THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 479 August 6 - 12, 2007
Highlights this week:
For boiler plate, search engine, and notes on what in the world this place is, see below.
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
This is a repeat from Sunday View:
Someone sent me this story. It is worth your time to read.
And while this belongs in Mail, I'll put it here:
Subject: How to Get Your WebSite Ranking Up.
Dr. Pournelle, the quickest and easiest way I can think to increase your links on the web is to encourage users to add a link to the site in their blogs and forum signatures. Many people belong to several forums and put links to sites they endorse at the bottom of their posts. A large portion of your readership would be happy to do this for you and you should even get some traffic from it.
Which may or may not be true. It is probably the case that links count; it's also the case that what is said here isn't all that popular with some segments of the country. Ah well.
And if you missed Friday on how to teach your kids to read, go back and look for it.
Roland calls attention to this:
A long time ago, Dvorak and I conceived of a reviews site to be called Discontinuity, on which we would rate stuff and argue over our ratings. We thought people might pay a dime or so per visit to that site. We even had some art work, and we did a bit of experimenting with it, but we didn't have any means of collecting the money. "Millicent" was still thought to be viable at that time and that would have worked, but it never found a banker to run it. Over time we each did our own things, and Discontinuity never happened.
At that time the subscription model wasn't working -- people didn't seem to subscribe to web content. Most still won't although I do get enough subscribers to keep this place open. When we contemplated Discontinuity we each had a couple of hundred subscribers through the magazines we did columns for, and we had hopes of generating enough income to be able to hire people to maintain the web site and do some of the administrative work; after all, a dime a week from 100,000 people adds up to a fair amount of revenue. Alas it never happened.
Anyway, Amazon is changing things and this need thinking about. And I keep reminding myself that my primary work is fiction, and Inferno II is the current project, with Mamelukes close behind it.
I seem to have got the routing snarfed up, but I think I have it fixed now. Of course what I did made it impossible to find this page, but perhaps that has been fixed as well.
Comes now the question: do you generate more CO2 walking to the store than driving there? It's not so obvious as you think.
Bob Thompson suggests I combine View and Mail in each day's entry. I like that notion and I will probably do it. It does mean that the MAIL WARNING has to be made prominent somewhere at the top of this page. There's entirely too much clutter up there at the moment. I need to think much of this out.
<the combination experiment is on hold.>
I seem to have managed to miss the first episode of The Company. I had intended to see it, but apparently we didn't find it properly with the TV guide. I can't find when they plan to rebroadcast it, either. That's very annoying.
[Problem solved. Thanks.]
We'll be driving back to Los Angeles leaving here a bit before noon.
The downside of diversity
A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth?
My attempt to consolidate View and Mail doesn't seem to be working; at least a number of you don't like it much. I'll next try putting Mail and View in the same day box and see if that works.
Actually, I guess I'll just go back to the old system while I think things out.
I am returning to the two page system while I think things out. I still think I would like to combine these pages, but this didn't do it.
With luck the old system is restored. I think I have caught all the bookmarks and such. This should fix the atom feed. At least I hope so.
Now back to work.
I will give some thought to a way to make this into a single page. I am inclined to put the mail and view in on day, call it view, and be done with it, with some bookmark adjustments. That is, View comes first, then a section divider, and then mail. I do wonder what that will do to the atom feed, but perhaps the experts can find a way to adjust to that.
I am having a discussion with John McCarthy on decivilization. He thinks it is not very likely anywhere; that once the technology of the Industrial Revolution becomes widespread, it won't be reversed.
What got me thinking on this (and speculating in another conference) was the Darwinian speculations in this article:
Dr. Clark makes some interesting arguments at:
I wondered whether the complete change in cultures in England will allow the maintenance of First World Civilization there, given that the people who built the civilization aren't having kids, emigrate often, and generally are being absorbed into an entirely different culture -- indeed with the enthusiastic cooperation of the Crown and government.
McCarthy thinks industrialization is irreversible.
I haven't thought this through; but the enormous crop yields of the past decades, over 160% more food grown on essentially the same land, require intensive fertilizers; this is a very high energy industry; can the energy and transportation grid be maintained? High energy civilizations look to me to be more fragile than most suppose. I did a good bit of work on that in studying for Lucifer's Hammer and some of the High Justice stories; and like Jane Jacobs I think Dark Ages are easier to come by than one may think.
In a Dark Age it is not that we have forgotten how to do something: it is that we have forgotten that it ever was done. As for instance we no longer remember that even in the legally segregated Old South over 90% of all school children, black or white, learned to read.
I hope John is right; but I am not sure I agree that civilization is irreversible. There used to be a country called Rhodesia. Are we not moving in that direction in all of the West, beginning with Europe. Are we not moving toward instant gratification, contempt for deferred rewards, rejection of savings, decline of literacy and numeracy? All over Europe? With the enthusiastic assistance of the bureaucracy? Or have I misread the situation?
August 9, 2007
For some odd reason, it is considered politically incorrect in some circles not to mention Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9. I am not sure why. If it's sheer numbers of civilians killed by deliberate targeting of non-military targets we should remember, the Tokyo fire raids were more effective at such slaughter; but we aren't supposed to mention that each March 10. Well over 100,000 civilians were killed that night; there were fire raids on several other cities as well, bringing the night's total to about 150,000 dead. All told that night there were over 200,000 fatal casualties to burns, although some lingered on for several days. Total casualties approach half a million.
When I was growing up during World War II, one of the horror stories about Hitler was the bombing of Rotterdam. That was on May 13, and about 1,000 people were killed. Another horror story we were told never to forget was the Rape of Nanking, which began on December 13. Since this took place over several weeks I suppose we could choose another date for commemoration. According to Japanese sources there were 100,000 civilian casualties; Western reporters estimate up to 300,000 in that six weeks.
We might also remember Dresden and February 13 and 14. Civilian deaths are estimated at about 30,000 from the fire raids. The US fighter escorts for the US continuation of the attack on February 14 also strafed civilian traffic on the roads into and out of Dresden, causing an unknown number of casualties.
Of course it doesn't take technology. On February 10, Baghdad was a city of a million souls. It surrendered that morning. By dusk not a dog barked; all the inhabitants were dead, slain by fire and sword. Now that may be a bit of exaggeration, and the Mongols may not have been quite that efficient; after all, some of the women had to survive, and it may actually have taken a couple of days to kill off everyone. A pyramid of skulls of Moslem scholars was built near the bend of the river.
Nagasaki was the most Christian and pro-Western city in Japan, and including it on a target list was controversial. It wasn't the primary target, but the bomber crew couldn't find its primary. The clouds opened just enough to reveal the industrial area of Nagasaki, but the bomb missed that area by about a kilometer and went off over a tennis court in a non-industrial area.
Total casualties at Hiroshima are about 135,000 of whom perhaps 70,000 were killed quickly. At Nagasaki there were about 65,000 casualties of whom about 40,000 were killed.
Whether it is well to dwell on these matters and commemorate their anniversaries every year, it is certainly important to remember that we have no shortage of such incidents over human history. Timur loved building pyramids of skulls. He also sacked Baghdad and made a pyramid of Shiite skulls as a reminder of his Sunni orthodoxy.
Earthquake last night about 1 AM. I thought my Aeron chair had lost its pneumatic pressure and dropped me 4 inches, except that it was loud too. If it did any damage at all here we can't find it. It was near Niven's house, but he hasn't noticed any damage except that there may be problems with his front door. We have not heard of any real problems.
Niven and I hiked up to the top of the hill today. About 6 miles and 800 feet up. We got several new scenes for Inferno plotted out. They are mostly Niven's thuktun.
Now they want to raise gas taxes so they'll be able to fix the bridges. Uh -- isn't it one of government's primary purposes to build roads and bridges? They had enough money to do all that at one time. They have MORE money now, but they don't have enough to do roads, bridges, police, and the fundamental tasks of government. There's plenty to support a huge and growing bureaucracy, though.
August 10, 2007
Sable is at the groomer, and I just had my haircut (which was long overdue). Niven just sent me his latest work on Inferno II with new scenes, so I've got my work cut out.
I have a letter and reply on global warming in mail.
And it is now time to get Sable from the groomer. I'll see if I can get her to pose for a picture.
She's not entirely happy that we're still out in the driveway; she wants to get inside. But she's sure gorgeous.
It turns out that the Y2K bug was more serious than we thought.
|This week:||Saturday, August
More questions on science and global warming in mail. I still don't know how to take the temperature of the Earth.
I had already written this when Roland called attention to an essay by Freeman Dyson on scientific heresy.
Freeman and I do not always agree, but our disagreements are reasonable, and usually involve assumptions about human motives rather than anything that can be resolved by experiment. We share a commitment to the notion of an open society and operational philosophy; or at least I think we do. See seem to reach about the same conclusions on the same evidence.
Dyson's essay is important, and I urge all of you to read it. And tell your friends. And enemies.
August 12, 2007
If you have not read Freeman Dyson's disquisition on global warming and scientific heresies, go do it.
Then see this:
I could not believe this. Ye gods!
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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