Mail 711 Tuesday January 31, 2012
This morning I went to the Smithsonian to visit Zeke II. He was dozing comfortably when I arrived, in a cabinet on the fifth floor which a curator was on hand to open for me. (As you know, the Information Age exhibit is currently mothballed, to be replaced with something on "American Enterprise.") What a sturdy looking machine–they sure don’t make them like that anymore. Two shelves above him is the keyboard and some other components for the IBM Deep Blue computer, so I suspect he doesn’t lack for intelligent conversation where he is now. There’s also a Mac Classic: you’d know better than I whether Zeke would ever make a pass.
I looked through the documentation that was also included in the materials, much of it for the CP/M operating system. There were ten 8" diskettes. One was labelled "Safety: Storms." Would this have been Janissaries III: Storms of Victory?
I passed along your regards to Zeke. I can’t truthfully say that he blipped or blinked, but I think he liked getting some attention just the same. Couple of photos attached.
Associate Professor of English
Associate Director, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) University of Maryland
Thank you. And yes, that was probably Storms of Victory. Those 8” floppies were the “mass storage” in those days…
TSA thuggery… looking for shovels in a suitcase because someone tweeted hat he was going to dig up Marilyn Monore. Come on.
I am no longer surprised by anything they do. The TSA needs defunding.
"Being forced to join and be subject to a home owners association is not a capitalist act, it is an undermining of property rights."
Except you aren’t "forced" to join. You join voluntarily, by moving into a community managed by a homeowner’s association. Private citizens voluntarily entering into associations is a Constitutional right.
If someone were to join a private club, break one of its rules, and then sue the club for enforcing those rules, would you say that law and morals were both on his side?
Yeah, this particular situation is awful, and what *should* have happened was that the HOA should have gone to him and worked out what the situation was. But a failure of an individual HOA’s management is not an example of how the notion of an HOA is a terrible concept that all right-thinking God-fearing Americans should abhor.
Maybe the moral of the story here is that if you’re gonna skip payments on a contracted obligation you should read the law *first*.
Mike T. Powers
I am puzzled by your contention that "Being forced to join and be subject to a home owners association is not a capitalist act, it is an undermining of property rights." As far as I know, homeowner associations are created only through the mechanism of real covenants, a form of contract that has been part of the common law for hundreds of years. If you do not like the covenants that "run with the land", you are not forced to buy it. If you have evidence of homeowner associations being forced on property owners after purchase, I would very much like to see it.
Home buyers may face more limited choices if all new developments in an area include homeowner associations, but let me suggest that it is a losing strategy for conservatives to claim that a person facing limited choices is thereby being "forced". It is a tragedy for an 81 year-old veteran to lose his home over a $340 debt, but, so far as I can tell, it is not a failure of capitalism. The failure here seems to be one of charitable organizations not providing the help that some senior citizens need in navigating legal requirements. Where is all the money raised in churches by social conservatives going? Perhaps, e.g., Santorum can take a moment to use his campaign rhetoric to redirect the considerable fervor of evangelicals in a more productive, less symbolic, direction?
Point taken. I have never been the victim of a compulsory homeowners association whose membership is part of a restrictive covenant. In my limited experience restrictive covenants on real estates were things like not allowing the property to be sold to blacks. Of course the courts eventually held that enforcing such covenants is not in the public interest and covenants not in the public interest will not be enforced, and not long after the courts discovered this federal civil rights laws made the whole notion moot. But everyone I know who is part of a mandatory homeowners association hates them with passion. They seem to be great illustrations of the Iron Law in action: fussy old busybodies with far too much time on their hands end up as the officers. Perhaps I have friends in unusual situations.
There are matters of greater concern, I suppose. Fortunately I am not involved in any of this. I do pay my dues the local resident association but that’s purely voluntary. They can’t sell my house at auction if I decide to drop out.
A couple of comments about ADHD. The ability to multitask and to quickly shift focus when something grabs your attention is a survival trait for the person who is plowing the field and suddenly sees a tiger.
This ability is not helpful to the 3rd grade teacher who is trying to teach 25 students to read something that they think is boring.
When I was talking to my son’s doctor she noted two things.
1. ADHD is hereditary
2. Most adults self medicate with caffeine and sugar.
At which point I started laughing, and took another sip of my 4th starbucks of the morning.
Ritalin and coffee seem to work. They also are less needed once you get past about age 17.
College was wonderful because I could finally study only the subject that was interesting.
The ADHD ability is an asset for many professions which require quick task switching. Sales, and Customer service come to mind.
At a recent Amway Black Diamond sales meeting (highly successful full time Amway sales reps) a friend noted that almost all of them had kids taking Ritalin.
My brain can apparently switch gears quicker than normal. I view this as a good thing, not a handicap. The same is true of my children.
We suffer through the public school system and gravitate toward jobs where our ability is an asset. I have been doing technical service for various chemicals and plastics for 25 years. I love it when the phone rings. I love it when my lab tech interrupts me with a question. I hate it when I have to sit at the lab bench and run the same experiment 10 times in a row. My lab tech on the other hand loves routine and will gladly run the same experiment over and over with slightly different conditions.
We make a good team.
It may be that drugs like Ritalin do some good for some kids, but the studies seem a bit forced to me; and I know that we all got along without the stuff when I was growing up. Us nerds had our own problems, but being drugged was not one of them.
‘To date, no study has found any long-term benefit of attention-deficit medication on academic performance, peer relationships or behavior problems, the very things we would most want to improve.’
My guess is when teachers get a kid who acts up they want to do whatever it takes to make him settle down. If that means zoning the student out with drugs that is acceptable if it makes the teachers job easier. Maybe they do not have any mental disorder at all, but as you say, just youthful exuberance and lack of self discipline.
I don’t want to go into a long diatribe on this. I think you know what I mean when I say it is a mistake to substitute ‘metrics’ for good judgment. The result is the teachers end up scurrying to meet requirements and follow an array of rules with no time for anything else.
I can only repeat that we seem to have got along fine without them for centuries, and I am not convinced that 10 and more percent of the kids now need drugs.
I guess they’ve never heard of RF jamming, much less latency.
‘The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini-ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.’
More deniers self-identify
Bert Rutan and a number of other formerly-respected persons consign themselves to the ash-heap of history as they insist on refusing to accept the obvious scientific truth.
Mike T. Powers
Fallen Angels was a lot of fun but we looked at serious subjects.The data are trumping the models. But then it has been that way for decades: the modelers were convinced of warming and the data collectors were not so sure. I can’t remember when it wasn’t that way.
Over a hundred thousand year trend the Earth is cooling. Over the last two hundred years it has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. It has warmed somewhat since the beginning of the last Interglacial Period, but we are still in an Ice Age. The modelers say that CO2 has rescued us from the return of the ice. The data are not so clear on that.
I don’t normally send viral video links, but this is Niftier Than Nemo! <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7aPzZsuBjo>
I don’t usually print the links either, but this is too good to miss.
Fighting the law and winning
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I suspect you will find the following story interesting. Mr. Mocek was acquitted of all charges brought against him when the evidence in his video camera contradicted the sworn statements of serving officers. They had previously attempted to confiscate the camera and delete the footage, but evidently didn’t reckon on recovery technologies.
My parents brought me up to believe the police were the good guys and only the guilty had something to hide. As you can well imagine, this is no longer a viewpoint I share.
Charles Murray on the New American Divide – Jerry
A piece by Charles Murray in the Wall Street Journal, on The New American Divide:
“America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. "The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. "On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day."
“Americans love to see themselves this way. But there’s a problem: It’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s.” <snip>
“Single parenthood: Another aspect of marriage—the percentage of children born to unmarried women—showed just as great a divergence. Though politicians and media eminences are too frightened to say so, nonmarital births are problematic. On just about any measure of development you can think of, children who are born to unmarried women fare worse than the children of divorce and far worse than children raised in intact families. This unwelcome reality persists even after controlling for the income and education of the parents.
“In 1960, just 2% of all white births were nonmarital. When we first started recording the education level of mothers in 1970, 6% of births to white women with no more than a high-school education—women, that is, with a Fishtown education—were out of wedlock. By 2008, 44% were nonmarital. Among the college-educated women of Belmont, less than 6% of all births were out of wedlock as of 2008, up from 1% in 1970.
“Industriousness: The norms for work and women were revolutionized after 1960, but the norm for men putatively has remained the same: Healthy men are supposed to work. In practice, though, that norm has eroded everywhere. In Fishtown, the change has been drastic. (To avoid conflating this phenomenon with the latest recession, I use data collected in March 2008 as the end point for the trends.)
“The primary indicator of the erosion of industriousness in the working class is the increase of prime-age males with no more than a high school education who say they are not available for work—they are "out of the labor force." That percentage went from a low of 3% in 1968 to 12% in 2008. Twelve percent may not sound like much until you think about the men we’re talking about: in the prime of their working lives, their 30s and 40s, when, according to hallowed American tradition, every American man is working or looking for work. Almost one out of eight now aren’t. Meanwhile, not much has changed among males with college educations. Only 3% were out of the labor force in 2008.
“There’s also been a notable change in the rates of less-than-full-time work. Of the men in Fishtown who had jobs, 10% worked fewer than 40 hours a week in 1960, a figure that grew to 20% by 2008. In Belmont, the number rose from 9% in 1960 to 12% in 2008.”
On and on. More in that vein. It appears to be a condensation of his new book. Quite sobering, especially in juxtaposition with a series of lectures I am listening to on Machiavelli. In The Discourses he describes the kind of institutions an uncorrupted people can be trusted with, and the kinds of institutions that must serve when a people are “corrupted.” It brings to mind Ben Franklin’s answer when asked at the end of the Constitutional Convention what kind of government we had: “A republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.”
I am a big fan of Charles Murray. I have his new book but I have not yet had a chance to read it – it only came today. I will have much more to say on it I am sure. And I read Machiavelli’s Discourses before I was an undergraduate as it happens; I have always found them far more compelling than The Prince.
And we kept it for two hundred years…