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Daynotes Journal

Week of 18 October 1999

Sunday, 24 October 1999 10:42

A (mostly) daily journal of the trials, tribulations, and random observations of Robert Bruce Thompson, a writer of computer books.


 

 

 

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Monday, 18 October 1999

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It used to be that I strove to keep my entire weekly page to a size that would download in a minute or less (using the FrontPage download time estimator for a 28.8 connection). Today, I have reached an all-time record. Here it is Monday, and FrontPage is telling me that this page as of now will require 60 seconds to download. Essentially all of that content is mail, and all of it's interesting.

But what's worse than download time is my time. Pournelle often comments about Lovecraft starving to death while answering mail. I have to do something lest the same fate befall me. I may start publishing letters with only a short reply (or none) from me, simply because I feel it isn't right to fail to post interesting mail simply because I don't have time to respond to it properly. I may also start up a forum. Unfortunately, doing that would require taking the time to choose BBS software and implement the forum. So I don't know what to do. But I have to do something.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 12:57 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: subsidies

You concluded: "Subsidies simply conceal the existence of the problem."

Absolutely. Looking for a chronic problem? Look no further than your nearest subsidy and analyse what lies beneath it.

Many sectors of Swedish industry have over the years been totally destroyed by this subsidy effect. Instead of adapting to the changing marketplace by either developing new products or better manufacturing, companies plied for more subsidies and control. That did not keep them from ultimately crashing, it only meant that the crash became inevitable and was far worse when it did come (and at a far greater cost).

OTOH, this should not disallow people to voluntarily pitch in for shared (e.g. infrastructure) projects, as long as it remains under their own control. This does however suggest more "neighborhood" scale than anything larger.

my 2 e-pennies worth

/ Bo
--
"Bo Leuf"
bo@leuf.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

Yes, certainly. Nothing I've said precludes voluntary co-operation. What I object to is compelling people to act against their own interests.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 1:07 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Phone and data costs

Well, it may be an extra few bucks for me, but it's also an extra few bucks for a whole hell of a lot of other people. And the point is not how much is being stolen from me, but the fact that it is being stolen. I don't care if the guy in the Outer Hebrides has a phone or not. If you care, feel free to subsidize him yourself. Just stay out of my wallet. As far as contacting everyone, I have no desire to contact poor people. The only people I interact with are rich ones, like you and everyone else reading this.

How do you know you don't want to contact those people? How do you know they don't have anything worth saying? What if the guy in the Outer Hebrides has the answer to life, the universe and everything? The point is that there's no point in just me subsidising him, it only works if everyone does it - like I said, me giving up my car and everything else won't help him, it takes a concerted effort. So it's not stealing, how can it be? It's being taken with your permission - you live in this economic system, in this democracy, so if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Or start up a party, get elected, overthrow the government and we can all be armed-to-the-teeth libertarians.

As far as your next point, you say that you're not willing to give up what you have unless everyone else is forced to do the same. So it seems that you don't really want to do this or even think it's a good idea to do this, but some pathetic "liberal guilt" makes you feel that it's the "right thing to do." Bullshit. It seems that you think that people in general are bad and must be forced to do the Good Thing. Wrong. If you have to force average people to do something against their inclinations, it isn't the right thing. It's simple some theorists "wouldn't it be nice" idea of what the right thing is. Self-interest is a natural survival mechanism. Forcing people to act against their own interests is anti-survival.

But like I said, there's no point me giving it up on my own, everyone has to do it or it doesn't work. I think exactly the opposite of people to what you say, I think people are in general good, but simply can't be bothered to do the right thing. When questioned, the majority of people in the UK say they'd be willing to pay an extra few percent in income tax if it were to go for extra NHS or educational facilities, but they 'can't be bothered' to do it off their own bat - because they know the majority of other people won't do anything and their effort will do nothing but impoverish them themselves. Self-interest is ONE natural survival mechanism, but so is altruism - see Dawkins et al. People's real problem is with what the government does with their tax payment, not that they take a tax payment. Most sane people see the point of everyone paying towards a national health service so that, when they get run over by the proverbial bus they can get all the health care they need without being asked who's going to pay when they're wheeled in. You are wrong, simply wrong, to think that this is a bad idea because your way means that the poor, the weak, the helpless and the disadvantaged will just be left to die, and humans - most humans - have now evolved beyond 'ME, ME, ME'.

As far as taxes, it seems that we are in a similar position. Average people here pay marginal federal income tax rates of 28% to 35%. We pay about 7.5% in Social Security, but it's really double that because the government collects a matching amount from the employer. State income taxes and sales taxes vary by state, but we pay about 10% in state income tax and 6% sales tax. We also pay numerous other taxes, some of which are punitively high (for example, taxes on alcohol and tobacco).

The real point of socialism is to drag everyone down to the least common denominator. "If everyone can't have a Mercedes, no one can have a Mercedes." Unfortunately, the ultimate result of that sort of deranged thinking is that it is impossible to accumulate capital. Capital accumulation is necessary for production to occur. Production is the source of all weath. Socialism kills production, kills weath, and results in everyone being impoverished.

Very wrong. The point of socialism is to drag everyone UP to the same level, apart from the very rich few who'll need to be dragged down. I'm talking here about the top 10 richest people in the world who are, collectively, worth more than the entire population of China. Now THAT would be a redistribution of wealth. Don't confuse socialism and the (failed version of) communism we saw in the former USSR. I don't know where you've heard about socialism but you've heard the about it wrong: done right, it makes everyone equally wealthy and we all have equal opportunities and access to riches like telephones and broadband communications. And no, this doesn't militate against the accumulation of capital: read Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Mars' series for a description of how you 'hire' capital in a socialist utopia. When no one has to worry about money, no one worries about money and spends their time and energy doing useful things instead.

I think you need to redo your math on distribution of weath. Even if one accepts that Bill Gates is worth $100 billion (which he isn't, not by a long shot. The value of a thing is what it will bring, and Bill Gates cannot sell his stock. Even if he could, he would realize ten cents on the dollar) that amounts to only about $16 per person if distributed equally. What you apparently fail to realize is that human wealth is a pyramid, of which we occupy the peak. The top 10% of the world's population (of which all of us are members) controls something like 95% of the world's wealth. Distributing that equally (even if it were possible, which it is not) would leave all of us living in hovels without running water.

I haven't done the math, you're correct, but I think your sums aren't right either.

The world comprises a few "haves" and a lot of "have-nots". I am a member of the former group, and intend to remain so. I have no interest in subsidizing the have-nots. Nor is this simply greed on my part (although greed is a Good Thing, and I make no apology for it). Stealing from me and giving to the have-nots is an endless black hole, because the number of have-nots is variable. Feeding have-nots simply results in generating a new, larger crop of have-nots.

I'm a 'have' too, no question of that. But I don't fear that my position is threatened if there are even more 'haves'. I have a great interest in subsidising the 'have-nots' because I KNOW they have a contribution to make. If the state hadn't subsidised me to go to a public (what the UK calls private schools, one with entrance exams and fees for the rich kids) then I seriously doubt I'd be sitting here now doing this. So if the taxpayers of the UK back in 1971 thought the way you do now, I would have gone to the local sink and probably would have spent my life doing something like counting money in a bank or selling shoes. Not that these are bad professions for those who want to do them, I just don't think they're for me. I was lucky and I would hope to help more like it. Who knows what talents we're condemning to death by not giving the poor of the world access to clean water, shelter and an education? My argument is that governments need to stop spending their money on crap like nuclear weapons and start spending it on things like that instead.

I'll make you a deal. If you'll read and think about Ayn Rand's _Atlas Shrugged_, I'll read and think about any socialist manifesto book you choose (although I've probably read most of them already). Actually, you should probably read _The Fountainhead_ first, because it's the preface to _Atlas Shrugged_, but I can't really ask you to read two. Barbara also recommends _We the Living_ and _Anthem_. Note that Rand was no economist or theoretician. She lived through the revolutions in Russia and the early Soviet Union and escaped to write about her experiences. She did not yet speak English when she wrote _The Fountainhead_. She wrote it in English literally by using a Russian-English dictionary.

Sure, I'll read 'Atlas Shrugged'. And 'The Fountainhead', as soon as Amazon deliver. I don't have any texts to recommend to you as I've never read any. What I say, what I believe, I've worked out myself because it sounds sensible and sane to me, not because I read it in a book - although that has to be a great way to learn ideas. Perhaps I've picked up stuff from Robinson, as I mention above. And I can also recommend the science fiction of Scottish writer Iain Banks, particularly his 'Culture' novels which are set in a sort of socialist utopia. But mostly I think all this stuff just because it makes sense.

Regards
Chris Ward-Johnson
chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk
Dr Keyboard - Computing Answers You Can Understand
http://www.drkeyboard.co.uk

It never ceases to amaze me that people who are politically deranged can otherwise be such smart people and such good company. Oh, well. My father was a socialist originally. I remember our political debates started about the time I turned six and continued throughout his life. He did eventually conclude that I was right, that socialism was fundamentally flawed in both theory and practice. He even voted Libertarian in the last presidential election he participated in, but it took me twenty-five years to wear him down, and neither of us has the time for that.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Booth [mailto:mcbifrb2@fs1.ma.umist.ac.uk]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 2:31 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Icelandic names and subsidies

Now there's a subject line you don't see very often ...

A minor point, first; I think that your hypothetical daughter would actually be Elizabeth Barbarasdaughter; son seem to get named for their fathers and daughters for their mothers. I'm not sure about this, but we had a spate of Icelandic pop musicians a while back, and that seemed to be the way it went.

Do you think that police services should be privately funded? The reason I ask is that a police force is basically a device for trying to maintain social order, but in terms of where tax money goes it's one of the relatively minor methods for doing this.

Society as a whole derives considerable benefit from subsidies for the very poor. Obviously, there are the much referred-to aesthetic benefits; most people appear to like the fact that it's pretty hard to starve to death nowadays, in the west; you really have to work at it. There's also the very significant practical benefit. People who are hungry, cold, and who have no real prospect of being anything else are dangerous. They lead directly to people being killed in the streets and shortly afterwards to civil wars. Now, I'm comfortable, and I don't particularly want riots to happen around me; even less do I want my society destroyed. I think Pournelle would call this Danegeld, and of course he's right; but really, what are the alternatives?

Libertarianism derives from some pretty simply stated principles, and from the conviction that the means are all-important; the ends don't justify anything. Socialism derives from some rather different principles, and from the belief that the ends often do justify the means. There are hidden assumptions in both, of course, and they make it very hard to have meaningful discussions.

Now, I like individual liberties, and I like them a lot. But the fact that you don't agree with something that your society is doing doesn't necessarily mean that you have the right to simply not participate, but remain a member of your society. You don't have to pay taxes; you can move to somewhere where there aren't any taxes. Now, that probably means living afloat, but if you really don't want to take part in the activities of society you do have that choice. Otherwise, you would be getting stuff you hadn't paid for, just as if you share a house you really have to pay your share of the heating bills, even if you'd rather have it colder (as I generally would). Everyone's rights have to be balanced against everyone else's, and that includes the right to participate in a decision, through democracy, to do things as a society. Sometimes that means having to do things you don't like in return for living where you do and how you do.

Of course, this is nothing you haven't heard before, and if you agreed with it I wouldn't be saying it; but I am curious to see how you'll respond to it, if you decide it's worth posting.

Lastly, I'd like to thank you for one of the most consistently interesting and stimulating sites around.

- Richard Booth

-----
Disclaimer: My opinions may not be those of my employers.
Thought: If low fat products are so good, why do they still make high fat products?

Thanks for the kind words. As to the name of a daughter, you may be right, although I suspect the practice varied from place to place. I have, for example, seen names like "Hilda Svensdottir", so I assume that girls took their father's name rather than their mother's in at least some circumstances.

Yes, I do believe that police forces should be private. I believe that everything should be private. I am a so-called "Radical Libertarian", which means that I am an anarchist. I believe that all government is bad, although like mosquitos or the common cold, it can never be stamped out entirely. So my goal is to minimize it whenever possible. Prevent it from growing at all costs, and trim it back any time the opportunity arises. I think you are confusing the words "anarchy" and "chaos", which is a common mistake. They are not synonymous, although enemies of freedom attempt to make them so in people's minds. In fact, anarchy does not lead to chaos. Government often leads to chaos, although it may take a while to do so. The stronger the government, the more like that chaos will result when that government collapses, as it inevitably will.

I am anti-social in the true sense of the word. I have no interest in being a member of any society based on compulsion. People do not require compulsion from above to co-operate toward a shared goal. If you prefer cooler temperatures, you are free to move to other lodgings. That is not the case with government, who, to extend your example, forces us all to live in one big house, and forces us to pay what they demand. If a mugger attacks me and steals my wallet, nearly everyone agrees that that is unacceptable behavior. If muggers organize themselves into a mugging co-op, vote among themselves to determine who should be mugged and how much should be taken, and then hire someone to actually go out and do the mugging, that is still robbery. Government is simply a mugging co-op. That many people vote to mug me does not make it right. Unfortunately, most people are fascist by nature and do not recognize that what they are doing is evil.

As far as you sig line, everyone gives lip-service to the goodness of low-fat products, but everyone thinks they taste terrible. So, everyone except guilt-ridden socialists actually buys high-fat products. 

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Kitterman [mailto:kitterma@erols.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 1:48 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Names

I spent a year in Keflavik Iceland courtesy of the US Navy in 1987/88. At that time the practice of using parent's names for last names had mostly fallen out of favor and had been replaced by the use of family names.

Scott Kitterman
kitterma@erols.com

Thanks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Kitterman [mailto:kitterma@erols.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 2:02 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com; farquhar@access2k1.net; Dan.Bowman@worldnet.att.net
Subject: Unlimited Free Tech Support

The other thing that these people who keep inundating you with questions miss is that they are robbing themselves.

I've just about (I hope, keep your fingers crossed) finished building my first PC from scratch. It's a dual Win 98SE/NTS 4.0 machine and I think I'm on at least my fourth install of each (Linux will have to wait until Promise releases drivers for the Fastrack66). There have been many points along the road where I thought, "I could e-mail Robert Thompson and have the answer to this question in a second...", but I didn't.

Having worked through all the options myself, hunted updates and answers across the internet, and invested WAY too many hours in this project, I learned far more than I could have if I'd begged for help every time I had a hiccup.

Scott Kitterman
kitterma@erols.com

Excellent point. I don't begrudge answering a specific question, particularly if there's no real learning advantage to a reader figuring it out for himself. But I don't spend any time answering open-ended questions that prove the reader is just looking for someone to do his job for him. Then there are the really obscure things where it makes no sense to force someone to spend hours tracking down. For example, if someone tells me he's having problems with OSPF routing in Microsoft's RRAS, I can immediately tell him that RRAS has a bug (it includes the IP header when calculating packet lengths, which proper OSPF routers do not). Or if someone is trying to install an ISA PnP sound card under Windows NT, I'll explain that NT does not really support PnP, but that he can try using PNPISA.INF, which can be downloaded from the Microsoft web site. Minutiae like that can be hard to track down, and it makes little sense to leave someone stuck on one of them.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 3:09 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Cc: chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk
Subject: Self-Interest vs. Selfishness

Can I commend a book, which I've mentioned in your pages before. It is Harry Browne's "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World". This is a most excellent and thorough disquisition on why pursuing your own self-interests is the greatest contribution one can make for the benefit and welfare of their fellow man, and the world. It is the opposite of being selfish, and I often wonder how the world has so generally come to believe otherwise. Through the often repeated written and verbal flagellation coming from those who would like to dip into the productive man's pocket instead of their own, I suppose.

Another very good book, and one I strong recommend as well.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Shawn Wallbridge [mailto:swallbridge@home.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 5:18 PM
To: Robert Thompson
Subject: Subsidies

I was just reading your comments about subsidies. I would have to disagree with you. I believe our society as a whole is better off with subsidies. If there is a large difference in wealth within a society I believe it leads to higher crime rates and a lower quality of living for everyone.

I remember you writing about getting Health Insurance. Isn't health insurance just another form of subsidy? If you have a child, you don't end up paying anywhere near the actual cost, so only rich people could afford to go to the hospital to give birth. All the other people on the plan subsidize your medical bills. You end up getting more than you give.

The same with the $15/month long distance you mentioned. Some people that used it a lot would get more than they paid for and others would use less. This is the same thing.

What about roads? People who don't own vehicles end up paying for road construction. Do we put a toll on every street and charge people based on how much they drive?

What about schools? Same thing, people that don't have children end up paying for schools. Are they worth while, should everyone pay to support education?

I live in a country where we have just about everything subsidized in some form. I do find that I pay quite a bit in taxes. And I resent it. But I don't resent it based on the fact that I am subsidizing some person that has lung cancer. I resent it because I believe our politicians waste too much money. I worked at a hospital, and I was shocked to see how limited the funding was. With the provincial election that just happened, I believe that the previous ruling party lost because of the lack of funding to healthcare.

We have a lower crime rate than the United States and I can't help but believe that our socialist form of government is the reason.

Ah, another socialist. Actually, a larger disparity in wealth leads to a better standard of living for nearly everyone. Socialism, indeed statism in any form, inevitably leads to a situation where a very few people are very well off (e.g. the Soviet nomenclatura with their dachas and chauffered limosines) and everyone else is impoverished. So, nearly everyone is in fact equal, but I can't think that this is the goal you really want to achieve. Socialism is the enemy of capital, and capital accumulations are required to produce wealth, period.

In a healthy economic system, graphing people's weath results in a normal distrubtion (bell curve). We can argue about how tall or flat that curve should be, but the fact that a bell curve results in the best overall average standard of living is not rationally debatable. The system you propose inevitably results in a Poisson distribution, with the vast bulk of the data points near the bottom in wealth. Poisson wealth distribution is always a certain sign of a fatally flawed economy.

Canada (and Britain) are headed there now. Unfortunately, the US is not far behind. But because our wealth distribution curve more closely resembles a normal distribution than does yours, it could be predicted that our average standard of living would be higher, which it in fact is. We have more material weath (two car families, owner occupied dwellings, etc.), better health care (there's a reason that Canadians and Brits who can afford to do so come here for health care), and a better standard of living by just about any other yardstick you care to name.

Private health insurance in a free market is not a subsidy. It is a voluntary association of people who pool together to share risk. There is no subsidy element present in a free-market health insurance policy. People pay for the insurance based on their risk factors. Older people pay more than younger because they are sick more often. Smokers pay more than non-smokers because they are sick more often. Blacks pay more than whites, because they are sick more often. Manual laborers pay more than white-collar workers because they are sick more often. Women pay more than men because they are sick more often.

Where the subsidy element is introduced is when government gets involved. It's not "fair" that women (or blacks or manual laborers or whatever) have to pay more, so the government forces the others to pay more than their fair share. That is of course, unless you are a member of a politically incorrect group like smokers, in which case you pay not only the additional expected incurred costs for your smoking, but a large share of the costs which should be allocated to protected groups.

Your examples miss the point. There is a major difference between people voluntarily co-operating in their own self-interest and people being compelled to co-operate in (and fund) activities that are wholly against their self-interest. Roads and schools should be private, and should be paid for by the people who use them, directly or indirectly. When you let the government do it, you end up with poorly maintained roads that don't go where people want them to go and poor schools that don't teach what parents want them to teach. Competition and the free market always provides a better solution, if it is allowed to do so. Government steps in and dictates what should be done and how, and the result is inferior services at higher costs. One of my favorite quotes: "that government does not provide shoes does not mean that men go barefoot." Of course, nowadays governent does provide shoes.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 1999 8:45 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: Telcos, subsidies and free rides.

One more point on flood insurance, I saw a guy on the TV news who could be a poster child for abuses of the taxpayer by people like him in cahoots with FEMA.

In 16 of the last 18 years he has been flooded out, and has collected $880,000 over the years for a house worth maybe $35,000 somewhere near a river in Georgia and says he has no plans to move since he likes the area and the Feds keeping paying for his house rebuilding...!

From my times in Iceland I remember the phone books are ordered by first name, last name, profession then address, etc. Seems a pretty small group of Vikings first settled there and there are only about 240,000 people on the island total. I wish I had gotten a copy of one from the PTT office but it was hard for us to get free and downtown since we were standing alert with the AWACS at NS Keflavik.

They have a very active Communist party [or did] in the coalition government and they worked ceaselessly to get all US forces kicked off the island. They never suceeded since the USAF agreed to provide round the clock search and rescue of any Icelandic fishing boat in any weather in exchange for air base rights for the Navy and the USAF during the cold war. They have no military forces of their own and SAR of that magnitude would cost them a fortune from a private contractor if anyone other than the military could do it...

Thanks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 1:42 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Gateway stores, CompUSA and a sheriff's deputy killed.

Taylor needed a cheap PS/2 connector keyboard for her 'new' company laptop, a compaq 4150 which was a nice machine 3 years ago but a bit dated now. We drove off to CompUSA in Montclair and found a decent one for $10.

While there I cruised the Apple section, prices for the value outrageous as always with Apple. I tried to find the 'Barbie accessory iBook' but the clerk said they got 10 in one day and they flew out the door that same day and they are eagerly awaiting re-supply...

They were re-doing their camera section both film and digital and I was amazed how small and inexpensive the APS film cams were and how expensive corresponding digital cameras can be. All of my high end 35 mm stuff ended up at my dad's house and since I choose not to communicate with him I can't easily retrieve any of it.

We found a Gateway store nearby trying to get back on the I-10 'parking lot' we use for a freeway and dropped in. I had been in one when they first opened in Corona nearly 2 years ago and they are still a great place to learn about and buy a PC if you are not a power user. [or even if you are...]

The sales people are well informed on the product line and not pushy, the whole place has different areas laid out according to price and function, home, business, laptops and high end-power user multimedia game machines, they have a different model of APS UPS on each display table. Pricing and optional upgrades are clearly spelled out on a side card, tons of brochures and fact sheets in bins at every kiosk, clean and well-lit with big windows and lots of daylight. The complete opposite of CompUSA and Fry's Electronics!

We had a local sheriff's deputy killed by a home invasion team one of whom was the grandson of the Mexican woman babysitting the house for the absentee owners, the SWAT team hunted down and killed him in the Santa Ana riverbed the other two escaped. The deputy was wearing a vest but the 'high caliber rifle' killed him as wielded by the 17 year old and the paper spent some time speculating if the bullet had entered under the vest, not realizing that almost all centerfire rifles will easily penetrate a Level III vest. The 17 year old had been sent to Mexico a year ago because he fell in with a bad crowd here in Pedley but he came back last month and continued his evil ways... How do they slip across the border so easily?

I sure wish we could hire the former East Germans to show us how to secure a border properly to keep these people out since our government seems to have no clue.

You can't really blame CompUSA or Frys. The economics have changed a great deal. When I worked in a computer store back in the mid 80's, a salesperson earned a commission of several hundred dollars for selling a PC. You might make a $50 commission for selling a video card or a copy of WordPerfect or Lotus. IBM PCs carried 40% gross margins, and software was close to 80%. That meant that a computer salesman could make decent money, even after discounting to higher volume accounts, and computer stores had their pick of competent people. No more. Computer stores can't afford to pay much more than minimum wage, and there's just no way to hire competent people for that.

And, yes, nearly any high-velocity centerfire rifle caliber will defeat any practicable body armor at any reasonable range. In fact, decent pistol loads will do it. I remember going with a group of guys to a police equipment conference. We'd just gotten some of the very first KTW rounds, and one of the guys with me was carrying a 9mm loaded with them. The demonstrator guy (I think it was Second Chance) was going on about their new-generation vests and how they almost eliminated blunt-force trauma injuries. One of the guys I was with was son of the police chief in the Pittsburgh suburb where the conference was held. The demonstrator guy offered to wear the vest while John shot him, to prove their confidence in the vest. John told him he didn't think that was a good idea. The guy insisted, but John said he wouldn't feel comfortable doing it. They finally agreed to do the demonstration with the vest mounted on the display mannequin. When John popped the KTW, it went through the front of the vest, through the mannequin, through the back of the vest, and buried itself in the concrete block wall behind the mannequin. The demonstrator guy didn't faint, but he did turn awfully pale.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farquhar [mailto:farquhar@access2k1.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 1:29 AM
To: Scott Kitterman
Cc: thompson@ttgnet.com; Dan.Bowman@worldnet.att.net
Subject: Re: Unlimited Free Tech Support

Agreed. I spent 14 hours today trying to build a Linux-based router with a friend. Some would think that was a frustrating experience, but I learned a ton. I know where a lot of configuration files are now that I wouldn't have known otherwise. I did eventually ask Brian Bilbrey for help, and we're not there yet (after 14 hours, I've pretty much had it). I have these "Baptisms by Fire" with almost every OS I work with. I would never choose to spend a Saturday this way, but I get one of these about once a year, and I never regret them. Congratulations on the completion of your first PC. I think there are a lot of people out there who build PCs who really should just buy them, but if you're willing to invest the time to research the best components for your needs, put it all together, and install your OSs a couple (or a couple dozen) times, you might save a little money and you'll learn a whole lot. And in the end, I think you're better served.

Thanks for your support, and I hope your new PC serves you well.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@neteze.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 2:44 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Questionable Floppy Drives

Dear Bob,

Reading your mention of a questionable floppy drive inclines me to offer you (and readers) my solution to the problem. FWIW, I do, in self-defense, all of my computer construction and the necessary frequent UGs. Generally, in any problem situation, I try to switch in known-good parts and, by elimination, isolate the defective part. Saves me a lot of research and grey hairs. In the specific case of questionable FDDs, I have built a test stand consisting of a 3.5" FDD, a 5.25" FDD, and a 12" black jumper cable attached to the drive cage (from a defunct case), with an alligator clip on the free end of the jumper cable. I use Teac FDDs exclusively, as they have, for me, held up over the years beyond any reasonable expectation. I use the test stand thus:

1. Open the computer case, park the test stand alongside it, and clip the jumper to the case's metal frame.

2. connect the floppy cable (use the END plug, beyond the twist) & a power lead from the computer case to the equivalent FDD in the test stand. Insert a known-good floppy in the test stand drive.

3. Power up the computer. Switch to A:\, and do a dir. If you get the expected reading on the computer's monitor, most likely a bad FDD. Replace with a known-good, or new, FDD & test it in the computer.

4. If 3 (above) draws a blank, power down and connect the known-good floppy cable from the test stand to the MoBo's FDD socket and the test-stand's FDD. Double check for correct alignment of #1 pin (not all sockets are keyed). Repeat step 3. If it's a go, you possibly have a bad cable in the computer. Replace cable with a known-good cable & test as in steps 2 & 3.

5. If still a blank after step 4, you likely have a bad/disabled FDD socket on the MoBo. Bad news. Check the BIOS for proper settings for the questionable FDD. Adjust if necessary, and repeat step 4.

Additionally, the 5.25" FDD in the test stand serves to enable me to retrieve data that only exists on a 5.25" FD. Saves wasting a bay on a case for something used very seldom. This test stand cost nothing but the few minutes to cobble it together from salvage, and has saved me a lot of time & grief over the years. Highly recommended. The above may appear condescending and obvious to you. However, I attempted to set it up for the sake of clarity for even the rankest newbie that may eventually read it.

My best regards,

JHR

--
culam@neteze.com
[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]

Good idea. Unfortunately, I can't keep a test stand around here. I invariably end up pirating parts from it to build yet another system.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: J.H. Ricketson [mailto:culam@neteze.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 2:50 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: What is a Libertarian?

Dear Bob,

You may want to add me to your killfile. My annual income is < US$25.5K. I do not consider that "rich." Nevertheless, I now seem to have more disposable income than when I was busting my ass as a wage slave, making > than twice that much. There seems to be a lesson to be learned here, but I haven't figured it out yet.

Seriously though. The ongoing discussions anent subsidies, nukes vs. no nukes, gun control, etc have given me much pause for thought. As one of the foundations for useful thought, I would like to know what the Libertarian Party's Credo, platform, or agreed set of beliefs is. I would be much obliged if you would point me to an appropriate URL or reading, that sums up your take on "Libertarian." At this point, from my profound ignorance of the subject, it would seem to me that the ultimate logical result of libertarian belief would be total anarchy, with anyone at least morally free to eliminate or subjugate anyone else, for any reason or no reason at all. OTOH, the existence of a Libertarian Party implies that there is more to it than that, sinceat least some Libertarians accept at least enough social interaction & organization to form a party. This stops somewhere short of anarchy. I truly seek enlightenment & understanding so that I can perhaps offer some intelligent response in these forums. Any help would be appreciated. I don't expect a dissertation - you have other things to do - merely point me in the right direction. Admittedly, I have not as yet done searches on "Libertarian." I want something you agree with & recommend, since I respect your opinion (though I may not always agree!)

Best regards,

JHR
--
culam@neteze.com
[J.H. Ricketson in San Pablo]

Well, that makes you wealthy by our working definition. Everything is relative, but what I mean by "wealthy" is someone who never has to worry about where his next meal is coming from or what he'll do to stay dry if it rains.

If you want to learn about libertarianism, a good starting point would be www.libertarian.org. The first few paragraphs sum things up very well, and there are numerous links to other sources. There are many flavors of libertarianism from those of us (the "radical" or "anarchist" libertarians) who believe in abolishing government entirely to mainstream libertarians who admit that some government is inevitable. There's room for anyone, and "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is the common feeling. We don't necessarily agree on how much enough, but we all agree that what we have now is way too much.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 7:14 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: names

Bob, you wrote...

"As far as last names, I've always preferred the original Nordic method. My friend Steve Tucker has a son named Andrew. His full name should be Andrew Stevenson. If I have a daughter named Elizabeth, she becomes Elizabeth Robertsdaughter. If she marries Andrew, she becomes Elizabeth Stevenson"

The "Nordic method" had a few more wrinkles to it than that, notably when you have several children. You might want to check out a short overview on that from the Swedish perspective, which I put up as http://www.leuf.org/family/surname.htm some time ago.

It becomes somewhat easier (esp from the genealogical perspective) if you have a limited form of double-naming so that maiden names persist one step. I.e. Your hypothetical maried daughter above should then become Elizabeth Robertsdaughter Stevenson.

However, tracing lineage and keeping straight who is who through communities where 90% over the years end up having the same names, continually permutating the same A Bson and B Ason forms is not a trvial task, wasn't even for the locals at the time. (And does beg the question of legitimacy in any case -- an issue even then.)

Anyway, why should Elizabeth lose her surname when getting married? For that matter, what about having the name of her mother (Elizabeth Barbarasdaughter)? As these few "obvious" issues suggest, naming is non-trivial, and what works and is acceptable depends very much on social context.

BTW, I'm sure Chris could explain this in more detail since he has one, but the double surname custom in England harks back to landowner-class traditions, in that women could have (usually inherited) land title that did not automatically become the property of an eventual husband. For example, a "Smythe" estate would remain in the sole possession of an only daughter, let's call her Jane, unless she explicitly deeded it to another. If she married John Case, she would (usually) become Jane Smythe-Case, as would any children by him, the Smythe part indicating the holder of the property title (passed on to *her* children, while the Case part in any common children indicating their right to any "Case" estate).

Subsequent marriage and issue naming in already hyphened surnames was determined in various ways at different times and in different circumstances. Property rights would probably be consolidated with a male descendent under one name at some point.

This illustrates one of the main socioeconomic forces that commonly determined naming customs in Europe -- property (land) ownership.

Furthermore, you find double surnames (without hyphen) the default rule in several European countries, e.g. Belgium and Spain.

/ Bo
--
"Bo Leuf" bo@leuf.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

Thanks. I stand corrected. Of course, English is poor in terms that indicate particular family relationships. Cultures that use the naming method we're discussing usually have much more detailed words. In English, for example, "uncle" indicates the male sibling of one's mother or father. We sometimes use modifiers, e.g. "paternal uncle", but our words are imprecise. Some cultures use entirely different words to indicate such relationships. I recall reading of one language, I forget which, that had a specific word to indicate "my mother's second eldest half-brother by the third marriage of her father" or some such Byzantine relationship. If we used patronymics and so on, we'd doubtless have such terms in our language.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ward-Johnson [mailto:chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 11:32 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: Phone and data costs

"It never ceases to amaze me that people who are politically deranged can otherwise be such smart people and such good company" -

I know just how you feel.

My politics have changed 180 degrees once already - in 1979, when I voted for the first time, I was one of the proud band of young Tories who voted Mrs Thatcher into power. I didn't make that mistake again, and don't plan on doing so - not even if I do get another 25 years, which seems unlikely.

Your father was half-right: socialism is flawed in the way it's been practised: come the glorious day, however....(this is a joke, taken from an old British sitcom about the Tooting Popular Front starring Robert Lindsay as an urban terrorist. Very funny at the time).

Talking of British sitcoms, have you seen Rowan Atkinson's 'Thin Blue Line'? There was a special on last night and, as Wendy was out again, I got to watch it all and laugh myself silly. He's a police inspector, if you haven't seen it, and it's well worth searching out the videos if they're available over there.

And I see from your daynotes that we've been having a flame war, according to another of your correspondents. Blimey, I'd have worn my Nomex suit if I'd known this was a flame war

Regards
Chris Ward-Johnson
chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk
Dr Keyboard - Computing Answers You Can Understand
http://www.drkeyboard.co.uk

No, I haven't seen Thin Blue Line, but Barbara and I are hoping that someone here runs it. I wish our cable system would just have done with it and pick up the BBC.

Nah, this isn't a flame war. Flame wars are characterized by ad hominem attacks devoid of substantive content. We engage in ad hominem attacks, but with lots of substantive content. It also helps that we both have a dry sense of humor. I was about to say that we were both civilized, but that isn't true, of course. You're civilized, in the true sense of the word. I'm not. Civilization followed barbarism. I'm not sure if I'm a barbarian throwback or one of the new order that will follow civilization. But I'm sure not civilized. As you might guess from my name, I'm of Scots heritage. Perhaps that explains it.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Edmund Hack [mailto:echack@ev1.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 12:38 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: PC Power and Cooling - Taxes - Telecom subsidies

I am looking to build a system from parts and, following your advice, looked into PC Power and Cooling cases. I'm trying to replace the family games and bookkeeping system (a Pentium 120), which is in a desktop case. Unfortunately, PCP&C only sells tower and mid-tower cases. Any suggestions for an alternative, or could the mid-tower be used on its side? (It is also my luck that just as I get the time and bucks to do the job, memory prices skyrocket.)

On taxes and subsidies. You estimated: "All told, when all hidden taxes are considered, the average middle-class person in the United States probably pays about one third of his gross income to the federal government and another third to various state, local, and city authorities."

In the US, government consumes right at 45% of personal income - this is based on the "tax freedom day" each year being in May. Tax freedom day is the day each year that each of us "stops working for government" and works for ourselves, as calculated by a taxpayer's rights organization. One interesting fact is that the day has stayed about the same, even as the marginal rates in federal taxes declined. In addition, the percentage of the GDP consumed by government has stayed pretty much constant since the 50s, but where it is spent has shifted.

On telecom subsidies, you are off base. Look in the current Newsweek for a pretty good rundown on how your phone bill is structured (and why). In short: local service is offered at a loss by the Baby Bells. They make all their profits from two things: the per-minute charges on long distance they collect from the LD companies and semi-regulated offerings like Caller ID, wiring insurance, Call Waiting, etc. (For and example in another industry, I read in the Wall Street Journal that the Best Buy chain of appliance and electronics stores made all their profit in their last fiscal year from selling extended warranties. Selling CDs, washers, TVs and computers was break-even.)

Given this, flat-rate long distance is pretty much impossible, and flat-rate local service seems to be confined to smaller urban areas and Southern states - most big cities have a "message unit" system that is like a prepaid long distance system. You buy message units in advance for use in the upcoming month. Each call is charged one or more units based on distance, etc. Unused units are forfeited. Also guess why the Baby Bells wanted to get ISPs classified as LD companies a few years ago - to collect that 1 to 2 cents per minute on each end of the phone call. The whole process is so political and run by the telco lawyers in cahoots with local legislatures and PUCs that only the most transparent abuses of the regulatory regime are curbed. It is also easily corrupted since few reporters in the general media outlets understand it well enough to report accurately.

Oh, by the way, flood insurance (at least in coastal Texas) does have an upper $$ limit on what it covers, on the order of $150,000. I bought it even though I am out of the floodplain, as a backup in case of a severe hurricane.

As far as the system, I like PPC cases, but the really important part is the power supply. If you can find a decent desktop case without a power supply, just buy a PPC power supply to fit it. I don't build systems in desktop cases any more. Haven't for years. So I can't really recommend anything from personal experience, which is really the only thing I base recommendations on.

As far as tax freedom day, that's totally bogus. It ignores any number of hidden and subtle taxes, not least of which is the so-called "employer portion" of social security. Everyone in this country pays about 15% of their gross income in social security taxes. Granted, your employer simply withholds their portion, which you never see, but it's a tax you're paying nonetheless. Add in all of the thousands of excise and special taxes as well. I pay more than 45% just in obvious taxes. Once the non-obvious ones are added in, I come in at about 2/3 for the government and 1/3 for me. Most middle-class people pay similar rates, although very few of them realize it.

Believe me, I have a lot more knowledge of phone company tariffs than I'm likely to find in a Newsweek article. I used to deal with them all the time. As far as interconnect charges, those are not so much a subsidy of local exchange carriers by long distance carriers as they are access charges raised by the LECs in exchange for granting the long haul carriers access to their networks. I haven't checked lately, but I believe they're in the 1 cent/minute range, which makes $15/month flat long distance easily do-able. As I said, there would initially be a flood of long-distance calls. But once the novelty wore off, people would no more be inclined to spend a long time talking long distance than they are now to spend a long time on local calls. Message unites are not are ubiquitous as you believe. By and large, free unmetered local calling is still the norm throughout the US.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: James T. Crider [mailto:jcrider@tdn.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 6:23 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com; tom@syroidmanor.com; swallbridge@home.com; chriswj@mostxlnt.co.uk; bilbrey@pacbell.netmbeland@access2k1.net
Subject: Permission to copy style

Guys:

I read your journals as well as the others in the Daynotes Gang. I am starting my own web page with a journal and would like to copy something off each of you if you don't mind. I would never copy content just some of the style and structure off each of your web pages. Any text would only be used with your permission of course. If you have any problem with me copying something off your web pages please let me know.

I am a physician and do not have the computer expertise that you guys have. My journal will not be about computers as much as it will be about things that happen to me in my daily life. That will of course include computers as I love to play with them. My family and close friends always seem to be interested in what I do during the day so I thought I would write it down and see if anyone other than my family reads it. I don't have the writing talent that all of you seem to have but by doing it hopefully I will get better. My journal will be called "Doc's Progress Notes" and will be at docjim.com. The site is under construction at the present time and there is no content there yet. If you have time in the future please surf by and give me any feedback you care to about the site and journal.

I really enjoy reading you guys and have learned a lot from each of you. Keep up the good work.

Jim Crider
(jcrider@tdn.com)

All of my text is copyrighted, and I claim a compilation copyright on the site itself. However, that applies only to content. Although it is possible to claim rights to a "look and feel" I do not do so, nor I feel sure will anyone else in the group you are soliciting permissions from. But asking permission is always appreciated, whether it's technically necessary or not. Please feel free to use any aspects or design elements from this site that you find useful.

 


 

 

 

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Tuesday, 19 October 1999

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I simply had to respond to this week's Byte Media Lab column, written by Alex Pournelle and David Em. It's titled Onstream's 50-GB Backup Tape Is Ready For Prime Time. I don't think that's true, not by a long shot. Here's what I sent them:

Your experience with these drives has obviously been better than mine. I wanted to like them, for all the reasons you mention.

OnStream first sent me the DI30 ATAPI version with a half dozen tapes. I used it extensively, on both Windows NT and Windows 98. The problem is that the Echo software is unusable under NT4. I've used several versions of Echo, including beta versions and the latest shipping versions. All of them bluescreen frequently under NT4, this on several different systems. The early Echo releases also bluescreened on Win9X, albeit less frequently than with NT4. Echo 2.1.11 seems to run reliably under Windows 98, which allows me to recommend the DI30 for Win9X users. But I wouldn't recommend it for NT4 users under any circumstances.

Also, although you mention compression, what you don't mention is that the compression algorithm used by Echo is horrendous. I typically got throughput of 45 to 50 MB/min running uncompressed, but turning on compression drops this to 17 to 22 MB/min. I spoke to OnStream's technical executives, who acknowledged this problem and suggested that I use Echo with compression disabled. In effect, Echo is unusable with compression enabled. That was in Echo versions 2.0.8 and 2.1.11. They may fix it in 3.0, if they ever get around to shipping it. They've released and withdrawn 3.0 once already.

OnStream also sent me an SC50 version. I can't report any experience with this drive, for the simple reason that the SCSI cable that OnStream supplied won't fit the drive. Not that it is the wrong cable, you understand. It's the right cable, but the drive was made so poorly that the cable won't fit the connector on the drive. I complained to OnStream some months ago about the ATA connector on the DI30 drive. They used bare pins instead of spending an extra 25 cents to put a shrouded connector on the drive. The absence of the collar on that connector made it far too easy to install the ATA cable improperly aligned. OnStream said that their new production runs would use a shrouded connector.

So I was surprised to find that the SC50 drive used bare pins for the SCSI connector on the drive. I could have lived with that, although that's a pretty poor situation for a $700 tape drive. What I couldn't live with was that the male key on the SCSI cable fits a female slot that is cut in the circuit board of the drive. That slot was cut in the wrong location, making it impossible to connect the cable without either filing down the key on the cable or cutting a new slot in the circuit board. There's no excuse for that on a drive that costs this much. It makes me wonder a great deal about what other shortcuts OnStream may have taken with this drive.

And that remains my position. The OnStream DI30 stays on my recommended list for Windows 9X users. I've been using it for several months, and it works as it's supposed to. They still need to fix some aspects of the Echo software, notably compression, but nowhere else can you find a $250 tape drive that stores 15 GB on $30 tapes. The size of hard drives nowadays means that something this size is needed, and I don't know of any alternative to the OnStream DI30. But there's no way I can recommend the DI30 for NT4 users, at least until they release a version of Echo that works reliably under NT4, and the botched SCSI connector on the SC50 makes me very leery of even considering that drive. Perhaps I'm being unfair to OnStream. Everyone ships a bad unit once in a while. But that seems beyond the pale to me.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Yerka [mailto:leshaworks@iname.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 1999 8:51 PM
To: Bob Thompson
Subject: Phones and free rides

Dear Bob:

I've been following the recent "subsidies" debate with interest. It reminds me of a debate I had with my father-in-law a number of years ago. He was offended when I suggested that most "subsidies" to individuals in the U.S. were actually to the "middle or upper class." If you look at what a welfare mother in Boston would receive vs. what a middle class home owner (him and I) would get in deductions in Massachusetts off state and federal taxes, etc. for mortgages, health costs, business deductions, it is amazing how fast the "deductions" add up. Of course, as a libertarian, you recognize the true problem: it is the fact we pay for our society with a terribly screwed up method called taxation. The other problem is we won't "fix it" because we ALL get some benefit from it and are all afraid we'll be the ones to "lose" in the fix.

As to phone subsidies I think it could be argued that previous generations "subsidized" my phone service. They probably paid the bulk of the cost for hanging the wire, I simply pay a cost to maintain it. And yes I know that the phone company wrote those costs off over time but a lot of other people were arround paying higher costs previous to my birth so that I can now have telcos fighting to offer the cheapest cost for their services.

For myself I see it as a question of self interest. It is in my self interest to be willing to pay more on my phone bill that "universal access" is at least attempted. I am protecting myself against the possibility that I will at some time need to be located in a marginal area. I do not want to leave it up to the interests of a company to dictate what is adequate for me. I'm buying insurance.

I see only one other arguement to "subsidize" communications (phone, broadband, etc.). The better the communications the easier it is for free ideas to spread. The less "unknown" that other person is. I may never meet you face-to-face and if I heard your beliefs filtered through others I might dismiss you as a "gun totting anti-government wacko." But this box (the end result of communication by many individuals) and other boxes and much wire paid for by a lot of people who never knew us allows me to "meet" you, see many of your thoughts and find that I can respect you and agree with much you say and disagree with the rest. I don't want to depend on the good graces of any company deciding whether that access is too costly because even it I can afford it, it is not cost effective if some of my neighbors can't afford it.

But, also, I don't want anyone to dictate that we must pay for subsidies unilaterily. It all dictates a distrust of me and the people arround me. That we'll all "take the money and run..." I suspect that this is what agravates you the most (It does me). That you don't have a choice in the matter. If you cannot choose not to participate; then why seek for acceptable reasons to participate.

Well, I can't let that one pass. Equating welfare payments to tax deductions is a logical absurdity. If a mugger steals your wallet but agrees to let you keep $10 of your own money for cab fare, no reasonable person could take the position that that mugger has given you something. He simply stole less from you than he might have done.

Infrastructure costs can't really be considered a subsidy, either, any more than I'm subsidizing you if I rush out and buy the latest technology gadget at a premium price and you wait until the price has dropped. In either case, the early adopter is voluntarily paying a premium in exchange for being the first kid on the block to have the new toy. Telcos don't operate that way, anyway. They're in it for the long haul. When they run cable to a new development, they do so fully aware that they'll not recoup their costs for some time to come. They don't charge a premium to the initial users who connect to their drops. They simply establish a fixed monthly fee that will enable them to amortize their costs in a reasonable period. Once costs are recouped, the ongoing surplus pays for maintenance, upgrades, etc. That's not true with data, however. When I first asked BellSouth about getting ISDN to my home, they offered to install it immediately if I was willing to pay the $5,000 cost necessary to install the downstream equipment needed to get ISDN to my neighborhood. I told them I'd wait.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 1999 5:00 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: names

Bob,

English is poor in terms that indicate particular family relationships. Cultures that use the naming method we're discussing usually have much more detailed words.

True. When Donald Duck was originally translated into Swedish, the "uncle" relationships in that tree were not generally known. Hence the translator, who had to choose, picked the form "farbror", meaning father's brother. This turned out to be wrong since Disney for some reason had a preference for mother's brother in most cases, but the legacy of that faulty translation lives on. (Disney animals evidently had very dysfunctional families...)

You might be interested to know that "uncle" actually comes from the Latin meaning of mother's brother, which form (avuncular) was in turn a diminuative of the word for (mother's) grandfather. I've in a cursory search not found any reference to any older English term that might have been used for father's brother, even though its existance is certainly implied in the old english usages of uncle and equivalent OE terms.

One can only speculate about why "uncle" became generic in this way in English. My own theory is that if one maps the social space in families, one finds that the mother's relations are bound closer than the father's side. A mother's brother probably represents a closer bond to the children because of his lifetime bond to the mother. In Swedish usage, "farbror" has in fact become a generic term for any adult male stranger, in addition to the original meaning of father's brother, while "morbror" is strictly family.

As we know, maternal lineage is relatively certain, whereas paternal is more circumstantial, and this may have some bearing on the matter, especially in societies where local ruler's right to wedding night was common (e.g. during the Norman rule of England). Uncle as a word evidently came in via old French, perhaps via the Normans?

/ Bo
--
"Bo Leuf"
bo@leuf.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob Campbell [mailto:rpcampbell@yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 1999 11:42 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Discussion group software

Robert:

One thing you could try to cut down on your time spent on email discussions is Philip Greenspun's "Loquacious" service, which would allow you set up comment "forums".

http://www.greenspun.com/com/home.html

Thanks. I'll look at it.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Lee_Mandell@iceinc.com [mailto:Lee_Mandell@iceinc.com]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 1999 1:25 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Fact and Fiction

I recall reading of one language, I forget which, that had a specific word to indicate "my mother's second eldest half-brother by the third marriage of her father" or some such Byzantine relationship.

Maybe from RAH "Citizien of the Galaxy", You know when Thor was living amongst the FreeTraders.

Well, perhaps. I've certainly read and re-read Heinlein enough. But in this case, I'm pretty sure that I'm thinking of a real language spoken somewhere on this planet.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Joshua D. Boyd [mailto:jdboyd@cs.millersv.edu]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 1999 9:36 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Names

In responce to your comments on Friday about names :

As far as last names, I've always preferred the original Nordic method. My friend Steve Tucker has a son named Andrew. His full name should be Andrew Stevenson. If I have a daughter named Elizabeth, she becomes Elizabeth Robertsdaughter. If she marries Andrew, she becomes Elizabeth Stevenson. If they have a son William, he becomes William Andrewson. And so on. I believe they still use this method in Iceland, but not elsewhere.

A somewhat similar method is used in Ethiopia.

A woman's first name is Sarah Young. She maries a man named Bob Smith. Her last name becomes Smith, and their children have the last name of Bob Actually, the system used officiall goes bad for generations, but to my under standing they don't really use that in day to day life. This system does cause some confusion if you want to call Mary Bob, because maybe you never found out what her fathers last name was, which is what the phone number would be listed under.

-- Joshua Boyd
http://catpro.dragonfire.net/joshua

Thanks. I wasn't aware of that.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Syroid [mailto:tom@syroidmanor.com]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 1999 10:52 PM
To: Robert Thompson
Subject: Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged

Bob,

Hope you're feeling better; I know what a bear it is to try and write when under the weather.

On a personal note, I've been following your exchanges with Chris with interest. While I'm torn on some of the issues discussed (probably because I've not reflected on them thoroughly enough and from all angles), I do concur with your affinity for the insights portrayed in Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I first read it 15 years ago and was captivated by the philosophies she puts forward. It's one of a half-dozen books of this nature I've read at least 5 or 6 times. Your mention of it the other day reminded me that it's time to immerse myself in the world of John Galt again. The book is not an easy read by any means, but no one comes away from this classic untouched.

Be Well,

/tom

Better today than yesterday, thanks, although I'm still not running at 100%. Surprisingly, I actually got some work done yesterday. As far as Atlas Shrugged, I don't think anyone would regard it as an easy read, but it is indeed worth reading and re-reading. For at least 20 years, I re-read it at least every couple of years, but it's now probably been five years since I last read it. I think I'll put it in my stack to read again soon.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 1999 10:47 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Your email load.

Farm out half your email for Barbara to answer and post if she is not too busy...

I think the forum thing would probably be best if you can find the time to set up the software I don't have a clue how it works or who makes it or if it's feasible.

Now there's an idea, although one Barbara probably won't thank you for. Actually, Tom Syroid called me yesterday with what may be a solution. He's bringing up an experimental newsgroup server, and offered to host a newsgroup for me. I was initially concerned because I didn't want to use anything that would require a separate client to access, but he assures me that it can be set up to serve HTTP/HTML as easily as NNTP. We'll see. Whatever happens, it'll probably be a while.

 


 

 

 

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Wednesday, 20 October 1999

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Here's depressing news. The newspaper this morning reports that Encyclopedia Britannica is on its last legs. In desperation, they've eliminated the $89 annual fee previously required to access their web site and have started using banner ads to generate revenue. Their print version, which costs $1,250, simply isn't selling at adequate levels to sustain the company. Libraries are less inclined to buy it than they used to be, both because of the cost and because it is perceived as being less useful than some of its more modern competitors. People no longer buy it because of its cost and because products like Encarta are inexpensive, ubiquitous, and glitzier. Their employee count has dropped from about 2,600 in 1989 to 300 today. They dropped door-to-door sales in 1996. This looks like a company that's not going to be around much longer, more's the pity. The Grand Old Lady has become a victim of Encyclopedia McNuggets.

And the newspaper announced another significant change for an old-line company. IBM, which has sold its PCs at retail since the PC first shipped in 1981, will no longer do so. In an attempt to reduce costs, IBM is going to a 100% Internet sales model. I remember when Dell first began selling PCs mail-order, and were joined shortly thereafter by Gateway, Northgate, CompuAdd, and others. IBM, Compaq, and others with traditional distribution channels scoffed at these new guys. It's now come full circle.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Yerka [mailto:leshaworks@iname.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 3:09 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: Phones and free rides

Dear Bob:

Well, I can't let that one pass. Equating welfare payments to tax deductions is a logical absurdity. If a mugger steals your wallet but agrees to let you keep $10 of your own money for cab fare, no reasonable person could take the position that that mugger has given you something. He simply stole less from you than he might have done.

Whose the mugger? Ourselves? We choose to live under our form of government and that sometimes leads to the tyranny of the majority. If you mean that you and I are being "mugged" by the government in the form of taxes than we can either work toward changing that or pack up and move on. That welfare person is probably also getting mugged by our government. When it is more profitable to remain on welfare than to get a job... Who made that possible? Entry level jobs used to mean just that: you got through the door to a business and got a chance to develop and rise in that company. Now entry level mean you get to work at that McDonald's down the street and get minimum wage till the end.

And, I still say I make out better under the system--get more back--than that welfare recpient. But you are right also, it is absurd because I do better only because I own more "things" and I OWE more money. I am "rewarded" by how I manipulate the system not how well I contribute to my family, friends or community. I started with more also: Parents in the system who gave me a good upbringing and taught me to work and save for school and were able to support me as a teenager while I saved my money for college.

As I said before, I resent the lack of choice. I hate the welfare system because I wouldn't pay for it given a choice. Not because I think most recipients are lazy freeloaders but because I think most of the administrators that run it are. Not to mention most of the planners. They exist to maintain themselves. It seems a classic, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." But, I would contribute to a rational system that helped but demanded commitment. It is in my self interest and that of my son's future to give everyone in our society the best opportunity possible.

We shouldn't HAVE to pay for Fred's $200 telephone support. You get it on the ballot and I'd vote with you in a flash. But, I reserve the right to CHOOSE, personally, to help support with what amount I feel is appropriate.

Well, you're making some tacit assumptions here that I don't concede. First, that the government has a valid claim to 100% of all of our property, and that we should be grateful for whatever small portion they allow us to retain. Wrong. If you don't see the difference between the government taking less from me than they might otherwise and the government giving money to someone, there's just no basis for continuing this conversation. Second, that if I don't like what's going on my only choice is to move elsewhere.Wrong again. If the mob is extorting protection money from a shopowner, one doesn't blame the shopowner for failing to move elsewhere. I don't believe in democracy, nor in the rule of the majority. I never signed the Constitution, and have no obligations under it. The government, however, is obligated under it, and more particularly under the Bill of Rights.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Rudzki [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 8:10 PM
To: Robert B. Thompson
Subject: Anand dead at 17!

This just in. Anand died from a Merced overheating and exploding while he was overclocking it!

This has to be true, I saw it on the Web... =8^-)

Robert Rudzki
NRA Life Member BPL2997J-029368
rasterho@pacbell.net
http://home.pacbell.net/rasterho
"If the Government did not intend illegal aliens to have the vote, why do they print the ballot and election materials in Spanish...?"

Well, perhaps I'm humor-impaired, but I thought that was one of the more tasteless things I'd seen recently. I forwarded a copy of that URL to Anand to give him the opportunity to use Mark Twain's immortal reply, "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Lee_Mandell@iceinc.com [mailto:Lee_Mandell@iceinc.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 11:06 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: RE: Fact and Fiction - the actual quote

thompson@ttgnet.com,Internet writes:

Well, perhaps. I've certainly read and re-read Heinlein enough. But in this case, I'm pretty sure that I'm thinking of a real language spoken somewhere on this planet.

Just for the hell of it I looked up the quote I was reminded of (after all it never hurts to have an excuse to revisit Heinlien -

"The Free Traders can state a relationship such as 'my maternal foster half-stepuncle by marriage, once removed and now deceased' in one word, one which means that relationship and not other."

/lrm
(no reply necessary)

I do remember reading that, now that you mention it. But I wonder if Heinlein based this on an actual human society. I suspect he did. I wish I could ask him.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Rudzki [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 3:23 AM
To: Robert B. Thompson
Subject: Home WinGate, WebCam2 and no-fault car insurance.

I was a busy little bee today trying to get access to my email and the Web over a dial-up line shared with Home WinGate [http://www.deerfield.com] 3.0.5, how hard can that be especially since it has worked fine for weeks...?

I think my old house must be over an old Indian burial ground and the souls of the dead were not properly appeased when the area was developed and sold into residential lots back in 1912!

I first tried the Standard demo version since you said good things about it, and once I figured out the client was not necessary and in fact did not work properly under WinNT 4.0 I just used the proxy server settings for IE 4.01 and Bob was my uncle.

But then the demo expired so I sent them $40 and got the Home version key with GDP and a 3-user license. Boy and howdy, that was a big mistake!

It worked OK with 3.0.4 and when I got 3.0.5 installed everything refused to work except intermittently which drove me up the wall trying to troubleshoot the system. I finally zapped everything WinGate and downloaded another demo of Standard I will send them the difference in money since it works fine and I do know how to configure stuff for TCP/IP networking and making proxies work...

Of course I installed IE 5 and new WebCam2 software and upgraded all sorts of drivers, but I did a total shutdown between each, thinking that would fix all the dependencies...

Creative at: http://creative.com has a neat WebCam2 monitor program that will sense motion in the CCD image and only then FTP the .jpg image to your site or email box, rather than wasting bandwidth every 15 minutes uploading a static image that is no different from the last 6 hours worth of pictures.

Subsidies that are not as obvious as the telco 'rural lifeline phone service' or wiring the schools for Internet access [Hell, let's teach them how read English first...!] the people in the Big Four Border States [ie, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas] can tell you about illegal aliens and the old smog-belching cars they drive so carelessly with no insurance.

My own insurance agent said she is against mandatory car insurance and car seizure policies, she told me just get the $52 coverage for un-insured motorist! [which I already have.]

$52 times 21 million drivers is a lot of money to subsidize people with no assets who wreck your car and then head south to the border until things cool off up here.

State Farm [my insurer] led the fight against computerizing and sending policy information to the State DMV so the police would know immediately if a car was un-insured just by running the plates. They said it would be too much trouble and unknown technology to do it!

Florida has a system where the DMV prints lists by zip code of car plates with no insurance and pays $50 per plate retrieved as a bounty! [they only have rear plates.]

A couple of guys with portable battery screwdrivers can make a lot of money on Sunday night just snagging plates from un-insured bozos in certain zip codes. We have zip codes here locally where 90% of the drivers don't have car insurance or speak English... Then try driving in Mexico with US plates and see what happens if you are hit by a local down there.

As far as WinGate, I'm not sure what the problem is. I'm currently running the unlimited version of 3.0.2, and haven't had any problems. I started using WinGate back in the days when they had a free 2- or 3-user version, and upgraded once the number of PCs around here made that impractical. As far as I'm aware, the current products differ only in the number of concurrent users and the utilities included, so I'm not sure why you'd have problems with Home and none with Standard.

As far as automobile insurance, I'm not sure what to think.

 


 

 

 

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Thursday, 21 October 1999

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This has been a strange week for equipment problems. My mother's television stopped working late last week. Barbara hauled it over to our favorite appliance repair place Monday. When the guy plugged it in, it worked fine. He popped the lid and did some tests and couldn't find anything wrong. We hauled it back yesterday, plugged it in, and it's been working fine ever since.

Yesterday evening I decided to see what I could do about my floppy drive problem on kiwi. I'd gotten a new floppy drive which didn't work. Barbara dropped by CSO to swap that one for a replacement, which didn't work either. Last night, I turned on the machine and the light on the floppy drive came on solid as usual. I popped the lid on my IDE test bed machine and pulled the FDD from it. That one was also a Mitsumi (I prefer Teac, but you go with what's available) but a different model from the ones I'd been having problems with. When I connected that FDD, the system booted normally. Aha, I thought. CSO must have gotten a bad batch of Mitsumi FDDs. I don't know what made me do it, but I disconnected the good FDD and reconnected the one that wouldn't work. When I powered up the system, it booted normally and the FDD has been working properly ever since. It's currently literally hanging from the power supply cable, but it happily boots the Windows 98 SE startup disk.

Which brings up another interesting issue. Shawn Wallbridge notes on his page this morning that he installed Windows 98 SE by booting it from CD-ROM. I don't know how he did that, because I sure can't. I plan to make kiwi a triple-boot system, Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, and Windows 2000 Professional. While kiwi was floppy-less, I decided to do an install from CD. I reconfigured BIOS Setup to boot first from CD, put the Windows 98 SE (full version) CD in the drive and restarted. The system refused to boot to that CD. I then put the Windows 2000 Professional Beta 3 RC2 CD in the drive and restarted. W2K booted from the CD and installed normally. I then replaced the W2K CD with the Win98 CD and restarted. Another boot failure. My system simply won't boot from the Win98 SE CD. So how come Shawn's will?

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 12:18 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Enclyclopaedia Britannica

Enclyclopaedia Britannica was sold by the University of Chicago quite some years ago, when its revenue no longer made it an 'endowment asset'. It was later controlled by the Benton family of advertising fame (Benton and Bowles) who were also heavy contributors to the U of C.

I have a college friend who became head of sales there, and he fled about half-dozen years ago, seeing the handwriting on the wall with competition from Encarta and the likes. However, he still believed the product to be the best on the market when he left. He has told me that their electronic version has not been identical to the printed one, electronic being scaled down--purposely, so as not to dilute the value of the print product. BBC story at seems to contradict that, though.

Over the years, I have worked with quite a few people who passed through the Britannica operation, and all were high achievers. It will be sad if it cannot survive. I would say the U of Chicago could always pick it back up to keep the institution from dying, but their future is about as unassured as Britannica's, as a liberal arts education--even the best in the nation--is no longer an item people are buying.

The irony is that Microsoft is now finding that renewal sales of Encarta are not high enough to sustain the product. I know a lot of people like Encarta--my wife in her librarian role told me that it actually serves the needs of students better than Britannica--but the fact remains that Encarta is a "garbage" encyclopedia, based, I believe, on Funk & Wagnalls. That a piece of junk like that can doom a serious encyclopedia does not bode well.

Of course, EB really did themselves in. They faced the classic conundrum: given that there were huge fixed costs associated with maintaining their content, were they better off focusing on selling a relatively low number of copies at a very high profit per copy or a huge number of copies at a relatively low profit per copy? What they should have done, and I said this ten years ago, was focus on getting their content onto CD in multimedia form and then sell the hell out of it. Millions of parents would have paid $59 or $99 for EB in a snazzy, Encarta-like format. Instead, they basically converted EB to a text-based CD form and attempted to sell it for something like $900. They've now dropped that to something like $80, I'm told, but it's too little and too late Or perhaps not too late. If they'd put EB into a snazzy graphical version on DVD, with hyperlinks between articles, video clips, etc., I'd buy a copy myself. So, I suspect, would a lot of other people.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [mailto:waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 1:31 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Humorous

If you haven't read http://www.theregister.co.uk/991018-000012.html it's worth the time. Funny bit of contrasting the online future of US vs. Europe.

Saw it, thanks. Apparently, we're all a bunch of rednecks who need to get a life.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 7:43 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: WinGate is fine now.

I think perhaps something in the Registry got a little off, I did load and unload a bunch of stuff and of course tried every configuration I could think of with many reboots in between. Who knows what all this code is really doing deep inside ram and the Registry?

In any event, the WinGate Standard 3.0.5 demo is working fine, I switched machines around, the Celeron 300A [still running at 300!] with 192 meg of pc100 ram is running the WebCam2 at the front window off the parallel port under Win950b and using the LAN connection to the Wingate machine. Which is now a dual PPro 180 HP Vectra X/U with only 64 meg of ram [I'd get more, but it is an odd type and must be used in pairs and costs a fortune!]

Yeah and if we had $50 bounties on un-insured plates I would make a lot of money in East Riverside at 0200 or get shot by gang-bangers... =8^-)

That woman who has a program to pay $200 to crackhead ho's in the ghetto to be sterilized put up a new billboard in LA and was promptly mobbed, had to flee for her life and the billboard was torn up by certain 'urban' people who think this is advocating genocide... Just what we need, more crack addicted babies being born to street 'people'. The mob got lots of favorable coverage on the Channel 7 news though...

Dunno. I've been running WinGate for probably three years now, with seldom a hiccough. As far as RAM for your HP Pentium Pro box, have you tried Crucial or Kingston? I'd guess your machine uses standard 72-pin FPM or EDO SIMMs. If you've given up because you're looking at HP's part number and pricing, Crucial or Kingston might be able to sell you equivalent RAM at market prices.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 11:45 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Muggers, the Feds and welfare.

Yerka writes:

"That welfare person is probably also getting mugged by our government. When it is more profitable to remain on welfare than to get a job... Who made that possible?"

Well here in LA you need about $12 per hour wages to equal getting off welfare and back in the Rust Belt it is as high as $17 per hour [New Hampshire]. Then add in child care and not being able to go bowling with your friends whenever you feel like it or party for weeks at a time and working for a living becomes a serious inconvenience to your lifestyle. That $5.75 per hour dead end job does not look real tempting from this perspective. And who can blame them?

The people that made it possible all went to school on the GI Bill right after The Second Great War got degrees in public policy, sociology and felt that government could solve all social problems just by giving free money and housing to poor people who came from the rural South to get those good wartime economy jobs up North but then got fired when all the GI's came back home.

Many of these liberals got hired by cities and the Feds and created much of the welfare state as we know it here in the US of A. Now we have 3-generation families on welfare, where no one they know has a job and they can't remember when anyone in the family did NOT get welfare...

Good point about not signing the Constitution, it does not bind the private citizen at all, just the Federal Mugger AKA The United States Government. And yet Federal intrusion grows everyday and so does our tax burden, where shall we move? Canada or Mexico? [I know, Ruby Ridge, ID...]

In fact Robert Bork has said that the Bill of Rights was not intended originally to apply to the States at all, it was first and foremost a muzzle and chain on the Federal usurpation of our rights by a distant uncaring Central government run by fools, incompetents, brazen thieves and megalomaniacs. [See Clinton, the IRS, BATF, DEA and Janet Reno, et al...]

Robert Rudzki
rasterho@pacbell.net
http://home.pacbell.net/rasterho

Why are felons exempted from gun registration laws based on their 5th Amendment rights?

Well, I think Bork is full of it. Note the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Jefferson and other radicals refused to support the Constitution unless the Bill of Rights was incorporated as a safeguard, and they fully intended these Rights to constrain state governments as well as the federal government.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Yerka [mailto:leshaworks@iname.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 11:40 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: Phones and free rides

Dear Bob:

Actually, I never said the government had a valid claim to 100% of anyone's money. I said that the whole idea of our tax system is absurd. Also, I didn't say your only choice was to pack up and leave. I said there were 2 choices change the system or move on. Maybe I should have said opt out of our "society" rather than participate.

Personally, I feel my money should only be the concern between myself and those I provide service to and those I purchase service from. Regrettably I've got to pay to play the system.

The problem we all have is that things are not structured for an individual to "pay as one goes" for "benefits" in our society. And many of those "benefits" I find very dubious. I am not convinced that much governments do is of any benefit. I do not like the idea that the government extracts what amounts to charity payments from me by extortion (pay taxes or go to jail). Of course, I don't like other organizations who do it by attempting to make me feel guilty either. I'm not adverse to charity but I'd really like to decide what is worth paying for. And that is what, ultimately, welfare is: government mandated charity.

There have been a number of groups religious or otherwise who have opted out of American society without leaving. Can you name any that have been able to take advantage of the full range of modern technology without having to pay the Dane his gold. It is neither fair nor right but life isn't fair.

The Constitution is presumptively a contract between ourselves: "We the People..." It and the Bill of Rights were as much, if not more, about restraining government as establishing government It comes with that outmoded ideal: citizenship. And we don't have a "Democracy" we have a "Representative" form of government. A democracy would let your voice and mind be heard by all and our proposals considered (and voted by all). All we get (mostly) is the chance to vote for someone who maybe will once or twice consider voting something like our ideas. And we can't turn to business and the free market because guess who is paying the bulk of the money to elect our government.

And that shop owner: I would blame him for being stupid if he doesn't recognized his choices. If it is the cost of doing business then he pays it or gets out of the business. If he can find a way of changing the mind of that mob that's great. But, if he refuses and stands his ground that mob will burn him out. I don't like that, its not fair but the history I've read certainly indicates this.

I guess we should break this off as I suspect we are on different but parallel tracks. We both think the system stinks but you'd say why have it at all while I think if we maybe change it it might work better. Thank you for this discussion it has reminded me that it isn't enough to just go along and work the system for my benefit.

No, you didn't say that the government has a claim on 100% of all our assets, but that is implicit in your argument. If you equate the government stealing less from me by allowing tax deductions and so on with the government giving money directly to someone else, then it logically follows that you must consider my assets to be the property of the government.

I also take issue with your apparent assumption that the government was intended to be a democracy. It was not. It was intended to be a republic. A democracy is a degraded form of republic. A synonym for democracy is "mob rule" and that is basically what we have now.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 2:26 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Pacbell DSL availability in Studio City, CA

Bob:

Whilst roaming various sites, I was struck that Pournelle bitterly complains he cannot get DSL or cable modem service in his area. Considering the demographics and all the rich people that live around there, DSL should be thick on the ground if not the local loop.

Well now. I used to live in North Hollywood prior to 1970 and spent many an hour riding my ten-speed bike around that area and Laurel Canyon and Ventura Blvd in Studio City was a familiar venue only about 2 miles from my house. Unfortunately it goes more uphill the further south you get on Laurel Canyon until Mullholland Dr. so I am less familiar with the side streets up there from 30 years ago.

Doing a Whois lookup on Pournelle's site yields a fax number 818-762-XXXX.

Doing a Zip2.com on Vendome Fine Wines at the same intersection listed above gives a phone number 818-766-XXXX. [my dad used to buy wine there until their prices went through the roof.] Heck, I used to have my car washed there when it was a classic California car-wash in the '50's style before Vendome had the entire corner lot condemned for $10 million and built his very fancy wine store over much local resident opposition...

Now I know that modern telco switches often have several exchanges in them, so I did the intuitive leap to the conclusion that Pournelle and Vendome being only half a mile apart are serviced from the same central office by PacBell.

Going to this site and inputting both 818-766 and 818-762 says that DSL is available depending on how far you are from the central office, it must be less than 17,500 feet and other line tests must be performed to actually establish if you really can have DSL installed.

So you may want to let Pournelle know about the PacBell DSL site, after years of their denials I finally discovered we can get DSL where I live as well, PacBell is not real good at marketing and consumer education of what they have for sale and where. Their DNS is terrible tonight as well, I finally plugged in Tayor's ISP's DNS into my dialer settings and it works fine now. My earlier problems with WinGate connecting I now suspect are more PacBell than I want to know...

I tell you this since I notice you are his admin contact on the Whois lookup and he would probably take the information better from you than from me, in fact I have not got his little auto response robot for the last couple of email messages I sent him, perhaps our ISP's are not on the same backbone lately... =8^-)

Pournelle is aware of the situation, as he's mentioned in View several times. His CO supports ADSL, but he's at the end of a long copper loop, outside the distance limits for ADSL. Actually, the 17,500 foot distance varies according to the exact DSL version in question. And, although they mention distance from the CO, what really matters is distance from the nearest fiber drop. My own home is at the very end of about 8 miles of copper from our CO, which is downtown. A year or so back, BellSouth installed a SLC in a parking lot about a mile from my house. There's no technical reason why they can't deliver xDSL from that SLC to my house, but they've not yet chosen to implement it. Soon, perhaps.

I definitely want DSL rather than a cable modem. Early adopters who were initially delighted with the throughput on their cable modems are now finding that the shared media/contention issue that I've mentioned previously is becoming a big problem. The throughput was fine so long as they were one of only a few people sharing the bandwidth. Now that they're sharing their segment with 250 kids downloading MP3s 24 hours a day, they're finding that throughput is plummeting.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 4:28 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: EB

Bob,

I kept trying the www.britannica.com link you posted but the server on that never responded. A search turned up http://www.eb.com/ instead, which did respond -- it refers back to the same non- responding link. Perhaps they are reworking the site to reflect the change. The free offer on the eb page is the usual 30-day trial.

It would indeed be sad to see EB become history, but sadder is that there is a distinct lack of public interest anywhere for in-depth encyclopedias -- even smaller ones. The public libraries I know of stopped renewing/updating any existing sets decades ago.

There was a massive project to publish a new national encyclopedia in Sweden started over 20 years ago, ordered by parliament no less -- initially sold on pre-subscription (buyers would receive volumes as they were ready, spread over many years). Subs were reported dismal to say the least, and there were periodic outcries of outrage in the press about the financial status of the project. IIRC, the last of the published 20 volumes came out about three years ago. (There are 3 yearly supplements so far.) The publisher tried to popularize the whole concept by sponsoring a Jeopardy! gameshow on TV.

I am sure that the publisher would have given up long ago had it not been a govt mandated project in the national interest. Price range is the typical $1000-2000 range for a large encyclopedia, depending on quality of binding. The product range was suplemented with atlas, dictionary ($300-400), and a (mediocre) multimedia version of the encyclopedia ($360). It's probably a safe bet that without the govt insistence, there would be no such modern encyclopedia in Swedish. The last effort in this direction was published in the 1950-60s.

I grew up with the World Book Encyclopedia (also found online these days http://www.worldbook.com/), and thus feel that the common CD multimedia "encyclopedias", while useful and much more portable, are far too shallow factually to be any real replacement for the kind of reference source that the original encyclopedias represented.

/ Bo

--
"Bo Leuf" bo@leuf.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

There was another article in the paper this morning, talking about how the new web site had been completely swamped yesterday. I guess that could have been predicted. I agree that it would be a great pity if EB disappears. Tom Syroid noted on his site yesterday that he has his grandfather's 1913 edition of EB and that much of it remains valid today. Barbara and I have a 15th edition (1985), which the library discarded! We bought it at one of the library's periodic book sales for $1 per volume, which must surely be a world record in terms of information gained per penny spent.

 


 

 

 

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Friday, 22 October 1999

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Boy, did I almost make a major blunder the other day. I'd about decided to buy an inkjet printer. If I bought one, I wouldn't consider anything except an HP model, so I went over to their web site to see what they had available. I seldom buy low-end models of anything, and this time was no exception. The DeskJet 970Cse looked to me like the best model to go with. It costs about $350 street, and has all kinds of neat features, including automatic duplexing. I was just about to plunk down my credit card to buy one when the new PC Magazine came. It had an article on printers, and what caught my eye was the cost of consumables.

The DeskJet 970 uses one black cartridge that costs about $30 and one color cartridge that costs about $34. PC Magazine did an ink run-down test, and the 970 printed, get this, 123.5 pages on a color cartridge, for an ink cost of about $0.28 per page. And the test page that PC Magazine used had only 30% color coverage and 5% black coverage. Printing an 8X10 photograph would cost nearly a dollar in ink. That's completely outrageous. Unfortunately, inkjet manufacturers have taken the King Gillette model to heart--give away the razor and sell the blades.

A properly designed inkjet printer would have four ink wells, a black one of perhaps 4 to 8 ounces (100 to 200 ml), and one each for cyan, magenta, and yellow, each perhaps one or two ounces. Ink should be sold in pint or quart containers, and should cost perhaps $5 a bottle, at most. The printer should have individually replaceable coarse and HEPA filters for each color feed, and a print head that is replaced every 10,000 or whatever pages for perhaps $25 or $40. Doing things that way would permit a consumables cost-per-page roughly equivalent to laser, and would probably put laser printers out of business for home and small office use. Of course, the price of the printers themselves would have to be increased to reflect their actual manufacturing costs, but I'd much rather pay $300 for a low-end to mid-range printer and not have to take out a second mortgage to buy ink.

Here's good news. USA Today reports that Internet mail may put the US Postal Service out of business. The volume of first class mail is dropping rapidly, and looks to drop even further as more business formerly done by first-class smail is now being done via email, notably invoices. The article says the impact will become severe by 2003, and the USPS may have to resort to charging higher fees for delivery to remote locations. That kind of violates their Prime Directive, and begs the question: If the postal service is granted a monopoly on first class mail on the basis of universal service at a flat rate, why do we need the postal service at all if they're not doing that any more? The USPS hopes to offset the loss of first-class revenue somewhat by increased Priority Mail and Parcel Post (!) usage by Internet retailers. Yeah, right. The collapse of the USPS can't come soon enough for me.

The Tecmar WangDAT 3900 DDS3 tape drive arrived Wednesday, and I installed it in kiwi yesterday afternoon. Right now, kiwi is running only Windows 2000 Professional RC2 (Build 2128). The WangDAT 3900 appears on the HCL for W2K and, in fact, is the only WangDAT model that does, so I figured I'd have no problem testing the drive with the built-in W2K backup applet. That turned out not to be the case. W2K recognized the WangDAT 3900 DDS3 drive as a 3400DX DDS2 drive, which is particularly strange because the 3400DX is explicitly shown on the HCL as not being supported. I have only DDS3 tapes, so of course the backup applet told me that I was using unrecognized media. That means I need to use a real backup program to access and test the drive. I have a copy of Arcada/Seagate/Veritas BackupExec around here somewhere. It's the latest version, but I don't know if it runs on W2K.

It's been too long since I mentioned how much I hate the Capslock key. I periodically accidentally bang it while I'm typing, and things go downhill rapidly from there. Just pressing it again to turn off the Capslock light doesn't help. Windows NT 4 becomes irretrievably confused. And it's not just that it generates all caps when it should be doing lower- or mixed-case. It also screws up using the mouse to highlight, click, and drag. The only solution is a reboot. I accidentally hit Capslock while I was writing the previous paragraph, so I had to take a half hour break while the system rebooted. Geez.

This afternoon we're off to visit the Border Collie breeder that sold Duncan to us. She has a litter of only two pups available, one male and one female. The male is mostly white, which is regarded as a cosmetic defect in Border Collies, but we're not really concerned about appearance. Pictures tomorrow, no doubt.

The pups are four weeks old now, so it'll be at least a couple of weeks until we have a new family member. Or I hope it will be. We got Duncan at five weeks, which I regard as way too young, but he was the last remaining pup in his litter even at that. We're taking Duncan along to vet the new pup, just as we took Kerry along when we first visited Duncan. Perhaps Duncan will meet his mother. I wonder if after nearly five years they'll remember each other. I suspect they will, if only by scent. Even if they do, she'll probably snarl at him because he's an intact male.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 9:54 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: EB

Bob,

Tom Syroid noted on his site yesterday that he has his grandfather's 1913 edition of EB and that much of it remains valid today.

Yes, there is a lot of basic fact, historic, literary and otherwise that is useful, even in such an old edition. And in fact, there are some things that while still valid and interesting, were for one reason or another removed in later editions. A worthy project for online versions would be to integrate older articles back into the body of the main work. This would both recover forgotten info and show the development of other fields by allowing comparisions then and now.

Barbara and I have a 15th edition (1985), which the library discarded! We bought it at one of the library's periodic book sales for $1 per volume, which must surely be a world record in terms of information gained per penny spent.

Absolutely, that was virtually a steal. Items like that ought really to be auctioned off from the POV of fundraising for the library.

/ Bo

--
"Bo Leuf" bo@leuf.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

The other advantage to older editions, of course, is that the newer editions are often revisionist in accord with modern sensibilities. Things in later editions of various works are often "dumbed down". This is particularly obvious in text books, but is noticeable elsewhere. As far as the library selling books, I agree. As a matter of fact, Barbara has been volunteering this week at the Reynolda Manor branch library to help them prepare for their book sale. The price of hardbacks is now $2 rather than $1, but they make no effort to separate books that are worth much more than that. I've recommended to them that they have their volunteers separate first editions and put a price closer to market on them, but they're not interested in doing that. So, I'll go over and make a pass through the books, no doubt picking up several ultra-modern firsts that are worth far more than $2 each.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Werth, Timothy P [mailto:timothy.werth@eds.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 9:52 AM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: W98 SE and booting from the CD-ROM

Bob,

Just reading your update this morning. As far as your not being able to boot from your copy of W98 SE I remember reading that MS was going to make the OEM full version CD-ROM of W98 SE bootable but the retail version CD-ROM wouldn't be. Sooo, my guess is that Shawn has an OEM copy and you have a retail copy. Don't ya just love MS sometimes??? ;-)

Tim Werth
(913) 491-2558 [8/559]
timothy.werth@eds.com

Now that you mention it, I think I do remember reading that somewhere. And indeed I do have a full retail version. Why on earth would they do that?

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Chuck Waggoner [waggoner at gis dot net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 1:03 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Government

It's really disappointing to see that most of the correspondents on the government issue concede, almost unanimously, that what we've got doesn't work well--but that therefore, what we need to do is to try yet more regulations and pass even more laws as the solution. Why? because eventually, we'll hit on some complex combination that will unlock Utopia?

Are we SO ingrained with the idea that it is laws and government that solve our problems, that no one can see the forest for the trees? More laws, government, taxes, and regulations ARE the problem. No person or government could possibly substitute for eliminating government and letting people vote with their market choices. No other system is so efficient at allocating resources, or so quick to respond. Why do the 'greenies' actually advocate the waste and delay of government interventions, instead of the efficiencies of the marketplace?

Just a small example from my own industry, television. Since the early '70's, it has been possible to encode within the vertical interval of the picture (the time space between picture frames), 4 discreet channels of audio (this is actually how the telephone company delivered sound from the network source to local TV stations, from the early '70's until satellite delivery took over) with better quality sound than most ears can perceive--certainly better than the FM transmissions which currently carry them. But that well-regulated TV industry has instead, kept FM transmission as the method for TV sound, using at least 50k watts at each station (that's VHF--it's substantially more for UHF) wasting unnecessary resources for decades on an inferior system, and causing TV stations to maintain whole transmission and antenna systems that are technically outmoded. I'm not an engineer, but I suspect that TV's could be less expensive using the picture sound decoding method than putting a multi-frequency capable stereo FM receiver in each set.

And digital transmission systems SHOULD be cheaper than analog. But what are my relatives in England facing? BIG increases in license fees and receiver costs if they switch to digital. All, of course, under tight government regulation.

Here's another scary story from our friends just north of the border (and I've got relatives there, so I'm not without sympathy). I was trying to tune the shortwave to BBC a couple days ago, and got the CBC, instead. Big story was how Air Canada faces an imminent buyout and loss of control. But I was blown away when the report included the statement that local politicians and public interest groups were actually ASKING the government in Ottawa to tell the country what the airline industry should "look like". How about consumers telling that industry what it should look like! I can't think of a funnier, more counterproductive, or scarier scenario than a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats reinventing what a whole industry should be.

I know I've told my congressman that there's NO ONE I encounter who doesn't believe there's too little (maybe even dangerously cramped) seat space on commercial airlines. You can see how quickly he's got the government and airlines responding to our unanimous concerns.

Often, I wonder if it isn't regulations and big government which is forcing businesses to gobble each other up, squeezing out the little guy and the moms and pops along the way, just to become large enough that they can cope with what big government foists on them.

Well, I certainly can't add anything to that. Thanks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Marc Wiener [mailto:Marc.Wiener@riag.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 2:25 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: EB

I don't know about World Book being shallow, but I did work on the conversion of Collier's Encyclopedia to CD ROM about 3 years ago and I can attest to the fact that it contained all of the words that appeared in the printed volume. The problem was that it did not have any of the bells and whistles of Encarta, e.g., no multimedia, b&w graphics, etc. There was a plan for a 2nd version with multimedia, but from what I heard (I left the conversion company shortly after the release) Microsoft bought them out and killed it. Britannica was overpriced. It was obvious to everyone but them, apparently. A shame.

If I said anything that led you to believe I thought World Book was a bad encyclopedia, I apologize. I haven't used World Book in probably 30 or 35 years, having shifted to using Britannica by the time I reached junior high school. But Barbara tells me that World Book is a good "easy" encyclopedia for younger readers. She prefers Encyclopedia Americana to Britannica for serious reference work, an opinion she shares with many librarians. Come to think of it, although we also have EA here at home, I've never used it. Perhaps I'll check it out. I think we have a copy of Colliers on CD around here, but I've not looked at it.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul S R Chisholm psrchisholm@yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 4:05 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: avoiding Lovecraft's fate
Importance: Low

(If you post this to your Web page, please attribute it to: Paul S R Chisholm <psrchisholm@yahoo.com> instead of the From: address this message was sent from.

You write: >I feel it isn't right to fail to post interesting mail simply because I don't have time to respond to it properly

Suggestions:

(1) Get someone to pay you to run a discussion forum. (You still won't have time to write, but at least you won't starve.)

(2) Be unfair; ignore most of your e-mail. (Wasn't there some magazine columnist who recently said, with pride, how much of his e-mail he deletes without really reading, and how he hangs up on salespeople in mid sentence?)

(3) Suffer fools, gladly, miserably, or something in between. (Some people will say really stupid things. Don't correct them; wait for evolution do that for you.)

(4) Consider this an opportunity for you, your wife, and your mother to go on an eat-only-what-you-can-afford weight reduction program. (Not recommended.)

Good luck! --PSRC (who shouldn't be taking the time to *send* this)-:

Hmm. I think I prefer numbers two and three. Thanks.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Shawn Wallbridge [mailto:swallbridge@home.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 7:11 PM
To: Robert Thompson
Subject: Win98SE

Mine is an OEM copy. Other than that it booted just like my W2K CD's. Well it did have a menu at the beginning.

Okay, thanks. That confirms it. I wonder what brain-dead person decided that the OEM version should boot from CD and the retail version not.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 9:26 PM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: HP Vectra 6/200 memory upgrades

Crucial says it is proprietary or non-standard memory and does not stock it.

HP wants some huge amount for it and I can't remember what it was but I went into shock and fell on the keyboard and when I came to, it was late and time to go bed.

Kingston says it is 168-pin ECC SIMM and must be used in pairs since the mobo has 8 sockets in 4 banks of 2. People at CompUSA just have their eyes glaze over when I ask if they have it, first they try to sell me sdram dimms...

32 meg kit [2x32 SIMMS] is $170 and the 64 meg kit is $296!

I only paid $200 for the machine minus the scsi hd, memory, and cpus, but did get 2 180 PPro's for $49 each... Brand new not pulls. I pieced the rest together with various things I had sitting in the junk drawer.

I'd be inclined to believe what Crucial says. They certainly know memory. I guess you're stuck with 64 MB. That's probably adequate for NT, especially NTWS, although it's a bit tight on a dual-CPU machine.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Griebel [mailto:jgri@earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 10:35 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: Constitutional Questions

"Jefferson and other radicals refused to support the Constitution unless the Bill of Rights was incorporated as a safeguard, and they fully intended these Rights to constrain state governments as well as the federal government."

Well, whatever Jefferson intended, the Federal courts certainly didn't see it that way, until the dawn of the "doctrine of incorporation", derived, I believe, from the Fourteenth Amendment (I have neither Bork nor the Constitution before me at the moment). That was how we got to the Supreme Court pondering such weighty matters as whether the town hall can display a nativity scene at Christmastime. Back before it was decided that most of the Bill of Rights applies against the States as well, the Supremes would have said that the Amendment being appealed to applied strictly to the Federal government ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion") and had nothing to do with what the city fathers decided to put on the courthouse lawn. This is why issues like this have achieved national prominence only in the last sixty years or so -- it's not that people have gotten sillier, it's that prior to the doctrine of incorporation their silliness only irritated their neighbors; now, given the right lawyers and the right collection of Justices on the bench in Washington, they have a fair-to-middling chance of imposing their crotchets on the country as a whole.

I picked that particular amendment both because it seems to show what the Framers actually had in mind -- "Congress shall make no law" aims explicitly at the Federal government, and at it alone -- and shows how far a willing interpreter with his own agenda can wander from even the most strained literal readings. That amendment cannot mean much of anything apart from what it says -- no legislation with respect to religion, at all, period, not pro, not con, not at all. From there you can fairly easily arrive at a doctrine of the seperation of church and state as regards the Federal government -- if Congress can make no law on the point, Congress cannot establish a Federal religion. But that doctrine exists at all because of the amendment, and the amendment clearly constrains only the Federal government; how do we get from there to a Federal lawsuit over a nativity scene sponsored (or at any rate permitted) by a local government? Certainly not by way of the Tenth Amendment; if Congress could make no law, this had to be one of the "powers . . . reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

There's a very large and fundamental difference between a Bill of Rights that was designed to constrain the Federal government, and a Bill of Rights which empowers the Federal government to constrain everybody else. The former was a response to the fear of overreaching Federal power which was prevalent at the time; the latter (as we have seen since, roughly, FDR) enormously increased Federal power, until it reached into the most personal and trivial aspects of our lives. Somehow I don't think that Jefferson or anybody else around at the time had the second result in mind -- all this came about because of things done much later, which is what Bork is actually pointing out -- but I'm willing to listen to an argument on

As you might guess, I agree with you about the unfortunate effects of incorporation, but some actions taken under the Bill of Rights to constrain the behavior of the States significantly predate the ones you mention, including some that occurred while the Framers were still around to comment on them. It's been a long time since I read Constitutional law and I haven't time to go back and do the research, but I seem to remember a case decided in the late 18th or early 19th century wherein one state (Massachusetts, I believe) raised a tax to support a state church. That was, I believe, decided against the state based on the First Amendment. There are other examples, but I don't recall them in detail.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Friday, October 22, 1999 6:33 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: subsidies and income

Bob,

You might find it amusing to know that many forms of state and municipal subsidies in this country are classed as taxable income.

My wife currently receives a (minimal) adult-study subsidy since she is studying this year, officially to improve her employability. 30% of this is automatically withheld as preliminary tax, and she will have to declare the sum as income.

Also, families with for example disabled children are entitled to a state subsidy, a right enshrined in law, which is adminsistered by the social insurance office. It is like many such "rights" issued only after approval of application and its size partially determined by existing income. It is a taxable income of course, and as such affects the size of other subsidies.

Pensions are taxed. Of course. Even the bottom-line minimum "for all taxfree" component is in practical terms taxed, because its size is decreased in proportion to the size of the taxable component that depends on your life earnings.

The hand of state takes from all, disemburses to some, but in disembursing also takes back with the other.

Flow diagram, anyone?

/ Bo

--
"Bo Leuf" bo@leuf.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

We have much the same situation here, unfortunately.

 


 

 

 

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Saturday, 23 October 1999

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We drove up to see Caroline Hemrick, the Border Collie breeder, yesterday afternoon. We took Duncan along for the ride (and to check out the pup). As it turns out, the dame is Trixie, who is also Duncan's mother. Caroline couldn't remember if Duncan's sire was Jake or Roscoe, but Jake is the sire of this litter. That meant that the pup was at least a half brother to Duncan, and perhaps a full brother. We checked Duncan's papers when we got home and found that his father is Roscoe.

PA220007-small.jpg (64329 bytes)
Love at first sight

PA220016-small.jpg (81387 bytes)
Pup meets Duncan

Although these pups are only four weeks old, they're about twice the size we expected. We suspect that's because, with only two pups in the litter, both are getting more than enough to eat. They're running around already like much older pups. As expected, Barbara loved the pup, the pup loved her, Duncan got along fine with the pup, and the pup got along fine with Duncan. That means we'll be bringing the pup home in a couple of weeks. The pup is already showing its heritage as a working dog. It was pretty amazing to watch a four-week old pup trying to herd Duncan.

I gave up on installing Windows 98 on kiwi. I tried several times to install Win98SE without success. For the first couple of attempts, I'd first installed Windows 2000 Professional. I used W2KP Setup to create and format a 2 GB FAT C: volume, a 2 GB D: partition (which I intended to format later NTFS for NT4 Workstation), and a 2 GB NTFS E: volume where installed W2KP. Win98SE simply woudn't install. The boot disk supplied with the retail version would start Setup and then blow up.

I tried reformatting C: /s, and got an out-of-memory error. I finally used Partition Magic to take both hard drives down to bare metal and tried re-installing Win98SE from scratch. It didn't work. The boot disk would start to boot and then generate a truncated text error message "Windows requir". I have no idea what it required, but Win98SE obviously wasn't getting along with this system. So I tried installing the original Windows 98 release with similar results.

I finally concluded that I was crazy to install Win98 on this dual-processor box anyway. I know that I had a what seemed at the time like a good reason for wanting Win98 on this machine, but I can't for the life of me remember what that was. So I took the drives down to bare metal again. This time, I created a 2 GB C: volume, formatted it NTFS, and installed Windows NT 4 Workstation. Everything went fine. I applied SP5 and installed current drivers for the Matrox Millennium G400 video card.

I then used NT4 Disk Administrator to re-assign the three CD-ROM drives to letters R:, S:, and T:. I then created and formatted a 2 GB D: volume for Windows 2000 Professional, and a 14 GB E: volume for shared data. That filled up the 18 GB Seagate Cheetah 18LP. I then created an extended partition on the 50 GB Seagate Barracuda 50LP, designated it G: (to leave the standard F: available for mapping to the main shared network volume on theodore).

Finally, I installed Veritas BackupExec Workstation version. I'm doing a test backup to the Tecmar WangDAT 3900 DDS3 tape drive as I write this. Earlier test backups showed that the Tecmar 3900 actually achieves very near its rated throughput of 2.4 MB/s compressed. On local data, I was getting about 125 MB/min consistently (with hardware compression enabled). Across the 100BaseT network, it's running at 70 to 80 MB/min. Although the drive supports read-while-write to allow backing up and verifying in one pass, I haven't figured out how to turn that feature on in BackupExec.

* * * * *

Alex Pournelle responds to my response to his and David Em's article about the OnStream SC50 on Byte.com.

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexander Pournelle [mailto:alexp@earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 12:03 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com; alexp@chaosmanor.net; davidem@chaosmanor.net
Cc: jerryp@jerrypournelle.com; ddern@world.std.com
Subject: Re: Onstream's 50GB Backup Tape Is Ready For Prime Time -- NOT

Dan:

Good letter for Byte.

Robert:

There's no question that OnStream's manufacturing needs some improvements. I, too, would wish for a caged SCSI or IDE connector, and I did have to be careful plugging it in. It's also true that the first drive I got was DOA.

So far, V3 of Echo, their backup software, has operated without a single blue screen or any other hitches. Its support of drag-and-drop is growing on me; previous to this I was very attached to select-and-backup software. And, while no one should ship software which doesn't work, most enterprise-to-midsize businesses will use Veritas/Seagate Backup or Cheyenne.

It's true that OnStream's hardware is sensitive to the SCSI card you use it with, as mentioned in the article. The connectors could be better designed. But I had far fewer problems getting the drive working than you did, still.

As for compression--I had no such problems. Normal system and program files backed up without a hitch, and restored OK, at around 6 G/hour with compression. I'm probably less concerned with compression than you are, since a major use of this drive for us will be backing up video editing files, which are of course already compressed. If there's a pathological case where compression stopped working reliably, I'd be interested to test it.

We certainly haven't spent enough time with the drives (that will take months) to ensure that they are in fact ready for prime time, but the initial indications are very favorable.

Thanks for your letter. If you have further experience, I'd like to hear about it.

--Alex

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Donders [mailto:alan_donders at hotmail dot com]
Sent: Friday, October 22, 1999 9:47 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: MicroSoft Encarta

Interestingly enough, right now you can a 100% rebate from MicroSoft on the 'standard' version of Encarta 2000. The same was true last year for Encarta 1999.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Bo Leuf [mailto:bo@leuf.com]
Sent: Friday, October 22, 1999 10:20 AM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: RE: EB

Bob, (cc Wiki)

The other advantage to older editions, of course, is that the newer editions are often revisionist in accord with modern sensibilities.

Not only that. I know of several instances where later critics have dissed older writers for fabricating citations, when they were in fact accurately citing then current versions of standard references. A prime example I ran across many years ago was Elizabeth Gould Davis, whose provocative book The First Sex was deemed trash by various experts basically on the grounds that her detailed references to established publications were faked. I found that sufficiently odd, given the impression I had of the book, that I took the time to do some follow-up digging at a large local library. I didn't agree with all of EGD's conclusions, but her work certainly had merit.

However, initially I too found that many of the articles she cited from known reference books either did not exist, or claimed different evidence. I quickly realized from the citation details that the books I found were later editions than the ones EDG had read. Luckily, the library still had older editions of the same books, and there I eventually did find the cited articles! The informal survey inspired by this clearly showed that the "feminist evidence" had been quietly edited out over the course of a few editions. I wouldn't necessarily claim that this constituted a conscious cover-up, but when other material was added the editors showed a certain bias about which earlier material was of less value.

Things in later editions of various works are often "dumbed down".

Simplified and cleaned up to substaniate the current linear views.

This is particularly obvious in text books, but is noticeable elsewhere. As far as the library selling books, I agree. As a matter of fact, Barbara has been volunteering this week at the Reynolda Manor branch library to help them prepare for their book sale. The price of hardbacks is now $2 rather than $1, but they make no effort to separate books that are worth much more than that. I've recommended to them that they have their volunteers separate first editions and put a price closer to market on them, but they're not interested in doing that. So, I'll go over and make a pass through the books, no doubt picking up several ultra-modern firsts that are worth far more than $2 each.

We see the same over here, almost exactly. Stacks of sometimes rare and valuable books are sold off at about $1 each. It is an incredible capital destruction of collections that were typically built up at prime cost (special library bindings for example) during the 60s-80s, but obviously a real find for the discriminating bookworm.

At least the books aren't being recycled or burned... (As happens to remainders of modern printings after about 3 years.)

/ Bo
--
"Bo Leuf" bo@leuf.com
Leuf fc3 Consultancy
http://www.leuf.com/

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: Marc Wiener [mailto:Marc.Wiener@riag.com]
Sent: Friday, October 22, 1999 3:01 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: CapsLock

I found this dll a while ago that turns off the caps lock, http://www.rdrop.com/~daveb/CapsLockOff.html He include the SourceCode also. I've been using it very happily. I hate to have yet another program running in memory, but considering how many times I hit the CapsLock by mistake...

Thanks. That may indeed be a solution.

* * * * *

-----Original Message-----
From: David Yerka [mailto:leshaworks@iname.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 1999 7:40 AM
To: Bob Thompson
Subject: InkJet printers

Dear Bob:

If you are interested in seperate ink cartridge printers the Canon 6xxx/7xxx line may interest you. I had a Canon 600 (360x360dpi) a few years ago and with it's seperate 4 ink cartridges had (I beleive) the lowest cost per page at the time. Quality was excellent on the whole.

It had a unified print head assembly and this lead to the major problem with the unit--replacing the print head cost $125+ in a $375 printer. Also, you could not manually clean the head in any way without damaging it. While I had good luck--I purchased a "remanufactured" unit for about $300 and got 4 years of service out of it--several people I recommended it to had head problems within 18 months.

Now I have a Epson 600 (360dpi to 1440dpi) on my network (mostly for my wife and 7 year old son, I use my old HPII as it just won't die) and find it quite adequate. As with any inkjet most of the ink (and cost) goes to cleaning/purging the heads. No inkjet that I know of can avoid this. In fact, the less you use an inkjet the more it costs--unless you keep that ink flowing it ALWAY gums up the head. Through my clients I've seen Canons, Epsons, HPs and all show this behavior.

I don't think I would spend over $300 for an inkjet unless I needed it for major work or it was my only printer.

Thanks. I think you're probably right. When she ran Rural Hall branch library, Barbara had a couple of HP inkjet printers which saw constant use. She had enough problems with them that I'd about decided that inkjets weren't ready for prime time yet. It appears that I may have been right to have doubts. Color laser printers have come down dramatically in price, and I suspect we'll probably get one in the next couple of years. I'm not sure how good they'll be for printing continuous-tone stuff like photos, though.

 


 

 

 

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Sunday, 24 October 1999

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And now the debate starts over what to name the puppy. We're looking for a traditional Scots name, so I suggested Gordon. Barbara intensely dislikes NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jeff Gordon, and was convinced I suggested Gordon to annoy her. I finally convinced her that Jeff Gordon hadn't even crossed my mind. I pointed out that Gordon is a fine Scots name, and that Angus Hudson, the Scots butler in Upstairs Downstairs was played by Scots actor Gordon Jackson. So we added that to the short list, along with Malcolm and Craig. Barbara has since been doing some research and came up with several other potential names.

My favorite is Mungo, a traditional Scots name which means "my wolf" in Gaelic. What could be more appropriate? But Barbara didn't like the sound of that one. We're also thinking about Fionnlaoch (pronounced "Finlay"), which means "white warrior". Also kind of appropriate, given that the pup has more white than average. Or we could just name him Finn for "white". Duncan's name is actually Donnchadh, which in Gaelic means "brown warrior". He isn't brown, but what the heck. We named him after a king. Some others we're considering for the pup are Fearchar (alternately, Farquar or Farquhar, Gaelic for "beloved") and Connor, which is Gaelic for "black and white dog that herds sheep" -- well, not really, but I forget what it means at the moment.

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-----Original Message-----
From: bilbrey@pacbell.net [mailto:bilbrey@pacbell.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 1999 5:14 PM
To: webmaster@ttgnet.com
Subject: That is a terribly cute puppy...

The dog that owned my mother while I was growing up was a border collie mix (I think about 3/4 border). She was a wonderful dawg. They are (to my way of looking at such things) the right blend of size, intelligence, etc that make up good people dogs. I did, for a while, have a broken Rottweiller, broken in the sense that she didn't have a mean bone in her body, at 4 years old (and about 85 pounds), still thought she was a lap dog, and was in general wonderful. Unfortunately, I was only caretaker for a while, and most Rot's don't have that disposition. Marcia just lost it when she saw the pup. We can't right now, but when we are home owners, a border collie is liable to join our life, too.

Thanks for the smiles.

I think that Border Collies are excellent pets, but only for the right owner. You really have to be in about the 99.9th percentile in dominance to have a BC as a pet. Otherwise, it'll take over your life. Most people shouldn't consider having a BC. That's why so many BCs end up in rescue. It's not the dogs' fault. Reputable breeders try very hard to make sure that they sell puppies only to people who know what they're getting into and are likely to be able to deal with it. Unfortunately, BCs are by far the smartest and most trainable breed of dog. I say "unfortunately" because that means they're used frequently on TV commercials and so on. People see them on commercials and remember that they're the smartest dog, and so decide that that's the dog for them. It's usually a disaster.

BCs are consummate working dogs. Although they're usually shown on television working at the direction of a human, they're perfectly capable of doing pretty amazing things all by themselves. For example, a trained BC can take a large flock or herd of cattle or sheep out in the morning to pasture, keep them from wandering away, and then bring them back in the evening, all without any human intervention whatsoever. They're independent animals, and bred to make their own decisions. And they don't necessarily assume that a decision you make is better than their opinion, which can lead to conflicts.

They're also too smart for their own good. They have huge vocabularies, sometimes as many as 3,500 words. They can, for example, on command retrieve one particular sheep by name from a flock of 300 or 400. They also listen to everything you say and watch everything you do. Ours can spell, as could all of the ones we've had previously. By that, I mean that you can't spell words to trick them. If we say "out", our dogs head for the front door, but they also do that if we spell O-U-T. Same thing with D-E-C-K. They head for the back door. C-A-R and they head down the stairs to the garage. B-A-T-H and they disappear quickly.

They also make complex connections very easily. For example, when Duncan was a pup, the only door he was allowed to roar out of was the back door to the D-E-C-K. He knows that's where we keep the grill, so saying or spelling "grill" results in a mad scramble to the back door. He knows that we usually cook steaks on the grill, so saying or spelling "steak" results in the same mad scramble. Here's something we noticed the other day. When Barbara grills steaks, she often makes pasta salad from a box. The last time she cooked steaks, neither of us had used any of the trigger words, but she went into the kitchen and got out a box of pasta salad. Duncan recognized the box and made a mad scramble for the back door. These are very smart dogs. Smarter than some people I've known, and I mean that literally.

For anyone who wants a BC, I encourage them to contact a rescue organization like the one Barbara volunteers for. Just do a search on the Internet for "border collie rescue" and you'll find all kinds of hits. The advantage of getting a rescue, other than the fact that you'll be saving a dog that might otherwise be killed, is that you can pick anything from a puppy to an older dog. When you buy a pup, you have no way of knowing how it will turn out. With a rescue, you can pick a dog that's a few months or a couple of years old, by which time its personality has become clear. All BCs are active, for example, but some are much more active than others. If you're looking for a laid-back family pet, getting a rescue allows you to find a BC that's more likely to fit your lifestyle.

And, in case you're wondering, the reason we bought a puppy directly from the breeder rather than adopting a rescue is that I have a strange personality quirk. I refuse to allow any dog of mine to be castrated, which all rescue organizations require by contract. But if you don't feel that way, a rescue is definitely the way to go.

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-----Original Message-----
From: David Yerka [mailto:leshaworks@iname.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 1999 6:56 PM
To: thompson@ttgnet.com
Subject: Re: InkJet printers

Dear Bob:

Color laser printers have come down dramatically in price, and I suspect we'll probably get one in the next couple of years. I'm not sure  how good they'll be for printing continuous-tone stuff like photos, though.

I got to use a Tectronic color laser model for a client's business and also a Canon Color (laser) duplicator this past spring. Sorry but I forget the model numbers. The Tectronic was pretty good up to 8x10 but the Canon was fabulous! It had amazing quality duplicating color prints. If Canon can harness the color engine to a decent controller and quality drivers... Of course color matching in Windows stinks. Getting screen and print to correspond even with ICM profiles has been a no-win situation for me. Add a scanner and it's "lions and tiger, O my, O my!"

Thanks. I suspect we won't be getting a color printer for quite some time (other than perhaps borrowing eval units for book-writing purposes), but I'll keep that in mind when we do.

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-----Original Message-----
From: ROBERT RUDZKI [mailto:rasterho@pacbell.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 1999 12:57 AM
To: Robert Bruce Thompson
Subject: Alex's response to you, product reviews in general and I want to buyscanner.

Alex Pournelle's response to you about his review of the tape drive OnStream SC50 reminds me of both car and gun magazine reviews of just plain inferior product that I have read over the years.

The drive is 'sensitive' to SCSI interface cards? How long has SCSI been a standard? 15 years and OnStream still can't figure out how to validate their SCSI interface with the common SCSI adapters out there?

The first drive he got from OnStream was DOA? This is either a 'good' thing meaning they just pulled one off the shelf from normal production to send to a reviewer Who Just Happens To Be The Son Of A Very Famous PC Hardware And Software Reviewer Who Had A Column In BYTE MAGAZINE FOR 20 YEARS,or total stupidity for OnStream not to test a PC magazine review unit going out to see if the thing even works!

"One complaint is that the OnStream Echo software requires its own device driver, which won't coexist with the NT native driver. If you want NT Backup (or Seagate Backup), you'll have to do without the convenience of drag-and-drop or drive letter mapping. As mentioned, we had one complete system lockup with Echo, though it didn't recur."

So the OnStream-supplied Echo software won't co-exist with the native Windows NT Backup or the Seagate Backup driver?

Pray tell, who would use this on a Windows 95/98 machine to back up 50 gig of data? It sounds like a Windows NT Server would very much be the kind of machine people would install this tape drive on, why DOESN'T the OnStream driver work with Microsoft supplied backup utilities???

Edward Deming [TQM] told us if you have measure every machine bolt for compliance before you send it out, you're doing something wrong.

Since both car and gun magazines are strongly beholden to the major manufacturers that provide so much of their advertising revenue, their pathetic attempts to put a good face on a really terrible product that should have never been released would be funny if not downright sad.

The gun review writer casually mentions various problems in passing,like the gun discharging while just sitting on the benchtop at the range while cocked because the sear snapped under pressure and was improperly hardened to RC100.

He dropped a Colt Double Eagle on the ground, the left plastic grip holding the sear transfer bar against the frame [!] cracked off and the gun is now inoperable.

The fancy $1000 rifle that would not shoot into less than 5" because the barrel was not threaded correctly or co-incentric with the receiver ring.

But the gun writer always puts a cheerful spin on things, the factory rep sends him yet another review 'sample' until he has gotten 5 or 6 of them, all with different flaws.

He then concludes the article with a statement like despite all the minor problems we had with accidental and unexpected discharges, parts cracking and making the gun totally inoperable, tool marks on the slide and metal shavings in the firing pin tunnel, 'OK' functioning, ie, it jammed only 23 times in 100 rounds fired, the new Colt Belchfire carries on a fine tradition of old Yankee Rust Belt ingenuity and sells for only $799!

Your local pistolsmith can tune up the action for only about $125 so you can actually pull the trigger without spraining the first joint on your finger. [this on a $800 pistol!]

Robert Rudzki
rasterho@pacbell.net
http://home.pacbell.net/rasterho
Why are felons exempted from gun registration laws based on their 5th Amendment rights?

It's a dirty little secret among computer publications, but the truth is that a lot of "reviews" are based primarily on the press kits that come with eval units. In most cases, the reviewer actually installs the product and uses it briefly, but I have a strong suspicion that some reviews I read were written without actually using the product being reviewed.

Most review products are supplied to writers for 30 or 60 days, after which they go back. I don't operate that way, and neither does Jerry Pournelle. When a vendor sends us eval products, we keep them for as long as we want them. There are a few exceptions to this, such as monitors and digital cameras, both of which are almost impossible to get for review periods much longer than 30 or 60 days. But, in general, if I say that I use and recommend a particular tape drive or motherboard, it's because I've been actively using it for a period of months. I don't run one backup and deem a tape drive wonderful. I use it to back up (and restore) frequently over a period of months, on many different machines under different operating systems and different backup programs. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only real way to take the measure of a product.

The flip side of this is that I often have to buy stuff that I could have gotten for free on a short-term review loan. Sometimes that's because a particular vendor simply won't loan product for longer than 30 days or whatever. Often, it's because it's cheaper in terms of my time simply to buy the item. Tracking down the right person at HP to talk to about an eval scanner, for example, is likely to take so long that it's cheaper just to buy the scanner. So I do buy the scanner.

The stuff I recommend is a mix of stuff I've bought, stuff that's been given to me on long (or permanent) loan, and stuff I've gotten on short-term loan (which is sometimes the only way to get my hands on new models). I don't let the source have any effect on what I do or don't recommend. For example, Matrox is just about impossible to deal with. I've gotten exactly one video card from them. The other seven I have here are all purchased ones. Other video card makers are more than happy to send me a selection of their current models, no strings attached. But I recommend Matrox strongly, because they make the best video cards on the market in my opinion. Conversely, OnStream has sent me tape drives with no strings attached, but I've given them mixed reviews. Jerry takes the same approach. I know that you think he's covered up in free hardware but, like me, he probably buys as much as he gets for free. And both of us are as likely to give good reviews to products we had to buy as we are to competing free products, and as likely to trash free products as competing ones that we had to pay for.

I think that Alex Pournelle and David Em are in the same category as Jerry and me. When they say good things about the OnStream SC50, I believe that that's because they used it and found it suitable for what they were using it for. The fact that they did report the first unit was DOA tells me that they're not covering anything up. The situation could easily have been reversed. They might have gotten the unit I did and I might have gotten the unit they did. In that case, they'd have written a critical report, and I might have written one saying that the SC50 was a good tape drive.

And as far as SCSI compatibility problems, you might be surprised at just how many still remain. That's one reason that I use and recommend only Adaptec SCSI host adapters. I also have experience with competing SCSI host adapters, and have had compatibility and other problems with them. I've never had a problem with an Adaptec host adapter that was the fault of the adapter.

In short, I think the situation is exactly as my original message to Alex said, "Your experience with these drives has obviously been better than mine ..." I haven't been able to run the SC50 (although I'll probably file down the key on a SCSI cable and use it that way), so all of my comments about Echo, compression, etc. were referring to the DI30.

 


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