THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 268 July 28 - August 2, 2003
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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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July 28, 2003
Bob Hope. RIP
In the current issue of Chronicles, the rather uneven magazine that seeks to be the spokesvehicle for "paleo-conservatism", Samuel Francis has an essay on The Patriot Act and what it will bring: roundup of the Kookie Right, raids and busts without much reason for them against gun nuts and anti-Semites, and darned little interference with real terrorists.
The problem is, he's pretty well correct. The FBI has time to go interview some book store worker who was spotted with anti-capitalists tracts in a coffee shop, but it hasn't made much progress in finding the source of the anthrax that killed several and shut down part of the government. Remember anthrax? But the FBI seems obsessed with Hatfill and ponds in Maryland, and terrified of profiling, even though all the evidence I have seen points to the al Qaeda operatives.
But we don't seem to be making much progress against other real terrorists, even if they can bust some guy in Virginia because he has guns, and retroactively charge him with defacing a Nike T shirt. (The story is nearly incredible, but to read about it you'll have to visit some odd places, many of them places I don't much want to go to. But The Washington Post carried the story.) "You prosecute what you can prosecute," one law enforcement source said.
Some years ago Samuel Francis proposed the term "Anarcho-Tyranny" for that form of government. Anarchy in that crime abounds, and terrorists, and not much can be done about either. There were 16,000 murders in the US, and a young black man is probably safer in the Army in Iraq than he is as a civilian in South LA; and the main reason the murder rate is down is that our emergency hospitals are pretty good: factor in Attempted Murder as well as murder and see what you get.
Now I don't mean the nation is seething in crime. But we certainly have a lot of it -- and not much is done. "You prosecute what you can prosecute," one law enforcement source said. And of course you do because the Prison Guard unions demand the work. So we have the War On Drugs. We have regulations. And we have a Federal Bureaucracy that can't find many terrorists or discover who put the anthrax in the mail, but which is pretty good at interfering with local law enforcement. It's also pretty good at interfering with any attempt of local districts to do much about improving education. At collecting taxes in order to keep us from putting mangers up in the public squares at Christmas. Don't you feel safer, now that the manger is gone and the Los Angeles City Hall lights aren't displayed in the form of a cross on Christmas Eve?
It can't enforce immigration laws -- imagine if those had been enforced, if someone had actually investigated those Saudis taking pilot lessons. In fact it can't do much about Saudi Arabia at all because every top official in government knows that after leaving government he can have have a stint at consulting for the Saudis and make a lot of money, provided only that he doesn't get labeled an enemy of the Saudis while in office.
That's the anarchy. The tyranny comes when "You prosecute what you can prosecute," one law enforcement source said. Go after the "hate groups", interview those book store clerks carrying printouts of anti-capitalist tracts, but be sure you don't do any profiling, or serious investigations of Saudi connections. Bust that crack smoker. War to the knife against cocaine. You won't much hurt Colombia: they have been killing each other at about the same rate since before the Spanish Conquest; and you can make some US types rich, and keep the prisons full. "You prosecute what you can prosecute."
Study Finds 2.6Increase in U.S. Prison Population
July 28, 2003 By FOX BUTTERFIELD
The nation's prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department.]
Well, it's not as bad as all that. But the trend is there.
No one would want anarcho-tyranny; but it's easier to drift into than many suppose, and once there it's hard to get out of.
One of my readers is fond of quoting something I said a while ago:
-- "We do not live by rule of law, because no one can possibly go a day without breaking one or another of the goofy laws that have been imposed on us over the years. No one even KNOWS all the laws that apply to almost anything we do now. We live in a time of selective enforcement of law." --Dr. J. E. Pournelle
I wish that were not true, but it is, and that way lies Anarcho-Tyranny. We have the DMCA, and Patriot Act I, and soon we will have Patriot Act II. Welcome to the future.
I emailed Jenkins saying that I was much encouraged by his study which informed me that 20mg of Lovastatin per day was just as effective as a vegetarian diet in keeping down cholesterol. I have never managed to keep to anyone's diet, but I'm quite good at taking prescribed pills.
I got no reply.
I need a file management utility. For years I have used and recommended Canyon Software's Drag 'N File, but it seems not to have kept up with XP and I get some serious glitches using it (files copied to unexpected places, duplicated directories, etc. )
What I need is something like the original File Manager, or Norton Commander for Windows, but it needs this feature: I should be able to specify that I want to copy all and only those files in this directory and these subdirectories that are LATER than the ones being copied to.
It should then do that, without stopping to ask me, without blowing up and stopping entirely when it finds an open file, and preferably it should report on what it has done when it is finished.
There must be such file utilities. I've been spoiled by Drag 'N File and Commander, and I haven't kept up. Commander alas doesn't work automatically. I sure wish Symantec had kept Commander up to date. AND SEE BELOW.
I am reminded by many readers that xcopy with various command line parameters will do all that. All true, and I suppose I should adopt it. My only problem is that I have some long name directories, and the target directory for most of what I want to do is called "FULL MONTY"; and xcopy will not accept directory names with spaces in them. Canyon Drag 'N Soft used to although I now wonder if some of my problems with that utility might have been caused by that. COMMANDER was "Point and Shoot" and didn't care.
I've solved the problem somewhat by renaming FULL MONTY to FULLMONTY which seems to work, so clearly xcopy hasn't kept the 8 letter Directory name limitation even though it can't accept spaces in Directory Names. Odd how quickly one forgets command line methods, given that I used to be a champion of command lines and insisted (I think with some success; at least one of them blames me anyway) that Microsoft's product managers retain the capabilities...
Anyway it sure works, once I get the limits taken care of. Thanks to about 6 readers who sent nearly identical suggestions...
The FULLMONTY is of course a directory of everything I ever wrote, including the editor programs. It hasn't been kept up to date recently. Now to burn a CD and mail it off to Thompson and another to Niven just in case...
[And how quickly we forget: "put it in quotes" of course...]
And now see below.
|This week:||Tuesday, July
I had a LOT of responses to my File Management Utility request, enough so that I don't want to fill the daybook or mail with them; and it's an interesting enough topic to be preserved anyway, so I have given it a page in Reports.
Please read that first. You may then have a comment. Meanwhile I'll be looking at some of the suggestions, but in fact XCOPY solved my immediate problem and worked very well to create my Full Monty.
On Reports: for those who don't know, there are a number of reports, some still interesting, some not so much any more, but all available. You can see a summary of what's there at the Reports Summary page.
And over in Mail there is another exchange on Tariff, complete with economic analysis by an economist who doesn't agree.
Went to the Hollywood Bowl last night. Sumi Jo gave a wonderful performance. I should leave the binoculars at home, though, or get a pair with a much smaller field of view: with my big Nikons when I look at the soloist and conductor I will also get the Concertmaster, who has not smiled since the Truman Administration so far as I can tell; a more sour-visaged violinist would be hard to imagine. Plays good, though.
Adelphia Watch: works perfectly except when it doesn't. At least twice a day it simply stops working for a while. Usually when I have something going on line. It isn't reliable enough to play games on line: it is almost certain to stop for long enough to dump you out of the game, usually while your character is in the middle of a critical battle.
Lots of mail.
Since everyone is telling us that tax cuts are ruining the country, and what we need is higher taxes to reduce the deficit, and that will get the economy moving again, I suggest they have a look at California. All the jobs are leaving the state, and the only people who can afford to live here are those who have income that doesn't depend on working here or hiring people. And if they raise the state taxes much more, even those won't be able to live here.
Well, that's not quite true. There are plenty who don't pay any taxes. In theory they aren't affected by tax rates, and since tax cuts can't do them any good, they sure aren't interested in tax cuts, unless, of course, to be fair, when we cut taxes we give a tax cut to those who don't pay any. To do that we can raise the taxes on those who do pay them. Now we have tax cuts for everyone and we can get everyone behind tax cuts, and pretty soon no one will be paying taxes because everyone is gone.
We could then do as Diocletian did and decree that henceforth each person must follow the profession of his father, and no one can leave the state, you must continue to work to pay the taxes...
That ought to work.
Don't mind me, I haven't had breakfast yet. Mail later.
Never mind. This one I figured out through HELP. That's not always useful but this time XP Help actually told me how to do something.
I am going to need a new laptop. I will probably get one from COMPAQ; I have always been happy with the COMPAQ professional line of computers including laptops, and I have carried the Armada E 500 for years; while Richard is using an even older Armada, and it is fine for him.
My problem is that the E 500 is finally getting obsolete, too small a disk drive and just a bit slow, and won't do the graphics I need on the road. The COMPAQ Tablet PC is also too slow for graphics, and with Outlook it's really slow. This is due to the Crusoe chip, which is good for battery life, and works fine with Tablet functions, but when trying to do Outlook it is very slow, given the amount of Spam I get. If I got less mail, the Tablet would be good enough; it nearly is anyway.
But it will NOT play on line games.
My options are a good Pentium IV or a Mac. I have no experience with the Mac and what it will and will not run. I presume it will not run most on-line games, and I suspect that it won't do Outlook meaning that I sort of go down a permanent road if I go that way. Many have been trying to get me there for years, of course.
I'll probably end up with a new COMPAQ Pentium IV about 15" screen with an ATI or equivalent graphics chip and such like. I'd really like to be able to connect wirelessly with the Tablet PC as well.
And if I can manage to integrate that with a new Mac so I can do comparisons that would be pretty good too.
The Pentagon Futures scheme is over, but it was illustrative of the way economists think. After all, it made a certain amount of sense -- if you didn't think in human terms, and mostly thought about people as units in a model.
July 31, 2003
I'll head over to SIGGRAPH in a few minutes. It's in San Diego this year. Alex and David Em were over there yesterday, and apparently there are some things worth reporting.
David says that in graphics, Moore's Law is far too conservative. The doubling times are about nine months now. And nVIDIA is in with a vengeance, now the leading force to reckon with.
I have a lot of advice about laptops. More in the column.
I had a heck of a job configuring Outlook and the Tablet PC. Earthlink has apparently made it impossible to send mail through your own mail service if you are logged on to Earthlink; you have to send through Earthlink. This is in aid of Spam control.
Since we are connected by 53K modem to Earthlink here, I had to reconfigure all accounts to send through the Earthlink mail server only. Since 90% of the mail I get at my Earthlink account is Spam, while Spam Assassin run by Mazin/Rocket where my other accounts are hosted gets 90% of the Spam this is both interesting and frustrating. Of course Earthlink has far larger numbers to deal with than my people do, and can't give all the individual attention I get.
Eventually we'll do all my mail hosting on a server at Chaos Manor, but that won't solve the problem of connection through a dialup account.
There's a good bit of mail but I won't get to much of it before SIGGRAPH.
Just heard a news teaser about "WMD! Where's the smoking gun?"
They might go have a look at the killing fields where Saddam used chemicals on kids in the Iran war, or in his suppression of the people Bush I stirred to rebellion.
It's one thing to think we didn't need to be in there; it's another to try to act like Saddam was a good guy.
August 1, 2003
Spent yesterday at SIGGRAPH. Full report in the August column. Also spent a good part of the day with Peter Glaskowsky now editor in chief of Microprocessor Reports. It's always worth while listening to Peter about what's going on in our world. Peter thinks David Em is too conservative: the performance doubling time in graphics processing equipment is more like six months.
I'm still down here at the end of a 53K pipe. It feels like being at the bottom of a well.
On laptops: I want again to make it clear that my entirely favorable experiences with COMPAQ laptops is confined to their professional equipment lines. I have no experience with the "performance" or "Presario" or any of the other low-cost lines. Readers have varying stories on those; mostly of course what they report are bad experiences, but then that's true for nearly every low-cost brand.
Now I get much of the stuff I write about free, for the obvious reason that if I didn't I couldn't afford to write about it; but since I began my columns I have had the policy of always buying at full price enough equipment to get my work done. That way I am not dependent on anyone. I also have the policy of seldom writing about anything I don't use, and not using anything I don't like and wouldn't recommend; and I am pretty careful about relating my experiences with all this stuff. After all, I do a lot of silly things so you don't have to.
So for those who have warned me about COMPAQ Presario, thanks; but I have similar horror stories about almost every low-cost line of equipment. There's precious little profit in low-cost computer equipment, and lines that compete on price will inevitably have similar pressures to cost-reduce their products, and that means a balance between tech support and quality control. More on this in the column.
My recommendation has always been that professional work deserves professional equipment, and it's better to have something good enough that works than have the latest with problems. More on that in the column as well:
and comments are invited.
And once again I am finding out how awful it is to operate at the bottom of a 53K well.
The environmentalists are claiming credit for a $50 million fire in La Jolla. The Sand Diego gay community is rejoicing that their law suits have got the Boy Scouts thrown out of Balboa Park.
Direct action; direct democracy seems to be on the rise.
Of course all the train schedules including the MTA Red line schedules require you to download huge pdf files meaning that anyone with a dialup connection is out of luck. Why not? Convenience of the public isn't important, these are public service organizations.
AMTRAK operates the same way. Huge pdf files rather than something short and fast. But again, why not?
SIGGRAPH features demonstrations of cool and far-out stuff. This is a smoke curtain with holograms projected on it. Microprocessor Reports EIC Peter Glaskowsky stands in the curtain...
And I weary of the ideology of the neo-cons: now they want to "privatize" the national parks, to save, according to one official, TEN MILLION DOLLARS. The FBI spent a couple of million draining that pond in pursuit of Hatfill, while learning nothing. Ten million dollars is a lot of money to you and me, but it's trivial for the government.
The National Parks have done well with Rangers for a long time. Privatizing the ranger service is a radical move, not anything conservative. I prescribe Roepke to the neo-cons who thought up this silliness...
I am home again. The train works fine although the Post Office type employees in the stations are one reason AMTRAK doesn't make as much money as it might. I rather resent paying money to people who clearly believe they are doing me a great favor by taking it, and insist that I acknowledge that.
August 2, 2003
Home and hard at work on the column while Roberta and others play at the beach. No rest for the wicked. I came home in part because I thought my dog would miss me. She did, but we had the neighbor girl take her for walks twice a day, and Sable finds that wonderful, and now she misses the neighbor girl. I was pleased to find that Sable is much more of a watchdog than her Husky predecessors, who were pleased to menace intruders but seldom barked. Sable barked me until she realized who I was. One more layer to the security system...
Mail will mostly be short shrift, but there's a lot on many subjects, including a Defense of Neo-Cons...
August 3, 2003
Here's a cheerful thought:
Science graduates live long and prosper http://www.newscientist.com/news/print.jsp?id=ns99994013
Science and medicine students go on to live longer and healthier lives than those studying other subjects, according to a survey of men attending university between 1948 and 1968.
I have downloaded a bunch of "Commander Substitutes" and I'll be trying them out for the column.
Adelphia is working wonderfully well at the moment. I wouldn't trust it for on-line games, though.
Subject: Zero tolerance.
Think about this one.
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