THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 472 June 25 - July 1, 2007
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June 25, 2007
Former BYTE Editor in Chief Paul Schindler was down for a visit and lunch today. I am recovering from my relapse; managed four miles walk today, and while my head is still a but muddy, I can work. With luck I will finally shake the East Coast Crud.
Paris Hilton gets out of jail sometime today (they're keeping it secret as to when). I believe she is no longer on probation and can take a vacation in Cancun or the French Riviera, and most of her neighbors are hoping she will. Meanwhile a prisoner's rights advocate is waiting outside the jail hoping to talk to her with a view to enlisting her in the cause of making life better for prisoners. That might prove interesting.
I see that Diane Feinstein is sick of the American People, and doesn't want to hear from them any more. Talk radio has ruined the world and we need a fairness doctrine.
In all the talk about "fairness" I have yet to hear anything about NPR, which is unremittingly on the side opposite talk radio. But that isn't good enough. Liberal talk radio got hundreds and hundreds of listeners, so that didn't work too well.
More and more I see the political parties as conspiracies against the citizens. Madison would have seen things that way I think.
|This week:||Tuesday, June
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a front page article about 'Mainstreaming' in public schools. My wife and I have somewhat different views on this; but then I have always known that the solution to the national education crisis is to have a very great many more teachers like Roberta.
The problem is that teachers are quitting in droves. They didn't sign up to be special education teachers. The first grade teacher featured in the article is retiring as soon as possible. Of 19 students in her first grade class, five had disabilities, and one was more or less out of control. The teacher says "It used to be a joy to go to work. Now all I want to do is run away."
The mainstreaming notion comes from considering what is good for the special needs children. It entirely ignores the notion of tax-funded education as an investment in the future. It makes education another entitlement, a welfare scheme, an income redistribution scheme. The Constitution of the United States doesn't anywhere authorize income redistribution and socialism. The justification of tax funded public education is as investment, in the same sense as building roads and fire houses and post offices is investment. The justification of tax funded education is that the nation is better off with an educated citizenry, with citizens able to read, write, and cipher, and have some basic notion of the history and institutions of the republic.
Putting special needs children in every classroom undermines all that. I suspect that those who push for mainstreaming know that, but perhaps not. Perhaps they are merely incompetent. Certainly they are divorced from reality.
I have made some major changes in the plot to Mamelukes. You won't see them in the part posted on line because it mostly happens later and concerns how this book ends.
California is burning, because the tree huggers prevented clearing out some of the forest in the Tahoe area. Don't worry. There is always an ecology. It may not be benign to the cute creatures we favor, but there is always an ecology. The forest has burned in the past, and sometimes over time it's a long time between burns. It has all happened before. I have considerably sympathy for those who lost their houses. My point here is that the tendency to DO SOMETHING without understanding what you are dealing with has resulted in terrible forest management in the US, and horrendous fires. This is another instance.
In the real world, Paris Hilton is now out of jail. Apparently her coming out party will be in Las Vegas, which is fitting. In other news, only fifty percent. of the news coverage will be about Paris Hilton for the nest of the week. There may even be some journalistic time left over for the vampire immigration bill, which rose from the dead yesterday.
George Bush has decided to spend his political capital -- of which he has very little -- on both the Iraq War and "comprehensive immigration reform" (which is indistinguishable from amnesty and open borders). It's difficult to understand his devotion to open borders.
And I just heard on the radio that someone is suing Starburst candies because it is too chewy. Like taffy pulling out your fillings. In this Land of the Free.
I do not want Empire and Proscriptions, but some events cause me to await them with less trepidation.
Now do go read the mail...
A controversial plan to dump iron dust into the open ocean near the Galapagos Islands to induce the growth of phytoplankton met with opposition from an environmental group today.
Which is about par for the course. Dismantle most of western productivity with Kyoto, but don't allow any controlled experiments that might actually accomplish something beneficial. Unlike the Kyoto restrictions, it's very easy to simply stop putting the iron into the sea if the effects are not what you wanted.
The World Wildlife Federation has become a typical bureaucracy subject to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, and concerned with preserving the crisis, not with ending it. In a rational world those who want to preserve species would be interested in technologies that possible.
Or is it a scam.....
Planktos Restores Ecosystems and Slows Climate Change Removing CO2 from our oceans and atmosphere by healing the seas, growing new climate forests, and erasing carbon footprints.
The Business of Planktos The world's leading ecorestoration firm, Planktos is a for-profit company that generates carbon offsets in two ways: by restoring plankton populations in the world's oceans and by planting new "climate forest parks" with its EU subsidiary KlimaFa <http://www.klimafa.com/> . Read More... <http://www.planktos.com/About/About.html>
Carbon Offsets Plankton and trees both capture CO2 through photosynthesis and store the carbon in their tissues. Once sequestered, this CO2 converts to carbon credits that Planktos can sell in global emission markets.
I do not find Carbon Offset payments appealing, but apparently it is legal. I am far more interested in developing the technology for reducing atmospheric CO2, particularly if doing that has useful side effects. Plankton blooms are usually beneficial; of course some are not, and are known as "red tides".
I have no more data; but anyone opposed by the World Wildlife Federation is presumably actually doing experiments or planning to do them, and that should be important. I'd be interested in hearing from someone who knows more about about this. I don't need guesses or speculations. I can do those myself.
And then we have the RIAA in action:
"They also emphasized that that if she did not abandon her legal rights, they would continue to persecute her and her young daughter, and again demanded to interrogate and confront her little girl."
- Roland Dobbins
Which is an interesting tactic. One wonders if the have some Good Soldier Schweik in their organization?
Some readers may find this amusing:
Longest word in English
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Note my friend Wil McCarthy..
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.
Hot in Los Angeles. Restless night. I am restructuring Mamelukes. Lots of work to do. Mail will have to do today. There's a lot of it.
|This week:||Saturday, June
Our editor informs me that he has ten pages of notes for Inferno II. Since he has been editor of three of our best sellers, we will pay close attention -- but it does look to be an interesting July. I haven't seen the notes yet. I await them with some anticipation but perhaps a bit of trepidation. Of course the record remains Mr. Heinlein's 64 page single spaced letter of notes for The Mote in God's Eye...
We have what amounts to a new circle in Hell, but it's not what the Onion
John Derbyshire has an article on being Politically Correct in the July 18 issue of The American Conservative. It's quite perceptive. I find The American Conservative uneven but well worth subscribing to: articles like this one are not common, but there are more than enough of them in any given year to justify the subscription. PC is just another sign of the decline of the West and the end of the notion of freedom and individualism.
Understand, I am not an academic libertarian. I don't insist that everyone be able to say anything at any time and in any place, and in particular in any age; and I hold that citizens have rights that others (including juveniles) do not have. That said, it is appalling that we have so constrained ourselves that we all know what we can't say and who we can't say it about, and that these restrictions are universal now.
Derbyshire quotes Samuel Johnson, who is often worth quoting, on cant. "My dear friend, clear your mind of cant. ... You tell a man 'I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet.' You don't care sixpence whether he is wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don't think foolishly."
Unfortunately we have begun to think in these cant phrases. It is a deadly thing to do. I can recall from my younger days when I was a passionate adherent to political activism how easily one can think in slogans to the exclusion of real thought. It is an easy habit to develop and a difficult one to break.
In any event I recommend the Derb's essay. I presume that eventually it will be on line, but as I said earlier it is worth subscribing to The American Conservative for essays like this one.
|This week:||Sunday, July
It is boiling hot in Los Angeles, and I have been working on the mail column for Chaos Manor Reviews. I got that done. Otherwise it's a quiet weekend.
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 weekly 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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