THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View554 January 19 - 25, 2009
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January 19, 2009
Front page articles on the historic inauguration: a rock concert with huge crowds, snipers on the parapet of the Lincoln Memorial, and the President-elect in a glass box with his family. No hotel rooms in Washington, historic crowds despite stringent security measures.
Also on the front page: an article by Gosselin with the headline "Better in Four Years? Unlikely"
And on the front page of the business section: "Tighter emission rules seen".
I am not sure that further comment is necessary.
Worm warning. It's old news but not everyone had heard of it or taken precautions. See the InfoWorld article for details and a free tool to remove it. This one can spread through USB devices such as thumb drives.
A new Chaos Manor Reviews mailbag is now posted.
And Francis Hamit recommends a new self-publishing web site.
Agreed on all counts. I just heard Dana Rohrabacher say much the same thing on the radio.
1815: Down from the Monk's cell. Two thousand words today. Hoo Hah! And stopped in mid scene.
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January 20, 2009
This is not a breaking news web site, and I will reserve comments on the inauguration for another time. The event was historic in that it was the 43rd time of the peaceful transition of a chief of state. I know that the study of history is no longer fashionable, but that's still unusual. The one time the process failed in these United States cost us more casualties than any of our other wars.
Yesterday's link to the new Chaos Manor Reviews mailbag was in error, but that has been fixed.
And now it is time for our walk.
Clearly the President knows the Oath of Office better than the Chief Justice. The constitution mandates:
Apparently the Chief Justice gave this from memory rather than reading it as is usual (even priests are required to use a missal) and misplaced the word 'faithfully', which somewhat disconcerted President Obama. Fortunately this is 21at Century America, not the old Roman Republic where they took omens and augury very seriously. (For trivia hunters and those interested in small details of history, I can recommend this essay. Fair warning: I found it addicting, and it's quite long.)
In any event, we can all celebrate the peaceful transition of power; few nations in history can record doing that 43 times without civil war. And of course we no longer believe in augury and omens.
Of course we do believe in myths:
The above is a sort of experiment and I don't think it works.
January 21, 2009
I didn't get up in time for the inaugural yesterday, but I read Obama's inaugural address this morning. I'll have more to say another time, but I am astonished that no one else seems to have picked up on that I thought was a remarkable line:
It appears that Obama has legitimized the Viet Nam War. Since nothing goes into an inaugural address by accident, putting Keh Sanh in the same list with Concord, Gettysburg, and Normandy can have no other purpose. He has my respect for that.
The rest of the speech was not particularly remarkable for these times; it does seem to portend a great reliance on government, but there is also tribute to individuals and their efforts.
There's little to quarrel with in this paragraph, so long as one puts emphasis on the word "willing". Indeed I have been saying something of the sort for years: the nation must allow everyone an honorable way to contribute to the society and have some pride and dignity in that contribution. That is not the same as saying that everyone ought to be made to feel "entitled" to a share of someone else's work. Enslaving the productive to the entitled is not a route to any kind of good at all. One can hope that Obama understood this when composing that speech.
I am not at all sure what to make of this. One could write whole essays on this paragraph. Precisely how an American tsx collector is morally obligated to collect money from an American auto worker to be passed along to those who suffer in Haiti is not clear to me. One may have a religious obligation to be charitable; but we have explicitly rejected religions as motivation for national policy. (Whether we ought to reject religious motivations is a subject for another discussion; but certainly the party now in power has done so.) Where, then, did we get an obligation to the suffering masses in Burma, Tibet, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Bangla Desh? If one wants to argue that this is a requirement for a realistic foreign policy, one needs to be careful: it's easy to make that sound like a policy of paying Danegeld. Investment in the Navy would I think protect us better than bribes. The Marshall Plan had a purpose, and it wasn't really charity towards the suffering victims of Bomber Harris and Curtis LeMay.
And it's time for our morning walk. Happy New Year. And rejoice in this: for the 43rd time in our history we have had a transfer of power without civil war.
First, despair is a sin; one must never forget that.
As to places where socialism and liberalism work, one needs to define what it means for a regime to "work". Sweden is very liberal to the point of socialism, and it's quite a pleasant place to live. How long that will continue is not known to me, but one of my oldest friends is a retired medical colonel from the Swedish army. When I visited Sweden I had a very pleasant time and every single one of the people I met was polite, nearly all spoke English, and all without regard to their social class seemed happy. There was a water festival going on in Stockholm and everyone seemed to be having a great time. I saw few beggars. There were street musicians hoping for donations, but that's not the same thing. The police were polite.
Whether that can last, and how much of it is due to the nature of the Swedish people and the Swedish culture is a matter for lots of discussion, of course. I am told that as the older generation brought up under the Protestant Ethic and accustomed to working without complaining dies off things change and are changing, but I don't follow the news very closely. Denmark is said to have the happiest population on Earth. The Netherlands is the most densely populated nation in the world (or was back in the 80's when I wrote about such things), certainly has a decidedly liberal government, and seems pleasant enough although there are growing problems.
Whether this kind of liberalism is exportable can be debated, and whether or not this sort of government can thrive in a very large and diverse nation -- or federation of states, or however you want to describe the American polity -- is very much a subject of debate.
As to whether liberal democracy can eliminate all poverty and raise the entire population of the United States to middle class status, and do that by government action and government fiat, probably not. Most socialist states don't work, and end up with people competing for civil service positions as the only assured way to have a career. India used to be that way and seems to be dismantling some of its socialist tendencies.
As an aside: Sweden has universal manhood conscription; I was told that the main penalty for not serving one's time in the army was that you could never get a civil service position, and employers were allowed to discriminate against you in hiring practices. This is an interesting way to deal with bureaucracies.
The main argument against socialism (other than indignation over taking from the productive to subsidize the unproductive) is that it destroys the incentive to work and work hard, or to take entrepreneurial risks. Schumpeter discusses this in his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, and I urge all those interested in these matters to read his book.
Burke said that for a man to love his country, his country ought to be lovely. I think few disagree: the question is, how to bring that about. And of course what we mean by lovely. No one thinks Detroit is lovely just now.
One note: several commentators said yesterday that this is the 44th peaceful transfer of power in these United States (Obama being the 44th President). Oddly enough, I didn't think that through, and when I remarked on the subject I said 43rd peaceful transfer; I don't count Lincoln's accession as peaceful, given that it triggered Secession and the the Civil War.
Bob Thompson reminds me that unless one counts the accession of George Washington and the beginning of the Constitution as itself a peaceful transfer of power, this the 43rd transfer, meaning the 42nd peaceful transfer of power under the Constitution. That's still quite a record, particularly since World War II, when the President of the United States became arguably the most powerful person on Earth.
And now it's time to go work on Mamelukes.
January 22, 2009
You know, you're right. Cleveland was 22nd and 24th President, so all those counts are off. And of course i have always known that. Samuel Johnson said that man seldom needed educating but they often need reminding...
Any further discussion of this subject will be in mail.
Important Notice on Seagate software (See above for context)
My experiences with Seagate drives have been from very good to excellent, with the exception of the electronics in certain 500 MB external USB drives from several years ago; those drives are fine, but the electronics have failed drastically. That may be firmware but it hardly matters, given the current prices of larger USB drive units; as I said these are older units no longer offered for sale.
I have had an external terabyte Seagate Free Agent drive using ESATA interface running for about a year as backup and data transfer drive for my main communications system, and it works so well I haven't thought about it in months. I use ESATA rather than USB 2.0 because it's faster, but I confess I harbor suspicions about the reliability of USB for transfer of very large data files. My suspicions may be unfounded.
From Joe Hennessey
Huntington was one of the great men of our time.
1246 We seem to have had a mild earthquake, one sharp shock, a moment ago.
Not much of an earthquake.
Got 1,000 words done.
January 23, 2008
Lots to do. Getting ready for a short road trip.
I'm told that VMware 2.1 is a great improvement. If you're running Windows on a Mac, this is the program to do it with: again, this is a report from a reliable source, not personal data. I'm still building my Mac OS/ Virtual Windows capability. They just don't seem to be putting as many hours in the day as they used to.
We seem to be doomed. See mail.
And I am way behind for the day.
January 24, 2009
I'm mostly getting ready for my trip to Washington. I'll be gone for a few days. I've been grinding on Mamelukes -- note that it is not Marmelukes -- for the past few days and it's coming along. It's taking longer than I like, but I managed to keep plugging and I'll get it finished pretty soon now.
Thanks to all those who have recently renewed their subscriptions, and to all the new subscribers. Particular thanks to the Platinum Subscribers who give me the choice to work on what I need to without having to scrabble around to keep the bills paid.
It took me about an hour to find out that when American Airlines asks for the "record location" when you try to confirm your reservation, what they want is a six letter code that is associated with the entire trip. I had the code, but nowhere did I find anything to indicate that this is what was meant by "record location". Of course the ticket agent whom I eventually got on the telephone knew what it was, but didn't care beans that I hadn't figured it out, so I doubt the American Airlines web site will change anything; but a simple statement on the web site that a record location is a six letter code would have ended my confusion. Oh well.
Now I have to pay the bills. I've sort of lost the knack of getting ready for trips. I used to have to travel all the time and I had a system, but now I've pretty well got to think about every item. And the TSA is just eager to catch me making a mistake. The purpose of the TSA is to convince Americans that they are subjects, not citizens, and it does that very well indeed.
I'll be flying tomorrow, so it's not likely I'll do much to update this place before late Sunday or Monday. I have put up a lot of good mail for today so you'll have something to read. Did you know that Archimedes invented calculus? Or nearly did?
There's mail on the Gatehouse case, dissent in the Jewish Army, and the Machiavellians. All good stuff.
January 25, 2009
It's Monday Morning in Tyson's corners. Niven and I had a good if a bit long flight, and arrived safely. I'll probably be busy most of tomorrow.
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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