THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 469 June 4 - 10, 2007
Highlights this week:
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June 4, 2007
Return from Exile
We were well treated on our trip to the East. I have no complaints, not even about the TSA.
The Balticon people could not have been more gracious,. Mr. Dan Guy Fowlkes, an Army security programmer assigned to take care of us was a marvel of efficiency. The convention was lively without being strenuous. We had three book signing sessions and every one of them was overflowing, something authors much appreciate. I would have been willing to participate on more panels, but I also appreciate not being over-worked. I was harried in the weeks prior to going to Balticon and I wasn't as communicative with the committee as I might have been; they did a wonderful job in spite of that.
The rest of the trip went well. Our editor Bob Gleason was our host in DC, and was amazingly efficient. The book signing at Walter Reed Hospital went exceedingly well, the CIA tour was extensive and excellent. I had a great conversation with General Franks, a man I admire greatly. I was able to tell Secretary Cohen why he once was kept waiting in Speaker Gingrich's office for fortyfive minutes. I renewed a friendship with Larry Bond, and Larry and my son Phillip met (indeed they are neighbors in Fairfax). In a word it was a splendid trip. Still I am glad to return.
I will spend the next day or so catching up on mail; there is a lot of excellent mail, and it needs to be posted. Most will be done with short shrift because of the sheer volume, but some needs commenting.
The columns for Chaos Manor Reviews are going to be late. They'll be done by the end of the week, and then I'll be back on schedule. Meanwhile, I will be finishing Janissaries, but before I get that done I expect editorial comments on Inferno from our editor, our agent, and my wife, all of whom contribute to my works although most people don't see that. Niven has already made some changes to the text we handed in; most were cuts of needless phrases. In one case I restored them: the character is chatty and speaks redundantly. Otherwise they help the pace of the book.
We'll be off to our walk shortly. Then it's the grocery store: we are out of sugar for the oriole feeder. And then back to work. I have done some updates of Joanne Dow's Diatribes including starting a new page, but there is a lot left to do before I am caught up. There are fifty good letters that should be posted including documentation of anarcho-tyranny. I have some reports on meetings with the undersecretary of Homeland Security. The house looks as if it has been hit with a mail storm.
If I work steadily for a few hours I can catch up with some of this. Once I finish Janissaries and we get the acceptance payments for it and for Inferno, I'll have an income again, for the first time in a year. That can't hurt. Thanks to all of you who subscribed or renewed subscriptions. I got an amazing amount of work done in the last year, and it's largely due to you.
June 5, 2007
Jaguar and Land Rover owners will appreciate http://www.mez.co.uk/lucas.html thanks to Aleta.
I am still recovering from flu or cold or allergies depending on your views of it; I got it Sunday at Balticon and I still have it today 9 days later. But it's slowly clearing up. I will not be caught up here until it's gone. It's also hard to get back to work on anything.
I discover that the computer Niven usually works on doesn't seem to be putting out any Video. It's a relatively modern system, too. I have to haul it onto a work bench and look at it, and I just don't feel up to it. Fortunately it's not anything I have to hurry with. We finished Inferno except for edits and that doesn't require him to be here on a separate machine to begin with. It's an annoyance, though. I'll get to it later this week or next week.
I'm beginning to gear up to Mamelukes, but I won't start in earnest until I am sure of INFERNO. And before that we need to finish editing the new Introduction to OATH OF FEALTY which will be out next year in reprint. Good old story still holds up astonishingly well. It was #7 on the NYT Best Seller list a few years ago. I'll have to do that this week.
But mostly it's gearing up to Mamelukes. I will probably invent the rest of the back story so it won't be so hard to do volume five (which finishes Galloway on Tran) and make it easier to continue the saga as Tran takes to space in a few years. Won't Earth be surprised?
I see in the papers that Pakistan is uneasy to say the least. An ally with nukes, but we sure don't want to plant "democracy" there, do we? Do we really want to spread "democracy" across the world? Liberty, Equality, Fraternity! On the points of our bayonets, or at least out the barrels of our Abrams tanks, or in our depleted uranium slugs. A good part of the world doesn't like us much, and isn't subject to our media; our cultural weapons of mass destruction will take a while to penetrate there, and democracy will slow the penetration. We want LIBERAL Democracy for our enemies, but that's a bit harder to achieve with bayonets.
My apologies. My head isn't working well, and I suspect I would spout nonsense if I tried to say anything serious. I'll be back.
6 June 2007; The longest day.
Anniversary of the most complex project ever undertaken by the human species.
I told you so:
What will happen is that we will continue to spend billions trying to "fix" a system that accomplishes nothing (actually has negative results). The American public school system is designed to see to it that only the wealthy and/or determined will be able to secure a good education for their children; the rest, including the gifted and talented, will face primary hampers all their lives. These will include being in classes with "mainstreamed" handicapped, deficient, and delinquents who will received most of the attention of the teachers. These will include being drugged as ADD or ADHD or hyperactive if they are bored boys of above average intelligence with what we used to call "gumption". These will include watching the teacher trying to see that no child is left behind by making certain that no child gets ahead.
There will be exceptions. I once lived in a country club community (Coyote Hills, in Buena Park, I believe it was called). In its midst was a public school. The community wasn't quite gated -- there were gates but they were not manned -- but the school drew essentially from the local country club homes. (I was at the time a very young but quite senior aerospace scientist at North American, and we could afford to live there through a combination of unusual circumstances.) If you had asked me what I thought of the public school system I would have said it was wonderful. It was responsive to the community, all the kids were well disciplined -- their parents were afraid of having them expelled to go to the general Buena Park school system -- and since nearly all were from the middle and upper middle class most were of at least average intelligence. The teachers could and did afford to put some time into teaching the bright kids and keeping them from being bored to death. This was also before the drug companies managed to con everyone into the notion of ADD and ADHD as common disorders requiring treatment by uppers and pep pills.
I am sure that school no longer exists, but some like it still do, and those give the public school system a good name. They are also rare, and still part of the conspiracy to see that only the children of the relatively wealthy get decent educations. (Note that a majority of public school teachers do not send their children to public schools. Guess why.)
If you say it is monstrous to suggest that this is intentional, I ask, seriously, what you would do differently if it were intended.
There will be the usual bushwa defending the credentials system. There will be no evidence that it does good, and continual rediscovery of evidence that it does harm. And we will "fix" it by demanding even more "credential requirements" which can be satisfied by weekend "workshops" that pay even more money to the administrators who operate the system, and their pet "experts" and the professors of education.
And we never catch wise as we move on toward the world of Harrison Bergeron.
Apologies. I am still not caught up with anything. I did little to nothing yesterday. I am slowly recovering, but it's a lot slower process than I thought it would be. I do beg your indulgence.
We live in interesting times.
June 7, 2007
My head is still not working properly, although things improve slowly. It's probably time to get the antibiotics going.
You may find this interesting: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/06/04/213350.aspx
It has some good scenes with my son Richard.
I have got to get some work done today despite feeling rotten. I also have to pay the bills.
I did manage a reply to a letter about solar cycles and global warming. I hope it is not too intemperate. There's other mail as well. Just because my brain is taking a vacation doesn't mean my readers are asleep.
June 8, 2007
At noon yesterday I started a course of erythromycin, so I had taken three of the tablets before I went to bed at midnight. It seems to be helping. I still am not thinking very well, but I do think I detect some improvements.
Roberta has been reading Inferno II and is impressed. I will be incorporating her comments into the final manuscript. Perhaps it is because I have been thinking about the subject that I find the latest news thought provoking.
The newspapers are full of the Paris Hilton story. She has served about as long in actual confinement in jail as any other female convicted of a non-violent crime (the system is over crowded and the sheriff has been ordered by the Feds to clear out as many people as possible to home arrest or probation), but that's not enough for the judge, or for Rocky and the other publicity hungry LA politicians as well as all the other people who have nothing better to think about. Rampant egalitarianism is a national religion. Jacobinism is taught in every university in the land.
I can only wish that the judge gets his wish: unrelenting justice without mercy. For himself and his family as well as for Paris Hilton. Precisely why the people of California are better off with all the money spent keeping her in jail as opposed to confined under house arrest is not clear to me, but I am sure there are Jacobins who can explain it all to me. I wish them fulfillment of their wishes too. Unrelenting justice, justice without temperance or mercy.
I note that the wag who has replaced Rush Limbaugh today continues to make fun of Paris Hilton. I am sure it's amusing to do that. May he have unrelenting justice too.
Now kids are praying in school. Horrors!! What is this country coming to? Send in the Army, quickly, to suppress this monstrous behavior.
"he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States."
I thought that was in the Constitution. It took me a while to find it, and apparently no one else believes that it's there. Otherwise why do we need a new immigration bill? We got one last year. It closes the border. Illegal immigrants are illegally here. The law is very clear.
Why do we need a new bill?
"he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed"
Sure. Real Soon Now.
I had a call from a National Review writer about an article he is doing on Mr. Heinlein. I suppose I am the last of Robert's old friends. I tried to tell something about him. We'll see how the article comes out. I also got a call from National Public Radio. I wonder what they will do with what I said. At this point I guess I don't care any more. Spell my name right. It may sell some books.
The radio is full of Paris Hilton and the media carnival. Ye flipping gods. O J Simpson, Reggie the Alligator, and Paris Hilton. Ye flipping gods. John and Ken can not contain themselves. The media are going mad.
I wish them all fulfillment of their desires. Unremitting justice without compassion or mercy. May they have what they ask for.
Is there any truth to the rumor that some illegal immigrants go into emergency rooms and come out as donor parts? I am sure it is not true. It would be terrible if that rumor got out, wouldn't it?
Paris Hilton is no Marie Antoinette, but watching the spectacle on TV this morning I would not be surprised to see a guillotine in Macarthur Park, and to hear the howls of the mob for blood of an aristocrat. As if this Republic had not worse ills to contemplate. This is what seizes the attention of the masses and their minions of the media. Humiliating a silly spoiled girl is enough for the moment; but what if they've got the taste?
June 9, 2007
I have enough letters from those demanding the awful equality of the law for Paris Hilton. I need no more.
It has been clear to me from the beginning that the Paris Hilton situation was a lost opportunity: she could have been made to attend traffic school and the morgue parade, then make a film about what she had learned. That might actually have done some good, and have made use of her talents as well.
Instead, the jail system must be disrupted. I am sure some of those who have written me actually hope that she is physically abused in jail, but I doubt the authorities, who are well aware that since nearly all non-violent offenders are released early on parole (10% is higher than the average sentence for non-violent females, this due to overcrowding) wish that result. We know that the population she is placed in has a high percentage of violent predators. It is expensive to modify procedures in an already overcrowded facility to assure her safety.
And the undisguised joy of John and Ken, and of Rush Limbaugh's replacement today, and of many of the others commenting on this situation seems indistinguishable from the unattractive class bully who wants to humiliate the prom queen, and for about the same reason.
In any event the matter is done, presuming that the jail system is capable of protecting her from the violence-prone residue that remains in a jail system that routinely releases on parole nearly every conceivable candidate for parole. It will be costly. God knows what the cost will be if they fail to protect her. Perhaps the county can settle for a few million dollars.
I fear I take no pleasure in tormenting her. I would have preferred to find some way to enlist her talents in some more positive accomplishment. But then I never wanted harm to come to the prom queen who would not date me; I was more interested in finding some way to please the nerdette who would. Another of my peculiarities.
Those who are interested in the future may want to read an article about China, steel, and the Ruhr Valley.
I don't know the accuracy of these figures from the April ACCESS TO ENERGY, but they're pretty scary: the Actual Federal debt, including entitlement obligations, is approximately $50 trillion dollars. This is about $175,000 for each American; which is to say, this is about the net worth of the American people. The Federal government has borrowed money in an equal to all our assets.
It doesn't seem to matter which political party is in office. The spending continues. The question is, how much longer can this go on? "We owe it to ourselves" is a nice catch phrase, but who owes what to whom?
Meanwhile the trade deficit is about $1 Trillion a year: meaning that we want about $1 trillion a year of stuff other people make that we won't make for ourselves. What we do make doesn't seem to sell as well to others, so we balance things by selling assets. Only our entire net worth is owed by the Federal Government. Fortunately our overseas trading partners don't seem to know this, and since we no longer publish the money supply numbers (see here) the extent of our true inflation rate isn't immediately obvious.
One does wonder just how long we can run the printing presses and import stuff from China. China holds about $1 Trillion in next cash surpluses.
We haven't invested in a new nuclear power plant or oil refinery in decades. Out energy plant is slowly running down. We invest heavily in wind and solar power but that in total provides under 1% -- actually about 0.2% -- of energy supply. Increasing it by ten-fold -- not likely at all -- won't do much about the energy crisis. There are ways out although we aren't going to take them. You can learn more here.
Perhaps we would do better to bring the Army home and invest in expanding and retraining it. We may have to levy tribute on much of the world in order to survive. Given our public education system, the military services seem to be the most efficient way to train young people to do something useful. Conquest and tribute may be our best economic bet, since we don't seem to want to build energy plants or make useful products.
Fortunately the story telling business generally survives most economic hard times. It does get more competitive, though.
We do live in interesting times.
June 10, 2007
I am told that in addition to the other costs of the war, we have expended $200 billion in equipment that has not been replaced, leaving our armed forces short of gear and causing the army to play a shell game with vital equipment. This means reduced training. We are also accepting a lower standard of recruit in order to keep up enlistments, and allowing reenlistment of troops who would have been (honorably) discharged before the war. That latter doesn't concern me all that much, and a lot can be made of young men who the society has otherwise given up on; good soldiers can be made from such material.
But the lack of sufficient equipment to equip and train the legions is alarming.
I find that the antibiotics have not relieved my headaches and general malaise. I may be worse today than I have been since I came home. I have little energy. On the good side, I managed to rewrite the last page of INFERNO II, and it brought tears to my wife's eyes; a good sign. I have incorporated her invaluable suggestions into the book.
Now if I can just get the column written.
J Oerlemans Science 308 pp-675-677
will be of interest to those who are concerned about global warming. It needs careful reading.
It's a study of 169 glaciers, using pretty simple and verifiable data: the length of glaciers has been recorded in many places and over a long time. In many cases it's easy to see where the ice was as well as where it is now. The study appears to be careful and unbiassed.
The conclusion seems inescapable: there has been a warming trend from George Washington's time to present, it is steady, and is not at all correlated with CO2 in the atmosphere. Any computer model that fails to take this into account is clearly flawed. I'd go so far as to say any model that can't account for this unambiguous data is whompeyjawed.
Until this trend is explained, I would think one need pay little attention to the "scientists" involved with the present Global Warming Consensus; and I have not seen the global warming experts address this at all. Perhaps I missed it.
This does seem to be fairly conclusive. The Earth is warming. It has been warming since about 1800. The elevated CO2 levels did not appear until far later, and are not correlated with any dramatic warming period.
From a writers conference
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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