THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 367 June 20 - 26, 2005
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June 20, 2005
Last week I learned that I am listed as a "prominent paleoconservative"; this caused me to write a short piece on that subject. I just wrote it but I think it belongs back in last week's View, so you will find it there.
I have had a number of responses to Bad Mail; if you subscribe and didn't get a mailing last week, look there. Note that I do NOT list people whose mail was returned because their box is full.
The Wall Street Journal has an article on Phishing and Phishers in the Marketplace section. Part of it mentions adventures in Internet Relay Channel chatrooms. I blush to say I have never been in a chat room, and have no idea how one gets into them or what goes on there. While I have no strong desire to spend time that way -- this place takes quite enough of my time with much better reason -- I have some curiosity since some of this may play a part in the intrigue novel Roberta Pournelle and I are working on. I suppose I will have to look into the matter. For another on phishing see here. I can't find the one I saw yesteday. It begins Explanations about the source of the Internet's phishing epidemic often involve exotic tales and I can find that phrase but it takes me to some summary page with ads so I suppose they are suppressing the article itself. So it goes.
|This week:||Tuesday, June
Outlook always knows if you are in a hurry; that is when the piggy program chooses to hang up, and since there is no way to tell it "STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING", it will start eating the rest of the resources. It's very good at that: and it always waits until you are in a hurry to waste several minutes of your time. I doubt that Microsoft cares much, but I would if I were they. There is a lot to like about Outlook but there's a lot that is a mess and they don't seem interested in doing much about it. This time it happened when someone sent me a link to a WSJ column. WSJ links want to load a bunch of advertising along with the text and Outlook tests these and if Outlook is also going after mail at the same time the result is disaster. The best way out of it is -- oh to heck with it, this needs to be in the column. The moral of the story for me is that Outlook is useful, but it sure is annoying.
Henry Vanderbilt has been sending me parts of a story about a possible shift in the Gulf Stream. If that happens the resulting changes in climate will make Global Warming rather trivial by comparison. I am trying to put all that together for you.
I have some mail on the Reagan Budgets which may or may not shed some light on that subject.
And there is mail about folic acid and Alzheimer's that may be interesting.
The LA TIMES this morning has an article on a subject
"Recovered memory" is a bit like global warming. It probably happens, but not the way most think it does, and certainly is not happening in some cases. I can, for instance, with cooperation of the parents, implant memories in any teenager. One relatively harmless demonstration is about the time when the teenager was five years old and was lost in a shopping mall and found by police. With a little work you can get them to remember details, wearing the policeman's jacket, the name of desk sergeant (in a non-existent substation that was supposedly part of the mall) and even the clothes the teenager was wearing the day it happened. And of course no such event ever happened.
The technique for implanting the memory is remarkably similar to the standard technique for recovering a memory of child abuse. Such memories are often recovered during custody hearings. In one case both sides accused each other of child molestation, and lawyers for one side, in the courtroom, "recovered" a memory of the child being molested by the trial judge several years before. Now undoubtedly there are cases in which children are abused -- I find the term "molested" imbecilic for something serious -- and the memories repressed, although generally they aren't really repressed, they're merely inhibited, voluntarily suppressed since it does no good to bring them up. Genuine memories of abuse entirely forgotten is pretty rare actually, just as most soldiers can remember battles and injuries but prefer not to. "I'm drinking to forget" doesn't work very well, but it does sort of work.
The point here is that after a while it's impossible to know whether a memory is real or false, unless, as with the McMartin case, the memories are improbable to the point of impossible: in that case children remembered being taken to Forest Lawn where bodies were exhumed. Of course since each kid was asked about the story, with details being supplied, many "remembered" the same story which is what caused a naive prosecutor primed by a child psychologist who absolutely believed that children could not lie about such things and several of them certainly wouldn't remember such things if they hadn't happened, to believe the children and add those charges to the prosecution. Needless to say, Forest Lawn had no record of any such events. Nor did the archeologists who dug up the McMartin school grounds find the dead horse that Bucky McMartin was supposed to have buried there to intimidate the children.
The fact that archeologists were paid to excavate the school grounds says a lot about the intelligence of the prosecution and the ability of the child psychology experts to intimidate the legal system. Incidentally, they got excited when they found a dead turtle, apparently interred by some child. As the defense lawyer (who ended up owning the school for legal fees) said, "When they find a dead horse let me know."
As I said: I make no doubt that some cases of "repressed memory" "recovered" many years later are true: but absent corroborating evidence, it is more likely that they are not true, and have been implanted by the "recovery" technique. And absent actual evidence (which in child abuse cases is usually hard to come by) it is impossible to tell genuine from implanted. Note that the witness generally doesn't know the difference between implanted and real memories: such is the power of suggestion, particularly if the implanting is done by an authority figure with the cooperation of parents or other respected persons who might have been present and who are "witnesses". But even with no witnesses, when every possible observer is dead, it is possible to implant memories of events that did not take place and could not have happened.
All of which was a major reason for a Statute of Limitations on crimes. Most of those have been repealed in "the interests of justice" but how justice is served by treating notoriously unreliable data as if it were always true escapes me.
Henry Vanderbilt has news about the Gulf Stream. The implications are disturbing.
Feeling safer already?
Of course we are safer with such crackerjack security people on the job. Alert. Intelligent. Able to fine you $10,000 without a trial! Let's put THEM in charge in Lebanon. Or Moscow. Or Moosejaw. Or anywhere...
I have not been posting the news about the Planetary Society's solar sailor because that's available everywhere, and I kept hoping to have banner headline good news. Alas.
President Bush endorses nuclear power.
I missed some of this along the way. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/27/bush.energy/
President Bush Delivers Energy Policy Speech at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant
“In the 21st century, our nation will need more safe, clean, reliable electricity. It is time for this country to start building new nuclear power plants again,” President George W. Bush said June 22 in a major energy policy speech at Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant in Lusby, Maryland. The president’s visit to the plant marks the first visit to a nuclear plant site by the nation’s chief executive in more than 25 years. Bush stressed nuclear energy’s value in America’s energy supply, its role as a safe, environmentally friendly energy technology and its ability to produce “vast amounts of electricity.” He reviewed investment incentives to build new plants as part of comprehensive energy legislation, which the U.S. Senate is now debating. Full story
Expanding Nuclear Power is Key to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Northeast United States, Study Shows
This study demonstrates that nuclear energy must remain a leading source of electricity in the Northeastern United States for decades to come if efforts under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector are to prove successful without major upheaval for industry and consumers. Non-emitting nuclear energy produces 31.6 percent of the Northeast’s electricity, making it the single-largest electricity source in the region. The prominence of nuclear power plants means that Northeastern states already enjoy some of the lowest carbon dioxide emission rates in the country. Full story
It is possible if unlikely that the environmentalist movement will discover the value of nuclear power as a means for energy independence, ending the US dependence on the Middle East and the consequent environmental effects of War, and yielding enough energy to be able to DO Something about such matters.
‘Technology is the ticket’ for energy, Bush says
He seeks more nuclear power, refineries, drilling and diesels
A few scenes from our morning walk. They are putting in storm drains in Studio City, so the Vantage Street River, a year-round spring fed "stream" (trickle usually) will vanish. So will the sandbags from the merchant doorways on Ventura Blvd. so it's probably as well.
We got a few pictures of me, Roberta, Sable the Husky, and our friend Cat:
Cat says the caption for this ought to be "Future Headquarters for Al Qaeda, Western US Regional."
Our morning walk takes us past the world's shortest redwood: it's a full size tree cut off at telephone wire height, but quite healthy. Roberta gives it a hug:
Sable can't figure out why. She knows the squirrel she chased up that tree has moved across the telephone wires to the other side of the street...
I don't know if you have heard this, but I expect you've worked with him in your aerospace days.
Thanks. It was not unexpected. Duke Kane was his planner for most of his career. Duke was co-author of Strategy of Technology with me and Possony.
He will be very much missed. And see mail.
June 23, 2005
In a couple of days I am off to a conference on the future of weapons of mass destruction, and anticipating the next generation of same.
If you have ideas I ought to see, now's the time to get them to me.
The WSJ today has an article on a Texas town that tried to provide WiFi for citizens (by subscription) and ran afoul of SBC which wants a monopoly on all this stuff and while it doesn't yet provide DSL and is not sure when it will, wants to see that local governments don't compete. Funny, they're all for local governments providing monopolies whenever possible; just not competing.
The rapaciousness of Republicans for corporate welfare and benefits for what is laughingly called the "private, competitive" sector is matched only by the unrelenting greed of the Democrats for benefits for Public Service Employees and their Unions. (Why should "public service" have both civil service and union protections? One or the other, but why both?) We have a party of greedy capitalists (Adam Smith said the greatest enemy of capitalism is capitalists, who can't ever meet without conspiring to get government to limit competition) vs. a party of confiscatory taxation and "public benefits" which generally turn out to be more jobs for bureaucrats and higher salaries for public officials. A pox on both their houses.
I wasn't able to find a link to the WSJ front page piece with either Google or MSN search but I know it's out there because I have the paper, and I think someone sent me a link which I now can't find. Oh well.
The whole notion of leaving things to local government, and fiscal responsibility, seems to be gone now. Everything is to be federalized, so that bribes have to be big. With local government a lot of people can get in on public corruption because the price of entry is lower. Federalize it and you need a lot more money to pay before you can play.
Me, I'm all for allowing private companies to get in to provide services, but I am not for state legislatures forbidding cities to get into the game. Let cities and towns do as they want. Meanwhile the cable companies, fearing their monopolies, have their own legislative agendas. The phone companies are losing revenue and want it back so they want a monopoly on high speed internet. Cable companies ==
Well it's all grist for the mill and I suppose I'll deal with much of it in the column, but for the moment I am a bit disgusted with them all. I am sure I'll feel better later.
June 24, 2005
The Takings Decision has sparked a great outcry by various conservative groups and people who claim to be conservative, and perhaps they are right to be so concerned; but I continue to ask why this is a Federal matter at all? Now to some extent it became one because the Federal Government financed "urban renewal" under the Great Society, and proved that it was a horrible idea to have the feds dangle money at cities to induce them to "clear slums." Most of you are too young to remember, but Martin Anderson dealt with the situation nicely in The Federal Bulldozer, a good book about a bad idea.
But why it is a Federal matter that a city abuses its inherent powers and the State of Connecticut does not see fit to do anything about it remains a mystery to me. The Liberal View of the world is that the Federal Government is to go forth and Do Good, and level the states, and protect us all from State abuse so that we can be enfolded in the loving arms of Washington; and to that end to use the Courts to accomplish that which they can never get enacted by legislatures. Abortion comes to mind. Suppression of illegally obtained evidence in criminal trials. Neither of those "protections" can be found in the Constitution nor was either enacted even by Congress in some insane distortion of interstate commerce or "republican form of government" protection. Both of those "rights" were created by the judiciary out of whole cloth. As was the "right" of the people to direct democracy in both houses of state legislatures -- it is often forgotten that for 200 years the upper house of just about every state was elected on a county, not population, basis (as the Senate of the US is elected by States, not by population). Every state legislature in the land other than Nebraska's was reconstituted by the US Supreme Court without a shred of Congressional authority when fresh new rights were discovered by the US Supreme Court.
The conservatives I knew all hated that kind of judicial activism.
Now a Court upholds a state right (one very subject to abuse) and it is as if the world has come to an end.
Do I like the notion that private property is held at the sufferance of city fathers? No. Do I think the States have the right to give that power to the cities? Depends on the STATE Constitution. Do I think it a federal matter at all? I do not think I do. I have yet to see the reasoning that puts the Federal Courts in that picture.
Now true: California, which has some pretty bad laws, has seen fit to protect me from this misuse of Eminent Domain: in California the only way to take private property for non-public use (like a freeway or railroad right of way) is to clear a blighted area, and one can go to trial on the issue of fact over whether this is blight. We also have some odd situations in which private companies have acquired land under the "blight" provisions, and now are fighting to keep it from other private companies who say the land isn't properly developed. Fine by me. Let them fight it out in court. Feed the lawyers. But it is not the case that the city can come take my house to put up a Wal-Mart; not in California. Connecticut, the most liberal state in the union, can enact similar laws if it likes.
Would I campaign against changes to California law restricting the right of cities to take property and hand it to private developers? Tooth and nail, war to the knife; but I still do not understand why this is a Federal matter.
"Incorporation of the Bill of Rights" is the justification given. It is clear that the Civil War Ammendments did not intend to incorporate the Bill of Rights into rights to be enforced against the states by the federal courts; they specifically empower Congress to enforce them by appropriate legislation. But Congress doesn't always act. So when Congress doesn't act why may the courts do it for them absent an Act of Congress?
And the answer, "Because it is so important, and this needs to be fought by any means necessary" is not a conservative answer. Where in the Constitution does it become a Federal matter? I am prepared to be enlightened on that because I would not at all mind seeing the Feds protecting private property rights (although I doubt they will). So what is the Constitutional issue here? What gives Federal Courts -- not Congress, but the Courts -- jurisdiction in this case at all? The Incorporation Doctrine has been responsible for a great deal of mischief and in my day Conservatives hated the whole idea. Wouldn't we be better off if that incorporation were overturned, ended, rescinded, rather than being used by courts to thwart the will of the legislature of Connecticut? If you want protection for private property enforceable by US Marshals, pass an Act of Congress; don't hand more power to the Courts. They'll misuse it every time.
See MAIL for more on this.
I note that the LA Times has a front page story about how a warlord has made life better for a portion of Somalia. I find that wryly amusing.
It was to apprehend a warlord (one who thought we were on his side, we having imported him in US helicopters in the first place) that we lost 18 Rangers in Somalia in the Black Hawk Down incident (and also showed the foolishness of getting into urban civil wars, a lesson that Bush seems not to have learned). It was to end the rule of a warlord that we invaded Iraq. Now we find that a local feudal warlord is the very thing needed in this part of Somalia.
But now that one can graduate from major universities without a smattering of history, expect a lot more of this. Those who do not study history cannot learn from it; and we know what happens to those who do not learn from history. Santayana told us that.
Feudalism may be the natural form of human government. It certainly returns often enough through history. The Aristotelian Cycles continue...
Note that tomorrow I go to England for a week. I will try to update from there, presuming I get connections. I will also do some work on the airplane. With luck I'll have this place up to day by noon Monday California time.
Just curious, did this run anywhere except DC? This was the final reading assignment for my spring semester class.
First I have seen of it. But of course it is all true. Subsidiarity and Fiscal responsibility...
June 25, 2005
June 25, 1950 was one of the last "normal" days for me, although I hardly knew that.
In a few hours I am off to Merrie England.
I don't know if I have lost a power cord for my TabletPC for the airplane or not. It may be that I am looking at the wrong things. We will see. The Auto cord comes apart; it may be that part of it will connect to an airline outlet. It may not be. If not I have lost the airline cord. If so I have wasted considerable time looking for something that never existed. If HP/Compaq had included an instruction book in English instead of uninterpretable cartoons drawn too small to see details I would. Heaps of onions to HP.
Warning: the Apple UNIVERSAL Worldwide only power kit you will ever need does NOT include an automobile adapter nor does it include an airline power cord adapter. I bought the universal kit for enough money that it didn't occur to me that it would not be universal until I opened it.
If there is a way to power a Mac Powerbook on an airplane it will not be available to me. I would have bought one but Apple marketing defeated me selling me something that was worldwide universal that isn't. I should have known better I suppose.
Worse: Apple power supply does eat 220. This information is given in letters so small I need a flashlight to read them, but I won't need a converter. Hurrah. Note this was erroneous in an earlier posting here.
Off line now until American Airlines lounge tonight.
Here I am in Admiral's Club of American. T mobile works. Internet works. It's an hour to boarding. I expect Vernor is on Same plane but have not seen him. Caught up with mail. Outlook is piggy as usual.
Plane boarded on time, but left late: oversold, and baggage already checked, so they had to extract the containers, retrieve the baggage of those who didn't get on, then restow the baggage. Delayed takeoff by about an hour.
I am seated in an interior aisle seat. Three French children of about 5, 7, 9 are in the three seats to my right. I was fearful at first, but they are remarkably well behaved.
June 26, 2005
The night was long but uneventful. I discover there is no power outlet for laptops so I have yet to use one of those things on an airplane. At least not having one for Apple was not important. The airline movie is the Travolta sequel to Get Shorty. It's a parody of the original movie and not as good, but it has Uma Therman and that helps a lot. I didn't watch a movie on the Apple. Didn't do much work on the TabletPC either.
Arrive about one hour late, 3:00 PM London time, which is 0800 Los Angeles time. Got perhaps 4 hours sleep. Met by Wilton Park driver. Vernor Vinge and Alan Steele are in Sussex at the hotel already having come in about 8 AM London time. Vernor came by way of Houston. Pleasant drive from Heathrow in what is the "Daimler version of a Jaguar." V8, comfortable luxury sedan. Not sure I ever saw one of those before. Smooth ride.. Pleasant.
Room for the night is in an inn, rest of week we will be in the Wilton Center lodgings. Only Internet connection here is dialup and I am not bothering, since I didn't get an Earthlink connection number for Sussex and without being on line not sure how to get one. Chicken and egg. But I can surely survive a day.
Vernor Vinge and Alan Steele are here, spent pleasant afternoon and dinner with them. Late enough now I will do some work on my presentation and get to bed.
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