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View 534 September 1 - 7, 2008

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Slept in until 10. Sun came out about 10:30. Richard, Herrin, and grandchild are still here which gives Roberta plenty to do. Herrin just finished a 15 mile race of something of the sort. My hearing continues to deteriorate but I am now convinced this is some sort of infection, curable by antibiotics. I had thought it a symptom of cancer or radiation treatment, but apparently it is not, so it's time to try to Do Something about it. It feels like my head is all stuffed up, but my breathing is all right; it's not sinuses or nasal passages. I'll start work on getting the proper appointments when we get back to LA. Kaiser will have someone able to deal with it. It's sort of my job to find out who.

=========

I am told that the moonbat wing of the Democratic Party is now spreading the story that the Dow's Syndrome fifth child is not the governor's but her 17 year old daughter's child. This apparently started at the Daily Kos. Fascinating. Maybe one day I will write a story about how a sitting governor is able to fake a pregnancy and get away with it. After all, I am a science fiction writer. Or perhaps my correspondents are making up the story that the Democrats or some of them believe this? That would be a lot easier to do...

========

 

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Tuesday,  September 2, 2008  

Roberta misses her dog, and since the kids and Grandchild have gone home, the beach is less attractive now. I guess. In any event we are going home this morning.

The conservative base loves Palin. Her daughter will be 18 when she gives birth; the same age as Obama's mother. Neither chose choice. One could write pages of essays on that irony.

When I was in high school there were a few unmarried mothers, or at least it was rumored: in most cases we were never sure. Of course I went to an all boys high school run by Christian Brothers, so my experience was not necessarily typical; but the people I talked to at the skating rink where I hung out had about the same views. Of course in those days abortion was not an option, certainly not for high school kids and so far as I knew not for anyone. I would presume there were abortionists in Tennessee, but they would be expensive, illegal, and not likely to be trustworthy. I'm guessing on all three counts, of course.

There seems to be an explosion of commentaries saying that the Palin girl's experience proves the need for distribution of condoms and the expansion of sex education in high school. I suppose there may be a girl of normal intelligence in Alaska who isn't aware that unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy and who doesn't know how to acquire condoms; and perhaps one or two boys in the same condition; but surely there cannot be many of either, and the chances that the governor's daughter is one of them is about nil. When I was in high school any discussion of the possibilities of real sex -- "all the way" -- was a stimulation, not a source of new information. The information was available in books, but they weren't easy to obtain (and the best parts were in Latin; another reason for studying Latin in high school). Condoms were available in drug stores, but you had to ask for them. I never had the nerve to do that.

My point is that despite the paucity of information anywhere and the total lack of sex education, we didn't seem to have that many illegitimate children (they were called that, too, little bastards) and we certainly didn't have tens of thousands of abortions. This despite the total absence of federal programs, state programs, or lectures by Planned Parenthood in school. If sex education were having the effect that its advocates claim, surely we should today have fewer, not more, children conceived out of wedlock?

Don't take this as more than it is. I don't have a strong opinion on sex education in schools, (haven't done a serious study) and to the extent that I do, it is yet another matter to be left to local school boards (who ought also to be collecting the school taxes as well as spending them). We might then see what the most effective curriculum would be. Of course given the Internet this is probably nattering inanity to begin with. Surely any kid who wants to know -- and in my experience they all do -- can find out more from the Internet in an hour than is taught in the schools? Now if we just had 100% effective protection against both pregnancy and STD: would that get the teen age pregnancy and STD rates down to what they were when I was young?

==================

In any event, the conservative base of the Republican Party seems to be excited and back in the ball game; and that cannot be great news for Obama. Obama cannot win without the kind of people that Palin appeals to.

==================

Getting Less Squeamish By the Minute 

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/09/021391.php

It's good to see that the New York Times has rethought what news is fit to print. But hardly astonishing.

The story now is that Bristol Palin and the young man in question had planned to marry before she discovered she was pregnant. Apparently they had the view I grew up with, there were girls you could sleep with and girls you would marry, and you knew the difference. No young man of 17-18 truly wants to settle in and marry at that age, but it was done often enough a generation or so ago, with results not terribly worse than what we have today. And it's interesting to see how many people are finding an excuse to talk about it even as they say it is a private matter. We can wish the young people well, and hope for the best. When I was 20 it was pretty common to be married before age 22, and many were married by age 20; but in those days, the only approved way to have sex was to marry, and the only practical way other than marriage was prostitution. In theory there were girls you could sleep with and girls you would marry, but in practice finding the girls you could sleep with was difficult (except in college; the really left wing girls believed in free love. Alas, few of the ones I met were very attractive). Apparently college girls are more available now, and there is no shortage of sex outside marriage. We try by law to restrict that to people 18 and over, but that's rather difficult as a practical matter. (Of course we also try to restrict sex within marriage to girls of some given age, with indifferent results.)

================

I keep hearing the pundits attacking Sarah Palin as inexperienced and unable to assume the office of President. I have heard few to none that do not apply equally to Barack Obama. The difference is that Obama gets the job instantly; Palin would have to wait until McClain became incapacitated, and would presumably have a cabinet in place. And Biden has 40 years of experience in liberal policy making.

I am not at all sure I wouldn't rather see Palin as President than any of the other three possibilities, and no, I am not betting the farm on that proposition. It's just that the experience I do see has not been the kind I would like to see.

Incidentally, we're home safe, and all is well here.

And I am about as weary of this election campaign as anyone else. Of course we were in the car for hours coming home, and to get traffic information without bad music we had to listen to talk shows. Over time the political news seeps in so that it seems important. I have my radio tuned to KUSC now, since I have no need for traffic information....

==================

Tomorrow it's the monk's cell and fiction.

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday,  September 3, 2008

I have several readers who refer me to Peggy Noonan on Palin

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122044753790594947.html?mod=rss_opinion_main

On reflection, as usual Noonan says just about all that needs saying. Palin is a Hail Mary pass, and it may work; and the left is going to have to kill her fast, or they can't do it. Palin will rally the lower middle class and working class Republicans, arousing all the men's protective instincts. I'm not all that close with Evangelicals -- although having been a professor at Pepperdine (a Church of Christ College when I was there) I'd bet a bunch I know more of them and know them better than any of the media pundits -- but the last time I checked, loyalty to family and living up to the consequences of one's actions goes over very well with them, particularly women. We'll see tonight. I'll bet anything you like that you won't hear any whining from Palin.

Now go read Peggy Noonan.

===========

In a few minutes I am going up to the monk's cell to work on fiction. I then have to pay the bills. And I intend to listen to Palin's speech tonight. Thus today is short shrift for this day book.

============

Henry Vanderbilt sends this picture taken at the DC/X reunion. That's the remains of the DC/X behind me.

===================

Trojan Warning:

Dear Jerry,

I received this from a friend who works for Gulfstream International at MacDill AFB in Tampa.

COMPUTER VIRUS WARNING

"The newest virus circulating is the "UPS Delivery Failure". You will receive an email from UPS Packet Service along with a packet number. NOTE: The word packet is misspelled on this line. It will say that they were unable to deliver a package sent to you on such and such a date. It then asks you to print out the invoice copy attached. DON'T TRY TO PRINT THIS. IT LAUNCHES THE VIRUS! Pass this warning on to all your PC operators at work and home. This virus has caused Millions of dollars in damage in the past few days."

I'm not sure about any actual damages, but I did google this possible virus and here is one of the links I found:

< http://wcco.com/techcenter/ups.email.virus.2.771489.html  > 

Your readers would have the sense not open an email like this if they weren't expecting anything from UPS, but many of us do use UPS regularly and may inadvertently not verify the routing or package numbers if expecting a package.

Curt

 

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Thursday,  September 4, 2008

I am off to the oncologist (as opposed to the radiation oncologist). I expect to have a confirmation of being cancer free, and get appointments with the proper specialists about fatigue, sleep problems, and this painful hip which I presume is degenerative arthritis. Next step is to find out what is curable and what must be endured, and what aids to endurance are safe.

After that I'll put in some time in the monk's cell. It's time to get some of those fiction books done and out the door.

Yesterday I got a call from my editor. His comment on fatigue: "I've found that nothing motivates an author like a contract and a check. Gets them back to four pages a day..." To which I can only say 'Amen.' Time to get Mamelukes out the door and proposals for new books to my agent.

As to last night --

Well, she sure can make a speech.

=======================

1600 Well it's official. I ain't got no cancer nohow. My hearing and sleep problems are not the concern of oncology or radiation; go see some other specialist. So that's being arranged. I'll also go talk to my primary about the hip pains. I've heard muttering about hip replacements, but so far I'll leave that as a distant possibility. I don't think major surgery is a great idea at my age, and I don't relish hospitals.

"Hospital very bad. Many go in. Few come out." That's a line from an old comedy "All for Mary" which my late friend Rod Whitaker (later known as Trevanian) directed at the University of Washington when we were graduate students there; I later directed it for the Seattle Civic Theater when I was Chairman of the Board. That was a considerable time ago. In any event, from what I read, more people die in hospitals from something they didn't go in with than are killed in automobile accidents. Now clearly that statistic hasn't kept me from driving, but it's something to think about, and at my age I don't really want them chopping on my hips. I have too much work to do, and aspirin is fairly cheap... Maybe I'll try Celebrex.

And now it's time to get some work done.

=================

I had not seen this earlier:

Subject: Biden says Obama may press charges against Bush

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/03/uselections2008.joebiden 

"If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued," Biden said during a campaign event in Deerfield Beach, Florida, according to ABC.

"[N]ot out of vengeance, not out of retribution," he added, "out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no attorney general, no president -- no one is above the law." End quote.

Sounds sensible in theory (who isn't in favor of the rule of law?), likely to be a horribly messy mistake in practice.

-Max

In practice it is the end of the Republic. It was the end of the Roman Republic. We have taught dictators two things: GET NUKES and NEVER LET GO.  This teaches Presidents: NEVER LOSE THE POWER for you and your children will not survive.

Crossing the Rubicon comes next.

But Biden neither knows nor cares. Let justice be done though the heavens fall. With Biden as Chief Justice.

======================

Kindle edition of _Inferno_ reissue out.

 http://www.amazon.com/Inferno/dp/
B001F784EG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=
digital-text&qid=1220517617&sr=1-1 

Roland Dobbins

===================

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday,  September 5, 2008

Will someone please correct me if I am wrong?  Is not a community organizer a person who teaches others how to be victims and get on the dole or otherwise claim public benefits? Is not his clientele the people most of us wish would organize to strike and withhold their services to the community including taking welfare? And was not much of that potential clientele affected by the Welfare Reform Act?

I don't mean to be overly harsh. I grew up in an era in which it was considered shameful to go on the dole, and anyone you would invite into your house would have to be thoroughly disabled before taking public money. People who truly ought to have applied for welfare did not do so because of the deep shame of it all. The notion that a person might be paid -- and I am still unclear as to who pays community organizers -- to go out and talk people into going on the dole -- is a bit bizarre to me. In my time such people were called precinct workers, and their goal was to get you to join their party, vote for them as precinct captain, and vote for the candidates they designated -- and to do that by getting you public money if possible, a political favor if need be.

Have things changed in Chicago so that Obama was doing something different from that? I know his supporters are indignant over the disdain with which "community organizer" seems to be held. Is their indignation justified? What I find on line seems to confirm my impression of what Obama did; but I certainly haven't spent a lot of time looking for it.

===================

Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcombers http://www.thejapanfaq.com/FAQ-Primer.html

 ======================

1430: Went to bed a bit after midnight last night, using the new sleeping pills I got from the oncologist. Temapzam, whatever that is. I haven't googled it yet. The main thing is IT WORKED. I woke about 7:30 with no recollection of waking previously even to go to the bathroom, stretched and went back to sleep, woke at 0930 feeling like getting up, not sleepy, and ready to go to work. Niven called and wanted to come over so I read the paper, dressed, and Niven and I walked to the salad joint (Good Earth restaurant down on Ventura) about a mile and a half away.

We pretty well came up with the outline for our next big book; at least what will go in the proposal. I find that I think better when talking or writing than just sitting and thinking -- at least when I am talking to Niven. So it's like Hammer: I am doing most of the plotting and a good part of the characters, I generally do the dialogue if there are more than two people in the scene, and Niven provides the magic. He has promised to top the surfer scene in Lucifer's Hammer. That means a sure best seller.

In other words, I'm baack!, and Niven and I are BAACK! Which probably means a bit more short shrift for this day book, but I'll try to keep it up, and I contend I have the best letters section on the web; and that I'll keep up because I get a lot out of it myself. I get scenes, thoughts, ideas... Anyway I'll keep up the mail section, and I'll do an essay a week here, but I don't promise more.

=================

I have a number of letters on community organizing, about half in defense, and about half in ridicule. The best is from Monty and I'll lead off the discussion with that over in mail.

My problem is this: de Tocqueville rightly pointed out that one great thing about America was that "the associations" -- community volunteer groups -- did most of the social services performed in the Old World by government, and did so without building bureaucracies or aristocracies or taxes. As Monty and others point out, in some communities there isn't the gumption to form associations, and someone must organize these people if they have nothing.

But as we replace the associations with government we get further and further from what made America both different and great; and the fact remains that most -- absent contradictory evidence I'd say nearly all -- modern community organizers do not get people to go do something for themselves but rather get them to work together to get someone else to do something for them. At some level the community organizer is indistinguishable from the ward heeler -- and in some cities that may be all to the good. There were good things to be said about Tammany Hall, and Boss Flynn's book "YOU'RE THE BOSS" used to be (and in my judgment still ought to be) required reading for first year political science students. (It's clear I know more about New York ward politics than Chicago's.)

Niven and I at lunch were in agreement that we wish there were more community organizers who would form Welfare Recipients' Leagues to go on strike and withhold their services from the community at large, but that's whimsy, not rational discussion. Whimsy or not, there's something to that: communities do develop leaders from within and sometimes that can lead to "associations." Of course those associations can trigger ambiguous emotions: see Dickens, and the Artful Dodger, and Fagin at least as played by Alec Guinness, and Nancy the moll (movie version not so much the original in the novel); but there is also Bill Sikes about whom nothing good can be said at all. Letting communities develop leaders may well make heroes of Bill Sikes -- or Jesse Jackson. But they may also bring up Malcolm X, And Bill Cosby.

====================

Then there are radio talk show artists John and Ken, both lapsed Catholics so far as I can tell, who seem to share Obama's view of the religious as clinging in despair to their guns and churches. Their contempt for Palin comes from her speaking in her church to ask for prayers for some of her projects including the gas pipeline.

Uh -- haven't churches from Catholic Cathedrals on down to Four Square Assemblies prayed for rain from the beginning of this Republic? Am I incorrect in recalling that Washington invoked the guidance of Divine Providence? Thorough rationalists may be certain that such prayers will do no good, but by the same logic how can they do harm? Unless one is an unconscious worshipper of some entity offended by prayers to God? I can understand the logic that doing nothing but praying without doing any work toward one's goal is not likely to be useful (on any logic including most theologians), but surely that is not what she was doing?

Yet the contempt that these radio commentators heap on this woman is profound; this from a pair who claim to be populists. I not only find that interesting, but I suspect they will not much care for the reaction from their listeners. I would not think that contempt for religious beliefs goes with their populism; but perhaps I misunderstand commuter Los Angeles, which is basically their audience.

Regarding Palin, whatever one's view of this remarkable woman, contempt does not seem particularly appropriate. Fear, perhaps, for those opposed to her ticket; for she has probably managed what I thought impossible, to unite the country club wing of the Republicans to the conservative base. There's some fire among the party workers now, and the Republicans may be able to get a ground game going. For those not familiar with the term, the "ground game" consists of getting those whom you know will vote for you actually to go to the polls and DO THAT. There have been few elections in the US, and no elections that were anywhere near close, in which more than enough people stayed home than would be needed to have reversed the election result. Moreover, in most cases there were enough who did not vote who would have voted for the loser had they bothered to vote. Professional campaign managers, of which I was one, make certain they have experts working to organize the precincts and get the volunteers set to know how those in the precinct will vote; go to the polls in the afternoon and make a list of potential good voters who have not voted; and go bug the hell out of those people until they do vote. I used to tell my precinct workers "Offer to drive them. Offer to babysit, either at their house or in the polling place. Let them smoke in your car if you have to. Walk with them to the polls, But get that X on the ticket!"

The ground game cannot be won without volunteers. The democrats use union workers and particularly paid union officials (including teacher's union officials, many of whom do not have classroom duties and can easily get a day off) to solicit volunteers or actually do precinct work. Republicans have to use real volunteer volunteers, which makes it even more important that the ground game campaign be run by professionals with some experience at the job of organizing volunteers. Of those potential volunteers, the evangelicals and social conservatives have traditionally supplied the Republican shock troops; they turned out for Reagan. Newt understood how to talk to them, and get them activated. The country club Republicans have always held those people in contempt and only talk to them when they have to, and then usually talk down to them; as a result they have been fading out over the years, until the Republicans started losing elections. It was pretty clear that until Palin, they would sit this one out; they might go vote for McCain but they sure wouldn't go bug their neighbors to do so.

Now I think they will.  A remarkable woman, who has changed the nature of this election.

Maybe God does look out for fools, drunks, and the United States of America as Bismarck once observed. I suppose repeating that will generate contemptuous mail I'll have to read (but not answer; if my answer to such isn't already pretty obvious, it's unlikely that the mail comes from a reader). For the record, I believe in both Reason and Religion and where the two conflict it is likely -- but not certain -- that Religion has been unreasonable. Eppur si muove!

 

==========================

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday,  September 6, 2008

I have got to get a column out today, so all bets are off.

 

For those with curiousity:

Superstruct.

<http://www.iftf.org/node/2097>

---- Roland Dobbins

A real supercomputer. Fascinating.

And for those interested in wind power, this is real data:

Subject: What to do when the wind doesn't blow.

See <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7598212.stm> .

If you want it bad, you get it bad (II).

-- Harry Erwin, PhD
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)

Wind is distributed, and unpredictably irregular; and of course subtracting out that energy will have downwind consequences, some good, some bad, but I have not seen much about that in environmental impact reports; perhaps it does not need to be. But wind energy is seldom generated where it is needed, and no one turbine produces a lot; hence the need for concentration, then transmission, and finally either storage or a large enough grid system to eat the surplus. It's a management problem of some capacity.

As always, the devil is in the details.

And for those who have too much time on their hands (which I do not so I have not done this):

How to play Hnefatafl

Viking chess, and a possible version of Roman chess

 <http://www.gamecabinet.com/history/Hnef.html

=======================

 

 

 

 

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Sunday,  September 7, 2008

Column finished, now to pay the bills.

==============

NEW SCAM:

update your mobile phone number

<   images/lvl3/nbnz_logo.gif >

UPDATE YOUR MOBILE NUMBER

Please update your mobile phone number now. We would like to be able to contact you if we detect fraudulent transactions on your account due to unauthorized activity occur without your consent in Online Banking.

Click Here to UPDATE YOUR MOBILE NUMBER <http://www.tsu-fe.co.jp/ images/www.nbnz.co.nz/

2008s The National Bank of New Zealand, part of ANZ National Bank Limited

DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. Not that any of you will, but tell your friends. I have eliminated some of the address data, so it won't work anyway.

=================

 

I took the rest of the day off.

 

 

 

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