Tuesday, 27 September 2011

08:37 – Pournelle frequently says that despair is a sin. That may be true, but it’s hard not to despair with the euro collapsing and fools like Obama and Geithner and the US congress butchering the US economy. These morons aren’t going to be satisfied until they’ve impoverished all of us.

Speaking of morons, one of our big maple trees is dropping all its leaves, despite the fact that they’re all still green and none of the other trees, including maples, around here has even started to change. Barbara vacuumed up all the fallen leaves Sunday, so I went out yesterday and had a chat with the tree, explaining that it was supposed to let all its leaves change color before it started dropping them. This morning, the yard was covered with its leaves. I take consolation in the fact that although this tree may be a moron, at least it’s smarter than Obama, Geithner, and the US congress.


Rumor has it that Amazon will announce a color tablet version of Kindle tomorrow, but what’s more interesting to me is the speculation about the e-ink Kindle 4. If the rumors are correct, Amazon will also announce a $99 Kindle 4 without 3G but possibly with a touch screen. The only thing I care about is the $99 price. I don’t have 3G support on my current Kindle 3, and see no need for it. I actually consider a touch screen a bad thing. In truth, I’d be happy with a $99 Kindle 3. And the only reason I care is that Barbara has finally decided that she wants a Kindle. In fact, if Amazon offers deep discounts on the Kindle 3 Wi-Fi once the new version(s) ship, I may just buy her one of those discontinued models. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Kindle 3 Wi-Fi on sale for $69 or even $59 to clear inventory. I’m perfectly content with my Kindle 3, and I can’t imagine anything Amazon could do to improve it.


11:57 – Ah. I love images of Scots heritage stuff. Here’s an excellent (NSFW) image of a piper and his girlfriend. I wonder if any of my readers can identify his tartan.

20 Comments and discussion on "Tuesday, 27 September 2011"

  1. ech says:

    A flowchart on where we are in the Greek crisis, and the possible outcomes. None are pretty.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/09/flowchart-where-the-greek-debt-crisis-goes-from-here/245695/

  2. Miles_Teg says:

    Here’s a pretty nutty court case going back to 1963:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-27/rape-high-court-elderly/2946566

    An 80 year old man was charged with raping his wife back in 1963, when it wasn’t a crime to do so. Marriage implied consent so under Common Law at the time he couldn’t be charged. The law changed in the Seventies in SA, rightly so, but this case is the thin edge of a very large wedge.

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    At this point, there really aren’t any solutions to the euro crisis that don’t involve disaster. The best of a bad lot, as I’ve been saying for months, is for Germany to abandon the euro, possibly forming a northern bloc with Finland, Austria, and the Netherlands. What I really expect to happen, eventually, is for those four nations to abandon the euro but rather than forming a currency union (having seen the hazards involved in a currency union without a political and fiscal union) these four nations and very possibly the UK will form a new “common market”, each with its own currency but without trade barriers. Of course, that leaves the southern bloc, including France and Belgium, in deep, deep shit.

  4. Miles_Teg says:

    It’d be a pity to lose the common currency. So convenient for me as a tourist. But I never understood how it could possibly work without political and fiscal union. A friend who was a merchant banker at the time assured me the Euro could and would work without political union, but I could never see how.

    I don’t think the situation can be salvaged and I hope they don’t pour good money in after bad. But I’m sure they will. I think we need the death penalty for losing more than a billion dollars of other people’s money through acts of gross stupidity.

  5. BGrigg says:

    Here’s a pretty nutty court case going back to 1963:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-27/rape-high-court-elderly/2946566

    An 80 year old man was charged with raping his wife back in 1963, when it wasn’t a crime to do so. Marriage implied consent so under Common Law at the time he couldn’t be charged. The law changed in the Seventies in SA, rightly so, but this case is the thin edge of a very large wedge.

    The “victim” waited 50 years to complain? And you say the US courts are whack?

    And just when did Australia stop being unenlightened and socially backward? 🙂

  6. Dave B. says:

    The “victim” waited 50 years to complain? And you say the US courts are whack?

    US, Canadian and Australian courts are all crazy. The only thing worse is the UK court system.

  7. brad says:

    Lovely place, Loch Lomond – there’s a nice cafe just off the main road on the west shore, good place to stop, have a coffee, and enjoy the view…

    I’m having trouble placing the red building though – I don’t recall anything like it on Loch Lomond – it looks more like something from Glasgow. I know, I know, I’m weird. She’s really cute (if looking a bit cold), but the building bugs me…

  8. Miles_Teg says:

    Loch Lomond? I didn’t know that “Frei” was an English, or even Scottish word…

    “Hitler’s moustache” pubic hair look absurd, doesn’t it…

  9. brad says:

    Regarding the Aussie court case – of course this flies in the face of common sense and justice. Of course, we shouldn’t let such outdated concepts get in the way of good intentions. Why not attempt to prosecute someone for behavior that has been retroactively outlawed – if neutrinos are fast enough, he should have known better!

    There was recently a similar discussion here, concerning extending the statutes of limitations for child molestation. Three categories of crimes were being considered: pas crimes where the current statute of limitations had already run out, past crimes that were still within the current time limit, and crimes not yet committed. Many people wanted to re-criminalize crimes that had expired, but the government decided (imho, correctly) that this was unjust. Obviously, the statute could be changed for future crimes. The big discussion concerned past crimes where the limit was still ticking: would it be just to change the law retroactively, as applied to these crimes.

    The discussion would have been really interesting if they had concerned some neutral topic. Because it was about child molestation, rational discussion was pretty difficult. The final decision was that the statutes could, in fact, be changed for past crimes where the old time limit had not yet expired.

    On a larger scale, I find most of the international criminal trials fall into the same category. Some slimeball does horrible things, however, these acts are usually legal in the time and place where they toke place. After the government is overthrown, the person is prosecuted for “crimes against humanity” using laws that logically do not apply. Call it vengeance, call it rough justice, call it “some people just need killin’ “, but why pretend that it is a legal proceeding?

  10. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Geez, Greg. With guys like you, no wonder women think guys look for tiny little faults in their physical appearances. Anyway, on what basis do you claim that Hitler had a vertical mustache?

    I don’t speak Scots other than a few common words, but it wouldn’t surprise me if “Frei” was in their vocabulary. After all, we Scots are descended from Nordics who worshipped Freija/Freyja/Freia/Freya/Freja, Freyia, and Frøya. And I think there’s an island in Norway or Sweden called Frei.

  11. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, yes. Most of the Nazi’s actions were perfectly legal at the time and place they occurred. It was not illegal at that time and place to kill millions of Jews and others. In fact, these were judicial killings under the authority of German law and German courts. I believe it was Robert H. Jackson, SCOTUS justice and the chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who pointed that out, but basically said, “but we’re gonna hang ’em anyway.”

    Actually, in many parts of the South until relatively recently a defendant in a murder case could enter a plea of “He needed killing, your honor”. And I mean that literally.

  12. Marie Z. says:

    I love my Kindle 3. I wouldn’t change a thing with it either. I do have 3G on mine since I don’t have wireless at home. I have no desire to have a Kindle with a touch screen, nor do I feel a real need for a color screen. However, I only read fiction on my Kindle, so color wouldn’t matter anyway. I am still buying paper for poetry, children’s books, cookbooks, reference books, etc.

  13. Roy Harvey says:

    Some of your readers might appreciate marking such links as NSFW.

  14. ech says:

    It was not illegal at that time and place to kill millions of Jews and others.

    Well, some of the actions by the death squads operating just behind the lines of the Army – rounding up and shooting civilians for being Jews or non-Aryan – might have been violations of the laws of war. (I’m pretty sure Germany was still a Geneva signatory in WWII.)

    I saw a review of a remarkable book that was published last year- http://www.amazon.com/EASTERN-INFERNO-Journals-Panzerjager-Eastern/dp/1935149474/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317149899&sr=1-8

    The book is a translation of a diary done by an eastern front soldier in the 6th Army. He was shown what was going on by a friend in the SS.

  15. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Exactly. Unless Amazon can come up with a foldable Kindle, it’s already about as large as most people can handle comfortably. The screen has good enough resolution and is large enough to comfortably read a page of text at a time. Color would be a good addition, but only once good color e-ink displays are available. In my opinion, with the current state of technology, the only thing Amazon can do to improve the Kindle 3 is to reduce the price.

    Well, they could make some improvements in the file-system management. I really wish I could organize my e-books within a hierarchical directory structure on my hard drive, copy that structure to the Kindle, and have the Kindle present them categorized according to the directory structure. As it is, managing and categorizing titles is extremely cumbersome.

  16. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Some of your readers might appreciate marking such links as NSFW.

    Eh? I did.

    “Here’s an excellent (NSFW) image of a piper and his girlfriend.”

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, some of the actions by the death squads operating just behind the lines of the Army – rounding up and shooting civilians for being Jews or non-Aryan – might have been violations of the laws of war. (I’m pretty sure Germany was still a Geneva signatory in WWII.)

    Well, I’m certainly not going to argue that what the Nazis did was acceptable in any way, but legalistically they might have successfully argued that they were shooting people they considered terrorists, which was and is acceptable under the laws of war. Furthermore, the Nazis were very quick to set up provisional and puppet governments such as in Poland and elsewhere in the East.

    What they did was purely evil, but as Jackson said it was usually not illegal under existing laws. Under the Führerprinzip, Hitler was ultimately responsible for everything, but of course they couldn’t try a dead man. Legally, the “I was just following orders” defense is extremely strong, particularly in Nazi Germany, where people who did not follow orders were routinely shot or beheaded.

    At Nuremberg, they arbitrarily decided that that defense was not acceptable. And yet it is still acceptable today in criminal cases. For example, if I take your wife and children hostage and order you to go rob a bank for me unless you want me to kill them, you won’t be charged with bank robbery because you were compelled to commit the crime. Ordinary German soldiers often faced a similar decision. It should come as no surprise that many of them did what they were told, given the alternative. I understand the frustration and the need to hold someone responsible, but the fact is that most of those who were truly responsible died long ago. That’s why it’s so ridiculous to charge someone now with war crimes when he was an 18-year-old private at the time of the events in question.

  18. Marie Z. says:

    Yes. I can’t imagine using a larger Kindle. Mine fits nicely in my purse, so I can take it just about everywhere I go. I am quite pleased with how fast turn pages are. I had previously purchased a Kobo, and page turn speed does not even compare. Ditto for battery life. As long as I remember to turn off the wireless, my battery lasts for several weeks, and I read on it for several hours every day. The Kobo organizes ebooks by title or by author. I do perhaps miss that, so I create collections by author to keep books by the same author together. At the rate that I read though, I’m sure that will become tedious as I scroll through page after page of author names.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    “Well, yes. Most of the Nazi’s actions were perfectly legal at the time and place they occurred. It was not illegal at that time and place to kill millions of Jews and others. In fact, these were judicial killings under the authority of German law and German courts. ”

    Some of those killings may have been legal in some technical sense, if you allow an occupying German army in Poland, Ukraine, Byelorussia, etc to do anything they like. Presumably those areas were under martial law. But even regular, anti Jewish German soldiers were distressed and protested against the activities of the Einsatzgruppen in eastern Europe, where massive reprisals were taken against the Jewish population for fabricated partisan attacks on the Germans. Even Rommel protested against the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane in France.

    I’ve just been reading *Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust* by Richard Rhodes. It’s pretty revolting stuff.

  20. A tartan? I see no tartan… And perhaps that’s not Hitler’s mustache, but Cher’s goatee?

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