atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1020: Chinese troops in Zimbabwe.

Why are Chinese military in Zimbabwe? Sounds like they're there at Mugabe's invitation. 10 soldiers do not an invasion make, but clearly something that smells bad is taking place here.

I think I can imagine what it is. China gives Mugabe some help; China secures access to--to what? What has Zimbabwe got that China hasn't? I don't get it. Asia is the largest continent on the planet and China takes up half of Asia--it's full of unexploited resources, so what has Zimbabwe got that China doesn't?

Other than a toehold in Africa?

Meanwhile South African dockworkers refuse to unload Chinese arms bound for Zimbabwe. I have to wonder how long that'll last. What pressure can China bring against South Africa to make them unload that ship? Will China care enough about Zimbabwe's situation to exert pressure?

I think sending Mugabe a shipload of weaponry probably indicates that China is interested in helping Mugabe, particularly with the 10 Chinese soldiers also there--but what's going on? It seems unlikely that 2008 will pass before there is a real shooting civil war in Zimbabwe.

* * *

Over the past several days the weather here has been perfect. Today it's a bit on the cool side, but not so cool that I have to shut both my windows. A touch of gut malf is keeping me from trying to get anything done outdoors, though.

Mostly I've been reformatting, printing, and reading the Emily books. I only have Emily's Quest left to work on now.

It's a shame there isn't some easy way to tell Word 2000 that I want it to reflow all the text and delete the extraneous blank lines. The text file I grabbed from Gutenberg Australia is formatted like Atomic Fungus is--with an extra blank line between paragraphs--and while that's great formatting for on-line reading, it's not so great for a printed page, particularly when you don't want to use 250 sheets of paper. Especially since the text, printed directly without editing, only fills about half the page: each line ends with a hard return.

...and the "autoformat" command appears to have done it. *sigh* There's a bit of work that I've got to do, but nothing like what I had to do with the first two.

"Autoformat" has done some curious things with the chapter marks and such but WTF, it's easier than manually fixing each line. Wish I'd figured this out when I first started this little project. Oh well: live and learn.

But in my experience, most of Word's features have never worked exactly right, anyway, other than the basic "input text, edit text, print text" functions. Add a picture and the other pictures on the page rearrange themselves, sometimes ending up on other pages for no good reason. (YES, I know you can lock a picture in place. But that doesn't help when you're still arranging the page and aren't sure where, exactly, everything will end up.) Hit "backspace" once too often and lose your formatting. "Select all" hides the tab bar but doing a manual "select all" leaves the tab bar visible. Etc.

It's really not so very surprising if you look at a Word file using a text editor. A simple file consisting of the text "HI!" has all kinds of formatting guck at the beginning of it, and the more complex the file is, the more complex the formatting guck is. You can't get away from it. And when you make changes, that extra-complex formatting guck makes for some interesting behavior even when it's 100% Word-generated.

Anyway, this little project has just about used up all my printer paper, which means I'll be buying a couple reams of paper soon.

Paper used to cost around $2.50 per ream, which is not a bad price--about half a cent per page--and that lasted until everybody started using the stuff. Now you're lucky to find it for $3 per ream, and $3.50 and up is more common.

Back in the late 1980s I would search high and low for inexpensive tractor-feed paper and I flat-out refused to pay more than $0.015 per sheet for the stuff. I think the most I ever paid for paper in that form was $0.02 per sheet.

One thing is certain: I do not miss having to burst the pages after printing.

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