THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 514 April 14 - 20, 2008
Highlights this week:
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April 14, 2008
Taxes today. Then I ought be able to get the column and mail bag done. With luck the dead meat will get clear enough that I can start spending afternoons in the monk's cell doing fiction.
Later today I will put up the dialogue with Joel Rosenberg and attempt to deal with Middle East Policy. Query: if we had our druthers, what, within the realm of possibility, would we want the Middle East to look like in five years? What might we work toward?
And does anyone in power -- any of the three candidates -- have a coherent idea of what we want in the Middle East? The Neocons, having been disillusioned, are now in tatters and disarray, with no coherent vision. Their mad dream of Chalabi the Thief unifying Iraq was poppycock; and they seem to have nothing to replace it. We have few potential allies over there, and we are losing one, the Turkish Army.
If we think that Iranian jihadists are tough, wait until Turkey ceases to be a secular state and goes Islamist. You have no idea of just how tough the Turks are. The Byzantines learned. So did everyone else over there; recall who the Brits took Iraq from. So far the Turkish secularists have control of the Army; but if we keep favoring the Kurds, and being blind to just who the successors of Ataturk are, we will learn to our horror that the Kemal Timocracy is not bombproof. And if we ever face Turkish jihadists we will regret it.
Any way, my dialogue with Rosenberg sometime later today or tomorrow. [Alas a schedule I did not meet.]
The new Inferno cover. It will be up on Amazon soon enough. You can pre-order it here.
11:37 back from our walk. It was a pretty hard walk to do, even with Roberta minding the dog so all I had to do was stumble along for 1.8 miles.
Symptoms: weaning away from steroids may be as bad as getting past radiation therapy. Or maybe both sets are coming out strong. All I know is that I don't trust my judgment much, my joints hurt, my energy levels are low. I took an aspirin with the morning vitamins (including CoQ10 and SAMe) and Citrucel fibre (I cut it with lecithin), and it may have helped, but there are still pains in neck; clicking in neck; pains in hip; and much more difficult job in stretching.
Had none of those with the 3-pill/day steroids, and not much with the 2 dose/day. Now that I am down to one the symptoms are pretty bad.
Nose stopped up but that's pollens; I will use the nose pump to take care of that. And then there's the constipation, but Milk of Magnesia ought to take care of that. I never got the opposite effect from the steroids, but withdrawing from the steroids seems to have triggers constipation.
I am still not using NSAID other than aspirin, but that may have to change and I'll add Aleve to the mixture. My daily steroid is at dinner time and I confess I look forward to it.
All this makes doing the taxes a horrible experience. Actually it's not a problem with TurboTax which is working; it's getting my ledgers closed properly and all my expenses recorded properly in a bookkeeping system that I wrote in the 1980's. It works, I have used it since 1982, but my confidence in my ability to do what's needed is gone. I just have to bite the bullet and get it over with, and that's today's work.
My apologies to all who wanted the column and mailbag over in Chaos Manor Reviews. I'll get to all that after I get past this tax assignment, a task that looms larger and larger and larger as the days go by. Apologies to those waiting my essays, dialogue on Middle East, and education. I'll get to those, too. Really.
Jimmy Carter has been meeting with Hamas leaders for years. Where is the Logan Act now that we need it?
Carter has his own foreign policy; but what in the world is he after? I do not understand what he would like to see come of his talks with Hamas -- a self proclaimed enemy of the US and ally/protégé of Iran's mullahs. What does he envision as an upside? If he has ever said, I have not heard it.
Having managed to be the worst president in our history, Jimmy Carter has managed to claim that title as ex-president as well. When he was president we had two potential allies other than Israel in the Middle East -- Allies in the sense that we had common goals and an acceptable consensus on what the Middle East ought to look like, not "allies" as in the Saudi and other oil kingdom despoties. Those were the Turkish secularists, the military Timocracy that Mustapha Kemal left in charge to protect Turkey from Islamic jihadists; and the Shah of Iran. Carter hated both. He helped overthrow the Shah with vim and vigor (and the aid of the media like Barbara Walters who just couldn't resist making the Empress look like an idiot when the Shah and the White Revolution were skating a very delicate line). Carter didn't care for the Turkish secularists, either. After all, they are atheists. Jimmy don't like atheists nohow.
We had another potential ally, the coalition government in Lebanon, but that went fairly early, undermined by Carter and not properly understood by Reagan; but part of that problem is the State Department and its Foreign Service; another of the liabilities built painstakingly in the past that cannot be killed. Add to that the Congressional interferences that require FSO's to have a share of ambassadorships even though they all hated Reagan and did not represent his views, and you have another of the problems of the Middle East. But leave that for now.
Carter created many of our problems over there. Without the Shah, Iran went jihadist, and we were forced, willy-nilly, to look elsewhere; we chose Saddam as the lesser of many evils for our support. After all, he was a Baathist secularist, with no desire to export his revolution (but alas enough greed to covet Kuwait). But the Foreign Service managed to mess that one up. They couldn't even convey the notion that the US did not approve an Iraqi conquest of Kuwait.
That was more the fault of the whole Democratic machine and its structuring of the State Department, plus the Iron Law of Bureaucracy at work at State.
Even so: Jimmy Carter, you have much to answer for. Alas, I suspect you will rack up even more reasons to deserve obloquy before you go to your reward.
|This week:||Tuesday, April
Got to bed at midnight, and woke numerous times, but didn't have to get up until 0730, so I can count that as at least 6 hours sleep, which is the most I have had in weeks. Maybe getting off steroids is a Good Thing. The last couple of days, though, getting off steroids was worse than the radiation therapy. Deo Gratia, it may be better now. See below.
This morning I took an Aleve with the morning vitamins and SAMe. Did all the stretches on our walk.
Excitement: I was able t0 wink my right eye today! It didn't last, but I was able to do it. Up to now the Bell's palsy, or symptoms similar to that, have prevented that. I could wink my left eye, but to close the right I had to close both eyes. My smile is also more symmetrical. Vision is poor: eyes focus on different planes. Still not all that bad, though. My typing is horribly sloppy, worst I have experienced in many years. Don't know what generated that.
But the fact that some of the long term symptoms vanished, even for a short time, is I think very good news indeed.
Taxes: my bookkeeping system has generated all the entries, so I ought to be done by mid afternoon. I can then walk the darned things down to the Post Office and be done with them. With luck, anyway. It was easier this year because we didn't make all that much money last year. We did turn in Inferno II, but the acceptance advance came in two pieces, so my main income last year was subscriptions, particularly Patron subscribers, both new and renewals. Those were the difference between declining resources and keeping the bills paid without drawing on assets.
On that score; because I filled the forms out in opposite order to what I usually do, leaving my agented royalties and other income to last while I filled out interest, dividends, and retirement income, I discovered to my horror just how much the Feds tax retirement including Social Security! Having collected taxes for my lifetime -- including to this day -- on self-employment to pay into the Social Security account, they hand me a miserable pittance compared to what I would have got had I simply put the money into a money market account; then they tax part of it away.
Same with retirement accounts. They tax Roberta's State Teacher's Retirement income. They tax my TIAA retirement income from my academic years. Incidentally, a few years of TIAA/CREF generated a very sizable fraction of the income I get from Social Security from paying into that all my life. I have taken the "minimum distribution" option from TIAA, so I could get a lot more; my theory is that Mr. Heinlein was right, we writers are professional gamblers, and it's well to have your house and car paid for and sock something away for a bad year, because you are likely to have one. Robert ran scared all his life.
Clearly the government wants us to spend ourselves broke and throw ourselves on welfare. Then they will stop fining us every year. They fine us for speeding, for spitting in the streets, for doing things they don't want us to do: they also fine us for improving our property, investing money to grow the economy, saving money; the implications are pretty clear?
Actually, of course, it's just that government employees consider themselves entitled to annual raises whatever they may accomplish for us, and that means they consider themselves entitled to a share of any money that can be found anywhere in the world. It's not that they want to fine you for saving money: it's that you have saved money, and there's some out there, and government employees are entitled to have raises, Q.E.D. See the Iron Law of Bureaucracy. If money exists, government considers itself entitled to it, and if you ask why, they have no answer except blank stares: after all, it's obvious isn't it? Good grief!
Anyway, it's time to go finish the taxes, print the forms, and get that misery out the door. Then I can reset my life, and go back to doing things that I want to do, not that the government demands that I do. (As to why I don't just pay someone else to do this work: I have a number of deductions that have been audited, and thus approved, which I use, but which it takes time to explain to accountants -- all of whom charge enough money that I find it's worth my time to do it myself. Couple that with an accounting system I wrote in the 1980's and which works pretty well but only I understand now, and it's just easier.
Usually easier. I never contemplated doing all this with a quarter pound of dead meat in my head and a brain that isn't hitting on all cylinders. Fortunately I managed, but it did take longer than it usually takes. On the gripping hand, there wasn't a chance that I could devote that time to fiction; and while I didn't finish my essays that I owe you, I did plug away on them.
Are we the one's we've been waiting for?
Actually, I suppose I ought to take my bitter thoughts and my guns to church. Only I live in a village in Los Angeles, not out in small town America. I don't apparently have any justification for being bitter. Small town does. Small town America wants jobs. Isn't that wild? And silly. The mills are closed, the jobs are exported, and regulations make it harder and harder to start new businesses. Creating conditions in which jobs can be created is not part of the agenda of any one of the three presidential candidates, nor part of the Democratic Party agenda.
It's not part of the Country Club Republican agenda, either, but at least there is a wing of the Republican Party that actually understands something about jobs, job creation, and economic freedom. It was even in control for a short while before the Country Club wing grabbed control and expanded earmarks, embraced deficit spending and invented the obscene phrase Big Government Conservatism, decided to finish off the public schools once and for all with No Child Left behind, and followed the Neo Cons to war rather than energy investment as policy.
The answer is to pile on more regulations, and raise taxes. That will take care of it, according to most politicians. Surprise.
Coming up after taxes: Dialogue with Joel Rosenberg on Middle East Policy. Probably tomorrow.
1510: The taxes are printing. Roberta isn't home to sign the darned things, so I'll have to wait for her, then I can walk down to the village Post Office -- Studio City is a village, and it's one reason I really like living here -- and put them in the mail, and no, I don't use E-filing. I'm used to sending bulky packages of paper. I know how to read those.
Meanwhile we have no water. They are working on the mains outside. Sigh.
But it is one great relief to have the taxes done, done, done.
2150: The Lakers are cleaning up to win the Western championship, which is good. The taxes are done which is better. Tomorrow I clean up, do a Chaos Manor Reviews mailbag, and get a haircut. Begin normality. And clear off some flat surfaces.
I do miss my steroids, but at the same time, the symptoms are changing again. I talked on the phone for half an hour, in sentences, no gasping, with a voice that sounds almost normal. I'll have to let Leo know that I'm ready to do TWIT again. So many of the original problems caused by the tumor are fading. They come and go, but the fact that they go for a while is very encouraging. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of degenerate arthritis are coming back as I taper off the steroids.
I have a second hard drive on the Vista machine on which I did my taxes with TurboTax, and I just ordered the system to make a backup copy from the C drive to the other hard drive. I had previously done this before I started.
Ye immortal gods! Vista is the fussiest program for doing that I ever saw in my life. There were multiple questions and dialogs before it would get on with the task. I don't know who was the system architect for Vista, but I suspect there wasn't one. Poor Microsoft. They can't even do operating systems any more...
April 16, 2008
0615: Sleepless in Studio City
Obama vs. Clinton continues. Lieberman may do a keynote at the Republican Coronation. Given the hard left position of Obama (when you can discern his position at all) the Country Club Republican positions look good, and McCain will establish his moderate positions. On the other hand he has given his word to the conservatives on key positions; which is the best we are going to get. McCain bashing from the right isn't likely to be terribly useful. What is needed is a strong conservative turnout for our own: if you live in a district where you like the Republican candidate, then it's time for a strong effort. The conservative wing of the party needs to show that it is important, and this is the time.
Symptoms: not clear. Tinnitus, but not too bad. I don't seem to have the staggers. Wasn't a bad night's sleep. Hips don't hurt, but there is some joint stiffness. Miss my steroids. Last night I had a phone conversation and my voice lasted, and I was speaking in sentences without forcing. I'll see if that continues at breakfast.
Do I have the ambition to assemble Roxillanna? She's lying there in parts rather accusingly... There's the latest Vista Ultimate to install, in hopes that it works better than the Vista I have. There's the MacBook Pro to set up. There's a lot more to do on XP under MAC OS.
I need to do more with Office 2007 Ultimate; I keep hearing horror stories about Office 2007, but so far I haven't experienced any other than it doesn't work if you have Office 2003 or Office XP installed on the same machine -- Microsoft broke that, and hasn't done anything about it, and doesn't seem to want to do anything about it. Odd.
One chance in 450 to be hit by asteroid.
: German schoolboy, 13, corrects NASA's asteroid figures: paper
Query: Is there any accuser in the Texas Temple Raid? Or has the State of Texas kidnapped hundreds of children on an anonymous accusation from someone they cannot locate? Is there any evidence that the 16 year old pregnant girl who said she was raped and forced to marry actually exists?
Is this of any concern to the rest of us?
Can't wait for NAFTA to bring *this* to America, too.
In 1860 the US produced about half the goods that England did. By 1925 we produced as much as the rest of the world put together. During all that time we had protective tariffs.
We are now in the era of free trade. We produce a lot less, and we export our production jobs. We add "fairness" and "environmental" and American with Disabilities burdens to those who would attempt to continue manufacturing and actually make something, while importing without penalty goods made by those without those restrictions, and more jobs get exported. This said to be progress, and all is well, and all is well, and all is well.
If you have lost your job in the mills, and find you have to work at the local Burgher King for half what you used to make, but you get stuff from China at a lower price, are you better off? Do you feel more useful? Of course that won't apply to any of those reading this site. None of us had a career in the mills, or in a furniture factory, or a machine shop; just about every one of us would be bored to tears if we had to spend a year making widgets. You will have to imagine your job exported. Or perhaps yours has been: as momentum gathers the jobs of those on the right side of the Bell Curve also get exported.
We sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind, and we fail to understand the connection.
I have long proposed a straight 10% across the board tariff on all imports. All. From everywhere. And if that's not enough, make it 15%. Having done that, invest the revenue in prizes for energy technologies, particularly in space; ten billion for a Lunar Colony would be a good start. And if the US has to loan money to bail out companies like Bear Stearns, perhaps it will think of making investment money available to oil refineries, new oil wells and pipelines, and nuclear power plants. And we have an army in the Middle East. Can it not bring us home some oil? Why not allow Iraq to pay for its liberation while its army learns to fight?
A measure of energy independence; some competition to the Oil Kingdoms; and some protection for domestic jobs.
But no one I know advocates those policies.
1107: Back from our walk.
Alas, it seems to have drained all my energy: I find myself falling asleep, and with not much incentive to do much. That's disappointing. I had hoped to be full of vim, vigor, and vitality, and get some work done. Instead I seem to be brooding. That's not how it was supposed to work at all.
Well, I would not say different...
1725: I had a 1:30 haircut appointment when Niven called and offered to take me to lunch. We went to the Thai place on Ventura and I walked on to the barber shop, so it worked out well. Then I walked home, about half a mile, and was exhausted.
Got up about 1630 and got involved in fixing Roberta's web site, which, I am pleased to say, we managed. The problem was mine, and my lack of understanding of what I was doing; a rather gross failure of intellect. Once I realized what I had done wrong, instead of trying to fix things in the code I was able to just fix links properly and get rid of pointers to Earthlink that had been built into the links a long time ago and long forgotten. And once those were gone, VOILA! http://www.readingtlc.com works, and the secure links work, and you can order her reading program, which, if you know anyone from age 4 to adult who needs to learn to read English I advise you to do. Seventy lessons of half an hour each and they will be able to read. Typically that happens in 3 months or less. I know that seems an outrageous claim, but it's pretty well true.
English really is over 90% phonetic. There are exceptions, one of the best known being 'Though the rough cough plough me through," but they are more easily learned than one might think. For more go to the web site. It works now.
Now all I need is to get a bit more energy, and I am sure I will manage that. I had email from Dr. Wang today. Everything is about as expected, and it's just a matter of time now to allow the dead tissues to be cleared out so that the scans can assess what is going on in there. Another couple of weeks.
April 17, 2008
This began in View 512 with a reference to an Atlantic article, my observations, and an invitation to fellow science fiction author Joel Rosenberg to participate in a discussion of the matter.
My original post, Rosenberg's response, and more of my observations have been collected into a report; if there are suitable reader comments I will copy them to the report page as well, and it may be updated in future. In any event, the dialogue on the future of Israel is here.
For those not familiar with the Chaos Manor Reports, there are many, on a number of subjects, ranging from serious discussions such as Lessons of the Twentieth Century with reference to Ortega y Gasset and The Revolt of the Masses, to pure humor such as Dogs in Elk. For a summary of what's available see the Reports summary page.
This is an ongoing project, but one not likely to come to any firm conclusions.
0430: time to try to sleep.
09:20 A new day. Trying to get caught up. Many errands to do today. With luck I'll have enough energy to do them. I am told that the period after the radiation therapy is usually worse than anyone expected, and I am finding that is true.
We've been trying to get Roberta's web site up so that one can order through it. I am beginning to think we need simply to set things up with a Paypal account for her and let them take care of that. It sure is complicated, or I have found it so.
It may be time to revamp that whole system of orders. I wish I knew more about how to do that. Set up a store? She has a merchant account. We did know how to accept credit card orders. Sigh.
Time to go for a long walk.
1900: long walk. Nap. I have never felt so drained of energy; recuperation is strenuous.
Now for my LASFS meeting. I am not getting a lot done, alas.
2330: I have zero energy. It's difficult to walk across the room. I am getting little done. Symptoms are not bad. I feel all right. I had my last steroid at dinner.
I feel all right but drained, and I am not getting much done. Maybe tomorrow?
April 18, 2008
0930: Amazing what a good night's sleep will do!
I have to take Sable to the groomers -- washing her myself is a bit beyond my abilities without better equipment than I have, and she hates it anyway -- so I'll be back. But I seem to have energy, and minimum symptoms. Maybe there is balm in Gilead, or healing, or something.
I have notes from this morning's paper on two things to write up, one very relevant to my essay on education which I may manage to get done today.
I still have errands, and administrative stuff like paying the bills, but I may start to catch up today. Hope so, anyway, since this dry spell in my production not surprisingly has corresponded with a dry spell in subscriptions (thanks! to those few who were exceptions), which has not escaped my notice... Don't blame you. Those who sing for their supper are expected to sing, not just tune their instruments and make promises. Back in half an hour.
The roofers showed up (late, were supposed to be here at 0700) just as I had put Sable in the Explorer preparatory to taking her to the groomer, so Roberta is taking Sable and I'm sort of sitting here in case of need. They seem to know what they are doing.
So I'll see what I can do about getting some work done.
I don't usually get into the "Intelligent Design" argument, because I
don't have a lot to add to it; but once in a while poseurs like Professor
Richard Dawkins jump into the fray with such outrageous aplomb that I feel
compelled to answer. See
Dawkins uses a simple method of argument: proof by repeated assertion, plus entirely ignoring what the other side says: instead he will tell you what he wants you to believe they said (if he bothers with the other side's arguments at all). Then he asserts that anyone who believes that nonsense is an idiot not worth your attention, and all his opponents are ignorant buffoons at best, and more likely mendacious scam artists. To say he has no respect for the other side of the argument is a simple understatement of fact. Yet, for all that, the arguments don't go away, which causes despair for Mr. Dawkins, Professor at Oxford University and usually considered the definitive spokesperson for the modern Darwinist position.
Example of Dawkins arguments:
This statement is typical of Dawkins. It is also egregiously wrong. Begin with the last sentence: that only fundamentalist creationists assert the possibility of evolution influenced by aliens from outer space. This was in fact an hypothesis put forth by the late Sir Fred Hoyle in his book Evolution from Space; and let me assure you that far from being a fundamentalist creationist, Sir Fred had a pretty sophisticated theory of how evolution might be influenced by extra terrestrials who were neither gods nor superbeings. Sir Fred's theories would and did horrify fundamentalists.
They were also theories. By theory I mean statements sufficiently precise to generate falsifiable hypotheses. Sir Fred's book gives a number of assertions about Darwinism and natural selection, and gives his reasons for believing in the high improbability to impossibility that certain known conditions were the result of random factors. His arguments are complex and I don't intend to reproduce them here; but they are available in his book. Whether or not Sir Fred makes his case I leave to others; but I at least have not seen a definitive refutation of what he said. Mostly Sir Fred has been ignored.
Nor is Sir Fred the only one I know of to assert what anyone not beginning with utter contempt for his opponents would call real theories. The essence of "Intelligent Design" theory is summed up in the statements: "If you find a watch in the woods, you do not look for a random assortment of parts that somehow put themselves together; you look for a watchmaker. And if you find a watchmaker..." In other words, they assert that there exist features of living creatures that are so complex that they could not have arisen by chance plus natural selection; that certain steps in the evolution of those features are, far from giving a species advantage, would give them an evolutionary disadvantage at one stage of the development.
Now I am not going to get into that argument here. I do point out that Dawkins certainly doesn't. All he does is assert that his opponents are fools, and that he, inspired by random selection and the dance of the atoms which is the only meaning to the universe on his assumptions, is far the wiser and the purveyor of the only true theory of the ascent of man (only of course there is no actual ascent). Why those who assert that there is no intelligent design and that all is a random dance of the atoms, a tale of sound and fury signifying nothing, are so fervent in their assertions is probably of interest to psychologists, but not relevant here.
I don't spend a lot of time worrying about intelligent design because I have never had any concern about the impossibility of reconciling something like Darwinian Evolution and religion (nor indeed of reconciling reason and religion). This is probably due to my education at Christian Brothers College (now Christian Brothers High School) in Memphis during the 1940's. Brother Fidelis was careful to teach the theory of evolution (although the Scopes Law had not yet been repealed and it was in theory illegal for him to do so) along with St. Augustine's and St. Thomas Aquinas's discourses on reason and science; and the concept that God could easily have created the universe in germinal causes and fixed laws, and allowed development to proceed with a bare minimum of miraculous interventions.
Miraculous interventions are by definition outside the general laws of the universe; outside the purview of science; and rare enough that no statistics or laws can capture them as theory. In that sense Dawkins is right: those who rely on a handful of miracles to direct what is usually lawful evolution do not have anything that a scientist, including myself, could honestly call a theory. Most of us never claimed that, either.
On the other hand, intelligent design theorists do have scientific critiques of Natural Selection's ability to explain what we observe. I have already alluded to one, irreducible complexity, which states that certain organism or organs are simply too complex to have arisen in stages. One example often given is the functioning eye as exhibited by humans and octopi.
The opponents of intelligent design assert that they have computer programs that do, or soon will, show the steps needed to get from light sensitive spots on skin surfaces to fully developed eyes in bony sockets, and Monte Carlo simulations in which those steps take place.
The number of steps varies; the minimum I have seen (and I admit not to have paid a lot of attention) is about 32. I have never seen a convincing computer model nor a successful Monte Carlo run of the theory; they have all, in my experience, needed "adjustments" to come out right. Their theories also have several parameters and variables not yet observed. This doesn't negate them: many theories assert the existence of undiscovered variables. On the other hand, until those variables are observed, the theory remains no more than a theory; and that, so far as I can tell, is the actual state of the refutation of the assertion that functioning eyes are an irreducible complexity. The returns aren't in, and until they are, it is hardly buffoonery to espouse either side of the discussion; and calling each other names is not likely to advance our understanding of biochemistry.
To sum up:
I am currently sitting at home in Viet Nam watching the Pope speak to the UN General Assembly about Human Rights on my living room TV. Yes it is on the BBC. Yes it is in English. Still it is available to anyone with a dish. That means anyone who has the money to pay for it and wants it. I don't know if CNN is also carrying this event. CNN is on the cable and we bought a dish because cable wasn't available in our area back then.
I do remember invasive censorship, not that many years ago. Still, watching the Pope on TV in Viet Nam lecturing on Human Rights is one of those moments.
The world changes as you watch. Indeed. I like that notion.
Next decade in Tehran...
And now to work. Column; mailbag; education discourse; assemble Roxillanna and see what difference a quad makes; get more of my work over onto the Mac, particularly the MacBook Pro until I can get a big screen and all up Mac Book to run both Mac OS X and XP; I do seem to have my work cut out. Thanks to all the recent subscribers. I'm singing again...
And if you have not seen http://youtube.com/watch?v=irZmknvOB4I of the US Army chorus and the Battle Hymn of the Republic, go do so. I cannot see how you can possibly regret it.
Does anyone have a video and sound of the Battle Hymn at the National Cathedral during the 9/11 commemoration? I have never seen a good video of that, and it was very moving.
If you like Windows Genuine Disadvantage, you'll love Office Genuine Disadvantage.
I'm so glad that I migrated to OpenOffice.org several years ago. At the time, it was because I needed a word processor that didn't mangle my documents the way MS Word 2000 did. OOo also has the advantage of using the open ODF format instead of the proprietary Microsoft DOC or OOXML formats, and now that Microsoft will be crippling Office with their nasty disabling software, I don't see any reason at all to use or recommend MS Office.
-- Robert Bruce Thompson
I have never had problems with Office 2003, or Office XP; I am still playing with Office 2007. If I have to have Office Genuine Disadvantage to do that, I will think again, since I am terrified of being somewhere and discovering that Word doesn't work. I use Word for many thing. I also use OneNote.
I do believe Microsoft is losing not only its touch, but perhaps its collective senses. Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first drive mad.
I have not yet gone to the extreme of Open Office, and I find Office 2008 for the Mac quite acceptable as a means to do my work -- indeed, as a reasonable substitute for OneNote. Mac OS X with Microsoft Office 2008 is Good Enough for a great deal of what I do.
Flash Sheridan your spam filters have defeated me. I can't send you email regarding your subscription because every attempt including putting that number into the subject header is returned and I have run out of time and patience for dealing with this. Alas. If you have some way to send me email that I can reply to without having to spend half an hour massaging the messages, please do so.
This of course applies to everyone else; if you subscribe, please do so with an address that will not bounce the welcome message containing the user name and password for closed areas, and the instructions. If you don't have such an address, I suspect it's not worth subscribing since you'll never hear from me....
A bit grainy (and one weird tech clitch in the middle), but it's incredibly moving.
April 19, 2008
0645: Not a lot of sleep, but maybe it won't matter. Roberta will go up to Tehachapi today with Alex and Dana to see the new grandchild. I'll stay here and do some work in hopes of catching up.
My critique of Dawkins inevitably spawned a discussion of religion and ethics, and several readers brought up Christopher Hitchins, who believes that religion is actually immoral as well as a delusion. That wasn't the discussion I intended to spark. It's not a bad thing to discuss, but it's very complex, and there is already a great deal of literature on the subject.
In its simplest form, the question is, can there be societies without religion? Is atheist humanism possible? And of course the members of the Ethical Culture Society (where my friend Jim Baen sent his daughter to school, and where a number of my friends are alumni) will assert that their very existence is an existence proof. The question is, is the existence of a relatively small number of bright people who are and act more ethically than the general run of "religious" people an existence proof of a "society"?
As I said, a topic worth debate; but in fact it's worth a lot more than that. It's worth a senior level seminar for a full semester. In other words, it's a larger topic than I'm ready to tackle just now.
Beyond that I'm not going now. I have before said I find curious the fervor with which some will argue that their every action is in fact not an act of free will, but the mere expression of the dance of the atoms, with free will being a mere illusion, an epiphenomenon like consciousness. It's certainly a defensible position (although I don't believe a word of it); what's curious to me is that anyone would want that to be true, much less spend a lot of time arguing for it. But that's a personal observation, and I don't intend to spend much time on it.
For those who argue that religion is not needed to build ethical societies, I wish you well, and perhaps one day we will have a long seminar on the subject; but not now. I haven't the time, and there are other matters of more importance to me. Lubac and Lewis have said much of importance on the subject, and I'll let their observations serve for an opening statement.
As a former military officer, I am pretty conservative. But, with $138 million as the lowest possible marginal cost for an F-22, perhaps we could buy some IPod shuffles instead. They retail at $50.00 for one model, so, assuming a government contact cost of $60.00, we could get 2.3 million of them for the VOA “who was the 40th President of the United States” contest. Deliverable only to addresses in Iran.
I'd certainly go for that!
I am now working on (1) the next column for Chaos Manor Reviews, and (2) the essay on education and IQ. But first breakfast, and then to see Roberta off.
12:40 Roberta is on her way. I took my walk. I am now utterly without energy, which is odd. I had thought I would get some work done, but I am afflicted by malaise and energy drain. I did finish the Chaos Manor mailbag last night and that's done. Now all I need is some energy. Maybe lunch would help.
April 20, 2008
The last two days have not been good; I have never had less energy in my life. It's really difficult to get up. Yesterday I took a nap after lunch, and I did the same today. I am now trying to pay the bills for the month. Anything more complicated or creative is beyond my. I did spend some time reading the pre-publication copy of David Friedman's new book Future Imperfect, which I will certainly come up with some kind of puff for; it's well worth reading. So maybe I got something accomplished but not much.
I am presuming that this is due to two things: last stages of getting the goo out of my head, and reaction to no more steroids. I miss the steroids: now that I am down to zero, the joint aches are back, my head stops up, it's harder to breathe. I need to negotiate on being able to take the darned things sometimes: the indigestion is a price, but I'll pay it. The steroids do what NSAIDS don't, and taking the NSAIDS hasn't been all that useful.
I see Dr. Wang on Tuesday and we'll discuss all this. Until then, it's not easy getting things done, and I'm not doing a lot of singing for my supper. I need to get a column written. I need to get Roxillanna assembled. Work piles up and all I want to do is sleep, only at night when I should sleep I don't.
Keeping spirits up isn't easy but it is vital.
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