Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Joe & Jill, be careful!

WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney, getting ready to hand off the job as the nation's second-in-command, will sit down with Vice President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday at the Naval Observatory.

Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said Cheney and his wife, Lynne, have invited Biden and his wife, Jill, to their home at the observatory, the vice presidential residence.


I have one piece of advice for Joe & Jill Biden. Have all of your medical and biometric measurements taken before you make this little trip... and arrange for trusted people to check them again, after you return. Be thorough. Heck, throw-in a before and after aura-inspection by some mystic psychic-person! All precautions are reasonable.

Because, if there were any place on the planet where there existed the power to snatch souls or replace people with pod-beings...

Moreover (and this is vital), before you move in, have the place swept carefully for bugs (of all kinds), fumigated and then exorcised!

(Advice that would also serve the Obamas well, even though - when it comes to Bush - one feels this imperative with less of a frisson of thriller-novel premonition.)

The crux: I doubt very much these awful people have used up their final ability to lash out, even as the nation rejects them like a really bad boil.

------

There are far more mundane methods to suborn bright new leaders, of course. Especially entrapment and blackmail. How to get across to people that there are some areas where simple prudence and grownup behavior have added reasons, and this is one of the most important. A case where a little paranoia is perfectly compatible with simply behaving well.

How I wish I could spread the word on that one, adequately to staunch what will certainly be tried by those desperate to keep illicit routes into influence.

------
Speaking of Dick Cheney... anyone care to go on InTrade and see what odds folks will offer there, on my speculation that Bush might resign a week early? Or issue 1,000+ pardons? Or have to move to Dubai?


... and now... just to fill out the time...


== Misc! ==


Your top ten survival items.

From Brian Wang this: a blow-up survival shelter featuring a bed, a couch, freeze-dried food, a 50-gallon water bladder, a first-aid kit, a radio and a cookstove. And the latter is exactly what the "Life Cube" from startup Inflatable World is designed to provide. Packaged into a four-foot-tall cube, it inflates into a 12-foot-tall structure built from the same thick plastic as a bouncy house. Designed to provide shelter and basic amenities for people in the days and weeks after a disaster, the instant housing will come with a $3,900 price tag, so the company's first market could be wealthy survivalists.

A kind of kool/fun Youtube riff by MdDaMan!

Help improve my site! http://www.davidbrin.com is highly ranked in lots of ways, in the top 1% of web sites and all that. But there are clear areas for improvement. In particular, only two of the sub-pages and articles have been “digg’d.” What, none of you digged the essays:

-- On self-righteous indignation?
-- Or suggestions to Congress? 
-- J.R. Tolkien and the Modern Age
-- Essay on Libertarianism

On the other hand, I won’t mourn for the days when I googled as the number 8 “david” link on the planet. The web is far larger now, than 5 years ago. And I still score at 53!

A fun satire of the Matrix... if it ran on Windows.

Poking at my "suggestions" piece. But I promised to actually write my novel... so be patient. Meanwhile, what would YOU suggest to Obama and Congress?

.

114 comments:

Blake Stacey said...

"Bush Spy Revelations Anticipated When Obama Is Sworn In", reports Wired.

Stefan Jones said...

Seymour Hersh said that several administration people have promised him "dirt" . . . right after the inauguration.

* * *

Interesting and aggravating: The press and GOP (and all of us) were taken in by a prankster. The "leaks" revealing that Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent were created by a hoaxster operating out of "The Harding Institute."

David Brin said...

The Hersh story doesn't impress me. These civil servants should have had the guts and patriotism to blow their whistles before the election, when it might have done some good.

Stefan : >>Interesting and aggravating: The press and GOP (and all of us) were taken in by a prankster. The "leaks" revealing that Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent were created by a hoaxster operating out of "The Harding Institute."<<

Hm? Well I never counted on her being a fool.

Less aggravating because the leaks were promulgated by Fox News! Britt hume? In any event, any folks who complain should have that pointed out to them.

BTW I still think it is important that some kind of movement be started to post the names of all companies that buy ads on both Fox and Limbaugh.

It is time to wage a confident counter-attack on Culture War. Right now, with the Loony Right reeling, is the time for this sort of thing.

Stefan Jones said...

P.S. NY times story about the hoax:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/arts/television/13hoax.html?hp

(The Word Verification for this post is "trordso," which I suggest would be a good name for a Portuguese seafood dish.)

SteveO said...

OK quick geeky post here...

I learned the other day that the Ecco the dolphin games with which our esteemed host is connected are available for download on the Wii. I downloaded the first one (too hard for my daughters, but they love it, so I am there controller-slave :) "Go there Daddy!"). Dr. B did some work on the second one, which, if we survive the first one, we will download. There is also a Ecco Jr. that my girls might be able to do themselves.

Hopefully Dr. Brin gets some royalties for the one he worked on. If you have a Wii, take a look at these classic games with a distinct Brin flavor.

David Brin said...

Oh yeah, Joe and Jill... when offered food and drink, try to politely refuse... time your visit for just after lunch!

,,,or else switch place settings and glasses and plates!

SteveO said...

@ Dr. Brin (sorry I just had to)

Scene at the Naval Observatory...

Joe Biden: All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right... and who is dead.
Dick Cheney: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Joe Biden: You've made your decision then?
Dick Cheney: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
Joe Biden: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Dick Cheney: Wait til I get going! Now, where was I?
Joe Biden: Australia.
Dick Cheney: Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Joe Biden: You're just stalling now.
Dick Cheney: You'd like to think that, wouldn't you? You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could've put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Alaskan, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Joe Biden: You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work.
Dick Cheney: IT HAS WORKED! YOU'VE GIVEN EVERYTHING AWAY! I KNOW WHERE THE POISON IS!
Joe Biden: Then make your choice.
Dick Cheney: I will, and I choose - What in the world can that be?
Dick Cheney: [Dick Cheney gestures up and away from the table. Biden looks. Dick Cheney swaps the goblets]
Joe Biden: What? Where? I don't see anything.
Dick Cheney: Well, I- I could have sworn I saw something. No matter.First, let's drink. Me from my glass, and you from yours.
Joe Biden, Dick Cheney: [they drink ]
Joe Biden: You guessed wrong.
Dick Cheney: You only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Republican when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...
Dick Cheney: [Dick Cheney stops suddenly, and falls dead to the right]
Jill Biden: And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.
Joe Biden: They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.

Tony Fisk said...

Ah, yes! Dick, GOP 'til you drop!!


Joe Biden: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Dick Cheney: Wait til I get going! Now, where was I?
Joe Biden: Australia.
:
Dick Cheney: I will, and I choose - What in the world can that be?


Probably an ozzie blowfly (sometimes mistaken for a B-52. You should see the spiders!)

chings: the sound of iocane addicts toasting their intellectual superiority. (I think Douglas Adams would have loved this game)

SteveO said...

Hey Tony,

I have seen the spiders! We saw a glorious orb spider when we were in Daintree - probably as big as my outstretched hand, and beautiful.

The quote above is modified from the Princess Bride (one of the greatest quotable movies of all time) written by William Goldman. It seemed very applicable...

Tony Fisk said...

I know the allusion, SteveO.

A mature huntsman is about as big (and as massive) as your outstretched hand. They're fairly common (and fortunately, fairly harmless). It has a relative which is orange-ish, even bigger, and would make a better librarian than an orang-utang

Interesting facts about funnelwebs: the females are big, and relatively harmless (although I'm not about to mess with *any* rampant arthropod whose bite can leave separate puncture marks!!)

The male funnelweb venom isn't generally very effective either, but it has a component which is *exquisitely* toxic to the human nervous system.

(Well, you *had* to add the bit about Australia, or was that in the original? ... Oh, it was!)

empoo: the after-effects of a high-yield thermonuclear explosion in the upper atmosphere.

David Brin said...

Huh. it appears lively discussions are going on in the last comments section. But move here soon, eh?

Robert said...

Well, there's a good foundation of discussion in the other thread, while this one... Dr. Brin, it reads like a massive conspiracy theory and not really something to be taken seriously. I mean, "watch what you eat and drink around the Cheneys?" Ooookay. And the talk about spiritual corruption... I believe in psychics and magic and I was chuckling and rolling my eyes at that one.

It's good silly fun, and we need that from time to time. But when there is an active thoughtful discussion going on in the previous thread, and light silliness in this one... well, why move to this thread?

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Personally, I'd be more concerned if he'd invited them to go on a friendly hunting trip...

normdoering said...

Stefan Jones wrote:
"The "leaks" revealing that Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent were created by a hoaxster operating out of "The Harding Institute."

Can you back that up?

It was very easy for me to believe that Palin could be that ignorant of the world after seeing her interviews. And even if not true, I still think she was the worst choice ever for a VP. She seems delusional.

We need to do something so we never get a candidate like her again.

tacitus2 said...

Actually David, the conversation on the last thread seems like more of the same.

And the pod people-mind control VP stuff? Comic relief.

How 'bout some real meat?

How do folks here view the proposed Auto Industry bailout?

I admit to mixed feelings.

On the pro side, there is some precedent with the earlier Chrysler bailout, and the risk of economic hard times with Big 3 bankrupcies would be nasty. And, the claimed drag on their finances from ludicrous health care costs could in principle be allayed by a rational health care system.

On the other hand, Detroit is pretty much the homely poster child for bad management. They have cursed us with gas guzzling crap that feeds our dependence on foreign oil. They certainly could have negotiated better union contracts had they the testicular fortitude to do so. And if they lurch off into the tarpits of history we will all still be able to drive....just driving efficient Hondas made in efficient US and Canadian factories.

As the Pres elect has had a few words on this matter lets see how it jibes with vox populi. Or digiti populi in this case.

Tacitus 2

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I think we can see a consensus starting to form toward what I am calling a "capitalism reset".

We can all agree that capitalism, free enterprise & all that are great creativity and wealth generating engines. But they contain within them all the contradictions that both Adam Smith and Karl Marx wrote about (even though both were icons of opposite ends of the ideological spectrum!)

Yes, markets can be designed with rule sets that thwart BOTH Marxists and purist libertarians, but regulate those markets in ways that (hopefully) maximize productive innovation while minimizing the noxious human tendency toward delusion and conspiratorial cheating.

Clearly we are experiencing a marx-level breakdown. The CEO caste has done what such clades do. At one level it's a yawner, but what to do? Are we angry and determined enough to not bail THEM out but instead fix things?

Dig it, there is very little left of the automakers as functioning capitalist enterprises. The stockholders who failed to vote for change in those companies share the blame for this mess. They failed to keep up their end of the social bargain by voting and agitating for decent leadership of these collapsed firms.

At this point, they should be nationalized. NOT in order to institute socialism, but in order to set up the firms so they are led by engineer-innovators with ideas and skill and creative momentum. Then the govt should divest through careful stock sales that repay the taxpayer and send lean new automakers back into the market.

SteveO said...

Hi Tacitus2,

I have to admit, I am highly conflicted about the auto industry. I know a lot about them, given my line of work, and I have worked with them and I know people who still work in it.

On the one hand, the top management of the Big 3 (particularly GM and Chrysler) deserve exactly the pain they are and will be in. They have mismanaged their companies for years. There is a case to be made that they pay a price for it.

However, the employees of the Big 3 and the Tier I and Tier II suppliers mostly do not deserve the pain they are in for. For the most part, they are what Dr. W. Edwards Deming called "willing workers" trying to do their job the best way they can, given the system they have to work in.

Today about one in ten jobs in the US are related to the auto industry, and a collapse of the industry would have far-reaching effects across the economy.

However, bankruptcy is *not* the collapse of the industry. It would require solid management and leadership to recover from, but it could be done. But it will cause pain for people who in no way deserve it.

The very sad thing is that the auto industry had almost figured out how to run their companies in the 21st century by the late 80's early 90's. But there were some crucial changes that remained to be done. And then some tough times hit, they sent out a lot of the "wise men" on early retirement, thus taking away the first hand knowledge about *why* some of the things they were doing and had yet to do were so important. They also fired ("laid off") the new blood, who were excited and energetic, but ignorant (that is a good thing) and willing to learn whatever they were taught. That left those in the middle, who can serve a strong role as moderators, but when left with nothing to moderate, tend to become too conservative in approach and default back to what they were taught when they were new hires.

In order to change "how things are done" requires energy until it becomes part of the culture and mostly self sustaining. They lost all that, so things went back to "how things were done" before the changes had been acculturated. Managers went back to the way they learned to manage since it was more comfortable for them. Which led to the late 90's and early 00's, which looked a lot like the early 80's all over again.

So from my sources, the US auto industry is almost back to those bad old days of the early 80's, which puts them almost 3 decades behind their competitors in terms of management science. Add to that the massive legacy costs and, really, they are screwed.

But at its heart, it is a lack of leadership from the upper level management that is the cause of all this. Had they continued what they had started, times would still be tough, but not fatal, for them.

The sad thing is that it is not the managers who will pay the entire price of their mistakes, which is why I can't figure out which way I think things should happen. Should we protect the managers from their consequences while protecting the innocent, or should they pay the price as an example for the future, at the cost of pain for those who had no control over company direction?

The sign of a classic moral maze: every alternative sucks...

Cliff said...

I say bail the auto industries out, but get their nuts in a vice. Chain them to the green economy and lash them until they produce.

The same thing should have been done to the financial sector. But instead, they're looking up and saying, "Hey, look at that, it's raining money!"

SteveO said...

I don't know if that would work, Dr. B - maybe it would. But the government has not been notably able at selecting engineer-innovators. I am not actually sure that is what they need leading them anyway.

My experience is that engineer-innovators are terrible at actually running companies. See Sun Microsystems. Generally, it is not what they like or are skilled at doing, and at best they end up reinventing a square wheel.

Rather, I think that what they need at the top are people who know how to run a business based on data and transparency, and who are not burdened with the history/blinders of the auto industry.

Maybe a bailout if and only if the entire management team is fired and replaced with such people from other industries. I just don't the metrics that the government would use in choosing such managers.

Hm, maybe make the bailout contingent on firing them all, then requiring a competitive election by the stockholders with board/C-level candidate pool to be provided by the government, major stockholders, and some other external source. Make the candidates run on their plan and let those who have the most to lose (stockholders) decide. Perhaps make the bailout a loan? I am leery of making it in stock, since then the government has a vested interest in helping a company to survive, when maybe the best thing for the nation is to have it fail.

I dunno - it is a mess. And it didn't have to happen.

gmknobl said...

I listened to denial after denial on Diane Rehm by the auto makers (or their surrogates really) a couple of weeks ago.

They claimed their cars are good now and they no longer have a quality problem. Dates vary on when the "problem" stopped. They also claimed that the real problem was p.r. - that is the consumers didn't really believe how good their stuff was.

B*llsh*t! Anyone looking at the most recent copy of Consumer Reports can tell you when you get to the American manufacturers cars you'll see many more black marks (bad) versus red from Toyoto and Honda. Sure there are good and bad from both and you can throw in the Euro cars too but if you just look at the stats themselves, they're still making crap! And that's the real reason few people are buying their stuff. I'm not even going into the problem they have making high milage cars (which isn't real either according to them).

As far as the Bidens and Cheneys - look, I don't care except it's in the Cheneys' best interest to make nicey-nice with the incoming people so as to be less likely to get prosecuted down the road. "You wouldn't do that to me, good ol' pal, would you?" Unfortunately in politics, it will be expediency that will dictate what is done 99% of the time. So, if it's too much of a pain to throw Cheney in the slammer, it won't happen. Sad but true, even though no matter how much trouble it is, it should be done for the good of the country.

Oh yes, and likely due in part to Cheney, I heard drilling will soon begin at Arches National Monument. Maybe that explains why one of them fell recently - drilling or blasting. (Okay, I admit this is probably not the case.) Wouldn't that just knock down more of these breathtaking structures of nature? Sure! But we MIGHT get oil or gas. And that's always worth it, right?

SteveO said...

Actually gmknobl you and the auto industry are both right, in a way.

US autos are higher in quality than they ever have been. The problem is that their competitors are not standing still. The rate of change in car quality in the US is less than many of their competitors. So while the quality is the highest it has been, they continue to fall behind their competitors, which is why they get the black marks in CR - the *relative* rating is lower and the gap continues to widen.

SteveO said...

I should specify the Big 3 car quality, not US car quality. Other car companies are doing great quality with US labor. It is the management (and legacy costs) that is killing the Big 3.

gmknobl said...

Regardless of how it is put, to say that our cars are good now is a cop out. Consumer Reports rates cars based on repairs greater or less than the average. If it's on either end of the curve it gets a partial or full black or red mark. Things are progressing better but so is everyone, thus your remark.

Let's put it this way, I have a ford minivan and a honda minivan. The ford has 80+k and the Honda 130+k. I'll give you one guess on which one goes to the shop more. There are always a number of factors involved in this but anecdotal evidence on this end strongly suggests things aren't getting much better. Sure 80k miles use to be big but we're putting more miles on the cars now too so the time to repair is possibly staying close to the same. That's a statistic I'd like to see.

Ilithi Dragon said...

A quick remark on fuel economy... Unless things have changed in the last month or two, the commercials from the Big 3 have been advertising cars with the 'incredible' fuel economy in the range of 24-28, or maybe 30 mpg, like it's an insane value. That's brand-new, 2008, 2009 cars, sedans and coupes. My 1989 Ford Bronco II SUV gets 20-24 mpg, depending on traffic and where and how I drive it (and where I get my gas). I used to have a 1996 Chevy Beretta that got 31 mpg average, between city and highway. 31 mpg, twelve years ago, from a V6 sport coupe. The fuel economy of the 2008 Chevy Malibu (closest current model to the Beretta), even the 4-cylender standard transmission hybrid model? 24-32 mpg. Incredible, isn't it?

Cliff said...

ilithi - I've seen those commercials for Cadillacs. "This Escalade gets 21 miles to the gallon!" they'll yell.

That's what I mean by my "nuts in a vice" comment. Agree to bail them out if they give us 60-80 mpg. (Or what have you.) If they say it can't be done, give the vice a quarter turn.

To parrot Stefan Jones:
vinxotle - Aztec word for a Central American species of fox.

William_Shatner said...

As to your idea about "exorcising" the White House -- I don't disapprove.

If you listen to the early speeches of Reagan, when he was a Democrat, he made lots of lucid and thoughtful points.

After Nancy or something else got a hold of him -- he said a lot of cringeworthy statements that just had a pleasant and thoughtful sound. Apparently, that was enough for most people.

I think someone tagged and released McCain -- or maybe we never knew him. It's possible whatever they use to make people sell out the public trust can be delivered with a dart. They may not actually need a full week at a hospital in Aspen to replace the President anymore.

It would be the perfect way to control the government for the PTB. If you can demolish a building in broad daylight, rob the American public of trillions of dollars to buy up companies and give money to banks, while the people involved get their own money out, then of course, you could transplant a brain and just keep the wives on drugs. The first ladies don't even blink anymore. ;-)

In the movies, something like the Pelican Briefs, is a real cliff-hanger. A hero get ahold of the proof that something done by a leader was really bad. All the tension is derived from the bad guys trying to track down the good guy and get the evidence.

In the real world, the Whistle-blower brings it to the FBI, who ignores it, because a top agent has political aspirations and this wouldn't help those. Then the Whistle-blower takes it to the newspaper, but they have advertisers who lobbied that particular Senator, and they can make just as much money following the latest exploits of Paris Hilton. The Whistle-blower then takes it to an alternative blog, and the press then comes out with a report finding something in that persons past that shows they do not walk on water. Sure, Ted Stevens might have a record, or Bush, or that guy in Florida who likes pages -- but the more evidence brought forward, means that it's more likely that THIS bit of evidence is wrong; because what are the odds, right?

No, if Paulson and Bernanke are stealing from us, as long as they are spending trillions, they must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It's not like we need credibility, a receipt, and a list of who is getting what -- THAT just won't do. Trust them to take care of everything, even though they failed miserably and acted really surprised.

If someone comes up with a taped message, of a bunch of banks planning for consolidation with the Bushies, and that a lot of these companies knew they were going to go belly up -- so how to make sure there is no money for all those people empowering social programs go away? Well, that person had better make sure they have some credibility. Because, why would someone like Paulson want to steal lots of money? We've got less oversight on these folks than the average shop clerk at a five and dime who might be skimming bubble gum.

>> I think Brin, it's time for a farcical Sci-Fi book. But a thoughtful one. Where the laws of physics still apply, and some society ruins itself by just being stupid. It should be full of lines like this; "We need the funding to defend against the alien menace!"

Public; "Who are these aliens."

Leaders: "We can't tell you that, because that would be helping them in their plans."

Public: "OK -- that makes perfect sense."

Leader: "Now, we are going to double our budget without oversight, and give you this color-coded chart that explains how wary you should be about alien attack, but we won't tell you how to get more ready for the attack."

Public; "Wow, we sure are glad we have such decisive people in charge."

>> Some Senators claimed that Paulson told them that there would be martial law if he didn't get the funds for the banks.

The lameness of the people taking us to the cleaners does not make for a believable plot. Perhaps if you rush and form a bank, and threaten to go bankrupt, you can have some money;
"Bail me out"
The Fed; "No."
YourBank: "Come on, bail me out."
The Fed; "No."
YourBank: "Look, if you give me $130 Billion, I promise I will break even, and you can have all the stock in my company."
The Fed: "Wow, what a deal! We probably saved a lot of money by dealing with this quickly before we looked into your books or anything."

Cliff said...

OT but relevant to this blog:
Christopher Beam has an article on Slate about Obama's proposed transparency measures called "The TMI Presidency":
http://www.slate.com/id/2204376/

It made me fume. For every measure, he points out a downside. For instance, the downside to increased transparency on the bailout is that "it's embarrassing." (Italics in the original.)

Tony Fisk said...

Why is it embarrassing? Aren't you proud of what you do, Beam? ;-)

In other news:

exo-planets have been imaged directly

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin mentioned:

[T]here is very little left of the automakers as functioning capitalist enterprises. The stockholders who failed to vote for change in those companies share the blame for this mess. They failed to keep up their end of the social bargain by voting and agitating for decent leadership of these collapsed firms.

This conflates two issues. Second, and less important, the leftover problem from the original Great Depression -- namely, the schism twixt managers and owners. Theoretically, shareholders own the company and can control it. But as a matter of practical reality, large companies have a single CEO who manages it and actually controls it. FDR's brain trust reformed corporate governance to some extent after the original Great Depression, but they never managed to solve this problem. The board of directors generally has no power because 1) they're made up mainy of other CEOs, and 2) as in the case of Disney the CEO often appoints cronies to the board who rubber-stamp his agenda. Disney's board has Eisner's personal dentist on it, IIRC.

So calling on stockholders to solve problems of corporate governance sounds good, but doesn't work. It's a fundamental problem in the modern corporate structure. It needs to be changed. Perhaps this time we'll fix it.

The second issue involves Brin's point that ">[T]here is very little left of the automakers as functioning capitalist enterprises." The issue seems bigger than that. Individual car ownership is not practical any longer in a Peak Oil era, either for individuals or for society as a whole. Socialized transportation systems seem the wave of the future -- either in the form of mass transit, which sociaizes trnasportation in an obvious way, or in the form of public shared bicycles/mopeds/cars. Public shared transpo might sound utopian, but most European cities have public shared bicycles and the trend is taking off like a rocket here in America. If we were to get federal grants to supply cheap 150 mpg public shared mopeds in all our 50 biggest U.S. cities, with, say, a GPS embedded in a lokcbox so the mopeds couldn't be stolen, this would go a long way to solving our current transporation problems. Remember that practical cheap 150 mpg vehicles exist right now -- they're called mopeds.

When your transportation system is moving toward complete socialization, it's worth asking why we even need capitalist corporations manufacturing the vehicles it uses. A market-oriented corporate system seems designed to optimize useless crap like styling rather than CAFE mpg standards or aerodynamic efficiency. In any case, once the government gets invovled in mandating much higher CAFE fleet standards (which I agree it should), we've already gotten far away from the traditional conception of a free market.

Anonymous said...

Nobody seems to have noticed this or to be mentioning it, but it seems potentially hugely important.

Obama plans government 2.0

This guy is smart, smart, smart. He's not content to do the usual Democratic butt-your-head-against-the-Republican-far-right-noise-machine dance. Obama needs massive public support behind him to break through the probable Republican filibuster firewall and pick up the 2 or 3 Republican votes he needs to get cloture and pass his agenda.

My suspicion? Obama is planning to harness Web 2.0 and get the public massively involved. They'll put enough heat on the holdout Republicans who try to block economic and corporate and health care and political reform to turn the far-right politicos into charcoal briquettes.

FDR and JKF both had huge public constituencies behind them to push against reactionary congressmen and senators. What Obama seems to be doing is taking the Web model of campaigning pioneered by Daily Kos and first instantiated by Howard Dean, and finally perfected into a surgical instrument by the Obama campaign, and turning into a massively sophisticated arm of the Obama White House to amplify Obama's bully pulpit.

What a sharp guy. I keep telling people that all the Washington pundits who predict Obama who crash and burn against the Republican opposition in congress and that he'll be a one-term president are making the mistake of a lifetime. They are underestimating this guy even more than the liberals underestamated Reagan. And Obama's going to make much bigger changes than Reagan, because he's much smarter and much better at dealing with people.

Watch. You'll see. Obama decapitated the Cilnton political machine and then he nuked the Repubilcan noise machine without even breaking a sweat. He's going to take out the Republican opposition in congress like a tactical nuke, and they don't even see it coming.

Gilmoure said...

Looks like the weaseling has begun.

matthew said...

Neil Young's (!) interesting take on the auto bailout on HuffPo.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neil-young/how-to-save-a-major-autom_b_143749.html

The big three must reduce models to basics. a truck, an SUV, a large family sedan, an economy sedan, and a sports car. Use existing tooling.

Keep building these models to keep the workforce employed but build them without engines and transmissions. These new vehicles, called Transition Rollers, are ready for a re-power. No new tooling is required at this stage. The adapters are part of the kits described next.

At the same time as the new Transition Rollers are being built, keeping the work force working, utilize existing technology now, create re-power kits to retrofit the Transition Rollers to SCEVs (self charging electric vehicles) for long range capability up to and over 100mpg. If you don't think this technology is realistic or available, check out the Progressive Insurance Automotive X prize. Alternatively, check out Lincvolt.com or other examples.

Parantar said...

yeah. always be careful.

reason said...

anonymous...
but most European cities have public shared bicycles

No they don't. A handful do.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Having worked in the Automotive industry in America I found that engineers and junior managers were focused on what the company needed but senior people and vice presidents were all totally "me focused" everything was assessed for what it would do for them personally
Promotion depended on that character type.
I have no idea how to fix it

matthew said...

Mark Cuban's (owner of the NBA Dallas Mavricks) web site tying together all known information about the secretive financial bailout.

http://www.bailoutsleuth.com/

See how much money your bank is getting from the taxpayers...

tacitus2 said...

Per my morning dead-tree information node, it sounds like the Big Three bailout is off for now. Perhaps it was all just polite noises for the benefit of the Michigan congressional delegation.

Really, asking G.W.Bush to take the lead on this was disingeneous.

Congress proposes legislation. And while I believe, by Jingo, that those folks are meeting in the next few weeks they are hardly likely to put imprimature to a bit of controversial work that might turn out badly. Of course the official reason is that they can't be sure of overcoming Republican Opposition. Especially as Sens. Obama and Biden regretfully have to resign soon.

The ultimate "present" vote.

But it really is more fair that the new regime start afresh in January.

Tacitus2

William_Shatner said...

When I first heard the "Africa" comment about Sarah Palin -- I had a thought that there was a good chance it was just made up by someone in the McCain camp who was pissed at the Maverick VP contender.

Well, it turns out that it was.

But the funny thing is -- it doesn't really matter because it fits the subconscious profile. That's why a false rumor is more effective than a real one. Hard to prove you never said that on the exam, since only the people playing politics really know. We don't even know if the claims of it being a false leak are actually true.

But listening to "You Betcha" isn't going to help disprove such a thing either. It really doesn't matter to those of us who cringe at everything else she has to say.

The same slanders without proof didn't stick so much with Obama, because he kept acting in a way that lent no support to the comments.

>> Well, election over -- thank God.

tacitus2 said...

Ah yes, Shatner.

"False but Accurate".

Per an earlier post of mine, this is what is carved on the tombstone of the mainstream media.

But heck, if something fits the rest of the facts you have been fed it must be true. No?

Tacitus2

William_Shatner said...

@Tacitus,
I'm not defending the media-- or the adoption of the slander. But are you saying Palin and Quayle are really misunderstood geniuses?

I'd say that, if you want to look at a great example of being painted with the wrong brush, you should look at Bill Clinton. The "impression" in people's minds is that he is shifty and unethical. Clinton has not been guilty of any real crime or malfeasance other than fooling around on his wife -- which I'm sure that 95% of our politicians who have not been caught do -- and apparently Jill McCain and Sarah Palin have also been caught at it by the National Enquirer (which has a better track record on this than any other paper, actually). Brin has already eloquently spoken of the most investigated administration of all times having the least (zero) real convictions. Strangely, the least investigated administration of all times is the Bush group -- and they are arguably the most criminal.

>> Anyway, things that are "false but true" don't always stick. But Gore is a bit of a windbag, so the "I invented the Internet" quote stuck -- but was untrue. I heard his exact quote myself. For every popular figure in history, there seems to be an untrue legend that describes that person. So the "truth here" is stories stick to people if it fits the typecasting that the media already has for that person. McCain's going along with Bush was plain as day, but it never stuck because the media had already cast him as a Maverick. So I probably should have made THAT my point.

>> Brin, I love Carter, but I'd say his biggest mistake was listening to that Friedman economist -- and not jailing George W. Bush for treason when he worked with the Iranian extremists, and sent them weapons to NOT release hostages.


Having talked to someone well connected to the "horses mouth." It was Bush or perhaps one of his allies with the CIA who told Carter to send in Delta Force--the timing and the weather were chosen to coincide with a wind storm which doesn't work for helicopters. We had an agent in the country who could have gotten everyone out easily (I promised this person not to say much more detail than that) who must have been known to the CIA. The information that Bush met in France with radical clerics from Iran did not come to public knowledge until a few days after Carter's best friend was released as a hostage (many years after the others). Bush used one of his friends, to accuse him of the same thing, and then press jumped all over it. But then a week later, it was revealed that there were credit card receipts that showed his accusing friend was in the Unites States at the time -- totally burning the press on the story. Think about that cute little trick when you think about Dan Rather -- it was a team hired from the White House that authenticated those AWOL documents as forgeries, and CBS went along with it in exchange for favors. The leading story for two weeks was the "forgery" but nobody covered that 95% of the accusations held up. How many servicemen, would you say, don't have their service records? A lot of convenient accidents in the Bush family.

I think Carter's gesture of releasing the diplomats was the right one -- and if you go back in time (which I think is the one impossible thing in this Universe), tell him to kick out Friedman, adopt Keynsian economics. and arrest George. We have supply-side Democrats now who need to be re-educated that PEOPLE and LABOR make wealth and value, and we need to look at prosperity from the point of view of PEOPLE and not PROFITS.

>> To counterbalance the expected claims of Republicans, and of course all the Ayn Rand/Libertarian think tanks who get funded by robber baron billionaire families and strangely enough by Moonies, to push the theme that "War is good for the Economy" as they often do to explain away the New Deal. A good stat is the economy was growing at 7% per year a few years BEFORE WW II, and had a -2% growth rate after. In fact, states that had the most war funding to convert factories to military use, saw the least growth (like Michigan). Chrysler was making tanks that got blown up in Normandy, rather than cars for domestic consumption.

How can anyone make the wild ass claim, that if I build a dozen schools and two hospitals, I'm depressing the economy, but if I build the battleship that costs the same in resources, that burns foreign oil and produces nothing of value -- other than preserve the necks of the oil companies in those foreign lands, that will IMPROVE the economy? If we weren't outspending the entire rest of the world on our military, and 750 bases around the world, what could we be doing to advance research and education and the infrastructure? How much imported energy could we save with a high speed train system, for instance? How many local jobs is that, verses oiling a gun and defending a patch of sand?

The automakers who are eating our lunch, all come from nations that protect their manufacturing infrastructure. Toyota used to make silk cloth and did not exist as an automaker -- but, was able to overtake the world giants with this support. Budweiser Beer, in the 3rd lowest tax system for developed nations in the world, was bought out by a Dutch company, where taxes for corporations are between 50 and 65%. Apparently, they didn't here enough of how taxes are crushing their companies in Deutchland and they need to tune in more to our AM radio stations to get this education.

The US had its greatest productivity, while our taxes at the top bracket were 90% and later 70% under JFK (but he got rid of the loopholes -- which actually effectively increased taxes for the top bracket).

I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said that Liberty cannot survive a country permanently at war. And since the last good republican; Eisenhower (or arguably Bill Clinton) who got this notion -- we've been at war in one way or the other ever since--except for Clinton's "peace dividend." War is NOT good for the country and does not grow prosperity for the middle class, but it does consolidate wealth and power. A testament to how great a country came out of the New Deal, is how much waste and outright theft it has taken to bring us to the edge right now.

I suspect that Negroponte and Paulson intended to collapse the economy, by pushing for outrageous leverage for financial institutions. The allowing for unregulated exchanges to balloon to over a Quadrillion dollars didn't help. But why would Negroponte need to go to Goldman Sachs and Bear Sterns and tell them to circumvent SEC regulations because it was a Homeland Security issue that they make outrageous profits while overextending themselves? If you search around at my favorite Day-Trader's blog, you can certainly get a lot of great explanations of the corruption at the SEC. I don't think that Paulson, who got almost $900 million tax free when he joined the SEC, and who studied the Great Depression, is this innocent country mouse who is doing all the wrong moves that LEAD to the great depression because he is an idiot. Obama should be announcing that he will be encourage the FBI to investigate both he and Bernanke, the longer they stay employed -- it would really help the markets to send them packing.

A concerted effort of Naked Shorts brought down quite a few companies, because when you control Billions with less than a few percent -- you are at risk. Getting wise to this racket, Volkswagen survived a hostile barrage of naked short-selling, and briefly became the most valuable company in the world. One of the wins for the good guys -- I guess.

Having talked to someone well connected to the "horses mouth." It was Bush or perhaps one of his allies with the CIA who told Carter to send in Delta Force--the timing and the weather were chosen to coincide with a wind storm which doesn't work for helicopters. We had an agent in the country who could have gotten everyone out easily (I promised this person not to say much more detail than that) who must have been known to the CIA. The information that Bush met in France with radical clerics from Iran did not come to public knowledge until a few days after Carter's best friend was released as a hostage (many years after the others). Bush used one of his friends, to accuse him of the same thing, and then press jumped all over it. But then a week later, it was revealed that there were credit card receipts that showed his accusing friend was in the Unites States at the time -- totally burning the press on the story. Think about that cute little trick when you think about Dan Rather -- it was a team hired from the White House that authenticated those AWOL documents as forgeries, and CBS went along with it in exchange for favors. The leading story for two weeks was the "forgery" but nobody covered that 95% of the accusations held up. How many servicemen, would you say, don't have their service records? A lot of convenient accidents in the Bush family.

I think Carter's gesture of releasing the diplomats was the right one -- and if you go back in time (which I think is the one impossible thing in this Universe), tell him to kick out Friedman, adopt Keynsian economics. and arrest George. We have supply-side Democrats now who need to be re-educated that PEOPLE and LABOR make wealth and value, and we need to look at prosperity from the point of view of PEOPLE and not PROFITS.

>> To counterbalance the expected claims of Republicans, and of course all the Ayn Rand/Libertarian think tanks who get funded by robber baron billionaire families and strangely enough by Moonies, to push the theme that "War is good for the Economy" as they often do to explain away the New Deal. A good stat is the economy was growing at 7% per year a few years BEFORE WW II, and had a -2% growth rate after. In fact, states that had the most war funding to convert factories to military use, saw the least growth (like Michigan). Chrysler was making tanks that got blown up in Normandy, rather than cars for domestic consumption.

How can anyone make the wild ass claim, that if I build a dozen schools and two hospitals, I'm depressing the economy, but if I build the battleship that costs the same in resources, that burns foreign oil and produces nothing of value -- other than preserve the necks of the oil companies in those foreign lands, that will IMPROVE the economy? If we weren't outspending the entire rest of the world on our military, and 750 bases around the world, what could we be doing to advance research and education and the infrastructure? How much imported energy could we save with a high speed train system, for instance? How many local jobs is that, verses oiling a gun and defending a patch of sand?

The automakers who are eating our lunch, all come from nations that protect their manufacturing infrastructure. Toyota used to make silk cloth and did not exist as an automaker -- but, was able to overtake the world giants with this support. Budweiser Beer, in the 3rd lowest tax system for developed nations in the world, was bought out by a Dutch company, where taxes for corporations are between 50 and 65%. Apparently, they didn't here enough of how taxes are crushing their companies in Deutchland and they need to tune in more to our AM radio stations to get this education.

The US had its greatest productivity, while our taxes at the top bracket were 90% and later 70% under JFK (but he got rid of the loopholes -- which actually effectively increased taxes for the top bracket).

I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said that Liberty cannot survive a country permanently at war. And since the last good republican; Eisenhower (or arguably Bill Clinton) who got this notion -- we've been at war in one way or the other ever since--except for Clinton's "peace dividend." War is NOT good for the country and does not grow prosperity for the middle class, but it does consolidate wealth and power. A testament to how great a country came out of the New Deal, is how much waste and outright theft it has taken to bring us to the edge right now.

I suspect that Negroponte and Paulson intended to collapse the economy, by pushing for outrageous leverage for financial institutions. The allowing for unregulated exchanges to balloon to over a Quadrillion dollars didn't help. But why would Negroponte need to go to Goldman Sachs and Bear Sterns and tell them to circumvent SEC regulations because it was a Homeland Security issue that they make outrageous profits while overextending themselves? If you search around at my favorite Day-Trader's blog, you can certainly get a lot of great explanations of the corruption at the SEC. I don't think that Paulson, who got almost $900 million tax free when he joined the SEC, and who studied the Great Depression, is this innocent country mouse who is doing all the wrong moves that LEAD to the great depression because he is an idiot. Obama should be announcing that he will be encourage the FBI to investigate both he and Bernanke, the longer they stay employed -- it would really help the markets to send them packing.

A concerted effort of Naked Shorts brought down quite a few companies, because when you control Billions with less than a few percent -- you are at risk. Getting wise to this racket, Volkswagen survived a hostile barrage of naked short-selling, and briefly became the most valuable company in the world. One of the wins for the good guys -- I guess.

Garrett said...

As I understand the Palin/Africa thing, the attribution was the hoax; the original comment's anonymous leakage was a separate incident, and could still be legitimate.

David Brin said...

The false attribution is typical of the new Right Methodology. Create a story and circulate it so the faithful can have something to cling to.

But this time it's absurd. Fox News was the original source...

Garrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garrett said...

"The hoax was limited to the identity of the source in the story about Palin — not the Fox News story itself. While Palin has denied that she mistook Africa for a country, the veracity of that report was not put in question by the revelation that Eisenstadt is a phony."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081113/ap_en_tv/palin_hoax_1

Garrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tacitus2 said...

Shatner

I do consider it politeness to respond to direct questions, and so I shall. But dude, your posts are overly long to begin with, and big hunks of your last one were duplicated. I hope your cutting and pasteing skills were better back in kindergarten!
(sorry, pet peeve about that sort of thing)
I did not bring up Quayle, you did. Main rap on him was youth and inexperience. Roughly the same levels of same as our President Elect. Oh, and he did not spell potato correctly. Beyond that he left little mark on the nation, as is the lot of most Veeps. Some of his lightweight aura was part of the time honored role of VP....make the big guy look good. To a certain extent Cheney's Darth Vader act and Biden's upcoming happy clown show will be the same schtick.

I think Palin is smart enough. Likely smarter than you and I. But she was overly scripted, and following a story line that did not have much promise. And she was poorly "handled". Outrageous stuff like her believeing dinosaurs roamed the earth 6,000 years ago cried out for a witty riposte ("No, I asked John and he says he never saw any").

Tossing her onto the national stage with very little prep showed a lot of rough edges. As opposed to Obama and Biden, who had been on the stump for 1-2 years.

It would be interesting to sit down and have a chat with the lady. Heck, Alaska is a small enough place, it could happen. I usually go salmon fishing up that way in odd numbered years.

Tacitus2

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I am gracious enough, in the glow of victory, to allow that reality may favor the lady more than appearances do.

Certainly, her ferocity and effectiveness at luring the Old Boys on the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission into confiding in her, for a hidden tape recorder, then benefiting hugely when she gave them over to the fate that they honestly deserved merits respect for a heap of canny - if a bit unsavory - intelligence.

Pitbull indeed. No, I do not dismiss Naomi -- my name for her -- at all. She doesn't lack neurons.

Nevertheless, one thing is clear, she is utterly lacking in the trait I admire most about Obama -- Curiosity.

A curious person would know more about the world and long ago have filled in those glaring knowledge gaps we all saw. A curious person would not assume that the one, sole qualification for high office is "unblinking" certitude. Curiosity is incompatible with ruling (as we have been ruled for too long) from "the gut."

A curious person would have traveled, with a passport, before dealing with hostile foreign powers as governor.

Above all, a curious person would have conversed with enough intellectuals and foreigners and professors and scientists and city folk and Jews and such to have a nuanced view of the world. At least enough not to call one part of America "real" while the majority that includes all the skilled and educated people, is not.

To know that "why climate change is happening" actually does matter and is relevant to "fixing it."

To ponder the possibility that her own narrow church-segment is possibly not the only route to salvation from a much-relished coming Armageddon, or to puzzle over whether a decent God would really arrange for 99% of the world's people to be pre-damned.

Certainly, a curious person would want to give at least one news conference, or more than two interviews, in the course of a long campaign, even if terrified handlers urged her not to.

I could go on. But no, it isn't gracious, so let me return to the original point. Sarah Palin is smart, all right.

Alas, that raw intelligence - steered by a frightening personality - is part of the problem.

tacitus2 said...

David

No problem. The people have spoken and that answer suffices for me.

But don't you wonder what effect the Palin circus will have on people considering a career in elected service?

Oh, and in my comparison of Quayle and Obama I have unfairly slighted the former Veep. Although the ages were similar, Quayle had 4 years in House 'o Rep and 8 in the US Senate before assuming the Vice Presidency. The President Elect has had 4 years in the US Senate, albeit two of them spent on the road campaining.

Mr. Vice President, my apologies.

Tactitus2

David Brin said...

Heh!

Look, Obama has done very little administering, that's a given.

Our system is highly weird in that Chinese top officials have to have administered complex technical programs before getting promoted anywhere near top power and European politicians spend years moving from portfolio to cabinet portfolio. Even the Russians seem to require that their leaders claw their way up through the KGB/FRS.

We instead vote on issues and gut confidence, rather than experience. Even McCain only administered one thing his whole life. A single air squadron for 3/4 of a year, a stint that ended with an aroma of being eased upstairs for the sake of the squadron. Yes, we're weird.

Still, there are impressive things about Obama. His serene prediction that his campaign would be unlike any other, run with the consistency, discipline and zealous power of a military campaign...

As I've said, it's the people around the president who matter, so long as he is calm and mature. I fought hard to get those people. He's frosting on the cake, as far as I am concerned.

Robert said...

President-Elect Obama may not have done much administrating, but for the last two years he did a damn superb job in management. He was, in essence, the CEO of a company he built (with a little help) to get him elected. He worked well with his subordinates, encouraging teamwork and discouraging backbiting and quarrels. He insisted on respect between people in his team. And he kept his cool even in situations where lesser men would have been reduced to sputtering and righteous anger.

I have to wonder if my friend's "fear" and "gut feeling" against Obama might not be because of the type of person he is (and everything we have seen suggests he is a decent loving man who respects his wife and loves her with every ounce of his being, a superb father who takes time out of his day (even in a busy campaign season) to be there for his two children, and a dutiful son/grandson who, in the final weeks of his political campaign, took time off to be with an ailing grandmother (and in the end was justified for that time off as she died shortly before Election Day).

Are these subconscious "gut" fears the fear of the Unknown? We have had bastards, assholes, and power-corrupted politicians in the White House for the past 28 years. All at once, we are given a chance at something greater: an American Citizen. The American Citizen we all want to be: part of a loving family that worked hard and managed to achieve success through effort rather than family or connections. He has his network, sure, but he built that network rather than having it handed to him.

Obama will be unlike any President we have had in decades... and possibly centuries. In him are the ghosts of Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington. There is an edge of greatness to him... tempered by his humanity. It's very much like in that movie you quoted earlier, "Lawrence of Arabia": He's not perfect. But if he were... then we'd not have voted him in.

Rob H.

tacitus2 said...

David

Regards Obama being roughly 25% as experienced as Danny Quayle, I admit to pulling your leg just a tad. The last president who came out of Springfield IL with only two years of national experience did pretty well for himself.

He was, of course, unencumbered by the Democratic Party.

I really do wish Obama well, to do otherwise is un-American, because when a presidency fails the whole country suffers.

But I still shake my head at the Obama worshipers (and Robert you are skatin' on the edge). Let's wait until he actually accomplishes something!

I am put in mind of that other highly quotable movie, Galaxy Quest. To paraphrase:

"Senator I must say that being in your Presence is--mmmmm-the greatest honor any of us could hope for in our lifetimes".

ah, I guess I am just in a good mood. Annual robotics class starts up again next week. Registration is full and the kids are itching to build cool stuff.

Tacitus2
you can have your leg back now.

Robert said...

Heh. To badly garble the quote of the wand-maker Ozymandus from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone for us Yanks who were considered too stupid to know what a Philosopher's Stone was), "[Voldemort] did great things. Terrible, terrible things. But still great."

You can do great things... and yet lead to ruin and mayhem. And this is perhaps what some Republicans fear.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Great?

Only one president was "great"in good or normal times... Teddy Roosevelt, and even he had huge backlogs of delayed reforms to push. All the others were made great by finding greatness within... during terrible times.

If Obama is recalled as "great"... well, he can thank being preceded by the worst president ever. Frankly, I'd rather he be remembered as that really competent guy with the great sense of humor, who turned things around simply by ending Culture war and getting us talking to each other again, while turning back toward the future.

That'd suffice. I don't need "great" .

Still, if these do turn out to by trying times, I think he's got a lot of the right traits.

Anonymous said...

Robert remarked:

President-Elect Obama may not have done much administrating, but for the last two years he did a damn superb job in management. He was, in essence, the CEO of a company he built (with a little help) to get him elected. He worked well with his subordinates, encouraging teamwork and discouraging backbiting and quarrels. He insisted on respect between people in his team. And he kept his cool even in situations where lesser men would have been reduced to sputtering and righteous anger.

Sorry, but we need to get over this delusion. This exact same argument got applied to the ignorant fool who currently defames the Oval Office. Everything Robert says about Obama was equally true (at least, during his 200 campaign) of the halfwit ex-drunk who has run America into the ground for the last 8 years.

We really seriously need to get away from the fantasy that running a presidential campaign has ANYTHING to do with being able to govern. If we were to judge a president's administrative skills by the quality of his presidential campaign, we'd have to judge Al Gore a dufus and a fool, while we'd stand awestruck with admiration (based on his 2000 and 2004 campaigns) for the clown who has screwed up America for the last 8 years as a true administrative mastermind. Remember: the 2004 Republican presidential campaign was a true miracle. It managed the nearly impossible feat of picking up more Republican seats in an off-year election, which almost never happens. Hate the guy and his sleazy slimy campaign manager Rove al you want, but, damn, you have to admit they ran great campaigns in both 2000 and 2004.

No, folks. NO. Get it through your heads. Skill in running a campaign has NOTHING to do with how skilled the candidate will be running the country.

Several reasons for that. First, modern presidential campaigns are massive adverserial gladiatorial contests. They devolve into a race to the bottom for who can sling the most mud the hardest. That's not a blueprint for governing. If you try running America by demonizing your opponents you wind up with...well...what we've had for the last 8 years, I guess, come to think about it.

Second, presidential campaigns boil down to glittering generalities. The guy who crafts the best 15-second sound bite wins. But governing is all about the nitty gritty details of substantive policy. The guy currently in the White House was an absolute master of 15-second sound bites -- give him credit, he came up with an endless string of world-class one-liners from "flip flopper" to "compassionate conservative" to "I'm not going to cut and run" to "America needs to be a humble nation." The problem was that it was all a vague fog of generalities. When you boiled off the vacuous slogans, what remained was a truly toxic sublimate of fanatical Gorver Norquist back-to-the-1890s dismantling of the New Deal. And when people got a whiff of that, they balked. Proof: the categorical collapse of the ex-drunk's privatizing plan for Social Security, which was supposed to be the centerpiece of his second term. It never even got off the ground.

So please, people, let's STOP this fantasy of "skill in campaigning = skill in governing." History shows there's absolutely no relation between the two. In fact, arguably the big problem with the American system of government, as David Brin pointed out, is that we choose our leaders based on toxic mud-slinging personality contests...instead of by demanding that a prospective leader have shown some actual competence in running a serious administrative position successfully.

To be fair, requiring that your leaders be technocrats, as in the former USSR or China, can create other problems. Technocrats tend to lean toward technical fixes for problems, instead of toward more creative and less obvious solutions. For example, a technocrat U.S. president might be tempted to crank up the UAV drone technology and spysat sigint to catch terrorists. But as Bruce Schneier (and David Brin) have pointed out, the best solution toward our current terrorist problem is probably to get the military OUT of the whole issue, turn it back into a police problem, and get an informed citizenry involved by dsitributing cellphones and letting alert citizens take out the prospective terrorists, as the airplane passengers did with Richard Reed. (sp?)

Reason, you're a troll. Instead of dealing substantively with my suggestion that America's transportation system needs to be socialized, you injected an irrelevant critique of a minor factual error. That's infantile and frankly it's the kind of thing we exect on some fifth-rate shlockfest forum like slashdot. Go back to your troll hole if you have nothing better to contribute.

Substantive objections to my suggestion that America's personal transportation system (including the personal automobile) needs to be socialized could be put forward. For example, one valid objection would be that the center of the United States has cities and towns so far apart that socialized public transit isn't practical. That would be a fair objection, but I would counter by pointing out that the center of America is depopulating. The smaller towns are simply going away and the whole midwest is pretty much dying, demographically.

Another substantive objection would be that America already has a massive problem with the growth of bureacracy and capital-B Big Government, and a socialized public transit infrastructure would only make that worse. That's a valid objection too, one I would expect someone like tacitus2 to make. I don't havea good answer for that objection.

However, instead of serious discussion about that subject, we get crap like Reason's trivial nitpicking. Crawl back under your rock, troll. The adults are discussing serious issues here. There's no place for your kind of kindergarten nitpicking.

matthew said...

OK, let's talk about transportation issues. I'm certainly game.

The issue that I am most interested in is "What will replace just-in-time shipping as resources become more scarce?"

I see two possibilities.
1) Digital Fabricators (see Fab@Home wiki http://128.253.249.235/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page) for an overview and instructions on DIY projects. Cool baby steps going on with this site. I think that the Maker movement is a key part of David's Age of Amatures.

2)Low-Energy Rapid Transport. My personal favorite is a fleet of high-altitude zepplins using the jet stream to get nearly free eastbound travel. Granted, sending deliveries 99% of the way around the planet to ship from Denver to Portland is a bit silly, but West Coastal cities could really rake in profits. See http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/walrus-heavylift-blimp-getting-off-the-ground-01103/. Some large transport company is going to take these DoD ideas and run amok with them.

matthew said...

Damn! Still don't have the knack of embedding links in Blogger. Most frustrating hosting system on the whole damn web, IMHO. Anyhow, since I can't edit my own comments, sorry for the clanky links.

David Brin said...

Zep transport can go in both directions!

See:
http://baens-universe.com/articles/The_Smartest_Mob

And then type in coupon code EE329517B2 - which is good for $5 off any subscription!

And once you've subscribed, have a look at my latest two-parter short story (The one I want you all to nominate in 2009 for the 2008 Hugo!)

David Smelser said...

from an earlier comment: In any case, once the government gets invovled in mandating much higher CAFE fleet standards (which I agree it should), we've already gotten far away from the traditional conception of a free market.

David:
Mandating a standard isn't the best free market method of solving the problem of how to get better mileage cars. Rather than setting a standard, it would be better to calculate the MPG average for each class of vehicle and then setup rebates/fees based on how each model compares to the class average. Say for each MPG better than average, the purchaser gets a $500 rebate and for each MPG below average, the purchaser pays an additional $1000 fee.

Then with these fees/rebates in place, you let the market decide what MPG values the auto industry builds.

Every year you can recalculate the averages for each vehicle class. In addition instead of MPG, you could use fuel cost in dollars per 100 miles so that include non-gas powered vehicles.

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Rob said...

Wow... you go away for four days and all this happens.

@Ilithi -- When I say I'm not a supernaturalist, I mean it in the sense most humanists mean it, except that I also claim that God Himself is not supernatural.

I never get very far with that, I think because it twists the minds of Aristotelians and Platonists far too severely.

Re Prop 8 -- Silly me, arguing that its *failure* would further divide the political commons. I recant most humbly. Ironic, that the "Yes on 8" public intention at a loss would have been to accept the results.

And I have to agree, David, that this time it looks like wild eyed conspiracy theory, warning Biden like that.

Rob said...

BTW I still think it is important that some kind of movement be started to post the names of all companies that buy ads on both Fox and Limbaugh.

If you're serious, then take heart! Fox is sponsored by Medicare-funded medical supply companies, mesothelioma ambulance chaser law firms, and gold vendors.

I am happy, forever, to not patronize those companies.

William_Shatner said...

>> I was going to post the actual details of how to manipulate "Coherent matter & antimatter" to allow for instantaneous travel by changing the higher dimensional aspects of the matter being transmitted. A co-worker said that my ideas about coherent matter sound like the Philadelphia Experiment--

But, on the verge of posting, I realized that some were overwhelmed by a cut & paste error, anyone's guess about the content. I'm going to wait for the baby steps. Palin is crafty and has a great memory, but has no wisdom or curiosity--as Brin points out. I've known many people with straight A's in college who were idiots -- so deciding "what is smart" is kind of a Rorshach's test. If you are "Palin smart" -- then you may already know too much! I'm aggravated enough by Executives who are all mavericks and all spout the same "supply and demand" nonsense that came right out of the Heritage think tank. I also don't care enough about the topic of another Katherine Harris haunting the TV--they need their bread and circuses after all.

As I've pointed out before; NOBODY gives a crap about experience -- it is just something people say about the candidate they don't already like. For instance; I will put up Feingold or Kucinich against any old fart in Washington, because they have been RIGHT all along, and to me that counts. You can't fix stupid by waiting for the shelf life to expire. Water under the bridge -- because we have Obama and "too nice to put them under oath" Joe Biden. We have to work with that. Move on (heh).

William_Shatner said...

You can lead a horse to water, but you are going to have to wait until it gets REALLY thirsty sometimes. I want to be positive, but I'm concerned if Obama isn't playing Possum, he is really making a mistake not telegraphing to Hank Paulson that he will be personally responsible after we investigate what the Hell the Fed was doing -- and "I'm an innocent country mouse" doesn't cut it with a person who worked for the Devil at Goldman Sachs and walked away with $900 Million tax free.

There is a lot of cool stuff in science I'd like to talk about -- but I'm still feeling a bit "urgent." Reading my daily installment of "urbansurvival.com" there was an interesting letter that one of his readers submitted that re-paints the picture of what we are dealing with quite clearly for me;
"
George, you think you are a doomer .. read EJ over at iTulip.
I will send a few more thoughts later but just wanted to leave you with the thought ...

After spending in the $TRILLIONS$ to bail out the banker class and the financial end of the economy the Bush Administration doesn't want to spend money to assist the part of the economy that produces REAL products. Instead it appears to WANT that end of the economy TO LIQUIDATE and ship much of our remaining basic manufacturing overseas.
We all know the Big 3 have mismanaged themselves into a mess ... but that is a smaller mess than AIG alone!!! (as I said when AIG got it's first $85 Billion that was just a "down payment"), and the thing to keep in mind about much of the Big 3 mess is that it is caused NOT by current operations but by legacy costs that society is going to have to pay one way or another, either through a "tax" via the purchase price of each new car that Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and Nissan buyers do not have to pay, OR via direct government payments and higher insurance payments that everybody else is going to pay anyway to hospitals, government entities, unemployment funds, etc. etc..

If one looks at actions not words the "PLAN" to DEindustrialize the US is what IS the cornerstone of the Republican Party's Economic Game Plan. It has been that way ever since Bush I became President, and it continues unabated.

Can the US remain a great country if it is DEindustrialized?
I personally doubt it because even if we can continue to convince people that selling Paper, Insurance, and Big Mac's makes for a great economy eventually those who do make REAL Stuff will either cease to sell it to us for more Paper, or will take their capability to make "Stuff" and use it to make War against us.

I scratch my head over the Republicans' rank and file near lock step belief that they are better off if we ship our manufacturing out of the country (part of the current Republican argument per the talking heads seems to be that since some of our industry is unionized we should just close that end of our manufacturing down and get rid of it - after all that will teach those union members that they are bad people)"


>> So, while Obama and the Dems, seem to address the world as CNN sees it. They don't really address the concerns as Me and a bunch of Progressives, and arguably a bunch of Ron Paul independents see it. While I'm not sure that the RP folks get the scam of "free markets" when everybody else is protecting Labor and Manufacturing except us,... I have one question; "How do we turn plastic toys into plows?" All the public works projects Obama has planned to rev up the economy, are being sabotaged by the current paid government jobs where we hire Banksters (who failed in the free market) to tell themselves how to spend money that the Fed printed up with no provisions to lend it. Gee, what could go wrong with a bunch of Globalists who love cheap credit and debt? If that's what got us into this mess, it only makes sense that MORE of the same will get us out of it, right? We didn't nationalize anything, the banks privatized our monetary policy and Congress got paid/extorted to look the other way.

Again, the outgoing Bushies are WAY to calm to make me feel good. Just shredding documents isn't going to save them from war crimes and profiteering. We also have Karl Rove guilty of false imprisonment and abuse of the Justice Department for the Governor of Alabama. No need to pull out the big list of crimes.

Robert said...

Shatner, your comment about Straight-A Idiots reminds me of a girl I dated in college. I brought her with me to Thanksgiving, where she uttered the classic line I will live with forever as her reason why she wasn't eating any turkey: Turkeys are male, and chickens are female.

Or in other words, despite our having a farm behind us and cows wandering past our back lawn (and looking at that grass and groundcover with covetous eyes... we had more than one break-in, let me tell you that!), she felt that turkeys and chickens were the same species and could mate... and that the turkey was in fact a rooster. (Mind you, back when I was a kid my folks actually raised chickens. Well, until what we suspect was the neighborhood dog killed half of them and the rest died of stress.)

This girl? Graduated Cum Laude from the college I graduated from. I've called SSC a "clown college" ever since (for more reasons than just the ex-GF - their resistance in coming to compliance with the ADA despite several lawsuits by my blind brother was another big reason. So much for them being a liberal college... it's only liberal when it's easy and inexpensive to be liberal).

Degrees don't matter. What matters is knowledge and how you utilize it. The U.S. college system has gotten a stranglehold on business with this blind belief that without a degree, you aren't a worthwhile worker. People who aren't paper-smart are being punished for being intelligent in different fields - I've a former friend with HVAC training who couldn't get licensed because he couldn't pass the written exam... but who knew how to fix the systems. His is a mechanical aptitude, not a written one... and he was punished for his lack of paper-smarts.

At the same time, over-education is also punished. The people who need the most education often get paid much less than that education was worth - PhDs are needed to teach a graduate-level college class while that professor makes less than a high school teacher, for instance. And heaven help that PhD to get a job he's "overqualified" for.

If you think of the number of people who have started businesses or inventions of various sorts without a college education... then you also have to wonder at this illusion that colleges have created that a college degree is so important. Internships and apprenticeships can often teach new employees as much as any college class while also giving the student hands-on training. Yet these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Thus our country has a growing number of book-smart idiots running around. This may also explain a bit of the anti-intellectualism by a lot of Americans, who see the degree as worthless. This itself is likely a product of the Vietnam War, with young men using college as a means of avoiding the Draft... and thus a college education was seen as a refuge of cowards who refused to fight. This disdain for the educated evolved into its present form of anti-intellectualism among the Republican base.

Rob H.

Sociotard said...

Is anybody trying to follow George Bush's "pardon tsunami"? I found the link to the Office of the Pardon Attorny, where the pardons get posted as they are made, along with the names, nature of the offense, and date of conviction. You can see a similar list for Commutations.

At any rate, Bush hasn't made any pardons since . . . March. If Clinton is any indication we won't get another batch until Jan 20.

Robert said...

Here's an odd somewhat-scientific question: seeing that increased lubrication of glaciers is causing them to slide faster, has anyone thought of using "cold bombs" planted by remote robots to freeze areas of the under-glacier rivers and reduce the glacial flows? Basically sending a robot with several "bombs" of liquid nitrogen (or another super-cooled liquid) that the robot could plant in strategic locations. The robot then retreats, the "cold bombs" would be detonated remotely, and the supercooled liquid would freeze the surrounding area, hopefully causing the glacier to slow its march out to the ocean.

(Of course, I have long been curious why we never used "ozone seeding" of the ozone layer, by sending a tank filled with ozone to weakened parts of the ozone layer via weather balloon and then "leak" the ozone into the ozone layer to replenish the ozone and letting the atmospheric flow then distribute the "ozone bubble" across that area of atmosphere. It wouldn't even cost all that much, all things considered.)

Rob H.

Cliff said...

Is anybody trying to follow George Bush's "pardon tsunami"?

I've got that marked right next to "Rise of the Civil Servants" on my imaginary calendar. "Billionaires to the Rescue" occurs about a week before both of those. :P

Anonymous-who-is-definitely-not-Zorgon said:
First, modern presidential campaigns are massive adverserial gladiatorial contests. They devolve into a race to the bottom for who can sling the most mud the hardest.

That's been the rule of thumb for a long time now, but it seems to me that Obama's campaign was different.
Granted, he almost certainly used underhanded tactics (I don't have a Panopticon handy so I can't point to specific examples). But there were plenty of times where I felt he could have hit McCain hard, but chose not to.
So I think Obama clinched the deal with a remarkable lack of mudslinging, all things considered.

Let's hope it sets a precedent.

David Brin said...

--touche Cliff. It's my job to come up with thriller plots. If one in ten come true, I'm a wizard!

Rob, I readily admit there are many kinds of smarts. Heck, the odds of being a Republican seem to peak at two years of college... four from a silly ag school... then plummet hard. Nevertheless, becoming a nation of educated people has served us well.

TwinBeam said...

For your consideration:

Guess What Else is in the Bailout Bill?

Robert said...

After some thought, I decided to expand on my "cold bomb" idea. The problem with a "cold bomb" is that the sudden influx of cold is transitory and probably wouldn't do much good. It would make a large ice cube that would not necessarily attach to anything and thus fail to do what it was intended to do (slow the movement of glaciers).

So I started thinking of a passive refrigeration/freezing system that utilizes a framework of piping that would hold the ultra-cooled liquid. The remote robot would then plant this device firmly in a section of the glacier where there is a lot of rough terrain (allowing for ice to catch and hold). The passive system would act as a substrate for ice to cling to, and allow a more gradual cooling of the area, and allow a gradual slowing as the icing grows rather than a potential "stop" from a large area of ice forming suddenly in one area through the release of a quantity of supercooled liquid.

The locations to place these "passive cooling systems" could be determined by satellite radar scans of endangered glaciers to find those areas that are best suited for the ice substrate to be used. Further use of these "ice speed bumps" can be used to further slow the glacier.

The benefits of this system is that it allows the heart of the glacier to build up further expanses of ice. This would primarily be of use in areas such as Greenland and Antarctica where glacial flows into the ocean risk causing sea level rising and the like.

This is only a stopgap measure meant to buy us more time. Obviously, efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and methane emissions are necessary, as is research into non-toxic particulate matter to be spread in the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight (the former Soviet Union considered using sulfur dioxide particles for this purpose, but the resultant acid rain makes sulfur dioxide unfeasible unless there is absolutely no other choice).

Rob H.

David Brin said...

RobH it is a matter of scale and math. There are some palliatives that humans can achieve. If it were an ice age, we faced, a few thousand tons of carbon spread around on ice could make a difference. I am hoping that ocean fertilization might work likewise. But no amount of high altitude ozone flights will supply enough to fill the hole. And drilling to get your hoses under the glacier will cost more (and generate more heat) than any amount of delivered cryogens would be worth.

David Brin said...

http://www.salon.com/comics/tomo/2008/11/18/tomo/index.html?source=rss&aim=/comics/tomo

Of course, the cynics are just as bad....

Robert said...

Actually, I figured the remote robot would work its way up from the end of the glacier rather than drill down to an effective location (or even slip through some of the larger crevasses).

Considering the effect that black carbon would have on glaciers... has anyone considered spreading white powders (or something similar) on darker regions of glaciers to help increase its reflectivity? Again, even a .1% increase in reflectivity can have an effect.

(The most effective but expensive method would be to create a solar shade of sorts, likely out of lunar material. This may very well be necessary thousands of years in the future as the sun's intensity increases over the long run. Nor would it have to be a solid shield... so long as it reflected part of the sunlight away. If theis "shade" were comprised of solar cells, then much-needed electricity could be generated and transmitted to the Earth or Moon using microwaves. But this is distant future science fiction here. ^^)

Rob H.

Cliff said...

DB - I do have to give you credit for the predictions you've gotten right.
It's not as though I bother making predictions myself!

Hey, how does everyone feel about Lieberman keeping his big committee seat?

SteveO said...

@ Rob H

Check out last month's Scientific American - Geoengineering: How to Cool the Earth -- At a Price

Looking at the surface area you would have to treat, I just don't see how you could "freeze" a glacier. One important physics point, you don't transport "cold" you transport heat. In compressing the liquid nitrogen or refrigerating the glacier's base you are dumping that heat somewhere (same way your fridge is cold inside but has a hot heat exchanger on the back - read "Sundiver" for an extreme example :-P ). Given the energy losses in order to compress either the nitrogen or the heat transport medium, it is net positive heat to the planet. Of course you are allowed to move heat around, e.g. cool the base of a glacier while warming, say, Tahiti. The second law will make sure it is a net loss of useful energy though.

Here is a more workable idea. The heat is not primarily coming through the thickness of the glacier (if so the heat pulse would not have penetrated to the bottom yet, and for a really long time to come), the heat is coming in from the edges as melted water. (This is also why the "white powder" idea won't work, I think.) Maybe you could freeze the edges to make an ice dam so that only the edges need be controlled. It would be high maintenance, though, but maybe theoretically possible. Such a scheme would still run afoul of what the SciAm article describes though - what happens if we, for one reason or another, can't maintain it. Then all the heat we have postponed goes roaring in at once and you get a cataclysm.

Rob said...

The fact that Lieberman has kept his committee chairmanship suggests to me that the Congress is being led by pragmatic adults, rather than ideologues in need of toilet training, and it gives me a bit of confidence.

Of course, he's on a short leash, but I think he'll get at least one more re-election in '12.

David Smelser said...

Does it really matter where the white reflective material is located to effect global warming?

Why not just paint roof tops and asphalt roads?

Sociotard said...

I could handle white rooftops. White roads, however could create snow blindness problems.

Read a tragic story about a civil servant drawing attention to a corrupt government. This man regained his honor as I thought only samurai could do.
Link

Sociotard said...

Fun article from Cracked (an online humor magazine) about how to stop online trolls. Rated 'R' for language, but still a worthwhile read.

5 Ways to Stop Trolls From Killing the Internet
If Web 2.0 was about social networking, Web 3.0 will be about the death of anonymity. You say nobody wants that, but there are three very important and powerful somebodies who do:

1. Copyright holders who want to be able to track pirates;

2. Law enforcement agencies who want to track child predators (don't forget the Oprah moms demanding the same) and to hunt down hackers;

3. Online advertisers who want to make billions off that 92% of housewives and adults who don't use social networking for fear of being called a ********* in public.

Rob said...

An online humor magazine?

I remember buying copies of that magazine in the early 80's as a kid...

Sociotard said...

They used to be a print magazine. As I understand it, they've completely crossed over. There is no dead-tree merchandise now.

ColonelZen said...

I beg your pardon ...


http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/18/171157/23/24/663070

Cheney and former AG Gonzales indicted.

"... and so it begins"

-- TWZ

TwinBeam said...

(Unfortunately) it kind of sounds like the charges may be somewhat "thin". The prosecutor is on his way out of office, and may have a poor reputation.

The charge is apparently that Cheney is responsible due to investments in a company that supposedly abused prisoners in Texas. It'll be surprising if there's anything there that'll stick...

rewinn said...

@sociotard --- Strangely, Cracked seems to have evolved from an inferior imitation of Mad into an online source of popular science articles that people might actually read - because they're entertaining.

For example, look at "5 Scientific Experiments Most Likely to End the World". It's got nice layman's introductions to some pretty interesting stuff, with user-friendly subsections such as "What could possibly go wrong?" and, just as important, links to more information.

P.S. Its anti-trolling article features the Fremont Troll so perhaps I'm less than objective.

David Brin said...

What this "indictment" will do is provide the pretext for a pardon to prevent a "democratic witch hunt."

What I find amazing is... wasn't Cheney supposed to put all his holdings in a blind trust?

rewinn said...

Re "white rooftops" -- green roofs work better; they lockup solar radiation and atmospheric carbon into biomass, with a variety of side benefits as building insulation and living space for wee tiny little beasties.

Verification word: "unflu" ... which I have.

rewinn said...

Re "blind trust" ----

While it is reported that Cheney did promise to put his assets in a blind trust, his 2006 disclosure form (it is reported) suggests that "blind" in this case means he doesn't control it; he lets other people manage it; he and we all can keep an eye on his holdings through the disclosure forms. If true, this might make it unfair to hold him criminally liable for crimes committed by assets he owns but doesn't control.

As a citizen, I'd be less concerned about that half of the "blindness" of his trust, and more concerned about his being able to see his assets, and therefore shape executive actions to profit himself.

I guess Cheney's got himself sort of a one-eyed trust, making it a king in the country of the blind trust.

David Brin said...

The more I think about it... plus the fact that this "indictment" began in Texas... I think this is an effort to show the right wing that witch hunts are in the works... and therefore Bush has no choice but to issue blanket pardons in advance.


Sure, 70% of the nation won’t swallow it. But OJ Simpson has shown us, you can be despised by 90% of the people in America, and still do very well if you are a celebrity to the other 10%! So long as you stay out of jail. And even Gordon Liddy tapped into this phenomenon after getting out of prison.

What this indictment does... and ALL that it does... is give Bush his pretext to both spew forth pardons and make it a pity party.

I smell a set up.

David Brin said...

Right now I need a short list of decent honorable conservatives who got fed up, to list in my next essay. Christopher Buckley for sure. Any others?

Robert said...

Does Colin Powell count?

TechNald said...

be careful always...

Citizen James said...

I think George Will probably deserves a place on your list of decent conservatives.

Jester said...

David brooks, David Frum, kinda Krauthammer

All the Buckley Boys, really. Not the Friedmanites (yes, they spout "Free Market" but don't worship at Friedmans blood altar), not the culture warriors.

These are the cats bright enough to realize that the underlying reason the public did the will of Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot was the "Kill everyone with glasses" anti-intellectual bigotry that is ussually an undercurrent in modern societies, and I honestly think that "seeing the light" might be a bit of stretch.

They looked at Palin and saw themselves in GITMO with Chomsky and Zinn. Most of them are still stunningly wrong on the economy, but they weren't suicidal.

Crafty and dishonest people like Palin, bereft of any sense of fidelity to the truth, can certainly rise - but it doesn't mean they're "intelligent" in the sense any sane person normally uses that word.

Found to have violated ethics rules, she claimed to have been exonnerated. After busting her former boss for using a State telephone to conduct party business...she did the same thing. The ability to tell bold-faced lies without flinching (an ability John McCain doesn't have, BTW) isn't intelligence, although it does have rewards.

David Brin said...

Wednesday, November 19, 6:30PM - The World of David Brin Scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author David Brin will speak at the Encinitas City Library, on his diverse background and projects, present and future. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, Brin's latest book Sky Horizon is the first book in a new series for young adults and for adults who feel young.

Robert said...

Which city is that in? If it were Boston, I'd be tempted to take the T in to see it. =^-^=

Rob H.

David McCabe said...

It's in Encinitas, north of San Diego.

David Brin said...

Ah... san diego county, down in the lower left corner, where everything loose rolls into...

Tony Fisk said...

Try here

(a little further than I can pedal, alas...)

'goectu', is that some astral message promoting some as yet undiscovered mode of universal transport?

Anonymous said...

David Brin asked for a list of "decent honest" conservatives who've broken with the craziness of the Republican party.

Here's a list of conservatives who've left the reservation. Don't know how many of them are decent and honest, though:

John Cole (see www.balloon-juice.com and compare 2004 with 2008. It's as though a fringe right-wing Limbaugh site had turned into a hippy-dippy free love body-pierced far-left site!)

Daniel Larison (see http://www.amconmag.com/larison/ for examples)

editor of The American Conservative

Patrick Buchanan (long-time critic of the neocons)

Peggy Noonan (finally abandoned McCain after Palin)

Christopher Buckley (abandoned McCain for Obama)

Kathleen Parker (finally abandoned McCain after the choice of Palin, now she's gone completely off the reservation, hammering intensely
on the GOP to get rid of the Xian fundamentalists. See
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/18/AR2008111802886.html)

David Frum (formerly a psychotic Iraq war supporter and frenzied ueber-neocon, but now:
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2008/11/15/david-frum-the-gop-wil-get-sicker-before-it-gets-better.aspx )

William S. Lind

Victor Gold (author of "Invasion of the Party-Snatchers")

John Dean (author of "Conservatives Without Conscience")

James Pinkerton (see http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/05/8211_at_least_one_co.html)

Ron Paul

Justin Raimondo (broke with the kooks in the White House over the Iraq war)

David Brooks (see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/opinion/26brooks.html?_r=2&ref=opinio)

Andrew Sullivan

Fareed Zakaria (helped plan and foment the 2003 Iraq invasion as response to 9/11, then turned against the Iraq debacle. See here:
http://www.radaronline.com/features/2007/01/betting_on_iraq_4.php)

Lew Rockwell

Paul Craig Roberts

Ken Adelman

William Weld

Arne Carson

Scott McClellan

Colin Powell

Charles Fried (see list of neocon and far-right Republicans who endorsed Obama here:
http://wonkette.com/403815/every-republican-endorsing-obama)

Jerry Pournelle

Ross Douthat (see http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/04/sleepwalking_toward_disaster_1.php)

Ramesh Ponnuru

A number of these guys probably don't qualify as "decent" or "honest." For example, Colin Powell lied to the UN General Assembly abuot WMDs in Iraq. I wouldn't trust Powell now if he told me a circle was round.

Pat Buchanan concocted Nixon's "positive polarization" strategy -- shorter version: gain political power by setting Americans at each others' throats. Buchanan is a real slimeball IMHO.

Fareed Zakaria was in the room with the neocons who fomented the Iraq invasion back in September 2001. Then, when the Iraq debacle turned into a political liability circa 2005, Zakaria turned against it. He's a lying creep IMHO, neither "decent" nor "honest."

David Brooks is a long-time slimeball who eagerly defended the White House's indefensible torture and pre-emptive war until it started to eat into his credibility. Since he depends on shillng for the op ed pages for a living, now Brooks has trimmed his sails, reluctantly. He's a loathsome little weasel who rushes to embrace the majority however depraved, the exact opposite of decent and honest.

David Frum was casting the decent honest conservatives out of the Republican party for heresy back when the psycho in the White House stood on the carrier deck in front of the sign MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Now he's changed his tune because Iraq and the ecnomy have turned into such horrible disasters. Frum is scum, hardly decent or honest.

Peggy Noonan is one of the worst of the group. Back in 2004 she crowed about Rove's big victory and urged all her neocon buddies to "savor" this glorious victory. Now that it's all turned to sh*t, you don't hear her urging anyone to "savor" this wonderful moment. What a scumbag.

Jerry Pournelle has lied about evolution, calling it "Dawkinsim" and ridiculing evolutionary theory as though it were some po-mo confection instead of being the direct result of modern physics and modern chemistry. Pournelle is the worst of the lot, AFAICT, because he uses his considerable intelligence to pervert and twist the facts and deny global warming in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Is Pournelle decent and honest? You decide.

I probably read more of these people than anyone here except tacitus2. There are a lot of decent conservatives who've bolted from the Republican party. This list probably only scratches the surface. I bet there are whole lot more, and tacitus2 could help fill in the blanks.

Anonymous said...

Shoot, I forgot Paul O'Neill. There are probably a bunch more I'm forgetting. There are a ton of these guys running around now dishing dirt abour the disastrous administration whose crimes they helped perpetrate.

Matt DeBlass said...

"ephooph"

Possibly a language spoken by four foot tall alien quadrapeds with shaggy brown fur.

So, Anonymous we're left with... Chris Buckley? (but then, he is quick to point out that he is first and foremost a humor writer).

I think it's harder to put together a list of high profile decent honest conservatives from recent history.

TwinBeam said...

"Anonymous"

Have to disagree with you about Jerry Pournelle. You may not like his positions on GW and Evolution - though you've distorted his positions on those - but he was against Iraq from the start, and despises David Frum and his ilk for how they treated paleo-conservatives.

He certainly didn't turn to Obama - his stated position was that maybe the Republicans deserved to lose, but that the country doesn't deserve what (he fears) Obama may do to it.

While his positions haven't changed recently (as in "decades"), he could be said to have been among the earliest to be "fed up" with where the Republican party was going.

tacitus2 said...

Well, it is hard to make a list of decent and honest types. We are talking politics after all.

Let's be a bit leery of folks who have had a revelation after it became evident that power was switching in Washington, which was pretty evident for about a year.

And last minute conversions like Powell are less convincing.

How about the Eisenhowers? I think it was Ike's daughter who came out with a strong endorsement of Obama quite early. And she has no obvious gain by doing so.

Tacitus2

Robert said...

I've an idea on how to deal with the Somali pirates, as I posted over at Daily Kos (and on my LJ backup for Tangents). Basically, take a page out of World War II and set up escorted convoys of merchant vessels using the international fleet as the escorts.

Basically merchant ships would gather in specific (protected) locations and at set times would go through the contested areas with destroyer escorts and other warships. Any vessels that approach the convoys are either boarded and investigated, or escorted out of the area (or sunk if they refuse to cooperate).

We'd have to keep it up for a couple of years until the pirates' funds dry up (and they waste their munitions attacking each other eventually, to steal each other's supplies and money) but it would deter the vast majority of the piracy. The most brazen pirates would still go after ships and no doubt get taken out.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Look up Somaliland, as opposed to Somalia.

The entire northern half of the country is at peace and well-ordered. And could be the core of a restored nation, if anyone in the world would recognize them. If the southerners around Mogadishu insist on being barbarians, then let's support the northern half and offer safe haven to any Somali who wants to live like a civilized person.

rewinn said...

"...decent honorable conservative..."


Bruce Fein, the Reaganite lawyer. His "American Freedom Agenda" is worth checking out whether or not you agree with every point.

Jim Jeffords, although in this crazy world he might be called a "moderate".

William_Shatner said...

All these states gave huge incentives to auto manufacturers. Let's blame "greedy" union members because they want benefits and a living wage -- and pulling all that out of the mouths of the "more equal" executive profits. No, let's not notice that Honda and Toyota are struggling too. Let's compare the cost in building for Toyota, when most of that is done overseas in low wage areas, and then assembled in the US and a coat of paint slapped on.

Sure, some of these foreign plants are doing better than US plants -- but hey, that's all due to good planning and processes that began in the USA. There is nothing about Unions forcing the management at Ford and GM to force SUVs on the public and not innovate.

While "we need the jobs" there won't be anything saved by saving the Big 3. Because after they negotiate down their pension obligations -- nobody will notice that most of these companies are in hot water for over-leveraged "get rich quick schemes." Same thing at Bear Sterns, and Fannie Mae -- it wasn't the home loans going belly up, it was having 40x leverage and getting spanked in a downturn. Perhaps caused by naked shorts -- but hey, who is the idiot who thinks you can survive by controlling $40 with $1? One or two industries doing this -- might have gotten away with it. But EVERYONE was greedy and stupid.

So let's do the math; everybody leverages out like they were a bank. Maybe a 4% growth rate, and we already have our military securing oil, or CIA already help out US businesses get projects in third world countries. We've profited by incarcerating prisoners. I guess that just leaves eating our own. The problem with Leveraging and Banks and profit as a whole scheme -- is that this can ONLY work, if you are damn careful and don't get ahead of growth. As soon as you do -- it is a ticking time bomb.

The US dollar is our 5th, most recent currency in this nation.

I blame this on the people who should know better. The Powers That Be, are just too greedy and our current economic problem is that they KNOW they cannot trust each other. The money launderers at the Credit Card Agencies -- well they over-levered too. The Credit Reporting agencies like Moody's -- they started making more money as consultants. Hey, what's wrong with rating your buddy higher? Well, all those "insurance policies" used to trade the sub-prime mortgages have costs that relate to risk and the risk is backed by the credit of some third party -- if you don't know if they are solvent, that is going to effect everything down the chain.

So, if the dollar tanks, we will have a lot of "lenders" that are angry. Meanwhile, we have 750 bases around the world full of military folks who may not be able to buy food with dollars.

>> And Damn, can Obama quit trying to be "nice" to the DNC and start putting some Progressives on his cabinet? I really have high hopes for him, but if he keeps listening to the gophers of the elite, he won't be able to solve the big problems ahead.

William_Shatner said...

I thought I'd do something on a lighter note...I gave this some thought, folks -- then I discarded all that thoughtful stuff and just wrote the following...

Regarding a bail out of the Big Three auto makers--It won't work because;
1) We just bailed out the fat cat robber barons on wall street. Hey, ask Goldman Sacks -- those are the richest deadbeats on the planet.
2) After they get Union concessions and the Fed's funny money and cash the check, THEN they will determine that it just wasn't enough.
3) These automakers have one foot in China and another half foot of good white man meat in Mexico. They haven't been US companies for about 6 years now. And Mexico wants to know if they are getting child support.
4) I'd go for a bail out if the Big Three fire their entire management for being assholes who didn't improve mileage, sex appeal, and the reliability of their product. There are only so many people who don't read Consumer Reports, and THOSE people, have already tapped out the mortgage as money machine. So wait in line fellas.
5) We are going to need that money to bring troops home from military bases, when people stop accepting US dollars and they get hungry. OK, maybe our government will just close the bases and just say; "Private First Class Davis who?" Yeah, that sounds a lot more authentic.
6) We already gave to the war contractors who failed to deliver -- why should you be MORE special than them?
7) That unemployment won't budge our fantasy unemployment stat, so it is really healthy that more people clue into the fact that our government ***** lies about everything.
8) I would have been worried if China wanted to buy you a year ago. Now I'm just grateful that they will have something to drive on the roads that the country of Spain is going to own. So, the Chinese executives are going to pay through the nose -- just hope you land on "free parking" suckers and don't roll too many doubles.
9) If we don't let the Chinese buy this industry, they are going to stop purchasing US dollars. Since they've lost faith in ever getting paid back -- allowing them the allusion that they can actually own these companies will keep the gravy running a few more months. But really once they "OWN" GM or Ford, they can use the money to close up shop here and open their plants in China under a different name -- THEN bury the Chinese owned American companies by selling American owned Chinese cars built at $3 an hour. Yeah, American know how FTW bitches! Start lobbying congress for tariffs now, so that you can protect the price of your American owned companies. I'm sure all that intellectual property that Chevy has on cup holders will be worth it.
10) The Shadow Government is going to need the money to keep their operations in the shade. Sorry, all non-essential ponzi schemes are going to have to make way for the really huge, non-essential ponzi schemes.
11) My "Buy American" lapel pin costs $3.99 at WalMart and it was made in China. I'm feeling kind of conflicted.

tacitus2 said...

Shatner

Actually, our troops overseas should find the buying power of the dollar doing nicely.

Foreign travel being one of my few luxuries I track the exchange rate on currencies I anticipate using in the year ahead. The dollar has appreciated 25% vs the British Pound since my last vist there in the spring. And against the Egyptian pound more like a 15% appreciation.

Only goes to show that the current financial mess is not limited to the good old U S of A. Just that foreign investment firms bought a different spectrum of monkey bonds (lots of third world and former Soviet bloc stuff).

As a nation we are not collectively smart in this regard. Nor are we exclusively stupid.

Tacitus2

William_Shatner said...

Oh, and notice how the price of gas keeps going down?

Why is that -- is it just shrinking demand? No. The Speculators like Goldman Sacks and ICE are hoarding their cash -- just like the banks.

And without "market making" they cannot buy oil and then bid it up and sell it into the marketplace. Thus, the liquidity problems we are having, are the only things making this recession bearable. Wow, we accidentally caught a break -- no thanks to Bushies or Paulson.

William_Shatner said...


tacitus2 said...
Shatner

Actually, our troops overseas should find the buying power of the dollar doing nicely.


Right now, this is true. But wait a few months. There is no point making a prediction unless it is in the future.

Here is the scenario; Your deadbeat brother-in-law needs help to not lose his house. You "invested" in it, be being the schmuck to co-sign the loan but you wanted to please your wife. Your brother-in-law, promises that he is looking for work and he just needs a few months to get out of the woods.

Well, a few months later, and he is still laying around the house watching TV. "What gives?" You ask.

"Well, I invested that money in a time share. Even if I lose my house, I have something that is going to make a lot of money -- I've already got 40 people lined up to rent."

"OK" you mutter, because your wife just told you; "It's none of our business." She sounds so much like a G-8 summit, that wife, and she forgets who is loaning whom, money.

Well, a month later, and what do you know, your brother-in-law says that some renters stiffed him, so he actually owes more money now, doesn't have a job, but is an entrepreneur. He also informs you that he put down a $1000 on a Florida property to flip it; "Florida property is hot -- HOT! I can sell this for $20,000 more that it costs right now in 6 months and I don't have to own it."

Well 6 months later, and your brother-in-law tells you that Florida beach-front property is no longer hot. And he seems to be unable to sell off that obligation on that un-flipped property. He now has "control" of two homes worth about a million, a big potential profit and no job.

You, however, who have been helping him pay rent for 12 months, are $24,000 in the hole. Any Bank looking at the two of you will look at his assets, and bigger loans and your lack of money and say that the dead-beat brother-in-law has better credit.

Now, does the high dollar value make sense?

However, you've decided not to bail "bro" out anymore, because he just got an X-Box and a big screen TV. What do you think will happen to his credit rating in the coming months?

William_Shatner said...

I'm not really saying that we SHOULDN'T bail out the automakers -- because there are a lot of suppliers with jobs that are affected.

IF I were in charge, I'd buy 60% of the company and give that stock to the workers. Then mandate that they move to 50% domestic parts in two years. Going to 85% in 4.

The employees as stockholders would then, of course, fire their management. Hopefully getting a group of people who can build a car that is competitive with the equivalent foreign car. For anyone who thinks this isn't possible, please remember that a lot of these foreign cars, started as silk garment manufacturers or building airplane engines. They also had a bit of government help to protect their industry.

But, these concessions will not be made. This bailout is happening while Bush is in office. So there will be no strings, so that the "executives" can have a free hand to "solve this." Well, when the CEO of Ford comes to work in a Lexus, and they all fly on private jets to beg for money, and GM is spending $1 Billion to bail out some concern in Brazil -- these are NOT OUR companies, and this will be a miserable failure.

And of course, next week, we will find that on top of charging outrageous fees and giving your dog a card, the credit card agencies are going to have problems. This will of course be blamed on us greedy and stupid consumers. Somehow, we must have forced them to become over-leveraged as well, and our 25% compound interest just wasn't good enough.

Hank Fox said...

I'd advise President Obama to really go after the bastards who got us into the shit.

But also, I'd like him to realize that most of his presidency is going to be taken up with REactive efforts, as he attempts to fix all that the Bushes broke.

In the midst of all that, though, he should take some PROactive action.

My suggestion: A 10- or 15-year Apollo-type medical-scientific program to find cures for four diseases. I suggest "A B C D" -- Alzheimer's, Birth defects, Cancer, Diabetes. (And yes, I know birth defects are not subject to a "cure.")

Support for such an effort would come from all directions -- seniors, anyone with aging parents, anyone with children, anyone with a family member lost to cancer, any of the millions of us with a diabetic loved one, etc. Side effects of the program would amp up medical research and boost science education, as well as provide technological/medical spinoffs that would vastly enrich every living person, and the U.S. economy.

Another likely side-effect: It would squelch the know-nothings in the Republican Party and the anti-evolution Intelligent Design movement.

It could even lend itself to a catchy (or dumb, depending on how you look at it) popular motto: "ABCD by 2023."