THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 406 April 3 - 9, 2006
Highlights this week:
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April 3, 2006
It's column time. I spent yesterday in conferences with my associates (well, Alex and Dan) on outlining what needs to be covered, and much of the week will go to writing it.
This week the mail will pretty well have to carry the weight for this column. Since I have the best mail section of any daybook in existence (he said modestly), that isn't so bad.
Over in mail we have another example of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy at work. I have written the basic description of the Iron Law so many times that I want to put it down with its own title so I can refer to it in future:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
(for an example see mail)
For a bit of amusement:
Subject: Arthur Clarke pic
On the BBC website -- <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4865972.stm> -- there is a picture of Authur Clarke in a shirt that reads, "I invented the satellite and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." <G>
Sir Arthur has a wickedly amusing sense of humor, and has since I have known him.
Mind-Reading Voice Analyzer On Tap
By Larry Greenemeier, InformationWeek Jan. 23, 2006 URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=177102341
Better watch your mouth. Technology is being tested that's designed to identify criminal intent by analyzing a person's voice. Insurance companies already are using it, and now law enforcement is checking out possible uses.
Nemesysco Ltd.'s layered-voice-analysis technology doesn't provide just the pass/fail results of a lie-detector test but can determine a person's willingness to speak on specific topics, their level of concentration, and even whether their thoughts come from memory or imagination. Law-enforcement agencies could use it for investigations, security clearances, controlling access to secured areas, intelligence-source questioning, and hostage negotiations, Nemesysco says.
The company completed a pilot test in November at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, where 500 passengers' voices were analyzed by a walk-through security system based on the technology. Nemesysco's GK1 voice analyzer, which costs up to $30,000, was used to help identify potential hijackers, drug smugglers, and other criminals.
Nemesysco developed its layered-voice-analysis technology with the goal of producing something more advanced than lie-detection technology, says Rich Parton, CEO of V LLC, Nemesysco's North American distributor. Unlike lie-detector tests, it doesn't determine stress levels to signal if a person is lying. "Nemesysco provides a psychological assessment of what's behind the response," he says.<snip>
My first job in psychology grad school was working with polygraphs. Much of what is known is in public literature but the techniques for using it are classified. The same is true of Voice Stress Analysis. One thing: using it on telephone subjects depends on telephone bandwidths.
Lawyers should be terrified if this technology gets loose...
Subject: You Need This Graphic
Tiomoid M. of Angle
'Be not the first by whom the new is tried, Nor yet the last to cast the old aside.'
I sure did need it. Thanks!!
From another conference:
I've always been surprised to find how many people haven't noticed that the dance sequences in "Singing In the Rain" are long continuous takes. Gene Kelly insisted on it. Debby Reynolds, playing Cathy, was so exhausted by the time the got the final, perfect take of "Good Morning" -- when you're watching and they land on the sofa they're not acting when they grin at one another: It was the one and only take that was *perfect* and it was the last -- that she ended up needing bed rest for a few days.
|This week:||Tuesday, April
Novak on Hansen
- Roland Dobbins
My position remains the same: real scientists will admit that they have no models that cover all the data, and know that our understanding of climate is insufficient to justify recommending expensive measures to compensate when we do not yet know whether to expect warming (and how much) or a new ice age.
The Sun is a variable star. How variable we do not know, and it might be worth knowing such things. The oceans have warming and cooling cycles (El Nino and La Nina) that we can't predict with any accuracy but which have enormous climate consequences.
My position continues to be that we need to know more and we ought to be spending more money to find it out; and those grants and studies ought NOT to be supervised by people like Hansen who have already made up their minds and will not spend a dime on gathering evidence that doesn't support their positions.
Fair warning: time trap.
I won't even attempt to describe what you are about to experience:
AN IMPORTANT SECURITY MATTER:
Subject: Rootkits Again...
In case you've not yet seen these, Dr. Pournelle:
"Microsoft Says Recovery from Malware Becoming Impossible"
"When you are dealing with rootkits and some advanced spyware programs, the only solution is to rebuild from scratch. In some cases, there really is no way to recover without nuking the systems from orbit," Mike Danseglio, program manager in the Security Solutions group at Microsoft, said in a presentation at the InfoSec World conference here."
"Danseglio said malicious hackers are conducting targeted attacks that are "stealthy and effective" and warned that the for-profit motive is much more serious than even the destructive network worms of the past. "In 2006, the attackers want to pay the rent. They don't want to write a worm that destroys your hardware. They want to assimilate your computers and use them to make money."
The article has a bad link, which should have connected to the following site for Mark Russinovich's RootkitRevealer:
One thing to do is install DU METER http://www.dumeter.com/ . This watches outgoing traffic. If your system is sending stuff out when you didn't tell it to, there is SOMETHING WRONG. That at least is a first warning. We'll have more on what to do later.
April 5, 2006
Our Space Access '06 conference starts two weeks from Thursday, and it looks like being a good one. The time to book travel and especially rooms at our hotel is now; the latter especially are going fast. Lots of interesting speakers showing up this year; the whole low-cost space field seems to be getting ready to kick into high gear recently. April 20-22 in Phoenix, Arizona, details as we pin 'em down at http://www.space-access.org/updates/sa06info.html .
See you there!
I'll be there. This is the premier private space conference of the year, in my judgment.
This is column week and deadlines are upon me. I need to comment on the tribunal at Guantanamo, which is a matter of some lasting importance. It is also a complex matter, and not a subject for little considered views. I've been gathering material for some time. Fortunately I have three reliable sources. Unfortunately, while they seem agreed on facts, the viewpoints and interpretations differ widely. More as I have something to say, but the entire procedure warrants watching.
On the subject of matters worth watching, the town of Calabasas has outlawed smoking everywhere in the town. National Review takes note by quoting Tocqueville on rules and regulations and what Tocqueville called democratic despotism. This too is worth noting and has far reaching consequences. Shall we now outlaw butter because it's bad for you and the smell may tempt someone else to fall from polyunsaturated grace? See F. Paul Wilson's "Lipidleggin'" in my Survival of Freedom for more...
They've just finished painting the kitchen, starting at 0700 sharp. Meaning no access to coffee cream, breakfast sort of in the dining room with the dog, and the smell of oil paint. Fortunately they're done.
April 6, 2006
It's deadline time. I am writing about Apple and Windows, and it's due. There is a lot of good mail today, and that will have to do.
I note that McKinney has apologized. There's a note on that in mail. And a great deal on many other subjects, including Dr. Ernoehazy on emergency room costs, and Mr. Hellewell on rootkits.
April 7, 2006
I have done most of the column (and all of what will be posted at www.byte.com next Monday morning, and it's pretty good. Alas, I'll still have to finish the rest of it today and over the weekend. These things seem to take longer every month.
The Immigration Bill farce continues to play without result. Apparently there is absolutely no sentiment for enforcing the existing laws.
David Gelernter has a good article in the current Weekly Standard on Federalism as the solution to many of our national problems. Long time readers will recall I have been saying that for decades. I'm glad to see a prominent neocon has come to share that view, and I don't mean that to be as snide as it probably sounds. I do believe that Federalism is the important essence of America, and that we have been abandoning it at a rapid pace. It is not too late to recover, but it is very late; and as Gelernter says, it is not Congress or the President destroying the very essence of our land. It is the Supreme Court acting as a Supreme Third House, superior to both Congress and the President. The usual remedy to that kind of usurpation is to turn to an Emperor or Dictator. Andrew Jackson acted as Dictator: "John Marshal has made his decision. Now let him enforce it."
Today such a decision would have far greater consequences. Meanwhile I recommend Gelernter's article.
There is a lot of advertising chatter about the "recently discovered" Gospel of Judas. Of course it isn't recent at all.
Michael Flynn has a diatribe on this in Mail, and it is very much worth reading.
And by coincidence I received a short piece on federalism in science fiction last night.
April 8, 2006
Today's LA Times has a story on why radio stations are all playing the same tunes now: they're afraid they'll be investigated if they introduce any new bands or artists. "Let some other station take the chance," said one program director after hearing an enthusiastic pitch for a new band that had got some rave reviews. "I don't want my emails being looked at because I put up a new band."
(I'll write the rest of this when I get an exact title to search for. Google has never heard of this article although I read it in today's paper. One gets used to being able to find things instantly and forgets that indexing takes time. Meanwhile I have wasted enough time searching for the article to reference. I need the exact title and writer's name.)
But what I really need is to begin to document such matters: how we are entering the democratic despotism that Tocqueville warned of. A fine network of rules and regulations that stifles innovation and reduces us to sameness. Of course Tocqueville did not see the anarchotyranny that inevitably accompanies that state. And of course Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy makes it inevitable that we will get there. Welcome to the future.
This morning's LA Times has a book review, although it is disguised as an article on global warming. I can't find an on-line source, but that may be coming later (as was the article referred to in the previous section). The article is entitled "Dissecting a world of trouble," by Anne-Marie O'Connor.
Let me give you the first paragraph:
If you continue to the inside continuation you find this is a review of a book by an Australian scientist, Tim Flannery, who will speak at Cal Tech in Baxter Lecture Hall at 2 PM Sunday (tomorrow). I regret I won't be able to get there. If any of you do, I would appreciate a report. Either he is off his head, or Anne-Marie O'Connor is off hers (those two conditions are not mutually exclusive or collectively exhaustive).
We are, according to Flannery, about to experience disasters that set off the eradication of 95% of the Earth's species. Flannery blames fossil fuels for 80% of the Earth's warming. He predicts hurricanes if we don't stop burning fossil fuels. Needless to say, he has a new book, The Weather Makers (publisher not given in the review article, nor are Anne-Marie's credentials for statements made on her own behalf).
"This is no part of any known cycle," said Flannery, a burly Australian scientist who is a professor at the University of Adelaide and likes to be photographed in full bush regalia.
(His full regalia includes a brimmed hat, but it isn't a Digger Hat.)
"About 100,000 years ago, Flannery says, the Earth was just slightly warmer than it is now -- and sea level was 12 feet higher.
"The biggest immediate issue," Flannery said, "is the melting of the polar ice caps.
"We know that ice cap has been stable for at least a million years and more likely 3 million years," he said. "The north polar cap won't be there by 2020 and 2100 if it keeps up. Some people say it won't be there in 15 years time. That polar ice cap reflects sunlight back into space. Instead of reflecting the sun's energy, it is now absorbing the sun's energy, and that is heating the planet more. The ice is much thinner, maybe 40% of its thickness 30 to 40 years ago.
"You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar or a Harvard graduate to see that's a problem."
I don't have to be a Harvard graduate to see that if the Earth were this warm 100,000 years ago, but the polar ice cap was stable for 1 million years or more, there is something wrong with his data. Nor do I recall that 95% of all species died off 100,000 years ago, but my education in those matters may be deficient. Does anyone know of such a die-off?
Flannery also tells us that hurricanes will make the East Coast uninhabitable. Well, to be fair, he says it "may" get to that. But beware 2008.
And finally, he tells us, we ought to engage in grass roots pressure and local measures. Rooftop solar heaters for hot water, as an example. Now I have no objection to such measures, and indeed if you have the proper facing and sloping roof and your house structure is strong enough to support a lot of extra weight, heating your swimming pool by passive solar heaters can save money, provided you live where there's enough solar energy.
But I also know that at higher latitudes you get less sunlight, and for horizontal surfaces less than that, so that if you're up there in the Arctic there won't be all that much insolation to begin with, particularly on flat ground surfaces. But that's another story.
I haven't time to look into all of Flannery's allegations and predictions, although they seem more or less consistent with things Hansen has been saying. Perhaps he is right. But I still don't understand how the ice cap can have been there for a million years when 100,000 years ago the Earth was warmer and the seas 12 feet higher. Perhaps someone more learned in these matters can explain it to us. I fear Anne-Marie O'Connor didn't think to ask.
Subject: New defensive shield
Dr. Pournelle, My son showed me this today and my first thought was of the Langston Field.
Keep up the good work!
WOW. Actually, of course, rather than a "force field" this is an active counter-measure, but it sure looks good. And while it can't detect and protect ships from torpedoes, it sure ought to be able to keep them safe from many kinds of cruise missiles. It won't protect anyone from pure ballistic attacks, but attacks with shaped charges and active warheads may be a lot smaller threat now.
Thanks. I wish we did have a "field" but active counter measures will have to do.
April 9, 2006
He didn't know about the Parallels VM software which was just released (it allows Windows to be booted into a virtual machine under OS/X). Also, the VMWare people just announced that they will be shipping a VMWare virtualization product for OS/X (they're the leaders in virtual machines; they've been shipping VMWare for Windows and Linux for ages).
--- Roland Dobbins
My own views on Boot Camp (including Parallels VM and Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac) and what you ought to do about it will be in tomorrow's column at www.byte.com. I'd like to put those here, but I do have to make a living, and while subscriptions here pay the costs of keeping this site going and a bit more, it's BYTE that makes my house payments between novels...
It's not generally known but I wrote a couple of the Cringely columns well before the current writer, and before the chap who changed his name to Cringely. So did Laurie Flynn, Jonathon Sachs, and others; Cringely was a George job at InfoWorld at one time, shifting until it got a permanent author who invented a life with Pammie and a number of very clever innovations that made it quite interesting. He was very good at it. How he came to leave off writing that column is an interesting story but it's not really mine to tell since I know it only third hand.
--- Roland Dobbins
Alas. I take no pleasure in saying I told them so. I do not wish my country ill, and I do not rejoice at difficulties. I can only hope we know some way out of this without disaster.
And this is quite relevant:
Colonel Cross of the Gurkhas.
-- Roland Dobbins
I will leave why as an exercise for the reader.
Getting out of Iraq with anything like a victory will be costly. One of the costs will be building legionaries who can and will endure long periods of occupation duty -- not deployments. Auxiliaries, not legions; but auxiliaries loyal to the Republic. We retain the Legions, which insure the loyalty of the constabulary forces. But whether at the end of that process we still have anything recognizable as a Republic is not so clear, at least not to me.
Then read http://www.dansimmons.com/news/message.htm and think on it. As he says, it wasn't the Nazi's who invented marking those not of the ruling class.
Now we can start recruiting legions. And auxiliaries.
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