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Monday, March 10, 2008

0550 Sleepless in Studio City.

I seem to be in a state of restless exhaustion. Took Sable for a full two miles at 0130 after I filed the International Edition of the column and sent the draft of the mailbag off to the advisors for comments. I was able to sleep some, from about 0200 to o330 and again from 0400 to now. Restless legs: I can run in place while lying down and sometimes that lets me sleep.

Considerable indigestion. Apologies for those who think this is too much information. It needs recording, and my mail indicates that keeping this public log is of some help to others with similar problems, so I'll continue it.

Voice is better. You can hear me on TWIT: it's number 135. It was an interesting TWIT session.

Yesterday was pleasant, with a visit from our old friend, colleague, and editor Paul Schindler.

I'll try lying down and see if I can sleep again. First milk of magnesia...


Payment Problem

For those who want to subscribe: EarthLink keeps notifying us that our security certificate has expired. We keep trying to buy the renewal. They keep being unable to let us do that. It is very frustrating.

Meanwhile many want to subscribe by credit card or buy Roberta's reading program and find they can't do that. The only remedies we have just now are Paypal and paper mail. I apologize, but we don't seem to be able to do anything about this. We'd gladly pay for the Certificate if EarthLink would just get its bugs fixed and allow us to do so. They're working on it and will have it Real Soon Now. It's only been a week and perhaps there are holidays in Bangalore.

To pay by Paypal just send money to jerryp@jerrypournelle.com at Paypal; tell us precisely what it is for (renewal of subscription, order for The Literacy Connection reading program, or even enrollment in the $100 Platinum Subscriber category) and send the money. Paypal works fine here in the US and in most foreign countries, although I understand that some have problems with it.

Or you can write an old fashioned check and send to

Dr. Jerry E. Pournelle
Chaos Manor / PMB 70
4804 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
Valley Village, CA 91607

My apologies. I sure don't want to make it difficult for you to send me money!

To those who have joined the Platinum Subscribers ($100/year) my thanks. I am not sure what all you'll receive but there will be benefits as well as my gratitude.

Do understand, though, that the bread and butter here is the regular and patron subscriber, and again my thanks to all of you who have subscribed and renewed year after year. Quite literally neither this log nor Chaos Manor Reviews would exist without you.

Public radio claims about 4% subscribers. If we could do that well, it would be wonderful. Our subscription rate isn't that high, though, and Leo Laporte tells me his subscriber rate is down around 1%. Do not take my saying this for ingratitude. I am vary thankful to all those who took the trouble to subscribe. Some of you have been with me since I began this experiment, long before BYTE on line declined to renew my contract and Chaos Manor Reviews was started as a place for my column. You have my great thanks.

For those who don't subscribe, I'd rather have you as a reader than have you go away out of guilts. I am not after your rent money or your eating money. I know times are bad out there, and I think they are going to get a lot worse. Not for all of us, but this housing bubble was severe and the politicians will pump out more money -- and thus more inflation -- so it doesn't go from Recession to Depression on their watch. But some are going to continue to do well. Most of my readers were smart enough not to go into debt to the eyeballs and use the "rising value" of their house as an ATM from which to borrow out money for current bills or buying Stuff from China. At least I certainly hope so...

Anyway, if you want to subscribe, renew, or to order Roberta's reading program (which WORKS), Paypal will let you pay them by credit card, and you can explain it all to me. And if you just want to subscribe or renew:


And if you want to enroll in the Platinum Patron program, just tell me you've done so, but you'll have to trust me to find some perks. I've got some volunteers working on some of that.


1520: I got to the Kaiser Sunset treatment center early and was called in early. The nurse/technician told me that Dr. Wang wants to see me tomorrow after the zapping, so they would be taking some pictures.

Zapping seems a bit longer now, longer count when I hear the buzz. There are two. For the first the machine is already set up and they move the table with the mask holding me rigidly in place on it. It's a bit claustrophobic, of course, so I think happy thoughts. After the first zap the massive X-Ray machine moves to the other side of my head, and there's another 10 - 15 second zap. And then they come release me.

Today after the second zap they came and loaded film, and they took three pictures, repositioning the big X-Ray unit each time. Then it was over, and it was still well before my actual scheduled appointment time.

I came home to play with my new Apple Mac AIR, which is gorgeous. Then I had network problems, don't know why, and had to do ipconfig /release and ipcongfig /renew on my machines before they could connect to the Internet. Finished the Chaos Manor Reviews March Mailbag part 2, and sent that off for proofing.

Now to get today's Chaos Manor Mail up. There's a lot, some of it important. The Chaos Manor Reviews column Part 2 is already finished and should be put up tonight or tomorrow. And then I can do fiction.


1600 Beginning to install the Air.

It offers to migrate from another computer. I am having problems letting it see the iMac.

Macs always make me feel stupid, and this is no exception. I am stuck at Migration Assistant on the iMac: it endlessly tells me to quit other applications, then trundles when I continue, but I don't know of any other applications that are open. I am damned weary of going through this cycle, and I think the Mac OS X was not well thought out: if it wants me to quit something it should tell me what to quit. But it doesn't. It just says do it, trundles, and tells me that again.

I am beginning to hate this. Macs hate me and have since I did not care for the Lisa and the Mac 128...

OKAY, pull down the menu under the WiFi symbol and tell the iMac to join the Airporter net. But meanwhile the Migration Assistant is still stuck at telling me to quite applications but it will not tell me what applications are open. I do not think there are any. But all it does it give me that one damned screen that if I continue will trundle and tell me to quite applications.

I am really beginning to hate Mac OS X. The error messages in this case make Windows HELP look useful.

I guess I will start over with the Air and configure it manually, then see what I can do to get it talking to the iMac. At the moment they aren't speaking.

I will go back and try to set up the Air manually. It demands a wireless connection; there is no wired Ethernet connector.

But in fact the problems seem to be with Windows, not Macs.


The weekly Mailbag is now on line at Chaos Manor Reviews.


OK problems solved. The secret is to set it up manually and THEN do the migrations once the networking is taken care of. If all you have is Macintosh stuff, then you can probably do it on the fly, but if you have to work through a Windows network, the Macs will play nice, but first you have to deal with Windows yourself. Then when the Macs see each other they fall in love.

We have a dinner appointment so I'm off, but the Mac Air story has a happy ending, and Great Heavens the Air is COOL!!!






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Tuesday, March 11, 2008   

0025: I will see Dr. Wang today after my noon zapping.

The Mac Air is working fine.. I carried it down to the Starbucks on my midnight walk, and I was able to log on to the T-Mobile hot spot. I find that T-Mobile handles Windows software much better than it does Mac software. It drops Mac connections with some regularity, and in general you have to do a lot more fussing to get automatic connections to T-Mobile with the Air or with an iPhone. I never have that problem with Windows.


0400 Sleepless in Studio City

McCain and Conservatives

John McCain is the Republican nominee. Nothing we can do will change that.

McCain likes to pose as a maverick, but he is a third generation Country Club Republican who grew up in Washington political society. He is solidly aligned with the Country Club Liberal wing of the party, which has never been much good for conservatives; and his personal history shows he will do much to remain in office, and one supposes that means he will do much to get it. He was a spoiled brat in his youth, but he did go to Annapolis, and he did not shirk combat duty. The Legions see him as one of themselves. If this sounds a bit like Mark Anthony, so be it; but he hasn't Anthony's brains or ruthlessness, which is just as well.

McCain cannot win without the support of the Conservatives. Indeed he cannot win without the enthusiastic support of the conservatives. He will also need the votes of the Republican party, the independent conservatives who will generally vote Republican, and some Democrats. In a word heís going to need much of the old Reagan coalition; but like all the Country Club Republicans, he hasnít any real troops. The liberal wing of the Republican Party is good at raising money and using hired campaign workers, but it hasnít any real party building strength. It doesnít inspire enthusiasm or zeal.

McCain will gather a number of centrist and conservative Democrats, and he will do that without any need for movement Conservatives to be involved; but without us he wonít be able to stir the base and get out the vote. Many will sit on their hands unless motivated by the conservatives.

He needs us. Now: what do we want?

We are not going to get a movement Conservative. McCain is no Goldwater and never will be. He is a Washington politician with deep ties to the liberal establishment and the country club Republicans. He is not merely soft but squishy on immigration, he is committed to an insane campaign reform effort, and he is not unfriendly to the self-contradictory notion of "Big Government Conservatism" and "Compassionate Conservatism" on a Federal level.

Note that I am not denouncing the idea of compassion. For a man to love his country, his country ought to be lovely, and no country is lovely when there are people in misery in its streets. Moreover, there are things government can do to make the country more lovely. However, these are seldom things that the National Government can do, and in fact it's not often the state governments can do much. These are matters for local government, and even more so for what Tocqueville called "the associations": non-government organizations in Tocqueville's America and long afterward up into my lifetime doing much of the relief work, civic improvement, hospitals and food services, clinics, shelters, missions: the YMCA and YWCA when they were real. The Boy Scouts, Lions, Eagles, Moose, Masons, Knights of Columbus, Rotary, Optimists -- you get the idea. To the extent that the Federal government acts with these it is to suppress them, and to replace them, and this is a disastrous trend for freedom. Having said that, I doubt that McCain will understand, agree, or even care. His view of Big Government Conservatism is not likely to be much different from that of Bush II.

However: he has made a bid for Conservative support. Part of that bid is a promise to appoint strict constructionist judges to the Supreme Court. If he will do that, much can be done to dismantle the bureaucratic suppression of the associations.

One great threat to local institutions is illegal aliens. Hospitals, privately funded by charities, are required to take all comers to emergency rooms: and soon they must close because they can't afford to be free clinics. Illegal immigrants swamp city services. San Diego is bankrupt because of illegals. Los Angeles is forced to raise taxes. Allies of the illegals take key positions in the California legislature and hold the people hostage. "We want more money," they say; and they will never give up.

McCain has horrible positions on border control and will never use ICE to deport illegals here. He wants and amnesty which would be a disaster. However: he has promised to secure the border first. I have no reason to believe that this former Legion officer is not a man of his word. He has pledged his word. We need him to confirm that offer: and if he does, we can consider the matter closed. He will not secure that border in 4 years; he cannot go for his amnesty until he has done that; and this is an end to the matter. This is the best the movement conservatives will get, and it is better than we have now with Bush II; what more do we want? A Democrat who will demand amnesty without securing the borders?

We will have to live with "campaign reform". We will have to live with fiscal irresponsibility and lack of enthusiasm for tax cuts. We will have to live with the notion of federal intervention by ham handed bureaucrats in our local affairs. Even there, though, McCain has said he is changing his position on spending and taxes.

What we need is a good negotiator to get a pact with McCain: what he will promise the conservative movement in exchange for our enthusiastic -- and I mean enthusiastic even if we must fake some of the enthusiasm -- support.

In particular we want a reiteration of promises already made: strict constructionist judges both on Supreme and lower courts; secure borders before any comprehensive immigration reform; and a bit more enthusiasm for tax cuts.

We can get all that, and it is far better than we will get from any Democrat. We should take it, and get to work.

PS: If we can get Fred Thompson for VP, it will certainly make it easier to generate some zeal.


1030 We had a wonderful morning walk. My Aeron chair will no longer hold a charge for even five minutes, and I am going to have to DO SOMETHING about it. It's disconcerting to sink six inches while trying to work. Ah well. Were that the worst of my problems! It only takes a bit of money to fix that, and I'll do that pretty soon if you keep the subscriptions coming in. My thanks to all for subscribing and renewing.

In half an hour we leave. I get zapped, then we see the radiologist. Roberta is coming along to take notes. Needless to say I will take the Mac Air along to show off, along with a copy of Starswarm for Dr. Wang's daughter. I don't know of any kids who didn't like that book.

I have installed Office 2004 on the Mac Air. I believe her name is Khaos. That is the Greek goddess of air, and it seems greatly appropriate. Aerial would of course be a good name, but as it happens I have a set of decorative plates with Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, and Air is named Khaos on the provenence, so this seems foretold.

Khaos is beautiful, but she is a bit slow, with only 10/100 wired Ethernet (through USB to Ethernet adapter). There's no Firewire and that I think is a design defect. The external Superdrive is working fine, and installations are going well, but synchronization through wireless is not as speedy as it might be. Perhaps the next iteration will have a docking station port? I would think that a good thing.

But I do love this little machine. I took her out on our midnight walk last night. She fits in almost any case you'd care to carry. I am looking for a really classy carry bag that doesn't look much like a computer bag. It needs to hold the Kindle, Mac Air, a paper log book, and the other accessories a guy likes to carry around. I can keep the iPhone in my shirt pocket so long as I am wearing Walkabout Bush Shirts, which I typically do, but if I put on a tie and jacket I will probably want the iPhone in my carry bag. I may also put a Bluetooth headset in there, but we'll see.

I don't walk around with earbuds on, and I don't typically listen to anything when I walk. I sometimes put on a lecture, but generally not. I tend to think walking. With my voice a mess I don't dictate notes so often as I used to. I do with the iPhone accepted them.

Anyway it is getting on for time. The column with the iPhone story is up at Chaos Manor Reviews, and I'll have today's mail up here on this site this afternoon.


1700: Progress Report

It is apparently pointless to try any real assessment in the middle of a radiation treatment series. Things inside my head are a mess, with lots of dead tissue to be removed by my circulatory system, and taking a new MRI or X-Rays won't tell anyone much.

Symptoms are a different matter. There is improvement in the Bell's Palsy symptoms. My right eye doesn't droop as much. My hearing is no worse and may be better. The tinnitus is no worse and I think may be better. There is more sensitivity to touch on the right side of my face, and more symmetry. Dr. Wang's conclusion is that we are doing better than expected and "as well as I hoped." We stick with the daily zaps, and after that is over we'll do another series of scans and MRI and see just what is going on.

Indigestion I just put up with: Milk of magnesia seems to help a lot.

Now it's back to work. My thanks to all who have sent good wishes and prayers. My thanks to all those who have recently subscribed or renewed, and particularly to the new Platinum Subscribers.


Does anyone know a source of GE Daylight 6800 K Edison socket fluorescents? Google directs me to BulbAmerica which must have the most confused and worst designed web site for selling stuff I have ever seen. Surely there is a place that will ship me a dozen of those bulbs so I can set up some daylight lighting in here and write you a Video cast report of what's going on?

I know they exist. I even bought a couple of them -- they instantly vanished in the swim here at Chaos Manor and have not been tempest tossed to the surface again. I make no doubt there are other just as good, but it's very odd that I can't find something that common on the Internet. I suppose I ought to go to Leows and just buy some.


Paul F. Van Huben I need your email address...

Robert Welshe I need your email address...



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Wednesday,  March 12, 2008

0100 Sleepless in Studio City

I seem to be in a state of agitated exhaustion. It sure would be good to get a good night's sleep. For the first time since all this started I think my ability to think is being affected. I hope that's all temporary, as it probably is.

Listening to the radio, and hoping I'll feel like going back to sleep. Sitting up helps the indigestion.

They have arrested a boy for hitting a possum with a shovel? Great heavens! What is protected about a possum? People eat them. I never did -- they never seemed appetizing to me -- but there were days when I'd have shot a possum for dinner if I could have found one, rabbits and squirrels being scarce, and meat being rationed. I would not encourage needless slaughter of possums in Los Angeles county, but why is a marsupial more protected than a rodent?


Harry Erwin sends this:

News at Nature article: They really were the Dark Ages

The address is: http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080311/full/news.2008.665.html 

Their message: Where the eruption took place is still not determined.

To view the latest science news, visit www.nature.com/news

Hardly astonishing. But not exactly something one could model. Just as eruptions under water will heat the seas; how do you predict that?


0600 Sleepless in Studio City

I did get a couple of hours sleep, and feel better. I'll try again to sleep until 0800.


0800 That worked. Noon zapping today. I'll carry the MacBook Air down to the center. I get there early and sometimes they get to me early, and I can work with the Air as a laptop on my lap. She's cool. And I have a couple of new books to read on the Kindle. It's convenient to have a huge library in my carry case.

I am still looking for the right elegant carry case for the Air; I think black leather on the messenger bag design would be right. I could see something like the canvas musette utility bag I carried in the Army, but tricked out with Velcro and more modern snaps and straps might work as well.

Men are going to have to learn to carry bags of some kind in this modern age...


10:12  We have had our walk, a bit less than two miles today. It's a fine day in Studio City. I am now gearing up to go to the noon zapping. I get zapped at noon daily from now on. I will also have errands.

For those who want to become writers, I recommend my short screed on How To Get My Job.

After that, get Dwight V. Swain's two books, Techniques of the Selling Writer, and Creating Characters. Read those. Think about all this, and then go visit


Holly has a bunch of eBooks on various writing subjects. She's invited me to come up with a couple, and I may do that. I can't do more than mention this now because I haven't had a chance to look at these books, but I can say that like late Dwight Swain, Holly knows how to make a living at writing, and she writes clearly.


Does anyone have handy a photograph of Old Zeke at the Smithsonian? I need to scare one up. Obviously all the photos I took in those days are actual photographs and would have to be scanned...


The hits just keep on coming. I don't feel much on the right side of my face. In particular I didn't feel myself biting down on the fork until I had broken my incisor or whatever the #2 tooth from the center it. It doesn't hurt but I look a mess.

I am also getting classic radiation sickness, tiny sores here and there, treated with First Aid Cream. It's a race: can we kill this thing in my head before the hard X-Rays kill me? Very likely, of course. Not that I have any alternatives. But they keep shooting bullets through, and we can be sure there's a lot of dead stuff in there that needs to be cleaned out, and while that's going on the energy levels aren't too high. At least not productive energy. Agitated exhaustion we have in plenty, but it doesn't get much done.

I think my mind is going. I haven't won a game of FreeCell in a while. It used to be I never lost one. Ever. Now I just can't win unless it's real easy, even if I start over. That used to never happen. At the same time, I don't think I am making logical errors, but I am very slow. I have been trying to comprehend the writer's program Scrivener, which seems to have many features of Microsoft OneNote.

I have to say that OneNote plus a TabletPC will change your life, and that combination is one reason I do not want to jump entirely to a Mac. I can write on Macs, I like their mail, I am about to play about with other stuff there. I intend to get SuperCard or whatever the modern equivalent is and do some programming: after all, we wrote the Mac version of Roberta's Reading Program in SuperCard and it worked extremely well. I know you can do fairly complex programs with it.

QUERY: what is the Mac equivalent of Microsoft OneNote? 

I expect another restless night, so I stocked up on Milk of Magnesia and Tums. And I will be sure to take Sable for the full 2 miles at midnight. Good for both of us, and why not? It isn't as if I have anything else to do. I read, but writing fiction is a bit beyond me or I think it may be. I'll get back to it when I can.


This morning at breakfast, I noted that they are running the printing presses and pumping out money. I said "I wonder when we will get to $20 postage stamps? Next year?"

To which Roberta, who always complains that they teach no history in schools today, said "You read too much history."

Of course we are referring to the artificial boom in Weimar Germany after The Great War. I have in my possession a three pfennig stamp, over printed to 20 Mird Millionen Marks. Those were times when you got more heat from burning money than from firewood you could buy with it, and money fell in value to nothing in hours to days. Of course that can't happen here. After all, in Germany they were just running the presses, and the money was backed by nothing. Here it's Silver Certificates -- oops. Not any more. No gold, no free silver. Good quality paper, though. Backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

I sure wish I had bought a lot of $400 gold.



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Thursday,  March 13, 2008

0025:  Sable and I have just returned from our 2330 walk. While out I managed to get the iPhone connected to the local T-Mobile Hot Spot (the Starbucks at Ventura and Vantage) but it was a pain in the arse to do. Apple does NOT play nice with T-Mobile. Windows. With Windows, you just log in once with user name and password, and from then on and forever when you turn on wireless in range It Just Works.  With iPhone or the MacBook Air, it makes you log on every darned time, and worse, it often displays imbecile screens like "You are attempting an unauthorized service." Of course a call to T-Mobile reveals that I certainly do pay for that service and have done so for a decade, and they can't explain it, but it happens a lot.

I also get logged on to T-Mobile Account Manager, which is fine, and tells me my account is up to date, but when I try to Google my way to my own web site, I find I am not really connected to the Internet. And I have to try to log in again, only Safari doesn't have the controls that Internet Explorer does, and keeps offering me options I don't want.

But eventually I managed manually to type in a URL for the T-Mobile login screen, and enter my user name and password, and get on, and with luck the iPhone will remember that; we'll see. I doubt I'll have luck on that.

But for the moment I think both the Air and the iPhone know how to find T-Mobile Hot Spots. I sure hope so.

Otherwise it was an uneventful two mile walk.


Earlier tonight we watched the 10:00 PM LAW AND ORDER, with Lara Flynn Boyle as guest star. She was good as always. Back about the turn of the century, perhaps before, she and her mother lived three houses down from us. She was always pleasant if a bit driven. Her mother was a very good neighbor and became friends with everyone. As Lara's fortunes waxed she and her mother bought a larger house in Sherman Oaks, and I am not sure I ever saw her again. Her mother used to come around to keep up with local friendships, but of course less often each passing year, and it has been three or so years since I saw her. But they were pleasant neighbors. I think they lived in the house that Jamie Farr used to own before he put on a dress and got rich and moved to Hidden Hills, but I may be mistaken. I know which house Jamie lived in because I used to visit him and play cards with Jamie and Mr. Checkov, and our kids played T-ball at the local park. I never visited Lara Flynn Boyle at home.


I have very sore ears, a sore throat, and I doubt I will sleep, but I hope that my 2 mile hike with Sable will help me get to sleep. I certainly have all the classic symptoms of radiation sickness. Not much to be done about that... They'll keep zapping me.


0600 Sleepless in Studio City

Tinnitus medium, not at loud as when I went to bed. Installed Office 2007 on the MacBook Air, and I'll put it on Imogene shortly. No problems with installation.

Installed Turbo-Tax on the Vista machine. The execrable Vista will not recognize any of my DVD drives as CD drives, and thus would not install; so I shared an XP drive, mapped to it on the Vista machine, and installed using a networked CD. Vista is not really ready for prime time, and nothing I can do will get it to believe that either a read only drive, or a perfectly good Plextor R/W drive, is also a CD drive. DO NOT "UPGRADE" your XP machine to Vista!!!!

Turbo-Tax did install, in the Turbo-Tax folder, and upgraded, but when I launched it, it did not look to see there were previous year folders in there; I don't seem to see how to make it go get all that information, but it's probably just me, and I'll get it to do that next time I try. I really want it to import all the old stuff.

My problem may be  that I spent too much money. I bought Home & Business, which is a step up from Premier. In the past I bought Premier. I'm sure I'll get this to work, but I'm not all that happy with their integration. I am sure that last year it went back and found the previous year automatically.


Joseph Weizenbaum, RIP.


- Roland Dobbins

I knew him, not well, and had a debate with him at the AAAS meeting in Houston. That was back when Margaret Meade was President of AAAS, and everyone was sure that a New Ice Age was coming. It may even be the meeting at which I took the picture of Stephen Schneider and Margaret Meade that was used on the inside flap of Schneider's The Genesis Strategy and in promotions of the book.

Joe wrote a program called Eliza, which did Rogerian psychotherapy. This was all new in those days, and it impressed many people, but it was a pretty simple program. Some years later I was called in to teach the Scholar/Lecturer Seminar program for outstanding high school graduates at the University of Oklahoma. I was brought in at the last moment to replace someone, possibly Joe Weizenbaum, who had been scheduled to conduct the week long class for some 30 selected graduates about to enter University.

Joe's book had already been selected as one text. I was able to add another, C. S. Lewis The Abolition of Man,  since it was pretty clear that the previous instructor had intended the seminar to deal largely with the notion of artificial intelligence and some epistemology, and I wanted to add a different viewpoint. I also assigned Aristotle on epistemology. If we're going to talk about intelligence, it may help to understand why we think we know things. And I was able to bring in the late Dwight Swain, then resident in Norman, Oklahoma, to do a guest lecture. Everyone in that seminar wanted to know about making a living at writing, and there never was anyone better at explaining that.

Eliza was a BASIC program. At one time I had a program called Analiza, which was an expanded program with similar effects; Analiza allowed you to set up a data base of comments and remarks which would be inserted into the conversations until used up, thus changing the "therapy session." Those not familiar with Eliza won't understand, I suppose.

So long as one stuck to psychobabble questions, Eliza could sound eerily like a modern psychotherapist, but if you wanted to complain about your lost luggage, being asked "What would it mean to you if you found your luggage?" would be pretty infuriating...

Joe Weizenbaum, RIP


 I once went through your archive looking for books of the month and compiled a list of the history-related books. Since I read that you were trying to compile a similar list, I thought Iíd send the one I compiled from your site:

1. The Battles That Changed History by Fletcher Pratt
2. The Shield of Achilles by Philip Bobbit
3. From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun
4. Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hanson
5. What Went Wrong by Bernard Lewis
6. The Closed Circle by David Pryce-Jones
7. Napoleon by Paul Johnson

Maybe the above list can help jumpstart your efforts! And I do hope you continue to progress with your health.


Jim Laheta


8. Van Loon, The Story of Mankind, another synoptic history.

All those are worth reading. Pratt is the best synoptic history of the West that I know.



It is Allergy Time! Be sure to get the Health Solutions Nose Pump!  I need mine badly after my morning walk this morning. If you are still on drugs, try this!!!


And thanks again to all who have subscribed or renewed recently.


Apple iPhone (and all Apple for that matter) does not play nice with T-Mobile. Last night at midnight I managed to get the iPhone connected to the T-Mobile hot spot at the local Starbucks. This morning we walked past. The iPhone connected to the Wi-Fi -- but then Safari demanded user name and password.

Windows doesn't do that. Once you get logged in and everything established it automatically takes care of that next time it sees the Hot Spot. The iPhone wants you to log in every time and worse, it doesn't work well. It's hard to do. My advice is FORGET T-MOBILE if you use Apple. Tell it to FORGET the T-Mobile Wi-Fi and rely on AT&T data connection. It will be a LOT faster.

Also, the iPhone Safari controls are not well thought out. It's very hard to go back, refresh, or just DUMP a site and start over. At least I haven't learned how to do that very well; but I think the controls are well thought out.


1305 Back from the Noon Zapping. Ran a bit late today because one of the big X-Ray machines (not mine) broke down. Everyone still cheerful and all well. After long zap -- I counted to over 30 today, 20 is more usual -- the tinnitus in my right ear has really taken off, and it's hard to hear.

Subscriptions and renewals seem to be slowing down. They were coming in fast last week and first part of this week. Oh. Well. A lot of people renewed for the year last month, so I should expect things to slow with renewals. New subscriptions will have to take up the slack. And of course there are the Platinum Subscriptions. The goal is 1,000; alas we haven't yet got the first 100, but it's early times. I'll work up some new buttons and such when I get a bit of energy.

The MacBook Air continues to work wonderfully well. I was able to use it in the waiting room with Office 2008, which is significantly better than Word 2004 as far as I am concerned. It looks very nice, and runs well, and I was able to do some work.

I took Sable for 2 miles this morning, then off to The Groom Room (Magnolia at Whitsett) where they treat her very well and get her clean, fluffed up, combed, and dry. I'll pick her up at 1400.

And I owe you a good essay on the economy, which is in very big trouble. I can still think. My problem is the energy levels, but I've got enough. It just takes longer, and it's not much fun having my eyes focus on planes about 4 inches apart. Sigh. But I do manage.


Here is Zeke at the Smithsonian.




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  Friday, March 14, 2008

The Pharmacy Solutions server goes wonky and starts demanding passwords every now and then. They get it fixed. My apologies and I will have to look for a way to link to their site without having that happen to you. I accepted a link with image they sent with me -- I have great confidence in their product -- and pasted it in, and every now and then their server does something odd. It does fix itself after a while.

I'll look into it, but things are not too smart here just now. I think my head is working, but I can concentrate on one and only one thing at a time.

I want to thank those who have doggedly worked to join the Platinum Subscribers. It takes work and I have not made it easy for you, and you have my thanks. I will this evening create a Paypal button just for that, and also revamp my other buttons; and look into the whole situation. I should be able to get that done all right.

Log: woke up sleepless at 0430 but got back to sleep about 0530, and slept until 0915. Tinnitus is lesser this morning. It was very bad yesterday afternoon. Went to the LASFS last night and ate more than one cookie -- no doughnut though -- but blood sugar 114 this morning, not too bad. Needs to be lower.

I will miss the morning walk. It's 1030 an I have to leave for being zapped by 1100 so I'll have to get my walk after I come back. I think the exercise is vital.


I have received a home cell phone signal booster system that is supposed to make it possible for me to get bars all over the house, not just out on the balcony. I'll work on that when I get back from Kaiser, and if it works it will be the lead in next week's column. I never had bars problems with the old Nokia cell phone here, but with iPhone there are many places in the house where I get no service. I sure would like to remedy that. The iPhone is a good cell phone for features, but it does not get the reception that my simple minded old Nokia (no features at all) used to get.

Chaos Manor is up against the Hollywood Hills leading up to Mulholland -- Laurel Terrace runs right along the base of those hills -- and we get lousy reception here.

Last night I got a weird phenomenon. I put the iPhone in its cradle to charge and synch with Imogene the iMac, and there were clicks and chirps; sometimes one gets those from the telephone system. Not just here, but here most often. This time the wireless mouse and keyboard went dead, and nothing I could do would restore; I had to power down the iMac and reestablish the wireless mouse and keyboard connectivity. It all worked, but that was about ten minutes. I wonder if the quality of cell phone signal has anything to do with that?


One of my physician friends assures me that just because I can't win at FreeCell any more -- I used never to lose, certainly not twice the same game -- doesn't mean I can't think, and if my mind starts to go, you will all tell me quickly enough. Oddly enough that is comforting. It's hard to know if your mind is going, and for me it's the most frightening of all prospects.

So far I think I am thinking all right. Concentration is harder, and I don't multi-task for sour owl jowls, but if I think about one thing at a time I can track down details and I seem to think my way to real conclusions. We'll see. Detail work is difficult, but then I never enjoyed that and it's mostly the effort of staying in concentration and actually paying attention to details. It's easy to ignore 'yes, but' to examine whether this is an exception or a fundament flaw in logic.


1300 Back from Noon Zapping.

I was able to work with the Mac Book Air in the waiting room: I was writing my impressions of the machine. It's easy to use, and it is likely to be the computer you have with you. More in the column, but it is Way Cool.

Tinnitus is back in spades. So is a bit of pulse pounding in my right ear. That one scares me.

This was the most claustrophobic session I have had yet: for some reason I could not exhale through my nose once the mask was clamped down, and it wasn't easy to exhale through my mouth. This got pretty frightening, but fortunately I have some techniques for calming myself down. Back when I was an undergrad I studies General Semantics, and had Wendell Johnson as my professor, and one does learn things from that. I doubt you can find such courses any longer. Not politically correct. I do recommend Wendell Johnson's People in Quandaries if you can find it. And for that matter, Korzybski's Science and Sanity remains worth reading. It is not the equivalent of the Bible and the Holy Grail as some contend, but it is worth the time it will take. Korzybski was both innovative and a bit of an overly enthusiastic nut, and he was very much the showman. Martin Gardiner is unfair to him in his In The Name of Science (AKA Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science) and the Big Science Establishment has banished both Korzybski and the whole General Semantics movement to the dust bin. That should not have happened.

I don't want to sound like a crusader on this; but there was merit in the General Semantics movement, and for those who want to understand epistemology there is a great deal of value in Science and Sanity. It is not a thin book, it is not easy reading, and sometimes it gets pretentious; but I do consider it one of the couple of hundred books one ought to have read if one wants to be an intellectual.

In any event, I was able to get past the claustrophobia and look reasonably normal as I left the treatment rooms...



I now think my brain really is going. I thought Paypal had a page on ways to design payment services, design buttons, and do that sort of thing, but I am not finding it.  I know it is there.

What I want is a series of buttons: regular subscription, Patron subscription (which is in fact the bread and butter of this place and much appreciated), and the Patron Platinum subscription which is just starting but growing fast. That way people can click the proper button, send me their email subscription address, and that does it.

I would also like to make up a couple of buttons for products, but subscription services are more important. I am sure there are easy ways to find how to do that, and I guess between the claustrophobia and one very long zap (followed on the other side by a very short zap) I think they got me. Or maybe it's lack of sleep which can be confusing. Heaven knows I have that.

I'll keep looking. It really is time to modernize the subscription services here.



A decided tendency to panic. I just had a mail glitch. Someone sent a phishing thing, not large, that seemed to choke the system: it just wouldn't download, meaning that nothing else would. And I sort of went mildly mad. Now I know how to deal with that. I have a web mail method of looking at my inbox from my server, and I can just go there and kill offending messages. Provided that I can remember how to do that, and in fact I have that written in log books so I can manage it; all I really have to do is find the web mail site.

Which I could not find and could not remember. I could still send mail, and out went an increasingly frantic series of messages, as if I couldn't have gone out for a walk or taken a nap or something: it's not as if not getting mail for a couple of hours makes any difference, and I have something to do, the galley proofs for INFERNO I which is being brought out in conjunction with the new INFERNO.

But no, I had to go mad until the problem was solved. Now that's always been a part of my makeup. I do tend to obsess on getting things done, one less thing to worry about; but this was bizarre, and I didn't notice that until it was done. Irrational rages, panics -- welcome to radiation poisoning.

Keep clam...

And the Internet is funny. It takes forever to get an ftp connection. I don't know why.



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SaturdayMarch 15, 2008

The Ides of March

Birthday of the late Stefan T. Possony

1100: A good midnight walk last night. Sable plays werewolf sometimes, running like a mad thing and snarling under some poor neighbor's bedroom window. The neighbor, who lives down by Philip Rhodes (retired Hollywood makeup artist) says she doesn't mind, although it was startling the first time she heard it.

It's a beautiful day outside. Time to count blessings, of which I have a lot. Lovely day. Feel pretty good except for tinnitus which is very loud this morning, and a thorough inability to speak more than a few words at a gasp. Since that comes and goes, I don't much worry about it. The steroids have completely cured the symptoms of my degenerative arthritis. My hip hardly hurts at all, and my neck pains are a thing of the past. The steroids give me indigestion, but I would far rather have indigestion than the neck pains, and I'd sure rather take zantac than vikodan.

It's allergy season, as we discovered on our morning walk. The nose pump from Pharmacy Solutions is a life saver.

I very much recommend it. (And yes, they pay me a few bucks if you buy one through this ad, but I don't run the ad for money; it really works, and keeps me off other drugs.

Good night's sleep last night. Took Sable for our midnight walk (2 miles), got to bed about 0215, and didn't wake up until 0600. Took a sip of milk of magnesia and went back to bed to sleep until 0800. A good night indeed. Woke up not able to talk well and loud tinnitus, but nothing else, and felt good on our morning walk (1.8 miles).

As to blessings: I have a lot to do. I have the column to write -- actually it is almost all written; it's a report on the Mac Book Air. I have the iMac, iPhone, and Mac Book Air to play with and explore. I have made many notes about Mamelukes and the coming conflicts, and scenes are beginning to form in my mind. Niven and I have the opening scene for our new Big Book in which we again hit the Earth with something big (but really it is about transformation of republic to empire/timocracy and what happens after that), and I am going to try my hand at writing that opening while Larry is off to Israel to lecture to the university there. We had a good hike Thursday.

The weather is lovely, I have my nose pump to deal with allergies, and I am getting my office cleaned up a bit. It's a good life.

Success consists of getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. A good life is balancing those two principles.


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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

0045: back from our midnight 2 mile walk. There was such a high wind when we began that I put up the hood on my parka and sealed everything I could, but it was entirely calm by the time we got back. Gibbous waxing Moon. My trousers wanted to fall off: I am at the last belt notch. Weight is steady so the added 2 miles a day may be doing things for inches.

Tinnitus mild. Speech not too good but I had a coherent conversation with my son Phillip earlier in the afternoon. Nose a bit stuffy, I'll have to use the pump before I try to sleep. Head in reasonable shape, and I seem to be coherent. Restless but not exhausted. Hard to sit still for long, and I am not really good company. Of course not being able to talk doesn't make for great conversations.

Finished the column, tomorrow the mail bag. Mostly a write-up of the MacBook Air, with some other matters. The MacBook Pro comes tomorrow. The Time Binder gets here Wednesday. There's plenty to write about.

My thanks to all the new subscribers. More thanks to the Platinum subscribers. I am getting a new set of buttons to make it easy to choose levels of subscriptions; that may take a couple of days, but we're beginning to make some order.

I am planning a number of essays for next week. It all depends on energy levels, of course. But given the number of subscribers we are getting here, writing essays for this site becomes pay copy and that moves it up a notch or two in priority.


Palm Sunday (Written on MacBook Air in the church parking lot; Roberta is at choir rehearsal.)


 A good night. Bed at 0200, awoke at 0600 and back to sleep at 0605 awoke on my own at 0745 to get up at 0800.

 Tinnitus is moderate but I am nearly deaf in my right ear. Eyes focus on different planes, not a problem for driving but makes it hard to read or see much. Writing this in the Explorer: Roberta has gone in for choir warmup and I have my usual hour in the parking lot waiting. I have my handicap tag now which makes that a bit easier. I guess what with age and being zapped I shouldnít feel guilty about having it. I do walk 4 miles a day, so strictly speaking I am not handicapped Ė certainly not the way some are Ė but I do have problems particularly with time management so I suppose itís all right.

= = = = = = = = =

I am enormously disappointed to discover that Office 2008 no longer supports Macro recording. This is a fatal defect in an otherwise splendid program. I like Word 2008 a good bit, but it looks as if I will have to do VMWare and XP on all my machines and operate with Word 2007. Itís that or be networked to a Window system. Or, of course, find a non-Microsoft Word that will not give Niven problems, and THAT I think wonít happen.

 I like Word. I have since Chris Peters came down here in the 1980ís and spent a day working with me on features that I wanted that would woo me away from Q&A Write, which was the program Niven and I went to when we left CP/M for PCDOS. Q&A was a great program and I wish there were a good Windows implementation of it. It integrated a data base and word processor seamlessly and allowed all kinds of decision functions. It would have been ideal for keeping track of my subscriptions, as an example. It would automatically mail on conditions.

It was pretty good for fiction, too. Chris Peters owned Word at Microsoft and he decided he wanted me to convert; and they did some revisions and added features at my suggestion, and I have used it ever since. It does require more memory than some of the mean and lean programs like XYWRITE but that is no longer important.  Over time I have built some Macros that I use frequently. Now they are gone and I do not like that.

= = =

iPhone: shows no service. I shut it down with the top black bar button, then turned it on again. It now shows 4 full bars. With the old Nokia all this Just Worked without my having to fuss with it, but the iPhone seems to want attention.

If there is no service -- when there really is service -- this is potentially serious, is it not? I have no idea of what to do about it, except that if you get no service, try restarting the phone. Note that reboot is the usual remedy for many Windows problems. Is Apple learning from Microsoft? Stay tuned.


Article in today's LA Times about egregious cell phone companies. Once again showing the savage nature of the market place. Left to itself, the market will eventually offer the flesh of human children, by the pound. As well as slaves of any age and for any purpose. It is not that most Libertarians would do so: it is that at least one will do so and absent regulations and laws it will become inevitable.

Cell phone companies use fine print. No roaming Charges in Canada and Mexico, they say. But the fine print is that it's no charge to receive; if you call from Canada or Mexico you will be hit with enormous charges, and you will not be warned that you have incurred them. The unregulated free market place in action...



1700: Feeling a bit daunted. It is clearly an effect of radiation poisoning. I have this seemingly endless list of things I need to get done, none of them all that difficult, but it is hard to get started on any of them.

First thing is important and ought to be simple: get a good button that makes it easy to enroll as a Platinum Patron subscriber. At the moment you have to work at doing it. The fact that more than fifty have managed to do so tells me that if it's easier, more will. It shouldn't be a big problem. And yet it's hard to get started. I just want to vegetate.

The sun burn behind and inside my ears has blistered and it is rather ugly, and it's a bit painful. Not a lot to be done about that. Indigestion is worse, too. Two more weeks of this. I suspect it will not be fun.

Bills to pay, Office 2007 to install in VMWare on the iMac, (and I want to get Outlook 2007 running on my main communications machine; I've been using 2003 and 2007 is better) and just a bunch of other stuff that needs doing. And what I want to do is nothing whatever. But I have managed to get the column and the week's mail bag done. And I have made scene notes for Mamelukes. I am still not writing scenes, but once I get in stride that ought to be easy enough. I can plot. I can think. I can't talk and that means I am terrible company, in person or on the phone.

Niven is on the way to Israel. He should land there tonight some time. I owe him an opening scene at a conference at the Lowell Observatory: that's where we will open our next big book. Larry and I were on the Board of the Lowell for several years, so we are familiar with the place, and it's a good setting. This is going to be an important book. At least we think so...


 2300: It's getting on for time for our midnight walk. And I have to pay the bills, one of the trivial tasks I have been avoiding. But it needs doing.



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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 weekly 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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