Monday, February 27, 2006

Watch my “other” (awful) movie adaptation


Want the good news first, or the bad news?

On Tuesday night, the FX cable channel will air my “second movie”... and one that makes Costner’s adaptation of The Postman look like Casablanca.

imagesI am talking about the 2003 B-classic The Core -- about a crew of brave aesthenonauts who board a new style of submersible and dive through solid rock down to the superheated belly of our world, in order to set off a few well-placed bombs and restart the circulation of Earth’s core. (Kind of like using a cap pistol to budge an aircraft carrier, but ah well.)

Yipes! And yes, it really is that bad. Alas, though, it gets worse. For the producers and director blatantly ripped off two much better books, either of which would have made terrific films. And maybe someday they will! Because The difference in quality is so great that I doubt the well is poisoned at all.

What two novels are those?

Well, first, a comment on how Hollywood steals from authors, nowadays. What they do, in order to evade legal action, is take a Chinese Restaurant approach. Grab a little from column A and some more from column B and so on. Spread it around.

51lAD6IAKsL._SL500_AA300_Hence, my friend Paul Preuss -- author of a wonderful book titled CORE -- has more to complain about than I do! Not only is the title thing pretty glaring, but the whole premise -- intervening to reverse a slowdown in the deep convention currents driving Earth’s protective magnetic field -- is a direct “borrowing” from his vision. Of course, Paul deals with this problem in his book by offering something remotely plausible, a deep drilling project that does not try to put human beings down where the pressures and temperatures turn steel into the consistency of boiling pudding! Yes, in film you must put characters in jeopardy. But there are better ways to do that. Better than... well, just watch, Tuesday night.

Oh, it goes on. Both Paul’s novel and the movie screenplay have as subplots the military use of earthquakes as weapons; in both, spies for the military are part of the drilling operations. (In both, the spies are even of Slavic origin!) This strains coincidence. The entire sequence of a dive into a deep trench in the Western Pacific, including underwater earthquakes, whale sightings, etc., was taken from the novel in a way that cannot plausibly have had a common, independent origin.

So why am I calling this my “second movie”?

EarthHCJust watch, while remembering your last reading of my novel Earth. Recall the female shuttle pilot, struggling to save her spacecraft after it is damaged by a wave of something emanating from the Earth’s core? Also overlapping is the shuttle pilot's subsequent role as the co-protagonist, co-survivor, and love interest of the male scientist lead.

My novel Earth partly involves the unprecedented and innovative idea of interacting with the planet on the level of software. In publicity for The Core – though not in the released version of the film – a character relates that he is "going to computer-hack the Earth". Further, in the Preuss novel, the initial calamity was natural. In the Brin novel, and in the movie The Core, catastrophe was triggered by a human-made object dropped deep into the Earth, requiring human intervention to correct and eliminate the first cause. Previews of the movie tell of a mission to eliminate the deep manmade object causing disaster on the surface.

Other overlaps with Earth include the theme, at the end of both the novel and the movie, of fighting the fallacy of government secrecy by releasing all information onto the internet. And... oh, the list goes on and on.

Fortunately, Earth is so full of great stuff (ahem) that this ankle-biting won’t damage its genuine film prospects, over the long haul. (Who can beat the image of several good and evil powers fencing each other with gravity lasers within the Earth itself, blasting whole city blocks into space! Makes those Jedi light sabers look like harmless pinking shears!)

Why am I laying all this out right now? Well, I suppose I’m doing it in part to distance myself from the bad bits of the film you’re about to watch, and to wax philosophical about what kind of minds would throw away great dramatic elements in order to turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear.

On the other hand, one grows a thick skin, a capacity to shrug. Hell, I grew up in Hollywood. You gotta be a realist.

I suppose I’m telling all this because - all told - it’s good publicity even to have been ripped off even to make an awful film. In Hollywood, if it is widely known that you are the kind of guy with ideas worth stealing, others in town will muse that you also have ideas worth buying. And indeed, I can tell you that a major studio recently purchased a nice option on one of my other books, which a top screenwriter is currently adapting! I cannot say any more. But hope springs eternal. There is a chance that justice and good art may prevail.

The-Postman-1997-movie-posterWant irony? I’ve always considered myself to be a team player, not a prima donna -- at least about movie adaptations. After snubbing me  at the beginning (a Hollywood tradition that I did not take personally), Costner’s folks expressed delighted surprise when I backed the film and helped in all sorts of ways.

See an article on my website about my personal response to Costner's movie adaptation of The Postman.  And still, I defend it, to this day, as a flawed and slightly dumb work, that is nevertheless visually stunning, rambunctious, hugely unabashed and as bighearted as all outdoors. The Postman has grown on people over the years. (See my next posting for more about this.)

But that won’t happen with The Core. All I can do is milk this doozy for all the sympathy that I can get.... and let’s all hope for better things in years to come.



David Brin
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Octavia Butler... keep stirring our souls...

Oh, oh, oh, oh......

Octavia Butler passed away? Aw, man what a total bummer.

What a wonderful person. While her tales verged on depressing and pessimistic, they never tipped over into nihilism or hatred of whole types of people. Her political leanings never tipped too far, sacrificing story and character for the sake of polemic. Rather, while chiding humanity for relentless bad habits and foolishness, her stories and novels also beckoned - always - with a glimmering allure of hope.

Certainly Octavia was always personally upbeat and pleasant and ready to talk about her greatest love, ideas. She was a fabulous writer and one of the truest science fiction authors... the compliment that I believe she liked hearing best.

parable-of-the-sowerI cannot post any more right now. Other stuff must wait anon.

She'll live on as a great part of our collective conscience. Keep stirring us, Octavia.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cool items... science, innovation move on...

Modernism plugs on...

Dean Kamen, the engineer who invented the Segway, is puzzling over a new equation these days. An estimated 1.1 billion people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water, and an estimated 1.6 billion don't have electricity. Those figures add up to a big problem for the world—and an equally big opportunity for entrepreneurs. To solve the problem, he's invented two devices, each about the size of a washing machine that can provide much needed power and clean water in rural villages. "Eighty percent of all the diseases you could name would be wiped out if you just gave people clean water," says Kamen. "The water purifier makes 1,000 liters of clean water a day, and we don't care what goes into it. And the power generator makes a kilowatt off of anything that burns."

VisiCalc creator Dan Bricklin is developing WikiCalc, which will make it possible for anyone to enter spreadsheet data and for anyone else to edit that data and have those edits be reflected on everyone's computers...

Astronomers searching for advanced life beyond Earth should focus their attention around beta CVn, a binary star roughly 26 light years away that resembles our Sun. The recommendation comes from a shortlist of likely life bearing systems compiled by Margaret Turnbull, at the Carnegie Institution, who adds that researchers looking for any kind of life – including basic forms that could not send communications to Earth – should take a particularly close look around another star, epsilon Indi A.

LiftPort Group has built a cable for a space elevator stretching a mile into the sky and tethered on balloons, enabling robots to scrabble some way up and down the line. To make the cable, researchers sandwiched three carbon-fiber composite strings between four sheets of fiberglass tape, creating a mile-long cable about 5 centimeters wide and...

On March 1 there will be two new Brin essays at www.amazon.com/shorts...

Oh, I gotta share this from Karl Rove, our master of Culture War: “As people do better, they start voting Republican - unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.” Aha... unless... a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? This really is fascinating at several levels. And disturbing.

Speaking of excess education. Are any of you experts in ancient heiroglyphics? In the egyptian stamp set that my kids have, there is a symbol whose glyphic meaning is “unknown” (while others are obviously birds and reeds and water waves). It is a dark circle with horizontal lines across it. Not a big problem since the SOUND it is supposed to make is known. (It’s the “th” sound.) But is it a representation of the Earth, with latitude lines superposed? Or maybe something like you see at www.att.com??

The following items come from many sources, including the Arlington Institute and The Globalist.

Quote" If you introduce a new challenge like chemical contraception, initially it devastates the population. But some individuals are resistant to it. Perhaps because of religious or philosophical reasons, perhaps because they just love kids and long for a big family. Anyway, even though the contraceptives are there, they chose not to use them.
End result: If any of that choice is heritable then these trends will be accentuated in the next generation. In time resistance of one form or another to contraception will emerge. There is no difference here between contraception and the effects of a new insecticide or antibiotic. In time you will get resistance." (I mentioned this years ago, and fairly recently on this blog.) http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2006/02/selection_at_work.php

Web Suicide Pacts Surge in Japan -- (BBC -- February 9, 2006)
The number of Japanese who killed themselves in suicide pacts made over the internet rose sharply last year. Police said 91 people died in the pacts in 2005, compared to 55 in 2004 and 34 in 2003, when the records started. Alarm at the rise has led to increased vigilance by internet service providers, who now report suspected suicide pacts to the authorities.

The United States and its Muslim community and Muslim communities in Europe differ significantly.
In Europe, Muslims tend to be isolated, while American Muslim communities are more likely to be integrated into society, argue Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, co-authors of “The Next Attack.” They warn, however, that there are ominous signs pointing to a radicalization among Muslim youth in the United States.

Stars Hum Themselves to Death -- (ABC -- February 10, 2006)
Milliseconds before a giant star dies in a spectacular explosion, it hums a note around 'middle C', astronomers say. The discovery could prove to be the "missing link" in understanding what makes stars explode. Until now scientists had assumed that the spectacular explosion in a star's dying moments was due to the star's outer shell bouncing back off the core, But none of the models of exploding supernovae to date had supported this theory.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Funky memory lapses, flunky-flukes... and Fukuyama...

re-lighting the political lamp....

Let’s see, in the last week, the president has denied knowing Abramoff, denied knowing that management of many of our seaports had been sold to gulf interests, denied knowing that his administration had cut sustainable energy research while he publicly called for more, denied knowing about rampant fraud in Katrina relief, and denied knowing about fraud in no-bid crony contracts that still haven’t lifted Iraq to pre-war levels of supply in electricity, gas, water and food. When Jimmy Carter said “I don’t know,” there was usually an implication -- “but I’ll find out.”

Well, alas. here are some other items.

In the past two years, the Union of Concerned Scientists has collected the signatures of more than 8,000 scientists -- including 49 Nobel laureates, 63 National Medal of Science recipients and 171 members of the National Academies - who accuse the Administration of an unprecedented level of political intrusion into their world.

Of course most of you already caught this, but really, just in case somebody didn’t. Attorney General Gonzales’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee last Monday offered the following gem: "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." ...um... and I used the word... “morons” to excess?

Oh, here’s a puff moment! I thank Stefan for finding this out: “George Deutsch, the political appointee put in charge of NASA public relations, who after a short career telling scientists to shut up if they knew what was good for them, recently had to resign... (and) The grad student blogger who uncovered Deutsch's fudged credential has Contrary Brin on his blog roll.”

And just when I was about to say “this isn’t doing any good...”


--
Oh, thanks , for citing the article about Bill Clinton.
It is vital that we remember one fact as the lefties who gave us Ralph Nader and Cindy Sheehan continue preaching their philosophy that the Democratic Party will win by “returning to its roots”... a political philosophy of always giving Karl Rove every provocation needed in order to stoke “Culture War.” That, all by itself, does not bother me. But to always choose the stupid fight over the fight that can be won? Let us recall that Bill Clinton not only won every fight. He won huge. Anybody who yammers that we need a different approach may be right... but they bear a burden of proof.

--
Finally... Some of you may have noticed that I’ve not dealt gently with Francis Fukuyama -- in some articles, for example, calling him a techno luddite and a neoconservitive “Bush Administration court intellectual.” (See: The Real Culture War: Defining the Background) A man of perception and ideas whose erudition has (alas) all-too often fallen short of its penetrating potential.

I wrote those words shortly before the 2004 election... even as Fukuyama was apparently commencing upon a process of soul-searching reevaluation. A process that - rather than being a sign of deplorable wishy-washyness - should be respected and given due credit. Indeed, it is the opposite trait, obstinate devotion to dogmatic consistency, that most threatens our pragmatic enlightenment in an era of rapid change.

End-of-history=fukuyamaTo see witness process in action - as Fukuyama wishes it to be seen - have a look at “After Neoconservatism” an article that appeared recently in the NY Times. wherein he worries about political and psychological effects of an Iraq intervention that has turned into a quagmire. Beyond the immediate costs, he sees the incompetent execution of an assertively “wilsonian” foreign policy (pursuing the utopian goals of “spreading democracy” and nation building) resulting in a revulsion, repudiation and rejection of wilsonian activism. Through their unnecessarily bellicose and divisive methodologies, the “idealistic” neoconservatives have undermined their very goals, creating an environment that has only encouraged both the left and right to drift backward, reverting to their more isolationist versions. He sees this as lamentable, at the very moment when a confident and assertive America may be key to making a better world.

While this conversion is welcome, indeed, a possible harbinger of the 1947-style mass-desertion by honest conservatives that I have long called for - a great awakening that could save a nation and civilization - I nevertheless despair when I see a bright fellow like this still clinging to straws. For example, his desperate need to claim that the debacle in Iraq is harming American assertive “wilsonian” confidence is clearly true. But to attribute this process of pain and discreditation to his former friends’ incompetence is - well - perhaps too reflexively forgiving.

I find it stunning how bifurcated the world seems to be, between those who reflexively seek conspiratorial explanations for strange events (e.g. Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassinations) and those “reasonable people” who reject conspiratorial explanations almost as a reflex. Yes, the former group includes a vast number of kooks and loonies. And parsimony demands that moderate and rational people (especially in a somewhat open society) adopt a first order attitude of “what you see is what you get.” I am especially caustic toward silly notions that FDR wanted us defeated at Pearl Harbor, and I find Lee Harvey Oswald totally credible as a lone gunman.

miracleof1947On the other hand, can “reasonable” men deny that history truly is rife with conspiracies? Moreover, when the parsimonious explanation of actual events is the conspiratorial one, should it be reflexively dismissed?

In the case of our recent behaviors in Iraq - where the sheer number of corrupt, inciting, and incompetent acts beggars the imagination - is it not at least worth contemplating that these events, that were authored by supposedly brilliant men, might actually have unfolded as planned?

Fukuyama complains that wilsonian-activist idealism is being discredited because it was poorly executed. But what if -- (please, just consider) -- what if that was the intention, all along?

Again and again, I keep urging that people ask this one question. “Who has benefitted from the recent sequence of events?” Is it possible that the beneficiaries of events might have intended to so benefit, all along? Is that not at least a simple hypothesis worth putting up alongside others?

There is too much in this, vastly too much, to comment upon further, right now. I must put this aside for later, when I’ll make a mini-essay out of it. Stay tuned for a more detailed discussion of such matters, using Francis Fukuyama as a centripetal focus.

For there are so many levels. Is there actually a chance that an intellect of the size and stature of Fukuyama’s might be weaned away from the blandishments and flattery of aristoklepts and the seduction of platonists, to find his home again among the likes of Franklin, Locke and Marshall? As I said, stay tuned.

Funky memory lapses, flunky-flukes... and Fukuyama...

re-lighting the political lamp....

Let’s see, in the last week, the president has denied knowing Abramoff, denied knowing that management of many of our seaports had been sold to gulf interests, denied knowing that his administration had cut sustainable energy research while he publicly called for more, denied knowing about rampant fraud in Katrina relief, and denied knowing about fraud in no-bid crony contracts that still haven’t lifted Iraq to pre-war levels of supply in electricity, gas, water and food. When Jimmy Carter said “I don’t know,” there was usually an implication -- “but I’ll find out.”

Well, alas. here are some other items.

In the past two years, the Union of Concerned Scientists has collected the signatures of more than 8,000 scientists -- including 49 Nobel laureates, 63 National Medal of Science recipients and 171 members of the National Academies - who accuse the Administration of an unprecedented level of political intrusion into their world.

Of course most of you already caught this, but really, just in case somebody didn’t. Attorney General Gonzales’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee last Monday offered the following gem: "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." ...um... and I used the word... “morons” to excess?

Oh, here’s a puff moment! I thank Stefan for finding this out: “George Deutsch, the political appointee put in charge of NASA public relations, who after a short career telling scientists to shut up if they knew what was good for them, recently had to resign... (and) The grad student blogger who uncovered Deutsch's fudged credential has Contrary Brin on his blog roll.”

And just when I was about to say “this isn’t doing any good...”

--
Oh, thanks , for citing the article about Bill Clinton.
It is vital that we remember one fact as the lefties who gave us Ralph Nader and Cindy Sheehan continue preaching their philosophy that the Democratic Party will win by “returning to its roots”... a political philosophy of always giving Karl Rove every provocation needed in order to stoke “Culture War.” That, all by itself, does not bother me. But to always choose the stupid fight over the fight that can be won? Let us recall that Bill Clinton not only won every fight. He won huge. Anybody who yammers that we need a different approach may be right... but they bear a burden of proof.

--
Finally... Some of you may have noticed that I’ve not dealt gently with Francis Fukuyama -- in some articles, for example, calling him a techno-luddite and a neoconservitive “Bush Administration court intellectual.” (See: The Real Culture War: Defining the Background.) A man of perception and ideas whose erudition has (alas) all-too often fallen short of its penetrating potential.

I wrote those words shortly before the 2004 election... even as Fukuyama was apparently commencing upon a process of soul-searching reevaluation. A process that - rather than being a sign of deplorable wishy-washyness - should be respected and given due credit. Indeed, it is the opposite trait, obstinate devotion to dogmatic consistency, that most threatens our pragmatic enlightenment in an era of rapid change.

To see witness process in action - as Fukuyama wishes it to be seen - have a look at “After Neoconservatism” an article that appeared recently in the NY Times, wherein he worries about political and psychological effects of an Iraq intervention that has turned into a quagmire. Beyond the immediate costs, he sees the incompetent execution of an assertively “wilsonian” foreign policy (pursuing the utopian goals of “spreading democracy” and nation building) resulting in a revulsion, repudiation and rejection of wilsonian activism. Through their unnecessarily bellicose and divisive methodologies, the “idealistic” neoconservatives have undermined their very goals, creating an environment that has only encouraged both the left and right to drift backward, reverting to their more isolationist versions. He sees this as lamentable, at the very moment when a confident and assertive America may be key to making a better world.

While this conversion is welcome, indeed, a possible harbinger of the 1947-style mass-desertion by honest conservatives that I have long called for - a great awakening that could save a nation and civilization - I nevertheless despair when I see a bright fellow like this still clinging to straws. For example, his desperate need to claim that the debacle in Iraq is harming American assertive “wilsonian” confidence is clearly true. But to attribute this process of pain and discreditation to his former friends’ incompetence is - well - perhaps too reflexively forgiving.

I find it stunning how bifurcated the world seems to be, between those who reflexively seek conspiratorial explanations for strange events (e.g. Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassinations) and those “reasonable people” who reject conspiratorial explanations almost as a reflex. Yes, the former group includes a vast number of kooks and loonies. And parsimony demands that moderate and rational people (especially in a somewhat open society) adopt a first order attitude of “what you see is what you get.” I am especially caustic toward silly notions that FDR wanted us defeated at Pearl Harbor, and I find Lee Harvey Oswald totally credible as a lone gunman.

On the other hand, can “reasonable” men deny that history truly is rife with conspiracies? Moreover, when the parsimonious explanation of actual events is the conspiratorial one, should it be reflexively dismissed?

In the case of our recent behaviors in Iraq - where the sheer number of corrupt, inciting, and incompetent acts beggars the imagination - is it not at least worth contemplating that these events, that were authored by supposedly brilliant men, might actually have unfolded as planned?

Fukuyama complains that wilsonian-activist idealism is being discredited because it was poorly executed. But what if -- (please, just consider) -- what if that was the intention, all along?

Again and again, I keep urging that people ask this one question. “Who has benefitted from the recent sequence of events?” Is it possible that the beneficiaries of events might have intended to so benefit, all along? Is that not at least a simple hypothesis worth putting up alongside others?

There is too much in this, vastly too much, to comment upon further, right now. I must put this aside for later, when I’ll make a mini-essay out of it. Stay tuned for a more detailed discussion of such matters, using Francis Fukuyama as a centripetal focus.

For there are so many levels. Is there actually a chance that an intellect of the size and stature of Fukuyama’s might be weaned away from the blandishments and flattery of aristoklepts and the seduction of platonists, to find his home again among the likes of Franklin, Locke and Marshall? As I said, stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The future...

See the impressive Jamais Cascio hold forth about the coming panopticon society. Some familiar ideas, related vividly with cutting-edge news. and so on...

Let me highly recommend the latest (30th Anniversary) issue of the Wilson Quarterly. (wilsonquarterly.com) an issue entirely devoted to the "Future".

funky misc. stuff!

Here’s a guy who will remodel your home interior to be like a sci fi film. One of the surest ways I know to provoke a divorce, and to make sure you get the house!

Isolated trade fact: Average price of an imported T-shirt:
1996: $2.14
2000: $1.93
2004: $1.69
2005: $1.59

And some people still doubt there’s progress.

For those who have seen my article on “Disputation Arenas” -- you know that I am unimpressed with the techniques that have developed in order to turn the internet into a truly useful forum for appraisal of ideas.

That is what we were promised, right? Something vivid and sophisticated, that would help us to achieve what I call the age of empowered amateurs and what James Surowiecki calls the WISDOM OF CROWDS. What I call “accountability arenas” have gradually grown in sophistication and power to replace the arbitrary rule by kings. Ideally, the internet should become a fifth pragmatic tool of enlightenment civilization...

...and some people are seriously trying! Very hard. But it just isn’t going to be easy. To see just how onerous the task will be, try looking at this sample of the dispute adjudication process on the Wikipedia. It involved deliberate and/or well-meant defacement of entries on the “peoples’ encyclopedia” -- especially entries having to do with prominent politicians. The open source methodology of Wiki has been abused, above all, by congressional staffers! So much so that there is an effort underway to ban all Wikipedia entries originating from the House and Senate.

For a news article, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4695376.stm

In order to view the actual deliberations (fascinating!) go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/United_States_Congress

What’s especially interesting is to scroll down and see the cludged innovations that the sincere leaders of Wiki have been trying to establish, enabling wiki citizens to express opinion and vote - in an ad hoc manner - on measures that may protect their idealistic venture from vandals. I wish them well. They are trying to do the almost-impossible. But civilization has overcome obstacles before.

See a brief outline of the differences between Wahab’bi Islam (fostered by the r-oil house) and “humanitarian Islam, in The Globalist. Frankly, I doubt things are as clearcut as this rather tendentious article puts it. Still, it’s worth a skim.

A very interesting thing is happening in Europe, apparently.

Liberal-leftist-populist sentiment is turning against immigrants, yet they cannot bring themselves to admit thinking in nationalist or racist or prejudiced terms. Hence, the introduction of litmus-test questions whenever a newcomer applies for residence permits. One is: “Do you believe in complete equality for women?” If not, no permit! This illustrates what I keep saying. Life is too complicated to fit inside simple jargon-nostrums. It makes your head ache to parse out the portions of this that are liberal and pro-tolerance and the parts that are agenda’d by rationalization of, well, cultural or racial bigotry. You almost have to laugh, seeing oversimplifying dogmatists of political correctness twisting to justify their rising xenophobia... a xenophobia that has some reason! And yet, well. It ain’t easy being mature.

---

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Diebold comes to California...and more...

re-lighting the political lamp....

I am so glad that others, like Stefan, are able to post about an interesting project - like an article about city transportation - and get surges of helpful suggestions from you all.. This isn’t just my blog. It’s yours, too. SO continue the public transportation line of thought here, too, if you like.

(Personally, I despise how crude the format for discussion has remained, on the web, with abysmal threading and outlining protocols that have never matched what I once used on a Caltech experimental “hyperforum” years ago. True, blogs aren’t set up that way, but even the best fora that I’ve seen do not take best advantage of threading possibilities. My Holocene software would have. But there are no VCs with imagination, anymore. Sigh.)

Anyway, I’ve been trying to limit postings to twice a week, but a piece of news seems urgent. This item from the Daily Kos is especially frightening to anyone who loves the State of California, which is today the biggest obstacle to complete domination od our civilization by the kleptocheater cabal.

”Our Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson--appointed by our Governator--has, according to the email sent out by Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen, conditionally certified problem-plagued Diebold machines for use in our 2006 elections. It's also no coincidence that Bruce decided to take the Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend to announce this controversial decision--he's hoping it won't get very much play. Well, I'm hoping it will, and I'm asking you to do something about it.

What can you do? First, no matter where you live: flood their switchboard. Call the California Secretary of State’s office (916) 653-6814 and let them know that Diebold voting machines are not welcome in the Golden State.


In better news. The New York Times appears to be recovering some spine. See a devastating editorial that lists some of the unbelievable facts behind the “Trust Gap” --  The bizarre thing is all the millions who took it as “wellknown” that Clinton was untrustworthy... yet were reduced finally to clutching one proved lie, just one, having nothing to do with official duties, but nookie on the side. Yet, a relentless tsunami of lies that are proved for this admin, just don’t seem to matter.

All are excused as “necessary in wartime.” Ah, but a few people have started to ask... um... what war?

We are engaged in a voluntary police action in Iraq. Yes, a violent one that is using up half of our military. We can argue endlessly over the correctness of the decision to go there, or the inanity of the plan (created in secrect by men with a proved record of delusion) ot (in)competence of its execution. But again, that is a separate matter. (As you know, I am exceptional among critics of this war, in that I have long agitated FOR assertive removal of Saddam from power! I just find it hard to trust in that job the very hypocrites who deliberately fostered and then left him in power, in 1991.)

All of which is beside the point at issue here. Which is that this is not wartime! This was never an emergency action. It is at best elective surgery. Not the kind of urgency that could even remotely excuse the behaviors we’ve seen. There is absolutely no excuse for using “war” as a rationalization for quashing morality, accountability and democracy, especially at levels that exceed anything that Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan asked for, when the republic was under genuine threat and dire jeopardy.

.
Finally, Russ Daggatt has shared some items with us:

Check out this routine on Bush by Frank Caliendo: http://movies.crooksandliars.com/Frank-Caliend-on Letterman.wmv

It’s still hard to beat the real thing: http://www.ianai.net/jokes/GeorgeWWhatThe.wmv


Also. this MoveOn ad with Nixon morphing into Bush is great.

Now... about the budget. Let’s look back in time for a credibility check. In 2003 the BushAdmin looked ahead and forecast of a three-year cumulative SURPLUS of more than $133 BILLION turned into a cumulative DEFICIT of over $1.45 TRILLION. For just three years. It appears Bush learned accounting from his buddies at Enron.

But hold on. His 2002 budget (written in 2001) made his 2003 budget look honest by comparison. For example, Bush’s 2002 budget forecast a SURPLUS of $262 billion in 2004. In fact, the DEFICIT was $412 billion -- off by OVER $670 BILLION! For just ONE year. Why such a big error? At the time of Bush’s 2002 budget he was still insisting that his then-proposed $2 trillion in tax cuts wouldn't cause deficits. As soon as he got those tax cuts through Congress -- mere weeks later (and before 9/11) -- those forecasts were revised to show ... SURPRISE! ... deficits. ( But that seriously understates the deficit because it nets out the surplus in the Social Security Trust Fund.)

The result of Bush’s tax cuts and other fiscal profligacy has been a massive increase in the federal debt. Total federal debt has increased by $2.3 TRILLION under Bush (from $5.6 trillion to $7.9 trillion). It took from 1776 to 1987 – 211 years -- for the United States to run up its first $2.3 trillion of debt – Bush managed to add that much in just FIVE YEARS.

And Bush continues to propose more tax cuts (about $2 TRILLION over ten years), which will increase even further the “Bush Tax” on future generations. (A little aside on tax equity: Estimates based on data from the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center show that if Bush’s tax cuts are made permanent, the top 1 percent of households will gain an average of $71,420 a year when the tax cuts are fully in effect, reflecting a 6.5 percent change in their after-tax income. By contrast, people in the middle of the income spectrum would secure just a 2.1 percent increase in their after-tax income, with average tax cuts of $870.) There is simply NO credible economic theory that would justify massive tax cuts four years into an economic expansion at a time of record structural budget deficits with even bigger bills coming due a little way down the road. Bush's tax cut fixation is pure ideology and massively irresponsible -- it's right-wing economic nihilism.

...Another hazard is losing what Robert E. Rubin, Summers' predecessor as treasury secretary and my guru on this subject, calls "resilience." A deficit of 3.2 percent of GDP, which is what Bush predicts for this year, curtails the ability of policy-makers to respond effectively to the unforeseen and unforeseeable. The U.S. economy was able to absorb the shock of Sept. 11 without falling into recession in part because of Washington's use of fiscal as well as monetary policy in response. But when the budget is already deeply in the red, the "break glass in case of fire" box comes pre-smashed. In the event of another major terrorist attack or natural disaster, such Keynesian tools as tax cuts and stimulus spending will be much harder to deploy than they were in 2001, when the budget was still in surplus.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Two (of many ) crises needing our help...

One of the brightest places on the internet is WorldChanging.com. Yes, I have failed to support the site with much in the way of choice Brin-Verbiage, lately. I hope to change that. In any event, I want to pass on the following from co-editor Alex Steffen:

”Ed Burtynsky's photos sum up in images why we need to change the world. ... He has teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi and composer Michael Montes to create a video slideshow of his work for us. It is truly mindblowing. See: http://www.worldchanging.com/campaign/

If you find it as powerful as we do, please consider sharing it with your friends. The video is also part of our first pledge drive. Worldchanging is a non-profit, and if you believe we do good work, we'd be honored if you'd consider making a contribution.


A real example of valuable proxy power. Worldchanging is one of the core sites espousing a confident and pragmatic modernist agenda.

And now, something just plain pathetic.

Planetary Society Presents to Congress a Better Path for NASA

"The Bush Administration's proposed 5-year budget for NASA, just submitted to Congress, is an attack on science," states the opening line of The Planetary Society's statement submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Thursday morning, February 16, 2006. Read the complete statement on the Society's website .

The Society objects to numerous cuts or cancellations of such projects as a mission to Jupiter's ice-bound moon Europa, the Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, two Mars Scout missions, and more. The Society also criticizes the proposed budget for downplaying Mars as a goal for human exploration and cutting astrobiology research 50% and science research funding generally 15% across all Earth and space science disciplines.

Funding is being redirected to the shuttle program in order to complete the International Space Station. The Planetary Society, however, states that the commitment to 16 more flights of the shuttle for this purpose is the biggest danger to implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration. The Society asks what might be cut from the NASA budget in the future if there are more delays or higher costs?

In response to this budget, The Planetary Society has urged its members and interested members of the public to show their support for space science by writing to Congress and the Administration about the cuts. In the 2 days since the campaign began, more than 1000 messages have been sent to Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert and other members of Congress and the Administration via the Society's website.

The Society statement concludes with the following:
"The Planetary Society supports space ventures. We have supported the shuttle: it has been a great technical achievement, unequalled on Earth. We have supported the International Space Station: it should be completed as a pathway for human expansion into the solar system. And, from the moment it was proposed, we have strongly supported the Vision for Space Exploration, a long overdue redirection of human space flight beyond Earth orbit.

But we cannot support a proposal that hobbles, or eventually destroys, the NASA science program. Science guides not just robots but also humans into space. Science guides the public in creating a rationale for a $16 billion space program. Science guides exploration. And we ask, and hope, that support of science will guide you as you oversee the NASA program."


Yeah, yeah. We can’t afford it. Because we’re “at war”... even though the kleptos refuse to help pay for it. (A churlishness NEVER displayed before by the American aristocracy, in time of crisis.)

All I can say is that, if Osama can keep us away from Mars, then his worldview (and Bush's) really has won.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A World of Big Ideas ....

First off... some brag-puffery. Go see a Way-Cool Comic Strip About Reading & Books

All right, I have to be biased, since a recent spread in the Unshelved Book Club” syndicated strip features a novel by yours truly! Have a glance.

And now, in the world of ideas (not political!)...

You’ve heard me mention the exciting new online magazine soon to debut. Baen’s UNIVERSE. Well, the marketing director just wrote in with : ”If you don't already know, I have begun snippeting stories from the first issue, and I selected yours to be the first story snippeted. (Actually hacked up to show glimpses of a couple of funny bits!) At www.baensuniverse.com/edblog...

From Ray Kurzweil:

Biocosm, The New Scientific Theory of Evolution Intelligent Life Is the Architect of the Universe by James N. Gardner -- Why is the universe life-friendly? Columbia physicist Brian Greene says it's the deepest question in all of science. Cosmologist Paul Davies agrees, calling it the biggest of the Big Questions.

The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity. The Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE) would...

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed a chip that allows you to listen to an iPod using your forearm as the transmission wire for the audio signals. To reduce power consumption and boost data rate, the chip sends low-power ultra-wideband signals over a wide range of frequencies, rather than sending...

And now for something really creepy... I would almost feel sorry for the roach. Lobotomized sack of walking protein being led to its doom by the wasp. Glad we don't have parasites like that.

A podcaster recently interviewed me. I have no idea how well it came out, since my creaky old system won’t access it, but here’s what he says (below). Anybody care to try it out and tell me how it sounds?

“This afternoon I uploaded the February 11, 2006 episode of "The Future And You," making it available for my show's loyal audience as well as the rest of the digital planet. This episode contains one of the topics you spoke on, so feel free to check it out. www.TheFutureAndYou.com Other topics will be included in future episodes: (very roughly) every other episode for the next three to five months.

Oh... I can’t help it. Politics is everywhere, these days.

Want a peek at Nehemia? Drop in at the Rolling Stones site.


And no, we cannot let go of the Klepto Kid, Gene Naughtry, Butch Crassidy, or the man who gave new meaning to “beer and shots”....

...Ah, but what could be more macho than stepping out of cars to blast away at farm-raised, wingless creatures without any wild “sporting” evasion skills, who were trapped in a pen with no hope of escape? Well. Now we know why Cheney received five deferments from the Vietnam war. The Army was protecting it's troops.

Try this little test at home: Blast one of your hunting buddies late on a Saturday afternoon and see if you can successfully evade a breathalyzer test. And not even get a citation in the process.

Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "Daily Show" showed a color-coded threat level chart like that used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, saying that, based on lawyer Harry Whittington's heart attack, "we're going to downgrade the condition of the story from 'Incredibly Hilarious' to 'Still funny, but, mmm, now a little sad.' "

Actually, I’m deeply impressed by this. It is multileveled, reminding people that the cheap shot is not always the best way. Stewart thus called upon just a little sympathy and maturity from his own audience... while (obviously) still availing himself of the irresistible opportunity to ridicule the ridiculous.

Compare that maturity to the insanity that follows: “The White House has decided that the best way to deal with Vice President Dick Cheney's shooting accident is to joke about it.” Say what? The people who CANNOT ethically joke about this are the perpetrator and his “side”. The only possible dignified position to take is utter openness and contrition.

Crystal ball peering... in the category of what if? Some are speculating “... about whether Shooter would resign and make room for Condi, if Mr. Whittington does not survive. His death would trigger a more thorough police investigation and probably a grand jury.” Would Secret Service agents be subpoenaed, the way they were about Monica? Only if a Special Prosecutor is appointed. And what do you think are the chances of that happening?

---
Enough.

Finally, heads up. On March 1 there will be two new Brin essays at www.amazon.com/shorts... One on the coming singularity! Tune in. Turn on. Be entertained.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Oh, please, let this be a lesser parallel world...

Let’s re-light the political lamp.

First, one news item sums up the "Republican conversion to ethics."
The headline is "DeLay wins plum seat on appropriations panel." Also for DeLay? The subcommittee overseeing the Justice Dept! Let’s see, the committee controlling money flows and the one supervising investigations of corruption. Ooooh, I guess they really are serious, this time.

Did I mention that at the same time President Bush talks about increasing support for alternatives to oil he is cutting funding and staff for the National Renewable Energy Lab?

At another point in his speech, he asserted, "Every year of my presidency, we've reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending, and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again ... "

Ah. But. "Non-security discretionary spending" is less than 20% of the federal budget. As a percentage of GDP (the most relevant measure) it was 3.4% when Bush took office (down from 3.8% when Clinton took office). Final 2005 figures will be available next week, but based on estimates it is now back up to the 3.8 where it was when Clinton took office in 1993.

Can any figure better put the lie to all the “conservative” rhetoric?

Ah, but one of the lunacies of perception is the inability of either gops or dems ever to show who guarded the borders, who cut the deficit, who deregulated several industries, reduced the actual number of federal employees and paperwork and secrecy (for the first time in a century). There are very few honest and sincere “conservatives” who should not have voted for Al Gore.

If you want to see how the dems are finally starting to get their act together, drop by the site, Fighting Dems,  to see the long list of vets who are running for Congress. So many that it may just be a bit hard to “swift boat” every last one of them.

I am still kind of peeved that the President called criticism of our entry into the Iraq War as unhelpful “hindsight”. Once again, isn’t hindsight relevant to our ability to judge his team’s track record of competence? (Not to mention honesty.) Hindsight is perfectly relevant when it comes to deciding whether to give someone else a chance to lead, for a change. Someone without a PERFECT record of blunders and falsehoods. Or are they saying that 300 million people can’t find even a different team of CONSERVATIVES who happen also to be far more honest and skilled? (Hint. I could find hundreds. Within the hour.)

See my article: How Democrats and Republicans Wage War.

I clipped the following from an article laying out how much better we now stand in the Muslim world, after five years of this leadership.

Hamas just shocked the world by winning a sweeping majority in the Palestinian elections (taking 76 out of 132 parliamentary seats). In Iran, where until recently moderate reformers had been winning elections, the hardliner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who says Israel should “be wiped off the map”), was elected president. In Iraq, where a Shiite clerical list allied with Iran won a plurality in December's election, the Sunni population (which until recently had been largely secular Arab nationalists) cast 80% of their votes for hard-line Sunni fundamentalist parties. In Egypt's recent parliamentary elections, the radical Muslim Brotherhood made major gains. And Hezbollah -- considered, like Hamas, a terrorist organization -- surged in last year's elections in Lebanon.

In Pakistan, anti-American rallies entered their second week as thousands of angry Pakistanis protested a U.S. airstrike, chanting “Long live Osama bin Laden!” Bush is uniting the Islamic world. Unfortunately, he is uniting it in support of Islamic extremism and hatred of the U.S.

But how could you seriously doubt the competence of this administration? They are, after all "the grown ups" (as they boasted upon taking power in 2001, presumably in contrast to those undisciplined kids in the Clinton administration who lucked into eight years of peace and prosperity). Some people might find some of this stuff scary. And yet, paradoxically (or is it "ironically" ... or both), Bush's support is strongest among the most fearful (see cartoon above). He and Osama seem to have a nice, symbiotic relationship -- each increases support for the other. With Bush's poll numbers lagging (see below), Rove is cranking up the fear-mongering that worked so well in 2004.


Again, I can believe several things at once. (Most people can, I just admit it.) The mature citizen hopes and prays that the incompetence explanation is the one behind all these debacles. The part of me that does paranoid pattern recognition can only see one plausible explanation. You find it simply by asking which theory would actually suffice to explain a long series of policies and events. In other words, who actually has benefitted? Down the line….

...Including from the radicalization of the muslim world.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sweeps Week Miscellany!!!

Now that the Grammys are over, it’s sweeps week for bloggers (isn’t it always?) (Alas, the gowns and apres parties are nowhere near as chic.) Anyway, for the sake of ratings, let’s keep it light and entertaining, this time. No politics!

First a humorous... but practical(!) essay about how to escape killer robots... by a guy who should know: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/mech-tech/dn8490

Fascinating! Scientists Follow the Money to Predict Epidemics -- (Reuters -- January 25, 2006)

A popular U.S. Web site that tracks the geographical circulation of money could offer new insights into predicting the spread of infectious diseases like bird flu. Money, like diseases, is carried by people around the world, so what better way to plot the spread of a potential influenza pandemic than to track the circulation of dollar bills, researchers reasoned.

Last Year Was Warmest in a Century -- (Discovery -- January 26, 2006)
2005 was Earth's warmest year in a century, say NASA climatologists, with the years 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004 following close behind. Just about every part of the Earth's surface was warmer than average last year, with the most severe temperature rises in the Arctic, according to the data and analysis of NASA climatologists at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York City. The study is further evidence, added to a mountain of scientific evidence, supporting that global warming is real.

Movement of Earth's North Magnetic Pole Accelerating Rapidly -- (PhysLink -- January 25, 2006)
After some 400 years of relative stability, Earth's North Magnetic Pole has moved nearly 1,100 kilometers out into the Arctic Ocean during the last century and at its present rate could move from northern Canada to Siberia within the next half-century. If that happens, Alaska may be in danger of losing one of its most stunning natural phenomena, the Northern Lights. This has scarier aspects... eg the possibility that it foreshadows a magnetic field “flip”.

ORPHEUS AS CYBERPUNK OUTLAW People interested in applying SF to study of the Orpheus myth may find this essay interesting.
 Interesting juxtaposition with what I’ve said about myth, in my various articles and the coming STAR WARS ON TRIAL book.

Missing a few brain cells? Print new ones Jan. 30, 2006 ** A printer that spits out ultra-fine droplets of cells instead of ink has been used to print live brain cells without causing them any apparent harm. The technique could open up the possibility of building replacement tissue cell by cell, giving doctors complete control over the tissue they graft. The device is a variant of a conventional...

Finally -- a self-serving piece of flum-bloggery. Just to remind you folks that you have opportunities -- if you happen to have liked my books over the years -- to drop in at places like Amazon.com and leave comments about various titles. The odd, statistical quirk is that, when you get persistently high rankings like I do, one or two snarling snipers can come in, trash a bunch of books, and do real damage to the average score! Always nice to have friendly folks drop in there and leave a good word. Ahem, hint.

Oh, while I'm at it. If people post anything that says "David Brin is..." something interesting happens. That "___ is" statement will be found and sifted for ... well... I forget what it's called. (Anybody?) But it is this quirky quasi-google that has gained momentum and has started defining people. (One total jerk posted an "is" slur about me and it's been kept alive for TEN years, despite the fact that I am the only guy at my level who still personally answers ALL fan mail!)

Hey, folks. Happy pre-Valentines Day weekend. Find somebody to be nice to.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More Items in the news...

See an interview on WorldChanging.com with Mike Treder & Chris Phoenix, the leaders of a task force group that I participate in, with the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. These are very bright guys! (Showing a strong correlation of that trait with being bearded & balding, natch.) The interview was posted today by Jamais Cascio at the popular WorldChanging site.

From the Globalist, an exceptionally rich spate of interesting - if short - articles about the looming effects of globalization on world economies. With the rise of India as a giant in the services industry, equivalent to China’s role as mass producer of cheap products, there is now a question whether developed Western countries will much longer have anything at all to trade, a problem possibly reflected in stagnating wages and economic doldrums in Europe and North America.

* Exceptionally informative * Addressing a matter that was highlighted in the President’s SotU speech, will biofeuls really be the key to energy independence? In an oil-short world, what will be the economic and environmental effects of agriculture's emergence as a producer of transport fuels? Lester Brown examines the competitiveness and efficiency of different biofuels produced around the world and finds that agriculture's role in the global economy will only grow stronger in the future.

More misc items, mostly from the Arlington Institute...

Tokyo to Get World's First Maglev Elevator -- (CNN -- January 18, 2006)
The world's first elevators controlled by magnetic levitation will debut as early as 2008, a Tokyo-based company said Tuesday. Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. will employ so-called maglev technology, capable of suspending objects in mid-air through the combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion, to control the lifts, it said in a statement.

Who is Messing with Your Head? -- (New Scientist -- January 26, 2006)
For the past two years, a citizens' panel of 126 Europeans from different age groups and backgrounds has been considering the ethical dilemmas emerging from brain science research. They will be presenting their conclusions to the European Parliament. Topics include do we really want cognitive enhancement via surgery or medication, and if so how do we regulate it? It is already possible to detect a person's intention or perceptions regardless of whether they are aware of them, and even if they try to cover them up? How will we deal with issues such as privacy and responsibility? More fretful neo-luddism?

Scientists Predict What You'll Think of Next -- (Live Science -- January 18, 2006)
To recall memories, your brain travels back in time via the ultimate Google search, according to a new study in which scientists found they can monitor the activity and actually predict what you'll think of next. The work bolsters the validity of a longstanding hypothesis that the human brain takes itself back to the state it was in when a memory was first formed.

Strange New Object Found at Edge of Solar System -- (New Scientist -- January 18, 2006)
A large object has been found beyond Pluto traveling in an orbit tilted by 47 degrees to most other bodies in the solar system. Astronomers are at a loss to explain why the object's orbit is so off-kilter while being almost circular. Tentatively named 2004 XR190, the object appears to have a diameter of between 500 and 1000 kilometers, making it somewhere between a fifth and nearly half as wide as Pluto. It lies in a vast ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune called the Kuiper Belt, most of which orbit in nearly the same plane as Earth.

Is This Life? -- (The Scientist -- January 26, 2006)
The idea of creating life and thus peering into its possible origins, has always fascinated biologists. In the past decade individual labs have met each of these requirements but in quite different ways. Such an entity must meet 12 requirements for life, of which researchers have satisfied 10. With only two steps remaining, they might achieve a synthetic organism within this decade.

Note. Does this support “Intelligent Design” because it is clearly a case of ID in action? Or does it support Darwinism, because , if humans can do it, then it must be “easy”.... Or else, does it support a modified version of ID... that we are apprentices learning our craft? (More on this when I finally get to religion....

 U2 star Bono used the pulpit of today's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., to lobby politicians on both sides of the aisle to devote more funds to helping the world's poor. Bono used a faith themed argument to encourage the U.S. to give "an additional one percent of the federal budget" to the poor. President George W. Bush spoke immediately after, saying "He's a doer. The thing about this good citizen of the world is he's used his position to get things done. You're an amazing guy, Bono."

Finally, Can someone find out more about the PAC that Wesley Clark has started, to help nine Iraq and Afgh veterans run for Congress as Democrats? (Versus one as a Republican. Someone report back to us about this.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

More for the Predictions Registry... plus some humor...

First those predictions... again from Earth...

Kevin Kelly wrote in: “I love this guy's home approach to the transparent society. It's the future for us all.” http://www.bwired.nl/

Kevin also comments that the planet-sized "Web" computer is already more complex than a human brain and has surpassed the 20-petahertz threshold for potential intelligence as calculated by Ray Kurzweil. In 10 years, it will be ubiquitous. So will superintelligence emerge on the Web, not a supercomputer?

Along similar lines: Nova Spivack has proposed a "collective self-awareness" Web service that is "like a 'Google Zeitgeist' on steroids, but with a lot more real-time, interactive, participatory data, technology and features in it. "The goal is to measure and visualize the state of the collective mind of humanity, and provide this back to humanity in as close to...

Functional magnetic resonance imaging has reached the level of sophistication required to identify states of mind, as shown in one recent experiment to measure levels of empathy, based on "pain-related areas" in the brain when a person is watching someone else in pain....

* Top 50 Inventions Popular Mechanics December 2005 * In the past half-century, scientific and technological advances have transformed our world. PM convened a panel of 25 experts to identify the breakthroughs of our time, from the TV remote control (1955) to IEEE 802.16, the metropolitan area network standard that functions like Wi-Fi (2002)....

Finally, I will follow up (in comments) with a bit of humor from the wunder-punster William Taylor.

Keep hoping.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Another Top Blog "award"... and bemused by the State of the Union...

Thanks much more to you folks than to me, “Contrary Brin” has been listed by the Internet Writing Journal as “outstanding.” Along with blogs by luminaries like Dave Barry, Scott Adams, Neil Gaiman, Chris Moore and others.

“It is no secret that authors write some of the very best blogs. Our editors have compiled a list of author blogs that they believe are truly outstanding. Although the styles and subject matter of the author blogs vary widely, they all share two important qualities: they are all frequently updated and interesting to read. “http://www.internetwritingjournal.com/authorblogs/

Maybe I shouldn’t have offered you all that link. I’m sure that some of those folks are more diverting than I am. Still, I doubt that many of them are more... well... contrary.

And now...

"Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy." -- President Bush during his State of the Union Address, January 2006.

Um... true enough. On the other hand, looking back at an endless litany of wretched blunders -- stretching back to the Great Shame betrayal of Iraq in 1991 -- is relevant to the issue of credibility! Hindsight has plenty of bearing on whether we should want the same people who made those blunders (or worse, planned exactly what happened) to be in charge of deciding our next “strategy.”

I mean, is he saying that a nation of 300 millions, the best educated in history, doesn't have the right to punish relentless blunderers by saying "enough! Step aside and let some adults try to clean this up?"

Others are saying this.

"It just wasn't credible to hear him talk about making America more secure and honoring our troops or making America energy independent or making health care more affordable without hearing him explain why he's done just the opposite for the last five years," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

As for "breaking our addiction on imported oil..." um... this from the fellows who savagely cut energy and conservation research? Like they savagely cut the Border Patrol as almost their first act in office, and now want to make "retaking our borders" an issue? Nothing could show how severly our press has deteriorated, than the way facts like these go unmentioned.

-------------

Ah, but congratulate me, boys and girls. I have followed my own advice. I am now a ...republican!

Did I do this for the reasons I gave earlier, during the discussion of gerrymandering? (In order to have a meaningful vote, in an era when the legislatures have connived to deny us any chance for one, everyone should join the party of their district... and thus at least have some choice in the primaries. The only choice they will ever have.)

Or is that just rationalization for the trend that seems to grab all white males my age? Was I drawn by various blandishments and character traits? Hey you kids, get off my lawn! It's MY money! Goll-durn French....

Gilbert & Sullivan said it best:

“I always answered my party's call,
and I never bothered thinking for myself at all!”