Wednesday, September 27, 2006


(Here's a rough draft of my semi-annual circular that I'll be mailing out next week. Figured I might as well test it online here. Let me know (in comments) if anything needs tweaking or if I left anything out. Oh, and note especially item#1!)



In North America: tune in for the premiere of -- The ArchiTechs!

PREMIERE: Wednesday, October 11 11:00 PM

REPEATS: October 12 at 3 AM & October 14 at 11:00 AM

Here is what the History Channel says about this bold new show:

"Five geniuses are challenged: innovate fire rescue and evacuation tools for skyscraper disasters... and do it in 48 hours! Watch a small team of designers and visionaries form a high-tech think tank, racing the clock to shape bold, over-the-horizon designs for the future. With unprecedented cooperation from New York's regional fire departments, show#1 culminates in a dramatic presentation to Former FDNY Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, one of the heroes of 9/11.... "

Whew! If ratings are good, this exciting series will send our dynamic (and handsome) team tackling more rapid "innovation makeover" challenges, ranging from spaceflight to eco-power to creating "the next humvee." (We went zooming around the desert, interviewing Special Forces, dissecting hummers, then created a wholly new design, all at behest of a four-star general.)

Help spread the word about this breakthrough in entertaining and smart/informative television!



Do you like provocative arguments about popular culture? Then have I got a treat for you. Star Wars on Trial : Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time (Smart Pop series) by David Brin (Prosecutor) and MW Stover (Defense) along with two dozen wonderfully articulate authors, "testifying" for either side. Does the series spread doom-pessimism about democracy? Has it been a let-down since "The Empire Strikes Back"? Does it even make any sense? Pick up a copy and be prepared for a wild, extravagant "trial" - brash fun!

Also, see OTHER NONFICTION DELIGHTS! Essays and stories published exclusively at www.Amazon.Com/Shorts (Now on my website.)

     About a coming “technological singularity”

     About "human adaptability" vs cynicism

     Panic was the LAST trait that Americans exhibited on 9/11

     Predictive hits of my novel EARTH

...and see a ton of other interesting topics at:



I helped launch a major new online venture in science fiction publishing, UNIVERSE Magazine, founded by the late, great Jim Baen. This is the best thing to happen to SF publishing in years! A small subscription gives you many times your money's worth in top stories, by top authors.

Drop by for my new serial-comedy... THE ANCIENT ONES! It is - quite immodestly -- the funniest thing you've read in years! (After a few more chapters, I'll send it in to be a book.)

STILL HOT: My big graphic novel - The Life Eaters - was a finalist for the big prize in France, where they really know and love this art form. Have a look!

And yes, it's been a while since the last major "Brin novel." Hey, life's busy. For example, I just got a 126 claim patent on completely new ways that people can interact online. Maybe you'll be using these innovations in just a year or two!

Still, I am eager to return "home" to novels... and just wait till you see the next big one! It will be worth the wait.



Anyone having trouble accessing can try http://www.davidbrin.NET

Does your group need an inexpensive speaker about "the future"? See Speculative Speakers on the About SF site.

 For classier (but pricier) speeches with that visionary flair… take a look at my list of speaking engagements!

Keep eyes open for news about a "Year of SF and the Future in Asia" - with events in both Japan and China!


Okay, enough!

Here's hoping that we all finally get over the Y2K trauma and start remembering our real job in this civilization... to make the 21st Century a time of boldness, of science and adventure, of honesty and problem-solving, of tolerance, pragmatism and innovation!

We are the descendants and heirs of explorers.

With best wishes, for a confident and ambitious Third Millennium.

David Brin

PS. Interested in joining a vivid online discussion group? Drop by: Meanwhile do keep an eye open at for news and (always) quirky-but-interesting views of the future!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Arguments for your obstinate uncle...

I’m putting off my own next political/social sally, in order to present (with some gloss commentary) the latest highly entertaining and devastating riff from Russ Daggatt:


Sayeth Russ: ... I'm picking up on a sort of anti-Clinton nostalgia among the wingnuts these days. Ah, for those innocent times! ("He is shameless about taking mulligans when golfing!") Peace and prosperity. It was too horrible to even describe. Imagine, a president actually impeached over... whatever.

The point is, I'm picking up on this resurgence of anti-Clinton rage among Republicans. You can't really blame them. It's all they have left. It's what holds them together during these times when right-wing ideologues controlling the executive branch and both Houses of Congress have made a God-awful mess of pretty much everything.

(Brin note: Alas, even Russ doesn't use the weapon that I've pushed -- pointing out the embarassing dearth of indictments and convictions (zero) to arise out of all those years and close to a billion dollars of Clinton-bashing. Zero? Really? Could the "most corrupt" administration have actually been... the least?)

So, as a public service, if you are subjected to an anti-Clinton rant (and you will -- believe me), just cut and paste the following:

Sigh. My dear tenacious GOP-supporting and Clinton-bashing (relative/co-worker/pal) You are a great (brother-in-law or....) and I love you, but you've got to move on with this Clinton thing.
Putting aside the emotion, let's look at some metrics. Let's start with the economy since it lends itself easily to objective analysis of quantitative data.
Annual GDP growth has averaged 2.6% a year under Bush. It averaged 3.6% under Clinton .

Under Clinton , the US economy expanded non-farm employment by 22.7 million jobs (237,000/month). Under Bush, the economy has added only 3 million jobs (45,000/month – the worst record of any US president in 70 years). Clinton inherited an unemployment rate of 7.3% from Bush’s dad. It was 4.2% when Clinton left office. Under Bush, it is now 4.7%.

Real median household income has fallen by $1,273 during the Bush Administration, whereas it grew by $5,825 under President Clinton. The poverty rate fell by 3.5 percentage points under President Clinton and the number of people in poverty declined by 6.4 million. Under President Bush, the poverty rate has risen by 1.3 percentage points and 5.4 million more people are poor.

Under Clinton , the S&P 500 went up 308% (from 435.49 to 1342.54). Under Bush, it has gone down 2.1% (to 1314.78 on 9/22/06). The contrast with the NASDAQ is even greater: Under Clinton, up 395% (from 700.77 to 2770.38). Under Bush, down 20% (to 2218.93 on 9/22/06).

On the assumption we are all "small government" types, let's compare the presidents on that basis.

Under Clinton , federal spending went down as a percentage of GDP from 22.1% in fiscal 1992 to 18.4% in 2000. Under Bush, it has gone back UP to 20.8% in fiscal 2006.

Under Clinton , total executive branch employment went down by almost 450,000 (from 2.225 million to 1.778 million). Under Bush it has gone UP by almost 100,000 (to 1.872 million). (These comparisons certainly understate the growth of government under Bush because the federal employment statistics don't include classified numbers for the CIA, DIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies. It also doesn't include all the "outsourcing" of government functions to favored Republican cronies.)

Under Bush, the federal debt has increased by almost $3 trillion (in only six years) despite inheriting a budget surplus from Clinton . Public debt as a percentage of GDP has increased by 4.4 percentage points under President Bush, compared with a reduction of 16.4 percentage points under President Clinton.
Clinton inherited large budget deficits from Bush's dad, but still increased the federal debt by only about $1.6 billion (over eight years). Under Clinton the budget, went from a deficit of $290 billion in fiscal 1992 to a SURPLUS of $236 billion in fiscal 2000.

Under Bush, we're back up to deficits over $300 billion annually. (Bush had the highest deficit in history at $423 billion. In fact, including this year, he will have had 4 of the 5 largest deficits in US history -- his dad also snuck in there with one year in the top five.)

Yet, despite greatly increasing the size of the federal government, Bush has managed to make it less effective (as the response to Katrina demonstrated). As I've said before, you don't want to hire someone who hates ice cream to run Ben & Jerry's (or someone who hates kids as a babysitter, etc.).

Foreign policy is more subjective, but there are a few things we can look at in forming rational judgments about these things.

Pretty clearly Bush squandered the unity and goodwill enjoyed by this country in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. Never in our lives was this country more unified than it was on September 12, 2001. Instead of building on that unity. Bush decided to turn national security into a partisan wedge issue for the 2002 and 2004 (and now 2006) elections.

Same thing overseas... even the Muslim World! The US enjoyed tremendous support from the rest of the world (e.g., Le Monde ran the famous headline “We Are All Americans Now”; NATO for the first time in its history declared an attack on a member state prompting collective action; etc.). Countless surveys of public opinion worldwide attest to the fact that the US is now MUCH less respected and liked than it was when Bush took office.

(Brin note: Indeed, ask your GOP-lover friend how he feels about the blatantly obvious unpopularity of America, today. Watch for the shrug... the snarl of “Who cares!” A reflexive disdain for foreign opinion. Now, mind you, I even share a little of that attitude, believing that some of that unpopularity arises (especially from the French) out of a petty jealousy that disqualifies good judgement. Still, I reserve that reflex for normal times. Not an era when America has actively earned world disgust.

(Ask your brother-in-law if this is how to stay “leader of the world”? Under Clinton, whenever Russia and France held conferences about "What to do about Pax Americana"... nobody came. Today, those conferences are packed. And busy plans are being made. Anyone who reacts to that with a shrug is simply stupid.)

Whereas Clinton used traditional law enforcement methods to capture and punish the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing and the first World Trade Center bombing, Bush instead used 9-11 as a pretext to launch a pre-9-11 war plan against a country that had nothing to do with 9-11, making the country less safe in the process. (The torture, secret prisons and warrantless surveillance didn't help our imagine either.) Meanwhile, the actual guy behind 9-11, Osama bin Laden is still out there dictating our foreign policy. ("Osama says if we don't stay bogged down in Iraq we are wusses!

How can we "cut and run" from that quagmire if Osama is just gonna gloat about it?")
Just this weekend it was reported that a National Intelligence Estimate (the consensus of all 16 intelligence agencies) completed in April (but kept secret by the Bush administration, of course) concluded that the Iraq war has actually increased the terrorist threat.

Counter-terrorism was the #1 priority of the Clinton justice department. Under Ashcroft, before 9-11 it was among the department’s priorities.

(Brin note: I am still pushing for some news group to investigate how many FBI and other agents were diverted from counter-terror tasks by the early GWB administration, as part of the frenetic 9/11 witch hunt, seeking that elusive “smoking gun” to prove that at least ONE Clintonian could be indicted for actual malfeasance in office. Their failure to ever indict even one was a huge embarassment that 9/11 distracted from. But a worse scandal tould be to see the actual number of FBI agents who were not doing counter-terror work, because they were busy seeking political vendetta.)

Bush is also destroying our military. The Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.

(Brin note: I think I put this better. Try asking about America’s “state of readiness” to face some surprise crisis. Under Clinton, critics doubted that we were really ready to face two major surprise wars at the same time (his stated goal). Today, nobody in the (horribly abused) US officer Corps will say that we can face even one surprise situation, even on a medium or small scale.)

The Army, with an active-duty force of 504,000, has been stretched by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. About 400,000 have done at least one tour of combat duty, and more than a third of those have been deployed twice. Commanders have increasingly complained of the strain, saying last week that sustaining current levels will require more help from the National Guard and Reserve or an increase in the active-duty force.

(Brin note: Let's reprise an earlier note, relevant to the preceding facts. Can you guess what crazy, America-hating "Defeatocrat" made the following statement?

"When presidents fail to make hard choices, those who serve must make them instead. Soldiers must choose whether to stay with their families or to stay in the armed forces at all. Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness."

If you guessed The Republican National Platform you get an extra beer tonight.)

Daggatt concludes, speaking to his hypothetical tenacious GOP supporter:

But I can see why you would like to retreat to a time of anti-Clinton nostalgia. Everything just made sense then. Republicans were for fiscal responsibility and were against "nation-building." Rush Limbaugh wanted to lock up drug abusers and throw away the key. Dennis Miller was funny. But those days are gone. A company named "Google" is worth more than six times as much as General Motors. Get used to it.

p.s., Oh, how the right wing cried foul when Clinton attacked bin Laden! Calling it just a distraction from the Republican partisan witchhunt.


(Brin final note: Oh, there are tons of other points one could add. Comparing the (competent) Balkans Intervention (in which not a single US soldier died and all objectives were achieved in months) to the bleeding attrition of a Vietnam-style land war in Asia... see for example. In fact, I believe this whole campaign should be waged on “conservative” issues like these! After all, we are fighting for civilization now. Let the liberals pose their arguments once democracy is restored.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

More tech-heavy potpouri...

Some cool items (from var sources like Ray Kurzweil and the Progressive Policy Institute.)

The Royal Society has digitized and onlined all of its publications (1665-present). This is an unbelievable sci/tech resource -- 60,000 articles by folks from Newton and Leibniz to Hawking and Chandrasekhar. Access is free until December; they'll start charging for access after that. Grab the good stuff while it's still free.

Big Brother is shouting at you. Middlesbrough has fitted loudspeakers on seven of its 158 cameras, publicly berating bad behaviour and shaming offenders into acting more... Ah but can we shout back?

A delightfully true urban legend:

Here’s a cutie from Peter Jenkins that’s reminiscent of my story “Stones of Significance.” --

A future society will very likely have the technological ability and the motivation to create large numbers of completely realistic historical simulations and be able to overcome any ethical and legal obstacles to doing so. It is thus highly probable that we are a form of artificial intelligence inhabiting one of these simulations. To avoid stacking (i.e. simulations within simulations), the termination of these simulations is likely to be the point in history when the technology to create them first became widely available, (estimated to be 2050). Long range planning beyond this date would therefore be futile. (Again, see that story of mine!)

Kurzweil himself pushed the “lifeboat” concept for spaceflight justification. The Moon as backup drive for civilization.

How to Burn a Three Terabyte CD A new nano-optical device can focus laser light tighter than traditional optics, which could may possible storage of three terabytes on a CD-size...

Tracing the limits of quantum weirdness news service Sept. 13, 2006 -The uncertainty principle is being harnessed to see if it is possible to identify a point at which matter begins to exhibit weird quantum behavior by detecting quantum...

Experimental AI Powers Robot Army -The Air Force Research Laboratory is developing software that lets robots learn, walk, see and interact far more intelligently than ever before. Based in Stephen Thaler's Creativity Machine software, the software is a type of neural network with two special features. One introduces perturbations, or "noise," into the network so that...

Relevant to finding tech solutions to today's aggravations.... Will airport of the future fly? -The airport of tomorrow might have virtual intelligence agents that check your bags, "smart dust" sensor networks that vet passengers heading through security, and commuter pilots who fly the plane from a home...

Good news! Black hole won't destroy Earth -Fears raised collider would create black holes that could swallow planet.

Well, I’ve been involved in these discussions. and as usual I am a contrarian to everybody! To those who fear the worst, I point out that Earth is bathed each day in cosmic rays more powerful than the new collider will produce. To those who blithely reject all fears, I point out the Fermi Paradox. As long as we are so eerily alone, we must ponder why. See my novel EARTH! Also my next one will deal with existential threats.

A projector the size of a sugar cube -No larger than a sugar cube, a video projector developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems contains just a single mirror which can be rotated around two axes....

Tiny fuel cell might replace batteries in laptop computers, portable electronics September 12, 2006 -Chemists at Arizona State University have created a tiny hydrogen-gas generator that they say can be developed into a compact fuel cell package that can power electronic devices three to five times longer than conventional batteries of the same size and weight. The generator uses a special solution containing borohydride, an alkaline compound...

Colleges see the future in technology L.A. Times September 12, 2006
Cutting-edge videogame and artificial intelligence technology are on the way to provide more individualized instruction. Some of the most futuristic devices could even monitor students' brainwaves to keep track of how they're doing.

Years ago scientists learned to detect the "aha!" moment when a person "gets" something that had puzzled them. Picture this incorporated in next-gen teaching games! Imagine the rapidity of learning. The tools our kids will have for THEIR kids....

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Ongoing Creep of New Feudalism...

A while back, under comments, I posed a small question that some people have urged me to make a headline item... after all, it seems to have almost completely escaped notice as a symptom of a growing class divide.

Does the demise of First Class bode poorly for an egalitarian civilization?

That sounds like a contradiction. A question that would seem to refute itself, a priori. After all, First Class is, by its very nature, unequal treatment, no? Did we not all grow up glancing through those curtains at the champaign-swilling luxury of giant seats, leg room, table cloths and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous?

Only the “rich and famous” aren’t flying First class anymore. Without fanfare or publicity (deliberately, of course) the wealthy/celebrated have been shifting their travel methods, switching away from First Class on regular airline flights, transferring either to corporate style smaller jets or else to special "charters" -- that in fact are starting to take on the regularity of regular airlines, with a few special features. (See also : Airline Deterioration and the New Elite.)

1) They fly out of charter terminals, allowing special security treatment - both greater saftey and lesser screening hassles that bypass what the rest of us (even “frequent/trusted flyers) have to endure in the main terminals.

2) Naturally, the whole VIP lounge thing goes over the top at these terminals for the aristocracy.

In fact, have you noticed? First Class has almost no rich or famous people anymore. Just businessmen and frequent flyer upgrades (a great way for airlines to sop up millions of surplus miles). Along the way, of course, “first class” has also degraded... in ways beyond simply losing the capital letters. Lower levels of service, fewer amenities, though you do get the latest electronic gimncrackery earlier than people back in the cattle coach.

It all makes me wonder about the agenda. If First Class is no longer for the highest, but more of a way to deliver upper-middle-class specialists to their next busy meeting a little less worn out -- and a way to sop up double frequent flyer miles -- then how long before citizens even get around to noticing that another threshold has been passed, on our way to a caste-and-class ridden society?

No wonder the new charter companies strive so hard for “discretion.”

Steve Sailor's blog offers this: “I can't imagine any reason anyone would object to President Bush's latest effort. The AP :

Thousands of students from Saudi Arabia are enrolling on college campuses across the United States this semester under a new educational exchange program brokered by President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah.The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars in the United States by the academic year's end. And big, public universities from Florida to Oregon are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars. The kingdom's royal family -- which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students -- says the program will help stem unrest at home by schooling the country's brightest in the American tradition.

“Of course the U.S. should help Saudi Arabia with its traditional practice of pawning its hotheads off on the rest of the world. What could possibly go wrong?”

Under the category of unbelievable... no matter how many times you hear it...

* Amazingly, the FBI under the Bush administration has identified “eco-terrorism” as America’s #1 domestic terrorism threat. Seriously. This is despite the fact that no one has died from any acts of politically-motivated vandalism by the environmentalists and animal-rights activists deemed “eco-terrorists”.

* In the five years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it has been a clear trend for the federal government to conceal more information about its own activities, while engaging in more surveillance of Americans' private lives. The change has been dramatic. In the 1997 fiscal year, the federal government spent $3.4 billion on securing classified information, a figure that rose to $7.7 billion for 2005. Similarly, the government declassified 204 million pages of documents in 1997 but a mere 29.6 million in 2005.

NASA’s Goals * Delete Mention of Home Planet -- (NY Times -- July 22, 2006) From 2002 until this year, NASA’s mission statement read: “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.” In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted - coming as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the “understand and protect” phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of critical research priorities.

* An interesting riff on “sousveillance” and a future “panoptic” world... kind of chilling... until you realize this is our only real hope.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Potpourri time!

Scalable-city-brown* One of the absolutely coolest things you’ll see is a demo of the Scalable City Project by Professor Sheldon Brown (my partner in the Exorarium Project ). See a 360 degree look at the demo in action recently in Vienna.

* One is only micrometers wide. The other is billions of light-years across. One image shows neurons in a mouse brain - the other is a simulated image of the universe. Together, they suggest the surprisingly similar patterns found in vastly different natural phenomena.

* The Chinese government has enlisted more than 37,000 peasants to man anti-aircraft guns in an effort to alter weather patterns. • Estimated monthly changes in the mass of Greenland's ice sheet suggest it is melting at a rate of about 57.3 cubic miles per year. • A blimp system for the Pentagon, which will be three-fourths the size of a football field, is expected to have its first test flight in 2010.

• Fastest-Evolving Human Gene Linked to Brain Boost -- (New Scientist -- August 16, 2006) The fastest evolving gene in the human genome is one linked to brain development. A study of differences between the human and chimp genomes has identified a gene associated with neural growth in the cerebral cortex – the part of the brain involved in processing thoughts and learning – as having undergone “accelerated evolutionary change”.

• FDA Approves Viruses as Food Additive -- (CNN -- August 18, 2006) A mix of bacteria-killing viruses can be safely sprayed on cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, federal health officials said in granting the first-ever approval of viruses as a food additive.

* Frozen Mice Have Healthy Pups -- (BBC -- August 15, 2006) Mice kept in the deep freeze for 15 years have fathered healthy offspring, say scientists in Japan and Hawaii. It offers hope to those trying to bring extinct animals back from the dead. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers wrote: "If spermatozoa of extinct mammalian species (eg woolly mammoths) can be retrieved from animal bodies that were kept frozen for millions of years in permanent frost, live animals might be restored by injecting them into oocytes from females of closely related species."

• "Typhoon forecast to make land this evening," said the message sent to millions of mobile phones in the coastal city of Jinjiang and surrounding Fujian province. Authorities in Fujian have sent 18 million messages with storm information during five typhoons this year. Text messages have become a key tool for Chinese authorities during this year's unusually powerful typhoon season. Nearly one-third of China's 1.3 billion people have a cell phone, creating a rival to television and radio as a way to reach the public.

* Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder have now figured out how to project the results of global futures scenarios, based on sophisticated computer predictions — formerly just rows of numbers — as changing colors on a 5-foot sphere with the continents outlined on it. A number of these spheres are now being installed in museums around the United States and the world, so the world can see what it's in for. The meltdown of Greenland's ice sheet is speeding up, satellite measurements show. Data from a NASA satellite show that the melting rate has accelerated since 2004. If the ice cap were to completely disappear, global sea levels would rise by 6.5m (21 feet).

• There are now more overweight people across the world than hungry ones, according to experts. Researchers told the International Association of Agricultural Economists the number of overweight people had topped 1 billion, compared with 800 million undernourished. Obesity is rapidly spreading, while hunger is only slowly declining among the world's 6.5 billion population.

And now, this about our brave new world. Super Surveillance could be available in 3-5 years if a new super LIDAR project succeeds. In 3-5 years, remote imaging could have 1000 times better resolution. Currently it is 2cm resolution for US military satellites. They are suggesting that they can achieve 2 micron resolution which is about the wavelength of infrared light. However, even using that resolution for a 10 gigapixel image would only have 20cm (8 inches) by 20cm (8 inches) for the area being imaged. So it would be more useful to dial back and use less resolution most of the time to get a wider field of view.

Fannish Corner

Back in Spanish! Although science fiction novels don’t seem to stay in print in Spanish very long -- most of my novels have dropped out of print -- there is a lovely new edition of GLORY SEASON, issued by EdicionesB. (People can always write to the publisher and demand they bring the others back! ;-)

Finally, someone sent me this choice tidbit:

There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live - I have no use for the sour-faced man - and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.

-- Theodore Roosevelt, talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay,
Christmastime 1898

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cracks are appearing all over...

After that emotion-drenched (nay, bilious!) fury over the availability of pedagogically useful programming languages -- Why Johnny Can't Code -- (who’d have thunk that my little poke would provoke such a stunning storm of opinion and ...occasionally... outright rage!) -- I am glad to be switching back to a much calmer and more rational topic -- politics.

1) Cognitive Dissonance on the Border: Political assumptions are terrible things. You simply cannot shake them with facts. This week, the GOP controlled Congress is making great big drumbeats over IMMIGRATION and Border Control. Naturally, the gerrymander-radicalized House is more extreme than the Senate, demanding instant sealing of borders with surpertech walls and rounding up 12 million illegals for deportation. How conservative! How Republican! What outrageous Baloney!

What I find stunning is that nobody seems even interested in hurling the accusation of hypocrisy... even though hypocrisy is known to be one of the most devastatingly effective charges you can fling at a political opponent. To the best of my knowledge, I am the absolute only voice in media who has been relentlessly pointing out that:

(i) Bill Clinton doubled the number of active Border Patrol field agents as almost his first act in office, while

(ii) George W. Bush, upon becoming president, savagely cut the same agency!

Moreover, Bush KEPT on cutting till the border tsunami began bothering even his most loyal redstate supporters.

These facts are clear, stunningly blatant. Obvious. (Remember Operation Gatekeeper?)
Overwhelmingly powerful and potentially effective. So why does absolutely nobody ever mention them? I can only guess that cognitive dissonance prevents people from even allowing these datums into their minds. Even though the economic explanations are obvious. One supposes that liberals fear mentioning it lest they sound racist. Hence they do not use a bullet that would smite the enemy right between the eyes.

I despair.

See my article: Control the Borders.

2) there is much buzz over an article in Washington Monthly called Time For Us To Go: Conservatives on why the GOP should lose in 2006.

”With Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, conservatives these days ought to be happy, but most aren’t. They see expanding government, runaway spending, Middle East entanglements, and government corruption, and they wonder why, exactly, the country should be grateful for Republican dominance. Some accuse Bush and the Republicans today of not being true conservatives. Others see a grab bag of stated policies and wonder how they cohere. Everyone thinks something’s got to change.

“Now seven prominent conservatives dare to speak the unspeakable: They hope the Republicans lose in 2006. Well, let’s be diplomatic and say they’d prefer divided government—soon. (Perhaps that formulation will fool Dennis Hastert.) Of course, all of them wish for the long-term health of conservatism, and most are loyal to the GOP. What they also believe, however, is that even if a Speaker Pelosi looms in the wings, sometimes the best remedy for a party gone astray is to give it a session in the time-out chair.

Spread word. Refer your conservative friends to articles by Christopher Buckley, Bruce Bartlett, Joe Scarborough, William A. Niskanen, Bruce Fein, Jeffrey Hart and Richard A. Viguerie.

These defections do little good, one at a time. It is in groups like these, in shotgun blasts, that they give me hope for the soul and manhood of American Conservatism. Hope that some conservatives may actually have enough character to do what liberals did, during the Miracle of 1947.

To stand up. To put their nation and civilization first. Ahead of reflex dogma, graft and loyalty to monsters.

3) Teacher won't shave until bin Laden caught. EPHRATA, Washington (AP) -- After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Gary Weddle followed the news so closely he forgot to shave. After a week he decided not to shave until Osama bin Laden was caught or killed. Nor has Weddle, 46, who expected the al Qaeda leader to be caught within a month or so, trimmed his facial hair in the succeeding five years as he went from substitute teacher to science instructor at Ephrata Middle School. At the start of each school year he gives students a brief explanation of his beard, which stretches more than a foot and has started turning gray.

4) On Slate see: THERE ARE NO MORE TROOPS TO SEND TO IRAQ. By Daniel Benjamin and Michèle A. Flournoy. Things that I say for two, three years finally make it into public awareness... and am I ever cited? Ever? Ah well, it’s good to see this finally mentioned.

”Earlier this week, in a Washington Post , William Kristol and Rich Lowry called on the Bush administration to send more troops to Iraq...It isn't clear that any conceivable increase in troops could stem the tide of sectarian violence, but it is, at least, a serious argument and a welcome counterpoint to the White House's incessant calls for staying a course that is leading to disaster.
The only problem with Kristol and Lowry's recommendation is that it is premised on an illusion: In fact, there are no more troops to send to Iraq.

“That is the unmistakable message of an Army briefing making the rounds in Washington. According to in-house assessments, fully two-thirds of the Army's operating force, both active and reserve, is now reporting in as "unready"—that is, they lack the equipment, people, or training they need to execute their assigned missions. Not a single one of the Army's Brigade Combat Teams—its core fighting units—currently in the United States is ready to deploy... etc.”

The only thing more mind-boggling than this treason is that the dems are LETTING them get away with saying “we’re safer”, when the GOP has overseen the steepest decline in US readiness in any of our lifetimes.

I am still going to fight like hell for the dems to retake Congress. (For the sake of civilization.) But if they don’t start taking seriously the plight of the US Officer Corps... and the sincere, dedicated women and men who serve under them... then who will?

5) Register voters. Now.

FINALLY.... if any of you did as asked, and subscribed to Baen’s UNIVERSE Magazine, you are no doubt by now thrilled by the prodigious amount of high quality SF you’ve found there! If you liked the hilarious and groaner-filled SF comedy I’ve been serializing there, I am recruiting a small number of horrific punsters to look over Part III. Just a few. If you’ve enjoyed the 1st two parts and have already had a few evil thoughts and awful twists, write to me. It may be your lucky day.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Blog don't always work...(surprise!)

Okay, something went wrong down at the comment level of my last posting. I am forced to create a new Post-level entry in order to continue discussions.

Especially discussions of my by-now infamous (and by-now an instant classic?) article on Salon Magazine (currently their lead) about "Why Johnny Can't Code." That one sure ignited a firestorm! Mostly from people who (clearly) did not even bother to actually read the article, skimming and leaping to a false conclusion that Old Fart David Brin Loves Basic.

When, in fact, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the (apparently) difficult real point of the essay... that we are devouring the seed corn of years past and denying kids the simplest thing their uncles and aunts once had... the chance to use computers to... compute.

I was posting a reply when the boys at Blogger let me down (coincidence? ;-) I will enter it again below, under comments. But feel free to discuss other things too!

Like SF in China! (Or how to encourage the Chinese govt to declare a "Year of SF and the Future in Asia!) Or Subscribing to Baen's Universe to see my serialized comedy!

Oh, even though this is an emergency posting, let me add some new stuff!


All right, I admit it. Sometimes I simply pass on stuff collected and distributed by Ray Kurzweil. This time these goodies have in many cases cvome from FUTUREdition - from the Arlington Institute. All of them are way cool or at least way interesting...

Back From the Dead -- September, 2006) A new theory claims that direct electrical stimulation can effectively 'reboot' the brain of comatose or otherwise severely brain-damaged individuals - possibly allowing their brains to regain some normal functionality.

Gene Found to Switch Off Stem Cells During Aging -- (NY Times -- September 6, 2006) Biologists have uncovered a deep link between lifespan and cancer in the form of a gene that switches off stem cells as a person ages. To offset the increasing risk of cancer as a person ages, the gene gradually reduces the ability of stem cells to proliferate. The finding indicates that many of the degenerative diseases of aging are caused, in some part, by an active shutting down of the stem cells that renew the body’s various tissues.

Cure for Cancer, Age-Related Diseases Coming Into View -- (LEF -- August 22, 2006) When a cell divides, the DNA in its chromosomes is replicated and passed on to the new cell. Telomeres keep the replication process on track. With each replication, the telomeres shorten, becoming exhausted as a person or organism ages, resulting in cell deterioration - i.e., ageing, cancer and other age-related diseases. Nanocircles (a new nanotechnology) and vTert (a new synthetic enzyme) are now capable of repairing damaged telomeres.

India has long been noted for 'stealing' U.S. jobs, particularly in the field of I.T. However, as the Indian economy continues to expand, it has been attracting Westerners in all fields and has come full circle: Westerners are now beginning to come to India for I.T. jobs.

Risky Business: US Insurers Adapting to Climate Change -- (Fortune -- August 24, 2006) In 18 states, from southern Texas to the northern tip of Maine, insurance companies are scrambling to reduce the risk of major hurricane-related payouts. The upshot: For the 43% of the U.S. population who live and do business in these states, rates are likely to rise between 20% and 100% over the next year. In the rest of the country, premiums are expected to rise about 4%. Publicly, insurers have not accepted the theory of global warming. What the industry does believe is that, for whatever reason, weather isn't what it used to be. ca change....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

See Your Favorite Author on Salon... and TV!

First, a few announcements.

I have a cover/lead article in the latest issue of SALON, one of the oldest and greatest online magazines. (One of my past covers was the controversial piece that led to STAR WARS ON TRIAL.) This one is about a topic I tested here -- the way that gradually, without any apparent notice, a whole generation of kids has been denied access to simple programming tools that are eaily accessible, universal and easy to use. Have a look at The Basic Problem: Why Johnny Can't Code.

Another little item. If you are at all interested in the burgeoning of science fiction in China, see the top story in SEED Magazine’s online edition. I am cited along with hopeful plans to spark a “Year of Science Fiction and the Future in Asia.

Speaking of which, I will pester you folks till I know the real SF lovers out there try on Baen’s Universe Magazine... The best thing to happen to science fiction in years. Not only does it carry my new serialized novel and lots of other cool items (you get TWICE the stories as any other magazine and they pay top rates for top authors), but every subscription is also a good deed. Every full price subscriber will be matched by free or steeply discounted online subs to students and folks in the developing world. Spread the memes.

(If you do subscribe, tell em I sent you!)

Oh, and some TV appearances. (1) I may be on NOVA (PBS) on October 31st. An episode about Black Holes. And (2) keep ready for news of a special new History Channel show that will premiere in November.

I generally try to post less often. But heaps happen.

 Do be sure and help spread alternative memes about the elections.
 Do be registering folks to vote.
 Do be talking moderates and “decent” conservatives into thinking about their duty.
 Do be do be do.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Road to 9/11... redux...

...the political lamp cannot stay unlit... alas...

On Friday I responded to the ABC “docudrama” the Road to 9/11, with a challenge for some brave reporter out there.

“Go track down how many FBI agents the Bush White House re-assigned during its first six months, diverting the agents from duties protecting the public, over to searching for indictable offenses* committed by the Clinton Administration.”

My personal tally, from informal sources, is shocking. But if only ONE were verified, it would be enough, matching all of the innuendos spread by the deceitful miniseries.

EmpoweringCitizensNow I am behooved to follow up with one more rebuttal. Further proof that Clinton Staff were taking bin Laden and the Taliban seriously, entirely repudiating the image presented by ABC.

I posted a detailed article in 2004, demonstrating that the very swiftness of our response to the 9/11 attacks, unleashing a stunningly effective and well-organized campaign to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, is proof enough that aggressive planning had been taking place for years... in other words, under the previous administration. Indeed, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush had little time to do much more than say “Go!” to an already-existing war plan.

--- excerpt---

”The existence of this plan is apparent on many levels, for example in the rapid convergence of skilled special forces teams that were already trained to interact with well-developed contacts among Uzbeki, Tadjik and other tribal leaders.

“Moreover, the Taliban were clearly aware that such plans existed. On the morning of September 9, 2001, the formidable guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the opposition Northern Alliance, was assassinated by an Al Qaeda suicide squad at his base in Khvajeh Baha od Din, specifically in order to foil the cooperative campaign that was sure to be unleashed by America when hijacked planes were sent diving into New York and Washington, two days later. Osama bin Laden's operatives thus hoped to derail an allied retaliation scenario that had been in complex preparation for more than a year.

“While we can fret over the unsatisfying aftermath of warlords, opium fields and other doubts, there can be no question that the initial portion of the Afghanistan Campaign was resoundingly successful -- more so than any other foreign involvement there since Alexander the Great. Credit should be apportioned equally between the President who said "go-get-em" (without the catastrophic political meddling we saw in Iraq) and the previous administration, who assigned professionals the long and hard task of preparing for this deed.”

--- end ---

What I left out of that missive -- and the larger article -- was further implicit evidence... manifest in the stark difference between two military doctrines -- between the Afghanistan intervention and the subsequent plunge into Iraq. Ask any military officer. The two approaches were almost diametric opposites, with the former involving careful planning, mature engagement of local forces, steady diplomacy, as well as utter respect for the capabilities and advice of skilled professionals.

In fact, the closest parallel to the Afghanistan operation was the previous major use of American force -- the Campaign in the Balkans. From the careful use of special forces and air power to the consequent low US casualty figures, it is clear that both endeavors were “cousins” in areas of both doctrine and effectiveness. (This comparison only applies to the first year in Afghanistan, of course. The bungled subsequent period is another matter, entirely, as the Bush Administration made this engagement entirely its own.)

The contrast with Iraq is stunning, on a dozen levels. For example, after telling us for thirty years that “we lost Vietnam because of meddling by politicians,” some of the same rightwing radicals have become the worst meddlers in US military history, micro-managing our troops in ways that not only have devastated their effectiveness, but that make Robert MacNamara look like George Patton. Just the violation of contract-vetting rules, a boring but important topic, has created a scandalous wound, bleeding our troops while pouring millions into the pockets of hand-picked cronies.

The chief result... destruction of our reserves, deterioration of readiness and savage abrasion of our mainline forces... could not have been more thoroughly accomplished had it been planned. But I’ve made that argument elsewhere.

Here, my chief point is this; there is a long list of differences between these two interventions, between the initial intervention in Afghanistan and the debacle in Iraq. That list of differences reflects upon the different styles of two very different administrations.

All of the evidence, from planning style to rapidity of response, to the assassination of Massoud... all of it... points to a Clinton Administration that was very busy waging the war on terror, with the same patient relentlessness that it had brought to the task of bringing peace to Europe, for the first time in 4,000 years.

=== ADDENDA =====

Relevant to the preceding. Can you guess what crazy, America-hating "Defeatocrat" made this statement?

"When presidents fail to make hard choices, those who serve must make them instead. Soldiers must choose whether to stay with their families or to stay in the armed forces at all. Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness."

If you guessed The 2000 Republican Party Platform, you get an extra beer tonight.

The failure of the Democrats to make this THE issue of the campaign is staggering. It simply beggars the imagination.


(* Lest we forget; the sum total of Clintonites actually indicted for malfeasance in the performance of official duties amounted to


Monday, September 11, 2006

An Era of Strangeness...

There are times when you can understand why the anti-modernists are so frantic. So desperate to prevent the 21st Century from finally arriving.

* Women applying reciprocal accountability with cell cams... exactly as in EARTH and in The Transparent Society. Holla Back NYC, a blog-cum-grass-roots movement uses digital technology to combat street harassment. They urge women not only to take a photo when men hassle or insult them in public, but to make the photo public on I have always found that women seem to grasp the concept better than men do. They have benefited best from every step toward a world of accountability and light.

* Down at the commentary level, Stefan Jones pojted out a site that is of some importance in the struggles for progressive modernism. Following similar lines to my “Proxy Power” notion, a site called the Scientific Activist lists organizations that can take small donations and leverage them into bullets in the hard fight to save Enlightenment Civilization. Give it a look. And then give. (This list is worth noting somewhere and passing along.)

* The first genetic map of colon and breast cancer shows that nearly 200 mutated genes -- most of them previously unknown -- help tumors start, grow and spread. The findings could lead to new treatments for cancer and better ways to diagnose...

"The vast majority of these genes were not known to be genetically altered in tumors and are predicted to affect a wide range of cellular functions, including transcription, adhesion, and invasion," they wrote in their report published in the journal Science. "We anticipate that as The Cancer Genome Atlas scales up, we may be able to identify the majority of genetic changes that cause the most important and common forms of the major cancers," I mean dang. When the process becomes this involved, this complex, this inter-dependent, you have just got to start wondering in extremely science fictional ways. These mutations are starting to look less and less like “accidents” and more and more like something meaningful, as in some Greg Bear novel.

What if you turned ALL of the mutations on... AT ONCE??? Hm...

* Superimposing computer-generated images over real scenes can dramatically help people with visual impairment, say Harvard Medical School researchers. Their device puts a cartoon on top of a person's regular view. It sketches out what the wider field of view looks like and superimposes that on the person's usual view....

* Today's cameras will let you adjust perceived reality, by altering a photo as it's snapped. Some new Hewlett-Packard cameras include a feature that makes subjects look thinner, while another mode makes facial lines and pores virtually disappear. A "skin tone" feature on some Olympus models can give consumers a leisure-class tan.

* Game theorist Robert Axelrod, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, is applying game theory to cancer. The "game" -- to grow a successful tumor -- proceeds more efficiently for all players if they cooperate. The theory could have major implications.

Fannish items.

* For a 40th Anniversary Tribute to Star Trek... in both English and Hebrew!

* An informal interview with me at the worldcon Hugo Loser's Party is now online.

* I've had some of my characters dramatized in unusual media over the years. An Australian fan made magnificent plush toys of the "noor" or "tytlal" characters in BRIGHTNESS REEF and even a Tower of Hanoi game in which successive rings get piled up to make a wise old traeki sage! Now, in the run-up to the 2007 worldcon, I have been given a CD showing details how to make origami figures of various uplift species, from urs and hoon to traeki and even the wheeled g'kek! All by expert Kazuo Sumiya. There are even plans to do a joint performance - (I’ll recite a story while he... folds?) in Yokohama next August.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The REAL Road to 9/11...

Amid all the fury and hoo-row over the ABC miniseries "Road to 9/11"... which apparently concocts entirely fictitious actions by officials of the Clinton Administration, blaming them directly for negligence in preventing the attack... I just have to ask. Is anybody really all that surprised to see this sort of thing come out just before critical mid-term elections?

Can you say “October Surprise?” Of course, this pop culture grenade is the 2006 equivalent of "Swift Boat Veteran's For Truth." And if it works, we’ll deserve what we get.

I won't go into a detailed rebuttal. Let other bloggers do that (far better than the hapless democrats will). Still, I do have one tidbit-insight to offer into the blogosphere.

Only first, a little context.

The Embarrassment of The Century (so far...)

Do you recall the approximately one BILLION dollars that was spent, throughout the nineties, and after, on desperate efforts to prove that the Clinton Administration was the "most corrupt in US history"?

Remember the solemn vow, propounded by everyone from Limbaugh to Rove, from Cheney to (ironically) Delay? "As soon as honest Republicans win control of the Executive Branch and open all the file cabinets to light, the scandalous truth will emerge and heads will roll!"

Lest we forget, we were promised - absolutely guaranteed - indictments by the hundreds, scores of convictions, millennia of total prison time. Perhaps even enough to justify all the yelling and posturing. A cumulative torrent of time, energy, expense and fury sufficient to propel an entire Manhattan Project.

Only there was a rub. After all that sturm und drang, all they ever managed to get on Clinton was a fib-under-oath about marital infidelity, answering a question that was later ruled illegal and inadmissible. Embarrassing, to say the least! No, not the fib. Rather, vastly more embarrassing was the fact that a fib was all they ever came up. Period.

In fact, to this day, the total number of Clinton Administration officials who have been convicted... or even indicted... for actual malfeasance in the performance of their official duties, amounts to a big fat zero.

Let me give you that figure again. Nil, nada, zip, null, none.

In fact, I do believe this is the very first time in all of American history that it has happened. I can’t think of any other in which nobody was found to have broken any law concerning official duties. At all. Can the "most corrupt" administration have actually have been the least? The facts say so, unequivocally.

In science, the mark of a mature adult is to be able to say “I guess I was wrong.” But you’ll not find dogmatists willing to act that way -- not on the right ...or the left.

Getting to the point.

All right, the stage is set. It is early 2001. The Clintons are finally gone and DC is under new management. Onward into the brave new Century Twenty-One.

So. What is the absolute top priority of the Bush Administration, upon entering office?

Well, almost their first official action was to cripple the Border Patrol, reducing manpower, cutting equipment budgets, opening whole swathes of countryside to floods of undocumented (and therefore cheap) workers. Look it up! In contrast, one of Bill Clinton's very first acts, in 1993, was to DOUBLE the Border Patrol. These clear facts do not fit our political prejudices and stereotypes. But they are facts. Diametric opposites. Live with them. Better yet, understand them.

Alas, there was yet another betrayal of our national security in store, one that may have had far more dire consequences. For, just as soon as they entered office, the Bush group began devoting top priority to finding that Clintonian smoking gun.

They unleashed scads of GOP lawyers - many of them at taxpayer expense - to sift through filing cabinets in every executive department, trawling for something, anything, that might let them indict at least one Clintonite. To help justify what they had put the country through for a decade.

As I’ve said, this hunt proved unavailing. And that pathetic failure would be amusing... an expensive but hilarious joke... but for one additional fact.

Not only GOP political operatives were engaged in this witch hunt.

Agents of the FBI, along with skilled operatives at other intelligence and law enforcement agencies, were diverted from normal duties, in order to join in this frivolous activity, during the months leading up to September 11.

While this administration filled the topmost ranks at Defense and other agencies with political cadres (many - perhaps most - of them former consultants or employees of Saudi Arabia), they meanwhile redirected the efforts of skilled officers and civil servants away from activities that involve public safety. Instead transferring those trained investigators over to a futile and petty search for nonexistent Clintonian improprieties.

An unproductive program, fixated solely on political and ideological revenge.

Can I prove any of this?

Do I even have to? At one level, it’s an obvious, a no-brainer. That is, to anyone who remembers the summer of 2001, as the nation waited breathlessly for the promised tsunami of indictments to begin... then people started wondering “well?” As the administration’s excuses started getting shrill. Then desperate. And they began trawling for a distraction.

At another level, no. I cannot back it up with statistical proof -- numbers of agents reassigned and/or demonstrable effects upon counter-terror investigations. I do not have the resources of a major news agency... and those bureaus that do have the resources are now mostly suborned. Hence, it seems unlikely that any of this will ever rise above the futility of speculation, unsupported assertion and outright blogitude. (At least I openly admit it.)

All I can tell you -- (and you have no reason to take my word) -- is that two private sources have told me morose tales of how they wish they had been “on mission” during the summer of 2001, instead of chasing ignoble and trivial innuendos about a far classier set of public servants.

Of course, my allegation looks positively scientific compared to the outright fabrications and deliberate lies spread in polemical hit pieces like “The Road to 9/11.” Above all, I don’t pretend that what I’m doing is journalism.

In fact, how could anyone assign exact cause-and-effect, correlating and attributing the monumental intelligence errors of that year to an insanely compulsive political witch hunt? That would be as stupid as, say, conflating the purported Whitewater graft (in five figures) to the billions received by Halliburton in no-bid, crony deals. Sometimes the human power of comparison is simply beggared.

An invitation to real journalists, with real resources.

Ah, but hope springs, eternal. There’s always a chance that courage and professionalism and skill and hard work haven’t died off yet. Not completely. This could be a major scandal - a juicy one - waiting for some reporter with skill and ambition and guts. A little leg work. Some number crunching. It’s what the Fourth Estate’s supposed to do well.

That is, if they did their jobs.** Ah, but there’s an even deeper rub.

In this benighted 21st Century... is ANYBODY doing their jobs, anymore?

-------- Notes -----------

*1. Expect more such stunts, as November approaches. There will be many. They will come from dozens of directions, VERY well-financed, unprincipled and utterly ruthless. For they cannot afford to have either branch of Congress resume business. Issuing subpoenas, holding hearings... because this time heads would roll. Hence, expect frenetic tricks during a mid-term election.

Nevertheless, the whole effort may backfire this time, when some trusted inner henchman in the cabal finally gets fed up and says “I’ve had enough...”

...and decides to be a patriot, instead.

Think about how nervous this must make them, knowing that just one principled “mole” in their midst might decide to value citizenship over partisanship and cash. Even now, he or she may be squirreling away evidence, recording conversations, getting ready. Al it might take is just one!

When that happens -- if it happens in time -- watch out! There won’t be a bigger hero in America. His or her face will adorn a hundred magazines. There will be streets and high schools renamed.

**2. There is more than enough blame to pass around. The left deserves plenty. But more on that, anon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No help from Newt...

I just received a message from Newt Gingrich's organization asking me to link to their site. Always accommodating, I'll offer the link here.

Alas, upon visiting the site, I was deeply disappointed. All critiques of the loony monsters have been muted, sweetened, tidied into a neat "contract" of modest suggestions... a sort of wish list of what Newt thinks a really, really nice version of conservatism OUGHT to stand for. Along with plenty of Nancy Pelosi bashing, but no mention of the greatest kleptocratic raid in American... make that human... history.

Ah, well. Newt is probably positioning himself for a run at the GOP nomination in 08. And things are so dire that we must all wish him well. Anything! A cryptobiotic tardigrade, a slime mold, lime gelatin, anything. As long as it is honest!

Still, I had to respond. Here's what I wrote back. And yes, it is some of the same stuff you've heard before. (sigh.)

But these are thoughts that I guarantee Newt and his staff have not pondered, till now.

Dear Joe DeSantis (,

As a fellow science fiction author, I do not start out
without some goodwill toward a colleague and fellow believer
in bold tomorrows. Still, I must respond to the material at on another level.

I realize that Newt must position himself as a
reformer from within... trying so "save the GOP"
rather than opposing the monstrous factions that have
taken control over it. (The spinning in Goldwater's
grave is supplying half of Arizona's energy needs!)

Still, you and I both know the sad truth. Things have
gone too far. The situation is EXACTLY the same as it
was in 1947, when liberals had to choose between their
old, somewhat pinkish sympathies and a factual
evaluation of the real threat posed by Joseph
Stalin. That year, they stood
up. Like men. They not only declared non-communism.

They declared ANTI-communism.

While the GOP of Taft and Vandenberg pushed for
isolation, the entire grand strategy of containment,
completed by Ronald Reagan, was initiated by the
AFL-CIO. That is no exaggeration. If you know a
whit of history, then you know this is true. And you know
how difficult that "Miracle of 47" was to pull off.

I bring up this obscure bit of history because these
times are fantastically similar. Just as true
liberals needed guts to admit and avow and declare
that the far-left can go dangeously mad... it is time for true conservatives now -- NOW!
-- to admit the same thing about the far right. To save
conservatism from genuine monsters.

To save their country.

I know you will dismiss this as lefty cant, even
though it is the diametric opposite. For I believe it
is still possible to save conservatism.

But increasingly, Americans will see it as a choice
BETWEEN conservatism and their country.

Because, when the Enemy was not AT the gates, but deep inside, having seized every pinnacle of power, conservatives were far more concerned about labels and identity than with standing up for their country, for their civilization, for their species and planet.

Sadly, unable to recognize the monsters on your own
side, you are proving yourselves to be lesser men than
the miracle workers of 1947.

With cordial regards,

David Brin

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Science Stuff!

The political lamp is OUT!

Let's switch to cool news of a civilization still brave enough to explore frontiers.

* Scientists say they have discovered a gene sequence which appears to play a central role in giving humans their unique brain capacity. The area, called HAR1, has undergone accelerated evolutionary change in humans and is active during a critical stage in brain development.

* An utterly fascinating article on the parasite toxoplasma, which apparently has the knack of altering the BEHAVIOR of the hosts that it infects. “This single-celled organism has a life cycle that takes it from cats to other mammals and birds and back to cats again. Studies have shown that the parasite can alter the behavior of rats, robbing them of their normal fear of cats--and presumably making it easier for the parasites to get into their next host.” And now: “Proceedings of the Royal Society of London is publishing a called, "Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?"

* A controversial alternative to black hole theory has been bolstered by observations of an object in the distant universe, researchers say. If their interpretation is correct, it might mean black holes do not exist and are in fact bizarre and compact balls of plasma called MECOs.

* And another puzzler: U.S. astronomers say a survey of galaxies observed along the sight lines to quasars and gamma-ray bursts creates a cosmic conundrum -- odd galaxy distribution. The survey revealed a puzzling inconsistency: Galaxies appear to be four times more common in the direction of gamma-ray bursts than in the direction of quasars. Quasars are thought to be powered by accretion of material onto supermassive black holes in the centers of distant galaxies. Gamma-ray bursts, the death throes of massive stars, are the most energetic explosions in the universe. But researchers say there's no known reason to expect galaxies in the foreground to have any association with these background light sources.

* Instead of building a wall on the USA-Mexico border just for security purposes, why not build a solar array structure that also provides electric power to border states on both sides and provides economic benefits as well? That's what engineer/inventor Ken Clements is proposing with his "Friendship Solar Array Project,"

* A futuristic camera system will make it possible to create compellingly realistic synthetic actors by capturing the facial movements of real actors in much greater detail than is currently possible. Instead of grabbing points on a face, it will be able to capture the entire skin.

* The print-on-demand business is gradually moving toward the center of the marketplace. What began as a way for publishers to reduce their inventory and stop wasting paper is becoming a tool for anyone who needs a bound document. Short-run presses can turn out books economically in small quantities or singly, and new software simplifies the process...

* "Powered Shoes," a pair of motorized roller skates that cancel out a person's steps, could let users naturally explore virtual reality landscapes in confined spaces....

* Science-fiction writers Vernor Vinge and Cory Doctorow look at the various ways a technological Singularity will develop in the near future and conclude that a cooperative model linking computers, networks, and people makes the most sense....

* Researchers believe they have found a second code in DNA in addition to the genetic code. The second code, superimposed on the first, sets the placement of the nucleosomes, miniature protein spools around which the DNA is looped.

* Thirteen of the World's Twenty Highest Buildings Have Opened Since 1996

2008?: 2,313 feet? (Burj Dubai, UAE)
2004: 1,670 feet (Taipei 101, Taipei)
1998: 1,483 feet (Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur)
1974: 1,450 feet (Sears Tower, Chicago)
1972: 1,368 feet (World Trade Center, New York)
1931: 1,250 feet (Empire State Building, New York)
1930: 1,046 feet (Chrysler Building, New York)
1913: 792 feet (Woolworth Building, New York)
1908: 612 feet (Singer Building, New York)

So much for "Freedom Tower" being highest at 1776 feet!