Thinking Magazine #20 05-02-93

The Battle Continues

As you know this last week the Republicans launched a successful filibuster against Bill Clinton's economic stimulus package. Successful to the extent that they managed to prevent it from being voted on by the Senate. This prompted me to write the following letter and fax it to the House and Senate as well as my newspaper list.

==[ Minority Rule ]==

This letter has managed to draw more response than most letters I've written. I got calls from the offices of two Congressmen who wanted me to remove them from their fax list. I faxed them back and told them that I wouldn't. The way I see it is that is their job to read faxes from me or anyone else who wants to communicate with them. But the most interesting response comes from Jesse Helms office. Jesse writes:

United States Senate
Washington DC. 20510-3301

April 22, 1993

So I read this letter and wonder if he thinks I'm dumb enough to believe this or are these guys so adept at telling lies that they believe it themselves. However, there is no point in arguing issues that both of us already know.

The bottom line is that Jesse Helms is a Senator and his vote counts. The logical move is to try to bring the discussion around to subjects where we share a common goal and common concerns. As one Republican to another there are issues of the future of the party that we both care about. This is the approach I tried to take in my response.

This letter managed to keep his attention except that it took two days for him to respond this time. He is also communicating by mail (snail) where I'm using a fax board. Jesse responds:

United States Senate
Washington DC. 20510-3301

April 26, 1993

"Pork morsel?" There's a tongue twister for ya. Try saying that three times fast after drinking a couple of beers.

In letters like this you have to look past the basic name calling to try to get at the meat of what is actually being said. There is a temptation to just write back and say, "Eat my pork morsel!", but that won't accomplish anything. Once you get past the "Pork, Pork, Pork, Liberal, Liberal, Liberal" he does have a point that in fact, the Democrats are indeed trying to cram bills down their throats. Some of these bills are bills that the Republicans would support if they had time enough to read them and had some input when the bills were written.

But, to avoid getting bogged down in the details and to try to keep the discussion on a productive track, I decided to ignore issues that we aren't going to agree on and again look for common ground, if that is possible. If not, I'll just have to at least keep him pissed off.

You know when you're a Clinton supporter you start thinking that Democrats are the good guys and the Republicans are the bad guys. But that isn't reality. But in looking back at the events that led up to the filibuster, there were several sins on the part of the Democrats that led up to the filibuster.

If you remember, every bill that the Democrats introduced dealing with the economy was introduced under "emergency" procedures. Now we all know that the economy is in trouble, but not so bad that it requires a total disrespect for the rules of Congress. Thus, if I'm going to be bipartisan then it's only fair that I slam the Democrats when they cross the line.

==[ Democratic Emergency Bull Crap ]==

At this point I'm not ready to say that the Democrats caused the Republicans to filibuster. The Republicans might well have done it no matter how good the Democrats were to them. However, the Democrats created the type of environment that invited the filibuster. And in my mind, where you have a situation where "it is absolutely imperative that legislators from all parties work together to fix the economy and share in the glory of the recovery", creating this environment is the same as causing it to happen.

Anyhow, I continue to stay on these guys' backs about demanding results. I think that everyone can agree that we need to fix America and whether or not you agree with me as to how to do it, the goal is the same. I think, therefore, that it is helpful to stay on these guys' backs about what their job is. I see myself as being a grain of sand, looking for an oyster to make a pearl with.

Line Item Veto

The Democrates are trying to fake us out with a bill called "Enhanced Recision" that they are trying to pass off as a "Line Item Veto" bill. It isn't. Although it is better than nothing, it is just barely better than nothing. So I sent this letter to Congress.

==[ Line Item Veto ]==

Last year Americans voted for CHANGE but all Congress wants to give us is SAME. That's the best way to describe the "Enhanced Recision" bill that the Democrats want to pass off as "Line Item Veto". This bill is a useless fraud that the Democrats in Congress want to pass because that think we are stupid enough to fall for it. Well, we aren't.

President Clinton wants the Line Item Veto and he needs to stop being a pussy and side with Republicans and conservative Democrats to get it passed.

I'm not entirely comfortable with the Republican bill either in that a two-thirds vote of both houses puts too much power in the hands of the President. So this is a good opportunity for some compromise.

The right bill, in my humble opinion, would be very similar to the Republican version except that instead if two-thirds of both houses that the right number would be between 50% and 60% of both houses with four-sevenths being what I consider just about right. But anything less than 50% of both houses is totally unacceptable.

I'm a strong Clinton supporter. I sent out 6,000 letters by fax supporting him during the campaign. But this Enhanced Recision bill is a DISGRACE and the Democratic Party should be ashamed they ever brought it up.

I think all of you are under the illusion that the 1994 election will be like the rest where you will all be re-elected because you're incumbents. There are a few things that are going to be different that you need to be aware of. The United We Stand party will have a candidate in every election. One can only guess how effective they will be and what kind of effect they will have.

Another factor is that there are software companies that are developing CD-ROM based voting programs that will contain an incredible amount of information about incumbents and their records. And this software will be available for $25 at stores such as Sears and Wal-Mart. In 1994 you are going to be facing a much more informed electorate. I suggest a strategy of "do the right thing" might be an effective way to get reelected.

The bottom line is that we voters are ANGRY. And we are angry at YOU. We are not as STUPID as you think we are and we are getting smarter. New technology is allowing us to get better information and sift through the LIES. It is time for government to join the real world or government will be replaced. Americans want REAL change; the President wants REAL change; and you guys are in the way.

You know, I have friends that talk to me about these letters I'm faxing you and they say to me, "Gee Marc, I'm not sure I'd say the things you do. How do you know the FBI isn't bugging your phone?" To which I respond, "I hope the FBI is bugging my phone because that way at least SOMEONE in government is listening to me!"

1996 Elections Already Begun

You know, it used to be that the Presidential elections started about a year before election day, but it seems that the 1996 elections have gotten an early start. Now no one has officially announced that they are a candidate, but except for the minor formality there are plenty of candidates already on the campaign trail.

Jack Kemp came out of the starting gate first. He's been running ever since the 1992 Republican convention and contributed to the defeat of George Bush. Talk about dog eat dog! Is this a new record for an early start? I think so.

It's hard to tell when Ross Perot started running for the 1996 election. I don't think he ever stopped running. He's already buying his political commercials and running them.

Now you might ask, "Political commercials, Marc? Don't you think that Perot is just trying to help?" No, I don't. Perot is a mixed bag. Some of what he does and says is beneficial in that the country does need to put the squeeze on Congress and the President. But here's the bottom line. When you look at what he's saying from the perspective of "Is this good for America?" vs. "Is this good for the Perot campaign?" it is clearly better for Perot than it is for America.

It's easy to second guess the challenge of turning the economy around when you're not the one who has to do it. I find it amazing that Perot, who in his 1992 campaign called for a 50 cent-a-gallon gas tax would have the gull to slam Clinton for his energy tax. The only difference between Ross Perot and Rush Limbaugh is that Limbaugh does it for the money and Perot does it for power.

But the real culprit is Bob Dole who started his campaign with a visit to Iowa and New Hampshire and although he didn't officially announce he is running in 1996, has been making reference in his speeches about those two stops. I listened to him on C-Span speaking to a press club dinner and what I heard was candidate Dole who was going to use his influence to what is best for Bob Dole and the hell with the rest of the country. Thus, in my weekly address to Congress I faxed the following letter:


They Taught Us How to Add Wrong

One of these days I'm going to go into what's wrong with schools. That could eat up three issues in a row. But this issue I'm just going to touch on one item and teach you all how to add up columns of numbers in your head just like the "human calculators" do it. Amaze you friends and win bar bets because it is easier than you think. And don't you want to know how it's done? Of course you do!

OK, lets start with some numbers:

The way you do it is to add left to right instead of right to left. We start in the upper right hand corner and start adding downward and then to the right.

600 + 500 is 1100, + 900 is 2000, + 40 is 2040, + 80 is 2120, + 30 is
2150, + 9 is 2159, + 2 is 2161, + 4 is 2165! It's that easy!
Anyhow, with a little practice you can get fast enough that you can add the numbers faster than you can key them into a pocket calculator. All you have to use is your eyes. They have to use their fingers which are slower. So it shouldn't take long before you can win races against the calculator and be making the big money in bar bets. All I ask is, that you still remember me when you get rich.

Brainshare - Where Nerds Rule

I went to Novell's annual software developers conference again this year. This year they drew 5000 people. I put together 1000 of my Network Survival Kit packages that I labeled "NerdWare" and included a button I made, "Nerd Liberation Movement - Coming out of the back room!" I should have brought twice as many. They were gone in no time.

Novell was touting their latest accomplishment, Netware 4.0. 4.0 is a very impressive network operating system and will make the design and construction of large networks a lot easier. But Netware 4.0 has some serious problems and its going to be interesting to see how it evolves.

First of all, Netware 4.0 isn't done. This is a product that is being sold before it's finished. It's not as bad as Netware 3.0 when it was released, in that it won't crash the server if you turn a printer off, but there are several things missing.

Among the missing is Macintosh name space support. So if you're running a mixed DOS/MAC environment you're going to have to wait. The only API interface involves linking in a 170k object module which makes even the smallest and simplest programs grow to 200k in size. And if you're not programming in C you're screwed.

The new VLM shells are buggy and unstable as is bindery emulation. These are going to break a lot of applications. If you don't use these shells, or you use the old login API then you don't have access to Directory Services and programs like NetAdmin won't even load.

But I am looking forward to the new features. When you log in, you log into the entire network, not just one server. Netware 4 also has disk compression but implements it differently that Stacker or DoubleSpace. Netware compresses files after they haven't been accessed in a while. That allows Netware to compress files smaller than they could if they had to do it "on the fly". Their compression algorithm is optimized to compress for size, but decompress for speed.

So you ask, "Marc, should I buy Netware 4?" It depends on your site. If you are a big site and want to start testing 4.0 and planning a conversion then get Netware 4.0 now and start playing with it, but don't plan on running it yet. Otherwise, I'd estimate that it will take about another year before Netware 4 is done.

Got to play with Univel out there as well. Like Netware 4.0, Univel needs some work in it's ability to run DOS programs. Although it is impressive when you watch their demo, when I put my software on it, it didn't take much time to lock the DOS sessions up.

DOS is limited to the 8.3 style file names. (Something that needs to be changed.) Unix doesn't have this limitation. But Unix makes no attempt to hide these file names from DOS so if you have utilities that read the directory file list and see long names your application tends to bite the dust. I brought up an editor in a X-Window and hit the hot key to switch the editor into 50-line mode. It did switch, but the screen didn't change so only half the editor was visible. In Windoze, this works.

I did a lot of asking about DR-DOS 7 and it seems that 7.0 is a bigger secret than Hillary's health care plan. I was surprised to see very little DR-DOS at Brainshare except for one session on DPMS (Dos Protected Mode Services) that lets you write real mode TSRs that run in protected mode memory. I'm looking forward to when they actually release it. My concern about 7.0 is that it will be released without enough testing and will be to unstable and incompatible to run.

Some of the general sessions were very interesting. John Scully (CEO of Apple) gave a great presentation on his efforts to lobby Congress in support if information highways. Phillip Kahn was rather boring. He made a good presentation if it's the first time you've seen it, but he does the same thing every time and this was my third time. He needs a new act.

At the start of the general sessions they often show video clips of the great leaders in the computer industry making profound statements about the industry. One was of Bill Gates and when his video clip came on he was hissed and booed by the crowd. Bill, you have an image problem. Software developers hate you. Play nice!

There is a common philosophy in the world of nerdom that who you are is more important that what you wear. Thus, wearing a suit and tie doesn't make a lot of sense. We think it's more important that blood flows to our brain. At Brainshare, dress is not only casual, but Novell, in recognition of the dominate nerd culture officially prohibited any Novell employee from wearing a suit and tie!

I think it was a good move because at Brainshare when everyone is casual and there are a few suits running around you get to thinking that these are the "sales types" like the ones that are perhaps responsible for forcing software to market before it's ready. Although I personally believe that one shouldn't be judged by the clothes they wear. There are a lot of smart people who shouldn't be stereotyped as stupid just because they wear a suit, but when in Rome do as the Romans do. And at Brainshare the Romans are nerds!

Twisted Logic Award

I saw a file on Compuserve in the political forum that was one of many files from people taking a pro-smoking position. There is one point they made that takes the Thinking Magazine Twisted Logic Award.

The point was that smokers are actually subsidizing non-smokers because non-smokers live longer. By living longer they draw more Social Security than smokers do and that creates an unfair burden on smokers who have to pay the same FICA taxes as non-smokers.

With that thought I leave it with you. Till next time ... take care.


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