THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 391 December 5 - 11, 2005
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December 5, 2005
This is column deadline week, so all the action is in Mail. There's some pretty good mail both today and over the weekend. Go have a look.
|This week:||Tuesday, December
Column deadlines, so most of the action is in mail. There's lots of good news over there. Have a look.
And a comment on yesterday's mail discussion:
Subject: re: Enron had Too Much Freedom?
It struck me some time ago that perhaps what sent Enron astray was not lack of rules, but too many rules. The executives were trying to game the system; to use the rules in creative ways to score points. This fatally distracted them from their actual job of earning money.
Regards, Bob Wakefield
Which is in fact a good comment.
About your current Byte column...
I think that perhaps the
are also cool MP3 players.
Regards, Bob Wakefield
should get things going. I put it that way because I don't myself understand it all. Subscriber Steven Hastings, and long time reader, subscriber and fan Greg Lincoln who is one of the owner/operators of the Rocket/Mazin ISP that hosts this page and my domain, implemented this. Steven Hastings wrote the script, and we have been experimenting with it for a while. I am now on deadline so I can't do much with it until I get the column on the wire; but here it is. You get fed the VIEW and MAIL items that I index at the top of the page; it's updated every few minutes.
That's Http://www.jerrypournelle.com/atom.xml to get things started.
It seems to work: I am getting the headlines, and I can read the topics if I wish. We'll have a big bang announcement later, but for RSS enthusiasts, try this now...
The new feed isn't really an RSS feed: it's an Atom feed. The Atom standard is very similar to the RSS standard, but it's newer and it has some improvements.
Most RSS readers will also work as Atom readers, but not all of them. To anyone who has an RSS reader that doesn't understand Atom: I'm sorry, but for the moment only an Atom feed is available. You might want to check to see if there is a new version of your feed reader, one that supports Atom.
Note that both Google Reader and Bloglines support Atom. These are feed readers that work as web services: to use them, all you need is a web browser.
Here's how the feed works:
The feed is created by a Python script I wrote. The script is running on the server that hosts Dr. Pournelle's web site.
When Dr. Pournelle puts an item into the "Highlights this Week" section at the top of a View or Mail page, the Python script picks up that item and adds it to the Atom feed. The script also gathers up the text of that item. However, any items that are not in the "Highlights" section will not show up in the feed. So if you only use a feed reader, and never look at the web site with a web browser, you will only be getting the Highlights; you will not see everything Dr. Pournelle puts on the site.
Future changes to the script may make it possible to have all the content from View and Mail show up in the feed, but I cannot make any promises at this time. The only way to be certain that you have seen everything on the Chaos Manor site is to read the site with a web browser.
I hope you will find the Atom feed useful. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.blarg.net/~steveha
Pearl Harbor Day
This is column deadline day. There won't be a lot here.
Http://www.jerrypournelle.com/atom.xml gets Atom Feed
Subject: Apophis. It's 390m wide. And it could hit Earth in 31 years
I could almost hope this was real: we have time to deflect it, and doing so might focus our attention on space something wonderful.
Someone once wrote a rock filk song about it:
Hammer of God, it's gonna fall,
But in fact we have time to go get it and direct it elsewhere. Time and technology...
December 8, 2005
I hope to start a new series of discussions/essays on both energy and global warming. To that end I need a source: the energy budget of the United States. I had one of those in 1980 from the Annual Review of Energy, but I no longer subscribe to the excellent Annual Review (I used to take Physics, Energy, and Astronomy as I recall) and my Energy Technology Handbook is quite ancient. What I need are some formulas: conversion of various energies (petroleum in barrels, electricity in kilowatts, natural gas in whatever units that's measured in, coal in tons) to common units (BTU or Calories or Joules, it hardly matters), and an Input/Output budget for the US (sources of energy, and what it goes to: transport, space heating, commercial electricity, etc. etc.). I had all that when I was writing A Step Farther Out, and I can probably find it all on my own, but I am sure that some of you are more familiar with modern sources than I am, and I would appreciate help on this.
Second, I am working on assimilating new data on global warming. I remain of the opinion that there appears to be some global warming, but the shape of the trend is not well established, with the evidence mostly pointing to warming beginning some time after 1800, rising fairly quickly until about 1900, and continuing to rise but at a lower rate since then. Exactly how much warming we have and can expect compared to the warm period from about 900 to 1325 A.D. does not seem to be established; whether we are headed for a unique warming period, or only coming out of the Little Ice Age in which brackish water froze in Europe and North America, the Hudson froze solid enough to walk on, and so forth, seems to me to remain an open question. If all that be true, then while it's clear and has been since Arrhenius that CO2 can cause some warming, it's not clear that it has an effect large compared to other forces that don't seem to be well studied.
I welcome well reasoned opposition to this view. I don't mind being shown to be wrong. I do mind being shouted down.
And I continue to say we are spending far too little on gathering data and understanding the climate, perhaps about enough on computer modeling until there is more data to input, and in general just not enough on reducing the uncertainties in our predictions of future climates; and that until we have a better understanding of whether we are headed for warming or a New Ice Age, it is silly to spend large sums trying to Do Something Now.
And again I welcome reasoned arguments in refutation of that view; but for now that's my considered opinion having digested as much of the new data as I have been able to obtain.
I see that Rush Limbaugh is starting Video Podcasts. CMP, which owns BYTE and Dr. Dobbs, wants to do more with video podcasting. There is also the question of audio podcasting. Audio is easily done within the resources here at Chaos Manor. Video podcasting, if done with reasonable quality, is fairly expensive to produce, and has very large bandwidth costs as well, far beyond what we can do here without support.
The problem is a business and revenue model. How in the world can money be made from audio podcasts? And even more important, how can enough revenue be made from video podcasts to justify the costs of production and distribution? I welcome your thoughts on this.
Finally: I am experimenting with audio podcasts, and sometime in future I will send patron subscribers a note on how they can get some of these, which will mostly be on the subject of what the heck I am doing to try to make audio podcasts...
Send check or money order (payable in US
http://sfwa.org/bulletin/subscriptions.htm will give details. I don't recommend this for general reading, but for those contemplating writing for money it's probably worth it.
December 9, 2005
Short trip to Kaiser this morning, so everything delayed. I'll catch up later.
Listening to Rush in the car on the way out. He said "The air marshal system worked exactly as it is supposed to, so a bunch of pointy headed liberals and academics are now demanding that we study to see what's wrong with it." It was a good point. I am sorry about the psycho who jumped up and yelled that he had a bomb, but I don't think the system ought to ignore such people.
Harlan Ellison announced that Robert Sheckley, long noted for his unique science fiction stories, has died. We will all miss him.
Robert Sheckley (1928-2005)
Robert Sheckley passed away at Vassar Brothers Medical Center Poughkeepsie New York on Friday, December 9, 2005. He was 77.
He was first hospitalized while in the Ukraine in April of this year. He returned to the US in late May, and recovered in the summer. On November 20, he had surgery for a brain aneurysm at Mount Saini Hospital.
Robert Sheckley wrote scores of novels and hundreds of short stories. When Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America honored Sheckley as Author Emeritus in 2001, then President of SFWA Paul Levinson said that Sheckley's "writing helped our genre grow up by giving it an irresistible sense of humor." Funeral information will be available later today. The arrangement is being handled by Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home of Kingston, New York. Posted December 9, 2005
But does anyone dare say he is right? And see mail for some discussion of diversity, republic, empire, and eugenics..
December 10, 2005
The eugenics discussion continues, and brings in observations about Republic and Empire. See today's mail.
Subj: The True Impact of Videophoneshttp://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20051208
This blog http://concernsissues.blogspot.com/2005/10/defending-microsoft.html posted by Nick Tolentino at 10:33 PM contains my copyrighted column. I have informed CMP. He does not allow comments on his site unless you sign up and register, which I don't intend to do. If has a justification for copying my work and posting it in its entirety, apparently without making any comments of his own. Googling the name reveals he is apparently in the Philippines and a quick look shows I am not the only one he copies and puts up on his "blog". Is this the future blogging?
December 11, 2005
"If you establish a democracy, you must in due time reap the fruits of a democracy. You will in due season have great impatience of the public burdens, combined in due season with great increase of the public expenditure. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. You will in due season find your property is less valuable, and your freedom less complete."
It is my understanding that the National Security Policy of the United States asserts that establishing democracies world wide is the best security for the US, and that democracies never go to war with each other. I can understand the desire to submit to this delusion, but I hope there are enough cold hearted realists in our policy making establishment to make that policy mere fair words, and not something we actually use in planning. Alas, the Iraqi war looks to me as if such Jacobin sentiments were taken quite seriously.
Scam warning over in mail. Worth your time.
I got through my weekend by using the nose pump. It really works on plugged up painful sinuses:
I found the current National Security Strategy document online. It is enlightening.
You might also find the national strategy for victory in Iraq interesting.
Invite comments, including from the Jacobins among us.
The Sunday Times December 11, 2005
Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv, and Sarah Baxter, Washington
ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.
The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.
Iran’s stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear inspections and aggressive rhetoric from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who said last week that Israel should be moved to Europe, are causing mounting concern.
The crisis is set to come to a head in early March, when Mohamed El-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, will present his next report on Iran. El-Baradei, who received the Nobel peace prize yesterday, warned that the world was “losing patience” with Iran.
A senior White House source said the threat of a nuclear Iran was moving to the top of the international agenda and the issue now was: “What next?” That question would have to be answered in the next few months, he said.
So. What next?
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