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This week:


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Monday, July 16, 2007

I should be writing a column today but I have many other things to get done. The Chaos Manor Reviews mailbag is quite good, though. I'll get the column done when I get it done. Inferno comes first and before that I need to run some errands.

Our morning walk took us past Ed Begley's house so I got a couple of snapshots of his new skylight and wind generator.


There are three of these small skylights. Ed says they light up the rooms nicely, and he's been on the roof flooding them with the hose but hasn't found any leaks. The little vertical wind generator produces 500 Watts when it's working (which isn't all that often in Studio City). It wouldn't be worth while unless you have a solar power system and batteries and such like; but of course he already had that.

My guess is that the interest on the capital investments of his energy-independent house would pay the electrical bills for most of the people on his block, but of course that's not the point he's trying to make.

While we were out I got a shot of Sable and Cantura street. Cantura is the street where they filmed Malcolm in the Middle, and is often used when the media want stock shots of the southern part of the San Fernando Valley. Interestingly, when they did the pilot of the (never produced) TV series "Sherman Oaks" it was filmed here in Studio City, much of it on Cantura street. Sherman Oaks is the name of the next bedroom community west of Studio City. Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, are all strung out along Ventura Blvd., which used to be Highway 101, the main highway to Santa Barbara and points north. Then came the Ventura Freeway, about half a mile north of Ventura Blvd., and Ventura was no longer a highway.

We used to have a lot of motels in Studio City, but over the years I have been here they  deteriorated. No longer being on a highway, they had no tourist business; and as the Valley became filled up with houses, while the freeway system made it easy to get here, there was no real need for motel housing for actors and film crews. After a while the motels became eyesores and cheap assignation destinations, and the residents association worked to get rid of them. They are mostly gone now; a couple have become expensive assignation destinations with various high tech sex toys and hot tubs, all discreetly advertised.

For all that, Studio City remains a village, and in my judgment the best place to live in Los Angeles.

And now I have work to do. There's some mail.

I note that the web is very slow today; it's taking a lot of time to upload this.


Subject: A new spacesuit


MIT have designed a new spacesuit giving the wearer greatly improved mobility.


John Edwards

I expect it's new to them. I wore such a suit in 1962 or thereabouts, and I have described such suits in many novels including Birth of Fire and Exiles to Glory. Ah well.

There is much discussion in mail.


The Internet is hideously slow today. Anyone else notice? Or is it only here? Everything takes forever.




Monday   TOP    Current Mail

This week:


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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy Anniversary Roberta   


There's work to do, and we have the Hollywood Bowl symphony tonight. And I have errands.

  Be sure to read the report of our formerly anonymous California High School Student. This is a busy day.


The Internet was as slow as glue today. I just went in and power cycled both modem and router. That seems to have helped.

Just ran across this


And this raises an interesting question:

Virtual stupidity.


Roland Dobbins

and this

Lind: The Folly of Maximalist Objectives.


Roland Dobbins


And if you missed this...



Tuesday   TOP  Current Mail


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Wednesday,  July 18, 2007

Couldn't sleep. Cleaning up old mail.


Afternoon. Hiked with Niven, then lunch. We know what needs to be done with Inferno II. About half done. I will put my sentiments on the church scandals in Inferno...

There's a lot of good mail from last night and today.


: Quote of the Day...

As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.

-- Dave Barry





Wednesday  TOP  Current Mail



This week:


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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Feeling safer already:




"The FBI is investigating an alleged human smuggling operation based in Chaparral, N.M., that agents say is bringing "Iraqis and other Middle Eastern"
individuals across the Rio Grande from Mexico."


We are Grinding on Inferno II. Long hike (6 miles) with Niven yesterday; I think we have solved all the problems in the sense that we understand what needs doing. Doing it well and cleverly isn't as easy as understanding what must be done -- or perhaps it is. Actually doing it is merely work and requires professional writing skills, which God knows we have if any such thing exists. Understanding what the problems are and what must be done about them is more in the "creative" side of things.

I suspect that "creative writing" classes may be of some help in learning how to gain such insights. I wouldn't know; I've never been part of one. I was able to avoid Bonehead English when I entered university. Perhaps that was a mistake, but I don't think so. Instead of English Composition (I think that was the title that the University of Iowa used for Bonehead English) I got core courses in literature. Greeks and the Bible, Masterpieces of English Literature, and two others whose exact titles I have forgotten. And of course I had term papers. I was required to write, and fairly frequently.

I doubt I would have learned much in English Composition, but that is largely due to the through training I got from the Christian Brothers in high school.

My point in all this is that those who want to write need to know the mechanics of writing. That is a learnable skill for a large part of the population, probably 60% and possibly larger. Being able to write clear and comprehensible sentences can be learned. Learning what to write about may or may not be a teachable skill.

I have other thoughts on this in my essay on how to get my job.

On the other hand, I do seem to be missing my own deadlines. Let's say that the Chaos Manor Reviews columns are monthly. We try to have something every week and often manage that.


We have mail on Space Activity Suits, and on recruiting foreign nationals.

A reader discovers The Lays of Ancient Rome...







Thursday   TOP  Current Mail



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FridayJuly 20, 2007

Moving on to Inferno. I will probably be looking for a new telephone service. AT&T seems to have become The Phone Company without Bell Labs. More in the column.

I'm going for a walk. There's mail.


Once we walked on the Moon. When I was in high school in the 1940's I read science fiction and knew that I would live to see the first man on the Moon. I did not know I would live to see the last one.

NASA ate the dream. It is not lack of money. It is NASA, turf wars, Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

We have spent enough since Apollo to be half way to Alpha Centauri. We cannot even go back to the Moon.








Friday   TOP  Current Mail


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Saturday,  July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Day

Thank you, Joanne Rowling, for getting people to read...







Saturday   TOP  Current Mail

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

The lesson for the day:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary,  which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
   But Martha was cumbered about with much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
   And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:38-42


The Sons of Martha
Rudyard Kipling

The Sons of Mary seldom bother,
    for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother
    of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once,
    and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons,
    world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages
    to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages;
    it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly;
    it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly
    the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains ``Be ye removèd.''
    They say to the lesser floods ``Be dry.''
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd---
    they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit---
    then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it,
    pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger Death at their gloves' end
    where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend:
     they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear,
    they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer,
    and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden;
    from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden---
    under the earthline their altars are---
The secret fountains to follow up,
    waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup,
    and pour them again at a city's drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them
    a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them
    to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways,
    so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days
    that their brethren's ways may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood
    to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood
    some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven,
    not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given
    to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd---
    they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd,
    and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet---they hear the Word---
    they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and---
    the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!


I have done the letter column, and I am doing next week's column, having skipped a week. Then I get to work on Inferno. And then I get to read Harry Potter. I've read the first few chapters, including where Ginny decides to give Harry a very memorable birthday present.


I hate to say I told you so, but I have no choice. It was stupid to invade Iraq. National Review and the egregious Frum to the contrary, this took no brains to understand. It only took some analysis of upsides and downsides, and questioning the "intelligence" provided by Chalabi the Thief and the Iraqi Exile community.

I'll be working on an essay on the disastrous consequences of the Iraq invasion, and the dreary alternatives we now face as a result of the neocon Jacobinism that sent us in there. Note that the difference between Republicans and Democrats was that while both professed to believe in Jacobinism -- Clinton sent us in to bomb Serbs in order to force them to make territorial concessions to Albania -- the neocons got control of the government and acted as if they really believed their Jacobin slogans. Iraq would fall, and the people would rise up and welcome us as liberators. Within every heart burns this desire for freedom. We would bring them freedom. They would not use the freedom to count coup on their enemies and settle old scores. Instead they would submit to the rule of law, vote for social progress, and all would be well, and all would be well. We would have an ally in the Middle East, a place to build watch towers and station the fleet East of Suez, and all would be well, and all would be well.

Instead we have boosted the fortunes of al Qaeda; formerly merely a detested surreptitious ally of Saddam who saw them only as a means of striking back at his enemies, al Qaeda has become something else, and the resources we might have used in Afghanistan to end al Qaeda forever when we had them on the run were squandered in Mesopotamia, so that we did not complete the Afghan recovery.

It is still the case that the best place to fight your enemies is on someone else's territory. When you upset a wasp nest you must kill the wasps, or they will sting you. See mail.



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