THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 447 January 1 - 7, 2007
Highlights this week:
For boiler plate, search engine, and notes on what in the world this place is, see below.
For Previous Weeks of the View, SEE VIEW HOME PAGE
If you intend to send MAIL to me, see the INSTRUCTIONS.
This is a Day Book. Pages are in chronological, not blogological order.
January 1, 2007
Happy New Year
New columns and mailbag at Chaos Manor Reviews early tomorrow. Today is a holiday for the managing editor.
As you will have noted, I took yesterday off. I'll probably do that today as well, but we'll see. Just watched the Rose Parade. Bob Eubanks was back with the perky wonder who replaced Stepanie Edwards, Stephanie was not relegate to the bleachers this year: she wasn't there at all. http://www.martinirepublic.com/item/report-stephanie-edwards-staying-home-for-new-years/
It's not the same. Eubanks knows horses but not much else. Michaela Pereira is perky and tries hard, but she doesn't know much about Los Angeles or the Rose Parade, and some of her remarks are just embarrassingly inane. In Pereira's defense, she is trying to learn: this year she went down to work as a volunteer on the floats and find out something about their construction. Maybe in ten years she'll be as familiar with the Rose Parade as Stephanie was. And maybe not. In any event, by the time she learns, she'll be off in the bleachers again too.
Ah well. It's Los Angeles, where the cult of youth allows a few geezer men to stay in the limelight but also where women dare not age. Farewell, Stephanie. It's not the same without you.
There are those who really hate Bob Eubanks. I am not one of them.
[For those who don't live around Los Angeles and think of the Rose Parade as a short teaser on our beautiful weather while you freeze, I suspect you wonder what all the fuss is about. You have to live here for years before you really understand the Rose Parade (which is never on Sunday), The Doo Dah Parade ( http://www.pasadenadoodahparade.info/ ) and other such arcane but important matters.]
There is a special report from One Foot Inside North Korea.
I remind you that there are a number of reports. The summary page is here. Some are out of date, but many remain relevant and some are downright prophetic.
January 2, 2007
We've had our walk and it's time for fiction. I have caught up with a lot of the past mail, on a variety of subjects.
January 3, 2007
Beginning the day with a couple of news items. I get about 40 of those every night, and I do try to read them all, although sometimes I don't manage.
There's also financial news.
If ever there were an indication that America has gone greedily insane and needs ways to curb the rapacious Trial Lawyers, the story of minority stockholder suits against Apple charging that in 1997 Steve Jobs manipulated options dates in order to keep key executives from bailing out has got to be it. The minority stockholders cleaned up because Jobs pretty well single-handedly saved the company; had he not done so, the stock would have become worthless. So in return for this, the stockholders let some contingency fee lawyers talk them into fronting for these suits. Any sane judge would throw all those out on the grounds of standing: "You weren't damaged, so how can you sue for damages?"
They're after Pixar, too. As if the Pixar stockholders didn't get rich and Pixar didn't do well. But Jobs was involved and he's got to be distracted lest he come up with more new ideas and change the industry again. I wonder who is paying for the lawyers to hound him, and the lobbyists to sic the bureaucracy on him?
I know. The "zero tolerance" advocates will say these were irregularities that ought to be punished. Let "justice" be done though the heavens fall. That's the same mentality that expels a high school girl for sharing her Motrin with a friend. It's just another of the signs of the collapse of civilization.
There are so many technical rules now that no company can possibly comply with all of them. It used to be that companies were supposed to make money and get their stockholders rich. Now the goal is to stay in business without running foul of regulations and laws. It doesn't matter if the stockholders get rich and no one is harmed: if you don't comply with all the regulations, you must be punished, to the enrichment of lawyers (and to ensure the continued employment of regulators and bureaucrats).
There's no longer any consistency in law enforcement. We have so many laws -- California passed another 1200 last year -- that it's not only impossible to enforce them all, but if we did every last one of us including the prosecutors and police would be in jail or ruined by fines. The liberal view has always been that if you just pass enough laws things will be all right; a bit like Saddam Hussein's obsession with building palaces. One more palace and I'll be secure forever.
Most of you will not remember the days when there were not so many laws and most "government" was self government; when few of us thought about the "law" at all because we pretty well knew what you should and shouldn't do, and we didn't need regulations and regulatory "science" and endless bureaucrats to shuffle compliance reports. The effects of this are to put enormous burdens on startup enterprises, to stifle initiative, and to make sure that the big established companies stay in control. Surprise.
We need some new laws. More and more of them. And require more compliance reports. That will fix everything!
Remember when it would have been great news for American manufacturing companies? Ah well.
And that's just one day's news. But we were born free.
Uh -- excuse me, isn't that how things are supposed to work? See Economics 101, "The Theory of the Firm". And don't forget what is happening in technology:
Think of it as Moore's Law writ large.
UPDATE Another FU. More on the new fascism in America. This from a commenter at the Puff Ho (!) here via Jon;
I am unsure how this applies to places like this one. Am I an "organization"? I certainly have more than 500 readers. Does it affect the press?
Public Citizens and Pelosi. A bit frightening.
And we have more from Cory Doctorow
Among other things he says is that there was never a time when authors lived off their royalties. He's just plain wrong. When I was President of the Science Fiction Writers of America (and thus in a position to know something about it, not just make up my data) there were about 20 writers to made a living full time at writing SF. Another 50 or so had teaching jobs as their day jobs. And some, like Cliff Simak, could have made a decent living writing full time but did other things because they liked it: Cliff was editor of a small town newspaper.
Today perhaps 100 SF writers make a living at it. I would suppose there are more than that number of mystery writers. How many non-fiction and general mainstream fiction writers make a living at writing I don't know. The number was dwindling before the big Barnes and Noble superstores, but now these huge stores have a lot of backlist fiction displayed for sale and that helps sell back issues. Amazon cuts into author income a lot because they offer used books on the same page as the new book, not only for backlist but for new books as well. Some of those "used" books have to be review copies being sold so that the author hasn't seen a dime from the first sale.
If Doctorow's goal is to eliminate writing as a way to make a living I suppose he's doing well at it. He has a salary. He's paid to go disseminate his pro-piracy propaganda. As to how well his books are read as opposed to downloaded I don't know. I have some books with multi-million sales, and I can I think safely assume that if someone paid for a book it was read.
Baen books has long had free electronic copies of published works. I gave them permission to do some of my books that way, and held on to others; Baen recently paid me decent advances for the electronic rights to many of my books so perhaps that was wise. No e-book has yet earned out, but they are now offered for sale.
I have mail suggesting that FrontPage handles URL's wrong, and that is why sometimes the line lengths are too long and you have to do horizontal scrolling. Internet Explorer breaks those so there is no horizontal scrolling, but I have to manually insert line breaks in long URL's for those who use Firefox. I usually remember to do that.
But what is it that FrontPage does wrong? What, specifically, is the way to put in a long URL so that Firefox will enforce page widths and not make you do horizontal scrolling?
I have been unable to figure this out. Of course I didn't put much effort into trying to find it out.
January 4, 2007
It looks like a squat DC/X. I have no idea what the mass ratio is likely to be. But in incremental flight approach is a good idea. And I have always been a VTOL fan.
See the original announcement.
Pork soup... http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1799
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
If you thought updating Windows was a pain, you should try it when it's Windows XP running under Virtual PC on a PowerBook Mac. IT not only takes forever, but it appears to be impossible. The Windows update keeps putting me back in circles, going endlessly from one web site to another, installing active x controls, then going back again. We are now apparently stuck, endlessly searching for needed downloads.
All this was in aid of Roberta wanting to see how her Windows version of her reading program (which never fails to teach children to read) would run on the PowerMac. We know it did once run there, but with artifacts. Last night we tried it but Windows kept screeching that it needed updating. Only the Mac needed updates. Only iTunes takes over the Mac. When you try to update iTunes, it tells you that you must stop iTunes. But you can't stop iTunes. Eventually I got out the books and learned that I could "force quit" (or something like that) programs, and thus I could stop iTunes and thus allow the Mac to update itself. That took a while. Now I'm trying to update the XP installed under Virtual PC but I don't seem to have any success. It keeps taking me back where we started, and now it is endlessly stuck on looking for critical updates.
I am presuming this works better on an Intel Mac. Running Windows on a Virtual PC on a PowerBook Mac is at best like the dog walking upright. Updating XP under Virtual PC on the PowerBook doesn't seem to be possible at all. We will now see if the un-updated version will run Roberta's program.
So far, having installed all the active x controls, we are stuck on endlessly searching for critical updates, with the little green slug moving across the bar endlessly, endlessly, out of the cradle endlessly rocking...
I don't really need to run anything on Virtual PC on the PowerBook. But this is a bit discouraging; I hope things are easier with the Intel based Mac.
Janury 5, 2007
You will all be pleased to know that we eventually got the Mac Updates, then the Virtual PC program that was running on the PowerBook, then the XP that was running on Virtual PC on the Mac PowerBook, and then we got Roberta's Reading Program running in XP under Virtual PC on the Mac PowerBook. Parallels on an Intel Mac will be much easier, of course; but her program will work on a PC Power Mac if you have Virtual PC and a Windows OS running on that Mac.
There was a previous Mac version that used the Mac voice generation program (the voice we used was Agnes, although Victoria was a far more pleasant voice); the Windows version, which is the only one really available now, has several thousand phrases all recorded by Roberta Pournelle. This is the one that can run on a PowerPC Mac provided that you have Virtual PC and Windows installed.
The updates on the Mac proved the principle that with a Mac everything is either simple or impossible. In this case it just took a LONG time to do each update; by long I am talking about multiples of five minutes in many cases. But left alone, it all worked.
Time Warner Cable Modem is not working this morning. I'm on by the satellite connection, which is sort of my emergency standby.
Windows XP can be enormously confused when you are trying to do something with the USB connection. Meanwhile all my systems are being bollixed by Windows Defender which fails to start and messes up everything else while trying to die.
I am beginning to think that getting an Intel Mac may be a matter of necessity for me to get my work done. Microsoft has become so complicated that I can't even get my main machine to start properly: My Computer hangs because of Windows Defender among other things. Plugging in a USB card reader drives the system nuts. I can't get it to poll the drives properly. All manner of idiocies and restart brings up the Windows Defender notices. Microsoft seems to have gone mad this year.
Eventually I used another machine to make a USB connection and get the photos off the SD card. Now to solve the Windows Defender problem. I bought and paid for Microsoft OneCare, which should have included Defender, but the free copies of Defender expired January 1. Apparently the different parts of Microsoft didn't get The Word to each other or to my machines. (Defender is what used to be known as Microsoft Anti-Spyware. It really does work, and I recommend it when it's working; but their means of telling people they have to renew their subscription is not well thought out and in fact is Just Plain Rude. Have an onion.)
Of course all this happens when we are connected by satellite and everything takes a LONG time to connect to busy sites where there are lots of page requests. Each request takes a second or more, and they seem to be done seriatim. Now I have to do the Genuine Windows Advantage validation, and again every page request takes a long time because we are connected by satellite. And now we get to download. Is this going to work or does the program blow up at midnight December 31, 2006? This is not fun. I continue to do these silly things so you don't have to, but just now I am not much enjoying it. It would not be so bad if I had the cable modem running; the big problem is that anything interactive takes forever.
(If you haven't figured it out, I am writing this in Front Page on the communications machine while doing all that stuff on the Main Writing Machine; one reason to have two complete systems, keyboards, and monitors. You really can get things done on one while waiting for something to happen on the other.)
Well: eventually it all worked. Defender reinstalled itself, after no particularly annoying adventures other than those delays caused by the use of satellite communications. It all seems to be working painlessly; the download is free, and it does install once you give it "Genuine Advantage" and such like. And once that is done the system seems to be working properly again. Very odd.
NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: I will shortly have a New Year Message, and, we hope, some content in the subscriber only area. For those who recently subscribed and have not heard from me, stand by: I am processing subscriptions and enrolling subscribers as fast as I can. I've been going great guns on Inferno since the New Year began.
You will all get a Chaos Manor News Note with your user name and password Real Soon Now. My thanks to all those who told me they'd rather have me working on fiction than creating new content for subscribers only. I don't take that as an excuse to stop working on it, but I do feel better about the delays.
For a beginning: I'll put up the opening chapters of the new Inferno, and about a quarter of the new Mamelukes. I don't usually show people works in progress, and every whit of this is subject to change: perhaps even drastic change if it becomes necessary to weave a new character into a story. We had to do that with Lucifer's Hammer more than once, and in Footfall as well. It was much easier in Footfall because we were entirely working with computers by then, and we had Microsoft Word which makes it easy to compare and merge different versions: prior to that we had to use bit comparison programs and that wasn't simple or easy at all. Anyway, fair warning: early works in progress are not final. And I would need the publisher's permission to put up much more of the stories; we have advances on both books, and contracts.
I also have some recent photographs which I can put into photo-essay that I'll get into the subscriber area. But today I must: get more work done on INFERNO; I did a new scene yesterday and it needs rewrite so that it can go to Niven along with Crayolas so that he can put in color. It's one reason we work well together. Then I have to get the Mailbag done and off for review by my kitchen cabinet of advisors (if you wonder why I make fewer mistakes than some pundits, that's the reason; I have some really sharp people looking at everything before it ever goes public); do a draft of next week's column installment including orchids and onions (big orchids for VOPT and Falcon UPS, for example); take pictures for the column and get them into the system; deal with the mail, a couple of hundred items that I really should read and another couple of hundred I have to at least look at before I decide they don't get any attention); post mail on this web site; pay my bills; and then with the copious free time left over I can do content for subscribers (and, with luck, there will be new subscribers to enroll). After which I will do the newsletter.
Which is to say, I am dancing as fast as I can...
I see the lawyers are still trying to find clients who owned Apple stock and got rich off Steve Jobs, but will complain that Apple cheated them of money when it gave Jobs and people he thought key to resuscitating the company various weird stock option benefits.
Ye gods. Any judge who knows the score should fine the lawyers who take such cases. As to their clients: YOU GOT RICH OFF IT. Que mas desean Uds.?
And Time Warner Cable Modem is working again. The satellite gets to sleep again.
January 6, 2007
Old Christmas (for Armenian and certain other Orthodox)
As we noted on Christmas Day, the two dates for Christmas do not stem from the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar, but from different calculations of the day of the Annunciation, which stem from different calculations as to the date of the Crucifixion. Most journalist do not seem to know this or to care enough to do any research before writing on the subject, just as many skeptics blindly assume that there was some authority in the Church to appropriate a Roman pagan solstice holiday and make it Christmas; but in fact Christmas was celebrated on December 25, and Epiphany on January 6, long before Constantine made Christianity legal. But we have journalist history now, with little scholarship.
I am hard at work on the column.
|This week:||Sunday, January
(Celebration of Epiphany in Roman churches.)
I have posted new diatribes by Joanne Dow. I have also, I think, made that page wrap a bit smaller so that it doesn't need horizontal scrolling in most browsers. There are still some links that don't wrap properly. I post the diatribes because they are a good source: however much apologists may protest that Islam is a religion of peace, the incidents and pronouncements Ms. Dow collects are generally not addressed by those who speak for "moderate Islam." Until they are, the protestations have a bit of a hollow ring.
I am doing the column in Word 2007 on a Core 2 Duo VISTA machine. It can be frustrating. See reports in the column Tuesday.
Today is Marty Winston's Cherry Picks and several private shows of CES equipment in Las Vegas. Tomorrow night will be Show Stoppers. I will miss them; I don't much miss CES itself, but those exhibits of the best of CES are themselves worth the trip up.
This is the first year I have not been to that show in a long time. I expect reports from Alex and Eric and Ernest and Dan, and we'll see what we can get posted, but for show news for once you will have to rely on someone else.
Now back to the column.
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.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
If you subscribed:
If you didn't and haven't, why not?
Strategy of Technology in pdf format:
For the BYTE story, click here.
Search: type in string and press return.
The freefind search remains:
Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.