THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 377 August 29 - September 4 2005
Highlights this week:
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August 29, 2005
Heading for home. See weekend View and Mail. New mail tonight.
Home safely. Sable happy to see us. Catching up as usual. It's hot in the San Fernando Valley.
Sign of the times:
Web, DVDs Could Mark CDs' Slow Death===========
I recommend http://www.techcentralstation.com/082905A.html to your attention and invite comments.
By Dan Vergano USA TODAY
Astronomers are debating what to do about Earth's close encounter with an asteroid in 2029 and again in 2036 ‹ passages that might be too close for comfort.
Apophis, a 1,059-foot-wide asteroid, has excited astronomers since it was spotted last year. After observing it for a while, scientists concluded that it has only a 1-in-8,000 chance of ever smacking into Earth. But even that slim chance has them talking and NASA pondering how to keep track of it ‹ just in case.
³The most likely turn of events is that it will miss us,² says Steve Chesley of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which has monitored the asteroid since December as part of its normal watch over ³near-Earth² asteroids. ³We are prepared for the worst but certainly don't want to act too hastily.²
In June, former astronaut Russell Schweickart petitioned NASA chief Michael Griffin to consider placing a transmitter on Apophis, which is named after an ancient Egyptian god of darkness and destruction, by 2013. Chesley says NASA will respond in a few weeks.<snip>
for Fehrenbach on war and casualties. My thanks to Stephen Fleming for bringing this to my attention. Ted Fehrenbach is one of my favorite writers, and his THIS KIND OF WAR is the definitive work on the lessons of the Korean War.
|This week:||Tuesday, August
Would someone explain to me what "Creative Commons" is? I have read Dvorak http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1838251,00.asp and to the best I can make out what we are talking about, I agree with him. But then there is http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/07/21/creativity/ and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/29/creativity_computers_copyright_letters/ and after a while I begin going beedee, beedee, beedee... I don't know what Creative Commons is, or what we need it. Perhaps I am just stupid? Or uninformed?
See Mail for discussion (which has grown fairly extensive)
WARNING: Hurricanes and Phishing. See mail.
The red blob in this picture is a human red blood cell, and the green blob in the middle of it is a pack of the malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium falciparum. Other species of the single-celled Plasmodium can give you malaria, but if you’re looking for a real knock-down punch, P. falciparum is the parasite for you. It alone is responsible for almost all of the million-plus deaths due to malaria.
How did this scourge come to plague us? In a paper to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have reconstructed a series of molecular events three million years ago that allowed Plasmodium falciparum to make us its host. They argue that a change in the receptors on the cells of hominids was the key. Ironically, this same change of receptors may have also allowed our ancestors to evolve big brains. Malaria may simply be the price we pay for our gray matter.
To uncover this ancient history, the researchers compared the malaria humans get to the malaria of our closeest relatives, chimpanzees. In 1917, scientists discovered Plasmodium parasites in chimpanzees that looked identical to human Plasmodium falciparum. But when some ethically challenged doctors tried to infect people with the chimpanzee parasites, the subjects didn’t get sick. Likewise, chimpanzees have never been known to get sick with Plasmodium falciparum from humans. In the end, scientists recognized that chimpanzees carry a separate species of Plasmodium, known today as Plasmodium reichenowi. Studies on DNA show that Plasmodium rechnowi is the closest living relative to Plasmodium falciparum—just as chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans. <snip>
EZULWINI VALLEY, Swaziland (Reuters) -- The king of Swaziland's daughter was whipped by a palace official at a party of teenage virgins ahead of a festival where more than 50,000 maidens are available to become her father's 13th wife, media said on Sunday.
Princess Sikhanyiso, 17, told the Times of Swaziland a palace official whipped girls, including beauty queen Miss Swaziland, at the party as a punishment after they refused to turn down the music. She was pictured showing her bruises.
Thousands of bare-breasted virgins will dance for Africa's last absolute monarch in Monday's Reed Dance ceremony, which King Mswati III has used to choose new brides.
Critics say the ancient ceremony, meant to celebrate womanhood and virginity, has become little more than a shop window for the 37-year-old king to choose young brides.
The official, who was charged with supervising the princess and her friends ahead of the ceremony, denied he had whipped the girls, the paper said.
No one at the palace was immediately available for comment.
Thousands of girls, some swathed in drapes bearing the king's image and some in beaded mini skirts, streamed into the royal compound on Sunday singing songs and carrying towering reeds to present to the Queen Mother -- also known as the Great She Elephant.<snip>
Nun reprimanded for dirty dancing at Papal fete:
August 26, 2005, 9:09 a.m.
The Paranoid Style
Iraq: Where socialists and anarchists join in with racialists and paleocons.
It is becoming nearly impossible to sort the extreme rhetoric of the antiwar Left from that of the fringe paleo-Right. Both see the Iraqi war through the same lenses: the American effort is bound to fail and is a deep reflection of American pathology.<snip>
I will have my own comments on this later. Note I say you should read his essay; not that I am in agreement with all of it.
My objections to the Iraq war are the same as they always were: we should not go abroad seeking monsters to destroy for the sake of killing monsters. I saw no national interest in invading Iraq. I see a great deal of national interest in leaving Iraq better off -- from our view -- with a friendlier government than it had, now that we are there. Probably the best thing that can happen now is that we set up a reasonably stable government that does not hate us, and the cost was so high we are not tempted to try that experiment again.
By BOB HERBERT
First the bad news: Only about two-thirds of American teenagers (and just half of all black, Latino and Native American teens) graduate with a regular diploma four years after they enter high school.
Now the worse news: Of those who graduate, only about half read well enough to succeed in college.
Don't even bother to ask how many are proficient enough in math and science to handle college-level work. It's not pretty.
Of all the factors combining to shape the future of the U.S., this is one of the most important. Millions of American kids are not even making it through high school in an era in which a four-year college degree is becoming a prerequisite for achieving (or maintaining) a middle-class lifestyle.
The Program for International Assessment, which compiles reports on the reading and math skills of 15-year-olds, found that the U.S. ranked 24th out of 29 nations surveyed in math literacy. The same result for the U.S. - 24th out of 29 - was found when the problem-solving abilities of 15-year-olds were tested.<snip>
Of course if you want to be sure your kids can read, buy Roberta Pournelle's reading program and USE IT before the children get to school. If they can read then the public schools have some good resources, and while not very good, are not as harmful as they are when the only source of information is what the teacher says and wants them to know.
Teach them to READ. It's easily done (well, it's an hour or so a day for several months, but that's not all that onerous.)
in all its implications? I am not sure I understand what is said here, but I am glad I do not work for a company I want to leave. The road to serfdom? Law making business for itself? Or just a tempest in a teapot?
By CELIA W. DUGGER
BANGALORE, India - Just as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her chest, the maternity hospital's ritual of extortion began.
Before she even glimpsed her baby, she said, a nurse whisked the infant away and an attendant demanded a bribe. If you want to see your child, families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl, a lot of money for slum dwellers scraping by on a dollar a day. The practice is common here in the city, surveys confirm.
Mrs. Velankanni was penniless, and her mother-in-law had to pawn gold earrings that had been a precious marriage gift so she could give the money to the attendant, or ayah. Mrs. Velankanni, a migrant to Bangalore who had been unprepared for the demand, wept in frustration.
"The ayah told my mother-in-law to pay up fast because the night duty doctor was leaving at 8 a.m. and wanted a share," she recalled.
The grand thefts of rulers may be more infamous, but the bitter experience of petty corruption, less apparent but no less invidious, is an everyday trial for millions of poor people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Increasingly, it is being recognized as a major obstacle to economic development, robbing the impoverished of already measly incomes and corroding the public services they desperately need.<snip>
It's the same the whole world over, it's the poor what gets the blame, it's the rich what gets the gravy...
I confess it: I have never seen an RSS Feed (and apparently I never will so long as I continue to use Internet Explorer) so I do now know what all the shouting is about. I gather that it's a means for sending bits of a web site to a list of subscribers.
I would presume also that this is far better adapted to places like Drudge where timely news items are important; which is certainly not true here. I may respond to some timely event, but I usually regret doing it because much of the time I don't have enough information to have an intelligent opinion or judgment --
and that's what this place is about. Intelligent opinion. Informed judgments. If it is not that it is not worth maintaining. And who would want a big essay sent unasked for by RSS feed? Here you can decide just how much of what issue you want to read about and go on to something else if you don't care for it. We have a long discussion on CREATIVE COMMONS that sort of erupted here and went on to mail. We have discussions of marriage age. We have a story of extortion in India. We have stories of looting. We have an exhortation to make sure your kids can read before they go to school. And that's all since last night.
Who in the world would want all that fed to them? And how should I select what to broadcast?
My friends and associates are working to make it possible for me to do this, but am not not sure it's a necessary effort. I spend about at much time here as I can afford. Indeed, if we don't get some more subscriptions, I'll have to cut back a good bit. And I do not see that RSS feeds would help in getting subscribers.
But not being familiar with it, I am not sure of that. You will understand, I get more mail than I can conveniently read now: I certainly do NOT need any forced links to other web sites. You readers all filter what you send to me, for which I thank you, and I get pointers to the best stories in the world, all sent by an intelligent reader who thought I might like to see it. What more can I ask for?
August 31, 2005
Next Sunday Night I will be in Seattle getting the Heinlein Medal, which I much appreciate. However, that means I will not be in Los Angeles watching or recording the next installment of the HBO ROME.
Since we'll be leaving shortly I am not likely to get any system that will record it for me set up and running. I am not sure what I can do about that. We will be home Monday night but I don't see any plans for rebroadcasting the episode Monday or Tuesday.
(Apparently it will be on all week so no problem)
It is not true that the International Movie Data Base, and Google, between them know everything.
There was, in the late 1940's, a movie about a concert pianist (female) playing Rachmaninov's 2nd, and a "duel" of sorts with a composer. I don't recall a great deal more than that, but I do remember that much. I find that "Brief Encounter" and some other movies used Rachmaninov themes, but I can't find a reference to the picture I remember. Ah well.
In the search I found http://www.maurice-abravanel.com/stokowsky_leopold.html which is a very interesting web site, and if you have any interest in Leopold, it is worth your visit, although it has nothing to do with the movie I was trying to find.
We have some minor chaos here; it will be a while before I get mail and view up. There's plenty left from yesterday.
I think I now understand Creative Commons: it's an attempt to get writers to issue limited public domain licenses for much of their work; but it is also being pushed by people who have a larger agenda that would change the whole nature of rights and copyright.
This is all compounded by the way recording studios have treated artists and composers, in ways fundamental to the relationship between authors and publishers. Authors may say that publishers are the class enemy, but we don't always believe it because it is generally not true. Performing artists are correct in thinking of the recording industry as the enemy complete with manipulating the laws, fraudulently inserting language into Congressional Bills without the Congress being aware that it was there (after which the staffer who did it mysteriously surfaced as an executive of the recording industry, but of course nothing can be prosecuted) and the like.
The rapaciousness of the recording industry alas it affecting everything including the more settled relationships between authors and publishers.
Meanwhile the technology is changing everything anyway.
It's an interesting world out there.
Given Sarbanes-Oxley, which criminalizes mistakes and makes nearly everyone guilty until cleared and maybe not then, is there any reason to be loyal to the US. or to be honest other than through fear of being caught? Would we not be better off taking Sarbanes - the bill at least -- out in the parking lot and shooting it?
Arthur Anderson turned out not to be guilty. Too bad.
Why must we have all the bad parts of Empire without an Emperor to whom one might appeal? Empire by bureaucracy and ambitious prosecutors; now there's a combination for you.
I wrote the above out at Kaiser, where Roberta was getting her foot put into a cast. All's well except she won't be going to Seattle tomorrow. I will be. She'll be limping around the house on crutches. We'd already arranged for Vicky the neighbor girl to run Sable twice a day, so we'll just leave that in place. And I'll still go to Seattle for the Nasfic.
There's not much to be said about the hurricane news. Lucifer's Hammer tried to show how it might be after something that bad world wide; fortunately this is local, and while our military is overseas and can't come in quickly, Americans are resourceful; as the world is about to find out.
We're pretty tough, actually. There are those who want to take advantage, to declare themselves the national enemy, like the looters and rioters; perhaps this time they will learn a new lesson.
Picking up and rebuilding will not be easy, but we can all help. I am sending my donations to the Red Cross and to the Salvation Army. I expect you all are as well. Of course the Red Cross does not make it easy to send them money. Very odd of them. Apparently you must be sincere. At least I can't find a Paypal link.
Well I am packing up for Seattle. Roberta will be here nursing a chipped bone in her foot.
Not sure just what facilities I'll have for keeping this place up. I'll have a good camera. I may have some pictures from the convention.
I'll see any of you that will be at Cascadia. Given the number of things they have me doing it might be hard to avoid me.
Reality TV: looters in New Orleans. Will it take the Army to get control of New Orleans away from the looters? I don't mean those who were out scavenging for food and immediate supplies. I mean those who took gun stores, shot rescue workers, stole fork lifts; will they stand and fight, or try urban insurgency?
It may be an interesting couple of days. No more than that, of course. But the political implications may reverberate for a lot longer.
Anyway I am closing up shop here. I doubt you will hear from me until I get to Seattle, although there is a T Mobile hot spot in the Burbank airport.
September 1, 2005
Getting on the airplane was without incident. Mr. Hertz, my lawyer, is on the Same flight and was kind enough to watch Lisabetta as she downloaded my mail through T - Mobile
lam now in flight and using my wacom- cross Pen stylus to write . it works well except for Capitalization.
this won't be well formatted. Read it anyway.
Jerry, they're getting more and more sophisticated, at least to those uninitiated.
September 2, 2005
They have me scheduled for many events today, and this will have to be brief.
This was a long and difficult day. I have a letter from Phillip on the Gulf who is part of the rescue effort. The situation is grim == but most of the relief people can't go in because they are being shot at.
We need to rethink a lot of things.
September 3, 2005
Another long day here.
Watching Fox News I see the effects of having the army overseas. The field hospitals, the national guard ready teams, were not here to be mobilized.
I knew they should never have given the Presidio away. We are seeing why civilizations need garrisons. Civilizations are held together by civilizing structures and organizations. When the military went in, civilization was restored. It has ever been thus.
There are lessons here.
This all deserves a long essay, on both self and collective reliance, and the nature of man.
It will not be written quickly.
http://neworleans.metblogs.com/ is one source of information. It also shows the difficulties of the usual latest first blog format.
September 4, 2005
Mississippi resident: "Burn the bridges and leave them there. We aren't shooting each other and looting."
A drastic and uncharitable attitude born of frustration.
FEMA is not responding swiftly enough. How could it? It took over the Civil Defense organizations, gutted them, and then put bureaucracy in place.
If we have learned anything at all, we have learned that a local militia with Civil Defense in mind is needed as preparation for disasters.
Stern view of the mission bay during onload. Phillip.
I have to get to the awards. More later.
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