THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 459 March 26 - April 1, 2007
Highlights this week:
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March 26, 2007
We're back from Phoenix, and I'm drafting tomorrow's column installment. There's a new mailbag up at Chaos Manor Reviews, and we have a lot of good mail here as well. Inferno II is coming along nicely and is at the stage where I find it hard NOT to work on the book. That cuts back on what goes on here, but I do try to keep the mail section up.
Thanks to all those who recently subscribed or renewed subscriptions. Until I get this book done that's our main income.
Subject: Barbara Morgan
You wrote: "Barbara Morgan who graduated from high school the year I was born has been selected as an astronaut and has been waiting 22 years for a mission."
There's a Barbara Radding Morgan who, according to Wikipedia, was born in 1951 who originally trained as backup to Christa McAuliffe on the Challenger Mission. Perhaps you meant that she was born the year you graduated high school?
-- Be pretty if you are, be witty if you can, But be cheerful if it kills you.
I believe I was quoting someone else, but it's pretty clear you have the right of it.
|This week:||Tuesday, March
Still dancing as fast as I can. It's hard to think of the news out of Washington as anything but farce.
There may be progress in Iraq. The question is, progress toward what? I have yet to see a coherent statement of what we hope to leave behind when we get out of Iraq, or how that can be sustained without our continuing presence. A continuing presence implies a constabulary army, or the conversion of the Legions into constables. That latter course is dangerous, unless every potential enemy ceases to train Legions and converts to constables as well.
Wealthy Republics tend to fall for lack of defenders. Wealthy Republics with large standin armies face another dilemma. Machiavelli wrote extensively on this: either your citizens are the soldiers (or at minimum there is a large pool of citizen soldiers able to stand to the ranks and be effective) or you must hire soldiers. Hired soldiers have not the same incentives as citizens, and will either lost your battles, or find it more convenient to rob the paymasters. Perhaps the world is different now and we have found the magic formulas that Machiavelli did not discover. Perhaps.
CNN has a slide show review of the Apple TV:
It is, as many of these things tend to be, more a promotional piece than a review, as witness this (about slide 15):
But it does tell you what Apple TV is.
There is a good letter on Education over in mail. And a couple of mini-essays. Go have a look. I'm off to get the column done and then I have to go to Hell.
March 28, 2007
I seem to have put Wednesday's view ahead to Thursday. So it goes.
March 29, 2007
and it's a good example of why I almost never read blogs. The discussion is in chronological order, but there's no order to the discussions. Stross's original essay takes my column on DCMA http://www.chaosmanorreviews.com/open_archives/jep_column-317-c.php and uses it to derive positions I don't have and don't defend; my answer to that appears as item number 39 or so in a long list of comments, most of which are not unintelligent but aren't really a good investment of time.
The subject is important.
Stross says that ebook piracy won't be important because ebook readers will cost a couple of hundred dollars, and people won't pay that, so -- well, you can read it yourself if you like. It's fairly long and my summary is not likely to be any more fair than his parody of my position. Of course he's dead wrong on the readers. You carry a cell phone which is a reader of sorts, most of us have laptops, my medico friends tell me that TabletPC's are becoming very common in that profession, and no one has repealed Moore's Law.
Stross uses my column as the horrible example. In it I said
He never commented on that. He says the reason ebooks don't sell is that they are priced too high. If they were priced reasonably people wouldn't steal them they would buy them. I could say the same about BMW and Ferrari automobiles, but perhaps that's unreasonable. On the other hand, if pirate sites are advertised -- and they are -- then publishers who charge any price are competing with them.
I don't like DRM schemes that inconvenience paying customers. On the other hand, I make a living at writing books. In my column I invited discussion of the matter. There hasn't been a lot, and I am not sure that the Stross parody of what I said qualifies anyway.
The matter remains important. I don't know what to do about protection of intellectual property. I do know that forcing writers to be performance artists who make public appearances for money is probably not the optimum way to get great books written. Writing songs is tough, and there's little money in it; that's the performance artist model. Writing books is, I think, a good bit harder than writing songs.
And on that score I am going to go write on mine. If any of you care to read through all the comments to Stross -- I didn't have time -- and tell me if there's anything new and important, I'd count it a favor if you'll let me know. The matter is more important than most people know.
There is mail on Free Trade and economists
Greg Cochran in the news again.
http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/070326_evolution.htm Human evolution, radically reappraised
March 26, 2007 Special to World Science Updated March 27
Human evolution has been speeding up exorbitantly, a new study contends--so much, that the latest evolutionary changes seem to largely eclipse earlier ones that accompanied modern man's "origin."
A reader asked his Marine son about my comment on 300 as being popular with the USMC. He got this reply:
No one has yet understood the remedy, which is an across the board tariff on imported goods and services; but they'll get there. A 10% tariff sounds about right to me, but I think that needs experiment. The point is that a tariff on imports falls on those who get the benefit of the lower import prices; the revenue can then be used to ameliorate the effects of job exports.
Blinder also makes the point that college education isn't the answer because many of the jobs that are done by college grads are now being exported. He has suddenly discovered the flaw in Ricardo's analysis.
That flaw is in most simulations. I had to do models for a living; that's what operations research is. And the flaw is time: there are phase shifts in the real world. Processes that take a while work differently when you make things more instantaneous. We can now export a job instantly but retraining takes time; by the time you have retrained that job can be exported too. In military operations this is known as working inside the other guy's operations cycle. It can work in economic warfare too.
I am going down to the beach to work on Inferno II. We're in the 8th Bolgia. If you have th9ughts on Evil Counselors who work in secret and ought to be roasted in Hell -- make sure they are dead, you cannot libel the dead -- I will listen to suggestions. I hope to finish the first draft of that scene before the weekend is over. Palm Sunday in Hell...
Safe in San Diego. We're at the beach house and I'm working.... Thanks for the suggestions. I will use a couple of them.
March 30, 2007
Down at the beach house. Working on Inferno. Thanks to Monty for suggesting an inhabitant of the Bolgia of Evil Counselors. Perfect. Work goes slowly, but it goes. And here is
Talk like a pirate: Don't remember where I found this, Dr. Pournelle, but I thought you might appreciate it...
Pirate Program: Just in time for national Talk Like a Pirate Day, the FBI busted a ring of software counterfeiters and seized bogus Microsoft Office and Windows CDs worth $80 million. Apparently the feds relied on tips from long-time Microsoft users, who got suspicious when the Office software they'd just bought ran perfectly for weeks without crashing.
No comment, none at all...
|This week:||Saturday, March
It is allergy season again. I get comfort from
and I can recommend it.
|This week:||Sunday, April
There will be no April Fool stories or jokes.
We will be going home tomorrow, and I have to get the column done, so this page will probably not be updated until evening.
All is well and I continue to work on the stories. We are contemplating some more bonus materials for subscribers.
And a matter of importance that I will probably repeat tomorrow:
Online Higher Education Spread Accelerates.
- Roland Dobbins
Monday Morning: Shutting down here. We are packing to get home. I will roll over the week when I get to Los Angeles.
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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