It appears that North Korea has detonated a fission device with a yield
between 0.5 kilotons and 15 kilotons, depending on which report you
believe. As I write this, the UN Security Council has just begun
discussing what steps to take. Perhaps because I'm not a diplomat, it
seems obvious to me what needs to be done. The only alternative is
regime change, by whatever means are necessary. It's simply
unacceptable, even to China and Russia, for the nutcase North Korean
regime to possess nukes.
North Korea has put itself in the unenviable position of being
dangerous but defenseless. It has no deliverable nuclear weapons, but
has made the mistake of threatening powerful countries that do have
such weapons. North Korea has alienated China and Russia, its last
defenders. I expect to see a lot of useless talk over the coming
months, and many will no doubt decide that ultimately nothing will be
done. My own view is that this useless talk is merely a necessary
preliminary phase, but that ultimately China, Russia, and the US will
eliminate North Korea as a threat. It's in no one's interest to allow
the raving lunatics in North Korea to develop deliverable nuclear
I downloaded Windows Vista RC2 Friday, intending to install it and play
with it a bit. Fortunately, I came to my senses before I installed it.
I realized that the likelihood that I would ever install Vista on a
production machine was 0.0000, so there didn't seem to be any point in
installing it even for a quick look. I suppose that eventually I'll
have to install Vista on test-bed systems to do screen shots for books,
but until then there's no point to messing with it.
It occurred to me yesterday as I was working on the new astronomy book
that I have nothing under contract to start on once I finish it. That's
always an uncomfortable feeling, so I'd better devote some time to
getting a new book or books lined up. I have a couple of tentative
feelers out to O'Reilly for new projects, but nothing definite as yet.
I suppose I'd better get something nailed down so that I don't have any
downtime between finishing this book and starting the next.
The more I read about Vista RC2, the more I'm glad I didn't bother to
install it. The latest feature to have gone missing appears to be
FireWire support. I can't find anything official about it from
Microsoft, but I've been bouncing around several sites that complain
that FireWire is unsupported. And it's apparently not just one
particular FireWire chipset or adapter, but all of them, including
embedded adapters. I understand that Microsoft has to depend on
third-party vendors for drivers for many devices, but it seems odd that
Vista doesn't natively support at least Intel embedded FireWire.
And I see that the North Koreans are now threatening to launch a
missile with a nuclear warhead unless the United States agrees to hold
one-on-one negotiations with them. I don't see any point to sitting
down to talk with the North Koreans. As they've shown repeatedly, they
can't be trusted to honor any agreement they make, so it's pointless
even to discuss anything with them.
Pournelle suggests we just walk away from the problem, and allow China,
Japan, and South Korea to deal with it. Perhaps it is best to treat it
as a regional problem, but I fear that if we do that North Korea may
eventually transfer nuclear weapons technology to Iran and Syria.
Ultimately, the only answer will be a regime change in North Korea,
however that's accomplished.
Wednesday, 11 October 2006
- Why I like Linux, Part XXXVIII.
Barbara drove down to the beach Sunday to pick up her parents
and bring them back to Winston-Salem. She shot a few images while she
was there. This morning, I was preparing the ones she picked to be
printed at Walgreens and those she wants to post on her web page. The
ones for her web page, I shrunk from 3008x2000 resolution to 800x532. I
did that in a working directory, and then copied back the lower
resolution images to the original directory.
As I did that, it struck me that a lot of my readers aren't familiar
with many of the nice features in Linux that I've come to take for
granted. Here's one of them. Compare this Linux (KDE) overwrite warning
dialog with the one you get in Windows. No comparison, right?
People sometimes look at me strangely when I tell them that, after
using Linux, Windows seems primitive. But I mean that literally. Linux
is usually elegant where Windows is often crude. Even with the many
so-called improvements in Vista, Windows can't touch Linux for elegance
or ease of use.
Thursday, 12 October
It's nice to have my blatherings confirmed by someone who actually
knows something. I awoke this morning to Barbara's clock radio playing
an interview with George Lucas. Lucas was making a point that I've made
several times in the past. It's nuts, says Lucas, to commit $200
million to one blockbuster movie when for that same money he can
produce 50 or 60 small-budget 2-hour movies. So Lucas says he's getting
out of feature films, which he believes are doomed, and into producing
lower budget video for television and other venues. I expect Spielberg
to come to the same conclusion.
I'm going to convert my den computer from Xandros 4 to Kubuntu. We had
a power failure yesterday. The den box isn't on a UPS. When I restarted
it, everything was apparently normal except that my cursor had changed
to a tiny red arrow that's almost impossible to find against the
background. I tried everything I could think of to get a normal cursor
back, but nothing worked. I was about to insert the Xandros 4 CD and do
a repair installation when I realized that there's really no reason I
should be running Xandros 4 on that box at all. So, when get a free
moment, I'll install Kubuntu 6.06, or perhaps Edgy Eft.
I'm also reconsidering my decision to install Xandros 4 on Barbara's
new computer, assuming I ever get around to installing it for her. I'll
probably install Kubuntu 6.06 for her as well.
- Friday the 13th falls on a Friday this month.
Heads-down work on the new astronomy book continues. I'm in deadline
mode, which means I work seven days a week until the book is complete.
Of course, seven days a week is my usual work schedule, with occasional
days off when I need a break.
In addition to the preliminary narrative chapters, there are about 50
constellation chapters in the book. (There are actually 88
constellations, but some are visible only from the southern hemisphere,
and a few that are visible from mid-northern latitudes have no objects
that are covered in the new book.)
I'm templating chapters now, which means I determine which objects in
each constellation are going to be covered in the book, develop a list
of those objects with accurate coordinates and characteristics for
each, generate and scan finder charts for each object, and so on. When
I finish templating a chapter, I have the bare bones of that chapter in
place. All that remains is to write the introduction and the text that
describes each object and how to find it. That part is actually fairly
minor in terms of time required. It's the templating that takes most of
the time. I should have the templating completed in the next couple of
weeks, at which point I'll start popping out the finished chapters
Saturday, 14 October
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Robert Bruce