded it doesn't even teach them the alphabet! And after 2 years it's impossible to see any results from Head Start. Teach them to read in Head Start and you'll see a difference.
But that would take changes in the law that will be resisted by the National Education Association which will insist they only want what's best for the children. Sure.
June 21, 2003
Summer Solstice Day
I took the day to do home type errands.
June 22, 2003
As usual there is a lot of mail today.
And from Tracy Walters:
Researchers Uncover Mystery Malware
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