THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 460 April 2 - 8, 2007
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
April 2, 2007
Home. Trying to catch up.
It is allergy season. I left my nose pump here, because the beach house is on the bay and the air is cleaner, but I missed it. I use this a lot:
The Imams now want to sue the passengers. Of course they will. Sue everyone. There is a simple remedy to all this.
|This week:||Tuesday, April
I had not heard this before. It is infuriating. Do any readers have more information on this? Is this truly a trend? This is a despicable practice, and deserves -- I won't say what those who participate in this deserve.
Well, my morning errands turned out not to be as time expensive as I thought. My car is restored to service and I can go upstairs to work on Inferno, once I grind out something for a column. I hope I can. I may be another day late on the column. I really want to get that book done.
I used to do one column a month. In the old BYTE print days it was about 4800 words and never more than 5500. When we went on line it became traditional to make that weekly, and I began sending in 12000 words or so, to make 4 columns of 3000 words each. That has become traditional. I wonder if it's worth the time investment to keep that as a rigid schedule? I presume people get in the habit of looking for something new once a week.
Anyone with strong feelings on this please write. Particularly subscribers with strong feelings.
On subscriptions: public radio claims about 2% of listeners pledge -- i.e. subscribe. We don't do that well here. I sure wish we did. It would make it a lot easier to do the kinds of things I used to do. The facts of life are that fiction pays considerably better than non-fiction now. It always did, but the journalism paid well enough, and was less work, which caused a slow down in the fiction. That's no longer the case. I do what it takes to write fiction now, and then do these things. There's only so much creative energy, and I put most of that into fiction.
I.e. subscriptions here don't cut into fiction time and won't. What they do is allow me to do more here and at Chaos Manor Reviews.
If you've thought about subscribing, this would be a good time.
And I am about to go off to Hell...
April 4, 2007
I have heard from enough readers to know: you want something weekly but it need not be as long as I have been doing.
I regret that this week's installment is going to be late. I have good reasons for that. Yesterday the morning was devoured by locusts (getting my car stated again among other things) and in the afternoon I went upstairs to grind out a few hundred words on a very difficult scene in Inferno II. Today the dog gets washed, but I'll try to draft the silly column installment. I may not make ot: Niven is coming over, we will hike to the top of the hill and go to lunch, and with luck I will know how to finish this rather crucial scene. We are coming to another of several climaxes in this novel, and it's getting tricky to keep all the characters moving properly; they keep trying to take over. Aimee in particular insists on doing things her way. Carl has his own views of how things should go. And Father Ernesto is much more careful in his work... Meanwhile the Authorities are trying to do something about these rogues upsetting the natural order of the universe.
We'll wrap it all up, but it takes careful and rather meticulous work.
I am not ignoring the world out there, but I think getting my books out may be more important; I do answer mail, and I will continue to argue that the mail section, both here and at Chaos Manor Reviews, is as good as any mailbag on the Internet.
I have the California 1912 6th Grade Reader in .doc format. I thought I would convert it to pdf format but that will take work; maybe it would be better simply to leave it as a .doc file and be done with it? I contemplate putting it into the subscriber area. It did cost me to have the book keyed in (a few hundred dollars, not the Earth) and I'd like to recover that, but it's more important to get it out for use; the stories and poems are quite a lot better than what you see in the textbooks nowadays.
And it's bed time.
It's morning. The dog is at the groomers. Niven is here for a walk and we are at a very tricky point in the plotting of the final four chapters of Inferno II. I say 4 but it might be more; it's at least 4. We know the ending and the final scene; but there are two other denouement chapters that have to be done, and the climatic pacing has to be worked out. Excuse the technical talk.
The point is that the weekly column is pretty badly delayed. I'll get to it when I can.
Regarding the California 6th Grade Reader, the conversion from .doc to .pdf is trivial, but checking page layouts and making adjustments, while easy, is onerous and time consuming. It's THAT part that needs time I may not have just now. Sorry.
Medals of honor to the Iranian guard who "caught" the Brits.
Once the troops are home, seizure of an Iranian ship and selling it at auction, the proceeds going to the captors under prize law with the 15 released troops getting part of the lower deck share seems about right.
April 5, 2007
As you may remember, my father is 86 years of age. He
is hale and healthy and remains articulate and, as is often said, in full
control of his faculties. However, he's been gradually losing his vision as
a result of macular degeneration. He has, for more than 70 years read
several daily newspapers, including the New York Times, and the Wall Street
I think this is a matter of general interest. Thanks. I will be posting replies in mail.
This has been a week in which most of my psychic energy has been divided between fiction and just keeping things going. My apologies, but these things do happen. My thanks to those who have responded, particularly those who chose now as the time to subscribe.
Nothing is badly awry. It is the case that the column -- but not the letters column -- has been delayed this week. I could have prevented that by writing a thousand words of blather; many columnists do that, and it's usually easy to tell then they did.
It's also true that I haven't had a lot in View this week, for the same reasons, but I again point out that I have kept the mail section up, and that does have a good bit of commentary; and I will continue to assert that Chaos Manor Mail and the mailbag at Chaos Manor Reviews are among the best mail discussions on the Internet, and far better than a lot of blogs because while I try to present some balance on matters of importance, there isn't a plethora of commentary that adds little to understanding.
As to the future, Niven and I concluded that we have no more than seven chapters to the end. When books get to that phase, they tend to absorb all of one's energies, and there isn't a lot I can do about that. On the other hand, we ought to be done by the end of the month, God willing and the taxes aren't too difficult to compute.
Once that's done I'll be coming up for air, and we can decide on a more long term plan before I plunge back into fiction with the sequel to Janissaries.
Most of my mail has said in essence, do what you have to do. One letter says, reasonably, that subscribers expect SOMETHING every week. To those who feel that way, let me say: I agree, and I'll try to do better, but once in a while I just may not make that. It won't happen often.
It has been suggested that I go back to what I used to do: write a monthly column that gets divided up into weekly segments. I may do something like that, but more likely I will do a two-week segment every two weeks and chop that. I doubt you'll notice. Chaos Manor Reviews mail will continue as before.
As to this place, don't expect any large changes. This page has always been somewhat whim driven; lately the whims have been tempered by the need to put in time on books. For those feeling deprived, I assure you, there is always a minimum irrepressible urge to lecture -- pontificate, educate, inform, discuss, choose the word you like -- that always remains, but sometimes life overwhelms that and we go through spells of short shrift and fewer whimsical essays. This place has always been run this way. Usually it's not quite so noticeable.
Today's papers have articles about skilled immigrants and the need to expand the importation of people with particular skills that citizens can't do.
This raises some important questions about our education system. We spend more money per child on education now than we ever did, but all that efforts seems futile: we can't teach our kids enough to let them fill the technical jobs, and we have to import people to fill those, nor do we have large and well organized apprenticeship programs that might mitigate the failure of the school systems to fill the demands.
Why is this?
I suggest that it is largely due to a well meant but wrong headed sentiment that puts equality in education as the first priority.
I have been reading The Crazyladies of Pearl Street, the last novel of Travanian -- my old friend Rod Whittaker who died last year. The book is fictionalized autobiography (I suppose all autobiography is somewhat fictionalized) and Travanian's best work. It's long. I'll have a review in this month's column. Travanian tells of growing up in the depths of the Depression. He writes as a mature man but in the voice of a nine year old bright but mostly self-educated boy. The public schools were awful.
"Mother said she wanted to send me to a Catholic school where my energies, abilities, and talents had a better chance of being recognized. It is true that more was expected of us at Our Lady of Angels, and its greater discipline produced an atmosphere more conducive to learning. Those stunningly plain, no-nonsense nuns nurtured their brighter students while they dealt efficiently with the mediocre and gently with the backward, but they did not tolerate those who disrupted the calm of the classroom, neither the recalcitrant dummies nor the precocious show-offs."
This is precisely how I remember my education in Catholic schools (grades 1-3 and high school); but to some extent it applied as well to Capleville regional with its two grades to a room. There was perhaps less dedication from the teachers in Capleville than from the nuns at St. Anne's in Normal, but not a lot less.
I have to dress and go for my walk now, but I invite you to consider this as a better formula than "No Child Left Behind."
So long as we insist that we live in Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average, and insist on equality of outcomes, we will be required to import skilled workers to do the work Americans can't do.
I put it to you that importing the unskilled who will work for wages citizens can't live on, while running public schools that don't produce workers with the skills needed by a First World economy, is a formula for disaster.
I invite discussion.
In reply to a letter I have given the history and future plans for the Janissaries series of novels. I have also done a mild revision to the Works In Progress page.
And I have a draft column out to the advisors. It will be posted tomorrow, to Chaos Manor Reviews, so I have not missed a week. Just late.
Regarding the readers for the blind, it may not have been clear that this was a letter from a friend and subscriber. My father died in 1964. I will have the letter and replies in Chaos Manor Reviews, and I may have a special page on the subject to make it easier for people to find. I have been getting a lot of good information on this.
April 6, 2007
The Fury of the Legions
We have more information on the Jon Town "personality disorder" case.
Newt Gingrich is on the Rush Limbaugh show promoting "Contract with the Earth", a new book out this fall. Some of what he proposes seems to have come from The Strategy of Progress that Steve Possony and I were working on before Stefan's stroke. Don't misunderstand, we discussed most of this a long time ago when Newt was Minority Whip and I was one of his advisors. The ideas are good ones. Just don't be astonished if you've seen much of it here.
Meanwhile, Global Warming is big in the news again.
Newt's approach is essentially the one I have urged here for years: find out what's going on; and make a climate congenial to applying the technologies we have. If we want to reduce CO2 and NOx emissions from power plants, build nuclear power plants. If France and Japan can have 75% of their electric power coming from nuclear, we certainly can have half of ours from nuclear. We know the technology. The Navy has been using nuclear propulsion for years without mishaps. France and German plants were, many of them, installed by American companies with American technology. It's not rocket science. It's not even nuclear science. It's good engineering and we're still good at that.
See mail for commentary on nuclear power and transportation.
It's apocalyptic. Drought everywhere. We are doomed.
The Southwest including California is to be a dust bowl.
If so, there is a remedy, at least for Los Angeles. I've said it all before. We build nuclear power plants, treat our waste water (one of the cleanest running streams in California is the outfall of the Hyperion Sewage Treatment plant in Los Angeles) and pump the water up to the top of the Angeles Crest. Let it run down the streams and replenish the water table. No more water problem in Los Angeles.
It's expensive but not THAT expensive. Indeed it's not expensive compared to the Kyoto Treaty remedies, which won't solve the problem anyway.
The point being that we may have a coming global warming problem. Kyoto won't solve it. CO2 is not the cause of global warming.
What we need is better studies but if we agree that there is warming -- and that the trend will continue and not tip the other way to cooling -- we need to look to remedies, not to shutting down the First World civilizations. The way to cope with climate change is to find remedies for climate change.
I just came up with this, although I have known it for years.
I am informed that Frank Gasparik, who was the role model for several characters in Niven and Pournelle novels including Fallen Angels, is in intensive care in Phoenix following a heart attack. Prayers and good wishes are requested.
Readers may recall Mark Cezescu from Lucifer's Hammer and Harry Reddington from Footfall. Frank at one time had an email account in that latter name.
Be well, old friend.
There are new diatribes from Joanne Dow.
And the Dear Leader has eaten the Easter Bunny...
April 7, 2007
The UN report is out, and it's not strong enough; that at least is the headline.
I have some queries.
First, does anyone have good date on the solar constant over time? I see tons of stuff about the Earth's temperature, but I don't see much about the solar system temperature, which would be easier to measure. It should also be easier to agree to a definition of that.
Second, is there anywhere a model of what remedies would have what effect? If we eliminate all man-made CO2 what would that do to global warming? I would think we'd need a bunch of simple measures like that before trying to come up with remedies.
All the shouting sounds like a cult to me, but perhaps I am unduly sensitive. What I don't hear is much scientific detachment.
WARNING: New Windows and IE7 vulnerability.
It was discovered last year, and reported to Microsoft, but no patch was issued until recently. The vulnerability is in the animated cursor routines.
The infection comes in when you visit an evil web site. You can be sent to one of those evil web sites simply by previewing an html message that calls it. The vulnerability is total: you can end up with a root kit, keystroke logger, spyware, or simple zombification of your system; at least that is what is being reported.
The primary protections are two: don't view email in html. Set your mail preview system to view all mail in plaintext and nothing else. If you then convert to html be sure you are going to a site you absolutely trust.
Secondly, if you don't have a RealTek chip set sound card, get the Microsoft patch and install it. If you have automatic updates, it will already be installed. If you do have a RealTek system I do not know what you should do. You might try the third party patch from http://isotf.org/zert/advisories/zert-2007-01.htm which is said to be effective. This apparently turns off the animated cursor routines, thus keeping the worms out; Microsoft's patch attempts to fix the animated cursor.
There are reports that systems can be infected through accessing World of Warcraft but I have been unable to verify this; there have been ANI exploits that allow the hacker to gain access to your WOW account and sell off all your equipment and mail your gold to someone else. Whether this has actually happened is hard to verify: it looks like scary rumors to me.
However, the exploit is real, and you should keep your system updates current. If I find a tool that will examine your system for exploits I'll let you know.
Now there are two patches, one from Microsoft, one from EI. The Microsoft patch is reported to break systems with RealTek sound controller chip sets.
More on this when I know more.
== = = = = =
April 8, 2007
I have sent a short letter to all subscribers. If you subscribe and did not get it, please let me know under what name and email address you subscribed and where you expect such mail in case those are different. I am not the world's greatest record keeper, but I almost never lose anything.
Home from Niven's party. Too much sugar.
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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