THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 502 January 21 - 27, 2008
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January 21, 2008
I'm writing this in the afternoon, having had a sleepless night, and made up for it by napping all morning.
Tomorrow morning at 0800 I have an appointment for another MRI. An hour later there will be a CAT scan. Then at noon I meet with a very competent neurosurgeon who will tell me what's growing inside my head. There are several things it could be. I am told the odds are still in my favor, but perhaps not the 95:5 odds we thought we had last week.
There's really not a lot more to tell. I don't have Bell's palsy, or if I do it was caused by this thing. I am not sure how it interacts with my arthritis in the shoulders (which has been getting a lot less painful over time; unlike the problems in my right hip, which need daily stretching to keep within bounds). We should know a great deal more by tomorrow afternoon. We should also know whether they are going to have to bore a hole in my head and suck something out, or use stereographic radiation, or find some new miracle in the modern bag of tricks. One of my physician subscribers had a long conversation with the neurosurgeon, so I think we have asked all the questions we need answers to.
I will now try to get both the Mailbag and January Column Part 2 done. One thing I probably won't be doing just now is podcasts: I have the equipment, and I'll write about that, but my voice is gravelly and my throat is sore, and that's not going to work just yet. With luck that's temporary. If they fix my problems I should have my voice back. My head still works. Of course maybe they'll chop out some of my brain and I'll have a great on-camera look and voice, but nothing to say...
I have considerable mail on unit cohesion and the military, and I'll post that with comments in a bit.
They tell me that the picture there makes me look drunk. Given that I quit drinking years before that Stanford conference, I wasn't, but perhaps there might be a better picture. Only I don't know how to make contact with the Wiki people, and I never assume any responsibility for what they say about me there...
And off to bed. We have to get up at blooking dawn to get down there on time. I should know a lot more by tomorrow afternoon.
January 22, 2008
0147 AM Sleepless in Studio City.
Actually as soon as I am horizontal, my nose closes up. Pumping it out hasn't worked. I don't have all the symptoms of flu, but enough of them. It never rains but it pours...
Well, I spent the day in little tubes that make loud noises. I also have a cold that closed my nasal passages the instant I became horizontal.
The upshot is that I've got something growing in my head, and they don't really want to bore a hole in that spot to get a sample. They're going to try some other tests. Including a bone marrow sample. I am certainly learning more about modern medicine than I really wanted to know.
I don't know what my odds are now. They are certainly lower than the 95:5 we thought earlier. They will do more tests.
I sure hope I get over the cold soon. Having to lie there not moving while breathing through my mouth is no fun at all.
Mr. Thompson, who was my favorite for the Republican nomination, has dropped out. I understand him thoroughly. He was inviting a draft; he didn't really want the job, but he would do it and do it well if he got it. For good or ill, that doesn't work in these United States. The Presidency only goes to those who desire it; I would say that was a disqualification.
George Washington would never have run for the office. He was given it by the Electoral College. The College worked as intended that time. It sort of worked with Adams. After that it didn't work as intended, and after the Burr/Jefferson debacle (which ended with the Vice President of the United States shooting the Secretary of the Treasury dead in New Jersey) we pretty well left the idea of an electoral college behind.
And yet, indirect nomination and selection probably produces better presidents; those who hunger for the job may hunger too much; may be willing to do anything to get the job. Meanwhile, we transfer more and more power to the presidency.
On George Noory's show I now hear someone advocating Technocracy, and while I doubt he is actually familiar with Thorstein Veblen he is talking about the Engineer and the Price System. Howard Scott, art thou with us yet?
So where are we now? Who is left? The Republican Party seems determined to take itself apart. It's going to be an interesting year.
I have offers to post a better picture of me in the Wikipedia, but I don't seem to have any good pictures of me. I take a lot of them but I don't get so many taken. Anyone got a really good picture of me they can send?
My thanks to all of you who have send your good wishes and prayers. Also my thanks to those who by subscribing or renewing are betting I'll be around another year at least.
Not a great night, largely due to a cold. Nasal springy strips helped some, as did Vick's and Sudafed, but I still find myself a mouth breather, and that's no fun. Presumably I'll get over all that. I do hope it's gone by the time they schedule me for more visits to those scanning tubes. The worst of it is that this morning getting up and becoming vertical hasn't helped much.
If we are intelligently designed, I would like to submit a design modification involving the sinus and nasal passage system. The mouth by-pass works, but it's sure an uncomfortable expedient. If those easily stopped up passages are the result of Darwinian selection and survival of the fittest, I am eternally grateful that it worked as well as it did.
One of the arguments that drove Voltaire crazy was the notion that this is the best of all possible worlds: everything is connected to everything else, and if there were fundamental changes in the design of the world, what look like improvements would cause unforeseen problems; the sum total would be worse, not better. The result of Voltaire's disgust with this argument was Candide, and Dr. Pangloss.
I'm not sure if this set of musings leads anywhere. Mostly it's inspired by an uncomfortably stuffy head.
From another conference:
This one hurts.
11:30 AM Mr. Hertz, our family lawyer, is over to confer.
I am scheduled for a full body CAT scan Monday afternoon, and a bone marrow examination next Wednesday morning, at which time they will either know what's going on, or find they can't figure it out without boring holes in my skull. Since if they can find out from the periphery I am not sure I want that outcome, but looking forward to a biopsy isn't all that cheering either.
I am certainly learning more about modern medical science than I really wanted to know.
The Global Warming Hoax continues. Not that warming itself is a hoax; the Earth probably is warming. There may even be a contribution from CO2. The hoax is (1) that the CO2 is the major factor responsible for the warming, and (2) the best course is some kind of crash course in carbon elimination. And with the hoax is a scam: that you can pay money to Al Gore or someone else who will do something to balance your carbon emission and thus give you expiation.
It's clear enough that the best energy policy for the United States is (1) massive investment in nuclear power, (2) development of many of our domestic oil resources including construction of new oil refineries, (3) investment in development of commercial space access leading to solar power satellites, and (4) investment in development of new forms of energy storage to allow electricity to take over a much larger share of transportation energy supply.
Now this will in fact have the effect of (1) reducing CO2 emissions, (2) reducing dependence on foreign oil, (3) lowering the price of oil, (4) depriving the trust fund oil states of most of their discretionary income thereby leaving them less to invest in spreading revolutionary jihad, and (5) doing a pretty good job of reviving the US economy.
Couple that energy policy with a 10% tariff on all imports.
Nuclear power: 100 fission plants, each producing 1,000 megawatts of power. Cost? At a guess, an average cost of no more than $2 billion each (the first one might cost $50 billion, but the last one would be down around $1 billion as near as I can model the learning curve; and much of the costs are regulatory, not technical). And once the marginal cost of a nuclear plant is under $1 billion we can allow the market to take care of the rest while we gear up to produce power in space and get the polluting industries off the earth entirely.
And finally, the simplest way to invest in the needed technologies is to establish massive prizes for achievement of stated goals. For the American owned company that first flies the same ship to orbit 12 times in one year, $4 billion. For the American owned company that first puts 31 American citizens on the Moon and keeps them there alive and well for 3 years and a day, $10 billion. For the American owned company that first beams down to a receiver in the United States 10 megawatts of power per day for 320 days in a single year, $10 billion.
We do all understand that a couple of hundred square kilometers of solar panels in space would relieve energy supply problems? And that while space solar panels are big, they're light in weight, and if you want big structures, space is the place to put them: no wind loading, no snow, no rain, no dust storms...
Now of course I made up those numbers, but I think they are enough to do the job, and if we can afford a trillion dollars for foreign wars, we can certainly afford relatively small amounts like the above. Does anyone think this plan has no chance of working? I'd put the odds at well about 5:1; and note that the only big costs are nuclear power plants. Prizes cost nothing unless someone wins.
And see previous comments made years ago.
As for pictures, Deb sent this and it could go on Wikipedia if someone knows how to do that.
It's only fair to include the entire picture from which this was cropped (and which was taken by Deb's husband, George). Roberta was unable to attend the Seattle SF Convention at which I was given the Heinlein Award, so I borrowed Deb and her husband as table companions. That's George in the second picture.
It has been a long day. With luck I'll get some sleep tonight and get back to work in the morning.
January 24, 2008
A much better night last night.
I will catch up with this site and my column stuff this weekend, but today I am going to go work on Mamelukes. I have got to catch up with some work, and the first order of business is to get that sucker out the door.
The remedy for the economic problems of the nation is socialism, complete with negative income taxes, and very high taxes on those foolish enough to save money. Both parties seem to be in agreement with this.
Lowering the interest rates within reason isn't terrible, but it is a tax on passive savings. Actively managed savings can evade much of the cost, but those with annuities and fixed incomes are of course highly taxed by increasing the money supply; which is what lowering the interest rates does. They run the printing presses to get the money to lend. Now that isn't always awful.
Borrowing money for investment makes sense. Borrowing money to build nuclear power plants, or to give prizes for space developments, or even to build infrastructure is not always silly, and often is a good idea. Spending money on public works has long been a way to stimulate the economy.
Just running the printing presses to get money to view away -- tax rebates for those who don't pay taxes? -- is an entirely different matter, of course.
I know I have said that it's not a good thing for a large number of middle class people to lose their houses and become proletarians. It isn't, and some measures to ameliorate that, even if the result is partly the result of bad decisions, can not only be defended but recommended. After all, we have a terrible education system that doesn't give people anything like economic truth; why are we astonished when people believe economic nonsense? When they believe in free lunch? But what we are doing now is trying to artificially lift the Dow so that the election results will be different.
An honest program of public works investment along with some permanent tax reductions; investments that have some hope of return, of earning some money; now that makes sense. But handing out money we don't have so that people will spend it to stimulate demand and churn the economy is silly -- yet nearly every candidate for every public office seems to believe it's just a great idea.
Are they stupid? Incompetent? Malicious? Merely desperate to hold public office?
We'll weather this, as we weathered Roosevelt's desperate floundering about, but there will also be long term consequences. Most of the readers here are smart enough not to passively save money, and take care to keep savings in funds protected from inflation.
We do note, though, that the American people are not stupid: unlike most countries we don't save money. We know darned well that politicians cannot resist stealing from any pool of money they can find: retirement funds, savings accounts, real estate equity: if they can see the money they will have it. Interest rate meddling, tax rebates to those who don't pay taxes when there's no money in the first place, all these are easy ways of getting at savings. The American people know this which is why we don't save much. Can anyone blame them?
I fear I am rambling. I need to get to work.
January 25, 2008
The rain comes and goes. I am not sure whether Los Angeles and Southern California are now above normal in rainfall and snow pack, but it shouldn't be long before they are, and all the talk about water rationing will go away. Of course the bureaucracy set up to study and implement water rationing will remain, and the water rates will be shockingly high (and meths be shockingly dear?), but that's to be expected. Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy prevails. Always.
What I had was obviously a cold, and it's almost gone. Or perhaps a very mild flu driven out by the flu vaccine? In any event, it's one of the great pleasures in life to be able to breathe without straining. Having your head stuffed up makes it hard to think.
And of course our editor has found about 23 points, mostly technical ("p28, it's hard to tell who is speaking to whom") in Inferno II, so there's another day's work. Not that I am ungrateful to have someone find such gubbage and make us fix it; if all books had that kind of careful editing, they'd be greatly improved. I'm certainly capable of murky sentences.
He also makes a couple of substantive points I need to think about including about Albert Camus. I am rather proud of the scene with Camus, and I am not sure it needs any work at all, but I will go over it one more time. Camus had some influence over my intellectual development, and was altogether a more admirable figure than Sartre. I do not think I have erred in having him where he is, and giving him both the opportunities and decisions shown; but I will think on it.
There is a discussion of self-piracy in Mail
I received this today. It references my remarks on the withdrawal of Mr. Thompson from the Republican primary and the original intent of the Framers for the Electoral College..
I would point out that Congressman Paul did not want to run for President either. Both this time and the last time he ran he was talked into it.
Indeed. And I have several good friends among those who talked him into it. Indeed, I probably have a better pipeline into the inner circle of Ron Paul advisors than to any other of the candidates remaining.
And it is certainly true that of all those running, Ron Paul comes closest to my idea of what the Framers expected of a President of These United States. The very fact that he doesn't believe in the omnipotence of government, and rejects the very fashionable notion among liberals and particularly Democrats that there are only "problems" which can be "solved" by the appropriate government action (which always turns out to be more bureaucrats) endears him to me. He has said some things I find questionable at best, but he also does not want or believe in omnipotence for the Federal Government, much less for the President. That goes far in my estimation.
I have had some conversations with some of Dr. Paul's friends (I have never met him, myself) about some of my concerns. I was taken seriously, which is not to say I will have had any influence, but at least my concerns will have been thought about.
I will very likely vote for Mr. Paul in the California primary. I do not think anyone will emerge from next Tuesday with a majority; I do hope that Mr. Paul will have enough delegates to have some influence at the Convention. This is going to be a very interesting year in many respects. I would hope that it will restore the Conventions as important factors in choosing our Presidents. At the moment the single most important ability for getting the office of President is the ability to raise money. I do not believe that is the single most important qualification for executing the office of President of these United States.
The modern notion that the State can fix all problems comes, of course, from Mussolini and the fascists. "Everything for the State. Nothing against the State. Nothing outside the State." What Chesterton called "our little platoons" in which we get on with our potty little lives vanished under H. G. Wells and the Fabians -- but it was the Italian Socialists, and Mussolini, who first tried to implement forced unity of all the social classes. The Marxists thought the only solution to class warfare was the elimination of the classes and the domination of the proletariat. Everyone would be reduced to equality, and none would stand out; and thus would there be harmony.
Mussolini and the Corporate State -- Fascism -- thought that social classes were inevitable, and that there would always be conflicts; but by having the State as the overarching power, the classes could be persuaded -- or if need be coerced -- into working together to the greater glory of the New Rome. It is not generally remembered that Mussolini began as a leader of the Italian Socialist Party, and parted with them only on the issue of the Great War. He opposed Hitler's Anschluss with Austria and actually prevented it for some time; but the Communist strategy of the Popular Front excluded Mussolini from the Allies, and he made the fatal mistake of joining the Axis. Had the Allies been a little less contemptuous of him and had he been a little wiser, he would probably be considered an heroic figure today -- among Liberals.
Today both parties seem to subscribe to the notion that we have social problems -- lack of medical insurance, bad education -- that can be fixed by the Federal Government. The notion of local control and states rights, transparency and responsibility, the idea that the people most affected by policies ought to have some control (such as local school boards controlling both education and its finance) is pretty well considered ludicrous by nearly every academic intellectual and political leader in the nation. Fascism has prevailed, and we hardly notice it.
Yet the conservatives, who want to allow local control and to limit the power of the greater government to interfere in people's lives, are thought to be the fascists. So it goes.
I wish Dr. Paul well. I do not believe he can win the nomination, but I do think it possible that he can have some control over the Convention; and that will be all to the good for the nation. And who knows? Few Republics have turned back from the brink of the abyss, but God is said to look after Fools, Drunks, and the United States of America.
|This week:||Saturday, January
I think the Wikipedia people are a good example of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy coupled with Napoleon's dictum. For years they had an absurd biography of me that couldn't possibly have been true, but when I would attempt to edit it to something closer to reality, they always changed it back on the grounds that I wasn't authorized. At least that finally got changed.
Then they put up a picture that makes me look drunk. I have no idea where they got it, and I am assured it wasn't malice. Sure. So I put up here on my web site a picture to use, and attempts to put that up in Wikipedia have failed; they take it down on the grounds of some kind of copyleft nonsense.
Even voluntary bureaucracy is subject to the Iron Law, apparently.
At some point, in between all the medical appointments and trying to keep up with my work, I will find a picture of me that they will accept, although I am not sure what forms and notarized documents I will have to provide to satisfy them. Ye flipping gods. But I am sure this all makes someone feel very important.
They're in a hurry to run the printing presses and send some money to taxpayers. Only government can do anything, of course. And the Democrats want to add food stamps. I am astonished the government hasn't intervened in the Writers Guild strike, which is cutting back on television entertainment. Bread and circuses...
Janury 28, 2008
Wikipedia is caught up on my pictures.
The letter column for Chaos Manor Reviews is done.
I have more CAT scan appointments for 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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