THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 422 July 10 - 16, 2006
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
July 10, 2006
Second week of Chaos Manor Reviews. There's a new column, and more of the back stuff including David Em.
I do not pretend here to cover the world, or to present an opinion on all issues. Events happen world wide, and we learn about an increasing number of them. We can't comment on all of them nor should we. In some cases my views on the matter should be obvious and it would be pointless to state them. In other cases the event seemed of more importance to the media than it does to me. And sometimes I just plain miss an item, or I'm busy with fiction and haven't time to comment.
I've been doing several hundred words of fiction a day. That will continue. I'll have more to say later this evening. Meanwhile there are big discussions in mail, and some items of interest in view for the weekend.
If subscriptions continue at present rates we'll keep Chaos Manor Reviews open. If you haven't subscribed, one subscription covers both sites: this own and CMR. Subscribe now!
There is also a short poem inspired by Macauley's Lays of Ancient Rome and some notes on the importance of Macauley to modern education.
From the New York Times
From USA Today
You may recall that Dean Kamens' "IT" was widely touted to be the "next big thing" that would change the world. A bunch of really smart people were told what "it" was, and they were unanimous in telling of its future impact on the world. In future, cities would be redesigned for "IT", and the habits of one and all would be changed forever.
I wasn't invited to an early look, and it's probably as well. My initial reaction on learning what "IT" was -- the Segway -- was to chuckle at how really bright people talking to each other could be so insulated from the real world as to believe that it would ever be in really widespread use. The common sense reaction to a gizmo that can go 10 miles an hour and has no non-worn protection for the passengers, and is expected mingle with foot traffic, was that the Trial Lawyers would be glad to subsidize it.
In subsequent years I have seen few Segways. Some are institutional. They would work for mail carriers, but only if there are laws making the Post Office give jobs as route carriers to the handicapped: there's no shortage of able bodied people who can carry the mail. The same is true for most other delivery jobs: there are already things that are good enough. As for transport for the retired, the notion of hundreds of grandmothers and old retired actors buzzing around the sidewalks of Studio City should be a sufficient thought experiment.
When we go down to the beach house we see a few Segways displayed for rent by the day, and a few get onto the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is now divided, with separate two-way paths for "feet" and "wheels". Wheels include skates, skateboards, bicycles, and I would suppose Segways. Motor vehicles have always been forbidden but I guess they have made an exception for the Segway; fortunately there have not been many of them, so the public safety people haven't had to get into the act. Yet. I wonder what the penalty will be for drunk in charge of a Segway? There's no license to lose...
Yesterday when we went up to Santa Barbara to scout the terrain for our youngest son's impending wedding, we saw four (4) Segways in use on State street. I presume they were rental units: it looked like a typical family, one teen and one pre-teen child and their parents. They were the only ones I saw all day. Clearly the wealthy and very green inhabitants of Santa Barbara haven't bought into "IT". I haven't been to Berkeley (the most handicapped-friend city in the USA, at least at one time) to see if "IT" has caught on there, but I'd be much surprised if it has.
I'd probably have forgotten about the Segways in Santa Barbara if Richard Doherty, the Envisioneering genius I rely on for advice on many technical matters, hadn't included this USA Today bit in his daily news roundup. Of course Richard is a neighbor and old friend of Dean Kamens, and I suppose he was one of the early enthusiasts. I know he bought one of the very first Segways. As for me, I prefer to walk to the stores in my village, and to take long walks with my dog, and if I get too old to walk I doubt I'd be a trustworthy Segway operator.
July 11, 2006
From Dow Jones:
One suspects that Bush is relieved that the courts have taken much of the decision power out of his hands, but did so in a way that doesn't really diminish executive power. Guantanamo is a political liability: whatever the President does has a great deal of downside potential, and almost no upside. Letting them all go would infuriate the conservative base without getting any credit at all with the liberals, and would go almost unnoticed by the center -- until one of those released became involved in an act of terror, something that would be almost sure to happen. If those people were not terrorists when they went into Camp Gitmo, they are now.
The President is holding a wolf by the ears. It's hardly the first time. Tiberius said much the same thing of his reign.
By having the courts decide this isn't a matter for executive decisions, they have taken the political liability out of the situation. Treat them like POW's until tried by some kind of commission set up by Congress. This both the politically expedience and constitutional remedy to the Guantanamo situation. The ball's in the Congressional court now. Congress can exempt the Guantanamo prisoners from the Geneva Accords, since most of the detainees do not clearly do not meet the requirements; the question is, who shall decide?
That is: if those in Guantanamo had been shot out of hand on the battlefield it would have been in conformity to the Geneva Convention, but well outside the rules of engagement (and intelligence requirements). But once they have been rendered harmless and transported from the battlefield to a place of detention, then interrogated, what next? And under what authority are they being detained?
Those are matters for Congress to decide. As to the Geneva requirements, is there anyone in detention there who ought not be given the "rights" of POW's? Surely the International Red Cross won't find that conditions are inhumane, that the prisoners are not fed as well as the guards, and so forth. International inspection brings in the risk of contact with agents of international terrorism, but it's not too likely that those in detention can do us much harm, or that they know much that needs to be kept from the enemy.
If there are reasons to treat them other than as POW's, let Congress decide it, and let Congress take the responsibility. Tiberius understood that some matters were best left to the Senate. Let Congress hold the wolf by the ears.
Rush Limbaugh's substitute, and many others, seem pleased with the latest court ruling that Congressional Offices aren't sanctuaries and Members of Congress are not above the law.
Put that way, everyone should be happy: but that's not what's at stake here. Apparently this radio host substitute has no idea that there may be larger issues here.
First, no one has ever said that Congressional Offices are sanctuaries. This substitute radio host says "What if he'd committed a murder in his office? Would he be exempt then?" He says that is if it somehow cleverly makes the whole matter clear; proof by reductio ad absurdem.
Of course it does no such thing. No one has said that Congressional offices are exempt from the law; the dispute is over who shall enforce it. The Capitol Police and the Sergeants at Arms have jurisdiction, and the Congress itself has jurisdiction. If the FBI really needed more evidence against Jefferson -- and really, what more did they need? -- they could have gone to the Speaker. The Speaker could have called in the Minority Leader. They consult and instruct the Sergeant at Arms to conduct the search. All is well.
But the Attorney General decided to expand the power of the executive and end this nonsense about Congress being a co-equal branch of the government, and having control of its own house.
The House ought to be considering bills of impeachment for the Attorney General, the FBI Director, the judge who issued the warrant, and the judges who have ruled in this case. What's at stake here is far more important than having yet one more charge against a crooked Member of Congress who is doomed in any case, and would already have been indicted if the executive hadn't decided to use this as a means of eroding the independence of the Legislature. The judge who issued that warrant has attempted to expand the power of the court over the Houses of Congress. He ought to be turned out to private practice.
In the movie "Advise and Consent" Hollywood decided to end the movie by having the Secret Service agents flood the Senate chamber: the President had died, and the Vice President, presiding over the Senate and about to rule on an important matter, was now President, and the Executive came into the Senate. It was one of the most chilling scenes I have ever seen in movies, most chilling because no one I know of remarked on it at the time. The notion that Presidential bodyguards belong in the Senate seemed to be utterly acceptable to all. Chilling indeed.
Of course Mr. Jefferson ought not be exempt from the law; but once this precedent is established you will find far less unambiguous cases giving the executive and judiciary power to intimidate the Members. I may not live to see Secret Service agents on the floor of Congress when the President is speaking there, but you will.
July 12, 2006
Adelphia is giving me bandwidth problems. If you recently ordered Strategy of Technology, I am having trouble delivering it because Adelphia is timing out when I send out mail with attachments. I usually reply to the paypal notice by attaching SOT. It also times out when I send pages to update this site, and if I attempt to attach the pages to email to someone top update for me, that doesn't work either.
This has gone on since 11:00 AM yesterday. I am in effect cut off from my site. At some point I presume Adelphia will do something about it, but for the moment I have to work on one machine, transfer the files to Lisabetta the TabletPC, use her built in modem to connect through dialup, and send that way. Needless to say, this is annoying at best.
I cannot send long files either. I am back to dialup. That at least should work.
And the world bursts into war in the Middle East. Hezbollah feels left out so they have to start a new war with Israel. They need to prove their relevance, so they start a new war.
The news is all very disturbing. Israel has mobilized a full division. One expects no less. What were the Lebanese thinking of? Hezbollah is part of the government of Lebanon. This is not just a terrorist organization.
Rove demonstrates that power corrupts the mind, and isolates one from common sense. I can't believe he has said what he did about the immigration issue.
Thanks to all those who have recently subscribed. I have been logging these as fast as I can, but the problems with Adelphia include an inability to send replies. I can answer short mail, but I can't send anything very long. Presumably they are going to fix that, but they sure haven't. This means that I can either work on my laptop to respond to new subscriptions, or I can log them in but not send acknowledgements and replies until the cessation of hostilities.
Either way I am going to be slow in responding to new subscriptions. Renewals require only a short message so that's all right, but anything longer than a page or so, which includes the welcome letter I send new subscribers, will take a while. And of course even to send this requires that I move the page over to the laptop and use the laptop to dial in. That's because in absence of mind I gave away the USB modem I used to keep for emergencies. I'll have to get another. The laptops have built-in modems, but I have to transfer the work to the laptop to send it.
Roland suggests a wireless solution and I may have to go to that, but just now we're trying to control expenses here until I can get a book out the door.
Flash: I seem to have the satellite connection working again. That solves the problem nicely.
I seem to have forgotten how to manage Outlook's pst files. I have the Outlook.pst file down to a reasonable size but the archive file is enormous -- and for some reason it keeps getting updated, and thus copied from one machine to the next. That takes forever.
What I need is to study the situation and figure out how to get the all the older Archives files, that will never be updated, into one old pst which can be copied once and once only. Then the current archive should be small, and the current pst and current archive will be all that need to be copied.
Now I have to figure out how to do that.
We have the satellite connection working so I am no longer on dialup. I will test the Adelphia connection at intervals until it's working again. The satellite is fast once transfer starts, but the latency is bad, of course.
But I am back in communications again.
which is hardly news. It has not yet been established that Plame continued as a covert agent after the birth of her children. It would be remarkable if she did. Most CIA people move into analysis when they have hostages to fortune, or else move into even deeper cover.
July 13, 2006
My apologies for not getting this up earlier: blame it on the Adelphia imbroglio.
We are back in communications due to the satellite connection. I lost most of a day because of Adelphia. Full story in next week's Chaos Manor Reviews.
Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: do not read this before seeing Superman Returns.
Carl Rove on immigration:
I would myself have thought there is a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. Apparently that distinction has been lost.
Do a thought experiment: think of the interaction between minimum wages and a steady flow of illegal immigrants willing to work for considerably less than the minimum. Now imagine a nation with few to no entry level jobs for citizens and legals.
I have just tested the Adelphia connection. It is now up and running properly, with full upload speed.
I am shocked, shocked...
From the mail I am getting, there are a lot of people who don't know that my columns no longer go to BYTE. Please get the word out: have a look at www.chaosmanorreviews.com
BYTE apparently is not doing so.
For those interested in social pathology:
The inside story of how blundering, lies, and revenge brought down Harvard president Larry Summers.http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/the_crimson_coup
Charles Murray on his new book In Our Hands:
AND HERE IS ONE I HAVE MISSED:
Subject: Inflatable spacecraft launches from Russia
The future slowly unfolds.
An experimental inflatable spacecraft bankrolled by real estate magnate Robert Bigelow rocketed into orbit Wednesday to test technology that could be used to fulfill his dream of building a commercial space station.
The launch was a first for the startup Bigelow Aerospace, founded by Bigelow, who owns the Budget Suites of America hotel chain. Bigelow is among several entrepreneurs attempting to break into the fledging manned commercial spaceflight business.
The future unfolds indeed
July 14, 2006
On July 14 day I usually write an exposition on just what happened on Bastille Day: seven prisoners, all aristocrats, were liberated. Four forgers, two madmen, and a young man who had challenged the best swordsman in Paris to a duel, and had been locked up by the king at the request of the lad's father. The forgers vanished. The madmen were put into the common madhouse. The young aristocrat took a revolutionary name, joined the liberation forces, and was later beheaded during the Terror. The garrison of the Bastille consisted of retired soldiers, many of them missing limbs, and were as much waiters and attendants as guards, since the Bastille contained only aristocrats who were confined in relative comfort. The garrison was slaughtered and their heads put on pikes.
The Revolution brought in a new vision of man and government. Before it was over, French armies had ended the Venetian Republic, the oldest republic in history. The Revolution ended when Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, failed to incorporate all of Europe into a new Empire. Revolutions often have unintended consequences. Few people seem to learn anything other than "Next time for sure."
The war in the Middle East continues. The wisdom of US involvement in that war -- in the territorial disputes of Europe -- is not often debated. Washington's advice was to avoid entangling alliances and avoid involvement in the territorial disputes of Europe.
When Soviet Russia threatened the world, containment made sense: don't let them expand, and eventually they will collapse. That is what happened. Our leadership of that Cold War was an exception to our historic policy of "We are a friend of Liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own," because guarding our liberty required attention to Europe and other places. It is not clear that there is any credible threat to our liberty now.
We are in Iraq, and leaving precipitously would be a disaster; but should we not rethink the whole notion of entangling alliances and involvement in overseas territorial disputes? After the fall of the Bastille, the French revolutionaries set forth on the noble task of carrying Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity across Europe on the points of their bayonets. That ended at Waterloo when the Guard died rather than surrender. (Let those who think the French cowardly contemplate that.) As Wellington said, Waterloo was a near run thing, the nearest run thing you ever did see.
The United States hoped to carry democracy across the Middle East on the barrels of our Abrams tanks. We do not yet know how that will end.
Where did the missile that hit Haifa come from? There's some evidence that it was fired from Iran. Is Israel now at war with Iran? Hezbollah is a pretty well wholly owned subsidiary of Iran, and Iran has control over them. I repeat: is Israel now at war with Iran?
The Israelis are certainly at war with Lebanon.
What will happen with the many thousands of Americans in Lebanon? Will the Navy be sent in to extract them? If Israel is blockading Lebanon, will they consider American intervention to rescue US citizens from a war zone an intrusion on their blockade? One can hope we are not in for another Liberty incident. ( http://www.ussliberty.org/ ; http://www.nsa.gov/liberty/ )
Hezbollah decided to stir the hornet's nest. They hope to get a full jihad, another Arab-Israeli war. Why they think that will produce a different result this time is actually quite clear if you understand the way they think. Allah could change it all in a day. You need only believe hard enough and be willing to make personal sacrifices, and all will come out right.
The Shah understood much of this and was bringing Iran into the modern world through his White Revolution. Such actions take time. Violent revolution generally brings disorder and Chaos. Jimmy Carter didn't understand any of that (what do they teach in political science at the Naval Academy, anyway? Not history, clearly.) and encouraged the overthrow of the Shah. We reap the rewards of what Jimmy Carter sowed. Alas, Madeleine Albright has no greater understanding of the world.
We can now look forward to CNN and scene after scene of crying children, wailing policemen, and screaming victims of Israeli air power. And we may be sure that at some point Jimmy Carter will offer his services in bring peace to the Middle East.
I was reminded the other day of Ray Bradbury's comment on how to get to Alpha Centauri: do nothing, and wait about a hundred years. If we bankrupt ourselves we might be able to get a generation ship built, which would get there eventually to be greeted by those who didn't start for another hundred years.
The same thing is true for global warming, of course. Not that we should do nothing. We should continue to try to understand what is happening. But if we spend a great deal of money on remedies, even if we guess right on which direction we are headed and what remedies we can take, we will find that before the situation becomes serious there will be a number of far better, cheaper, and more effective remedies which may include large scale efforts like big mirrors in space and moving industries into orbital factories.
Dr. Ernoehazy sends this gem:
That Hockey Stick
Looks like it broke.http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YjA3ZmUzY2MxYjJiMjg0YjQ0ZDEzYjViYmY3NDJjNjM=
for commentary and a link to the statistician's report.
That's gonna sting.
From another conference:
Einstein's affairs should surprise no one, says Desmond Morris. It is all in the genius's geneshttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml;jsessionid=AYFCUDF45UDXVQFIQMFSFFOAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/arts/2006/07/13/baaffairs13.xml
We use AIM for conferencing for board meetings of the Heinlein Society. I try to turn every bit of the damned thing off without uninstalling it, but it keeps sending me updates to a thing called Triton which acts as a worm to eat cycles and slow down my system. Is there any way I can stay able to do AIM conferencing once a month and get rid of this horror for the rest of the month, or must I uninstall every trace of it? Must I resign from that board because I just can't stand this any longer?
I have a great deal of mail on this. I'll put it together when I get a chance. Thanks. For the meantime I had to go into safe mode, but I uninstalled the whole darned thing. It speeded up my system something wonderful. It no longer takes 20 seconds to open mail for forward in Outlook, and I no longer have this Trojan demanding that I install updates to it.
Valerie Plame's twins had nothing to do with her reassignment from overseas to domestic analysis?
I have uninstalled AIM. That seems to have speeded up my system.
And now to run errands and get some writing done.
Another thousand words on Inferno II. I have finished some scenes and need to discuss this with Niven before I can go further. I think I'll turn to Mamelukes now.
July 15, 2006
This is long. You'll need some Kleenex. Thank you, Ed.
The Department of Education comes out with study after study proving that private schools are no better than public schools, and education today is as good or better than education in the past. There are miles of statistics.
Meanwhile the Mayor of Los Angeles wants to take over the schools on the grounds that they are failing in Los Angeles.
The teachers' unions adamantly oppose even the thought of giving parents any choice whatever in where the children go to school. Money paid to the public schools is tied to attendance and test scores, both of which rise but when investigators look into those numbers they find coaching and false attendance records, but those are always exceptional cases.
The teachers' unions adamantly oppose even the thought of giving parents any choice whatever in where the children go to school. They insist that all teachers be qualified, which means that they have valid credentials, which are given for training in education colleges.
The US Air Force consistently trains young people in mathematics and other fairly complex subjects. The training sergeants retire; and of course are not qualified to teach high school mathematics unless they obtain credentials and learn how to teach. The teachers' union insist that properly credentialed teachers are those who have taken education courses; they oppose state laws requiring that teachers be required to study the subjects they are supposed to teach. Education majors may teach physics, but physics majors are not qualified to teach physics.
The teachers' unions adamantly oppose even the thought of giving parents any choice whatever in where the children go to school. The Department of Education, which is staffed largely from the teachers' unions, continues to prove that the public schools are as good now as ever they have been -- they have the statistics -- and that public schools are as good as or better than private schools (in all but 8th grade reading). Any evidence to the contrary is anecdotal and of no value. The schools are fine and there is no education crisis, thank you very much.
And you can believe as much of that as you want to.
This web site was recommended to me by a non-Palestinian Muslim friend, who is usually very reasonable. He's not a US citizen but his work brings him here fairly often. He's also a long time reader.
It presents the views of a great number of people, some Jewish (note the author). Some of the facts presented are true to the best of my knowledge: that is, Israel's pullout from Gaza did not extend to allowing Gaza free trade with the rest of the world, and all fuel comes into Gaza through an Israeli monopoly; the prices charged in Gaza are high enough that in the days when there were Israeli settlements in Gaza the settlers could buy petrol at the price charged in Israel and sell it at a good profit to their Gaza neighbors. This was discussed in some detail in Richard Ben Cramer, HOW ISRAEL LOST which I reviewed in June 2004; a book that will break your heart, but which is vital for understanding what is going on over there.
The Book, Game, Movie, Gadget, and other reviews from the BYTE columns are now up to date. This doesn't include computer reviews and so forth: it's the older Winding Down sections with the movie of the month, book of the month, etc. This can be found in the Reviews/bookmonth section of this web site. We need a cross reverence to Chaos Manor Reviews, and it will get there eventually. For the moment, if you want my past reviews including recommendations for books both computer and non-computer, this is where to find them.
I find things and forget where I found them. For some reason I got to thinking about the John Wayne movie The Alamo and the song, The Green Leaves of Summer, that was a theme. I recall that I once found at least one and probably several renditions of it, actually sung, but now I can't find that site again. I wouldn't really mind paying for a good copy but the one I found was free and this isn't the sort of thing I listen to a lot.
Anyone remember where I found it? (THANKS! I have it now. More later.)
And now to go work on Mamelukes
The Iwo Jima squadron has been ordered to Lebanon to assist in withdrawing American citizens. I hope the Navy doesn't send them in unprotected. See my previous remarks.
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, 8,000 - 12,000 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. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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