Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 25th, 2012

Finished Kill Decision

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Really a must-read, just as James Fallows said in his blog. And read the other two Daniel Suarez novels, too: Daemon and Freedom™ are, in effect, a 2-volume novel, and you should read them in that order. Kill Decision is independent and can be read independently.

What’s interesting to me is that these belong to a genre known as “hard” science-fiction: science-fiction in which the emphasis is strongly on the science. Hal Clement was a well-known practitioner of the genre, and the science in his novels was physics and astronomy, primarily, with some engineering included.

But science has changed, and in Suarez’s “hard” science-fiction the sciences are computer science, social psychology, and animal behavior: a very different flavor.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2012 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Books, Science fiction

The US embraces decline

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Charles Blow has a good but disturbing column in today’s NY Times:

Emerging economic powers China and India are heavily investing in educating the world’s future workers while we squabble about punishing teachers and coddling children.

This week, the Center for American Progress and the Center for the Next Generation released a report entitled “The Race That Really Matters: Comparing U.S., Chinese and Indian Investments in the Next Generation Workforce.” The findings were breathtaking:

• Half of U.S. children get no early childhood education, and we have no national strategy to increase enrollment.

• More than a quarter of U.S. children have a chronic health condition, such as obesity or asthma, threatening their capacity to learn.

• More than 22 percent of U.S. children lived in poverty in 2010, up from about 17 percent in 2007.

• More than half of U.S. postsecondary students drop out without receiving a degree.

Now compare that with the report’s findings on China. It estimates that “by 2030, China will have 200 million college graduates — more than the entire U.S. work force,” and points out that by 2020 China plans to:

• Enroll 40 million children in preschool, a 50 percent increase from today.

• Provide 70 percent of children in China with three years of preschool.

• Graduate 95 percent of Chinese youths through nine years of compulsory education (that’s 165 million students, more than the U.S. labor force).

• Ensure that no child drops out of school for financial reasons.

• More than double enrollment in higher education.

And the report also points out that “by 2017, India will graduate 20 million people from high school — or five times as many as in the United States.”

As I have mentioned before, a book written last year by Jim Clifton, the chairman of Gallup, called “The Coming Jobs War,” pointed out that of the world’s five billion people over 15 years old, three billion said they worked or wanted to work, but there are only 1.2 billion full-time, formal jobs.

This should make it crystal clear to every American that we don’t have any time — or students — to waste. Every child in this country must be equipped to perform. The country’s future financial stability depends on it.

As if to underscore that point, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2012 at 11:06 am

IRS explanations

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I found this is New Scientist: Line 9a of Part II of IRS Form W8-BEN states: “For treaty purposes, a person is a resident of a treaty country if the person is a resident of that country under the terms of the treaty.”

Perfectly clear, I think. But am not sure.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2012 at 9:54 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

SEC thinks we have no memory

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Remember how Lucy each fall would get Charlie Brown to try to kick the football, only to fall flat on his back yet again? The SEC is being Lucy to Charlie Brown whistleblowers, as described in this post by Pam Martens:

If you want a hearty laugh, check out the web page for the SEC’s official whistleblower office.  They’d like us all to know that “Assistance and information from a whistleblower who knows of possible securities law violations can be among the most powerful weapons in the law enforcement arsenal of the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Really? Let’s take a walk down memory lane at what happened to past whistleblowers attempting to promote justice at the SEC.

First up is Gary Aguirre, a lawyer and investigator at the SEC who thought the powerful former Morgan Stanley honcho John Mack should receive a subpoena to give testimony about his potential involvement in insider trading. Mack was protected; Aguirre was fired via a phone call while on vacation — just three days after contacting the Office of Special Counsel to discuss the filing of a complaint about the SEC’s protection of Mack.

This is how Aguirre, who was eventually vindicated by Congress, explained it to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on December 5, 2006: . . .

Continue reading. Several other whistleblowers were also betrayed or ignored by the SEC. Our government is failing us—and Congress, Lord help us, is supposed to be the watchdog: our elected Representatives and Senators.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2012 at 9:20 am

Posted in Government, Law

And, speaking of books…

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Today my library will be picked up by the secondhand-book store. They’re bringing down a truck from Santa Cruz.

UPDATE: I should add that I said my goodbyes to the books as I packed them. I think today will not be especially traumatic: I’m glad to get them out of here at this point.

UPDATE 2: The books have left the building.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2012 at 8:49 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Kindle fix

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A project team at CreateSpace is now doing a good conversion of the book to the Kindle, which unfortunately takes about 4 weeks. In the meantime, the Kindle version is not available so that no more copies of the bad conversion will go out.

In the meantime, I have contacted Author Central at Amazon to work out a way to replace the poor conversions that have already been purchased with the new, good conversion when that becomes available. This will be done at no cost to the purchasers, but I don’t yet know the mechanics or details. Ideally, the new version will simply replace the bad version on their Kindles with no action on their part; worst case, they will get a new copy and have to delete the old.

I’ll blog the plan when it’s worked out. I have to wait until Monday to talk with Author Central, but I’ve already sent an explanatory email.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2012 at 8:48 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

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