View 836 Tuesday, July 29, 2014
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
I was on TWIT Sunday afternoon from Larry Niven’s house. http://twit.tv/show/this-week-in-tech/468 He was on for a few minutes. It made for a good TWIT, and you might like it. Meanwhile I am pounding away at getting things back together for reviving Chaos Manor Reviews. Eric was over yesterday and we replaced the cable modem, provided by Time Warner when we first got cable internet – long time readers will remember it took years, and I used a number of gimmicks including having Dan build a Linux box dedicated to being what amounted to a firewall router for a commercial Wi-Fi company, then we had an EarthLink satellite; Chaos Manor is 19,000 feet from a DSL switch. But eventually we got Time Warner Cable, and it has worked ever since. TW is upgrading their fiber links, and out at Eric’s house in Castaic he got five time his Internet speeds simply by replacing the modem with a newer model. We thought we would try that here. Full story in Review; bottom line is we improved what’s here by about 10%. They haven’t improved their cable hardware in my area for a while, but the 10% improvement in speed is solid.
That took up Sunday and Monday. Today I got the urge to get going on Mamelukes, the next story in the Janissaries series. I had 150,000 words, and an idea on how to end this book; so today I spent the afternoon up in the Monk’s cell with the new and improved ThinkPad with the new SSD hard drive. Worked like a charm. Literally. And since we have installed new Wi-Fi repeaters throughout the house, I get better Wi-Fi up in the Monk’s Cell (actually the room inherited in turn by the oldest of the four boys as they grew up and one after the other left the house) where I do fiction work. No phone up there, and no Internet – that is, Wi-Fi works well enough to let me use Google to do quick research on such things as Venetian 14th Century warships, but it’s not fast enough for games, and I don’t do amusements up there. And now I have 151,024 words, and we’re approaching the final battles, after which there’s some afterwards on political settlements… Anyway, that used up today.
And tomorrow morning early I get to go out to DMV and spend the day renewing my driver’s license, so I’ll have to turn in early.
There was a 60 foot geyser on Sunset near UCLA, where a water main broke. This being Los Angeles, aka Detroit Southwest, it took the DWP an hour to get someone out there, and while it’s no longer a geyser, the water is – ha. As I write this, the radio announces it has stopped. It started at 1530 this afternoon. Flooded the lower decks of several parking structures. Cars lost. Los Angeles has highly paid city workers, but not a lot of city work gets done. We have about the worst streets in a big city of anywhere including Detroit. We have a pretty good police department and it is fairly efficient, except they are threatening to strike for more pay and the politicians have spent all the money from the highest taxes in the country. Ah well, the Fire Department works well. Not a lot else does.
Meanwhile in Long Beach an elderly man was attacked and beaten up in a home invasion robbery. He managed to get a gun, and shot the female who was whaling on him. Her fiancé ran away, and she staggered out the door, shouting “Don’t shoot me again, I’m pregnant.” He’d been beaten pretty badly, and he had no sympathy. He shot her again. The police are trying to decide what to charge him with.
The is the Long Beach Police Department which found it good policy when four patrol police shot a man sitting on his friend’s porch holding a garden hose nozzle that looked like a gun. He was drunk and had gone to his friend’s house to avoid trying to drive home, but no one was home so he was sitting on the porch with the hose nozzle. The Long Beach Police patrolmen responded to a suspicious person call by sneaking up on him, not announcing their presence so there was no way for him to know they were there, and when he held the nozzle in a shooting position, they all four opened fire on him, killing him instantly with multiple gunshot wounds. This was held to be within police policy and no charges were ever filed.
We live in interesting times.
I am working on an essay about income discrepancy and how the income of the top 1% is rising, but that of the middle class is not rising or not rising much, and that of the working class is about the same as it was many years ago. Of course I grew up in a different era, and I see things differently.
For one thing, the poverty level now includes access to and ownership of stuff that my middle class family could never have afforded: like cataract operations that don’t lay you up and render you unable to drive at night. I drove Robert Bloch (author of Psycho among many other great stories and movies) to the big Studio Invitational opening of Star Wars because Bloch’s cataract operations rendered him unable to drive at night; that was half a lifetime ago; he wasn’t upper 1% but he was upper middle class, and he couldn’t afford better cataract surgery. I can, and so can almost everyone else now. I’m aware of this because it looks as if I’m going to have to let them do that to me. Niven and my friend Michael Galloway have had theirs done, and it was relatively painless and over in a day (a day for each eye), and they drive all right…
When I was growing up, and during the great boom periods following World War II, no one on earth could have afforded the radiation treatments that cured my brain cancer in 2008. I have more teeth than almost anyone my age when I was growing up. My income may not be growing as rapidly as that of Bill Gates – indeed, it’s not growing faster than inflation, another incentive for me to finish Janissaries – but I can buy things with what I have that Bill Gates could not have afforded back in the 1980’s. My iPhone is more powerful than all the computers anywhere when I first started playing about with the IBM 650. Anyway, there is more to income discrepancy than gets written about. Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton wrote a bit on the subject; it’s not something to be ignored; but it’s just not true that the rising tide in America doesn’t float all boats. Much of what comes as entitlements to those in poverty would have been thought wealth beyond the dreams of avarice when I was growing up…
Another new item: does Democracy promote rule of law? And of course it does not. Indeed, the prospect of America becoming a Democracy frightened most of the Delegates to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Democracy is the road to poverty. We used to joke that when the legislature is in session no man’s property is safe, but as America transforms herself from a Republic to a Democracy, as she is rapidly doing, that ceases to be a joke. Rule of law is necessary for there to be a stable Democracy; but Democracy does away with rule of law whenever possible.
Case in point:
Judge Ruling Prevents Donald Sterling from Appealing to Keep Clippers Franchise
By Matt Fitzgerald , Featured Columnist
Jul 28, 2014
The Los Angeles Clippers have distanced themselves considerably from disgraced owner Donald Sterling, whose bid to block the sale of the franchise was denied on Monday.
According to Billy Witz of The New York Times, probate court judge Michael Levanas ruled in favor of Sterling’s wife, Shelly, who arranged for the Clippers to be sold for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. It marked the most expensive team sale in NBA history.
Sterling’s awful crime was to tell his colored mistress that he did not want her being escorted to Clippers games by black athletes. He told her this in private, but he was being recorded, and somehow the recordings became public, and Sterling’s wife wants to sell the Clippers; so she managed to get him declared incompetent.
Sterling is no pleasant person, and his ownership of the Clippers is bad news for the other stockholders, and the team manager, and the players, and the fans; it’s undemocratic to allow him to keep this team which, under his ownership and coached by Doc Rivers (black) got into the playoffs this year after being a joke underdog in Los Angeles for many years.
And since this decision to fling Sterling out – after all, he’ll get a share of the $2 Billion Steve Ballmer is paying for the Clippers – well, it’s popular. It’s what everyone (including me, except that it makes a wreck of a vital principle of limits to government) wants, well, hurrah. Who needed that rule of law crap to begin with. But of course the lack of any tradition of rule of law is what has produced disasters in places that America has expended blood and treasure to rescue from tyranny.
If you establish a democracy, you must in due time reap the fruits of a democracy. You will in due season have great impatience of the public burdens, combined in due season with great increase of the public expenditure. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. You will in due season find your property is less valuable, and your freedom less complete.
And it’s bed time.
Things I should write about, but at the moment I can only remind you of.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.