THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 417 June 5 - 11, 2006
Highlights this week:
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This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
June 5, 2006
It's cooler today. Sable actually enjoyed her walk this morning, and there's a cool breeze through the office. In Los Angeles we have in June the season Jack Smith used to call "Wummer", Winter in Summer, also known as the "June Gloom." It came a bit later than usual, but it has arrived, to all our benefit.
I got the first part of the June column done over the weekend. The rest is due Wednesday and I'll have it done; part one on WinHEC and some thoughts on Vista is already up at www.byte.com.
June 6, 2006
Be Afraid! 6/6/06
The LA Times had an article today that gives the un-memorable Greco-Latin name for the phobia that means "Fear of the number 666", but I haven't bothered to look it up. As Sherlock Holmes observed after deciding not to remember the Copernican theory of the solar system, there's only so much room in the mental attic for storage, and that's one bit of packrat knowledge I don't need.
But even if 666 is the Number of the Beast and has significance, I doubt that it depends on the dating scheme, and after all, zero is a number...
The Senate is going through the motions of debating a Constitutional Amendment that would define marriage. That amendment won't pass. It shouldn't, because they are debating the wrong subject.
What we really need is a Constitutional Amendment that leaves all these matters to the States, and bars judges from using the US Constitution as a basis for changing the will of the State Legislature in most social matters. I don't know how to draft that Amendment, but it would return the issues of Education, Religion and Separation of Church and State, Abortion, and nearly all such issues to State Legislatures.
The only basis for legitimacy of government in these United States is "consent of the governed." The States may or may not have another basis for legitimacy: some do, some don't. Since all this rests on the will of the people, it's not a debate I intend to pursue.
But the primary problem with government in these United States is the overweening desire of the people of one state to run the affairs of the others; and when the can't get the other state's legislature, or the Congress of the United States, to implement their pet scheme for running other people's lives, they turn to the judges. That disease has got out of hand, so that now we have judges in Massachusetts ordering the legislature to pass laws. The legislature ought to impeach the lot of them. Actually, less violence would be done to the notion of limited government by consent of the governed if the legislature simply assumed the power of attainment and hanged several of those judges, but of course this won't happen: I say it because such an extraordinary act would have less effect on the way people feel about government than we have got through putting up with judicial usurpation.
Minding other people's business seems to be as strong a desire as the drive to meddle with other people's text.
The "marriage amendment" won't pass, and shouldn't. Alas, it is not likely to spark a debate about the real issue, which is judicial usurpation prompted by the desire of people to mind other people's business.
D-Day was the most complex event in the history of mankind. It was managed by the military in the military way. This is a trivial observation, but there are some serious deductions to be made from it. Alas I haven't time to make them today because of deadlines, but I encourage you to think about it.
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June 7, 2006
Well, let's see. The Meathead tax increase lost, and Rob Reiner is still talking about pre-school and how he'll try it again. No one seems to realize that it would be better simply to pay first grade teachers more, and fire any first grade teacher who doesn't teach ALL the kids in her class to read. Actually, of course, that's a bit severe, and there need to be some adjustments for non-English speakers; and a small adjustment for those of very low intelligence (say IQ 75 or below). My mother taught first grade in rural Florida in the 1920's, and when I asked her if any of her kids left first grade unable to read, she said "Well, there were one or two, but they didn't learn anything else, either." Her point being that it never occurred to her that kids of normal intelligence could leave first grade unable to read.
Very many years ago, Newt Gingrich assigned my son Richard to look into Head Start. Under the Head Start authorization there is no law forbidding them to teach Head Start children to read, but in fact no Head Start program does it, and the teachers are forbidden to try. The authorization says that Head Start instruction should be "developmentally appropriate." The education bureaucracy has determined that Head Start (pre-school) kids are not ready to learn to read, thus reading instruction is not developmentally appropriate, and thus not given; and of course if you believe the kids CAN'T learn to read, then they won't.
Now true: at age 4 and 5, not all kids can learn to read. Most can. That is, after all, the age at which Nannies traditionally taught English families who could afford a nanny to read, and they all did learn. You may make of that what you will, but beware the racist fallacy: and surely the education establishment does not believe that English upper and middle class children are better protoplasm than the Head Start children?
No evaluation program has ever found that Head Start makes a bit of difference: that is, two years and more after Head Start there are no statistical differences between those who went through the Head Start program and those who didn't. This is counterintuitive, and a tragedy: I don't know anyone who is opposed to Head Start as a concept. Before I am inundated by mail from Libertarians, let me add that what I mean here is "I don't know anyone who is opposed to the Head Start program who isn't opposed to all government, or Federal, programs on principle." I'm opposed to Head Start on Federalist grounds, but if we have to have such programs, that one certainly sounds like one we ought to have -- except, alas, it doesn't work.
But: I guarantee you that if Head Start made a vigorous attempt to teach kids to read through systematic phonics training, you would see a BIG difference between Head Start kids and others after two, five, ten, and twenty years. Of course the instruction would have to be by teachers who believed that a substantial number of the kids would learn to read in her classroom, and nearly all of them would benefit by the reading instruction; and finding such teachers would be difficult given the idiotic theories in college departments of education.
As to universal pre-school, the statistical differences in crime rates between kids who have been in pre-school and those who have not does not control for social class. Ah, well.
The bellwether (not "bellweather") election in San Diego (for Cunningham's seat) now turns out not to have been important. It was only an important election when there was a chance that Minuteman supporter Bilbray might lose.
For something completely different, tryhttp://www.frontiernet.net/~jimdandy/specials/life/life.htm
June 8, 2005
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has gone to his reward. One thing we can be thankful for.
I still have deadlines. I am not finished with the blankety blank column, although I do have next Monday's installment ready.
Trying to work on Vista Beta 2 and Office 2007 Beta 2 takes time. I'm getting there...
Rush Limbaugh today said something about having been a husband he understands that husbands are always wrong. I note he's divorced.
The actual truth is contained in two principles. Both apply to husbands. The first is from Robert Heinlein: "If you are ever in an argument with your wife and discover that you are in the right, apologize immediately."
The second is Pournelle's principal advice to husbands who want a long and successful marriage: Learn to grovel!
I could spend considerable time on why these principles work, and how they have their roots in evolutionary biology (or in the created nature of men and women if you prefer that), but I haven't time today.
June 9, 2006
No one told me, or even told the BYTE Editor, but CMP has quietly dropped the subscription requirement for access to BYTE. Anyone can go to www.byte.com without a user name and password. At least that's what I am told; my access is automatic so I didn't notice. I have tested it by going to the BYTE site with my VISTA machine which can't possibly know my CMP user name and password, and that worked just fine.
If you haven't been reading the BYTE columns because you didn't want to subscribe to the CMP publications package, now's your chance.
CMP is said to be considering where BYTE fits into their publications empire, so this might be a good time to start reading over there if you have any interest in the matter. This week's column is about my May trips including WinHEC, and some early views on VISTA.
BYTING THE BULLET
I have beta 2 of Vista and Office 2007, and the best way to test those is
simply to use them. They're still beta, though (see
www.byte.com this week
One method would be to use Ghost (see next week's column) to make a restoration point, install Vista and Office 2007, and if it just didn't work use the restoration point to go back to where I started. I may do that with my communications machine to let me test Outlook 2007. A better way for using Vista and Office 2007 on a working machine is to bring over Sativa (formerly Satine) with Vista and Office 2007 to my main machine station and put Wendy, the current main machine I write my columns on, over to the work stand so she's networked and all her data files will be accessible.
I'll do that later after my walk. Meanwhile, go have a look at the column over on Byte.
June 10, 2006
Here's one that may be serious. How was this ever allowed on the market?
Repeat: CMP has made the www.byte.com site free. You can go look at the current and past columns without user name and password.
I have been experimenting with VISTA and Office 2007. So far the combination is something I certainly cannot recommend. I will have to put up Office 2007 (beta 2) on an XP system and see if that improves it.
June 11, 2006
I use my Firefox to keep track of things I intend to do, and things I intend to write. Today Firefox dumped all my tabs and started over. I don't think I have any record of the 30 or so tabs I had open, and I really would like to have some of them back, only I don't have the foggiest notion of how to find them again. If it kept a record of them I don't know where it keeps them.
There was no warning and indeed I simply noticed that when I open Firefox there are no tabs. None. Zero. It is ready to start tabs again but it sure threw out all the ones I had. Anyone know more about this?
Thanks to Ron Langley:
In Firefox, in the "Go" menu, click "History". A sidebar will open with a list of places that you've been, sorted by date. Perhaps you can find the missing tabs.
Which I should have known. And it works fine. Thanks.
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