THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 431 September 11 - 17, 2006
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September 11, 2006
You may wish to visit http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/e/t/eternalf.htm or
There is little left to say about September 11, except that today is Sable's 4th birthday.
I have heard from the experts: nothing wrong in my head, but I have arthritis in my neck which seems to be causing all the aches and pains that feel like headaches. Now that we know what it is, we can find ways to attack it. Michael Galloway was over this morning to help throw things away -- I intend to get the Great Hall cleaned out enough that I can have visitors, and my office cleared enough that I can actually use my desk as work space. Among his many talents he is a licensed massage therapist, and he was able to stave off my headache attacks until after 3 this afternoon. They are coming back, but if they can be held off that long there's hope for doing it all day.
So we start the new regime: more exercises and stretches, alternating with getting some work done. I don't intend to get used to this; I am not out of action, and won't be.
You will note that the column is posted. I did lose a week to this, but that won't happen again.
As I write this, a goodly part of the Internet is down. I won't be posting this for a while, because the server that carries this site and Chaos Manor Reviews is one of the systems without communications. How long that will last I do not know. (Apparently about an hour and a half...)
The day is over, and in all those memorials I did not see any recast of the commemoration service in the National Cathedral. In particular they did not show the military bands play the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
|This week:||Tuesday, September
From Joanne Dow:
Subject: Newly released private footage of 9/11
It's the bottom clip on the page. It is ABSOLUTE dynamite.
Fair warning: these are the real thing.
I found all these in my mail today:
That, of course, is Britain; but surely the economics are about the same here?
This is an update of what I posted last Saturday before I knew what was going on. Pardon the repitition.
First, we now know from extensive xrays and CT scans that my problem is not a sinus infection at all, nor is it cancer. I have a form of arthritis in my neck and this sends signals that my brain interprets as pains in my head. I had deduced this from experiments: lying flat on the floor would usually get rid of the "sinus" pain, which didn't seem reasonable if the source were some kind of infection. And as I said last Saturday, "I sit in a most improbable position, head braced hard against the back of a high-back office chair (my expensive and comfortable chair having been temporarily exiled), arm straight out, eyes looking at a level. It's not comfortable, but it does stop the headaches. If my head is held just right it doesn't hurt to sit here. At least not a lot, and when it does it's fixable by adjusting my position.
"That tells me that my problems have to be structural, pinched nerves, unstretched muscles, blocked blood flow, something of the sort, which is probably adjustable. I can't think that a sinus infection would be relieved by sitting in a particular position. I still get flashes of a sinus headache alternating with the hideous migraine-like whammy in the back of my head, but if I hold my head just right -- which means bracing against the back of the chair in just the right position -- I can get some work done without doping myself to the point of being unable to think. And since it is structural, I expect there's a treatment. Chiropractors, perhaps. Orthopedists. Physical therapy. Surely there's a way out of this, and I intend to find it. "
Today (Tuesday 12 September) I went to Physical Therapy where I was fitted with a collar. It makes me look like a very old fashioned priest, or perhaps a victim of whiplash. I wore it driving from the physicians to various places where I had errands. I took it off to go inside shopping for various items including salads for our Hollywood Bowl outing tonight. I'd put it back on driving from one place to another, and I am wearing it now. The result of all this is that it's 3:30 PM and I haven't had to take any pain killers, although I don't know how much longer that will go on. Sitting here writing this gives me some pains, but as long as I hold my head up they aren't too bad. It's looking down at the keyboard that really causes problems. I need to adjust to that.
For those who don't know: several months ago I developed what felt like sinus headaches. They combined with an old migraine that I used to get when I was younger but which I hadn't experienced for years. The two then alternated in periods of minutes to hours, sometimes in phase so I got both, and they got progressively worse until it became very difficult to work. I have since had XRAYS, dental Xrays, CT SCAN, blood tests, and other medical witchcraft. The experts have been over all these, and they find nothing except for arthritis. We're now looking for treatments, both pills and physical.
All this made me mildly late I have been late on columns, but I am caught up now, and I expect to stay caught up. My apologies for missing a week. I won't miss a month. Writing with a collar on and sitting in a ridiculous position to write is a small price to pay for being on time monthly for 27 years.
To repeat Saturday's exposition:
The old paper BYTE column was 5,000 words. Sometimes they wanted longer, as for example when they sold a lot of advertisements and needed editorial content to hold the ad pages apart, so it might go up to 7,500 words. When we went over to On-Line I wrote the column monthly, and it generally came out to about 12,000 words, sometime creeping up to 14 or 15 thousand. The editors chopped it into segments and doled it out weekly. This went on for a while until someone made the mistake of chopping it into 4 segments when there were 5 Mondays in the month. I saw they had fired themselves dry and rushed in 2500 words to cover. This happened a couple of times. I still did the columns monthly but sometimes with a weekly supplement. It was interesting being able to comment on things that had just happened. IN the paper BYTE days, I would prepare the April column and get it in before 7 January; it would be on the stands in mid-March. That meant having to write things that would still be interesting when they came out.
I have been doing the Chaos Manor Reviews columns weekly. For a while that was easy enough, and left plenty of time for fiction; after all, I am primarily a science fact and fiction writer who found a great gig as a computer columnist to bring in a steady income. Now that it doesn't insure a steady income (more on that in a moment) fiction has to come first; still, it was no problem at all, until the headaches hit me. Why they happened I don't know. Is this a message? Memento mori? Bones getting soft? But it sure did remind me; after all, we lost Charlie Sheffield just as we were about to do another Higher Education book (my turn to write most of it; he did most of the work on the first one), and Bob Forward, both to brain cancer, and both without much warning. That doesn't seem to be the case here, but it sure scared me.
Anyway: I will continue to do the columns, and I will continue to try to post a new one ever Monday; but the guarantee will have to be about 8,000 words a month. More if I can do them. Plus the mail bag. I contend that Chaos Manor Mail (part of this web site) is one of, if not the, best mail columns on the web; and I contend that the mail bag at http://www.ChaosManorReviews is as good as any computer-related mail feature you will find on line or in print.
I also do this page, which is arguably the first blog; certainly I was doing an on line public daybook long before anyone else I know of. I didn't -- and don't -- organize in "blog format" with the latest on top, because I find that hard to make sense of. I don't call this a blog -- I find the name ugly. This is a daybook, or journal, and while the subject is often political I don't think of it as a political journal. I have had my successes in politics, having successfully managed campaigns for Congress and Mayor of Los Angeles and having been an advisor to a President and a Speaker as well as to several Members of Congress. I still have a have a few political contacts, but I don't often use them. Politics has left me a bit behind: I am frightened of both parties and the continuing trend to make everything a federal case, leaving nothing to the states and to the people, and I don't find either party very sound on those matters. I do not believe in "big government conservatism" and I find the term self-contradictory. I don't believe in "compassionate conservatism" in any political sense. One ought to be compassionate, but to the extent that this should be a government activity it ought to be local; and for the most part it ought not be governmental at all. The major benefit of charity is to the giver. There may be necessities -- for a man to love his country, his country ought to be lovely, and it is not lovely when one lives in a land of beggars -- but in many cases the welfare bureaucracy is self perpetuating. And I see I am rambling: my point is that I try to be more philosophical than political. Political victories can affect principles, and have done so; but if one has a nation with strong enough principles, then it ought not matter much which party prevails, except that no party ought to govern for too long. If you wish to call this page political, it is hard to disagree, yet I do disagree in that it is not just political: I am concerned about principles which endure long after elections are forgotten.
I suppose, though, that this page is a result of my having been offered a position teaching a senior seminar on technology and civilization to a technical university, only to have that withdrawn because of my work in "Star Wars." I don't apologize for being one of the founders of a strategy of Assured Survival -- that was the title of a chapter in Possony and Pournelle, The Strategy of Technology, 1970 -- nor will I ever; but that did cost me the professorship, so this page is my compensation, so to speak.
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
And enough rambling.
All of this is, of course, a pitch to get you to subscribe. I do thank all those who have subscribed, particularly those who showed great confidence by sending in new subscriptions or renewals in the past couple of weeks while things were erratic.
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I do both the computer columns and this page in part because it's usually enjoyable, but they do have to make enough money to justify their continuance. And I am doing more fiction, and now that I know how to sit to write fiction I'll be doing more.
It's sure an odd position to sit in, but it does seem to be working. And now I have to go work on the column. In part this ramble has come about because it is taking more than two hours to download the newest VISTA. More on Vista in the column.
End repetition and pitch for subscribers.
In upcoming columns you will see: Vista vs. Linux. I am setting up two computers of about equal capability, one using Linux, the other Vista. I'll alternate work with each, and we'll see what happens. And in a couple of months I'll try the whole experiment on an Intel Mac, with Mac, Linux, and Vista all running on the same machine. That ought to be fun...
And I'm turning out fiction. I ain't licked yet.
September 13, 2006
Another appointment with Physical Therapy this morning. There are ways to not quite hang yourself that seem to do some good.
Don Carlo at the LA Opera tonight. Excellent production, Use my neck stretcher collar to sit through the four hours plus intermission. That worked.
Remind me to do an essay on being an ethicist. Apparently it's nice work if you can get it, and unlike a priest you needn't practice any of the principles you espouse. You just get to pontificate on such things as whether or not it is ethical to pay women for donating eggs for stem cell research (it's OK to pay them for donating eggs for in vitro fertilization because the ends justify the means, but for stem cell research it's no good because you might induce some poor woman to do that for the money, and we need to protect the poor from making bad judgments, and it might be a bad judgment, so we won't let them do it). And you can get paid for saying stuff like that. Usually by a tax exempt non profit that exists largely to pay people lots of money to have those opinions and express them. It is apparently ethical to pay people to blather like that, even though they might be induced to do it for the money; paternalism has its limits, apparently.
So I am looking into how to become a paid ethicist. It sure looks like nice work if you can get it.
One question: is it ethical to harvest ethicists and recycle their body parts if no one is paid for doing that?
On the Stem Cell Research thing: one might question whether it is moral (I am not sure what ethical means) to collect eggs from a woman when the purpose is to use those eggs in a clone experiment that will result in stem cells that may or may not be useful in curing diseases. It's a tricky question, but it's certainly a moral, not an ethical question: either it's against God's Plan or it is not.
But when the State determines that such research is in the public interest and will not only be allowed but publicly funded, where in the world do they get off saying that ethical considerations require that the cells be donated by volunteers who are not paid for their time and trouble? It is a tiresome and burdensome procedure, and so far they don't seem to have many volunteers who will go through it all for no payment for their time and trouble. Oh, they can rely on left-over eggs from women who are paid to donate them for the purpose of making a baby -- not all their eggs may be needed and it's ethical to hand those not wanted eggs to the stem cell researchers, according to the ethicists, but it's just not good form to pay anyone for donating eggs to stem cell research because, well, it might be a bad decision and some woman might choose to do that for the money and we have to protect her from that. Or something like that. I didn't say that ethicists made any sense. I just repeat what they are saying.
The people of the state of California have determined that the state will spend a lot of money on stem cell research. No stem cell research has yet been done because the ethicists are in the way of gathering any eggs to do the research. Real soon now, though.
Now I am of the view that the State of California is allowed under the Constitution to establish a state religion if it so chooses. I do not believe, though, that the weird ravings of professional ethicists would be the religion established.
Maybe I just don't understand the situation.
September 14, 2006
-- Roland Dobbins
We must have respect for law. Mustn't we?
Subject: Patch Time !
Patches for everyone!
- Microsoft patches, a couple are important. Home users use the automatic upgrade/install. Corporate users work with their computer support staff. There have been updates to two patches that were released last month.
- Adobe Flash Player : Windows and Mac OSX users upgrade to version 126.96.36.199 . Linux/Solaris users should patch to version 7.
- Apple QuickTime: Windows and Mac OSX users upgrade to version 7.1.3 .
- and I noticed a FireFox update on my copy yesterday, although it has been a week or two since I used FireFox.
These are all important .. there are some active exploits for many of these. "Safe Computing" practices will help all, as we have previously discussed.
Stay well ...
Regards, Rick Hellewell
Getting used to the new schedule. I'll work on fiction this afternoon.
I am about to burn a Vista DVD ROM (32 and 64 bit) to do that experiment. I have also got out the latest XANDROS and need to set up a work station location for that. We will try Vista vs. Linux, if I can ever solve the mystery of how to make a bootable DVD from an ISO file larger than 2 GB.
That mystery turns out to have a story behind it. I freely admit I am tired of having stories to tell. Stories are fine when you feel all right but they can be a nuisance when you're behind.
We're also looking at the latest Mac OS systems. That's a pretty hefty change, in application software and whole habit systems, but Mac OS is now backed with enough financial stability that you can have some confidence that the company won't see profit squeeze and take its traditional remedy for keeping profits up, which to so gouge its loyalists.
Enough. I am going to go retreat to the monk's cell.
September 15, 2006
Viking settlements in Greenland endured if not exactly thrived between approximately 1000 AD and 1300 AD. From 1330 to 1410 they dwindled and died. While there are more detailed accounts and explanations, the simple fact is that before 1325 it was warm enough to support the colonies, and after 1330 it got cold and they died.
Note that the west coast of Greenland is not part of the Gulf Stream climate system. It is not closely coupled with Northern Europe, which also enjoyed a Medieval Warming from somewhere before 800 AD until 1330 when the Little Ice Age began. Kyoto addicts have dismissed that warming period as weather, not climate, a local phenomenon and not an indication that the globe was warmer in historical times.
The "hockey stick" theory is that global temperatures have been flat until recently and how are headed higher and higher in a dramatic manner. The long period of flat temperatures is inferred from ice cores, lake sediments, tree rings, and other such data. The algorithms for converting these data into temperatures is the critical item, and there is considerable controversy over its validity. The hockey stick theorists long resisted publication of their algorithm.
In computer science, Garbage In -- Garbage Out is an axiom; but of course if I can manipulate the algorithms in a secret fashion, I can get any output from any input.
The bottom line of all this seems clear enough: there is global warming. As Arrhenius told us about the turn of the Century, increased levels of CO2 can contribute to that warming, and there is no reason to suppose that is not true. The warming trend began before CO2 levels rose enough to cause it; the warming trend began early in the 19th Century as the Little Ice Age ended.
How much CO2 contributes to the present warming trend is unknown. It did not contribute to the Medieval Warming. There is considerable evidence that during the Medieval Warm period the Earth's temperature was higher than it is at present.
We survived the Medieval Warm, as we survived the Little Ice Age. Civilizations thrived during the Medieval Warming Period.
It would be useful to know just what is happening, and whether we can do anything about it. One thing we could do is paint all our roofs white. For some reason there is no national panic about dark colored roofs.
Subject: Ms. Noonan Is Worth Reading Today
And there is an editorial essay in today's WSJ about the Plame affair that ought to end the discussion. Of course it won't. There is NO EVIDENCE WHATEVER that she was a covert employee; and as I have said repeatedly COVERT EMPLOYEES ARE NOT ASSIGNED TO LANGLEY and do not drive into Langley daily, even in close cars, much less in a convertible.
Nothing will stop all the whiney blather of course. Wilson blew what cover she had, which isn't much, when he decided to go public because he didn't think they paid enough attention to him. Hurrah.
September 16, 2006
Subject: Fearful symmetry,
What strikes me is this: all these imams get up and call for the destruction of Western civilization and death to Jews, we're supposed to - and do - accept that with equanimity.
But when the Pope quotes a beleaguered Byzantine emperor who was under military assault by Moslems, there are demonstrations in the Middle East. And the Pope is "upset" that Moslems would be offended.
No negative comments on Moslems to be allowed? At all?
Of course not. And to show how peaceful and civilized they all were, they went out and burned down four Christian churches. If the people of the US burned a mosque we would have years of sensitivity training, our children would have one and only one subject in school, guilt, advanced guilt, more guilt. We are no good. They are all good. What is it you do not understand about that? You need sensitivity training.
Do you not know that Western Civilization is the source of all the ills of the world, and anyone who would defend a horror like that is a monster who needs to be punished until he understands? Sensitivity training. That will do the trick.
Next Tuesday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!
September 17. 2006
New column and mailbag go up tomorrow, and I am, I think, done with registering new subscribers. Thanks to all new subscribers, and those who renewed.
I burned part of the afternoon catching up on things I missed at Worldcon this year. I missed them because what I thought were sinus allergies and infections -- actually, we now learn, arthritis in the neck joint -- caused me to go to bed early and miss both the masquerade and the Hugo ceremonies. Apparently there was an incident at the Hugos that unsettled a number of people. There have been a number of descriptions of what happened; better you just see for yourself.
The incident seems to have unglued some people. After spending a couple of hours reading a zillion comments, I conclude that I had far better things to do. I have known both Harlan and Connie for years, and both are friends of long standing. Harlan and Connie are grown (although Harlan playing in Jefty is Five may not have acted so) and surely this is their business? It's certainly not mine. What astonished me is the amount of time wasted on the subject by a great many people. Including me just reading about it.
An evening with Harlan.
-- Roland Dobbins
There is a great deal of mail, some of which I will get up today, but most I suppose I'll save for tomorrow.
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