THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 543 November 3 - 9, 2008
Highlights this week: (This really is the current view; election week.)
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November 3, 2008
We are about to go for our walk. I'll have more by noon (local time). Meanwhile if you did not read Saturday's note, do so. And let me repeat, despair is a sin.
We are back and I used up all my time fighting Mac ME which is .Mac on steroids and pushy and broken and sucks dead bunnies. I'll try to get more up after lunch. I did correct the date. Later.
Later. Boy do I have stuff for the column, and it's due time to get something up over at Chaos Manor Reviews. Last month was harried, and it gets worse. I have things I have to do, and that keep me from getting at Mamelukes. It used to be that I had more money than time, but like everyone else it's getting toward the make do and fix it end of the spectrum. Not cost effective, actually, given the time I have left, but cash flow is cash flow.
Long talk with Niven on the phone and we will seriously get to work on the outline for a new Hit The Earth With Something Large book; we are still settling on what will hit. We need a rock that comes apart so that most is averted, but something stays behind and whacks us. Obviously the incoming object will be called Lucifer's Hammer since those concerned with it will have read the book... But we don't have a title for the book. Need something snappy. Hammer of God has been used.....
He doesn't much care for nuclear, either. I cannot imagine that anyone in coal country would want to vote for him. But then maybe everyone likes high oil prices. Without nuclear or coal, what's left? Freezing in the dark?
Once again: despair is not only a sin, it's poor tactics.
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|This week:||Tuesday, November
It ain't over until it's over. If every one of my readers got a couple of other people down to the polls, it would have a serious effect.
The ground game is all that's left. And the polls are wrong.
In almost every election there are more people who would have voted for the loser if they voted -- but didn't vote -- enough to have changed the outcome of the election. Keep that in mind.
And despair is not only a sin but bad tactics.
1130: We walked down to what used to be Corvalis Catholic High School for Girls but which is now Osama University, a finishing school for rich Japanese kids; all the ones I see are high school age. It also has an ADHD school and some other classes for Americans. I recall a few years ago I met someone from there (Japanese American I would guess) on a walk down to the Post Office and he asked if I would be interested in teaching something like American civics. I wasn't, and since that time I haven't paid much attention to the place. I do note they used to teach Kendo and I'd see classes in the gym at night, but I haven't noticed anyone carrying Kendo gear recently or seen anyone practicing. All that is irrelevant of course: but Osama is where elections have been in the Studio City Triangle for some years now. They used to rotate among a handful of private houses until Osama became the place for several precincts including ours.
The line was about half an hour long. There were a number of Obama shirts, and a couple of people yammering on cell phones about how thrilling it was to vote for Obama. They seemed to think apotheosis was at hand. But that's California in an area where the Entertainment Industry predominates, and all the schools are very liberal.
November 5, 2008
Guy Fawkes Day
Please, Mr. Secret Service Man, it really is Guy Fawkes Day, and the Guy didn't manage to blow up nobody, and I haven't made any terrorist threat. Always remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot! I see no reason why gunpowder treason ever should be forgot...
I am writing this at 20:30 Tuesday night, and I am due at WinHEC at O dawn thirty tomorrow.
Analysis of the election and results in due time. Technology changes everything.
Despair is a sin.
23:45 Home from WinHEC and a walk with Sable. Tomorrow I'll work on the column, and add stuff here.
It's late and I'm nearly exhausted.
November 8, 2008
IF YOU ARE A PLATINUM SUBSCRIBER (and thanks!) please note: If you did NOT get a brief note from me this week, please send me email noting when you subscribed. I may have mucked up some of my records. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
It's now after midnight. I really have to get to bed. Apologies.
1150: I am getting my mail list in order. I have the column to write. I am up to my eyebrows in work, Obama is saying they intend to confiscate 401(k) accounts, the market is down another huge blop, and the Republican Party has lost it's identity.
In other words, it is time to get to work.
I lived through Goldwater to see Reagan and be part of his kitchen cabinet. I lived through Clinton to see Newt become Speaker.
I lived through brain cancer.
I'll live through this, provided I can catch up with the work piled up in front of me, and now I have to go out and GET DOG FOOD, which is more important than anything else. We sure don't want Sable to go hungry! And I am getting my platinum subscriber list straightened out and in doing so found A REAL BUG in Outlook 2007 that is not in Outlook 2003. I also found several platinum subscribers I hadn't recorded properly even though I certainly had received the payment. My apologies to all those it happened to. Apparently my autopilot in July was worse than I thought it was.
The good news is that I have the energy to get all this work done. The bad news is that I have to do it...
So I am getting to work clearing my desk. Then we can get to work building a new political party. We'll have a lot of help from Obama, and even more from those that Jimmy Carter called "rapacious wolves." He was speaking of Democratic Party Committee Chairmen who couldn't even cooperate to divide the spoils. They helped build the Reagan Party and they'll help again. Only this time we have to avoid the Country Club elements like Bush I and Bush II.
National Security. Avoid entangling alliances. Do not engage in the territorial disputes of Europe (or the Middle East). Don't get into LAND WARS IN ASIA. Remember that the worst enemies of capitalism are capitalists, and the worst thing about capitalism are capitalists; capitalism is the most efficient way to grow the pie, but the very mechanisms that make it efficient expose the lot of us to dangers. See Adam Smith for more details.
Now I have to go buy dog food before we have a Siberian Revolt.
And if you are a Platinum Subscriber and haven't heard from me recently, please let me know. If you aren't a platinum subscriber -- but no, there's not a real joke to be made there. I thoroughly understand that most of you subscribe at whatever level you can, and I am not after rent or food money. I'd rather have you as unsubscribed readers than not at all; but it does take time to keep this place going. I will come up with a much better way to automate the record keeping, but that's low on the list of stuff that has to be done.
Thanks to all. Despair is a sin and is very poor tactics. And you may count on the rapacious wolves who destroyed Carter to be in good form yet one more time. I can almost feel sorry for Obama.
I have just about done the clerical work: Outlook 2007 is NOT RELIABLE on selecting flagged items. I shipped my full outlook.pst file over to an XP machine with Outlook 2003, did a search for Platinum, and it returned 39 more names than Outlook 2007 had returned from the same list. I built a new subscriber list and in future I will enter the subscriptions there, then copy into the main subscriber list. Those of you who rely on Outlook 2007 to make sublists of contacts should be aware that there seems to be an upper limit on flag items with names as long as platinum; that is, the limit doesn't seem to exist on numbered category items, or those with short names, but with longer names it just doesn't get them all. I have tried this several times.
This machine runs Vista 64 bit and I need to try this experiment on a machine running Vista 32 Outlook 2007 but I don't really expect that to make any difference. Outlook has a real bug. I'll put this in the column I ought to have been writing instead of doing clerical work. Keeping the list properly is an obligation I undertook when I decided to accept (well, encourage actually) subscriptions.
Has anyone got reliable numbers for the election turnout? I am hearing that it is lower than 2004 despite all the hoopla; and that there was no higher percentage of first time voters in 2008 than in 2004. I don't seem to find actual numbers.
November 7, 2008
Friday. We can hope. It is interesting that Obama has appointed an IDF veteran, a very pro-Israel Congressman, as White House Chief of Staff, which is the chairman of the Privy Council and a very important official. This is not going to go over well with those who rejoice in Obama's middle name. The position is very powerful.
And in fact we know nothing of what Obama will actually do; we have guesses. We do know that Jimmy Carter called many of his fellow Democrats rapacious wolves -- and it is not likely that things will have changed much. As I said, I can almost feel sorry for him.
The remarkable thing is that given the unpopular war, a President who does not project himself well and isn't charismatic at all, and the total economic collapse: given all that, the election was remarkably close. It will be interesting to look at the actual turnout figures broken down by party, race, sex, social class. I would be astonished if this election was an exception to the rule that had the Republicans turned out more of their voters, they could have won; and certainly could have mitigated the disaster. There is no organization; in part because the Country Club Republicans have only contempt for worker bees and hard party workers.
That will change if Newt takes over the Republican National Committee.
I would also like to see an analysis of the vote on a Congressional District basis. I note that Dana Rohrabacher, who is not a "Big Government Conservative" whatever that means, was able to survive a well financed challenge.
Libby Dole, once considered Presidential material, could not hold her Senate seat. That too is interesting. Dole was the only man Clinton could beat in 1996, and he was told that, but he insisted that it was his turn to run and he ran.
Rebuilding a conservative based party will be difficult. Infiltrating the Democrats might be easier -- there were Conservative Democrats for a long time.
Most of the politics I learned was based on having a precinct organization. Obama seems to have built one. The Country Club Republicans apparently thought they didn't need one; but in fact a good precinct organization would have won the election, even so. Of course if the Country Club Republicans had listened to people at the precinct level they would not have got us into this mess.
The Republicans did not deserve to win. I do hope that the nation doesn't have to pay too high a price for turning the rascals out. I fear we have dismissed King Stork for King Heron with a posse of pelicans.
Enough rambling. It's late and I need to get to bed.
The aftermath continues.
There is considerable discussion on new party building over in mail.
And NASA says the sun is getting active again. We will see, but that may halt the cooling trend. We can hope. I'd rather have warning than ice.
A WARNING: Take Heed
For a good commentary, see http://blogs.zdnet.com/perlow/?p=9305 America loses its moral technologist.
It is always a dilemma when someone I knew dies. I don't like writing obituaries. Memento mori. With Crichton it wouldn't be necessary since he was famous and there would be thousands of announcements; and while I knew him, I knew almost nothing that wouldn't be in the other obituaries.
I didn't know him well. We met long ago in the 1970's when I was president of Science Fiction Writers of America and he was just becoming famous with Andromeda Strain. I got invited to the grand opening of the movie, and met him a couple of other times that year, persuading him to join SFWA. He did so on condition that his address and phone number (this is well before email addresses were common; I had one, and so did he, but people with at signs in their names were rare in those days) were kept secret; he'd had to change his phone number several times after the successful opening of Andromeda Strain. Hollywood is like that. We did talk on the phone a couple of times.
He remained a SFWA member for a couple of years after I left office, but eventually dropped out, and we had contact a couple more times over the years. I never told him that Robert Heinlein wanted me to tell him that Crichton had done wrong by getting a Harvard MD and never practicing medicine. I didn't discuss it much with Robert, either, because I didn't particularly agree. Heinlein's position was that Crichton ought to have got a PhD in medical physiology, so that he hadn't taken up a slot that ought to have gone to someone who wanted to be a practicing physician. Mine was that it wasn't my business. In any event I never told Crichton that.
We spoke a couple of times when I was still active doing science columns. Crichton was intelligent and read more of the science literature than I did, which is pretty hard to do or was in those days. He congratulated me on the stories that appear in EXILE -- AND GLORY and my American Legion Magazine articles on America's Looming Energy Crisis, and we met at a couple of movie openings -- I got invited to those in them there days. He said he really loved Lucifer's Hammer. And that was about it. I can say we were friends but not close.
I did read most of his books. I found his energy conspiracy book entertaining and parts of it excellent. It worked as a story. I declined to get into the fight it generated with Greg Benford.
I didn't know Dr. Crichton had lung cancer. I hadn't spoken to him in years. He will be missed: he was a good writer who understood technology, and that's pretty rare. I'll miss the books he won't be writing now.
November 8, 2008
Today I must finish the November International column which means the first installment plus whatever else I throw in for International readers. It was due in Tokyo and Istanbul and other places by midnight the 7th, but since that was Friday night in practice it means Sunday midnight. I'll manage that deadline. The last couple of days I have been in a blue funk, getting very little done, but today feels good. I'm getting to work as soon as this is posted.
Here's an observation on solving the credit crisis and getting us out of the coming Depression:
We can all hope that Obama will ignore ideology and take some sound
economic advice. If he reads a lot I recommend, strongly, Amity Schlaes's
The Forgotten Man
I suspect Obama is more ideological and less whimsical than Roosevelt. He may be better informed on economics. Roosevelt trusted his gut feelings, even when they changed -- he sent several conflicting polity statements to his negotiating team in London when they were trying to come up with an international solution; I don't know how much of the "He's the One we have been waiting for" stuff Obama takes seriously. He's used to being the smartest guy in the room; I can tell you from experience that's not the best way to learn judgment, particularly when the subject is economics and social science where there are no objectively correct answers. It does not bode well that one of his economic advisors is Los Angeles Mayor Tony Villars, whose only economics is to tax everything in sight (lower, middle, upper classes, and all those in between) and otherwise ignore the business of government unless there is a camera in view. The notion of Villagaroso in a serious meeting with Warren Buffet is highly amusing; one can hope that Obama thinks so too. There is no way to take our Mayor's advice seriously.
As I say, we can hope that Obama can learn something from the mistakes of Roosevelt and Johnson -- and for that matter from Kennedy, who had sane and often effective economic policies despite being ignorant of the subject and leaving it all to his brain trust. The Kennedy tax policies set the stage for Johnson's disasters.
But make no mistake. We are in for a world of hurt until liquidity returns. As a LA Times article put it today, employers are among the last to learn that we're in a recession: they really hate mass layoffs, but when they do begin to act they act fast. We'll be seeing them act fast before January 20.
One result of the election: Campaign Financing legislation is over and dead. Minor candidates and those who can't raise money any other way will take public money and fund raising limits, but no sane contender will do so. Obama's broken promise -- well, it looked like a promise -- coupled with the huge amounts Obama raised took care of that.
And it's time for me to get to work.
Meanwhile, if you're down at heart, read http://www.ejectejecteject.com/ for November 6, and think on that.
November 10, 2008
Depending on motivation this may be a Good Thing. The defense of Europe is no longer our vital interest; what is important if defense of the US. Missile defenses here would be a good thing. Obama is talking about public works. A defense shield would have that benefit as well as be a defense shield...
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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