THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
Mail 474 July 9 - 15, 2007
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
July 9, 2007
I have my seven pages (single spaced) of notes from our editor. Now it's time to work on Inferno II. Sheesh. It was a pretty good book. It will be better when we're done.
In this racket you are 'finished' with a book several times.
There's a lot of good mail today and over the weekend. In particular don't miss the piece on "consensus" scholarship and the Medieval period. The mailbag is up at Chaos Manor Reviews, and there will be a new column tomorrow.
The Department of Homeland Security has sent us a big document on research strategies that I ought to review.
I have come up with the solution to some of my plot problems with Mamelukes, but I probably won't get to that for a while.
I have notes on a book on High Tech Wars that is long overdue.
It's a great life if you don't weaken.
To top it all off, it's pretty clear I need to revise this place a little; at least come up with a better home page. Sigh.
Does anyone have theories on why my Vista system doesn't
want to read CD's?
Both work fine as DVD drives.
|This week:||Tuesday, July
Niven and I will get together tomorrow and spend the day on Inferno and editor Gleason's notes. Bob thinks the book is promotable but he has a number of point I have to agree with: Niven and I were too familiar with Inferno I and Dante, and it shows. We need to put in more for readers who aren't Dante scholars and who never heard of our original Inferno. So it goes.
The silly season continues. Of course it's not the silly season for the troops in Iraq. Apparently the war goes well there, but slowly. The problem remains: good soldiers don't make good constables. Armies break things and kill people. Few people like to be in the middle of such activities. When you drop bombs on people and break down their houses, they don't like it. In particular young men of a certain age who believe they should be defending their families and their young women don't like it.
Rule by oppression works, but not if American GI's are the oppressors. Petronius cites the Netherlands Decrees by Spain, and their consequences. On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire pacified the entire Middle East for centuries, and despite all our romantic stories of the resistance, Germany held a good part of Europe in relative tranquility for years, in both cases by ruthlessness and cruelty. The Romans occupied areas for centuries by stationing auxiliaries in the regions, and recruiting locals into those units. The best could be posted from the auxiliaries to the Legions and become eligible for citizenship. That, however, is a long term imperial policy.
If we impose democracy on the Middle East we will be installing Islamist states. Is this what we want?
I am sorry to trouble you concerning a matter that's not-exactly what your website is about, but I've run out of options. Ever since discovering the Filk genre after hearing a tap of "The Phoenix", I've been trying to locate and acquire songs from it, with varying success. They aren't exactly common. I've been able to find a little, such as "To Touch the Stars" and other newer filk, but the original song that got me interested in the genre, and for that matter, /any/ songs from Minus Ten and Counting, continue to allude me.
I can't afford the $100+ for an original tape on e-bay (if it's even available), and many hours of searching the internet resulted in little more then a link to a for-sale domain name. I was hoping you could point me to a place or website where a fan-on-a-budget might find a copy of this song, or any filk from that era.
Or, really, any filk at all. I'm very new to the genre and could use whatever direction you can give me.
Thank you for your help,
I have the tapes. With permission from Julia Ecklar I have an mp3 of The Phoenix here. I am playing it now, and I cannot listen to it without chills. I have Jordan Kare's Minus Ten and Counting and all the other songs on that tape converted to MP3. I am willing to distribute them but I need permission from the artists, and I would like to find a way to give them some revenue. Unfortunately, this will also cost me time and money. I will see if I can make contact with the copyright owners, and come up with a corner in the subscriber area where people can send a buck a song or something?
Now go listen to The Phoenix, and then Julia's memorial to Columbia. But be warned. It's strong stuff.
OOOH. Michael Moore is furious! CNN didn't kowtow: Dr. Gupta actually said that there might be some flaws in Sicko! Alas that means that places I listen to have his whiney voice on; fortunately they don't leave him on long. And CNN is a right wing network saith Moore. The things you learn listening to radio...
Niven and I went up the hill, 4 miles and 600 feet elevation, this following my usual 2 miles with Roberta. Glad to see I can still do all that. Sable is flat enough now, but she loves it. Then we went to lunch.
We solved most of the problems Gleason found in Inferno, and now it's time to work on this. Subscribers will get to see what we did to the first two or three chapters (when we get them done). I don't know if anyone is interested in this process, but it won't hurt to show some of it as we develop the book.
Of course all this means that Mamelukes, which I was just getting hot with, is set aside for a while. At least I know what the next scenes have to be, and where to go from there; but it's going to take a lot of concentration to get things right. Fortunately the people at Ad Astra Games (http://www.adastragames.com/) are helping keep things straight including the maps; they want to develop a game out of the Janissaries universe. Something like what they've been doing for Weber's Honor Harrington universe. Should make some of the detail work considerably easier.
This morning's paper had some notes about "micro-blogs" in which people document what they did in the last hour, what they had for lunch, and other trivia. Sounds absurd, and makes me wonder whether I ought to cut back on some of the stuff I put in here. But this is my day book. I always write things down; the difference is that some years ago, before anyone else was doing it, I made my day book public. That was well before people invented the ugly word "blog" for what they are doing. I have forgotten what "blog" stands for. I'd have thought "plog" as in Public Log might make more sense. Ah well.
The President has every right to fire every US Attorney, and in fact Clinton did that; what in the world is this inquisition about that? This is the way to tear the country apart. It was the preliminary to the civil wars and constitutional crisis of the Roman Republic: prosecution of public officials, criminalization of policy disagreements, and concentration of more and more power in the executive, largely motivated not only by the natural tendencies to concentrate power, but by the necessity to have the power to defend themselves. If you could not hold and leave office without fear of being ruinously fined, having your property confiscated, cast into ruin, or executed (today it would be imprisonment; some would have enjoyed seeing Nixon and Clinton humiliated and imprisoned -- if you cannot hold and leave office without fear of prosecution, then you hold onto the office one way or another. Or be sure your cronies hold it. Ford stopped that with his pardon of Nixon.
We are moving toward a crisis. It will be interesting to see who survives when this is over.
Regarding The Phoenix
Julia Ecklar is wonderful.
See Fred this week... http://www.fredoneverything.net/Kaplan.shtml
And there's a lot of good mail
Decline of the West:
Teenagers give baby ecstasy and then post the results on youtube. Here is
the news report:
The end of civilization? Don't watch unless you are steeled.
From our friends at blendtek,
This week is going to be devoted to Inferno. We had our walk, everyone admired Sable, and it's time to go buy dogfood and do other errands. Then up to the Monk's Cell.
I have 96 open windows in Firefox and it's time to close some down. Here are a couple that I've probably recommended before but are worth a look.
Friday the 13th falls on Friday this month
There are two things dominating the air waves in Los Angeles. The first is the Congress demand for immediate defeat and retreat from Iraq without much debate on the consequences of that move. It may be the right move, but I am not sure that:
"Not another nickel! Not another dime! Not another Soldier! Not this time!" which seems to be the entire argument of one Congressman contributes an awful lot to understanding the seriousness of the move. On the other hand, the entire intellectual ability of many of our college students seems to be summed up in chanting "One! Two! Three! Four!" followed by denouncing whatever politician they don't like, so I suppose I shouldn't be astonished that the debate in the Congress of the United States makes a drunken sophomore bull session sound like Plato's Symposium.
Now, perhaps the war is lost and we ought to get out. I never thought we could win it. It is not that I thought us incapable of winning, but that I was certain we would never have the determination, nor would we commit the resources and time required to establish a constitutional and orderly state in Iraq. I put it that way rather than "democracy" because we clearly could establish a "democracy" tomorrow morning. What we can't do is prevent that "democracy" from, by democratic means, transforming itself into an Islamic state with persecution of minorities. What Iraq needs is a constitutional republic, or a stable monarchy, and installing something of that sort will take a lot of time. It need not be expensive, in the sense that we could restore the oil production (and be absolutely repressive about it; free fire zones with bounties around refineries and pipelines, etc.) and use the revenue to pay for our occupation and constabulary forces. (And those would be two difference forces, but we've been through that before.)
It appears to me -- from the outside, and I have no special sources of information -- it appears to me that the factions in Iraq refuse to compromise because each thinks it can win it all. The Sunni believe that because they were top dogs for centuries they can be so again. The Shiites believe that because they are a majority, they will win. And both Shia and Sunni believe that Allah will prevail, and Allah favors their faction. The Kurds believe that they can build their own Kurdish state, and that the Turks will not come in and flatten them as soon as the US is out of the way. In other words, of the three major factions, every one of them thinks it can achieve its goals without cooperating with the others.
History shows that when you have a situation like that, the only long term solution is to let them fight it out until they understand just what they can and cannot so. It takes a long time. The Thirty Years War, the Hundred Years War, The War Between the States, the American War of Independence... The American Civil War was the shortest of those, but made up for that in blood.
Perhaps it will be that way in Iraq. Unless we commit to the long haul, with both Legions and Auxiliaries and a local constabulary and US supervision of the division of the oil revenues for decades, it will be that way.
Perhaps something short of a full constitutional republic or monarchy can be achieved and we can get out with a bit more dignity, leaving behind a government that is doomed, but it was working when we left. Perhaps.
And perhaps we ought simply to get out, now, and if it were done when 'tis done, 'twere best it were done quickly; in other words, cut and run, because we can't achieve a better result.
These are important matters -- and the cant phrases that pass for Congressional Debate are not contributing to our understanding.
I do not know what we ought to do in Iraq. We broke it; we own it; we have a moral obligation to leave the place better off than it was when we went in. On the other hand we do not have a moral obligation to bankrupt ourselves attempting the impossible.
I note that the public seems to understand. Congress has an even lower approval rating than the President, and his rating is abysmally low.
The other matter of great importance is an inquiry on whether Paris Hilton was treated like a celebrity when she was in jail. Some deputy sheriffs with far too much time on their hands -- they appear to be union officials, so I suppose it's inevitable that they have far too much time on their hands -- are unhappy because Paris got a new jail uniform, her mail was delivered by an officer rather than a trustee, and she got to use a telephone in her isolation cell rather than have to stand in line to use the pay phone.
And this is now subject to an investigation that the people of Los Angeles will have to pay for.
Ye flipping gods.
At least the Paris Hilton mess may have rid us of City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who now wishes mightily he had kept his mouth shut about demanding equal treatment, even though he allowed his wife to wreck a city car and allowed the city to pay for it. (He repaid the city for the repairs only after he'd been caught. Said it was the right thing to do. Now. Apparently it wasn't the right thing to do four years ago.)
For those who insist on absolute justice and equality without mercy, I can only say, be careful what you wish for.
I wish this were the most important issue facing us here in Southern California.
I think American military dependents ought to go to places like Parkland and refuse to pay; why shouldn't they get at least as good a service as an illegal alien? But I presume I am just unreasonable.
I got to digging in the files and found this. It's Max Hunter, General Graham, and me in Vice President Quayle's office as we sold him on the concept of the SSX. Through some complexities in the SDIO and a thorough misunderstanding by SDIO of what X projects are, we ended up with DC/X, a scale model of SSX, but that's another story.
This just in. Mayor Tony Villars aka Villaraigosa was roundly booed by the Los Angeles soccer fans at the introduction of the Becketts. Villars wasn't listed on the program, but he spoke anyway. After all, there was a camera there. And the crowd booed!
July 14, 2007
We celebrate the liberation of seven aristocrats: Four forgers, two madmen, and a young man who had challenged the best swordsman in Paris to a duel and whose father had him confined to the Bastille so that he could avoid being killed or wounded. We celebrate the slaughter of the garrison, mostly old soldiers invalided out of service to France and given what was supposed to be a rather cushy job.
The forgers were rearrested if found -- I think a couple vanished. The madmen were sent to madhouses. The other young man took a revolutionary name and joined The Revolution, but later was beheaded at the Place de Concord when he chose the wrong faction during the Terror.
But it was a great symbolic victory over Royal tyranny, and a step toward real liberation under Napoleon...
I have some gratitude to Napoleon: he sent my remote ancestor to be part of the government of Louisiana. Fortunately my ancestors chose to remain when the territory was sold. Alas, his grandson lost nearly everything in the occupation after the Civil War. Or so I have been told.
Is this the future?
Apparently people spend a lot of time with this sort of thing. I found it by looking for "Some Velvet Morning" which George Noory plays sometimes on his show; I was wondering what the Greek legend of Phaedra had to do with Roswell and the Hollow Earth and so forth. I confess I don't know any more now than I did, nor do I understand the song. It does have a somewhat haunting quality. For a while.
|This week:||Sunday, July
Letters column done. Otherwise taking the day off.
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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