THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 346 January 24 - 30, 2005
Highlights this week:
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January 24, 2005
0530: insomnia. I seem to have this problem lately. I'm not sure why. For most of my life I could sleep any time I wanted to, and most anywhere. Lately it hasn't worked. On the other hand, unlike my one-time mentor Paul Horst, who went to bed about 8 PM and awoke at 4 AM to get his best work done, I don't work well early in the morning whether I have had a good night's sleep or not. I'll go back to bed in a bit, but learning to lie awake while trying to sleep is not a good idea; better to be doing the mechanics of the week's rotation.
Last week's mail has a letter about file transfer that some will find interesting.
I see there are books on blogging and the blog revolution now. A new dimension in politics. Perhaps so: indeed I more or less predicted it in A STEP FARTHER OUT with my information utilities, and the notion that editors would remain important after publishing became essentially automatic and free.
What I said was
"Once a book is in the central utility data banks, those who want to read it can call it up to their TV screen; a royalty goes from their bank account to the author’s; where is the need for printer or publisher? Of course some will still want books that you can feel and carry around; but a great deal of publishing can be as described above, and for that matter there’s no reason why your home terminal cannot make at reasonable cost a hard copy of anything you really want to keep.
" Few publishers own printing plants; most hire that done. What publishers provide is editorial services and distribution. The latter function will largely vanish: the information utility does that job. There remain editorial services.
"With such a plethora of books as might appear given the above - after all, the only cost to “publish” a book would be to have it typed, plus a rather nominal fee to the utility for storing it - critics and editors will probably grow in importance. “Recommended and edited by Jim Baen,” or “A Frederick Pohl Selection” would take on new significance, and one assumes that these editors would continue to work with authors since they’d hardly recommend a book they didn’t like (and some authors might even admit that a good editor can help a book). “Big Name” authors would probably have little to worry about, with their readers setting in standing orders for their works; new writers would probably have to get a “name critic” to review their stuff."
That was in my Galaxy column in the mid 1970's; not precisely a prediction of blogs, because I didn't carry the thought through; the next time I thought about this matter I had Ezekiel, my friend who happened to be a Z-80, and the ARPAnet was forming. From that it wasn't a matter of prediction but certainty.
And I do seem to be rambling.
Greg Benford has published a newspaper article disputing Michael Crichton's interpretation of one of Benford's publications in the Global Warming Debates. I will have something to say on that when I get up and get my head cleared: the last thing I want right now is coffee to make it even more difficult to get to sleep. Meanwhile, on the subject but peripheral is El Nino and volcanism. See mail.
And Bob Thompson sends this link to explain why so much of Europe felt the fury of the Northmen. Microsoft has much to answer for. http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/languagelog/archives/001810.html
I wrote the following in another conference, as an answer to a friend of British origin who said he had supported the invasion of Iraq because he thought it was a punitive expedition. Greg Cochran replied that it would have been an odd one: invading Iraq to punish Bin Laden. After some thought I said:
If you believe in punitive expeditions, then they serve their purpose if others get the right idea. Whether punishing a secular dictatorship will be a lesson for Islamic terrorists is another matter, but leave that.
The problem is that the American people will not support a punitive expedition. The US was never big on bombarding a port with gunboats back in the time when there were Great Powers; the Monroe Doctrine got turned into an excuse for US occupation of Caribbean custom houses where we collected revenues, paid off Great Powers who were threatening to invade, and actually turned over to the "occupied" lands more money than they were getting before we went in (corruption can really get expensive); but as time went on we ended up occupying much of the country. As with the Dominican Republic. We kept wanting to Do Good.
The US is not Imperial. We don't have a Colonial Office. We don't really know how to govern people who have not consented to be governed by us. Yet once we put our hand to a task, we try to complete it. The Philippines should have been ever on the minds of the Jacobins who urged us into Iraq.
The problem with the invasion of Iraq was that it was NOT a punitive expedition. Moreover, we have a President with a guilt trip: his father put all the Iraqi democrats into mass graves in one of the most shameful incidents in decades. Encouraging an uprising and not supporting it was unconscionable, young Bush knows this, and he wanted to make amends. Not a good motive in international affairs. So we have killed 100,000 Iraqis, destroyed a city, destroyed an economy, reduced a middle class to poverty, and the worse we make things the more inclined some become to stay long enough to make things right. Jacobinism. Enlightenment nonsense. There is no original sin and all things are possible to the enlightened. You CAN sit on a bayonet.
I understood our mutual friend quite well from the beginning. The punitive expedition, Walk Wide of the Widow of Windsor, We broke a king and we built a road, a courthouse stands where the regiment goed, and the clean water runs where the red blood flowed -- all that sort of thing may well be a very good international policy for an empire; but it is not one the American people will ever vote for, I think.
Once we went in there we had to Destroy Evil and Do Good. We always do that. It is our nature.
The American people are warlike, particularly the Scots-Irish and German populations; but we are also Christian and ashamed of being war-like; so if we go to war, it must be for a Good Cause against an Evil which Provoked Us into War, and thus the Evil must be destroyed By Any Means Necessary. Which is why we could bomb Tokyo and kill over 100,000 with one fire raid, and then send another, but decry the rape of Nanking and the bombing of Rotterdam.
A note to the above. Kipling could write stirring war poetry about the good that the Empire did. I quoted from one of them above. America's war poetry is different: we have the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Enemies of the United States would do well to remember that. We play at war, we have debates on the justice of this or that war: until we are provoked and aroused, and the Battle Hymn is sung. Bush heard that hymn in the National Cathedral after 911. So did much of the nation. It was a defining moment.
January 25, 2004
It was an interesting trip to the physicians
yesterday. It begins with new technology: automated BP and heart rate, which
were fine, but also a finger oximeter which didn't give such good news: I
was mildly hypoxic and probably have been for weeks. Not pneumonia, but a
bronchial infection keeping my lungs from working properly, meaning my brain
hasn't been getting all the oxygen it needs, which makes it astonishing that
I got the column done and one time. Incidentally the current installment
over at www.byte.com discusses spyware
including the new Microsoft anti-spyware free program, which I downloaded
and installed on the road. I can now report that it has been in use here for
two weeks and we like it, and I think all of you who use Windows and
certainly all who use Internet Explorer ought to go to
So now I have an inhaler and antibiotics and I ought to be smart again one of these days. Rush Limbaugh often says he operates with half his brain tied behind him just to be fair; I guess I've been doing that, but I don't intend that it be a permanent event.
For those who subscribed in the last couple of weeks, Thanks! and an apology: I have been a bit debilitated and haven't recorded the subscriptions. I'll get to those shortly and with luck I'll be back doing the work of three ordinary mortals...
Because my brain isn't working as well as I think it should, I'm going to ask for comments without giving any of my own: please read
and if you get the urge, tell me what you think. I'll have my own after a day or so of respiration therapy and antibiotics. Larry Niven once said "I don't insist that my friends like each other," and I have the same feeling here about Benford and Crichton.
With luck I will be recovered soon. I read the current chunk of my column over at www.byte.com and it doesn't read as bad as I'd expect given that half my brain was tied behind me...
Arnaud is always worth attention.
January 26, 2005
Letters in another conference stimulated me to write a mini-essay on education. It doesn't deserve to be called a real essay because this was essentially first draft, poured out in one sitting (as some of my old InfoWorld columns did back in the days of weekly deadlines).
Clearly what must happen is a recognition that brains matter, but so do other things; and that different people have different needs. That sounds as trivial as Aristotle's observation that injustice consists of treating equal things differently and different things equally, but it does not seem to have penetrated to the decision makers. Probably because carried to its conclusion it looks racist.
It is not only well known, but intuitively obvious that 'training of skills' and 'education' form a spectrum, and the higher the IQ the more boring skill training becomes, while the lower the IQ the more useless education becomes. I define 'education' as being taught how to learn; skill training as being taught a specific skill. Education benefits from some skill sets, like knowing the addition and multiplication tables which are best taught by rote; education then takes over in understanding what these rote memorized identities like 6 times 7 is 42 actually imply.
But the more abstract the reasoning, the more difficult it becomes for the lower IQ people. This may be deplorable, but it seems to be the way the Universe works, whether by Design, or random evolution, or the whim of Ghu, and this seems to be a confirmable hypothesis. The lower the IQ the more need for skill training.
Now this is all obvious at the ends of the spectrum. No one would send an IQ 85 teenager to an actual college for real education. Political correctness might insist that the manual trades or home economics school to which we send this lad or lassie be named a "college", but no one in his right mind would dream of making it a place for abstract education in the principles of physics, or even teaching algebra there. What IQ 85 needs is intensive drill in certain employable skills. Given that a useful citizen can emerge. Teaching such a person Latin and Greek wouldn't be much use nor would any other kind of education in abstract principles.
At the other end, you don't take an IQ 180 and send him (or her, but at that extreme it's more likely to be him, an unpalatable truth but a quite confirmable hypothesis) to a labor camp -- at least we don't generally approve of regimes that do that. One may recall that one part of The Triumph Of The Will was seeing a brigade of workers doing a manual of arms with a shovel, while the voiceover promised that one day both Classes and Masses would enjoy the benefits of such manual training. Pol Pot also comes to mind.
IQ 180 types don't need skill training they need education. Given decent education they can in fact learn most of the things that the lower IQ people learn through skill training. The story of the absent minded professor is ubiquitous, but my observation has been that most smart people can learn to be plumbers and carpenters at need, and rather quickly at that. It was harder to learn to be a lumberjack before chain saws, but even that profession is no longer closed to the physically able smart types, and some even engage in such things as a hobby. Smart people decently educated can, at need, learn to do almost anything; another example of the fundamental unfairness of the universe.
It's the ones in between who cause the problems. It's not so clear that IQ 90 and IQ 110 are different and need to be educated in different ways, but it is painfully true and not hard to demonstrate in a fairly conducted experiment. IQ 90 will profit more from rote learning and teaching in skill sets, but can make use of some 'education'; they can learn how to learn, but it's not only harder for them, it's less useful. IQ 110 can't learn everything but they can profit from an education in abstract reasoning. Algebra, not calculus; college physics not university physics; etc.
By IQ 120 it is getting very clear that skill training is the wrong approach. The old AFQT used to use 120 as the mark point for officer training: it was from the 120 or above pool that officer candidates were selected (the enlisted man's joke was seeing a truckload of painted savages and circus clowns and being told 'Them? They got 120 or above and they're off to OCS'). Not every 120 or above is officer material but just about every 120 or above will profit from education and be bored silly by too much 'drill and kill' rote learning. (I do point out that the old practice of making everyone in the class learn and recite worthwhile poetry was probably a good idea: it taught the high IQ types something about how to learn by rote and that some things are learned only by rote, while giving the low IQ types some work at which they would do reasonably well.)
An aside observation: I was awful in shop classes because once I learned the principle of the thing, I wasn't very interested in the skill training to become proficient at doing it, just as I can give you all the principles one ought to follow in order to be a successful hunter, but I never had the patience actually DO all the things you must do to be stealthy. Knowing how to do something does not make one proficient at the practice. Some people excel at skills that can be learned only through repetitive training; others go mad with boredom. I wasn't a very good analytical chemist although I did manage to get an A in the class; but I was able to make nitroglycerine at age 13; I had a real incentive to follow procedures carefully...
So: the education problem boils down to this: while there is a continuum between IQ 90 and IQ 120 and above, we can't provide an infinite number of curricula. Moreover, a democracy depends in part on some common backgrounds meaning common school experiences; separating people into classes at an early age and not having them mix and meet is probably a dangerous social experiment.
So: how many education tracks do we need? And where do we put the cutoff points?
I would contend that we need at least three tracks, and they ought to begin at about 8-9 th grade. I confess mixed feelings about grades 1 - 8; democracy probably want common experiences; but I can recall being bored to death in early classes, a boredom alleviated only because I was in a school that had 2 grades to a room, and I could spend my time reading books while the other grade was being taught, instead of having to pretend to pay attention to teachers who were saying trivial things I had known for a very long time. Fortunate also in that the teachers allowed my attention to wander rather than insist I be drugged into appearing to be attentive to their trivialities.
Above 8th grade, though, I would contend that education be separated into three tracks: general, technical (trades) and college prep. I would sort children into those categories by some heavily g-loaded test (preferable more than one to compensate for a bad day0 with breaks about every 10 points along the 90-120 and above spectrum, and alas, the below 90 being shuffled in with the 90-100 for fairly obvious political reasons. Such a system wouldn't be perfect, but it might work.
What won't work is wasting the 100-120 student who will be the real future of the country; and at the moment we certainly are not doing well by them.
The really smart ones will educate themselves; they'd do better to get an education commensurate with their abilities, and it's a decided waste of intellectual capital to group them in with the 90-100 students, but perhaps there are cultural benefits.
The 100-120 will not, in general, educate themselves; the smarter ones won't even know they are smarter (particularly if we use social engineering means to discourage them from thinking in such terms) and much of that talent pool will be wasted.
That is probably one of the major tragedies of our modern education system. Continued below. (Just after the virus warning)
Some thoughts on Benford vs. Crichton later today.
January 27, 2005
The anti-virus guys are reporting that the latest "Bagel" virus email is getting a bit widespread. McAfee rates it as a 'medium' level threat (most are classified as 'low' level). They have released a new virus file update today (Thurs) to block it. (They normally release updates on Wed, so this is an indication of prevalence). I suspect that the other AV vendors are also doing extra updates.
Your long-time readers know the 'rules' for protection (update, antivirus, firewall, anti-spywaer). More information about some simple steps to keep your computer safe is here at my place: http://digitalchoke.com/daynotes/reports/simple-steps.php . And there are other reports for protection against 'phishing' and wireless networks.
Regards, Rick Hellewell
My education mini-essay got a number of responses, and I'll try to deal with each. The principal complaint about segregating classes on the basis of g-factors is "I was a late bloomer, and I'd have been stuck in bad classes, and now I are smart and can be an enjuneer."
This has some validity, but what is the alternative? At the moment the alternative is to dumb down all public school classes, so that only the wealthy can send their kids to classes where the students are treated as students, not as potential credential holders, and where the teacher time is not allocated to the "problem students" to the near exclusion of others. Alas, in our public schools, the emphasis is on "No child left behind" which usually translates to "Few get far ahead; that way no one is left behind"; and that, I submit, is a far greater waste of intellectual capital than a system that does leave some behind who ought not have been left. After all, a later bloomer can catch up, provided that he has been taught fundamentals: and under my scheme, fundamental skills are what would be taught in the "normal" and "dull" classes.
Yes. I am being very unpolitical in saying out loud that the divisions are "dull", "normal", and "bright". We can call them "trade", "college", and "university", or "junior college", "state college", and "university" or some such; or even "citizens", "taxpayers", and "potential intellectual slaves".
And yes, there definitely needs to be a path from the lowest to the highest, as well as a way for total non-performers to be cast down into the ranks.
Education is an investment made by the current taxpayers in the hopes that it will pay off in better and more productive citizens. It is not a right; there is no such right in the Constitution, and most of the Framers would have been astonished to learn that some supposedly intelligent judges have found such a "right" in an emanation from a penumbra (or for that matter to discover that the Constitution had emanations and penumbras, whatever those are).
It may be unfair to "late bloomers" not to make extraordinary investments to realize their potential, and in fact the investment may be worth while; this is something local and state school boards can decide. But the important thing is to think of public education as the expenditure of money extracted at gunpoint from taxpayers, not as a right to be conferred on everyone, and not as an endless source of funds to people with the right credentials and union memberships. The public has every right to expect returns on that public education investment, and if the returns aren't there, then let the public keep the money. Why your children have a right to education at my expense has never been explained to me; the notion that I ought to invest in your children's education in order that the Republic shall be wealthier and more secure I can understand. Your right to procreate and leave burdens for me to support is another story.
I realize I am being harsher than I usually am, but there is so much nonsense spoken about the right to education, and "no child left behind" (which is manifestly impossible: you will not have Mongolian Idiots doing integral calculus, nor morons doing tax accounting, no matter how hard you try) that perhaps harsh language is needed to get people's attention. (On terminology, see below.)
If you think of education as investment, then certain principles emerge. First, the Republic can't afford to waste the bright and motivated. It may be unfair to the late bloomers, unmotivated, and not so bright, but the fact is that the bright and motivated are intellectual capital worth considerable investment, and that investment ought to be made. The educrats call that cherry picking. Perhaps so. But miners mine the profitable veins; the don't distribute their mining investments equally across all possible mines. Oil well drillers drill where they expect to find oil. They don't spend money drilling where there isn't likely to be any, and particularly not in places that were drilled and found barren. It is unfair to places that don't have any oil, but could use the employment from the drillers, but oddly enough no one has gotten crazy enough to advocate drilling oil wells as a source of local employment whether or not there is a prospect of oil. Education, on the other hand, insists on "fairness" which guarantees a low rater of return on investment; guarantees overinvestment in prospects doomed to failure; and guarantees underinvestment in hidden resources, namely bright hard working kids from poor families.
No child left behind guarantees failure while spending more. Perfect for timeservers in the credentials business; horrid for real teachers who want to accomplish something; horrid for bright kids from poor neighborhoods.
More on this in mail. I have put up some; more when I feel a little better. See the bit about half my brain tied behind me.
This your first "instalanch" or have there been others?
I do not know what an instalaunch is, nor do I actually know the structure of instapundit: is this the pseudonym for a columnist, a traditional byline like TRB, or a web site on which a number of people post instant pundit-like messages? We get a fair amount of traffic here, one way or another; and I like to think we deal fairly with issues I select as important enough. Of course there is also considerable whimsey here.
I have been called the original computer pundit, but I don't know what that means, and I am not sure I care to know. They tell me that Dvorak is the "other pundit" in the computer world. I don't know what that means either.
There is a lot of mail on global warming and the Crichton-Benford debates. I will try to get to it as I get more energy. My own view is that they are talking past each other, and both are more convinced they know the truth than the data warrant. I do not think Crichton is opposed to research into energy alternatives. He is convinced that there is a lot of hype in the Global Warming debates, and he is correct, as is easily demonstrated; some of it on the part of scientists like Henson who rolled those dice down a Congressional Committee conference table and shouted "Eureak!" when in fact he hadn't found the conclusive evidence he claimed.
And I continue to hold my view which is that we are spending far too little on discovering just what is going on here; that a simple Bayesian analysis shows we are best off spending money reducing uncertainties rather than beginning "remedies".
I also hold that the United States of America ought to be spending massive amounts of money reducing our dependence on petroleum, not for economic reasons, but for reasons of independence of these United States. Mr. Mangles disputes my $1 billion for a a thousand megawatt nuclear fission plant, but a number of people in the industry tell me this is not an unreasonable figure; in any event it is not likely to be off by more than a factor of two. One hundred of those plants would produce enough kilowatts to allows us to begin conversion of much of the transportation in this country from gasoline to other fuels including electric. It is only in transportation that petroleum is really critical. Given other energy sources we could also increase our domestic production. Surely this is preferable to war?
(Continued and mail posted when my brain is working again or later tonight, whichever is earlier.)
January 28. 2005
I probably should insert the following paragraphs into the education essay above:
((Added Friday AM: I have mail saying that the correct term is "Down's Syndrome" and my use of the term Mongolian Idiot (which was commonly used in psychiatric textbooks as late as 1954) is offensive to the parents of such children; as if there could not be any such thing as a Mongolian Idiot other than a child with a particular disorder. If you don't care for Mongolian Idiot, substitute whatever term you like. As to offensiveness, I do not suppose very many children with Down's Syndrome, or very many Idiots of any race, nationality, or cause of defect are reading this; adults use terms among themselves that out of consideration they don't used when the children are present. The fact of the matter is that there are many mentally retarded children, some from hereditary defects, some from damage at birth, some from dietary deficiencies in early youth, and there is no convenient term for subsuming all of them.
At one time the universe of the sub-normal was divided into three parts, EMR (Educable Mentally retarded), TMR (Trainable Mentally Retarded), and a residue that had no specific term. Down's Syndrome children usually were regarded as TMR to EMR. For reasons I have forgotten, those terms seem to have been abandoned, perhaps on the theory that if we don't have any names for the conditions, the conditions will vanish, and the nation will become Lake Woebegone, or perhaps a less fortunate community where all the children are average or better.) Substitute whatever term you like. What I was pointing out was the nonsensical nature of "No Child Left Behind," because it is impossible, and we all know it. Attempting to fulfill that ideological demand results in "mainstreaming" children, which may or may not be good for those children; but it is costly to those who are not similarly handicapped. Taxing the able to support the disabled is a political decision; depriving normal children of the teacher's attention because that attention goes to children who aren't going to learn at the same rate as the others is not only unfair to the normals, but costly in terms of the future incomes of those children who didn't learn what they could learn because the classroom teacher's time was taken up not leaving any child behind. Of course some people would rather be offended by language than think about consequences.
Do note that "Mongolian Idiot" can't be more than a simile, and false at that, since the majority of Down's children are educable and many can and do work gainfully. Our local supermarket has one such as a bagger and her unfailing cheerfulness is catching. I will agree it was not an optimum choice of words. Substitute what you will.))
Now of course there will be the inevitable outpouring of mail about heartlessness, and some heart-wrenching stories about particular children. Having watched some good friends raise an adopted Down's Syndrome child, and other friends raise a daughter brain damaged at birth, I am unlikely to learn much from the stories. I already know that retarded children can be happy; that it is a terrible burden on their parents with the trials long and difficult and the joys intense but nowhere near as frequent as they should be; and so forth. I am well aware that many of the EMR would benefit from being in the classrooms with normal children; indeed, there was a 15 year old girl in my 5-6th grade class at Capleville, and she caused no problems: but that was in a time when school discipline was customary, and the teachers had ample means for summary judgment regarding discipline infractions. I doubt it would work in today's less structured classes.
Now that's a sad situation, and it is unfair that some children are from birth denied the ability to benefit from all forms of education; but it is also the way the universe is structured, and to act as if this were not the case is to invite educational disaster; at best the education of most is watered down "only a little". In fact that best case seldom happens. What happens is that the teacher puts more and more time into bringing the bottom group up to whatever standard the credential demands, and does little to see that those already above that standard improve. Given the No Child Left Behind act I don't see how teachers can do otherwise.
Definitions from the 1908 Royal Commission on the Feebleminded, and used in both the UK and the US until at least the mid-50's
Idiot: (low-grade amentia) -- A person so deeply defective from birth or from an early age that he is unable to guard himself against common physical dangers.
Imbecile (middle-grade amentia) -- One who, by reason of mental defect existing from birth or from an early age, is incapable of earning his own living, but is capable of guarding himself against common physical dangers.
Moron: (high-grade amentia) -- "One who is capable of earning a living under favorable circumstances, but who is incapable, from mental defect existing from birth or from an early age, (a) of competing on equal terms with his normal fellows, (b) of managing his affairs and himself with ordinary prudence."
From Henderson and Gillespie, A Textbook of Psychiatry, 7th Edition 1951, Oxford Medical Publications
These terms and definitions were standard at one time, and even written into law. They correspond roughly to "severely retarded," TMR, and EMR in the terminology of the 1960's. Note that "Mongoloid Idiot" is generally a misnomer in that those who suffer Down's Syndrome (Mongolism) generally have mental ages of 9 - 14, with those at the higher end capable of working to support themselves: at my instigation a major aerospace firm hired a number of IQ 70-80 persons, some victims of Mongolism, as mini-plug solderers: work that was important, needed rigorous attention to detail, and tended to drive smarter workers nuts because it was repetitive and exacting. Now such work is automated.
I am told that Peggy Noonan had more thoughts on the President's
Inaugural, but we seem to have discarded that issue of the WSJ, and I
can't find it on line. Ah. BAS has found it for me:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/ Worth reading, as
Ms. Noonan usually is.
As we move toward the Iraqi elections the violence increases: the Sunni leadership will not let go their status as the ruling class without a fight. Generally such fights are called civil wars.
The climate discussions resume in mail.
Regarding the Wells Fargo incident: I have had telephone calls from the Wells Fargo branch in Reno, which offered to pay the check despite not having routing numbers on it, and from Amazon which is reissuing the check with the proper routing numbers. The Reno Wells Fargo office, unlike the manager at the Studio City Branch of Wells Fargo, understands the Uniform Banking Code regarding the nature of a check or draft on an account. They were also astonished that the Studio City Branch Manager of Wells Fargo did not offer to telephone the Reno bank. Presumably his time is far too valuable, although what he does with that time isn't clear. I suggested that to the District Manager. She did not seem amused.
I took the weekend off.
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, 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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