THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 497 December 17 - 23, 2007
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
December 17, 2007
Baen Books has brought out Oath of Fealty, the chronological third collaboration of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, but the second work we started together. The story of why it's the third in our series was written up in an Introduction Larry Niven and I did for inclusion in the current edition, but which for some reason was left out when the book was printed. You can find that intro in the subscriber area over at Chaos Manor Reviews.
Oath was #6 on the New York Times best-seller list. It's an adventure story set in what was the near future when we wrote the book in the late 70's; that is now an alternate history, although many of the predictions we made in Oath took place, and in fact the story could still happen. We wrote that story on CompuPro S-100 buss 2 megahertz computers that boasted 64 kilobytes of memory.
I've always thought this one of our best works, but then all our collaborations are better books than either of us can do alone -- if they weren't why bother with each of us doing 90% of the work?
Needless to say, Oath of Fealty would make a good Christmas present for anyone who reads.
(Note: the intro and notes will be posted some time today.)
There is a discussion of Newt Gingrich's speech on strategy over in mail.
Stock up on light bulbs, NOW, while you can. See mail.
The Giant Rat of Malaysia, a story Dr. Watson didn't write...
The Midwest and East Coast are
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7146947.stm Meanwhile an
expedition to measure Arctic ice was frozen out and forced to retreat by the
bitter cold. It's clearly global warming.
December 18, 2007
I am aware that the story Dr. Watson didn't write that he told us about was The Giant Rat of Sumatra. Sumatra is, of course, in the Malaysian Archipelago, but is part of the nation of Indonesia. Indonesia is a unitary republic and the largest Islamic nation in the world. Malaysia is a monarchical federation composed of the Malay Peninsula and some territories in Borneo as well as a few islands.
Now go order a copy of Oath of Fealty, preferably at your local book store, but Amazon is more than acceptable. The Introduction to the new edition, written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and intended to be included in the new edition, can be found in the subscriber section of Chaos Manor Reviews. At some point in the reasonably near future I'll post it as a Report here, but why wait? If you don't subscribe, do so and go read it...
December 19, 2007
The Baen Books ebook version of Oath of Fealty has no DRM and can be read on Kindle. If you have a Kindle, go buy it...
I have errands and must do a chapter of Mamelukes today, so I'd better get going. It has rained in LA for two days. We missed our walk yesterday and as a result I didn't get much sleep. We did the walk today and I am catching up on stretching.
One of my errands is to renew my supply of SAMe, which I am convinced helps a lot in keeping my head working. Jim Baen discovered this stuff back when it was illegal in the US, and we used to have it smuggled in from Italian pharmacies (where it was perfectly legal; the FDA was just being its usual nanny state self). Your mileage may vary, but I find I work better when I am taking the stuff. I also take CoQ10 and phosphodytl serine. Renewing my supplies is part of my errands.
Now go order a copy of Oath of Fealty.
I have to say, I did not vote for Bush I a second time; he lied about taxes. Niven didn't vote Republican for the first time in his life (and two generations before him).
I can't contemplate what would have befallen the republic with Kerry; it's too grim to think about. But Lord God, Bush II is as bad as his father, with spending like a drunken sailor, invading Mesopotamia without need, and now using deception to open the borders.
December 20, 2007
My phone rang at breakfast. When I said "Hello," Kathy began telling me she was calling from Small Business Services or some such, and that I was preapproved. I didn't listen long enough to find out what I was preapproved for. I'm now listening to radio advertisements telling me I can can financial independence. There are several ways. One is to buy a stock market investment system. A grocery clerk tells how he put in a put play and made a quick $1700, and he'll soon be able to quit his job. Another tells me how I can learn to flip houses and make a fortune in real estate.
Now I am not sure that the government has a guarantee system for those who get in too deep in the stock market, but I do know that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were set up to do that for real estate investors. Sure, that wasn't the original idea. The original idea was to make it possible for more Americans to own their own homes. It had worked when the VA guaranteed housing loans for veterans; why not for everyone who wanted a house? The result was injecting massive amounts into the market, driving prices up, and making real estate investment look safe, so they could package a pile of loans and sell them off to other investors, thus freeing up more money to be put into the loan system, thus driving up prices and sustaining the bubble.
Of course anyone with a quarter of a brain could have seen this coming, which makes for an interesting question about our political leaders. Napoleon Bonaparte said one should never assume malice when incompetence is an adequate explanation.
We are now playing the same games with college tuitions, thus assuring that there will never again be an American middle class in the usual sense. One may inherit an education from wealthy parents; or one may be so damned deep in dept that the notion of independence never comes up. Debtors are not middle class.
One of the factors in the fall of the Roman Republic was the concentration of wealth in a few hands, while more and more of the voting populace became debtors and had to become clients to wealthy patrons. The great corporations became employers (and bought slave contracts as debtors sold themselves into slavery over debt). Of course nothing like that could ever happen here. Our government would never manipulate all those student loan contracts.
But the effect of injecting all this money into the college system, combined with the destruction of the public school system so that college becomes a minimum education in order to survive and do your income taxes, has what effect? Why to raise demand for college, inject more money into the system, and -- why what to you know?! The colleges are able to absorb all that money and raise the prices again and again while offering less and less actual education!
And they never catch wise.
I received this as part of an enormous named distribution list from a source I trust. It purports to be Gen. Barry McCaffrey's summary of the current situation in Iraq. It is consistent with the non-MSM reports I have been reading, so I think it is genuine.
Basically and ironically, it reinforces much of what you have been saying for years. It also reinforces something I have been proposing for decades: when you have to build a nation (as undesirable as that is), start with local governments and build up. That is what is happening in Iraq now. Soon they will need to scrap the showcase national "government" and get a real one.
What really rankles is his proposal at the end for $3B per year for five years to build an Iraqi government. We should make them pay for that out of their oil revenues. There are limits.
I have received copies of this report from multiple sources. It is posted here:
Readers will understand that I said shortly after the invasion that our only chance in Iraq was to restore local government and rule by consent of the governed, and that could come only by building up from the bottom: including restoring land to historic holders and negating much of the Arabification of Iraq by Saddam.
Not only didn't we do that, but we allowed the destruction of many of the groups such as Iraqi Christians and Jews who had been in Mesopotamia for two thousand years. Bremer came in and dismissed the central army which was the only central governing institution over which there was much control, and after that the chaos was predicted and predictable by anyone but a State Department Career Foreign Service Officer chosen to go in and Do Something. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by gross incompetence. Keep telling yourself that.
I remind everyone that the US began in 1943 to build Auxiliaries, called Military Government Units, for the occupation of Germany when the War ended. The neocons apparently had not remembered this; or perhaps they really believed that Chalabi the Thief would be welcomed not only in Baghdad but all across Mesopotamia in every hamlet and village. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by gross incompetence. Keep telling yourself that.
What we cannot do is continue to pin the Legions down in Iraq.
December 21, 2007
This day was consumed by locusts, largely caused by arthritis. Ah well. As Roberta points out, when I don't work I feel worse than when I do; getting into a grey funk isn't useful. Back to work tomorrow.
December 22, 2007
The rest of the week is devoted to holidays....
December 23, 2007
Fourth Sunday in Advent.
I managed my Christmas shopping today. Roberta does most of that, so I didn't have too much to do. Fashion Square seemed cheerful enough, not over run by frantic people. I didn't go over the hill to Beverly Hills this year. I usually like to spend an hour or two in Nieman Marcus. They often have some nice specials that make great gifts for people who don't live around here. This year I didn't get over there.
All the kids are elsewhere. It's going to be a quiet Christmas.
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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