Mucking About With Computers; Do WE Go to War? Climate and Religion;

View from Chaos Manor, Tuesday, February 24, 2015


I continue to rebuild my life as I move into the downstairs office. After all, I wrote three best sellers and the first years of the BYTE columns here, so we know I can work here, and old Zeke, who happened to be a Z-80 computer, was much larger what with his two 8” disk drives, and the big S-100 buss box, and a big monitor that despite its size displayed 24 lines of 64 characters, about what a page of manuscript had. So now I have AlienArtifact, a fairly modern Windows 7 system in a Thermaltake gaming chassis that gave it its name. It’s quiet, cool, and large enough to service a small village– Eric’s line not mine, alas. There’s also Precious, a Surface Pro 2 which will get a docking station but just now has only Wi-Fi; and therein lies a story of what I have been doing today.

All my work with Precious, the Surface, was done just before my stroke and that part of my memory is mostly gone; so I’m learning to use it all over again. Which is fine, but a bit frustrating. I’m old fashioned and still use ancient tools like mapping network disk drive names to local drive letters, That means you need a Network, but all the Ethernet cables are upstairs, and my Wi-Fi net has a few dark spots, one of them, of course, being in this part of the downstairs office. Precious logged herself on to the Net automatically . We have several because we have Ethernet-over-power-lines in several rooms. Modern portables are supposed to choose the best signal, and Precious chose the one with several bars that kooks to me like the best, but it was “limited”, meaning that it didn’t work at all. After putting up with that for several days I decided to muck about, and caused Precious to log on to one of the stations with fewer bars. Presto. But since she had been off line for days—weeks, actually—she spent the next hour or so updating herself. I expect we have a slower than usual Wi-Fi connection. But eventually she was up, and on-line, but she didn’t see many other machines, and all of them remain upstairs. She saw Bette, an older Windows 7 system built as a sweet spot machine – best performance at mid level price – several years ago. Works fine and damned useful because she was the main communications machine right up to my stroke, but she’s upstairs.

All this frantic activity is in aid of getting Dragon speech to text running, preferably on Precious. Well, Dragon makes its program for the Mac, and the MacBook Pro is working fine down here and is connected by cable to the Net. And the reason I can’t just use the cable from the MacBook on Precious is that I Skype with the Mac, so it couldn’t be permanent and I am trying to rebuild my life without kludges. So let’s see how the Mac works with my system.


If you do splat-k (command-k) on a Mac in the finder, you get a list of what machines it can see, It doesn’t update that list. I did command-k and got a list of all the systems the MacBook could see, and of course they were all upstairs. Fortunately Peter Glaskowsky was on line and pointed out that there is, in the little window, an option to browse. It’s small and hard for me to see, but it’s there, and behold! There was AlienArtifact. Attempting to connect got me an invitation to say with what user name and password. Both the Mac and AlienArtifact have the same password (which is not my Apple ID) but, as I discovered, Apple machines here have different user names. It didn’t see Precious, the Surface Pro, ay all.

So I mucked about with Precious. Eric Pobirs warned me that the default settings on Windows 8 and the alpha test version of 10 are not to be visible, and mucking about with those settings on the Surface Pro let her be visible; a few minutes later I could connect both to the Mac and to AlienArtifact and both are now visible on the internal net.

It’s not a complete happy ending. I like to set drive letter designations to networked drives; I’m used to it. When I tried to set Precious to see AlienArtifact’s D drive – where I keep all the data, C: being f fast solid state – I could set it all right, but it never showed in This Computer on the Surface Pro. I did it several times, make P: be AlienArtifact D:, and it always seemed to do it, but there was never any sign of it. Then just for the hell of it I used Norton Windows Commander – which is really a command line system – to log in to P:, and it promptly showed the D: Directory. And that’s where we are now.


I’ll end here for today and keep trying tomorrow. The goal is to get Dragon Naturally Speaking on a machine I can use to produce 1,000 word or more by talking them, and not spend all my time hunched over a keyboard clumsily hitting multiple keys and then correcting the sentence – and forgetting what I was going to say.

I tend to think in paragraphs, and if I can get an entire paragraph into script without numerous typos I may get back to productivity. Incidentally, the original Zeke had a VDM video board  board designed by Lee Felsenstein,

With any luck I’ll start on Dragon tomorrow. Wish me well.


Pledge week continues, which means I get to bug you about subscribing. This site is free to everyone, but if we don’t get enough subscriptions I can’t keep doing it. We conduct rational discussions on current issues, mostly high tech, plus we try to find items of wide interest to educated people. By educated I don’t necessarily exclude academics, but many of you didn’t go that route. After all, when I did the BYTE column, it was for users. Anyway, I bug you about subscribing when KUSC, the LA good music station, holds their pledge drive, but we don’t have advertising here, and usually I leave you alone.

I’m not after eating money, and if you can’t afford to be one of my patrons, I still want you as a reader; but do consider subscribing if you have not done so, and if you haven’t renewed in a while this would be a good time to do it.

Thanks to those who already subscribed or renewed this week.


It’s not worth a war over Ukraine

It’s not worth a war over Ukraine

I’m getting sick and tired of neocons arguing that we need to arm Ukraine, and train its troops, and confront Russian nationalism/imperialism/whateverism.  They’re trying to play us for suckers.
Consider these realities.  First, Christopher Booker:

Over Ukraine, I cannot recall any issue in my lifetime when the leaders of the West have got it so hopelessly wrong. We are treated to babyish comparisons of President Putin to Hitler or Stalin; we are also told that this crisis has only been brought about by Russia’s “expansionism”. But there was only one real trigger for this crisis – the urge of the EU continually to advance its borders and to expand its own empire, right into the heartland of Russian national identity: a “Europe” stretching, as David Cameron once hubristically put it, “from the Atlantic to the Urals”.
The “expansionism” that was the trouble was not Putin’s desire to welcome the Russians of Crimea back into the country to which they had formerly belonged; or to assist the Russians of eastern Ukraine in their determination not to be dragged by the corrupt government in Kiev they despised into the EU and NATO. It was that of an organisation founded on the naive belief that it could somehow abolish nationalism, but which finally ran up against an ineradicable sense of nationalism that could not simply be streamrollered out of existence. We poked the bear and it responded accordingly.

Next, Chris Martenson lays it on the line.

As I’ve written previously, the West, especially the US, was instrumental in toppling the democratically elected president of Ukraine back in February 2014. US officials were caught on tape plotting the coup, and then immediately supported the hastily installed and extremist officials that now occupy the Kiev leadership positions.
In short, the crisis in Ukraine was not the result of Russia’s actions, but the West’s. Had the prior president, Yanukovych, not been overthrown, it’s highly unlikely that Ukraine would be embroiled in a nasty civil war. Relations between Russia and the West would be in far better repair.
Russia, quite predictably and understandably, became alarmed at the rise of fascism and Nazi-sympathetic powers on its border. Remember the repeated statements by Kiev officials recommending extermination of the Russian speakers who make up the majority living in eastern Ukraine? Were a parallel situation happening in Canada, for example, I would fully expect the US to be similarly and seriously interested and involved in the outcome.
The only people seemingly surprised by this predictable Russian reaction toward protecting its people and border interests are the neocons at the US State Department who instigated the conflict in the first place. In my experience, these are dangerous people principally because they seem to lack perspective and humility.

There’s more at the link.  It’s well worth reading.
I submit the following points.

  1. The US has no vital strategic interest in Ukraine worth defending with the blood of our troops.
  2. There is no possibility whatsoever of the USA sustaining a major expeditionary war so far from our bases, and so near to our potential enemy’s, and with such fragile lines of communication.
  3. Russia is not Iraq or Afghanistan. We could destabilize the former with horse-riding Special Forces operators and bombing raids.  We could conquer the latter with lightning strikes and a ‘Thunder Run‘.  We cannot do likewise to the world’s second-largest military power.

All those urging active, armed US intervention in Ukraine are seeking to drag this country into a war we can’t win.  We allow them to do so at our mortal peril.

I don’t agree with all of that, but it’s well stated. Putin is a patriotic Russian politician. He wishes he had a Tsar. The West is right in defending Poland and the Baltic Republics, and Poland has chosen to be part of Europe. As to the Balkans, the United states has no clear interests, and Russian Pan-Slavic sentiments are as valid as European anti-Slav feelings. Europe is restoring the Empire; where its Capitol will be is unclear. And they need American muscle to encircle Russia; why we are involved in the territorial dispute of Europe is hard to fathom. The original purpose of NATO was the COLD WAR. Later it was to sit on Fritz for the mental ease of France. Why we needed alliances with small nations close to Russia for the security of the US has not been explained.

We are at war with the Caliphate. Should we not fight that war?


Climate science settled (again)

Just in case your many correspondents haven’t already sent you the info, here is a link to a new peer-reviewed paper that puts a few more nails in the various IPCC reports.

Chuck Kuhlman

Outgoing UN IPCC Chief reveals global warming ‘is my religion and my dharma’

IPCC Chair Pachauri forced out at UN climate panel after sexual harassment complaint

Pachauri’s resignation letter on religion: ‘For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.’

UN IPCC critic Journalist Donna Laframboise responds: ‘Yes, the IPCC – which we’re told to take seriously because it is a scientific body producing scientific reports – has, in fact, been led by an environmentalist on a mission. By someone for whom protecting the planet is a religious calling.’

Hello Jerry,

I ran across a link to this on Dr. Judith Curry’s blog:

I think that it is worth reading.

Bob Ludwick

: The CELESTIAL Convergence: ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues – Hudson River Freezes Over In New York, 120 Miles Of 1.5 FEET OF THICK SNOW; Minnesota Records A “TEETH-CHATTERING” -41C Degrees!

The CELESTIAL Convergence: ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues – Hudson River Freezes Over In New York, 120 Miles Of 1.5 FEET OF THICK SNOW; Minnesota Records A “TEETH-CHATTERING” -41C Degrees!

Of particular interest, the Hudson River has frozen solidly enough in some places that George Washington’s cannons could be brought across again.

Charles Brumbelow

I understand that the Hudson froze over for perhaps the first time in 75 years, although it regularly did so in the early 1800’s. That’s Global Warming for you. Of course it’s getting warmer: but how much? But I would look for alternate sources on the conclusions. We know it’s getting warmer, but how much? And where does all this cold come from?


Was the Black Plague spread not by rats, but by giant gerbils?


Roland Dobbins

So one more thing we knew for sure in school is open to doubt>\?



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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