THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 323 August 16 - 23, 2004
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August 16, 2004
Off to work. There was a lot of interesting mail over the weekend. More here tonight.
|This week:||Tuesday, August
Today was devoured by locusts: household work, Fry's trip for an AMD 64-bit chip and motherboard for next month's column, faucet washers, and stuff including Hollywood Bowl tonight. There's mail including an important message on phishing.
And on my walk today I wrote in my head an essay on education that I will have to actually write for here: some of it may be useful.
On Monitors: I have a LaCie on the way from the company. I looked at various Apple flat screens at Fry's today. They're costly and I had problems finding text to read on their demo units. I'll see how the La Cie goes (thanks to Ron Morse for recommending that one). The Apple flat screens looked better than others, but that was at Fry's and with whatever they had for demo software on them. I'll have to get more serious, but first I'll look at the La Cie here..
August 18, 2004
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
HOO Hah. I had been told it wouldn't be out until after Christimas.
You all hurry out and order one, hear?
August 19, 2004
Lecture, then dinner with Ann McCaffrey, Yoji and Ursula Kondo, Tim and Serena Powers, and some others. Much fun. More tonight, with Fred Pohl and Robert Silverberg in town.
and do your duty! Seriously, it would really help us all if we could get a lot of orders for this fast. We want to influence the number they print, and this could do it.
If there is anything wrong with this link, please let me know.
I am still working on an essay on schools and schooling. Over in the Science Fiction Writers of America forum, I put the proposition that return to local school boards with real power would be the most important reform we could make.
I got this comment: "You must trust your neighbors more than I do."
Which, when you come right down to it, is an important comment. Who do you trust? Your neighbors, or someone else. If someone else, who else? Experts? How are the experts to be appointed? By each other ("peer review")? By professors of education, which is another way of saying "peer reviewed" experts.
Another comment was that mastery of a subject does not imply the ability to teach it, which is true, and the counter comment that not knowing the subject assures that you can't teach it, which is not entirely true, although it tends to be true given the average school teacher. That is: my wife could bone up to teach anything if she had to, with the possible exception of high school calculus (and maybe she could do that; it wasn't tried). Over the years she taught many subjects not included in her essentially music education; and she taught them all well. She devised a means of teaching reading that is unsurpassed to my knowledge; so it's certainly possible for some people to teach subjects they don't know. Jacques Barzun in Teacher in America describes the technique. But for the most part it is true, if you don't know the subject matter, you probably won't be able to teach it.
The important thing here is that there's no hard and fast rule, and education professors are unlikely to be able to specify in advance which teachers can do what: the best way to determine teacher capability is to see how they do with the pupils at hand: and this is best determined by a local board that has to balance expenditures against results. It also means that "tenure" for teachers is a very bad idea.
Anyway I am trying to work all this into an essay on the subject.
Thanks to all of you, Burning Tower is moving up the list! Keep it up!!
August 20, 2004
Well, Burning Tower
apparently isn't to be released until February, but you can pre-order it now, and please do: getting some interest going helps get the print run up.
More dinners as the Writers of the Future judges come into town. Sat with Artist Steve Hickman who did the Fallen Angels cover and the revised cover as well. I'd met him at Libertycon. Big Awards Dinner thing tonight at Beverly Hills Hotel.
Still getting some work in every day on the new novel.
August 21, 2004
Went to the big Writers of the Future Awards dinner last night. At the last minute Roberta didn't feel up to it, and my dinner partner was Arwen Alys Dayton, a fantasy author who happens to be married to EarthLink founder Sky Dayton. Two children, a large social schedule, managing a house for a busy executive, and she finds time to get two novels published before she's thirty.
At our table was Steve Hendricks, who did the cover for Fallen Angels among other good stuff. I met him at LibertyCon, where we were fellow judges of the costume ball.
And of course at the event were Annie McCaffrey, and Yoji Kondo, and Fred Pohl, and Tim Powers, and Kelly and Laura Freas, and a somewhat lengthy for the event but still really excellent performance by Chick Coryea and his Electric Band on themes from, of all things, L. Ron Hubbard's To The Stars. I have to say that that novel had a very great influence on me: I read it when it first came out and I thought it one of the finest things I had ever read. It is mainly pitched to teen age boys, which I was at the time I read it, and it spoke of honor and glory and duty in ways that a lot of works with more critical attention I was being required to read at the time -- Tale of Two Cities being one of them -- did not. And Coryea's musical portraits of Mistress Luck and Alan Corday did manage to evoke thoughts and images I hadn't mulled over for more than fifty years. Too long and too loud for an awards dinner, but I can't say, now, that I am sorry to have heard them.
I said once that at the time I read To The Stars I thought it the finest novel I had ever read; apparently a somewhat shortened version of that comment now appears in the book's advertisements. I suppose the moral of the story is that one ought to be careful what one says: it can be abbreviated. But it's no bad read even today, and I will let it stand that at the time I read it, it had its influence on me. One gimmick I got from it has served me all these decades: the hero finds himself in many cultures with many currencies; to get some feel for exchange rates when there is no possible official exchange rate, he figures a plate of bacon and eggs at a dollar. Although the dollar has long since vanished as a form of currency, this at least gives him some basis of comparison. Today I guess that breakfast is about five bucks at Denny's but the idea is the same...
Anyway, the event was in the Crystal Ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel, and everyone had a very good time.
August 22, 2004
This paper which seems to demonstrate an appreciable improvement in IQ (ie performance on the Raven's test) suggests an obvious hypothesis for at least part of the Lynn-flynn effect. Creatine is apparently obtained mainly from meat, and the amount of meat consumed in the diet has probably increased over time in most countries.
From another conference:
Notice the practical implication also that those seeking good performance (at least if vegetarian) on a g loaded exam, such as the SAT would benefit from creatine supplementation.
"Paper is mirrored here, from the Royal Society:
Given that RAPMs are a rather pure measure of g, or general ability, the data suggest that general ability was improved by creatine supplementation. These results support efficiency models of intelligence (Bates & Stough 1998). With this view, differences in intelligence test performance reflect individual differences in underlying biochemical and structural factors influencing the energetic and temporal resources of the central nervous system. Increasing the energy available for computation increases the speed and (in a distributed computational system such as the brain) power of computational resource, reflected directly in improved general ability."
And on that theme, from an Australian:
I think the list is controversial enough without including koko the gorilla's IQ scores next to those of our fellow citizens! :)
(Koko, for those of you who don't know, supposedly has an IQ in the 70-90 range...which would look REALLY bad if juxtaposed next to a list of our fellow citizens.)
A long day devoured by errands. Sable and I walked over five miles and up 850 feet today, and I'm tired. She's ready to do it again.
And don't forget BURNING TOWER
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