THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 284 November 17 - 23, 2003
Highlights this week:
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 monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 - 7,000 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.
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November 17, 2003
I am at a motel at 24K and 800 spam messages to endure. I am essentially crippled until tomorrow when I can get to the Press Room and a high speed connection. I do not think of myself as a cruel man but I would cheerfully inflict painful and crippling injuries on any spammer I could get my hands on now. It is past midnight, I am exhausted, and I want to get to bed, but before I can look at my email I have to endure spam.
COMDEX is small, but there are some exciting things. HP has some good stuff. ATI and nVIDIA continue to improve everything. AMD looks good. All told there are good reasons to be here.
Apologies. This is short and there won't be mail. But I keep trying. I will do mail tomorrow if I can Sorry but the spammers have defeated me.
I see the Democrats are now calling a black woman jurist rated at the Bar Association's highest rating a Neanderthal. Jump Jim Crow.
I will try to do real COMDEX reports now that I have defeated the spam and got my email. But sleep first.
November 18, 2003
It's early on, but the press room is crowded, mostly with people I don't know. Given the hoops they wanted me to jump through to get press credentials I presume they are mostly "real" press. Many seem Asian.
The Press Shows at night, like last night's show stoppers, are pretty full, plenty of clients and lots of press people.
I spent yesterday with appointments. nVidia and ATI are fighting over both the high end desktop and high end mobile markets. nVidia thinks they have pulled ahead in the absolute extremes gaming systems, and they have Dusk, a darker fairy to accompany Dawn. Dusk has lighting and shading, and it certainly makes a difference. nVidia is proud of their 24% market share in mobile. Later ATI quietly mentioned that they have 70% of the mobile graphics chip market...
ATI has a great new All In Wonder board that I'll have in the next column. It's cool.
HP has some new monitors, the most exciting being $900 for a 20 inch flat with very high native resolution and above 85 Hz refresh rate. It looks good enough that I may (gulp) buy one. Three, actually: replacing three 21" bottles will be like having a new desk. Peter Glaskowsky says buy 3 LCD's get a new desk free..."
And I have yet to be out on the show floor.
It is a sign of the reduced circumstances of COMDEX that I managed to get into the Press Room without acquiring a copy of Show Daily. In the glory days a hundred minions pressed copies into your hands from a block away. I'll walk the show floor later, but I am glad I don't have to give Best of Show Awards. Although I'll give my own if I see anything worth it.
I have solved my connection problems. It's a good story I'll tell when I get home. Not very flattering to me of course, but I do silly things so you don't have to.
If you know COMDEX this photo says it all. First, there is beer and wine being sold on the show floor. Sheldon would never allow that. Second, off to the left is a huge CMP booth, about where a much smaller BYTE booth was in the BYTE glory days. CMP's booth is big but there are few people in or around it. In BYTE's day the booth was filled with people talking to editors.
To the right is the APC booth. Now that's not astonishing that an UPS company would have a booth or even that APC, a good company, would have a large one. But HERE? At the food court break point? In the glory days this was really expensive territory.
Finally, way back in the distance are curtains. The curtains close off the part of COMDEX that Bill Godbout's COMPUPRO booth, an important one indeed, occupied in CP/M day in 1983 or so. Most of the hall is curtained off. And this is the only hall.
It is the ghost of COMDEX Past. Is this the last COMDEX? I don't know. The crowds are respectable -- for 1983 or so. But there are not the big receptions and such, and most of the major players are not here.
November 19, 2003
Home. Uneventful drive barring having an Ortega Astroburger at Kramer's 4 Corners. Best hamburgers in the world, in a very odd location.
Came home to find the dog in trouble: she'd got into some kind of tar, and growled at Roberta when she tried to clean her up. It didn't take long to straighten that out. Turpentine, then alcohol, and firmly convincing her that she is the very low dog in this pack, and You Do Not Show Your Teeth at Mother. She's fine now, having come to the right understanding. Know your place and be secure in it...
Tons of mail to clean up. I'll get at posting some when I can.
COMDEX wasn't big enough to make it worth staying over another day.
A warning from Roland on another scam:
November 20, 2003
There's a question about LINUX over in mail. This place is hip deep in mail amd stuff from COMDEX and I'll be a day cleaning up.
I've got to get out to Glendale and get a 15" Mac Powerbook, and there are other errands.
And I am now interested in a mail server I can operate here: either on a new Linux box I would have to build, or on a Windows Server 2003 box. What I want is something that will download all my mail and filter it for spam, keep the spam somewhere so I can periodically look at it, and have the rest available for Outlook to go get at intervals. I will let Outlook Rules sort it into the categories I use normally. Actually, the new Outlook 2003 with a fast (3.0 GHz machine) does a good job of sorting out much spam, but it doesn't read past headers, and I want a mail server that can actually read messages. (Spam Assassin is in place at the jerrypournelle.com ISP, and that marks the mail as spam or not, with a flag in the header. It works, and Outlook takes care of it from there. Alas, the Earthlnk ISP doesn't have anything nearly that good.)
And Sable is up here aggressively to remind me that it is Time For The Walk.
http://news.com.com/2100-1032-5108965.html?part=dht&tag=ntop may scare the liver out of you.
Begins the mail server discussion over in mail...
Subject: Permian-Triassic event?
and in fact had an embargoed version earlier. Lucifer's Hammer yet one more time. It's past time Earth had defenses.
And it's past time to walk my dog. Back in a bit.
Sable has figured out how to get in the shed and shred things. She's also got more tar although not as much as before. Margarine doesn't work very well for removing it. It's back to the turpentine. I'll clean the turpentine off with margarine...
It is a sign of the times that the President is derided in London, bombs go off in Istanbul, there are only 4 homicide detectives in all the San Fernando Valley and their case clearance rate is down to 50%, and the media are filled with stories about Michael Jackson, who was put in handcuffs. Why he needed to be in chains isn't quite clear. To whom was he a danger?
And the LA City Council has to pay $15 million in compensation to a Miami surgeon who was forced to lie face down on the pavement and was handcuffed so tightly that they cut off circulation and did enough permanent damage that he now can only direct surgery rather than perform it. His crime? The rental car company had put the plates of a car reported stolen on the car he had just rented at LA Airport. He was on the way to a surgical conference. LAPD thought it best to make him lie on the ground and handcuff him real tight.
Police love to put people in chains. It's a result of the fact that many criminals are violent, and if you chain up everyone then you can't be accused of 'scriminating against anyone you think actually may be dangerous. In the Miami surgeon case all they had to do was look in the glove compartment, or listen to the man, but of course that wouldn't be in "policy" either: they waited until the car company spent a hour or so looking things up. Budget Car Rental gets to pay about $20 million on this and LAPD about $15 million. I don't see that any individual was punished: the police names are not in the LA Times stories. Those cops it seems to me ought to have an exciting new career in garbage hauling, but who knows, they made a righteous collar even if they were a bit brutal about it afterwards.
And yet: there are dangerous people out there. The police are scared. They want to protect themselves.
There are a few police units who actually go looking for really bad guys, try to catch them in the act, and deal with them. They are of course in big trouble with the ACLU and other outfits that worry about the morality of allowing armed robbers to finish their robbery then be taken down when outside the place they were robbing. This is said to be entrapment, because the police could have arrested them when they were going into the place. Catching them in the act, and shooting a couple of them, violates the criminal rights, and also makes less work for lawyers, so this is bad, and those police should, according to standard theory, be hounded out of law enforcement.
The police are supposed to protect us from really bad guys. They can't, and the few who try usually get in trouble. But they don't want to let the citizens protect themselves. It's fairly easy to make a "good arrest" of a car thief, and making him lie on the pavement for an hour or so rather than look into the glove compartment lets you avoid anything really dangerous for a couple of hours. A way to get through the day.
Note that on Law and Order the criminals are almost always Park Avenue surgeons, who surely commit the vast majority of murders in Manhattan. I can't think of a criminal class that's more likely to commit murder in Manhattan? Can you? Watch our or you will be politically incorrect.
But surgeons and the middle class are not dangerous to the police, who can go about intimidating citizens rather than being in harm's way. And God forbid that you encourage the citizens to defend themselves.
It's called anarcho-tyranny. Remember this useful phrase. You will find you need it again and again.
For a lighter view try http://cagle.slate.msn.com/news/thanksgiving2003/3.asp
At http://www.techcentralstation.com/112003B.html you will find a partial biography of Richard Pipes whose Survival Is Not Enough was a key book in the Cold War. It says in the article that he wasn't interested in science and technology. He certainly was not compared to Possony who understood that technology was the key to winning the Cold War; but I was with Pipes in Moscow in 1989 for a couple of week, and had breakfast with him several times and shared a seat on a bus with him on half-hour trips, and I found he was quite interested in technology, and had read The Strategy of Technology.
While we are on the subject of the history of the Cold War and military history in general, COMDEX interfered with my posting this:
Dear Dr Pournelle,
A link which I found quite provoking;
I am rather inexperienced in the history of these matters, though Kagan's remarks have left me somewhat bewildered.
Which calls attention to an important essay.
Efficiency is the enemy of reliability. Remember this useful phrase. You will find you need it again and again.
Military "efficiency" is one of those notorious self-contradictory expressions...
November 22, 2003
Subject: - Man being prosecuted for "spam rage"
It would appear that the news article gives the name of the spammer responsible though...
-- Vote for Cthulhu. Why settle for a lesser evil?
Well if I were on his jury I'd vote to give him a medal. As to the Canadian company I wish them a well about 40 feet deep. But I suppose in our quest for safety he will be charged under the Patriot Act, and they will find ways to make sure he is convicted. After all, He Made Threats. And Douglas Mackay will continue to send his penis enlargement pills and tell us all about them...
_ _ /|
And try this:
23:30 Just back from opening night, Lucia di Lammermoor. If Scott's Bride of Lammermoor is "the perfect Gothic novel," this is very nearly a perfect performance of Donizetti's opera loosely based on that novel. I can't think how anyone could do a better performance of Lucia than Anna Netrebko, who sings gloriously and is gorgeous to boot. Franco Vassallo's Enrico was a bit melodramatic, and I don't think he was well directed by Marthe Keller, but the overall performance including the sets was really good. If you live in the LA area and have a chance to see this, do. My wife is probably going a second time.
November 23, 2003
All the mail from Saturday and after is fairly important, particularly the discussions of General Franks and our Iraqi policy. I have written substantial comments, some hours after the letters were posted. It turned into a pretty good overview of views on Iraq and what to do.
Coming Soon: A discussion of job exports, tariff, and economic policy.
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